Quickies 18

Link-lite logging for your noggin.

the quickies archive.

September 2005
Friday 30: Server has been down for days as I type this update in oblivion.
Drug advertising is one of the more useless and vile industries that has flourished in TV and print-going from a "$791 million industry in 1996 to $4.1 billion in 2004." It constantly asks the lay viewer/reader to diagnosis themselves with the vague symptoms they offer so we can bug our doctor about trying the latest drug. If it's not patients that bug doctors it's kids bugging parents.
One of the more astounding DTC advertisements was produced by Galderma Laboratories, the makers of the prescription acne medication Differin. Broadcast both on the Internet and on MTV, the advertisements promise free music downloads to teens who coax their parents into taking them to the doctor and securing a Differin prescription. Teens who persuade their parents to secure a prescription get seven free downloads; a refill gets them 10 free downloads.

This sad scene reminds me of my father talking with his doctor over diabetes medication. The doctor prescribes the latest drug with the highest co-pay and insisted my father take it until my Dad said at one point, "Do you want me to take the generic or not take anything at all?" But what of those poor that are stuck in his position or the often worse off working poor making too much for welfare, but not enough for real health care? Then there's the problem with current health care's confusing nature.

Just in case you missed it, Etan Thomas says it all.

Pentagon hides $20 million from public in order spend as they see fit.
Another myth goes down.

It is a staple scene of B-movies and Westerns: the cowboy stumbles into a patch of quicksand and is sucked under until only his stetson remains on top, or sinks up to his neck until hauled out by his sidekick. Both scenarios have now been proved to fly in the face of physics. Research has shown that it is impossible for people to sink into quicksand much beyond the waist - but it is equally impossible to pull someone out once they are stuck.

Any attempt to drag a person out with a horse or truck would put them in much greater danger than leaving them be: the forces involved would tear them apart. To pull a person's foot out would require as much force as it takes to lift a family car, and the body would give way before the sand relinquished its grip.

Surprise at the lack of follow through in convicting everyone involved in torturing prisoners is not something anyone listening to right-wing radio should have. It it was up to the Michael Savages of the world we'd be pinning medals on Lyndie England and the like as we announced a new Torture Czar. American soldiers are heroes by default and their actions therefore infallible so every prisoner is guilty and deserves whatever they get-here or abroad. Great American...
It's worth repeating the list of "nay" votes for Roberts: Barbara Boxer (Calif.)

Dianne Feinstein (Calif.)

Joe Biden (Del.)

Daniel Akaka (Hawaii)

Daniel Ionuye (Hawaii)

Dick Durbin (Ill.)

Barack Obama (Ill.)

Evan Bayh (Ind.)

Tom Harkin (Iowa)

Ted Kennedy (Mass.)

John Kerry (Mass.)

Barbara Mikulski (Md.)

Paul Sarbanes (Md.)

Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)

Mark Dayton (Minn.)

Harry Reid (Nev.)

Jon Corzine (N.J.)

Frank Lautenberg (N.J.)

Hillary Clinton (N.Y.)

Chuck Schumer (N.Y.)

Jack Reed (R.I.)

Maria Cantwell (Wash.)

How to get the banker's boot outta your Baaadaaas!
OK, I know. Another link to Sam Smith...The Ultimate Washingtonian. It's this or a string of Metafilter links...which are probably next-as I read on.
Michael Brown lies a lot, a perfect fit for the Bush Administration.
Religious belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today. According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems. The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society
-Times-UK

The religious want you stupid too. Dawkins thinks it's an addiction and Robert Fisk thinks "We prefer not to accept the fact that the religions of the children of Abraham are inherently flawed in respect of intolerance, discrimination, violence and hatred."

With the GOP takeover of CPB and their campaign to "balance" it, they want you stupid too.

Bush hurts my ears.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias offers aid; Blanco accepts; others reject. People suffer. Chavez speaks at the UN.
Albert "Caesar" Tocco died on the 28th in prison at age 77. Capitol Fax points to Daily Southtown. Sun Times. CNN
Just the way he looked at you, just the way he talked to you was scary.
-Bob Pecoraro, FBI (retired)
Giant Squid video
And now, the Metafilter links...
What's the Matter with What's the Matter with Kansas (pdf) Has the white working class abandoned the Democratic Party? No. . . . Has the white working class become more conservative? No. . . . Do working class “moral values” trump economics? No. . . . Are religious voters distracted from economic issues? No. An analysis by Larry Bartels, a professor at Princeton of "What's the Matter with Kansas" (previously discussed here). Lots of good survey data about this issue.
-Metafilter
Seeing "so you don't have to" appear everywhere.
"Since the end of the Second World War, tens of millions of people have been killed by conventional weapons, mostly small arms such as rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers," reports Lowell Bergman of Frontline. "Low-tech, handheld weapons and explosives do the vast majority of the killing today. There are more than 550 million small arms currently in circulation, many of them fueling bloody civil strife in countries from Sri Lanka to Sierra Leone."

And the home of the brave is the number one merchant of death. In 2004, the #2 and #3 weapons-exporting nations were France ($4.4 billion) and Russia ($4.6 billion). At #1 was the United States at $18.5 billion...and if that number alone isn't enough to provoke action, consider where those weapons are going.

"The U.S. has a long-standing (and accelerating) policy of arming, training, and aiding some of the world's most repressive regimes," says Frida Berrigan, Senior Research Associate with the Arms Trade Resource Center of the World Policy Institute. "The U.S. transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active conflicts in 2003, the last year for which full Pentagon data is available."

-ZNet
All Cronenberg's films, up to and including A History of Violence, are concerned with two questions: who are we, and what is the real nature of consciousness? Together, the films seem to parallel the growth of the mind from the womb onwards. Early films such as Scanners and The Dead Zone explore the blurred frontiers between mind and body, very much a new-born baby's perception of reality.

In Videodrome, this growing mind has made its first move into the outer world, appropriately by switching on a TV set, a parable of how tenuous reality has become in a media-dominated world. The Fly, Cronenberg's most successful film, has echoes of Kafka's Metamorphosis, where a despised son sees himself transformed into an insect. Here Jeff Goldblum, filled with almost adolescent doubt and self-loathing, finds himself in a doomed love affair with Geena Davis. She watches cheerfully as he walks across ceilings, and I assume that his transformation into a giant fly takes place entirely within his own mind.

Naked Lunch moves beyond sex into the night world of heroin overdoses, and Crash, a love story that treats the car crash as a religious sacrament, enlists technology in an attempt to escape even death itself. Lastly, in A History of Violence society as a whole is embraced and then quietly dismantled.

The title, A History of Violence, is the key to the film, and should be read not as a tale or story of violence, but as it might appear in a social worker's case notes: "This family has a history of violence." The family, of course, is the human family, a primate species with an unbelievable appetite for cruelty and violence. If its behaviour in the 20th century is any guide, the human race inhabits a huge sink estate ravaged by unending feuds and civil wars, a no-go area abandoned by the authorities, though no one can remember who they are, or even if they exist.

-Guardian
Must see:Bill O'Reilly vs. Phil Donahue
And now a word from a radio racist...
...I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.
-Bill Bennett
"Fox News host, analyst, guest all ignored Texas law to falsely claim DeLay indictment based on weak evidence" This lie was repeated by right-wing blowhards on WLS and WIND radio stations of Chicago. That's why we call it a right-wing noise machine.
Thursday 15
Like many liqueurs, absinthe, first produced commercially in 1798, was originally a tonic, building on millennia of wormwood’s use as a medicine. Like marijuana in the 1960s, absinthe became an emblem of avant-garde creativity. Like marijuana in the 1930s, it was said to drive people mad. Adams reports that “it became popular to order absinthe under the nickname ‘un train direct’ or ‘une correspondance,’ from the phrase ‘train direct á Charenton’ or ‘correspondance á Charenton’: a fast route to the madhouse.’”

Now as then, absinthe’s appeal is based largely on its notoriety. And just as pot would lose its countercultural cachet if it were sold by Philip Morris, absinthe is not the same when it is no longer prohibited. This year, a century after a Swiss vineyard worker triggered absinthe bans across Europe by murdering his wife and children while under the influence of the Green Fairy (along with copious amounts of wine and brandy), absinthe containing up to 35 milligrams of thujone per liter became legal again in Switzerland, where the drink was invented. Some connoisseurs are dismayed to see absinthe go legit. “I want to preserve the myth that comes with keeping absinthe forbidden,” one told The New York Times last fall. “The myth is the thrill of breaking the law and not getting caught.”

-Jacob Sullum, The Search for Real Absinthe

Brewing kills the essence of the beer's ingredients, turing once beautiful hops, barley and wheat into some sort of dark, acrid sludge.

All true beer lovers consume the materials raw, and ferment them internally.

-SweetJesus of Metafilter.
...In my own academic career, I can recall two instances where candidates were hired who, in retrospect, appear to have had many of the characteristic personality traits of Asperger's. Both had stellar résumés and impressive lists of publications; they were dedicated and professional teachers, with superlative references. Both were midcareer with a history of short-term positions, but in today's humanities market that is not unusual, even for those with the strongest credentials, and it's no longer considered a reason for doubt. Both candidates gave wonderful interviews and tremendous presentations, and were hired with unanimous support.

Neither lasted more than a year in the job. In the first case -- and I'm disguising some details to protect their identities -- the new hire turned out to be dismissive of any student incapable of meeting her impossibly high standards, disturbingly fastidious, bad-tempered, and intractable in meetings. She was also arrogant, petty-minded, and obsessed with such matters as the relative size of her office and quality of its furniture. In the second case, the new star revealed himself to be an abstemious hermit and hypersensitive to imaginary slights; he was also a compulsive hoarder, and frugal to an unusual extreme. He was discovered to be actually living, Bartleby-like, in his office.

-Mikita Brottman, Nutty Professors
Speaking of nutty...

The currently conservative-or at least war assertative-cantankerous curmudgeon Christopher Hitchens had a debate with that ever-irrate, pompous politician of Parliament, George Galloway. Many cheered one and jeered the other, but useless it was you'll discover.

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco did her job according to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

Scholars like Norman Cohn have shown how in medieval Europe the worst human trauma could be interpreted as proof of imminent apocalypse and redemption, inspiring millennial expectations and movements. Meanwhile, the theodicy of divine retribution still thrives today and was invoked by some fundamentalist believers after Katrina.

But between medieval Europe and contemporary America something profound changed in the way natural disasters are interpreted and the kinds of theodicies they inspire. And one of the turning points, as many scholars have argued, was the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon. It destroyed perhaps a third of the city's population, with deaths in the tens of thousands. It overturned the confidence of European royalty and seemed to drive a wedge between the earthly and divine realms.

For the growing forces of the Enlightenment, it also seemed to overturn the very idea that a theodicy could account for the disaster. Voltaire, who had once seen nature as benevolent, was whipped into a rationalist fury by the experience. Leibniz, he believed, had been refuted by nature. Voltaire wrote a "Poem on the Disaster of Lisbon" in which the quake's victims are called "Tormented atoms on a heap of muck/ That death devours and that fate trips up." His character Candide watches the earthquake from a distance, seeing it as morally blind, killing the good and preserving the wicked.

In a sense, the earthquake actually ended up strengthening the hand of the Enlightenment, as if a replacement theodicy had fallen into place. Kant wrote about the quake. Scientific investigation took place. The response of Portugal's prime minister to the disaster was practical, not religious. "We will bury the dead," he said, "and take care of the living."

-EDWARD ROTHSTEIN, Seeking Justice, of Gods or the Politicians

Many Dutchmen, shocked by the devastation caused in the U.S. by Hurricane Katrina, were reminded of what happened to our own country more than 50 years ago. On Feb. 1, 1953, the southwestern part of the Netherlands was struck by a flood of biblical proportions. The Dutch levee system collapsed in 500 places. There was nowhere to hide. More than 1,800 people drowned, together with tens of thousands of cattle and other animals. Some 4,000 houses were destroyed, and 40,000 were severely damaged. About 100,000 people had to evacuate, out of a population of around 12 million.

The Dutch had suffered catastrophic floods before, but the deluge of 1953 was a different kind. Just consider that twice as many people were killed in the flood as during the infamous German bombing of Rotterdam in 1940. The nation was stunned. Older Dutchmen from the southwestern islands still get tears in their eyes when they talk about how they lost loved ones during what is simply called "the disaster."

The Dutch reaction was: Never again. The government decided to give the southwestern and most vulnerable part of the country the best possible protection. Eleven massive dams, sea walls and sluices were created in waters that sometimes look more like a sea than a river. The hydraulic wall built in the vast Oosterschelde, for instance, is 5.6 miles long and rests on 65 concrete pillars about 43 yards tall. Its sluice-gate doors are usually open to protect the special habitat (partly seawater, partly freshwater) behind it, and are only closed when floods are imminent.

Another wall, the Maeslantbarrier that completed the protection system, consists of two hollow doors--as long as the Eiffel Tower in Paris is tall, and four times as heavy--which are lying in docks on the banks of the Nieuwe Waterweg. In the event of extreme bad weather the docks are filled with water, and the gates float and are turned into the Nieuwe Waterweg where they seal off the river. In that way this barrier protects the city of Rotterdam and its surroundings, where about the same number of people live as did in greater New Orleans.

This complex system of dams and barriers--called the Delta plan--is a technological achievement comparable maybe in its complexity and ambition to the American Apollo project that put a man on the moon. After all, the Delta plan was designed to protect the Netherlands from flood conditions that happen only once every 10,000 years! New Orleans, on the other hand, was protected only against hurricanes that occur every 50 years. The total cost of the Delta plan, which began in 1953 and was only completed a couple of years ago, amounted to $5 billion.

-SIMON ROZENDAAL, Katrina, Juliana and Wilhelmina

Çatalhüyük in Anatolia is a strong candidate to be regarded as the world’s first and longest-lasting urban experiment. Eleven thousand years ago, it stood on an alluvial plain, filling a 32-acre honeycomb of mud-brick dwellings. It lasted — pretty much continuously, as far as we can tell — for a record-setting 4,000 years, partly because it was a modest project, which never got too big to feed off its hinterland. Eventually, however, a shift in the course of the river choked it and buried it in dust. Other city-sites with long records of occupation usually turn out to have pasts punctuated by catastrophe. Troy is now just a ruin, but the last city on the site rose over other ruins. At least a dozen Troys rose and fell before builders there finally gave up.

The fragility of cities is a cruel fact to acknowledge. We put so much effort into them. We beautify them in confidence of the future. We measure the greatness of the builders by their willingness to make present sacrifices for future fame, or — more altruistically — for the benefit of posterity. We admire cities that seem to court disaster. Dazzlingly heroic examples include Venice — built in stone on islets of salt marsh, so that it is bound to sink; or San Francisco, built and rebuilt in defiance of topography and almost in the embrace of a geological fault-line; or Tokyo, earthquake-prone and in the path of typhoons.

- Times, From Nineveh to New Orleans

There are many ways that presidents admit responsibility besides publicly issuing the big mea culpa. Clinton fired people and withdrew nominations and did many things in response to public outcry. He changed course when it was clear things weren't working and announced it publicly. Bush, on the other hand, goes out of his way to pretend that he is "staying the course" even when he has quite obviously changed it. His unwillingness to even admit a small change in policy is absolute. His stubbornness on more petty matters such as his insistence on installing John Bolton at the UN just reinforces the fact that he is not only incapable of admitting a mistake or taking responsibility for his administration's failures --- he will use raw political power to get his way even when he's clearly wrong.

The response to Katrina is just the latest in a series of epic mistakes. And the shock isn't that he's finally admitted that he, as president, bears some responsibility for the failures of this latest cock-up --- it's that it's the first time political conditions have been such that he was required to do so.

-Digby
Sunday 11
The horror of Carrot Top following Joe Piscapo as comedian turned "crazy iron-pumper." It gave me the willys.
"Java applets to help visualize various concepts in math, physics, and engineering"
A Chess program where you can see the innards.
Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues
Once again, the subset of polemicists attacking Jared Diamond by calling him a "sham anti-racist" have found their way on Metafilter. This time they are in a link rather than in the comments...though I have not read them all. This comment explains the standard criticism of Jared's Guns, Germs, and Steel book that, "...Diamond's argument that geography and resources affect civilizations really means that geography and resources affect civilizations in a deterministic manner, leaving no room for social and cultural effects"and somewhat gives the reason why it's off base, . Later another comment ("GG&S is frustrating to anyone who has spent time learning about the systematic creation of inequality through things like trade and then talks to a person who cites Diamond to claim that inequality is an inevitable result of geography. There simply isn't evidence to support such a claim, and Diamond's role (through GG&S) in helping perpetuate such claims is worth examining.") drives that same criticism more firmly. Jared may have bitten off more than his expertise would normally digest in writting GG&S, I am not in the position to determine it....Well, I've gooten through most of the comments and the bit explaining "no nothing" is interesting. Maybe I'm too quick on the draw in attacking the attackers, but I did enjoy the book when I read it a few years ago and defend as much of the logic of the arguments that I can remember, which are foggy and few.
Bush is loyal to those that work for him not to to those he's working for and that's why no one gets fired. Michael "Brownie" Brown should be run outta town, but I'm not going to take him outta context as Joe Scarborough (and I think I heard NPR use the same quote without the last line) did.
The video of Cheney getting the old "fuck yourself" comment at him instead of from him.
Ask:
In the past few years, I have read--over and over--that many American Christians feel that "Christianity is under attack," and that there is an "assault on people of faith."

...I would honestly like to understand the other point of view. Metafilter has a wide and diverse membership: if there are any Christians who can explain why they feel the way they do...

Good Katrina photo essay
Genes Reveal Recent Human Brain Evolution. Two important new papers in the journal Science (available here) from the evolutionary geneticist and rising star, Bruce T. Lahn (see this recent profile from The Scientist), are potentially the tips of some very large icebergs. The papers document how two genes related to brain properties that underwent strong selection during the course of hominid evolution, have continued undergoing strong selection since the emergence of anatomically modern man. The papers wonderfully illustrate how biological evolution is an ongoing process as well as the artificial distinction between “micro” and “macro” evolution, and promise to be controversial for two reasons: First, the brain genes underwent the strongest selection during two periods of cultural and technological efflorescence (roughly 37,000 and 5,800 years ago). Second, the genes are distributed very differently in modern human population groups, existing at very high frequencies in some groups and being very rare in others, ensuring that the modern function of these genes will be a source of more research and much impassioned debate.
-Metafilter
""I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and (it) will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now." Colin Powell trying to save face years later? I'm not alone thinking it's too little too late.
If a helo [helicopter] spotted a peasant in black pajamas who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM [military-aged male], the pilot would circle and fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement was judged evidence of hostile intent, and the next burst was not in front, but at him. Brutal? Maybe so. But an able battalion commander with whom I had served at Gelnhausen, Lt. Col. Walter Pritchard, was killed by enemy sniper fire while observing MAMs from a helicopter. And Pritchard was only one of many. The kill-or-be-killed nature of combat tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong.
-Colin Powell My American Journey: An Autobiography
Yesturday in History, circa 1846:
1,000 members of the Illinois State Militia, under the command of one Thomas Brockman, begin what will become a six-day campaign to drive out the Mormon settlement of Nauvoo. The first day consists of a cannon bombardment of the town, and things escalate from there. A treaty signed at the end of the week exchanges a Mormon surrender for the preservation of life and property, but the Illinois side flagrantly violates this agreement by raping and looting the village.
Monday 5
Now nature has done what the Civil War couldn't do. Nature has done what the labor riots of the 1920's couldn't do. Nature had done what "modern life" with its relentless pursuit of efficiency couldn't do. It has done what racism couldn't do, and what segregation couldn't do either. Nature has laid the city waste - with a scope that brings to mind the end of Pompeii....

Thousands didn't leave New Orleans because they couldn't leave. They didn't have the money. They didn't have the vehicles. They didn't have any place to go. They are the poor, black and white, who dwell in any city in great numbers; and they did what they felt they could do - they huddled together in the strongest houses they could find. There was no way to up and leave and check into the nearest Ramada Inn.

What's more, thousands more who could have left stayed behind to help others. They went out in the helicopters and pulled the survivors off rooftops; they went through the flooded streets in their boats trying to gather those they could find. Meanwhile, city officials tried desperately to alleviate the worsening conditions in the Superdome, while makeshift shelters and hotels and hospitals struggled.

-Anne Rice, Do You Know What It Means to Lose New Orleans?
As Rick Scarborough points to gay marriage, bestiality, and removing settlers from Gaza, a.k.a. the wrath of God, as the reason for Katrina and is rightly met by snarky commentary apologists counter in comments with such travesties to logic as, "It only took a few hours for the left to blame Katrina on global warming, George Bush and the Iraq War." How dare the left defer to science in a time of crisis! How dare they blame a clear display of failed leadership! How dare they point out the obvious burden that Iraq has been to domestic security! But my favorite is from "Bill."

Here's what I genuinely don't understand about your little screed: Why do you care?

Why is it important to you to pen such a hate-filled diatribe against someone just becasue they have views that you (apparently) don't share? It it merely that the bigoted culture of the left rewards you for your intolerance, or did this guy Scarborough do something to you personally? Are you one of the inbred children that you claim he "whooped into total submission with an ax handle"?

Grow up, and try on some love and tolerance for a change. You'll be much happier when you learn to live with your fellow man.

This guy obviously failed in reading comprehension. Why he cares is made clear by the last two paragraphs.

In case you're wondering if this Scarborough guy is just some isolated Fred Phelps wannabe with no constituency other than the inbred children he whooped into total submission with an axe handle, take a look at the list of confirmed speakers for his Countering the War on Faith Conference, which is scheduled for October 17-18 in Washington DC. They include likely 2008 presidential candidate Senator Sam Brownback, Alan Keyes, Gary Bauer and Phyllis Schlafly. Among invited speakers are David Horowitz, Zell Miller and Judge Roy Moore. The advisory board of Scarborough's Vision America, meanwhile, is comprised of a Who's Who of the Christian right, including heavy-hitters like D. James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye.

I slipped into Scarborough's last conference, (read my coverage here) "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith," watched a taped address by Tom DeLay, and rubbed shoulders with a gaggle of Republican operatives currently engaged in ramming John Roberts through the Senate. Scarborough has elevated himself to a key role in the conservative movement, and his remarks should not be dismissed as mere horse-play.

The first sentence also reveals Bill's lack of understanding of who's axe handle beaten inbred children Max is talking about. Bigotry and intolerance toward bigots is what irks Bill. Has the left no shame to sink so low as to mock those that hate for God's glory?

The batshit insane scalar technology steered Katrina post works well against Ben Stein's "There is no overwhelming evidence that global warming exists" and that to believe Bush had anything to do with the hurricane " is belief in sorcery." No, Stein it's science fiction. Also, goodie for Ben to have room enough to pull Hillary Clinton into it.

As far as Ben's call to limit the blame to the government of Louisiana, I don't see any reason to not blame people when there's evidence to suggest otherwise. Malik Rahim does include the New Orleans Mayor. So does China Mieville. The former one was even worse. Ben must think Aaron Broussard is a liar and that Al Sharpton and Kanye West should be appeased by the existence of Condi Rice's position. After all, racism is in the past. What's more racist and classist than pushing for more tax cuts for the rich by the likes of Grover G. Norquist and Bill Frist. A government with less of a tax base to draw from shall truly serve the people when the next storm hits. All hail Republican wisdom! All bow before the "full force of a superpower government going to the rescue."Ignore the detractors! Don't play politics! We are here to help you! Dropping food on hungry people creates chaos!

Operation Indefinite: Air Force could be in Iraq forever...
August 2005
Sunday 21:Mostly vacationing from this stuff this month as you can tell.
Peak oil not all bad?
Sen. Chuck Hagel on Iraq "The longer we stay there, the more similarities (to Vietnam) are going to come together."
Lawyers for Pope Benedict XVI have asked President Bush to declare the pontiff immune from liability in a lawsuit that accuses him of conspiring to cover up the molestation of three boys by a seminarian in Texas, court records show.

The Vatican's embassy in Washington sent a diplomatic memo to the State Department on May 20 requesting the U.S. government grant the pope immunity because he is a head of state, according to a May 26 motion submitted by the pope's lawyers in U.S. District Court for the Southern Division of Texas in Houston.
-Guardian

Well, he wasn't head of state when he did it.
Conservative Shias, dominant in the Iraqi government, had clashed with Kurds and other minorities who wanted Islam to be "a" rather than "the" main source of law.

According to Kurdish and Sunni negotiators, the US ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, proposed that Islam be named "a primary source" and supported a wording which would give clerics authority in civil matters such as divorce, marriage and inheritance.

If approved, critics say that the proposals would erode women's rights and other freedoms enshrined under existing laws. "We understand the Americans have sided with the Shias. It's shocking. It doesn't fit with American values," an unnamed Kurdish negotiator told Reuters. "They have spent so much blood and money here, only to back the creation of an Islamist state."

Dozens of women gathered in central Baghdad yesterday to protest against what the organiser, Yanar Mohammad, feared would be a "fascist, nationalist and Islamist" constitution. "We are fighting to avoid becoming second class citizens," she said.

The US embassy declined to discuss the negotiations but a state department official in Washington told the New York Times that the draft document should be judged in its entirety.
-Guardian

Well, Mr State dept. official what stinks, stinks. This is a major step backward and the seed for much future suffering. We don't need to see the whole thing.

Was it wrong to experience a kind of satisfaction---I don't want to call it perverse but maybe wicked in a good way---when I read that the constitutional delegation appointed by Iraq's "transitional assembly" had failed to meet the August 15 deadline specified by U.S. occupation authorities? I confess I felt the same gratification I experienced as the days dragged by after January 31 and the elected Iraqi representatives failed to appoint a prime minister, president and cabinet. "Serves 'em right," I thought. "Those neocon bastards. They figured it'd be so easy to stage this 'democracy' farce as cover for their occupation so obviously rejected by the Iraqi people. Instead they find that they've opened up a Pandora's box by their criminal invasion, and they're not going to close it so easily."

Finally many weeks later they were able to announce a government. The next big step was the drafting of a constitution, but now that too is off schedule, for what I think are obvious reasons reflecting the accumulated sins of imperialists past and present. The nation of Iraq is an artificial construct the borders of which, embracing a vast Kurdish region but excluding Kuwait (once part of the Ottoman province of Basra, lobbed off by the British after World War I) make little sense. The Iraqi state (like Nigeria, Indonesia, Lebanon and so many ethnically torn modern states) doesn't correspond to a pre-colonial nation-state but is rather a creation of European colonialism---in this case British imperialism as of 1920. Iraq was led for decades, following quasi-independence in 1932, by iron-fisted rulers who tried to smash autonomy movements in order to preserve those boundaries carved by foreigners. Those rulers were for the most part, from 1958, committed to the construction of a secular Arab state and therefore hostile both to Kurdish nationalism and Shiite religious fundamentalism.
-Gary Leupp, The Myth of a "Free and Democratic" Iraq

...in " real" Baghdad - where the President and Prime Minister and the constitutional committee never set foot - they ask you about security, about electricity, about water, about when the occupation will end, when the murders will end, when the rapes will end....

n the Alice-in-Wonderland Iraq of Messrs Bush and Blair - inhabited, too, by the elected government of Iraq and its constitutional drafters and quite a few Western journalists - there are no such problems to cope with. The air-conditioners hiss away - there are generators to provide 24-hour power - and almost all senior officials have palatial homes in the heavily protected "Green Zone" which was once Saddam Hussein’s Republican Palace compound. No power cuts for them, no petrol queues, no kidnaps and murders.

As an Iraqi academic just returned from Paris and Brussels told me yesterday: "Europeans understand politics through the Green Zone level. They have no idea that the rest of Iraq - save for Kurdistan - is a place of anarchy and death. One asked me: ’Do you think federalism is really a danger to the Sunni?’ I answered him: ’Do you think the fear of constant death is not a danger to Sunnis, Shia and Kurds?’ His eyes glazed over. It was not what he wanted to talk about. But it is what we talk about."
-Robert Fisk, A Constitution That Means Nothing To Ordinary Iraqis

Bush Caves!

...George W. Bush’s mood swings have become so drastic that White House emails often contain “weather reports” to warn of the President’s demeanor. “Calm seas” means Bush is calm while “tornado alert” is a warning that he is pissed at the world.

Decreasing job approval ratings and increased criticism within his own party drives the President’s paranoia even higher. Bush, in a meeting with senior advisors, called Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist a “god-damned traitor” for opposing him on stem-cell research.

“There’s real concern in the West Wing that the President is losing it,” a high-level aide told me recently.

A year ago, this web site discovered the White House physician prescribed anti-depressants for Bush. The news came after revelations that the President’s wide mood swings led some administration staffers to doubt his sanity.

Although GOP loyalists dismissed the reports an anti-Bush propaganda, the reports were later confirmed by prominent George Washington University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank diagnosed the President as a “paranoid meglomaniac” and “untreated alcoholic” whose “lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad” showcase Bush’s instabilities.

“I was really very unsettled by him and I started watching everything he did and reading what he wrote and watching him on videotape. I felt he was disturbed,” Dr. Frank said. “He fits the profile of a former drinker whose alcoholism has been arrested but not treated.”

Dr. Frank’s conclusions have been praised by other prominent psychiatrists, including Dr. James Grotstein, Professor at UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Irvin Yalom, MD, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University Medical School.
-Doug Thomson
For more than two centuries after Newton published his theories of space, time, and motion in 1687, most physicists were Newtonians. They believed, as Newton did, that space and time are absolute, that force causes acceleration, and that gravity is a force conveyed across a vacuum at a distance. Since Darwin there are few professional biologists who are not Darwinians, and if most psychologists no longer often call themselves Freudians, few doubt that there is an unconscious or that sexuality plays a big role in it. So as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s great discoveries, the question arises: How many professional physicists are Einsteinians?
- Einstein's Legacy -- Where are the "Einsteinians?", by Lee Smolin
The media are wrong. The people who have come out to Camp Casey to help coordinate the press and events with me are not putting words in my mouth, they are taking words out of my mouth. I have been known for sometime as a person who speaks the truth and speaks it strongly. I have always called a liar a liar and a hypocrite a hypocrite. Now I am urged to use softer language to appeal to a wider audience. Why do my friends at Camp Casey think they are there? Why did such a big movement occur from such a small action on August 6, 2005?
-Cindy Sheehan

Several cabinet members and George W. Bush are shown standing. The caption reads: ”George Bush holding an emergency press conference to announce that his idiotic cabinet of big fat ass-kissing liars has provided for him an enormous amount of completely bogus intelligence information fabricated to indicate that Cindy Sheehan is hiding weapons of mass destruction inside her tears and that he is therefore launching a 54.4 billion dollar invasion of her grief with plans to occupy it until she is able to say the words, ‘I'm happy knowing that my son died for absolutely no good reason at all,’ while smiling ear to ear.“
-Caption to a Cartoon in Harper's [more cartoons]

A Utah television station is refusing to air an anti-war ad featuring Cindy Sheehan, whose son's death in Iraq prompted a vigil outside President George W. Bush's Texas ranch.

Also, a patriotic camp with a "God Bless Our President!" banner sprung up in downtown Crawford, Texas Saturday, countering the anti-war demonstration started by Sheehan. The camp is named "Fort Qualls," in memory of Marine Lance Cpl. Louis Wayne Qualls, 20, who died in Iraq last fall.

The anti-war ad began airing on other Salt Lake City-area stations Saturday, two days before Bush was scheduled to speak in Salt Lake City to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

However, a national sales representative for KTVX, a local ABC affiliate, rejected the ad in an e-mail to media buyers, writing that it was an "inappropriate commercial advertisement for Salt Lake City."
-CBS

Sheehan went after Bush's kids: "If (Bush) thinks that it's so important for Iraq to have a US-imposed sense of freedom and democracy, then he needs to sign up his two little party-animal girls. They need to go to this war ... We want our country back and, if we have to impeach everybody from George Bush down to the person who picks up dogshit in Washington, we will impeach all those people."

Oh dear. She has every right to speak her mind; and every right to grieve for her son; and every right to oppose the war. But she is an extremist. Someone who wants to impeach litter cops in Washington for a war that deposed one of the grisliest dictators of modern times is not someone to take seriously.

There is no pleasing her. As the mother of a fallen soldier, Sheehan demanded an audience with the President. She got one. She demanded another. She was sent Stephen Hadley, one of Bush's closest foreign policy advisers, instead. Not enough.
-The Austrailian

I guess the concept of hyperbole hasn't reached Australia yet.

Note how Sheehan refuses to look at the war as anything but the spawn of President Bush. She won't acknowledge that the newly elected Iraqi government doesn't want U.S. troops to leave yet. She simply repeats the same old anti- war movement slogans: Bush lied. Bush killed her son. Last week, CNN's Anderson Cooper asked Sheehan how she reacted to an Internet plea by two Iraqi dentists to stop calling for immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Cooper read the words: "You are free to go and leave us alone but what am I going to tell your million sisters in Iraq? Should I ask them to leave Iraq, too? Should I leave, too? And what about the 8 million who walked through bombs to practice their freedom and vote? Should they leave this land, too? Your son sacrificed his life for a very noble cause? No, he sacrificed himself for the most precious value in this existence; that is freedom," they wrote.
-Debra J. Saunders, SF Chronicle

Do two Iraqi dentists have it right? Does Sheehan? Hell, I don't know at this point.
Thursday 11
The Perseids appear tonight and tomorrow
Grandma the gamer
When news anchors are complicit in actions that cause death, or when their negligence is an insult to freedoms of all kinds, including press freedom, they should be held accountable and pay the price. In the case of Jennings, the price should be clear: He was a willing whore of the Corporate Press and that should be his legacy.
-Rick Wilhelm
Conditions for California farm workers is the shame of the nation.
Fred Phelps strikes again. In East Peoria the mentally disturbed members of Westboro Baptist Church held up signs during the funneral for Gunnery Sgt. Terry W. Ball. They believe God hates America for tolerating gays.

-"If there weren't gays to bash..."
"Default to heterosexual sins? ...of the flesh?"
-"...what would our bigots do?"
-Spitting Image

Andrew Cleeson says he was just playing the music people wanted to hear at a dancehall in Dorset. But, for construction worker Roy Nash there was just too much "gay music" being spun.

When Cleeson started playing the Wham! hit Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Nash, 48, charged the DJ booth, crashing over the turntables and headbutting Cleeson.

The shocked DJ received a broken nose.
-365Gay, "DJ Beaten For Playing Too Much 'Gay Music'"

"Is My Child Becoming Homosexual?" Focus on the Family's "fag"-finding guide. [metafilter]

Chaplain Charlie will tell you about how the free world will conquer Communism with the aid of God and a few marines! God has a hard-on for marines because we kill everything we see! He plays His games, we play ours! To show our appreciation for so much power, we keep heaven packed with fresh souls! God was here before the Marine Corps! So you can give your heart to Jesus, but your ass belongs to the Corps! Do you ladies understand?
-Full Metal Jacket
“A South Carolina bus driver is headed to prison after pleading guilty to accepting a $10 bribe from 2 students who sexually assaulted another student on the bus as he looked the other way. Lacey Jane Bolen, 26, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, pleaded guilty Wednesday to being an accessory after the fact to second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. The bus has a 911 emergency panic button installed on the panel of the dashboard, but the driver never pushed it or reported the incident. However, the entire episode was recorded by a camera that runs constantly on the bus. ‘At any point, she could have stopped this from happening to this young girl,’ Assistant Prosecutor Kristi Harrington told the Associated Press. Another student reported the assault the next day and the bus driver as well as the 2-students were arrested. The teens were charged as adults with charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor. Bolen faces 5-years in prison for his actions.”
-Pervscan

SCOTTISH courts are dealing with an ever growing collection of fetishists.

In September 2003, pervert Ian Curtis was caught having sex with a frozen chicken.

When he was discovered by his wife Jean, the former military policeman, 42, of Glasgow, was dressed in a skirt, silk blouse and rubber stockings.

Jean, who later divorced him, shouted at her hubby: 'You dirty b ****** , that's my Sunday lunch....'

David Clark, 23, of Hurlford, Ayrshire, tried to force women to wear leather and rubber gloves. In 2002, Ross Watt appeared in court charged with having sex with a traffic cone and a shoe.
-Daily Record
The saga of Cindy Sheenan...

Hi. I have had a very busy day today. Well, yesterday I was with Celeste when we tried to get a meeting with our Secretary of Defense, and we have been trying for weeks. We have been emailing, writing, calling. They finally stopped taking our calls. And I just saw all of these people today cheering for them and their policies, and I think if I had like $25 grand, I would probably have access to everybody in this administration, but I have paid a price that is priceless. You cannot put a price on what I have given to this country. I gave them my only -- my oldest son -- not my only son, but my oldest son, and they don't even have the courtesy to reply to us to say, no, we're not going to meet with you, or, you know, maybe later, or would you like to meet with another aide. They don't even have the courtesy to meet with Gold Star Families. I was on "Good Morning, America” this morning, and they asked me why I opposed the inauguration, and I said, “While these people are partying tonight, there's going to be more bloodshed. And I just think it's very inappropriate to celebrate when there's millions of people in harm's way.”
-Cindy speaking to a crowd outside of the National City Christian Church in Washingtone this January

The first thing, he came up to me, and he goes, “Mom, I can't imagine your loss. I can't imagine losing a loved one, you know, whether it be a mother, a father, a sister or brother.” And I stopped him, and I said, “You have two children. Try to imagine them being killed in a war. How would that make you feel?” And he got a little bit of -- just a little bit of human flicker in his eye, like he might be connected for a minute, because this is a man that's disconnected from humanity. And he had just got a little flicker in his eye, and I said, “Trust me, you don't want to go there.” And you know what he told me? He goes, “You're right, I don't.” And so I said, “Well, thank you for putting me there.”

And then he moved on to the next person, and then a little while later we were talking, and he went up to my oldest daughter, and he said, “I wish I could bring back your loved one to replace the hole in your heart.” And she goes, “Yeah, so do we.” And he gave her the dirtiest look and turned his back on her and ignored her for the rest of the meeting. And then a little later on in the meeting, I said, “Why were we invited here? We didn't vote for you in 2000, and we're certainly not going to vote for you in 2004.” And he said, “It's not about politics,” which is just bologna, because he went through the campaign trail, and last night he said he meets with families, and we say that we’re praying for him and stuff like that.

You know, that’s not -- that wasn't our experience. And everybody else I’ve talked to who have met with him have about the same experiences I do. He comes in, says I want to extend the gratitude of the nation and express my condolences, but he says it, and his eyes don't convey that, his heart doesn't convey that. We felt – we left our meeting with him feeling worse than when we walked in, feeling more determined to stop the madness in Iraq than before.
-Cindy on meeting the President

The grieving mother who has become famous for her vigil outside President Bush's Texas ranch is reported to be feeling ill. Joe Trippi spoke with Cindy Sheehan this morning and says she's running a fever and her camp is soaked with rain. And she needs fresh supplies. With what Maureen Dowd calls the "absolute" moral authority of a mother who has lost her son to war, Sheehan's protest is giving voice to a question more and more Americans are—finally—asking: Why did we invade Iraq?

Matt Drudge and the conservative blogosphere are trying to discredit Sheehan by pointing to interviews from last year in which Sheehan sounded less critical of Bush and the war. Far from "smearing" Sheehan, these reports may well reinforce the role she has unwittingly assumed as spokesperson for ordinary Americans. Because, like Sheehan, ordinary Americans increasingly doubt Bush's intentions in Iraq. The latest Gallup poll finds that the percentage of Americans who believe that sending troops to Iraq was a "mistake" is at an all-time high of 54 percent. And the percentage who believe our nation is "less safe" from terrorism as a result of the war is also at record levels—57 percent. What's important is that many of these people supported the invasion originally. But—perhaps like Cindy Sheehan—they have changed their minds about the war in Iraq .

Readers of TomPaine.com know we opposed the invasion from the get-go. And probably most of our readers did, too. But most Americans did not. Now they do. Sheehan's evolving position on the war actually shows she has more in common with everyday Americans than conservative commentators would like to admit.
-TomPaine

Bill O'Reilly Tuesday (August 9, 2005) tried to make Cindy Sheehan look like an unwitting tool of leftist extremists who has unaccountably changed her views of President Bush. All it took was a Google search to reveal that O'Reilly was repeating false information that the far right has been spreading about Sheehan all week....

O'Reilly claimed that Sheehan has changed her feelings toward Bush since she met with the president a year ago. He said that in an inteview with a California newspaper shortly after that visit, Sheehan said, "I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis. I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss." He also quoted her as saying, "That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together."

Both O'Reilly and his guest, far-right pundit Michelle Malkin, criticized news outlets such as The New York Times for failing to report the flip-flop in Sheehan's feelings.

But O'Reilly left out a little crucial information himself. For starters, O'Reilly never mentioned that he was merely repeating a story from Monday's Drudge Report, another cog in the right-wing noise machine.

Drudge headlined his story, "Protesting Soldier Mom Changed Story on Bush." Except that she didn't.

The Reporter, from Vacaville, California, interviewed Sheehan after her family's meeting with Bush in June 2004. The article, "Bush, Sheehans share moments," makes clear that Sheehan and her husband Patrick wanted to confront Bush then about his policy on Iraq.
-Newshounds

Sheehan said she is "overwhelmed and amazed at all the support" she's getting. She specifically said Texans have been amazing as has the sheriff of Crawford. She said people from places like North Carolina, Oregon and all parts of Texas are coming to Crawford to join her. She credited the Internet, saying without it, "nobody would know what was really going on." The "mainstream media is a propaganda tool for the government," she said, and without the Internet, "we would be a fascist state." So true.

Someone asked whether she was going to be on Bill O'Reilly's show tonight. She said the show called her this morning and invited her on. Initially she thought she would take them up on it but then she thought, "no!" She said it's fine if O'Reilly disagrees with her politics but after he attacked her last night she decided she's "not going to dignify his show" with her presence. She said O'Reilly's an "obscenity to the truth and an obscenity to humanity."
-Newshounds [more, metafilter]

Knowing no shame, Matt Drudge digs up any family dirt he can.

You will be goaded to cross the semantic line against a President who himself has crossed the much graver constitutional line that has cost so many lives on both sides and continues to cost and cost our country in so many ways domestically and before the world. Neglecting America for the Iraq war has become the widening downward path trod by the Bush government.

Authenticity, bereft of contrivances, is what must confront this White House Misleader. And authenticity is what you are and what drives you as you demand to see this resistant President. He is on an intermittent month long vacation, with spells for fundraisers and other insulated events. His schedule provides ample time for such a meeting. You reflect the hopes and prayers of millions of like-minded Americans.

Should he relent and opens his doors, be sure to ask why he low-balls U.S. casualties in Iraq, deleting and disrespecting soldiers seriously hurt or sickened in the Iraq war theater, but not in direct combat. Remind him of those soldiers back in military hospitals who, with their families, wonder why they are not being counted as they cope with their serious and permanent disabilities. (60 Minutes, CBS program).

Ask him why, despite Pentagon audits and GAO investigations about corruption, waste and non-delivery of services in Iraq by profiteering large corporations totaling billions of dollars, this Commander of Chief accepted campaign contributions from their executives and proceeds to let this giant corporate robbery continue without the requisite law and order?
-Ralph Nader

“That lying bastard, George Bush, is taking a five-week vacation in time of war,” Cindy Sheehan told 200 cheering members of Veterans For Peace at their annual convention in Dallas last Friday evening. She then announced she would go to Bush’s vacation home in nearby Crawford, Texas and camp out until he “tells me why my son died in Iraq. I’ve got the whole month of August off, and so does he.”

Sheehan left the VFP meeting on Saturday morning and is now in Crawford with a couple dozen veterans and local peace activists, waiting for Bush to talk with her. She said in Dallas that if he sends anyone else to see her, as happened when national security adviser Steve Hadley and deputy White House chief of staff Joe Hagin did later that day, she would demand that “You get that maniac out here to talk with me in person.”

She told the audience of veterans from World War Two to today’s war in Iraq, that the two main things she plans to tell the man she holds responsible for son Casey’s death are “Quit saying that U.S. troops died for a noble cause in Iraq, unless you say, ‘well, except for Casey Sheehan.’ Don’t you dare spill any more blood in Casey’s name. You do not have permission to use my son’s name.”

“And the other thing I want him to tell me is ‘just what was the noble cause Casey died for?’ Was it freedom and democracy? Bullshit! He died for oil. He died to make your friends richer. He died to expand American imperialism in the Middle East. We’re not freer here, thanks to your PATRIOT Act. Iraq is not free. You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you’ll stop the terrorism,” she exclaimed.
-Mike Ferner

The Lone Star Iconoclast is reporting daily on Cindy's Crawford Vigil.

conference call with Cindy
The massive transportation bill President Bush signed Wednesday includes $207 million for a pet project of House Speaker Dennis Hastert - a new road connecting two major highways in his district.

But state officials are not yet convinced that the Prairie Parkway connector is the best way to ease traffic in the growing region outside Chicago, and some locals say it will promote urban sprawl, hurt the environment and swallow up fertile farmland.

Illinois was second only to California in the amount of money earmarked for special projects - $1.3 billion - in the transportation bill, according to an analysis by the budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. Hastert's district made out particularly well, with money for the parkway and another $70 million for a bridge in Kane County.

The proposed parkway connecting Interstates 80 and 88 across small towns and farmland 55 miles west of Chicago won special mention from Bush before he signed the bill at a Caterpillar plant here, with Hastert by his side.
-Daily Chronicle

IDOT has already focused on the Prairie Parkway, a 35-mile expressway connecting I-88 and I-80. In July 2002 IDOT formally restricted property rights along the 35-mile route, and Transportation Secretary Tim Martin has proclaimed the Prairie Parkway to be one of the three top priority projects for federal funding.

We've got a better idea. IDOT's study shows that the area has diverse traffic problems increasing over the next 25 years. Those diverse problems call for diverse solutions. These solutions include improvements to existing state and county highways as well as new connections to improve traffic flow through the area.

A single freeway project from I-80 to I-88 doesn't meet the needs of the three-county area. And its consequences - loss of farmland, impact on the environment, and accelerating sprawl - are too great.
-Citizens Against the Sprawlway
It was intended as a picturesque public relations triumph: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger backed by a blaring soundtrack of "Takin' It to the Streets," striding alongside an army of neon-clad street workers to tackle a "critical'' transportation problem -- a San Jose pothole.

But the photo op took more than a little doing, government documents show -- a flurry of anxious e-mails from city officials, dozens of hours of planning on city time and considerable angst over details like location, location, location.

Not to mention ingredients to showcase a superstar governor on a mission: a ton of asphalt, a dump truck, Hollywood-style lighting, sound equipment, vans and transportation for city officials and reporters, news conference materials -- and a really nice shovel....

To nail down the final look of the event, Schwarzenegger's staff hired Richmond-based Hartmann Productions for lighting, sound and setup, said Hiltachk, the California Recovery Team's attorney. According to state records, that firm, which has been used regularly to set up events ranging from the governor's inauguration to his key appearances, has been paid at least $308, 000 in connection with Schwarzenegger's events since the beginning of the year.
-SFGate
CNN suspended commentator Robert Novak indefinitely after he swore and walked off the set Thursday during a debate with Democratic operative James Carville.

The exchange during CNN's "Inside Edition" came during a discussion of Florida's Senate campaign. But CNN correspondent Ed Henry noted when it was through that he had been about to ask Novak about his role in the investigation of the leak of a CIA officer's identity.

A CNN spokeswoman, Edie Emery, called Novak's behavior "inexcusable and unacceptable." Novak has apologized to CNN, and CNN apologizes to viewers, she said.

"We've asked Mr. Novak to take some time off," she said.
-Yahoo
Thieves have dug a 200-metre long tunnel to break into a Brazilian bank's safe, stealing at least $85 million in the biggest bank heist in the country's history.

The thieves penetrated the Banco Central bank in the north-eastern city of Fortaleza on the weekend via the tunnel.

"The crime was discovered Monday morning," the bank said in a statement.

Banco Central said the robbers opened five containers with 50-real ($28) bills.

Police sources said the robbers operated from a house where they created a fictitious gardening company, which allowed them to get rid of earth they dug without suspicion.
-ABC News

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