Friday, November 09, 2007

Ivory Watchtowers

As we all know, universities are sleazy havens of free thought and other such threats:

The FBI's relationship with university students and academics has never been one of wine and roses -- see the agency's covert campaign to discredit Albert Einstein. Therefore, it might be a bit surprising to know that some university presidents are now embracing the agency and are perhaps even willing to become its eyes and ears on campus.

The National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, launched in 2005, consists of 20 university presidents around the country who are working with the FBI on matters of campus security and counter-terrorism to identify threats to students and staff. But the board is also being asked to guard against campus spies who might be out to steal not-yet-secret secrets. According to this report from NPR, the presidents are being advised to think like "Cold War-riors" and be mindful of professors and students who may not be on campus for purposes of learning but, instead, for spying, stealing research and recruiting people who are sympathetic to an anti-U.S. cause.


Terrorists Booted off the Internet

Good riddance:
A federal judge ordered an anti-abortion activist to remove Web site postings that authorities said exhorted readers to kill an abortion provider by shooting her in the head.

District Court Judge Thomas Golden granted an injunction Thursday seeking the removal of postings on Web pages maintained by John Dunkle. The injunction, sought by prosecutors in August, also bans him from publishing similar messages containing names, addresses or photographs of health clinic staff members.

Prosecutors said one posting targeted a former clinician for the Philadelphia Women's Center, and that she later stopped providing reproductive health services because she feared for her life.


Writers' Strike

Writer Adam Felber spells it out for us.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Suck on It, Bush

It's nice and moist:
President Bush suffered the first veto override of his seven-year-old presidency Thursday as the Senate enacted a $23 billion water resources bill despite his protest that it was filled with unnecessary projects.
So suck on it. It'd be a great photo op.


Art in Action

Strange and beautiful role for a work of art obsessed with inaction:
Since August, Chan, 34, has made the Crescent City his temporary home, leading discussions with University of New Orleans and Xavier University art students, conducting community meetings to learn more about the city's culture, and building a set of decidedly unusual stage props for a decidedly unusual staging of "Waiting for Godot," which takes place outdoors in the Lower 9th Ward tonight and Saturday and in Gentilly on Nov. 9 and 10.

In November 2006, Chan was invited to lecture at Tulane University. During his stay, he toured the flood-ravaged city. The stark landscape led him to think of New Orleans as the perfect setting for an outdoor version of "Godot."

"In the (Lower) 9th Ward and parts of Gentilly, you saw these barren streets," he said. "In 'Godot,' the only setting is a road and a tree."


But Chan, who lives in New York, said it was "not only a visual sensation that suggested (Samuel) Beckett's play, but the sense of waiting, waiting for Road Home money, or friends in Houston and Atlanta, waiting for them to return."


Never mind the rusting fire hydrant, the cement steps leading nowhere, the lots overgrown with weeds. Chan's artist's eye sees everything, but finds something he can use.

Just then, a man approached, making the same entrance that Pierce will make in the play. He called out to Chan, who said, "This is Robert Green. He's been my neighborhood ambassador, spreading the word, setting up potluck dinners, helping clear away the brush for where the seating will be. He went out on his bike distributing fliers and took me to barber shops in the Lower 9th and Gentilly to talk up the show. Barbershops are great meeting places. He has been my guide, my confidant and ambassador."

"Yeah, they stuck that title on me," Green said. "Gave me all kinds of stuff to do, but I tell you, I love doing it."

I wish I could jump on a plane right now so I could see it.


Overturn a Bush Veto?

Oh, the temerity!
A majority of House Republicans joined Democrats this evening in escalating a confrontation with President Bush over federal spending as the House overrode Mr. Bush’s veto of a popular water projects measure.

House Democrats also readied a $215 billion bill to pay for health, education, labor and veterans programs despite a veto threat.

If the Senate follows suit, it would mark the first time Mr. Bush has had a veto overturned, setting the stage for the biggest clash between Congress and the White House over spending since Mr. Bush took office.


Sexual Orientation May Be Protected

But the transgendered have been kicked to the curb on this one:
The House on Wednesday approved the first federal ban on job discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act came despite protests from some gay rights supporters that the bill does not protect transgender workers. That term covers transsexuals, cross-dressers and others whose outward appearance does not match their gender at birth.


FEMA Still Spreading the Love

And the formaldehyde. Neither hurricane nor wildfire shall prevent their wild incompetence:

The Sierra Club  the environmental group that blew the whistle on FEMA when Hurricane Katrina victims were given toxic RV trailers to live in  has warned that some mobile homes en route to victims of the California wildfires have the same excessive formaldehyde levels that sickened some Katrina victims.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has confirmed that 50 new mobile homes from a Hope, Ark., storage facility are already on their way to Southern California as part of the federal relief effort for thousands who lost their homes to fires in October.

"We have started the transition," said James McIntyre, a spokesman for FEMA, which has been phasing out its use of "travel trailers" in favor of mobile homes.

FEMA claims that its mobile homes are safe, but concedes it has not tested these units, which were manufactured with materials similar to those in the toxic RV trailers.

But Sierra Club says random tests of FEMA mobile homes found at least three had formaldehyde levels over the Environmental Protection Agency limit of .10 parts per million.


Minuteman Power!

Clueless and impotent:
A ballyhooed US/Mexico border barrier envisioned by Minuteman founder Chris Simcox is, two years on, little more than a "cow fence," charge former Minuteman members.

The militia-style border patrol group's website had hyped a $55 million, 14-foot high, razor wire-topped barrier complete with security cameras and sensors. But donations which poured in for the ambitious plan have resulted in "little more than an invisible fence to nowhere," reports Abbie Boudreau for CNN.

Group leaders and members have questioned how donations were actually being spent by Simcox, Boudreau reports. "To this day, we still don't know how much the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps has raised," said one former Minuteman member. "We don't have a clue, not a clue."


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Now Is the Time to Move"

Not a prediction, mind you. Nor a desire.
U.S. President George W. Bush defended in a television interview on Wednesday his recent comments suggesting Iran's nuclear ambitions might trigger World War Three and insisted he wanted a diplomatic solution.

Bush told a news conference last month that preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons would be a means of avoiding a new global conflict.

"The reason I said that is because this is a country that has defied the IAEA -- in other words, didn't disclose all their program -- have said they want to destroy Israel," Bush said in the interview with German broadcaster RTL.

"If you want to see World War Three, you know, a way to do that is to attack Israel with a nuclear weapon," Bush added. "And so I said, now is the time to move. It wasn't a prediction, nor a desire."


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Worst Year Yet

It's official:
The U.S. military announced six new deaths Tuesday, making 2007 the bloodiest year for American troops in Iraq despite a recent decline in casualties and a sharp drop in roadside bombings that Washington links to Iran.

With nearly two months left in the year, the annual toll is now 853 — three more than the previous worst of 850 in 2004.


Look Who's in Charge

Of immigration, no less:
The Department of Homeland Security will investigate a Halloween costume party hosted by a top immigration official and attended by a man dressed in a striped prison outfit, dreadlocks and darkened skin make-up, a costume some say is offensive, the department's secretary said.

Julie Myers, head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and host of the fundraising party, was on a three-judge panel that originally praised the prisoner costume for "originality."

Myers later apologized for "a few of the costumes," calling them "inappropriate and offensive." She said she and other senior managers "deeply regret that this happened."

A department photographer photographed Myers with the man, but the images were deleted after the costume were deemed offensive, ICE spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Republican Cred

They are not at all hypocritical:

Republican presidential candidate Fred D. Thompson said yesterday that he wishes one of his key fundraisers had told him earlier about past drug trafficking and bookmaking arrests because, even though they occurred more than two decades ago, "nothing is ever over and done with and forgotten about in this business."

Speaking with reporters after an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Thompson defended his longtime Tennessee friend, Philip J. Martin, saying Martin long ago paid his debt for legal problems in his past.

"I know him to be a good man. I know him to be a man who has rehabilitated himself and has led a productive life," Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee, said in the interview, which was posted on the Fox News Web site. "He is my friend, and he is going to remain my friend. Now, what I do about it after I talk to him with regard to the future, we will just have to see."

No, not at all:
As the result of a complaint from an unnamed citizen, the Commonwealth of Virginia has ordered David Phillips, the man who recently claimed to have a sexual encounter with scandalized Senator Larry Craig, to turn in his vanity license plates, reports the Washington Post's Marc Fisher Sunday. The Washington Post article does not connect Phillips with his earlier claim.

Phillps tells Wonkette that his encounter with the Senator, described as "clumsy and unremarkable," happened during his college days in the Spring of 1987. He had met Craig among a group of, as he describes, "closeted neocons" that regularly cruised younger men at a now defunct Washington gay bar called La Cage aux Follies.

After 11 years, coincidentally, Virginia has caught on to the meaning of a word printed on Phillips' plates, "POOFTER," defined by Merriam-Webster as a "usually disparaging" British slang term referring to a gay man.

"It's just an amusing word that I self-identify with," says Phillips, who says that he's never gotten a complaint about his plate, even after a visit to the British embassy. He's even had the plate "NANCBOY" in the past, with no complaint from the state.

A hearing stands between Phillips and the official loss of his license plates, which he refuses to give up.

UPDATE: The drug dealer has resigned from Thompson's campaign.



This is victory? Or is it "sacrifice"? If so, for what?
With just under two months left in the year, 2007 is on course to be the deadliest year on record for American forces in Iraq, despite a recent sharp drop in U.S. deaths.

At least 847 American military personnel have died in Iraq so far this year — the second-highest annual toll since the war began in March 2003, according to Associated Press figures.

In 2004, the bloodiest year of the war for the U.S. so far, 850 American troops died. Most were killed in large, conventional battles like the campaign to cleanse Fallujah of Sunni militants in November, and U.S. clashes with Shiite militiamen in the sect's holy city of Najaf in August.