Saturday, August 12, 2006

Soldier for Peace

This man has, and holds to, convictions:
Ricky Clousing, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, and a veteran of the Iraq War who has been AWOL for a year announced today at the Veterans for Peace convention in Seattle that he will turn himself in later today at the gates of Fort Lewis and face whatever punishment the military chooses to impose.

Clousing said he did not apply for conscientious objector status because he is not certain he would oppose every possible war, such as one fought in self-defense. He said he has spent the past year trying to figure out how to turn himself in, that the military has refused to comment on his status and that he is now choosing to force them to deal with it.

Clousing spoke at a press conference on the campus of the University of Washington. Many supporters of his stand made brief remarks before he spoke. Clousing said he served in Baghdad and Mosul as an interrogator, and that this meant he spoke to Iraqi civilians every day and learned what they thought about the war. Clousing said he witnessed the routine incarceration of civilians with no basis and no ability to contact their families. He spoke in particular of four brothers, the youngest aged 12, locked up for three to four weeks. Physical abuse of civilians and the killing of one Iraqi civilian were among the crimes Clousing said he witnessed.


Lead the Children

Here's to libraries trying to slow down those damn overachievers:
Some children who were awarded prizes by area libraries this summer for exceptional reading have a new text to master: A recall notice.

The Alsip-Merrionette Park Public Library announced a prize recall Friday, saying that it gave out—as part of its summer reading program—dog and cat bendable toys that contain unacceptable levels of lead.


Friday, August 11, 2006


"Massive violations" indeed
The mayor of Tyre said the port city could run out of food in two days and humanitarian agencies tried to get aid to an estimated 100,000 people trapped in southern Lebanon today.
As the United Nations' new Human Rights Council voted to condemn Israel for "massive violations of human rights", aid workers struggled to send supplies to the region cut off when Israel bombed the last bridge across the Litani river earlier this week.
"We have not received any aid since the last route was cut off. We have enough food supplies for no more than two days," Tyre's mayor, Abdel-Mohsen al Husseini, told a news conference.
"We contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross to try to set up a humanitarian crossing over the Litani river but we have yet to receive an answer."


Switzerland Sounds Great When You're Dead

Rather morbid, this. "Suicide tourism":

Gloria Sonny says she barely noticed her Zurich apartment building was a place where people went to die when she moved there six years ago. Now, she can't miss the body bags placed in the lift by Dignitas, the assisted-suicide organisation on the fourth floor.


Caption as You Will


One Too Many Times?

Understatement much?
Senate Democratic leaders on Friday accused Vice President Dick Cheney of playing politics with terrorism and contended that voters won't buy Republican arguments that the GOP is stronger on national security.

"They've run this play one too many times," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a conference call with reporters. "The American people simply do not recognize any validity in what they're saying."


Let These Wannabes Rot

They need to be caged:
Three men charged in the brutal attacks on six men leaving gay pride celebrations in San Diego earlier this month will appear in court September 12 for a preliminary hearing.

The trio appeared in court briefly to have the date set.

Prosecutors are attempting to have a 15-year-old teen also charged in connection with the attacks, tried as an adult. An August 23 court date has been set in his case.

James Allen Carroll, 24, is charged with two counts of attempted murder, six counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and hate crime allegations.

Lyonn Taz Tatum, 18, is charged with six counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and hate crime allegations.

Kenneth James Lincoln, 23, is charged with three counts of being an accessory after the fact.

The 15-year-old, who cannot be named, is charged in Juvenile Court with six counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and hate crime allegations.

Police allege all four are members of a "wannabe" street gang called the "Low Lifes."


Supreme Court Says F*ck Bush

So much for his "logic":
When the Supreme Court rejected President Bush's executive power claims in last month's decision invalidating the Guantánamo military tribunals, it also shredded the administration's arguments for domestic spying. Now a bipartisan group of legal experts and former government officials are explaining to Congress exactly how the court's ruling affects the NSA's illegal domestic spying program.

Now turn to the Court's Guantánamo decision, Hamdan. The administration was first claiming that the AUMF implicitly authorized Bush to create his military commissions, and second that the President has inherent constitutional powers to contravene existing statutes in order to defeat the enemy in times of war. Sound familiar?

The Court ruled that neither of these arguments has any merit. The majority opinion concluded that "there is nothing in the text or legislative history of the AUMF even hinting that Congress intended to expand or alter" the Uniform Code of Military Justice--clarifying the fact that the President had no right to create commissions that violate pre-existing military law. In response to the administration's Article II claim, the Court found that although the President has the power to convene military commissions without congressional authorization, he may not disregard what limitations Congress has placed on his powers.



Yet more proof that Bush doesn't give a damn about the safety of this nation:
While the British terror suspects were hatching their plot, the Bush administration was quietly seeking permission to divert $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new homeland explosives detection technology.

Congressional leaders rejected the idea, the latest in a series of steps by the Homeland Security Department that has left lawmakers and some of the department's own experts questioning the commitment to create better anti-terror technologies.

Homeland Security's research arm, called the Sciences & Technology Directorate, is a "rudderless ship without a clear way to get back on course," Republican and Democratic senators on the Appropriations Committee declared recently.

"The committee is extremely disappointed with the manner in which S&T is being managed within the Department of Homeland Security," the panel wrote June 29 in a bipartisan report accompanying the agency's 2007 budget.

Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., who joined Republicans to block the administration's recent diversion of explosives detection money, said research and development is crucial to thwarting future attacks and there is bipartisan agreement that Homeland Security has fallen short.



The APA lays down the law on the bullshit "ex-gay" movement:
The American Psychological Association on Friday issued a stinging rebuke of the so-called ex-gay movement following a demonstration by members of several organizations that claim homosexuality is a choice that can be cured.

A small group representing the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and Exodus International demonstrated in front of the APA convention in New Orleans Friday.

"While the APA continues to play politics with social issues unrelated to its mission, thousands of current and potential patients are being harmed," said Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, a national 'ex-gay' organization.

"We represent those across the country who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction, desire the help of skilled professionals and are instead, being discriminated against because their personal beliefs do not align with that of the APA."

In 1974, the American Psychological Association ceased listing homosexuality as a mental disorder.

The protestors demanded that the APA change its current position.

Immediately after the protest the APA issued a statement reaffirming its stand.

"For over three decades the consensus of the mental health community has been that homosexuality is not an illness and therefore not in need of a cure," the statement said.

"The APA's concern about the positions espoused by NARTH and so-called conversion therapy is that they are not supported by the science. There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed. Our further concern is that the positions espoused by NARTH and Focus on the Family create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish."


Thank God for Turkey

Growing up in Arkansas, I often heard the phrase "Thank God for Mississippi." It's a propos here:

A comparison of peoples' views in 34 countries finds that the United States ranks near the bottom when it comes to public acceptance of evolution. Only Turkey ranked lower.

Among the factors contributing to America's low score are poor understanding of biology, especially genetics, the politicization of science and the literal interpretation of the Bible by a small but vocal group of American Christians, the researchers say.


Kittyblogging: Time to Relax


Bored, Bored, Evil, and... Evil


Self Defense in the Heartland

Who can blame this kid?

(Farmington, Missouri) The mother of a teenager facing up to 120 days in jail after admitting to firing a shotgun in school says the boy had been the victim of constant anti-gay harassment

Joshua Minks, 17, is awaiting sentencing. On October 11th last year he put his father's disassembled single-shot shotgun into a duffel bag, dressed in black clothing and hood and headed off to school.

In a washroom at the school he assembled the gun and when confronted by three other students fired a hole in the ceiling before a principal and teacher were able to subdue him.

Under a plea agreement which must be agreed to by a judge Minks would be sentenced to 120 days of what prosecutor Wendy Wexler Horn calls "shock incarceration"

He then would be prohibited from living in a home where there are firearms, from going on any school property, and be required to undergo mental health treatment.

In an interview with KFVS television, Minks mother, Amanda Minks said he faced harassment from fellow students daily.

"Josh was being called gay names every single day. He was being harassed every single day," she said.

The teen is 6' 5" tall, weighs more than 400 pounds, and is autistic. Amanda Minks gave the station documents showing the school promised to examine its safety and harassment guidelines to assure the boy was safe, but she said it was never done.

"A young man came up to Joshua and tried to set him on fire twice. The school did not contact me like they were supposed to," she told KFVS.



This is one way around the Geneva Conventions. It's the corporations that done did it!
While the Bush Administration calls for the immediate disbanding of what it has labeled "private" and "illegal" militias in Lebanon and Iraq, it is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into its own global private mercenary army tasked with protecting US officials and institutions overseas. The secretive program, which spans at least twenty-seven countries, has been an incredible jackpot for one heavily Republican-connected firm in particular: Blackwater USA. Government records recently obtained by The Nation reveal that the Bush Administration has paid Blackwater more than $320 million since June 2004 to provide "diplomatic security" services globally. The massive contract is the largest known to have been awarded to Blackwater to date and reveals how the Administration has elevated a once-fledgling security firm into a major profiteer in the "war on terror."

Blackwater's highly lucrative "diplomatic security" contract was officially awarded under the State Department's little-known Worldwide Personal Protective Service (WPPS) program, described in State Department documents as a government initiative to protect US officials as well as "certain foreign government high level officials whenever the need arises."


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Another Stereotype Bites the Dust

The notion that Africans are too ignorant or irresponsible to respond well to HIV meds is, well, flat out wrong:
North Americans infected with HIV are not as compliant in taking their antiretroviral drugs as their counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa, says a Canadian-led study, suggesting that delaying expansion of treatment programs in Africa based on the notion of poor adherence is flawed.

In an analysis of almost 60 studies on medication compliance among general populations in the last decade, researchers found that just 55 per cent of Canadians and Americans overall followed their antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimens to the letter, compared with 77 per cent of those in sub-Saharan Africa.


Lazy Immigrants!

They make their way into the United States, and then they can't even be bothered to take our jobs? What a buncha bums:
Big increases in immigration since 1990 have not hurt employment prospects for U.S. workers, says a study released Thursday.

The report comes as Congress and many Americans are debating immigration policy, a big issue in this fall's midterm congressional elections.

The Pew Hispanic Center found no evidence that increases in immigration led to higher unemployment among Americans, said Rakesh Kochhar, who authored the study.


Picayune Meltdown

Yesterday, it was a photographer trying to commit suicide by cop. Today, it's a sportswriter looking for teen sex:
Just a day after revealing one of its best-loved photographers had been arrested in an altercation with police in which he asked to be shot, the Times-Picayune of New Orleans reports that a sportswriter was arrested for allegedly trying to meet a 15-year-old girl for sex via the Internet.

William D. Kalec, a Baton Rouge-based sportswriter for the paper, was taken into custody Wednesday in nearby Kenner, La., inside an apartment where he had expected to meet a teen girl, the paper reported.

Instead of meeting a young girl, the paper reported Thursday, Kalec, 27, was met by investigators who charged him with computer-aided solicitation for sexual purposes. Police said Kalec, who had covered LSU sports for the paper, was online late Tuesday when he contacted a person he believed to be a 15-year-old and engaged in "sexually explicit communication."


Tattoos and Red Crescent Patches on Their Clothing?

America: Fascist at heart:
A new Gallup poll finds that many Americans -- what it calls "substantial minorities" -- harbor "negative feelings or prejudices against people of the Muslim faith" in this country. Nearly one in four Americans, 22%, say they would not like to have a Muslim as a neighbor.

While Americans tend to disagree with the notion that Muslims living in the United States are sympathetic to al-Qaeda, a significant 34% believe they do back al-Qaeda. And fewer than half -- 49% -- believe U.S. Muslims are loyal to the United States.

Almost four in ten, 39%, advocate that Muslims here should carry special I.D. That same number admit that they do hold some "prejudice" against Muslims. Forty-four percent say their religious views are too "extreme."


Santorum Refuses to Be Mistaken for a Non-Bigot

And his gay lackey is making sure we know all about it:

Senator Rick Santorum, the Pennsylvania Republican trailing Democrat Bob Casey, Jr., the state treasurer, in his re-election bid, surprised but did not move LGBT leaders last week when he allegedly became the 170th member of Congress to sign a statement vowing that he will not discriminate in his Senate office on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

Santorum’s purported agreement was announced in a press release issued last week by the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, or Gender PAC, which works to challenge gender role stereotyping and the discrimination it leads to. However, by August 9, Santorum’s out gay communications director, Robert Traynham, said that the statement was signed by an aide on Santorum’s behalf under the misapprehension that it was “consistent with our office manual,” which he said does ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity or expression.

Traynham said they have “legal issues” with the inclusion of protections for people of transgender experience. “It is not something we would accept,” he said, adding that Santorum still does not believe federal law should protect people based on sexual orientation.


Chavez Turns Back on Israel

Good for Chavez:
The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has said his country is likely to sever ties with Israel in protest at its military offensive in Lebanon.

Mr Chavez said he had "no interest" in maintaining relations with Israel, whom he has accused of committing genocide.

Venezuela recalled its charge d'affaires to Israel last week, prompting Israel to withdraw its ambassador to Caracas on Monday.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Another Casualty

Katrina just keeps on destroying:
A photographer for the Times-Picayune of New Orleans who has undergone severe personal trauma since Hurricana Katrina hit was arrested Tuesday after trying to get police to shoot him to death. Police said he claimed he was depressed after he found out he didn't have enough insurance money to rebuild his Katrina-damaged home.

They said he was seeking "suicide-by-cop," but police who found him tasered him instead.
cCusker is also known locally as a jazz expert who gives guided "Cradle of Jazz" tours in the city in a van on Saturday mornings and speaks on the subject. His photos of the Preservation Hall band and other jazz performers have also gained attention, and he produced a 53-minute DVD called "The Story of Jazz: New Orleans Stomp."
When he finally stopped, police had to taser him -- as he again begged them to kill him.

The police official said, according to newspapers, that this was only one of many examples of the mental damage that Katrina has caused, "and he sees it all the time now."


And You Know He'll Take It

Yet more proof that the GOP loves them some Lieberman:
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reports, “According to a close Lieberman adviser, the President’s political guru, Karl Rove, has reached out to the Lieberman camp with a message straight from the Oval Office: ‘The boss wants to help. Whatever we can do, we will do.’”

And the predictable denial.


More War

Israel's trying to get as much killing done as they can before any call for a ceasefire:
Israel dramatically raised the stakes in the Middle East yesterday, approving an invasion of southern Lebanon involving tens of thousands of troops. At the same time, the army commander in charge of the Lebanese offensive was replaced by another general with a more aggressive reputation - a reflection of Israeli impatience about military progress.


Gates Still Giving

I do love the way these people use their money:
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation took its support of AIDS-related research and care to a new level Wednesday, announcing a half-billion-dollar grant to a global fund that provides AIDS assistance in poor countries.

The Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will receive the grant over five years.

The gift dwarfs the $150 million US the Microsoft founder's foundation has given since the fund was created four years ago, and the additional $287 million US that Gates announced last month to speed development of an AIDS vaccine.


Mexican Leftists Block Banks

I don't know whether there was election fraud or not, though I wouldn't be surprised. But the Mexican left is definitely demonstrating what we should have done back in 2000, when our presidency was, without a doubt, stolen:
Leftist demonstrators blocked access to foreign banks in Mexico on Wednesday to protest what they said was election fraud while judges and troops oversaw a partial recount that could decide July's presidential vote.

Supporters of leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador surrounded main offices in Mexico City of U.S.-based Citigroup's Mexican unit Banamex, Bancomer bank owned by Spain's BBVA and British giant HSBC, closing them for several hours.

Lopez Obrador, a fiery anti-poverty campaigner, narrowly lost the July 2 vote to ruling party conservative Felipe Calderon. He says many votes for him went untallied while others were stolen from ballot boxes, and is demanding a recount of all 41 million ballots cast.

Guarded by soldiers, election officials began a recount of votes from 9 percent of polling stations. The partial recount was ordered by the electoral court to clear up fraud charges.

Lopez Obrador's followers have crippled downtown Mexico City for the past 10 days by setting up tents on the main Reforma boulevard running through the business district.

On Wednesday, Lopez Obrador urged demonstrators to keep up their stand for a country-wide recount, and said his team would start delivering flyers to homes to make up for a national press biased against him.


Bush: Against War Crimes

Because if you can't try anyone, then the crimes never happened, right?

THE Bush Administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading prisoners of war, US officials say.

The amendments would alter a US law passed a decade ago that made violating the Geneva Conventions a criminal offence they said. The conventions generally ban the cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment of wartime prisoners without spelling out what all those terms mean.

The draft amendments to the War Crimes Act would narrow the scope of potential criminal prosecutions to 10 categories of illegal acts against prisoners during a war including torture, murder, rape and hostage-taking.

Left off the list would be what the Geneva Conventions refer to as "outrages upon [the] personal dignity" of a prisoner and deliberately humiliating acts - such as the forced nakedness, use of dog leashes and wearing of women's underwear seen at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq - that fall short of torture.



With 14,000 laborers toiling day and night, the first of Dubai's three palm-shaped islands is just four months away from its first residents moving in, the developer says. (AP Photo/Nakheel Development, HO)


Not the Brightest Idea

He should be fired and jailed just for general stupidity, if nothing else:
A Montana man who used his work computer to access child pornography does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that would bar a search of the machine, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.


End Times

These maniacs threaten us all with their belief in Armageddon and willingness to turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy:

Over the past months, the White House has convened a series of off-the-record meetings about its policies in the Middle East with leaders of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a newly formed political organization that tells its members that supporting Israel's expansionist policies is "a biblical imperative." CUFI's Washington lobbyist, David Brog, told me that during the meetings, CUFI representatives pressed White House officials to adopt a more confrontational posture toward Iran, refuse aid to the Palestinians and give Israel a free hand as it ramped up its military conflict with Hezbollah.

The White House instructed Brog not to reveal the names of officials he met with, Brog said.


CUFI's advice to the Bush Administration reflects the Armageddon-based foreign-policy views of its founder, John Hagee. Hagee is a fire-and-brimstone preacher from San Antonio who commands the nearly 18,000-member Cornerstone Church and hosts a major TV ministry where he explains to millions of viewers how the end times will unfold. He is also the author of numerous bestselling pulp-prophecy books, like his recent Jerusalem Countdown, in which he cites various unnamed Israeli intelligence sources to claim that Iran is producing nuclear "suitcase bombs." The only way to defeat the Iranian evildoers, he says, is a full-scale military assault.


Screwing the Troops, Again

We'll spend money to send them to get their brains scrambled by bombs, but we won't spend money to heal them once they're home. Some old story:
Congress appears ready to slash funding for the research and treatment of brain injuries caused by bomb blasts, an injury that military scientists describe as a signature wound of the Iraq war.

House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense appropriation bill contain $7 million for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center — half of what the center received last fiscal year.

Proponents of increased funding say they are shocked to see cuts in the treatment of bomb blast injuries in the midst of a war.

"I find it basically unpardonable that Congress is not going to provide funds to take care of our soldiers and sailors who put their lives on the line for their country," says Martin Foil, a member of the center's board of directors.

The center has clashed with the Pentagon in recent months over a program to identify troops who have suffered mild to moderate brain injuries in Iraq from mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs — the most common weapons used by insurgents.

Preliminary research by the center shows that about 10% of all troops in Iraq, and up to 20% of front line infantry troops, suffer concussions during combat tours. Many experience headaches, disturbed sleep, memory loss and behavior issues after coming home, the research shows.

The center urged the Pentagon to screen all troops returning from Iraq in order to treat symptoms and create a database of brain injury victims. Scientists say multiple concussions can cause permanent brain damage.

The Pentagon so far has declined to do the screening and argues that more research is needed.


Getting Better All the Time

That's 2000 fewer potential terrorists! Success is at hand:

Almost 2,000 bodies were taken to Baghdad's morgue in July, the highest tally in five months of rising sectarian bloodshed which has forced the United States to boost troop levels in the capital to head off a civil war.

Morgue assistant manager Doctor Abdul Razzaq al-Obaidi said on Wednesday that about 90 percent had died violently.

"Most of the cases have gunshot wounds to the head. Some of them were strangled and others were beaten to death with clubs," he told Reuters.

The grim statistics came as a new poll showed the Iraq war had become more unpopular with Americans and four Iraqis suspected of involvement in the abduction of American journalist Jill Carroll were arrested by coalition forces.


Violent Clash Imminent

Doesn't bode well for this protest:
Jerusalem police announced Wednesday that they are barring a planned gay protest in a central city park out of concern that it could spill into violent clashes, but organizers vowed to go ahead with the move, setting the stage for a violent showdown in the city.


Bad Judgment

Oh, Lordy:
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- A state panel has disciplined three judges, including a Tacoma jurist who ordered courtroom cheers for the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks before issuing a manslaughter sentence.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Beverly Grant's discipline stems from a Feb. 3 hearing in which she sentenced Steve Keo Teang to 13 1/2 years for manslaughter in the 2005 shooting death of Tino Patricelli, 28.

Before the proceedings, Grant asked about 100 people in court to say "Go Seahawks" before taking their seats. Dissatisfied with the low volume of the response, she repeated the request.


Also disciplined on Friday was Tacoma Municipal Court Judge David Ladenburg, who kicked a Muslim woman out of court when she declined to remove her headscarf.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lieberman Is a Loser and an Asshole

Not to put too fine a point on it:
Three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman fell to anti-war challenger Ned Lamont in Connecticut's Democratic primary Tuesday, a race seen as a harbinger of sentiment over a conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 2,500 U.S. troops.

Unbowed, Lieberman immediately announced he would enter the fall campaign as an independent. Only six years ago, Lieberman was the Democrats' choice for vice president.

"As I see it, in this campaign we just finished the first half and the Lamont team is ahead. But, in the second half, our team, Team Connecticut, is going to surge forward to victory in November," Lieberman said after congratulating Lamont.

Um, "Team Connecticut"? Please.


Good Clean American Fun

What a bizarre and twisted idea:

Army officials say they are considering allowing a private developer to build a 125-acre entertainment, hotel and conference center complex next to a national Army museum at Fort Belvoir that could draw more than 1 million people a year to traffic-choked southern Fairfax County.

The possibility of adding what county officials call a military theme park arises as about 22,000 employees prepare to be transferred to Fort Belvoir in the next five years because of the federal base realignment and closure recommendations, designed to save $49 billion nationwide.


"You can command the latest M-1 tank, feel the rush of a paratrooper freefall, fly a Cobra Gunship or defend your B-17 as a waist gunner," according to the proposal by Universal City Property Management III of Orlando.



Bush once again displays his foreign policy acuity:

BUSH: My attitude is that a young democracy has been born quite quickly. And I think the Iraqi government has shown remarkable progress on the political front. And that is is that they developed a modern constitution that was ratified by the people and then 12 million people voted for a government.

Which gives me confidence about the future in Iraq, by the way. You know, I hear people say, Well, civil war this, civil war that. The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box. And a unity government is working to respond to the will of the people.


They Believe That Children Are the Future

Freeze them well and let them lead the way:
Since the start of the fighting in the north, about 30 soldiers, most of them in the reserves, have turned to the organization New Family in a bid to freeze their sperm so that their partners or families will be able to create for themselves heirs.

"I have been living with my girlfriend for four years. I received an emergency call-up for service in Lebanon and I'm afraid something will happen to me. I want to freeze sperm in case of a disaster," wrote a reservist to the organization recently.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Golf, Rape, Murder, Chicken Wings

All in a day's work, and boys will be boys, and all that:
US soldiers, accused of raping and murdering a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, drank alcohol and hit golf balls before the attack. One of them grilled chicken wings afterwards, a criminal investigator told a US military hearing yesterday.


Suck on It, GOP, Cont'd

Even Scalia won't help you now
, DeLay:

Bad news for Tom DeLay.

Lawyer for the Texas Republicans James Bopp has just issued a notice that Justice Antonin Scalia has denied their stay request.

That means that Tom DeLay WILL be forced to run again -- or watch the Democratic opponent run without a GOP opponent.


Gays to Blame for Hezbollah

The stupidity is astounding:
About 90 LGBT youths toured the Kensett - Israel's Parliament - on Monday, part of WorldPride events being staged in Jerusalem.

The young people were the guests of Sheli Yehimovitch, the chair of the Knesset Committee for Children. But outside in the Rose Garden a protest organized by extreme Orthodox groups was conspicuous by the lack of people it attracted.

Only a handful of protestors showed up.


The head of an extreme Orthodox group blamed WorldPride for the ongoing attacks on Israel by the Islamist terror group Hezbollah. (story)

"We have not protested enough against this parade of abomination and therefore we have received this warning," Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch, who heads the Eda Haredit rabbinic court.


Manhattan: Habitat for Huge Manatees

In the heat of summer, all sorts of tourists head north to cooler climes. This year, a manatee has joined the crowd, cruising past the nightclubs of Manhattan and continuing north.

The massive animal has been spotted in the Hudson River at least three times in the last week — first off the Chelsea and Harlem sections of Manhattan, then to the north in Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County.

"It was gigantic," said Randy Shull, who said he spotted the unusual visitor Sunday afternoon while boating at Kingsland Point Park in Sleepy Hollow. "When we saw it surface, its back was just mammoth."

John Vargo, the publisher of Boating on the Hudson magazine, said his alert about the sightings was met with disbelief by some boaters.

"Some were laughing about it, because it couldn't possibly be true," he said.


School's In

Another good sign in New Orleans (though of course the story stresses the crappiness of the schools there):
Carrying a heavy book sack on his shoulders, 12-year-old Jermaine Gibson wasn't complaining a bit about the first day of classes Monday.

"The summer was boring. There was nothing to do. I'm glad to be back," Gibson said as he arrived at William J. Fischer Charter Elementary School on foot with two friends.

Fischer, one of the city's low-performing schools before Hurricane Katrina, was among eight public schools that reopened Monday, giving more than 4,000 students an early start on the school year and advancing a reform movement that blossomed after the storm devastated the city almost a year ago.

A uniformed sailor from a nearby Navy support station blew "Reveille" on his trumpet near the school entrance as students and parents walked down freshly painted hallways adorned with colorful murals and saw the new computer lab.

More than 40 other public schools are scheduled to open by mid-September for an estimated 30,000 students in what is planned as a rebirth of one of the nation's worst school systems, which had about 60,000 students before the storm.


Bedbugs Bite

For no particular reason, I blame the Republicans:
After waking up one night in sheets teeming with tiny bugs, Josh Benton couldn't sleep for months and kept a flashlight and can of Raid with him in bed.

"We were afraid to even tell people about it at first," Benton said of the bedbugs in his home. "It feels like maybe some way you're living is encouraging this, that you're living in a bad neighborhood or have a dirty apartment."

Absent from the U.S. for so long that some thought they were a myth, bedbugs are back. Entomologists and pest control professionals are reporting a dramatic increase in infestations throughout the country, and no one knows exactly why.

"It's no secret that bedbugs are making a comeback," said Dan Suiter, an associate professor of entomology at the University of Georgia.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Dems Take Note

This can be done, and should have been, a few years back:
Leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Sunday he was digging in for a long battle to ensure his ruling-party rival is not declared the winner of presidential elections, calling on supporters to demonstrate in front of the court that ruled against his demand for a full recount.

Lopez Obrador told tens of thousands of followers in Mexico City's main Zocalo plaza that they should indefinitely man the sprawling, week-old protest camps that have brought much of the capital's normally thriving center to a halt. The blockades have snarled traffic, costing the city an estimated $23 million a day.


The Dealer Always Has the Power

Because no one wants to go through withdrawal sickness:
IRAN yesterday rejected a United Nations demand that it halt uranium enrichment work, vowing instead to expand its controversial nuclear programme and threatening to block oil exports to the West if sanctions are imposed.


I'm Guessing "Break"

It'd be nice if this worked, but I'm rather pessimistic:

US troop reinforcements sent to help stem sectarian bloodshed in Baghdad fanned out across mainly Sunni districts in the west of the city yesterday, in what a senior military official described as the first stage of a "make-or-break" operation to prevent civil war.

With neither the inexperienced Iraqi security forces nor the weak central government capable of halting the killings, US commanders have redeployed about 3,700 soldiers of the army's 172nd Stryker brigade from the province of Nineveh. At least 100 people were killed in violence over the weekend.

The military hopes the fresh show of US might in Baghdad will bolster Iraqi security operations, deter the death squads, and reassure frightened citizens that a semblance of normal life is possible.



How can you not love that word?

Anyway, this is very cool:

Previously hidden writings of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes are being uncovered with powerful X-ray beams nearly 800 years after a Christian monk scrubbed off the text and wrote over it with prayers.

Over the past week, researchers at Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park have been using X-rays to decipher a fragile 10th century manuscript that contains the only copies of some of Archimedes' most important works.


Pure Evil

Why do they hate us? This is why:
An Iraqi medic who responded to a home where U.S. soldiers allegedly raped and killed a teenage Iraqi girl and murdered her sister and parents described on Sunday a display of carnage so horrific he said it made him sick for two weeks.

In the opening day of testimony in a military hearing in Baghdad to determine whether there is enough evidence to hold a court-martial for five U.S. soldiers, the medic, whose name was withheld for security reasons, testified that he saw smoke when he arrived at the family's home in Mahmudiyah on the afternoon of March 12. Inside, on the floor of the living room by the window, a teenage girl lay dead on her back, her legs spread, her clothes torn off, her body burned from her waist to her head, a single bullet hole under her left eye, he said.

Her mother also lay dead on the floor with bullet wounds in her chest and abdomen, he said.

In another room, the medic found what remained of the girl's father in a pool of blood. "The brain was on the floor and parts of the head were all over the place," the medic said. Next to him was his other daughter, who was about 6years old. It appeared to him as if a bullet had "entered the front of her face and out the back of her head," he said.

With the help of Iraqi soldiers, the medic said, he put the remains of the family in bags and stored them in an air-conditioned ambulance because there was no room at the Mahmudiyah hospital.


Bush Plans to Cut and Run

What a flip-flopper
President Bush will move U.S. troops out of Iraq if the country descends into civil war, according to one senior Bush aide who declined to be named while talking about internal strategy. "If there's a full-blown civil war, the president isn't going to allow our forces to be caught in the crossfire," the aide said.



The unfortunate (to put it mildly) re-making of New Orleans continues:
Gloria Cauldfield looked down the littered street to where workers were busily restoring three flooded rental houses — adding new kitchens, baths, central air and heat, fresh paint.

Nice places. Much nicer than they were before Hurricane Katrina ripped off their roofs and sent floodwaters surging through them last August.

Cauldfield, who's lived on Broadway Street for 26 years and knew everyone on the block in this working-class neighborhood, is pretty sure she won't know the people who move into them.

"People are waiting to see if they can move back. But they only paid $225 for rent before. Somebody in the block had said they're going to be $600 or $700 a month," Cauldfield said. "From $225, that's a big jump."


A Little Hope

Not good, not by a long shot, but definitely better:

ABORIGINES are less likely to die of bronchitis, emphysema or stroke than they were 20 years ago, Northern Territory doctors have found, in a rare positive glimmer amid the generally worsening picture of indigenous health.

The turnaround contradicts widespread pessimism about Aboriginal health and should stir governments to invest in further improvements, said David Thomas, of Darwin's Menzies School of Health Research, who led the research.

Together with a slowing in the rate of increase in heart disease and diabetes deaths during the 1990s, and a drop in kidney failure deaths for those under 50, the results represented substantial progress in the battle against chronic disease, which causes 70 per cent of deaths among Aborigines.


Indigenous Australians have one of the highest mortality rates in the world. Fewer than a third live to 65 - a lower proportion than in Bangladesh or Nigeria. Their death rates exceed those of Maori or native Americans.


What a Prick

That's all there is to it:

The White House hasn't given "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan "a single thought" in regards to arranging another meeting with President Bush, and Press Secretary Tony Snow advises the activist whose son was killed in Iraq to bring water and Gatorade to Crawford for her upcoming protests, according to an article in Sunday's edition of The New York Times.

"Mr. Snow, the White House press secretary, said administration officials had not given Ms. Sheehan a single thought," writes Sheryl Gay Stolberg.

During a press gaggle held Saturday at Crawford Elementary School, Snow said that there were "no plans at all" for Bush to meet with Sheehan during his shortened summer stay at his ranch for a ten day stretch that began on Thursday.

"So far there are no plans at all but I would advise her to bring water, or Gatorade, or both," Snow said.

Asked if advisers would be sent to speak with Sheehan, Snow responded, "You know what, honestly, when you're talking about the kind of issues we've been talking about, Cindy Sheehan just has not risen to the level of staff meetings at this point."