Thursday, March 27, 2008

Psychologists condemn torture

Written by James Thompson - a psychologist and social justice activist in Houston - for People's Weekly World :
The American Psychological Association's (APA) Council of Representatives has introduced new wording in a resolution to clarify the ethical responsibilities of psychologists in harsh interrogation techniques, according to the March edition of its publication The National Psychologist. This action was a response to resounding condemnation by APA's members who objected to the participation of psychologists in the Bush administration's open defiance of international law banning torture.

Critics argued that resolutions passed in 2006 and this past summer at the APA convention left loopholes which would permit the participation of psychologists in interrogation of prisoners at Guantanamo and other locations around the world.

According to the article, council members "voted overwhelmingly to include wording that emphasizes an 'unequivocal condemnation' of all techniques considered torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners." It pointed out that the new language "absolutely forbids any rationalization such as 'I was just following orders.'"

Danny Wedding, Ph.D., director and professor of psychiatry at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, declared, "It's stronger now because it ties APA's position to a number of international standards, such as the Geneva Accords. It's as unequivocal as we can make it and it should quiet some of the critics of the association."

On Feb. 15, 2008, Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D., the president of the APA, and Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D., chief executive officer of APA, sent a letter to President George W. Bush urging passage of a bill banning torture and confining interrogation methods to those described in the U.S. Army Field Manual.

The letter in part read:
On behalf of the American Psychological Association, we are writing to call upon you to definitively outlaw waterboarding and several other so-called 'enhanced' interrogation techniques by signing the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (H.R. 2082).

As the world's largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists, APA unequivocally condemns the use of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under any and all conditions, including the detention and interrogation of both lawful and unlawful "enemy combatants," as defined by the U.S. Military Commissions Act of 2006. Enactment of H.R. 2082 would be an important step toward ensuring that detainees in the United States and at U.S. facilities abroad will not be subjected to the eight interrogation techniques that are defined as cruel, inhuman or degrading by the Army Field Manual.

This would be an important step forward in protecting the rights of detainees. As psychologists, we believe such "enhanced" interrogation tactics are unethical, ineffective and highly likely to result in inaccurate information. Furthermore, the use of any information obtained through torture or other abusive techniques should not be permitted in any U.S. Court….

The bill was passed by both the House and Senate and differences were resolved and passed by the Senate on 2/13/08 in a vote of 51 to 45. Sen. John McCain voted against the legislation, even though he claims to be a victim of torture. Sens. Obama and Clinton failed to vote on the legislation on this date.

On March 8, as promised, President Bush vetoed the legislation.

On March 11, the House of Representatives attempted to override the veto, but failed. 225 voted to override and 188 voted to sustain the veto. Only three Democrats voted to sustain, whereas 185 Republicans stood with President Bush. 220 Democrats voted to override and they were supported by 5 of their Republican colleagues.

March 11, 2008 will stand as a day of infamy for the U.S. Government in the annals of history.

AI Koans

These are some of the funniest examples of a genre of jokes told at the MIT AI Lab about various noted hackers. The original koans were composed by Danny Hillis. In reading these, it is at least useful to know that Minsky, Sussman, and Drescher are AI researchers of note, that Tom Knight was one of the Lisp machine's principal designers, and that David Moon wrote much of Lisp Machine Lisp.

* * *

A novice was trying to fix a broken Lisp machine by turning the power off and on.

Knight, seeing what the student was doing, spoke sternly: "You cannot fix a machine by just power-cycling it with no understanding of what is going wrong."

Knight turned the machine off and on.

The machine worked.

* * *

One day a student came to Moon and said: "I understand how to make a better garbage collector. We must keep a reference count of the pointers to each cons."

Moon patiently told the student the following story:

"One day a student came to Moon and said: `I understand how to make a better garbage collector...

[Ed. note: Pure reference-count garbage collectors have problems with circular structures that point to themselves.]

* * *

In the days when Sussman was a novice, Minsky once came to him as he sat hacking at the PDP-6.

"What are you doing?", asked Minsky.

"I am training a randomly wired neural net to play Tic-Tac-Toe" Sussman replied.

"Why is the net wired randomly?", asked Minsky.

"I do not want it to have any preconceptions of how to play", Sussman said.

Minsky then shut his eyes.

"Why do you close your eyes?", Sussman asked his teacher.

"So that the room will be empty."

At that moment, Sussman was enlightened.

* * *

A disciple of another sect once came to Drescher as he was eating his morning meal.

"I would like to give you this personality test", said the outsider, "because I want you to be happy."

Drescher took the paper that was offered him and put it into the toaster, saying: "I wish the toaster to be happy, too."

Italy tries to calm mozzarella fears

Italy on Wednesday sought to calm consumers' fears over the safety of its prized buffalo mozzarella after Japan followed South Korea in banning imports of the cheese due to concerns that high levels of dioxin had been found in samples of milk in southern Italy.

The European Commission has asked Italy to provide information by Thursday on tests of buffalo herds in the Naples area.

~ more... ~


"Bush reassured Hu Jintao US shipment of nuclear missile components to Taiwan in 2006 was 'mistake' "

Stephen Hadley, the White House national security adviser, said Mr Bush made the comments to Mr Hu in a phone call on Wednesday morning. The Pentagon on Tuesday said the US had mistakenly sent electrical fuses for intercontinental ballistic missiles, instead of a consignment of helicopter batteries.

Taiwan on Wednesday disputed initial Pentagon claims that it had only informed the US about the mistaken shipment this January. Lisa Chi, a Taiwanese military spokeswoman, said Taipei informed the Pentagon immediately after receiving the shipment in August 2006.

"We put the shipment in classified storage and notified our US counterparts immediately," said Ms Chi.

A senior Bush administration official on Wednesday confirmed the Taiwanese account, blaming the original discrepancy on "logistics, logistics, logistics", in a reference to the Defence Logistics Agency, which is responsible for shipping weapons. He said Taiwan had informed the DLA that the shipment did not contain the helicopter batteries.

~ from Bush seeks to reassure China on shipment ~


Humor: “With the right concentration and inner reflection, anyone can create a flossing utopia within themselves”

"The journey of flossing defines who we are," said Flowers, who hopes to help his patients break free from the doctrines of established tooth care. "The traditional methods tell you that floss spirituality comes from outside one's self, but I encourage my patients to look within and find their own flossing way."

Salvador Dali expounds on his 'Paranoiac Critical Method' philosophy

In conversation with David Bryson in 1963 (English). Mp3 file from Ubu Web.
Q. Could you define the word 'paranoiac'? Could you define it in more detail?
A . Aaaahhh... Is one... Uuuhh.. The name is... eehhh... 'paranoiac critical method' because is one spontaneous method of knowledge, based in the instantaneous association of delirious material. Everything appear in my life - delirious, antagonistic, impossible - put together. My method instantaneously creates miracle...

Seven Deadly Words of Book Reviewing

Another delight from Bookninja :
poignant: Something you read may affect you, or move you. That doesn't mean it's poignant. Something is poignant when it's keenly, even painfully, affecting. When Bambi's mom dies an adult may think it poignant. A child probably finds it terrifying.

The Quick and the Dead: Cashing in on Recession

Using religion as as model to predict that desperate people will buy anything that even seems to offer answers, publishers are scrambling to bang out some self-help snake oil for the recession with titles like "How Losing Your Life Savings Will Leave You With Anal Herpes" and "The Cheney Effect: Why That Sucking Sound You Hear is Your Po' Ass Being Flushed Down Haliburton's Public Pay Toilet" and "Why that 29$ Bucks You Just Spent on an MBA Dropout's Best Guess Will Save You From Forfeiting Your Children to an Illegal Alien Repoman", to name a few.

Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan

Found on A Poetic Justice with a tribute from 'poetryman' :

Part 1

Part 2

Alex Jones: Report Of WTC Collapse Cover-Up Justifies Call For New Inquiry

Richard Gage AIA, the founder of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and hundreds of other industry experts' call for a new investigation into the collapse of the WTC twin towers and Building 7 is gaining strength following revelations of falsification and cover-up in relation to the FEMA-funded inquiry into the destruction of the buildings on 9/11.

As we reported earlier, the American Society of Civil Engineers - an organization that was funded by FEMA to investigate the collapse of the twin towers on 9/11 - has been accused of engaging in a cover-up to protect the government, with critics charging the organization falsified conclusions that skyscrapers could not withstand getting hit by airplanes.

In a recent sit-down video interview conducted by Alex Jones, Gage gave a succinct presentation bringing forth the best evidence for controlled demolition being the cause of the three buildings' implosion on September 11.

As Gage highlights during the interview, numerous prominent architects and other industry experts have called for a new investigation into the collapse of the twin towers and WTC 7.

~ more... ~


Bush, The Thirteenth Imam

Iran also has at least 50,000 bloggers. One student explained that since these blogs are often anonymous, people can speak their minds freely, in a way they generally don't dare to even in circles of student friends, since among those friends might be a regime spy. Alluding to the regime's own euphemistic description of its intelligence agents as "unknown soldiers of the hidden imam," students call them, with heavy irony, "soldiers of the hidden imam." Which is, of course, what they themselves were supposed to be.

The regime has spent twenty-five years trying to make these young Iranians deeply pro-Islamic, anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Israeli. As a result, most of them are resentful of Islam (at least in its current, state-imposed form), rather pro-American, and have a friendly curiosity about Israel. One scholar, himself an Islamic reformist, suggested that Iran is now "under the hijab, so to speak" the most secular society in the Islamic world. Many also dream of life in America, sporting baseball caps that say, for example, "Harward [sic] Engineering School." Quite a few young Iranians even welcomed the invasion of Iraq, hoping it would bring freedom and democracy closer to them. Seeing how the US invasion has benefited the Shiites in southern Iraq, they joke that President George W. Bush is "the thirteenth imam."

These 45 million young people are the best hope there is of peaceful regime change in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Their "soft power" could be more effective than forty-five divisions of the US Marines. One positive legacy of the eight years of Khatami's reformist presidency is that this generation has grown up with less fear than its predecessors. The students at Tehran University launched a large-scale protest in summer 1999. They will never forgive Khatami for allowing it to be suppressed. Each year since, a small number of them have tried to mark the anniversary with demonstrations, which have been broken up by the police. Repression is fierce: as I write, a well-known student leader has just been condemned to six years in prison. Yet the impression I got from those I talked to is that they intend to struggle on, perhaps with subtler and more inventive forms of protest.

The potential of what I came to think of as Young Persia is huge. These young Iranians are educated, angry, disillusioned, impatient, and when they leave college most of them will not find jobs appropriate to their training. Given time and the right external circumstances, they could take the lead in exerting the kind of organized social pressure that would allow and require the advocates of reform, even of transformation, to gain the upper hand inside the dual state.

The United States would, however, be making a huge mistake if it concluded that these young Iranians are automatic allies of the West and, so to speak, soldiers of the thirteenth imam. Their political attitudes toward the West are complex, often deeply confused, and volatile. Unlike in neighboring Turkey, even the most outspoken would-be democratizers don't envisage their country becoming part of the West.

'OSINT and the Pharmaceutical Enterprise'

In its July 2004 report, the 9/11 Commission recommended the creation of an "open-source" intelligence agency — somewhat different than the CIA and NSA. Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is defined by the Director of National Intelligence as intelligence "produced from publicly available information that is collected, exploited, and disseminated in a timely manner to an appropriate audience for the purpose of addressing a specific intelligence requirement." OSINT focuses on creating actionable intelligence from public information, allowing other Federal agencies to focus on creating primary intelligence from covert human sources or listening in on electronic
[ ... ]
However, technology is only one piece of the puzzle. A more central issue is knowing what questions to ask and accurately determining what constitutes an answer.
Question asking (and answering) is a fine art. In our work as consultants, we're often asked a variety of questions, from "What does Wall Street think of our CEO?" to "How many biomarkers can we actually use as prognostics in our clinical trials?" Answering each of these questions requires a different approach.
[ ... ]
To discover content on the Web, search engines typically use web crawlers that follow hyperlinks. This technique is ideal for discovering resources on the surface Web, but is often ineffective at finding Deep Web resources. (The Deep Web — or Deepnet, invisible Web or hidden Web — refers to WWW content not part of the surface Web indexed by search engines.) For example, these crawlers seldom find dynamic pages resulting from database queries due to the infinite number of queries that are possible.
[ ... ]
Alluding to the version-numbers that commonly designate software upgrades, the phrase "Web 2.0" hints at an improved form of the World Wide Web; advocates suggest that technologies such as blogs, social bookmarking, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds (and other forms of many-to-many publishing), social software, and online Web services imply a significant change in web usage.
[ ... ]
The use of Web 2.0 technologies to enable on-line communities of interest and social networking is critical to OSINT analysts. These communities allow users of varying interests to connect, network, communicate and publish content on many topics, including several that would be relevant to drug industry best practices, portfolio valuation, and related technologies. Web communities such as MySpace, Friendster, and especially scientifically focused communities such as SciLink are important OSINT sources in collecting data for biopharmaceutical intelligence.
~ full article by James Golden ~
also very interesting: Part 2 and Part 3

Jeff Jonas on Photosynth and Infosynth

As I noted in this post last week, the only way to make any real sense of the big picture is to first stitch together all of the atomic-level observations (puzzle pieces) into context (pictures).

With this in mind, take a look at this exceptional video about "Photosynth" presented by Blaise Aguera y Arcas at a TED conference.

Now imagine the process of stitching together not just digital images … but all available data – across disparate data types (e.g., structured, unstructured text, images, video, audio, etc.).

When I speak of Context, this is exactly what I mean.

So after seeing Photosynth ... this made me think "n" sensor context accumulation could just as easily be called "Infosynth."

~ more... ~


image from

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