March 2004

via Reason:

For many poor women in Sudan, wine making is the only way to make a living. In fact, it is a traditional practice in the south of Sudan. Unfortunately for many women, making wine is illegal under the Islamic Sharia-based law of northern part that nation. More than 90 percent of the women imprisoned in the Omdurman prison in Khartoum since 1992 have been sentenced for making wine.

BBC Reports:

More than 130,000 telephone lines remain blocked in the North West after a fire started in a BT tunnel in Manchester city centre.

Emergency services have been affected, and police say it is a major incident.

Fire crews had to climb down 30 metres and then crawl 150 metres to get to the fire, which began at about 0330 BST.

Mainichi Daily News Reports:

OSAKA (JAPAN) — A teacher has been slapped with a one-month pay cut for watching a pornographic video at school, fearing the wrath of his family if he was caught watching it at home, officials said Monday. (via fark)

Remy Davison, Insanely Great Mac writes:

Apple’s AAC audio, a subset of the QuickTime format, has been formally adopted by the DVD Forum as the DVD-Audio (DVD-A) standard, The Register notes.

Apple employs the AAC codec in iTunes for Mac and Windows, and it also supplies the encoding for songs downloaded from Apple’s iTunes Music Store (iTMS), and is used on the iPod.

AAC beat out rival formats from Microsoft (Windows Media 9) and Sony due to sound quality. However, Windows Media Video (wmv) recently scored a win with the format accepted by the Forum as the high-definition DVD video standard.

The article notes that AAC is designed for the implementation of Digital Rights Management (DRM), although DRM is not an inherent part of AAC.

DVD Audio discs deliver Dolby 5.1 and 24-bit sound at 192khz.

Li Fellers and Carlos Sadovi, Tribune staff reporters, write:

Beating drums and waving signs denouncing the Bush administration and calling for peace, thousands of demonstrators marched peacefully Saturday through the streets of downtown Chicago to mark the anniversary of the start of the Iraq war.

Some were parents with children, some were elderly couples, and some were anarchists. Their nearly 2-mile trek from the Chicago Water Tower on Michigan Avenue to Federal Plaza in the Loop was one of many protests held around the world Saturday.

“Every day I wake up and hear about more and more people killed. I’m so angry, I don’t know what to do other than come out here,” said Lee Jaffe, 76, a retired schoolteacher who lives in Evanston.

They stepped off from Chicago and Michigan Avenues, where hundreds of demonstrators were detained and arrested last year, a day after the start of the Iraq war. This year, police said there were three arrests among the estimated 5,000 who marched.

malkuth, user, writes:

A personal chronicle about the four most intense days many of us in Spain have had in our whole life: from the 11-M killings, through the government disinformation, to the final results which kicked the Popular Party out of the government.

On thursday, we soon knew about what happened in Atocha, El Pozo and Santa Eugenia. At home we were unable to react: it is so much, to think something like that has happened. As time passes tears and horror for what has happened come. We don’t understand anything, ETA has put Titadine explosives in several trains in Madrid, the death toll is higher and higher. We watch the images, all that has happened in this black morning. I remember I’ve been in that station, Atocha, hundreds of times to go to my university, in those familiar trains which I could mentally describe without any effort: and I know there are lots of tragedies everywhere, but the pain is unbearable as I only have to close my eyes to imagine the faces of the people who travel there with me daily,…

ROBERT PEAR, The New York Times reports:

WASHINGTON, March 14 Federal investigators are scrutinizing television segments in which the Bush administration paid people to pose as journalists praising the benefits of the new Medicare law, which would be offered to help elderly Americans with the costs of their prescription medicines.

The videos are intended for use in local television news programs. Several include pictures of President Bush receiving a standing ovation from a crowd cheering as he signed the Medicare law on Dec. 8.

The materials were produced by the Department of Health and Human Services, which called them video news releases, but the source is not identified. Two videos end with the voice of a woman who says, “In Washington, I’m Karen Ryan reporting.”

But the production company, Home Front Communications, said it had hired her to read a script prepared by the government.

AP Reports:

VIEJO, Calif. - City officials were so concerned about the potentially dangerous properties of dihydrogen monoxide that they considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production.

Then they learned, to their chagrin, that dihydrogen monoxide H2O for short is the scientific term for water.

A Spanish policeman walks past a hole blasted through a train in an explosion at Madrid’s Atocha train station after an explosion March 11, 2004. Ten simultaneous explosions killed 182 people on packed Madrid commuter trains in Europe’s bloodiest attack for more than 15 years. Officials said 900 people were wounded. (Photo by Andrea Comas/Reuters)

Andrew Cawthorne, Reuters, Reports:

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar said on Friday all leads would be pursued to catch the Madrid train attackers as investigators tried to pin down whether Basque separatists or Muslim militants were to blame.

RevMen, Fort Collins, CO, on the Studio Central Forum, writes:

Since I’m starting work in 2 weeks as an acoustical engineer, I figured this is something I should know. I did some googling and found a whole bunch of references to this number, but no explanations.

Then I found a paper written by Kevin Surace of Quiet Solutions here.


At approximately 194dB, the sound pressure would have to change more than the ambient air pressure. At this point, the sound wave would have to create a negative air pressure to get any louder than this. Since that cannot happen air itself distorts sound by “clipping” the sound wave. This is also known as a sonic boom.


PATRICK HEALY, The New York Times, reports:

PATCHOGUE, N.Y., March 9 The initiation rituals at the Masonic lodge here had been bathed in secrecy over the years. The climax of Monday night’s ceremony was to be a simple prank. A new member of the Fellow Craft Club, a select group within the lodge, would sit in a chair while an older member stood 20 feet away and fired a handgun loaded with blanks.

That ritual went terribly wrong inside Southside Masonic Lodge No. 493, in a basement littered with rat traps, tin cans, a 9-foot-tall guillotine, and a setup designed to mimic walking a plank.

The shooter, a 76-year-old Mason, Albert Eid, was carrying two guns, a .22-caliber handgun with blanks in his left pocket, and a .32-caliber gun with live rounds in his right pocket.

He reached into his right pants pocket, pulled out the wrong gun and shot William James, a 47-year-old fellow Mason, in the face, killing him, the authorities said.

Spalding Gray performs his monologue, MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT, which covers the events of one day in the life of his family. (October 31, 1999) (NEWSDAY FILE PHOTO / ARI MINTZ)

SEAN GARDINER, Newsday Staff Writer Reports:

A body found Sunday in the East River was identified yesterday as that of Spalding Gray, the actor-writer who disappeared two months ago and is believed to have committed suicide.

(Empty-Handed via BoingBoing)

Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writer, Reports:

Capping a 17-year effort by a small but committed group of activists, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration has agreed to let a South Carolina physician treat 12 trauma victims with the illegal street drug ecstasy in what will be the first U.S.-approved study of the recreational drug’s therapeutic potential.

Lawrence Lessig wrtites:

If piracy means using the creative property of others without their permission, then the history of the content industry is a history of piracy. Every important sector of big media today - film, music, radio, and cable TV - was born of a kind of piracy. The consistent story is how each generation welcomes the pirates from the last. Each generation - until now.

Will Knight, New Scientist, reports:

Messages buried in the code of three current computer worms may be evidence of a simmering feud between rival worm writers each determined to infect as many PCs as possible.

This is betamale’s disturbing and good remix of the iPod ads and the classic Vietnam war-atrocity photo. (via BoingBoing)

Associated Press Reports:

US officials are dismissing allegations that US troops forced Jean-Bertrand Aristide to leave Haiti.

Secretary of State Colin Powell says the claim is absurd. White House spokesman Scott McClellan calls it “nonsense.” He says Aristide left on his own free will — and that US troops were there to protect him.

But Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California says she got a phone call today from Aristide and his wife, who are now in the Central African Republic. She tells CNN that the Aristides claim US officials forced them to get on a plane — and that they now feel as if they’re being held as prisoners.

African-American activist Randall Robinson says he got a similar call from Aristide — who said he’d been ousted in a coup and abducted by US soldiers.

The government of the Central African Republic today released a video showing Aristide getting off a plane. There were no troops present — and Aristide looked tired, but not scared.

David Ward and Lucy Ward, UK Guardian, report:

As universities began a week of strikes over pay yesterday, a molecular biologist announced that he was quitting his lab for a new career as a plumber.
The Association of University Teachers, the lecturers’ union, claims he is not alone: a second academic is throwing up her job to train greyhounds and a third is moving to Canada with no job arranged.

Karl Gensberg, a post-doctoral researcher who has had short-term contracts at the University of Birmingham, will begin his new career in the summer after completing a plumbing course at Sutton Coldfield College.