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Monthly Archives: December 2005

Here’s your eye candy for the day. These are shots from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory take of the East Lae apuki lava delta collapse. You can find more stunning pictures on their website.

Lava Flow Lava Flow

CashI hate sounding like I’m advertising something, but this service seems pretty cool. I know I get tired of paying $1 every time I need to find a phone number. And it’s nearly impossible to find a phone book in public anymore. Now, you can just call 1-800-FREE411.

By listening to a 12 second advertisement, you can use the directory assistance for free. If calling a business number, the system offers you an advertisement targeting that business’ market and then asks if you would to connect to the business in the advertisement or the one you requested.

I hate using 411 because of how expensive it has gotten. It used to be twenty-five cents when it started on our LAN line in Omaha. Now it’s usually at least a buck, especially if calling from a cell phone. I hate commercials (sorry Dad), but I’d listen to the ad to save a dollar or two. Not too shabby for a free service.

(via Boing Boing)

Scot sent me this crazy video of a poor cat trying to get over a gate. Apparently, cats don’t always land on their feet.

Cat Jumping Over Fence

But then, I found this on the same site. I can’t even begin to describe it.

Zanger Bob

Oh, Newfoundland!

Garden of EdenJ-Luv’s latest installment of crazy things on the web:

I love Quakers! Could there ever be anything as un-sexual as a Christian nudist camp?

And don’t miss the phenomenal ending on page 2:

Martin’s critics depict him as a religious fanatic whose criticisms of rival resorts are damaging the naturist industry. “We are not concerned about him taking our members,” said Elf Anderson, who conducts nude marriage ceremonies at other resorts. “But we are concerned about the impression he gives to the public about us.”

“We are all for wholesome family nudism — but he’s just way off the scale.”

Special thanks goes to Al Gore for inventing the internet, bringing laughter and glee into my otherwise mirthless workday.

In April of 2004, while George Bush was authorizing illegal wiretaps, he stated in a national speech that “a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed.” You can watch the video for yourself at ThinkProgress:

Bush Speech on Wiretaps

Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires — a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so. It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution.

Brendan Nyhan has cataloged five of Bush’s speeches from 2004 to 2005 where he talks about the necessity of judicial approval for wiretaps, as well as all the White House fact sheets about them. Here are a couple of quotes from the speeches:

President Bush — April 19, 2004:

For years, law enforcement used so-called roving wire taps to investigate organized crime. You see, what that meant is if you got a wire tap by court order — and, by the way, everything you hear about requires court order, requires there to be permission from a FISA court, for example.

President Bush — July 20, 2005:

The Patriot Act helps us defeat our enemies while safeguarding civil liberties for all Americans. The judicial branch has a strong oversight role in the application of the Patriot Act. Law enforcement officers need a federal judge’s permission to wiretap a foreign terrorist’s phone, or to track his calls, or to search his property. Officers must meet strict standards to use any of the tools we’re talking about. And they are fully consistent with the Constitution of the United States.

BushWell, Bush has really done it this time. If you have found yourself in a hole the last few days, Bush authorized illegal domestic wiretaps over three dozen times during his presidency. Worse yet, the Times knew about this story for over a year before publishing it because the Bush administration asked them not to in the months just before the 2004 elections.

Here is a list of info to help you understand the legal and social ramifications of a president circumventing the judicial and legislative branches of a democratic government:

From the EFF, a description of FISA:

FISA is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which establishes a legal regime for “foreign intelligence” surveillance separate from ordinary law enforcement surveillance… FISA is aimed at regulating the collection of “foreign intelligence” information in furtherance of U.S. counterintelligence, whether or not any laws were or will be broken.

From Atrios, the actual law:

FISA makes it a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, to conduct electronic surveillance except as provided for by statute. The only defense is for law government agents engaged in official duties conducting “surveillance authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order.” [50 U.S.C. § 1809]

From that little thing, the Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment IV:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

From Wikipedia, the definition of a dictator:

In modern usage, Dictator refers to an absolutist or autocratic ruler who governs outside the rule of law. However unlike the Roman original, they rarely use it as a title, for it is generally used by their opponents as a term of abuse for totalitarian rule, just like despot and tyrant (also unlike Antiquity). Dictators often acquire power in a coup d’état, or by suspending the existing constitution.

In regards to needing to speedy wiretaps, TPM has researched the law:

It turns out that FISA specifically empowers the Attorney General or his designee to start wiretapping on an emergency basis even without a warrant so long as a retroactive application is made for one “as soon as practicable, but not more than 72 hours after the Attorney General authorizes such surveillance.” (see specific citation, here).

Finally, there is no evidence that Bush should have needed to circumvent the FISA court. On the contrary, they approved all 1228 wiretaps requested in 2002!!! From no other than John Ashcroft (via C&L):

During calendar year 2002, 1228 applications were made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for electronic surveillance and physical search. The Court initially approved 1226 applications in 2002. Two applications were “approved as modified,” and the United States appealed these applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, as applications having been denied in part. On November 18, 2002, the Court of Review issued a judgment that “ordered and adjudged that the motions for review be granted, the challenged portions of the orders on review be reversed, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s Rule 11 be vacated, and the cases be remanded with instructions to grant the United States’ applications as submitted…” Accordingly, all 1228 applications presented to the Foreign Intelligene Surveillance Court in 2002 were approved.

As Senator Feingold said, “He is a president, not a king.”

2-0-5: George Bush's Year in Review

Ernie just sent me word that the latest JibJab cartoon is out. As is to be expected, it is as well crafted as ever. Check it out.

Remember back in grade school, at this time every year, you would fold up white pieces of paper and cut out pieces to make snowflakes? And then your teacher would hang them up around the room? And then, when everyone else’s was still hanging up, you would be working on your fifth snowflake because you keep cutting a little too deep and chopping them in half?

Well, now you can make as many as you want and you have an UNDO button! LookAndFeel New Media has put together a gorgeous flash game where you can cut out your own snow flakes and then save them as graphics. Check it out!

Snowflake Flash Game

Many of you know I love numbers. Well, here are numbers no one can love. Here are numbers to mark 1000 days of war and bloodshed:

2,339 Allied troops killed
15,955 US troops wounded in action (conservative)
53,460 Iraqi insurgents killed
30,000 Estimated Iraqi civilian deaths (very conservative)
90 Daily attacks by insurgents in November, 2005. In June, 2005: 8.
8 per cent of Iraqi children suffering acute malnutrition
47 percent of Iraqis who never have enough electricity
70 percent of Iraqis who have sewage systems that rarely work
67 percent of Iraqis who feel less secure because of occupation
82 percent of Iraqis who are “strongly opposed” to the presence of coalition troops
0 WMDs

Juicio has graciously invited me to post whatever I wanted on his site. He was quick to add that I could not post anything about Texas, so sadly if you want to see a cool Don’t mess With Texas picture you have to click here. Since I am somewhat indecisive and could not choose just one thing to share I have a few links to some of my favorite organizations (FYI, I just graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education). Enjoy!

Happen Inc. is a non-profit organization that allows adults and children the opportunity to grow and explore the ways of art together.

Project Connect is designed to assist families experiencing homelessness in receiving the quality education that they deserve.

Madame Esmé is best experienced by read her book, Educating Esmé, but this site gives you a good introduction to this amazing woman.