Saturday, June 16, 2007


After many years and over 3500 dead, we control forty percent on one city! At this rate, we'll win in no time!
Security forces in Baghdad have full control in only 40 percent of the city five months into the pacification campaign, a top American general said Saturday as U.S. troops began an offensive against two al-Qaida strongholds on the capital's southern outskirts.


Political Expression

Not exactly my preferred medium, but whatever floats your boat:

"Usually, if a turd gets into the Senate, it’s because he or she was elected," Emily Heil reports for Roll Call. "But on Wednesday, several large piles of actual, nonmetaphorical 'No. 2' found their way into the Capitol, and the source isn’t yet clear."

Heil continues, "On Wednesday afternoon, Capitol Police cordoned off a section of the hallway on the third floor of the Senate side of the Capitol, where at least three piles of the stuff were causing a stench — and a stir. At first, the word circulating among the staff was that a visiting child had fallen ill while in the gallery. But then the prevailing theory was that the foul stuff had come from an adult or group of adults making a yet-to-be-determined political statement."

According to the paper, "Reports also circulated that the yucky stuff had been smeared on seats in the gallery overlooking the chamber floor, and the gallery remained closed hours after the incident was first noted."

Excerpts from article:


Sources familiar with Capitol maintenance speculated it was “an unfortunate incident involving a child,” although they have no culprit and very little detail about how it transpired. The section of hallway was still closed as of late Wednesday and officials will engage in an “intense cleaning” of the section following Senate business Wednesday night, the sources said.

Witnesses said they couldn’t believe that a single culprit could have produced the volume of poo present or that a person could have, well, deposited it the normal way without attracting attention. Several witnesses speculated it had been brought in from elsewhere.


Another One Bails

Just not too pleasant to work close to Gonzales, now, is it?
A senior Justice Department official who helped carry out the dismissals of federal prosecutors said Friday he is resigning. Mike Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, is the fifth Justice official to leave after being linked to the dismissals of the prosecutors.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Sir Salman Rushdie

I do know that Midnight's Children is a work of sheer genius, and I applaud him for this honor:
Salman Rushdie has amassed for himself a fair number of distinctions over the years, among them the Booker of Bookers prize, the Whitbread novel award (twice), the James Tait Black memorial prize, and a fatwa from the Ayatollah Khomeini calling for his immediate assassination.

Yesterday, however, came the big one: a knighthood recognising the services to literature of one of the world's most lauded - and most divisive - literary grandees. "I am thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour, and am very grateful that my work has been recognised in this way," the newly-minted Sir Salman said in a statement.

The announcement signals a belated endorsement by the British establishment, 18 years after the author was forced to go on the run after The Satanic Verses was condemned as blasphemy by Iran's late spiritual leader. Britain broke off diplomatic relations over the incident; Rushdie himself had to live in hiding for a decade.

"I am delighted for him," said fellow novelist Ian McEwan said last night. "He's a wonderful writer, and this sends a firm message to the book-burners and their appeasers."


What? You Say You Want To Use This Desk?

Kitties always know which papers you'd like to look at, and they're ready to sit on them at a moment's notice.

Also, a belated happy birthday to Zora, who turned six years old (!!) at the beginning of the month. Happy birthday, Poofy!! (Note the studied "who me?" nonchalance in the last photo. She knows she's a star.)


Defending Marriage

By any means necessary, including slapfights:
A woman who was part of a conservative Christian group rallying Thursday at the Massachusetts Statehouse for a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is charged with assaulting a gay marriage supporter who was attending a rally across the street opposing the amendment.
Steele allegedly crossed the street and slapped the unidentified person. The victim was startled but not hurt.


Slight Kitty Delay

I've got all these pictures (of the kitties "helping" me with my dissertation) but I can't find the stupid cord to download them from the camera, so it may be a while! (But of course it will be worth the wait!)


Brutal Homophobia Abides

Imagine if this were you. Doesn't take me much to imagine myself in this guy's place, unfortunately:
A gay Chicago man has filed a federal lawsuit alleging two police officers beat and denied him his civil rights solely because of his sexuality.

Alexander Ruppert, 35, says he was beaten nearly unconscious while the cops hurled anti-gay remarks at him and then was placed in a holding cell for two days without food or water.

The lawsuit claims he was removed by the two officers from the Uptown Lounge following an altercation on March 5 and placed in a squad car.

He was not initially charged with any offence and was not handcuffed, court papers say.

The suit says that Ruppert then was driven to deserted area behind a theater where he was beaten while the officers called him a "faggot" and other derogatory remarks.


Gone Beggin'

Inevitably, New Orleans must look elsewhere for any real, substantitve help. Only Bush would be un-embarrassed by this:
The cash-strapped city of New Orleans is turning to foreign countries for help to rebuild as federal hurricane-recovery dollars remain slow to flow.

Kenya Smith, director of intergovernmental relations for Mayor Ray Nagin, said city leaders are talking with more than five countries. He wouldn't identify the countries, saying discussions were in the early stages. But he said the city is "very serious" about pursuing foreign help.

"Of course, we would love to have all the resources we need from federal and state partners, but we're comfortable now in having to be creative," Smith said. He did not know if the city would have to overcome any obstacles if it got firm pledges for aid, but "we want to make sure we're leaving no options unexplored."


It Is To Laugh

Republicans calling on Bush to demonstrate fiscal responsibility!? Hah! Oh, please.
Capitol Hill Republicans and conservative activists say President Bush must follow through on veto threats to keep spending of the Democrat-controlled Congress in check and re-establish Republicans as the voice of fiscal responsibility heading into the next election.


It Goes On

The attacks on the minarets were just the beginning of a whole new round:
Three Sunni Muslim mosques were torched and mortar bombs hit Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, police said, despite curfews imposed after suspected al Qaeda militants hit a revered Shi'ite shrine.

Thousands of Iraqi and US soldiers were on the streets of Baghdad and other cities trying to enforce the curfews that were imposed after yesterday's bombing, blamed on al Qaeda, felled the two golden minarets of Samarra's al-Askari mosque.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Christian Charity

Open Door Mission, my ass:
a 34-year old homeless Fort Collins man says that he was told to leave a shelter because the pastor who runs it will not allow gay men to stay there.

John Garon tells the Coloradan newspaper that he had been staying at Open Door Mission for about three weeks when he was suddenly told by the director, the Rev. Richard Thebo, that he was no longer welcome.

"He said 'I don't allow homosexuals to use these facilities,'" Garon told the Coloradan. "I was blown away ... To be put out for something I can't change has profoundly impacted me."


Massachusetts Holds the Line

Well done!
Massachusetts lawmakers on Thursday took less than a half hour to kill bid to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

"The vote today was the triumph of time, experience, and understanding over fear and prejudice," said Lee Swislow, the executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, in a statement.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Vatican v. Amnesty International

I'm fairly sure you can guess which side I'm on:
A senior Vatican cardinal said yesterday that Catholics should stop donating to human rights group Amnesty International because of its new policy advocating abortion rights for women if they had been raped, were a victim of incest or faced health risks.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, accused Amnesty of turning its back on its mission to defend human rights.

"The inevitable consequence of this decision, according to the cardinal, will be the suspension of any financing to Amnesty on the part of Catholic organisations and also individual Catholics," said a statement from Cardinal Martino's office yesterday.


Bring on the Subpoenas

They're hitting the White House now:
Congress issued subpoenas Wednesday for former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and political director Sara Taylor, reaching directly inside the White House for the first time in the probe of the firings of federal prosecutors.

The Bush administration appeared in no hurry to encourage the pair to testify, as the subpoenas demanded. Complying could set a precedent for testimony by another adviser not yet on the subpoena list: presidential counselor Karl Rove.

The Democratic chairmen of House and Senate committees implicitly threatened a constitutional showdown if the White House does not comply with the subpoenas — or strike a deal.


At War with the Sea

So irresponsible it's disgusting:
It is no secret that the U.S. military has used the ocean as trashcan for munitions in the past. Peter discussed at the Old DSN how federal lawmakers were pressing the US Army to reveal everything it knows about a massive international program to dump chemical weapons off homeland and foreign shores. "The Army now admits that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste - either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels."


Half a Million Terrorists

Thank goodness our government is so committed to the "War on Terror" that they've managed to track all these evil people down and put them on a list!
A terrorist watch list compiled by the FBI has apparently swelled to include more than half a million names.

Privacy and civil liberties advocates say the list is growing uncontrollably, threatening its usefulness in the war on terror.

The bureau says the number of names on its terrorist watch list is classified.

A portion of the FBI's unclassified 2008 budget request posted to the Department of Justice Web site, however, refers to "the entire watch list of 509,000 names," which is utilized by its Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force.


Only One Blowhard at a Time

Pretty funny, this:
If it truly wants to be Broward County's official hurricane radio station, here's what WIOD (610 AM) needs to do:

Fire Rush Limbaugh.

At least that's the stand taken by Commissioner Stacy Ritter, who was able to prevent the county from renewing its hurricane information partnership with WIOD because the station carries the conservative icon's syndicated show.

Ritter pointed out that the majority of the nine county commissioners -- all of whom are Democrats -- are at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Limbaugh and other conservative hosts carried by WIOD.

With Ritter in opposition and four commissioners absent, there were insufficient votes to renew the deal.

''We don't have to do business with them,'' Ritter declared.


This Will Go Well

More good news from Iraq:
Insurgents on Wednesday blew up the two minarets of the Golden Dome Shiite shrine in Samarra, where a 2006 bombing unleashed a wave of sectarian violence that bloodied Iraq for more than a year, Iraqi police and a security official said.

The attack, which police said involved explosives, occurred around 9 a.m., despite a police presence at the site, officials said. There were no reports of casualties.

It could not immediately be determined how the attackers evaded the guard force.

Police in Samarra spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, and a security official in Baghdad confirmed the account on the same condition.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cool Map

States renamed as the countries their GDP most closely resembles:


Bullying Girls Is Fun

This driver has to a pathetic little man. I just cannot imagine what makes such people tick:
Two gay teen girls who say they were kicked off a TriMet bus for being affectionate with each other are considering lodging a complaint against the driver of the bus.

Maika Rich and Jocelyn O'Neal, both 14, admit they were kissing while on the No. 12 bus traveling on Barbur Boulevard at about 5 p.m. on June 8. They were headed to the Sexual Minority Youth Recreation Center.

They say a female passenger complained to the driver about the kissing and that the driver told them to "knock it off" and also called them "sickos."

Rich says she then gave O'Neal a hug because it appeared she was upset about the exchange. They say at that point the driver stopped the bus and ordered them off.

The girls say they are used to being picked on at school but felt defenseless against an adult.


A Very Expensive Taxi

"Crucial missions" indeed:

When the FBI asked Congress this spring to provide $3.6 million in the war spending bill for its Gulfstream V jet, it said the money was needed to ensure that the aircraft, packed with state-of-the-art security and communications gear, could continue to fly counterterrorism agents on "crucial missions" into Iraq.

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the bureau has made similar annual requests to maintain and fuel the $40 million jet on grounds that it had a "tremendous impact" on combating terrorism by rapidly deploying FBI agents to "fast-moving investigations and crisis situations" in places such as Afghanistan.

But the jet that the FBI originally sold to lawmakers in the late 1990s as an essential tool for battling terrorism is now routinely used to ferry FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to speeches, public appearances and field office visits.

In fact, Mueller's travel now accounts for nearly a quarter of the flight time for the lone FBI jet able to make international flights.


Slaughterhouse Katrina

Pet owners are suing

ABC's Nightline described on Monday how, in the days following Hurricane Katrina, police killed many stranded pets that had been left behind by their owners. Residents of St. Bernard Parish have since claimed they were forced to leave behind their dogs, which were then wantonly killed by sheriff's deputies. The dog owners have filed a class action lawsuit, asserting their pets were executed in three schools that were supposed to serve as shelters.

One woman told ABC of being forced under threat of being handcuffed to hand over the tiny poodle she never saw alive again. Animal rescuers spoke in tears of being prevented from helping and how how the animals were not killed mercifully but were shot from a distance in massive volleys that left bullet holes in school walls. The deputies have claimed they shot only dangerous animals, but another pet-owner described hearing them joking about holding "target practice" with the pets.



Our immigration policy at work:
The American Civil Liberties Union sued the U.S. government on Monday over what the rights group said was the wrongful deportation of a developmentally disabled U.S. citizen who is now missing in Mexico.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Sao Paolo: It Ain't No Moscow

Three million!
Millions of people packed the streets of Sao Paulo for what organizers said was the world's largest gay pride parade, dancing and waving rainbow flags in a carnival-like atmosphere to condemn homophobia, racism and sexism.

At least 3 million people filled the canyonlike Paulista Avenue, organizers said, surpassing last year's count of 2.5 million. The larger count was confirmed by a police spokesman who is not authorized to be quoted by name under department rules.

"This is the biggest parade on the planet," Tourism Minister Marta Suplicy said. "Our city is showing, once again, its respect for diversity."

In comparison, recent gay pride parades in New York and San Francisco have drawn tens of thousands of people, and world gay pride day celebrations in Berlin in 2004 attracted between 200,000 and 500,000 participants.

Parade organizer Nelson Matias Pereira said this year's participants are appealing for a "world where racism, sexism and homophobia, in all their forms, no longer exist."


Environmental Victory

A 9-0 Supreme Court decision? I'm amazed.

The US government must foot the bill for environmental clean-up costs paid voluntarily by a company hired on a federal contract, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

In a ruling that could expose the government to billions in claims, the nation's top court found in favor of Atlantic Research Corp., which in the 1980s built rocket motors for the Pentagon at an Arkansas facility.

Atlantic Research voluntarily cleaned up soil and water contamination caused by residue from burnt rocket fuel, and later sought to recover the costs from the government under a 1980 environmental law.

The government argued that it was only liable if a court had ordered the company to clean up the site, not if it had done the work on its own initiative.

But in a written ruling, all nine Supreme Court justices found that the "Superfund" law was worded broadly enough "as to sweep in virtually all persons likely to incur clean-up costs," including the government.


Putting Out Fire with Gasoline

It's the American way. I'm sure there will never be any blowback from this.

The U.S. military has confirmed that it is arming Sunni insurgent factions to try to contain al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, according to a report in Monday's New York Times by veteran Iraq correspondent John Burns.

"With the four-month-old increase in American troops showing only modest success in curbing insurgent attacks, American commanders are turning to another strategy that they acknowledge is fraught with risk: arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight militants linked with Al Qaeda who have been their allies in the past."

American officers acknowledge that it is arming some groups that are suspected to have been involved in American attacks as well as link to Al Qaeda. Some American officers maintain they are simply arming both sides of a civil war.


Habeas Corpus Coming Off Life Support?

Could be promising:
The Bush administration cannot use new anti-terrorism laws to keep U.S. residents locked up indefinitely without charging them, a divided federal appeals court said Monday.

The ruling was a harsh rebuke of one of the central tools the administration believes it has to combat terror.

"To sanction such presidential authority to order the military to seize and indefinitely detain civilians, even if the President calls them 'enemy combatants,' would have disastrous consequences for the constitution - and the country," the court panel said.

In the 2-1 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel found that the federal Military Commissions Act doesn't strip Ali al-Marri, a legal U.S. resident, of his constitutional rights to challenge his accusers in court. It ruled the government must allow al-Marri to be released from military detention.

The government intends to ask the full 4th Circuit to hear the case, Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said.


Teh Stupid

I'm not one to disparage religion in any sweeping strokes. For some people, it can be a powerful force for good in their lives and it can lead them to do much good for others.

But this poll certainly indicates something about churchgoers in America:
The graph shows the relationship between church attendance and response to the straightforward question of belief in evolution.

Speaking of stupid, though, here's how it breaks down by party:


Three More

Surging on:
With a thunderous rumble and cloud of dust and smoke, a suicide car bomb brought down a section of highway bridge south of Baghdad on Sunday, killing three U.S. soldiers and wounding six from a checkpoint guarding the crossing and blocking traffic on Iraq's main north-south artery.


Good Work

With Bush in office, such events are crucial to keep up the fight against HIV:
This year's AIDS/LifeCycle has raised more than $11 million for HIV services on its annual 545-mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles - a record amount organizers said.

The money will support HIV/AIDS-related services at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.


Russian War on Gay Activists Continues

A Moscow court on Saturday convicted Nikolay Alexeyev, the organizers of a gay pride march, of holding an illegal demonstration and resisting police.

He was fined $1000 rubles each, about $40.

Before the sentence was rendered Alexeyev walked out of the courtroom in protest, calling the proceeding a "farce".

Alexeyev accused the judge of refusing to hear defense evidence and said he would refuse to pay the fine. Another organizer of last month's parade, Nikolay Khramov, also was fined.


If the Term Fits

Yeah, good luck preventing people from using a word, McD's:
Webster's dictionary defines McJob as, "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement," a definition that McDonalds' lobbyists are working overtime to overturn.