Even your teddy bear can’t be trusted

Microsoft has apparently designed a teddy bear designed to function as a child monitor. It is equipped with a public address system, a microphone and cameras. It’s head can swivel to track the child it has been programmed to follow, using face recognition.

I remember having long private conversations with my teddy bear. Given that this one is made by Microsoft, that might still be possible.

Education retards loss of mental ability

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, a study suggests “that higher education may protect older people from faltering mental powers by building up alternate neural networks absent in less-educated people.” The controls in this study are inadequate but the researchers “correlated brain activity to each volunteer’s age and education level,” and found that “better-schooled volunteers were able to work around the memory problems common among the aged by drawing on mental reserves.”

Massive anti-Syria demonstration in Lebanon

After a recent Hezbollah-organized demonstration in Lebanon which was at least gracious towards the longstanding Syrian occupation there, the picture of an oppressed Lebanese people yearning for freedom from a Syrian yoke was clearly over-simplistic. But today, the BBC reported that one million turned out for an anti-Syrian demonstration, dwarfing the 500,000 who appeared for the Hezbollah demonstration. Other estimates for today’s demonstration are smaller — only 800,000. “Unlike previous anti-Syrian rallies, Sunni Muslims came out in force to join Druze and Christians to commemorate the loss of their leader.” Reportedly, Syria has begun to withdraw.

Monday Night Football skit not ‘indecent’

San Jose Mercury News columnist Jon Ann Steinmetz describes it this way: “The segment that aired last November [on ABC’s Monday Night Football] showed [‘Desperate Housewives’ actress Nicollette] Sheridan in a locker room wearing only a towel and provocatively asking the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver to skip the game for her. She then dropped the towel and leaped into Owens’ arms.” It created quite a fuss, and further spurred moves to increase fines for indecency to bizarre proportions.

Steinmetz reports that “U.S. regulators ruled today the racy clip didn’t violate federal indecency standards. In a unanimous decision, the five-member Federal Communications Commission said the segment ‘simply is not graphic or explicit enough to be indecent under our standard.'”

Vote NO on Bush

From the ANSWER Coalition:

The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on the Bush Administration’s request for an additional $82 billion to fund the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps as early as Tuesday, March 15, 2005. Every day the U.S. spends over $200 million of working peoples’ money to fund war and occupation in Iraq. 100,000 Iraqis have died. More than 1,500 U.S. soldiers have been killed and thousands more wounded. There should not be one more dime spent on Bush’s criminal wars, occupations and torture programs.

The A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition has set-up an easy to use way to send Congress a message of opposition. Use the link below to tell Congress to Vote No on the Supplemental Request.

$82 billion would:

1. Restore Bush’s proposed budget cuts for 150 federal social programs more than four times over.
2. Restore 48 education programs Bush proposes cutting, plus hire about 1.5 million teachers in our elementary schools.
3. Provide health care for than 14 million uninsured workers.
4. More than cover $60 billion in Medicaid spending that Bush wants to cut.
5. Provide housing vouchers for 14 million low income families.

The U.S. government has destroyed the lives of the people of Iraq. Opposing the $82 billion Supplemental Request is a way of speaking out against the continued occupation of Iraq. The people of Iraq deserve reparations – not more money used against them for death and conquest.

By clicking here you can send a message to the Congressional representative in your District. Feel free to edit your own message.

Florida Legislature threatens to keep brain-dead woman alive

The Associated Press reported that the Florida legislature is considering measures which would “prevent the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube on Friday.” Schiavo, diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state, has been the subject of a long-running court and legislative battle between her husband who wants to let her die, and her parents who cling to the hope that she can recover. Her husband refused a reported $1 million offer to relinquish guardianship to her parents. Right-wing Christians have taken up the parents’ cause, giving “each Florida legislator a rose and a DVD on Terri Schiavo’s condition.”

Lupin shuts down Camera Club

At a well-attended meeting of the Lupin Camera Club yesterday, Lupin Naturist Club CEO and General Manager Ed Dennis announced he was shutting down the Camera Club due to complaints.

It was not possible to independently verify the complaints. Dennis has previously been heard threatening to shut down the Camera Club following election of the present president and secretary-treasurer, but said yesterday that the problems at the Camera Club ran deeper than the personnel at the top. Dennis promised to create a new camera club with new bylaws.

ISP raided in Sweden; MPAA delighted

Reuters has reported that Swedish police raided “the Stockholm offices of Bahnhof, Sweden’s oldest and largest ISP…. ‘This was a very big raid,’ said John Malcolm, worldwide anti-piracy operations director at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which represents Hollywood’s major studios. ‘The material that was seized contained not only evidence of a piracy organization operating in Sweden but of online piracy organizations operating throughout all of Europe,’ he told Reuters.”