Saturday, December 17, 2005

Pelosi admits knowledge ... who knew?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has admitted her knowledge of the NSA's domestic surveillence activities. The spying on American citizens began as early as 2002 when Pres. Bush signed the order.
Hotline On Call (Pelosi Admits She Knew About NSA Collection Program): "The National Security Agency's domestic collection activities are classified based on their stati as 'unacknowledged special access programs'. That status requires that the originating authority — in this case — the White House — notify the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate, as well as the chair and ranking members of the intelligence committee.

So did Nancy Pelosi and Harry Ried know about the program? Pelosi admits she did but says in a statement today that she expressed concern about the program when she was briefed."
Thanks to Political Wire for the update.

Michael Jackson's excuse?

Here's some fodder for Louie Farrakhan, Jess Jackson, Archie Bunker-types and all other racists.
Scientists Find A DNA Change That Accounts For White Skin: "Scientists said yesterday that they have discovered a tiny genetic mutation that largely explains the first appearance of white skin in humans tens of thousands of years ago, a finding that helps solve one of biology's most enduring mysteries and illuminates one of humanity's greatest sources of strife.

The work suggests that the skin-whitening mutation occurred by chance in a single individual after the first human exodus from Africa, when all people were brown-skinned. That person's offspring apparently thrived as humans moved northward into what is now Europe, helping to give rise to the lightest of the world's races."

Patriot Act blocked, steroids to blame

Set to expire December 31, renewal of the Patriot Act was stalled when Senate Democrats and a few Republicans blocked "action on a volatile issue that pits anti-terrorism efforts against civil liberties protections." (U.S. Senate Roll Call Vote)

This didn't please Pres. George Bush who used his weekly radio address "to criticize Democrats who have blocked the renewal of the anti-terrorism law that Congress passed overwhelming after the Sept. 11 attacks. In a live broadcast from the White House, the president said the effort to stall a vote was 'irresponsible and it endangers the lives of our citizens.'"

The Patriot Act is an offense to American civil liberties through such stipulations as roving wiretaps and secret warrants. For instance, let's suppose that Pres. Bush "signed a secret order in 2002 allowing the National Security Agency to spy on hundreds of U.S. citizens and other residents without court-approved warrants."

While Congress was dealing with important issues such as the BCS and steroids in baseball, they could have been taking action on this:
— the Republicans' $40 billion-plus, five-year spending cut plan. It would take on the spiraling growth of federal benefit programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and student loan subsidies. It is part of a campaign by Republican leaders to burnish their party's budget-cutting credentials as they try to reduce a deficit swelled by the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina.

— the $453 billion defense budget. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is trying to add a plan for oil drilling in a wildlife refuge in Alaska. The legislation already combines Pentagon money with that for the war in Iraq with hurricane relief aid and a scaled-down plan to fight bird flu.

— a $602 billion appropriations bill for the departments of Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. GOP moderates in the Senate dislike the spending levels for many programs.
See also:
  • EFF: E-mail your senator: "At the very last moment in the passage of the PATRIOT Reauthorization Bill, 46 senators stood up for civil liberties. Their filibuster prevented the enactment of a law that would make permanent several key PATRIOT powers, maintain the secret seizure of records using National Security Letters, and introduce wide-ranging surveillance powers that name neither a subject or location with no prior judicial oversight. The rejection of PATRIOT was a terrific victory for civil libertarians. For once, we have something to thank our representatives for. If your senator voted for the filibuster to continue, you can write a letter to them below, and give your support to their fight. We'll make sure only those senators who voted for the filibuster receive the mail."
  • FOXSports.com - 2005: The sports year in weird
  • The Robesonian Online: Hypocrisy continues to be rampant in the NCAA

A faster Internet at whose expense?

AT&T and Bellsouth are leading the telcom charge for a two-tiered Internet. The issue? The telcoms want faster services for their customers and slower transfer rates for their competitors.

The Boston Globe reports (Telecoms want their products to travel on a faster Internet):
"AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. are lobbying Capitol Hill for the right to create a two-tiered Internet, where the telecom carriers' own Internet services would be transmitted faster and more efficiently than those of their competitors.

The proposal is certain to provoke a major fight with Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Time Warner Inc., and Microsoft Corp., the powerful owners of popular Internet sites. The companies fear such a move would give telecommunications companies too much control over a fast-growing part of the Internet.

The battle is largely over video services. Several major telecom companies are working on ways to deliver broadcast-quality television over the Internet. Currently, online video can be slow to download and choppy to watch, even with higher-speed Internet services"

"The prospect of a tiered Internet with ''regular' and ''premium' broadband services is spawning fierce debate as Congress takes up a major overhaul of telecom regulations. The House of Representatives last month held hearings on a preliminary draft by two GOP congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Fred Upton of Michigan, that would give the telecom companies the freedom to establish premium broadband services. The telecom bill is due for action early next year.

A change along these lines would be different from the way the Internet has operated. ''The Internet model has been that carriers cannot interfere with the choices that consumers make,' said Alan Davidson, Google's Washington policy counsel.

Google is fighting the proposal, along with other large Internet companies including Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc. They fear they may have to pay telecoms millions of dollars to gain access to customers who use the premium Internet services. In addition, they argue, many small Internet start-ups would be unable to pay the fees, which could reduce consumer choice."

Friday, December 16, 2005

Who is that stranger on the Internet? Part II

It's now thought that the story about the French guy and his Mom who accidently hooked up online is a fake. Concurring Opinions [If Oedipus Tried Online Dating...] reports, "It appears that this story might indeed be dubious. It comes from a tabloid, Weekly World News. I thought it might be credible because it was coming from Yahoo! News, but now I don't think the story is credible — or Yahoo! News for that matter."

Online lyrics issue garners an apology

As I mentioned earlier this week, the UK's Warner Chappell Music was targeting music lyric sites for copyright issues and had already shut down PearLyrics. Billboard.Biz now reports that executives with Warner/Chappell spent the day "privately and publically apologizing to Walter Ritter, the 31-year-old Austrian programmer behind PearLyrics."
Publisher Apologizes To Online Lyrics Tool: "W/C’s apology was the right move, but may have come as a result of a publicly posted argument from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Not only was Ritter’s application probably legal in the United States, reasoned the EFF, but such threats against U.S. developers could open Warner Music Group to federal liability.

The music industry might want to think these actions through more thoroughly, and not just to avoid legal strife. Dyball’s letter to PearLyrics was copied to Kevin Saul, an Apple Computer lawyer, and links to similar applications quickly disappeared from the Apple Web site.

This was two opportunities lost. For one, by taking the text from illegal lyrics sites, applications such as Ritter’s—which seek no revenue and are, at least arguably, legal—were taking eyeballs away from, and thus diminishing the ad revenue of the very illegal, very revenue-seeking sites that archive and distribute unlicensed lyrics."
Apparently the Electronic Frontier Foundation played an integral role in the change of attitude by Warner Chappell Music executives.

Thanks to Boing Boing for the update.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Who is that stranger on the Internet?

[See the UPDATE.]

Brain Droppings points out the story for a French bachelor who scored a date with a women he met on the Internet. Daniel Arceneaux shows up at the rendevoux point to find out his online sweetheart — "wearing white shorts and a pink tank top" — is actually his mother.
MAN DATES GAL ON INTERNET FOR SIX MONTHS — AND IT TURNS OUT SHE'S HIS MOTHER!: "Skirt-chasing playboy Daniel Anceneaux spent weeks talking with a sensual woman on the Internet before arranging a romantic rendezvous at a remote beach — and discovering that his on-line sweetie of six months was his own mother! 'I walked out on that dark beach thinking I was going to hook up with the girl of my dreams,' the rattled bachelor later admitted. 'And there she was, wearing white shorts and a pink tank top, just like she'd said she would. 'But when I got close, she turned around — and we both got the shock of our lives. I mean, I didn't know what to say. All I could think was, 'Oh my God! it's Mama!'"

Drugs and what they do

One day you're a Pro Bowl-caliber player and the next day you're dead after the car you're riding in hits "a curb, tree, newsstand, fire hydrant, light pole, another tree and an unoccupied transit bus ..."

Copyright and blogging

When blogging, I try to be aware of certain copyright issues. Whether it's a photo or text, I always strive to credit the source.

However, as pointed out on Concurring Opinions [What If Copyright Law Were Strongly Enforced in the Blogosphere?], "Suppose the mainstream media, fed up with the buzz bloggers keep getting and with bloggers criticizing their stories, decided to exact revenge. They initiate a vigorous copyright enforcement strategy, launching a barrage of lawsuits against bloggers as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has done to music file sharers. What would happen?"

It's an interesting supposition, but one any blogger should consider.

Then, there is always the issue of blog post piracy.

Tookie, Snoop Dogg and Monday Night Football

Tookie Williams was executed earlier this week despite the efforts of Jesse Jackson ("Reader Doug from Upland e-mails that the crusading Rev. Jackson did not know the names of Williams' victims when asked by KFI-AM radio talk show hosts John and Ken."), Snoop Dogg and other hacks.

Tookie's execution garnered international attention, mostly in a negative manner. The Guardian Unlimited, reporting on the "controversial execution," quoted Prime Minister Tony Blair as saying, "There is a difference between Europe and America on this issue. There always has been and there will be so long as the death penalty remains in the United States of America ... When you put the USA alongside China and Iran and so on, it is just worth pointing out that the rule of law applies in the USA."

The night of the execution the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons played on Monday Night Football. To get the show started, Disney-owned ABC did a skit with former Crips gang member, pornographer and rapper Snoop Dogg trying to motivate a bunch of children on a youth football team.

Is it just me, or does it seem a bit comical in a sadistic manner? The Snoop Dogg introduction seemed to be in bad taste more so than last year's Desperate Housewives/Terell Owens farce.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Another issue with Wikipedia

UPDATE (12/20/2005): Note the comment from 'ta bu shi da yu', who is mentioned in the story from OfficialWire.

Trolling various news sources, I came across an interesting article about Wikipedia. This is unrelated to the class action lawsuit against the online encyclopedia.

According to an article from OfficialWire, this is about an "underground cabal of pedophiles who edit WikiPedia, trying to make WikiPedia a distribution center for pedophile propaganda."
One user, who goes by the name of Zanthalon, writes on his profile, 'Many of you have commented that the majority of my edits are on pedophilia-related articles. This is an area of interest for me since I am myself a pedophile, a girllover to be specific.' He then goes on to add the standard disclaimer that is echoed by many convicted child molestors, 'I would stress, however, that, I am not a child molester, having never broken the law or engaged in any intimate physical activities with any persons under the statutory age of consent'.

Zanthalon is a frequent editor of the Pedophilia article, ensuring it is written from a pro-pedophile standpoint. It seems that WikiPedia's administration supports what he is doing.

One WikiPedia Admin, by the name of Ta bu shi da yu, who is a self-described liberal marxist, goes on to commend Zanthalon's contributions.

Another WikiPedia admin, by the name of Schissel, thanks Zanthalon for uploading an image. Schissel also has a curious looking red star on his WikiPedia profile.

Zanthalon is not without fellow pedophiles at WikiPedia. LuxOfTKGL shares pleasantries with his friend Zanthalon, and says that it is 'nice to see you here.' You see, Zanthalon and LuxOfTKGL keep in touch on a frequent basis outside of WikiPedia, as they're quite familiar with each other. They're part of the pedophile underground that has infiltrated WikiPedia.

Pump and dump

Now that they're being caught with their collective hands in the cookie jar, Congress wants us to believe they are taking steps to protect the integrity of the legislative branch. House Democrats have proposed reforms regarding lobbyists as well as restoring checks and balances.

At the same time, though slightly unrelated, Rutgers University Press has released Pump and Dump. The book is a history of Wall Street scandals.
"The authors explain how it was that so much of corporate America came to resemble a two-bit securities scam by focusing on the rules that mattered in three critical industries-energy trading, telecommunications, and dot-coms. Free-market hype and policies at the national level set the tone. While Wall Street wrapped itself in star-spangled packaging and celebrated its purported 'democratization,' in the real halls of democracy congressional allies of business gutted protections for ordinary investors. In the regulatory vacuum that resulted, regulators and auditors who were supposed to watch corporations instead promoted New Economy doctrines and worked with executives to endorse their firms as New Economy contenders. Ringleaders in the inner circles that committed fraud made their own rules, which they enforced through a mix of bribery and bullying."

What money can buy

Shortly after 9/11 New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani rejected a $10 million donation from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The prince had "suggested U.S. policies in the Middle East contributed to the September 11 attacks."

However, the universities of Georgetown and Harvard didn't have any problems accepting the prince's December 12 donation of $40 million "to expand their Islamic studies programs."

U.N. control of the Internet

As mentioned last month, "abusers of civil rights — Cuba, China, Iran, Brazil and others — want the U.S. to rescind control of the Internet to the U.N."

A few weeks later the Chinese government shoots a bunch of people, tries to hide it and then makes 'a rare public admission'.

However, Reporters sans frontières notes that "Chinese authorities have imposed a news blackout after police brutally put down demonstrations in Dongzhou, a provincial village in south-eastern Guangdong province. Reporters Without Borders has uncovered draconian measures put in place to prevent news filtering out about the 6 December incidents through the local and foreign media, as well as by censoring any message posted about it on the Internet ... The authorities have completely distorted news about these events. It is a striking demonstration of China’s capacity to censure both the traditional media and the Internet, the worldwide press freedom organisation said."

I figure this is how the Internet will be once the U.N. takes control of it. Looks like I may actually read a newspaper again.

Call Jamie Foxx and Michael Moore

Here's something that you won't see Michael Moore, Jamie Foxx, Sean Penn or any other hacks of similar ilk protesting. The communist government of China has "made a rare public admission about an incident in which policemen opened fire on civilians protesting a local grievance, However, the government denied reports that 20 or more people had been killed, saying only three had died."

More on the Wikipedia class action

It's not known whether a class action lawsuit against Wikipedia will continue. However, the perpetrator of a 'joke' accusing John Seigenthaler Sr. of involvement in the Kennedy assassinations has apologized. Brian Chase created a Wikipedia entry "that falsely implicated [John Seigenthaler Sr.] in both Kennedy assassinations and prompted a row about the online encyclopaedia's reliability ..."

According the the Guardian Unlimited (Wikipedia hoaxer apologises):
"The author of a Wikipedia entry that falsely implicated a prominent writer in both Kennedy assassinations and prompted a row about the online encyclopaedia's reliability has apologised to his victim, saying that it was a 'joke that went horribly, horribly wrong'. In a hand-delivered letter to journalist John Seigenthaler Sr, Brian Chase, an employee of a Nashville delivery company, said he inserted the false online biography as a prank on a co-worker. His contribution had falsely accused Mr Seigenthaler of having been linked to the assassination of John as well as Robert Kennedy, and of having lived in the former Soviet Union for 13 years."

Music industry is at it again

The music industry is continuing its efforts to alienate their customers. This time it's the UK music industry leading the charge over copyright issues.

The problem? Sites providing music lyrics, guitar chords and scores.

According to Telegraph newspaper online, this was the inevitable next step after successful legal battles against music download sites.
Websites face a war on 'theft' of lyrics: "Executives at Warner Chappell are fed up with internet entrepreneurs 'ripping off' songs - from perennial favourites such as Happy Birthday and Rhapsody in Blue to the music of Madonna and Sir Elton John ... The move comes ahead of a campaign by the Music Publishers Association of America, which represents sheet music companies. It is to target "very big sites" that internet surfers think are legitimate."

Have you seen this?

It's become a running joke, "If it's on the Internet, it must be true." That's one of the reasons why I'm always wary about certain e-mails or information I find on the Internet. One source of information I've consistently used is Wikipedia; though with some caution since it is based on the input of random "experts."
Wikipedia Class Action: "There is a problem with the operation and functionality of Wikipedia. The basic problem is that none of the Trustees of Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., nor any of the volunteers who are connected with Wikipedia, consider themselves responsible and therefore accountable for the content. They believe themselves to be above the law. WikipediaClassAction.org is currently gathering complaints from the entire Internet community, including individuals, corporations, partnerships, etc., who believe that they have been defamed and or who have been or are the subject of anonymous and malicious postings to the popular online encyclopedia WikiPedia."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Islamic Crescent of Embrace

Though the memorial for Flight 93 has been re-designed, it is still considered by many to be an Islamo-fascist shrine.

According to Error Theory:
"The redesigned flight 93 memorial, announced today, still contains all of the features that made it a terrorist memorial. Architect Paul Murdoch's infamous red crescent is still there, still planted with red maple trees, still inscribed in the exact same circle as before, and with the same two crescent tips still intact. Thus the crescent bisector defined by these crescent tips is also the same as before. It still points almost exactly to Mecca, making the crescent a Mihrab (an Islamic prayer station, where the believer faces into a crescent, towards Mecca, to perform his ritual prostrations). The design still incorporates a separate upper terrorist-memorial wall, centered precisely on the red-maple crescent [placing this upper section of wall, and the copse of trees that surround it, precisely in the location of the star on an Islamic flag]. There are still 44 translucent blocks on the flight path to the crash site, matching the total number of dead, instead of just the forty translucent blocks that are dedicated to the forty murdered Americans. Lastly, the Tower of Voices part of the memorial is still an Islamic prayer-time sundial." (The plans, provided by the National Park Service, can be found here.)
In case you missed it, the site will memorialize the 44 people who died on Flight 93. To be exact, that's forty "murdered Americans" and four terrorists. Yes, the terrorists (murderers) are being memorialized.

The issue of the memorial first came to my attention with a FOXNews.com blurb about a Pennsylvanian minister who argued about the Islamic symbolism. According to Ron McRae, the site "resembles Islam's symbolic crescent moon and star." Shortly thereafter, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado was called Islamophobic by the Council of American-Islamic Relations for agreeing that the memorial "too closely represents the symbol of Islam."

See also:

More on Forbes, blogs

In November, Forbes published an article about the impact blogs have on business success and failure. The article suggested victims become vigilant in monitoring the blogosphere for potential problems.

I haven't 'bashed' any products or companies, but today I noticed a visit from Brandimensions. According to the company's web site:
"The Internet is an enormous and rapidly growing wellspring of dynamic information. The Brandimensions market intelligence service captures and analyzes buzz commentary generated on a daily basis by customers, potential customers, competitors, journalists and industry professionals. The research and information captured in Brandimensions market intelligence reports enable global companies to drive critical business decisions about brands, marketing, product development and public relations, in a timely, results oriented, tactical manner. Within hours of a new product or message release, Brandimensions analytical indexes deliver business value through a series of leading indicators, including consumer purchasing intent, customer satisfaction, brand and message perception, product performance and competitive positioning."
See also:

Kill, ask forgiveness, go free

Jamie Foxx, Bianca Jagger and other 'celebrities' want us to believe that Tookie Williams is reformed. They believe he should not be executed for the murder of "Albert Owens, a 7-Eleven clerk in Whittier, Calif., and three members of the Yang family — Yen-I Yang, Tsai-Shai Yang, and their daughter, Yee-Chen Lin — at the Brookhaven Motel in Los Angeles."

After all, Tookie has written a series of books aimed at convincing youths to avoid gangs.

Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe points out this (Misplaced sympathy for killers):
"As cofounder of the deadly Crips street gang in 1971, Williams's criminal legacy goes well beyond the four murders for which he was convicted. The gang violence he unleashed 34 years ago has destroyed thousands of lives and left countless other victims scarred by rape, assault, and armed robbery. Though he now claims to have reformed and has written books with an antigang message, he has never admitted his guilt or expressed any remorse for the slaughter of Albert Owens and the Yang family. If his supposed contrition amounts to anything more than lip service, he has yet to prove it. Williams adamantly refuses to be debriefed by police about the Crips and their operations or to provide any information that could help bring other killers to justice. In fact, officials at San Quentin have said he continues to orchestrate gang activity from behind bars."
Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dog carry no credence with me. Ask the victims families what they want.

See also:

Something is wrong, let's sue

Instead of returning the product and getting his money back, Robert Byers is suing Microsoft because he feels the Xbox 360 he bought has a design flaw.

On the other hand, two sisters injured during the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade don't plan to sue. As the father said, it was "a freak accident," and "accidents just happen."

At least someone in this world has some common sense.