Saturday, October 08, 2005

Ohio Nazis

These people are pathetic, and I wholeheartedly support those protesting against this display of hatred (and check out the name of the Nazis' spokesperson):
A planned neo-Nazi march through a north Toledo neighborhood has drawn the ire of community groups, which plan to hold a unity event at the same time.
The National Socialist Movement responded to the announcement of the unity rally with "an appropriate amount of cynical disdain," said Bill White, a national spokesman for the group and leader of its unit in Roanoke, Va.

"We stated repeatedly this week that the local blacks and their political leaders are a bunch of loudmouthed cowards, and that we expect that, when confronted with their criminal behavior by strong and organized white people, would run, hide, and whine. And it appears that is exactly what is
happening," Mr. White said in a statement.





Let's hope that the US can summon the will to follow Britain's lead on this:
Vaccination against cervical cancer could become as common in schools as jabs against meningitis are now, following the dramatic results of the latest clinical trials. The breakthrough is generally seen as a real victory against one of the commonest cancers and may eliminate it in the UK.


True Romance


Michigan Moron

Homophobia thrives:
State Sen. Michael J. Goschka brushed off an apology demand from a gay rights group upset by his description of unions between committed gay couples as "utter perversity."


Flushing More Money

Bush's big government grinds on:
The US Senate has approved another $US50 billion ($66 billion) to fund the
Iraq war and rebuked the Bush administration for abuse of detainees at Abu
Ghraib prison and elsewhere as part of a $US445 billion ($585 billion) bill to
fund the Pentagon.

On a unanimous vote, senators sent the defence spending bill to a
conference with the House of Representatives where it faces a battle over Senate
amendments to restrict the Pentagon's interrogations and treatment of military
prisoners and detainees.

Here's a hint: Quit funding the war that is leading to torture. Radical idea, I know.


A True Man of Peace

Congratulations to El Baradei:
In a dramatic rebuff to President George Bush, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the man who dared to tell the Americans that the main plank of the US argument for waging war on Iraq was based on a lie.

The Nobel committee bestowed the prestigious award for 2005 on Mohamed ElBaradei, the UN official who rose to prominence by exposing the lengths that America would go to in its efforts to build a case for war.

Mr ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which shares the prize, delivered a body blow to the Bush administration on the eve of the Iraq war.


Bush's Immoral Priorities

When will people wake up to the fact that Bush is fundamentally immoral? Soon, I hope. I mean, this will be the first time he makes use of the veto?
The Bush administration pledged yesterday to veto legislation banning the
torture of prisoners by US troops after an overwhelming and almost unprecedented
revolt by loyalist congressmen.


The Envelopes, Please!

The Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded. My favorite is this one, but there are plenty of hilarious recipients:
LITERATURE: The Internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for creating and then using e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters -- General Sani Abacha, Mrs. Mariam Sanni Abacha, Barrister Jon A Mbeki Esq., and others -- each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled and which they would like to share with the kind person who assists them.


Happy Birthday!

Yet another artist scorned by his own country, while honored by others:
They say that a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country. The same is often true of writers. This weekend the 75th birthday of Britain's most famous living dramatist, Harold Pinter, is being marked by a star-studded, three-day celebration ... not in London, but at the Gate theatre, Dublin. "A man of 75," says Pinter ruefully, "needs a bit of affection and it's nice it's coming from Dublin."
If the National and other theatres have missed a trick in allowing Pinter's birthday to go unremarked, he remains as globally popular as ever. His agent, Judy Daish, says a new translation of his work has just appeared in Germany where productions multiply. Cate Blanchett is shortly to direct A Kind of Alaska in Sydney. And there is a phenomenal interest in his work in Brazil and Venezuela where Pinter's overtly political plays are perhaps more instantly appreciated than in Britain.
So, one way and another, Pinter's 75th birthday will not go unremarked. It just seems suprising that an English dramatist, for whom London is a living presence, should be more honoured by the Liffey than the Thames. But perhaps, in the end, it's the ultimate tribute. What it signifies is that Pinter's ability to create archetypal images that embody our dreams and nightmares transcends national frontiers.



Quite unnerving:
The determination of countries across the Middle East and Asia to develop nuclear arsenals and other weapons of mass destruction is laid bare by a secret British intelligence document which has been seen by the Guardian.

More than 360 private companies, university departments and government organisations in eight countries, including the Pakistan high commission in London, are identified as having procured goods or technology for use in weapons programmes.

The length of the list, compiled by MI5, suggests that the arms trade supermarket is bigger than has so far been publicly realised. MI5 warns against exports to organisations in Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel, Syria and Egypt and to beware of front companies in the United Arab Emirates, which appears to be a hub for the trade.


DeLay Accuses Earle of Misconduct

Pure hilarity. Do these people have no sense of irony?
A conspiracy charge against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay should be thrown out because a Texas district attorney tried to "browbeat and coerce" grand jurors into filing criminal charges, the Republican congressman's attorneys say.

DeLay's legal team alleged prosecutorial misconduct in a court filing Friday in Austin, Texas.

DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin said prosecutor Ronnie Earle "and his staff engaged in an extraordinarily irregular and desperate attempt to contrive a viable charge and get a substitute indictment of Tom DeLay before the expiration of the statute of limitations."


Friday, October 07, 2005

OPP Justice?

Once more, the ACLU comes through for people who cannot help themselves:
A civil rights group filed court papers Thursday demanding access to the New Orleans city jail to investigate allegations that inmates were abandoned for days after Hurricane Katrina, without food or drinking water, in chest-high floodwaters with floating corpses.

It took three days to evacuate more than 6,000 inmates from the lockup after the storm hit Aug. 29, prison authorities have said. The prisoners are now being held at 38 state and local lockups around Louisiana.

The American Civil Liberties Union's court filings demand information about where each prisoner is locked up. The group also wants the sheriff's office to halt any cleanup at the jail because it could destroy evidence that prisoners were left standing in bacteria- and petroleum-laden floodwater.



For once, the Democrats call it like they see it:
A controversial bill that offered abandoned U.S. military bases to private industry for the construction of oil refineries and granted federal insurance to refiners ensnared in litigation passed by a razor-thin margin in the House Friday afternoon 212-210 as Democrats chanted "shame, shame, shame."


Tista Frogblogging

I know, I've posted this picture before, but I really like it, so here it is again!


Good Morning, All!


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Happy Fiftieth

Among the Beats, Ginsberg was never my favorite, but he has had his moments, and "Howl," first read on October 7, 1955, was most certainly a pinnacle of his artistic career.

A bit to tantalize:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall,
who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York.


My Big Sky God Is Bigger Than Your Big Sky God

Sheerest insanity:
President George W. Bush allegedly told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, the BBC will report in a program slotted to run Oct. 17, RAW STORY can reveal.


Rabbit, Run

Now, this is funny:
EVEN the fertile imagination of Nick Park, the creator of Wallace and Gromit, would have difficulty making this up.

Posters for his new animated feature film Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit have been banned from the Isle of Portland, Dorset, because of a local superstition.

For more than 100 years the word “rabbit” has been considered taboo and locals refer instead to “underground mutton” or just “furry things”.

The unofficial ban came to light when publicists wanted to put up posters as part of the marketing campaign for the new Wallace and Gromit film, to be released a week today.

Authorities on Portland, which is connected to the rest of Dorset by a causeway, warned that the advertisements should not appear there because they could offend local people.


And in My Hand, I Hold a List of 57 Victories over al-Qaeda

May I just say, "bollocks"?
President Bush said Thursday the United States and its allies had foiled at least 10 serious plots by the al-Qaida terror network in the last four years, including plans for Sept. 11-like attacks on both U.S. coasts.



Some people just haven't clued into the whole democracy to plutocracy shift that's been underway for some time now:
Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts that were handed out with little or no competition will be re-bid to prevent any waste or abuse, FEMA chief R. David Paulison said Thursday.

``I've been a public servant for a long time, and I've never been a fan of no-bid contracts,'' Paulison told a Senate panel investigating the Federal Emergency Management Agency's response to the hurricane. ``Sometimes you have to do them because of the expediency of getting things done. And I can assure that you we are going to look at all of those contracts very carefully.''


Democracy Continues to Decay

Step by quiet step:
The Pentagon would be granted new powers to conduct undercover intelligence gathering inside the United States—and then withhold any information about it from the public—under a series of little noticed provisions now winding their way through Congress.


Romance Lives!



A bit of good news, a bit of justice, in this sorry world:
Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights has been named one of the winners of the Leadership for a Changing World awards.

He is one of 17 people - and the only one from the LGBT community - chosen from nearly 1,000 nominations for the prestigious Ford Foundation award that carries a $100,000 prize.

The Center has been at the forefront of legal battles to secure marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. Minter also has been instrumental in a number of cases involving the rights of transgender women and men.
Minter, who was born biologically female was raised in East Texas. In high school, Minter said, he "had some vague idea" that he was born to the wrong gender. In 1992, his last year of law school, Minter began to actively confront transsexuality and in 1996 began transitioning.

Four years later the sex reassignment surgery was completed and a year later he married.


Racist Law Cannot Be Used for Homophobia

Once again, may I say, well done Massachusetts!
The highest court in Massachusetts was told Thursday that a 1913 law, unused for a half-century, now is being used unconstitutionally to prevent out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying.

After the same court ruled on May 17, 2004 that it was unconstitutional for the state to deny same-sex couples the right to marry Gov. Mitt Romney dusted off the old law that says marriage licenses cannot be issued to people who reside in states where those marriages would not be legal.

The law was written when most states did not recognize interracial marriage. After the US Supreme Court ruled that laws barring interracial couples from marrying was illegal the Massachusetts statute fell into disuse.


Two Instances of Catholic Common Sense in One Day!

This has got to be a sign of something or other:

THE hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.

The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.

“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.


If You Need "Miracles," Then Your Holy City Is Vegas

I mean no offense to the truly religious, nor, of course, to the truly spiritual. But if the system by which you manage to relate to the Overarching Power that runs the universe includes the literal changing of blood to wine, or the literal survival of poisonous snake bites by means of the power of faith, or the literal acquisition of a bunch of virgins after you blew yourself to shreds, or anything along any of these lines, well then...

You need to take a long, serious look at your system of belief.

Why would an omnipotent being depend on such bizarre techniques to convince his or her creations to buy into his or her existence?

Just... why?

I'm sorry, but if the theists--any of them--turn out to be right, and I end up standing before some deity who wants to know why I did not and could not believe in him or her, I will have a hard time not cracking up. I mean, whose fault is it really?

Anyway, latest instance:
Italy remains a profoundly superstitious country and there was uproar recently when a group of scientists queried a religious rite in Naples in which the dried blood of a saint beheaded in AD305 "miraculously" liquefies.

According to tradition, the transformation of the blood of San Gennaro, preserved in two phials, protects the city from disasters such as earthquakes or an eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Scepticism about this popular event on the religious calendar, held in Naples cathedral and witnessed by thousands of people every year, has been heard before.


America: Behind Again

The right to vote is, quite simply, an inalienable right. Unless you are truly afraid that rapists and murderers and thieves are in the majority, you cannot but agree that the men and women consigned to the penal system deserve some manner of voice in society:
A ruling from the European court of human rights today gave British prisoners the right to vote.

The Strasbourg's court's decision means that legal changes will need to be made to give prisoners the option to cast their vote in future national and regional elections.


Backin' Off the Big Stupid

Sometimes, they do:
A proposed bill that would prohibit gays, lesbians and single people in Indiana from using medical science to assist them in having a child has been dropped by its legislative sponsor.

State Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, issued a one-sentence statement late Wednesday about her decision to drop the proposal.

"The issue has become more complex than anticipated and will be withdrawn from consideration by the Health Finance Commission," she said.


An Historic Failure

And this is the national security administration? Of all the many, many events to have disproven the applicability of this characterization, this may well be the biggest:
Both the FBI and CIA are calling it the first case of espionage in the White House in modern history.

Officials tell ABC News the alleged spy worked undetected at the White House for almost three years. Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, was a U.S. Marine most recently assigned to the staff of Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I don't know of a case where the vetting broke down before and resulted in a spy being in the White House," said Richard Clarke, a former White House advisor who is now an ABC News consultant.

Federal investigators say Aragoncillo, a naturalized citizen from the Philippines, used his top secret clearance to steal classified intelligence documents from White House computers.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

It Begins

And who knows how many decades we'll have to endure such:
Newly installed Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday sharply questioned a lawyer arguing for preservation of Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law, noting the federal government's tough regulation of addictive drugs.
Inside, retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor seemed ready to back the law allowing dying patients to obtain lethal doses of medication from their doctors.

Although O'Connor could provide the fifth vote in Oregon's favor, she likely will be off the court before the case is decided. A 4-4 tie would be decided by a new justice.

Voters in Oregon have twice endorsed doctor-assisted suicide, but the Bush administration has aggressively challenged the state law, the only one of its kind in the nation.

O'Connor immediately challenged Solicitor General Paul Clement, asking if federal drug laws also prevented doctors from participating in the execution of murderers.


Still Fiddling Around While the Ninth Ward Rots

The inestimable Scout Prime points to this CNN story:
Five weeks after Katrina, New Orleans is calling off the house- to-house search for bodies. Teams have pulled 964 corpses from storm- ravaged areas across southeastern Louisiana. Authorities admit more bodies are probably out there. They'll be handled on a case-by-case basis. The count is far short of the 10,000 dead once predicted by New Orleans mayor. As of today, the death toll from Hurricane Katrina stands at just under 1,200.

Searchers and residents insist there are still plenty of dead to find in New Orleans. Once again, they say the Ninth Ward is being ignored because it is poor and black. Here's CNN's Jeanne Meserve.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: (voice- over): In pulverized portions of New Orleans's Ninth Ward, where water flows, instead of traffic, most homes bear the signs that search teams have been in to look for the living and the dead, but not in one area that spans several blocks. Here, house after house after house is unmarked.

EDWARD MENDEL, SEARCH VOLUNTEER: From here back, I estimate 100 to 150 homes that are still unsearched. And I do expect we will probably find some bodies.

MESERVE (on camera): Why do you think that?

MENDEL: You can smell them as we drive by.


Land of Fear

This is just getting more ridiculous by the day:
Selina Jarvis is the chair of the social studies department at Currituck County High School in North Carolina, and she is not used to having the Secret Service question her or one of her students. But that’s what happened on September 20, The Progressive reports Wednesday... Their site went down Wednesday morning; RAW STORY has posted excerpts here.


Jarvis had assigned her senior civics and economics class “to take photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights,” she says. One student “had taken a photo of George Bush out of a magazine and tacked the picture to a wall with a red thumb tack through his head. Then he made a thumb’s down sign with his own hand next to the President’s picture, and he had a photo taken of that, and he pasted it on a poster."

An employee in that Wal-Mart photo department called the Kitty Hawk police on the student. And the Kitty Hawk police turned the matter over to the Secret Service.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Common Sense Catholicism

It happens far more often than one might think, but generally on the lower levels:
A senior Roman Catholic cardinal seen as a champion of intelligent design against Darwin’s explanation of life has described the theory of evolution as “one of the very great works of intellectual history.”

Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said he could believe both in divine creation and in evolution because one was a question of religion and the other of science, two realms that complemented rather than contradicted each other.


Let's Just Rename It the Heartless Land

The callousness of this proposed legislation is clear. The implications, if one ponders parallel situations, are less so. Either way: evil:
An interim legislative committee is considering a bill that would prohibit gays, lesbians and single people in Indiana from using medical science to assist them in having a child.


More Conservative Doublethink

The idiotic Horowitz is at it again. See you if you can detect the oh-so-subtle contradiction in his position:
Some Republicans are pushing a measure through the House of Representatives meant to ensure that students hear "dissenting viewpoints" in class and are protected from retaliation because of their politics or religion, the (paid-restricted) Wall Street Journal reports Tuesday. Colleges say the measure isn't needed, but with Congress providing billions of dollars to higher education, they are worried. Excerpts.


The measure's chief promoter, Marxist-turned-conservative activist David Horowitz, says an academic bill of rights will protect students from possible political "hectoring" and discrimination by their professors. "We have enough institutions in America that are political. Let's keep [universities] above that fray," he adds.

But professors say Mr. Horowitz really is trying to silence liberal faculty members. "It's an invitation for the government to get involved in the internal affairs of the university," says William Scheuerman, a political scientist at the State University of New York at Oswego, and president of the state's faculty union.


Sharp Legal Thinking

If consistency truly is a hobgoblin of little minds, then this Miers looks to be a genius:
A document signed by Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers when she was a candidate for Dallas City Council in 1989 surfaced Monday night and is raising concerns among LGBT civil rights advocates.

In it Miers says she believes that gay men and lesbians should have the same civil rights as non gay men and women but would oppose repeal of the Texas sodomy law. The law was later struck down by the US supreme Court.


Exterminator, Conspirator, Launderer

Who knew DeLay was such a factotum?
A grand jury in Texas issued a second indictment on Monday against Representative Tom DeLay, accusing the Texas Republican and two aides of money laundering in a $190,000 transaction that prosecutors have described as a violation of the state's ban on the use of corporate money in local election campaigns.

The indictment was announced without warning on Monday in Austin, the state capital, after lawyers for Mr. DeLay went to court earlier in the day to ask that the original conspiracy indictment be dismissed on technical grounds. Mr. DeLay was forced to step down temporarily as House majority leader as a result of that indictment last week.


Romance Novel Cover of the Day


I'm Back!

Blog-frequency is difficult to predict, but it will be >0, unlike the past few days...