Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Bush Lays Out Goals for Iraq: Self-Rule and Stability. The president also pledged, if the new Iraqi government agrees, to destroy the Abu Ghraib prison. By Elisabeth Bumiller. [New York Times: NYT HomePage]

Retired General Anthony Zinni is one of the most respected and outspoken military leaders of the past two decades.

From 1997 to 2000, he was commander-in-chief of the United States Central Command, in charge of all American troops in the Middle East. That was the same job held by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf before him, and Gen. Tommy Franks after.

Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, the Bush administration thought so highly of Zinni that it appointed him to one of its highest diplomatic posts -- special envoy to the Middle East.

But Zinni broke ranks with the administration over the war in Iraq, and now, in his harshest criticism yet, he says senior officials at the Pentagon are guilty of dereliction of duty -- and that the time has come for heads to roll.

Transcript of last night's CBS interview with General Anthony Zinni. [Scripting News]

A Prayer for Our Nation. A Prayer for Our Nation

Dear Heavenly Father,

In these troubled times it is easy to focus on our nation�s shortcomings and forget its strengths.
It is easy to focus on outsourcing, gasoline prices, and unemployment then forget that our overall standard of living is better than the vast majority of the world.
In times like these we often take for granted everyday miracles like the birth of a child or the beauty in nature.
So, for every moment that I forgot to be grateful I ask your forgiveness and say thank you for all your blessings.

In troubled times it is human nature to focus on our personal problems and overlook the greater needs of those around us.
For this I ask your forgiveness.
It is easy to focus on our bills, pains and struggles and forget those who face danger, death and disease without hope in you.

When troubles arise it is easy to ask why you didn�t act but not ask ourselves why we failed to heed your warnings.
It is easy to forget that the gift of free will and liberty comes along with the responsibility for our decisions and actions (or the lack thereof).
So for every time that I witnessed injustice and was not morally outraged I ask your forgiveness.
For every time that I was given a chance to speak out against evil but remained silent I ask your forgiveness.
And, for every time you called me to act on another�s behalf and I did not I ask your forgiveness.

It is easy to demand a level of excellence from others that we do not live up to ourselves.
It is easy to stand in judgment when our leaders fail.
Let me never be one who always �points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better�1 without asking what I could have done to help.
May I remember that whatever measure I use in judging others will be used to measure how I am judged.
May I remember to pray for leadership when I recognize their shortcomings.

May I see a problem and seek your solution.
May I always seek your wisdom and guidance.
May I never forget from where I�ve come so I can encourage others walking the same path.
May I lead no man astray.
May I never again underestimate Your love, grace and forgiveness.
May I never cease to share your love with others.
May I remember that I must first become all that it is your will that I become before this nation can become all that it is your will for it to be.

Open the hearts and minds of our leadership to your wisdom and guidance.
Grant all those that will hear a revelation of your will for this nation.
Grant us an understanding of our role in global affairs.

�May we as nation be guided by the Divine to rediscover the sacred flame of our national heritage, which so many have given their lives to safeguard;
Let the wounds of separation and division be healed by opening our hearts to listen to the truth on all sides, allowing us to find a higher truth that includes us all;
May we, as a people, undergo a transformation that will draw forth individuals to lead our nation who embody courage, compassion and a higher vision;
May we as a nation rededicate ourselves to truly living as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all;
And may God�s Will be done for our nation, as we, the people, align with that Will.�2

In Jesus� name I pray.

1. from a quote by Theodore Roosevelt
2. By: Gordon Davidson and Corinne McLaughlin
The Center for Visionary Leadership
[Pam's Coffee Conversation]
Kerry Gets Google-Bombed. John Kerry's conservative critics have used the so-called Google-bombing trick to link the top result for the word 'waffles' to Kerry's website. But Kerry's supporters are using the attack as an opportunity to point out President Bush's waffling. By Jacob Ogles. [Wired News]
So Wrong it's Sad. We've come to expect the same old refrain from many on the right. You're not allowed to criticize the war and if you do, then you're being unpatriotic and failing to support the troops. And above all else, all the bad news is the fault of the liberal medi [electablog]

Friday, May 21, 2004

In Iraq, key US ally falls from grace. Thursday, US forces raid the Baghdad house of Ahmed Chalabi, who loomed large in the decision to invade Iraq. [Christian Science Monitor | Top Stories]
Central Intelligence Agitation. Hey, does it seem interesting to anyone else that the CIA has been the source on several stories that seem to reflect negatively on Rumsfeld, the Pentagon and the administration? Think maybe they're tired of being scapegoated by the Pentagon and then fed [electablog]
Are You a Potential Terrorist?. A Florida company that helped the government launch Matrix also provided the feds with the names of 120,000 people who, according to its statistics, were likely terrorists. [Wired News]

The following is an E-Mail Ministry message. 

<><     <><     <><     <><     <><     <><     <><     <><     <><


The Four Candles burned slowly.
Their Ambiance was so soft you could hear them speak...

The first candle said, "I Am Peace, but these days, nobody wants to keep
me lit."

Then Peace's flame slowly diminishes and goes out completely.

The second candle says, "I Am Faith, but these days, I am no longer

Then Faith's flame slowly diminishes and goes out completely.

Sadly the third candle spoke, "I Am Love and I haven't the strength to
stay lit any longer."

"People put me aside and don't understand my importance. They even
forget to love those who are nearest to them."

And waiting no longer, Love goes out completely.


A child enters the room and sees the three candles no longer burning.

The child begins to cry, "Why are you not burning? You are supposed to
stay lit until the end."

Then the Fourth Candle spoke gently to the little boy, "Don't be afraid,
for I Am Hope, and while I still burn, we can re-light the other candles."

With Shining eyes the child took the Candle of Hope and lit the other
three candles.

Never let the Flame of Hope go out of your life.

With Hope, no matter how bad things look and are...Peace, Faith and Love
can Shine Brightly in our lives.

-- Author Unknown

<><     <><     <><     <><     <><     <><     <><     <><     <><

To learn more about E-Mail Ministry and read previous messages, visit
our web site at: http://www.emailministry.org

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Big Three Fear That Toyota Is Becoming the Big One. Toyota may not quite be the world's largest automaker, based on vehicle sales, but it is firmly buckled in the industry's driver's seat. By Danny Hakim. [New York Times: Business]
A Guilty Plea Over Insider Trading at Enron. The former corporate secretary of Enron, Paula Rieker, pleaded guilty to insider trading on Wednesday. By Bloomberg News. [New York Times: Business]
2 Airlines See Damage From Fuel Costs. By Reuters. By Reuters. [New York Times: Business]
Oil and Gasoline Futures Soar on U.S. Report on Inventory. By Bloomberg News. By Bloomberg News. [New York Times: Business]
On Arab TV, Gaza Strife Dims Trial. The images out of Gaza were so violent that the guilty plea of Specialist Sivits received only secondary coverage on the main Arab satellite channels. By Ian Fisher. [New York Times: Business]

Wisdom and Bad Friends

Proverbs 2:1-15


2 My child, you must follow

and treasure my teachings

and my instructions.

2 Keep in tune with wisdom

and think what it means

to have common sense.

3 Beg as loud as you can

for good common sense.

4 Search for wisdom

as you would search for silver

or hidden treasure.

5 Then you will understand

what it means to respect

and to know the Lord God.

6 All wisdom comes from the Lord,

and so do common sense

and understanding.

7 God gives helpful advice

to everyone who obeys him

and protects all of those

who live as they should.

8 God sees that justice is done,

and he watches over everyone

who is faithful to him.

9 With wisdom you will learn

what is right

and honest and fair.

10 Wisdom will control your mind,

and you will be pleased

with knowledge.

11 Sound judgment and good sense

will watch over you.

12 Wisdom will protect you

from evil schemes

and from those liars

13 who turned from doing good

to live in the darkness.

14 Most of all they enjoy

being mean and deceitful.

15 They are dishonest themselves,

and all they do is crooked.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Take Every Thought Captive
by John Paul Jackson

Every day, we make a series of choices. Some are trivial, such as what shirt to wear, while others determine success or failure in our lives. Scripture clearly reveals that we are who we are, and we are where we are because of various choices we have made. We make choices�and then our choices make us!

Over the years, I have taught many times about the �Law of Focus.� That spiritual law simply says that �what you focus on, you make room for.� It sounds simple, but its effects are enormous. The Law of Focus is certainly evident in the issue of our decision-making skills.

From the atmosphere of our thought life, we make various decisions. Therefore, what we �focus on� causes an atmosphere of thoughts to surround us which influences the decision we are about to make.

Our focus can come from the books we read, movies we see, songs we listen to, and even the conversations we have. All of these form the spiritual, or in some cases soulish, atmosphere from which our choices are made.

The old adage, �garbage in, garbage out� deeply applies to our thought life. Those thoughts form the basis for the choices we made, we are making, or we are about to make. Errant focus produces an errant atmosphere of thinking, and results in errant choices. The Bible calls this atmosphere �darkened thinking� or �darkened understanding.� Darkened thinking comes from living in an atmosphere that lacks light and results in tainted spiritual perspectives. Tainted perspectives will always result in tainted decisions that can create devastating consequences.

Conversely, �enlightened thinking� comes from moving within the eternal light of God�s Kingdom. True enlightened thinking can only come from God, and occurs when His presence is the central focus of our thoughts. If we live in the atmosphere of God�s light, we will automatically think differently about what we observe.

As God becomes our focus, we make room for His thoughts to illuminate our understanding. The chain continues: our thoughts come from what we make room for. Our thoughts then determine our choices, and those choices determine our destiny. Thus, it is what is inside our hearts that makes all the difference, and the difference is made when we �choose� what goes on inside our minds. We must build God�s Kingdom within our thought life.

Repeated cycles in our lives are the result of wrong choices, no matter how good or justified they seemed at the time. No wonder the Apostle Paul exhorted us to take every thought captive and to be renewed in the spirit of our mind�thinking about things that are good, kind, lovely, holy, pure, just, virtuous, and praiseworthy!

When we enter into this higher level of Kingdom thinking, we can receive the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:20-14). We will have the ability to know the mysteries of life. We will be able to think in spiritual terms and on a spiritual plane that we could not before. Therefore, we can experience transformation as we clothe ourselves with a brand new understanding �which is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you� (Colossians 3:10, NLT).

God will move mountains to create the opportunity for you to walk in His perfect will. It is up to you to be ready to choose the opportunities He has chosen for you.


Sunday, May 16, 2004

Yahoo! News - Six Sigma Is No Longer Enough

Sat May 15, 9:08 AM ET

By Michael Flaherty

"Six Sigma will get you to parity, but not ahead of your competition," said Michael Hammer, founder of Hammer and Co., a management education firm.. "It's for fixing problems, not for innovation


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Impatient investors and demanding industry analysts are pushing Corporate America's best-known efficiency program deeper into history.

The program, known as Six Sigma, still retains a loyal, if not cult-like following among executives and some of their staff, who earn black belts and green belts as they study its methods.

But in an era when a new product is old news in two fiscal quarters, critics of Six Sigma say companies need to move beyond the 20-year-old method in order to compete.

"Six Sigma does not create innovation," said Corporate strategist Jay Desai, who helped implement Six Sigma at conglomerate General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE - news).

That's not to say Six Sigma will ever go away.

Its methods are a virtual religion at GE, where Six Sigma is said to have saved the company billions of dollars over the years.

Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE:DOW - news), the largest U.S. maker of chemicals, swears by the program.

And Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT - news) said it reaped $500 million through Six Sigma in 2002.

But the days of investors favoring slow and steady growth are waning.

Investors want top-line growth fueled by new products.

"If Lucent applies Six Sigma, they die," Desai said, pointing to Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE:LU - news), one of the world's largest makers of telecommunications equipment that has recovered after ringing up $30 billion in cumulative losses during the technology downturn.

"Six Sigma is not a solution for new products or a break-through strategy," said Desai, who now runs the Institute of Global Competitiveness, a management think-tank.

Still, Six Sigma is in place at several of the world's top companies and has led to many profit turnarounds.

"We will continue to rely on our Six Sigma culture to ensure we are growing profitably," said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Jim Owens in a statement.

Owens added that "virtually all" company employees are involved with the program and that Caterpillar boasts 2,700 trained Six Sigma black belts.

Six Sigma Academy, a Scottsdale, Arizona training organization, has taught 10,000 people in 20 countries and 6 continents in the methods of Six Sigma, according to its Web site.

"What we've seen is an expansion to mid-size companies, small companies and even private companies," said Abraham.

Six Sigma won't go away and indeed its followers have seen positive results, said Larry Keeley, president of Doblin Inc., an innovation strategy firm.

It's this focus on the bottom line that hinders Six Sigma disciples, said Michael Hammer, founder of Hammer and Co., a management education firm.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


Smarty Jones Proves Superior in the Preakness. Smarty Jones did not just win the Preakness. He ran away with it and is now just a victory away from becoming the 12th winner of racing's Triple Crown. By Bill Finley. [New York Times: Sports]

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Bouncing Back

Why a Job Hopper Needs Sure Footing. So what if your résumé reads like a Top 10 list? Often, it's the career path that counts. By Cheryl Dahle. [New York Times: Business]

Dave sticks up for Moveable Type.

Dave Winer: "We gotta eat. No more begging. You want the software, find a way to help companies like Six Apart instead of making them miserable. You've now got the tools to communicate. Use them well. Use them better."

I agree with that. I remember running the books and paying the bills (or attempting to) at UserLand and trying to figure out how I was going to pay the bandwidth bills, the rent on the office, the electricity bill, the phone bill, the mail bill, salaries (Dave Winer, by the way, wasn't getting any salary while I was at UserLand) and, yes, even the W3C (I ended up not paying the W3C in the end cause it was about $5,000 and we didn't have enough money. $5,000 ended up paying our hosting bill for several months).

Believe me, every sale counted, even at $40 each. It's why I picked up the phone before it rang twice. I didn't want to lose a single sale.

I learned a long time ago that there's no such thing as a free lunch. It's something that you should remember when people say "come over here, you can get our software for free." I feel for Moveable Type, though. When you create expectations that your software is free it's hard to change business strategies.

[Scobleizer: Microsoft Geek Blogger]
Tort(ure) Reform. There were many problems with the abuses at Abu Graib. First, the Red Cross has estimated that between 70%-90% of the prisoners were not connected to the insurgency or to any terror group. Second, the pictures released created what has become an internati [electablog]
Nascar Moves Races West and Sells a Fabled Track. Nascar eliminated a troublesome lawsuit and a historic racetrack in yet another watershed day of change for a sport determined to reach beyond its Southern roots. By Viv Bernstein. [New York Times: Sports]
South Africa Is Favored to Win Cup Bid. For the first time, the world's most popular sporting event, soccer's World Cup, will be awarded to an African country on Saturday. By Jere Longman. [New York Times: Sports]

This was without a doubt one of the most exciting basketball games I've ever seen.  pk

Long Night Belongs to Unlikely Reserve. Whatever else happens in Brian Scalabrine's career, he certainly enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame. By Jason Diamos. [New York Times: Sports]

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

InfoWorld: Verizon races toward wireless broadband. Until now, the missing link has always been wireless. But with the rollout of a new technology called EvDO (evolution, data optimized), Verizon wireless users will enjoy burst data rates of 2.4Mbps and average data rates of 300Kbps to 600Kbps. [Tomalak's Realm]
Terrorists kill thousands in senseless attacks. Wars force tattered families�crippled seniors and helpless infants�from their homes. Teenagers murder their classmates. Children disappear. In the midst of the world's carnage, it is only natural to wonder, Where is GOD in all this? Why doesn't He do something? Why does He allow this to happen?

As difficult as it may be to understand, God already has done something. He sent His Son to save us. But Jesus Christ did not enter this world to thwart criminals or overthrow governments. He came to change our hearts. Even the people of Jesus' day thought their Savior had came to liberate them from oppression. But He did not. He told them, "My kingdom is not of this world...."1

This world�with all its godless wars, murders and inhumanity�exists under the dominion of Satan. Though the Bible clearly states the absolute authority of God, Satan has been given much power, and the evil in this world is under his control.2 That's why the apostle Paul asserted, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against..the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."3

Satan was the first one in history to openly defy God. He also started a philosophy of life that was self-centered and rejected God's authority. That was the birth of sin. Sin assumes a self-designed life plan rather than one purposed by the Creator. Today sin affects the entire human race. We are all guilty of it, and therefore all deserve sin's penalty. "For the wages of sin is death...."4

According to the Bible, peace on earth will not come until after God's final judgments and Christ's Second Coming.5 But peace with God is available now for all who faithfully accept Jesus' death as payment for their sin. "Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."6 Yes, God permitted evil to be present in this world. He gave all of us, including Satan, free will. He allows us to choose whether or not we will follow Him. If God forced us to love and worship Him...that wouldn't be love. He lets us make up our own minds. Satan and death were defeated when Jesus Christ rose again after dying on the cross.7 Satan has no reprieve. But you still have a chance. You can come to know "the peace of God, which transcends all understanding"8 by acknowledging the sin in your life and believing that Christ's death on the cross paid sin's penalty for you and that His resurrection offers you new life.

We will never know all the answers to the question, "Why, God?" But when you open your life to Jesus Christ, He promises to walk with you through this world's troubles. You will begin to see the world through His eyes. And He will birth new feelings inside you that you may not have felt for a long time, if ever...feelings like love, joy, hope...and peace. Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."9

Click Here if you would like to learn more about Jesus   or

Share Your Thoughts on the PointOfView316 Bulletin Board

When you ask yourself:

How did the events in Abu Graib prison occur?  How can people be so heartless and brutal to kill anyone the way that Nick Berg was executed?   How can any group of human beings hold body parts for ransom?  What creates these monsters and how to we combat them?

Remember the words of the Apostle Paul

Ephesians 6:10-20 

 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. [11] Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. [12] For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. [13] Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. [14] Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, [15] and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; [16] in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. [17] And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. [18] With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, [19] and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, [20] for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.



As concerned as I am about Al Qaeda,  persons that make comments like this worry me just as much.  Anyone making comments such as those by Rush Limbaugh need mental counseling and a Damascus road experience.  

Conservatives: Watch your great leader squirm and lie through his teeth to get out of defending torture as a prank. Conservatives: Watch your great leader squirm and lie through his teeth to get out of defending torture as a prank First, let's review the comments in question: CALLER: It was like a college fraternity prank that stacked up naked men -- LIMBAUGH: Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You of heard of need to blow some steam off? LIMBAUGH: And these American prisoners of war -- have you people noticed who the torturers are? Women! The babes! The babes are meting out the torture. LIMBAUGH: You know, if you look at -- if you, really, if you look at these pictures, I mean, I don't know if it's just me, but it looks just like anything you'd see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage. Now watch Limbaugh as he attempts to give the "context" of his comments -- "was actually relating to the media." Yes, we love it when Rush relates to the media. Did we mention Rush is the media. This dispenser of bile reaches more people, makes more money, than almost all the television news personalities combined. Who exactly is "the media"? Rush Limbaugh's sponsor, Disney to name one. The "liberal media" sham has run it's course. LIMBAUGH: And I -- I'll tell you why I used Skull and Bones. You know, I was tweaking them, because Bush is Skull and Bones, and it's Yale, and they think Bush didn't qualify to get into Yale. That Bush is a phony-baloney and they hate -- normally they hate Skull and Bones. The Media hates Skull and -- except those that are members. But they hate it, because it's super-secret, and it doesn't allow them in. And so I thought I was actually relating to the media by calling this a Skull -- I thought I was helping them criticize Bush. Yeah, this is the kind of stuff Bush did in college instead of learning stuff. But no, they missed that totally. I really was trying to relate to them. I was trying to give them a line that I thought they would appreciate the nuance of. But no, they've totally missed it, because they're reacting in shock and emotion and seeking an opportunity to inflict a little knick or two, fire some BBs at the battleship of Rush Limbaugh in an attempt to inflict a little harm here. But we're not, we're not only still floating, we're still steaming through the waters here. So no, I've been amazed that they missed the Skull and Bones re - I couldn't -- I didn't even say college initiation, a caller said that. I said Skull and Bones. I said it specifically for a reason, because I was trying to help them take another route to Bush. They've missed it, and they're coming back at me with it. Idiots. [ ... ] Now, let's look at this -- this prison business. When the first two or three pictures came out, and you know which ones they are -- the pyramid picture, which is what looks like a Skull and Bones initiation, the pyramid, the guys in the hoods, and we've got the female prison guard with a cigarette dangling from the mouth. And we had this -- the guy in all -- in all black, hooded, and so forth, wires attached to various extremities. And there was -- there was one other picture. And I said, "Well, you know, what's the big deal here? This just looks like an average Skull and Bones initiation." That quote, made the first day the pictures were published, is all that I am quoted as saying. Well, maybe one other little quote. I forget what it is. But in this instance, not one journalist -- and that's what they are -- not one journalist has picked up the phone or sent me an e-mail, and said, "What do you mean by this. Do you really think this?" Not one journalist has dared ask me for the context of the remark. Not one person -- not one -- no Conservative journalist has either. If there are Conservatives upset with me, I want to tell -- no one has gotten hold of me. And I'm assuming that they're not listening to the program, because otherwise they would know the context of all this. You can't -- I mean, I've spent 10 to 12 hours on this subject and said a whole lot on it, but that one comment seems to serve the purpose of those who have an agenda. We thank David Brock for providing Rush Limbaugh with the sound of his own voice. No wonder he needs narcotics By editor (mailto:editor@americanassembler.com). [Newsblog]

Spectacle of Shame: James Inhofe -- Josh Marshall gets sentimental. Spectacle of Shame: James Inhofe -- Josh Marshall gets sentimental As I said earlier today, I don't think I can remember a more shameful spectacle in the United States Congress, in my living memory, than the comments today of James Inhofe, the junior senator from Oklahoma. Clearly, it is part of the RNC talking points now to shift the brunt of the media storm from the abuses themselves to the political storm they've created. But no one that I saw at least rose more naturally to the effort than this man. No one else's heart seemed so matched to the deed, with his snarls at "humanitarian do-gooders" (i.e., the Red Cross) trying to monitor compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Read the rest. It's worth it. By editor (mailto:editor@americanassembler.com). [Newsblog]

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Once again, I am sending a post with a very heavy heart.  Words cannot express the empathy that I feel for the family of Nick Berg.  Being from Philadelphia, this hits close to home.  These are my neighbors. The horrific description of their loved one's last moments is a weight that no one should ever  have to carry. 


We will never know the degree to which the abuses in Abu Ghraib prison contributed to the vicious nature of this young man's execution.  These terrorists have already demonstrated their brutality and the degree to which they disregard human life.   In western culture it is unimaginable that Nick Berg's death could be considered a response to the humiliation that the Iraqi prisoners faced.  In our culture this does not equate to an eye for and eye.  But that's just it, we are not dealing with western culture.  


The Iraqi people have their own culture.  And while Islamic religious fundamentalists and terrorists are as extreme to the tenets of their faith as the KKK and  Arian Brotherhood are to the tenets of Christianity, the core Islamic view of the roles of men and women and sex are vastly different than our own.  Therefore to have subjected the Iraqi male prisoners to sexual humiliation at the hands of American woman was probably the greatest offense they could have experienced.  A fact that I am certain was not lost on those that committed the abuses.  Regardless of rank was it wise to have female military personnel interacting with Iraqi male prisoners?  This is just one of many questionable decisions.   


It is time for those responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of the war on terrorism and ALL the personnel on the ground to wake up, smell the coffee and understand that they are not dealing with groups that are bound by rules of the Geneva convention or western rules of combat and fair play.  They are going to wage war using their rulebook and do so with the conviction that their God Allah is on their side.   No amount of negative press,  western news coverage ( liberal or conservative) or rhetoric will redefine their beliefs or their actions. The terrorists know who they are and what they believe and they are unified in their belief.


The question now is who are we as Americans.  How do we define our beliefs and how true will we be to them.  Are we one nation under God?  And, do we believe that the God of our faith(s) approves of our actions.  What unites us as Americans?  How did we create an environment that allowed abuses like those at Abu Ghraib?  How can people think that saying that they were just following orders excuses unjust actions?  We cannot change the views of terrorists and we cannot play by their rules.  If  our actions stoop to their level we have lost this war. We have to, by our actions, win the support of Islamic moderates for the cause of democracy and peace in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East.  


In An Hour of Grief -- It is time for America to Define It's Identity

Monday, May 10, 2004

Contact with Google.

I have been emailing with David Krane, a PR person at Google, who works alongside Cindy McCaffery. That's good. He had emailed me an invite to use Gmail in the first wave of invites, but my very crude spam system coughed it up, and then hurled his follow-up email. Once I knew it was there and got back from Europe I tried to use it, only to find out that the invite had expired. Over the weekend David very kindly set me up with a new one, and now I have an empty Gmail account, dave.winer. Obviously it's not going to be much use until it starts getting some email, so send me a message if you feel so inclined.

As noted yesterday, it was disappointing that the new Blogger interface, which looks quite nice, doesn't support RSS 2.0. I'm far from the only one who's commenting. It would be so easy to do, so not evil, so grown-up, so much appreciated if they would just do it. Pretty soon RSS is going to be known as the format of the BigPubs, which is totally ironic because I'm one of the original bloggers. Come on guys, what if I say please? Please, I'm down on bended knees.

Another note, I now have four different logins at Google: Orkut, AdSense, Blogger and Gmail. Each with a different username and password. Now here's an area where Google could be a leader, provide an alternative to Passport, something we really need, a Google-size problem.

A picture named howardBeale.jpgBoth user interfaces, Gmail and the new Blogger are very slick, but Gmail is the more sophisticated. Those guys should get busy with blogging, if they're not already working on a blogging interface. And don't be surprised when Google announces a centralized aggregator a la Bloglines (hopefully not with a three-pane interface). That will be Microsoft's cue to release announce theirs, and we're off to the races. (I bet Sun buys Bloglines.) That's why it's so incredibly important that the format coalesce now before it becomes a basis for competition, like the browser wars of the 1990s. That's why I'm beggin. (Of course, with the great running start RSS has, this could be the final act for the Tech industry. Imagine if the users told them to get with the program or die. That would be very very cool.)

[Scripting News]
Brown's promise: yet to be fulfilled. Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, public education is still separate - and unequal - in many schools. [Christian Science Monitor | Top Stories]

Sunday, May 9, 2004

TV News Is Bad For Your Brain. A new study has revealed that people who rely on television to get their news are more likely to be misinformed on the facts about Iraq, WMD's and Iraq's ties to 9/11 than those who get their news from other sources or even who don't follow the news at all.

This is very interesting reading. plk

Japanese Find a Forum to Vent Most-Secret Feelings. In a society in which subtlety is prized above all, millions of Japanese use the Channel 2 Web site to bare their souls. By Norimitsu Onishi. [New York Times: Technology]

Spider-Man's Major League Lesson. Baseball tried to marginally profit by playing to children through a colorful comic book character. America spoke out, swiftly and decisively. By Bt Harvey Araton. [New York Times: Sports]

Ty Cobb, the Chicago "Black Sox", Pete Rose, Tommy Johns, "performance enhancing supplements", questionable records.   If MLB survived all this it can surely survive Spider Man. 

Saturday, May 8, 2004

In Athletics, Level Field Must Begin In Classroom. The rules and sanctions are now in place that make it clear that those who participate in college sports must be students first, then athletes. By Myles Brand. [New York Times: Sports]
Strike Pose of Humility, U.S. Athletes Are Urged. The U.S.O.C. officials are telling their athletes to repress the all-American urge some of us feel to preen, taunt and bask excessively in our backlighting. By Selena Roberts. [New York Times: Sports]
Iraqi abuse 'known in February'. The UK Government confirms it received a Red Cross report on alleged abuses by UK troops in Iraq in February. [BBC News | News Front Page | UK Edition]

German teenager confesses to creating Sasser Internet worm (AFP). AFP - An 18-year-old German man faces up to five years in prison after he confessed to creating the Internet Sasser worm which infected millions of computers worldwide, police said. [Yahoo! News - Technology]

I never cease to be amazed by these virus and worm writers.   If only they would challenge their talents in a constructive pursuit.  plk

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

U.S. Finds Fault in All 50 States' Child Welfare Programs


WASHINGTON, April 25 --- Federal investigators have found widespread problems in child welfare programs intended to protect children from abuse and neglect, and no state has received passing grades from the Bush administration in reviews conducted over the last three years.

As a result, states face tens of millions of dollars in penalties.

State officials said the penalties could make it more difficult for them to pay for the needed improvements.

About 900,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect in 2002, and 1,400 of them died, according to the most recent state data, compiled and reported this month by the Department of Health and Human Services.

No state fully complies with standards established by the federal government to assess performance in protecting children and finding safe, permanent homes for those who have suffered abuse or neglect.

Some states, including New Jersey and Florida, have received national attention because of scandals in their child welfare programs.

But the federal report suggests that most states have similar problems.

Seven of the 14 federal standards focus on the safety and well-being of children, including the incidence of abuse and neglect, the time they spend in foster care and the stability of their living arrangements.

Federal officials said 16 states did not meet any of the seven standards.

Wade F. Horn, the assistant secretary of health and human services supervising the reviews, said the findings were "a little surprising."

"We set the bar high on purpose," Dr. Horn said.

Kids in the child welfare system deserve better than a minimal standard of care."

Dr. Horn said that no state met one particularly important standard, which says children should have "permanency and stability in their living situations."

That means, for example, that children should not bounce in and out of foster care, or from foster home to foster home.

The federal report was based on a review of state data and case files, as well as interviews with children, their biological parents, foster and adoptive parents, social workers and juvenile and family court judges.

Federal officials repeatedly cited states for certain deficiencies: significant numbers of children suffering abuse or neglect more than once in a six-month period; caseworkers not visiting children often enough to assess their needs; and not providing promised medical and mental health services.

States did somewhat better on the other standards, used to assess their policies and procedures, the training of caseworkers and the use of computers to keep track of children.

Many state officials said they generally agreed with the findings.

"Some people say that the federal government is picking on states or that the standards are not attainable, but we believe it's essential to shoot for these goals," said Roger A. Munns, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services.

Just this month the comptroller of Texas, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, issued a report on the state's foster care system that was more negative than the federal review.

"Some of these children are no better off in the care of the state than they were in the hands of abusive and negligent parents," said Ms.

"Some children have been moved among 30 or 40 temporary homes.

Some have been sexually, physically and emotionally abused while in the system.

In 30 percent of the cases reviewed in Oklahoma, federal investigators said, the child welfare agency did not respond quickly to reports of abuse and neglect.

The federal government provides $7 billion a year to states for foster care, adoption assistance and other child welfare programs.

If states do not correct the deficiencies, they stand to lose some of the money.

Penalties are estimated at $18.2 million for California, $3.6 million for Florida, $3.5 million for Texas, $3 million for Pennsylvania, $2.5 million each for Ohio and Michigan, and $2.3 million for New York.

Joseph E. Kernan, a Democrat, summoned experts at the Child Welfare League of America, a nonprofit group, to evaluate the state's program and recommend improvements.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


Microsoft Adopts IronPort Anti-Spam 'Whitelist' (Reuters). Reuters - Microsoft Corp. said on Wednesday it has adopted an e-mail "whitelist" program by IronPort Systems Inc. that will allow legitimate marketers to thread the gauntlet of spam filters protecting its inboxes. [Yahoo! News - Technology]
MSN, Hotmail fight spam using Bonded Sender (USATODAY.com). USATODAY.com - Microsoft (MSFT) wants spammers to pay a financial penalty for the junk cluttering up your inbox. The Redmond, Wash., giant will endorse a plan today that aims to cut down on spam and help pave the way for legitimate e-mail to get through. [Yahoo! News - Technology]
Worm Brings Down PC's and Networks. A new computer worm infected hundreds of thousands of computers over the weekend and on Monday, disrupting corporate networks and causing headaches for home PC users. By The New York Times. [New York Times: Technology]
U.S. Is Losing Its Dominance in the Sciences. Foreign advances in basic science now often rival or even exceed America's, according to federal and private experts. By William J. Broad. [New York Times: Technology]

Sunday, May 2, 2004

Is a Do-Gooder Company a Good Thing?. Supporters and critics agree that the public would do well to scrutinize the effects of Google's influence, whether or not it adheres to its promises of trustworthiness. By Amy Harmon. [New York Times: Business]



In the letter last Thursday that announced their plans to sell shares to the public, Google's founders were not bashful about the role they see for their company in the information utopia they hope to build.

"Searching and organizing all the world's information," the letter stated, is "an unusually important task that should be carried out by a company that is trustworthy and interested in the public good."

That company would, of course, be Google, which in the five years since it was founded by two Stanford graduate students has won 65 million users and turned "googling" into a verb.

In Silicon Valley, the company is revered for putting its mission before immediate financial gain.

But will Google be able to adhere to its famous corporate ethos, "don't do evil," with its role as the Internet's chief gatekeeper bolstered by the several billion dollars a stock sale is expected to raise?

Supporters and critics alike agree that the public would do well to scrutinize the effects of Google's outsize influence, whether or not it adheres to its promises of trustworthiness.

"Google's greatest challenge, beyond innovation or competition, is what to do with the gift of power that the culture has bestowed on them," said John Battelle, a media consultant who is writing a book about searching the Internet.

Mostly, those who use Google's search engine trust it to provide unbiased results.

But some close observers say its algorithms and advertising policies cannot help but be shaped by money and morality.

Google says it does its best to remain neutral.

Earlier this month, the company said it had no plans to alter its search results despite complaints that the first listing on a search for the word "Jew" directed people to an anti-Semitic Web site.

But it did append a note to the top of its listings that said, "We're disturbed about these results as well" and a link explaining that "because of our objective and automated ranking system, Google cannot be influenced by these petitions."

(The site was offline for a few days, so it is not currently displayed in Google's rankings, a Google spokesman said. It may return to a top spot now that it is back up.)

Because Google is so popular, its smallest decisions can carry great weight.

Rogers Cadenhead, a Web site developer and author, said he was disturbed that Google supports one format for distributing Web log entries over another.

The e-mail message from Google, published by Mr. Wyatt on his Web site, explained that the company's policy prohibits advertisements for "site content that advocates against an individual, group or organization."

"The problem for me is that Google constitutes such a large amount of the Web traffic that essentially it's like being denied the opportunity to sell it," Mr. Wyatt said.

Many small businesses say it is hard to overestimate Google's power to drive traffic to their Web sites - or steer it away.

Although other search engines like Yahoo and MSN maintain a healthy share of Internet advertising dollars, Webmasters estimate that 75 percent of all of their visitors come directly from Google.

"People optimize for Google; they study Google,'' said Brett Tabke, the chief executive of Webmasterworld.com.

In the political realm, Jonathan Zittrain, the co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, said Google had voluntarily decided to remove certain hate sites in its German and French versions that could be deemed illegal in those countries.

Still, many Internet observers say they are heartened by the unusual commitment to the public interest voiced by Google's founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

If enough Web pages link a certain Web page to a phrase, the Google search engine will start to associate that page with the phrase.

That is why anyone searching on Google for the phrase "weapons of mass destruction'' will find what looks like an error message as the top ranking.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


A Roll Call That Spoke for Itself, Without Added Justification. The decision by "Nightline" on ABC to devote Friday's broadcast to reciting the names of all the troops killed in Iraq seemed like such a huge gesture, until it actually began. By Alessandra Stanley. [New York Times: Business]


Once the names and faces of the dead began rolling, so quickly, across the screen, the program became a small, quiet thing --- a fleeting, moving and inadequate tribute tucked between the evening news and "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

When the plan was announced earlier this week, many conservatives denounced it as a liberal ruse to undermine the Bush administration's war effort while maintaining a holier-than-thou pose of patriotism.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the country's largest owners of local television stations, pre-empted the broadcast from its eight ABC-affiliated stations, saying the program amounted to an antiwar statement.

"Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war's terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces," Senator John McCain wrote in a letter to the chief executive of Sinclair that was published Friday.

Senator McCain was right of course: Whatever the producers' motives, giving a face and a name to each of the 721 dead who had been identified at that moment could hardly be described as sedition.

ABC allowed the broadcast, titled "The Fallen," to run 10 minutes longer than its regular 30-minute time slot so that all the names of those who died --- including those who were killed in noncombat accidents and incidents --- could be included.

There was very little to it, just the portraits of the dead, some in dress uniform, some in fatigues, a few in tuxedos from their high school yearbook pictures, and their names, intoned slowly and carefully by Ted Koppel.

The portraits were shown two at a time, just enough to register a name, an age, and shock at how young --- and how old --- some were.

All generations have lost some of their own --- the death count spans Army Specialist Michael Mihalakis, 18, to Sgt.

When "Nightline" could not obtain a portrait, the show ran a Department of Defense photograph of flag-covered coffins at Dover Air Force Base, one of many such images that were published over the objections of the Bush administration.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer



Bouncing Back

Blindsided by the Boss in Your Annual Review. Knowing what led to a harsh evaluation can help an employee get a better one next time. By Cheryl Dahle. [New York Times: Business]