The hospital room showdown over illicit wiretaps in 2004 – James Comey vs Alberto Gonzalez, George W Bush’s flunkey


Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey tells the tale of a remarkable attempt by the White House to bully John Ashcroft in his hospital bed. His testimony before Senator Chuck Schumer in May 2007.

Sen. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.): There have been media reports describing a dramatic visit by Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card to the hospital bed of John Ashcroft in March 2004, after you, as acting attorney general, decided not to authorize a classified program.

First, can you confirm that a night-time hospital visit took place?


SCHUMER: OK. Can you remember the date and the day?

COMEY: Yes, sir, very well. It was Wednesday, March the 10th, 2004.

SCHUMER: And how do you remember that date so well?

COMEY: This was a very memorable period in my life; probably the most difficult time in my entire professional life. And that night was probably the most difficult night of my professional life. So it’s not something I’d forget.

SCHUMER: Were you present when Alberto Gonzales visited Attorney General Ashcroft’s bedside?


SCHUMER: And am I correct that the conduct of Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card on that evening troubled you greatly?


Click here and read through the transcript. Fascinating, disgusting, despicable.

Now that Comey is being put forward by President Obama to replace Robert Mueller as head of the FBI – this whole episode will be recounted, revisited. Who knows? Maybe we’ll yet have a chance to throw Cheney and Bush into Federal Prison for treason?

Who’s the coward? The gun nut sending poison through the mail – or Mike Bloomberg who ain’t running away from a fight?

Deadly threats will not prevent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg from pursuing tighter gun laws, the outspoken gun control advocate said Thursday after anonymous letters addressed to him tested positive for ricin.

“The letter was obviously referring to our anti-gun efforts, but there’s 12,000 people who are going to get killed this year with guns,” Bloomberg said. “We’re not going to walk away from those efforts.”

U.S. Secret Service also confirmed on Thursday that the White House mail screening facility intercepted a separate letter addressed to the White House that was similar to the letters previously addressed to Bloomberg…

Tests conducted on Wednesday confirmed two anonymous threatening letters sent to Bloomberg and Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, contained the presence of ricin. The poison, which can be a white powder or orange liquid, is found naturally in castor beans. It can be fatal for up to 72 hours.

What’s in this letter is nothing compared to what I’ve got planned for you,” the anonymous person wrote in the letter sent to Bloomberg. “You’ll have to kill me and my family before you get my guns…blah, blah, blah!

Law enforcement sources said the letters were postmarked May 20 from Shreveport, La.

The letter to Bloomberg was opened on Sunday and the letter to Glaze was opened on Friday. Bloomberg’s letter was intercepted at a mail sorting facility in Manhattan, and Glaze’s letter was encountered at Washington, D.C., offices. Everyone who came into contact with the letters was unharmed.

“I’m not angry. There are people who I would argue do things that may be irrational, do things that are wrong,” Bloomberg said. “But it’s a very complex world out there, and we just have to deal with that.”

Bloomberg is way too forgiving. I don’t mind laying a bit of understanding on the woefully ignorant who populate, say, the Tea Party or line up at the American Legion bar on Friday night to tell war stories. But, the criminal arrogance of cowards who fear democracy so much they resort to attempted murder deserve no sympathy.

Lock ’em up and throw away the key.

Cornell develops beer-pouring robot which figures out refills!

Anticipatory robot holding open a fridge door

What’s better than as robot bartender that can pour you a beer? How about a robot waiter that can see you need a refill and comes over to pour you another one. Hema S. Koppula, a Cornell graduate student in computer science, and Ashutosh Saxena, an assistant professor of computer science are working at Cornell’s Personal Robotics Lab on just such a robot. Using a PR-2 robot, they’ve programmed it to not only carry out everyday tasks, but to anticipate human behavior and adjust its actions.

Robots are the neat freaks of the technology world. They like things to be tidy, orderly and predictable, meaning they work best in places like laboratories and factories where everything can be controlled and where it’s easy to predict what’s going to happen next. When a robot moves out of its comfort zone into our imperfect world, it can run into difficulties. Even something as seemingly simple as noticing that someone’s glass is empty and topping it up requires a lot of observation and planning on the robot’s part.

The Cornell anticipatory robot avoids embarrassing spills and other accidents by using its Microsoft Kinect scanner to build up a 3D map of the objects present and then calculating how they might be used based on the action currently being performed by the person…

The robot is also able to put various subactivities together in different combinations to form models of larger activities that it can use to anticipate the movements of people in different situations. The models it builds are general enough to take into account the fact that different people will perform the same activity slightly differently.

Truly useful example of technology serving the core needs of human culture.

Even the Gallup poll admits religion less influential in American life


More than three-fourths of Americans polled say religion is losing its influence on American life, a Gallup poll released Wednesday indicated.

The 77 percent who said religion’s influence was lessening and the 20 percent who said it was on the rise represent Americans’ most negative evaluations of the effects of religion since 1970, Gallup said.

Americans were more likely to say religion’s weight was increasing instead of decreasing when the question was first posed in 1957, in 1962, and several times in the 1980s during the Ronald Reagan’s presidency; and after the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks in late 2001 and early 2002, as well as in 2005…

The pollster said it found a modest relationship between Americans’ ideology, as well as partisanship, and their views of the influence of religion. Liberals and Democrats were more likely than conservatives and Republicans to say religion’s influence is increasing in American society.

Shock and amazement! Not over the results – but, that Gallup admitted as much as they did.

Conservatives relished Gallup polls for decades. Though their “push” led to some truly laughable reporting – like Dewey’s supposed victory over Harry Truman in 1948. A style still in fashion in the Republican Party – which they had to admit after their last defeat in a presidential election.

Speaking as someone who’s been an atheist since the age of 13, a philosophical materialist since 18 – the inevitable change is no surprise.