Saturday, July 01, 2006

No Good Deed Goes Un-Bitched-About

Surprise! The anti-choicers are in a snit! And, um, yeah, I'm just so bloody sure that Buffett will be known as a new Mengele:
Warren Buffett's new philanthropic alliance with fellow billionaire Bill Gates won widespread praise this week, but anti-abortion activists did not join in, instead assailing the two donors for their longtime support of Planned Parenthood and international birth-control programs.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to which Buffett has pledged the bulk of his $44-billion fortune, devotes the vast majority of its funding to combating disease and poverty in developing countries. Less than 1 percent has gone to Planned Parenthood over the years.

"The merger of Gates and Buffett may spell doom for the families of the developing world," said the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, a Roman Catholic priest who is president of Human Life International.

Referring to Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi death camp doctor, Euteneuer said Buffett "will be known as the Dr. Mengele of philanthropy unless he repents."


What the Hell

More feline goodness!


The Awakening of the Global Proletariat

What else can one call this relatively sudden awareness in South America, and now perhaps in Africa, of the desperate need to oppose global capitalism as it emanates now from the United States and Western Europe?
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called on Africa on Saturday to forge closer ties with Latin America to combat what he called a threat of U.S. hegemony.

Chavez, whose repeated criticism of America has raised hackles in Washington, called on an African Union summit to cooperate with Latin America in everything from oil production to university education to counter "colonial" meddling in developing nations.

Citing the example of Venezuela and Bolivia, he urged Africa to seize greater control of its energy resources. He described the low royalty payments made by some foreign oil companies as "robbery".

"We should march together, Africa and Latin America, brother continents with the same roots ... Only together can we change the direction of the world," he told the opening day of the AU summit, to applause.

"The world is threatened by the hegemony of the North American empire," said the former paratrooper, following speeches from African leaders which had criticized colonialism.

Africa's abundant natural resources -- ranging from precious metals to iron ore and oil -- should make it a wealthy continent if it were freed from outside exploitation, Chavez said.

"Africa has everything to become a pole of world power in the 21st century. Latin America and the Caribbean are equipped to become another pole," he said.


Good Morning Iraq

66 more pointless deaths:

A huge car bomb exploded Saturday at a bustling outdoor market in a Shiite district of Baghdad, killing at least 66 people and injuring about 100 in the deadliest attack since the new national unity government took office six weeks ago.


More Inanity

There are just so many real, crucial issues facing us today. This isn't one of them:
A Christian-themed movie about a football coach's faith in God is finding an audience in Congress — not so much for its inspirational message, but for the PG rating it received.

House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and other lawmakers are demanding explanations after hearing complaints that the movie "Facing the Giants" was rated PG instead of G due to religious content.

The Motion Picture Association of America claims the controversy arose from a miscommunication with the filmmakers. It says religion was not the reason for the rating.


Good Move

Or, at least, a good first move:

India plans to provide free anti-retroviral drugs to combat HIV — the virus that causes AIDS — to around 100,000 people by early next year, a top health official said, as this nation struggles with the largest number of AIDS infections in the world.

With 5.7 million people already infected, India is stepping up its campaign against the disease, Sujatha Rao, the top official in India's AIDS control program, told reporters.

Health authorities are accelerating a campaign to promote safe sex, popularize the use of condoms and expand the network of treatment facilities to reach out to people in six high-prevalence states across the country, she said.


Friday, June 30, 2006


Yes, it's true. The US government is filled with liars who don't care one whit about actual justice:
The US government said it could not find the men that Guantánamo detainee Abdullah Mujahid believes could help set him free. The Guardian found them in three days.

Two years ago the US military invited Mr Mujahid, a former Afghan police commander accused of plotting against the United States, to prove his innocence before a special military tribunal. As was his right, Mr Mujahid called four witnesses from Afghanistan.

But months later the tribunal president returned with bad news: the witnesses could not be found. Mr Mujahid's hopes sank and he was returned to the wire-mesh cell where he remains today.


Ugly Bigot

I'm continually appalled that this man is the governor of my birth state:
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Friday he hopes the Legislature considers reimposing a ban on gay foster parents, struck down a day earlier by the state Supreme Court.

''I'm very disappointed that the court seems more interested in what's good for gay couples than what's good for children needing foster care,'' Huckabee said through his spokeswoman Alice Stewart.


Sleepy Catblogging


A Dubious Proposal

I smoked for years, having begun at 16 or so. Therefore, I can say from personal experience, that this idea might very well have negative social engineering consequences. If you raise the smoking age, then the only young people who will smoke will be those smart enough to break the law...
A move to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 could have the support of the Bloomberg administration, the city's health commissioner said Thursday.

The chair of the City Council's health committee, Joel Rivera, recently introduced a bill that would make it illegal for anyone younger than 21 to buy cigarettes.


Screwed in the Long Term

The earth is just lazy
, I say:

The hole in Earth's protective ozone layer won't repair itself until about two decades later than had been expected, scientists announced yesterday.

The ozone layer blocks more than 90 percent of the sun's ultraviolet radiation, helping to make life as we know it on Earth possible. For many decades, ozone was depleted by chlorine and bromine gas in the air, produced by man-made chlorofluorocarbons. A hole in the ozone layer formed over the Southern Hemisphere.

Efforts to curb those chemicals have in recent years led to optimism that ozone would rebuild.

Computer models had predicted the hole would fill back in by 2050.

An improved computer model, from scientists at NASA, NOAA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research, predicts the recovery won't occur until 2068. The model, fed with fresh data from satellites and airplanes, was verified by the fact that it accurately reproduced ozone levels in the Antarctic stratosphere over the past 27 years.


More Vileness

How many of these stories are we not hearing, I wonder:

The American army in Iraq suffered a fresh blow to its image today as it emerged that five soldiers were being investigated for allegedly raping a woman and then murdering her and three members of her family.

The soldiers are accused of burning their alleged victim's body, according to sources quoted by the AP news agency.


I ♥ Depp

I admit it. I'm a fanboy.

First, thanks to the success of 2003's "The Curse of the Black Pearl" — for which Depp earned an Oscar nomination — "Pirates of the Caribbean" became a trilogy.

Depp also achieved a three-part personal coup with the role: unbridled creative expression in a spectacular commercial success with a film he can happily share with his kids.

But with the second "Pirates" picture, "Dead Man's Chest," in theaters July 7 and filming nearly wrapped on the third, the 43-year-old actor is reluctantly preparing to put aside the roguish pirate he describes as "part rock-star, Keith Richards-kind-of-guy and part Pepe Le Pew."

"It's always hard to say goodbye to a character at the end of a shoot, but with Captain Jack especially," says Depp, who exudes the same magnetic charm in person as he does on screen. "I've really come to enjoy spending time with him, or as him, whatever it is. He's definitely a big part of me."

Depp even wears Sparrow's gold and silver teeth off screen: they're bonded to his own.


The stark originality of the character initially scared studio heads, says producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

"They said, `He's gay, he's drunk. Oh my God, what are you guys doing?' But once we cut a scene together, they saw the fun of it," he says.

That fun was tripled when Depp agreed to reprise the role — twice.

"None of us would be back if Johnny had not wanted to play this character again," Bruckheimer says.


Depp has tried to pour his soul into all his performances, he says, whether they were in a tiny independent film or a big-budget blockbuster. Commercial success, while appealing, was not crucial, he says.

"It didn't make sense to me that you go into work and put as much of yourself and your heart into something, and in the end, all it's about is how much money it makes at the box office. Eeew," he says with disgust. "I can't think that way."

His movies were "box-office poison," he says, but "it never felt that way to me."

"I'm not comfortable saying movies are art," Depp says. "I don't know that they can be because there's so much money involved."

So it is, he says, he approaches his work from an artistic, not financial, perspective. Box-office receipts "are kind of none of my business," he says.

"You have to have some sort of legacy in truth and honesty that you leave to your kiddies and the people you love."


They Can't Even Do the Wrong Thing Well

It's just embarrassment after embarrassment with these people:
The Bush administration has been unable to muster even half the 2,500 National Guardsmen it planned to have on the Mexican border by the end of June, officials in the border states said.


The Death of Tibet Continues

Modernization can proceed in a variety of ways; some of these can, potentially, preserve and support traditional ways--this ain't one of 'em. I may be being unnecessarily pessimistic, but given the history of China and Tibet, I somehow doubt it:
Tibet will be soldered to the rest of China tomorrow with the launch of a railway service across the Himalayan roof of the world.

But the controversy surrounding this engineering marvel was highlighted at Beijing station today when protesters unfurled a banner warning that the line would destroy the culture and environment of what, until recently, was one of the planet's most remote regions.

The first of what is expected to be a daily influx of 4,000 passengers will set off from the Chinese capital at 9.30am on a 48-hour journey to Lhasa, which will take them across mountain passes, alpine deserts and the vast plains of the Qinghai plateau. Some travellers are likely to require oxygen, which will be available under the seats, because of the thin air.


West Point Thrown into a Hissy Fit by Gay Folk

At least, that's what the judge in the case is indicating:
Members of the Equality Ride, arrested in April when they entered the grounds of West Point to protest "don't ask, don't tell", have been told by a federal judge he hopes trespassing charges can be resolved without going to trial.


All Is Well on Planet Earth

Nothing to see here. Please resume watching the TVs mounted in your SUVs (Fox network only):
Images of swamped homes in the U.S. Northeast deepened suspicions over global warming, giving ammunition to scientists and others who say greenhouse gas-spewing cars and factories are fueling extreme weather.

No, really. Everything is fine:

A giant growth of algae in the waters off Canada's west coast, so huge it can be seen from space, may be linked to climate change, say scientists who hope to collect samples Friday for analysis.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sign of the Times

Black gold
A petrol thief in a fake company tanker spent up to three hours pumping $20,000 of fuel from a Sydney service station in a brazen early-morning robbery, its owner says.

Police are investigating the theft of about 15,000 litres of unleaded petrol from Pars Petroleum in Elizabeth Street, Croydon between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The thief used a petrol tanker with Mobil markings to drain almost every drop from an underground tank, service station owner Alex Vuo told this morning.

"There was only 30 litres left," he said.


His Dark Materials

I confess myself excited that Pullman's novels are going to the big screen:
A 12-year-old British schoolgirl with no previous film experience has won the lead role in the multimillion pound film adaptation of Philip Pullman's bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy.

Taking the central role of Lyra Belacqua will be the equally exotically-monickered Dakota Blue Richards, who was discovered by producers after a UK-wide search which saw some 10,000 young girls troop in to open casting calls around England. Richards was picked out at the Cambridge auditions and selected following a screen test.


Sue the Vatican

That would be quite a spectacle, now wouldn't it?
The Vatican is worried its opposition to same sex marriage, abortion and embryonic stem cell research could one day land it before an international court of justice, a senior Vatican official says.

Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, who heads the Pontifical Council for the Family, reiterated traditional Roman Catholic Church positions and criticized some European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands and France, for giving legal recognition to civil unions.

``We worry especially that, with current laws, speaking in defense of life and the rights of families is becoming in some societies sort of a crime against the state,'' Lopez Trujillo told the Roman Catholic newsmagazine Famiglia Cristiana for its issue scheduled to hit the stands Thursday.

``The church is at risk of being brought before some international court if the debate becomes any tenser, if the more radical requests get heard,'' the cardinal said, speaking ahead of the Roman Catholic church's World Meeting of Families in Valencia, Spain from July 1-9.



It's no surprise that Bush is determined to pursue this course of action, given that it is illegal and immoral:
After a Supreme Court decision overruling war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees, President Bush suggested Thursday he would seek Congress' approval to proceed with trying terrorism suspects before military tribunals.

"To the extent that there is latitude to work with the Congress to determine whether or not the military tribunals will be an avenue in which to give people their day in court, we will do so," he said. "The American people need to know that the ruling, as I understand it, won't cause killers to be put out on the street."

Bush said little more, saying he had received only a "drive-by briefing" on the ruling just out earlier Thursday morning.

The Supreme Court decided that Bush's proposed trials for certain detainees at the controversial U.S. prison in Cuba were illegal under U.S. law and international Geneva conventions. A separate opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer appeared to invite Bush to go to Congress to seek the authority to change that, and Bush's short answer indicated that is his intention.


Too Sensible

You know the religious right will hate this idea:
Taking up a potentially explosive issue among religious conservatives, an influential government advisory panel Thursday recommended that 11- and 12-year-old girls be routinely vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also said the shots can be started for girls as young as 9, at the discretion of their doctors.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Red State Values

Another charmer:
A Tennessee mayor spewed racial slurs, attempted to set up foes for arrest, and tried to boost his town's traffic ticket revenue by specifically profiling soldiers and Hispanics, according to a lawsuit seeking the politician's ouster from office. In a complaint filed yesterday in Robertson County Chancery Court, the State of Tennessee portrays Coopertown Mayor Danny Crosby as a boorish nutcase who has soiled the reputation of the 3176-resident city, which is located about 25 miles north of Nashville. The state lawsuit, an excerpt of which you'll find below, includes an array of shocking charges, including the claim that, after swearing in a new police officer on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the mayor congratulated the cop by saying, "Happy James Earl Ray Day." Crosby, pictured above, also allegedly sought to boost his city's revenue by setting up speed traps and directing police to "engage in profiling soldiers of the United States Armed Services" since he believed that enlisted persons "would tend to mail in their fines rather to come to Court to contest the Citations." Crosby also thought Hispanics, who were "mostly illegal anyway," would also avoid court, the complaint charges. As such, Crosby encouraged giving multiple citations to Hispanics, remarking, "We can give them all the tickets we want." Crosby was elected mayor in November 2004.


Absolutely Fabu-Larcenous!

More mayhem in New Orleans, right near where I used to live in the Lower Garden District:
Robyn Lewis, owner of Dark Charm fashion and accessories for women, represents the first line of defense for the Magazine Street shop owners. She is the first to see them come strutting in their pumps down St. Andrew Street, the bewigged pack of thieves who have plagued the Lower Garden District since May.

Like an SOS flare, Lewis grabs her emergency phone list and starts calling.

“They’re coming,” she warns Eric Ogle a salesman at Vegas, a block down Magazine Street. Ogle, who was terrorized by the brazen crew two months earlier, alerts neighboring Winky’s where manager Kendra Bonga braces for the onslaught.


The transvestites first appeared in March when they raided Magazine Street like a marauding army of kleptomaniacal showgirls, said Davis, using clockwork precision and brute force to satisfy high-end boutique needs.

They first hit Vegas March 31 while Ogle was working.

“They come in groups of three or four. One tries to distract you while the others get the stuff and run out the door. It’s very simple,” Ogle said.


Bigotry Is No Defense

This bill needs to pass. If you are so fucked up that gays panic you into a homicidal state, then it's your fucking responsibility to get some serious therapy:
The mother of Gwen Araujo made a passionate plea Tuesday before a California Senate committee for support of legislation curbing the so-called gay panic defense.

"Since my daughter was killed, my family and I have spent literally thousands of hours working hard to make sure that California is a state where everyone is respected and treated fairly," Sylvia Guerrero. told the Senate Committee on Public Safety.

The Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act would place restrictions on the way the defense tactic is presented to juries.

If a defense attorney attempted to use the argument that a client committed a crime out of panic because the victim were gay or trans a judge would be required to instruct the jury that the use of societal bias, including so-called "panic strategies," to influence the proceedings of a criminal trial is inconsistent with the public policy of the State of California.


Blood Diamonds

This is one reason why our wedding rings are diamond-free. Good for DiCaprio for doing this film:
"The Blood Diamond," a film in production starring Leonardo DiCaprio, could hurt diamond sales and the livelihoods of people in Africa, industry leaders warned on Tuesday.

The Warner Brothers film being shot in Africa shows how "conflict diamonds" financed bloody civil wars. DiCaprio portrays a mercenary jailed for smuggling in Sierra Leone, where a civil war lasting until 2002 killed 50,000 people.


Home Free!

Another 150,000 Iraqis liberated from the burdens of property:
Some 150,000 Iraqis have been displaced in a surge of sectarian violence sparked by the bombing of a Shiite shrine four months ago, the United Nations said Tuesday.

The U.N. office in Baghdad said it now estimates that 1.3 million people are displaced in Iraq, about five percent of the population of 25 million.


"Plainly Unlawful"

That's our Bush, going out of his way to screw workers:

A federal appeals court delivered another legal blow to the Bush administration's broad plan to overhaul the federal employee personnel system, ruling yesterday that the proposed changes would illegally limit the scope of collective bargaining.

The opinion by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said new Department of Homeland Security personnel rules that deal with working conditions and employee appeals were illegal. The court upheld two rulings by a federal district judge that found the government had overstepped the authority given by Congress to rewrite personnel rules when it created the department in 2002.


Yesterday's opinion, written by Judge Harry T. Edwards on behalf of a three-judge panel, agreed with Collyer's findings on the DHS appeals process and on the proposed ability to unilaterally break negotiated contracts, which it called "plainly unlawful.''

But the appeals court went further, saying the DHS plan, by limiting collective bargaining to employee-specific personnel matters, leaves most decisions on working conditions up to management only.

"In no sense can such a limited scope of bargaining be viewed as consistent with the Act's mandate that DHS 'ensure' collective bargaining rights for its employees," the court said.


Our Modern Military

Only a few decades late, according to psychological standards:
In response to the discovery that the Department of Defense had classified homosexuality as a mental illness, the Pentagon has released a statement changing the designation, PageOneQ has learned.

The classification became public when reported by news agencies on July 19, almost ten years since it was first issued in 1996.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ratzo's Going "Footloose"

One would think that more important challenges might be facing the Catholic Church these days, but I guess one would be wrong:

POPE BENEDICT has called for an end to electric guitars and modern music being played in church and has demanded a return to traditional choirs and Gregorian chants.

The Catholic Church has been experimenting with new ways of celebrating the Mass to try to attract more people.

The recital of the Mass set to guitars has grown in popularity in Italy. In Spain, the Mass has been set to flamenco music. And in the United States, the Electric Prunes produced a "psychedelic" album called Mass in F Minor.

However, the use of guitars and tambourines has annoyed Pope Benedict, who has a love of classical music.

"It is possible to modernise holy music," the Pope said at a concert conducted by Domenico Bartolucci, the director of music for the Sistine Chapel.

"But it should not happen outside the traditional path of Gregorian chants or sacred polyphonic choral music."


Celebrating Death with Money

I'd no idea these coins existed:
A rare silver coin celebrating the most famous murder of antiquity was handed over to Greek Culture Ministry officials, after a groundbreaking deal that allowed its repatriation from Britain.

The tiny coin, a denarius issued in 42 B.C. by Brutus, the chief assassin of Julius Caesar, is one of only 58 in the world. Greek authorities say it was illegally excavated in Greece, and sold last year by two Greek suspected smugglers to London's Classical Numismatic Group Inc.

Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis hailed the 2,000-year-old artifact's return on Tuesday as an important success in Greece's struggle to reclaim smuggled antiquities.


The coin was issued by a mobile military mint used by Brutus to pay his soldiers during the wars that followed Caesar's assassination in 44 B.C. by a group of his friends and proteges — immortalized in Shakespeare's play, "Julius Caesar."

Decorated with the head of Brutus on one side and a pair of daggers flanking a cap on the other, the denarius carries the inscription Eid Mar — short for the Ides of March, or March 15, the date of Caesar's murder.

A denarius equaled a Roman legionary's daily pay.


South American Stonehenge

Very cool:
SAO PAULO, Brazil - A grouping of granite blocks along a grassy Amazon hilltop may be the vestiges of a centuries-old astronomical observatory — a find archaeologists say indicates early rainforest inhabitants were more sophisticated than previously believed.

The 127 blocks, some as high as 9 feet tall, are spaced at regular intervals around the hill, like a crown 100 feet in diameter.

On the shortest day of the year — Dec. 21 — the shadow of one of the blocks disappears when the sun is directly above it.

"It is this block's alignment with the winter solstice that leads us to believe the site was once an astronomical observatory," said Mariana Petry Cabral, an archaeologist at the Amapa State Scientific and Technical Research Institute. "We may be also looking at the remnants of a sophisticated culture."

Anthropologists have long known that local indigenous populations were acute observers of the stars and sun. But the discovery of a physical structure that appears to incorporate this knowledge suggests pre-Columbian Indians in the Amazon rainforest may have been more sophisticated than previously suspected.

"Transforming this kind of knowledge into a monument; the transformation of something ephemeral into something concrete, could indicate the existence of a larger population and of a more complex social organization," Cabral said.


Rice Discriminates

Bush goes all the way to the Supreme Court to defend pollution, and Rice forces this man to go all the way to a federal appeals court to defend his rights:
A federal appeals court Tuesday ruled there is enough evidence in the case of a man who alleges he was denied a job with the State Department because he is HIV-positive for his lawsuit to proceed to trial.

Lorenzo Taylor, who is fluent in three languages, holds a Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University, and easily passed the tough written and oral exams required to be a Foreign Service Officer was rejected in 2002.


Taylor's suit names both the Department and Secretary Condoleeza Rice.

"The Secretary's claim that granting Taylor Class 2 clearance is unreasonable and would impose undue hardship is suspect" because the State Department sometimes hires candidates with medical conditions other than HIV, Judge Arthur Raymond Randolph in his written opinion.

Judge Randolph went on to say that Taylor's treating physician "testified that Taylor's immune system is strong enough to enable him to serve throughout the world without increased risk of harm and that he needs medical monitoring only twice a year. This evidence is more than enough to create a genuine issue of material fact regarding the reasonableness of the proposed accommodation."

"We are pleased to see that the Court sees through the faulty reasoning used by the State Department to substantiate this discriminatory and baseless policy," Jonathan Givner, HIV Project Director of Lambda Legal said in a statement.


Get Tested!

Better late than never, but better now than later:
Today is the 12th annual observance of national HIV testing day.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 850,000 to 950,000 people are HIV positive in the United States. An estimated 40,000 Americans are newly infected each year and the CDC estimates that more than 25 percent are unaware of their HIV status.

To get that message across HIV/AIDS groups and local health departments across the country are offering free testing today.


Scientists, Like Reality, Are Biased

Clearly, they are simply blinded by Bush hatred:

The nation's top climate scientists are giving "An Inconvenient Truth,'' Al Gore's documentary on global warming, five stars for accuracy.

The former vice president's movie -- replete with the prospect of a flooded New York City, an inundated Florida, more and nastier hurricanes, worsening droughts, retreating glaciers and disappearing ice sheets -- mostly got the science right, said all 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie or read the book and answered questions from The Associated Press.



A dramatic spike in flagburnings is plaguing the nation:

The Citizens Flag Alliance, a group pushing for the Senate this week to pass a flag-burning amendment to the Constitution, just reported an alarming, 33 percent increase in the number of flag-desecration incidents this year.

The number has increased to four, from three.


Ignoring Laws to Protect the Constitution

Just brilliant.

Once more, very slowly: The Supreme Court determines constitutionality. Not the executive branch!
The White House on Tuesday defended President Bush's prolific use of bill signing statements, saying they help him uphold the Constitution and defend the nation's security.

"There's this notion that the president is committing acts of civil disobedience, and he's not," said Bush's press secretary Tony Snow, speaking at the White House. "It's important for the president at least to express reservations about the constitutionality of certain provisions."


Still a Stupid Druggy

Ah, Schadenfreude:
Rush Limbaugh could see a deal with prosecutors in a long-running prescription fraud case collapse after authorities found a bottle of Viagra in his bag at Palm Beach International Airport. The prescription was not in his name.


Monday, June 26, 2006

A Good Start

Japan is attempting to do something about its greenhouse emissions (while Bush takes his case all the way to the Supreme Court, to avoid doing something about ours):

Japan hopes to slash greenhouse gas emissions and fight global warming with a plan to pump carbon dioxide into underground storage reservoirs instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, an official said Monday.

The proposal aims to bury 200 million tons of carbon dioxide a year by 2020, cutting the country's emissions by one-sixth, said Masahiro Nishio, an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Introduced last month, the plan is still under study.

Underground storage of carbon dioxide underlines the new urgency felt by industrialized countries trying to rein in the effects of global warming. But capturing carbon dioxide from factory emissions and pressurizing it into liquid form, scientists can inject it into underground aquifers, gas fields or gaps between rock strata, safely keeping it out of the air.


You Just Can't Trust Gay Folk

And the military knows it. Feel safer yet?
The Department of Defense has admitted it conducted surveillance on groups opposed to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on a more extensive level than previously reported.

The new revelations are part of an ongoing call for information under the Freedom of Information Act by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization that represents gays in the military.

Some of the surveillance outlined in the new documents suggests, SLDN says, that the spying may have been part of an undercover Pentagon operation.

The new material shows government surveillance of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and anti-war protests at the State University of New York at Albany, William Paterson University in New Jersey, Southern Connecticut State University and the University of California at Berkeley.

The documents released today indicate that emails sent by various student groups were intercepted and monitored by the government and that the government collected reports from seemingly undercover agents who attended at least one student protest at Southern Connecticut State University.

None of the reports in the documentation, however, indicated any terrorist activity by the students who were monitored.

“Federal government agencies have no business peeping through the keyholes of Americans who choose to exercise their first amendment rights,” said SLDN executive director C. Dixon Osburn.



Bush fights for what he believes, and he believes in pollution:
The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether the Bush administration must regulate carbon dioxide to combat global warming, setting up what could be one of the court's most important decisions on the environment.

The decision means the court will address whether the administration's decision to rely on voluntary measures to combat climate change are legal under federal clean air laws.

"This is the whole ball of wax. This will determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency is to regulate greenhouse gases from cars and whether EPA can regulate carbon dioxide from power plants," said David Bookbinder, an attorney for the Sierra Club.

Bookbinder said if the court upholds the administration's argument it also could jeopardize plans by California and 10 other states, including most of the Northeast, to require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from motor vehicles.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Um, No

Bush calls, and Arnold says, "meh":
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week rejected a request from the Bush administration to send an additional 1,500 National Guard troops to the Mexican border, the governor's office confirmed Friday.

The National Guard Bureau, an arm of the Pentagon, asked for the troops to help with the border-patrol mission in New Mexico and Arizona, but Schwarzenegger said the request would stretch the California Guard too thin in case of an emergency or natural disaster.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Adam Mendelsohn confirmed the governor's decision Friday after two California National Guard officials revealed it to The Associated Press.


The Kids Are All Right

These youngsters and their wild idealism. What can you do?
They're back. Those opinionated octogenarians who made headlines last fall by trying to enlist in the military to stop the War in Iraq.

Now, they're heading to Washington D.C. for the Fourth of July.

With wheelchairs, walkers, canes and pictures of their grandchildren on their backs, the Granny Brigade was back in Times Square, the scene of their arrest last fall for blocking the entrance to the Military Recruitment Center to stop the war.

This time, they're kicking off a 10-day trek to the nation's capital.


Latin America: Left and Sexy

The trend continues:

TO some he is a dangerous revolutionary, a fellow traveller of the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez who will plunge Mexico into huge debt. To others, he is a Robin Hood with the charm of Bill Clinton, come to deliver the masses from poverty and glaring inequality.

But to Mariela Rodriguez Montoro, a 54-year-old psychologist waiting in a throng of supporters, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the left-wing former mayor of Mexico City and frontrunner in this weekend's presidential election, is just downright hot.


Downsizing America

Too bad we don't have anything resembling a social welfare net to catch us:
General Motors will on Monday disclose details of one of most dramatic corporate downsizings in US history, exceeding a key target of its turnround plan and accelerating the demise of the privileged American car worker.

Rick Wagoner, chief executive, is expected to announce that about 30,000 workers – more than a quarter of GM's blue-collar US workforce – have taken up its offer of early retirement and severance packages.


The GM buy-out "is really historic", said Gary Chaison, industrial relations professor at Clark University in Massachusetts. He said it marked "the end of the good jobs" in the auto industry, created when the Detroit carmakers held a dominant market share, or were willing to grant generous concessions in return for labour peace.

GM shares have soared by a third since the company announced the "accelerated attrition programme" late in March. They closed at $26.97 on Friday.

The buy-outs, from $35,000 to $140,000 depending on length of service, will bring big savings to GM, especially in future health and pension benefits.