December 17th, 2007

Chris Keeley

Democratic Senators OK $189 Billion in New Iraq War Funding

Democratic Senators OK $189 Billion in New Iraq War Funding

On Capitol Hill, the Democratic-led Senate has authorized another $189 billion dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senate approved the spending by a vote of 90 to 3. The only Senators voting against the war funding were Democrats Robert Byrd and Russ Feingold and independent Bernie Sanders. None of the Democratic Senators running for president were in Washington for the vote. The bill also expands the size of the U.S. Army by 13,000 soldiers.

Rep. Wexler Leads New Effort to Impeach Cheney

In news from Washington, calls are increasing for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney. Three Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee Robert Wexler of Florida, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin have called on committee chair John Conyers to begin impeachment hearings. Robert Wexler said the charges against the Vice President are too serious to ignore. Since last week, 70,000 people have signed a petition on Robert Wexler’s website supporting impeachment hearings.

Chris Keeley

Sleeping & Dreaming exhibition at London's Wellcome Collection

http://www.forteantimes.com/features/commentary/921/to_sleep_perchance_to_dream.html 

Sleeping & Dreaming exhibition at London's Wellcome Collection

 Assets Wtd037130 The Wellcome Collection, a London museum dedicated to medicine, art, and culture, is currently presenting what sounds like a fascinating exhibition titled "Sleeping & Dreaming," containing films, artworks, scientific artifacts, and all kinds of other material related to the the strange state that we all (well, most of us) enter into on a nightly basis. The Wellcome Collection site has several teasers from the exhibit. And over at Fortean Times, Jen Ogilvie wrote up her visit to the museum. From Fortean Times:
We spend about a third of our lives asleep, yet still have only the vaguest of ideas about why we do it, or of what happens to us during that time. A new exhibition at the revamped Wellcome Collection sets itself the ambitious task of exploring this vast and slippery subject through art, science and social history, and isn’t afraid to admit that, despite notable advances in our understanding of the biomedical and neurological processes involved, sleep remains a mysterious, wondrous and even fearsome state.

Housed in a dark space broken into discrete pockets (and designed by the German architect Nikolaus Hirsch), the flickering of the exhibits in and out of view itself invokes the fleeting secrets of sleep. It is organised more as a series of impressions than as a pedagogical chronology, divided into five themes: Dead Tired, Traces of Sleep, Dream Worlds, Elusive Sleep and World Without Sleep.

The first of these considers the perils of going without sleep. Sleep-deprivation torture has long been recognised as an effective means of breaking a prisoner, and there is an illuminating audio recording here of a journalist talking about being kidnapped and interrogated by East Germany’s Stasi in 1955. Approaching the subject from a different angle are exhibits about men who chose not to sleep: Peter Tripp, an American DJ who in 1959 went without sleep for eight days, and Randy Gardner who in 1964 broke his compatriot’s record by staying awake for 11 days. The experiments showed that attempting to go without sleep can have serious effects, including bad temper, irrationality, poor memory, hallucinating and incoherence. But it can also be fatal: there is a fascinating piece of video featuring Michael Corke, who in 1993 died of the rare, incurable and imperfectly understood condition Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI). An inherited disease, it generally develops in middle age and, not being able to sleep despite being painfully tired, sufferers normally die a few months later.
Link to Fortean Times, Link to Wellcome's "Sleeping & Dreaming" site 

http://www.forteantimes.com/features/commentary/921/to_sleep_perchance_to_dream.html
Chris Keeley

CommitteeCaller: phone an entire Congressional committee with one click

CommitteeCaller: phone an entire Congressional committee with one click

Fred sez,  http://www.committeecaller.com/

I've just finished building < a href="http://www.committeecaller.com">CommitteeCaller.com, a site that allows one person to target an entire congressional committee over the phone. The web application utilizes the open source Asterisk PBX system to connect you to every senator or house member on a particular committee. No more digging around the 'net entering zip-codes to retrieve phone numbers of representatives -- CommitteeCaller.com automates the tedium of repetitively dialing your favorite politicians.

Just go to the website, select a committee, enter in your phone number and click "Put me in touch with democracy!" and you'll be called by our system and sequentially patched through to the front office of each member on that committee. You can even rate how each call went -- information that will enable us to rank representatives on how accountable and responsive they are to their constituents.

This is an excellent opportunity to contact the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- the politicians who are debating today whether telecoms should receive retroactive immunity for spying on your phone calls and e-mail.

Link
Chris Keeley

They squeezed out of their cells and out of the building through holes barely larger than a sheet of

They squeezed out of their cells and out of the building through holes barely larger than a sheet of legal paper and then long-jumped 16 feet from a roof over a fence topped with razor wire, landing on a railroad bed. Two sets of footprints, each pointing in a different direction, showed that the men parted ways as soon as they hit the ground, the authorities said.



Otis Blunt 



Jose Espinosa 

December 17, 2007

Inmates Chip Away Jail’s Walls and Leap From Roof to Freedom

Jose Espinosa and Otis Blunt hail from different towns and very likely were strangers until they wound up in the same jail, a drab building of sealed windows rising 14 stories behind the courthouse in downtown Elizabeth, N.J.

The two men both had violent reputations: Mr. Espinosa had pleaded guilty in a drive-by shooting death, and Mr. Blunt had done prison time for assault and armed robbery. What they also had in common was a cinder-block wall that divided their cells and, apparently, a desire not to be incarcerated any longer.

On Saturday, the Union County authorities said, Mr. Espinosa and Mr. Blunt staged a cinematic escape from the jail, using dummies fashioned out of bedsheets and pictures of pinup models to cover their tracks.

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Chris Keeley

Time for a fix, sir? Then visit your local, Home Office-approved heroin 'booth' (Thanks to Judy O.

Time for a fix, sir? Then visit your local, Home Office-approved heroin 'booth'  (Thanks to Judy O. for the article)

Gareth has been an addict for more than 20 years. But he doesn't have to steal any more; instead, he visits his local, Home Office-approved heroin 'booth'. Max Daly investigates a radical new programme

Published: 16 December 2007

Gareth was 14 and locked up in a Kent borstal for persistent thieving and truancy when he first tried heroin. "Some older boys told me to give it a go," he says. "From the moment I tried it, I loved it."
Gareth, who was raised in a family of six in Battersea, south London, "went off the rails" after his father died when he was 10. He was finally released from borstal in 1984 when he was 18, but by then he had developed a taste for heroin. Within six days of his release, he was back in custody for theft. "I didn't know what else to do apart from steal and smoke heroin," he says.
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