u.s. congress considering bills to give unelected commision power to end federal programs

Boehner Makes Sunset Commission Proposal Legislative Priority
"...The sunset commission proposals seek to create a single unelected commission to review federal programs and recommend which should be axed...."

the u.s. congress is considering several laws (h.r. 3277 h.r. 3282 h.r. 2470) that would allow the president to appoint unelected officials to a commission that would decide if a federal program 'lives' or 'dies.' in one proposed bill, even being reviewed by the commssion would cancel the program unless congress votes to retain that program.

in all cases, the laws would take power from the elected representatives and increase the power of the president.

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a force more powerful - non-violence in a video game

a video game called "a force more powerful" is credited with helping to train protesters who were successful in overthrowing the serbian dictator milosivec (Sir, the Gamers Are Revolting!)

from the web site:
"A Force More Powerful is the first and only game to teach the waging of conflict using nonviolent methods. Destined for use by activists and leaders of nonviolent resistance and opposition movements, the game will also educate the media and general public on the potential of nonviolent action and serve as a simulation tool for academic studies of nonviolent resistance."

i wonder what the world would be like if (young) people from all around the world played this game and executed what they learned upon their local goverments.

u. s. government eavesdropping approved by congress 2001-09-18

it is now known that the u.s. government reviews the voice and internet (Wiretap Whistle-Blower's Account), and banking activites (US secretly probes financial records to track terrorists) of it's citizens without warning and without court review.

U.S. Seeks Access to Bank Records to Deter Terror
National Security Department: Listening In
one troubling aspect of all this is that the u.s. congress voted to approve much of this activity in their haste to pass 'anti-terror' legislation after the 9-11 attacks in 2001.  in other words, the u.s. president's office drafted laws that the president's politcal party then passed without looking at the details.

Office of Attorney General letter to U.S. Senate (pdf)
now when newspapers write stories about these perceived abuses of citizen's rights, the white house points out that 'it is all legal and approved by congress.' 
too bad congress (or the citizens) never knew about it.

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u.s. bank records monitoring and accused collaborator case

while the u.s. government was defending the practice of monitoring SWIFT transactions without specific warrants (Cheney defends search of bank records), the u.s. courts denied a request (Court bars info request on NSA wiretapping) to learn more about u.s. wire-tapping from a person accused of laundering money for an FBI information posing as an arms dealer.

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no writely invites on june 25

writely.com is telling all members that they will be down for maintenance on sunday june 25. since i will most likely not have access to my documents, i won't be able to pass out any writely invites that day.  you can still put in your requests - i'll just have to wait until writely comes back online to fulfill the requests.

btw - being down for a whole day seems unusual. i wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that google purchased writely earlier this year. maybe we'll see a very new  look to writely on monday?

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brains cells as logic circuits, heaven or hell?

Neurons self-organise to make brain chips
a very active community of scientists is focusing on using biological materials (in this case neurons) to create machines and/or circuitry.

sometime in the near future, computers and other devices will using bio-materials (or bio-engineered materials) as part of their basic structure.

should we worry? some think so (Heaven or Hell?)

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news for today: japan, north korea, and aegis missile defense

while the U.S. government talked like this:
Pre-launch strike on N. Korea unlikely
"[The ballistic missile defense system] is a research development and testing capability that has some limited operational capability," Hadley [the president's national security adviser] said..."

defense contractor lockheed-martin was authorized to release the following press announcement:
Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Weapon System Guides Missile to Seventh Successful Target Intercept
"...Both the Aegis BMD Weapon System aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) and range sensors confirmed a direct hit of the missile target during its midcourse flight phase over the Pacific Ocean..."

notable in the press release is the following:
"...The Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JDS Kirishima (DDG 174), equipped with the Aegis Weapon System, tracked the ballistic missile target..."

only a fool would miss the message here. japan is already equipped with the a.m.d.s. and, according to this report, knows how to use it.

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ceo pay and minimum wage

CEOs earn 262 times pay of average worker
"...In 1965, U.S. CEOs at major companies earned 24 times a worker's pay..."

GOP-run Senate kills minimum wage increase
"...[The] proposal would have increased the minimum wage to $5.85 beginning 60 days after the legislation was enacted; to $6.55 one year later; and to $7.25 a year after that. [Kennedy] said inflation has eroded the value of the current $5.15 minimum wage by 20 percent..."

maybe these are related?

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it's getting hotter, folks

Earth's temp may be at 2,000-year high - Yahoo! News
The National Academy of Sciences, reaching that conclusion in a broad review of scientific work requested by Congress, reported Thursday that the "recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia."

no matter what we want to think, scientists in the 60's predicted (accurately) that we'd be in this pickle by now.  no amount of wishful thinking changes the data, either.

btw - if you haven't seen it yet - go see 'an inconvienent truth.' even if you think al gore is a dweeb (or worse), go see it anyway. then you can decide if you want to do something all this or not.

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i have writely invitations for you

Writely - The Web Word Processor
i love the writely web word processor tool. while it is not quite where i think it should be (needs support for templates, for example), it is very powerful, very fast, and easy to use. even though the beta is 'closed' existing writely users can share documents with up to 50 other users. in effect, this allows existing users to create 50 new users!

i was luck enough to get my free invitation from blogdiva (thanks!) and i promised to share my 50 invites with others.

so here's your chance. you wanna be writely? add a comment to this post (w/ a valid email) and i'll invite you to a shared document. that's all you'll need to become a writely member. just one hitch, you gotta promise to share your invites, too, ok?

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net neutrality - will profit win over access?

Net Neutrality: This is serious
" When I invented the Web, I didn't have to ask anyone's permission. Now, hundreds of millions of people are using it freely. I am worried that that is going end in the USA."

tim-bl is the man who *invented* the idea of the Web. when he speaks, all should listen. including the folks in U.S. congress. the changes they are contemplating will not just make a select few companies lots of money, it will adversely affect internet access for people all over the world.

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learning gets you high

'Thirst for knowledge' may be opium craving scientists suspect that learning something new gives people a 'high.' i wonder if the converse is true. if you're high/drunk a lot, do you stop learning? become less interested in growing your mind? do you become 'dumber and dumber?'

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