April 2004

According to the U.S. Army, one Iraqi prisoner was told to stand on a box with his head covered, wires attached to his hands. (Photo: CBS)

CBS reports:

(CBS) Last month, the U.S. Army announced 17 soldiers in Iraq, including a brigadier general, had been removed from duty after charges of mistreating Iraqi prisoners.

But the details of what happened have been kept secret, until now.

It turns out photographs surfaced showing American soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqis being held at a prison near Baghdad. The Army investigated, and issued a scathing report.

Now, an Army general and her command staff may face the end of long military careers. And six soldiers are facing court martial in Iraq — and possible prison time.

J.M. HIRSCH, AP, reports:

10 PRINT “In 1963 two Dartmouth College math professors had a radical”
20 PRINT “idea - create a computer language muscular enough to harness”
30 PRINT “the power of the period’s computers, yet simple enough that even”
40 PRINT “the school’s janitors could use it.”
50 END

(via Slashdot)


Mike Outmesguine, in thewirelessweblog, writes:

We all know what wardriving is - discovering wireless networks while driving some sort of ground-based vehicle. Warflying is kind of like that, except you are travelling at about 120 miles per hour and flying about 1500 above ground.

I went warflying over Los Angeles yesterday with a group of other Wi-Fi nuts and a representative from CNN. We had two planes flying in formation with Netstumbler, Kismet, and Airmagnet running. Plus we performed a video conference during the flight.

We think this is the first time anyone has done a plane-to-plane videoconference! And it worked great!

KATHMANDU, April 9, 2004–Chinese authorities in Tibet are conducting a systematic indoctrination campaign in a major monastery aimed at forcing Tibetan monks to accept a Panchen Lama chosen by Beijing, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

Sam Williams, Salon, writes:

April 27, 2004 | Like most frontier sheriffs, Wikipedia Arbitration Committee member Martin Harper wears his badge with a mixture of pride and caution.

A 24-year-old software engineer from Worcester, England, Harper knows what it’s like to be new. It was only two years ago, after all, that Harper, an immigrant fresh in from the Douglas Adams “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” online encyclopedia project, H2G2, encountered the scary freedom of wiki publishing — where pretty much anyone can add his or her own thoughts to a Web site, even if that means overwriting or “correcting” what someone has already written.

“I think, like most people, I came across the idea and thought, ‘This is madness,’” says Harper, looking back. “On [H2G2] you could have maybe five people editing an article. On Wikipedia you could have 50 people editing at once with no one person in control.”

Today, Harper is one of a select few working to impose a civilized order on what has become one of the Internet’s fastest growing boomtowns. Launched in January 2001 with barely a dozen articles, Wikipedia crossed the 500,000 articles mark in February, with posters contributing content in more than 30 languages and, by last measure, at a rate of 300,000 articles per year.


Caroline Overington, The Sydney Morning Herald Correspondent in New York writes:

Last Sunday a newspaper in Seattle, Washington, published a rare photograph of soldiers’ coffins, each of them containing the body of an American who had died in Iraq.

The coffins, each draped with the Stars and Stripes, had been loaded into the back of a cargo aircraft for a final journey to the US, where they would be buried. There were at least 18 of them in the picture, which was taken by a 50-year-old civilian contractor, Tami Silicio.

On Wednesday Ms Silicio was sacked from her job, for taking the photograph and sharing it with news organisations.

Marchers react to one of many luminaries who spoke during the rally on the Mall in this view looking west toward the Washington Monument from the Third Street stage. (Photograph by: Bill O’leary — The Washington Post )

Cameron W. Barr and Elizabeth Williamson, Washington Post Staff Writers, report:

Hundreds of thousands of people filled the Mall and marched along Pennsylvania Avenue yesterday to show their support for abortion rights, loudly identifying President Bush as the leading enemy of “reproductive freedom.”

BILL PENNINGTON, The New York Times. reports:

Pat Tillman, whose decision to give up a lucrative N.F.L. career to join the Army Rangers made him one of the most public examples of patriotism in the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was killed Thursday “when his patrol vehicle came under attack,” the Pentagon said in a statement released last night.

Tillman, 27, was a specialist assigned to the Army’s Second Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. It was the first American casualty in Afghanistan since March 18.

Military officials in Kabul said yesterday that his unit was patrolling one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan, close to the Pakistani border, in a valley where Al Qaeda and Taliban forces are known to cross into Afghanistan from Pakistan. American forces have been on special alert in recent weeks, watching for Al Qaeda and other fighters escaping an operation by Pakistani forces on their side of the border.

Tillman joined the Army in June 2002, spurning a three-year, $3.6 million contract offer from the Arizona Cardinals. Tillman, a safety and one of the team’s most popular players, had told friends and teammates that the events of Sept. 11 inspired him to try to contribute directly to the antiterrorism effort. Tillman, who enlisted with his brother, Kevin, shunned all interviews throughout his time in the Army, even late last year, after he returned from a tour of duty in Iraq.


A woman wishes the world would go away. One day, it does.
Is it the end of the world, or the beginning?

A DV short film by Marc Pilvinsky.
It’s about how the things we own eventually come to own us.

John Irons writes:

Swim Lessons - Ten Lessons for Making Any Dream Come True - by Nick Irons

Swim the Mississippi? Why would anyone do that? Nick Irons did. He swam six hours a day, six days a week, for four months. Good thing. What he discovered along the way is the rock-solid plan the rest of us can use to make our biggest dreams come true.

Irons dream was to raise awareness and money to find a cure for multiple sclerosis, the disease his father and hundreds of thousands of other people live with every day. And he did. His historic 1,550-mile swim down the mighty Mississippi? from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Baton Rouge, Louisianamakes him the second person in seventy years to swim the length of North Americas longest waterway and the first to do it with the locks and dams of its modern form.

Mike Himowitz, The Baltimore Sun, writes:

WHILE ELECTION officials, lawmakers and critics in Maryland and other states squabble over the reliability of electronic voting systems, a small group of computer scientists and engineers has been developing one that might actually work.

The Open Voting Consortium is scheduled to demonstrate a prototype today in San Jose, Calif. You can try a version yourself on the Web at www.open votingconsortium.org.

Although it’s far from a finished product, the system retains what’s good about current electronic voting systems. It’s voter-friendly, easier than older systems to administer, and accessible to blind voters without assistance.


Don Babwin, Associated Press, reports:

Searchers with shovels and buckets pulled eight bodies Wednesday from the rubble of a tavern where residents had gathered to seek shelter from a twister that flattened the century-old building.

Mayor Fred Esmond said several people from a nearby trailer park had congregated in the basement of the Milestone Tap. Nine people were removed alive from the ruins of the country-western-themed watering hole.

“They heard it on the radio. Some of them went to the tavern for safety, and it just so happened … ,” Esmond said, his voice trailing off.

James Dunnigan writes:

In order to comply with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations, and at a cost of about $5.2 million per ICBM, the rocket motors on 500 Minuteman III missiles will be replaced with new ones. These rockets will emit less toxic chemicals when used. But the new, environmentally correct rockets will be heavier than the old ones, and will thus have a shorter range than the original motors. The actual range of the Minuteman III has been classified, but is thought to be nearly 10,000 kilometers, based on where the missiles are stationed and where the original Russian targets were. Thus, if the Minuteman III ICBMs have to be used in some future nuclear war, their rocket motors will not pollute the atmosphere. EPA regulations do not apply in foreign countries, so no changes are being made to reduce the harmful environmental effects of the nuclear warheads.

New York Daily News reports:

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. - A patrolman from Wisconsin left his opponents in a cloud of powdered sugar dust by downing 9-1/2 doughnuts in three minutes to win a doughnut-eating contest for police officers in suburban Chicago.

Terry O’Brien of the Town of Geneva Police Department in Lake Geneva, Wis., said he was destined to win Wednesday’s contest because law enforcement runs in his family.

Dr. Koop reports:

A number of studios that produce pornographic movies have suspended filming for at least 60 days after revelations that two stars tested positive for the AIDS-causing HIV virus, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Actor Darren James and actress Lara Roxx, who worked together in at least one movie, both tested positive this week, the Times said. Several studios — including the largest one, Vivid — announced the shutdown, saying actors who worked with either of the pair needed time to get tested.

Since the positive tests, the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, an industry-sponsored health center, has identified 45 actors and actresses who have worked with either actor, and is urging them to be tested, the newspaper reported.

Copyright 2004 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

A small gold dot rests on a silicon cantilever. The dot is a test mass for studying how the cantilever can be used to measure the masses of tiny particles, including viruses, with attogram precision. (Image credit: Physics News Update 673 #2) (via BoingBoing)

Phil Schewe, James Riordon, and Ben Stein, Physics News Update 673 #2, write:

Attogram mass detection has been achieved by Harold Craighead and his colleagues at Cornell, with prospects of exquisite detection of very tiny chemical and biological species, possibly with arrays of detectors. With their lithographically fabricated nanoelectromechanical (NEMS) device, the Cornell researchers can measure the mass of a particle with a sensitivity of 10-18 grams, far exceeding the precision of a comparable device with femtogram (10-15 g) sensitivity reported last year (Update 634-2). To get any better measurement of mass you would have to vaporize the particle and shoot its constituent molecules through a mass spectrometer.


Darrell Smith, Jennifer Larson and Lois Gormley, The Desert Sun, report:

MORENO VALLEY (CA) — She survived on sport drinks, dried noodles and a resilience that family, friends and even doctors are struggling to believe.

Michael Day, Health Correspondent, (UK) Telegraph, reports:

An icy alternative to cremation, in which the dead are reduced to powder by freeze-drying, is to be available in Britain within two years.

The ecologically friendly method, which has been invented in Sweden, involves bodies being frozen very quickly then dipped in liquid nitrogen to cool them to minus 196C.

A simple vibration is then used to shatter the extremely brittle body into powder. This is then placed first in a vacuum chamber, which removes the water, then in a metal separator, which removes toxic metal fillings and surgical parts.

The dry, odourless organic remains can then be placed in a small degradable box made of corn starch and buried in a shallow grave. Unlike cremation, the process gives off no damaging fumes.


A young Iraqi girl lies in a hospital after being injured after clashes in Falluja, April 10, 2004. The U.S. military offensive in Falluja last week in which 600 Iraqis may have died has raised concerns about excessive use of force and needs immediate investigation, a leading human rights group said April 13. (Reuters TV) (via foudroyant)

Luke Baker writes:’

BAGHDAD - A U.S. military offensive in Falluja last week in which 600 Iraqis may have died has raised concerns about excessive use of force and needs immediate investigation, a leading human rights group said Tuesday.

Civilians who fled the fighting described the streets of Falluja as being littered with bodies, including women and children, and Iraqi politicians have accused U.S. forces of meting out collective punishment on the city’s residents.

“The questions being asked are very legitimate. When you cordon off a town and hear many stories that are very worrisome about civilians being killed it needs to be examined,” said Hania Mufti, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights group.

“There is enough from the footage we’ve seen and from what has been said about what went on in Falluja to warrant a very serious investigation. We are deeply concerned about the consistent reports we are getting about women, children and unarmed civilians being killed,” Mufti told Reuters.

John O. Edwards, NewsMax.com reports:

Gen. Tommy Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government.


FORT WORTH, Texas — A man who arrived at the Dallas airport on a flight from Europe with 32 razor blades in his carry-on luggage has been sentenced to more than five years in prison.

Rahul Mahajan writes:

Al-Nazzal told us about ambulances being hit by snipers, women and children being shot. Describing the horror that the siege of Fallujah had become, he said, “I have been a fool for 47 years. I used to believe in European and American civilization.”

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A federal air marshal accidentally left her gun in a restroom beyond the security checkpoints at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, officials say.

The weapon was discovered by a passenger who alerted an airline employee.

Yesterday’s Pravda Editorial:

Don”t be fooled by Washington catch phrases like “Democracy”, “War on Terror”, “Liberation of Iraq” or “Peace”.

They”re only codenames for nothing more than a mass murder and a vicious assault on a sovereign country. What Washington calls “peace and stability” - that it boasts it has brought to the region - in reality means that the war is yet to begin. Exactly what Washington has feared the most has happened: the Shi”ite majority has joined the resistance against the occupying forces. The quickly spreading uprising has triggered the worst casualty crises and heaviest losses on both sides to date.

When today Washington and their media labels the escalating disaster as “civil war”, they, of course, mean a full-blown international war in which the occupied Iraq has risen against the American invaders.

Seized Pill Stamps that were used to impress designs and logos onto Ecstasy tablets marketed in cities across the U.S.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration reports:

March 31 - More than 130 people were arrested today in a two-nation crackdown on a huge drug trafficking ring that manufactured large quantities of Ecstasy and marijuana in Canada and then shipped them to cities around the United States.

One outcome of this three-year investigation, called Operation Candy Box, was the discovery that Ecstasy trafficking, which had largely been controlled by Russian and Israeli gangs, had now spread to groups with ties to Southeast Asia. The two principal targets of this investigation were Ze Wai Wong, a Chinese national, and Mai Phuong Le, a Vietnamese national.

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