Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 6th, 2007

The I-word is spoken—by a Republican

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Of course, it’s the House, not the Senate, that impeaches, as we recall from the last impeachment:

According to a new report in Esquire magazine, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) has suggested that Congress may consider the impeachment of President Bush before his term ends:

“The president says, ‘I don’t care.’ He’s not accountable anymore,” Hagel says, measuring his words by the syllable and his syllables almost by the letter. “He’s not accountable anymore, which isn’t totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends how this goes.”

The conversation beaches itself for a moment on that word — impeachment — spoken by a conservative Republican from a safe Senate seat in a reddish state. It’s barely even whispered among the serious set in Washington, and it rings like a gong in the middle of the sentence, even though it flowed quite naturally out of the conversation he was having about how everybody had abandoned their responsibility to the country, and now there was a war going bad because of it.

Hagel isn’t the only one frustrated. The desire for more accountability over Bush has led to increasing calls for impeachment from the Washington State legislature, the mayor of Salt Lake City, and town hall meetings in Vermont.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) said pushing for impeachment would be counterproductive because it would break off efforts to recruit conservative support for changing the course of the war in Iraq. “We’re trying to get [conservatives] to vote against the war. They’re coming around. You don’t hear them singing the virtues of George Bush like they used to. But nothing will turn this into a partisan lockdown faster than impeachment.” Inslee added, “Ending the war is what’s important now.”

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2007 at 7:39 pm

Joseph Wilson speaks

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From ThinkProgress, which has the video. The third point is especially important, I think:

On his reaction:

I take no satisfaction in this. I think that the idea of a senior White House official being convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury is something that ought to sadden everybody who believes in public service. … I think we can take some satisfaction that the Constitution has been defended by the prosecution, by the system of justice and by the jury of peers that decided Mr. Libby’s guilt today.

On his wife Valerie Plame’s reaction:

Well, I think she wept when she heard the news. I was actually at a restaurant in Washington D.C. and she called me up and she just said, “Four out of five, guilty,” and she was very relieved. I think she will sleep well tonight knowing again that this part of this ordeal is behind us. But I would just say that whatever the last four or five years have been like for us, it has been mere inconvenience compared to what this administration has done to our service people and their families, in the prosecution of a war that was justified on misinformation and lies.

On the CIA holding up Plame’s book:

The CIA is taking a look at it and they have no particular objections to the contents. They are trying to claim that she did not work for them before 2002, or cannot acknowledge she worked for them before 2002, which is sort of an Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass. We may have to litigate that. This is not the USSR. This is America and she has a right to tell her story.

On the possibility of President Bush pardoning Libby:

I think there’s a lot of ethical questions involved. After all, Mr. Libby was an assistant to the president, and so I think there is an implicit — an explicit conflict of interest in the president exercising his pardon authority on behalf of someone who worked for him. I think it would be appropriate for the president and indeed the entire administration to recuse itself, allow the wheels of justice to turn as they must, and if there is going to be a pardon discussed it should be by a subsequent administration.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2007 at 7:35 pm

Atkins diet wins

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As he always said it would:

Context  Popular diets, particularly those low in carbohydrates, have challenged current recommendations advising a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet for weight loss. Potential benefits and risks have not been tested adequately.

Objective  To compare 4 weight-loss diets representing a spectrum of low to high carbohydrate intake for effects on weight loss and related metabolic variables.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Twelve-month randomized trial conducted in the United States from February 2003 to October 2005 among 311 free-living, overweight/obese (body mass index, 27-40) nondiabetic, premenopausal women.

Intervention  Participants were randomly assigned to follow the Atkins (n = 77), Zone (n = 79), LEARN (n = 79), or Ornish (n = 76) diets and received weekly instruction for 2 months, then an additional 10-month follow-up.

Main Outcome Measures  Weight loss at 12 months was the primary outcome. Secondary outcomes included lipid profile (low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein, and non–high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglyceride levels), percentage of body fat, waist-hip ratio, fasting insulin and glucose levels, and blood pressure. Outcomes were assessed at months 0, 2, 6, and 12. The Tukey studentized range test was used to adjust for multiple testing.

Results  Weight loss was greater for women in the Atkins diet group compared with the other diet groups at 12 months, and mean 12-month weight loss was significantly different between the Atkins and Zone diets (P<.05). Mean 12-month weight loss was as follows: Atkins, –4.7 kg (95% confidence interval [CI], –6.3 to –3.1 kg), Zone, –1.6 kg (95% CI, –2.8 to –0.4 kg), LEARN, –2.6 kg (–3.8 to –1.3 kg), and Ornish, –2.2 kg (–3.6 to –0.8 kg). Weight loss was not statistically different among the Zone, LEARN, and Ornish groups. At 12 months, secondary outcomes for the Atkins group were comparable with or more favorable than the other diet groups.

Conclusions  In this study, premenopausal overweight and obese women assigned to follow the Atkins diet, which had the lowest carbohydrate intake, lost more weight and experienced more favorable overall metabolic effects at 12 months than women assigned to follow the Zone, Ornish, or LEARN diets. While questions remain about long-term effects and mechanisms, a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat diet may be considered a feasible alternative recommendation for weight loss.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2007 at 7:30 pm

This is like a human growing back from a fingernail clipping

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Thanks to Alert Reader, this astounding story:

Sea Squirt

Our closest invertebrate relative, the humble sea squirt, can regenerate its entire body from just tiny blood vessel fragments, scientists now report.

The entire regeneration process, which in part resembles the early stages of embryonic development, can produce an adult sea squirt in as little as a week.

The finding could illuminate not only the evolutionary origins of regeneration in all organisms, but also subsequent changes to it during vertebrate evolution.

Vertebrates (animals with backbones) such as salamanders are capable of regenerating limbs or tails, and even humans are capable of regenerating portions of skin, lungs and livers.

“However, in general, the more complex the animal, the lower the regeneration abilities are, relatively,” biologist Ram Reshef at Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa explained. “No vertebrate could regenerate their whole bodies if you cut them in two.”

The ability to regenerate a whole body from a fragment is typically restricted to less complex invertebrates, such as sponges, worms and jellyfish. Nonetheless, Reshef and his colleagues, including biologist Yuval Rinkevich, chose to look at the sea squirt Botrylloides leachi [image], a more complex invertebrate, by carefully peeling off colonies from underneath stones in shallow waters along the Mediterranean coast of Israel.

The scientists found that “massive regeneration is not just confined to low complexity animals, but rather can take place in highly evolved animals,” Reshef told LiveScience.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2007 at 5:52 pm

Posted in Science

The morning shave—late report

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How very weird. My post on the morning shave just vanished. And I know how you love to read it. It was a special shave, too: a shave of comparisons.

Yesterday the Rooney Style 3 Small Finest, today the Rooney Style 3 Small Super Silvertip. Yesterday Mitchell’s Wool Fat Soap, today Truefitt & Hill’s soap. Yesterday the HD Open Comb, today the regular HD.

I worked up a good lather right away with Super Silvertip, unlike the problems I experienced with the Finest. Acting decisively, as befits a LeisureGuy, I have already arranged a brush swap with another member of the ShaveMyFace forum, whence my trip to the UPS store to mail a little package. So, while the Style 2 Finest remains a favorite, the Style 3 Small Finest was just too stiff and dense for me.

The Truefitt & Hill lathered right up, and (like the Mitchell Wool Fat) gave a great shave. The two have a different fragrance, but both are excellent shaving soaps.

The HD regular had a different feel than the HD Open-Comb and, for whatever reason, I achieved a really wonderful shave this morning: exceptionally close and smooth, with no nicks, no cuts, no razor burn. Finished with the alum bar, which felt cool and refreshing without a sting, and then Pinaud’s Clubman.

Afterwards, I kept feeling my face in wonder. It’s so smooth. 🙂

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2007 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Shaving

Talk about proactive!

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Via Carpetbagger, I discover that Media Matters has already put up the list of baseless claims and lies that the Right will issue about the Libby trial and verdicts (guilty on 4 of 5 counts):

On March 6, a federal jury found former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby guilty on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to federal investigators. In the wake of this decision, conservatives and other media figures can be expected to revive and advance numerous myths and falsehoods regarding the CIA leak case that have circulated throughout the media since Libby’s indictment in October 2005.

In anticipation of this misinformation, Media Matters for America has listed those baseless and false claims likely to surface in the coming days and weeks:

  • No underlying crime was committed. Since a federal grand jury indicted Libby in October 2005, numerous media figures have stated that the nature of the charges against him prove that special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald’s investigation of the CIA leak case found that no underlying crime had been committed. But this assertion ignores Fitzgerald’s explanation that Libby’s obstructions prevented him — and the grand jury — from determining whether the alleged leak violated federal law.
  • There was no concerted White House effort to smear Wilson. In his October 2005 press conference announcing Libby’s indictment, Fitzgerald alleged that, in 2003, “multiple people in the White House” engaged in a “concerted action” to “discredit, punish, or seek revenge against” former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. In August 2006, it came to light that then-deputy secretary of State Richard Armitage was the original source for syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak‘s July 14, 2003, column exposing CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity. Numerous conservative media figures subsequently claimed that this revelation disproved the notion of a “concerted” White House effort to smear Wilson. But to the contrary, David Corn — Washington editor of The Nation and co-author of Hubris (Crown, 2006) the book that revealed Armitage’s role in the leak — noted on his Nation weblog that Armitage “abetted a White House campaign under way to undermine Wilson” and that whether he deliberately leaked Plame’s identity, “the public role is without question: senior White House aides wanted to use Valerie Wilson’s CIA employment against her husband.”
  • Libby was not responsible for the leak of Plame’s identity. Some in the media have suggested that because Libby did not discuss former CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity with Novak — the first journalist to report she worked at the CIA — he is not technically responsible for the leak. But such claims ignore the fact that Libby discussed Plame’s CIA employment with then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller on several occasions prior to the publication of Novak’s column naming Plame as a CIA operative.
  • Libby merely “left out some facts.” Some media outlets — such as The Washington Post — have suggested that FBI agent Deborah Bond testified at the trial that Libby simply “left out some facts” when he was interviewed by her in 2003. Specifically, the Post asserted that Bond said Libby “did not acknowledge disclosing the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame to reporters.” In fact, Bond testified that Libby actually denied having leaked Plame’s identity or having had any knowledge of her — this despite the fact that two reporters had already testified that he leaked Plame’s identity to them.
  • Libby’s leak was an effort to set the record straight. Critics of the CIA leak case have repeatedly claimed that the indictment stems from an effort by Libby and Vice President Dick Cheney to rebut a purportedly inaccurate attack on the administration by Wilson. According to these critics, Wilson falsely accused Cheney of having sent him to Niger to investigate reports that Iraq had attempted to purchase yellowcake uranium from the African country. In fact, Wilson, in his July 6, 2003, New York Times op-ed, did not say he was sent by Cheney. Rather, Wilson wrote that it was “agency officials” from the CIA who “asked if I would travel to Niger” and “check out” a “particular intelligence report” that “Cheney’s office had questions about,” so that CIA officials “could provide a response to the vice president’s office.”
  • There is no evidence that the Plame leak compromised national security. Some media figures critical of the CIA leak case have attempted to downplay its significance by claiming that no evidence exists that the public disclosure of Plame’s identity compromised national security. In fact, news reports have indicated that the CIA believed the damage caused by the leak “was serious enough to warrant an investigation” and that the subsequent disclosure of Plame’s CIA front company likely put other agents’ work at risk. Further, Fitzgerald stated that Plame’s identity had been protected by the CIA “not just for the officer, but for the nation’s security.” And in their recently published book, Hubris, Corn and Newsweek investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff reported that, at the time of the leak, Plame was the chief of operations for the CIA’s Joint Task Force on Iraq, which “mount[ed] espionage operations to gather information on the WMD programs Iraq might have.”
  • Fitzgerald is a partisan prosecutor. Over the course of the CIA leak investigation and the Libby trial, conservative media figures have attempted to cast Fitzgerald as a “prosecutor run amok” who is engaging in “the criminalization of politics.” But Fitzgerald’s background and prosecutorial record undermine the suggestion that his pursuit of Libby was politically motivated. Indeed, Fitzgerald is a Bush administration political appointee who, as U.S. attorney, has investigated high-level public officials from both parties, including former Illinois Gov. George Ryan (R), Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (D), and Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D).
  • Fitzgerald exceeded his mandate in investigating violations beyond the IIPA. The administration’s defenders also have accused Fitzgerald of exceeding his original mandate. Media figures have repeatedly asserted or implied that Fitzgerald was appointed to investigate possible violations of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), which prohibits the knowing disclosure of the identity of a covert intelligence officer. In fact, his mandate was far broader. The Department of Justice granted Fitzgerald “plenary” authority to investigate the “alleged unauthorized disclosure” of Plame’s identity.
  • Plame’s employment with the CIA was widely known. This falsehood has taken at least two forms — that Plame’s employment with the CIA was known in the Washington cocktail party circuit and that her neighbors knew that she worked for the CIA. In fact, Fitzgerald stated in the indictment of Libby that Plame’s employment was classified and “was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community,” a finding he reiterated at a post-verdict press conference. Moreover, as Media Matters noted, contrary to The Washington Times‘ assertion that “numerous neighbors were aware that she worked for the agency,” none of the neighbors cited in The Timesown news reports or in other reports said that they knew before reading the Novak column that Plame worked at the CIA. Her acquaintances told reporters that they believed she worked as a private “consultant.”

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2007 at 1:06 pm

Play Go

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Thanks to a reader in the Netherlands, an article on playing Go—in the Moscow Times, no less. But in English, thankfully.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 March 2007 at 12:46 pm

Posted in Games, Go

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