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The hazards of watching Fox News:

“A majority of Americans have held at least one of three mistaken impressions about the U.S.-led war in Iraq, according to a new study released Thursday, and those misperceptions contributed to much of the popular support for the war.


The three common mistaken impressions are that:

  • U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
  • There’s clear evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein worked closely with the Sept. 11 terrorists.
  • People in foreign countries generally either backed the U.S.-led war or were evenly split between supporting and opposing it.” —San Jose Mercury News

Beliefs were correlated with which news sources were people’s primary connection to world events.

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Republicans Relaunch the Antigay Culture Wars

“As George Bush’s poll numbers began seriously dwindling, Karl Rove and the White House political strategists decided to reach into their bag of tricks and come up with a good old staple of reactionary politics: homophobia.

The decision to scapegoat gay and lesbian Americans was poll-driven by an antigay backlash that gathered steam in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision, in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down laws making gay sex between consenting adults illegal–the so-called sodomy laws. The backlash first surfaced in a July 25-27 Gallup poll…

Just two days after Gallup released its poll showing the backlash, Bush unexpectedly used a Rose Garden press conference to announce that he’d assigned lawyers to come up with a plan to stop gay marriage. Bush and the Republicans had been under enormous pressure from the Christian right and social conservatives–including National Review and The Weekly Standard–to support a Federal Marriage Amendment to the Constitution, which would ban recognition of any form of marriage between two persons of the same gender. (The FMA would also forbid giving same-sex couples the ‘legal incidents’ of marriage, thus vitiating the civil-union law in Vermont and any other state that followed suit.).” —Doug Ireland, The Nation

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9/11 evidence and death penalty barred from Moussaoui trial:

“Prosecutors will need an appeals court or military tribunal to restore the heart of their case against Zacarias Moussaoui, now that a judge has banned from the al-Qaida loyalist’s trial evidence related to the Sept. 11 attacks.


Exacting punishment for disobeying her orders, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema on Thursday barred the government from introducing any ‘evidence or argument that the defendant was involved in, or had knowledge of’ the suicide hijackings.


She also eliminated the death penalty in the only U.S. case spawned by Sept. 11, thereby knocking out some of the government’s most poignant evidence planned for the trial: photographs of victims and the cockpit voice recordings from United Flight 93, the jetliner that crashed in Shanksville, Pa.” —Salon

The judge’s order prohibiting the death penalty is based on Moussaoui’s inability to defend himself against the charges after government prosecutors defied the judge’s orders and denied Moussaoui access to three al Aqeda suspects in U.S. custody despite his assertion that they could prove his innocence of the charges against him. This would appear to make it more likely that Moussaoui’s trial will be moved to a military tribunal where his rights are not protected in this way.

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Just show biz, folks:

Suicide show will go on, band leader says: “The leader of a band called Hell on Earth said Saturday he would defy threats of criminal charges and hold an Internet-broadcast concert featuring the suicide of a terminally ill fan.

Billy Tourtelot said in a phone interview that the concert and suicide would take place Saturday night in two separate, undisclosed locations in St. Petersburg. He wouldn’t give any details about the venues but said the band would broadcast the events on its Web page.” —Salon

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Illusionist ignores critics to play Russian roulette on TV

“Derren Brown, the ‘psychological illusionist’, is determined to press ahead tomorrow night with a game of Russian roulette using a loaded gun live – more or less – on British television.


Howls of protest from anti-gun activists and senior police have failed to deter the British-born illusionist from a stunt that has proved fatal for magicians in the past.


At about 9.45pm, one of three people, chosen from 12,000 volunteers to assist, will load a live bullet into a handgun and hand it to Brown at a secret location outside the UK.


In the words of his publicity team, ‘he will then use his infamous ability to predict people’s behaviour to determine which of the numbered chambers contains the bullet’.


He will put the gun to his head, and pull the trigger until he comes to the live chamber, when he will fire the gun at the floor. He will shoot only if he is sure he has read the assistant’s mind correctly.” —Independent.UK

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Schwarzenegger’s Supposed Romance with Hitler Detailed

Schwarzenegger Admired Hitler, Book Proposal Says: “A film producer who chronicled Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rise to fame as a champion bodybuilder in the 1970’s circulated a book proposal six years ago that quoted the young Mr. Schwarzenegger expressing admiration for Adolf Hitler.


The book proposal by the producer, George Butler, included what were presented as verbatim excerpts from interviews with Mr. Schwarzenegger in the filming of the documentary Pumping Iron. In a part of the interview not used in the film, Mr. Schwarzenegger was asked to name his heroes — ‘who do you admire most.’


‘It depends for what,’ Mr. Schwarzenegger said, according to the transcript in the book proposal. ‘I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education up to power. And I admire him for being such a good public speaker.’


In addition to the transcript, Mr. Butler wrote in his book proposal that in the 1970’s, he considered Mr. Schwarzenegger a ‘flagrant, outspoken admirer of Hitler.’ In the proposal, Mr. Butler also said he had seen Mr. Schwarzenegger playing ‘Nazi marching songs from long-playing records in his collection at home’ and said that the actor ‘frequently clicked his heels and pretended to be an S.S. officer.'” —NY Times

I’m no fan of Arnold’s, of course, but you do have to wonder about the timing of these revelations, which as dramatic as they are would have been newsworthy long before Schwarzenegger had any political ambitions. (Mickey Kaus agrees that it is a smear tactic that would not have had any effect on the election if it had not been raised at the last moment when Arnold did not have enough time to respond effectively, [although do ‘Arnold’ and ‘respond effectively’ in the same sentence amount to an oxymoron?] in contrast to the sexual abuse allegations, which Kaus says should have been brought up much sooner to allow them to snowball.) On the other hand, what was Schwarzenegger thinking when he bought the outtakes from Pumping Iron which contain the damning quotes back in 1991 (for more than $1 million) under an agreement that allows him to destroy the footage? He says he has not looked through the more than 100 hours of film to locate the controversial parts (or otherwise he would make them public now to prove his claim that they have been taken out of context). And Butler will not release the complete transcript of his interviews. (Kaus thinks Schwarzenegger probably has some leverage over him, having made him a small fortune when he bought the outtakes. Kaus also finds it implausible that Arnold, who he calls a “meticulous planner”, would not have screened the footage and identified the damaging parts.)

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Among Best-Selling Authors the Daggers Are Out

“The spat was just a sideshow. The shouting match between the liberal satirist Al Franken and the conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly captured on ‘Book TV’ this summer generated lots of headlines. But these days the toughest ideological warfare is playing out off camera, on the New York Times best-seller list.


For the first time in recent memory, The Times‘s list, the nation’s most influential barometer of book sales, is pitting liberals and conservatives against each other in roughly equal numbers, ending what some publishing executives say is nearly a decade of dominance by right-wing authors.

…Publishing executives offer several explanations for the about-face: growing dissatisfaction with the Bush administration, newfound liberal savvy about how to use television and radio for self-promotion, even a sudden loss of inhibition by the left.” —NY Times

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The Original Information Age

A review of Quicksilver, which I’m immersed in now: “Stephenson clearly never intended Quicksilver to be one of those meticulously accurate historical novels that capture ways of thought of times gone by. Instead, it explores the philosophical concerns of today — or at least, the philosophical concerns of Stephenson. At its best, the novel does this through thrillingly clever, suspenseful and amusing plot twists. My favorite example is a section toward the end, when Eliza travels east on a spying mission and writes letters to one ambiguous ally in a many-layered code, knowing they will be intercepted and partly decoded by an ambiguous enemy, then further decoded by someone else.

But the novel is so swollen and overloaded that these delightful Stephensonian offerings are hard to follow — and even hard to identify. And ”Quicksilver” suffers from a problem common in parts of trilogies: it feels unresolved. Will it turn out to be the first third of a carefully constructed meta-novel, or a messy chunk of a bigger mess? Is it complex, or merely random? Only the next couple of thousand pages will say for sure.” — Polly Shulman, a freelance writer in New York, NY Times

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24 Win MacArthur ‘Genius Awards’ of $500,000

The grantees are: Nawal Nour, a physician and director of the African Women’s Health Practice at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, whid treats conditions related to female circumcision; Angela Johnson, a children’s novelist and poet; Erik Demaine, a computer scientist; Pedro A. Sanchez, an agronomist who is the director of tropical agriculture at the Earth Institute at Columbia University; Peter Sis, an illustrator and author for children and adults; Tom Joyce, a blacksmith who lives in Santa Fe, N.M.; Loren Rieseberg, 42, a botanist at Indiana University at Bloomington; Guillermo Algaze, an archaeologist; James J. Collins, a biomedical engineer; Lydia Davis, a writer; Corrine Dufka, a human rights advocate; Peter Gleick, a conservation analyst; Osvaldo Golijov, a composer; Deborah Jin, a physicist; Sarah H. Kagan, a gerontological nurse; Ned Kahn, a science exhibit artist; Jim Yong Kim, a public health physician; Amy Rosenzweig, a biochemist; Lateefah Simon, a young women’s advocate; Sarah Sze, a sculptor; Eve Troutt Powell, a historian; Anders Winroth, a medieval historian; Daisy Youngblood, a ceramicist; and Xiaowei Zhuang, a biophysicist. —NY Times

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C.I.A. Chief Is Caught in Middle by Leak Inquiry

I am still looking for more on what I consider the most intriguing aspect of the Plame affair — what is behind the C.I.A. rebellion? This New York Times news analysis suggests the CIA was primed by its outrage over Condoleeza Rice’s unsuccessful attempt to shift the blame for the ’16 words’ in the State of the Union Address to Tenet. More important, having served under Bill Clinton, Tenet has a particular investment in the appearance of impartiality and nonpartisanship. Reading between the lines, it appears he has little concern over losing his job over this incident, already one of the longest-tenured CIA directors and having publicly ackonwledged that he is hankering to leave already. Ironically, the leak inquiry will probably extend his time here, as the White House will not want to be seen as dismissing its CIA director because of his agency’s accusations. The article skirts the issue of what elements at the CIA pushed the inquiry and what relationship they have to Tenet. Of course, internal CIA politics is opaque…

Related: Leak of Agent’s Name Causes Exposure of CIA Front Firm: “The leak of a CIA operative’s name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.” —Washington Post

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Schwarzenegger’s Supposed Romance with Hitler Detailed

Schwarzenegger Admired Hitler, Book Proposal Says: “A film producer who chronicled Arnold Schwarzenegger’s rise to fame as a champion bodybuilder in the 1970’s circulated a book proposal six years ago that quoted the young Mr. Schwarzenegger expressing admiration for Adolf Hitler.


The book proposal by the producer, George Butler, included what were presented as verbatim excerpts from interviews with Mr. Schwarzenegger in the filming of the documentary Pumping Iron. In a part of the interview not used in the film, Mr. Schwarzenegger was asked to name his heroes — ‘who do you admire most.’


‘It depends for what,’ Mr. Schwarzenegger said, according to the transcript in the book proposal. ‘I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education up to power. And I admire him for being such a good public speaker.’


In addition to the transcript, Mr. Butler wrote in his book proposal that in the 1970’s, he considered Mr. Schwarzenegger a ‘flagrant, outspoken admirer of Hitler.’ In the proposal, Mr. Butler also said he had seen Mr. Schwarzenegger playing ‘Nazi marching songs from long-playing records in his collection at home’ and said that the actor ‘frequently clicked his heels and pretended to be an S.S. officer.'” —NY Times

I’m no fan of Arnold’s, of course, but you do have to wonder about the timing of these revelations, which as dramatic as they are would have been newsworthy long before Schwarzenegger had any political ambitions. (Mickey Kaus agrees that it is a smear tactic that would not have had any effect on the election if it had not been raised at the last moment when Arnold did not have enough time to respond effectively, [although do ‘Arnold’ and ‘respond effectively’ in the same sentence amount to an oxymoron?] in contrast to the sexual abuse allegations, which Kaus says should have been brought up much sooner to allow them to snowball.) On the other hand, what was Schwarzenegger thinking when he bought the outtakes from Pumping Iron which contain the damning quotes back in 1991 (for more than $1 million) under an agreement that allows him to destroy the footage? He says he has not looked through the more than 100 hours of film to locate the controversial parts (or otherwise he would make them public now to prove his claim that they have been taken out of context). And Butler will not release the complete transcript of his interviews. (Kaus thinks Schwarzenegger probably has some leverage over him, having made him a small fortune when he bought the outtakes. Kaus also finds it implausible that Arnold, who he calls a “meticulous planner”, would not have screened the footage and identified the damaging parts.)