Roy L. Harbin:The DANG-DInGIE American

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re:blackwater case exposes political machinations
~The company's report cites a Dec. 13 letter to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who became speaker of the House three weeks later. In that letter, Callahan requested that Congress aggressively investigate Blackwater. He told Pelosi that the security contractor is an "extremely Republican" company that put safety behind its quest for war profits.
The lawsuit and the Democratic staff assessment have "striking similarities," Blackwater says.
"That's ridiculous," Callahan said Tuesday of any political motivations behind the lawsuit. The Fallujah killings "could have and should have been avoided" if Blackwater had properly equipped the guards as the company's Baghdad operations manager had urged, he said.~

re:dem folks try to use blackwater case to target rice & admin
~House Democrats on Thursday accused Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice of grossly mismanaging diplomatic efforts in Iraq and concealing information from Congress, putting a visibly frustrated Rice on the defensive.
At a hearing by a congressional watchdog committee, Democratic lawmakers said the State Department under Rice had been too lax with armed security contractors, ignored corruption at the highest levels of the Iraqi government and was sloppy in overseeing construction of the costly new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
"I think there was a huge gap between what she said and reality," said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Waxman, D-Calif., and other Democrats said they would not call on Rice to resign, noting that their frustration is with the Bush administration's policies rather than Rice alone.
"If you just change the deck chairs, it's not going to change the policy," said Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., a committee member.
The hearing gave Democrats the venue to hammer the administration on the war. Thus far, they have been unable to pass veto-proof legislation ordering troops home from Iraq.
Recent events have given them ample fodder: shootings involving the private guards hired to protect State Department diplomats; allegations that Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has blocked corruption investigations, and delays in the embassy's construction.
The Democrats' strategy did not go unnoticed by Republicans.
Democrats seemed to be trying "to drill enough small holes in the bottom of the boat to sink the entire Iraqi enterprise, while still claiming undying support for the crew about to drown," said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia, the committee's top Republican.
The usually unflappable Rice became frustrated at several points, including a tense exchange with Welch on whether al-Maliki was corrupt. Since April, the prime minister has required that Cabinet-level corruption investigations first receive his approval. Such a policy, Welch and other Democrats say, is tantamount to blanket immunity for al-Maliki and his ministers.
When repeatedly pressed to say whether she thought al-Maliki was covering up fraud and abuse, Rice said she would not respond to rumors.
"To assault the prime minister of Iraq or anyone else in Iraq with here-to-date unsubstantiated allegations or lack of corroboration, in a setting that would simply fuel those allegations, I think, would be deeply damaging," she said.
After the hearing, Waxman said there was a gap between "her very smooth presentation" and the facts. Rice said the State Department was invested in stopping corruption, but Waxman said she was unfamiliar with al-Maliki's corruption policy and that department insiders tell lawmakers its efforts are dysfunctional.~
re:al qaida advocates turn on jazeera
~Al-Qaida Anger at Jazeera on Laden Tape
Published: 10/25/07, 9:25 PM EDT
CAIRO, Egypt (AP)~
~Al-Qaida sympathizers have unleashed a torrent of anger against Al-Jazeera television, accusing it of misrepresenting Osama bin Laden's latest audiotape by airing excerpts in which he criticizes mistakes by insurgents in Iraq.
Users of a leading Islamic militant Web forum posted thousands of insults against the pan-Arab station for focusing on excerpts in which bin Laden criticizes insurgents, including his followers.
Analysts said the reaction highlighted militants' surprise at bin Laden's words, and their dismay at the deep divisions among al-Qaida and other Iraqi militants that he appeared to be trying to heal.
"It's not about Al-Jazeera, it's about their shock from bin Laden," said Diaa Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on Islamic militant groups. "For the first time, bin Laden, who used to be the spiritual leader who gives guidance, became a critic of al-Qaida and is confessing mistakes. This is unusual."
"God fight Al-Jazeera," railed one militant Web poster, calling the station a "collaborator with the Crusaders" for suggesting the tape showed weakness in al-Qaida and featuring discussions of how the tape reflected weaknesses and divisions among insurgents in Iraq.
The recording aired Monday contained unusually strong criticism of insurgents in Iraq from bin Laden, who urges them to admit mistakes and unify. Bin Laden even aknowledges that he advises himself not to be "fanatical" in his stances.
"Some of you have been lax in one duty, which is to unite your ranks," bin Laden said. "Beware of division ... Muslims are waiting for you to gather under a single banner to champion righteousness. Be keen to oblige with this duty."
"I advise myself, Muslims in general and brothers in al-Qaida everywhere to avoid extremism among men and groups," he said.
The tape was met with a cautiously positive response from at least one insurgent coalition that has been opposed to al-Qaida.
But the Al-Fajr Media Center, which usually posts al-Qaida video and audio tapes on the Web, accused Al-Jazeera of "counterfeiting the facts" by making the speech appear as exclusively critical of insurgents.
"Al-Jazeera directors have shamefully chosen to back the Crusaders' side, and the defenders of hypocrites and the thugs and traitors of Iraq," Al-Fajr said in a statement posted on several Islamic Web sites.
Another Web contributor even rattled off a five-stanza poem of rhymed couplets, comparing the station to a "miserable fly in the garbage" and concluding, "Your day will come, vile one. As long as we live, you won't be safe, Jazeera."
Few of the thousands of messages posted by contributors on the Web sites - who are only identified by usernames - called for direct violence against Al-Jazeera. Most instead urged that the full bin Laden tape be distributed as widely as possible on the Web to show its true message.
The full 30-minute audio was posted on Islamic Web sites the day after excerpts were aired by Al-Jazeera. It features long sections praising insurgents for their "holy war" against U.S. and Iraqi troops and urging Iraqis to join them.
The editor-in-chief of the Qatar-based station, Ahmed Sheik, refused to comment on the criticism but said the tape had not been misrepresented.
"Every time, we deal with their tapes same way we did last time," he told The Associated Press.
Bin Laden's message came at a time of deepening splits in the Sunni Arab insurgency in Iraq. Some insurgent groups have formed a coalition rivaling one set up by al-Qaida in Iraq. Other factions have broken away and joined U.S. troops in fighting al-Qaida. A group of Sunni Arab tribes in the western province of Anbar also have campaigned against al-Qaida.
The splits are believed to have been caused by anger over al-Qaida attempts to dominate the insurgency as well as by its killings of Sunni tribal leaders and its attempts to impose Taliban-like rules.
The spokesman of one coalition of insurgents opposed to al-Qaida welcomed bin Laden's call and even left open the possibility of working with al-Qaida if its mistakes were corrected.
"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves ... but the subject is put forward before the council," Khattab Abdul-Rahman al-Jabbouri, spokesman of the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance, told Al-Jazeera in an interview.
He said al-Qaida in Iraq's actions "damaged the social fabric of the Iraqi people." But "if someone corrects their mistake, no matter who they are, then that is a good thing. That's what we hope for today, so that we can end the mistakes and unify our ranks so we can be a single line against the aggressor," he said.
Kara Driggers, Mideast analyst for the Terrorism Research Center, said bin Laden's criticisms of al-Qaida in Iraq and his rhetoric addressing all Iraqis - including tribal leaders - "seems to have brought more authority to the request (for unity) and the groups are taking it more seriously."
But Eric Rosenbach, a terror expert and executive director of research at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said the splits will be difficult to mend, pointing out that Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq view bin Laden as being as foreign as the Americans.~
re:psychos target civilians going to work
~ Nearly simultaneous bombs struck commuters in a predominantly Shiite area on the southeastern edge of Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least eight people and wounding two dozen, police and hospital officials said.
The two blasts, which occurred about 30 yards apart at 7 a.m. in Jisr Diyala, were targeting government employees, construction workers and vendors preparing to travel into the capital, according to the officials.
Women and children were among the eight killed and 24 wounded, which also included three policemen who had been sipping tea bought from a vendor, the officials said.
The explosives were buried in a dirt-packed area where minibuses pick up people traveling to the nearby Baghdad neighborhood of Zafaraniyah and the center of the city. Vendors were selling pastries, juice and tea.~
re:incompetent auditors complain job is delayed,,but blame violence
~There was no electricity and so the pump was not operating while the team was there. Because the team couldn't communicate with the two Iraqis at the station, it couldn't determine why it wasn't working, nor whether they were following good practices in keeping the station maintained since it was handed over to Iraqi control.~


re:us sanctions against iran
~The U.S. sanctions on elements of Iran's vast armed forces and its largest bank are the most sweeping since 1979, when the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran ruptured diplomatic, business and military ties.
The sanctions are the first of their type imposed by the United States specifically against the armed forces of another government. They are part of the Bush administration's two-track approach to its chief adversary in the Mideast that offsets diplomatic overtures with sanctions, bellicose rhetoric and the implicit threat of military action.
U.S. officials insisted Thursday that the new moves do not hasten war and that the United States remains committed to finding a way to talk Iran out of a nuclear program the U.S. claims is hostile.
The punitive moves directly target Iranian organizations and people the U.S. accuses of supporting terrorism or spreading weapons of mass destruction, but the main effect is likely to fall elsewhere - on European and other overseas banks and firms that do business with oil-rich Iran.
"As awareness of Iran's deceptive behavior has grown, many banks around the world have decided as a matter of prudence and integrity that Iran's business is simply not worth the risk," Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said.
There has been grumbling, mainly in Europe, about earlier U.S. financial sanctions on Iran that overseas bankers found heavy-handed, but Paulson is right that some of Iran's former financial partners have already distanced themselves from Tehran under hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Paulson and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the penalties together, a recognition that a year-old effort to levy unilateral Treasury sanctions has had far greater effect than the diplomatic channels Rice has pursued with Iran.
"Unfortunately the Iranian government continues to spurn our offer of open negotiations, instead threatening peace and security," through its nuclear program and export of ballistic missiles, Rice said, along with what she charged is backing for militants in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.
The latest sanctions will cut off more than 20 Iranian entities, including individuals and companies owned or controlled by the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps, from the American financial system.
State-owned Bank Melli, Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat were named supporters of global terrorist groups for their activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East.
Any assets found in the United States belonging to the designated groups must be frozen. Americans are also prohibited from doing business with those designated organizations.
Bank Melli is Iran's largest. The United States says it provides services to Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Bank Mellat serves the state Atomic Energy Organization and Bank Saderat routes money to terrorist or militant groups, the administration said.
The administration did not lay out any new evidence for the allegations.
The designations put companies outside the United States on notice that doing business with the designated groups could put them at risk of U.S. financial penalty.
The United States has the world's largest economy and the most influential banking system, and much of the world's business is done in dollars.
Paulson said it is nearly impossible for overseas businesses or banks to "know one's customer" in Iran and avoid unwittingly funding terrorism or other illicit activities.
Iran's Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics were designated proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile technology.
The Revolutionary Guards is the largest component of Iran's military and has influence in business and other spheres. The defense ministry entity is the parent organization for Iran's aerospace and ballistic missile operations.
The Quds Force, which was named a supporter of designated terrorist organizations, is a part of the Guard Corps that Washington accuses of providing weapons, including powerful explosives blamed for the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
In Iran, the Guards' chief shrugged off the U.S. pressure.
"They have applied all their efforts to reduce the efficiency of this revolutionary body," General Mohammad Ali Jafari said, according to the state news agency IRNA. "Now as always, the corps is ready to defend the ideals of the revolution more than ever before."
The United States has long labeled Iran a state supporter of terrorism and has been working for years to gain support for tougher global sanctions aimed at keeping the country from developing nuclear weapons.
The Bush administration has won two rounds of watered-down U.N. Security Council sanctions but has been frustrated by months of delay in seeking a third, tougher set of penalties.
Iran has ignored the U.N. sanctions and an offer from European nations that do extensive business with Iran would give the oil-rich country economic and other incentives in exchange for dropping nuclear activities that could produce a bomb.
Iran is continuing work on its nuclear program, which it says is peaceful.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday against new sanctions on Iran, saying they would lead to a dead end.
"Why worsen the situation by threatening sanctions and bring it to a dead end?" Putin said. "It's not the best way to resolve the situation by running around like a madman with a razor blade in his hand."
Russia and China, which hold veto power at the U.N. Security Council, are allies or business partners of Iran and are the chief holdup for the new sanctions sought by the United States.
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the new sanctions smack of the "chest-pounding" that preceded the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and raise "the specter of an intensified effort to make the case for an invasion of Iran."
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee and Jeannine Aversa contributed to this report.~

re:iran claims it's safe from US,,
~TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's leadership boasts it is safe from U.S. military action, saying Washington knows an attack would find no world support and send oil prices skyrocketing. That confidence is buoying the government in its standoff with the West, despite new sanctions.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, on Friday dismissed the U.S. announcement a day earlier of new sanctions, saying "Washington will isolate itself" with the measures.
"They have imposed sanctions on us for 28 years. The new sanctions are just in the same direction," Jalili said as he returned from talks with European officials in Germany and Italy, according to the state news agency IRNA.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is taking a hard line in the confrontation with the West over its nuclear program, apparently confident Washington's main pressure tools - sanctions and the threat of military action - are ineffective.
It could be a risky bet. Ahmadinejad's main vulnerability is domestic: rising criticism from a public angry over the country's poor economy and from politicians disillusioned by what they call his mismanagement. Even some conservatives have expressed fears Ahmadinejad is pushing Iran into future trouble over the nuclear issue.
Further sanctions, even unilateral ones from the U.S., could hurt the economy more by further isolating it from international finance - and Iranians were already expressing worries over the new measures.
Ahmadinejad, who faces elections in 2009, knows "jobless and poor people will not vote for him if his policies bring them more difficulties," said Ahmad Bakhshayesh, a political science professor at Tehran's Azad University.
But he believes "unilateral economic sanctions by Washington are not strong enough (to hurt Iran) due to Iran's widespread economic relations with the world."
Suzanne Maloney, an expert on Iran at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, said that while sanctions have put pressure on the regime, oil prices have dampened their effect.
"Yes, life becomes more expensive, but right now they have a fairly considerable cushion," she said, adding that sanctions might force the government to become more fiscally responsible.
"A flush Iran has been an irresponsible Iran. Most of their economic problems have been caused by having too much cash on their hands," she said. In the face of new sanctions, "it's not unthinkable that they'll take more responsible measures at home that will cut some of the internal pressure."
Recent U.S. statements have deepened Iranians' fears of attack. Last week, President Bush warned that a nuclear Iran could lead to "World War III," and Vice President Dick Cheney vowed Sunday that the U.S. and other nations will not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons, saying its program aims only to produce electricity.
After the U.S. sanctions announcement, a string of Iranian military officials came forward to insist America will not attack Iran, citing the strain on the U.S. military from the Iraq war and worries over high oil prices. But they vowed harsh reaction if the U.S. does attack. In the past, Iranian officials have spoken of retaliating with attacks on Israel and U.S. bases in the region and with a shutoff of oil from the Gulf.
A top adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - former Revolutionary Guards chief Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi - said the U.S. knows military action would send oil prices soaring.
"Without any war, the price of oil has nearly reached $100 a barrel, so if a firecracker goes off in the Persian Gulf, the price will reach more than $200," he told students Thursday, according to IRNA.
Iran overlooks the Hormuz Strait at the narrow mouth of the Gulf, through which a fifth of the world's oil supplies pass.
The current Guards commander, Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said threats of U.S. attack are "just exaggerations," warning, "We will reply to any strike with an even more decisive strike."
And Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi said the probability of American attack is "very small."
"America knows well that while it can start such an attack, how it ends will not be in Washington's hands, and such an attack will lead to America's collapse," he told journalists during in Kuwait on Thursday, IRNA said.
The new U.S. sanctions ban dealings with a host of companies connected to Iran's Revolutionary Guards, an elite force that has extensive business holdings in oil, construction and other sectors. The ban bars American companies from working with them, but also puts pressure on international firms and banks not to deal with them as well.
Iran is counting on international support from Russia and China to prevent harsher U.N. sanctions. The U.N. has imposed two rounds of limited sanctions for Iran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. But Moscow and Beijing are resisting U.S. calls for a third round and have come out against military action - though both have urged Iran to comply with U.N. demands for a halt in uranium enrichment.
China warned Friday the new unilateral sanctions by the United States could increase tensions over Iran's nuclear program. "Dialogue and negotiations are the best approach to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue," the Foreign Ministry said.
U.S. military action would also likely silence the domestic opposition to Ahmadinejad as people rally around the government. The head of the largest pro-reform party, Mohsen Mirdamadi, has warned a U.S. attack would set back chances for reform and democracy in Iran by decades.
On Friday, Mirdamadi said his party would stand against any American threat. "We cannot neglect defending the country's independence and integrity even for a while," he told a gathering of his Islamic Iran Participation Front.
Still, many Iranians - facing increasing prices for housing and basic foodstuffs - are expressing fear over where the government is taking the country.
"I am sure the Iranian government does not seek war. And I am sure they will abide by international demands at the last minute," said Mirza Kazemi, a 70-year-old retired oil worker.
Reza Hosseini, owner of a metal shop, criticized the government's focus on hotspots in the Middle East, where Iran is accused of backing militant groups.
"I cannot understand why our government insists on irrelevant issues such as Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon," he said. "We have too many problems in our country."
Associated Press Writer Sarah DiLorenzo contributed to this report from New York.~
re:islamists in pakistan
~Islamic militants reportedly captured and beheaded three militiamen and a police officer Friday while government troops and helicopter gunships attacked the nearby stronghold of a radical cleric in northwestern Pakistan.
The fighting came a day after a suicide bombing killed 20 people in another part of Swat district in the intensifying conflict between the U.S.-allied government of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and pro-Taliban forces in the volatile tribal region along the Afghan border.
After killing the four security officers, the militants displayed the severed heads in Imam Dheri village near Swat, said Badshah Gul Wazir, home secretary for the volatile North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan.~
~A few hours earlier, militiamen of the regional Frontier Constabulary, supported by army helicopters, attacked the redoubt of cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who runs a sprawling seminary in Imam Dheri and leads a band of armed militants.
Hundreds of villagers fled as the two sides battled across the rushing Swat River, firing rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and other weapons. Police said one militant was known dead and two civilians were killed by stray bullets near the river.
"I never saw this type of violence in my life," said Abdul Hamid, a 70-year-old shop owner in Swat, who sobbed as he watched thick smoke rising from trees set afire on a nearby mountain where fighting also broke out.
"Swat was one of the safest places on Pakistan, and now it has become Iraq and Afghanistan, and I don't know what will happen in future," Hamid said.
An aide of Fazlullah confirmed one of the cleric's fighters was killed and said four others were wounded in the fighting, which subsided after the Muslim call to prayer at sunset.
"God willing, casualties on their side (the security forces) will be more," the aide, Sirajuddin, told The Associated Press by telephone from Imam Dheri. He uses only one name.
He vowed Fazlullah's supporters would fight to the death. "We have enough heavy weapons."~

re:more perks for mexico planned
~President Bush asked Congress on Monday to approve $500 million to help Mexico fight drug trafficking, the first installment of a $1.4 billion aid package for the United States' southern neighbor.
The money was included in a supplemental budget request for the fiscal year that began this month that is primarily aimed at adding funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure included several unrelated items, such as $724 million for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sudan's Darfur region and $106 million to make good on U.S. promises in a nuclear deal with North Korea.
"All of these are urgent priorities of the United States, and the Congress should fund them without delay," Bush said.
The White House took extra care to shine a spotlight on Mexico's portion of the request, with White House press secretary Dana Perino issuing a separate statement about it and Bush calling Mexican President Felipe Calderon to let him know about the money.~

re:evidence that 'pro-illegal immigrant amnesty advocates' are helping to breed internal strife for america,,future civil war seems inevitable unless politicos stop pandering
~Explosives in Mexican Consulate in NYC
Published: 10/26/07, 2:25 PM EDT
NEW YORK (AP) - Two improvised explosives were thrown into the rear of the Mexican Consulate early Friday, causing small explosions that blew out some windows. No injuries were reported.
Police believe someone on a bicycle threw the devices - made from replica grenades packed with explosive powder - at 3 a.m., New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
The commissioner said witnesses reported seeing someone on a bike at that time near the consulate in Midtown Manhattan.
Edgar Trujillo, the press attache with the Mexican Consulate, said three windows were shattered.
Police and FBI agents were at the scene. The block was cordoned off by police tape, and by Friday afternoon, about 50 people who had business at the consulate stood on the street corner waiting to see if they would be allowed to enter.
The consulate on East 39th Street between Madison and Park avenues is sandwiched between an office building and another building under construction covered in green netting. Residential buildings, banks and food shops are nearby.
In 2005, an explosion caused by two makeshift grenades fitted with fuses blew out a window near the British Consulate, several blocks to the north. There were no injuries, and no one was ever arrested.~
re:concerns over jerusalem
~Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish former prime minister whose poll numbers show him to be Israel's most popular politician, looked out over Jerusalem's holy sites Tuesday and declared the city must forever remain united under Israeli control.
His comments, at times drowned out by the chants of a Muslim preacher, follow growing signs that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is ready to share control of Jerusalem under a final peace settlement with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu and other senior members of the Likud Party on Tuesday climbed the Tower of David, built 2,000 years ago to protect the walls of ancient Jerusalem, and then headed to the Mount of Olives, where Jews believe the dead will be resurrected in the end of days.
"Jerusalem has been the pulsating heart of the Jewish people," Netanyahu said. "Now there are those who come and say, let's divide this heart."~
~The Palestinians insist the eastern section of the city, where Arabs are the majority, must be the capital of their hoped-for state - and that a future Palestine have sovereignty over the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam, where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
"I think Mr. Netanyahu should focus on peacemaking, rather than trying to undermine" the fledgling peace process, said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. "They (Israelis) all know at the end of the day that Jerusalem must be the capital of the two states."
Netanyahu warned Islamic militants will take control of any part of the city evacuated by Israel - as they did in the Gaza Strip after Israel withdrew from that territory in 2005.
"The first thing that will happen is that when we leave, Hamas comes in," he said.~

re:power cuts to curb rocket falls critisized
~The Israeli plan is to cut electricity for 15 minutes after a rocket attack, gradually increasing the cutoff length if the barrages continue. Israeli officials would not say when that would begin.
Despite the threat, Palestinians fired at least eight rockets and 10 mortar rounds into southern Israel Thursday, the military said. No damage or casualties were reported.
Israel supplies about half of Gaza's electricity through 12 power lines, and defense officials said the gradual cutoffs would not plunge Gaza into total darkness or target vital institutions like hospitals because the lines supplying them would not be closed.
Palestinians and human rights groups denounced the measure as collective punishment.
One of the groups, Gisha, issued a statement warning that, "Playing with electricity is playing with fire," adding: "Even a brief interruption in electricity threatens the safety and well-being of Gaza residents."
Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Israel had no choice but to take punitive measures. "Should we tell them to continue firing rockets at the same power station that provides them with electricity and continue to bomb the water system that provides them with water?" he asked on Israel Radio. One of Israel's main electricity stations is outside Ashkelon, just six miles from Gaza. Several rockets have exploded nearby.
Electricity inside Gaza has been rationed through rolling blackouts since Israel bombed the strip's main power station in 2006. Many places have their own generators.~

re:israel criticised,,admonished to keep helping their enemies people
~Human rights groups say Israel - as direct military occupier for 38 years, until 2005, and still in control of Gaza's borders and air space - must do more to prevent a humanitarian crisis among the 1.4 million residents of the territory.~
~Booms go off from time to time, from mortar rounds and rockets fired by Gaza militants toward Erez, but fall short. A few hundred yards away, Israeli tanks and bulldozers rumble along the large concrete wall cutting off Gaza from Israel.~
~Israeli human rights groups say Israel has further tightened its criteria for patients from Gaza in recent weeks, allowing entry only to those with life-threatening conditions.
Israeli officials said they are trying to minimize the security risks posed by any Gazans coming to Israel.
Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for the branch of the Israeli military involved in coordinating with Gaza, said only humanitarian hardship cases are allowed out. He said his office has to ask the defense minister for special permission for anyone else, including a soccer team heading to a competition outside Gaza.
Dror said Erez and other crossings often come under fire from Gaza, forcing frequent shutdowns.
Those who get the go-ahead walk for about a mile from the Palestinian trailer to the Erez terminal, a modern airport-style hall where travelers make their way through turnstiles, metal detectors and a maze of glass-encased rooms. Only the very sick can approach by ambulance, and then not after dark.
Israeli human rights activists demand that the military loosen some of the restrictions to allow more patients out, as well as some 6,400 people who have foreign passports, residency rights or student visas and are waiting to leave. A few weeks ago, some 550 people in that group were able to take army-escorted shuttle buses to Egypt, but Dror said other departures were halted because of rocket fire.
Anwar Dughmush, 41, who's had trouble getting his 15-year-old nephew to Israel for an eye operation, said Gazans were squeezed by all sides, but he was particularly angry at the Palestinian rivals. "Hamas and Fatah are responsible for anyone who dies or gets sicker," he said.~
re:attempt to cease/prohibit preaching/religion in prison
~In 2003, a new warden, James Weeden, banned prisoners from preaching, saying it posed a security risk to place inmates in positions of authority.
"People behind a pulpit are in a position of power," Weeden said. "And people behind a pulpit, of all faiths, have abused that power."~
~The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled against the ban, calling Spratt's preaching "apparently unblemished by any hint of unsavory activity" and remanding the case to a lower court. Both sides settled in July, agreeing that Spratt and other inmates could preach under certain restrictions, including having supervision.~

--------------- victim once had domestic dispute with one assailant
~Prosecutors have backed off state hate-crime charges, saying they only carry an additional 10-year maximum penalty and could complicate their case. For one, hate crimes typically involve strangers, and Williams knew one of the suspects. She filed a charge of domestic assault against him in July.
Williams has been advised not to discuss anything about her prior dealings with the suspects, or the more graphic details of her experience.~

re:one mans name stands out in muslim charity mistrial
~Not one of the leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development was convicted Monday, and many acquittals were thrown out after three jurors took the rare step of disputing the verdict.
Juror William Neal told The Associated Press that the panel found little evidence against three of the defendants and was evenly split on charges against Shukri Abu Baker and former Holy Land chairman Ghassan Elashi, who were seen as the principal leaders of the charity.
"I thought they were not guilty across the board," said Neal, a 33-year-old art director from Dallas. The case "was strung together with macaroni noodles. There was so little evidence."~
~Some jurors were dead-set for convictions even before they began deliberating, Neal said.
"They brought up stuff that wasn't even in the case," he said. "They brought up 9-11."
The jury heard two months of testimony on charges that the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development funneled more than $12 million in aid to the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Such aid was illegal after January 1995 because President Clinton branded Hamas a terrorist group.~
~As Fish read the results, it appeared that jurors had acquitted Abdulqader on all charges, El-Mezain and Abdulrahman Odeh on most charges, and failed to reach decisions on any counts involving Baker, Elashi or Holy Land itself.
But even that partial result was precarious. When the judge polled each juror whether he or she agreed with the verdicts - normally a formality - things turned chaotic, as three jurors disavowed the vote.
Fish sent the jury back to resolve the differences, but after about an hour, they said they could not continue, and the judge declared a mistrial.~
re:man apprehended with fuseing,tools and explosives claims innocence,,bail denied
~TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A federal judge denied bail Thursday for an Egyptian college student arrested after authorities said they found explosive chemicals in his car near South Carolina Navy base.
U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday said Youssef Samir Megahed is a "a risk of flight and an unreasonable danger to the community," agreeing with prosecutors that the now-suspended University of South Florida student should stay in jail pending trial on federal explosives charges. The ruling reverses an earlier decision by another judge who had set bail at $200,000.
Megahed, 21, was arrested along with fellow USF student Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed, 24, during an Aug. 4 traffic stop in Goose Creek, S.C., about 15 miles northwest of Charleston and near a Navy weapons station.
In the trunk of their car, according an FBI agent's statement, police found 20 feet of fuse, a box of .22-caliber bullets, a drill, several gallons of gasoline, PVC piping and a mixture of explosive chemicals.
The agent also said Mohamed's laptop contained a video he made demonstrating how to convert a remote-control toy into a detonator for terrorist bombs.
Mohamed, who is also Egyptian, said he made the video "to assist those persons in Arabic countries to defend themselves against the infidels invading their countries," according to the agent's statement. He said "he considered American troops, and those military forces fighting with the American military, to be invaders of Arab countries," the statement said.
The students claimed they were on their way to a North Carolina beach and that they ended up in Goose Creek because they were looking for cheap gas.
In an e-mail to The Associated Press, Megahed's attorney, Adam Allen, confirmed bail was denied for his client, but did not offer addition comment. In a hearing earlier this month, Allen contended that Megahed didn't know anything about the explosives in the trunk or the video on the laptop. He also said Megahed has never been in trouble and isn't a flight risk because his family lives in Tampa.
Both men have pleaded not guilty. Mohamed is being held without bond.
A trial has been set Dec. 3. If convicted, Megahed faces up to 10 years in prison. Mohamed could get up to 30 years.~

re:osama,,er,,obama runs blockage for iran against hillary and others
~"Why is this amendment so dangerous?" Obama's mailing said. "Because George Bush and Dick Cheney could use this language to justify keeping our troops in Iraq as long as they can point to a threat from Iran, and because they could use this language to justify an attack on Iran as part of the ongoing war in Iraq."
Responding to the mailing, Clinton spokesman Mark Daley said: "If Senator Obama really thinks this is an issue of war and peace, it's odd that he didn't speak out against the measure before it passed or show up to vote against it. That's not the kind of strength and leadership Iowans are looking for."~
~Obama routinely criticizes Clinton for voting in favor of authorizing the use of force in Iraq, a move he opposed even though he had yet to be elected to the Senate. He says that shows he has "judgment we can trust," while Clinton's judgment is flawed despite her experience in Washington.~
~In New Hampshire, Obama said the debate is representative of the campaign's larger differences.
"We have very good candidates on the Democratic side," he said. "The question, though, is whether you are going to nominate a candidate who is not just tinkering around the edges or can bring about real change."
Later, Obama traveled to Boston where he was publicly endorsed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a Harvard Law School classmate and the second black governor in U.S. history. Obama could become the nation's first black president.~

re:osamas,,er,,obamas church handlers tell him to drop gospel singer that was raped by pervert who says similisex is a choice
~A gay rights group on Monday urged Barack Obama to cut ties with a gospel singer who it says spreads false information about homosexuality being a choice.
Donnie McClurkin is among several gospel singers scheduled to raise money for the Illinois senator and Democratic presidential candidate at a concert in South Carolina this weekend.
McClurkin has drawn attention from gay rights activists for his views on homosexuality.
"I don't believe that it is the intention of God," McClurkin said Monday in a telephone interview. "Sexuality, everything is a matter of choice."~
~McClurkin said he does not believe in discriminating against homosexuals. "What people do in their bedrooms and who they are as human beings are two different things," he said.
In a statement, Obama said he believes gays and lesbians are "our brothers and sisters" and should be afforded the same respect, dignity and rights granted all other citizens.
"I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country," Obama said. "I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views and will continue to fight for these rights as president of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division."
The statement did not say whether McClurkin will still perform on the tour.
"We strongly urge Obama to part ways with this divisive preacher who is clearly singing a different tune than the stated message of the campaign," Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, said in a statement.
At a forum on gay issues in August, Obama argued that civil unions for same-sex couples wouldn't be a "lesser thing" than marriage. Obama belongs to the United Church of Christ, which supports gay marriage, but Obama has yet to go that far.
In a telephone interview Monday, Besen said he admired Obama, but wasn't ready to endorse him, especially considering McClurkin taking part in the campaign's "Embrace the Change" concert tour.
"I think he'd be a great president. But I think it's going to drive away support from people who are on the fence such as myself," Besen said.
McClurkin is a Grammy Award winner who performed at the Republican National Convention in 2004. He told AP Radio in an interview that September that he was "once involved with those desires and those thoughts," which he attributed to being raped at 8 and 13.
"That's what thrust me into it, and then God delivered me from that and gave me back who I really am and my true purpose," McClurkin said.~

re:romney gaff leads to osama,,er,,obama camp claiming that 'opposing islamists in iraq makes us unsafe'
(just like osama says)
~"Actually, just look at what Osam - Barack Obama - said just yesterday. Barack Obama, calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. ... It's almost as if the Democratic contenders for president are living in fantasyland. Their idea for jihad is to retreat, and their idea for the economy is to also retreat. And in my view, both efforts are wrongheaded."~
~Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "Apparently, Mitt Romney can switch names just as casually as he switches positions, but what's wrongheaded is continuing a misguided war in Iraq that has left America less safe."~

re:thompsons first policy proposal
~In his first major policy proposal, Thompson challenged presidential rivals Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney by criticizing "sanctuary cities" where city workers are barred from reporting suspected illegal immigrants who enroll their children in school or seek hospital treatment.
"Taxpayer money should not be provided to illegal immigrants," Thompson said at a round-table discussion that included Collier County, Fla., sheriff Don Hunter.
Thompson has argued his rivals are soft on illegal immigration because Giuliani, as New York mayor, sued the federal government to keep his city's sanctuary policy and because Romney tolerated sanctuary cities as Massachusetts' governor.~
~In turn, Giuliani's campaign accused Thompson of being weak on the issue. At a news conference Tuesday in Boston, Giuliani said: "I'm the one who can bring about immigration reform."
The immigration issue is important to many conservatives who influence Republican primaries. Some argue that illegal immigrants are straining schools and hospitals and taking jobs from U.S. citizens.
Thompson chose to announce his plan in Collier County, which has vast tomato farms that hire thousands of immigrants and last year was part of a two-county sweep that saw 163 illegal immigrants arrested in one weekend.
Thompson's campaign said 22 percent of the county's crime is committed by illegal immigrants.
To the sheriff, Thompson said: "You've clearly been swamped with a particular kind of problem because the federal government, in large part, has let you down and has not done their part."
"There's not a lot of new legislation that needs to be passed," the candidate said. "We need to enforce the laws that are on the books. There are laws against illegal immigration, there are laws to secure the border, there are laws against sanctuary cities, there are laws against publicly funding illegals, and that law is being disregarded."
Under Thompson's plan, sanctuary cities would lose discretionary federal grants, as would colleges and universities that allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition.
The former Tennessee senator also called for stronger laws forcing employers to verify that workers aren't illegal immigrants, for a more rigorous system to track who is coming in and out of the country and for increased prosecution of "coyotes," smugglers who bring illegal immigrants across the Mexican border.
Calling for stronger border security, he said: "A small amount of nuclear material could do a lot of damage in the wrong hands. It makes you wonder why a terrorist would bother going through an airport or a port ... when we have an open border."
"In 1996 we passed a bill, I was in the Senate, that outlawed sanctuary city cities. Mayor Giuliani went to court to defeat that law," Thompson said.
Giuliani spokeswoman Katie Levinson said Thompson didn't try to fix the problem of illegal immigration when he was in the Senate.
"He was voting against $1 billion to combat illegal immigration at the borders, against stricter employment verification and for giving illegal immigrants more benefits than we give legal immigrants. That's not consistent or conservative," Levinson said.
Romney spokesman Kevin Madden called Thompson a latecomer to the issue of sanctuary cities. "Governor Romney has been the strongest candidate when it comes to demanding that our existing immigration laws are enforced," Madden said.
Romney has spent several weeks criticizing Giuliani for New York's sanctuary policy; Giuliani responds that he cracked down on all lawlessness and that Romney tolerated sanctuary cities in Massachusetts.
Romney says he tried to curtail the problem by deputizing state police to enforce federal immigration laws.
Romney and Giuliani both are calling for tougher border security and enforcement of immigration laws, although in the past they spoke favorably of measures, sponsored by Arizona Sen. John McCain, another rival, that would provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million immigrants here illegally.
As Thompson traveled through Florida, his campaign suffered another staff departure and lost a key supporter in New Hampshire to rival John McCain.
Aides confirmed that Nelson Warfield, a political media strategist, has left the campaign while New Hampshire Republican Dan Hughes said he had joined McCain's campaign leadership team.
Hughes, a developer who helped Ronald Reagan's campaign in 1980 and later Reagan's White House transition team, publicly split from the Thompson campaign last week, citing Thompson's lack of interest in the early voting state.~

re:report about global warming shows it aint new but is used to buttress current scare tactics anyway
~Four of the five major extinctions over 520 million years of Earth history have been linked to warmer tropical seas, something that indicates a warmer world overall, according to the new study published Wednesday.~
~A second study, to be presented at a scientific convention Sunday, links high carbon dioxide levels, the chief man-made gas responsible for global warming, to past extinctions.
In the British study, Mayhew and his colleagues looked at temperatures in 10 million-year chunks because fossil records aren't that precise in time measurements. They then compared those to the number of species, the number of species families, and overall biodiversity. They found more biodiversity with lower temperatures and more species dying with higher temperatures.
The researchers examined tropical sea temperatures - the only ones that can be determined from fossil records and go back hundreds of millions of years. They indicate a natural 60 million-year climate cycle that moves from a warmer "greenhouse" to a cooler "icehouse." The Earth is warming from its current colder period.
Every time the tropical sea temperatures were about 7 degrees warmer than they are now and stayed that way for millions of enough years, there was a die-off. How fast extinctions happen varies in length.
The study linked mass extinctions with higher temperatures, but did not try to establish a cause-and-effect. For example, the most recent mass extinction, the one 65 million years ago that included the die-off of dinosaurs, probably was caused by an asteroid collision as scientists theorize and Mayhew agrees.
But extinctions were likely happening anyway as temperatures were increasing, Mayhew said. Massive volcanic activity, which releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, have also been blamed for the dinosaur extinction.
The author of the second study, which focuses on carbon dioxide, said he does see a cause-and-effect between warmer seas and extinctions.
Peter Ward, a University of Washington biology and paleontology professor, said natural increases in carbon dioxide warmed the air and ocean. The warmer water had less oxygen and spawned more microbes, which in turn spewed toxic hydrogen sulfide into the air and water, killing species.
Ward examined 13 major and minor extinctions in the past and found a common link: rising carbon dioxide levels in the air and falling oxygen levels. Ward's study will be presented Sunday at the Geological Society of America's annual convention in Denver.
Mayhew also found increasing carbon dioxide levels in the air coinciding with die-offs, but concluded that temperatures better predicted biodiversity.
Those higher temperatures that coincided with mass extinctions are about the same level forecast for a century from now if the world continues its growing emissions of greenhouse gases, according to the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In April, the same climate panel of thousands of scientists warned that "20 to 30 percent of animal species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction" if temperatures increase by about 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
"Since we're already seeing threshold changes in ecosystems with the relatively small amount of climate change already taking place, one could expect there's going to be severe transformations," said biologist Thomas Lovejoy, president of the H. John Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment in Washington.
University of Texas biologist Camille Parmesan, who studies how existing species are changing with global warming but wasn't part of either team, said she was "blown away" by the Mayhew study and called it "very convincing."
"This will give scant comfort to anyone who says that the world has often been warmer than recently so we're just going back to a better world," Pennsylvania State University geological sciences professor Richard Alley said. ~

re:report claims allready existing health probs due to warming
~Boxer produced a CDC chart listing the broad range of health problems that could emerge from a significant temperature increase and sea level rise
They include fatalities from heat stress and heart failure, increased injuries and deaths from severe weather such as hurricanes; more respiratory problems from drought-driven air pollution; an increase in waterborne diseases including cholera, and increases vector-borne diseases including malaria and hantavirus; and mental health problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress.
"These are the potential things you can expect," replied Gerberding when asked about the items listed. "... In some of these areas its not a question of if, it's a question of who, what, how and when." ~

re:even critters like to drink and raise cain
~Six Asiatic wild elephants were electrocuted as they went berserk after drinking rice beer in India's remote northeast, a wildlife official said Tuesday.
Nearly 40 elephants came to a village on Friday looking for food. Some found beer, which farmers ferment and keep in plastic and tin drums in their huts, said Sunil Kumar, a state wildlife official.
They got drunk, uprooted a utility pole carrying power lines and were electrocuted in Chandan Nukat, a village nearly 150 miles west of Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya state, Kumar said.
"There would have been more casualties had the villagers not chased them away," said Dipu Mark, a local conservationist.
The elephants are known to have a taste for rice beer brewed by tribal communities in India's northeast. Four wild elephants died in similar circumstances in the region three years ago.~
re:hint at how gov provided health care bumps freedom of choice for citizens
~Suit Says Baby's Seizure Violated Rights
Published: 10/25/07, 10:05 PM EDT
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska couple sued state health officials Thursday, arguing their rights were violated when their newborn baby was seized by sheriff's deputies so a mandatory blood test could be performed.
Joel Anaya, who was almost 6 weeks old, was kept in foster care for six days until the tests came back negative earlier this month.
His parents, Mary and Josue Anaya, believe that the Bible instructs against deliberately drawing blood and that ignoring that directive may shorten a person's life. State health officials "conspired to deny the Anayas their rights of due process, and to seize and test baby Joel without notice or a hearing in district court," according to the filed in U.S. District Court in Omaha.
"This is a classic case of the government overreaching and violating a family's constitutional rights," said Jeff Downing, the couple's attorney.
The Anaya family is not seeking damages, but they want to ensure that this won't happen again if they have more children.
It's the first time in Nebraska a child was taken from parents to draw the drops of blood from the baby's heel for the screening, said Marla Augustine, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services. Nebraska is one of four states - South Dakota, Michigan and Montana are the others - that doesn't offer a religious exemption for parents who don't want the test performed.
Health officials say the newborn screening program is one of the state's most cost-effective public health programs. The newborn blood test - usually performed within 48 hours of birth - screens for dozens of rare diseases, some of which can cause severe mental retardation or death if left undetected.
Last year, out of 26,819 babies tested, 537 tested positive for one of the dozens of diseases, and 43 of those results were confirmed, according to the state's Newborn Screening Program.
Augustine said Thursday that state officials had not seen the lawsuit and would have no comment.
The decision to seize Joel Anaya and test him was made by Douglas County prosecutors who have said they only did what was necessary to protect the baby's health.
When the Anayas' daughter Rosa was born in 2003, a hearing was held in Douglas County District Court and the couple voiced their objections. The state Supreme Court eventually turned down their arguments, but Rosa never was tested.
This time, the county wanted to make sure the testing was completed, said Nicole Brundo Goaley, a deputy Douglas County Attorney. So the county got an order from a juvenile court judge to test the baby.
Sheriff's deputies came Oct. 11 to take the child, who remained in foster care until tests came back Oct. 16. During that period, social workers let Mary Anaya nurse her son several times a day.~

re:anti-harrassment course violates freedoms of non minorities
~Court Allows Anti-Harass Training Suit
Published: 10/26/07, 1:25 PM EDT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A high school student can pursue nominal damages from an eastern Kentucky school district over its required anti-harassment training, an appeals court ruled Friday.
The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the Boyd County school district's policy provided a "chill" on student Timothy Allen Morrison's ability to profess his Christian beliefs and opposition to homosexuality. The ruling sends the case back to U.S. District Judge David Bunning for a hearing on damages.
Judge Karen Nelson Moore, joined by Judge John R. Adams, wrote that the allegation of a policy stifling free speech is enough to allow Morrison to seek damages. To make his case, the judges said, Morrison must show that the policy would "deter a person of ordinary firmness" from exercising free speech rights.
Messages left for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Christian legal group that represented Morrison, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the school district, were not immediately returned.
Morrison sued the school district claiming that the mandatory anti-harassment training threatened him with punishment for expressing religious beliefs in opposition to homosexuality. Morrison is a professed Christian who believes his religion requires him to speak out against what he sees as behavior that doesn't comport with his understanding of Christian morality.
The policy was later changed to allow students to opt out of the training and exempt speech that would normally be protected off campus.
In the dissent, Judge Deborah Cook said Morrison chose not to speak out against homosexuality and thus didn't risk being punished
Cook said Morrison suffered no actual harm from the policy and holding a trial for damages to award "a single dollar" serves no purpose and "trivializes" the business of the federal courts in protecting the constitution.
"We cannot find a school district constitutionally liable for chilling student speech every time a student chooses caution over risking possible discipline," she wrote.
The training sessions were part of a settlement in 2004 of a three-year dispute between the school district and a now-defunct gay-rights group that wanted recognition as an extracurricular group.
At issue was the federal Equal Access Act, which says districts can't bar student groups from access to school facilities based on religious, political or philosophical orientation if the districts let other groups meet on campus.~
re:fear of terror attack obscures publics view of poll locations
~Pa. Won't Release List of Polling Places
Published: 10/25/07, 9:45 PM EDT
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - State officials have decided not to publicize their list of polling places in Pennsylvania, citing concerns that terrorists could disrupt elections in the commonwealth.
The Department of State was influenced by the terrorist bombings that struck just days before Spain's national elections in 2004, spokeswoman Leslie Amoros said. Election officials consulted with state police, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the state Office of Homeland Security.
"The agencies agreed it was appropriate not to release the statewide list to protect the public and the integrity of the voting process," Amoros said.
Information on individual polling places remains available on the state voter services Web site or by calling the state or county elections bureaus.
Critics say concealing the compiled list runs afoul of the state's open records law and makes coordinating statewide voter-mobilization strategies more difficult.
"If the government has a record, and has it in electronic form, they should release it to any citizen who requests it," said Stephanie Frank Singer, founder of a Philadelphia consulting firm that provides customized lists and data collection for political campaigns and nonprofit groups.
Singer said she is considering challenging the decision.
It's unclear how many other states compile similar lists, and whether the ones that do make them available to the public.
The comprehensive list helps candidates for statewide office coordinate volunteer get-out-the-vote efforts, Singer said.
"A big part of (mobilizing voters) is keeping track of where polling places are, or when they change," Singer said.
Some campaigns may lack the manpower to gather the information on a county-by-county basis, and some counties are more helpful than others in providing polling place locations, she said.~
re:student exposing hypochristy in academocrats character
~A politically conservative student armed with a video camera and a Web site is trying to force a Democratic congressional candidate out of his teaching job at Central Michigan University.
Dennis Lennox, a 23-year-old junior, has posted videos on YouTube of himself questioning assistant professor Gary Peters about campaigning for office while holding a prestigious position at the university.
Some say Lennox is persistent. Others accuse him of pandering for attention.
"What I'm doing isn't about getting media attention," said Lennox, a political science major. "I'm speaking for the hundreds of students, alumni, taxpayers and even legislators who have complained because Gary Peters won't pick between Congress and campus."
In one video Lennox posted online, Peters is seen walking to his car while Lennox asks him several questions, including whether he is angry about his campaign not getting "positive press." Peters doesn't respond.
Peters said in an interview this week with The Associated Press that his university position is part-time and privately funded.
"The bottom line is that people who run for public office still need to pay the bills and still need to work," he said. He drives 130 miles from a Detroit suburb to Mount Pleasant to teach class once a week.
Peters, 48, is seeking the Democratic nomination to face Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Knollenberg in Oakland County, one of the top congressional targets for Democrats nationally in 2008.
"If I was running for Congress in a seat where I had no chance of winning, I probably wouldn't have any attention put on me at all," said Peters, a former state senator who lost a close race for Michigan attorney general in 2002.
He acknowledges it would be difficult to keep his $65,000-a-year job at the university if he gets elected to Congress, but says he will worry about that if he wins. Peters holds the Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government - named for a former Republican U.S. senator and Michigan Supreme Court justice.
Lennox helped start the group Students Against Gary Peters and created a Web site for what he calls "Petersgate." He insists that he isn't targeting Peters because he's a Democrat.
Some see it differently.
"Basically, he's just an extreme partisan. Anybody that's a Democrat, he's going to try to get at," said fellow political science major Eric Schulz.
Lennox's anti-Peters campaign shows no sign of slowing down, though his tactics have generated complaints.
Lennox said Thursday that he had been cited for handing out fliers at an Oct. 8 public forum moderated by the professor. University policies prohibit distributing printed materials inside a campus building.
"I can't believe what's going on," Lennox said. "I'm flabbergasted my school is seeking retribution against me."
A disciplinary hearing will be held Nov. 7 if Lennox does not contact school officials by Nov. 2.
University spokesman Steve Smith declined to comment because of student privacy laws.
Both Lennox and college Dean Pamela Gates filed police complaints against each other after Lennox requested Peters' e-mails under the Freedom of Information Act. At one point in the brief video, also posted online, Gates is seen gesturing into the camera at close range, and it then goes out of focus, as if it has been struck.
Lennox is heard saying, "Don't touch my camera," suggesting that Gates either touched it or attempted to.
Lennox said he started videotaping Gates after she refused to take the request and ordered him out of her office.
"She accosted, assaulted and battered me," Lennox said. "Whether you're a liberal or conservative, we all have to live and play by the same rules. I seemed to learn something in first grade that you keep your hands to yourself."
No charges have been filed and the university is investigating the incident. But Smith said that "people get very uncomfortable when a camera is shoved in their face. Employees and students have a reasonable expectation to privacy."
When the school told Lennox he couldn't record employees or students without their permission, he filed a censorship complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is reviewing it.
Peters says requiring permission before filming is reasonable when it involves students' privacy, though he stops short of saying it should apply to public figures such as himself.
"When you run for public office, you've got to have a thick skin," he said.
Peters says somewhat ruefully that he has fulfilled his job description of bringing practical politics to campus.
"Students are definitely seeing what happens when somebody runs for public office in a high-profile race, the types of things they have to confront," he said.
On the Net:
Gary Peters for Congress:
The Peters Report:
Central Michigan University:
YouTube videos:;;
re:creationism,intelligent design & evolution
~The real controversy— and it is a raging controversy— is about intelligent design. Intelligent design is the scientific theory that there is evidence for intelligent agency in some aspects of biology, for example in the genetic code and in the intricate molecular machines inside cells. Intelligent design isn’t a religious belief. It’s a scientific inference. Of course intelligent design scientists are mostly theists, just as Darwinists are mostly atheists.
Scientists who support intelligent design are a very small fraction of scientists, at least a small fraction of biologists. Yet the controversy between intelligent design and Darwinism is a scientific controversy. Whether a controversy is scientific or not is a qualitative question, not a quantitative question. A scientific controversy is generated when even one scientist asks a perceptive and important question. Dr. Pigliucci knows the difference between creationism and intelligent design, and he knows that the issues raised by I.D. scientists — such as irreducible complexity
are genuine scientific issues. Yet he misrepresents the controversy in the first sentences of his essay. If Dr. Pigliiucci is to improve science education, honesty about the issues is a good place to start.~
~Then he makes a point that is, well, jaw-dropping. He proposes better science education as a tonic against belief in Heaven:
In fact, the connection between education (science education in particular) and belief in paranormal phenomena or explanations is an empirical matter...a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press (as cited by Goode, 2002) found that belief in heaven as a real (physical) place does diminish according to increasing levels of education from 92 percent among people with less than a high school education to 73 percent among people with a postgraduate education.
Why is Dr. Pigliucci surprised that most people, even well-educated people, believe in Heaven? How does science prove the non-existence of things outside of nature? Paranormal phenomena and UFOs involve events in nature that can be studied using the methods of science, and science provides evidence that paranormal phenomena and UFOs are unlikely to exist. But how exactly does science provide evidence that Heaven doesn’t exist? Dr. Pigliucci cites no data or experiments, and it’s difficult to see how the scientific method, which is suited to the study of the natural world, applies to inferences about religious beliefs in the afterlife.~
~What scientific evidence is there that ‘places’ don’t exist outside of our routine experience with nature? Actually, modern physics and cosmology make liberal inference to places outside of our perception, such as higher spatial dimensions curled up in String Theory and multiverses conjured up to circumvent anthropic inferences. Yet despite abundant scientific inference to places outside of our world as we experience it, Dr. Pigliucci believes that adequate science education would dissuade students from their religious beliefs — from their beliefs in the world outside of nature.
Why would Dr. Pigliucci make such a silly assertion, that science in some way, properly taught, ought to dissuade students from belief in the existence of Heaven? This is why: Dr. Pigliucci conflates methodological naturalism — the systematic data-driven study of the natural world — with philosophical naturalism — the philosophical assertion that nature is all that exists. He conflates science with atheism.~
~In point of fact, Dr. Pigliucci proposes to teach students philosophical naturalism veiled in scientific naturalism. His purpose is ideological. Ironically, the indoctrination he proposes would raise the same issues of neutrality in religious instruction in public schools that Darwinists invoke about the teaching of biblical creationism. Fundamentalists of all stripes can't seem to keep their religious views out of science. Dr. Pigliucci — a professor of philosophy as well as of evolutionary biology — knows the difference between atheism and science. His choice not to be forthright about the difference is emblematic of the fundamentalist approach — the Darwinist approach — to science education.~
re:mccains opposition to wsteful 'woodstock museum'

~McCain Hits Clinton in 2nd Woodstock Ad
Published: 10/26/07, 1:46 PM EDT
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful John McCain criticized Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton's proposal for a Woodstock museum as wasteful spending in a new television ad that started on Friday.
In the ad - McCain's second new one in a week - the Arizona senator touts his record fighting such spending and repeats his mocking of the Clinton's failed effort to spend $1 million for a museum in Bethel, N.Y., site of the August 1969 rock festival.
"John McCain says if you want to relive Woodstock, buy the record," an announcer says in the 30-second spot.
The ad also hits Clinton, a New York senator, as a product of the 1960s culture, while McCain spent time as a Vietnam prisoner of war.
"It was a cultural event that defined a generation, worthy of fond memories," an announcer says. "But worthy of a million of your tax dollars to build a museum? Hillary Clinton thinks so."
McCain's campaign has focused its criticism on spending run amok as what is wrong in Washington. The ad also points to McCain's record fighting such spending.
"He's been cutting wasteful spending for more than 20 years," the announcer says. "That's why Citizens Against Government Waste calls John McCain a taxpayer hero."
The theme echoes one McCain started airing on Thursday, contrasting images of Woodstock with his years as a Vietnam POW. It included McCain's first punch line based on the Woodstock museum, spoken during Sunday's Fox News Channel debate.
"Now my friends, I wasn't there. I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time," he said, referring to being held prisoner in North Vietnam.
That ad, however, prompted a request from Fox News Channel to stop airing it because the cable network bars candidates from using debate clips in ads. The network filed a cease and desist letter to McCain, who rejected their request.
A McCain aide said the new ad has nothing to do with a Fox News Channel request. Both ads will continue in New Hampshire.
Clinton spokeswoman Kathleen Strand offered the same response she had to the first ad.
"Again, Senator McCain should focus more on explaining to New Hampshire voters why he supported the fiscally irresponsible Bush policies that squandered a federal surplus and left us with the largest deficit in American history," Strand said.~
re:japan does what we should,,actively act like a nation actually protecting it's citizens from terrorists and criminals
~Japan to Fingerprint Foreign Visitors
Published: 10/26/07, 3:05 AM EDT
TOKYO (AP) - Japan hopes to thwart potential terrorists from entering the country by fingerprinting and photographing all foreigners aged 16 or over on entry starting next month, an official said Friday.
Only some permanent residents, diplomatic visitors, and children under 16 will be exempt from the measures after the system goes into effect Nov. 20, Immigration Bureau official Takumi Sato said.
Under the new system, all adults will be photographed and fingerprinted on arrival in Japan. Incoming aircraft and ship operators also will be obliged to provide passenger and crew lists before they arrive.
Resident foreigners will be required to go through the procedure every time they re-enter Japan.
Immigration officials will run the images and data through a database of international terror and crime suspects as well as against domestic crime records. People matching the data on file will be denied entry and deported.
"We hope the system will help keep terrorists out of the country, and also put at ease the minds of both the Japanese people and the foreigners who come here," Sato said.
The bureau plans to store the data for "a long time," Sato said, while refusing to disclose how long due to security concerns.
It is unclear how many people will be affected; Japan saw 8.11 million foreign entries in 2006, Sato said.
Opponents of the new system say the measures amount to discrimination against foreigners and a violation of their right to privacy.
Tokyo's staunch support of the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and dispatch of forces to each region have raised concerns that Japan could become the target of deadly terror attacks.~

re:dem libs more superstitious than conservatives?
~That's the Spirit: Belief in Ghosts High
Published: 10/26/07, 2:46 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) - Those things that go bump in the night? About one-third of people believe they could be ghosts.
And nearly one out of four, 23 percent, say they've actually seen a ghost or felt its presence, finds a pre-Halloween poll by The Associated Press and Ipsos.
One is Misty Conrad, who says she fled her rented home in Syracuse, Ind., after her daughter began talking to an unseen girl named Nicole and neighbors said children had been murdered in the house. That was after the TV and lights began flicking on at night.
"It kind of creeped you out," Conrad, 40, of Hampton, Va., recalled this week. "I needed to get us out."
About one out of five people, 19 percent, say they accept the existence of spells or witchcraft. Nearly half, 48 percent, believe in extrasensory perception, or ESP.
The most likely candidates for ghostly visits include single people, Catholics and those who never attend religious services. By 31 percent to 18 percent, more liberals than conservatives report seeing a specter.
Those who dismissed the existence of ghosts include Morris Swadener, 66, a Navy retiree from Kingston, Wash.
He says he shot one with his rifle when he was a child.
"I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a white ghost in my closet," he said. "I discovered I'd put a hole in my brand new white shirt. My mother and father were not amused."
Three in 10 have awakened sensing a strange presence in the room. For whatever it says about matrimony, singles are more likely than married people to say so.
Fourteen percent - mostly men and lower-income people - say they have seen a UFO. Among them is Danny Eskanos, 44, an attorney in Palm Harbor, Fla., who says as a Colorado teenager he watched a bright light dart across the sky, making abrupt stops and turns.
"I knew a little about airplanes and helicopters, and it was not that," he said. "It's one of those things that sticks in your mind."
Spells and witchcraft are more readily believed by urban dwellers, minorities and lower-earning people. Those who find credibility in ESP are more likely to be better educated and white - 51 percent of college graduates compared to 37 percent with a high school diploma or less, about the same proportion by which white believers outnumber minorities.
Overall, the 48 percent who accept ESP is less than the 66 percent who gave that answer to a similar 1996 Newsweek question.
One in five say they are at least somewhat superstitious, with young men, minorities, and the less educated more likely to go out of their way to seek luck. Twenty-six percent of urban residents - twice the rate of those from rural areas - said they are superstitious, while single men were more superstitious than unmarried women, 31 percent to 17 percent.
The most admitted-to superstition, by 17 percent, was finding a four-leaf clover. Thirteen percent dread walking under a ladder or the groom seeing his bride before their wedding, while slightly smaller numbers named black cats, breaking mirrors, opening umbrellas indoors, Friday the 13th or the number 13.
Generally, women were more superstitious than men about four-leaf clovers, breaking mirrors or grooms prematurely seeing brides. Democrats were more superstitious than Republicans over opening umbrellas indoors, while liberals were more superstitious than conservatives over four-leaf clovers, grooms seeing brides and umbrellas.
Then there's Jack Van Geldern, a computer programmer from Riverside, Conn. Now 51, Van Geldern is among the 5 percent who say they have seen a monster in the closet - or in his case, a monster's face he spotted on the wall of his room as a child.
"It was so terrifying I couldn't move," he said. "Needless to say I survived the event and never saw it again."
The poll, conducted Oct. 16-18, involved telephone interviews with 1,013 adults and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.~
re:water shortage the next politico poker,,goracle advocates priming process for power,,fla irony pointed out
~Coastal states like Florida and California face a water crisis not only from increased demand, but also from rising temperatures that are causing glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise. Higher temperatures mean more water lost to evaporation. And rising seas could push saltwater into underground sources of freshwater.
Florida represents perhaps the nation's greatest water irony. A hundred years ago, the state's biggest problem was it had too much water. But decades of dikes, dams and water diversions have turned swamps into cities.
Little land is left to store water during wet seasons, and so much of the landscape has been paved over that water can no longer penetrate the ground in some places to recharge aquifers. As a result, the state is forced to flush millions of gallons of excess into the ocean to prevent flooding.
Also, the state dumps hundreds of billions of gallons a year of treated wastewater into the Atlantic through pipes - water that could otherwise be used for irrigation.
Florida's environmental chief, Michael Sole, is seeking legislative action to get municipalities to reuse the wastewater.
"As these communities grow, instead of developing new water with new treatment systems, why not better manage the commodity they already have and produce an environmental benefit at the same time?" Sole said.
Florida leads the nation in water reuse by reclaiming some 240 billion gallons annually, but it is not nearly enough, Sole said.
Floridians use about 2.4 trillion gallons of water a year. The state projects that by 2025, the population will have increased 34 percent from about 18 million to more than 24 million people, pushing annual demand for water to nearly 3.3 trillion gallons.
More than half of the state's expected population boom is projected in a three-county area that includes Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach, where water use is already about 1.5 trillion gallons a year.
"We just passed a crossroads. The chief water sources are basically gone," said John Mulliken, director of water supply for the South Florida Water Management District. "We really are at a critical moment in Florida history."~
~In addition to recycling and conservation, technology holds promise.
There are more than 1,000 desalination plants in the U.S., many in the Sunbelt, where baby boomers are retiring at a dizzying rate.
The Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant is producing about 25 million gallons a day of fresh drinking water, about 10 percent of that area's demand. The $158 million facility is North America's largest plant of its kind. Miami-Dade County is working with the city of Hialeah to build a reverse osmosis plant to remove salt from water in deep brackish wells. Smaller such plants are in operation across the state.
Californians use nearly 23 trillion gallons of water a year, much of it coming from Sierra Nevada snowmelt. But climate change is producing less snowpack and causing it to melt prematurely, jeopardizing future supplies.
Experts also say the Colorado River, which provides freshwater to seven Western states, will probably provide less water in coming years as global warming shrinks its flow.
California, like many other states, is pushing conservation as the cheapest alternative, looking to increase its supply of treated wastewater for irrigation and studying desalination, which the state hopes could eventually provide 20 percent of its freshwater.
"The need to reduce water waste and inefficiency is greater now than ever before," said Benjamin Grumbles, assistant administrator for water at the Environmental Protection Agency. "Water efficiency is the wave of the future."~
re:americans defending private property from 'annexation' treated harsher than 'exteremist islamists'
~COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A 75-year-old woman who had known her family planned to shoot anyone who came on their land was convicted and sentenced to life in prison Friday for her role in the deaths of two law officers.
Rita Bixby was found guilty of conspiracy and two counts of accessory to murder in the Dec. 8, 2003, shootings.
Bixby wasn't home at the time of the shootings, but she knew her husband and son planned violence against anyone who stepped on their land, prosecutor Jerry Peace said. The family was angry that the state wanted to take a strip of their land for a highway project in Abbeville, about 85 miles west of Columbia.
The prosecutor said he thought e-mails Bixby sent to family and friends in the weeks before the shootings were the strongest evidence.
"I told them if they did anything on our property without our consent, they would be facing a shotgun. I guess you might say two shotguns, which would not be just for show," read an e-mail signed by Bixby and dated Nov. 4, 2003.
Jurors, who deliberated about two hours, returned their verdict just minutes after the panel asked that the e-mails be reread, Peace said.
Rita Bixby's attorney Jeff Bloom said his client was simply exercising her First Amendment right to free speech.
"It's a tragedy all the way around," said Bloom, who plans to appeal. "She had never been involved in any crime of violence, not even a parking ticket.~
(maybe now,,we can prosecute those who know their islamist pals want to kill non muslims.If it's good enuff for US,,it's good enuff for them)
re:judge acts appropiately in cruelty case resulting in pets death
~"You mean he threw a helpless animal off three floors because he was mad at someone?" Circuit Judge Edward Cottingham asked a prosecutor before issuing the sentence Thursday.
The judge, who has owned nine dogs, said he was obligated to issue a tough sentence.
"There is nobody in this world that can understand that," Cottingham said.
He sentenced Morris to five years, suspended to three years in prison and two years of probation. Morris, who will be eligible for parole in 20 months, also was ordered to get anger management counseling.
"I've got to send a message to all dog lovers that we are going to protect that interest in our courtrooms," Cottingham said.~
(maybe now we can get prosecution for cops killing non threatening pets,,just like the public is punished for harming cop dogs)

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