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From http://news.com.com/2010-1028-5146863.html

DECLAN MCCULLAGH - Fifteen months before Dean said he would seek the presidency, the former Vermont governor spoke at a conference in Pittsburgh co-sponsored by smart-card firm Wave Systems where he called for state drivers' licenses to be transformed into a kind of standardized national ID card for Americans. Embedding smart cards into uniform IDs was necessary to thwart "cyber-terrorism" and identity theft, Dean claimed. "We must move to smarter license cards that carry secure digital information that can be universally read at vital checkpoints," Dean said in March 2002, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. "Issuing such a card would have little effect on the privacy of Americans."

Dean also suggested that computer makers such as Apple Computer, Dell, Gateway and Sony should be required to include an ID card reader in PCs--and Americans would have to insert their uniform IDs into the reader before they could log on. "One state's smart-card driver's license must be identifiable by another state's card reader," Dean said. . .

"On the Internet, this card will confirm all the information required to gain access to a state (government) network--while also barring anyone who isn't legal age from entering an adult chat room, making the Internet safer for our children, or prevent adults from entering a children's chat room and preying on our kids...Many new computer systems are being created with card reader technology. Older computers can add this feature for very little money," Dean said.
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Part of Patriot Act Ruled Unconstitutional [Jan. 26th, 2004|03:42 pm]
By LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent

LOS ANGELES (AP)--A federal judge has declared unconstitutional a portion of the USA Patriot Act that bars giving expert advice or assistance to groups designated foreign terrorist organizations.

The ruling marks the first court decision to declare a part of the post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism statute unconstitutional, said David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who argued the case on behalf of the Humanitarian Law Project.

In a ruling handed down late Friday and made available Monday, U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins said the ban on providing ``expert advice or assistance'' is impermissibly vague, in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments.

John Tyler, the Justice Department attorney who argued the case, had no comment and referred calls to the department press office in Washington. A message left there was not immediately returned.

The case before the court involved five groups and two U.S. citizens seeking to provide support for lawful, nonviolent activities on behalf of Kurdish refugees in Turkey.

The Humanitarian Law Project, which brought the lawsuit, said the plaintiffs were threatened with 15 years in prison if they advised groups on seeking a peaceful resolution of the Kurds' campaign for self-determination in Turkey.

The judge's ruling said the law, as written, does not differentiate between impermissible advice on violence and encouraging the use of peaceful, nonviolent means to achieve goals.

``The USA Patriot Act places no limitation on the type of expert advice and assistance which is prohibited and instead bans the provision of all expert advice and assistance regardless of its nature,'' the judge said.

Cole declared the ruling ``a victory for everyone who believes the war on terrorism ought to be fought consistent with constitutional principles.''
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All's fair? [Jan. 22nd, 2004|10:50 am]
Infiltration of files seen as extensive
Senate panel's GOP staff pried on Democrats

By Charlie Savage, Boston Globe, 1/22/2004

WASHINGTON -- Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.
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(no subject) [Jan. 21st, 2004|06:09 pm]
PETER APPS, REUTERS - British use of cluster bombs in the Iraq war could count as a war crime and justifies further investigation by the International Criminal Court prosecutor in the Hague, a group of international lawyers say. Seven academics from Britain, Ireland, France and Canada interviewed eyewitnesses and examined evidence to see if there was a case for referring British conduct to the court, said the pressure group Peacerights, which organized the review.

"There is a considerable amount of evidence of disproportionate use of force causing civilian casualties," one of the lawyers, Professor Bill Bowring of London Metropolitan University, told a news conference on Tuesday. "The U.S. cannot be tried before the court because it refuses to sign up to it. The UK did." Cluster munitions are small bomblets scattered on a target area by larger bombs, rockets or artillery shells, designed to destroy infantry or soft skinned vehicles. ~ U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said last month more than 1,000 civilians were killed or wounded by some 13,000 U.S. and British cluster bombs in the Iraq war last year.
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State of the Union, Part Deux (Yes, that's French) [Jan. 21st, 2004|08:38 am]

232: Number of American combat deaths in Iraq between May 2003 and January 2004. . .

0: Number of American combat deaths in Germany after the Nazi surrender to the Allies in May 1945. . .. . .

0: Number of funerals or memorials that President Bush has attended for soldiers killed in Iraq

100: Number of fund-raisers attended by Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney in 2003. . .

2: Number of nations that Bush has attacked and taken over since coming into the White House

9.2: Average number of American soldiers wounded in Iraq each day since the invasion in March last year

1.6: Average number of American soldiers killed in Iraq per day since hostilities began

16,000: Approximate number of Iraqis killed since the start of war

10,000: Approximate number of Iraqi civilians killed since the beginning of the conflict. . .

92%: Percentage of Iraq's urban areas that had access to drinkable water a year ago

60%: Percentage of Iraq's urban areas that have access to drinkable water today. . .

10: Number of solo press conferences that Bush has held since beginning his term. His father had managed 61 at this point in his administration, and Bill Clinton 33. . .

28: Number of days holiday that Bush took last August, the second longest holiday of any president in US history (Record holder: Richard Nixon)

13: Number of vacation days the average American worker receives each year

$10.9 million: Average wealth of the members of Bush's original 16-person cabinet

88%: Percentage of American citizens who will save less than $100 on their 2006 federal taxes as a result of 2003 cut in capital gains and dividends taxes

$42,000: Average savings members of Bush's cabinet are expected to enjoy this year as a result in the cuts in capital gains and dividends taxes

$42,228: Median household income in the US in 2001

$116,000: Amount Vice President Cheney is expected to save each year in taxes
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Only moment of joy in last nights State of the Union [Jan. 21st, 2004|08:37 am]
GW Bush: "Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year."

Audience: [Applause]

GW: [Frowny face]
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Group Sees Conflict With Cheney, Scalia [Jan. 19th, 2004|03:26 pm]
[mood |Not surprised]

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Government watchdogs are raising concerns about a potential conflict of interest for Justice Antonin Scalia because he had dinner and went on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney while the Supreme Court was involved in a case about the vice president's energy task force.

Scalia and Cheney, longtime friends, had dinner at a restaurant on Maryland's Eastern Shore in November, two months after the Bush administration asked the justices to overrule a lower court's decision requiring White House to identify task force members.

The men went duck hunting in Louisiana this month, not long after the court agreed to hear the case.

Scalia says there is no reason to question his ability to judge the case fairly. Cheney's office referred questions about the propriety of the social encounters to the court.

Watchdogs said Scalia and Cheney should have kept their distance until the court had ruled.

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Real State of the Union [Jan. 19th, 2004|03:24 pm]

  • 44 million Americans, 15 percent of population, including 8.5 million children, don't have health insurance.

  • Two million fewer jobs than when Bush took office. Tax cuts promising 300,000 new jobs a month never reached one-third of that goal. In December 2003, only 1,000 new jobs created. New jobs pay less than those lost.

  • No Child Left Behind law $7 billion short.

  • Landmark environmental laws weakened. Allowable levels of mercury from power plants tripled. Superfund clean-up costs shifted from polluters to public. Clean Air Act rules for dirtiest power plants relaxed.

  • States face largest budget crises in decades. Federal deficit has hit a new high. $87 billion spent on Irag as U.S. non-defense domestic spending plummets. Meanwhile, White House pushing for new space program, costing estimated hundreds of billions.

  • No WMD found. No link between Iraq and Al Qaeda found. Osama bin Laden still at large. Rebuilding Iraq marred by terrorism, corporate profiteering and failure to restore basic services.

See http://i.tompaine.com/scorecard/scorecard.cfm
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(no subject) [Jan. 17th, 2004|12:16 pm]
MIKE ALLEN AND GREG SCHNEIDER WASHINGTON POST - Industry officials said yesterday that they see a huge boon to business in Bush's "renewed spirit of discovery," which set a mission to Mars as a long-range goal after astronauts build a science base on the moon. Among the companies that could profit from the plan are Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing Co. and Halliburton Co., which Vice President Cheney headed before he joined Bush's ticket. . .

As an example of private industry's hunger for a Mars mission, Steve Streich, a veteran Halliburton scientific adviser, was among the authors of an article in Oil & Gas Journal in 2000 titled "Drilling Technology for Mars Research Useful for Oil, Gas Industries." The article called a Mars exploration program "an unprecedented opportunity for both investigating the possibility of life on Mars and for improving our abilities to support oil and gas demands on Earth," because technology developed for the mission could be used on this planet. . .
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Kill a rat .... And 100 other things to do this year [Jan. 1st, 2004|01:12 pm]
From: http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1114402,00.html

1 Divest yourself of everything that, as it turned out, really was just for Christmas: tree, gym membership voucher, fondness for mulled wine, new party shirt, large sack of hazelnuts, carols CD, goodwill towards men, paper hat. Remember that pets are not just for Christmas, unless they are sea monkeys.

2 Revise enemies list. Consider making up with any foes you have failed to vanquish thus far.

3 Repent. Every year has its own end-of-the-world predictions. A group called the Watcher Ministries has pegged 2004 as the year of the second coming, using complex calculations based on measurements of the Pyramid at Giza. Another apocalyptic number-cruncher named Clay Cantrell is more specific, setting October 17 as the start date for the Rapture. Australian doomsday prophet William Kamm, whose followers call him the Little Pebble, predicts the end of the world as we know it for Easter Sunday. In The Bible Code II: The Countdown, Michael Drosnin plumps for a June nuclear attack on New York City, touching off the third world war and hastening the end-time. One to keep your eye on.

4 Think about everything you failed to do in 2003. At the very least it will stop you focusing on all things you are failing to do in 2004.

5 Make new year's resolutions for 2005. Experience the profound satisfaction of delayed self-restraint.

6 Keep your head down. In August a large comet will brush northern France, raining debris on the Earth before exploding over the Aegean. At least that's what Nostradamus is predicting for 2004. Of course his lunatic quatrains have always been open to a certain amount of interpretation, but this is the central thesis of Comet of Nostradamus: August 2004: Impact!, a book which, it is widely predicted, will disappear off the face of the earth on September 1.

7 Scan the skies. We are expecting our closest encounter with an asteroid in the next 50 years on September 29, when the mysterious, turd-shaped Toutatis, or Asteroid 4179, swings by. Before you start wondering whether this is what Nostradamus had in mind, you should know that "close" in this context means four times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

8 Chuck out all your old opinions. It doesn't hurt to start afresh every once in a while. For the first few weeks of the year, your only contribution to any conversation should be the word "huh". Eventually you will form brand new opinions based on the abject stupidity of other people's opinions.

9 Get a PhD. The internet is full of diploma mills offering degrees in just about anything. Before the advent of top-up fees, £500 for a fake doctorate from the University of Royston Vasey might have seemed expensive, but suddenly it sounds jolly reasonable. One day we will all have them.

10 Erase your entire hard drive. Chances are this will happen at some point in the year anyway; this way you can make it feel like a liberating exercise instead of a terrifying crisis.

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