Sunday, May 16, 2004

Sunday Coffee News Briefs a la Allie

RUMMY’S TANGLED WEB: Heavy Chain of Command. Citing current and former intelligence officials, The "New Yorker's" Seymour Hersh reports that US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the expansion of a secret Defence Department operation known as a Special-Access Program (SAP}, already in use in Afghanistan, and that the operation encouraged the abuse and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in order to gain intelligence. Detailed planning was then left to Pentagon Intelligence Chief Steve Cambone. The Pentagon has denied the claims. Hersh is the award-winning american journalist who broke the story of the 1968 My Lai massacre (when american soldiers executed Vietnamese civilians during the war in Vietnam).

PRESIDENTIAL CONDOLENCES: Bringing Democracy To Iraq. The family and friends of Nicholas Berg gathered together Friday in Philadelphia, attending a private ceremony to mourn his death and celebrate his life. The twenty six year old, whose videotaped beheading in Iraq shocked the world, was apparently in Iraq seeking business for his company, Prometheus Methods Tower Services Inc., when he "disappeared," only three days after being released from custody. The FBI visited him on three occasions during his most recent detention, but had also investigated him twice before when he was in america. Amongst many questions arising from this event, the only clear truth remains that Nicholas Berg's life and death in Iraq will remain largely a mystery.

SMARTY JONES: On Track for the Triple Crown. Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones won the 129th Preakness Stakes in a record shattering 11.5 length victory on Saturday. Next stop will be the Belmont Stakes on June 5 where the colt will try to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed 25 years ago. Smarty Jones is named after a little girl who grew up in the 1920’s, whose given name was Mildred McNair. But once her grandparents nicknamed her Smarty Jones, the name stuck. "She was probably a little bit of a smart aleck," says Mildred's daughter, Pat Chapman, now one of the owners of Smarty Jones. The Chapman’s originally purchased Smarty Jones for $40,000.00, but today wouldn’t sell him for any amount (and it’s been offered). We might have a Triple Crown winner on our hands, folks.

EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT: Apocalypse Then. Scientists and Geologists may have finally found the cause of the greatest mass extinction event in the Earth's history; known as the “Great Dying,” the Permian-Triassic Extinction occurred 250 million years ago, and wiped out more than 90 per cent of the species alive at that time. A large impact crater has been discovered off of the West Australian coast, it is speculated that that size of the asteroid/meteor was between 100-200km in diameter when it hit the earth's crust.

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