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29 February 2008

Reuters scrubs those hard-to-reach places on the Land of the Free's human rights atrocity Elephant in the Bathtub

Go back a few posts to read the original Reuters story about the Land of the Free being, by far, the world's largest Gulag.

What do I think Reuters should be doing differently in its coverage of this human rights catastrophe?

Please note in all the presidential debates, Republican AND Democratic, this issue simply has never come up. No one has asked, and no candidate has had to answer:

Why does the USA have more children, women and men behind bars than China? Why does the USA have more human beings behind bars than Russia? If you are elected our next president, will you change that? How?


Reuters has certainly done nothing to make this a campaign issue. Someone will get to the White House in 2009 and be under no pressure whatsoever to make America the world's second-largest prison. Democrat or Republican, Hillary, Obama or McCain, Gulag America -- so heavily non-white, so filled with the mentally ill and street-level drug addicts -- will grow, and the Prison-Industrial Complex will continue to thrive as a certain profit-maker for investors on Wall Street.

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Summary: US prisoner population story (28 February 2008) by James Vicini
Product Level 1: Editorial and News
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Date Created: 01 03 2008 02:45 AM
Last Updated: 01 03 2008 02:45 AM
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Discussion Thread
Customer 01 03 2008 02:45 AM
I suppose the Pew study is "news" of a sort ... but US Department of Justice stats have bluntly stated that the US has the world's largest prison population since February 2000, since we overtook Russia after Russia freed a large number of its Gulagniks.

It's one thing for an ordinary American to take little notice of this Elephant in the Bathtub, but this Reuters story seems surprised -- but not particularly troubled -- by these statistics and incarceration trends.

There was also no mention of the notorious racial/racist component of US incarceration patterns. Amnesty International is just one of many prestigious NGOs which have focused heavily on the US pattern of dramatically preferential felony incareration of non-whites in the USA.

In all, I think Reuters took one of the world's leading human rights atrocities and played it for all the softball and ho-hum it could. You helped keep our American elephant in the bathtub, accepted, tolerated, and largely unnoticed -- when this story ranks fully with Darfur, Myanmar and human rights practices in the Peoples Republic of China.

I am disappointed that Reuters seems so uninterested in this story and writes about it as if it's just business as usual in the Land of the Free.
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the night visitor

Oh yeah click.

The kitchen contractors had a rented dumpster in the driveway. To our bear neighbors, dumpster means food. (Sorry, bear.)

The track of this thing was huge. Overnight it was around zero Fahrenheit, but the next day we had to scramble to take photos of the track because the sun came out strong and bright and threatened to melt it. I put a yardstick near the track.

Anybody need all this in metric?

My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants

Click.
And start memorizing.


The Vleeptron High Non-Junk Science Council has spent the last two years contemplating what to do about the Big Changes in the Solar System. Apparently, at a recent Convention of Professional Idiots, it was decided that Pluto is no longer a planet, but is now officially classified as a Dwarf Planet.

Well, now it turns out that Pluto stays in the list. Which is great, because if they'd redacted Pluto, and dissed My Hero Clyde Tombaugh (1906-1997), who discovered Pluto, I was going to go Caucasian Teenage Schoolyard and bring Woe and Hard-to-Cure Cooties to a bunch of professional astronomers.

Further idiocy followed: Two new obscure round-ish sort of orbiting rocks, Ceres and Eris (the Goddess of Discord, the pagan embodiment of everybody's mother-in-law) have been elevated to the status of Planets.

So Everything You Know Is Wrong. There are now 11 Planets in the Solar System.

And the new mark of being a badly educated jerk -- when a YouTube crew sticks a cam in your face on the sidewalk and asks "Name the planets in your own Solar System" -- has now become even more difficult.

Or maybe not. As always, whenever Earth or its badly educated jerks are threatened, an enterprising, clever 10-year-old girl comes to the rescue!

Keep watching Maryn Smith, a 10-year-old girl from Montana. Vleeptron predicts Great Things for her. Who knows, in a few decades, she might even become the first Woman President of the United States!

I suppose I have to say something about the graphic. Not having a snapshot of the planet (?) Ceres, named for the Goddess of Grain, I have substituted a Cheerio, which is round.

As for Eris, Goddess of Discord, it is long past time that Britney Spears was recognized for her stellar musical talent and became an officially designated Heavenly Body.

And now, so you will not screw up the Solar System when you're asked about it on Jeopardy, start memorizing Maryn Smith's prize-winning mnemonic:

My [Mercury]
Very [Venus]
Exciting [Earth]
Magic [Mars]
Carpet [Ceres]
Just [Jupiter]
Sailed [Saturn]
Under [Uranus]
Nine [Neptune]
Palace [Pluto]
Elephants [Eris]


* * *

The Great Falls Tribune
Great Falls, Montana USA
Wednesday 27 February 2008


Riverview student's
memory aid brings
order to solar system


by KRISTEN CATES
Tribune Staff Writer


My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants.

That phrase might seem like complete gibberish, but it was clever enough to score Riverview Elementary fourth-grader Maryn Smith a place in a new book on the 11 planets in the solar system. The book will be published by National Geographic.

Maryn, 10, as well as other fourth-graders at the school, competed in the National Geographic Society's planet-naming contest, which aimed to come up with a mnemonic device to remember the order of the planets. A new name-remembering aid as needed since Pluto was reduced to a dwarf planet and Ceres and Eris were upgraded to planet status.

Maryn was one of 800 entrants nationwide.

"I just went through the whole 'Aladdin' theme," Maryn said. "It just fit all the letters."

Students of yesteryear might remember the old standby:

My [Mercury]
Very [Venus]
Educated [Earth]
Mother [Mars]
Just [Jupiter]
Served [Saturn]
Us [Uranus]
Nine [Neptune]
Pizzas [Pluto]

Andrea Paul, Maryn's teacher, said part of the fall science curriculum is to teach students about the solar system. She said a former student told her about the planet-naming contest.

Every student in her class submitted a mnemonic phrase and then Paul narrowed those down to five. The students then voted on the best one, which she submitted.

"We submitted (Maryn's), and lo and behold," Paul said.

Maryn remembered a couple of other entries from her class.

Her friend Tanner wrote: "My Very Extraordinary Mother Carrie Just Served Us Nine Pizzas Each."

And another classmate wrote: "My Very Extraordinary Mother Can Jog Superly Under Nasty Particular Elves."

Maryn said she didn't rush to come up with her idea.

"A lot of people were really trying to win this contest," she said. "I actually concentrated and tried to make something that made sense."

Maryn's Aladdin-inspired phrase will appear in the National Geographic children's book "11 Planets: A New View of the Solar System," written by Harvard University physicist David Aguilar.

Christie Smith, Maryn's mom, said she helped her daughter come up with a theme. The pair had fun participating in the contest, even though Christie Smith thought her daughter was a long shot to win.

In December, Smith received a legal-sized envelope in the mail from the National Geographic Society.

"I was like, 'Did I not pay my bill?'" Smith said. "Even if I didn't pay my bill, a legal envelope seems a little extreme."

Inside the envelope were the details of what it meant for Maryn to win the contest.

National Geographic Society representatives said in the letter to Maryn's parents that there is a possibility her phrase will be turned into a song.

She also was recently interviewed by The Washington Post for an article.

Maryn received an encyclopedia on the planets, which she has already used. She knows that scientists discovered Ceres in the 1800s, but thought it was an asteroid. It recently was upgraded to a planet.

"Now it's gotten bigger so they are back to considering it a planet," she said.

Paul, who taught Maryn the basics of the solar system, was impressed her student knew something she didn't.

Smith said that Maryn winning the contest has piqued the fourth-grader's interest in science and further academic study.

"Ever since this contest, she's really just started putting money aside for college," Smith said. "Now she's decided she wants to be a fourth-grade teacher. She's just gotten really dedicated. It's fun to watch."

Reach Tribune Staff Writer Kristen Cates at 791-1463 or kcates@greatfallstribune.com .

- 30 -

Copyright ©2008 The Great Falls Tribune

Land of the Free leads the world in prisoners / more behind bars than China, more behind bars than Russia

Reuters (UK world newswire)
Thursday 28 February 2008
Report:
United States incarcerates
more than any other nation
by James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world and for the first time in the nation's history, more than one in every 100 American adults is confined in a prison or jail, according to a report released on Thursday.

The report by the Pew Center on the States said the American penal system held more than 2,300,000 adults at the start of the year.

The far more populous nation of China ranked second with 1,500,000 behind bars, with Russia a distant third with 890,000 inmates.

"Beyond the sheer number of inmates, America also is the global leader in the rate at which it incarcerates its citizenry, outpacing nations like South Africa and Iran," according to the report.

Tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime rates have contributed to the United States having the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world, criminal justice experts say.

The latest report tracked similar findings on the U.S. prison population by the Justice Department and various private groups. A report in November by a criminal justice research group found the number of people in U.S. prison had risen eight-fold since 1970.

The new report said that the national prison population has nearly tripled between 1987 and 2007.

"The number of people behind bars in the United States continued to climb in 2007, saddling cash-strapped states with soaring costs they can ill afford and failing to have a clear impact either on recidivism or overall crime," it said.

States last year spent more than $44,000,000,000 on corrections, the report said, compared with $10,600,000,000 in 1987, the report said, adding that the rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending.

The report said the current prison growth has not been driven mainly by a parallel increase in crime or a corresponding surge in the nation's population.

"Rather, it flows principally from a wave of policy choices that are sending more lawbreakers to prison and, through the popular 'three-strikes' measures and other sentencing enhancements, keeping them there longer," it said.

The report said some states, such as Texas and Kansas, have acted to slow their prison population growth, with greater use of community supervision for lower-risk offenders and sanctions other than prison for minor probation and parole violations, such as missing a counseling session.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

- 30 -

28 February 2008

postalplanet mollyringwald / 1st day issue / Unfortunate Miss Bailey / men are pigs

Sure, click, that would be great.

Little is known about Planet mollyringwald, communication with it is exceedingly rare. Most Dwingeloo-2 planetary scientists and exobiologists believe the planet is populated entirely with women. This is the first postalplanet mollyringwald postage stamp not-mollys have ever received, but there is evidence that all its stamps represent the theme "men are pigs."

In many religions, suicides are not allowed to be buried in consecrated or holy ground.

"Avaunt!" means (or meant) "Go Away!"

For the wicked Captain Smith, I have used a portrait of British General John "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne (1722 – 1792), who royally screwed the pooch and surrendered his army of 6,000 at the Battle of Saratoga, New York, in 1777. He appears in George Bernard Shaw's "The Devil's Disciple," and is played by Laurence Olivier in the movie. Our victory at Saratoga pursuaded a reluctant King Louis XVI of France to help the American rebels against the British.

Open this midi (by Lesley Nelson-Burns, I think) in another tab and you can sing along with the tune. The lyrics and this historical sketch are shamelessly filched from this virtual tour of Nova Scotia, Canada.

The tune is also known as The Unfortunate Miss Bailey. The Burl Ives Songbook states it a traditional tune dating back to the sixteenth century.

However, according to The Traditional Ballad Index, the tune has been credited to George Colman the elder (1732-1794) and George Colman the younger (1762-1836). The tune appears in the younger's play "Love Laughs at Locksmiths."

After the War of 1812 the tune was used for The Hunters of Kentucky.

~ ~ ~

Miss Bailey's Ghost

or

the Unfortunate Miss Bailey


A Captain bold in Halifax
Who dwelt in country quarters
Seduced a maid who hanged herself
One morning in her garters
His wicked conscience smited him
He lost his stomach daily
He took to drinking turpentine
And thought upon Miss Bailey

O Miss Bailey, unfortunate Miss Bailey!
O Miss Bailey, unfortunate Miss Bailey!

One night betimes he went to bed
For he had caught a fever
Said he, "I am a handsome man
And I'm a gay deceiver."
His candle just at twelve o'clock
Began to burn quite palely
A ghost stepped up to his bedside
And said, "Behold Miss Bailey!"

O Miss Bailey, unfortunate Miss Bailey!
O Miss Bailey, unfortunate Miss Bailey!

"Avaunt, Miss Bailey," then he cried
"You can't afright me really."
"Dear Captain Smith," the ghost replied,
"You've used me ungenteelly.
The Coroner's 'quest was hard with me
Because I've acted frailly
And Parson Biggs won't bury me
Though I'm a dead Miss Bailey."

O Miss Bailey, unfortunate Miss Bailey!
O Miss Bailey, unfortunate Miss Bailey!

"Dear Ma'am," said he, "since you and I
Accounts must once for all close,
I have a one-pound note here in
My Regimental small clothes.
'Twill bribe the Sexton for your grave."
The ghost then vanished gaily
Crying, "Bless you, wicked Captain Smith!
Remember poor Miss Bailey!"

O Miss Bailey, unfortunate Miss Bailey!
O Miss Bailey, unfortunate Miss Bailey!

27 February 2008

PizzaQ -- icky spider wallcrawler needs a geodesic

Well, sure, click.

Ordinarily I am a huge fan of Napoleon Bonaparte's spiffy Metric System, but I am in a nasty mood and don't feel like converting from my American living room's old-fashioned English feet.

So if you want the 3 slices of pizza with the shallots, do this in feet, to a precision of 100ths of a foot. (Don't mess with silly inches.)


The technical term for a shortest length between two points is a geodesic. Icky spider needs a geodesic here.

life in hell / kill Betty Furness / go away, leave me alone

Oh, please don't click.
That will just make it
bigger and scarier.

Vleeptron is not shutting down as it did when we were off on a little holiday to the sunny Caribe.

Bob is shutting down because contractors are ripping the crap out of the ancient (circa 1954) kitchen -- a very comfy, cozy, warm, inviting kitchen if you ask me -- and installing a new, modern kitchen.

Assuming I get any sleep at all, I awaken every morning at an ungodly hour to these merry elves and their power tools, hammers and pry bars invading my most intimate space and destroying the old and replacing it with the latest, most modern new fixtures.

The cats are more terrified and disoriented than I am; they are usually cowering in the back bedroom.

The tiny living room is packed with giant cardboard crates containing new fixtures. Preparing a meal or washing dishes is impossible; there's no kitchen sink. Every aspect of my homelife is upside down and backwards and will be so for more than a week. Maybe this hell will never end.

Anyway I am trying not to let it degrade or harm Vleeptron too much. I am trying. With the help of strong pills.

There's a chance I may suddenly throw some underwear and socks in a bag and run away from home. My own presence throughout this process is pretty useless and uneccessary. The process is creating the kitchen of S.W.M.B.O.'s fantasies. You should see it in full color on the contractor's computer. It's like a video game whose object is to drain all your money and change everything you and the cats are used to.

Above, Betty Furness, a somewhat failed motion picture actress who recycled herself as the spokeswoman for General Electric kitchen appliances on ancient black-and-white television commercials in the 1950s and 60s. Several times a week for a few decades, Betty Furness explained to America that everything that was wrong and unsatisfying and unfulfilled with your life will be cured magically and forever by installing a new all-electric kitchen.

Look. I don't want Elegant Living. I want to live in familiar and comfortable squalor and disorder.

When people visit, I *want* them to judge me on my ancient, rusty, antique kitchen. I want them to judge me harshly. I want my old kitchen to scare them. I want them to call my kitchen a failure.

Then I'll know they're assholes and I can forbid them from ever darkening my door again.

I suppose when it's all over, we'll have much more useful cabinet space, and the kitchen won't look like a hovel in rural Malaysia. The whole thing is making me sick. To use the microwave (now in my office) first I have to turn off the TV, or a fuse will blow in the basement.

If you see Betty Furness, please notify Homelamp Security immediately so they can throw a black hood over her head and fly her to a secret prison in Eastern Europe or some unspecified Asian country and never let her back to America. Make her stop spreading propaganda and lies about modern kitchens. Leave my kitchen alone. Leave me alone.

25 February 2008

terror on Flight 1312 / Bob wishes he could have made this trip like John McCain on a private corporate luxury jet with a pretty young lobbyist

complaint sent to American Airlines via webform

Email AA Customer Relations Confirmation
Please confirm that the following information is correct.

Subject of Email
Nature of Email Concern/Complaint
Email Subject Flight attendants/Pilots
Your Contact Information
Prefix: Mr.
First Name: Robert
Last Name: Merkin
State/US Territory/Province: MA
Country: US
Flight Information
Airline: AA
Ticket Number: 001-7185890131
Flight Number: 1312
Flight Date: 02 14 2008
Flight Origination City: San Juan PR
Flight Destination City: Hartford CT
Your Message
Do you want a response to your message? Yes

When the drunken passenger started to become loud, confused and disruptive, the passengers near him were afraid to complain to the cabin crew, because the cabin crew (a male attendant) was selling him all the liquor he could drink in the first place, and so they wouldn't have been able to do anything about the problem they'd caused in the first place. Obviously they were under instructions to make as much profit from alcohol sales as they could. The passenger walked onto the plane, but had to be wheeled off the plane in a wheelchair. I clocked his beverage sales at at least 1 rum miniature and 4 beers. He may have been sold more. I spoke briefly to the pilot as I disembarked. Clearly he had absolutely no idea that there'd been a drunken disruption in the rear of the plane throughout the flight. All the profit you make by getting passengers drunk will disappear every time you have to make an emergency diversion landing because you can't control a passenger you got drunk. This isn't about alcohol. I drink. I just don't get drunk on planes -- even if the cabin crew is willing to get me drunk. I won't be flying American Airlines for a while if there's any other way I can get to my destination. It was the scariest and most unpleasant flight I've had in 10 years.

24 February 2008

Is this the face that launched a thousand ships / and said "Tee-Hee!" to the old Senator on free rides on her corporate jet?

Sure, click, maybe she gets hotter.

Once again I am proud to be an American. Once again a young mieskeit (she was about 32 in the days of the Free Corporate Jet Rides) who is not the wife of a major political figure -- the presumptive Republican presidential nominee -- has tossed one of those round terrorist stink bombs into the democratic process, and grabbed my country's Page 1 headlines. For a change, the media tsunami is starting from the Top Down, with a bombshell story in The New York Times, descending thence toward the supermarket tabloids, and finally to your trusted source for all things U.S. Politics, Agence-Vleeptron Presse.

Though ordinarily I rely on The New York Times as an effective Sleep Aid -- its ability to send me to Dreamland ranks right up there with Henry James and the banned hypnotic Methaqualone
-- their story about Senator John McCain and the mieskeit lobbyist was almost exciting and vigorous. These are virtues distinct from Excellent Journalism, which the story indeed was. I read every fucking word and never nodded off once.

The McCain campaign's response and defense was that The New York Times is liar liar pants on fire and it is absolutely totally 100% Not True that the old married geezer ever inserted any part of his body or any tobacco products into the young mieskeit lobbyist's steaming, quivering orafices. Mrs. McCain stood proudly next to her beloved war hero husband to make her absolute belief in that fact absolutely clear.


Of course The Times never said he did any such thing. That wasn't what their story was about.

Their story was about an old fuzzy fool who, throughout his political career, trusts every Caucasian multimillionaire and billionaire in an expensive Italian suit who flies him around the country and the planet for free in a corporate jet and writes fat checks to the Senator's election campaigns. And of course the young female lobbyist representative of the Caucasian gazillionaire who's just there to see that the Senator is comfie and has an extra pillow and a nice drinky-poo while he flies for free from DC to Phoenix.


* * *

AGENCE-VLEEPTRON PRESSE
PROFESSIONAL ETHICS DISCLOSURE

To the best of my knowledge, neither I nor any employee of A-VP has ever accepted a free ride on a private luxury corporate jet. To the best of my knowledge, neither I nor any employee of A-VP has ever been offered a free ride on a private luxury corporate jet.

* * *

So what's so disgusting about me that I have to buy coach tickets on American Airlines and take off my shoes and remove all metal objects while they hustle me through the metal detector, huh?

It's not that awful Geezer Age thing -- McCain is fully 10.4 years older than I am. Is it just his raw Navy bomber pilot war hero good looks? Does he shower and comb his hair more often than I do? Why isn't anybody offering me free rides on corporate jets so I can do valuable journalistic research in the Caribbean and Bali? Am I not a man and a brother?


Possibly, The Times suggested, it's because I'm not the chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees legislation beneficial to telecommunications gazillionaires. Yes indeed there was innuendo in The Times story. Low, sleazy, cheap innuendo. Anyone who knows John McCain knows he would never let huge campaign contributions or free trips on corporate jets or attractive young lobbyist women influence his votes in the Senate. The very suggestion is an insult to this fine, honest public servant. Let's all riot outside The New York Times building tomorrow to show our disgust at the way they've besmirched the reputation of this fine American who is just an ordinary joe just like you and me doing his best to become the next President.

McCain isn't dishonest or corrupt. Exactly. To be dishonest or corrupt, you have to have some crisp, clear notion that you're doing something dishonest or corrupt. And McCain is the original Senator Fuzzy. His gazillionaire banking pal Charles Keating calls him on the phone (my guess is on a straight-through private speed-dial number) and sings the blues to McCain that Evil Federal Banking Regulators are unfairly causing him and his huge Lincoln Savings & Loan Association woe and tsuris. And when a Caucasian gazillionaire contributor calls, McCain listens. McCain joined four other U.S. Senators to arrange a command meeting with the federal banking investigators to tell them to Back Off and Be Fair to their upstanding gentleman friend Charles Keating.

A little bit later, Charles Keating was led away in handcuffs, did four years in the can, Lincoln had gone belly-up, Keating pled guilty to $1,000,000 worth of bankruptcy fraud, and though Keating claims to be flat broke, he has agreed to repay the federal government U$4,300,000,000 (yes, Billion) if he or his wife ever find any money around the house. (Later an appeal nullified that debt, Mr. and Mrs. Keating now owe taxpayers nothing.)

In his memoirs, McCain writes extensively about how this experience as a founding meatball of "The Keating Five" broke his heart and caused him terrible dismay and public embarrassment. How he should have known better. How he would have acted differently if only he had realized that his Caucasian gazillionaire big-contributor pal in a great Italian suit might not be 100 percent honest and kosher or dealing straight with him. But how could he reasonably have been expected to know? All signs pointed to Outstanding Caucasian Family Values American Businessman: The suit, the jet, the wife and 4 kids, the dog, the golf. He even had a nice strong Anglo-Saxon name.

I wonder how easy it would be to phone Senator John McCain and chat with him, just him and me, for fifteen minutes about some issue which I feel is very important to me and to the nation and the world? Maybe on Monday I'll start phoning. I know he's a very busy man. But who knows, maybe his staff will put me through to the Senator and I can use my access to this Good Listener and Concerned Legislator to pursuade him to support my cause. I'll pay any long-distance phone fees, but I'm sure it won't cost me any big campaign donations. Because I think that would be sort of unethical, n'est-ce pas? To send his campaign $25,000 and then try to get him on the phone?

Well, maybe it would be legal under current laws and Congressional ethics rules. (Congressional ethics reform is McCain's Big Deal, he's a-gonna Clean Up This Congress and purge it of unseemly big-corporate-money influence.) But it -- well, it just seems fishy smelly. I'm sure he'll take my call and chat with me without any big up-front campaign contribution.


If his staff wants the check stub number before they put me through to The Big Guy, I'm sort of in trouble, I don't think I can afford more than $25. Maybe that will buy me 0.75 seconds of the Senator's time. But that should be enough, he's a great listener.

Anyway, check out the image. I think the suburban Virginia lobbying firm Alcalde & Fay

Drawing on the expertise of former members of the Executive Branch, Congress and Congressional staffs, Alcalde & Fay is able to provide efficient, effective representation of your views and input to federal decision-makers. Efficient, because we've worked with Washington leadership for over 25 years. Effective, because they respect our expertise and the high caliber of our work standards.

In Washington's complex maze, it's important to have someone representing your legislative agenda in person, every day.

Alcalde & Fay is recognized worldwide for its expertise in municipalities/public bodies, education, transportation infrastructure, environment/energy, maritime, telecommunications/broadcast, international, advocacy communications, federal marketing and general corporate and tax issue areas.

Our expertise, our bi-partisan profile and our extensive knowledge of the process by which public policy is made, ensure that Alcalde & Fay clients achieve success.


has yanked this photo from their website, but it was still lingering on a Google image search. You got to grab these things quick, they tend to evaporate and disappear.

Whaddya think? Is she hot hot hot? Is she Worthy to bring the presumptive Republican presidential nominee staggering to his knees?

Boy, this is a great campaign. Highly entertaining. I am so proud to be an American. And I'll bet she never even unbuttoned the top button of her blouse while she was flying to Phoenix with the old fool. She probably just laughed heartily at the old geezer's jokes and listened raptly to his stirring war reminiscences, and then chatted informally with him about telecommunications issues pending before his committee.

23 February 2008

Pakistan bans YouTube and TV news channel Aaj

Somebody once asked me why I thought PK and its politics were so interesting ... okay, I was wrong, PK and its politics are boring. Yawn.

I'd run an image of banned Bolta Pakistan TV news host
Nusrat Javed, but all the images I can find are of videos, not still photos, and I still don't know how to post videos.

=====================

BloggersCollective
Today's topics:
* Youtube.com blocked in Pakistan.. - 1 messages, 1 author
TOPIC: Youtube.com blocked in Pakistan..

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Fri, Feb 22 2008 1:41 pm
From: Deep
Pakistani authorities on Friday banned access to the popular video-hosting website YouTube for allegedly featuring blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority directed internet service providers across the country to block access to youtube.com.
A statement issued to customers by Micronet Broadband, one of
Pakistan's leading internet service providers said, 'Pakistan
Telecommunication Authority has directed all ISPs of the country to block access to YouTube for containing blasphemous web content movies.
Also, Pak bans new[s]channel Aaj TV..
Pakistani authorities on Friday took the Aaj TV news channel off cable networks after it aired a show by an anchor that had been blacklisted by the military regime.
Aaj went off the air as it was beaming the programme Bolta Pakistan ["Talking Pakistan"] hosted by Nusrat Javed. Authorities had briefly ordered Aaj off cable networks on February 6 when Javed had appeared on another show.

---------------------------
*********

Mush still ruling the Pak?
Regards,

22 February 2008

the Legacy of George W. Bush -- Part 2: The timeless, eternal quotes suitable for chiseling into Vermont marble

Click. It gets bigger, and thus grander.

This one's my favorite, so I just chiseled it into a nice hunk of polished Vermont marble for the ages. During his first presidential campaign while he was governor of Texas, a satirical website pissed him off, so he filed a complaint to have the website killed with the Federal Election Commission. The commissioners must have been strict constitutionalists who felt the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects free speech and political satire, and they tossed out the Bush campaign's complaint.

The above is what came out of Bush's mouth when a reporter from The Dallas Morning News asked him about his campaign's complaint.

I just can't imagine what's wrong with that boy's brain. It's one thing to FEEL that way about Freedom -- lots of people do -- but it's another thing for a presidential candidate to open his mouth and SAY it. In USA politics, the word Freedom comes just above Motherhood, Apple Pie, Puppies, and (American) Football.

* * *

The Dallas Morning News
(Dallas Texas USA)
22 May 1999

Bush criticizes Web site as malicious

Owner calls it a parody of White House bid

by Wayne Slater

AUSTIN -- Saying "there ought to be limits to freedom," Gov. George W. Bush has filed a legal complaint against the owners of a Web site that lampoons his White House bid.

The designer of the unofficial Bush site described it on Friday as a parody and said the governor is trying to limit what is written about him on the Internet.

But Mr. Bush, a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, had harsh words Friday for the site (www.gwbush.com), which offers mock interviews and policy initiatives on drugs and crime.

"There's a lot of garbage in politics, and, obviously, this is a garbage man," said Mr. Bush.

Attorneys for the Bush presidential exploratory committee have filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission seeking to have the owners post a disclaimer identifying who built the site and who is paying for it.

"It [the site] is filled with libelous and untrue statements whose aim is to damage Governor Bush," the campaign said in its letter to the FEC. "The headline of the site is, 'Just Say No to Former Cocaine User for President.' This site's innuendoes and false statements attack the governor's positions on tough standards for convicted drug dealers."

Karen Hughes, a Bush campaign spokeswoman, said the site so closely resembles the official Bush campaign site (www.georgewbush.com) that people could be confused. Ms. Hughes said the unofficial site urges people to vote against Mr. Bush, making it subject to federal disclosure requirements.

Sites that are strongly critical of candidates but do not urge voters to take action are exempt from federal rules.

Frank Guerrero, a spokesman for the designer, said the site is meant to poke fun at Mr. Bush by comparing what he calls his "youthful indiscretions" with his tough-on-crime policies as an adult.

He said the site does not advocate the defeat of any candidate and is such a clear parody that no one would confuse it for the real Bush campaign Web page.

"We're not affiliated with any other campaign," said Mr. Guerrero of the site's designer, Rtmark, a loose-knit group of corporate critics.

"In fact, we see ourselves as completely nonpartisan."

The FEC confirmed Friday that it had received a complaint but declined to discuss the case, citing agency rules.

Ron Harris, an FEC spokesman, said the commission has not dealt with many Internet-related complaints and the current case could break new legal ground on how the Web is governed under campaign laws.

The unofficial Bush site has a photo of Mr. Bush and a banner that reads, "Presidential Exploratory Committee."

It includes a mock initiative dubbed "Amnesty 2000," which suggests Mr. Bush would pardon prisoners convicted of drug crimes if they have "grown up."

As a potential presidential candidate, Mr. Bush has declined "to catalogue my youthful indiscretions," saying that he has learned from his mistakes.

The site also pokes fun at Mr. Bush's characterization of himself as a "compassionate conservative."

"G.W. Bush has indeed been forgiven again and again by others. First there was his rambunctious youth," the site says.

"Then, as an unsuccessful Texas businessman, he was bailed out with millions of dollars from friends of his vice president father. As president, G.W. Bush wants to create an America in which everyone gets as much forgiveness and as many chances to grow up as he had."

The Bush campaign filed an initial complaint about the look-alike Bush site in April. Mr. Guerrero said changes were made so it would look less like the official site, but Bush campaign lawyers filed a second complaint with the FEC this month demanding a disclaimer and disclosure of funding sources.

"We appreciate humor. We appreciate parody. George Bush is known for his sense of humor," said Ms. Hughes. "But there's a difference between expressing opinion, poking fun and breaking the law."

Mr. Guerrero estimated about $70 had been spent to construct the site. He said the money came from Zack Exley, a Massachusetts computer consultant who initially registered and maintains the gwbush.com site.

Bush campaign political consultant Karl Rove has purchased at least 60 domain names that include the Bush name in an apparent attempt to curtail other anti-Bush site-makers.

"We've put out a request for domain names for [Vice President Al] Gore as well," said Mr. Guerrero. "We're trying to be bipartisan."

Staff writer Andy Dworkin in Dallas contributed to this story.

- 30 -


graphical & historical work in progress: the Legacy of George W. Bush takes shape right here on Vleeptron

Click, I guess. Filched from "Ancient Alphabet" from Purple Onion Designs; an art studio which specializes in the medium of red rubber stamps. I think it's a very handsome typeface, very authentically 18th Century, almost no retro-straying from something you might have seen on a broadside in London or Boston in 1750. If I filch any more from it, I'll pay the artiste michelle some money. She's probably pissed off already that I'm copying & pasting with MSPaint rather than using her alphabet as the rubber stamps she intended. I know some rubber stamp artists and they can get really cranky and offended about computer media.

Purple Onion Designs' michele e-mails:

Bob,

The font was something I had found several years ago by Jeff Lee. He was the one who created the font. This is what I have on my site about the font:

It is based upon two nearly identical typefaces of 17th century English Printers. Jeff Lee who designed the font used both typefaces to create it. The font is similar to those used in England from the late 1500's through the 1700's.

Michele


I've been thinking a lot lately about the Legacy of George W. Bush. Soon he won't be President of the United States anymore, so all he'll have is his Legacy. What, exactly, will it be? I'll be making some good guesses.


Meanwhile, if you're a visual artist (like me, for example, the Drunken Driver of Visual Art), or if you do your thing with Text & Words, feel very free to let this graphic inspire you and toss me whatever you think will be part of George Bush's Legacy. Let's start shaping his Legacy now. He doesn't own it, you know, it's sort of a very Public thing, and every human being on Earth who's had to endure him and suffer because of him and flee from him for the last seven years has the right to take a whack at informing his Legacy. So crank out something and we can start assembling his Legacy right here on Vleeptron.

We're also accepting rough sketches for the Iraq & Afghanistan War Memorial in Washington DC. Let's face it: It's coming sooner or later. What should it look like? Sketch something now, or write a short (or long) description of what you think it should be. President Bush will still be Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces until January 2009, with the unilateral power to declare war on any member of the Axis of Evil he wants, so there's an excellent chance you may have to fold in the Iran War Memorial too. Plan ahead. Forewarned is forarmed. What's past is prologue. Bring it on. Let's rock n roll.

Here's a good place to start. For a president to have a Legacy, he (or she, who knows what lies ahead, the future's not ours to see, que sera, sera) needs to have made great speeches and said very memorable things -- like Abraham Lincoln or John F. Kennedy. So what has George W. Bush said out loud, on purpose, that's worth carving into marble or granite? Anything. A word, a phrase, a clause, a sentence, a paragraph. What is George W. Bush's oratorical Legacy? What were his classics? What fell out of his mouth that will resonate for centuries?

20 February 2008

The Easter Bunny is Very Pissed Off. Vleeptron is Very Pissed Off. How hard can this be?

Yeah, click both images.

This extraordinarily easy, simple little problem has been sitting on VleeptronZ, in full public view of every Carbon or Silicon Entity who can get its hands (if it has hands) on a computer, since 15 March 2007 -- roughly 11 months. It is growing Old, it badly needs a haircut and a shower, it is starting to smell bad and fester and mold.

The Easter Bunny feels unloved, unwanted, lonely. The Easter Bunny, who feels terribly guilty about assassinating the Russian Imperial family and stealing their fabulous Faberge Easter Eggs, desperately needs YOUR help to give 13 of them back to 13 lucky little girls and boys this Easter

but answer came there none.

Despite the spectacular Prize of 1 Giant Pizza with the Toppings of the winner's choice, nobody has submitted an Answer.

Not even RamanuJohn, the Amazing Occidental Mathematical Mystic from Maine, who solved the original 7-Node Travelling Santa Problem, thus allowing Santa Claus to deliver iPods and Amy Winehouse "Rehab" .mp3s to 7 little boys and girls on Christmas Eve in the shortest possible distance and time.

Does this crowd believe in Santa Claus, but think the Easter Bunny is some kind of silly myth undeserving of a little computational assistance? There are odd theological implications in this possible reason why this problem is being universally dissed and ignored.

Initially we loudly dangled this problem in front of The Dutch Power Cows, who arrogantly boast (in Dutch) that they are the most powerful organization of amateur computerists on Planet Earth, regularly annihilating some of the most difficult mathematical and scientific problems known to Klaas from Rotterdam.

Well, obviously, the DPC are not really very good at this kind of thing, and are probably just a front for a porn and hydroponic cannabis gang. Or perhaps their inability to read a blog in English has blinded them to the interesting mathematical and computational aspects of the Easter Bunny's troubles.

So, okay, I will use Very Small Words to explain what is going on here, to offer special assistance to the Thick.

Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny face an astonishingly famous mathematical problem more commonly called The Travelling Salesman Problem, or the TSP.

(In the UK a travelling salesman is called a Commercial Traveller, and Durrenmatt called one of these gentleman "Traps," a nickname from the luggage in which he schleps around his sales samples. What happened to him when his car broke down in the Alps one night will curl your hair, but he probably deserved it. If you can't read, you can rent the excellent video starring George Segal.)

Yes, of course women travel around selling crap too, but mathematicians and computerists still call it The Travelling Salesman Problem.

And it's actually a Practical Problem. Real Human Beings who reside in Ordinary SpaceTime just like baseball players and Britney Spears actually need the Answers to TSP to save Money (do I have your attention now?) and Time, which is Money. Real Capitalist Corporations use their Big Computers to try to get Answers to TSP so they can Make More Money.

A Travelling Salescreature who is sitting at Headquarters must visit customers in n cities, each city just once, and after the last city, fly back to Headquarters. Each flight between cities is a straight line.

Suppose n = 3 or 4 or 5. This does not present much of a headache; there aren't very many different possible paths to analyze and sum the flight length segments to find the shortest possible path.

But when n = 6, 7 (Go RamanuJohn!) or more, things require Aspirin, or (for Canadians) Aspirin with Codeine, and Big, Fast Computers and Supercomputers.

As n gets bigger, the number of different possible paths increases so dramatically that the Salescreature, and the company's entire IT Department, just give up and essentially have to pick an educated guess -- which almost certainly is NOT the shortest possible path. It's sort of short-ish, and can be shown to save on airfare more than most other paths, but No Pizza.

(You can get a Ph.D. and a big private-sector paycheck by specializing in the mathematical field of this kind of Educated Guessing.)

Eventually n gets so big that computing The Shortest Possible Path is beyond the power of the world's biggest Supercomputers -- at least in a reasonable amount of time. Finding the Shortest Path after all the Sales Associates are dead will not help the corporation get richer.

Okay, there are other Practical (and non-Practical, but Fun) Applications for TSP besides selling shoelaces and glow-in-the-dark condoms.

Trust Vleeptron: This is a Very Important and consequently a Very Famous Mathematical Problem.

And in only 33 days, the Easter Bunny needs the Answer. Time (which is Money) is running out. The Easter Bunny is not getting any younger or smelling any sweeter, and the Giant Pizza isn't, either.

I know everybody thinks Math is Disgusting and Vulgar and (as Talking Barbie used to say) Hard. I know you like Vleeptron better when we show images of pretty young naked Suisse women, or discuss the Technology of Male Face Shaving, which (by counting Comments received) is The Most Important Thing In The World.

(The War in Iraq and USA Election 2008 and Protecting Our Schoolchildren from Charles Darwin get Comments, but not nearly as many as Shaving.)

I am trying to solve the Easter Bunny's Problem myself, with my amazing new Vleeptron Supercomputer, the envy of Real Estate Agencies and Dental Practices throughout the Connecticut River Valley.

Unfortunately the only software tools available to me at the moment are my beloved ancient unsupported QuickBasic and my new Python, which is wonderful because it is Free, but it is also Slow as Bre'r Rabbit Molasses, and if I use Python or QB, I will probably get the Answer sometime around 2020 AD.

So once again I am taking a Second Look at the outre Forth (extinct-ish) and LisP (currently un-trendy, maybe extincting). Other programming lingo advice always gratefully received. Am I finally going to have to overcome my aesthetic revulsion for C++ to solve this sucker? I'd really rather not, but ... well, whatever it takes.

What follows is a slightly modified and updated version of the original 13-Node Travelling Easter Bunny Problem AND the x,y coordinates of the houses of the 13 little boys and girls who are still waiting for their Faberge Easter Eggs. The coordinates are in text that can be copied and pasted into your computer (or your college's mainframe) without risking re-typing errors.

Oh. Okay. So I squished the Earth and made it Flat. Go ahead, make fun of me, insult me, complain. Here is a ready-made Comment:

Anonymous wrote:

asshole the erth is rownd

Well, here's the deal. Some Real Mathematician PROVED that TSP is the same problem whether the Earth is an Oblate Spheroid or Flat. So there.

TSP, on a sphere or on a plane, belongs to a class of problems called NP-Hard. (GeekSpeak: nondeterministic polynomial-time hard.) If you can find a significant time-slashing shortcut to TSP, this shortcut will equally slash the time it takes to compute all NP-Hard problems, and maybe you can get invited to be on Late Night with David Letterman.

If you got a C+ or better in Mandatory Geometry Class, you should be Very Grateful that I squished the Earth and made it Flat. Because you just possibly might remember that you can use the Pythagorean right-triangle relationship to find the straight-line distances between any two cities.

If you would prefer finding the Easter Bunny's Shortest Possible Path on the Surface of a Sphere, using segments of Great Circle arcs and Spherical Trigonometry, Leave A Comment, you Sick Fuck, I'll see what I can do.

How hard can this be? Huh? Really. How hard can this be?

===================

I am the Easter Bunny, and I need your help!

Easter Sunday 2008 is 23 March, so I don't have much time.

In 1918, after assassinating Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra of Russia and their children, the Easter Bunny stole all their fabulous Fabergé Easter eggs made of diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, pearls and gold.

I feel very bad about this, and now I want to give back 13 of the beautiful Fabergé eggs.

I have chosen 13 little girls and boys, who live in 13 different houses, and I want to deliver the beautiful Fabergé eggs to them on Easter.

I need to know The Shortest Possible Path from Easter Bunny Centre, to each house, and then back home again to Easter Bunny Centre.

Finding the Shortest Possible Path connecting 13 different places is a Very Hard Problem, and I'm just a Dumb Bunny who is not smart enough to find the Shortest Possible Path in time for Easter!

As you all know,

* the Earth is Flat

* the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line

* all distances are measured in kilometers

* Easter Bunny Centre is at the origin (0, 0)

Here are the (x, y) coordinates of the houses of the 13 children:

child ............ x .......... y
==================================
Anna ....... -267.79 .... -083.96
Benjamin ... -826.03 .... +846.76
Carmen ..... +863.47 .... -416.76
David ...... -510.72 .... +450.21
Eloise ..... +905.16 .... -597.97
Freddy ..... +701.36 .... -691.47
Gemma ...... -653.85 .... -469.27
Hrothgar ... +460.26 .... +096.81
Imogen ..... -713.34 .... -706.31
Jacques .... +917.97 .... -016.04
Kiki ....... +344.47 .... +462.57
Leonhard ... +884.65 .... +164.46
Mimi ....... +061.24 .... -962.69
==================================

Here are EXAMPLES of a Path Answer. Small "e" stands for Easter Bunny Centre. The Easter Bunny only needs 2 decimal digits of precision.

Path .......... Length of Path
==============================
eABCDEFGHIJKLMe 87654321.09 km
eCMBJGFLAHEKDIe 45678901.23 km
==============================

[An illustration of the second example is shown above.]

Please help me! What is the Shortest Possible Path??? Don't make me hop all over the place and waste weeks of time. I need to deliver all 13 Fabergé eggs on Easter Sunday!

I have posted my problem on my blog for ALMOST 1 YEAR!!!
But NOBODY ON THE INTERNET has tried to solve it!!!

Is there No One on Earth or C-Space who has the skills, brains and
computing power to help me?

Time is running short! Help!

The Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny Centre

P.S. I promise to buy 1 Giant Pizza, with your favorite toppings, at
your favorite Pizzeria, for ANYONE who can solve my problem in time for Easter! (Shipping & Transportation not included. You got to come here or I'll buy if I come there.)

18 February 2008

Florida's schoolkids -- after 150 years, will they finally be allowed to hear the E word?

Sure, click. It's pretty.

The Palm Beach Post

Palm Beach, Florida USA / Cox chain newspaper

Monday 18 February 2008


Faith, science collide

as state board nears
vote on evolution

by DON JORDAN
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


After months of fierce debate, public testimony and media attention, the state Board of Education will make its final decision Tuesday on whether to add Darwin's theory of evolution to school science standards.

An approval would overhaul standards that now refer only to biological changes over time, and instead require students to learn that evolution is the "fundamental concept underlying all of biology."


And state educators and scientists say it's about time.


The language has drawn the ire of some parents and county school boards in conservative northern Florida who take exception to the standards' emphasis on evolution and want the standards to make room for criticism of the theory or faith-based explanations for life.

The Board of Education will take up the proposed standards Tuesday in Tallahassee. Speakers will have 30 minutes to make arguments before the vote. Board members refused to comment.

The Florida Family Policy Council
, which describes itself as a "pro-life, pro-family, pro-marriage educational advocacy group" affiliated with James Dobson and Focus on the Family, released a statement last week calling the standards "philosophically dogmatic" toward evolution and arguing that they "prevent competing evidence to objectively examine" evolution.


But Joe Wolf, president of Florida Citizens for Science, a group of parents, educators and scientists who support the proposal, said the attempt to weaken evolution by arguing that the theory's perceived flaws should be given equal consideration is just another way for opponents to "slip in" intelligent design.

Intelligent design is the concept that order and complexity in nature must be the result of rational design. Eleven county school boards across northern Florida have passed resolutions against the proposed standards, with many Baptist churches and followers helping to fuel the opposition.

The Rev. John Hawkins
, a pastor at Palm Beach Baptist Church south of Atlantis, said he hasn't followed the issue but often touches on creation in his sermons.
"I've never been afraid of them teaching evolution, as long as they give equal time to creationism," Hawkins said.

Although the debate has grown fierce in other regions of the state, the more liberal South Florida has remained largely unimpassioned.
When asked her opinion of the new standards, Palm Beach County School Board member Carrie Hill said Wednesday that she wasn't familiar with them. "Isn't that a state issue?" Hill said. "I don't think that's coming to the board. I'd have to see it before I made a comment."

Board member Mark Hansen said he supports laws that separate religion from government but added he would "rather not comment on it unless it's before the board." The standards do not need approval from school boards to be implemented. Board members Bill Graham and Monroe Benaim support the new standards and board member Sandra Richmond said the standards need "to be left to the scientists."

Board member Debra Robinson, who told The Palm Beach Post in 2000 that schools should teach creationism with evolution, clarified her view by saying that debate should occur in school, just not in science classrooms. "We should be open to allow students to debate creationism versus evolution in a critical-thinking class," said Robinson, a doctor.

St. Lucie County School Board member Kathryn Hensley said she would prefer to see philosophical issues remain out of the science classrooms.
But three of the four other members - Chairwoman Carol Hilson, John Carvelli and Troy Ingersoll - said they either want intelligent design to be taught or wouldn't object to teaching it if the community requested.

Students "have to know both sides to make up their minds," said Ingersoll, a Baptist minister.

Martin County School Board member David Anderson, the son of a preacher, said he believes in creationism but doesn't oppose evolution being taught in schools, as long as it's presented as theory, not fact.
"I'm not opposed to students being exposed to information," Anderson said. "But I don't want them to say 'this is it, this is fact.' "

- 30 -

====================


The Miami Herald

Miami, Florida USA / McClatchey newspaper chain

Sunday 17 February 2008


Schools await board's
vote on evolution


by MARC CAPUTO


Nearly 150 years after Charles Darwin revolutionized biology, evolution will become required study in Florida classrooms if the state Board of Education approves new science standards Tuesday that explicitly names the ''E'' word for the first time.

The standards, which haven't been updated since 1996, were written by scientists and educators to modernize Florida's science education curriculum, which has been derided by mainstream science for years, in part for lacking explicit mention of evolution.

Now it's not just going to be mentioned. It's to be taught, from sixth grade on up, as ``the fundamental concept underlying all of biology [that] is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence.''

The fact that evolution is absent from the current standards attests to the perceived weakness of science education as well as to the power of the religious right and other evolution opponents who have launched a full-scale assault on the proposed standards by tapping rank-and-file churchgoers, intelligent-design activists and a high-powered lawyer involved in the nationally watched Terri Schiavo euthanasia case.


Their refrain: The new standards need to call evolution a ''theory,'' so that evolution does not appear to be the fact that mainstream science says it is.


The outcry at so many public hearings led the Florida Department of Education to schedule an extra hour of public testimony and, late Friday, offer an alternate version of the standards that calls every theory a ''Scientific Theory'' -- whether it's about evolution or atoms -- and identifies every natural law as such.


Many want more. One expert who sat on the framers committee that formed the standards wants the board to consider his ''minority report'' to teach kids about scientific differences over evolution. Lori Muller, a mother from St. Augustine, said at a Monday public hearing in Orlando that she liked this idea. ''Just by tweaking some of the words in the standard, we can all win,'' Muller said. ``We are not supposed to be pushing any secret and biased agenda, but just making sure the children of Florida receive the best education possible.''

OPPOSING FORCES

Though science shouldn't be about politics and semantics, both forces will be more apparent Tuesday at the board of education. In North Florida, a dozen school boards have taken positions opposing evolution in the standards, while Monroe County has supported them.


Mainstream scientists are urging the board to pass the standards as drafted and reviewed by experts, including Nobel Prize laureate Harry Kroto. Kroto says the drive to call evolution just a ''theory'' or teach alternate ''theories'' is religiously -- not scientifically -- motivated by ''creationists,'' and it confuses the definition of the word theory.

In common usage, a theory is a guess. In science a theory -- like relativity -- has the weight of fact because it's a well-tested concept.
While strong opinions on the issue dominate, a majority of the seven-member board of education won't say how it will vote.

The board has received thousands of phone calls, e-mails, letters and even Christmas cards. The sheer volume spotlights that Florida is the latest nationally watched flash point in evolution's history, which stretches from the Galapagos Islands that inspired Darwin's 1859 On the Origin of Species to the 1925 Scopes Monkey trial in Tennessee to Pennsylvania's 2005 federal Kitzmiller case.


For years, evolution has been taught in many Florida schools, but it's not clearly required teaching and doesn't have grade-by-grade benchmarks. The current standards do, however, discuss ''genetic variation'' and ``natural selection.''

Roberto Martinez, a Miami-based board member, said he'll vote to keep the proposed standards as is because he trusts the National Academy of Science and the American Association of the Advancement of Science, which praised them.

Opposite him: Tallahassee board member Donna Callaway, who told the Florida Baptist Witness she wants ''other theories'' taught.

While mainstream science recognizes no other major alternative theories to evolution, the study of cells is leading to new alternatives and supplements to Darwinian thought. Intelligent Design scientists, like biochemist Michael Behe, see the machine-like functions of cells that show such a ''purposeful arrangement of parts'' that he's echoing concepts like William Paley's 18th century ''argument of the watchmaker,'' which posited a grand designer.


Behe, an expert witness in the landmark Kitzmiller case, said some organisms are so ''irreducibly complex'' that natural selection is left wanting, and more strongly suggests that an unnamed supernatural designer crafted them. And this, Behe calls God, though he said the concept doesn't concern itself with the designer's makeup.


Evolutionist and author Kenneth R. Miller testified that Intelligent Design discouraged scientific thinking and muddies the definition of ''theory'' so that astrology could be considered science.


''Ever since Darwin, his theories have been strengthened by science and scientific discovery, not weakened by them,'' Miller said, pointing to a ''mountain of evidence'' from discoveries in antibiotics to human Chromosome 2, which shows a clear genetic link with other primates.

The judge banned intelligent design from the classroom, saying it was more religion than testable scientific theory.
One of the people who helped form the new Florida science standards, Fred Cutting, a rocket engineer and Intelligent Design adherent, sought advice from the movement's think tank, the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. Cutting wanted a benchmark added so students learn ``why some scientists give scientific critiques [of evolution] or models of the chemical origins of life.''

`MINORITY REPORT'


Cutting submitted the suggestions as a ''minority report'' to the education board. The framers' committee rejected it, leading Cutting -- who largely supports the proposed standards -- to say that some are such ''dogmatic'' evolution believers that ''atheism is like a religion.''

That sentiment was echoed in a letter to the education board from Schiavo lawyer David C. Gibbs, who opposes what he calls the ''dangerous'' ideas of teaching evolution as fact.


Cutting notes that supplemental theories to natural selection are emerging in the field of evolutionary-developmental biology, commonly known as ``evo-devo.''
A pioneer in the field of evo-devo, New York Medical College Professor Stuart A. Newman, said experiments show that some creatures are susceptible to quick evolutionary changes. Evo-devo proposes that multicellular organisms can dynamically change form under certain environmental conditions, producing major evolutionary jumps.

Newman took some issue with the science standards that say ''natural selection is a primary'' evolutionary force. He said it should just be listed as ''an important'' force. Of the standards overall, however, Newman said: ``I don't think they sound dogmatic. They're accurate.''


- 30 -

Miami Herald staff writer Phil Long contributed to this report.

====================

Florida Baptist Witness

Sunday 17 February 2008

Sullivan sends letter
opposing science standards

Florida Baptists’ top executive
rejects ‘theory’ compromise


by JAMES A. SMITH SR. Executive Editor

JACKSONVILLE (FBW) -– The top executive of the Florida Baptist Convention has entered the growing debate regarding proposed science standards, urging the Florida Board of Education to oppose the proposal unless the teaching of evolution includes scientific criticisms of the controversial theory.


John Sullivan, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, sent a letter via e-mail on Feb. 17 to all members of the Board of Education and Eric Smith, the commissioner of education, with a hard copy to follow via postal mail.

Sullivan was writing on behalf of the Convention’s State Board of Missions, which represents Florida Baptists, the largest evangelical denomination in the state with about 1,000,000 members in more than 2,000 congregations statewide.


Saying he has “serious concerns” about the way evolution is addressed in the standards, Sullivan told the Board of Education:

“We are respectfully requesting that you not approve the proposed language of the new Science Standards when considered at the February 19, 2008 Board of Education meeting.”


Citing as an example the standards’ assertion, “Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence,” Sullivan said “there is a severe lapse in the intellectual integrity” in the standards.

“It is not the desire or goal of Florida Baptists to advocate the removal of the theory of evolution from the curriculum. Nor are we suggesting the inclusion of any other theory on the origin of life,” Sullivan wrote, adding “we firmly believe there is credible evidence supporting a Creator-initiated origin of life.”


Instead, Sullivan said Florida Baptists support “an accurate and thorough presentation of the scientific evidence currently available regarding the theory of evolution. To that end, we respectfully request that you at least require the curriculum to fairly reflect the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution. Additionally, the Science Standards should honor and encourage the academic freedom of teachers and students on an issue of fundamental importance and ongoing scientific controversy.”

Regarding widely reported compromise language calling evolution a theory, Sullivan said the compromise does not satisfy Florida Baptists’ concerns.
“[W]e do not believe that the mere adding of the phrase ‘scientific theory of’ before the word ‘evolution’ in the standards will really fix the problem. As we have stated, this will not address the standards’ silence about teaching scientific criticisms of evolution.”

Sullivan expressed appreciation to those who drafted the proposed standards, noting that he supports “the desire of the education professional in Florida to ensure the children of this state receive an excellent science education.”

THE FULL TEXT OF SULLIVAN’S LETTER FOLLOWS

[Name and Address of Respective Commissioner:]

I am writing on behalf of the 99-members of the State Board of Missions of the Florida Baptist State Convention who represent one million Florida Baptists, the largest evangelical denomination in the state of Florida. I am sharing our collective concerns with each commission member via Email and then providing an official copy of this letter to the Florida Commissioner of Education for the record.
We are respectfully requesting that you not approve the proposed language of the new Science Standards when considered at the February 19, 2008 Board of Education meeting. We have serious concerns over the way that the theory of evolution is described in the new Science Standards. We believe there is a severe lapse in the intellectual integrity of the new wording regarding the basis of the study of biology. Specifically, we are concerned about the narrative found in the Life ‘Science body of Knowledge’ section which starts with the statement: “Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence.” It is not the desire or goal of Florida Baptists to advocate the removal of the theory of evolution from the curriculum. Nor are we suggesting the inclusion of any other theory on the origin of life. Although we firmly believe there is credible evidence supporting a Creator-initiated origin of life. What we are advocating at this time is an accurate and thorough presentation of the scientific evidence currently available regarding the theory of evolution. To that end, we respectfully request that you at least require the curriculum to fairly reflect the scientific strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution. Additionally, the Science Standards should honor and encourage the academic freedom of teachers and students on an issue of fundamental importance and ongoing scientific controversy. And finally, we do not believe that the mere adding of the phrase “scientific theory of” before the word “evolution” in the standards will really fix the problem. As we have stated, this will not address the standards’ silence about teaching scientific criticisms of evolution. Let me thank you for your leadership and for the efforts of the team of science professionals who rewrote Florida’s Science Standards. We join you in the desire of the education professionals in Florida to ensure the children of this state receive an excellent science education.

Blessings,
T. G. “John” Sullivan,
Executive Director-Treasurer
Florida Baptist Convention

1230 Hendricks Avenue

Jacksonville, Florida


============

Our Mission


Florida Baptist Witness publishes Good News about God's work that edifies, educates, exhorts and empowers Florida Baptists to exalt God and extend His Kingdom. Our Purpose Since 1884, Florida Baptist Witness has been the weekly newspaper of the Florida Baptist State Convention. With an emphasis on features about the people and ministries of Florida Baptist churches, associations and the state convention, the paper provides a valuable tool for building cooperative ministry among individuals and churches in many diverse settings from the Panhandle to the Keys. The Witness also provides news and information about Southern Baptist ministries across the United States and around the world, as well as discussion of current issues of interest to all Christians. Our ‘Statement on Editorial Policy’ The Board of Directors of Florida Baptist Witness, as authorized by the Florida Baptist State Convention to establish policies for Florida Baptists’ newspaper, affirms this editorial policy statement to guide the executive editor concerning the mission and objectives of the Witness, and to enhance the operation of the Witness through the exercise of maximum responsible freedom while recognizing this agency’s accountability to Florida Baptists through their State Convention.

Our Staff


James A. Smith Sr. – Executive Editor
John C. Hannigan – Business Manager Joni B. Hannigan – Managing Editor Eva Wolever - Assistant Editor Carolyn Nichols - Newswriter Andrea Burroughs - Graphic designer Frances Murray - Bookkeeper

Our Board of Directors


Florida Baptist Witness is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the Florida Baptist State Convention. The following are members of the Witness Board of Directors: Bob Greene, Chairman, Art Ayris, Don Buckley, John Davis, Walter Davis, Karen Green, Edwin Holton, Ron Lentine, Jeff Overton, Tim Patterson, Richard Powell, William Rice, Donald Walton, Daniel Webster, Ken Whitten