"Whiteness is a 'tiny defect'"Scientists Find Gene That Makes People Brown or White
In a discovery that begins to shed light on what makes one person brown and another white, scientists have identified a gene that appears to be a key player in human pigmentation.
People share 99.9 percent of the same genes, yet pinpointing the very minor genetic variations that cause skin-color differences long has been a mystery to scientists. This discovery, published in the journal Science, marks a significant step toward understanding what's behind the panoply of human skin tones.
"The gene we found seems to modulate the number, size and density of cellular packets that contain brown pigment," said Keith Cheng, a geneticist at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pa.
Cheng's team found that people with the normal form of the gene SLC24A5 had brown skin, while fair people of European descent carried a modified form of the gene that led to having fewer and smaller pigment packets, known as melanosomes.
Bush Approved Eavesdropping, Official Says
President Bush has personally authorized a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States more than three dozen times since October 2001, a senior intelligence official said Friday night.
N.Y. Times statement defends NSA reporting
The Times story said the White House had asked the paper not to publish the article, and that the paper had delayed its publication for a year while it conducted additional reporting.
Bush Acknowledges Approving Eavesdropping
WASHINGTON - President Bush said Saturday he personally has authorized a secret eavesdropping program in the U.S. more than 30 times since the Sept. 11 attacks and he lashed out at those involved in publicly revealing the program.
"This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security," he said in a radio address delivered live from the White House's Roosevelt Room.
"This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States," Bush said.
An Incredible Day in America
Today, for two separate reasons, has been an incredible day in America. First, the United States has legitimized torture and secondly, the President has admitted to an impeachable offense.
First, the media has been totally misled on the alleged Bush-McCain agreement on torture. McCain capitulated. It is not a defeat for Bush. It is a win for Cheney.
Torture is not banned or in any way impeded.
Under the compromise, anyone charged with torture can defend himself if a "reasonable" person could have concluded they were following a lawful order.
That defense "loophole" totally corrodes the ban. It is the CIA, or the torturing agency, who will decide what a "reasonable" person could have concluded. Can you imagine those agencies in the interrogation business torturing on their own in trying to decide what is reasonable or what is not? What is not "reasonable" if the interrogator (wrongfully or rightfully) believes he has a ticking-bomb situation? Will a CIA or military officer issue a narrow order if he knows his interrogator believes, in this case, torture will work?
The Bush-McCain torture compromise legitimizes torture. It is the first time that has happened in this country. Not in the two World Wars, Korea, the Cold War or Vietnam did the government ever seek or get the power this bill gives them.
The worst part of it is that most of the media missed it and got it wrong.
Secondly, the President in authorizing surveillance without seeking a court order has committed a crime. The Federal Communications Act criminalizes surveillance without a warrant. It is an impeachable offense. This was also totally missed by the media.
U.S. Command Declares Global Strike Capability
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Strategic Command announced yesterday it had achieved an operational capability for rapidly striking targets around the globe using nuclear or conventional weapons, after last month testing its capacity for nuclear war against a fictional country believed to represent North Korea.
...CONPLAN 8022 is “a new strike plan that includes [a] pre-emptive nuclear strike against weapons of mass destruction facilities anywhere in the world,” said Hans Kristensen, a consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Kristensen first published the STRATCOM press release on his Web site, nukestrat.com.
So now we know: Next time the fire will come in Iran. The blow will be delivered by proxy, but that will not spare the true perpetrator from the firestorm of blowback and unintended consequences that will follow. Even now, the gruesome deaths of many innocent people in many lands are growing in futurity's womb.
The Rubicon of the new war was crossed on Oct. 27. Oddly enough for this renewal of the ancient enmity between the heirs of Athens and Persia, the decisive event occurred on the edge of the Arctic Circle, at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, where a Russian rocket lifted an Iranian spy satellite, the Sinah-1, into orbit. This launch, scarcely noticed at the time, has accelerated the inevitable strike on Iran's nuclear facilities: Israel is now readying an attack for no later than the end of March, The Sunday Times reports.
Most Israelis Oppose Strike Against Iran: Poll
Judith Miller, Interrogator
The Chicago Sun-Times confirmed yesterday Oscar Wilde's maxim that modern journalism is valuable because it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community when it published a story titled "N.Y. Times Reporter Named in Court Filing: Bridgeview Man Interrogated In Israel Says Miller Watched."
The Sun-Times plays up as hot news a charge by Muhammed Salah that Judith Miller witnessed his 1993 interrogation in Israel. Salah currently faces federal charges in Chicago of laundering millions of dollars over 15 years to support the terrorist organization Hamas. He wants his confession to Israeli authorities from 1993 suppressed in this prosecution, claiming that interrogators tortured it out of him, and hopes that dragging Miller into his case will help accomplish that.
So, just who is Christian Bailey?
...It was recently revealed that Bailey's company was the recipient of a $100m (£56m) contract from Donald Rumsfeld's Department of Defence for buying space in Iraqi newspapers to place deliberately one-sided stories written by US "psy-ops" troops, at a time when the chaos of Iraq makes genuine journalism all but impossible and when journalists risk their lives on a daily basis to report the truth.
...Much is unclear about the Lincoln Group, its youthful executive vice-president and his string of previous companies that have left only the faintest paper trail. Indeed, Christian Bailey may not be his real name: a number of student associates said at some point during his four years that he changed his name from Yusefovich - an unlikely surname for someone called Christian.
...Many observers have been surprised Bailey, from Surrey, has been awarded such a sizable contract, give that he appears to have no experience in public relations. Indeed, since he moved to the US in the late 1990s, he has spent much of his time in private finance, working in hedge funds in San Francisco and New York.
Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act
WASHINGTON - The Senate on Friday refused to reauthorize major portions of the USA Patriot Act after critics complained they infringed too much on Americans' privacy and liberty, dealing a huge defeat to the Bush administration and Republican leaders.
In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill's Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47.
President Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Republicans congressional leaders had lobbied fiercely to make most of the expiring Patriot Act provisions permanent.
Pelosi Hails Democrats' Diverse War Stances
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said yesterday that Democrats should not seek a unified position on an exit strategy in Iraq, calling the war a matter of individual conscience and saying differing positions within the caucus are a source of strength for the party.
Pelosi said Democrats will produce an issue agenda for the 2006 elections but it will not include a position on Iraq. There is consensus within the party that President Bush has mismanaged the war and that a new course is needed, but House Democrats should be free to take individual positions, she sad.
"There is no one Democratic voice . . . and there is no one Democratic position," Pelosi said in an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors.
No voice..no position...great.
Invitation to the Bomb
We Spaniards should have reserved a bit of naiveté for this occasion. During the last years we have been exposed to such a digest of horrors that our conscience got jammed. Spain trembled with the destruction of the Twin Towers and its 3,000 dead; it trembled with the bombing of the Atocha Station and its 200 victims torn to pieces; it also trembled with the missiles over Baghdad and with Abu-Ghraib's tortures and trembled again with the scenes of a New Orleans turned upside down by the water and abandoned by its government. Nevertheless, much more impressive than all that "both as a question and as an image" is the zoological treatment accorded by the Spanish State to the African nationals at the iron curtain of the Melilla border with Morocco.
The gunfire, deportation and caging of thousands of persons who were asking for help - that strategy they call "migratory policy," just as Hitler used to call "demographic policy" the transfer to Auschwitz of the European Jews-de facto challenges before the eyes of the world the legitimacy, viability and justice of the political and economic order in place.
At the same time, the reaction of our politicians, our mass media and our public opinion challenges our right to the wealth, to democratic institutions and, especially, our present and future right to feel we are good. After all, the pain caused by both the 11-S and 11-M can be attributed to "wicked terrorists" just the same that the pain of Baghdad's children can be attributed to "wicked imperialists." But in Melilla there is no doubt: we have photographed the system, we have fixed forever the image of an order that has to shoot the people who ask for help, that cannot stop treating as animals the people who are hungry, which cannot even allow hospitality.
The US is now rediscovering the pitfalls of aspirational imperialism
The war in Iraq has had at least one redeeming feature. Along with events in Afghanistan, it has revived serious debate into some of the most important and long-standing issues in history and politics. Type the four words "Iraq", "Afghanistan", "America" and "empire" into Google, for instance, and you get around 3.5 million hits. There are the usual mad bloggers and propaganda rants but there is also a wealth of discussion on offer that expands every day. Is the US an empire? If so, what sort of empire? Is imperialism good or bad, or sometimes both? And, of course: why has it proved so hard for America, the most formidable military and economic power the world has seen, to effect its will? The passion behind this on-screen questioning is evident. So, very often, is a limited understanding of what imperial ventures have usually involved.
Whose understanding is limited? Not the victims', certainly.
Law on Teaching Rosy View of Past Is Dividing France
s a great maritime and colonial power in centuries past, France relished its role in taking its culture to the far corners of the globe -- French schools, language, trade, modern medicine and various other trappings of its civilization.
But people in those places were not always happy with what accompanied the French largess, including war, slavery, torture and the eradication of their cultures.
Those competing views of history have set off an emotional debate in France and places it colonized, following passage of a law here mandating that French schools give more emphasis to the positive aspects of French colonization.
Nigerian women riot over 'indecent' bikes ban
Fights broke out in the northern Nigerian city of Kano this week after women defied a ban under Islamic law forbidding men and women to travel together on "indecent" public transport.
The violence broke out after religious marshals tried to stop women riding the motorcycle taxis that zip through the city centre and to persuade them to use "approved" vehicles instead.
More than 9,000 policemen or religious marshals patrolled the streets to implement the ban, which came into force this week. In one incident, six people were wounded in clashes between motorbike-taxi riders and the police after a woman was ordered to dismount from a vehicle.
'Tis the season
...If aid is desperately required on December 15, the situation was probably just as urgent on October 15 and November 15, too. And if good cheer is admirable in December, then it should be just as commendable in May and March. What has happened is that our moral obligations have shifted as the Season of Goodwill gets under way, and this should demonstrate that there is something very wrong with our ordinary moral thinking.