Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Minnesota GOP collecting and making public personal data



Miss Coulter, like Mr Bush, is also losing popularity

From The Grand Rapids Press, Who's on deck for GOP dinner?:
Chris Meyer immediatelybought 10 more tickets to the Kent County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner -- once he heard commentator Ann Coulter backed out of her March 16 commitment as keynote speaker.

Meyer, a Grand Rapids attorney and Republican candidate for state House, protested Coulter's scheduled appearance by telling supporters on his campaign Web site he planned to leave the event after dinner and before Coulter's speech.

But now that GOP officials are hunting for a replacement, Meyer said he can feel comfortable going full tilt at the party's biggest fundraiser of the year.


Dick Cheney's New Chair


Alexander Reh
The back of the chair creates a stark contrast to the front with its web of red hulls protruding outward in an intense array of plastic arterial sections.


Coast Guard not happy about US ports

From the AP, Paper: Coast Guard Has Port Co. Intel Gaps:
Citing broad gaps in U.S. intelligence, the Coast Guard cautioned the Bush administration weeks ago that it could not determine whether a United Arab Emirates-based company seeking a stake in some U.S. port operations might support terrorist operations...

There are many intelligence gaps, concerning the potential for DPW or P&O assets to support terrorist operations, that precludes an overall threat assessment" of the potential merger, the unclassified Coast Guard intelligence assessment said.

"The breadth of the intelligence gaps also infer potential unknown threats against a large number of potential vulnerabilities," the assessment said...

The report raised questions about the security of the companies' operations, the backgrounds of people working for the companies, and whether other foreign countries influenced operations that affect security...

"This report suggests there were significant and troubling intelligence gaps," said Collins, R-Maine. "That language is very troubling to me...I think the paragraph speaks for itself."

Monday, February 27, 2006


34%, or why George Bush is not very popular

From CBS News:
The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.

Americans are also overwhelmingly opposed to the Bush-backed deal giving a Dubai-owned company operational control over six major U.S. ports. Seven in 10 Americans, including 58 percent of Republicans, say they're opposed to the agreement.
The majority of Americans are finally starting to understand Bush correctly:
For the first time in this poll, most Americans say the president does not care much about people like themselves. Fifty-one percent now think he doesn't care, compared to 47 percent last fall.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


The UAE, human trafficking and blackmail from al-Qaeda

It is not the morality concerning human trafficking that is the problem. I personally feel the immorality and illegality are sufficient reasons to deny UAE/DPW the contract. But that is not the more pratical problem their acceptance of human trafficking raises in this issue. From the Dept of State last year:

The United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) is a destination country for women trafficked primarily from South, Southeast, and East Asia, the former Soviet Union, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, and East Africa, for the purpose of sexual exploitation. A far smaller number of men, women, and teenage children were trafficked to the U.A.E. to work as forced laborers...

The U.A.E. Government does not collect statistics...Widely varying reports, mostly from NGOs, international organizations, and source countries, estimated the number of trafficking victims in the U.A.E. to be from a few thousand to tens of thousands.

The Government of the U.A.E. does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Despite sustained engagement from the U.S. Government, NGOs, and international organizations over the last two years, the U.A.E. Government has failed to take significant action to address its trafficking problems and to protect victims.->
Why this is a problem is it demonstrates that we already know we can not trust the UAE gov't to carry through on issues they know they should. Or is the gov't of the UAE going to try and argue they shouldn't comply with the minimum standards. So why are we going to believe now, when push comes to shove, we can count on our security concerns being UAE/DPW's top priority.

Think about it, when you are engaged in human trafficking (and not all of it is for camel jockeying) you are vunerable to blackmail and extortion. From al Qaeda to the UAE ->

You are well aware that we have infiltrated your security, censorship, and monetary agencies...cost  (sic) you many problems that will place you in an embarrassing state before your citizens.
That sounds like a blackmail threat.

How safe do you feel now?

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Business details on P&O/DPW deal

From the BBC, P&O agrees bid from Dubai Ports:
29 November 2005
The takeover signals the end of 168 years of independence for the world's fourth-largest ports group. DP World, owned by the Dubai government...

"We did not solicit the bid but we received an attractive proposition. It was followed by some very tough negotiations," said P&O chairman Sir John Parker...no rival bids have emerged so far.

DP World is...backed by huge cash piles from the Gulf emirate's resources... Dubai Ports said it hoped to expand its operations following the P&O deal.


al-Qaeda claimed to have inflitrated the UAE gov't

From New York Post:
Al Qaeda warned the government of the United Arab Emirates more than three years ago that it "infiltrated" key government agencies, according to a disturbing document released by the U.S. military.

[From the message:] "You are well aware that we have infiltrated your security, censorship and monetary agencies, along with other agencies that should not be mentioned

"Therefore, we warn of the continuation of practicing . . . policies which do not serve your interest and will only cost you many problems that will place you in an embarrassing state before your citizens.

"Your homeland is exposed to us. There are many vital interests that will hurt you if we decided to harm them."

The document was among a batch of internal al Qaeda communications captured by U.S. forces in the war on terror.

They were declassified and released earlier this month by the Center for Combating Terrorism at West Point.

From the Center for Combating Terrorism, a summary of the letter in question:
Doc ID: AFGP-2002-603856
Date: 14/May/June 2002 (sic)
Author: Al-Jihad Qa’ida Organization
Title: Get the Idolaters out of Arab Island (Gulf Countries)

Synopsis: A warning to the officials of the United Arab Emirates to stop detaining Mujahideen sympathizers.

Key Themes: This letter signed by the Al-Jihad Qa’ida Organization warns officials that they risk retribution if they keep arresting and detaining Mujahideen sympathizers. The author boasts that the security agencies of the emirates have been infiltrated, and if the Americans are vulnerable so are they.

The tourist industry is described as shameless and the area is considered an easy target. Al-Qa’ida does not want to attack the Emirates, but policy in the area will compel an attack.
A pdf of the letter itself.


UAE blocking critical websites

From BoingBoing, BoingBoing now censored in the UAE (and elsewhere):
"We apologize the site you are attempting to visit has been blocked due to its content being inconsistent with the religious, cultural, political and moral values of the United Arab Emirates."
At least the UAE shows a willingness to control some ports. I am sure the government's censorship of speech will only endear them more to the Bush's government.


Why Bush wants the UAE port deal

A larger view via Google

From the AP Homeland Security Objected to Ports Deal
The Homeland Security Department objected at first to a United Arab Emirates company's taking over significant operations at six U.S. ports. It was the lone protest among members of the government committee that eventually approved the deal without dissent...Despite persistent criticism from Republicans and Democrats, the president has defended his administration's approval of the ports deal and threatened to veto any measures in Congress that would block it.
Bush really wants this deal to go through.

Friday, February 24, 2006


American Moron



You Fuck It, You Marry It

From BBC, Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat:
A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his "wife", after he was caught having sex with the animal.

They ordered the man, Mr Tombe, to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($50) to Mr Alifi [the goat's owner].

"We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together," Mr Alifi said, "They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife."

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Bush let's us know what he really thinks

"People don't need to worry about security" (BBC)

"The more people learn about the transaction that has been scrutinized and approved by my government, the more they'll be comforted that our ports will be secure." (ABC)


Hunter S. Thompson on Bush

"Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud for having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid little rich kids like George Bush?

"They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammed Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us - they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throat of these nazis.

"And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them." *

Saturday, February 18, 2006


The Man Dick Cheney Shot in the Face

"accidents...happened last Friday"

"We all assume certain risks in whatever we do, whatever activities we pursue. And regardless of how experienced, careful and dedicated we are, accidents do and will happen – and that’s what happened last Friday."
Harry Whittington
February 18 2006

This he says after being shot in the face from 15 feet by Dick Cheney.

If he miss-spoke concerning the day he was shot, did he also mis-speak when he said he was sorry about all of Dick Cheney's suffering. You know, after Dick Cheney shot him in the face with a shotgun.

Friday, February 17, 2006


The lawyer Dick Cheney shot in the face apologizes for being shot

From LATimes, Lawyer Shot by Cheney Is Sorry for Veep's Troubles
"My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week. We send our love and respect to them as they deal with situations that are much more serious than what we've had this week."
So said the wounded Harry M. Whittington. I assume the doctors still have him heavily medicated. Or he is still drunk. Or once again, we see a clear demonstration of the fundamental infallibility of the Bush adminstration.

In related news, the man shown here would like to apologize for being naked, bloodied and generally tortured by the guards at Abu Ghraib.


High Dynamic Range Photography with Linux

This experiment started with a BoingBoing entry on the Flickr HDR pool. Most of the images in the pool are created with the latest PhotoShop release. Me being a linux weenie, I looked around for how to do this under linux. I successed. Using my Sony DSC-V3 camera and a sunny morning, here are my first results:

f/8 @ 1/640
f/8 @ 1/40

The bottom image, the resulting HDR image, was generated from 5 images, each one f-stop apart. The top two images show the shortest and longest exposures. The first shows the details of the foreground snow and the distant reflections of the trees in the water. But to capture this, the details of the trees at the water's edge are lost. The second image shows to capture the details of said trees, the exposure is so long that all reflections are lost and most of the snow is blocked.

To combine the 5 images, I used CinePaint. In particular, Hartmut Sbosny's Bracketed exposures to HDR plugin. The plugin solves for the luminosity response function, a method presented in the Debevec and Malik SIGGRAPH article Recovering High Dynamic Range Radiance Maps from Photographs. The result of this is an HDR image that can be saved in the OpenEXR format.

I was not happy with CinePaint's ability to adjust the exposure and gamma of the resulting image. After saving, I used pfstools' pv viewer. I used logarithmic scaling and selected the fit to range option. Then by saving, the HDR is converted to standard 8 bit per channel image. In my case, I saved as PNG. From there, Gimp allowed me to fine-tune the distribution of luminosity, along with the color balance.

Here is a second set of images:
f/8 @ 1/800
f/8 @ 1/100


My collection of HDR images at flickr.

[Update] Since writing this entry, I have developed a GUI for using pfstools's tone mapping operators. Please read qpfstmo: HDR Tone Mapping GUI for Linux for details.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Cheney Shoots Three Presidents in Oval Office Mishap

Steve Martin chimes in on the Vice President shooting a man in the face:
Vice President Dick Cheney, while hunting wild geese in the Rose Garden, accidentally shot President Bush twice, once in the heart and once in the head. "I didn't really shoot the President twice," said Cheney. "The second time I shot him, I was president. It wasn't until my third shot, where I accidentally shot my own foot, that I had shot the president twice.

I was officially injured and unable to govern, when Dennis Hastert came in, and stepped on the butt handle of the rifle causing it to swing up like a rake and shoot his hair off. I guess I'm officially responsible for that too, meaning I shot the acting president for a total of three occupants of the oval office. I'm not proud, but it is a record."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


"For war billions more but no more for the poor."

No sooner has Rev. Lowery spoken these words than we read this. From the AP, No New Katrina Aid in Bush Budget
The Bush administration offered no new aid for Hurricane Katrina victims in the budget it released Monday, instead putting modest amounts of money into preparedness and response plans for future disasters.

A Republican senator from the still-reeling Gulf Coast said he doubted that those funds would be enough to overhaul federal programs that created a sluggish government response to the Aug. 29 storm. A House Democrat criticized the spending blueprint for cutting $15 million in state and local grants to, in part, help communities create evacuation plans.

...more Gulf Coast aid will be provided in an upcoming $18 billion package that the administration announced last week — the last emergency funds planned for the region for at least a year...But Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said he was concerned about the dearth of relief aid in the 2007 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

"This is going to be a marathon, and not a sprint. And any suggestion that that's it for a couple of years would be disastrous to the recovery," Vitter said.
So indeed, "no more for the poor".

From Reuters, Bush proposes record $439.3 billion defense budget:
The Pentagon budget sent to Congress represents a major increase over current defense spending of $410.8 billion as the White House seeks cuts in domestic spending. It does not include tens of billions of dollars in proposed new financing for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

...the defense budget, which is 16 percent of the overall $2.77 trillion federal budget. "I would be very surprised to see Congress taking a big whack at this," said Steve Kosiak of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank.
By "For war billions more", Rev. Lowery really knew what he was saying.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


From the Coretta Scott King Funeral

The Right Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery
(in front of 4 presidents)
"We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there [standing ovation]... but Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty aounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."
Download video via Crooks and Liars
Stream via ThinkProgess

Video streams for Carter and Clinton. Carter's is worth it for his mention of wiretapping and thoughts on Katrina, racism and the King legacy. Fun to watch Bush Jr squirm in his seat.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


The Price of Being Brown in America

From Time:
[O]n the same evening that President Bush was lauding democracy and freedom, there was one other person in attendance whose rights were infringed upon. The man, who did not want his identity revealed after the disturbing incident, was a personal guest of Florida Democrat Alcee Hastings. He is a prominent businessman from Broward County, Florida who works with the Department of Defense - and has a security clearance. After sitting in the gallery for the entire speech, he was surrounded by about ten law enforcement officers as he exited the chamber and whisked away to a room in the Capitol.

For close to an hour the man, who was born in India but is an American citizen, was questioned by the Police, who thought he resembled someone on a Secret Service photo watch lists...Eventually, the police realized it was a case of mistaken identity and let him go.

On Tuesday night, he told the congressman that the experience was "maybe just the price of being brown in America."


A Tour of the Holy Land, 1831-1910

Inside Damscus Gate, 1928

First Photos of the Holy Land


Bush Wants the Power To Kill Here At Home

From Newsweek, Exclusive: Can the President Order a Killing on U.S. Soil?:
...a Justice Department official suggested that in certain circumstances, the president might have the power to order the killing of terrorist suspects inside the United States...Sen. Feinstein (D-Ca) asked [head of DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel] Bradbury questions about the extent of presidential powers to fight Al Qaeda; could Bush, for instance, order the killing of a Qaeda suspect known to be on U.S. soil? Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances.
No wonder some in Congress are considering [a] constitutional amendment to limit war powers
...moderate Senators on both sides of the aisle are quietly considering a range of options that would attempt at the very least to delineate the President's authority, if not roll it back...some Senators are considering a constitutional amendment to limit his powers.

A source familiar with the nascent constitutional amendment says one version would make clear that any actions by the President as Commander in Chief that affect domestic policies or U.S. citizens are subject to the exclusive control of Congress. “Congress can't completely cede wartime power to the President,” the source says.
[Update] Crooks and Liars has a clip from Face The Nation with Sen Sessions saying
"When you authorize the military to use force, they can kill the enemy without a Miranda warning. They can put them in jail without a trial- and be able to intercept their communications is legitimate."

I have a bad feeling this is already happened on United States soil. The administration is just setting up the public for the facts to come out.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Jeb Bush's own 18-1/2 minutes moment

From The Rock River Times:
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has ordered the shredding of documents and public records, a clear violation of Florida law.

The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said the governor also has brought in personnel from Texas to replace key members of his staff in Tallahassee. The Texans are overseeing the destruction of state documents, according to the source.

A source in the FBI confirmed that public records are being destroyed on orders of Jeb Bush. The source said the governor may have taken that action in response to the continuing criminal probe of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the federal investigation of the 2001 gangland murder in Miami of Gus Boulis, owner of the Sun Cruz casino boat.
[Update] As this DailyKos diary discusses, there is some question as to the reliability of the sources involved. Stay tuned.


Were all the lies worth it?

From Murray Waas, special to National Journal, Iraq, Niger, And The CIA:
Vice President Cheney and his then-Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby were personally informed in June 2003 that the CIA no longer considered credible the allegations that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from the African nation of Niger...The new CIA assessment came just as Libby and other senior administration officials were embarking on an effort to discredit [Joseph Wilson] critic who had also been saying that the allegations were untrue.
In a memo from CIA analysts to Tenet titled "In Response to Your Questions for Our Current Assessment and Additional Details on Iraq's Alleged Pursuits of Uranium From Abroad."
"We no longer believe there is sufficient" credible information to "conclude that Iraq pursued uranium from abroad."


Bush and Cheney's 18-1/2 minutes

From LATimes, Files May Be Lost in Leak Case:
Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald is raising the possibility that records sought in the CIA leak investigation could be missing because of an e-mail archiving problem at the White House...

"...we advise you that we have learned that not all e-mail of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system..."

The Presidential Records Act, passed by Congress in 1978, made it clear that records generated in the conduct of official duties did not belong to the president or vice president, but were the property of the government.
More and more, this White House is making Nixon's look like a paradigm of virture and honesty.


art+photo by eminilia



Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Bush's fifth State of the Union speech

Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research … creating human-animal hybrids*
Other than 9pm on Saturday nights on the SciFi Channel, I didn't think this was a problem. What really scares me the most about this utterance was I started the day with this from NPR:
President Bush has gone through about two-dozen drafts of the State of the Union Speech he will deliver

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