Merry bloody Xmas:
Insurgent attacks killed five more American troops west of the Iraqi capital, the military said Friday, making December the second deadliest month for U.S. servicemen in 2006.
Political blog from the radical left, because the Invisible Hand is giving you the finger. rorschach782003 at yahoo dot com
"rorschach, have I told you how good your blog is? You find stories nobody else does." --Echidne of the snakes
Insurgent attacks killed five more American troops west of the Iraqi capital, the military said Friday, making December the second deadliest month for U.S. servicemen in 2006.
Pope Ratzi: Gay Marriage Like Chiffon Margarine
Pope Benedict Friday fired a new broadside at same-sex couples warning that politicians who vote to recognize gay and lesbian unions were tampering with nature.
He said that those who support gay unions endorse "dismal theories" that strip all relevance from the masculinity and femininity of the human being as though it were a purely biological issue."
It's Just So Simple!
Fidelity in marriage and premarital abstinence from sex are the key weapons in the fight against AIDS, a senior cardinal who prepared a study on condom use said Wednesday.
A congressman said Thursday that he will not retract a letter warning that unless immigration is tightened, "many more Muslims will be elected" and use the Quran to take the oath of office.
Republican Rep. Virgil Goode (news, bio, voting record) triggered angry responses from a civil rights group and some colleagues with a letter this month to constituents concerned about a decision by Rep.-elect Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, to use the Quran when he is sworn in.
"I will not be putting my hand on the Quran," Goode said at a news conference Thursday at the Franklin County Courthouse.
Goode, who represents Virginia's 5th Congressional District, said he is receiving more positive comments from constituents than negative.
"One lady told me she thinks I'm doing the right thing on this," he told Fox News. "I wish more people would take a stand and stand up for the principles on which this country was founded."
Goode also told Fox News he wants to limit legal immigration and do away with "diversity visas," which he said let in people "not from European countries" and "some terrorist states."
In his letter, Goode wrote that strict immigration polices are necessary "to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America."
"The Muslim representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don't wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran," he wrote.
Privatized Concentration Camps
One of the more disturbing stories that surfaced after the Swift meat plant raids was how too many children were left without a parent and/or farmed out to friends and families with no immediate word on how they will be reconnected with their mami and papi.
But if news filtering out of one of the newly designated immigrant detention centers for families is any indication, no undocumented parent is going to open their mouth and claim their children if the whole family is going to be subjected to what is becoming known as the first known concentration camp on American soil in the 21st Century.
The T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas (on the outskirts of Austin, Texas) is a private detention facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America. It and a smaller center in Pennsylvania are the only two facilities in the country that are authorized to hold non-Mexican immigrant families and children on noncriminal charges.
What does this mean?
It means that at the Taylor facility of the 400 people "held" there, 200 are children. And all are families that can be held there for whatever length of time without due process conducted in a timely manner.
To top it off, as long as the men, women and children are held there, the facility's operator draws a daily profit - per person.
A statement by President George W. Bush issued in connection with the just-signed U.S.-India civil nuclear cooperation law has raised concerns that Bush may try to circumvent some of Congress' intentions, lawmakers and analysts say.
The statement, clarifying Bush's views on law and policy, was issued after he signed new legislation on Monday permitting U.S. sales of nuclear fuel and reactors to India for the first time in 30 years.
In the statement, Bush said his signature "does not constitute my adoption of the statements of policy (in the law) as U.S. foreign policy." Also in responding to reports mandated by Congress, he would consider how releasing data requested by lawmakers might "impair foreign relations."...
With his recent signing statement, once again the president has shown he views Congress as a nuisance rather than an equal branch of government under the Constitution," said Sen. Thomas Harkin of Iowa, a Democrat whose party will control a majority of the new Congress to be sworn in next month.
Committed to National Security
A woman passed her one-month-old grandson through the x-ray machine at Los Angeles international airport, it was revealed yesterday.
A security worker saw the baby entering the machine sitting on a plastic bin intended for hand luggage and jackets. The official hurriedly pulled the bin out along the conveyor belt.
After the incident on Saturday the baby was taken to the nearby Centinela hospital and checked for radiation. Doctors cleared the child, finding that in the seconds the baby spent in the machine he would have received no more radiation than would naturally be absorbed from cosmic rays from space in a day.
Merry Christmas, Y'all
Soldiers trying to seize control of one Mexico's top drug-producing regions found the countryside teeming with a new hybrid marijuana plant that can be cultivated year-round and cannot be killed with pesticides.
Soldiers fanned out across some of the new fields Tuesday, pulling up plants by the root and burning them, as helicopter gunships clattered overhead to give them cover from a raging drug war in the western state of Michoacan. The plants' roots survive if they are doused with herbicide, said army Gen. Manuel Garcia.
"These plants have been genetically improved," he told a handful of journalists allowed to accompany soldiers on a daylong raid of some 70 marijuana fields. "Before we could cut the plant and destroy it, but this plant will come back to life unless it's taken out by the roots."
The new plants, known as "Colombians," mature in about two months and can be planted at any time of year, meaning authorities will no longer be able to time raids to coincide with twice-yearly harvests.
The hybrid first appeared in Mexico two years ago but has become the plant of choice for drug traffickers Michoacan, a remote mountainous region that lends to itself to drug production.
Yields are so high that traffickers can now produce as much marijuana on a plot the size of a football field as they used to harvest in 10 to 12 acres. That makes for smaller, harder-to-detect fields, though some discovered Tuesday had sophisticated irrigation systems with sprinklers, pumps and thousands of yards of tubing.
"For each 100 (marijuana plots) that you spot from the air, there are 300 to 500 more that you discover once you get on the ground," Garcia said.
The Neo-Con Agenda Continues
The expansion of the Pentagon’s presence in American embassies is creating frictions and overlapping missions that could undermine efforts to combat Islamic radicalism, a report by Congressional Republicans has found.
As the Pentagon takes on new roles collecting intelligence, initiating information operations and conducting other “self-assigned missions,” the report found that some embassies have effectively become command posts, with military personnel in those countries all but supplanting the role of ambassadors in conducting American foreign policy.
The report, completed by the Republican staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, concluded that Pentagon “enthusiasm” has blurred chains of command and has the potential to backfire by weakening American relationships abroad and setting back American counterterrorism efforts.
Even with the military strained by long-term deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has been steadily expanding its presence outside of declared war zones, dispatching troops to embassies in remote parts of Africa, Asia and the Middle East to conduct counterterrorism missions and to train local militaries.
Starving the City
Over the past six months, Baghdad has been all but isolated electrically, Iraqi officials say, as insurgents have effectively won their battle to bring down critical high-voltage lines and cut off the capital from the major power plants to the north, south and west.
The battle has been waged in the remotest parts of the open desert, where the great towers that support thousands of miles of exposed lines are frequently felled with explosive charges in increasingly determined and sophisticated attacks, generally at night. Crews that arrive to repair the damage are often attacked and sometimes killed, ensuring that the government falls further and further behind as it attempts to repair the lines.
And in a measure of the deep disunity and dysfunction of this nation, when the repair crews and security forces are slow to respond, skilled looters often arrive with heavy trucks that pull down more of the towers to steal as much of the valuable aluminum conducting material in the lines as possible. The aluminum is melted into ingots and sold.
What amounts to an electrical siege of Baghdad is reflected in constant power failures and disastrously poor service in the capital, with severe consequences for security, governance, health care and the mood of an already weary and angry populace.
“Now Baghdad is almost isolated,” Karim Wahid, the Iraqi electricity minister, said in an interview last week. “We almost don’t have any power coming from outside.”
No Mormon Heaven for Wiesenthal
In life, Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal was among the most famous Jews of the 20th century.
In death, he wound up on a list of people eligible to be posthumously baptised as Mormons so they could enter heaven.
Bowing to protests from Jewish groups, The Church of Latter Day Saints has removed Wiesenthal's name from its International Genealogical Index, a database of names of people who be could be baptised after death.
A church spokesman said the Nazi hunter's name was taken off the list after receiving a complaint from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish human rights group named in his honour.
Rabbi Marvin Heir, the dean and founder of the group, said, "From their point of view they thought they were doing him a favour by making sure he can get into heaven.
"For us, it is very offensive. Simon Wiesenthal dedicated his whole life to Jews. I don't think he needs help getting into heaven."
The Christmas Spirit
The moment when a child realises Father Christmas does not exist can be a difficult one, especially if it happens a few days before the bearded one is due down the chimney.
But a junior school was forced to apologise yesterday after one of its teachers did the delicate job usually left to parents or older siblings when she taught a lesson revealing that Santa was a myth and letters addressed to him were actually dealt with by the Royal Mail.
To make matters worse, the youngsters, aged nine and 10, were asked to put themselves in the place of Royal Mail staff and make up replies to children explaining why their requests for certain presents had been rejected.
Another Reality Check
Seventy-three percent of US military members would accept openly gay and lesbian service members being in their units, according to a new poll released by Zogby International and the Michael D. Palm Center. Over one in five respondents to the survey said they know for certain that someone in their unit is gay or lesbian. The survey was conducted of both combat and non-combat units, according to a statement issued by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and obtained by PageOneQ.
"Today's poll is one more nail in the coffin of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said in the statement.
More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study. The high rates extend even to women born in the 1940s, challenging perceptions that people were more chaste in the past.
"This is reality-check research," said the study's author, Lawrence Finer. "Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades."
New York City violated the U.S. Constitution for more than two months in 2001 with a policy to detain arrested protesters overnight instead of giving them summonses to appear in court, a U.S. federal jury found on Monday.
The suit stemmed from the city's handling of the mass protests and arrests in New York immediately after the 1999 killing by police of unarmed Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo, who was hit by 19 shots.
An eight-person jury in Manhattan federal court found that the city's police department violated the First Amendment right to free speech and the 14th Amendment right to due process between May 1, 2001, and July 13, 2001, by its policy of locking up protesters overnight in city jails.
Spicy Thetan Comic Genius
Victoria Beckham is reportedly set to star in Tom Cruise's new Scientology film.
The Spice Girl has apparently been lined up to play an alien bride in The Thetan - based on the bizarre sci-fi cult, which believes in alien life forms.
Victoria is said to be "thrilled" about getting her big Hollywood break.
A source told Britain's Daily Star newspaper: "Victoria is really hoping to make a go of it in Hollywood. This could be the perfect start for her, with good pal Tom Cruise in charge."
The 32-year-old - who made her first attempt at acting in the 1997 Spice Girls movie Spice World - will play the bride of an alien leader called a thetan, which Scientologists claim is an immortal spiritual being, present in all humans.
Cruise - who is bankrolling the project himself after it was rejected by all the major film studios - is said to have picked Victoria for the role after being impressed by her "comic genius".
God Bless the Farmers
Marijuana is now the biggest cash crop grown in the US, exceeding traditional harvests such as wheat, corn and soy beans, says a new report.
Slow Down, You Move Too Fast
The US Army is considering measures to force striking workers back to their jobs at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Kansas in the face of a looming shortage of tyres for Humvee trucks and other military equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A strike involving 17,000 members of the United Steelworkers union has crippled 16 Goodyear plants in the US and Canada since October 5.
BSG Holiday Greeting
A same-sex marriage advocate is nursing cuts and bruises after being attacked by a leading advocate of a constitutional amendment to end gay marriage in the only state where it is legal.
Sarah Loy, 27, went to a rally organized by VoteOnMarriage in front of Worcester City Hall, west of Boston, on the weekend. The demonstration was one of several behind held on weekends throughout Massachusetts aimed at pressuring the Legislature to vote on the proposed amendment.
At a lectern Larry Cirignano, leader of the Boston-based Catholic Citizenship group had just finished leading the Pledge of Allegiance when he spotted Loy near the front of the crowd with other supporters of gay marriage staging a counter protest.
Loy was carrying a sign reading “No discrimination in the Constitution”. Other members of her group were yelling “You lost, go home, get over it,” at the crowd.
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports that Cirignano rushed from behind the lectern and tackled Loy to the ground. “You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now,” he allegedly told her as her head was pushed into the concrete sidewalk.
Drug dealers plying heroin in Ipswich were given a temporary amnesty yesterday by detectives hunting the serial killer who has murdered five women working as prostitutes in the town.
Those Gays Ruin Everything
Two of the largest Episcopal parishes in Virginia voted overwhelmingly Sunday to break from The Episcopal Church and join fellow Anglican conservatives forming a rival U.S. denomination.
Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church plan to place themselves under the leadership of Anglican Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who has called the growing acceptance of gay relationships a "satanic attack" on the church.
The archbishop hopes to create a U.S. alliance of disaffected parishes called the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. Truro rector Martyn Minns was consecrated a bishop in the Church of Nigeria earlier this year to lead Akinola's American outreach.
Oh, So Shocking
A Midtown strip mall that should have housed the best of the best served as Corruption Central in Tucson.Two military recruiting stations sit side-by-side there, one run by the Army, the other by the Marines. Between them, a total of seven recruiters were on the take, secretly accepting bribes to transport cocaine, even as most spent their days visiting local high schools.They had help from several more recruiters at an Army National Guard office, where one recruiter was said to be selling cocaine from the trunk of his recruiting vehicle.Together, these dozen or so recruiters formed the nucleus of one of the FBI's biggest public corruption cases, the sting known as Operation Lively Green, which unfolded in Southern Arizona from 2002-2004 and was made public last year.Many of the drug-running recruiters remained on the job, with continued access to local schools, for months — and often, years — after FBI agents secretly filmed them counting cash next to stacks of cocaine bricks, the Arizona Daily Star found in a months-long probe of court records and military employment data.Some were still recruiting three years after they first were caught on camera running drugs in uniform. Most have pleaded guilty and are to be sentenced in March. Some honorably retired from the military.
Crossing the Line
A few days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the CIA station chief in Rome paid a visit to the head of Italy's military intelligence agency, Adm. Gianfranco Battelli, to float a proposal: Would the Italian secret services help the CIA kidnap terrorism suspects and fly them out of the country?
The CIA man did not identify which targets he had in mind but was "expressly referring to the possibility of picking up a suspected terrorist in Italy, bringing him to an airport and sending him from there to a foreign country," Battelli, now retired, recalled in a deposition.
This initial secret contact and others that followed, disclosed in newly released documents, show the speed and breadth with which the CIA applied in post-9/11 Europe a tactic it had long reserved for the Third World -- "extraordinary rendition," the extrajudicial abduction of Islamic radicals overseas for interrogation in friendly countries.
More Frustrated Fetishists
A rib bone and a piece of cloth supposedly recovered after Joan of Arc was burned at the stake are probably not hers, according to experts trying to unravel one of the mysteries surrounding the 15th century French heroine.
Eighteen experts began a series of tests six months ago on the fragments reportedly recovered from the pyre where the 19-year-old was burned for heresy.
Although the tests have not been completed, findings so far indicate there is "relatively little chance" that the remnants are hers, Philippe Charlier, the head of the team, told The Associated Press on Saturday.
The fragment of linen from the 15th century "wasn't burned. It was dyed," Charlier said. And a blackened substance around the 6-inch rib bone was not "carbonized remains" but vegetable and mineral debris, "something that rather resembles embalming substance," he said.
Edwards Is In
Bayh decided he could not compete with Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, whose possible candidacies have dominated the positioning almost two years before the actual election.
Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, has decided he can and is planning to announce his campaign in New Orleans between Christmas and New Year's, two Democrats said.
Edwards' novel choice of sites shows how he wants to distinguish his candidacy: emphasizing policies he believes can unite a country divided by economic inequality, a situation no more evident than in the city's Lower Ninth Ward, still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.