Recent Entries in Politics

In a lawsuit filed on his behalf by the civil rights group, a 23-year-old Catholic man from Genesee County is asking a federal judge to set aside a drug conviction, saying he was punished for not completing a Pentecostal rehabilitation program.

Joseph Hanas was 19 when he pleaded guilty to a marijuana possession charge in February 2001 in Genesee Circuit Court and was placed in a diversion program for young, non-violent offenders.

Upon the recommendation of a probation officer, Judge Robert Ransom sentenced Hanas to the state-sponsored rehabilitation program - the Inner City Christian Outreach Residential Program, run by a Pentecostal church.

Hanas said the program did not offer drug treatment or counseling, nor did it have any organized program other than reading the Bible and attending Pentecostal services.

ACLU sues over faith-based rehab: Catholic man forced into Pentecostal program

The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has defended the US against allegations that it ran a network of "ghost flights" and secret prisons around the world where terror suspects could be interrogated with little concern for international law.

The BBC News website profiles some of the detainees who say they were victims of the US' secret "extraordinary rendition" policy.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Rendition: Tales of torture

This time, someone really does have to be fired. The revelation that Defense Department money, not even authorized by Congress for the purpose, has been outsourced to private interests and then used to plant stories in the Iraqi press is much more of a disgrace and a scandal than anyone seems so far to have said.

Secrets and Lies - The DoD's disgraceful plot to plant rosy stories in the Iraqi press. By Christopher Hitchens

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Democracy under threat

In the background, at private meetings on the island of Aruba in the Dutch Antilles and in public declarations by Thomas Shannon, the US secretary of state for Latin American affairs, the opposition had been elaborating a strategy to overthrow Chavez. Its plan was to make people believe that "democracy in Venezuela is in grave peril", as Shannon put it to a Washington subcommittee two weeks ago.

It is indeed in peril, threatened by a tiny ragbag of opposition groups given disproportionate international influence through the support of the US. By their irresponsible electoral abstention, they hoped to undermine the credibility of the parliamentary system.

The US-backed strategy is to use apparently neutral non-governmental organisations to tell the world that the elections are not free and fair, that press freedom is under threat, and that human rights are not respected. These allegations are then exaggerated and amplified in Washington.

The complaints are nonsense. The opposition still owns most of the newspapers and television stations. The judiciary has been comprehensively reformed after the scandals of the previous decade when half the judges were found to be corrupt or incompetent. Elections have been endlessly vetted and human rights have been extended to the great mass of the people.

Foreign lawyers defending Saddam Hussein challenged the legitimacy of the U.S.-backed Iraqi court trying him and demanded more security for their team on Monday, after briefly storming out of the courtroom in protest.

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a veteran defender of unpopular high-profile causes, and Najeeb al-Nauimi from Qatar were each allowed to address the bench after the walk-out; they assailed a lack of protection and impugned the legitimacy of a court originally formed under U.S. occupation.

International News Article |

The British government has responded sharply to the alleged leak of a government memo that said U.S. President George W. Bush had thought about bombing the Arab satellite TV network Al-Jazeera.

The Daily Mirror, which published the story, said Wednesday that Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has told it not to publish further details from the memo.

"We have essentially agreed to comply," the paper said.

The United States has twice attacked Al-Jazeera offices. No one was hurt in the Kabul attack in 2002, while a journalist was killed the following year in Baghdad .

The Baghdad attack was a mistake and Kabul was targeted because it was thought to be a militant site, U.S. spokespeople said.

CBC News: Britain gags report that Bush targeted Arab TV

Let's be clear. Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological "theory" whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God. It is a "theory" that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species but also says that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, "I think I'll make me a lemur today." A "theory" that violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be science -- that it be empirically disprovable. How does one empirically disprove the proposition that God was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the "strong force" that holds the atom together?

In order to justify the farce that intelligent design is science, Kansas had to corrupt the very definition of science, dropping the phrase " natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us," thus unmistakably implying -- by fiat of definition, no less -- that the supernatural is an integral part of science. This is an insult both to religion and science.

The school board thinks it is indicting evolution by branding it an "unguided process" with no "discernible direction or goal." This is as ridiculous as indicting Newtonian mechanics for positing an "unguided process" by which Earth is pulled around the sun every year without discernible purpose. What is chemistry if not an "unguided process" of molecular interactions without "purpose"? Or are we to teach children that God is behind every hydrogen atom in electrolysis?

Phony Theory, False Conflict

Where are the copyright liberals when right-wing conservatives need us?

Last week, the National Academy of Sciences, or NAS, joined with the National Science Teachers Association, or NSTA, to tell the Kansas State Board of Education that it would not grant the state copyright permission to incorporate its science education standards manuals into the state's public school science curriculum because Kansas plans to teach students that "intelligent design" is a viable alternative theory to evolution. Kansas is scrambling to rewrite its proposal to win over the NAS and NSTA.


Yet it concerns me that the NAS and NSTA are using their copyrights to bring wayward Kansas educators into line.

In the United States, intellectual property, or IP, law ensures that creators and inventors will get paid for their work, while doctrines like fair use and time-limited rights leave enough breathing room for the next innovator to use existing creations to comment, critique or make something new. But we have increasingly seen owners leverage their IP rights to get control rather than to get paid.

Wired News: Evolutionists Are Wrong!

Voters ousted eight Republican school board members who backed a statement on intelligent design being read in biology class, replacing them with Democrats who want the concept stripped from the science curriculum.

The election Tuesday unfolded amid a landmark federal trial involving the Dover public schools and the question of whether intelligent design promotes the Bible's view of creation. Eight Dover families sued, saying it violates the constitutional separation of church and state. - Voters oust 8 supporters of intelligent design policy

US museums are going where schoolteachers are increasingly wary to tread, with a series of exhibitions championing evolution at a time when Charles Darwin's theory is under fire from creationists.

The exhibits include "Evolving Planet" at Chicago's Field Museum, "Darwin" at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and "Explore Evolution" which is being shown simultaneously at major university museums in six midwest and southern states.

The shows come amid furious debate in many US school districts over the teaching of evolutionary theory and the first trial on the teaching of the God-centred alternative favoured by many religious groups, "intelligent design."

People's Daily Online -- US museums take on "intelligent design" in evolution shows

It may not make the "creationist" crowd very happy, but their attacks on evolution might have to stop. According to an article from the Australian website, the Vatican has issued a statement about the Darwinian theory of evolution and its relationship to Biblical scripture.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is quoted as saying the Genesis description of how God created the universe and Darwin's theory of evolution are "perfectly compatible" if the Bible is read correctly. It was a direct attack on the creationist campaigners in America.

"The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim," Poupard allegedly said at a Vatican press conference, declaring that the real message in Genesis was that "the universe didn't make itself and had a creator." His statements were interpreted in Italy as a rejection of the "intelligent design" view, which says the universe is so complex that some higher being must have designed every detail.


Nearly every country in the world joined on Tuesday to urge the United States to lift its four-decade old economic embargo against Cuba in a record U.N. General Assembly vote.

The vote, held for the 14th consecutive year, was 182 to 4 with 1 abstention on a resolution calling for Washington to lift the U.S. trade, financial and travel embargo, particularly its provisions penalizing foreign firms.

The five voting "no" were the United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands. Micronesia abstained and El Salvador, Iraq, Nicaragua and Morocco did not vote. Last year the vote was 179 to 5, with more countries refusing to vote.

Cuba has been under a U.S. embargo since President Fidel Castro defeated a CIA-backed assault at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

Friends of the United States, including Canada, Japan, Australia voted "yes," although the European Union strongly criticized Cuba's human rights record.

The measure is nonbinding and has had no impact on the United States, with the Bush administration having tightened restrictions against Cuba. But the resolution has given Cuba a morale boost each year, especially from nearly all South American and Caribbean nations, particularly Mexico.

Politics News Article |

A federal judge is contemplating whether the mandatory teaching of "intelligent design" improperly promotes religion in schools, after the historic evolution trial drew to a close.

Federal Judge John E. Jones III said he wanted to issue a ruling by January, the latest legal chapter in the decades-long debate over the teaching of evolution in public school.

The six-week trial in Pennsylvania featured expert witnesses debating the scientific merits of the intelligent design concept and clashes over whether creationism was discussed in school board meetings months before the curriculum changed in 2004.

ABC News: Judge Weighs Evolution Arguments in Pa.

  Out of a Bad Spy Novel

The men from the pages of a bad spy novel throw people they don't like into secret prisons that officially do not exist, snug little dungeons hidden away in undisclosed countries. These spy-novel men keep to the shadows; if a ray of sunlight happens to fall upon one of their lairs, they scurry away to some other dark corner. They make their "high-value" prisoners simply disappear -- no charges, no hearings, no exit.

They tell us that we shouldn't worry, that every one of these prisoners is evil beyond redemption. And, anyway, what prisoners?

To interrogate these prisoners who don't exist, the spy-novel men use practices that international agreements classify as torture. Again, they tell us not to worry. They produce legal opinions, written by lawyers from the pages of a bad spy novel, proving definitively that torture is not, in fact, torture. Besides, the spy-novel men outsource the really messy business to cooperative regimes for which the word "qualms" has no meaning.

Out of a Bad Spy Novel

The highest court in the Methodist Church yesterday defrocked a lesbian minister in Philadelphia, and reinstated a Virginia pastor who had been suspended for denying congregation membership to a gay man.

The nine-member Judicial Council also voided a declaration by Methodists in the Pacific Northwest that there was a ''difference of opinion among faithful Christians regarding sexual orientation and practice.

Methodist Church court defrocks lesbian minister - The Boston Globe

In an interview to be broadcast today in Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, one of George Bush's closest allies, said he tried repeatedly to persuade the president not to go to war. The Guardian reports that, in a "behind the scenes effort" he even asked Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to help him.

"I have never been convinced war was the best way to succeed in making a country democratic and extract it from [a] ... bloody dictatorship," [Berlusconi] says. "I tried on several occasions to convince the American president not to wage war."

His version of events, recounted in an interview with the La7 private TV station, with excerpts reported by the Apcom and Ansa news agencies at the weekend, was backed by his deputy, Gianfranco Fini, leader of the former neo-fascist party, who said: "We tried right up to the end to persuade Bush and Blair not to launch a military attack."

Berlusconi: 'I tried to get Bush to stop war' |

  Mind your W's and Q's

A Turkish court has fined 20 people for using the letters Q and W on placards...

CNN International

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