Michael Jackson is in discussions about creating a 50-foot robotic replica of himself to roam the Las Vegas desert, according to reports.
The pop legend is currently understood to be living in the city, as he considers making a comeback after 2004's turbulent child sex case.
It has now been claimed that his plans include an elaborate show in Vegas, which would feature the giant Jacko striding around the desert, firing laser beams.
If built, the metal monster would apparently be visible to aircraft as they come in to land in the casino capital.
It is the centerpiece of an elaborate Jackson-inspired show in Vegas, according to Andre Van Pier, the robot's designer.
Luckman Van Pier, his partner at the company behind the proposal, claims blueprints have been drawn up for the show and seen by the star.
"Michael's looked at the sketches and likes them," he told the New York Daily News.
On the subject of the robot, he continued: "It would be in the desert sands. Laser beams would shoot out of it so it would be the first thing people flying in would see."
That sounds like an orgasmic dream.
Labels: Rove Legacy
"Now, I think this is just a logical step. If we want a drug-free America, if we want a drug-free workplace, if we want drug-free prisons and drug-free schools and drug-free highways, we probably ought to have a drug-free capital, to say to prohibit the legalization of marijuana in the District of Columbia, where millions of our constituents come, year in and year out, day in and day out, week in and week out. They ought to be safe."Former Republican Congressman from Georgia Bob Barr in 2007 ...
“I, over the years, have taken a very strong stand on drug issues, but in light of the tremendous growth of government power since 9/11, it has forced me and other conservatives to go back and take a renewed look at how big and powerful we want the government to be in people’s lives.”And get this: the one-time drug warrior has, as of yesterday, become a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington D.C.
BAGHDAD - Shiite militants and police enraged by massive truck bombings in the northwestern town of Tal Afar went on a revenge spree against Sunni residents there Wednesday, killing as many as 60 people, officials said.
The gunmen began roaming Sunni neighborhoods in the city, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a local Sunni politician.
Ali al-Talafari, a Sunni member of the local Turkomen Front Party, said the Iraqi army had arrested 18 policemen accused of being involved after they were identified by the Sunni families targeted. But he said the attackers included Shiite militiamen.
He said more than 60 Sunnis had been killed, but a senior hospital official in Tal Afar put the death toll at 45, with four wounded.
The hospital official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns, said the victims were men between the ages of 15 and 60, and they were killed with a shot to the back of the head.
WASHINGTON DC -- The long awaited US military attack on Iran is now on track for the first week of April, specifically for 4 AM on April 6, the Good Friday opening of Easter weekend, writes the well-known Russian journalist Andrei Uglanov in the Moscow weekly "Argumenty Nedeli." Uglanov cites Russian military experts close to the Russian General Staff for his account.I'll be in Crawford, Texas on Good Friday.
The attack is slated to last for twelve hours, according to Uglanov, lasting from 4 AM until 4 PM local time. Friday is a holiday in Iran. In the course of the attack, code named Operation Bite, about 20 targets are marked for bombing; the list includes uranium enrichment facilities, research centers, and laboratories.
The first reactor at the Bushehr nuclear plant, where Russian engineers are working, is supposed to be spared from destruction. The US attack plan reportedly calls for the Iranian air defense system to be degraded, for numerous Iranian warships to be sunk in the Persian Gulf, and the for the most important headquarters of the Iranian armed forces to be wiped out.
The attacks will be mounted from a number of bases, including the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia is currently home to B-52 bombers equipped with standoff missiles. Also participating in the air strikes will be US naval aviation from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, as well as from those of the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. Additional cruise missiles will be fired from submarines in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of the Arabian peninsula. The goal is allegedly to set back Iran's nuclear program by several years, writes Uglanov, whose article was re-issued by RIA-Novosti in various languages, but apparently not English, several days ago. The story is the top item on numerous Italian and German blogs, but so far appears to have been ignored by US websites.
Observers comment that this dispatch represents a high-level orchestrated leak from the Kremlin, in effect a war warning, which draws on the formidable resources of the Russian intelligence services, and which deserves to be taken with the utmost seriousness by pro-peace forces around the world.
British backtrack on Iraq death toll
British government officials have backed the methods used by scientists who concluded that more than 600,000 Iraqis have been killed since the invasion, the BBC reported yesterday.
The Government publicly rejected the findings, published in The Lancet in October. But the BBC said documents obtained under freedom of information legislation showed advisers concluded that the much-criticised study had used sound methods.
The study, conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, estimated that 655,000 more Iraqis had died since March 2003 than one would expect without the war. The study estimated that 601,027 of those deaths were from violence.
The researchers, reflecting the inherent uncertainties in such extrapolations, said they were 95 per cent certain that the real number of deaths lay somewhere between 392,979 and 942,636.
The conclusion, based on interviews and not a body count, was disputed by some experts, and rejected by the US and British governments. But the chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Roy Anderson, described the methods used in the study as "robust" and "close to best practice". Another official said it was "a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones".
SAN FRANCISCO ( AP ) - A woman held for 22 hours at San Francisco International Airport, strip-searched and forced to take laxatives by Customs agents during a futile search for drugs has been awarded $450,000 by a federal court jury.
Lawyers for Amanda Buritica of Port Chester, N.Y., argued the agents at SFO had no reason to suspect her of being a drug courier, intensified their search when they found no evidence and ignored the fact she was already suffering from diarrhea. Agents found : anti- diarrhea medicine in their initial search.
"The more they searched, the less they found, and the less they found, the more suspicious they became," her lawyer, Gregory M. Fox, said.
A government lawyer countered that agents had several reasons for suspicion: Buritica was a woman in her 50s, traveling alone, on a Singapore Airlines flight from Hong Kong-a "high-risk flight" from a city that is a common source of drugs- wore loose clothing, carried no mementos from her trip and was unresponsive to questions.
But the U.S. District Court jury on Tuesday found the search unreasonable and awarded $225,000 in damages against each of two Customs agents involved in the search. The government usually pays such damages against its employees, although Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Killefer said no decision to do so has been made yet.
Jurors also ordered punitive damages of $1,000 for malicious conduct against John Petrin, chief Customs inspector at the airport, who was also involved in a 1989 case before the same judge in which a bodycavity search of a passenger was ruled illegal.
U.S. District Judge Vaughm Walker will decide at a later date whether to order changes in Customs' local search policies and training procedures. He could also order additional damages against the government.
Buritica, who said she lost her job because of stress from the incident, told reporters the damages did not make up for her ordeal, "but I am glad that the jury realized that they did something very awful to me."
Killefer declined comment. She has asked Walker to overturn the verdict and dismiss the suit on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence of an unreasonable, search or inadequate training.
Buritica, then 50, a Colombian-born U.S. citizen, was returning from a round-the-world trip when she was detained at San Francisco International Airport in September 1994. After a luggage search, she was patted down, then strip-searched, X-rayed, and sent to a hospital for administration of a strong purgative.
She testified she was told she would be forcibly fed the purgative if she refused to drink it. Two agents watched her continuously while she used a portable toilet repeatedly during an eight-hour period, she said. After finally concluding she had no drugs in her system, the agents left the room, but no one told her she was free to leave for six to eight hours, she said.
Fox said local U.S. Customs agents randomly select passengers for scrutiny as possible drug couriers, without any grounds for suspicion. Even after reasonable suspicion justifies an initial search, he said, an intensified search should be prohibited unless agents find some evidence of smuggling and consider the passenger's innocent explanations.
"There are -- in this particular case, the Department of Justice -- the Congress does have legitimate oversight responsibility for the Department of Justice. It created the Department of Justice. [Congress] does not have constitutional oversight responsibility over the White House, which is why by our reaching out, we're doing something that we're not compelled to do by the Constitution [...]"Sorry Tony, but the Department of State's website seems to disagree with you in its opening paragraph describing the oversight powers of Congress ...
Dictionaries define "oversight" as "watchful care," and this approach has proven to be one of the most effective techniques that Congress has adopted to influence the executive branch. Congressional oversight prevents waste and fraud; protects civil liberties and individual rights; ensures executive compliance with the law; gathers information for making laws and educating the public; and evaluates executive performance. It applies to cabinet departments, executive agencies, regulatory commissions, and the presidency.What we have, ladies and gentlemen, is an Executive Branch that now wishes to be above the law.
"80 to 85 percent, in a conservative fashion, of Iraq is reasonably under control, at least as well as Detroit or Chicago or any of our other big cities. That's an encouraging sign.''In the mean time, the new Secretary General of the United Nations was visiting the green zone in Baghdad. He probably has a different outlook on the situation ...
The Government Accountability Office warned the Pentagon this week that residents of the home "may be at risk" in light of allegations of severe health-care problems. Residents have been admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center with "the most serious type of pressure sores" and, in one case, with maggots in a wound, according to a GAO letter sent to the Defense Department.And then there's the Associated Press, which reports ...
AP also reports ...
Some of the more striking problems were found at a VA clinic in White City, Ore. There, officials reported roof leaks throughout the facility, requiring them to "continuously repair the leaks upon occurrence, clean up any mold presence if any exists, spray or remove ceiling tiles."
In addition, large colonies of bats resided outside the facility and sometimes flew into the attics and interior parts of the building.
"Eradication has been discussed but the uniqueness of the situation (the number of colonies) makes it challenging to accomplish," according to the report, which said the bats were being tested for diseases. "Also, the bats keep the insect pollution to a minimum which is beneficial."
Yet the President's FY 2007 budget cuts funds for VA care.
_In Oklahoma City, secondhand smoke from an outside smoking shelter sometimes infiltrated the building through the women's restroom.
_Deteriorating walls and hallways were common, requiring repair, patch and paint in 30 percent of patient areas in Little Rock, Ark.
_Numerous unspecified "environmental conditions" affected the quality of the building in New York's Hudson Valley, with the private landlord repeatedly refusing to fix problems. The VA is taking steps to relocate to another facility.
_Roof leaks or mold at facilities such as Hudson Valley; North Chicago, Ill.; Indianapolis; Puget Sound, Wash.; Portland, Ore; and Fayetteville, Ark.
Labels: VA care
"I'm lead to believe there's a good response for it," he said.And we're lead to believe, Tony, that your boss is lying and trying to hide from the rule of law which he swore to uphold.
On the Mockingbird bridge over Central Expressway, Dallas police stopped rush-hour traffic along the half-mile march as the wind whipped banners with anti-Bush slogans and carried chants of peace.
"What do we want? Our troops out. When do we want it? Now."
Motorists honked horns and snapped pictures with cellphone cameras while they waited for about 150 protesters to walk past.
The same passage can be found on page 8B in my Metro zone. There's even a picture of one of our friends holding a sign that reads "NO MORE BLOOD FOR OIL", right on the cover, below the fold.
Bill Durland, who was part of a group of about 45 marching with the Bookman bookmobile, says he watched as Colorado Springs police, some wearing riot helmets, descended into the crowd.
One cop kneed a woman in the groin as she lay on the ground. Another broke a wooden peace sign that one of the participants had been carrying. One photo shows a cop with his arm around the neck of a retired priest, Frank Cordero, in an apparent chokehold. In another shot a cop hoists a Taser.
The arrests occurred just after start of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in downtown Colorado Springs on Saturday. The group were marching with the bookmobile owned by Verlo, a well-known peace activist. Verlo had obtained a $15 permit to participate in the parade, but apparently, though the participants say they did nothing more than wear T-shirts with peace signs and carry peace banners with messages like "Kids Not Bombs," they were told after the parade started that they were unwelcome.
"There were City Council candidates and the Knights of Columbus," Durland said. "We were just wearing peace sweaters and green T-shirts with white peace signs and carrying a banner that said ‘Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission’ and then someone came running up at an intersection and told us to leave. He didn’t identify himself, and he started pushing people around and he must have called the police because they came pretty fast."
Many of the participants who were walking with the Bookman bookmobile indeed dispersed when the police appeared and ordered them to do so. But those who didn’t leave, White noted, were "mainly the people most trained in non-violence."
"They went limp," he said.
Durland says it all happened so fast that few understood what was happening. He called the officers’ response "shock and awe."
Today is the Fourth Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq. Tonight, Peace Activists from all over Texas will descend upon Dallas, Denton and Arlington, among the thousands of other locations around the nation.
Labels: Watergate '07
Labels: Poor Jean Schmidt
Public safety vs. personal morality
Jessica’s Law was long overdue. But there is a pressing issue which, by this law’s passage, we as a society must address.
Jessica’s Law requires that convicted sex offenders be slapped with a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years. Repeat offenders may be sentenced to death. Say what you will about the death penalty, but if any offender class deserves a mandatory minimum, it is the child molesters.
Let us consider our own back yard. Seventy adults convicted of molesting a child under the age of 12 live in
If that is not enough to get you outraged, I doubt your humanity.
The American Justice System needs a basic – yet radical – reform. With Jessica’s Law, we have an opportunity like none other to emphasize how vitally important our children are, placing them above all other items of import.
It starts in our prisons and courtrooms. We must clarify which offenses we as a state are willing to destroy an individual’s life over. Molesting and/or murdering a child should be chiseled in rock atop the list.
Today, the most widely committed crime is the smoking of marijuana. One-in-three Americans have tried it. In 2000, 646,042 Americans, making up 41 percent of all drug arrests, were incarcerated for possession - not distribution. No scientific study has ever linked the death of an individual to marijuana use.
Whereas alcohol – our most intoxicating recreational drug - knocks off over 110,000 of our citizens annually. Additionally, 36 percent of violent felons committed their crime(s) with alcohol coursing through their veins. Cigarette smoking kills 430,000 Americans every year. And aspirin, along with related over-the-counter pain killers, claims an additional 7,500 lives.
In 1986, mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders went into effect in many states. By 1997, the national corrections budget had shot up 135 percent, and
Our jail population is about to swell thanks to the long-overdue measures within Jessica’s Law. We will be spending a much larger sum of money on our corrections due to prisoners who will be staying in state facilities much, much longer than before.
Before we commit a lion’s share of our citizens’ hard-earned, begrudgingly-paid taxes to building new cage-motels to handle the additional overflow, a most important question must be asked: Where do our priorities lie?
I believe everyone would agree that the child molester and murderer does far more damage to society than the marijuana smoker, if indeed the later has much impact at all.
House Bill 758 in the Texas Legislature aims to reduce penalties for marijuana possession under one ounce – which accounts for the majority of pot arrests – from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class C misdemeanor. Class B carries a penalty of 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Class C is a fine of $500 and mandatory confiscation of the substance.
The bill keeps a punishment aspect close at hand for minor drug abuse, and addresses the issue of overcrowded jails.
Should House Bill 758 pass, we would be enabled to designate a greater portion of our jail space to those who really deserve incarceration: pedophiles, whose offenses our society has neglected far too long.
Jessica’s Law is a good start. Now it is time to brace for its wake. Call your Representatives and tell them to make some extra room in our cages for the real monsters by supporting H.B. 758. It is the only Responsible and Conservative thing to do.
Little Jessica Lunsford did not have to die in agony for our society to realize that public safety, not personal morality, should be paramount in our System of Justice.
Well, just as it’s important, I think, for a president to know when to commit U.S. forces to combat, it’s also important to know when not to commit U.S. forces to combat. I think for us to get American military personnel involved in a civil war inside Iraq would literally be a quagmire. Once we got to Baghdad, what would we do? Who would we put in power? What kind of government would we have? Would it be a Sunni government, a Shi’a government, a Kurdish government? Would it be secular, along the lines of the Ba’ath Party? Would be fundamentalist Islamic? I do not think the United States wants to have U.S. military forces accept casualties and accept the responsibility of trying to govern Iraq. I think it makes no sense at all.So it begs the question: Why didn't Cheney listen to Cheney?
The Webster Retort
Publication date: March 9, 2007
By Stephen Webster
Cowardly and deceptive means
I think the term “Democratic leadership” has become an oxymoron.
From the green fields of Crawford, Texas, during the sweaty summer of 2005, a rallying cry was issued from coast to coast. Thousands gathered just miles from the Bush Ranch, sparking a flurry of media coverage and the onset of an inevitable national debate. People of ever political stripe came together and built the most powerful emerging movement in America which now holds a commanding majority in the electorate.
In short, the Peace People Cleaned House. They swept a dearth of Iraq war supporters from their representative halls, proving our democracy may yet be salvageable.
This is not about partisanship. It is not liberal or conservative to be against dropping our brave men and women into a pit of razors. It is not Left or Right to wish our wounded soldiers were receiving proper medical care at government-run facilities. There is no Left or Right when ideology becomes of principal import over and above the health and safety of our sons and daughters.
But seriously, folks. This is getting absurd.
The amount of disgust that pursed through my veins at the notion of a “non-binding resolution” opposing the troop surge reached a level that nearly gave this Faithful Muckraker a Dick Cheney. Ehrm, I mean, coronary.
The Texan in me wants to stand up and shout: “You yellow-bellied, silver-tongued, lying, traitorous, unwashed, flat-footed, cowardly, good-fer-nothin, rot-gut scoundrels!”
First, the facts of this so-called “surge” ...
The president has “decided” to send in 21,500 additional troops, or so he said. (It is actually more.) Once complete, the “surge” would bring troop levels to – dun dun dun – the same level they were at in 2005; which was lower than in 2004.
America currently has about 120,000 troops in country. Post surge, it increases to roughly 141,500 troops. The nation of Iraq has a population of 26,783,383 terrorized, gun-clutching, panicky people. So, by that measure, there will be 189 Iraqis to every one American. In all reality, the “surge” is nothing more than a meaningless PR campaign; or as John Soltz of VoteVets calls it, “a drop in the bucket.”
BoiBush is clearly getting desperate to save face. Unfortunately, all this does is place a greater number of our men and women in an extremely dangerous situation far beyond their control.
It will make no difference.
And if the Walter Reed scandal is any indicator, the military is little better today at providing care for our wounded vets than they were during 'Nam. Sure, battlefield medicine has improved. But what good is it if we abandon them once they come home?
And the White House's line? “That's not our responsibility. Talk to the people across the river.”
Good Lord! My grandmother used to have a saying about America's power structure. It went a little like, “The buck stops here [meaning, at the White House], but most politicians just want to play 'smear the queer'.”
We are like the French in Algeria, and no amount of guns, bombs or fighting will solve our problem. The solution lies in a decentralized federal system with wealth-sharing, localized police and an emphasis on individual freedoms. Instead, we have given them a divisive and authoritarian religion-based state that serves only to fuel sectarian tensions, driving the civil war to new heights.
Nancy Pelosi, our esteemed House Speaker, was placed in a position of power by The American Peace Movement. Our bipartisan majority understands what it will take to pacify Iraq, and bringing our soldiers home NOW is just the first step. There is no point in keeping them in the middle of a crossfire. Even James Baker, DadiBush's third hand, understands this.
That Pelosi would promote the “non-binding resolution” as something useful is unconscionable. And now she is lending support to the passage of yet more funding to escalate the war? Who have we elected?
Republicans say that de-funding the war “puts troops in harm's way”. As though military command is just going to up-and-vanish, forgetting about all 141,500 soldiers in country. Give me a break!
Sadly, the utterance of such a phrase sends “Democratic leadership” scurrying for the hills.
Is the memory of our leaders so short that they cannot recall the 90's?
Texas Republican Congressman Sam Johnson is one such forgetful individual. He recently argued against a proposal to tie war funding to concrete troop readiness levels. “The grim reality is that this House measure is the first step to cutting funding of the troops,” said Johnson. “Just ask John Murtha about his 'slow-bleed' plan that would hamstring our troops in harm’s way.”
However, when President Clinton attached U.S. troops to a NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia, Congressman Johnson had no problem committing to an action which, as he now feels, would “hamstring our troops in harm's way.”
In 1996, Congressman Johnson said, with some amount of indignation over Clinton's marching orders, “I wholeheartedly support withholding funds! [Mmhmm.] Although it is a drastic step and ties the President’s hands, I do not feel like we have any other choice. The President has tied our hands, gone against the wishes of the American people, and this is the last best way I know how to show my respect for our American servicemen and women. They are helpless, following orders. But we, we are in a position to stop this terrible mistake before it happens.”
Even the esteemed Senator Phil Gramm of Texas vowed to support efforts his colleagues today claim would “put troops in harm's way.”
Yes, that's right: they were for cutting funds before they were against it.
Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid need to grow some spine. Their Republican counterparts utilize cowardly and deceptive means to avert honest debate. But they, being the so-called “Democratic leadership”, are proving no less cowardly or deceptive as they shirk their promise of Ending the War.
De-funding war opens the Path to Peace. Anything Else is just Smoke and Mirrors.
Accept No Substitute. Power to The Peaceful.
* Applicants must present a valid passport, certified birth certificate, green card or other valid visa documents to get a license and states must check all other states' databases to ensure the person doesn't have a license from another state.
* States must use a card stock that glows under ultraviolet light, and check digits, hologramlike images and secret markers.
* Identity documents must expire before eight years and must include legal name, date of birth, gender, digital photo, home address and a signature. States can propose ways to let judges, police officers and victims of domestic violence keep their addresses off the cards. There are no religious exemptions for veils or scarves for photos.
* States must keep copies of all documents, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards and utility bills, for seven to 10 years.
Labels: Real ID
"This is the kind of thing you hear when you’re litigating cases in Egypt or Morocco or Karachi,” said John Sifton, a lawyer with Human Rights Watch, one of a number of groups that has criticized the U.S. government’s treatment of Padilla. “It is simply not credible that they would have lost this tape. The administration has shown repeatedly they are more interested in covering up abuses than getting to the bottom of whether people were abused."Interestingly, Mr. Padilla has just been declared competent to stand trial. Some experts have diagnosed him as suffering Stockholm's syndrome. Perhaps there's some clues as to why on this missing tape?