Saturday, February 18, 2006

C'est Levee

I have always loved the Krewe de Vieux, and that hasn't changed:
The front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune - which existed as a website alone when the printworks were flooded - sums up the two sides. The top half is devoted to Mardi Gras 2006 - the parades and the parties - while the bottom focuses news that concerns the city - the management of the flood defences, the investigation into the disaster. One video report combines the two, covering the Krewe du Vieux parade mocking Katrina and public officials. This year's parade was titled "C'est Levee," a play on "C'est la vie".


Friday, February 17, 2006

The White House Loves Gerrymandering

It's nice that they are weighing in on the side of anti-democratic fraud:
The Supreme Court on Friday granted the Bush administration's request to join Texas in defending a Republican-friendly congressional map engineered by Rep. Tom DeLay.

The administration will share time with Texas lawyers on March 1, when the court holds a special afternoon session to consider four appeals that stem from the bitter dispute over Texas congressional district boundaries.


Um, Why Are We There, Exactly?

Surprisingly, the Bushies are changing their story!
The Bush administration on Thursday conceded that key sectors of the Iraqi economy had fallen below pre-war levels because of the insurgency, but insisted it was making enough progress on the political and security fronts to press ahead with reductions in US forces.
Ms Rice initially asserted that “many more Iraqis” were now getting potable water and sewerage services. However, under intense questioning from Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, she conceded that although “capacity” had increased, fewer Iraqis were actually receiving those services.
Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, told a separate House budget hearing on Thursday that political and economic progress was being made. “For the most part, the country is functioning,” he said. It was not “a pretty picture”, but not everything was horrible. “We’re not there to do nation-building. It’s going to be an Iraqi solution ultimately,” he said.


Friday Catblogging!


Listen In, Bush

Congress once again abdicates its responsibilities. Democracy is on the wane:
The Senate Intelligence Committee decided today not to investigate President Bush's domestic surveillance program, at least for the time being.

"I believe that such an investigation is currently unwarranted and would be detrimental to this highly classified program," Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas and chairman of the panel, said this afternoon following a closed session.


A Sign of Doing Things Right

Spain can be assured they are on the right path, given that this Catholic Church deems it necessary to resort to name-calling:
A leading Catholic bishop is comparing Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to the Roman Emperor Caligula over Spain's legalization of same-sex marriage.
The Church organized a massive rally in Madrid shortly before the Spanish parliament voted on the marriage bill and a spokesman for the Spanish Bishops Conference, Antonio Martinez Camino, said that allowing gay marriage was like "imposing a virus on society - something false that will have negative consequences for social life."

The attacks have continued under Pope Benedict. The Pope, speaking through Cardinal Alfonso Lopes Trujill, head of the Pontifical Council on the Family, said Roman Catholics should be prepared to lose their jobs rather than co-operate with the law. (story)


Anti-Gay Fraud

Just pathetic, what these homophobes will resort to:
More people are coming forward to say that even though their names appeared on petitions calling for a a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage they never signed the papers.
Last month MassEquality, an LGBT civil rights group said it had found more than 2,000 cases where names were forged or people misled into signing petitions and called for a criminal investigation.
The State House committee heard from 10 voters, each of whom said signature gatherers tried to trick them into signing the anti-gay marriage petition. (story)

In each case, the voters said they were asked to sign a ballot question about the sale of wine in grocery stores and were then told to sign a second sheet of paper without being told it was the anti-gay marriage amendment. In some cases they said they were told the second sheet was a "back up" sheet for the wine question.


Thanks, But No

Apparently, Chicago prefers to avoid a huge influx of aging white men and the sex workers who love them:
Thanks but no thanks.

That's Chicago's answer to an invitation to submit a bid to host the 2008 Republican National Convention.

The Republican National Committee said yesterday that Chicago and 30 other cities were selected to submit bids explaining why they'd be a good choice to host the 2008 convention.

But a spokeswoman for Mayor Richard Daley says City Hall isn't interested.


Greenland Melting

We are in for one hell of a hurricane season this year, I imagine:
Greenland's glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed, the result of a warming trend that renders obsolete predictions of how quickly Earth's oceans will rise over the next century, scientists said yesterday.

The new data come from satellite imagery and give fresh urgency to worries about the role of human activity in global warming. The Greenland data are mirrored by findings from Bolivia to the Himalayas, scientists said, noting that rising sea levels threaten widespread flooding and severe storm damage in low-lying areas worldwide.

The scientists said they do not yet understand the precise mechanism causing glaciers to flow and melt more rapidly, but they said the changes in Greenland were unambiguous -- and accelerating: In 1996, the amount of water produced by melting ice in Greenland was about 90 times the amount consumed by Los Angeles in a year. Last year, the melted ice amounted to 225 times the volume of water that city uses annually.


Vile Catalog

As the evidence emerges, the truth of America's occupation becomes ever more clear. The record to date:
· 1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse
· 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse
· 660 images of adult pornography
· 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees
· 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Deranged Christians at Work

I missed this story back when the hearings were in progress. If this is indeed the post-9/11 era, how do crazy fundies find their way into Senate hearing rooms?
One of the more bizarre aspects of the confirmation hearings for Samuel Alito, and one which you probably won't hear about in most media outlets, is how a group of Christian minister claims to have snuck into the chambers to anoint people's chairs.

They definitely anointed the doorway. For them, this is all a religious ceremony, not a civil, secular event.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“We did adequately apply oil to all the seats,” said the Rev. Rob Schenck, who identified himself as an evangelical Christian and as president of the National Clergy Council in Washington. Rev. Schenck called the consecration service the kick-off in a series of prayer meetings that will continue throughout the confirmation hearing.


Just Brilliant

Feel secure yet?
A company in the United Arab Emirates is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism.
The State Department describes the UAE as a vital partner in the fight against terrorism. But the UAE, a loose federation of seven emirates on the Saudi peninsula, was an important operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks against the United States, the FBI concluded.


The New Freedom Fries

Iran is as stupid as America:
Iranians love Danish pastries, but when they look for the flaky dessert at the bakery they now have to ask for "Roses of the Prophet Muhammad."

Bakeries across the capital were covering up their ads for Danish pastries Thursday after the confectioners' union ordered the name change in retaliation for caricatures of the Muslim prophet published in a Danish newspaper.

"Given the insults by Danish newspapers against the prophet, as of now the name of Danish pastries will give way to 'Rose of Muhammad' pastries," the union said in its order.

"This is a punishment for those who started misusing freedom of expression to insult the sanctities of Islam," said Ahmad Mahmoudi, a cake shop owner in northern Tehran.


JazzFest Is On

Just a few weeks after there was doubt that it would happen at all, they announce that the fest will go on, and with quite a line-up!

Viva New Orleans!



Just disgusting. Bush once again politicized science--and in this instance, he did it simply to retain power in 2004.

POLITICAL appointees in NASA's press office exerted strong pressure during the 2004 presidential campaign to cut the flow of press releases on glaciers, climate, pollution and other earth sciences, public affairs officers at the agency say.

The disclosure comes two weeks after the space agency's administrator, Michael Griffin, called for "scientific openness" at the agency. In response to the call, NASA researchers and public affairs officials described how political appointees altered or limited news releases on scientific findings that could have conflicted with Bush Administration policies.


Yeah, Right

Cheney is in a "state of meltdown" over shooting his friend and the political fallout it has caused, a source close to the Cheney has told CBS News.


New Orleans Looks Abroad

It's sad that he has to, but it's good that Nagin is doing this:
Shortcomings in aid from the U.S. government are making New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin look to other nations for help in rebuilding his hurricane-damaged city.

Nagin, who has hosted a steady stream of foreign dignitaries since Hurricane Katrina hit in late August, says he may seek international assistance because U.S. aid has not been sufficient to get the city back on its feet.

"I know we had a little disappointment earlier with some signals we're getting from Washington but the international community may be able to fill the gap," Nagin said when a delegation of French government and business officials passed through on Friday to explore potential business partnerships.


Lazy Christians

They are lagging sadly behind in the gaybashing in Russia:
Three days after Russia's top Islamic leader called for violent protests against this spring's planned gay pride march in Moscow the country's Chief Rabbi has joined him in denouncing gays.

Rabbi Berl Lazar on Thursday told the Russian news agency InterFax that if the Gay Pride parade were allowed to go ahead it “would be a blow for morality”.


Iraqi Death Squads

Another consequence of this stupid war: the "legitimate" government behaving like--well, like a brutal occupying force:
Iraq has launched an investigation into claims by the US military that an Iraqi interior ministry "death squad" has been targeting Sunni Arab Iraqis.

The probe comes after a US general revealed the arrest of 22 policemen allegedly on a mission to kill a Sunni.

"We have found one of the death squads. They are part of the police force," US Maj Gen Joseph Peterson said.

Sunnis have long accused Iraqi forces of operating death squads - but the claims have never been substantiated.
Hundreds of Sunni Arab Iraqis have been found dead since the 2003 war in what appear to have been extra-judicial killings.

On Monday, the bodies of four unidentified men were found in Baghdad's Shia district of Shula. They had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shot in the head.


All We Need Is Fox

Apparently, the fair and balanced network is the proper funnel for all important information:
Matalin said Cheney considered holding a news conference, but that "would have meant a lot of grandstanding" by reporters. "Everyone asks the same questions so they can get on their networks," she said. Matalin said she didn't think "any purpose would be served" by the vice president doing further interviews because every news organization will excerpt the Fox session.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Safe, At-Home Abortions

Yes, they are possible. Not that people in this nation will be permitted even to consider it for years, if ever. The British have studied it, and the results are in:
Women who are less than nine weeks pregnant can safely have medical abortions at home, according to the head of a government-backed pilot project.

Abortion services for the 20,000 women who seek a chemically induced abortion every year could be transformed should the Department of Health's official evaluation of the pilot confirm initial findings.


Propaganda Time

Apparently, it's such an emergency that the government needs a lot of money ($75 million) to help foster an emergency:
The Bush administration made an emergency request to Congress yesterday for a seven-fold increase in funding to mount the biggest ever propaganda campaign against the Tehran government, in a further sign of the worsening crisis between Iran and the west.


DNC Ignores LGBT

Appalling. What the hell is wrong with the Democratic establishment?
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) released their Annual Grassroots Report today to the public. The document does not mention any outreach to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community. In fact, in stark contrast to previous DNC reports on grassroots outreach, the document fails to even mention GLBT Americans by name.


A Fine Use of Funds

Better than, say, improving the education that takes place within these schools:
The state House Committee on Universities, Community Colleges and Technology has approved a bill requiring public schools and universities around Arizona to hang an American flag in every classroom by July 1, 2007.

The bill would also mandate that all public and charter schools as well as community colleges and universities buy American-made flags that are at least 2 by 3 feet.

The sponsor of the bill, Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said this was being done in an effort to raise the level of patriotism that has been steadily declining over the years.


Saddam Wasn't Going To

Once again, Bush's insistent desire to invade Iraq proves to have been built on sheerest fantasy:

Saddam Hussein told aides he warned America before 1990 that terrorists would launch a huge strike on US soil, even raising the spectre of a nuclear attack, according to secret tapes obtained by ABC News

The toppled Iraqi leader is heard on the recordings he made in his presidential office during the 1990s, ruling out any such strike by Iraq.

The recordings also feature members of Saddam's family talking about how to conceal data on illegal weapons programs from UN inspectors, according to ABC which was to show the tapes late Wednesday.

"Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans a long time before August 2 and told the British as well and that in the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction," Saddam is heard to say on the tapes.

The mention of "August 2" on the tape, which ABC said was recorded in the mid 1990s, appears to be a reference to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990.

Saddam, who is now on trial in Baghdad for war crimes, speculates that an attack with such weapons could be difficult to stop.

"In the future, what would prevent a booby trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?" he said, but added Iraq would not contemplate such an act.

"This is coming, this story is coming but not from Iraq."


And Yet More Abu Ghraib Photos

Airing in Australia:

Previously unpublished images showing US troops apparently abusing detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 were broadcast today by an Australian television station.

Still and video images were broadcast on Dateline, a current affairs programme on SBS television, which appeared to show dead bodies and Iraqi prisoners being tortured by US troops.

In one piece of footage, an Iraqi detainee was seen slamming his head repeatedly into a metal door, with guards apparently unwilling to intervene and stop him.

A still image showed a naked detainee with 11 non-fatal gunshot wounds to his buttocks.

SBS said it had obtained a file of hundreds of images and that many of them depicted dead bodies, bloody injuries and acts of sexual humiliation that were too graphic to be aired.

In some of the film shown, naked male prisoners wearing hoods were seen being forced to masturbate in front of the camera.


Cheney Finally Speaks

Damage control, anyone? I mean, expressions of remorse four days after the fact, and after the arrogant mishandling of the incident, somehow lack credibility. Of course, Cheney's insistent focus, even now, on what a bad day it was for him speaks volumes:
Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday accepted full blame for shooting a fellow hunter and defended his decision to not publicly disclose the accident until the following day. He called it "one of the worst days of my life."


Bush Shutting Down EPA Libraries

Once again managing to be both stupid and evil, Bush is slashing funding for the EPA's library system, while at the same time increasing the EPA's research funding.

Confused? So am I:
Under President Bush’s proposed budget, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is slated to shut down its network of libraries that serve its own scientists as well as the public, according to internal agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In addition to the libraries, the agency will pull the plug on its electronic catalog which tracks tens of thousands of unique documents and research studies that are available nowhere else.

Under Bush’s plan, $2 million of a total agency library budget of $2.5 million will be lost, including the entire $500,000 budget for the EPA Headquarters library and its electronic catalog that makes it possible to search for documents through the entire EPA library network. These reductions are just a small portion of the $300 million in cuts the administration has proposed for EPA operations.

At the same time, President Bush is proposing to significantly increase EPA research funding for topics such as nanotechnology, air pollution and drinking water system security as part of his “American Competitive Initiative.”

“How are EPA scientists supposed to engage in cutting edge research when they cannot find what the agency has already done?” asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is moving to implement the proposed cuts as soon as possible. “The President’s plan will not make us more competitive if we have to spend half our time re-inventing the wheel.”


Arrest Her

Ann Coulter: guilty of voter fraud:
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections records show Coulter voted last week in Palm Beach's council election. Problem is: She cast her ballot in a precinct 4 miles north of the precinct where she owns a home — and that could be a big no-no.

Coulter, who owns a $1.8 million crib on Seabreeze Avenue, should have voted in Precinct 1198. It covers most homes on her street. Instead, records show, she voted in Precinct 1196, at the northern tip of the island.
Here's the sticky part for The Right's Lady Macbeth: She wrote down an Indian Road address instead of Seabreeze on her voter's registration application. And she signed to certify the information as true.

"She never lived here," said Suzanne Frisbie, owner of the Indian Road home. "I'm Ann's Realtor, and she used this address to forward mail when she moved from New York."
Florida statutes make it a third-degree felony to vote knowingly in the wrong precinct. Lying on a voter's registration can cost up to $5,000 and five years behind bars.


Pay the Racists!

That's the idiotic idea being proposed by Texas "Democrat" Henry Cuellar:

U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar -- a so-called Democrat from Laredo, Texas -- wants to give $100 million dollars to the Minutemen, the racist, gun-toting vigilante group.

Last October, Representative Cuellar sponsored a bill called the "Border Law Enforcement Act of 2005" that would essentially deputize members of the Minutemen militia by giving them new titles, badges and guns.

There is a saying in Spanish,"dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres," which basically means that you can tell a lot about a person by the company that they keep. Representative Cuellar sponsored the "Border Law Enforcement Act" with none other than the "Grand Dragon" of the anti-immigrant legislators - Rep. Tom Tancredo, Republican from Colorado. Cuellar's bill is also part of the draconian House-passed immigration reform bill HR 4437, which, among other wrong headed ideas, would further militarize the US/Mexico border, build a Berlin-style wall all along the border, and criminalize millions of immigrants and good Samaritans.


Illegal Wiretaps? No Big Deal

It appears that Congress is set to roll over and play dead after all:
Congress appeared ready to launch an investigation into the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program last week, but an all-out White House lobbying campaign has dramatically slowed the effort and may kill it, key Republican and Democratic sources said yesterday.


Another Step Toward a Vaccine

Sounds promising:
Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control say that a combination of two drugs currently used to treat patients with HIV have protected lab monkey from becoming infected with the virus.

In a presentation at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Denver the researchers said that while they are encouraged by the results it is too early to tell if the combination will work on humans and what dosage would be required.
Those monkeys given the drug did not develop HIV while that were not inoculated did.


We Love Willie!

Just fantastic:
Willie Nelson is stummin' the love of gay cowboys in his newest recording. The country music star on Tuesday released "Cowboys Are Secretly, Frequently (Fond Of Each Other)".

The song debuted on Howard Stern's satellite radio show.

“There’s many a strange impulse out on the plains of West Texas,” Nelson sings.

“There’s many a young boy who feels things he don’t comprehend. Well, the small town don’t like it when somebody falls between sexes. No, the small town don’t like it when a cowboy has feelings for men.”
It was written in 1981 by Texas-born, NYC resident musician/songwriter Ned Sublette.

Sublette, 54, says the song is based on his own experiences growing up in the small town of Portales, N.M. He says he gave Nelson a cassette of the song and "Willie took if from there".


Let's Make This Nationwide

Good for Massachusetts:
The state board that oversees pharmacies voted Tuesday to require Wal-Mart to stock emergency contraception pills at its Massachusetts pharmacies, a spokeswoman at the Department of Public Health said.

The unanimous decision by the Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy comes two weeks after three women sued Wal-Mart in state court for failing to carry the so called ``morning after'' pill in its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores in the state.

The women argue state policy requires pharmacies to provide all ``commonly prescribed medicines.''


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sending Criminals as Liberators

The strain on America's military caused by this stupid war continues. At this rate, atrocities cannot but escalate:
Struggling to boost it ranks in wartime, the Army has sharply increased the number of recruits who would normally be barred because of criminal misconduct or alcohol and illegal drug problems, again raising concerns that the Army is lowering its standards to make recruiting goals.


Doing Their Duty

I wonder how many officers in Virginia are clamoring to get transferred to vice:
Undercover sex is getting the OK from a Virginia sheriff.

Spotsylvania County Sheriff Howard Smith said he stands by the practice of allowing detectives to receive sexual services in the course of their investigations so they can catch suspects in the act.

Court documents show that four times last month, county detectives allowed women at a massage parlor to perform sex acts on them. In one case, a lawman left a $350 tip. Smith acknowledged the practice is not new.

Smith told The Washington Post that only unmarried detectives are allowed to do the under-the-covers work.

He said actual sex acts are needed to help win prostitution convictions.


Gutting America's Health Care

Bush's budget appears more and more horrific, the more we learn about it:
President Bush has requested billions more to prepare for potential disasters such as a biological attack or an influenza epidemic, but his proposed budget for next year would zero out popular health projects that supporters say target more mundane, but more certain, killers.

If enacted, the 2007 budget would eliminate federal programs that support inner-city Indian health clinics, defibrillators in rural areas, an educational campaign about Alzheimer's disease, centers for traumatic brain injuries, and a nationwide registry for Lou Gehrig's disease. It would cut close to $1 billion in health care grants to states and would kill the entire budget of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center.


Scalia: The Constitution Is Dead

And if you disagree, you are an idiot:
People who believe the Constitution would break if it didn't change with society are "idiots," U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says.

In a speech Monday sponsored by the conservative Federalist Society, Scalia defended his long-held belief in sticking to the plain text of the Constitution "as it was originally written and intended."

"Scalia does have a philosophy, it's called originalism," he said. "That's what prevents him from doing the things he would like to do," he told more than 100 politicians and lawyers from this U.S. island territory.

According to his judicial philosophy, he said, there can be no room for personal, political or religious beliefs.Scalia criticized those who believe in what he called the "living Constitution."

"That's the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break."

"But you would have to be an idiot to believe that," Scalia said. "The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn't say other things."


Theocrat Failing

A bit of Schadenfreude at the expense of the Ten Commandments judge:
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley has opened a 2-to-1 lead over ousted Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore in the race for the Republican Party's gubernatorial nomination later this year, the results of a new statewide poll suggest.

The Mobile Register-University of South Alabama survey of registered likely GOP primary voters showed Riley with 56 percent to Moore's 28 percent, a wider margin than similar Register-USA polls have reflected in the past and the first time the governor has cracked the all-important 50-percent barrier.

The results continue Riley's upward trend since 2003, when voters drubbed his billion-dollar tax plan at the ballot box, just as Moore's political star was burning arguably at its brightest over his efforts to display the Ten Commandments in the state judicial building.


Respecting Democracy

It's not something the US is terribly good at:
The United States and Israel are discussing ways to destabilize the Palestinian government so that newly elected Hamas officials will fail and elections will be called again, according to Israeli officials and Western diplomats.

The intention is to starve the Palestinian Authority of money and international connections to the point where, some months from now, its president, Mahmoud Abbas, is compelled to call a new election. The hope is that Palestinians will be so unhappy with life under Hamas that they will return to office a reformed and chastened Fatah movement.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Frist Shoots Off His Mouth

(Rather than somebody else's.)

I'm just glad to see that the GOP still has its priorities straight, so to speak:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) has announced that he will bring the so-called “Marriage Protection Amendment” to a full vote in the Senate on June 5.

The timing will make it a key issue as Congress gears up for November's mid term elections.

“Today, the institution of marriage is under attack," Frist told the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference in Washington on Friday. Details of the conference became public on Monday for the first time.

"When America's values are under attack, we need to act," Frist said. "And on June 5 — and everybody note that on your calendar — when I bring the Marriage Protection Amendment to the Senate floor, we will act.”

Other speakers at the event were noted anti-gay leaders Phyllis Schlafly; Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa); Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan); and Alan Chambers, head of the “ex-gay” group Exodus International.


Homophobia Is Not Cost Effective

It almost makes one long for actual fiscal conservatives, rather than the hate-filled oligarchic zealots presently occupying the White House, doesn't it?
Discharging troops under the Pentagon's policy on gays cost $363.8 million over 10 years, almost double what the government concluded a year ago, a private report says.


Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Okay, now they're making me all the more homesick. It is great to see the spirit surviving:
"You can't cancel a city," said Irvin Mayfield, a trumpeter whose New Orleans Jazz Orchestra led the dirge at the funeral of his father, who drowned in the storm, "And Mardi Gras is the best way to bring the city back.

"The culture of New Orleans is our life support and you just can't survive somewhere that isn't your place. My pianist is in Dallas, my bassist is in Atlanta and it's things like Mardi Gras that are going to bring them back."

The performers on the horse-drawn floats rolling across Bourbon Street took aim at the main culprits in the catastrophic aftermath of Katrina.

The atmosphere, though, was one of good-natured teasing rather than anger. "Buy us back, Chirac," said one banner, in a request to reverse the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, when America bought 529 million acres from France.
A group of 40 dancers lampooned the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was supposed to lead the clear-up effort.

Wrapped in the tarpaulin, stamped with the FEMA initials, that still covers many of the roofs in New Orleans, they danced around a float called The Big Spill, with water flooding out of models of the levees.
"We've got to counter the idea in people's heads that we're still under water," said Sandra Shilstone, the president of the New Orleans Marketing Corporation. "We've got 800 restaurants open and we're ready for business."


They're Out

This is a great way for the Carnival season to begin:
A judge let the federal government Monday drop some 12,000 families made homeless by last year's hurricanes from a program that has put them up at hotels nationwide.


One More Reason...

to love Ian McKellen:
Sir Ian McKellen has said openly gay US actors are prevented from having successful Hollywood careers.

"It is very, very, very difficult for an American actor who wants a film career to be open about his sexuality," the gay British actor said.

"And even more difficult for a woman if she's lesbian. It's very distressing to me that that should be the case."


Report: Chertoff, Bush to Blame

Not that I expect this will have any impact:
Hurricane Katrina exposed the U.S. government's failure to learn the lessons of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as leaders from President Bush down disregarded ample warnings of the threat to New Orleans and did not execute emergency plans or share information that would have saved lives, according to a blistering report by House investigators.

A draft of the report, to be released publicly Wednesday, includes 90 findings of failures at all levels of government, according to a senior investigation staffer who requested anonymity because the document is not final. Titled "A Failure of Initiative," it is one of three separate reviews by the House, Senate and White House that will in coming weeks dissect the response to the nation's costliest natural disaster.

The 600-plus-page report lays primary fault with the passive reaction and misjudgments of top Bush aides, singling out Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Operations Center and the White House Homeland Security Council, according to a 60-page summary of the document obtained by The Washington Post. Regarding Bush, the report found that "earlier presidential involvement could have speeded the response" because he alone could have cut through all bureaucratic resistance.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Angry America

Trickle-down effect of being a "nation at war," or something else?
One woman here killed a friend after they argued over a brown silk dress. A man killed a neighbor whose 10-year-old son had mistakenly used his dish soap. Two men argued over a cellphone, and pulling out their guns, the police say, killed a 13-year-old girl in the crossfire.

While violent crime has been at historic lows nationwide and in cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles, it is rising sharply here and in many other places across the country.

And while such crime in the 1990's was characterized by battles over gangs and drug turf, the police say the current rise in homicides has been set off by something more bewildering: petty disputes that hardly seem the stuff of fistfights, much less gunfire or stabbings.

Suspects tell the police they killed someone who "disrespected" them or a family member, or someone who was "mean mugging" them, which the police loosely translate as giving a dirty look. And more weapons are on the streets, giving people a way to act on their anger. Police Chief Nannette H. Hegerty of Milwaukee calls it "the rage thing."

"We're seeing a very angry population, and they don't go to fists
, they go right to guns," she said. "A police department can have an effect on drugs or gangs. But two people arguing in a home, how does the police department go in and stop that?"