Back from Houston
And soon to depart for Oshkosh. A few days, probably, to get things in order...
Posting will vary in accordance with my myriad states of denial and avoidance.
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
Back from Houston
See the World!
Despite spending nearly $1 billion last year on recruiting bonuses and ads, Army leaders say an even bolder approach is needed to fill wartime ranks.
Under a new proposal, men and women who enlist could pick from a "buffet" of incentives, including up to $45,000 tax-free that they accrue during their career to help buy a home or build a business. Other options would include money for college and to pay off student loans.
An Associated Press review of the increasingly aggressive recruiting offerings found the Army is not only dangling more sign-up rewards — it's loosening rules on age and weight limits, education and drug and criminal records.
It's all part of an Army effort to fill its ranks even as the percentage of young people who say they plan to join the military has hit a historic low — 16 percent by the's own surveying — in the fifth year of the Iraq war.
Never, Ever Move
UK Says So Long
The Bush administration is becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of an imminent British withdrawal from southern Iraq and would prefer UK troops to remain for another year or two.
Disinformation in School
The School board in Arlington County, Virginia has agreed to allow a so-called ex-gay group to post material for high school students claiming homosexuality can be reversed.
Saline. In Need of Solution.
Deep underground, an unseen crisis is threatening New Orleans’ already troubled recovery.
The city’s 3,200-mile system of water and sewer lines — old, leaky and in need of improvements long before Hurricane Katrina — was damaged by the torrent of pipe-corroding salt water.
The city Sewerage & Water Board says at least 50 million gallons of water a day are now being lost to leaks, or 2½ times pre-Katrina levels. S&WB officials also believe raw sewage is leaking out in places, though the extent of the problem is unclear.
Screw You, Secretive Federal Court!
For the first time in nearly four decades, a senior intelligence official — not a secretive federal court — will have a decisive voice in whether Americans' communications can be monitored when they talk to foreigners overseas.
The shift came over the weekend as Congress hustled through changes to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA.
The bill provides new powers to the National Security Agency to monitor communications that enter the United States and involve foreigners who are the subjects of a national security investigation.
Apprehensive about what they were doing, Congress specified that the new provisions would expire after six months, unless renewed.
Very Good News
Acting on a request by environmental groups, a federal judge Monday barred the Navy from using a type of sonar said to harm whales during war games scheduled for Southern California waters.
The preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper is a win for the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups, which contend that the Navy failed to do sufficient environmental analysis of the effects of the midfrequency active sonar.
The groups say the sonar, which uses high-intensity bursts of sound that span large distances underwater, can kill and injure whales, leaving them stranded on beaches, as well as causing marine mammals and fish to lose their hearing or abandon their habitat
Dr. George Tiller, one of the few late-term abortion providers in the U.S., has pleaded not guilty to 19 misdemeanor charges brought upon him by the state of Kansas.
Dr. Tiller has a long history of being harassed by anti-abortion activists. He has faced protests at his clinic incredibly frequently, other trumped-up criminal charges, physical threats and constant intimidation. His clinic is currently closed, thanks to severe vandalism. He has also been shot. Attacks have escalated to the point where his is a frequent pet cause of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
The current charges against Dr. Tiller revolve around a Kansas law which requires that two legally and financially uninvolved physicians sign off on any late-term abortion procedure. The charges against Dr. Tiller allege that he has an improper financial relationship with one of the doctors from whom he regularly receives authorization. As a result, he faces up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine for each charge.
Any pro-choice individual should be outraged at the harassment of Dr. Tiller-- and that includes the criminal charges he's currently facing. Kansas Attorney Generals have a history of baselessly attacking Dr. Tiller. Not only that, but the law itself seem to have been created specifically for the purpose of making the lives of abortion providers more difficult.
This Nightmare Must End
For a quarter century Patrick Atkins and Brett Conrad shared their lives including a home and bank accounts but when Atkins fell near fatally ill Conrad discovered he had no rights in determining the care or who would deliver it to his ailing partner.
In 2005 Atkins collapsed while on a business trip to Atlanta. He had a ruptured aneurysm and later suffered a stroke while hospitalized.
When Conrad arrived in Atlanta Atkins' family directed the hospital to refuse him access to the ailing 47-year old, the Indianapolis Star reports. He was allowed by sympathetic hospital staff to sneak in after hours and after Atkins parents had left.
When Atkins was moved to a nursing home Conrad again was forced to sneak in to see the man with whom he had spend more than half his life.
Later that year Conrad filed for guardianship of Atkins. But the now severely disabled man's parents quickly moved their son to their home and have refused to allow Conrad access to him.
For the past two years Conrad has been battling the Atkins family in court.
Legal documents obtained by the Star show that Atkins' mother, Jeanne Atkins, believes homosexuality is a sin and refuses to acknowledge the men's relationship.
In June the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that Conrad must have visitation rights.
"Brett and Patrick have spent 25 years together as life partners - longer than Patrick lived at home with his parents - and their future life together has been destroyed by Patrick's tragic medical condition and by the Atkinses' unwillingness to accept their son's lifestyle," the ruling said.
But the court left the care of Atkins up to his parents.
The Atkins family has asked the Appeals Court to reconsider the visitation ruling. Eventually the case is expected to go to the Indiana Supreme Court.
So Long, Sunnis
Iraq's political crisis worsened Monday as five more ministers announced a boycott of Cabinet meetings _ leaving the embattled prime minister's unity government with no members affiliated with Sunni political factions.
Meanwhile, a suicide bomber killed at least 28 people in a northern city, including 19 children, some playing hopscotch and marbles in front of their homes.
The new cracks in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government appeared even as U.S. military officials sounded cautious notes of progress on security, citing strides against insurgents linked to al-Qaida in Iraq but also new threats from Iranian-backed Shiite militias.
Expanding Our Surveillance Society
The Congress yielded to President George W. Bush on Saturday and approved legislation to temporarily expand the government's power to conduct electronic surveillance without a court order in tracking foreign suspects.
Civil liberties groups charged the measure would create a broad net that would sweep up law-abiding U.S. citizens. But the House of Representatives gave its concurrence to the bill, 227-183, a day after it won Senate approval, 60-28.