Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bad Neighbors

Every state that borders Lake Michigan thanks you for this, Indiana. Enjoy the 80 new jobs:
The massive BP oil refinery in Whiting, Ind., is planning to dump significantly more ammonia and industrial sludge into Lake Michigan, running counter to years of efforts to clean up the Great Lakes.

Indiana regulators exempted BP from state environmental laws to clear the way for a $3.8 billion expansion that will allow the company to refine heavier Canadian crude oil. They justified the move in part by noting the project will create 80 new jobs.

Under BP's new state water permit, the refinery—already one of the largest polluters along the Great Lakes—can release 54 percent more ammonia and 35 percent more sludge into Lake Michigan each day. Ammonia promotes algae blooms that can kill fish, while sludge is full of concentrated heavy metals.


Paying for Sins

It's just not cost-effective to employ armies of pedophiles anymore:
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles will settle its clergy abuse cases for at least $600 million, by far the largest payout in the church's sexual abuse scandal, The Associated Press learned Saturday.


Time to Go

Most Americans want us out. Most Iraqis, including the PM, want us out. So, what's the hold-up?

Oh, right. Our administration is composed of destructive, greedy, idiotic men and women:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the Iraqi army and police are capable of keeping security in the country when American troops leave "any time they want," though he acknowledged the forces need further weapons and training.


Desperate Times

Desperate measures:
The death and destruction of U.S. troops fighting in Iraq seems to have become so rampant to one local soldier that he actually staged an attack on himself -- allegedly hiring a hitman to non-fatally shoot him -- so he wouldn't be sent back for another tour of duty.

Now, 20-year-old Jonathan Aponte is under fire at home in the Bronx for his decision that may send him to prison.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Our New Showdown with Russia

It's getting worse:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has suspended the application of a key Cold War arms control treaty.

Mr Putin signed a decree citing "exceptional circumstances" affecting security as the reason for the move.

Russia has been angered by US plans to base parts of a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The US said it was "disappointed" by Russia's decision but would "continue to have discussions with them in the coming months" on how to proceed.

The 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) limits the number of heavy weapons deployed between the Atlantic Ocean and the Urals mountains.

The Russian suspension will become effective 150 days after other parties to the treaty have been notified, President Putin's decree says.



Last I heard, Turkey had 140,000 troops on the Iraqi border. Today, the number is reportedly over 200,000. That's significantly more troops than we have Iraq:
Turkey's army has boosted troop levels in the southeast to more than 200,000, most of them stationed along the border with Iraq, security sources told Reuters on Friday.

The unusually large-scale buildup, which includes tanks, heavy artillery and aircraft, is part of a security crackdown on Kurdish rebels hiding in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq, said the security sources, who declined to be named.

NATO member Turkey has refused to rule out a possible cross-border operation to crush Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels, despite opposition from the United States and Iraq.


Survival Skills

My god, this is just appalling. We have ruined Iraq for generations to come:
Nawal Na'eem Karim was surprised this week to hear her toddler tell her, "Talaq inana! Talaq inana!" — "Bullets here! Bullets here!"

He was warning her to step cautiously past the windows. Their house is in a kill zone. At 18 months, her baby already had learned counterinsurgency survival. He still wears a diaper.


When in Trouble, Take a Vacation!

The Iraqi government has learned well from Bush and are insisting on sticking to their plans for August:
The White House on Friday appeared resigned to the fact that the Iraqi parliament is going to take August off, even though it has just eight weeks to show progress on military, political and economic benchmarks prescribed by the United States.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Nature of Military Occupation

Our soldiers are killing innocents and framing them as insurgents:
It is an axiom of American political life that the actions of the US military are beyond criticism. Democrats and Republicans praise the men and women in uniform at every turn. Apart from the odd bad apple at Abu Ghraib, the US military in Iraq is deemed to be doing a heroic job under trying circumstances.

That perception will take a severe knock today with the publication in The Nation magazine of a series of in-depth interviews with 50 combat veterans of the Iraq war from across the US. In the interviews, veterans have described acts of violence in which US forces have abused or killed Iraqi men, women and children with impunity.


Through a combination of gung-ho recklessness and criminal behaviour born of panic, a narrative emerges of an army that frequently commits acts of cold-blooded violence. A number of interviewees revealed that the military will attempt to frame innocent bystanders as insurgents, often after panicked American troops have fired into groups of unarmed Iraqis. The veterans said the troops involved would round up any survivors and accuse them of being in the resistance while planting Kalashnikov AK47 rifles beside corpses to make it appear that they had died in combat.

"It would always be an AK because they have so many of these lying around," said Joe Hatcher, 26, a scout with the 4th Calvary Regiment. He revealed the army also planted 9mm handguns and shovels to make it look like the civilians were shot while digging a hole for a roadside bomb.


Still Screwing the Soldiers

No rest for the weary, thanks to the GOP:
U.S. Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a proposal to give American troops in Iraq more rest from battle, as Democrats renewed their attempts to change President George W. Bush's Iraq policy.


People with Too Much Time on Their Hands

And they must have pretty easy lives, if traffic posts are the worst thing they have to deal with.

The idea that bondage gear will solve the "problem" is particularly hilarious:
The City of Keizer is taking heat for installing a group of cement posts designed to protect pedestrians from cars, but which some say is a phallic symbol.

A total of 52 of the posts were installed at a busy intersection in Keizer and they are getting a lot of second glances.

A number of residents have complained to the city that the posts resemble male genitalia.
The city is looking into retrofitting the posts with metal collars and chains that run between them, which they hope will change the look. If not, they said the posts will have to go.


McCain's Campaign Rolls On

Never a dull moment
, eh?
A member of the Florida House of Representatives arrested yesterday on charges of soliciting a male undercover police officer is the co-Chairman of the Florida campaign of presidential hopeful John McCain, PageOneQ has learned.

Allen, 48, was arrested Wednesday afternoon at Veteran's Memorial Park on East Broad St. in Titusville. The park was under surveillance by a detail of undercover police officers.

Officers say they noticed Allen acting suspicious as he went in and out of the men's restroom 3 times. Minutes later, he solicited an undercover male officer inside the restroom, offering to perform oral sex for $20.


Keep It in Your Pants

It seems as though we've been thinking with our britches for centuries now:
The role of pants in the spread of western culture has been wrongly sidelined, according to medieval historians, who are starting to rank the underwear factor alongside the invention of printing.

Rags from discarded pants and knickers led to a 13th century breakthrough in the making of cheap paper, undercutting expensive parchment.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Some Iraqis are getting ahead:
In an astonishing heist, guards at a bank here made off with more than a quarter-billion dollars on Wednesday, according to an official at the Interior Ministry.

The robbery, of $282 million from the Dar Es Salaam bank, a private financial institution, raised more questions than it answered, and officials were tight-lipped about the crime. The local police said two guards engineered the robbery, but an official at the Interior Ministry said three guards were involved.


Courts, Step Up

She's practically begging you to:

President Bush's former political director says she intends to follow his directive and not answer questions about her role in the administration's firing of federal prosecutors - unless a court directs her to defy her former boss.

"While I may be unable to answer certain questions today, I will answer those questions if the courts rule that this committee's need for the information outweighs the president's assertion of executive privilege," Sara M. Taylor, who left her White House job two months ago, said in remarks prepared for presentation to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

"Thank you for your understanding," she added in the statement, made available in advance of the midmorning hearing.


Just Bought a 2007 Honda Civic

I feel all confused and bourgeois. This car costs about 35 times as much as the last car I bought.

Thanks again, Jochen!


The Meltdown Goes On: Gay Sweaters!

I hope McCain hangs in there for a while, so I can get my daily laugh:
In the final days of his imploding candidacy, John McCain has taken a page out of Richard Nixon's play book, finding increasingly bizarre explanations for his political failures. Strangest of all: He reportedly feels his handlers forced him to wear "gay sweaters."

According to one insider, the knit-picking was the crescendo of a tirade by the Arizona senator, in which he blistered aides about the minutiae of the campaign. While many septuagenarians live in a perpetual state of sweater weather, McCain reportedly declared his frustration with being told to don the perceived homosexual outerwear in order to look younger and more approachable.


A Class Act from Kenner

A Republican gets caught hiring prostitutes. Ergo, he should become a Democrat. Makes perfect sense:
In the wake of U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s apology after his phone number turned up in an escort service's call list, a member of the Republican State Central Committee called for him to resign.

Vincent Bruno of Kenner said today that Vitter should resign “for his own good, the good of the party and the good of his family.” If he doesn’t resign, Vitter should “join the Democratic Party where they think that kind of behavior is OK.”

Now I don't feel so bad about ridiculing Kenner yokels when I was a Quarter-rat.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And Two More Flee

McCain once again manages to lose people from his campaign:
Republican John McCain's top two aides quit his struggling presidential campaign on Tuesday, dealing a sharp blow to the Arizona senator and casting doubt on the future of his 2008 bid.


This Should Be Interesting

Rather a bolder move than I'd've expected from the Dems, actually addressing these issues directly and at length:
For the first time the leading candidates for the presidency will hold a televised debate devoted solely to LGBT issues.

The one-hour event will be held on August 9 and broadcast on gay network LOGO at 9:00 pm ET (6:00 pm ET) and through live streaming video at

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards have confirmed they will participate. Several other Democratic candidates also may join the debate.


Heating Up in the Arctic

In more ways than the obvious one:
Canada announced plans Monday to increase its Arctic military presence in an effort to assert sovereignty over the Northwest Passage – a potentially oil-rich region the United States claims is international territory.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said six to eight patrol ships will guard what he says are Canadian waters. A deep water port will also be built in a region the U.S. Geological Survey estimates has as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas.

“Canada has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty over the Arctic. We either use it or lose it. And make no mistake, this government intends to use it,” Harper said. “It is no exaggeration to say that the need to assert our sovereignty and protect our territorial integrity in the North on our terms have never been more urgent.”

U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins has criticized Harper's promise to defend the Arctic, claiming the Northwest Passage as “neutral waters.” But Wilkins declined to comment on Monday, said U.S. Embassy spokesman James Foster.

“It's an international channel for passage,” Foster said of the disputed waterway.


Another Less-Than-Shocking Revelation

"Muzzled" scientists are legion:
The first U.S. surgeon general appointed by President George W. Bush accused the administration on Tuesday of political interference and muzzling him on key issues like embryonic stem cell research.

"Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried," Dr. Richard Carmona, who served as the nation's top doctor from 2002 until 2006, told a House of Representatives committee.


More Ratzi Arrogance

I guess being offensive to Judaism wasn't enough of a thrill for him. He's gotta go after all other Christians too:

Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches.

Benedict approved a document from his old offices at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that restates church teaching on relations with other Christians. It was the second time in a week the pope has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that modernized the church.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Continuing to Abuse the Troops

Five tours?
Erik Botta believes he's done right by his country.

Days after 9/11, as a young Army reservist, he volunteered to go to war. He was soon in Afghanistan.

The next year, he was sent out again, this time to Iraq, part of a Special Operations team.

In the next two years, he was sent to Iraq again. And again.

He thought he was done. But now, the Army wants Sgt. Botta one more time.

The 26-year-old Port St. Lucie man has been ordered to report to Fort Jackson, S.C., on July 15 for his fifth deployment. And that has compelled Botta, a first-generation American who counts himself a quiet patriot, to do something he never thought he'd do: sue the Army.

''I'm proud of my service,'' he said. ``I never wanted it to end like this.''

Nearly seven years into his eight-year commitment to the reserves, the personal costs are higher for Botta. He could lose his home. His job at Sikorsky, working on the Black Hawk military helicopter, could be on the line. He's halfway to his electrical engineering degree, planning a career in defense work, but his professors say he'll suffer a significant setback if he is deployed. He doesn't mention the danger another deployment would bring, but his wife and parents do.


New Heights of Assholery

How can these people live with themselves? Oh, that's right. They're sociopaths:

"The president would like to close Gitmo," said Rove, who also declined to give a timetable for the camp's closure, saying it is holding "bad people" who will have to be detained elsewhere.

He downplayed the poor treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo that has been widely publicized.

"Our principal health problem down there is gain of weight, we feed them so well," he said as many in the audience shook their heads and groaned in unison.


And So It Goes

Events proceed toward an outcome that seems inevitable:
Turkey has massed 140,000 soldiers on its border with northern Iraq, Iraq's foreign minister said Monday, calling the neighboring country's fears of Kurdish rebels based there "legitimate" but better resolved through negotiation.

The Turkish military had no comment to the remarks by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd from northern Iraq, and it was unclear where he got the figures. If they are accurate, Turkey would have nearly as many soldiers along its border with Iraq as the 155,000 troops which the U.S. has in the country.

Zebari's comments came amid calls by Turkey's military for the government to give it the green light to carry out military operations in northern Iraqi against the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.


Still Trying to Hide

Bush seems rather desperate and pathetic these days. More than usual, I mean:
President Bush invoked executive privilege Monday to deny requests by Congress for testimony from two former aides in connection with the firings of federal prosecutors.

The White House, however, did offer again to make former counsel Harriet Miers and one-time political director Sara Taylor available for private, off-the-record interviews.

In a letter to the heads of the House and Senate Judiciary panels, White House counsel Fred Fielding insisted that Bush was acting in good faith and refused lawmakers' demand that the president explain the basis for invoking the privilege.


Unserious, Cont'd

Yet more evidence of just how assiduously Bush is doing the "hard work" of protecting the nation from the terrorists he's so fond of mentioning:

The Bush administration has failed to fill roughly a quarter of the top leadership posts at the Department of Homeland Security, creating a "gaping hole" in the nation's preparedness for a terrorist attack or other threat, according to a congressional report to be released today.

As of May 1, Homeland Security had 138 vacancies among its top 575 positions, with the greatest voids reported in its policy, legal and intelligence sections, as well as in immigration agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Coast Guard. The vacant slots include presidential, senior executive and other high-level appointments, according to the report by the majority staff of the House Homeland Security Committee.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Faith-Based Education

Yet one more boon we've bestowed upon Iraq:

IRAQI pupils have had their dreams of going to university dashed by teachers who have been failing schoolchildren from rival sectarian groups.

Examiners at Baghdad marking centres who receive examination papers from both Shiite and Sunni pupils erased answers and gave marks below the 50 per cent pass mark required to go on to higher education.

Several teachers were sacked after education officials detected the scandal last week and many more are being investigated.

Officials from the Ministry of Education are trying to find ways to re-mark hundreds of papers, but the task has been complicated by the Iraqi practice of using pencils to fill in exam papers. Investigators trying to establish which papers have been tampered with have been thwarted because the markers simply rubbed out the correct answers.


Another Ratzi Move

It's okay again to want to "save the Jews":
Jewish leaders and community groups criticised Pope Benedict XVI strongly yesterday after the head of the Roman Catholic Church formally removed restrictions on celebrating an old form of the Latin mass which includes prayers calling for the Jews to 'be delivered from their darkness' and converted to Catholicism.
'What earlier generations held as sacred remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful,' Benedict wrote.

Um, okay, so next we bring back the Inquisition, based on "earlier generations"?


The Fight Goes On

The White House is digging in its heels yet again. Unseemly, indeed:
The Bush administration is urging a former White House political director to ignore a subpoena and not testify before Congress about the firings of federal prosecutors, her lawyer says.

The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to hear from Sara Taylor at its hearing Wednesday and she is willing to talk. Testifying, however, would defy the wishes of the president, "a person whom she admires and for whom she has worked tirelessly for years," lawyer W. Neil Eggleston said.

Eggleston stated, in a letter this weekend to committee leaders and White House counsel Fred Fielding, that Taylor expects a letter from Fielding asking her not to comply with the subpoena.

"In our view, it is unfair to Ms. Taylor that this constitutional struggle might be played out with her as the object of an unseemly tug of war," Eggleston wrote.