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By Reed Stevenson
For the past year, the Army has been handing out free games as part of its recruiting efforts, but in the coming months it will also turn to a video game to train squad leaders in real-life combat tactics.
"If you enrol in the army of the future, you'll get your helmet, your gun and one of these discs," said Wil Stahl, a game designer at Pandemic Studios who led the three-year project to develop the game based on the Army's requirements.
"You have an Xbox -- they assume -- at home," he said.
The combat simulator, which Santa Monica, California-based Pandemic showed off for reporters at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles this week, puts players at the head of two light-infantry teams locked in a running firefight in a vaguely Middle Eastern city.
The "bad guys" pop out from behind walls and pull up in pickup trucks with automatic-weapons mounted on the beds. When shot, they fall with a burst of blood from the head.
In developing the game, which is now being spun off as a mass-market release titled "Full Spectrum Warrior, Pandemic said it was careful to fictionalise details of the game's setting and to make sure that the U.S. soldiers acted with discipline and professionalism.
As for the digital battleground, the look shifted from Bosnia-like terrain to a more Arab-looking street during the course of development, he said.
"We can't ignore the fact that we are in Afghanistan. We are in Iraq," said Stahl.
The commercial version of "Full Spectrum Warrior" will be published by Calabasas, California-based THQ in early 2004 for Microsoft's Xbox game console.
The project is not without its critics, especially among experts who question the relationship between video games and violence among children.
"It seems to me that they're using the Army's involvement to legitimise the violence," said Joanne Cantor, a professor who researches issues concerning violent games at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Separately, the U.S. Army said that more than 1.1 million people have gone through "basic training" in its "America's Army" personal computer game, which debuted at the Expo in Los Angeles last year.
05/07/03: Hearing on Media Consolidation With FCC Commissioner Michael Copps
Monday, May 12th, 1:00 - 3:00 PM. Shield Room, Caleruega Hall, Dominican University of California, San Rafael.
Congresswoman Woolsey and Commissioner Copps invite you to a discussion on proposed new FCC rules which would lift limits on media ownership and enable large conglomerates to own multiple broadcast outlets and newspapers in local markets. This important issue will affect how all of us receive news, information and entertainment.
Panelists: Orville Schell, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, U.C. Berkeley; Peter Phillips, Ph.D., Project Censored, Sonoma State University; Kim Spencer, President, Worldlink TV; Roger Grossman, Publisher, Marin Independent Journal; John Burgess, General Manager, KFTY Channel 50. Public testimony will follow the panel.
Parking is available at Conlon Recreation Center on Grand Avenue with signs to the Caleruega Hall on Magnolia. For a campus map and directions, go to http://www.dominican.edu.
05/06/03: Lydia Lunch Launches Literary e-zine, WIDOWSPEAK
Lydia Lunch has launched a new literary e-zine, WIDOWSPEAK. (http://www.widowspeak.org) Updated monthly, WIDOWSPEAK.ORG strives to serve as an outpost for writers who war with words, not only as a method to ensure survival, but because they truly understand that although we all stand alone, we are united in our strengths. The strength to not merely overcome adversity, addiction, trauma, and abuse, but to truly rebel against their life killing constraints.
Featured writers include Ms. Lunch, Erika Wear, Rachel Resnick, John Evans, Mike Ryan, Stephen Elliott and Chris Campion. In addition, they welcome submissions for inclusion on WIDOWSPEAK, if you would like to submit writing for consideration, please send your pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org .
05/06/03: Major Labels To Mess With Your Computers?
May 5, 2003, 4:48 AM PT
Some of the world's largest record labels are quietly financing the creation of programs by small software firms that, if deployed, would sabotage the computers and Internet connections of people who download pirated music, according to a published report.
Citing industry executives, The New York Times reported in an article that appeared on its Web site on Saturday, that the efforts bear varying degrees of legality including attacking a computer's Internet connection to slow or halt downloads and overwhelming distribution networks with programs that masquerade as music files.
"There are a lot of things you can do--some quite nasty," the Times quoted Marc Morgenstern, chief executive of software company Overpeer, as saying. The company receives support from several large media companies, it said.
If large record labels roll out the programs, it would be the most aggressive tactic yet in the music piracy wars by the recording industry, which has claimed that music piracy costs it more than $4 billion in annual sales worldwide.
Last month a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that file-sharing services Grokster and Morpheus were not guilty of copyright infringement.
The Times said approaches under development range from relatively modest in degree to quite severe.
One method is a "Trojan horse" program that simply redirects users to Web sites where they can legitimately buy the songs they had tried to download.
Another locks up a computer for a certain amount of time, minutes or hours, risking the loss of data that was not saved if the user restarts the computer, the paper reported.
The industry's big five labels--Vivendi's Universal Music Group, AOL Time Warner's Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Bertelsmann's BMG and EMI Group--have all backed the development of counterpiracy programs, according the industry executives, but none would discuss details publicly, the paper reported.
05/01/03: Wanted: 2 new Mac's for Trade
Cash-strapped Alternative Tentacles needs 2 new Apple computers. We would happily swap AT CDs, LPs, merchandise and books (or partial with $) for 2 new computers.
We would like a flat-panel iMac or a G4 iMac or an eMac or iBook. All need to be less than 16 months old and of course in excellent shape.
If you are interested or have more questions or have some suggestions, please get in touch at the following email address.Thanks!
04/17/03: Missing Arms Cast Doubt on War
by Scott Ritter (former weapons inspector!!!)
The remarkable images of the fall of Baghdad, while not signaling the end of "Operation Iraqi Freedom," do bring to an end a critical phase of the military operation - that in which coalition forces wore special protective equipment in anticipation of the use by Iraq of chemical and/or biological weapons.
The orders to strip down to regular battle dress reflect not only the advance stage of the campaign to liberate Iraq, but also the recognition by coalition commanders that the threat from Iraqi chemical and biological weapons has been all but eliminated.
The fact that these protective suits were not needed by coalition forces is a cause for celebration. But the total lack of chemical weapons on the battlefield, combined with the inability of the coalition, to date, to uncover any of the massive stockpiles of prohibited weapons or weapons-manufacturing capability, raises disturbing questions about what was supposed to be the main justification for the American-led military action: disarming a recalcitrant dictator.
While the days to come may bring with them the uncovering of weapons of mass destruction and/or associated production facilities, the inescapable fact is the allegations of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction used by the Bush administration to sustain the legitimacy of its Iraq intervention remain, as of this point, unsustained.
This uncomfortable fact must be addressed. It is not that anyone should shed tears for the demise of Saddam Hussein.The world will be a better place without him and his regime. But the world should be concerned about the damage the American military incursion did to the credibility and viability of the United Nations, especially given the dangerous world we all live in today.
Now, more than ever, the world needs a sound strategy for non-proliferation and disarmament. The United Nations had been, until recently, the accepted forum for dealing with such issues.
See rest of article here :
04/16/03: (hoax) WORKER DEAD AT DESK FOR 5 DAYS
(of course we put this story up on our site and then found it wasn't true. Good story nonetheless in this day and age.)
WORKER DEAD AT DESK FOR 5 DAYS (New York Times)
George Turklebaum, 51, who had been employed as a proof-reader at a New York firm for 30 years, had a heart attack in the open-plan office he shared with 23 other workers. He quietly passed away on Monday, but nobody noticed until Saturday morning when an office cleaner asked why he was still working during the weekend.
His boss Elliot Wachiaski said: "George was always the first guy in each morning and the last to leave at night, so no one found it unusual that he was in the same position all that time and didn't say anything. He was always absorbed in his work and kept much to himself."
A post mortem examination revealed that he had been dead for five days after suffering a coronary. Ironically, George was proofreading manuscripts of medical textbooks when he died.
You may want to give your co-workers a nudge occasionally.
Moral of the story: Don't work too hard. Nobody notices anyway.
04/16/03: Why The Anti-War Movement Was Right
Published on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 by Arianna Huffington
Why The Anti-War Movement Was Right
by Arianna Huffington
The Bible tells us that pride goeth before the fall. In Iraq, it cameth right after it. From the moment that statue of Saddam hit the ground, the mood around the Rumsfeld campfire has been all high-fives, I-told-you-sos, and endless smug prattling about how the speedy fall of Baghdad is proof positive that those who opposed the invasion of Iraq were dead wrong.
What utter nonsense. In fact, the speedy fall of Baghdad proves the anti-war movement was dead right.
The whole pretext for our unilateral charge into Iraq was that the American people were in imminent danger from Saddam and his mighty war machine. The threat was so clear and present that we couldn't even give inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction -- hey, remember those? -- another 30 days, as France had wanted.
Well, it turns out that, far from being on the verge of destroying Western civilization, Saddam and his 21st century Gestapo couldn't even muster a half-hearted defense of their own capital. The hawks' cakewalk disproves their own dire warnings. They can't have it both ways. The invasion has proved wildly successful in one other regard: It has unified most of the world -- especially the Arab world -- against us.
Back in 1991, more than half-a-dozen Arab nations were part of our Desert Storm coalition. Operation Iraqi Freedom's "coalition of the willing" had zero. Not even the polygamous potentates of Kuwait -- whose butts we saved last time out and who were most threatened by whatever threat Iraq still presented -- would join us. And, I'm sorry, but substituting Bulgaria and the island of Tonga for Egypt and Oman is just not going to cut it when it comes to winning hearts and minds on the Arab street.
In fact, almost everything about the invasion -- from the go-it-alone build-up to the mayhem the fall of Saddam has unleashed -- has played right into the hands of those intent on demonizing our country. Islamic extremists must be having a field day signing up recruits for the holy war they're preparing to wage against us. Instead of Uncle Sam wants you, their recruiting posters feature a different kind of patriotic image: an American soldier ill-advisedly draping the American flag over Saddam's face.
The anti-war movement did not oppose the war out of fear that America was going to lose. It was the Bush administration's pathological and frantic obsession with an immediate, damn-the-consequences invasion that fueled the protests.
And please don't point to jubilant Iraqis dancing in the streets to validate the case for "pre-emptive liberation." You'd be doing the Baghdad Bugaloo too if the murderous tyrant who'd been eating off golden plates while your family starved finally got what was coming to him. It in no way proves that running roughshod over international law and pouring Iraqi oil -- now brought to you by the good folks at Halliburton -- onto the flames of anti-American hatred was a good idea. It wasn't before the war, and it still isn't now. The unintended consequences have barely begun to unfold.
And the idea that our slamdunk of Saddam actually proves the White House was right is particularly dangerous because it encourages the Wolfowitzes and the Perles and the Cheneys to argue that we should be invading Syria or Iran or North Korea or Cuba as soon as we catch our breath. They've tasted blood.
It's important to remember that the Arab world has seen a very different war than we have. They are seeing babies with limbs blown off, children wailing beside their dead mothers, Arab journalists killed by American tanks and bombers, holy men hacked to death and dragged through the streets. They are seeing American forces leaving behind a wake of destruction, looting, hunger, humiliation, and chaos.See the whole story at :
04/04/03: Soldiers To Pray For Bush
They may be the ones facing danger on the battlefield, but US soldiers in Iraq are being asked to pray for President George W Bush.
Thousands of marines have been given a pamphlet called "A Christian's Duty," a mini prayer book which includes a tear-out section to be mailed to the White House pledging the soldier who sends it in has been praying for Bush.
"I have committed to pray for you, your family, your staff and our troops during this time of uncertainty and tumult. May God's peace be your guide," says the pledge, according to a journalist embedded with coalition forces.
The pamphlet, produced by a group called In Touch Ministries, offers a daily prayer to be made for the US president, a born-again Christian who likes to invoke his God in speeches.
Sunday's is "Pray that the President and his advisers will seek God and his wisdom daily and not rely on their own understanding". Monday's reads "Pray that the President and his advisers will be strong and courageous to do what is right regardless of critics".
04/02/03: LA Times Doctor Iraq War Photo
(04-02) 06:56 PST LOS ANGELES (AP) --
In an editor's note in Wednesday editions, the Times said photographer Brian Walski acknowledged in a phone call from Iraq that he had used a computer to combine elements of two photos to improve the composition.
Journalism ethics forbid changing the content of news photographs, and it is specifically barred in the newspaper's policy.
The two photos, taken moments apart, showed a British soldier directing Iraqi civilians to protect themselves from possible Iraqi fire on the outskirts of Basra. Only after the altered photo appeared Monday did editors notice that some civilians in the background appeared twice, the Times said.
Messages left early Wednesday for two Times representatives were not immediately returned.
All three photos -- the two originals and the altered photo -- were published by the Times on Wednesday.
Walski had been with the Times since 1998.
03/31/03: Takoma the dolphin is Awol
March 29, 2003
From Daniel McGrory in Umm Qasr
THE US Marines have suffered an embarrassment with reports last night that one of their most prized investigators may have defected.
Takoma, the Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin, had been in Iraq for 48 hours when he went missing on his first operation to snoop out mines.
His handler, Petty Officer Taylor Whitaker, had proudly showed off Takoma's skills and told how the 22-year-old dolphin was among the most pampered creatures in the American military.
Takoma and his fellow mine hunters have a special diet, regular medical checks and their own sleeping quarters, which is more than can be said for the vast majority of the military whose domestic arrangements are basic, to say the least.
The wayward Takoma set out on the first mission with his comrade, Makai, watched by the cameras as the pair of dolphins somersaulted over the inflatable dinghy carrying their handlers.
Takoma's role was to sweep the way clear for the arrival of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Sir Galahad. US officials had said that dolphins, first used in Vietnam, were a far better bet than all the technology on board the flotilla of ships.
Petty Officer Whitaker had tempted fate by saying: "Why would they go missing when they have the best food and daily spruce-ups and health checks?" Two hours later Takoma had gone Awol. "Twenty-four hours is not unusual," a nervous Petty Officer Whitaker said. "After all, he may meet some local company."
Takoma has now been missing for 48 hours and the solitary figure of Petty Officer Whitaker could be seen yesterday patting the water, calling his name and offering his favourite fish, but there was no response.
03/31/03: Court: Man Can Bark at Police Dog
AP - Feature Stories
Mon Mar 31, 6:22 AM ET
ATHENS, Ohio - A man was using his free speech rights when he barked back at a police dog, a state appeals court has ruled.
The 4th Ohio District Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of charges against a man who answered the barks of Pepsie in this southeast Ohio city in September 2001.
Jeremy Gilchrist, then 21, encountered the dog, which was in a police cruiser, as he walked along a street with friends.
His attorney said he was trying to be funny when he barked back.
"The mere fact that the police dog had commenced the barking did not entitle it to a solo performance," attorney Patrick McGee wrote in the appeal.
State law makes it illegal to taunt, torment or hit a police dog or horse. Officer Krishea Osborne testified that Gilchrist's barking made the dog "work himself up into a frenzy."
However, Athens County Municipal Judge Douglas Bennett threw out the charges last June, saying the law violated the right to free speech. The appeals court agreed Wednesday.
Bennett also said Gilchrist wasn't a threat to the animal or public safety because he was 30 feet away from the cruiser.
City Prosecutor Lisa Eliason argued in the appeal that taunting can occur from any distance.
No decision has been made whether to file another appeal, Eliason said Friday.
Athens is about 65 miles southeast of Columbus.
03/28/03: Let's Help Michael Moore
Thel local FM talk radio station is doing everyyhing in their power to bad mouth Michael Moore for his statements on Sunday night. The mid day show has been giving out the phone number to a local venue that is showingBowling for Columbine.
They are urging listeners to call the theatre (The Magic Bag in Ferndale, MI) and tell them how "Un-American" they are for playing the movie. I would like to get the info out there to everyone that the real Un-American ones are the radio stations that find it fit to ridicule someone that has the courage to stand up and say what many of us are thinking, and secondly how Un-American it is to keep an independant theatre from making money and going about their daily business with their phone lines being fucked up all day.
Here is there info:
First, don't let "those who have power" intimidate you. No matter how much power they have they cannot prevent you from living your life, speaking your mind, thinking independently, having relationships with people as you like. (Read Emma Goldman's autobiography LIVING MY LIFE. Harassed, even imprisoned by authority, she insisted on living her life, speaking out, however she felt like.)
Second, find people to be with who have your values, your commitments, but who also have a sense of humor. That combination is a necessity!
Third (notice how precise is my advice that I can confidently number it, the way scientist number things), understand that the major media will not tell you of all the acts of resistance taking place every day in the society, the strikes, the protests, the individual acts of courage in the face of authority. Look around (and you will certainly find it) for the evidence of these unreported acts. And for the little you find, extrapolate from that and assume there must be a thousand times as much as what you've found.
Fourth: Note that throughout history people have felt powerless before authority, but that at certain times these powerless people, by organizing, acting, risking, persisting, have created enough power to change the world around them, even if a little. That is the history of the labor movement, of the women's movement, of the anti-Vietnam war movement, the disable persons' movement, the gay and lesbian movement, the movement of Black people in the South.
Fifth: Remember, that those who have power, and who seem invulnerable are in fact quite vulnerable, that their power depends on the obedience of others, and when those others begin withholding that obedience, begin defying authority, that power at the top turns out to be very fragile. Generals become powerless when their soldiers refuse to fight, industrialists become powerless when their workers leave their jobs or occupy the factories.
Sixth: When we forget the fragility of that power in the top we become astounded when it crumbles in the face of rebellion. We have had many such surprises in our time, both in the United States and in other countries.
Seventh: Don't look for a moment of total triumph. See it as an ongoing struggle, with victories and defeats, but in the long run the consciousness of people growing. So you need patience, persistence, and need to understand that even when you don't "win," there is fun and fulfillment in the fact that you have been involved, with other good people, in something worthwhile. Okay, seven pieces of profound advice should be enough.
03/26/03: Fire At The White House
WASHINGTON, March 24 (Reuters) -