Religious Slant To CNN Reporting

"Muslim bomber guilty of killing 17" reads the sensationalized title for a CNN story about a series of bombings that happened in Mumbai, India, in 1993.

Did the bomber happen to be Muslim? Yes. The article even explains what they believe to be the motivation:

... revenge for the demolition of a 16th century mosque in northern India by Hindu nationalists.

Iraq Moves Closer To Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for talks in Tehran Tuesday to discuss relations between their two countries.

Following the talks, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, had the following to say:

"A major portion of Iraq's problems will be solved when the occupying forces leave that country, and that is why we desire and hope that occupiers leave Iraq."

Another Take On The 'War On Terror'

Huffington Post Blogger, George Lakoff, delves into why George W Bush insists on calling our fight against terrorism a war. Terrorism, he argues, is a crime, nothing more. But, if you call it a war, you can get congress to authorize use of the military to fight it.

CIA Officers Plan For Legal Defense

Counterterrorism officers at the CIA are lining up for government backed insurance to cover their legal expenses should they face civil or criminal charges for the way they have conducted their jobs.

It would seem their greatest concern comes from a change in leadership in either Congress in 2006 or the White House in 2008.

This insurance is coupled with efforts by the Bush Administration to protect civilians in the government from liability due to the mistreatment of prisoners.

House Republicans Assert Exclusive Jurisdiction Over Disputed House Races

Here's the deal: Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution states "Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members..." Now, lawyers in disputed elections in California and Nevada have successfully argued that this clause prohibits local monitoring of house elections.

In the case of the disputed CA-50 special election, Dennis Hastert rushed to get the republican candidate, Brian Bilbray, sworn in just five days after the election, before any motions questioning the election could be acted upon. It has been suggested that this was done to ensure that Bilbray would be one "of its own members" when the jurisdictional argument was put forth.

BBC News Analysis of the 'War on Terror'

What is the purpose of George W Bush's 'War on Terror' and what does it mean to the world? Has America's conduct in the 'War' shattered the coalition built up after September 11, 2001?

Five years after the terror attacks on September the 11th, the BBC takes a look at the 'War on Terror', its successes, its failures, and its consequences.

France Rejects 'War on Terror'

The French Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, has rejected George W Bush's 'War on Terror' in a speech to the French Parliament.

Villepin went on to highlight France's opposition to the U.S. Invasion of Iraq pointing out the destabilizing effect it has had on the region.

Bush Acknowledges Secret Prisons, Europe Reacts

The Bush Administration has finally acknowledged the existence of secret prisons around the world used by the CIA to "interrogate" terrorists outside of U.S. territory.

If this news makes you feel more secure, you should understand that that security comes at a high price. Obviously, Muslim countries aren't too thrilled with this; but, European countries are quite annoyed as well.

Mission Unraveling

As the Bush Administration continues to pat itself on the back for its successes in the Global War on Terror, err, I mean War Against Islamic Fascists, Afghanistan continues to slip back into Taliban control.

Afghanistan's southern provinces are now producing record crops of opium amounting to 92% of the world's supply. Much of which fueling the Taliban.

In response to the problem, the Bush Administration's answer is to fund the fledgling Afghan goverment's efforts to eradicate the crops rather than taking matters into their own hands.

I thought we had learned our lesson when it comes to outsourcing in Afghanistan. If we'd had the backbone to handle the Tora Bora conflict ourselves during the invasion, instead of making the locals do it, we might have captured Osama bin Laden then.

When will the administration learn that Americans still support what we did in Afghanistan -- it's the one gold star on their report card. They need to retake ownership of the problem before it becomes another embarrassment.

Extremely Resistant TB Strain Found

This story in the Observer discusses a new strain of tuberculosis that resists every drug doctors can throw at it.

In South Africa, 52 of 53 patients diagnosed with the disease have died. Of greatest risk to the disease are the some 4.5 million AIDS patients in South Africa who already have compromised immune systems.

Earth's Ozone Layer Recovering

According to this story, the damage caused to the Earth's ozone layer is slowly recovering. Since the adoption of the Montreal Protocol, CFC emissions have slowly declined world wide and with it, the concentration of CFCs in the atmosphere.

"The level of ozone-depleting substances continues to decline from its 1992-1994 peak in the troposphere and the late 1990s peak in the stratosphere," [World Meteorological Organization] secretary-general Michel Jarraud said in a statement.

Last year, the ozone hole reached about 27 million square kilometers (10 million square miles) on September 20 -- just below its largest size in 2003 of about 29 million square kilometers (11.2 million square miles), WMO experts said.

EPA Budget Cuts Threaten Enforcement / Lawsuits

The EPA's budget for library services, that is libraries that the public can access to do research about environmental issues, is being cut by $2 million for the 2007 fiscal year. EPA deputy press secretary, Jessica Emond, states that that leaves $4.5 million in the budget. So, in an age of congress calling any budgetary growth less that the rate of inflation a "cut", this actual drop of 30.7% is a significant story. Especially when you consider that the overall EPA budget is nearly $7 billion.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsiblity have an explaination as to what this all means:

Prosecution of polluters by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “will be compromised” due to the loss of “timely, correct and accessible” information from the agency’s closure of its network of technical libraries. EPA enforcement staff currently rely upon the libraries to obtain technical information to support pollution prosecutions and to track the business histories of regulated industries.

Software Patents Invade Online Classroom

The very idea of patenting an idea rather than an actual invention stinks beyond description, but that's exactly what the folks at the U.S. Patent Office allow. To them, the idea need only be non-obvious, which seems to mean they've never heard of it described before in a patent.

Now the folks at Blackboard Inc have been awarded a patent on e-learning software used by millions to access college courses from home. CNN has coverage here.

U.S. Military's Embracing Of Outsourcing Comes Under Fire

This Frontline PBS story covers the growing controversy surrounding the use of Contractors in military roles in Iraq (although this is not the only place this is being done.) These contractors often are used to serve military purposes but do not answer to the same chain of command and are not subject to the uniform code of military justice.

As if being outside the chain of command weren't enough, the private workers are getting paid substantially better -- something which no doubt damages morale:

Erinys is staffed with an assortment of ex-Special Forces and policemen from around the world. A private security guard at Erinys makes approximately $400 dollars a day, twice what a soldier makes. Some guards make up to $1000 a day.

It is unclear exactly how large of a force the private contractors make up, although the story states that KBR has 50,000 people in Iraq and Kuwait alone. That's more than 1/3 the size of the US Military presence.

Big Tobacco Gets Off Easy

In 1999, the Clinton Administration began suing Big Tobacco on the grounds that they were deceiving the public in their packaging and what remained of their marketing efforts. In a recent ruling at the District Court level, they got a slap on the wrist as a result.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler did order the companies to publish in newspapers and on their Web sites "corrective statements" on the adverse health effects and addictiveness of smoking and nicotine.

She also ordered tobacco companies to stop labeling cigarettes as "low tar," "light," "ultra light" or "mild," since such cigarettes have been found to be no safer than others because of how people smoke them.

The judge stopped short, however, of granting the $10 Billion (down from $130 Billion) the Justice Department had sought as funding for a national smoking cessation campaign.

The press, typically, is billing this as a loss for the Tobacco companies. How this cannot be viewed as a win for them escapes me. These companies sell a product that kills people and cost taxpayers tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars every year; and, their penalty is to change their packaging to be less deceptive?