Saturday, May 13, 2006

Family Affairs

Poor George W. Bush. Bill Clinton is the son George H. W. Bush always wanted. And all W can do is put Dick Cheney to sleep.


Santa Chavez

He just keeps on giving:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that he wants to provide cheap heating oil for low-income Europeans, proposing a plan similar to the one he carried out in parts of the eastern United States.
"I want to humbly offer support to the poorest people who do not have resources for central heating in winter and make sure that support arrives," Chavez said at a gathering in Vienna of activists and representatives of social movements and non-governmental groups.


The Age of Civility

Commit this man to a mental health care facility (and of course he worked for Clear Channel):
A syndicated hip-hop disc jockey arrested after making on-air racial and sexual rants about a rival radio personality's wife and young child has been released on bail.

DJ Star, whose real name is Troi Torain, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child after a broadcast on Power 105.1 FM.

Transcripts show he hurled racist insults, threatened to sexually abuse the 4-year-old daughter of his rival, Hot 97's DJ Envy, and offered $500 for information about where she went to school.

"I will come for your kids," Torain said, according to a transcript provided by New York Councilman John C. Liu.


Clinton More Honest Than Bush

Poor little Shrub:
A new poll being reported by CNN's Wolf Blitzer has found that more Americans rate impeached former President Bill Clinton to be honest than would say the same of current President George W. Bush.
Clinton, who admitted to perjuring himself about an extramarital affair, was rated as honest and trustworthy by 46% of Americans. Bush, whose popularity continues to decline, was rated honest by just 41% of Americans. Clinton also bested Bush by much wider margins on overall favorability, the economy and national security.


Democrat Denies Holocaust

This is just so screwed up. But then again, he is from Alabama:
A Democratic candidate for Alabama attorney general denies the Holocaust occurred and said Friday he will speak this weekend in New Jersey to a "pro-white" organization that is widely viewed as being racist.

Larry Darby concedes his views are radical, but he said they should help him win wide support among Alabama voters as he tries to "reawaken white racial awareness" with his campaign against Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson.
Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press, Darby said he believes no more than 140,000 Jewish people died in Europe during World War II, and most of them succumbed to typhus.

Historians say about 6 million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis, but Darby said the figure is a false claim of the "Holocaust industry."

"I am what the propagandists call a Holocaust denier, but I do not deny mass deaths that included some Jews," Darby said. "There was no systematic extermination of Jews. There's no evidence of that at all."
"It's time to stop pushing down the white man. We've been discriminated against too long," Darby said in the interview.


Native American Women Seeking Power in South Dakota

More power to them!

Early last month, I highlighted an appeal to support progressive South Dakota State Senate candidate Charon Asetoyer. The Executive Director of the Native Women's Health Education Resource Center on the Yankton Reservation, Asetoyer is challenging an opponent--Cooper Garnos--who compiled a zero voting rank on women's health and safety issues during his previous legislative term.

In the wake of the South Dakota legislature's nearly complete ban on abortion last February, more women than ever before are running for office in the state--frequently on women's rights platforms. Asetoyer, a Comanche, decided to run (after an appearance on RadioNation with Laura Flanders) to combat bills detrimental to women's rights and the rights of families that were passed by the last two legislatures. "I feel we are going into a frightening time. Legislators are going down a dangerous path and it is very scary," she told Indian Country Today recently. ''They are trying to get the public to buy into the idea that contraceptives abort a pregnancy, that's wrong. They are trying to go after our contraceptives.''

Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of people like you, Asetoyer's campaign has gained ground. As she heads into the critical last four weeks of campaigning before the June 6 primary, she's up to speed with her buttons, bumperstickers, lawn signs and creative radio ads that started airing on two stations this week. She's also part of a wave in the state comprising three other Native American women candidates vying for Democratic primary nominations in order to take on some of the most reactionary members of any state Republican Party anywhere. These candidates--Faith Spotted Eagle, Paula Long Fox and Theresa Spry, along with Asetoyer, could actually win. But they really need more help.


Cheap Gasoline

So here we have Bush invading Iraq and hypothesizing that this will lower the cost of petroleum products. Of course, that whole scenario is bullshit.

Meanwhile, Venezuela...
Taxi driver Jaime Tinoco works the streets of Caracas in a 1976 Chevy Nova that guzzles 72 litres of gas a day. But he doesn't worry about fuel efficiency - filling his tank costs just US$2.30 (NZ$3.65).

While US consumers struggle with soaring energy prices, Venezuela's gas is now the world's cheapest at 12 cents a gallon (3.7 litres) and Washington's regional foe, President Hugo Chavez, vows to maintain subsidies that keep fuel dirt-cheap.
"Those gringos have everything - so why does their gas cost so much?" asked Tinoco between chuckles as he navigated a midday traffic jam. "Don't they have oil reserves?"

Chavez, a self-proclaimed socialist and critic of President Bush, has even begun subsidising fuel for poor US neighbourhoods.


Neglecting the Veterans

Big surprise there:
Less than one-quarter of the U.S. military's Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who show signs of post-traumatic stress are referred for additional mental health treatment or evaluation, a government study finds.

The report released Thursday said about 5 percent of the veterans interviewed after they returned from combat tours appeared at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder. Of those, about 22 percent are referred for more health care.


Child Abuse

Exposing a baby to this vapid moron should be illegal.


Quick, Alert Wallace and Gromit!

Behold the power of cheese:
Some say Britain's pungent blue-veined Stilton cheese smells of old socks. But its fans have turned the rare odor into a perfume.

The Stilton Cheese Makers Association commissioned an aromatics firm to create Eau de Stilton, described on the association's Web site as featuring a "symphony of natural base notes including Yarrow, Angelica seed, Clary Sage and Valerian."

"Blue Stilton cheese has a very distinctive mellow aroma and our perfumier was able to capture the key essence of that scent and recreate it in an unusual but highly wearable perfume," said an association spokesman.


Friday, May 12, 2006

Rupert Hearts Hillary

Deeply disturbing, and one more reason not to approve of Hillary Clinton:
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News Channel and other conservative news outlets have been skewering Hillary Rodham Clinton for years, will host a summer fundraiser for the senator, mystifying some observers and enraging others.

Especially incensed are liberal activists, who for months have decried what's seen as a shift to a right on Clinton's part as the Democrat contemplates a run for president in 2008. They are stunned that she is associating with a man viewed as a cornerstone of the "vast right-wing conspiracy," the term Clinton herself coined.

"Hillary, help us. Who the hell are you?" thundered Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.


Hegemony Crumbling

And crumbling fast.
Relations between the US and Russia sank to the lowest point in a decade yesterday when Vladimir Putin harshly rebuked Washington for its criticism last week and compared the US to a hungry wolf that "eats and listens to no one".

Mr Putin, stung by an attack from Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, used his annual state of the nation address to denounce US expansionism and military spending. He also questioned Washington's record on democratic rights. Although he refrained from mentioning the US by name, it was clear that the "wolf" in question referred to Washington.


South America Rising

The West, I think, will find itself less and less able to demand anything:
The presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia, Latin America's most outspoken leaders, yesterday rebuffed demands by the European Union and other leaders at a summit in Vienna to temper their policies on foreign investment and energy, declaring that a new political era had arrived.

Tony Blair, who attended the summit of European Union, Latin American and Caribbean countries, called for a "responsible approach" to the debate.

"Neo-liberalism has begun its decline and has come to an end," the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, said at the gathering of nearly 60 heads of state, according to Reuters. "Now a new era has begun in Latin America. Some call it populism, trying to disfigure our beauty. But it is the ... voice of the people that is being heard."


A Welcome Death

The Hummer is going the way of the dinosaurs:
Get ready to say goodbye to the Hummer H1, the hulking, gas-guzzling status symbol that has attracted celebrities and off-road enthusiasts but has drawn the ire of environmentalists.

General Motors Corp. said Friday that the 2006 model year will be the last for the H1, which has been the foundation for the automaker's Hummer brand. Based on the military's Humvee, the about 12,000 put on the road since 1992 defined the Hummer name.
The H1 gets about 10 miles per gallon, but Walsh said rising gas prices didn't factor into GM's decision. He noted that H1 buyers typically have been less sensitive about gas prices than most other drivers.


A Surfeit of Felines


Pretty Boys on the High Seas

Um, okay:
If you're ugly, short or rude, your career prospects in the Chinese navy don't look like plain sailing.

Officials say anyone joining the service in 2006 must be good-looking, tall and polite.

Manners and looks matter because navy vessels often visit other countries and host reciprocal visits, a spokesman has told the official Xinhua news agency.


Designer Baby

A rather unnerving innovation, used to good effect in this case:
A WOMAN is pregnant with Britain’s first designer baby selected to prevent an inherited cancer, The Times can reveal.

Her decision to use controversial genetic-screening technology will ensure that she does not pass on to her child the hereditary form of eye cancer from which she suffers.

Although they did not have fertility problems, the woman and her partner created embryos by IVF. This allowed doctors to remove a cell and test it for the cancer gene, so only unaffected embryos were transferred to her womb.

The couple are the first to take advantage of a relaxation in the rules governing embryo screening.


Blissful Free Iraq

Clashes erupted Friday between two Iraqi army units following a roadside bombing north of the capital, and Iraqi police said a Shiite solder was killed in an exchange of fire with a Kurdish unit.


More Catblogging!


Rove Will Be Indicted

Good riddance to bad rubbish:
Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him, according to sources.


Hi Babe

Apparently no one told al-Qaeda about the NO FLIRTING ON THE INTERNET rule:
Nine Muslim men arrested in Australia's biggest security swoop, and charged with planning a terrorist act, pretended to be women texting girlfriends to secretly communicate, a prosecutor told a court on Friday.

"Hi babes, I'm missing you," one message read, while another said: "How you going love, did Sue want to meet me."


And Dean Isn't the Only One Conflicted about Gay Rights

This is just getting ridiculous:
Gov. Mitt Romney briefly attempted to abolish the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth on Thursday because of its association with a gay pride rally, but quickly reversed himself, the chairwoman of the commission said.

A spokesman for the governor denied that Romney issued an executive order abolishing the commission but acknowledged the governor considered taking that action.

Commission chairwoman Kathleen Henry said she received a call shortly before 3 p.m. from Romney chief of staff Beth Myers saying that Romney had issued an executive order abolishing the commission.

That sparked an uproar from lawmakers and supporters of the commission, which prompted a second call from Myers just after 5 p.m., Henry said, telling her that Romney had decided against abolishing the commission, but would instead call for it to refocus on helping gay and lesbian youth.


Dean Lying

Absolutely disgusting. Dean, get a clue. The evangelicals are a lost cause:
Democratic chairman Howard Dean mischaracterized his party's platform on gay rights in an interview courting evangelicals, then set the record straight Thursday when an advocacy group called him on it.

Dean told Christian Broadcasting Network News that the 2004 Democratic platform declares "marriage is between a man and a woman" — just one of the points he made in reaching out to religious conservatives who are largely hostile to the party.

But the platform does not define marriage that way, and his remarks prompted the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to return a $5,000 donation from the Democratic National Committee.
The result: a platform plank that left the central question about what defines marriage to the states, and specifically rejected President Bush's support for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

It asserted: "We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families."

Dean stated in the interview: "The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says."


An Important Initiative

Given that Bush ignored a briefing that told him that bin Laden was going to do what he did, I think that this unconstitutional gathering of information is just fantastic:
George Bush tried desperately yesterday to defuse the news that the three biggest telephone firms in the US provided the National Security Agency with the records of billions of calls made by Americans.

The revelation that the warrantless wiretapping authorised by President Bush was far more sweeping than the administration has admitted could derail the confirmation of Michael Hayden, a former director of the agency, as new CIA chief.


Thursday, May 11, 2006



Homophobic Shareholder Beaten Down

Heh. This is gratifying:
An attempt by a Ford shareholder to force the automaker to drop protections for LGBT workers from its human resources regulations was swiftly defeated on Thursday.

Shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Dearborn voted 95 percent to reject the proposal.

The motion had been submitted by shareholder Robert Hurley of Alton, Ill. Ford attempted to keep the issue off the agenda for today's meeting but Alton went to the Securities and Exchange Commission which ordered Ford to put it to a vote


Pope Ratzi Still Needs to Sod Off

Will no one rid me of this troublesome pope?
Pope Benedict warned Italy's new left-of-center government on Thursday that the Vatican will use all of its power to thwart any move to recognize same-sex couples.


Google: A Force for Good

Well done:
California-based Google, one of the hottest companies around, has embraced a hot trend in animal rights -- cage-free eggs.

The company will require that all of its cafes and cafeterias serve only the pricier cage-free eggs, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Google uses about 300,000 eggs a year along with 7,000 pounds of liquid egg products.


Freedom of the Press

And no security:
At least four Iraqi journalists and employees of media organizations have been killed this month — underscoring the risks in a nation where Saddam Hussein's press restrictions have been replaced by extremist violence.

"Under Saddam, we didn't have freedom. There were arrests, disappearances, torture, but people also understood their limits," said Ismail Zayer, editor-in-chief of the independent al-Sabah al-Jadid newspaper.

"Now, you have freedom, but there is no guarantee that you won't get killed for what you say or write."

The international media group, Reporters Without Borders, says at least 93 journalists and media workers have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 and 42 kidnapped.


Happy June 9th!

So long, sucker, time to take your fascist ass on home:
Congressman Tom DeLay (R-Sugar Land) today delivered the following letter to the Speaker of the House announcing his intention to resign his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives effective June 9, 2006.


Supply and Demand

It's a good thing that our half-assed invasion of Afghanistan has led to record highs in opium production:
It was once an oasis famous for its dates and ancient Persian heritage. Now, amid a desolate landscape of rubble and wrecked buildings, Bam is a byword for drug abuse and an Aids problem that threatens to become an epidemic.

The devastating earthquake that struck the city on Boxing Day 2003 killed an estimated 40,000 people and left thousands homeless, prompting a huge international rescue effort. More than two years later, relief has dwindled and rebuilding is going slowly, aid officials say, hampered by an indolence bred by alarming rates of addiction.

Depressed by multiple bereavement, many survivors turned to opium, which is traditionally respectable and widely available in a city on the drug transit route from Afghanistan and Pakistan. More than half of adult men and 15% of women have been classed as addicts. Addiction has been reported among children as young as 11. The trend has been compounded by the influx of building workers, many of them long-time users of heroin and other injected drugs. Their habits have spread among the locals, leading to a dangerous proliferation of needles. "Drug addiction is severely impairing reconstruction," said a Unicef official, speaking anonymously. "Drugs have taken a big toll on people's motivation."


Lying Bastard

The craven lowlife has the nerve to talk about Gulf Coast recovery even as he plans to veto funds for recovery:
On his 10th visit to Mississippi since August 29's killer storm, Bush's motorcade passed snapped trees, shattered boardwalks and piers reduced to a jumble of matchsticks. It came to a stop not far from the crumpled skeleton of a hotel next to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

Speaking to about 660 graduates of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, which sustained more than $15 million in damage but reopened just 17 days after Katrina hit, Bush paid tribute to the students' resilience.

"Mississippi is coming back and it's going to be better than ever before," he said, adding that the recovery will take time.

Bush has threatened to veto a $108.9 billion bill passed by the Senate that funds the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- but also includes $28.9 billion for hurricane rebuilding -- because it is loaded with extra spending he did not seek.


Bumper Crop

We've done wonders in Afghanistan:
Two hours' drive from the Afghan city of Kandahar, "the perfect storm" is about to break in the fields of Helmand province.

Here, in the place where British troops are to spend the next three years, a combination of factors have conspired to produce what is probably the biggest opium harvest in the history of a province that, last year, produced more than 20 per cent of the world's heroin on its own.

A law and order vacuum has allowed an increasingly well-organised drugs cartel, a corrupt local government and resurgent Taliban to structure the poppy cultivation of the province as never before


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Hell No, You Can't Go

I love the fact that our nation has a volunteer army:
The Army Reserve, taxed by recruiting shortfalls and war-zone duty, has adopted a policy barring officers from leaving the service if their field is undermanned or they have not been deployed to Iraq, to Afghanistan or for homeland defense missions.

The reserve has used the unpublicized policy, first adopted in 2004 and strengthened in a May 2005 memo signed by Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly, its commander, to disapprove the resignations of at least 400 reserve officers, according to Army figures.

"I don't think during a time of war you would want to let people go when you have a shortage of people," Army Reserve spokesman Steve Stromvall said when asked to comment on the memo, which surfaced during litigation over the policy. At least 10 reserve officers have sued the Army, saying they should be allowed to get out because they have finished their mandatory eight years of service.


Bringing the "Second Amendment" to Iraq

Freedom isn't free. It requires a well armed populace, who can fight back against occupiers and such:
SOME 200,000 guns the US sent to Iraqi security forces may have been smuggled to terrorists, it was feared yesterday.
The 99-tonne cache of AK47s was to have been secretly flown out from a US base in Bosnia. But the four planeloads of arms have vanished.

Orders for the deal to go ahead were given by the US Department of Defense. But the work was contracted out via a complex web of private arms traders.


Gays Ain't Equal, Bee-yotch!

Sorry, that title is rather less politely phrased than it could have been:
The newly appointed government minister responsible for equality is facing controversy after she refused to say whether she believed homosexuality was a sin.

And yes. She is a member of Opus Dei.


Suck on It, Berlusconi

The Italian Parliament elected an 80-year-old former Communist to be president on Wednesday, paving the way for a government headed by center-left leader Romano Prodi to be formed within days.


I'm Goin' to Disneyland

Iranian style:
Tehran - The former US embassy in Tehran could soon see a new chapter in its troubled history, with a top Iranian commander calling for the downtown compound to be turned into a "Great Satan Park".

"We would be able to nicely show off the American crimes to citizens strolling in the park," General Mir-Faisal Bagherzadeh told the official news agency IRNA.

"The former American Den of Spies should become the park of Great Satan," said the general, who heads the Sacred Defence Foundation - an influential propaganda body set up to commemorate the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.


Our Colorblind Society

Yeah, this is why the death penalty is just fine. Our system of jurisprudence is perfectly objective:
The more "black looking" an African-American man charged with murdering a white victim, the more likely he is to be sentenced to death, a Stanford University researcher said on Tuesday.

Using scores given by white and Asian-American Stanford undergraduates to rate facial features of 44 black men tried for murder in Philadelphia over 20 years, researchers found that 57.5 percent rated to have "stereotypically" black features such as dark skin were sentenced to death.

By contrast, 24.4 percent of black men in similar murder cases and rated by the students as less stereotypically black were sentenced to death, said Jennifer Eberhardt, a Stanford psychologist involved in the research.


For God's Sake No

Just no:
President Bush suggested Wednesday that he'd like to see his family's White House legacy continue, perhaps with his younger brother Jeb as the chief executive.

The president said Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is well-suited for another office and would make "a great president."


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Just What Is She Trying to Prove?

A sterling example of why I will never support Hillary Clinton:
Asked to say one nice thing about President Bush, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton went one better: She named two things.

"He is someone who has a lot of charm and charisma, and I think in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I was very grateful to him for his support for New York," Clinton said Tuesday night during a talk at the National Archives about her life in politics.
"He's been very willing to talk. He's been affable. He's been good company," said Clinton, D-N.Y.


Filter Out the Gays!

But not the "ex-gays." I hate filtering software. And if you read Scalia's opinion regarding the implementation of such in public libraries, you'll see just how clueless and irrational he is:
Palm Beach County's school board is under fire for blocking access to the Web sites of LGBT rights groups while allowing sites advocating the so-called ex-gay movement to go unfiltered.

Among the gay sites deemed inappropriate for students is one belonging to a local gay youth advocacy group.



Quite simply, they shouldn't be doing it. Not that they care:
Former National Security Agency director Bobby Ray Inman lashed out at the Bush administration Monday night over its continued use of warrantless domestic wiretaps, making him one of the highest-ranking former intelligence officials to criticize the program in public, analysts say.

"This activity is not authorized," Inman said, as part of a panel discussion on eavesdropping that was sponsored by The New York Public Library. The Bush administration "need(s) to get away from the idea that they can continue doing it."



The Sunnis are working on it:
Iraqi neighbors are forming citizen groups to keep watch and stand guard against secret paramilitary police raids, according to a front page story in Wednesday's New York Times.


Adding to Insult to (Insufficient) Injury

Some people just can't get a break:
A German man who unsuccessfully tried to kill himself by jumping in front of a train must pay compensation for the damage he caused, a court in the southern city of Munich ruled Tuesday.

A spokesman for the court said the 47-year-old man leapt too late to land under the train and instead crashed through the side window of the driver's cabin. He suffered head wounds but no other lasting physical injuries, the court said.


Damn You, Bill Paxton!

A real life Roman is in trouble:
Utah has launched an organized-crime investigation into a polygamist sect and its fugitive leader Warren Jeffs, now on the FBI 10 Most Wanted list.

Jeffs is already wanted on Utah and Arizona charges alleging he arranged plural marriages of underage girls. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Monday that his office is also looking at Jeffs and his church for "double books, cooking books, offshore accounts and fraud."

"I believe Warren Jeffs ran the FLDS church and the UEP as an organized crime-type setup," Shurtleff said. "We just have to get the evidence to prove it."



It turns out that your car's listed mpg rating is, well, bullshit:
And here's the question Consumer Reports set out to answer -- does your car get the gas mileage promised on the showroom sticker.

It's the mileage you probably used to decide if the car fit your monthly budget.

First, Meredith took a look at how carmakers come up with these numbers because you could be in for a big surprise. The guidelines for the tests were set by the federal government decades ago, in the late 1970s. Gerald Ford was president and disco was king.

And under these guidelines by the Environmental Protection Agency, carmakers are allowed to test miles per gallon by running the vehicle not on the road, but on what's essentially a treadmill for cars.

During an EPA spot check, the car ran with no air conditioning, no inclines or hills, no wind resistance and at speeds no greater than 60 mph.

There's hardly anything real world about it, but it gives carmakers what they want -- the highest possible miles per gallon to put on that sticker.
Consumer Reports conducts their test on a track and in the real world.

First, they put them through a simulated city course. Next the highway -- a real highway. For the third test, they take the car out on a 150-mile day trip throughout Connecticut.

All the while, a special miles per gallon meter is ticking away. Their results? Many numbers you see on those stickers are off way off -- one as much as 50 percent.

For example, Chrysler says the four-wheel drive diesel version of the Jeep Liberty gets 22 mpg in the city. Consumer Reports tested it and found it got more like 11 mpg.

Honda claims its hybrid Civic sedan gets 48 mpg in the city. Consumer Reports found it only gets 26 mpg -- a 46 percent difference.


More Death
A suicide truck bomber hit a crowded public market in the northern city of Tal Afar late Tuesday, killing at least 17 people and wounding 35, police said.


It's Funny Because It's True

Or, maybe, not so much. Or, not recently anyway:
The Budapest story headlined "Hungary workers get shock at bottom of rum barrel" issued on May 4 is withdrawn. Police said the incident, reported on a police magazine Web site, happened 10 years ago. Reuters has been unable to make any further checks to substantiate the story.


Border Patrol Infiltrated By Treasonous Scum

How dare they undermine the grand work undertaken by the selfless patriots who call themselves The Minutemen?
While Minuteman civilian patrols are keeping an eye out for illegal border crossers, the U.S. Border Patrol is keeping an eye out for Minutemen -- and telling the Mexican government where they are.

According to three documents on the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Web site, the U.S. Border Patrol is to notify the Mexican government as to the location of Minutemen and other civilian border patrol groups when they participate in apprehending illegal immigrants -- and if and when violence is used against border crossers.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman confirmed the notification process, describing it as a standard procedure meant to reassure the Mexican government that migrants' rights are being observed.

"It's not a secret where the Minuteman volunteers are going to be," Mario Martinez said Monday.


Iraq Is No Vietnam

Poor, unpopular war:
Three years into major combat in Vietnam, 28,500 U.S. service members had perished, millions of families were anxious about the military draft and antiwar protests had spread to dozens of college campuses.

Today, at the same juncture in the Iraq war, about 2,400 American soldiers have died, the U.S. military consists entirely of volunteers and public dissent is sporadic.

There's one other difference: The war in Iraq is more unpopular than was the Vietnam conflict at this stage, polls show.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Chavez Not the Dictator Wannabe, After All

The truth is rather different. Beware translations. And beware all stories told about the new leftist leaders of South America:
A little scrutiny of a recent Associated Press report about Venezuela provides a lesson in how the English-language press often gets the story wrong. Take the first sentence: "President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that Venezuelan voters should have the chance to decide whether he should govern the country for the next 25 years."

No, such a referendum would not be about "whether he should govern the country for the next 25 years." A referendum would be about whether Chavez would be permitted to run every six years and --in the event that he were to continue winning elections-- serve multiple presidential terms.


Building a Toxic Disaster in New Orleans

Why am I not surprised by the ill-advisedness of this plan?
New Orleans - Block after block, neighborhood after neighborhood, tens of thousands of hurricane-ravaged houses here rot in the sun, still waiting to be gutted or bulldozed. Now officials have decided where several million tons of their remains will be dumped: in man-made pits at the swampy eastern edge of town, out by the coffee-roasting plant and the space-shuttle factory and the big wildlife refuge.

But more than a thousand Vietnamese-American families live less than two miles from the edge of the new landfill. And they are far from pleased at having the moldering remains of a national disaster plunked down nearby, alongside the canal that flooded their neighborhood when Hurricane Katrina surged through last year.

Environmental groups are also angry, accusing local and federal officials of ignoring or circumventing their own regulations, long after the immediate emergency has ended. The same thing happened after Hurricane Betsy in 1965, they warn, and that dump ended up becoming a Superfund site.

The new landfill, known as Chef Menteur after the highway that borders it, sits across a canal from Bayou Sauvage, the largest urban wildlife refuge in the country, with 23,000 acres of marshland, canals and lagoons that are home to herons, egrets, alligators and, in the fall, tens of thousands of migratory ducks.

Nonetheless, the landfill lacks some of the safeguards that existing dumps do, like special clay liners. The government says they are not needed because demolition debris is cleaner than other rubbish.
Residents and environmentalists think otherwise, because after Hurricane Katrina the state expanded the definition of construction and demolition debris to include most of a house's contents, down to the moldy mattresses and soggy sofas.

"It's essentially the guts of your house, all your personal possessions," said Joel Waltzer, a lawyer representing landfill opponents. "Electronics, personal-care products, cleaning solutions, pesticides, fertilizers, bleach."


Missile Defense: Stupider Than Ever

Yet more evidence that Bush's administration is clueless and idiotic in its approach:
The technology for remote-controlled light aircraft is now highly advanced, widely available -- and, experts say, virtually unstoppable.

Models with a wingspan of five metres (16 feet), capable of carrying up to 50 kilograms (110 pounds), remain undetectable by radar.

And thanks to satellite positioning systems, they can now be programmed to hit targets some distance away with just a few metres (yards) short of pinpoint accuracy.
Remote-control planes are not hard to get hold of, according to Jean-Christian Delessert, who runs a specialist model airplane shop near Geneva.

"Putting together a large-scale model is not difficult -- all you need is a few materials and a decent electronics technician," says Delessert.

In his view, "if terrorists get hold of that, it will be impossible to do anything about it. We did some tests with a friend who works at a military radar base: they never detected us... if the radar picks anything up, it thinks it is a flock of birds and automatically wipes it."


Dolphins Have Names

Very cool. And one more supposed dividing line between humans and other animals crumbles:
Dolphins give themselves "names"—distinctive whistles that they use to identify each other, new research shows.

Scientists say it's the first time wild animals have been shown to call out their own names.

What's more, the marine mammals can recognize individual names even when the sound is produced by an unfamiliar voice.

Bottlenose dolphins appear to develop so-called signature whistles as infants.



It's about time that this common-sense measure was put into place:
Testing for the AIDS virus could become part of routine physical exams for adults and teens if doctors follow new U.S. guidelines expected to be issued by this summer. Federal health officials say they'd like HIV testing to be as common as a cholesterol check.
One-quarter of the 1 million Americans with the AIDS virus don't know they are infected, and that group is most responsible for HIV's spread, CDC officials said.
The recommendations aren't legally binding, but they influence what doctors do and what health insurance programs cover.
Standardizing HIV testing should reduce the stigma as well as transmission, CDC officials said. Nearly half of new HIV infections are discovered when doctors are trying to diagnose an illness in a patient who has come for care, they noted.



Look at his eyes. You know Bush barely held out until the cameras were off before he grabbed Hayden's pate with both hands like a phrenologist on crank.


Navratilova Slams Klaus

The Czech Republic's most celebrated ex-patriot has labeled Czech President Vaclav Klaus a homophobe for vetoing same-sex partner legislation.

Martina Navratilova is in the Czech capitol preparing for the Prague Open, - her first ever WTA tournament in the country since leaving for the US in 1975.

"He does not consider homosexuals to be 100 per cent human beings," Navratilova said of Klaus in an interview with the Agence France Press.

"I know I cannot change his opinion but I did think he was more liberal than this."


Talking Points Are Metastasizing

Iraq discourse is spreading like a cancer, or like genetically modified foods:
Career appointees at the Department of Agriculture were stunned last week to receive e-mailed instructions that include Bush administration "talking points" -- saying things such as "President Bush has a clear strategy for victory in Iraq" -- in every speech they give for the department.

"The President has requested that all members of his cabinet and sub-cabinet incorporate message points on the Global War on Terror into speeches, including specific examples of what each agency is doing to aid the reconstruction of Iraq," the May 2 e-mail from USDA speechwriter Heather Vaughn began.
Now, you might still be scratching your heads, trying to figure out how this is going to work when people expect a talk about agriculture issues. Not to worry. The attachments -- which can be viewed at --show how easy it is to work a little Iraq happy talk into just about anything.

There's a sample introduction: "Several topics I'd like to talk about today -- Farm Bill, trade with Japan, WTO, avian flu . . . but before I do, let me touch on a subject people always ask about . . . progress in Iraq." See? Smooth as silk.
The e-mail shows how to weave in a comment that times are tough for Iraqi farmers. "But revitalization is underway. President Bush has a clear strategy for victory in Iraq structured on three tracks -- political, economic and security."

Be crop-specific. "The Iraqis have also discussed specific products, like tomatoes, which they are anxious to export into the world community," the e-mail notes.


Playing Politics with AIDS

People continue dying, and the Republicans are just screwing around.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has bowed to pressure from a Republican congressman to include two abstinence-only proponents to a federal panel on STDs, bypassing the scientific approval process according to a published report.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind) the chair of the House subcommittee on drug policy accused the CDC of including only opponents of abstinence programs on the panel to be held Tuesday at the National STD Prevention Conference in Jacksonville, Fla.

In e-mail to Health and Human Services officials, obtained by the Inquirer, Souder's office asked whether the CDC was "clear about the controversial nature of this session and its obvious anti-abstinence objective."

"It was clear that there was not a scintilla of something positive about the abstinence education method," Michelle Gress, an aide to Souder told the paper.

Critics of congressional interference at the CDC said they were concerned that scientific studies on sexual behavior would not be made public if they conflicted with the administration's pro abstinence stand.

Jonathan Zenilman, president of the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association and conference organizer said that the two pro-abstinence people added to the panel are not scientists.

"These people aren't scientists; they haven't written anything," he told the Inquirer. "The only reason they're here is because of political pressure from the administration."

To make room for the abstinence proponents the CDC dropped two researchers from the panel - one a Penn State scientist who had prepared a discussion paper on how abstinence programs were tied to rising STD rates.


China's War on Marriage

No doubt about it, we have to invade this village:
Farmer Yan Shihai was happily married for more than 30 years. Then late last year, seemingly out of the blue, the 57-year-old grandfather and his loving wife got a divorce.

Within months, all three of his adult children and their spouses also split up. So did almost every other married person in Yan's village of 4,000 — an astounding 98% of Renhe's married couples officially parted, according to the local government.


Nigerians As Guinea Pigs

As if we needed another reason to hate pharmaceutical megacorporations:
A PANEL of Nigerian medical experts has concluded that Pfizer violated international law during a 1996 epidemic by testing an unapproved drug on children with brain infections.

That finding is detailed in a lengthy Nigerian Government report that has remained unreleased for five years, despite inquiries from the children's lawyers and from the media. The Washington Post recently obtained a copy of the confidential report, which is attracting congressional interest. It was provided by a source who asked to remain anonymous because of personal safety concerns.

The report concludes that Pfizer never obtained authorisation from the Nigerian Government to give the unproven drug to nearly 100 children and infants. Pfizer selected the patients at a field hospital in the city of Kano, where the children had been taken to be treated for an often deadly strain of meningitis. At the time, Medicins Sans Frontieres was dispensing approved antibiotics at the hospital.

Pfizer's experiment was "an illegal trial of an unregistered drug", the Nigerian panel concluded, and a "clear case of exploitation of the ignorant".

The panel said an oral form of Trovan, the Pfizer drug used in the test, had apparently never been given to children with meningitis. There are no records indicating that Pfizer told the children or their parents that they were part of an experiment. An approval letter from a Nigerian ethics committee, which Pfizer used to justify its actions, was actually a falsified document that had been concocted by the company's lead researcher in Kano, the report said.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Blair: Still a Poodle?

It's really rather amazing that any world leader would find it possible to be intimidated by the Shrub any longer:

Two London papers have speculated this weekend that complaints by President George W. Bush forced a British minister from his post because of his opposition to the use of nuclear force against Iran.

The Independent suggests that a phone call from the U.S. president to British Prime Minister Tony Blair led to the removal of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw Friday.

The newspaper reports that friends of Straw believe Mr. Bush was extremely upset when Straw pronounced any use of nuclear weapons against Iran "nuts."

Both The Independent and the Guardian write that Straw's "fate was sealed" after a White House phone call to Blair.


Wait a Minute...

I thought Bush was The Decider!?

President George W. Bush said he would like to close the U.S.-run prison at Guantanamo Bay -- a step urged by several U.S. allies -- but was awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on how suspects held there might be tried.

"Of course Guantanamo is a delicate issue for people. I would like to close the camp and put the prisoners on trial," Bush said in comments to German television to be broadcast on Sunday night. The interview was recorded last week.


Then Why Didn't He Become a Damn Fisherman?

He's been president since 2001, and this is what springs to mind as his "best moment in office"? Catching a fish while on one of his many vacations?

No wonder he's screwed this nation up so thoroughly:
U.S. President George W. Bush told a German newspaper his best moment in more than five years in office was catching a big perch in his own lake.

"You know, I've experienced many great moments and it's hard to name the best," Bush told weekly Bild am Sonntag when asked about his high point since becoming president in January 2001.

"I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound (3.402 kilos) perch in my lake," he told the newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.


Hard Times in Tibet

Once again, the irresponsibility of the industrialized West in contributing to global warming is hurting people who bear none of the blame:
Global warming is rapidly melting the ice-bound roof of the world, and turning it into desert, leading scientists have revealed.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences - the country's top scientific body - has announced that the glaciers of the Tibetan plateau are vanishing so fast that they will be reduced by 50 per cent every decade. Each year enough water permanently melts from them to fill the entire Yellow River.

They added that the vast environmental changes brought about by the process will increase droughts and sandstorms over the rest of the country, and devastate many of the world's greatest rivers, in what experts warn will be an "ecological catastrophe".

And this news comes right on the heels of news that a hole in ozone layer has formed right over Tibet.

Just grand.


Chavez Isn't Shy

He's not afraid to be obvious about his hunger for power:
President Hugo Chavez said yesterday voters should have the chance to decide whether he should govern the country for the next 25 years.

Speaking at a stadium, Chavez said he would hold a referendum to put the question of his remaining in office to Venezuelans if the opposition pulls out of upcoming presidential elections.

"I am going to ask you, all the people, if you agree with Chavez being president until 2031," he said.