Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. ×
User Journal

Journal Journal: FSM spotted at Cumberland County Courthouse 1

The Crossville Chronicle ( reports that another sighting of his most holy noodly appendage, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, has been reported just outside a courthouse in Cumberland County, Tennessee, late last month.

This is not a joke. FSM really does inhabit the grounds along with several other statues. It's an amusing, open-minded and welcome surprise. From the article: "The artists' interpretation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster sits alongside an Iraq war memorial, chainsaw-carved monkeys and a sculpture of Jesus carrying a cross..."

User Journal

Journal Journal: EPA Bows to lobbying pressure, Fires Respected Scientist

In what has been (and will be) perceived as yet another causality in the Bush Administration's war on science, the The Los Angeles Times (,0,1493929,full.story)
reports that the EPA has fired Deborah Rice, a respected neurotoxicologist and chair of chair of an EPA scientific panel responsible for helping the agency determine the dangers of deca.

DECA is a brominated compound that has similarities to polybrominated diphenyl ether (PDBE) based flame retardants, widely used in electronic equipment. It's used in high volumes worldwide in TVs and other electronics, furniture textiles, building materials and automobiles. About 56,000 tons were used worldwide in 2001, mostly in the United States and Asia.

The concern is that deca appears to turn into other brominated substances when exposed to sunlight, and now many scientists say it, too, is building up in the environment worldwide. Deca has similar effects on animals' developing brains as banned PBDEs, which have been found in laboratory tests to skew brain development and alter thyroid hormones, slowing the learning and motor skills of newborn animals.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the dismissal was made in response to accusations by the "American Chemistry Council, the lobbying group for chemical manufacturers, complained to a top-ranking EPA official that she was biased."

Ms. Rice is the same scientist who, in 2004, the EPA gave an award for what it called "exceptionally high-quality research" for a study that linked lead exposure to premature puberty in girls.

EPA officials removed Rice because of what they called "the perception of a potential conflict of interest." Under the agency's handbook for advisory committees, scientific peer reviewers should not "have a conflict of interest" or "appear to lack impartiality." Of course, under such standards, just about anyone could be removed under an "appearance" of bias - by anyone or any group.

After EPA officials dismissed her from the five-member panel, they removed her comments from the panel's report on deca and removed all mention of her.

Environmentalists accuse the EPA of a "dangerous double standard," because under the Bush administration, many pro-industry experts have served on the agency's scientific panels.

Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group, called it "deeply problematic from the public interest perspective" for the EPA to dismiss scientists who advocate protecting health while appointing those who promote industry views.

Lunder said it is unprecedented for the EPA to remove an expert for expressing concerns about the potential dangers of a chemical. "It's a scary world if we create a precedent that says scientists involved in decision-making are perceived to be too biased," she said.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said he was disturbed by Rice's dismissal and the Environmental Working Group's findings about pro-industry panelists.

"If this information is accurate, it raises serious questions about EPA's approach to preventing conflicts of interest on its expert scientific panels," Waxman said.

Let's not forget who the EPA answers to: Dubya.

I *so* cannot wait until January 20th, 2009.


Journal Journal: Standing up for what the Army should (and should not) be

I saw this article from a link on NPR. Since I don't know how long it will be available for and I think it's important enough to share (for those who are interested) I have posetd it here. Im my opinion, Joe Darby is a hero for stading up for what the Army should be: respecting the Geneva Convention, helping it treat others as it wants its POWs to be treated, and being an institution of honor by example:

I want to be proud of my country, but reading something like this shows me why some Vietnam Vets are having more incidents of PTSD: same s**t, different war.

I have provided the original URLs for those who want to see this stuff in its original format.
Thanks in advance for not suing me, NPR or GQ!

from -

No longer restrained by a government gag order, the Army reservist who first told military investigators about photos of inmate abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison is speaking out.

Many of Sgt. Joseph Darby's former comrades from the 372nd Military Police Company have been sentenced to prison for their roles in the Abu Ghraib case. Darby, who will leave the Army at the end of August, cooperated with those prosecutions.

Prisoner abuse started at Abu Ghraib even before his unit arrived, Darby says. "Disgusted" by the now-infamous photographs, he decided to alert the Army's Criminal Investigation Division.

He says that he asked Army Specialist Charles Graner -- who is now serving a 10-year sentence for his role at Abu Ghraib -- for photographs of their time in Iraq that he could keep as mementos. One of the CDs Graner gave him contained the photos of the prisoner mistreatment.

His identity as the whistleblower was made public in May. When he returned to the United States, Darby was placed in protective custody.

Nonetheless, Darby says disclosing the abuse was "the right decision and it had to be made."

Darby's story will appear in the September issue of GQ magazine, which appears below.

from -

For the first time since exposing the atrocities at Abu Ghraib, Joe Darby speaks out

Everybody thinks there was a conspiracy at Abu Ghraib.

Everybody thinks there was an order from high up, or that somebody in command must have known. Everybody is wrong. Nobody in command knew about the abuse, because nobody in command cared enough to nd out. That was the real problem. The entire command structure was oblivious, living in their own little worlds. So it wasn't a conspiracy--it was negligence, plain and simple. They were all fucking clueless.

The general in charge of the prison was Janis Karpinski, but that didn't mean she was ever there. To actually lay eyes on Karpinski took an act of God. She spent all her time in Kuwait or in the Green Zone Palace. She kept her happy ass in the nice, safe places. The only time she'd come by was when a dignitary was visiting. She'd y in a half hour before they got there, get briefed, lead the tour, and then y back out. Other than that, she had no idea what was going on. She did nothing but suck dignitary ass. I guess she didn't like being in an overcrowded, violent prison with constant mortar re coming in. In the ve months I was at Abu Ghraib, I only saw her twice.

You have to understand, we were the most heavily mortared compound in Iraq. From the day we got there until the day I left, nobody took more mortars than we did. Nobody. We were taking them morning and night. It was just something you got used to. It became normal. After a while, we started having these surreal conversations while the mortars were ying. We'd hear the boom of the launch, and then we'd argue about what size it was while the shit was still coming in.

"What do you think that was? A sixty or an eighty?"

"Might have been a 120."

"No, it wasn't big enough to be a 120."

Other times, we'd hear the launch and start counting, just to see how far away it was. If you got to thirty before it blew, you knew they were 700 to a thousand meters away. But that's really all you could do--try to gure out where they were and what they were shooting at you. That, and get pissed off that nobody was shooting back.

The compound had a main prison, which was two stories high, a series of smaller prisons, an administrative building, and a small building called the Death Chamber. That's where Saddam used to torture his prisoners. There was a room with ceramic tile on the walls, oor, and ceiling so the blood would come off easily. Outside, there was a tent camp. That's where we housed the prisoners who'd committed normal crimes. Some of them were really minor offenses that would only get a two-month sentence, but they might be housed for three years while they waited for trial. The system was that backed up.

As long as the mortars landed on a building, it wasn't a big deal--they weren't powerful enough to pierce the roof. But if one landed in the yard or in the tent camp, it could do a lot of damage. Like, one night they got lucky and split our fuel tanker in half. Dropped a mortar right through it. It caused a re you could see for miles, probably 4,000 gallons of burning fuel. Another time, they dropped one in the middle of a prisoner prayer group. That was pretty bad. These guys had just been sitting in rows, facing Mecca and praying, when the mortar came in. We had fteen to sixteen dead and a bunch more wounded. We had to dig through the bodies, put them in body bags, and take them to the processing area to check them out of the prison. Whenever a prisoner was brought in, we would ID them with a retina scan and ngerprints, so when they died, we had to process them out the same way. Which meant that, for the rest of the day, we were digging through body bags looking for eyeballs. Sometimes there wasn't an eyeball we could use, so we'd look for a nger. You just had to tune it out. You couldn't let it get to you. You got numb.

But it catches up to you later, when you get home. Like, I slept ne while I was there, but now I have nightmares. And a few days before my unit left Abu Ghraib, all of a sudden people started worrying about mortar attacks for the rst time. It was weird. They'd be huddling against the wall together. I found myself crouched in a corner, praying. The numbness was wearing off. That's one of the things you have to keep in mind when you look at the pictures. We all got numb in different ways.


I'll say this, too: The abuse started earlier than anybody realizes. Nobody has ever said that publicly, but there were things going on before our unit even got there. The day we arrived, back in October of 2003, we were getting a tour of the compound and we saw like fteen prisoners sitting in their cells in women's underwear. This was day one; nobody from our unit had ever set foot in the prison. We asked the MPs in charge--the Seventy-second, out of Las Vegas--why the prisoners were wearing panties. They told us that it was a corrective action, that these guys had been mortaring the compound. So probably the MPs decided to mess with these guys. This stuff was going on before we arrived. After we took over, it basically just escalated.

The other thing was, there were other government agencies who would come into the prison and handle prisoners. I can't say which agencies, but you can probably guess. Sometimes we didn't know exactly who they were. We'd get a call at like three in the morning from the battalion commander, saying, "You have a bird coming in. You need to take prisoner such and such from cell whatever to the landing zone in fteen minutes." So I'd put my gear on, cuff the prisoner, bag him, go to the LZ, wait for the helicopter to land, and then hand the prisoner off to the guys inside. I didn't know who they were. Didn't ask. When they tell you not to ask any questions, you don't ask questions. They might bring the prisoner back in a few hours, or the next morning, or two days later. You didn't ask. Other times, they would bring a new prisoner into the compound. You didn't know who they were, or who the prisoner was, or what he had done, or what they were going to do to him. You just handed over the cellblock. One night, this Black Hawk landed at about 4 a.m., and a couple guys came in with a prisoner and took him to tier 1, put sheets up so that nobody could see, and spent the rest of the night in there. They told us to stay away, so we did. Then a couple hours later, they came back out. They were like, "The prisoner is dead." They asked for ice to pack him, and then they said, "You guys clean this up. We weren't here. Have a good day." Got back on the bird and took off, left the dead body right there. Those guys can come in and kill a guy, and there's nothing you can do. There's no record of them. They were never there. They don't exist.

You've probably seen pictures of that prisoner with Graner and Harman crouching next to his dead body, giving the thumbs-up. Well, that's the guy. Everybody takes that picture at face value, but the truth is, Graner and Harman didn't kill him. And when something like that happens, it stretches the limits. Maybe Graner and Harman came away thinking, Okay, let's take it further.


The earliest pictures were from October of 2003, but I didn't discover them until January of 2004. I found the pictures on a CD that Graner had given me. To this day, I'm not sure why he gave me that CD. He probably just forgot which pictures were on it, or he might have assumed that I wouldn't care. I was ipping through them, checking out pictures he had taken in Hilla, where we were stationed before Abu Ghraib, when all of a sudden these other pictures came up. And to be honest, at rst I thought they were pretty funny. I'm sorry, people can get mad at me if they want, but I'm not a Boy Scout. To me, that pyramid of naked Iraqis, when you rst see it, is hilarious. When it came up out of nowhere like that, I just laughed. I was like, "What the fuck?! I'm looking at a pyramid of asses!" But some of the other pictures didn't sit right with me. The ones of prisoners being beaten, or the one with a naked Iraqi sitting on his knees in front of another naked Iraqi, some of the more sexually-explicit-type stuff to humiliate the prisoners--it just didn't sit right with me. I couldn't stop thinking about it. After about three days, I made a decision to turn the pictures in. You have to understand: I'm not the kind of guy to rat somebody out. I've kept a lot of secrets for soldiers. In the heat of the moment, in a war, things happen. You do things you regret. I have exceeded the proper use of force myself a couple times. But this crossed the line to me. I had the choice between what I knew was morally right and my loyalty to other soldiers. I couldn't have it both ways.

I think the decision would have been harder if they had been different soldiers. But most of these soldiers I had doubts about already. Like Sabrina Harman. She was a piece of shit from the day I met her. Before we ever got to Abu Ghraib, when we were still in Hilla, she had this kitten for three days when a dog came and killed it. So Harman decided to dissect it. She said there were no marks on the outside, so she dissected it and found some ruptured organs or something. And then she decided to mummify it. She tried different methods, but all she ended up with was the head. A damned mummied cat's head, for Christ's sake. This rotted-out head with pebbles for eyes. She stuck it on top of a soda can and carried it around with her everywhere. I didn't give a rat's ass what happened to her. I just tried to avoid her. Or Ivan Frederick, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the night shift. He and I avoided each other, too. We didn't get along. Or Charles Graner. He and I got along, but we weren't friends. Graner is one of those guys, he's got an overpowering aura about him. People just like him. But if you see the other side, you understand that he's not someone you want to get too close to. He's manipulative. He has multiple personalities. He can be this religious guy, talking about God and the way things are supposed to be done, but he's also got this very, very dark, evil side. We were talking in Hilla one time, before we got to Abu Ghraib. I'd been walking around smoking a cigarette, and he was working the gate to our compound, so I was talking to him for like ten minutes, and he was telling me about when he thought his wife was cheating on him. He said that he found himself across the street from their house, up on a hill, with a loaded rie trained on the door, just waiting for them to come out. I said, "What happened?" and he said, "They never came out."

When I turned the pictures in, that's the story that stuck with me. Because I knew what this guy was capable of.


I always wanted to stay anonymous. At rst, I didn't even give my name to the Criminal Investigation Division. I just burned a copy of the pictures onto a CD, typed an anonymous letter, put them in a manila envelope, and handed them to an agent at CID. I said, "This was left in my office," and walked out. But about an hour later, this little short guy named Special Agent Pieron came to my office and started grilling me about where the pictures came from. It took him about half an hour before I gave it up. I said, "Fine, I had the pictures. I'm the one who put them in there." I said, "I'll talk to you after work."

I still didn't think it would be as big a deal as it turned out to be. I thought they would be taken off duty and tried, but I didn't think the world would ever hear about it. I never thought it would explode the way it did.

So after work, I went to Agent Pieron's office, scrolled through the pictures with him, and gave a sworn statement. A few of the soldiers in the pictures he knew, but I identied the rest and told him where the pictures were taken, that kind of thing. But while I was doing it, another CID agent was actually going out and rounding these people up. They worked too fast. They were picking them up while I was still there! So I'm in the back room, and I start to hear voices and people's gear coming off out front. I knew right away whose voices they were. It was Graner, Ambuhl, and England. I looked at Agent Pieron, and I didn't have to say anything. He grabbed the other agent and said, "He's still in here. He is still here."

There was only one way out of the room, so there was basically no way to sneak by. One of the agents went and grabbed all of these blankets and rugs and covered me up with them, made me look like a really tall woman in some kind of ridiculous outt. Then he told everyone in the room to turn around and face the wall, and they led me out the door and down the corridor and outside. I couldn't see anything; they had to guide me. I was scared as hell.


The next two days, there was a lot of tension and anger in the unit. My rst sergeant and my company commander knew what I'd done, and they had a big problem with it. They were pissed that I hadn't come to them rst. But the problem was, in the past, every time something came to them, it got covered up. The track record left me no choice. We had a drug addict in the unit getting prescription drugs. He actually walked out of a military hospital and jumped into an Iraqi cab and took a hundred-mile trek to Hilla. They did nothing. There were other things, too, that I'm not going to mention. But things happened, and nothing was done about it. Plus, Frederick was involved--he was in charge of the night shift for the prison, and he was in the damned photos.

For about three days, Graner and England and the rest of them were being questioned. Then it got even worse. Someone decided to keep them on the compound. I had expected them to be charged and taken away, but no, they were going to get new jobs. They'd be walking around with their weapons all day long, knowing that somebody had turned them in and trying to nd out who.

That was one of the most nervous periods of my life. I was constantly scared. I started getting paranoid. I kept my gun with me at all times. I took it to sleep with me. All the other platoons in my company slept in one of the old prison buildings on the compound, in cells, but I slept in a closet in an old administration building, so I was one of the only soldiers who didn't have a big metal door that I could close. In fact, there wasn't any door at all. I was totally exposed. I hung a poncho in the doorway, like an army raincoat, and I would lie there in bed with both arms behind my head and my left hand inside the pillowcase, gripping my nine-millimeter with the safety off. I would just listen. And about four days into it, I'm lying there, and I hear the poncho go swish. I was like, Holy shit--somebody is coming into my goddamn room. And then it was quiet again. I'm thinking, Oh fuck. I tighten my grip around my weapon, and then I feel a hand on my foot. So I swing up with the nine as fast as I can and grab the guy by the shoulder, and he goes, "Jesus Christ!" It was my friend Layton, completely blasted. He just wanted some help with his computer. Thank God he didn't remember in the morning that I had pulled a gun on him. I don't think he would've realized why I had the gun, but Layton was the type of guy that wouldn't have let me forget it. He would've teased me about it, and somebody else might have heard the story and put it together.

The day after that, I was working at my office in the Operations building when Graner came in. You could tell he hadn't slept, he's all unshaven and everything, and he's still got his weapon--an M16 with a grenade launcher. Takes it off and sets it on the desk. He just looks exhausted, and he's acting funny. He's talking to my boss, Sergeant Coville, but he keeps looking at me. At one point, he says to Coville, "You don't know who your friends are." And then he looks at me and says, "Do you, Darb?" I froze. But then he just laughed and started talking again, and I realized then that he didn't know. He trusted me enough to believe it wasn't me.

Eventually, after about a month, somebody nally had the sense to take them off the compound. That was a huge relief, but I still wanted to make sure nobody found out what I'd done. One of the things you have to understand is the mentality of where I grew up, in western Maryland. It's a small town, and there's not a lot of work. So most people are either in the military, in the Reserves, or they're related to somebody who is. They're good people, but I knew they weren't going to look at the fact that these guys were beating up prisoners. They were going to look at the fact that an American soldier put other American soldiers in prison. For Iraqis. And to those people--who basically are patriotic, socially programmed people who believe whatever they're told--the Iraqis are the enemy, and screw whatever happens to them. So I knew if I wanted to go back to my civilian life, if I wanted to integrate back home, nobody could know what I'd done. They'd never forgive me. And I was assured by the army that nobody would know. I would remain anonymous.

Well, it didn't work out that way. About a month after Graner and the rest of them left Abu Ghraib, we were up in Camp Anaconda, and I was sitting with ten other guys from my platoon in the dining facility. It's a big facility, packed with like 400 other soldiers, and I'm sitting there eating when Donald Rumsfeld comes on during the damned congressional hearings. It was like something out of a movie. I'm sitting there, and right next to me there's a TV, and Rumsfeld is on it when he drops my damned name. Almost nobody in my unit knew what I'd done until he dropped my damned name. On national TV. I was sitting midbite when he said it, and I was like, Oh, my God. And the guys at the table just stopped eating and looked at me. I was like, Fuuuuuck. And I got up and got the hell out of there.


After my name got out, I knew I had to get home. The media was swarming all over the house like vultures. They were taking pictures every time my wife came in and out, the phone was ringing nonstop, and they were coming to the door one after the other with presents and owers, even after she told them to go away. Most of the neighbors didn't support her, either. Some did, like the postmaster--he's a Vietnam vet, and he told my wife that he understood. But as soon as somebody else walked in, even he stopped talking to her. Because a lot of people up there view me as a traitor. Even some of my family members think I'm a traitor. One of my uncles does, and he convinced my brother not to talk to me anymore. So my wife had to hide in a relative's house, and when the media tracked her there, she had to be taken into military custody. I still have a lot of bad feelings toward the press.

I was stuck in Iraq, powerless to help her. I needed to get home. I asked for emergency leave, and at one o'clock in the morning they came to my room with a two-hour warning. They said, "Get out of bed, get what you need, turn in your ak vest. You're getting out of the country." So I grabbed everything I could t into two duffel bags, gave my weapons to a friend, and went down to wait for the plane. It's a long ight, and I managed to sleep for most of it. Finally, we land in Dover, Delaware. We're taxiing on the runway when all of a sudden, the plane stops. You can hear the hissing of the hydraulics, and the plane door is opening up. But we're still on the runway. The loadmaster of the plane looks at me and says, "What the hell are we doing?" And then these three guys in suits come on, and they point at me and they're like, "Let's go."

There was a van sitting there on the runway, and I was saluted by a colonel, who said, "Your family's waiting. We'll take you to them." I couldn't believe it when I walked through the doors and saw my wife. I had no idea she was actually going to be in the airport. I was just hugging her and crying. Then they took us to a house on the post for the night, and after a while, I went outside to talk to Major Chung, the provost marshal for my unit based in Cumberland. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, "I just want to go home." And he said, "You can't go home. You can probably never go home."


He was right. I never went back to my home. I've only been back to my town twice: for my mother's funeral and for a wedding. Even then, I was only in town as long as I needed to be. I'm not welcome there. People there don't look at the fact that I knew right from wrong. They look at the fact that I put an Iraqi before an American. So we've relocated, and I've been working as a military mechanic for the past two years. My orders were extended through the trials, so I have now served ten years on an eight-year contract. My last day in the military is August 31. I'm done. I have a job lined up, working for a medical-equipment company. It's a nice job, a lucrative job. At rst it might be hard for me to adapt to civilian life. You hear this from everybody who's out of the military--if you're a supervisor over a civilian, you can't bark at them like you do in the military, so you have to learn to do things different. I always treated my soldiers well, but if I wanted something done, it better be done now. It'll be different in civilian life.

But I don't regret any of it. I made my peace with my decision before I turned the pictures in. I knew that if people found out it was me, I wouldn't be liked. That's why I wanted to be anonymous. I knew what the mentality is up there. But the only time I have ever regretted it was when I was in Iraq and my family was going through a lot. Other than that, I never doubted that it was the right thing. It forced a big change in my life, but the change has been good and bad. I liked my little quiet town, but now I have a new place, with a new job and new opportunities. And I'm going to live my life like anyone else, and raise my family.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The PirateBay Sinks on May 31st, 2006. 3

Most visitors to the today were in for a surprise. U.S. Newswire ( reports that on May 31st, 2006, the MPAA and its allies finally succeded in getting The Pirate Bay (, taken offline. "Since filing a criminal complaint in Sweden in November 2004, the film industry has worked vigorously with Swedish and U.S. government officials in Sweden to shut this (illegal) site down. Over 50 Swedish law enforcement officials executed search warrants and raids at 10 different locations which resulted in three arrests and the preclusion of millions of users trading up to 2 million (illegal) files simultaneously."

According to, which rates millions of Web sites around the world, "The Pirate Bay" was the 479th most visited Web site in the world, ranking 21st in Sweden and 312th in the U.S. In comparison, is the 125th most popular site in Sweden. With more than one million hits per day, the popular P2P haven took in an estimated $60,000 per month from advertisers in addition to thousands of dollars collected from user donations.

The article, being mostly a news release from the MPAA, has a predictable point of view, but being this early on in the game, few other sources were avaialble to cover the takedown. The aticle proudly states, "By shutting down Razorback2 and sites like 'The Pirate Bay,' the ease with which pirates can obtain illegal content online can be slowed dramatically." While this last assertion is debatable, one thing is certain: has sailed its last Black Flag. Aaargh.

User Journal

Journal Journal: New York Times Weigh in (again) on Net Neutrality

In their second Op-Ed piece in less than a month on the subject (as reported by, The New York Times' (
Adam Cohen provides a wonderful argument in favor of neutrality on the World Wide Web. Cohen succinctly provides a brief history of the world wide web, it's creator Tim Berners-Lee vision of how it should operate, why he designed that way, and the forces moving to create a tiered pricing system of access. From stifling creativity and competition to free speech and innovation, Cohen shows why strange bedfellows have come to favor enforcing the 'Democratic Ethic' of the internet by Legislation. Readers will come away with a good nutshell argument about why Net Neutrality is important and the potential consequences of not forcing current standards to remain in place.

Coveniently provided at the end of the article is a link to ( where United States readers can write an email to their Senators and Congresspersons in favor of pending Net Neutraility legislation in the U.S. House and Senate.

In case this article gets buried in the NYTimes archives, here is the text of the article (Thanks in advance for not suing me, NYTimes!):

Editorial Observer
Why the Democratic Ethic of the World Wide Web May Be About to End

Published: May 28, 2006

The World Wide Web is the most democratic mass medium there has ever been. Freedom of the press, as the saying goes, belongs only to those who own one. Radio and television are controlled by those rich enough to buy a broadcast license. But anyone with an Internet-connected computer can reach out to a potential audience of billions.

This democratic Web did not just happen. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist who invented the Web in 1989, envisioned a platform on which everyone in the world could communicate on an equal basis. But his vision is being threatened by telecommunications and cable companies, and other Internet service providers, that want to impose a new system of fees that could create a hierarchy of Web sites. Major corporate sites would be able to pay the new fees, while little-guy sites could be shut out.

Sir Tim, who keeps a low profile, has begun speaking out in favor of "net neutrality," rules requiring that all Web sites remain equal on the Web. Corporations that stand to make billions if they can push tiered pricing through have put together a slick lobbying and marketing campaign. But Sir Tim and other supporters of net neutrality are inspiring growing support from Internet users across the political spectrum who are demanding that Congress preserve the Web in its current form.

The Web, which Sir Tim invented as a scientist at CERN, the European nuclear physics institute, is often confused with the Internet. But like e-mail, the Web runs over the system of interconnected computer networks known as the Internet. Sir Tim created the Web in a decentralized way that allowed anyone with a computer to connect to it and begin receiving and sending information.

That open architecture is what has allowed for the extraordinary growth of Internet commerce and communication. Pierre Omidyar, a small-time programmer working out of his home office, was able to set up an online auction site that anyone in the world could reach -- which became eBay. The blogging phenomenon is possible because individuals can create Web sites with the World Wide Web prefix, www, that can be seen by anyone with Internet access.

Last year, the chief executive of what is now AT&T sent shock waves through cyberspace when he asked why Web sites should be able to "use my pipes free." Internet service providers would like to be able to charge Web sites for access to their customers. Web sites that could not pay the new fees would be accessible at a slower speed, or perhaps not be accessible at all.

A tiered Internet poses a threat at many levels. Service providers could, for example, shut out Web sites whose politics they dislike. Even if they did not discriminate on the basis of content, access fees would automatically marginalize smaller, poorer Web sites.

Consider online video, which depends on the availability of higher-speed connections. Internet users can now watch channels, like BBC World, that are not available on their own cable systems, and they have access to video blogs and Web sites like, where people upload videos of their own creation. Under tiered pricing, Internet users might be able to get videos only from major corporate channels.

Sir Tim expects that there are great Internet innovations yet to come, many involving video. He believes people at the scene of an accident -- or a political protest -- will one day be able to take pictures with their cellphones that could be pieced together to create a three-dimensional image of what happened. That sort of innovation could be blocked by fees for the high-speed connections required to relay video images.

The companies fighting net neutrality have been waging a misleading campaign, with the slogan "hands off the Internet," that tries to look like a grass-roots effort to protect the Internet in its current form. What they actually favor is stopping the government from protecting the Internet, so they can get their own hands on it.

But the other side of the debate has some large corporate backers, too, like Google and Microsoft, which could be hit by access fees since they depend on the Internet service providers to put their sites on the Web. It also has support from political groups of all persuasions. The president of the Christian Coalition, which is allied with on this issue, recently asked, "What if a cable company with a pro-choice board of directors decides that it doesn't like a pro-life organization using its high-speed network to encourage pro-life activities?"

Forces favoring a no-fee Web have been gaining strength. One group,, says it has collected more than 700,000 signatures on a petition. Last week, a bipartisan bill favoring net neutrality, sponsored by James Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, and John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, won a surprisingly lopsided vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

Sir Tim argues that service providers may be hurting themselves by pushing for tiered pricing. The Internet's extraordinary growth has been fueled by the limitless vistas the Web offers surfers, bloggers and downloaders. Customers who are used to the robust, democratic Web may not pay for one that is restricted to wealthy corporate content providers.

"That's not what we call Internet at all," says Sir Tim. "That's what we call cable TV."

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. 2

Every once in a while on /. I will come across this message: "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

I used to simply view it as an oddity and possible anomoly of /., fixed by coming back to the page later or or hitting the refresh button. But recently I was examining a user's post history and found that very uninformative statement when I attempted to click on a link to read an old post of his and the link for the article associated with it; neither were journal entries.

Does anyone out there have any idea what causes this message to appear and what it may mean?

User Journal

Journal Journal: What it takes to make a Friend/Fan/Foe/Freak 3

Every once in a while I take some time to take a look at my user account and check up on the Friends, Fans, and Freaks list.

I check up on Friends to see if they have written anything interesting in their journals (assuming they use them) or posts here on /.

I check on Fans to see if anyone new likes (or no longer likes) me based on what I have said, in addition to the above listed reasons for Friends shown above.

I check on Freaks to see if anyone new hates me based on what I have said in a journal or posting. Perhaps hate is to strong of a word, but I have to start somewhere.

As of my writing this Journal, I gained a freak, bring my total number of freaks to two. I believe this is based on what is admittadly my very left wing reading previous journal. It is my new antagonist and the reason for him (likely a he, based on the /. crowd) which promted me to make this new entry.

I find the area of Freaks to be much more interesting because of my belief that while it is interesting to study the habits of friends and those who may admire you or be like minded in some way, it is often much more interesting and educational to study the habits and beliefs of those who I have somehow rubbed the wrong way strongly enough to have them mark me as a Foe.

So far, I have no Foes. I've been on /. for what is a few years now (3 or 4?) and while I have had a few people make comments directly towards me that I have been annoyed and/or unhappy with, none has displayed such a repeated/viceral hate/anger/unreasonableness to make me say: you're on my fertlizer list. The Internet is a big place, getting bigger all the time and full of possibilities; I wont rule out the idea that someone may somehow bother me enough to make me want to mark them as a foe, but it hasn't happended yet and I hope it never does.

In studying my "Freaks," their posts and journals, it is intersting to see both their habits and mine: we tend to post in certain areas of interest (not always the same) and offer what can be, with a little research and insight, often predictable but sometimes educational and/or surprising responses. I find my Freaks to be, oddly enough, the ones I pay the most attention to because while they may hate me, I am very interested in what they have to say and am on the lookout for whatever Gems of Wisdom, Reason, or Insight that they may have precisely because they have what is probably a very different viewpoint than my own. I also sometimes get a good laugh from whatever rants they may be on, but the same could perhaps be said of them for me...

My questions, to anyone who may read this are: what does it take for you to mark someone as a friend or foe? Why? How long does it take? Do you keep tabs on them? if so why and how closely? Have you ever moved someone from one list to another? If so, what prompted you to make the change?

I know that MacDaddy, one of my freaks, asked in his latest journal a very similar set of questions. The credit goes to him and those who responded to his journal entry for the basis of my questions and many of my observations here.

Thanks to any who may care to respond to this.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Bumper Stickers for Our Times

I haven't seen any of these as bumper stickers, but I'd be grinning if I did.

Some of you may need to take these with a grain of salt, but here they are:


















User Journal

Journal Journal: Scientific American (Liberal Elite Media) Finally Caves In 1

The followng article appeared in the online April 1st 2005 edition of Scientific American

Because I don't know how long the link for this particular link will remain active (maybe 'till '06?) I have posted the text of it here below.

Thank goodness they decided to take a more reasonable stance on alternative viewpoints. I for one have been getting tired of all the right wing bashing going in the liberal elite media.

The thing is, it's been quite some time since April 1st, I'm wondering when they'll finally do what they said they would...

Okay, We Give Up
We feel so ashamed
By The Editors
There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.

In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it. Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists. Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that's a somewhat religious idea. But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells. That's what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn't get bogged down in details.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.

Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how science should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can't work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars and imperil national security, you won't hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration's antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that's not our concern. No more discussions of how policies affect science either-so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools' Day.

United States

Journal Journal: 29 Things to do before or ASAP after Bush's Inaguration

Listed below are some rather humerous (and sometimes troubling) suggestions as to what you may want do do before President Bush's re-inaguration. I'm not sure I agree with some of them, as most are exaggerations to make a point; they are, of course, designed to make a statement in these (apparently) increasingly conservative and security focused times.

Enjoy. And no, I can't take credit for them.

1. Get that abortion you've always wanted.
2. Drink a nice clean glass of water.
3. Cash your Social Security check.
4. See a doctor of your own choosing.
5. Spend quality time with your draft age child/grandchild.
6. Visit Syria, or any foreign country for that matter.
7. Get that gas mask you've been putting off buying.
8. Hoard gasoline.
9. Borrow books from library before they're banned - Constitutional law books, Catcher in the Rye, Harry Potter, Tropic of Cancer, etc.
10. If you have an idea for an art piece involving a crucifix - do it now.
11. Come out - then go back in - HURRY!
12. Jam in all the Alzheimer's stem cell research you can.
13. Stay out late before the curfews start.
14. Go see Bruce Springsteen before he has his "accident".
15. Go see Mount Rushmore before the Reagan addition.
16. Use the phrase - "you can't do that - this is America".
17. If you're white - marry a black person, if you're black - marry a white person.
18. Take a walk in Yosemite, without being hit by a snowmobile or a base-jumper.
19. Enroll your kid in an accelerated art or music class.
20. Start your school day without a prayer.
21. Pass on the secrets of evolution to future generations.
22. Learn French.
23. Attend a commitment ceremony with your gay friends.
24. Take a factory tour anywhere in the US.
25. Try to take photographs of animals on the endangered species list.
26. Visit Florida before the polar ice caps melt.
27. Visit Nevada before it becomes radioactive.
28. Visit Alaska before "The Big Spill".
29. Visit Massachusetts while it is still a state.


Journal Journal: Ohio GOP to Challenge "Suspicious" Voters

The New York Times (reg req'd) reports that ( In the key Battleground State of Ohio, the Republican Party finalized steps to place roughly 3,600 recruits (to be paid $100 each) inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.

Ohio election officials said they had never seen so large a drive to prepare for Election Day challenges and were scrambling to be ready for disruptions in the voting process as well as potential alarm and complaints among voters. Some officials said they worried the challenges could discourage or even frighten others waiting to vote.

In fairness to the GOP's claims, Republicans said they submitted on Thursday a list of about 35,000 registered voters whose mailing addresses were questionable. After registering, they said, each of the voters was mailed a notice, and in each case the notice was returned to election officials as undeliverable. 14,000 of these questionable addresses are in the heavily Democratic leaning densely populated Cuyahoga county, and 1,400 of the registered Republican Challengers will be waiting for them there at the Polls.

With "Impromptu Courts" in so many polling stations because of what appears to be legitimate yet targeted Republican concerns, how many properly registered voters will be tunred away out of delays and/or frustration?"


Because the NYTimes archives articles after a time, I have also included the full text here.

Thanks in advance for not suing me, guys!


Big G.O.P. Bid to Challenge Voters at Polls in Key State

Published: October 23, 2004

Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots.

Party officials say their effort is necessary to guard against fraud arising from aggressive moves by the Democrats to register tens of thousands of new voters in Ohio, seen as one of the most pivotal battlegrounds in the Nov. 2 elections.

Election officials in other swing states, from Arizona to Wisconsin and Florida, say they are bracing for similar efforts by Republicans to challenge new voters at polling places, reflecting months of disputes over voting procedures and the anticipation of an election as close as the one in 2000.

Ohio election officials said they had never seen so large a drive to prepare for Election Day challenges. They said they were scrambling yesterday to be ready for disruptions in the voting process as well as alarm and complaints among voters. Some officials said they worried that the challenges could discourage or even frighten others waiting to vote.

Ohio Democrats were struggling to match the Republicans' move, which had been rumored for weeks. Both parties had until 4 p.m. to register people they had recruited to monitor the election. Republicans said they had enlisted 3,600 by the deadline, many in heavily Democratic urban neighborhoods of Cleveland, Dayton and other cities. Each recruit was to be paid $100.

The Democrats, who tend to benefit more than Republicans from large turnouts, said they had registered more than 2,000 recruits to try to protect legitimate voters rather than weed out ineligible ones.

Republican officials said they had no intention of disrupting voting but were concerned about the possibility of fraud involving thousands of newly registered Democrats.

"The organized left's efforts to, quote unquote, register voters - I call them ringers - have created these problems," said James P. Trakas, a Republican co-chairman in Cuyahoga County.

Both parties have waged huge campaigns in the battleground states to register millions of new voters, and the developments in Ohio provided an early glimpse of how those efforts may play out on Election Day.

Ohio election officials said that by state law, the parties' challengers would have to show "reasonable" justification for doubting the qualifications of a voter before asking a poll worker to question that person. And, the officials said, challenges could be made on four main grounds: whether the voter is a citizen, is at least 18, is a resident of the county and has lived in Ohio for the previous 30 days.

Elections officials in Ohio said they hoped the criteria would minimize the potential for disruption. But Democrats worry that the challenges will inevitably delay the process and frustrate the voters.

"Our concern is Republicans will be challenging in large numbers for the purpose of slowing down voting, because challenging takes a long time,'' said David Sullivan, the voter protection coordinator for the national Democratic Party in Ohio. "And creating long lines causes our people to leave without voting.''

The Republican challenges in Ohio have already begun. Yesterday, party officials submitted a list of about 35,000 registered voters whose mailing addresses, the Republicans said, were questionable. After registering, they said, each of the voters was mailed a notice, and in each case the notice was returned to election officials as undeliverable.

In Cuyahoga County alone, which includes the heavily Democratic neighborhoods of Cleveland, the Republican Party submitted more than 14,000 names of voters for county election officials to scrutinize for possible irregularities. The party said it had registered more than 1,400 people to challenge voters in that county.

Among the main swing states, only Ohio, Florida and Missouri require the parties to register poll watchers before Election Day; elsewhere, party observers can register on the day itself. In several states officials have alerted poll workers to expect a heightened interest by the parties in challenging voters. In some cases, poll workers, many of them elderly, have been given training to deal with any abusive challenging.

Mr. Trakas, the Republican co-chairman in Cuyahoga County, said the recruits would be equipped with lists of voters who the party suspects are not county residents or otherwise qualified to vote.

The recruits will be trained next week, said Mr. Trakas, who added that he had not decided whether to open the training sessions to the public or reporters. Among other things, he said, the recruits will be taught how to challenge mentally disabled voters who are assisted by anyone other than their legal guardians. In previous elections, he said, bus drivers who had taken group-home residents to polling places often helped them vote.

Reno Oradini, the Cuyahoga County election board attorney, said a challenge would in effect create impromptu courts at polling places as workers huddled to resolve a dispute and cause delays in voting. He said he was working with local election officials to find ways of preventing disruptions that could drive away impatient voters and reduce turnout.

State law varies widely on voter challenges. In Colorado, challenged voters can sign an oath that they are indeed qualified to vote; voters found to have lied could be prosecuted, but their votes would still be counted. In Wisconsin, it is the challenger who must sign an oath stating the grounds for a challenge.

"You need personal knowledge," said Kevin J. Kennedy, executive director of the Wisconsin State Elections Board. "You can't say they don't look American or don't speak English."

National election officials said yesterday that Election Day challenging had been done only sporadically by the parties over the years, mainly in highly contested races. In the bitterly contested 2000 presidential election, they said, challenges occurred mainly after Election Day.

The preparations for widespread challenging this year have alarmed some election officials.

"This creates chaos and confusion in the polling site," said R. Doug Lewis, executive director of the Election Center, an international association of election officials. But, he said, "most courts say it's permissible by state law and therefore can't be denied."

In Ohio, Republicans sought to play down any concern that their challenging would be disruptive.

"I suspect there will be challenges," said Robert T. Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. "But by and large, people will move through quickly. We want to make sure every eligible voter votes." He added, "99.9 percent will fly right by."

Challengers on both sides said they were uncertain about what to expect. Georgiana Nye, 56, a Dayton real estate broker who was registered by the Republicans as a challenger, said she wanted to help prevent fraud and would accept the $100 for the 13 hours of work and training.

For the Democrats in Dayton, Ronald Magoteaux, 57, a mechanical engineer, said he agreed to be a poll watcher out of concern for new voters. "I think it's sick that these Republicans are up to dirty tricks at the polls," Mr. Magoteaux said. "I believe thousands of votes were lost in 2000, and I want to make sure that doesn't happen in Ohio."

Democrats said they were racing to match the Republicans, precinct by precinct. In some cities, like Dayton, they registered more challengers than the Republicans, election officials said. But in Cuyahoga County, where the Republicans said they had registered 1,436 people to challenge voters, or one in every precinct, Democrats said they had signed up only about 300.

The parties are also preparing to battle over voter qualifications in Florida, where they had until last Tuesday to register challengers. In Fort Myers, Republicans named 100 watchers for the county's 171 precincts, up from 60 in 2000. But Democrats registered 300 watchers in the county, a sixfold increase.

Nader Loses Ohio Ballot Bid

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 22 (AP) - The Ohio Supreme Court on Friday rejected an effort by Ralph Nader to get his name on the ballot, most likely ending his chances in the state for the Nov. 2 election.

Mr. Nader wanted the court to force election boards to review their voter registration lists, a process he said could have led to the validation of petitions to place him on the ballot. The court ruled 6-1 against him.

James Dao contributed reporting from Ohio for this article, and Ford Fessenden and Anthony Smith from New York.

User Journal

Journal Journal: How many Bushies does it take to change a Light Bulb?

The Answer is TEN:

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed.

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed.

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb.

4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are either: "For changing the light bulb or for darkness"

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Haliburton for the new light bulb.

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a stepladder under the banner "Light Bulb Change Accomplished".

7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally "in the dark".

8. One to viciously smear #7.

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light bulb-changing policy all along.

10. And finally one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nevada uses E-Voting with Paper Trail Successfully ( reports that Nevada became the first state to succsessfully use Electronic voting machines yesterday. Voter advocates praised Nevada's system, which requires county registrars to randomly select a small percentage of machines and compare their printed records with the vote totals taken from the computers' memory cartridges after polls close. The paper records will be kept in county election offices for 22 months and used in case of a recount.

Federal officials from the U.S. Elections assistance commission seemed to be pleased with the results and reported "there hasn't been frustration or confusion."

The success of the new, paper-auditable system could mean widespread adoption of the Sequoia based system over North Canton Ohio's Diebold, Inc., which has been plagued by controversy over potential errors and lack of a paper trail. California, Washington and Illinois recently passed laws requiring a paper trail for electronic ballots, and at least 20 others are considering similar legislation.

Nevada proides a demo of the system here: (

Are we finally seeing the kind of stable, auditable, system the voting public wants for trust in this newer voting style?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Beta Testing for Status and Sales

The New York Times (free reg/bugmenot req'd) has an interesting piece on how Beta Testing ( has come a long way from its original incarnation where testers took the job to improve software or find bugs and the author/company just wanted to release a more stable product.

The article show examples where beta testing has evolved into an environment where candidates seek to test for status and identity as much anything else. It also shows how beta testing has, in some cases, become so commercialized that offerings are made more on the basis of potential customer buzz, loyalty and sales than any potential skills at bug-finding or the need for a better product.

With beta software like World of Warcraft actioning for $500.00 per account on eBay and G-mail possibly being the most successful example of viral marketing, how far will beta testing move to fulfill the needs of Targeted Marketing and Buzz?

User Journal

Journal Journal: What It Takes To be a Republican

This is perfect for my first Journal Entry.

I'm not against Republicans Universally, but the general gist of Hypocrisy that the Republican Party engages in on a National Scale is nevertheless, IMO, well illustrated in a very humerous way below. (I cannot take credit for this message, which was forwarded to me in an email).

It is also worth noting that I am sure that Democrats can just as easily have their own Hypocrisy list as well. I would love to see one.

Here it is:

If the truth doesn't set you free, at least it can make you laugh...

                What it takes to be a Republican

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all humankind without regulation.

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins unless you someday run for governor of California as a Republican.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

HMOs and insurance companies have the interest of the public at heart.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy.
Providing healthcare to all Americans is socialism.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have a right to adopt.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush Sr. did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China, Vietnam and Libya is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

Feel free to pass these on. If you don't send them to at least ten other people, we're likely to be stuck with Bush for 4 more years.

Slashdot Top Deals

Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little more time for dreaming. -- J. P. McEvoy