The Purple Pinup Guru Platform

When purple things are pulsating on your mind, I'm the one whose clock you want to clean. Aiding is Sparky, the Astral Plane Zen Pup Dog from his mountain stronghold on the Northernmost Island of the Happy Ninja Island chain, this blog will also act as a journal to my wacky antics at an entertainment company and the progress of my self published comic book, The Deposit Man which only appears when I damn well feel like it. Real Soon Now.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sparky - Weeeha! Formatting this has been a damn monster. We're Camping the old HuffPoCo tonight — Bill Clinton: Cheney should stick to target practice

May 13, 2009 Posted: 06:01 PM ET From

HERNDON, Virginia (CNN) – Bill Clinton jokingly laughed off a question Wednesday about former Vice President Dick Cheney and his recent claims that the country is less safe under the Obama administration.

"I wish him well," Clinton told CNN while greeting voters after a campaign stop with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. "It's over," he added, apparently a reference to the Bush administration.

"But I do hope he gets some more target practice before he goes out again," Clinton said with a grin before moving along the ropeline.

The former president was alluding, of course, to Cheney's infamous 2006 hunting accident in which he mistakenly fired birdshot into the face of a campaign contributor during a South Texas quail hunt.

Paul Begala CNN political commentator: Mr. Cheney, You Did Not Keep Us Safe

If 3,000 Americans had been killed on your watch, in an attack that could have been prevented, perhaps you'd be a little hesitant to accuse anyone else of endangering America. And if you had advocated torture, and the torture produced false information that you used to mislead America into an unwise, unjust and unwarranted war, you might be a tad sheepish about defending the use of torture.

Not Dick Cheney. Mr. Cheney has stepped up his attack on Pres. Obama's security strategy, telling CBS's Bob Schieffer that Obama's refusal to use waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" (i.e., torture) endangers American lives.

The truth is the Bush-Cheney policies did not keep us safe, and Mr. Cheney is not a credible spokesman on issues of national security.

First, this awkward fact. When it came time to risk his hide to serve our country during the Vietnam War, Cheney got five draft deferments. He later told the Senate, "I had other priorities in the sixties than military service." John Kerry did not. Nor did John McCain. Nor Gen. Colin Powell, nor Gen. Jim Jones, nor Gen. Wes Clark, nor Jim Webb. These warriors - and so many others - strongly oppose the use of torture. They were willing to die to protect America. It is insulting for a doughy draft dodger like Mr. Cheney to suggest they would endanger us today.

Indeed, the public record offers evidence that torture has endangered American security. Not only by breeding more terrorists, but by producing false intelligence - which Mr. Cheney and President Bush used to mislead America into invading Iraq.

The case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi is instructive. Al-Libi was a senior al Qaeda operative captured trying to make his way out of Afghanistan into Pakistan. In US custody, he initially said he knew of no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda, and, according to Newsweek, "he had difficulty even coming up with a story about the relationship between the two." An FBI agent urged that al-Libi be read his rights and be treated with respect, "as a shining example of what we feel is right." There was a practical, as well as moral, reason not to torture al-Libi: veteran interrogators believe establishing a rapport with a prisoner is the key to obtaining actionable intelligence. There are reports that, after hours of bonding with his FBI interrogator through discussions of religion, al-Libi provided useful information about alleged shoe-bomber Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called "20th hijacker" who was arrested just before 9-11.

But even after the bonding experience, al-Libi continued to deny a link between Iraq and al Qaeda. He was rendered to Egypt, where he faced certain torture. "You're going to Cairo, you know," a CIA agent reportedly told al-Libi at the airport. "Before you get there I'm going to find your mother and I'm going to f*** her."

So much for building rapport.

In Egypt, al-Libi was placed in a coffin-sized box for 17 hours, then beaten. Al-Libi cracked. He gave the information Cheney and his crowd most wanted: a direct link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Al-Libi, (who reportedly died this week in Libya), said Iraq had provided al Qaeda with training in the use of chemical and biological weapons.

Bingo! Vice President Cheney and others cited the information to justify the war in Iraq. Trouble is, it turned out to be false. As early as February, 2002 - just two months after al-Libi's "confession" -- the Defense Intelligence Agency reported to the White House and the National Security Council that it had doubts about al-Libi's charge. The DIA's Defense Intelligence Terrorism Summary (DITSUM) all but destroyed al-Libi's credibility. The report said, in part:

"However, he (al-Libi) lacks specific details on the Iraqis involved, the CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) materials associated with the assistance, and the location where training occurred. It is possible he does not know any further details; it is more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers. Ibn al-Shaykh has been undergoing debriefs for several weeks and may be describing scenarios to the debriefers that he knows will retain their interest.

"Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements. Moreover, Baghdad is unlikely to provide assistance to a group it cannot control." (Emphasis added.)

The timing here matters. In December, 2001 al-Libi, under torture, claims Iraq trained al Qaeda in chemical and biological weapons. Two months later, the Pentagon's intelligence agency says he was probably lying. And yet on September 25, 2002, Condoleezza Rice continued to spread the myth, telling PBS's The News Hour, "We know too that several of the (al Qaeda) detainees, in particular, some high-ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al Qaeda in chemical weapons development." Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, President Bush and several other leading Administration officials kept banging the al-Libi drum.

In January 2003, the CIA joined the chorus of skepticism about al-Libi's claim that Iraq trained al Qaeda in chemical and biological weapons, noting al-Libi "was not in a position to know if any training had taken place."

More than a year and a half after al-Libi's claim was discredited by the DIA, and nine months after it was poo-pooed by the CIA, Dick Cheney was still sighting it as Gospel, appearing on Meet the Press on the week of September 11, 2003 and telling Tim Russert, "We learned more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s, that it involved training, for example, on BW [biological weapons] and CW [chemical weapons], that al-Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems that are involved."

It may well be that torture was used to advance the Bush-Cheney march to war in Iraq rather than to obtain intelligence about al Qaeda plots against the American homeland. A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue told McClatchy Newspapers, "Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn't any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies." Senior administration officials, however, "blew that off and kept insisting that we'd overlooked something, that the interrogators weren't pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information," he said.

Next, consider this inconvenient truth: 9-11 happened on Mr. Cheney's watch. Tom Kean, the Republican co-chair of the 9-11 Commission, has said the attacks could have been prevented. He's right. That fact ought to weigh heavy on Mr. Cheney's conscience. As should these:

  • Before they took office, senior Bush administration officials were briefed repeatedly about the al Qaeda threat. Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger told incoming National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, "I believe that the Bush administration will spend more time on terrorism in general, and on al Qaeda specifically, than any other subject.''

  • Richard Clarke, the counterterrorism chief under both Clinton and Bush, presented the new Bush-Cheney administration with a plan to roll back al Qaeda. He briefed Dr. Rice on the plan. Nothing. In February, 2001, he briefed Vice President Cheney on the plan. Nothing. Time magazine has reported, "Some counterterrorism officials think there is another reason for the Bush administration's dilatory response. Clarke's paper, says an official, "'was a Clinton proposal.'" If true, Bush and Cheney were allowing partisan politics to endanger America.

  • On May 8, 2001 - three months after being briefed by Clarke - Cheney was instructed to chair a task force on terrorism. It did not meet before the 9-11 attacks.

  • The FBI asked the Bush-Cheney Justice Department for58 million to beef up its domestic counterrorism capacity by hiring more translators, more field agents and more analysts. The Bush-Cheney Administration told the FBI no.

  • Congressional Democrats sought to shift 800 million in the Pentagon budget from Star Wars (the Bush-Cheney faith-based missile defense system) into counterterrorism. The Bush-Cheney administration threatened to veto the entire defense budget. Congressional Republicans sided with Bush and Cheney, and blocked the Democrats from transferring the funds.

  • In July, 2001, an FBI agent in Phoenix reported that Middle Eastern men - possibly al Qaeda - were taking flying lessons. He suggested that al Qaeda operatives might be trying to infiltrate the US civil aviation system. His warning was not acted on.

  • On August 6, 2001 Pres. Bush received a classified briefing, the President's Daily Brief. On that day, the headline blared: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind, Bush told the briefer, "All right. You've covered your ass, now." Dick Cheney, who has called the President's Daily Brief "the family jewels," presumably received the same briefing. Neither Bush nor Cheney acted on it. The "family jewels" were pearls before swine.

And the attack came. Over three thousand Americans were killed. In the heartache and rage that followed, Bush and Cheney instituted their "enhanced interrogation techniques." Uncovering a pending plot against the homeland was, doubtless, an important motivator. But the al-Libi case is a cautionary one. Rather than finding a ticking time bomb, the al-Libi torture may have been used to build a spurious case for war - a war that has weakened America.

Perhaps what's most galling about Mr. Cheney is how, without irony, humility or apology, he holds himself out as someone who has protected America when in fact he shirked his responsibility before 9-11 and misled us into war after. The closest Dick Cheney has ever come to fighting for America is when he shot his lawyer in the face.

Aside - As Guru Readers know - the reason Dick shot Whittingham is he was afraid he'd spill the beans about Funeralgate. Anyone claiming otherwise is a GOP dupe:
“... Improper handling of corpses in Virginia and Maryland

On April 5, 2009, the Washington Post reported that the National Funeral Home, a facility owned by Service Corporation International in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County, Virginia (which also acts as a regional central care for embalming and body preparation for other nearby SCI-owned operations (Arlington Funeral Home, Danzansky-Goldberg Memorial Chapel and Demaine Funeral Home)), was storing naked bodies in stages of decomposition in conditions described as "disgusting, degrading and humiliating." The story went on to report that as many as 200 bodies were stored on "makeshift gurneys in the garage," and "at least half a dozen veterans destined for the hallowed ground at Arlington National Cemetery were left in their coffins on a garage rack." The Post reports that documentation describing these conditions has been reported to the Virginia Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.

A few days later, the Post reported that family members of a deceased Army veteran whose remains were stored in an unrefrigerated garage at National Funeral Home have asked the Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney to investigate the actions of National and its parent company, SCI, as crimes.

The Post further reported that family of retired U.S. Army Col. Andrew DeGraff filed a lawsuit in Fairfax County, alleging that SCI mishandled and failed to treat the late Col. DeGraff's remains with dignity and respect. According to the article, an SCI spokesman said that the company is conducting an internal investigation.

On April 26, 2007 the Post reported that an SCI owned and operated cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia had improperly buried the remains of the stillborn daughter of Nsombi Hale in a grave too shallow (in a grave about 8 inches deep). Nsombi Hale is now filing suit aginst SCI. ... ”

FBI Investigating Coleman

The FBI is investigating allegations that former Senator Norm Coleman had clothing and other items purchased on his behalf by a longtime friend and businessman Nasser Kazeminy, according to a source in Minnesota who was interviewed recently by federal agents.

E.K. Watkins, a spokesman for the Minnesota FBI, would neither confirm nor deny the report. The source provided details of the interview to the Huffington Post, in addition to copies of business cards left by the agents.

The FBI has also been conducting interviews in Texas, according to media reports, in regards to different allegations that Kazeminy tried to steer $75,000 to Coleman through his wife's employer. Up to this point, there have not been reports of any FBI work taking place in Coleman's home state.

The Minnesota source said the FBI questioning focused on whether Kazeminy had purchased clothing on Coleman's behalf, reports of which surfaced in October. At the time, Coleman vehemently denied the allegations. "Nobody but me and my wife buy my suits," he said.

The source, who requested to speak anonymously to discuss the matter more frankly, said that payments made to the company that employed the former senator's wife, Laurie Coleman, were also addressed.

In April, Norm Coleman requested permission from the Federal Election Commission to use his remaining Senate campaign funds to pay legal fees resulting from the lawsuit filed against Kazeminy.

A request for comment from Coleman's office went unreturned. The receptionist, upon hearing the topic of inquiry, called the matter "old news." In the past, both Coleman, who is engaged in the final stages of a lengthy election recount battle, and Kazeminy, a longtime benefactor of the Minnesota Republican, have denied any wrongdoing.

The possibility exists that the sole target of the FBI's work is Kazeminy and not Coleman. The prominent businessman stands accused of fraud for his handling of the company Deep Marine Technology. As part of that suit, former Deep Marine CEO Paul McKim alleged that he was forced to overlook $75,000 in payments to Hays Company, the employer of Coleman's wife.

Separately, it has been reported that Kazeminy made purchases on behalf of Coleman himself. Ken Silverstein of Harper's magazine was the first to report that suits had been bought on the then-Senator's behalf. A the time, Coleman's chief of staff would only rebut the charge by saying that he "has reported every gift he has ever received."

Steele: "I Have A Problem" With New GOP Group Slamming Reagan

RNC Chairman Michael Steele's fill-in stint as the host of Bill Bennett's radio talk show has produced a handful of quasi-embarrassing moments -- most notably his claim that Mitt Romney's Mormonism helped doom him in the Republican Primary.

At the very end of the nearly two-hour segment, it turns out, was another whack Steele took at his fellow Republicans. Responding to a caller disparaging the National Council for a New America -- the new Republican re-branding effort -- the RNC Chairman joined the fray, saying he had "a problem" with the notion, as put forth by former Gov. Jeb Bush, that the party needed to move beyond the legacy of Ronald Reagan.

"This tour is not about bringing minorities to the Republican Party," Steele said, correcting his caller. "This listening tour that these individuals have put in place is their way, as they said, to look forward, bring about a grassroots caucus and to bring moderates and like-minded Democrats to a series of public forums around the country where we can have a debate of ideas. Now, on its face I see nothing wrong with that. But if you are going to go and start this and start slamming Ronald Reagan, I have a problem. And it is going to be an issue. Because you can't blame the past particularly when that past contributed to the success of the party."

In offering his objections to the messaging coming from the NCNA, Steele joins a host of other Republican officials. Still, it remains rare to see the head of a national political committee disparage major players in his own party. In addition to Bush, the NCNA includes former Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Eric Cantor, and Sen. John McCain.

Later in the program, Steele was told that he should have run against Barack Obama in 2008, to which he responded, "It would have been an interesting race." When another caller lamented the media's treatment of Gov. Sarah Palin, he said the issue was endemic to all true conservatives, before saying he preached a type of political philosophy that has people "looking over their shoulders and wondering whether or not Michael Steele is standing there."

"Look, the fact that Sarah is a conservative," he said. "Michael Steele is a conservative, Bill Bennett is a conservative, a Jack Kemp was a conservative. We were a target, we were a ready target for these guys... but the strength of conservatism is that it is real and in its realism it has a way to go out to talk to people and connect to people. That's the biggest threat that we offer. And that's the threat I want to take to the streets everyday. I want them looking over their shoulders and wondering whether or not Michael Steele is standing there. Because I will be, with you [caller] standing right next to me and a whole lot of other conservatives."

Detainee Photos: Obama Seeks To Block Release

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs speaks to reporters, Tuesday, May 12, 2009, during his daily press briefing in the White House Pressroom at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is seeking to block the immediate release of hundreds of photos showing U.S. personnel allegedly abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

An Obama administration official said Wednesday that the president told his legal advisers last week that releasing the photos would endanger U.S. troops. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

Obama wants the issue to go back to the courts, although federal appeals judges have ruled the photos could be released.

The top military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan have told Obama that their troops could be in greater danger if new detainee abuse photos are released this spring.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The top military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan are telling President Barack Obama that their troops could be in greater danger if new detainee abuse photos are released this spring.

The Pentagon has said it will release the pictures this month. But the Pentagon now says that the three top commanders have weighed in with concerns.

Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell says that Defense Secretary Robert Gates shares those concerns. He says lawyers are looking at their options.


Be open, tell the world that you've not objections to Bush or Cheney being brought to the Hague. Tell the world fear mongering opportunists tricked us and that we''ll do better next time.

I think the pure “tool-hood” of Dick Cheney (whom the “aware” know made nice to the Taliban a month before 9/11) invokes the previous “Dick” of the GOP - Nixon; ‘Draft Deferment Dick’ Cheney was too cowardly to serve the nation as a soldier whereas Nixon the Quaker was a Conscientious Observer and did his service anyway.

If one can't see what a puppethead Bush II was; Nor, the evil of someone nicknamed Poppy (for God's sake!) who likely sabotaged Operation Eagles Claw for his own political gain (rumors suggest Ollie North was the actual Op); They'd be blind to how freaking EVIL the Bush Crime Clan is still; Then, one can't see how Reagan the Rapist was a bad president. Worse than Bush (who had all the bad aspects of Reagan and Nixon blended with arrogant stupidity) because Bush II would have been impossible without Ronnie.

It's akin to the simple statement - you don't get Nazis without Xtianity. People now will refuse to see the lies. And History will be less kind to him than I. Nixon got the approach to China right and we'll honor that side of him.

And Done! - Sparky

Sparky: Obama Asks Tamil Tigers To Surrender, Sri Lanka To Mind Civilians

President Obama, speaking this afternoon, made a direct statement to both the Tamil Tigers as well as the Sri Lankan government regarding the enduring civil war and widespread civilian devastation in that country. Obama asked that the Tigers lay down their arms and surrender to the Sri Lankan government, and he asked that the Sri Lankans cease "the indiscriminate shelling" with heavy artillery that has been decimating civilians. The growing humanitarian crisis has captured international attention for weeks now.

Obama's statements Wednesday came shortly after Amnesty International (AI) -- one of many humanitarian groups who has been vocal about the growing humanitarian crisis -- issued an official plea, saying: "While U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice have voiced concern, President Obama himself must speak out publicly and forcefully over the wanton disregard for human rights in Sri Lanka."

Amnesty International also reached out the the United Nations Security Council, writing in their statement: "The Council must convene without any further delay to discuss the latest disturbing developments and immediately require that attacks on civilians by the Sri Lankan army or the LTTE be stopped; that the LTTE allow all civilians to leave the conflict area; and that the Sri Lankan government provide immediate access to international monitors and humanitarian agencies."

Earlier today, Sri Lankan shells rained down on the last remaining hospital in the northern region, killing at least 50. According to the Associated Press:

The military has denied firing any heavy weapons in recent weeks, but Human Rights Watch says both sides are using the estimated 50,000 civilians packed into the last rebel-held territory as "cannon fodder." The Red Cross said one of its workers was killed in shelling Wednesday.

In calling for the violence to end, Obama this week joins the ranks of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who said he is "appalled at the killing"; and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who described civilians in Sri Lanka as, "victims of what at the moment is a war without witness,"according to Bloomberg. Additionally, the US State Department has issued its own statement, describing the death toll in Sri Lanka as "unacceptably high."

It is estimated that 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the Tamil Tiger-controlled, besieged northern area.

Miss California Vows to Use Her Naked Breasts for Good

Just moments after being told she could retain her beauty pageant crown, Miss California Carrie Prejean renewed her commitment to her mission, telling reporters, "From this day forward I promise I will use my naked breasts for good."

Ms. Prejean blasted the critics whom she claimed tried to silence her for her views on gay marriage, saying, "I intend to fight back with the two greatest weapons I have: my naked boobies."

The embattled pageant winner said she would be both "tireless and topless" in her efforts to fight same-sex unions.

She added that she plans to tour the country to speak out against gay marriage and hopes to draw attention to the issue by displaying her naked torso wherever possible.

"I will go anywhere, anytime, anyway to make my case," she said. "These breasts are made for walking."

Ms. Prejean refused to answer questions about another controversial topic, enhanced interrogation techniques, but she did remark, "I have always been in favor of enhancement."

Donald Trump, who owns the Miss USA pageant, praised Ms. Prejean for her fearlessness in the face of harsh criticism, adding, "I like what I've seen of Carrie and I hope to see much more of her."


These pics were taken just last year -- meaning Carrie was the ripe ol' LEGAL age of 20.

This time, Carrie dropped her top for a professional photo shoot ... another partially nude gig that she forgot to tell the Miss California officials about.

US Soldier Kills Fellow Troops In Iraq UPDATEDIraq Us Troops


The Associated Press reveals more details about the shooter:
The suspect had been disarmed after an earlier incident at the center but returned with another weapon, according to a senior military official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation into the shootings was ongoing.


The American soldier who shot dead five fellow soldiers at a U.S. base in Baghdad is in custody.
"The shooter is a US soldier and he is in custody," US marine corps lieutenant Tom Garnett, a US military spokesman in Iraq, told reporters. The New York Times adds some perspective to the tragedy:
The killings appeared to be the worst case of soldier-on-soldier violence among the American forces based in Iraq since the invasion more than six years ago.

The shootings, which took place at a stress clinic, highlight the problem of post-traumatic stress disorder among U.S. soldiers, notes the Guardian:
Stress is one of the biggest killers of US soldiers in Iraq. About a fifth of all US troops are thought to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, contributing to high divorce and suicide rates. An estimated one fifth of the 4,292 members of the US force in Iraq have died from non-combat causes, either in accidents or from suicide.


According to Fox News, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs Monday relayed President Obama's response to the tragedy. Obama expressed shock and sadness and is promising to fully investigate what exactly transpired at Camp Liberty, so as to prevent such incidents in the future.

AP has another update. The shooting was at a 'stress clinic':
Pentagon officials say five Americans are dead after a U.S. soldier opened fire at a U.S. base in Baghdad. They say the attacker is in custody.
The officials say the shootings happened on Camp Liberty at a stress clinic, where troops can go for help with the stresses of combat or stress from personal issues.
One senior military official in Washington says it's unclear whether those killed are workers at the clinic or were there for counseling. He says officials also are unsure whether all the dead are members of the military.

ABC News reports that the U.S. soldier who attacked fellow troops on a U.S, base in Iraq has killed five of them and is now in custody. Initial reports suggested that he had turned the gun on himself after his rampage.

AP now reports that the U.S. soldier who went on a rampage against his fellow troops in Iraq may have survived the incident:
Pentagon officials say five U.S. soldiers are dead after an American soldier opened fire at a U.S. base in Baghdad.

The officials say the shootings happened Monday at Camp Liberty near Baghdad's airport.

One senior military official in Washington said it was not yet clear whether the shooter was among the dead. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the circumstances surrounding the deaths are under investigation.

Initial reports indicated the Army soldier shot several others, then turned the gun on himself. But it was unclear whether he, too, had died.

CNN reports that 3 other U.S. soldiers were wounded during the friendly fire incident that has left 5 U.S. troops dead. An American soldier killed 4 of his fellow troops before killing himself.

According to the Washington Post, it is the single greatest loss of life in a single incident involving U.S. soldiers since a truck bomb last month took the lives of 5 American soldiers.


CNN has just sent out a breaking news alert reporting that senior defense officials have told the network that a US soldier killed 4 of his fellow troops before killing himself. Check back for more information.
McClatchy is reporting that a shooting at a U.S. base in Baghdad has left 5 soldiers dead. The shooting occurred at Camp Liberty, a base near the Baghdad airport.

Now a movie commentary ...

To Boldly Go...Backwards

I can't remember wanting to love a movie as much as I wanted to love the new Star Trek.

I grew up watching the original series in re-runs, entranced by the hard-charging, womanizing captain of the Enterprise, his coolly logical (but underneath the exterior, tormented and passionate!) first officer, and its egalitarian vision of the future.

I watched every episode. I went to all the movies. I devoured every paperback that detailed the further adventures of the Enterprise's crew. When I was thirteen, I even -- oh, this is painful -- convinced my parents to take me to a Star Trek convention in downtown Hartford. (My parents were not the most socially adroit people, but even they somehow realized that this was a severely nerdy undertaking. They dropped me off at the corner).

When the ads for the new film started running, I should have been suspicious. "Not your father's Star Trek?" What was wrong with my father's Star Trek? I liked my father's Star Trek! But still, there I was, on opening day, with a bucket of popcorn, surrounded by what looked like the entire staff of several area comic-book stores.

There was much to love about the movie. Kirk was hot, and Spock was cool, and their relationship felt just right, at once edgy and familiar. Unlike the earlier outings, where a shaken camera connoted a collision, danger, and/or black holes and time warps, the special effects were, indeed, special.

I'm not so much of a nerd that I couldn't handle the way the film chucked continuity and ignored some of the original show's rules of the road (although, note to J.J. Abrams: if a Vulcan is bonded and his spouse suddenly dies, he either dies, too, or ends up in mortal agony, and should not be depicted just calmly hanging out on a transporter pad. Okay, fine, maybe I am that much of a nerd).

I was even okay with the way the plot recycled Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (in "Khan," the villain deploys a Doomsday weapon because he believes Kirk was responsible for the death of his wife. In "Trek," the villain deploys a Doomsday weapon because he believes Spock was responsible for the death of his wife....and let me just add that, in the all-important categories of "pecs," and "scenery chewing," Eric Bana is no Ricardo Montalban.)

Honestly, I didn't have a problem until about midway through the which point I realized that every single lady on screen was either a mother, a ho, or an intergalactic hood ornament.

We begin with mama Kirk. As the film opens, she screams and grunts her way through labor, pops out young James T., bids her doomed husband a weepy farewell, and is never seen or heard from again. How does she feel when her reckless son runs off to join Starfleet? We don't know. The movie doesn't ask.

Next up: the luscious Andorian Kirk beds at Starfleet Academy. She's green. That's about it...except somewhere, Eddie Murphy is smiling (I'd link to his bit about the dubious hygiene of green-faced girls, but it's filthy. Filthy!)

Even though Romulan war ships were, in the original series, frequently commanded by women, there's nary a chick aboard rogue Romulan Nero's vessel. This, perhaps, explains why he and his crew are in such a bad mood.

The film throws the ladies a few bones in the form of a couple of female members of the Vulcan High Council. There's a woefully underutilized Winona Ryder as Spock's human mother, and a tossed-off reference to Leonard McCoy's ex (the bitch took everything, don'tcha know, leaving him with just his...well, never mind).

Finally, there's Uhura...and what Abrams and company do with the Enterprise's communications officer will not be warming the cockles of any feminist hearts.

We first meet her at a bar, all ponytail, miniskirt, and long legs. Kirk hits on her. She brushes him off. He persists, prompting Uhura's fellow cadets to mop the floor with him (couldn't she have kicked his ass herself? Probably. So why didn't the movie let her?)

We are told, rather than shown, that Uhura is an extraordinarily capable linguist. We are told, rather than shown, that she's intercepted an important transmission, the plot device that jump-starts the film's soon as Kirk tells Captain Pike about it. But Uhura's primary function isn't professional. Her job, in this brave new universe, is to look cute in a red dress, and to humanize (and by "humanize" I mean "mack on") her coolly logical, eminently reasonable mate.

In other words, she's Michelle Obama in outer space.

I'm willing to be patient here. I understand that, to attract an audience glutted on testosterone-heavy summer flicks, you need a certain amount of the old ultraviolence to get butts in seats, and that the lofty, utopian ideals of the original have to make way for a few brute shoot 'em ups. I understand the value of simply showing audiences an (allegedly) strong black woman, even if most of what she does is stand around looking worried; the same way I know that Michelle Obama has to tread carefully as she makes the role of First Lady her own. And hey, maybe organic gardening and pairing J. Crew twin sets with kicky belts and cute pins aren't bad places to start. Baby steps.

In spite of my disappointment, I've still got high hopes for the new Trek franchise. In a few years, my daughters will be old enough to watch TV and movies the way I watched them: for entertainment, yes, but for inspiration, too, for a vision, or a series of competing and overlapping visions, of how their future could look.

Plus, if the guy who gave us Sydney Bristow and Kate Austin can't serve up any kick-ass, take-charge ladies, then who can? It's only logical.

UPDATE - Here is the official Star Trek 2009 trailer.

Photo credit: Paramount

More later ...
Sparky gives you
'Minor' damage found to shuttle

An inspection of the space shuttle Atlantis has uncovered some "minor" damage to the vehicle's right side, Nasa officials say.

Space shuttle (Nasa)
Nasa's annotation highlights the damage along the shuttle's right side

Atlantis appears to be in good overall shape, but Nasa engineers in Houston are still studying the 53cm (21in) line of chips on the shuttle's right side.

More analysis is required to evaluate the case for another inspection.

Atlantis was launched on Monday to begin a risky repair mission intended to save the stricken space observatory.

Hubble has been hit by failures to its science instruments and to gyroscopes.

These gyros are used to point the observatory at targets in the sky. If successful, the mission could extend Hubble's lifetime beyond 2014.

During their first full day in orbit, Atlantis's crew used a laser-tipped boom to look for any damage to the orbiter in a 10-hour inspection.

Space shuttle (Nasa)
The chips could have been caused by debris seen during the launch

The line of chips uncovered by the astronauts are in thick tiles that make up the protective heat shield on Atlantis' starboard side.

The damage is located where the right wing joins the shuttle's fuselage. Nasa said the chips could be related to a "debris event" detected by the wing's leading edge sensors 104-106 seconds into the lift-off.

Officials said the damage did not appear to be serious: "To my untrained eye... I would think [the chips] were minor," lead flight director Tony Ceccaci told reporters at a news conference in Houston.

But more analysis by engineers would determine whether a "focused inspection" was needed in that specific area. If so, astronauts would use sensors to determine the exact depth of the damage to the heat shield tiles.

Nasa has placed the space shuttle Endeavour on stand-by to rescue the crew of Atlantis if they are endangered.

If something goes wrong on this mission, Atlantis's astronauts will not be able to shelter on the International Space Station (ISS).

Hubble servicing (Nasa)
Named after the great US astronomer Edwin Hubble
Launched in 1990 into a 600km-high circular orbit
Equipped with a 2.4m primary mirror and five instruments
Length: 15.9m; diameter: 4.2m; Mass: 11,110kg

Impacts from micrometeoroids and space debris present one of the most pernicious threats to the astronauts.

There is more space junk - from old satellites and rocket stages - at Hubble's altitude than at the ISS's.

But a successful mission would make Hubble up to 90 times more powerful than it was in its original guise.

Atlantis roared up into the sky at 1901 BST (1401 EDT) on Monday from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. Nasa discovered a surprising amount of damage from Monday's launch at the pad used by Atlantis.

Managers wanted to make sure none of the material blasted off during launch hit Atlantis.

Atlantis is due to rendezvous with Hubble just after 1700 BST (1200 EDT) on Wednesday.

As the shuttle approaches Hubble, astronaut Megan McArthur will use the shuttle's robotic arm to grab the 13.2m- (43ft-) long telescope.

She will then mount the observatory on a work platform in the shuttle's cargo bay to allow the spacewalkers easy access to Hubble.

The next day, astronauts will begin the first of five gruelling spacewalks planned for the 11-day mission.

Crew members will install new instruments and thermal blankets, repair two existing instruments, replace gyroscopes, batteries and a unit that stores and transmits science data to Earth.

Astronauts will remove the existing Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 instrument to make way for the new Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

This camera, able to take amazingly sharp images over a broad range of colours, will enable astronomers to carry out new studies of dark energy and dark matter, searching for remote galaxies previously beyond Hubble's vision.

Spacewalkers will also swap the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (Costar) device for the new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS).

COS is designed for ultraviolet spectroscopy and will probe the origins of large scale structure in the Universe as well as the formation and evolution of galaxies.

Nasa plans to make repairs to the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), which suffered a power failure in 2004, and to the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), which was hit by an electrical short in 2007.

After the work to Hubble is complete, Atlantis will boost the telescope to a higher altitude, ensuring that it survives the tug of Earth's gravity for the remainder of its operating lifetime.

Launched in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope is now regarded as one of the most important instruments in the history of astronomy. It has made a remarkable contribution to our understanding of the origin and evolution of the Universe.

Following the Columbia disaster in 2003, which claimed the lives of seven astronauts, another mission to service Hubble was considered too hazardous.

The reason was astronauts would not be able to use the space station as a safe haven if the shuttle sustained damage on launch.

Nasa has now accepted the risk of the mission, but will have the shuttle Endeavour ready to launch immediately to bring the crew home if the servicing mission is put at risk.

Hubble set for repairs in space

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/05/12 19:20:27 GMT


Sparky from the BBC: Saberi 'had classified document'

Roxana saberi
Roxana Saberi was freed on Monday after four months in prison

A lawyer for US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi says she was convicted of spying for the US partly because she had obtained a classified document.

Her lawyer said she had access to a confidential Iranian report on the US war in Iraq - but had not used it.

The lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, said the report had been prepared by a research centre of the Iranian presidency.

Ms Saberi was freed on appeal on Monday, after four months in prison in the Iranian capital, Tehran.

She was originally sentenced to eight years but her term was cut on appeal to two years suspended.

She denies the spying charge.

'No bad intentions'

Mr Nikbakht did not say how Ms Saberi had gained access to the document, prepared by Iran's Centre for Strategic Research.

"Because she did not have bad intentions and did not use it, she was sentenced to a two-year suspended jail term," he told Reuters news agency.

Ms Saberi, whose parents live in the US, is now able to leave Iran. She has been banned by the Iranians from working as a journalist there for five years.

On Tuesday, in her first public comments since being released, she said she was very happy to be free, and she thanked people around the world who had supported her.

Her case had attracted international attention. The White House in Washington said Iran's decision to free her was a "humanitarian gesture".

She originally faced a less serious accusation of buying alcohol, and later of working as a reporter without a valid press card.

The spying charge was introduced later, and she was tried and sentenced behind closed doors.

Ms Saberi worked as a freelance journalist for news organisations, including the BBC and the US-based National Public Radio.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Professional Accreditation Guide
College Degree Equivalency Program Form
Name of Applicant for ASA Accreditation: ___________________________________________________________
Chapter Name and Number: ___________________________________________________________
A college degree represents four years of education beyond the secondary (high school) level. In terms of hours, such a degree means that the individual has completed approximately 120 semester hours, or 180 quarter hours, of college courses, or the equivalent of 1,800 hours of classroom instruction time. This total does not include class preparation, laboratory time, study time or the time required to do term papers and the special projects required by some courses of study. In other words, 450 hours of equivalency equals one year of college.

ASA’s equivalency policy attempts to equate business/work experience (other than that required for accreditation as an appraiser—two years for AM and five years for ASA) and other noncollege educational courses to a four-year college program. This policy is similar to that of many colleges and universities that give credit for business/work/life experiences toward an undergraduate degree. Most such institutions limit such credit to an equivalency maximum of two
years. Attach to this application all appropriate documentation to support your equivalency as described below:
A. College/university courses completed
1 ______ years
B. Professional designations earned
2 ______
C. Seminars, courses, conferences, institutes, lectures, etc., attended
2 ______ hours
D. Articles, papers and/or books published ______
E. Two years of appraisal experience can be credited for one year of college over and above
______ years the two-year Accredited Member and five-year Accredited Senior Appraiser requirement.
F. Business/work experience that is not appraisal/valuation related cannot be counted toward
______ years the society’s full-time appraisal experience requirement but can be credited toward degree equivalency; the same is true for teaching, administrative or supervisory positions (other than those of appraisal functions), personal property acquisition and retailing, museum or gallery supervision, etc. Such experience, for equivalency, may be credited at the rate of one year of equivalency for two years of degree equivalency.

I hereby certify that the above equivalencies are a true and correct representation of my applicable education and experience. I understand that misrepresentation may result in a denial of my application for accreditation or other appropriate disciplinary action under ASA’s constitution, bylaws and administrative rules.

Signature ______________________________________________________
Date _________________
1 Attach transcripts or other appropriate documentation.
2 Need not be related to the appraisal profession.
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Option 1: Via the Internet - Save time! Order Online!

MiraCosta College has retained Credentials, Inc to accept transcript orders on the Internet through their secured site. TranscriptPlus will facilitate your request up to five different addresses per order.

Online ordering:

  • Allows you to place orders for academic transcripts without having to mail in a request
  • Assists you with the delivery of the signature authorization required by the school
  • Supports payments by credit card
  • Eliminates the hassle of waiting in line at the Admissions & Records Office to submit your order
  • Allows you to place your order anytime day or night
  • Provides e-mail or fax communication with you while your order is being processed
  • Provides online access to check the status of your order

You will need to provide the following information:

  • Your social security number
  • Your current name and address with daytime phone number
  • All other names you used while attending MiraCosta College
  • The dates you attended MiraCosta College
  • The name & full address of the intended recipient of your transcript(s)
  • Your signature (may be required) and the date on the Authorization/Order form

Credential Solutions

To Order Transcripts,

follow this link.

Check the Status of

My Transcript Order,

follow this link.

Option 2: How to Request An Official Transcript Via Mail or In-Person

Important Information

  • A student's authorizing signature is required on either an official transcript request form or in a letter in order to release a transcript.
  • Transcripts may be mailed or picked up. If you choose to pick up your transcript, you must show a picture ID.
  • College credit from MiraCosta only will show on your transcript . We do not include copies of transcripts from other institutions.
  • All credits from MiraCosta will show on your transcript, which will also include any work in progress. We will not issue partial transcripts.
  • All financial obligations to MiraCosta College must be cleared before a transcript request will be processed. The transcript fee is payable at the time of request.
  • Email requests are not accepted.

How to Request An Official Transcript

Complete a transcript request form giving us all the requested information, OR write us a letter. In the letter, state:

  • Your current name and any prior names that you may have used while in attendance
  • Your date of birth
  • Your social security number
  • Dates you attended MiraCosta College at Oceanside or San Elijo
  • The name and complete address of where you want the transcript sent

Your signature is required on either the form or the letter in order to release your transcript. If you want a transcript sent to more than one address, complete extra forms, or note this in your letter.

You can also download the form from the web and mail it or fax it to:

Admissions and Records Office, #10A
Attention Transcript Desk
MiraCosta College
One Barnard Drive
Oceanside, CA 92056
Fax: (760) 795-6626

For Transferring Students

IGETC AND CSU/GE CERTIFICATION, if needed, should be requested with your final transcript request. Complete the information on CSU/GE certification or IGETC certification, or indicate in your letter if you would like this completed at the time your transcript is sent. If you intend to use other college course work for the certification, be sure your transcripts are on file and indicate on the transcript request or your letter that you would like us to include prior college work. If you intend to use course work from your high school(s) for the language area, you need to have your high school transcripts on file and indicate on your request or letter that you would like your high school course work included for the certification.

Indicate on the request form or in your letter:

  • If you would like American Institutions certified
  • If you have a grade change pending
  • If you have repeated any classes and want to ascertain that your transcript has been updated

If you would like current semester grades on the transcript, you can request this transcript 3 weeks before the end of the semester. For short term classes that ended mid-semester, transcripts are not available until after the end of semester grade posting. Be sure you indicate this on the transcript request form or in your letter. You will need to allow at least 4-6 weeks from the end of the semester before grades will be posted for transcript processing.

Submit the transcript request form to the Admissions Office, Building T110 at the Oceanside Campus or the Administration Building at the San Elijo Campus; mail or fax your letter to:

Admissions and Records Office, #10A
Attention Transcript Desk
MiraCosta College
One Barnard Drive
Oceanside, CA 92056
Fax: (760) 795-6626

You must pay transcript fees at the time you submit your request or include the payment with your letter. The first two transcripts ever requested are free; thereafter, $ 5.00 per copy. A $2.00 handling fee will be added to the transcript requests submitted through our on-line method.

Allow 5 to 7 days processing time from the date we receive your request or letter. Please allow at least two weeks additional time if it is the end of a semester and you do not want us to wait for the current semester's grades. (See 4 above).

A public California community college serving coastal North San Diego County
Oceanside • Carlsbad • Encinitas • Cardiff • Rancho Santa Fe • Solana Beach • Del Mar • Carmel Valley
MiraCosta College • One Barnard Drive • Oceanside, CA 92056 • (760) 757-2121 • Toll-Free (888) 201-8480

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