On the off chance you didn’t realize how evil PATRIOT is

The ACLU filed suit a few weeks ago challenging the FBI’s methods of obtaining some business records, but provisions of the act itself prevented them from announcing the suit.

“It is remarkable that a gag provision in the Patriot Act kept the public in the dark about the mere fact that a constitutional challenge had been filed in court,” Ann Beeson, the ACLU’s associate legal director, said in a statement. “President Bush can talk about extending the life of the Patriot Act, but the ACLU is still gagged from discussing details of our challenge to it.”

(WaPo story; use nogators@nogators.com / nogators for access.)

Having eaten there, I’m in no way surprised

Restaurant Magazine has announced its ’50 Best Restaurants in the World,’ and for the second year running, Thomas Keller’s French Laundry took the top prize.

Other US notables include five New York establishments, none of which are surprising: Gramercy Tavern (No. 11, also singled out as a great value), Daniel (12), Jean Georges (18), Balthazar (40), and Craft (44). American cuisine matriarch Alice Waters isn’t neglected, either, but we expected her influential Berkeley bistro Chez Panisse would come in higher than 37 (or at least higher than LA’s Spago, at 35). Our Jackson office will be pleased to note the inclusion of Charlie Trotter’s eponymous eaterie in Chicago (32), which also has the distinction of being the only listed American restaurant not in California or New York.

Of course, I’m sure there’s no reason to worry about this

It’s not news that Bush has finally agreed to testify in front of the 9/11 commission. What you may not know the conditions for said testimony, among them:

  • Bush and Cheney will appear and be questioned together;
  • Said questioning will be behind closed doors;
  • No transcript or recording will be made; and
  • Neither official will be under oath.

But don’t worry about that last part. Scott McClellan has already assured us that they will “tell it exactly how it happened.”

Right, Scott. Right.

Because, you know, sometimes they get cold. Or maybe because some people want them furry. We don’t know.

In New Zealand, you can buy possum fur nipple warmers.

We know what you’re thinking, though. “But Uncle Heathen, if I wear those, they won’t match my panties!” You’re fashion conscious. Of course you are. And you should be. Fortunately, the Kiwis have that covered, too.

(Links are to images only, since the website won’t allow bookmarks to specific products; the store link is here.)

Legislating academic conformity

This editorial is a bit dry, but stick with it. HR 3077 is more than a bit scary, and utterly at odds with ideas like “academic freedom.”

There is a great deal at stake for American higher education and academic freedom. If HR 3077 becomes law – the Senate will review the bill next – it will create a board that monitors how closely universities reflect government policy. Since the legislation assumes that any flaw lies ‘with the experts, not the policy’, the government could be given the power to introduce politically sympathetic voices into the academic mainstream and to reshape the boundaries of academic inquiry. Institutional resistance would presumably be punished by the withdrawal of funds, which would be extremely damaging to Middle East centres especially.

Remember that Army chaplain accused of spying?

All charges against Capt. James Yee, a Muslim chaplain previously on duty at Gitmo, have been dismissed.

Recall that initially they were accusing him of out-and-out spying, then backed off to improperly handling classified material, and then did their best to fuck him with adultery and pornography charges, as the heavy stuff wasn’t going to fly. (The prosecutors made noises about how they couldn’t seek a court martial because of “national security” concerns, which sounds an awful lot like ass-covering to me.)

Now even those charges have been dismissed and expunged from his service record, which says to me that either (a) the Army was wildly off-base the whole time, or (b) they weren’t but still managed to bollocks-up the investigation to thoroughly that they couldn’t win even on even the reduced charges. Both of these possibilities have very disturbing implications; either they’re going on witch hunts, or they’re incapable of handling cases and investigations.

It occurs to me that both could be true. I need a drink.