Thursday, September 29, 2005

Romance Novel Cover of the Day

Perhaps I shall make this a regular feature...


My Heart Hurts

Picture from the library in Biloxi:



Strange offense, strange sentence:
An imam who wrote a book on how to beat your wife without leaving marks on her body has been ordered by a judge in Spain to study the country's constitution.


Danish Air Force Kills Santa's Reindeer

I'm not kidding:
The Danish Air Force said Thursday it paid about $5,000 in compensation to a part-time Santa Claus whose reindeer died of heart failure when two fighter jets roared over his farm.


HIV Is Amoral, People

This crap just sickens me. I mean, it's bad enough that pharmacists are fighting to be allowed to judge women seeking contraception, but this takes it to a whole new level:
A proposed regulation which would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions based on the druggists moral views could be used to deny HIV/AIDS patients live saving medication a health advocate warns.

The Wyoming Board of Pharmacy is considering the rule change amid pressure by conservative groups opposed to the sale of contraceptives and birth control pills.

But, the regulation could be used to deny service in many other areas critics charge.

"It is so broad, that any pharmacist with any personal belief that is contrary to any particular drug is allowed to refuse to fill a legal prescription," Pamela Reamer Williams, director of the Casper-based Wyoming AIDS Project told the Star-Tribune.
"It's no secret to any of us that there are people in this state who have religious and moral objections to homosexuality, and it's not just homosexuals in this state or anywhere else that are living with AIDS," Reamer Williams told the paper.

"Some of these are people who never shot drugs, never had sex outside of marriage, did absolutely everything that was the moral way to behave, and they still ended up with HIV."


A Good Man

I applaud him:
A doctor has offered to perform free abortions on hurricane evacuees, saying it may be too dangerous for them to wait until they return home.

Despite protests from abortion opponents, Little Rock Family Planning clinic director Dr. Jerry Edwards said he has already performed six free abortions. The clinic usually charges between $525 and $600 for a first-trimester abortion.

"If we didn't provide it now, they would get it later — a late-term abortion that would give greater risk to the mother's health," Edwards told KTHV-TV in Little Rock.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay Indicted!

They actually did it.


Indict This Grinning Moron

I mean, for the love of God, Texans!! Can it be more clear that he is corrupt?


The Neo-Scopes Trial Grinds On

It's just an embarrassment that this is even happening. It is not even a matter of religion versus irreligion. It's simply a matter of categories, people.
A former physics teacher testified that his rural school board ignored faculty protests before deciding to introduce the theory of "intelligent design" to high school students.

"I saw a district in which teachers were not respected for their professional expertise," Bryan Rehm, a former teacher at Dover High School, said Tuesday.


Hell Doesn't Want Us

And heaven is full.

A casket is stuck in a tree surrounded by floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita Monday, Sept. 26, 2005 in Grand Chenier, La.


Giant Squid Photographed!

This photo released by Dr. Tsunemi Kubodera of the National Science Museum, an 8-meter (26-foot)-long Architeuthis attacks a prey hung by a white rope, left, at 900 meters (yards) deep off the coast of Japan's Bonin islands, 1,000 kilometers (670 miles) south of Tokyo, in the fall of 2004.


Canada: Still Way Ahead

How many more years will it be in the United States before such becomes possible?
Allison Brewer has become the first out lesbian to lead a political party in North America. Brewer won a first ballot victory to become leader of the New Democratic Party in New Brunswick. If her party wins the next provincial election she would become the first out premier in Canada.

Calling it "an historic day for the lesbian and gay community", she said she intends to lead her party to a majority government.


The New Catholic Inquisition

This new pope is taking lessons from McCarthyism, it would seem:
"Are you, or have you ever been, a homosexual?" That is the question that Vatican investigators began asking this week at Aquinas Institute of Theology in
St. Louis.
The seminary is the first in the country to face the scrutiny of inquisitors in their investigation of gays in American seminaries.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Crazy Idea!

There's no way this will be enacted, of course:
Today, Congressman Henry A. Waxman and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi introduced the Anti-Cronyism and Public Safety Act, which would prohibit the President from appointing unqualified individuals to critical public safety positions in the government.

"President Bush has handed out some of the country's most difficult and important jobs - leadership positions in public safety and emergency response - to politically well-connected individuals with no experience or qualifications," Rep. Waxman said. "This common sense legislation will end this practice and ensure that public safety is back in the hands of those who are trained and experienced in protecting the public."

The bill would require any presidential appointee for a public safety position to have proven, relevant credentials for that position. In addition, the legislation bars from appointment to an agency any individual who has been a lobbyist for an industry subject to the agency's authority during the preceding two years.


God Loves Promiscuity, Abortion

First the monkey genome supports evolution, and now this? What's a fundie to do?

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.
“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”


Fine, Dammit, I'll Go Look at the Poor People Again.

President Bush waves before departing the White House on Marine One on the South Lawn, September 27, 2005 to travel to Louisiana and Texas to look at damage along the Gulf coast done by Hurricane Rita.


Jah Hate

I just really do not understand what the deal is with this new wave of anti-gay reggae.

Bob Marley, I suspect, would not be pleased:
Buju Banton, one of Jamaica's most famous singers, has been charged with assault in connection with a vicious attack on six gay men.

Police allege that Banton was one of about a dozen armed men who forced their way into a house in Kingston last year and beat up the occupants while shouting homophobic insults. Several people were taken to the hospital following the attack.


Sheer Madness

I just don't know what to say. Habitat for Humanity is just so passe, I guess:
Facing criticism that he appeared disengaged from the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina, President Bush has been looking for opportunities to show his concern. But the White House will take the effort a step further Tuesday, venturing into untested waters by putting the nation's first lady on reality television.

Laura Bush will travel to storm-damaged Biloxi, Miss., to film a spot on the feel-good, wish-granting hit "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." Mrs. Bush sought to be on the program because she shares the "same principles" that the producers hold, her press secretary said.


Nuclear Saint Gap Opens

The West is doomed, I feel, if we cannot convince the Catholic Church to respond:
Historic Russian admiral Fyodor Ushakov -- a hero of Russia's wars against Turkey and Napoleon Bonaparte -- was designated the patron saint of nuclear-armed, long-distance Russian bombers by the Orthodox Church.

Russian Patriarch Alexei II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, carried a reliquary and an icon of the admiral, who was canonised in 2004, into the Moscow chapel of the Russian Air Force's 37th Air Army in Moscow, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency said Monday.

"I am sure he will become your intermediary as you fulfil your responsible duties to the fatherland in the long-range air force," the patriarch said.


Love Among the Ruins

Minefields turn out to be not completely evil:
There's a mating ritual going on in the minefield.

Fortunately the would-be lovers are penguins, too light to detonate the deadly mines laid more than two decades ago during a war on the far-flung Falkland Islands.

Thousands of penguins and other feathered and amphibious friends choose to nest and rest in no-go zones. The British estimate that some 25,000 land mines, mostly sown by Argentine forces in the 1982 war with Britain, remain.


First Sortie

Anyone complacent about the security of Roe v. Wade, pay attention:
The Bush administration is asking the Supreme Court to reinstate a national ban on a type of late-term abortion, a case that could thrust the president's first court picks into an early tie-breaking role on a divisive and emotional issue.

The appeal follows a two-year, cross-country legal fight over the law and highlights the power that Bush's nominees will have. Just a few months ago, there would have been five votes to strike down the law, which bars what critics call partial birth abortion.

The outcome is now uncertain, with moderate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retiring and her replacement still unnamed.

"This no longer puts the abortion issue in the abstract with the Supreme Court. This is as live a controversy as you can get," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, said Monday.


Kittens Amongst the Laundry


SUV Drivers: Still Homophobic Jerks

This new study is shocking:
It found that the drivers were more likely to be homophobic than other drivers. It also discovered they were not community minded and less likely than drivers of other vehicles to give to a charity.

The study additionally found they were more likely to suffer road rage. According to the institute four-wheel-drive vehicles also had a higher rate of being involved in accidents that kill or maim people in other vehicles.

"These drivers tend to see themselves as rugged individualists who like physical activity. the report's authors, Clive Hamilton and Claire Barbato, said.

"Perhaps with implications for how they drive, they are more inclined to say they sometimes use force to get their way."


If You Can't Beat 'Em, Regulate 'Em!

We should be so pragmatic:
Afghanistan, the world's biggest producer of opium and its derivative, heroin, acknowledged Monday that it had considered licensing its vast illicit crop and using it to produce opium-based medicines, though it ruled out such a move in the immediate future.

The government said it welcomed the release on Monday of a feasibility study about the subject by the Senlis Council, a drug policy research organization based in Europe.

Of course, they are hamstrung, and so cannot act on this notion:
The idea of licensing poppy cultivation completely goes against current Afghan counternarcotics policy, devised with Britain's help, which calls for eradicating poppy fields and persuading farmers to adopt alternative crops through assistance programs, much of them financed by the United States Agency for International Development.

Mr. Qaderi said the government could not consider a program for legalizing cultivation for the time being because Afghanistan had experienced such a rapid increase in poppy cultivation in the past few years.


Monday, September 26, 2005

That Went Well

Don't get me wrong; who knows, perhaps the evacuation did save some lives. However, these numbers are rather embarrassing:
Hurricane Rita caused only nine reported deaths after it slammed ashore near the Texas-Louisiana border on Sept. 24. At least 28 people were killed in the mass evacuation before the storm.


Constitution = Success?

Perhaps quite the opposite. Well done, Bush:
The rushed drafting of Iraq's new constitution has deepened sectarian rifts and is likely to fuel the Sunni-led insurgency and hasten the country's violent break up, a leading think-tank said.

"Instead of healing the growing divisions between Iraq's three principal communities -- Shiites, Kurds and Sunni Arabs -- a rushed constitutional process has deepened rifts and hardened feelings," the International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report.

Iraq "appears to be heading toward de facto partition and full-scale civil war" said the report, unless Washington makes "a determined effort to broker a true compromise between Shiites, Kurds and Sunni Arabs."


Luckily, Someone Knows How to Go After al-Qaeda

Thank you, Spain:
Spain's High Court jailed an al Qaeda leader for 27 years on Monday for conspiring with the September 11 plotters but cleared him and two others of killing 2,973 people in the attacks on New York and Washington.

The court also sentenced Al Jazeera journalist Tayseer Alouni to seven years in prison for collaborating with a terrorist group, a decision that drew strong criticism from the Arab broadcaster and international media groups.

In all, 18 of the 24 defendants in Europe's biggest trial of suspected Islamist militants were convicted — mostly of belonging to or cooperating with al Qaeda. Sentences ranged from six years to 27 years in jail.


Spare the Oil, Spoil the Child

As it says in the neocon Bible. Georgia's governor has his priorities straight:
Georgia will close all public schools on Monday and Tuesday to conserve fuel in light of disruptions caused by two hurricanes in the past month, Governor Sonny Perdue said.

The closures will save about 500,000 gallons of diesel, Perdue, a Republican, said at a press conference in Atlanta that was broadcast over the Internet. The governor also urged people to avoid unnecessary trips to save gasoline.


American Marksmanship

Not so good, apparently. Either that, or these insurgents are really, really fast, and as tough as the aliens on Starship Troopers:
US forces have fired so many bullets in Iraq and Afghanistan - an estimated 250,000 for every insurgent killed - that American ammunition-makers cannot keep up with demand. As a result the US is having to import supplies from Israel.

A government report says that US forces are now using 1.8 billion rounds of small-arms ammunition a year. The total has more than doubled in five years, largely as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as changes in military doctrine.


Confirmed: IRA Disarmed

These days, it is remarkable and heartening to hear of anybody, anywhere willing to espouse nonviolent solutions to political problems:
The IRA's last remaining weapons have been put beyond use, bringing an end to the organisation's military struggle against the British in Northern Ireland, the decommissioning watchdog confirmed today.

"The decommissioning of the arms of the IRA is now an accomplished fact," said John de Chastelain, the retired Canadian general who has been responsible for overseeing the decommissioning process since 1997.


Pedophilia Does NOT Mean Gay

And the cynicism of the new pope is made utterly apparent by his pushing forward with this latest attempt at distraction:

Word that a soon-to-be-released Vatican document will signal homosexuals are unwelcome in Roman Catholic seminaries even if they are celibate has devastated gay clergy - and raised doubts among conservatives about whether an outright ban can be enforced.
The review, called an Apostolic Visitation, was ordered by Pope John Paul II in response to the U.S. clergy sex abuse crisis that erupted in 2002.

Critics ranging from gay rights groups to advocates for victims have accused theVatican of attempting to scapegoat homosexuals to divert attention from thechurch's failures to protect children.
They point out that experts on sex offenders say gays are no more likely thanheterosexuals to abuse children.


Another Clever Pitfall Planted by Satan

The Lord of Hell sure is a clever bastard. And remarkably thorough in his efforts to fool us into believing we come from monkeys. One might almost say his designs are extremely intelligent:
When scientists announced last month they had determined the exact order of all 3 billion bits of genetic code that go into making a chimpanzee, it was no surprise that the sequence was more than 96 percent identical to the human genome. Charles Darwin had deduced more than a century ago that chimps were among humans' closest cousins.
If Darwin was right, for example, then scientists should be able to perform a neat trick. Using a mathematical formula that emerges from evolutionary theory, they should be able to predict the number of harmful mutations in chimpanzee DNA by knowing the number of mutations in a different species' DNA and the two animals' population sizes.

"That's a very specific prediction," said Eric Lander, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and a leader in the chimp project.

Sure enough, when Lander and his colleagues tallied the harmful mutations in the chimp genome, the number fit perfectly into the range that evolutionary theory had predicted.


Armed Dolphins in the Loose

It sound like one of those lame plot add-ons on the old Superfriends cartoons, meant just to give Aquaman something to do. But no, it is real:
It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.