Thoughts Gallery July 2005
July 1
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Today a new girl joined the buchanan clan. Abigail Kay Jamieson was born weighing 7 pounds 1 ounce, 20 inches long.  She is home with her mom and dad, Devrey & Jaime Jamieson.
July 2
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Britain Marks Anniversary of Sea Victory

PORTSMOUTH, England - Two hundred years ago a daredevil naval hero by the name of Horatio Nelson led the British to a glorious victory over France and Spain. But that might not be clear from watching Tuesday's reenactment of the Battle of Trafalgar. Wary of offending European neighbors who enjoy a close but sometimes testy friendship with Britain, organizers decided to dispense with details such as who won and who lost. Instead of depicting the battle as a contest between countries, they assigned the fleets colors — red and blue — and left it up to the spectators to figure out which was which.
Nelson's great, great, great granddaughter called it a "pretty stupid" idea. "I am sure the French and Spanish are adult enough to appreciate we did win that battle," said Anna Tribe, 75. "I am anti-political correctness. Very much against it. It makes fools of us." The Battle of Trafalgar was one of the most spectacular naval successes of all times. Nelson routed Napoleon Bonaparte's larger French and Spanish fleet and ensured that Britain ruled the waves for more than a hundred years. Though the battle cost him his life, he didn't lose a single ship.
Today, France and Britain call themselves allies, and both countries had ships taking part in Tuesday's ceremony, as did Spain. But the British-French rivalry remains strong, as their latest public feud over the European Union budget indicates, and the anniversary organizers worked hard to avoid touching it off. Seventeen ships from five nations were enlisted for the mock confrontation off Portsmouth in southern England. The reenactment kicks off a long season of festivities in Britain marking the bicentennial of the battle, which took place on Oct. 21, 1805, off Cape Trafalgar, a low headland in southwest Spain. The ceremony before thousands of spectators — including Queen Elizabeth II — was to involve 10 tons of gunpowder, state-of-the-art pyrotechnics and a replica 18th-century frigate portraying the HMS Victory, the flagship that Nelson commanded and died aboard when a musket ball struck his spine.
French Vice Adm. Jacques Mazars, who is in charge of five vessels that are taking part, said: "We are proud to be here and to be part of this great all-week sea festival in Portsmouth. That's why the French navy sent five ships." He said the point of such a ceremony isn't to put British forces on one side, and French and Spanish ones on the other, or to rekindle a rivalry, but to have the strong allies today celebrate a big moment in history when both camps showed great courage. Tuesday's festivities also include 35 nations that have contributed 58 vessels to the International Fleet Review, with 57 heads of foreign navies attending. The 40,000-ton French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and U.S. amphibious assault ship USS Saipan were among the ships that crowded the waters off Portsmouth. At around noon, the queen, wearing a light-blue outfit and matching hat, boarded the icebreaker HMS Endurance and sailed toward the vessels to conduct the fleet review. Thousands of people lined the sea front in Portsmouth to see the huge naval gathering in bright sunny conditions.
"Most British people are taught in school about Trafalgar and Nelson," said Dennis Ulyet, 53, from Godalming near London. "It's good that so many countries have sent ships here, even the French and Spanish. It shows how the bitterness of the defeat is long gone and gestures of good will are now possible." Nelson, one of Britain's greatest heroes, won a series of stunning naval successes against France and Spain that culminated in Trafalgar, during which he shattered the combined enemy fleet by taking it head-on. The victory arguably ended any hope of an invasion of Britain by Napoleon, enabling the British empire to grow. A passionate man in love and war, Nelson became a people's hero, who often was shunned by the aristocracy at the height of his fame. His state funeral in 1805 was the largest ever held in Britain, with a mile-and-a-half-long procession behind his coffin in London. Today, his statue atop a column in London's Trafalgar Square remains one of the city's famous landmarks.
In the 1800s, ships such as the HMS Victory were that era's weapons of mass destruction. Sailing a ship through difficult weather and tricky currents was difficult. Knowing how to organize and maneuver fleets during a battle was even harder. Nelson was the son of a parson whose mother died when he was 9. An uncle got him into the Royal Navy at the age of 12. By the time he was 16, he had traveled the world learning the basics of seamanship, and he became a captain by the age of 21. The admiral was famous for leadership skills that promoted bravery, obedience and camaraderie among his men. During wars with the French, he fought in more than 120 engagements, losing an arm and an eye, and suffering many other injuries, thanks to his daredevil nature.
After the Battle of Trafalgar, and during a long storm that followed, English sailors performed extraordinary feats of seamanship and valor as their commander lay dead by saving the lives of many injured and exhausted opponents. Although Trafalgar was Nelson's greatest victory, others also showed his tactical skills and daring. They included the Battle of the Nile in 1798, during which he risked maneuvering his fleet between a line of French ships anchored in Egypt's Aboukir Bay, and, after fierce fighting, destroyed 12 of them with no loss to his own fleet. During the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, Nelson ignored a signal from his commanders to withdraw by putting a telescope to his blind eye. He went on to rout the Danes. The military man also was a renowned self-publicist who ensured that every detail of his conquests was relayed back home to England. Today, there are more than 100 Nelson biographies.

July 3 
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A cow nose ray swims in the Glover's Reef exhibit at the New York Aquarium at Coney Island in New York. The new exhibit is teeming with marine life you'd find in the ocean off the coast of Belize.
July 4 
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Bioterror Report on Milk Concerns Feds

WASHINGTON - A scientific article that says terrorists could poison thousands of people through the milk supply — withheld at first at the government's request — is being published despite continuing objections after the National Academy of Sciences concluded it wouldn't help attackers. The study by Lawrence M. Wein and Yifan Liu of Stanford University discusses such questions as how terrorists could release botulinum toxin into the U.S. milk supply and what effective amounts might be.
Bruce Alberts, president of the Academy, said in an accompanying editorial that a terrorist would not learn anything useful from the article about the minimum amount of toxin to use. "And we can detect no other information in this article important for a terrorist that is not already immediately available to anyone who has access to information from the World Wide Web." In fact, he said publication of the article by the Academy could instead be valuable for biodefense.
Science has a long tradition of publishing new information in peer-reviewed journals, providing an opportunity for other researchers to confirm findings and advance to a next step.
However, following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, some government officials have raised concerns that by obtaining biotechnology data terrorists might be able to engineer deadlier versions of diseases. The paper and editorial were published Tuesday on the Academy Internet site and will appear in the July 12 print edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper was originally planned for publication on May 30, but was withheld at the request of Stewart Simonson, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, who contended the paper was a "road map for terrorists." Simonson said the paper provided too much detail on potentially vulnerable areas of the milk supply, processing and distribution systems and argued that its publication "could have very serious health and national security consequences."
Health and Human Services spokesman Bill Hall said Tuesday the agency still feels the material shouldn't have been published. "We respect the Academy's position but we don't agree with it," Hall said. The "consequences could be dire and it will be HHS, and not the Academy, that will have to deal with it." Wein said Tuesday he was surprised when Simonson raised objections to the paper. He said he had met with officials of HHS, the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the dairy industry last fall to discuss the paper. After that, Stuart Nightingale, an emergency preparedness official at HHS, asked to see the paper, Wein said. He said he sent it to Nightingale, and, when he didn't hear back, he assumed there was no problem. After Simonson objected to publication, officials of the Academy and government agencies met to discuss the paper. "I think PNAS acted professionally," Wein said. It was correct of them to delay the paper and listen to the government concerns, he said.
A key question is the percentage of botulinum toxin that would be inactivated by milk pasteurization, and Alberts, the Academy president, said that in those discussions the Academy learned improvements had been made to the process since the terrorist attacks. Because of those improvements the nation may be safer from such an attack than the paper estimated, he said. However, Alberts added, many food protection guidelines are voluntary and there is "everything to be gained by alerting the public and state governments to the dangers so that they can help the federal government in its ongoing, highly laudatory, attempts to reach 100 percent compliance with its guidelines." The report describes the milk supply chain from cow to consumer. It describes points where toxin could be introduced, such as a holding tank at a farm, a truck transporting milk to the processing plant or a raw milk holding tank at the plant.
One gram of toxin could affect as many as 100,000 people and 10 grams up to 568,000, the researchers concluded. A gram is about the weight of a paper clip.  Wein and Liu suggest a number of steps to prevent an attack including locking of tanks and trucks when not in use. They urge the government to require similar protections for the food industry in overall.  Last September the National Research Council, an arm of the Academy, urged continued open access to scientific research. It also suggested creation of an advisory board to review research and report on any security implications. Then-HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson ordered establishment of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity. The panel is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Thursday.  The National Academy of Sciences is a private institution that provides scientific advice under a congressional charter.


Sadly I only have one of these growing in my yard right now..
July 5
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US suspected of keeping secret prisoners on warships

VIENNA - The UN has learned of "very, very serious" allegations that the United States is secretly detaining terrorism suspects in various locations around the world, notably aboard prison ships, the UN's special rapporteur on terrorism said. While the accusations were rumours, rapporteur Manfred Nowak said the situation was sufficiently serious to merit an official inquiry. "There are very, very serious accusations that the United States is maintaining secret camps, notably on ships," the Austrian UN official told AFP, adding that the vessels were believed to be in the Indian Ocean region. "They are only rumours, but they appear sufficiently well-based to merit an official inquiry," he added. Last Thursday Nowak and three other UN human rights experts said they were opening an inquiry into the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where Washington has been holding more than 500 people without trial, and into other such locations.
The United States has neither refused nor granted requests by Nowak's group to visit Guantanamo. "We have accepted, upon the request of the State Department and Pentagon, to limit our investigation for now to Guantanamo, but even in accepting this we have not had a positive response" to the request for a visit, Nowak said. He said that if the "investigation into Guantanamo leads us to other things, we will follow them. We will bring up all these matters to the US government and expect Washington to say officially where these camps are."
The use of prison ships would allow investigators to interrogate people secretly and in international waters out of the reach of US law, British security expert Francis Tusa said. "This opens the door to very tough interrogations on key prisoners before it even has been revealed that they have been captured," said Tusa, an editor for the British magazine Jane's Intelligence Review. Nowak said the prison ships would not be "floating Guantanamos" since "they are much smaller, holding less than a dozen detainees." Tusa said the Americans may also be using their island base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean as a site for prisoners. Some 520 people suspected of terrorism are currently being held without trial at Guantanamo and others are in camps the United States has refused to acknowledge, the human rights organization Amnesty International has said. The United States has said that prisoners considered foreign combattants in its "war on terrorism" are not covered by the Geneva Conventions.

July 6
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U.S. Blocked Release of CAFTA Reports
WASHINGTON - The Labor Department kept secret for more than a year government studies that supported Democratic opponents of the Bush administration's new Central American trade deal, internal documents show. The studies, paid for by the department, concluded that several countries the administration wants to be granted free-trade status have poor working conditions and fail to protect workers' rights. The agency dismissed the conclusions as inaccurate and biased, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press. "In practice, labor laws on the books in Central America are not sufficient to deter employers from violations, as actual sanctions for violations of the law are weak or nonexistent," the contractor, the International Labor Rights Fund, wrote in one of the reports. The studies' conclusions contrast with the administration's arguments that Central American countries have made enough progress on such issues to warrant a free-trade deal with the United States.
The administration and its congressional supporters argue that the elimination of trade barriers for U.S. products would open new Central American markets for U.S. farmers and manufacturers. Critics argue the trade agreement would allow serious labor violations to continue in Central America. Hoping to lure enough Democratic votes to win passages, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman (news, bio, voting record) earlier this month promised to spend money and arrange an international conference to ensure "the best agreement ever negotiated by the United States on labor rights." But behind the scenes, the administration began as early as spring 2004 to block the reports' public release. The Labor Department instructed its contractor to remove the reports from its Web site, ordered it to retrieve paper copies before they became public, banned release of new information from the reports, and even told the contractor it couldn't discuss the studies with outsiders.
The Labor Department has now worked out a deal with the contractor that will allow the labor rights group to release the country-by-country final reports — provided there's no mention of the agency or federal funding. At the same time, the administration began a pre-emptive campaign to undercut the study's conclusions. Used as talking points by trade-pact supporters, a Labor Department document accuses the contractor of writing a report filled with "unsubstantiated" statements and "biased attacks, not the facts." The contractor's deputy director, Bama Athreya, blamed U.S. Trade Representative officials for circulating the document and citing passages that won't be included in the final versions of the reports.
One lawmaker said he was shocked that a federal agency charged with protecting the rights of Americans workers would go to such lengths to block the public from seeing its own contractor's concerns before Congress votes on the Central American Free Trade Agreement. "You would think if any agency in our government would care about this, it would be the Labor Department," Sen. Byron Dorgan (news, bio, voting record), D-N.D., said. Dorgan said he would use the contractor findings in an attempt to defeat the agreement, known as CAFTA. Dirk Fillpot, spokesman for the Labor Department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs, said the agency and an independent evaluator concluded the contractor "failed to meet the academic rigor expected to fulfill its contract" and the relationship was terminated June 10. The competitively bid contract totaled $937,000, but Fillpot said $250,000 will be refunded to the Treasury.
Rep. Kevin Brady (news, bio, voting record), R-Texas, who supports the trade agreement, said he is familiar with drafts of the reports and believes they will be "widely dismissed as a fraud." He accused the contractor of producing "a propaganda piece" and concealing "its rabid anti-CAFTA bias." Athreya, the contractor official, has testified in Congress against the agreement.  The documents show the studies came within a whisker of widespread release in March 2004, when the labor-rights group posted them briefly on its Internet site. The Labor Department quickly and successfully demanded the reports be removed on grounds they weren't approved by the agency. Officials also demanded the group retrieve a limited number of paper copies that were distributed at a hearing of a Latin American human rights body.
Shortly after that incident, Rep. Sander Levin (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., began a yearlong effort to pry the studies from the department through a Freedom of Information Act request. The department rejected his request until two months ago, when Levin received — and released — early drafts of the reports.  The Trade Representative's spokesman, Richard Mills, said trade officials referred to the Labor Department's critical document after receiving inquiries about the studies. "From our perspective, nothing has changed. It's a great agreement that will improve labor conditions in Central America," Mills said.
July 7
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World recoils in horror at London attacks
LONDON - The world recoiled in shock on Thursday after bombs tore through London's transport system killing 37 people in a coordinated rush-hour attack. Countries in Europe and the United States stepped up security after the blasts and vowed to hunt down the militants who caused carnage in Britain, the closest U.S. ally, host to the G8 rich nations' meeting and EU president. Messages of sympathy and condolences poured in from European and Middle Eastern nations, particularly those whose civilian populations had been targeted by militants, branding the attacks barbaric, repulsive and heinous. "We Spaniards know well the suffering that the British people are going through today," Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said, referring to train bombs in Madrid which killed 191 people last year. "We unite with their grief as they and so many other people united with ours."
London Mayor Ken Livingstone called the attacks "mass murder," Blair said they were "barbaric" and Queen Elizabeth referred to "the dreadful events in London." President Bush stood side by side with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8 summit meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland, to say world leaders reacted resolutely. "Their resolve is as strong as my resolve," Bush said. "We will find them (the perpetrators). We will bring them to justice. And at the same time we will spread an ideology of hope and compassion that will overwhelm their ideology of hate." Iran and Syria, both on Washington's list of states sponsoring terrorism, joined an unbroken chorus of condemnation, as did the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Lebanon's Shi'ite Muslim Hizbollah guerrillas.
European transport systems tightened security. "There is (heightened alert) in all of Europe," Italian Interior Minister Guiseppe Pisanu said. "As the violence breaks out again one must keep one's nerves steady and face it, with the force of law and with the rules of democracy." Bush directed U.S. security authorities to be extra vigilant. "I have been in contact with the Homeland Security folks," the president said. There was condemnation and solidarity for the victims, the British government and its citizens, from statesmen, religious leaders and ordinary people from around the globe. "I grieve with all Londoners at the wounds that have been inflicted on this wonderful city -- the city that is home to people from so many countries and cultures," U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the bombings were "inhuman crimes," Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern called them "a black mark on society" and Pope Benedict deplored "these barbaric acts against humanity." "Lebanon, which has been the victim of violence for years, shares with the British their pain," said Lebanese President Emile Lahoud. The Olympic Committee, which had delighted London by awarding it the 2012 Games, expressed grief. "I'm deeply saddened that this should happen at the heart of an Olympic city," IOC President Jacques Rogge said. "Unfortunately there is no safe haven. No one can say their city is safe." Echoing the views of Bush and his allies, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the bombs "underline the need for the international community and members of the Alliance to remain united in the fight against terrorism."
The bombs drew shock and sympathy from Middle Eastern capitals, some of them all too familiar with street bloodshed. "We've been experiencing terrorism for 30 years," said Samira Murr, a Lebanese teacher in her 50s, in Beirut. "It's like the Madrid bombings, like the 9/11 attacks. We feel we are not safe anywhere in the world any more." "It is a heinous act," Saudi Arabia's Social Affairs Minister Abdulmohsen Al-Akkas said. Syria's President Bashar al-Assad condemned "these detested acts," while Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said the bombings showed "the need to stand up to the evil of terrorism in any country, as we are doing now in Iraq." Arabic satellite channels such as Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya aired live footage of the scenes of the bombings that hit a bus and underground trains, as did Lebanese and Israeli media. "We condemn with the strongest possible terms these explosions, and convey our sincere condolences to the British people and government," said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom sought to compare the attacks with his country's struggle against Palestinian militants who have used suicide bombings against civilians. "This attack shows us once again that terrorism is not Israel's problem only," he said. The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, responsible for many suicide attacks on Israelis, condemned the London bombings. "Targeting civilians in their transport means and lives is denounced and rejected," Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy chief of the group's political bureau told Reuters in Damascus by telephone. Leading Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim scholar Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah voiced outrage. "These crimes are not accepted by any religion. It is a barbarism wholly rejected by Islam," he said.

July 8
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A series of five stamps was released for general use on issued by the Mexican government depicting an exaggerated black cartoon character known as Memin Pinguin, a child character from a comic book started in the 1940s that is still published in Mexico. The release comes just weeks after Mexican president Vicente Fox riled many by saying that Mexican migrants take jobs in the United States that 'not even blacks' want.
July 9
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It may take a strong stomach to eat curry or chocolate ice cream out of a toilet bowl, but a commode-themed restaurant in Taiwan does booming business serving up just that. A family eats at a toilet-themed restaurant in southern Taiwan city of Kaohsiung. The Martun, or toilet in Chinese, restaurant in Kaohsiung boasts lengthy queues on weekends as diners wait for a toilet seat in its brightly colored tile interior. Food arrives in bowls shaped like Western-style toilets or Asian-style 'squat pots'.
Manager Hung Lin-wen said the original inspiration came from a toilet-shaped spaceship in a Japanese cartoon. The theme has attracted droves of novelty-seeking young people who come to play with their food and gross out their friends. "We think the theme is special, and the food is tasty," Hung said. But no matter how delicious, a few customers still find the combination a little hard to swallow. "The taste is good, but I still feel disgusted when I look at it," said diner Lin Yu-may.
July 10
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New dolphin species discovered in Australia

SYDNEY - The first new dophin species to be identified in 30 years has been found in Australian waters, researchers announced. The shy Australian snubfin dolphin lives in shallow coastal waters in northern Australia and possibly Papua New Guinea, said scientists Isabel Beasley and Peter Arnold.The snubfin was initially thought to have been an Irrawady dolphin, usually found in Asia and Australia, but DNA tests proved that it was a different species, said Beasley of James Cook University in Townsville.
The dolphin has been given the scientific name of Orcaella heinsohni in honour of earlier research in the 1960s and 70s by the university's George Heinsohn. Because the snubfins live in coastal waters "they are susceptible to many human threats including accidental catch in shark and fishing nets as well as effects of coastal development," Beasley said. "Human threats on Irrawaddy dolphins in Southeast Asia are even more severe. Five Southeast Asian dolphin populations were recently classified as 'critically endangered' by the World Conservation Union. "This means the total population is less than 50 individuals so there is a high chance of local extinction in the near future," she said. Arnold, of the Museum of Tropical Queensland, told AFP they had no figures yet for the snubfin population, which he said was the first new species discovered in 30 years.

July 11
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Astrologist sues NASA over comet crash

MOSCOW - A Russian astrologist who says NASA has altered her horoscope by crashing a spacecraft into a comet is suing the U.S. space agency for damages of $300 million, local media reported. NASA deliberately crashed its probe, named Deep Impact, into the Tempel 1 comet to unleash a spray of material formed billions of years ago which scientists hope will shed new light on the composition of the solar system. "It is obvious that elements of the comet's orbit, and correspondingly the ephemeris, will change after the explosion, which interferes with my astrology work and distorts my horoscope," Izvestia daily quoted astrologist Marina Bai as saying in legal documents submitted before Monday's collision. A spokeswoman for a Moscow district court said initial preparations for the case were underway but could not say when the hearing would begin. NASA representatives in Moscow were unavailable for comment.

July 12
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Indian forest guards terrorised by women strippers

NEW DELHI - Indian forest guards fighting timber thieves in the eastern state of Jharkhand are being frightened off by women who start stripping and yelling for help when their male accomplices are arrested, media reports said. "It is proving tough to deal with these women. It has almost become a regular practice for them to strip and we end up releasing the culprits to avoid trouble," said B.K. Singh, a forest official in Jharkhand's Chakulia forest. When forest guards arrested three men with timber, around 50 women suddenly descended on them and started taking off their clothes while crying for help, newspaper reports said. The guards fled the spot fearing police action. "Such cases are being reported from different parts of the state," said Manish Arvind, a divisional forest officer in the state's Hazaribagh district. But the guards are not stumped -- they are planning to recruit women guards to deal with the problem.

July 13
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Seafood firm tries to escape Freeport's net
Waterfront landmark's owners ask legislators to prevent seizure by city.
For more than a half-century, the Gore family and its Western Seafood Co. have been a landmark on Freeport's waterfront, a key stop for hundreds of shrimp boats along Texas' Gulf coast. But that could soon change if city officials get their wish to let a Dallas entrepreneur build an $8 million marina in its place. Family members say the case has eerie similarities to a Connecticut case at the heart of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The court ruled that cities have the right to seize private property through eminent domain for private development.
On Tuesday, Wright Gore III brought his fight to the Texas Capitol to support a ban on "economic development" condemnations. "My grandfather sits at home now wondering whether the family business will be able to continue," said Gore, 32, whose father, Wright Gore Jr., is president of the seafood concern. "The city is taking property that is critical to our business and giving it to our next-door neighbor. . . . This is a land grab of more than Texas-sized proportions." During a three-hour hearing Tuesday before the House Committee on Land and Resource Management, the younger Gore was among nearly two dozen witnesses who endorsed passage of House Joint Resolution 19.
"It happened in New London, Conn. It can happen here in Texas," said state Rep. Frank Corte Jr., R-San Antonio, the author of the resolution, which is co-sponsored by 110 of the House's 150 members. "The Supreme Court said states can enact laws to prohibit this abuse of power, and that's what we're trying to do." Corte's measure, along with a companion resolution filed in the Senate, would let voters decide whether to change the Texas Constitution to prohibit the state and other governmental entities from taking private property through eminent domain if the primary reason for the taking is economic development. Corte said the Supreme Court's ruling, which drew fire from property rights activists, has prodded several states to take up similar legislation. The measure was left pending in committee Tuesday. If approved by the House and Senate, the change would be put on the ballot in the Nov. 8 election. So far, though, Gov. Rick Perry has not agreed to add the issue to the agenda of the ongoing special session, and a spokesperson said Tuesday that he is standing firm on that until lawmakers approve school finance reforms. If Perry does not add the issue to the agenda, neither the resolution nor at least two related bills can be passed. Republican Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who is challenging Perry next year, urged him to allow legislators to take up the issue. During testimony Tuesday, speaker after speaker urged a ban on governmental entities seizing private property for private development.
"Government at any level should not take private property for generating income," said David Langford of the Texas Wildlife Association, echoing sentiments of other groups ranging from the Libertarian Party of Texas to Citizens Against the Trans-Texas Corridor. Several lawmakers questioned whether the wording needs to better define the term "economic development," to keep from halting legitimate projects such as expansion of military bases, highways and other local initiatives. Other witnesses echoed that caution, citing projects such as Ameriquest Field in Arlington, a recent expansion of a runway at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and improvements at the Houston Ship Channel. All could be classified as primarily for economic development under the measure, some officials cautioned.
Larry Casto, a Dallas assistant city attorney, noted that Perry recently signed a law that will allow his city to take by eminent domain the long-vacant, 40-story Mercantile Exchange Building at the eastern edge of downtown. Dallas took that step after negotiations to buy the building from the London-based trust that owns it failed. "Getting this building down and redeveloped is a key to our redevelopment efforts," he said, suggesting that changing state law to tighten the rules on the use of eminent domain for economic development would be better. To Gore, who said his family is ensnared in ongoing federal and state court lawsuits with Freeport officials and other agencies, any help cannot come soon enough. "The (Connecticut) case was about a city wanting to take property for a marina," he said. "This is exactly the same thing, much closer to home."
July 14
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If I had some nuclear batteries I'd build me a large full-size mecha to walk around and enjoy...
U.S. to resume plutonium 238 production
NEW YORK - The United States plans to produce highly radioactive plutonium 238 for the first time since the Cold War, The New York Times reported. The newspaper quoted project managers as saying most, if not all, of the new plutonium was intended for secret missions. The officials would not disclose details, but the newspaper said the plutonium in the past powered espionage devices. The Times said Timothy Frazier, head of radioisotope power systems at the U.S. Energy Department, vigorously denied in a recent interview any of the classified missions would involve nuclear arms, satellites or weapons in space.
"The real reason we're starting production is for national security," Frazier was quoted as saying. Officials at the Energy Department could not be reached for comment. The program, which the newspaper said had raised concerns among environmentalists, would produce 330 pounds (150 kg) over 30 years at the Idaho National Laboratory. The program could cost $1.5 billion and generate over 50,000 drums of hazardous and radioactive waste, federal officials told the Times.  Plutonium 238 is hundreds of times more radioactive than plutonium 239, which is used in nuclear arms, according to the newspaper. Medical experts say inhaling even a speck posed a serious risk of lung cancer, the Times said.
The newspaper said plutonium 238 had no central role in nuclear arms, but was valued for its steady heat that could be turned into electricity. Nuclear batteries made from it power spacecraft to go where sunlight is too dim to energize solar cells. Federal and private experts not connected to the project were quoted as saying the new plutonium would likely power devices for espionage under the sea and on land. The United States last made plutonium 238 in the 1980s and now relied on aging stockpiles or imports from Russia, the newspaper said. It added that under the agreement with Russia, the United States could not use the imports -- about 35 pounds (16 kg) since the end of the Cold War -- for military purposes.
July 15
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No Fish Tale: Thais Catch 646-Pound Fish
 
BANGKOK, Thailand - This big one did not get away. Thai fishermen netted a 646-pound catfish believed to have been the world's largest freshwater fish ever caught in Thailand, a researcher said. The nearly 9-foot-long Mekong giant catfish was landed May 1 by villagers in Chiang Khong, a remote district in northern Thailand, and weighed by Thai fisheries department officials, said Zeb Hogan, who leads an international project to locate and study the world's largest freshwater fish species. He confirmed it was the heaviest fish on record since Thailand started keeping such statistics in 1981.
The fishermen had hoped to sell the fish to environmental groups, which planned to release it to spawn upriver, but it died before it could be handed over and then was chopped up and sold in pieces to villagers as food. Hogan, whose work is funded by the World Wildlife Fund and the National Geographic Society, said he is planning to write a paper about the catch for a scientific journal. "That's the best way to document this kind of thing," he told The Associated Press by telephone. The Mekong giant catfish was listed as critically endangered in 2003 after research showed its numbers had fallen by at least 80 percent in the past 13 years. Fishermen believe the catfish species has been declining largely because of dams and environmental damage along the Mekong River — home to more species of giant fish than any other river, said an earlier statement by WWF and the society.
July 16
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This has been a busy month of births for the buchanan clan.  .Elyse Inez Monson  was born weighing 8 lbs 1 oounce, 20.5 inches long to Holly and Mark Monson.

July 17
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Six-year-old male orangutan 'Allan' eats a piece of watermelon during a pause in the animal show at the Everland Zoo in Yongin, about 50 km (31 miles) south of Seoul. Zookeepers give the animals special treats in the summer season to help them overcome hot temperatures in South Korea
July 18
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New TV to watching different shows

TOKYO (AFP) - Parents will no longer miss their news programs or movies if their children insist on watching cartoons. A new television will allow two different programs to air at the same time depending where one sits. Japanese electronics firm Sharp Corp on Thursday unveiled the liquid crystal display (LCD) set that can simultaneously display different images into the right and left sides of the screen through a backlight. Viewers will get an uninterrupted view no matter where they sit, but what they see will change depending on the angle, the company said in a statement. Sharp will begin mass production of the display, billed as the world's first dual-view LCD, by the end of the month, with the product hitting the shelves later this year.
The new product will help solve living-room conflicts in Japanese families, a company official explained. Fathers are often forced to watch baseball games or other programs they want to see on a small television set in the bedroom or elsewhere in the house while children occupy the large screen in the living room, she said.
The company also said the LCD can "display a TV broadcast on the right screen, while displaying an Internet browser screen on the left." The dual-view LCD could also be put to use in a car, with a driver looking at a map navigation system while a friend in the passenger's seat enjoys a DVD movie. Sharp also announced a "veil-view" LCD that will let users change the viewing angle of their computers, mobile phones or other electronic gadgets to prevent curious people around them from spying. The users will get "peace of mind without having to worry about others in the vicinity snooping to peek at what is being displayed on the LCD screen," the company said.

July 19
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An Indian schoolgirl urges people to drink natural healthy drinks instead of soda pop in Bangalore. Soda drinks are 'liquid candy' for children who often guzzle up to three pops a day, a US science group warned, demanding cigarette-style health warnings on cans.
July 20
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Japan's Citizen watch employee Yukimi Takahashi displays solar-powered micro-robots playing soccer at the RoboCup 2005 in Osaka. Robots from 31 countries went head to metallic head Wednesday in football and other competitions with a goal of triumphing against human soccer champions -- after 50 years or so of practice.
July 21
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Horse-and-Plow Farming Making a Comeback

SISTERS, Ore. - To some, the thought of a farmer patiently working the field behind a horse and plow might evoke pangs of nostalgia for the early days of agriculture. But in fact, the practice is making a comeback. Ol' Dobbin hasn't run the tractors out of the fields yet. But increasingly, small farmers are finding horse-powered agriculture a workable alternative to mechanization. Lynn Miller, whose quarterly "Small Farmer's Journal" tracks horse-farming, estimates about 400,000 people depend in some measure on animal power for farming, logging and other livelihoods. He says the number is on the rise.
Many are Amish farmers in Iowa and Pennsylvania who shun mechanization, but some are farmers who have turned to horses because of the bottom line, citing soaring fuel prices and the ability of the animals to produce their own replacements. They also say the animals are better for the soil and can be used in wet weather when a tractor often cannot. Miller, who farms with horses on his own ranch, said the practice began spreading beyond Amish communities about 20 years ago. "When I started 31 years ago there were no companies making equipment for animal-powered agriculture," he said in his office in this central Oregon town. "Fifteen years ago I could count them. Today I have no idea how many there are."
Miller estimated that 60 percent to 70 percent of those who try horse-and-plow farming stay with it. "It takes a certain personality," he said. "It's a craft, not a science." Miller said a farmer with horses can earn triple or more the earnings per acre than one farmed by agribusiness. Ron VanGrunsven farms about 50 acres with horses near Council, Idaho, and has used horses for years there and in Oregon's Willamette Valley. "They're more economical," he said. "They raise their own replacements, you can train them yourself and raise their feed." A mare can produce a foal every year or so, and Miller says that, if properly trained, one can bring about $2,000 after two years.
A plow horse usually lasts 16 or 18 years, Miller said. He said he looks after his stable of nine carefully and veterinarian bills rarely total $200 a year. VanGrunsven said a two-horse team and a farmer can plow about an acre and a half a day if the ground is right and that an acre usually produces more than enough hay to feed a horse for a year. "Most of my equipment is not new," said VanGrunsven. "It is from the 1930s or earlier. It has been repaired and cleaned up. ... The older things were designed so they could be fixed if they broke. When newer things break, they have to be replaced."
Horse farming was common until the end of World War II, when the government and manufacturers started promoting mechanization to soak up the surplus industrial capacity, Miller said. Horses could often be used as down payments for tractors, he said, "and they went to the glue factories by the hundreds of thousands."

July 22
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QRIO, the Sony dream robot prototype, with a miniature baseball in hand waves to the crowd before he threw the ceremonial first pitch before the Washington Nationals New York Mets game, at RFK Stadium in Washington. According to a brochure, QRIO is a small biped entertainment robot under development by Sony Corporation. QRIO weighs 15.4 lbs with battery and his dimensions are 22.8 x 10.6 x 7.5 inches
July 23
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Seven-year-old trained chimpanzee, Rudi, pretends to play golf during 'the animal wonder stage' at the Everland in Yongin, about 50 km (31 miles) south of Seoul. South Korea's major amusement park Everland launched a new animal show on July to attract more guests.
July  24
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Good to see some hard work does pay off in the end still.  Discovery Channel team rider Lance Armstrong of the U.S. stands with hand on heart during the playing of national anthems after he won his seventh straight Tour de France in Paris.

Utah Parents of Boy With Cancer Sue State
SALT LAKE CITY - The parents of a boy once at the center of a fierce battle over orders to treat his cancer with chemotherapy are suing the state, its child welfare system and a hospital where he was treated. Daren and Barbara Jensen are asking for unspecified damages for emotional distress in the case, which prompted them to temporarily flee the state with the child. The lawsuit filed late Monday also names four doctors who diagnosed their son, a state social worker and a lawyer. The Jensens claim they had the right to direct care for their son and to refuse medical treatments. They contend the state violated those rights when it sought custody of then-12-year-old Parker to force medical care under the guidance of physicians his parents had not selected. A telephone message left with the Jensens' attorney was not immediately returned. Spokesmen for the Utah Attorney General's office, the Division and Child and Family Services and the hospital said they could not comment because their agencies had not yet been served with the suit.
Two years ago, the Jensens were charged with felony kidnapping and medical neglect for refusing chemotherapy treatments recommended for their son. Parker had been diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that doctors said could reappear and spread rapidly through his body, even though he seemed healthy at the time. The parents were unsure about the accuracy of the diagnosis and feared that chemotherapy could make the boy sicker than the cancer, cause other illnesses, stunt his growth or leave him sterile. The lawsuit alleges that physicians at Primary Children's Medical Center failed to complete — and in some instances refused — sufficient additional tests to accurately diagnose the disease.The kidnapping and medical neglect charges against the Jensens eventually were dropped, though the couple pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of custodial interference and were sentenced to probation, which ended last October. Parker, now 14, appears to be well and healthy.

July 25
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Undated photo provided by the journal Science shows how a species of snail-eating caterpillar uses silk, like a spider, to pin down its snail prey. Having rendered the snail helpless and immobile, the caterpillar is entering the snail's shell to begin feeding on its soft flesh. A type of caterpillar with a taste for escargots rather than the normal vegetable diet of its kin has been discovered in Hawaii. It's the first caterpillar ever seen to eat any kind of mollusk, researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science. Indeed, only about one-tenth of one percent of caterpillars eat anything but vegetables. (AP Photo/Journal Science)
July 26
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Palestinians, left-wing Israelis and foreign peace activists carry masks with pictures of George W. Bush during a rally in Bilin. Protestors at a rally against Israel's West Bank barrier donned masks of Bush and Condoleezza Rice in a parody of the campaign against the pullout from the Gaza Strip.
July 27
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Help wanted: British ambassador to the Vatican

LONDON - For the first time ever, Britain is using the help wanted pages to look for an ambassador. The Foreign Office took out advertisements in several newspapers Thursday for a "high calibre individual" to take up the position of British ambassador to the Vatican. The ideal candidate should have "proven political and strategic awareness, diplomatic and interpersonal skills and in-depth knowledge of government," as well as a "high standard" of Italian and French. The basic salary is in the range of 42,640 to 60,405 pounds, plus a fully furnished residence, allowances and an entertainment budget of up to 6,000 pounds a year. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced last December that he wanted the position of ambassador to the Holy See to be open to wider competition. While this doesn't preclude career diplomats from applying, a Foreign Office spokesman said it might be that somebody outside the diplomatic corps would be found who had excellent skills for the job. The present ambassador, Kathryn Colvin, leaves the post in September after a three-year tour of duty.

July 28
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Bald men in Germany have no entitlement to state support for toupees, a court ruled. Throwing out a legal challenge by a bald 46-year-old man, the court said the state was not discriminating against men even though health insurance covers the cost of wigs for women. 'In contrast to women, the involuntary loss of hair among men is common and accepted as nothing out of the ordinary,' the court ruled, rejecting the suit from the man who said he suffered because of his baldness.
July 29
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An 85-year-old US prison doctor has been awarded 20 million dollars in an age-discrimination lawsuit he filed after being forced to retire from his job, officials said
July 30
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Australian lawyer McCheesed off with fast-food giant

SYDNEY - An Australian lawyer fired back with a lawsuit against McDonald's here after the fast-food giant blocked him for registering his nickname as a trademark. Malcolm McBratney vowed not to back down in the battle that erupted earlier this year, when McDonald's took exception to his use of "McBrat" on the uniforms of a local rugby team."What it boils down to is that McDonald's seems to be trying to own not only the McDonald name but everything beginning with Mc," said McBratney, who is a specialist in intellectual property rights.
"There are a lot of people with Irish and Scottish heritage who'd dispute that, including me, and I'm prepared to take them on." McDonald's Australia spokeswoman Kristene Mullen denied the burger giant was trying to monopolise the "Mc" prefix. "McDonald's is like any company with intellectual property it wants to protect," Mullen told AFP. "We want to protect our investment, our image and our brand."
McBratney sponsored the Brisbane Irish rugby union team, which adopted the McBrat tag on the back of their shorts because they claimed his full name would not fit. The company objected that McBrat could be confused with McKids. Mullen said that toys with the McKids logo had been on sale in retail outlets since earlier this year. But McBratney said a trademark could be challenged in Australia if it had not been used for more than three years, and that McKids had been dormant since it was registered in 1987. His suit seeks to de-register McKids.
"I think it smacks of corporate arrogance that even though McDonald's is not using the McKids trademark in Australia, it still thinks it can block the registration of a separate trademark that has nothing to do with its business," McBratney said. The Brisbane team is boycotting the chain, once a favourite haunt, in a full show of McSupport. "Our team, with its Irish heritage, has many Mcs in it and they are all outraged," team spokesman Shane Quinn said. He said the company "really have got to be McKidding."

July 31
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In this image provided by commuter Alexander Chadwick, taken on his mobile phone camera, passengers are evacuated from an underground train in a tunnel near Kings Cross station in London, July 7, 2005.