Saturday, November 05, 2005

From the Mouths of Motivated Asshats

The very notion of Iran turning around and accusing Canada (I mean, really. Canada.) of being an abusive state just makes you want to laugh:
Iran has launched an attack on Canada at the United Nations, claimingOttawa is in no position to censure the Islamic republic over its human rights record.

Canada is due to propose a motion at the General Assembly next week that calls on members to pass a resolution demanding Iran enact reforms, including bans on torture and execution by stoning.


The Oil Revenues Will Pay for the War?

Oh, we've long known that that little narrative was no more than a myth to help the already suckered to defend their ridiculous position in favor of this war. But who knew we'd wind up in the red? Oh, right. It was that Bush who was in charge. Shoulda seen it coming.
An auditing board sponsored by the United Nations recommended yesterday that the United States repay as much as $208 million to the Iraqi government for contracting work in 2003 and 2004 assigned to Kellogg, Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Now He Speaks Out

Why do Democratic candidates suddenly grow balls when nothing is at stake anymore?
Sen. John Kerry, dedicating a new brain research center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Friday "science itself is under attack today" by right-wing ideologues and the Bush administration.

The Massachusetts Democrat declared: "We see it in the casual dismissal of Socratic inquiry and peer-reviewed and evidence-driven analysis. We see it in the rigid refusal to listen to what the Earth is trying to tell us about the condition of the air and water and land that surround us and sustain us. We see it in as federal science and research boards are being stacked with partisans and ideologues."


Defining Indecency

Good for them. Fighting the good fight indeed:
The women's group, Breasts Not Bombs, is suing CHP Commissioner Mike Brown and two of his officers over a warning that if the women demonstrate while topless, they will be arrested and charged with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct.

The group claims it also was warned by the CHP that if its members are convicted of indecent exposure they may have to register as sex offenders. It also claims the CHP said its admonition did not apply to male members of the group, who are free to go topless during the demonstration.


Bride of Re-Animator


Welcome to Argentina

It's true, Bush. No one likes you.

Prime Minister Paul Martin was set to speak Friday at the opening of the Summit of the Americas as thousands of demonstrators gathered to protest a U.S.-backed push for free trade and the war in Iraq.


Cleaning House at the CPB

Good riddance:
Under fire for promoting conservative programming, the former Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman has resigned from the corporation's board after the panel reviewed an investigative report on his tenure.

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, whose term as board chairman ended in September, left the board after the third day of closed-door meetings by the board of directors to review the findings of the agency's inspector general about his work.

"Both the board and Mr. Tomlinson believe it is in the best interests of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that he no longer remain on the board," the board said in a statement e-mailed Thursday evening to reporters and interest groups.


Classic Catblogging: Zora Edition

Because we still cannot find our digital camera...


Huge Victory in Washington

With this decision, the Washington Supreme Court has advanced gay rights tremendously:
The Washington Supreme Court established what amounts to a new category of parents — one that's the legal equivalent of moms and dads — when it ruled Thursday that a lesbian who was neither the biological nor adoptive parent of a girl she helped raise has co-parenting rights to the child.

The decision, which significantly impacts parenting laws in the state, may also signal the direction the high court will take in deciding a gay-marriage lawsuit pending before it — a prospect that delights same-sex marriage advocates and horrifies opponents.

In the 7-2 decision hailed by gays as an acknowledgement of the complexity of families, the court recognized what it called a "de-facto or psychological parent" under the state's common law as one who "in all respect functions as the child's actual parent."


Some Good News

I'd not even heard of this legislation before today:
The U.S. Senate passed legislation Thursday allowing states to provide Medicaid coverage to low-income, HIV-positive Americans.
Currently a person with asymptomatic HIV infection is not eligible for Medicaid until he or she has progressed to full blown AIDS.

Without Medicaid coverage, many low-income Americans are left without the critical care and medication needed to help slow the progression of the HIV.

Only after developing AIDS does Medicaid coverage become available - significantly impacting a person's quality of life and increasing the long-term cost of care and treatment.

A recent study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers found that ETHA will delay disease progression, increase life expectancy, and is cost effective.

The study also found that over 10 years, ETHA would reduce the death rate for persons with HIV who would qualify for Medicaid by 50 percent.


Justice for a Murderer

Simply evil:
A former D.C. government worker who has known since 1996 that he has the AIDS virus was sentenced to a 21-year prison term yesterday for luring women and teenage girls into sexual relationships without telling them of the risks.

Sundiata Basir, 34, a onetime assistant to a deputy mayor, had unprotected sex with at least seven partners in what prosecutors called "a stunning picture of criminal recklessness." Four women and girls, including a 15-year-old, later discovered that they had the AIDS virus, prosecutors said. Basir offered no apologies yesterday in D.C. Superior Court, declaring at one point: "I'm not going to say anything. Every time I say something, I get another case."
Basir pleaded guilty in July to child sexual abuse, cruelty to children and attempted aggravated assault. Those charges stemmed from relationships with a woman and two teenage girls.

Prosecutors said Basir never warned his partners, even though some asked him to use a condom. He also ignored the advice of his sister, a doctor, who said he could transmit the disease if he failed to take precautions, they said.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Your Mission for Saturday

Moon the Klan!

You are invited to join in
the 2nd* Austin Mooning of the Klan
Saturday, November 5th
Austin City Hall (or nearby depending on where the police make us stand)
from 1-3PM
*The first mooning of the Klan was organized by Texas musician Steve Fromholz in 1993 and proved to be an effective means of making counter protesters smile and Klanspeople cringe.


Happy Halloween!

A little late, but undeniably scary...


Ah, Vegas

No wonder Las Vegas has traditionally been associated with reason and justice:

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has suggested that those who deface freeways with graffiti should have their thumbs cut off on television.

Goodman, appearing Wednesday on the "Nevada Newsmakers" television show, said, "In the old days in France, they had beheading of people who commit heinous crimes.

"You know, we have a beautiful highway landscaping redevelopment in our downtown. We have desert tortoises and beautiful paintings of flora and fauna. These punks come along and deface it.

"I'm saying maybe you put them on TV and cut off a thumb," the mayor added. "That may be the right thing to do."


Michael Brown: Idiotic Bastard

Recently reported e-mails prove it:
As Michael "Brownie" Brown was botching the federal emergency response to Hurricane Katrina, the ousted FEMA director sent a series of embarrassing e-mails to colleagues discussing his appearance, the care of his dog, and, as the storm was making landfall, his desire to "quit" and "go home." Copies of Brown's e-mails were just provided by Department of Homeland Security officials to a congressional panel examining the government's disaster response (a sampling of that correspondence can be found below). On August 29, as Katrina was striking the Gulf Coast, Brown responded to a compliment on a TV appearance by stating, "I got it at Nordsstroms...Are you proud of me? Can I quit now? Can I go home?" An hour later, Brown wrote about his government-issued wardrobe: "If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god." Other messages dealt with Brown's need for a dog sitter, how the hurricane had "trapped" him in his job, and his press secretary's suggestion that he should roll up his shirtsleeves because "on TV you just need to look more hard-working." And on September 6, as the Army Corps of Engineers began pumping water from New Orleans, Brown offered his press flack helpful advice on ordering at Sonic: "Order a #2, tater tots, large diet cherry limeade." (7 pages)


Paris Is Burning

Just amazing, really:
Rioters shot at police and fire fighter crews in the worst night of a week of violence in poor suburbs that ring Paris, as France's conservative government struggled to quell the unrest.

Youths who rampaged on Wednesday night left a trail of burned cars, buses and shops in nine suburbs north and east of Paris, home to North African and black African minorities frustrated at their failure to get jobs or recognition in French society.

"It's a dramatic situation. It is very serious and we fear that the events could even get worse tonight," said Francis Masanet, secretary general of the UNSA police trade union.

Rioters torched 177 vehicles and attacked a primary school and shopping center, local officials said. Four police officers and two firefighters were hurt, including one with facial burns from a Molotov cocktail.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Halloween in New Orleans

Camera Obscura points to a post by her brother SwampyTad, one which gives me more hope for the city. The spirit lives:
so, trick or treating through dark streets littered with rotting refrigerator carcasses and roofing nails being generally considered to be not a good idea, a number of alternative venues were bandied about. in one of them, our church parish offered up its parking lots for "trunk or treating." not a pseudo-religious, neutered fall festival like what they have put on over in the baptist church parking lot for years, but a venue for some for-real halloween pagan tradition and revelry. but nothing organized, either. just, "come pull your car up in the parking lot and bring your kids and dish out treats to the trick or treaters." of course, these are new orleanians we're talking about, and a spontaneous city of ghouls and ghosts and kids dressed up like bounty hunters (i couldn't really believe that one) and werewolves and witches and power rangers and countless of those "scream" monsters sprang out of the asphalt by the church. full-blown decorations on most cars (not ours -- "should we bring some decorations?" "no, surely folks won't be going to all that trouble" was the conversation at our house before we left), up to and including miniature haunted houses in tents pitched next to SUVs and Winnebagos. Pizzas, tailgating, skatepunks, kindly old grandparent-types sitting on their back bumpers with a basket of candy corn. parents mutated by latex masks into bizarre monsters with smoke machines and strobe lights and screaming soundtracks to lend fright to their goodie bags. here's some pictures of it all.

this is the spirit of new orleanians that comes out just about every opportunity for a celebration of any kind, the thing that drives some of the wildest and tackiest christmas yard decorations imaginable, the thing that makes full living room and kitchenette ensembles spring up out of the neutral ground on mardi gras, the thing that makes folks smile when they smell the first crawfish boiling in early winter. and it's damaged not at all by katrita. we may be leaner and meaner for awhile, but we'll be back.


Chavez Yanking Bush's Chain Again

The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, said his government may give its US-made F-16 fighter jets to Cuba or China and replace them with Chinese or Russian aircraft after he accused Washington of blocking purchases of US military parts.

Any exchange of military hardware to those countries would break an agreement with the US Government on the transfer of technology without Washington's permission and further strain fraying ties between Venezuela and the US.

A fierce critic of the Bush Administration, Mr Chavez has rattled Washington by strengthening ties with anti-US states like Cuba and promoting his self-described socialist revolution as a counterweight to US regional influence.


Ambiguous Omens

It is hard to say what it all means...

Moose in New Zealand:
A new series of DNA tests confirms hair found in a remote part of Fiordland came from one of a supposedly long-extinct New Zealand population of Canadian moose.

The results are the second since June 2001 to suggest at least one of the increasingly mythical animals, introduced to Fiordland from North America in 1910 and last seen more than 30 years ago, was still alive.

And pandas in Birmingham:
Residents of Birmingham, Britain's second-largest city, were urged to keep their eyes peeled for a red panda on the run.


Woman of the Year

Really, though, they should have called her an anti-rape activist, or at least a rape survivor. This woman is no victim:
Mukhtaran Bibi, a Pakistani rape victim, is to receive a "Woman Of the Year" award today from the US magazine Glamour.

The 31-year-old Punjabi villager will also receive $20,000 (£11,350) at a ceremony in New York's Lincoln Centre alongside 11 other nominees including Catherine Zeta-Jones. "This is a story that I think is going to shock everyone who hears it," said Cindi Leive, editor-in-chief of Glamour.

Mukhtaran, also known as Mukhtar Mai, shot to prominence three years ago for her court testimony against neighbours who gang-raped her on the orders of a council of elders. The rape sparked international outrage and a legal saga that is now before Pakistan's supreme court, where 13 men could face the death penalty.



My friend's son seems to have enjoyed Halloween...


American Gulag

It's official; we have become what we supposedly hate:
The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA's unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Coming Out As Anti-Gay

Inadvertantly, of course:
A Crestwood accountant who asked her state representative to support gay and lesbian civil-rights legislation next year received a reply not from the lawmaker but from an aide, who mistakenly sent comments meant for the legislator to the constituent.

"This is one of those issues where it's safe to say 'Thanks for writing, I will consider your views' and not go too far about your personal beliefs," wrote Cheryl Long of the Legislative Research Commission and an aide to Rep. David Osborne, R-Prospect. "Seriously, these people really can get out of hand! ... This particular group is much worse than pro-lifers!"


Aggressive PR

I am shocked--shocked!--that they feel they need to make the sport of curling more exciting than it already is, in and of itself:
Women's curling is sure to receive a lot more exposure this year, thanks to a new international calendar that features nude and scantily clad female curlers.

The calendar is the brainchild of Ana Arce, a photographer who skipped the Andorran women's team for three seasons before moving to Spain this year.

"I think it's going to change the image of the sport, which is not so nice," Arce, who also poses in the calendar, told The Canadian Press. "I've been playing for eight years and there are so many beautiful girls playing and nobody knows it. I doubt that anyone is going to be shocked and everybody's going to enjoy that and like it."


Nazi Raccoons Destroying Wine

No, I'm not kidding:
Thousands of marauding racoons, descendents of animals released by Hermann Goering, have overrun vineyards in central Germany.

The nocturnal mammals descended on vineyards in the Brandenburg region, west of Berlin, ruining the harvest. Ripening grapes are a favourite snack of the stripy-tailed rodent.

'Raccoons wiped out almost the entire harvest in a matter of days,' winemaker Werner Kothe told Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 'We have 540 vines and they have been stripped bare by these animals.'
The animals were introduced by Nazi air force chief Hermann Goering in 1934 to 'enrich' Germany's fauna. With no natural predators their numbers have exploded.

Story found via Dr. Vino.


Because Our "Nation Building" Goes So Well

Another disaster in the making:
US planning for Cuba's "transition" after the demise of Fidel Castro has entered a new stage, with a special office for reconstruction inside the US State Department preparing for the "day after", when Washington will try to back a democratic government in Havana.

The inter-agency effort, which also involves the Defense Department, recognises that the Cuba transition may not go peacefully and that the US may have to launch a nation-building exercise.


Bush Angry!

Apparently Libby's indictment upset Bush more than we realized. He really should learn how to channel his anger into constructive actions, rather than simply going on a murderous rampage:

Three people were stabbed Tuesday in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, the Secret Service said.
I guess Bush just took this advice the wrong way:
The building blocks of President Bush's career — his credibility and image as a strong and competent leader — have been severely undercut by self-inflicted wounds, leading close allies to fret about his presidency. They say he's lost his way.

These senior Republicans, including past and current White House advisers, say they believe the president can find his way back into people's hearts but extreme measures need to be taken.


Time to Play "Guess Their Race!"

The Jacksons should sue the hell out of this hospital:
A newborn was reunited with her family Monday night after the state took custody of the baby and her older brother after her urine tested positive for marijuana, KPRC Local 2 reported.

Zelma Jackson gave birth to her second child on Oct. 19 at Northeast Hospital in Houston after she and her family fled Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina.

However, Child Protective Services took custody of the newborn girl and her 3-year-old brother after the hospital reported a positive test for marijuana based on an unconfirmed urine test.

Hospital officials have not said how they legally retrieved a urine sample from the baby.
The entire family underwent a new round of drug tests, in which all of the results came back negative.

Hospital officials have not said where they obtained the original urine sample that tested positive.

(If you guessed African American... surprise, you're right!)



How long have we crazy anti-war Lefties been saying this?
America's badly damaged image in the Muslim world could take more than a generation to set right. And Bush's mounting political woes at home have undermined the chance for any bold U.S. initiatives to address the grim social realities that feed Islamic radicalism, they say.

"It's been fairly disastrous," said Benjamin, who worked as a director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council from 1994 to 1999.

"We have had some very important successes getting individual terrorists. But I think the broader story is really quite awful. We have done a lot to fuel the fires, and we have done a lot to encourage people to hate us," he added in an interview.
"(Bush) has given them an excellent American target in Iraq but in the process has energized the jihad and given militants the kind of urban warfare experience that will raise the future threat to the United States exponentially."

For Benjamin and Simon, the war on terrorism has cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars and failed to counter a deadly global movement responsible for attacks in London, Madrid, Bali, Indonesia, and Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

And not even al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, they say, could have dreamed the United States would stumble so badly in the court of Muslim public opinion.

"Everyone says there's a war of ideas out there, and I agree. The sad fact is that we're on the wrong side," said Benjamin, now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Million-Dollar Marxist

Very strange:
The head of the Russian Buddhist region of Kalmykia said Friday he was willing to stump up $1 million to give a new home to the embalmed body of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.

Last month a top aide to President Vladimir suggested burying Lenin, now a tourist attraction in a guarded mausoleum on Moscow's Red Square, prompting a debate about the revolutionary's place in post-Soviet Russia.

Kalmykia's leader, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, offered to put Lenin on permanent display in Elista, the capital of Kalmykia, which lies on the Caspian Sea. Some historians say Lenin was one quarter Kalmyk.

"I have officially informed Gennady Zyuganov, head of the Russian Communist Party, that if the question of burying Lenin arises, we would be prepared to allocate $1 million to bring the body and the mausoleum to Elista," he told Interfax news agency.


Return of the King

I worked at the Aquarium of the Americas for a couple of years, and used to spend my breaks hanging out with King Midas, so this makes me very happy:

Handlers return 'King Midas,' a 136 kg (300lb) green sea turtle, to his home tank in the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans, Louisiana October 13, 2005. 'King Midas' was evacuated from the aquarium following Hurricane Katrina and is the first animal to return to the Aquarium following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.


Islamic Feminist Revolution

More evidence that the notion that we progressive Westerners have to impose equality on all those backwards other people around the world is nothing more than a load of arrogant, convenient crap:
Marching under the banner of a new "gender jihad", Islamic feminists from around the world this weekend launched what they hope will become a global movement to liberate Muslim women.

The meeting, which drew women from as far apart as Malaysia, Mali, Egypt and Iran, set itself the task of squaring Islam with feminism. That meant not just combating 14 centuries of sexism in the Muslim world, participants said, but also dealing with the animosity to Islam of many western or secular feminists. They insisted that many of the fundamental concepts of equality embraced by feminism could also be found in the Qur'an.


Supreme Court Nominee #2

Bush: skeptical.
Alito: tense and nauseous.


Justice for South Dakota Indians

It's rare these days to see the Voting Rights Act work as it should, but here you go, with a first step towards democracy:
A county in South Dakota has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act because of redistricting that keeps American Indian voters in the minority in three districts, in a violation of the ''one-person/one-vote'' rule.


Bad Enlightenment...

Texas style:
WACO — A pastor performing a baptism was electrocuted inside his church Sunday morning after grabbing a microphone while partially submerged, a worker at the church said.


Macedonian Aspirations

That is what we must have for our first step, apparently, if we wish to have a free press in this nation:
The annual worldwide press freedom index from Reporters Without Borders shows the United States, which is supposedly spreading freedom and liberty throughout the world, is in a fast decline regarding the freedom of its own press.

The report ranked the United States in 44th place, an atomic drop from a favorable position of 22nd held last year, and from a handsome 17th place in 2002.

The organization mentioned that several journalists were expelled from the country since the terrorist attacks of 2001.


Some Kind o' Stupid

This is just laughable. And pathetic. These people need to get, as the saying goes, a life:
Somewhere near this spot -- where five men with lawn chairs and binoculars were watching the woods -- runs the long and mostly invisible border between the United States and Canada.

The New England Minutemen were here to guard this border.

They just weren't precisely certain where it was.

"That's west, so I believe the border is that way," said Jeffrey Buck, the group's leader, as he made an expansive gesture in the direction of a nearby home on Saturday. "It's not really clear to me."

This weekend was the second that Buck's group, an offshoot of the Arizona-based Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, tried to replicate their Mexican border patrols here on the wooded Vermont-Quebec boundary.

Among their other problems, including bad cell phone reception and angry protesters, perhaps the most vexing has been the difficulty of finding the border itself.


Hugo Gets Weird

I mean, go on ahead and be anti-American and please go on ahead and be socialist, recognizing the rights of the indigenous people to their land.

But, for god's sake, don't start being all silly and goofy while you are working for social justice:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has urged families not to mark Halloween, calling it a US custom alien to the South American nation.

"Families go and begin to disguise their children as witches. This is contrary to our way," Mr Chavez said during his weekly radio and TV show.

He also said Halloween was a "game of terror", the AP news agency reported.


Bush: Massive Failure

The numbers don't lie:
When Gallup asked in 1993 whether the first President Bush's tenure was a success or failure, 53% called it a success even though he had been defeated for re-election a year before. During Clinton's presidency, a majority never called his tenure a failure. Only once, after the health care debacle in 1994, did a plurality say it was a failure, by 50%-44%.

In January 1999, after he had been impeached by the House and was awaiting a Senate trial, 71% called Clinton's tenure a success.

But in August, by 51%-47%, those surveyed by USA TODAY called the current Bush presidency a failure. That proportion grew to 55%-42% in the poll over the weekend.