Recent Entries in Politics

The number of seized methamphetamine labs in the Washington area has been flat in recent years; the number of meth-related visits to emergency rooms has plummeted. National data show meth use falling off in recent years. Federal officials and local law enforcement confirmed what the arresting officer told Garza.

â..Itâ..s not that big of a deal, but weâ..re keeping it on the radar,â. said Kristine Vander Wall, an intelligence analyst with the Washington/Baltimore bureau of the federal High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program who has done heavy analysis of meth usage and arrest data.

Meth, a mildly addictive synthetic drug that stimulates the nervous system, has not infiltrated the Virginia suburbs to any significant degree.

One possible explanation for the flat national rate of meth use and the lack of a serious local problem could be that the drug is not very addictive. A recent federal survey showed that of the 12 million people who had used meth in their lifetime, only 1 in 10 had used it in the past year. Only 1 in 25 had used it in the past 30 days.

Despite the evidence, health officials are also pushing for legislation that would restrict the sale of cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine, one of the ingredients used to manufacture meth. Virginia, like many states across the country, limits such sales, but Maryland and the District do not.

Washington City Paper

Maybe the Governor will intervene, or something.

Homeland Security Official Arrested - CBS News

Authorities say a deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been arrested on charges of using the Internet to seduce a person he thought was a teenage girl.

Brian J. Doyle, 55, was arrested at his residence in Maryland on charges of use of a computer to seduce a child and transmission of harmful material to a minor. The charges were issued out of Polk County, Fla.

"We take these allegations very seriously, and we will cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation," says Doyle's boss, Homeland Security press secretary Russ Knocke, who declined comment on the details of the investigation.

Thousands of voters turned out in Wisconsin to offer a purely symbolic but heartfelt message: Bring the troops home from Iraq.

By margins overwhelming in some places and narrow in others, voters in 24 of 32 communities approved referendums Tuesday calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Such measures have been passed by city councils and voters in other states, including Vermont, which served as a model for Wisconsin's effort, said Rachel Friedman, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.

The group, which helped organize Tuesday's initiatives, is already looking at ways to take the referendums into more communities. Elected officials can't ignore the results, especially as the November election season looms, Friedman said.

24 Wis. Communities Vote for Iraq Pullout

  An Atheist Manifesto

Some good thinking going on here. Worth a read.

Truthdig - An Atheist Manifesto

It is worth noting that no one ever needs to identify himself as a non-astrologer or a non-alchemist. Consequently, we do not have words for people who deny the validity of these pseudo-disciplines. Likewise, atheism is a term that should not even exist. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma. The atheist is merely a person who believes that the 260 million Americans (87% of the population) who claim to never doubt the existence of God should be obliged to present evidence for his existence and, indeed, for his benevolence, given the relentless destruction of innocent human beings we witness in the world each day. Only the atheist appreciates just how uncanny our situation is: Most of us believe in a God that is every bit as specious as the gods of Mount Olympus; no person, whatever his or her qualifications, can seek public office in the United States without pretending to be certain that such a God exists; and much of what passes for public policy in our country conforms to religious taboos and superstitions appropriate to a medieval theocracy. Our circumstance is abject, indefensible and terrifying. It would be hilarious if the stakes were not so high.

We live in a world where all things, good and bad, are finally destroyed by change. Parents lose their children and children their parents. Husbands and wives are separated in an instant, never to meet again. Friends part company in haste, without knowing that it will be for the last time. This life, when surveyed with a broad glance, presents little more than a vast spectacle of loss. Most people in this world, however, imagine that there is a cure for this. If we live rightlyâ..not necessarily ethically, but within the framework of certain ancient beliefs and stereotyped behaviorsâ..we will get everything we want after we die. When our bodies finally fail us, we just shed our corporeal ballast and travel to a land where we are reunited with everyone we loved while alive. Of course, overly rational people and other rabble will be kept out of this happy place, and those who suspended their disbelief while alive will be free to enjoy themselves for all eternity.

We live in a world of unimaginable surprises--from the fusion energy that lights the sun to the genetic and evolutionary consequences of this lights dancing for eons upon the Earth--and yet Paradise conforms to our most superficial concerns with all the fidelity of a Caribbean cruise. This is wondrously strange. If one didnâ..t know better, one would think that man, in his fear of losing all that he loves, had created heaven, along with its gatekeeper God, in his own image.

... that the Bush administration is repeating

Top Ten Mistakes the Bush Administration Is Repeating from Vietnam: Newsroom: The Independent Institute

Because the Bush administration, almost from the start, has eschewed any comparison of Iraq with Vietnam, officials apparently never read the history of the nationâ..s heretofore worst war and have made the same 10 major mistakes:

1. Underestimating the enemy. As in Vietnam, the superpowerâ..s potent military has been astounded by the tenacity and competence of a nationalist rebellion attempting to throw a foreign occupier from its soil. For example, the U.S. military, a hierarchical organization, views the Sunni insurgency as disorganized and without a central command structure. Yet the insurgents are using this decentralized structure very effectively and are not threatened by any U.S. decapitation strike to severely wound the rebellion by killing its leaders.

When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Bush wrote: ''The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "

Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement - The Boston Globe

When Governor Mike Rounds signed HB 1215 into law it effectively banned all abortions in the state with the exception that it did allow saving the mother's life. There were, however, no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. His actions, and the comments of State Senators like Bill Napoli of Rapid City, SD, set of a maelstrom of protests within the state.

Napoli suggested that if it was a case of "simple rape," there should be no thoughts of ending a pregnancy. Letters by the hundreds appeared in local newspapers, mostly written by women, challenging Napoli's description of rape as "simple." He has yet to explain satisfactorily what he meant by "simple rape."

The President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, was incensed. A former nurse and healthcare giver she was very angry that a state body made up mostly of white males, would make such a stupid law against women.

"To me, it is now a question of sovereignty," she said to me last week. "I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction."

Oglala Sioux Tribe on the South Dakota Abortion Ban : SF Bay Area Indymedia

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, has stepped into the controversy between religious fundamentalists and scientists by saying that he does not believe that creationism - the Bible-based account of the origins of the world - should be taught in schools.

Giving his first, wide-ranging, interview at Lambeth Palace, the archbishop was emphatic in his criticism of creationism being taught in the classroom, as is happening in two city academies founded by the evangelical Christian businessman Sir Peter Vardy and several other schools.

"I think creationism is ... a kind of category mistake, as if the Bible were a theory like other theories ... if creationism is presented as a stark alternative theory alongside other theories I think there's just been a jarring of categories ... My worry is creationism can end up reducing the doctrine of creation rather than enhancing it," he said.

The debate over creationism or its slightly more sophisticated offshoot, so-called "intelligent design" (ID) which argues that creation is so complex that an intelligent - religious - force must have directed it, has provoked divisions in Britain but nothing like the vehemence or politicisation of the debate in the US. There, under pressure from the religious right, some states are considering giving ID equal prominence to Darwinism, the generally scientifically accepted account of the evolution of species. Most scientists believe that ID is little more than an attempt to smuggle fundamentalist Christianity into science teaching.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Archbishop: stop teaching creationism

On his live television programme, The 700 Club, he said radical Islamists were inspired by "demonic power".

A US religious liberty watchdog called the comments "grossly irresponsible".

Mr Robertson had to apologise recently for calling for Venezuela's president to be killed, and saying Ariel Sharon was struck down by divine retribution.

His latest comments were expunged from The 700 Club's website, but Mr Robertson's Virginia-based Christian Broadcasting Network confirmed them with a transcript.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | Top US evangelist targets Islam

Ah crap.

"The bill would make it a crime to tell the American people that the president is breaking the law, and the bill could make it a crime for the newspapers to publish that fact," said Martin, a civil liberties advocate.

Days of DeWine and Ruses? Reporters May Be Exempt from Eavesdropping Bill

Reporters who write about government surveillance could be prosecuted under proposed legislation that would solidify the administration's eavesdropping authority, according to some legal analysts who are concerned about dramatic changes in U.S. law.

...

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the draft of the legislation, which could be introduced as soon as next week.

The draft would add to the criminal penalties for anyone who "intentionally discloses information identifying or describing" the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program or any other eavesdropping program conducted under a 1978 surveillance law.

  Great Atheist Quotes

Isaac Asimov [1920-1992] Russian-born American author

"I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or agnostic. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time."

"Creationists make it sound like a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night."

Thomas Jefferson [1743-1826] 3rd American president, author, scientist, architect, educator, and diplomat. Deist, avid separationist.

"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes" Letter to von Humboldt, 1813

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as His father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter." Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

"In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own" Letter to H. Spafford, 1814

John Adams [1735-1826] 2nd President of the United States

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."

"The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." Treaty of Tripoly, article 11

GREAT MINDS: atheist quotes

America was today accused of failing to learn the lessons of Abu Ghraib by continuing to hold thousands of Iraqi detainees in conditions that breached their human rights.

Amnesty International, the London-based rights watchdog, criticised coalition forces and the Iraqi Government for holding security suspects for months without trial and allowing them to be routinely abused.

The group said around 14,000 people are currently imprisoned in American and British-run jails under rules that do not afford detainees access to the courts or, in some cases, to the details of the charges against them.

The report alleged that the disregard for due legal process in prisons run by coalition forces had also contributed to a culture of violence and torture in Iraqi-run facilities. In November last year, American soldiers discovered an underground jail in Baghdad run by the Iraqi Interior Ministry that contained more than 100 malnourished and abused suspects.

Amnesty said that detainees held in Iraqi jails are routinely beaten with heavy electrical cables and have their fingernails pulled off.

America 'has failed to learn from Abu Ghraib' - World - Times Online

[Neat. So I take back everything bad I said about the church. Well, most of the things....]

Evolution Sunday

On 12 February 2006 hundreds of Christian churches from all portions of the country and a host of denominations will come together to discuss the compatibility of religion and science. For far too long, strident voices, in the name of Christianity, have been claiming that people must choose between religion and modern science. More than 10,000 Christian clergy have already signed The Clergy Letter demonstrating that this is a false dichotomy. Now, on the 197th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, many of these leaders will bring this message to their congregations through sermons and/or discussion groups. Together, participating religious leaders will be making the statement that religion and science are not adversaries. And, together, they will be elevating the quality of the national debate on this topic.

[Well, even the DI doesn't advocate teaching ID in schools. Good for these people]

The Capital Times

Creationism or intelligent design could not be taught as science in Wisconsin public schools under a first-of-its-kind proposal announced today by Madison state Rep. Terese Berceau.

Under the bill, only science capable of being tested according to scientific method could be taught as science. Faith-based theories, however, could be discussed in other contexts.

Alan Attie, a biochemistry professor at UW-Madison, said the bill puts Wisconsin on the map in the ongoing controversy over evolution and intelligent design.

"We can be the un-Kansas," Attie said in an interview.

In a protest with an unusual number of high-level signatures, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and each of its five members have fired off a letter assailing a Washington Post cartoon as "beyond tasteless."

The Tom Toles cartoon, published Sunday, depicts a heavily bandaged soldier in a hospital bed as having lost his arms and legs, while Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, in the guise of a doctor, says: "I'm listing your condition as 'battle hardened.' " Toles said he meant no offense toward American soldiers.

toles_cartoon.jpg

Dave Autry, deputy communications director for Disabled American Veterans, said he was "certainly not" offended by the cartoon.

"It was graphic, no doubt about it," he said. "But it drove home a point, that there are critically ill patients that certainly need to be attended to."

Toles, who won a 1990 Pulitzer Prize for the Buffalo News and joined The Post in 2002, said he expected criticism for drawing the quadruple amputee, as he does for about two-thirds of his efforts.

Joint Chiefs Fire At Toles Cartoon On Strained Army

... and Alberto Gonzales.

domestic_spying_gonzales.jpg

Alberto Gonzales spoke before law students at Georgetown today, justifying illegal, unauthorized surveilance of US citizens, but during the course of his speech the students in class did something pretty ballsy and brave. They got up from their seats and turned their backs to him.

insomnia: Future American lawyers to be proud of.


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