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KN4M 01-04-06

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com How Butler s Got a Bad Rap For those who have
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 4, 2006
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      How Butler's Got a Bad Rap

      For those who have wondered how butler's have been unfairly labeled
      as likely murderers, here is the answer, courtesy of Wikipedia.org:

      Mary Roberts Rinehart (August 12, 1876-September 22, 1958) was an
      American author and the source of the phrase "The butler did it."

      Rinehart was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her father was a
      frustrated inventor, and through her childhood, the family often had
      financial problems. She was left-handed at a time when that was
      considered inappropriate, and she was trained to use her right hand
      instead. She married Dr. Stanley M. Rinehart in 1896. She died in
      New York City, where she had been living for some time.

      Rinehart wrote hundreds of short stories, poems, travelogues and
      special articles.

      While many of her books were best-sellers, critics were most
      appreciative of her murder mysteries.

      The phrase "The butler did it", which has become a cliché, came from
      Rinehart's novel The Door, in which the butler actually did do it,
      although that exact phrase does not actually appear in the work.


      Lindsay Lohan Admits Bulimia Battle
      Wednesday Jan 04, 2006
      By Jon Warech and Stephen M. Silverman

      While Lindsay Lohan, admitted to a Miami hospital Monday night after
      suffering a severe asthma attack, is now "resting comfortably," an
      explosive interview with the Mean Girls star hits newsstands
      Wednesday – and lifts the curtain on her self-confessed bulimia,
      drug use and emotional wreckage over her relationships with her
      volatile father and her first boyfriend, Wilmer Valderrama.

      "I was making myself sick," Lohan, 19, admits to Vanity Fair
      magazine, of her bulimia.

      She credits Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels and head
      writer Tina Fey with helping solve her eating disorder by staging an
      intervention. "(They) sat me down, literally before I was going to
      do (SNL), and they said, 'You need to take care of yourself. We care
      about you too much, and we've seen too many people do this, and
      you're talented,' and I just started bawling. I knew I had a problem
      and I couldn't admit it."

      Adds Lohan, "I saw that SNL after I did it. My arms were disgusting.
      I had no arms."

      The actress also says that she used drugs "a little," then quickly
      adds: "I've gotten that out of my system. ... I don't want people to
      think that I've done ... you know what I mean? It's kind of a sore

      In her romantic life, she confesses to smothering Valderrama and
      pushing their relationship to the brink because she didn't know who
      else to go to with her problems, including those with her father,
      currently serving jail time for assault on a family member.

      Regarding reports of a relationship with Jared Leto, all she tells
      Vanity Fair is, "We're great friends."

      As for her current hospitalization, Lohan celebrated New Year's Eve
      in Miami, hosting a party at Prive Nightclub when the asthma attack
      occurred, said her publicist, Leslie Sloane. Sloane added that
      Florida's humidity may have contributed to the condition of the
      actress, who has suffered from asthma since childhood.

      Lohan is set to begin shooting her new film, Chapter 27, in two
      weeks. The movie, about John Lennon's killer Mark David Chapman,
      stars Lohan as a Lennon fan who befriends Chapman (played by Leto)
      just days before he assassinates the musician outside his New York
      apartment building.


      German media: U.S. prepares Iran strike
      UPI Editor

      WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The Bush administration is preparing
      its NATO allies for a possible military strike against suspected
      nuclear sites in Iran in the New Year, according to German media
      reports, reinforcing similar earlier suggestions in the Turkish

      The Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel this week quoted "NATO
      intelligence sources" who claimed that the NATO allies had been
      informed that the United States is currently investigating all
      possibilities of bringing the mullah-led regime into line, including
      military options. This "all options are open" line has been
      President George W Bush's publicly stated policy throughout the past
      18 months.

      But the respected German weekly Der Spiegel notes "What is new here
      is that Washington appears to be dispatching high-level officials to
      prepare its allies for a possible attack rather than merely implying
      the possibility as it has repeatedly done during the past year."

      The German news agency DDP cited "Western security sources" to claim
      that CIA Director Porter Goss asked Turkey's premier Recep Tayyip
      Erdogan to provide political and logistic support for air strikes
      against Iranian nuclear and military targets. Goss, who visited
      Ankara and met Erdogan on Dec. 12, was also reported to have to have
      asked for special cooperation from Turkish intelligence to help
      prepare and monitor the operation.

      The DDP report added that Goss had delivered to the Turkish prime
      minister and his security aides a series of dossiers, one on the
      latest status of Iran's nuclear development and another containing
      intelligence on new links between Iran and al-Qaida.

      DDP cited German security sources who added that the Turks had been
      assured of a warning in advance if and when the military strikes
      took place, and had also been given "a green light" to mount their
      own attacks on the bases in Iran of the PKK, (Kurdish Workers
      party), which Turkey sees as a separatist group responsible for
      terrorist attacks inside Turkey.

      Goss's visit to the Turkish capital followed the rising
      international concern over recent statements by the new Iranian
      President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel should be "wiped off the
      map," denying the existence of Holocaust, and suggesting that
      Israel's Jewish population might be re-located to Europe.

      In a December 23 report, the DDP agency quoted an anonymous
      but "high-ranking German military official" telling their
      reporter: "I would be very surprised if the Americans, in the mid-
      term, didn't take advantage of the opportunity delivered by Tehran.
      The Americans have to attack Iran before the country can develop
      nuclear weapons. After that would be too late."

      The DDP report also said that several friendly Arab governments,
      including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Pakistan, had also been
      informed in general terms that the Pentagon was preparing
      contingency plans, including "the option of air strikes," in the
      event of the new Iranian government precipitating a crisis.

      Arab diplomatic sources have told United Press International that
      they have been given no briefings on any policy change beyond
      President Bush's "all option are open."

      Bush's most recent such statement in public came on Aug. 13, during
      an interview at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he told Israeli
      TV: "As I say, all options are on the table. The use of force is the
      last option for any president and, you know, we've used force in the
      recent past to secure our country."

      Other NATO sources have told United Press International that "all
      this may be mood music, a way to step up the diplomatic pressure on

      It is possible that leaks from NATO and German security sources are
      part of a ploy to convince the Iranian government that the Americans
      and their NATO allies are in dead earnest when they say a nuclear-
      armed Iran would not be tolerated, and that Iran had better start
      negotiating seriously.

      But the German media speculation about the supposed U.S. plans has
      been fueled by a number of high-profile visits to Turkey this month,
      including trips by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, by the CIA's
      Porter Goss and by the FBI Director Robert Mueller, who also
      delivered U.S. intelligence reports on Iranian backing for PKK
      operations aimed against Turkey. There have also been some
      significant Turkish visits to Washington, as reported by Der

      "Two weeks ago, Yasar Buyukanit, the commander of the Turkish army
      and probable future chief of staff of the country's armed forces,
      flew to Washington. After the visit he made a statement that
      relations between the Turkish army and the American army were once
      again on an excellent footing," Der Spiegel reported Friday.

      "Buyukanit's warm and fuzzy words, contrasted greatly with his past
      statements that if the United States and the Kurds in northern Iraq
      proved incapable of containing the PKK in the Kurd-dominated
      northern part of the country and preventing it from attacking
      Turkey, Buyukanit would march into northern Iraq himself," the
      German weekly added.

      The CIA Director's Dec. 12 call on the Turkish prime minister last
      for over an hour, far longer than customary for a mere courtesy
      call, and followed an even longer meeting with senior staff of MIT,
      Turkish intelligence. The Turkish Daily Cumhuriyet reported on
      December 13: "Goss also asked Ankara to be ready for a possible U.S.
      air operation against Iran and Syria."

      Der Spiegel noted Friday that the latest high-level visitor to the
      Turkish premier was NATO Secretary-General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer.
      This is not unusual, since Turkey is a member of NATO, but the
      coincidence of these various trips prompted Spiegel to comment "the
      number of American and NATO security officials heading to Ankara has
      increased dramatically."

      "In Berlin, the issue is largely being played down," Der Spiegel
      reported Friday. "During his inaugural visit with U.S. Defense
      Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Washington last week, the possibility
      of a U.S. air strike against Iran 'had not been an issue,' for new
      German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, a Defense Ministry
      spokesman told Spiegel."

      The original story in the German press which provoked the wider
      media furore was written for the DDP agency by a veteran reporter on
      security and intelligence matters, Udo Ulfkotte, who has in the past
      been criticized in the German media for being "too close to sources
      at Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND"

      At the same time, Ulfkotte has himself come under scrutiny by German
      security services, and his home and offices have been repeatedly
      searched in the course of inquiries into allegations that he had
      published official secrets.


      Fury over US mine 'rescue' fiasco
      BBC News

      Families of 11 US miners found dead have expressed anger and
      disbelief at communications failings which led them to believe their
      loved ones were alive.
      Relatives were celebrating a "miracle" before they were told only
      one of the 12 West Virginia miners had survived. A 13th miner was
      found dead earlier.

      "There was no apology. There was no nothing," said Nick Helms, son
      of dead miner Terry Helms.

      The survivor, Randal McCloy Junior, 27, is still critically ill in

      But doctors treating him say he is showing signs of brain
      functioning. "We hope that we will try to awaken him later today or
      tomorrow," Dr Larry Roberts of Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown

      US President George W Bush said the nation was mourning the lost

      "We send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to the loves ones
      whose hearts are broken," Mr Bush said.

      There were scenes of jubilation when families, gathered inside a
      local church near the Sago Mine, were told of their menfolk's

      Several US newspapers went to press with headlines such as "Miracle
      in the Mine" and "Alive!".

      'Answers needed'

      Three hours later, joy gave way to grief and anger when mine
      officials broke the terrible news. A witness said one relative
      lunged for an official and had to be wrestled to the ground.

      The families lost a loved one not just once, but twice
      Elaine Willis, Charleston, West Virginia, USA

      State troopers and an armed Swat team were posted alongside the road
      by the church in the small town of Tallmansville near Buckhannon, in
      case relatives' anger spilled over into violence.

      "Everybody is stunned," said Sam Lands, the brother-in-law of miner
      Martin Bennet.

      "I thought I was going to pass out. I couldn't believe it. We've
      been lied to all along. We need answers."

      Earlier, rescuers had found the body of a 13th miner left in a mine
      cart some 3,000m (9,842ft) inside the mine, separate to the other
      work party.

      'Bad information'

      The company, International Coal Group (ICG), said it knew within 20
      minutes that initial reports all the men had survived were
      incorrect, but said it was not clear at that stage how many were

      Ben Hatfield, president of ICG, said: "We are incredibly saddened by
      the horrific loss."

      The reversal left relatives who had gathered at the mine here
      stunned and furious
      New York Times

      Under tough questioning at a press conference, he sought to explain
      how the misunderstanding occurred.

      Mr Hatfield said: "What happened is that through stray cellphone
      conversations it appears that this miscommunication from the rescue
      team underground to the command centre was picked up by various

      "That information spread like wildfire because it had come from the
      command centre but it was a bad information."

      He said he believed the men had survived the explosion and gone to
      what they thought was a safe area. They are then thought to have
      been poisoned by toxic fumes.

      West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, who had earlier hailed the
      rescue as a miracle, apologised for the mistaken information.

      "I can't tell you of anything more heartwrenching that I have gone
      through in my life," he said. The governor's own uncle had been
      killed in a mine disaster in the state in 1968.

      The cause of Monday's blast is not yet known.

      The US Mine Safety and Health Administration is to hold an
      investigation into the tragedy.

      Acting Assistant Secretary David Dye said it would include "how
      emergency information was relayed about the trapped miners'


      from the January 04, 2006 edition

      Abramoff deals, Congress quakes
      In pleading guilty, the lobbyist agrees to help prosecutors nab
      By Linda Feldmann and Gail Russell Chaddock
      Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

      WASHINGTON - Washington's long-awaited "A-bomb" has gone off.

      Super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea Tuesday to three felony
      counts sets the stage for the biggest congressional scandal perhaps
      in decades, certainly since the Republicans took over Congress 10
      years ago, pledging clean government.

      In exchange for his guilty pleas, in both the Washington case and a
      separate Florida case in which he was indicted last year, Mr.
      Abramoff will cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating
      members of Congress, Capitol Hill aides, and other lobbyists.
      Political players with ties to Abramoff and his network, who knew
      the lobbyist was preparing to cut a deal, have been sweating for
      months. Now they're sweating harder.

      Though members of both parties are involved, analysts expect
      Republicans - who control both houses of Congress - to bear the
      brunt of the political fallout. Abramoff, who has close ties to
      former House majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas, allegedly funneled
      campaign donations to lawmakers, who were treated to lavish trips
      and meals, in exchange for official acts.

      "It could end some careers," says Jennifer Duffy, an analyst at the
      non- partisan Cook Political report.

      Stanley Brand, a Washington defense lawyer and former Democratic
      counsel to the House, predicts at least six members of Congress and
      at least as many staff will be convicted by the end of the year.

      Besides Representative DeLay, who is already under indictment in
      Texas, other members who are already battling allegations over their
      associations with Abramoff include Sen. Conrad Burns (R) of Montana,
      Rep. Bob Ney (R) of Ohio, and Rep. John Doolittle (R) of California.

      Federal campaign records show that about 220 members of Congress
      received some $1.7 million in political contributions from Abramoff
      and his associates and clients, including American Indian tribes,
      between 2001 and 2004. According to Bloomberg news service, 201 of
      those members are still in Congress; Republicans received 64 percent
      of that money.

      Since the whiff of scandal began to emerge around Abramoff, members
      have been rushing to return his contributions or donate the money to
      charity. But not everyone who ever took Abramoff-related money or
      perks is guilty of wrongdoing.

      "It's not enough to take a campaign contribution," says Mr.
      Brand. "What's criminal is accepting the contribution in return for
      an express agreement to perform an official act. Beyond campaign
      contributions, one can't accept bribes or gratuities of any kind in
      return for official acts." Members of the executive branch may also
      be implicated in the investigation, he says.

      "The line between a bribe and a legal contribution is very thin, but
      it is that line that keeps you out of jail," says Larry Noble,
      executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "The
      critical element is whether there was an understanding or agreement
      to take specific action in return for the money."

      Abramoff joins former associate Michael Scanlon, former press
      secretary to DeLay, as a witness for the prosecution. Mr. Scanlon
      reached a plea deal last year, which raised the stakes for Abramoff.
      The Department of Justice says the two men defrauded Indian tribes
      they represented out of tens of millions of dollars.

      In exchange for the guilty plea and cooperation, Abramoff would
      probably get a reduced prison sentence. In the Washington case, he
      faces a maximum of 10 years; in the Florida case, in which he is
      pleading guilty to fraud and conspiracy in the purchase of a casino
      cruise line, he could get as many as seven years.

      "Up until now, I've said it will involve just a few members," says
      Mr. Noble. "But if they've reached a plea agreement with Abramoff,
      it means he's turned over people higher than him, and they must have
      some pretty strong evidence.

      The explosion of the Abramoff scandal also represents bad news for
      the White House, just as President Bush is preparing for his Jan. 31
      State of the Union speech - an effort to build on the momentum he
      started last month, after a stumbling first year to his second term.

      All of Washington is looking ahead to next November's midterm
      elections, and whether Congress's low approval ratings and
      Republican woes in particular can grow big enough to swing control
      of one or both houses of Congress to the Democrats. Polls show that
      so far, the Democrats' charge that Republicans have created
      a "culture of corruption" has not seeped into public consciousness.
      But, analysts say, the 2006 campaign has not started in earnest, and
      it's too soon to say how the public is perceiving the corruption

      "This will crowd out a lot of the news about the new Bush agenda,"
      says Paul Light, a political scientist at New York
      University. "He'll be going up to the Hill to present his agenda,
      and meanwhile you have six, 12, 20 members desperately trying to
      return money to Abramoff, and another bunch wondering how they will
      look in an orange jump suit."

      If the Bush White House tries to minimize the scandal, "it feeds the
      view that Bush doesn't take ethics seriously," says Professor Light.
      Last year, a top White House aide, I. Lewis Libby, was indicted in
      the scandal surrounding the public revelation of a CIA agent's

      For Congress as an institution, the Abramoff scandal reinforces
      prevailing attitudes that are already set in stone, says Light, who
      has studied the issue of trust in politics. "The American public has
      become inured to congressional scandals, and as long as members are
      bringing home enough pork, they basically say, a pox on both their
    • Robert Sterling
      Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Reaches 3,000 Dec 31,
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 4, 2007
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        Please send as far and wide as possible.

        Robert Sterling
        Editor, The Konformist

        U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Reaches 3,000
        Dec 31, 2006

        BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The death of a Texas soldier, announced Sunday
        by the Pentagon, raised the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq
        to at least 3,000 since the war began, according to an Associated
        Press count.

        The grim milestone was crossed on the final day of 2006 and at the
        end of the deadliest month for the American military in Iraq in the
        past 12 months. At least 111 U.S. service members were reported to
        have died in December.

        Spc. Dustin R. Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas, was killed Thursday by
        small arms fire in Baghdad, the Defense Department said. Donica was
        assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment,
        4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

        His death was not announced by U.S. military authorities in Baghdad.

        At least 820 U.S. military personnel died in Iraq in 2006, according
        to the AP count.


        Kevin Federline, Wife Divorce
        December 18, 2006 | Issue 42•51

        Celebrities and personal drama took center stage before a gossip-
        hungry public this year, and perhaps none received more press than
        superstar rapper Kevin Federline. So when his wife of two years
        abruptly filed for divorce, the country took notice.

        According to Federline's publicist, Marilyn Chang, the spouse, a 24-
        year-old entertainer who worked as a singer and foreground dancer at
        Federline performances before wedding him in 2004, presented
        Federline with divorce papers on Nov. 7 citing irreconcilable

        "K-Fed gave it his best, but in the end it just wasn't meant to be,"
        said Chang of the reportedly tumultuous relationship between
        Federline and his partner, whose vocal talents have been featured on
        several pop and dance albums. "The good news is that this separation
        might afford Kevin the opportunity to finally move on and grow as an
        artist. This marriage was really slowing him down, and I think many
        will agree with me when I say we want the old Kevin back."

        Federline is seeking sole custody of his two sons, claiming his
        estranged wife, a struggling actress who has appeared in soft-drink
        commercials, is unfit to care for 1-year-old Sean Preston and 3-
        month-old Jayden James.

        "Kevin is a family man," Chang said. "He will do whatever is
        necessary to protect his kids, and he will not be undermined by this
        irresponsible hanger-on, who was only in the marriage to springboard
        her own career."

        Federline has two children from a previous relationship with Shar
        Jackson, costar of the mid-90s UPN sitcom Moesha and a featured
        player in the 1997 Nickelodeon feature Good Burger.


        Boise State puts the BS in BCS
        By Terry Bowden, Yahoo! Sports
        January 2, 2007

        I couldn't find one college football analyst or expert who picked
        them. Who possibly could have predicted that Boise State, which
        moved to Division I-A just a decade ago, could beat Oklahoma, the
        team with the highest paid coach in college football (well, as of
        Jan. 2), the best facilities, the best athletes, seven national
        championships and arguably the best winning tradition anywhere?

        But we all saw it on New Year's night; heck, we've probably seen it
        a dozen times by now. And it was the most fun I've had watching a
        college football game – probably ever.

        The Broncos finished their season with a 13-0 record, a Fiesta Bowl
        trophy – and absolutely no chance of being the national champions.

        Boise could be the only undefeated team in the country on Jan. 9 (if
        Ohio State loses to Florida), and they would watch the Gators
        celebrate and wonder, along with a lot of us, "what if?"

        And even if Ohio State caps a perfect season by beating the Gators,
        we still are left with a pair of unbeaten teams. Sure, the Buckeyes
        would be favored to dominate Boise State. But so were the Sooners.

        Monday night's game was the biggest possible exclamation point at
        the end of my season-long argument for a playoff in Division I-A
        college football. I have explained how it could work with the
        current bowl system and Bowl Championship Series rankings and even
        tossed out the potential brackets.

        I've presented my case for a playoff in articles with examples and
        scenarios, and I think I've done a pretty dadgum good job of it. I
        know that the more I have written and spoken about it, the stronger
        I feel about it. It boils down to this: Writers and coaches with
        their opinions, along with a bunch of computers with their
        statistics, should not be deciding something that only can be
        decided on the field.

        That's exactly where Boise State proved the pro-playoff crowd's
        point – beyond a reasonable doubt, with absolutely irrefutable

        No machine and no person can see into the hearts of the young men
        who play college football or into the minds and guts of the men who
        coach them. If they could have on Jan. 1, 2007, everyone, instead of
        no one, would have picked the Boise State Broncos to beat Goliath.

        Wouldn't it be great to see if they could do it again, with even
        higher stakes?


        US 'licence to snoop' on British air travellers
        By David Millward, Transport Correspondent

        Air passengers face having credit card transactions and email
        messages inspected by the American authorities

        Britons flying to America could have their credit card and email
        accounts inspected by the United States authorities following a deal
        struck by Brussels and Washington.

        By using a credit card to book a flight, passengers face having
        other transactions on the card inspected by the American
        authorities. Providing an email address to an airline could also
        lead to scrutiny of other messages sent or received on that account.

        The extent of the demands were disclosed in "undertakings" given by
        the US Department of Homeland Security to the European Union and
        published by the Department for Transport after a Freedom of
        Information request.

        About four million Britons travel to America each year and the
        released document shows that the US has demanded access to far more
        data than previously realised.

        advertisementNot only will such material be available when combating
        terrorism but the Americans have asserted the right to the same
        information when dealing with other serious crimes.

        Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the human rights group Liberty,
        expressed horror at the extent of the information made
        available. "It is a complete handover of the rights of people
        travelling to the United States," she said.

        As the Americans tightened security after the September 11 attacks,
        they demanded that airlines provide comprehensive information about
        passengers before allowing them to land.

        But this triggered a dispute that came to a head last year in a
        Catch 22 situation. On one hand they were told they must provide the
        information, on the other they were threatened with heavy fines by
        EU governments for breaching European data protection legislation.

        In October, Brussels agreed to sweep away the "bureaucratic hurdles"
        preventing airlines handing over this material after European
        carriers were threatened with exclusion from the US. The newly-
        released document sets out the rules underpinning that deal.

        As a result the Americans are entitled to 34 separate pieces of
        Passenger Name Record (PNR) data — all of which must be provided by
        airlines from their computers.

        Much of it is routine but some elements will prove more contentious,
        such as a passenger's email address, whether they have a previous
        history of not turning up for flights and any religious dietary

        While insisting that "additional information" would only be sought
        from lawful channels, the US made clear that it would use PNR data
        as a trigger for further inquiries.

        Anyone seeking such material would normally have to apply for a
        court order or subpoena, although this would depend on what
        information was wanted. Doubts were raised last night about the
        effectiveness of the safeguards.

        "There is no guarantee that a bank or internet provider would tell
        an individual that material about them was being subpoenaed," an
        American lawyer said.

        "Then there are problems, such as where the case would take place
        and whether an individual has time to hire a lawyer, even if they
        wanted to challenge it."

        Initially, such material could be inspected for seven days but a
        reduced number of US officials could view it for three and a half
        years. Should any record be inspected during this period, the file
        could remain open for eight years.

        Material compiled by the border authorities can be shared with
        domestic agencies. It can also be on a "case by case" basis with
        foreign governments.

        Washington promised to "encourage" US airlines to make similar
        information available to EU governments — rather than compel them to
        do so.

        "It is pretty horrendous, particularly when you couple it with our
        one-sided extradition arrangements with the US," said Miss

        "It is making the act of buying a ticket a gateway to a host of
        personal email and financial information. While there are
        safeguards, it appears you would have to go to a US court to assert
        your rights."

        Chris Grayling, the shadow transport secretary, said: "Our
        government and the EU have handed over very substantial powers to
        gain access to private information belonging to British citizens."

        A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Every airline is obliged
        to conform with these rules if they wish to continue flying As part
        of the terms of carriage, it is made clear to passengers what these
        requirements are.

        The US government has given undertakings on how this data will be
        used and who will see it."


        Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
        Announcing the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2006
        Media Beat (12/26/06)
        By Norman Solomon

        Competition has been fierce for the fifteenth annual P.U.-litzer

        Many can plausibly lay claim to stinky media performances, but only
        a few can win a P.U.-litzer. As the judges for this un-coveted
        award, Jeff Cohen and I have deliberated with due care. (Jeff is the
        founder of the media watch group FAIR and author of the superb new
        book Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.)

        And now, the winners of the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2006:

        "FACT-FREE TRADE" AWARD -- New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman

        In a press corps prone to cheer on corporate-drafted trade
        agreements as the key to peace and plenty in the world, no
        cheerleader is more fervent than Tom Friedman. During a CNBC
        interview with Tim Russert in July, Friedman confessed: "I was
        speaking out in Minnesota -- my hometown, in fact -- and a guy stood
        up in the audience, said, `Mr. Friedman, is there any free trade
        agreement you'd oppose?' I said, `No, absolutely not.' I said, `You
        know what, sir? I wrote a column supporting the CAFTA, the Caribbean
        Free Trade initiative. I didn't even know what was in it. I just
        knew two words: free trade.'" (Friedman may not have read even the
        pact's title; CAFTA actually stands for the Central America Free
        Trade Agreement.)

        LOCK UP THE FIRST AMENDMENT PRIZE -- CNN's William Bennett

        Soon after being hired as a CNN pundit, Bennett went on his radio
        talk show and offered his views on freedom of the press -- and on
        reporters who broke stories about warrantless wiretapping and secret
        CIA detention sites "against the wishes of the president, against
        the request of the president and others." Bennett fumed: "Are they
        embarrassed, are they arrested? No, they win Pulitzer Prizes. I
        don't think what they did was worthy of an award -- I think what
        they did was worthy of jail, and I think this investigation needs to
        go forward."

        BROKE-BRAIN MOUTHING AWARD -- MSNBC's Chris Matthews

        As the movie "Brokeback Mountain" (about a relationship between two
        cowboys) was gaining attention and audience in January, Chris
        Matthews appeared on the Imus show to hail "the wonderful Michael
        Savage" and the talk-show host's nickname for the movie: "Bareback
        Mounting." Matthews and Savage had been MSNBC colleagues until "the
        wonderful" Savage was fired -- after referring to an apparently gay
        caller as a "sodomite" and telling him to "get AIDS and die." Now
        that's hardball.

        CASUAL ABOUT CASUALTIES AWARD -- Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch

        Echoing an Iraq war talking-point heard regularly on Fox News, owner
        Murdoch said on the eve of the November election: "The death toll,
        certainly of Americans there, by the terms of any previous war are
        quite minute." As FAIR noted, U.S. deaths in Iraq exceed those in
        the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War and the Spanish-American
        War, not to mention the combined U.S. deaths of all this country's
        other military actions since Vietnam -- including Lebanon, Grenada,
        Panama, the first Gulf War, Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

        FRONT-PAGE PUNDIT AWARD -- Reporter Michael Gordon and The New York

        With many voters telling pollsters that they want U.S. troops to
        leave Iraq, the Times front-paged a post-election analysis by
        Michael Gordon -- headlined "Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast,
        Experts Say" -- quoting three hand-picked "experts" who decried the
        possibility of troop withdrawal. Gordon didn't tell readers that one
        of his "experts," former CIA analyst Ken Pollack, had relentlessly
        promoted an Iraq invasion based on wildly false claims about an
        Iraqi threat. Gordon took off his reporter's hat that night on CNN
        to become an unabashed advocate for his view that withdrawing U.S.
        troops from Iraq would lead to "civil war" (as though civil war
        weren't already underway).

        "PROVE YOU'RE NOT A TRAITOR" PRIZE -- CNN's Glenn Beck

        In November, Beck -- an Islamophobic host on CNN Headline News --
        launched into his interview with Congressman-elect Keith Ellison, a
        Muslim American, this way: "I have been nervous about this interview
        with you, because what I feel like saying is, `Sir, prove to me that
        you are not working with our enemies.'" Beck then added: "And I know
        you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the
        way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way." Is
        it possible that primetime bigots like CNN's Beck have something to
        do with the prejudices "that a lot of Americans feel"?

        GROUNDHOG DAY AWARD -- Ted Koppel

        One role of journalism should be to help the public learn from past
        government policy disasters in hopes of preventing future ones. But
        in a New York Times column on Oct. 2, former ABC News star Koppel
        wrote that Washington should tell Iran it is free to develop an
        atomic bomb -- with a Mafia-like warning: "If a dirty bomb explodes
        in Milwaukee, or some other nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or
        Wichita, if Israel or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a
        nuclear `accident,' Iran should understand that the United States
        government will not search around for the perpetrator. The return
        address will be predetermined, and it will be somewhere in Iran." In
        other words, no matter what the evidence, Koppel urged our
        government to attack a predetermined foe, Iran. Didn't that happen
        in 2003 with Iraq?

        So, there they are, the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2006. Hold your nose
        and prepare yourself for 2007.


        Lucas: Filming `Indiana Jones 4' in 2007
        By ALICIA CHANG, Associated Press Writer

        George Lucas said Friday that filming of the long-awaited "Indiana
        Jones" movie will begin next year.

        Harrison Ford, who appeared in the three earlier flicks, the last
        one coming in 1989, is set to star again.

        Lucas said he and Steven Spielberg recently finalized the script for
        the film.

        "It's going to be fantastic. It's going to be the best one yet," the
        62-year-old filmmaker said during a break from preparing for his
        duties as grand marshal of Monday's Rose Parade.

        Exact film locations have not been decided yet, but Lucas said part
        of the movie will be shot in Los Angeles.

        The fourth chapter of the "Indiana Jones" saga, which will hit
        theaters in May 2008, has been in development for over a decade with
        several screenwriters taking a crack at the script, but it only
        recently gained momentum.

        Lucas kept mum about the plot, but said that the latest action flick
        will be a "character piece" that will include "very interesting

        "I think it's going to be really cool," Lucas said.

        At the inaugural Rome Film Festival in October, the 64-year-old Ford
        said he was excited to team up with Lucas and Spielberg again for
        the fourth "Indiana Jones" installment. Ford said he was "fit to
        continue" to play the title role despite his age.

        Ford played Indiana Jones in 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark,"
        1984's "Temple of Doom" and 1989's "The Last Crusade."

        Lucas praised Ford for breathing life into his character.

        "Mostly it's the charm of Harrison that makes it work," he said.
        On the Net:

        Lucasfilm Ltd: http://www.lucasfilm.com
        Tournament of Roses: http://www.tournamentofroses.com


        Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility News Release
        For Immediate Release: December 28, 2006
        Contact: Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337

        Cater to Creationists Makes National Park Agnostic on Geology

        Washington, DC — Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give
        an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature,
        due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite
        promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the
        Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic
        forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and
        the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents
        released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

        "In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National
        Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,"
        stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "It is disconcerting that
        the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of
        the Grand Canyon is `no comment.'"

        In a letter released today, PEER urged the new Director of the
        National Park Service (NPS), Mary Bomar, to end the stalling
        tactics, remove the book from sale at the park and allow park
        interpretive rangers to honestly answer questions from the public
        about the geologic age of the Grand Canyon. PEER is also asking
        Director Bomar to approve a pamphlet, suppressed since 2002 by Bush
        appointees, providing guidance for rangers and other interpretive
        staff in making distinctions between science and religion when
        speaking to park visitors about geologic issues.

        In August 2003, Park Superintendent Joe Alston attempted to block
        the sale at park bookstores of Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom
        Vail, a book claiming the Canyon developed on a biblical rather than
        an evolutionary time scale. NPS Headquarters, however, intervened
        and overruled Alston. To quiet the resulting furor, NPS Chief of
        Communications David Barna told reporters and members of Congress
        that there would be a high-level policy review of the issue.

        According to a recent NPS response to a Freedom of Information Act
        request filed by PEER, no such review was ever requested, let alone
        conducted or completed.

        Park officials have defended the decision to approve the sale of
        Grand Canyon: A Different View, claiming that park bookstores are
        like libraries, where the broadest range of views are displayed. In
        fact, however, both law and park policies make it clear that the
        park bookstores are more like schoolrooms rather than libraries. As
        such, materials are only to reflect the highest quality science and
        are supposed to closely support approved interpretive themes.
        Moreover, unlike a library the approval process is very selective.
        Records released to PEER show that during 2003, Grand Canyon
        officials rejected 22 books and other products for bookstore
        placement while approving only one new sale item — the creationist

        Ironically, in 2005, two years after the Grand Canyon creationist
        controversy erupted, NPS approved a new directive on "Interpretation
        and Education (Director's Order #6) which reinforces the posture
        that materials on the "history of the Earth must be based on the
        best scientific evidence available, as found in scholarly sources
        that have stood the test of scientific peer review and criticism
        [and] Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from
        appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes."

        "As one park geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone
        National Park selling a book entitled Geysers of Old Faithful:
        Nostrils of Satan," Ruch added, pointing to the fact that previous
        NPS leadership ignored strong protests from both its own scientists
        and leading geological societies against the agency approval of the
        creationist book. "We sincerely hope that the new Director of the
        Park Service now has the autonomy to do her job."
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