Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ah, Summer in Wisconsin

I'm guessing his snowblower hopes he gets sent away at least for the winter:
A Milwaukee man was accused of shooting his lawn mower because it wouldn't start. Keith Walendowski, 56, was charged with felony possession of a short-barreled shotgun or rifle and misdemeanor disorderly conduct while armed.

According to the criminal complaint, Walendowski said he was angry because his Lawn Boy wouldn't start Wednesday morning. He told police quote, "I can do that, it's my lawn mower and my yard so I can shoot it if I want."


Republicans Ignore the Poor

Shocking, I know:
Republicans on Saturday blocked the Senate from considering a bill next week that would nearly double federal aid to help the poor pay heating and air-conditioning bills.

Although a dozen Senate Republicans support the measure, most voted with GOP leaders who would rather spend the time trumpeting their call to expand offshore oil drilling before Congress takes six weeks off for vacation and the presidential nominating conventions.

Leaving poor people in the cold while touting irresponsible offshore drilling is incredibly tacky, even for the GOP.


A Legal Mess

"Convoluted" doesn't begin to describe this situation:
A highly anticipated trial involving conflicting marijuana laws got underway Friday in Los Angeles federal court with a prosecutor painting the owner of a Morro Bay medicinal marijuana store as a brazen drug trafficker who sold dope to teenagers and toted around a backpack stuffed with cash.

Defense attorneys struggled to provide context for their client's alleged crimes after being barred by the judge from mentioning the phrase "medical marijuana."

At the center of the case is Charlie Lynch, a 46-year-old businessman from San Luis Obispo County, who opened a facility called Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers in the spring of 2006.

Prosecutors contend that Lynch violated federal law by selling $2.1 million worth of marijuana in less than a year, some of it to people "not yet old enough to legally drink."

Lynch's defense attorneys would like to present evidence that their client was dispensing doctor-prescribed medical marijuana to sick people in accordance with state law and with the blessing of elected officials in Morro Bay. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has concluded that federal drug laws trump those of the state and that the reasons why the drug is distributed are irrelevant.

But one of Lynch's lawyers hinted during opening statements that Lynch had sought -- and presumably received -- approval from an official with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration before he set up shop. If they are able to convince U.S. District Judge George Wu that there is a sufficient basis for mounting such a quasi-entrapment defense, they may be allowed to present evidence that Lynch believed he was operating within the law, which legal experts said would likely make him more sympathetic to jurors.


More Failure

IndyMac is not alone. The federal government had to take over yet two more banks:
U.S. regulators took over two banks on Friday and sold them to Mutual of Omaha Bank, the sixth and seventh bank failures this year as financial institutions struggle with a housing bust and credit crunch.

Two weeks after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp seized IndyMac Bancorp Inc (IDMC.PK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said it closed First National Bank of Nevada and First Heritage Bank NA of California.


Friday, July 25, 2008


John McCain is pathetic:
Barack Obama canceled a pre-planned visit to the troops in Germany yesterday after being told by the Pentagon that the trip would violate a Pentagon policy prohibiting campaign stops on military installations. No problem there.

However, the McCain campaign is now blasting Obama:

The McCain camp has nonetheless been using Obama's canceled trip to insinuate that he's anti-troops. "Barack Obama is wrong," McCain spokesperson Brian Rogers said in a statement yesterday. "It is never 'inappropriate' to visit our men and women in the military."

The problem here is that the McCain campaign was denied a visit to a military base under the same policy back in April. Of course, there was no outcry or false outrage from Brian Rogers at that time.


Extreme Classic Catblogging!



Bad news in the search for an AIDS vaccine:
Scientists will have to take "enormous intellectual leaps" to develop an AIDS vaccine in the coming years, say researchers clearly frustrated by the failure of a once-promising shot.

The researchers, including a top National Institutes of Health official, want new people with new ideas to step up and join the search. They say the focus of their research should be on discovering a vaccine rather than on clinical trials for evaluating medicines that may or may not work.

"Design of a vaccine that blocks HIV infection will require enormous intellectual leaps beyond present day knowledge," concluded a broad team of researchers writing in Friday's edition of the journal Science.

More than 6,500 new HIV infections occur daily worldwide. A recent high-profile trial of a potential vaccine not only failed to prevent infection, but those who got the inoculation appeared at increased risk of infection compared with those who were given a placebo.



Everything is fine. This is just a market correction. And so on.
RealtyTrac(R) (, the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released its Q2 2008 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report(TM), which shows foreclosure filings were reported on 739,714 U.S. properties during the second quarter, a nearly 14 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 121 percent increase from the second quarter of 2007. The report also shows that one in every 171 U.S. households received a foreclosure filing during the quarter.


And Yet More Idiocy

MoveOn = KKK.

Makes perfect sense, O'Reilly.
While discussing's "Petition Against Fox's Racist & Hate-Filled Smears" on the July 23 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly said, "[Sen. Barack] Obama must condemn organizations like MoveOn and the Daily Kos if he truly wants to run without a race component. These are the people that are dividing Americans along racial lines. It is not a stretch to say MoveOn is the new Klan."



Where to begin addressing this sort of crap?

On the July 23 edition of CNN Headline News' Glenn Beck, guest Ben Stein, while discussing Sen. Barack Obama's plan to deliver his speech accepting the Democratic presidential nomination at Denver's Invesco Field, stated that he did not "like the idea of Senator Obama giving his acceptance speech in front of 75,000 wildly cheering people" because "[t]hat is not the way we do things in political parties in the United States of America." Stein continued: "Seventy-five-thousand people at an outdoor sports palace, well, that's something the Fuehrer would have done. And I think whoever is advising Senator Obama to do this is bringing up all kinds of very unfortunate images from the past."

Host Beck responded that he has "been saying that we're headed towards a Mussolini-style presidency forever. ... I mean it's crazy." Stein then declared, "It's a scary situation. ... But 75,000 people screaming in an outdoor arena, that's just too much. It's just -- it's scarily authoritarian." He continued: "It's like Juan Peron and Evita."


One Houston Is Enough

The notion of another is rather unsettling:
New geological surveys show as much as a fifth of the world's undiscovered but exploitable gas and oil reserves lie under the Arctic ice. As the ice melts, the pristine wilderness could become 'the new Houston'.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Kids Are All Right

Around 11 PM tonight, I walked on down to the neighborhood bar for a nightcap. The moment I turned onto the sidewalk from my house, I saw a group of teens loitering about on the streetcorner between me and my destination.

As I walked toward them, a truck pulled through the intersection, and the driver yelled something at these kids. I couldn't believe I'd heard correctly.

So, I kept on walking, and the kids (all white, all in their early teens) started walking toward me.

I asked, "What did that guy just say to you?" as we met in the middle of the cross-street.

And this kid who may well have been a Hanson said, "He called me the 'n' word."

And I said, did he just call you all "nigger-wannabes"? Because that is in fact what the driver had yelled. Note that the kids were too classy to repeat the slur.

Hanson kid said, "Yeah."

I simply said, "What the hell is wrong with these people? Listen, when ignorant assholes say stupid shit like this to you, you're doing something right."

And another of the kids said, out of nowhere, "Someone understands us!"

I'm patting myself on the back right about now.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Legislators Emulate O'Reilly

If you don't like what you hear, just cut the mike, right?
One of two openly gay senators in the Arizona legislature is calling for an ethics investigation into what he calls dirty tricks that resulted in approval of a proposed constitutional amendment to ban sex marriage.

Sen. Ken Cheuvront (D) has asked the Senate Ethics Committee to issue a formal reprimand against Sen. Jack Harper (R). The complaint accused Harper of “conspiring” with other Republican leaders to cut off microphones last month during a Democratic filibuster aimed at killing the anti-gay measure.

Cheuvront’s complaint says by cutting off the microphones the GOP intentionally broke Senate rules.


After the microphones were cut Republicans forced an immediate vote on the proposed amendment. It passed on a 16-4 vote. It had previously been approved by the House.


Why He Isn't Getting His Message Out


Perhaps someone should brief him on the proper use of newfangled microphone technology.


Pot, Kettle

Someone needs to smack Savage and tell him to stop acting like a moron and a putz:

WOR radio talk show host Michael Savage, who makes a good living being outrageous, found himself in the middle of a new firestorm Monday after he branded most autistic children fakers who just need tougher parenting.

"In 99% of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent?" Savage said last week in remarks that lit up the Internet over the weekend.

"They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz.'"



The Department of Labor loves 'em, apparently:

Political appointees at the Department of Labor are moving with unusual speed to push through in the final months of the Bush administration a rule making it tougher to regulate workers' on-the-job exposure to chemicals and toxins.

The agency did not disclose the proposal, as required, in public notices of regulatory plans that it filed in December and May. Instead, Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao's intention to push for the rule first surfaced on July 7, when the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted on its Web site that it was reviewing the proposal, identified only by its nine-word title.

The text of the proposed rule has not been made public, but according to sources briefed on the change and to an early draft obtained by The Washington Post, it would call for reexamining the methods used to measure risks posed by workplace exposure to toxins. The change would address long-standing complaints from businesses that the government overestimates the risk posed by job exposure to chemicals.

The rule would also require the agency to take an extra step before setting new limits on chemicals in the workplace by allowing an additional round of challenges to agency risk assessments.

The department's speed in trying to make the regulatory change contrasts with its reluctance to alter workplace safety rules over the past 7 1/2 years. In that time, the department adopted only one major health rule for a chemical in the workplace, and it did so under a court order.

In an interview, Labor's assistant secretary for policy, Leon R. Sequeira, said officials did not disclose their interest in the rule change earlier because they were uncertain until recently whether they wanted to follow through and pursue a regulation.

But the fast-track approach has brought criticism from workplace-safety advocates, unions and Democrats in Congress. Some accuse the Bush administration of working secretly to give industry a parting gift that will help it delay or block safety regulations after President Bush leaves office.


AIDS on the Rise among Hispanics

Very bad news:
AIDS rates in the nation's Latino community are increasing and, with little notice, have reached what experts are calling a simmering public health crisis.

Though Hispanics make up about 14 percent of the U.S. population, they represented 22 percent of new HIV and AIDS diagnoses tallied by federal officials in 2006. According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Hispanics in the District have the highest rate of new AIDS cases in the country.

So far, the toll of AIDS in the nation's largest and fastest-growing minority population has mostly been overshadowed by the epidemic among African Americans and gay white men. Yet in major U.S. cities, as many as 1 in 4 gay Hispanic men has HIV, a rate on par with sub-Saharan Africa.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Tasers And Racism

Under the pretext of being "non-lethal" devices, these things permit cops unbelievable levels of cruelty without fear of repercussions.

When I first moved to New Orleans, back in February 1994, I went down to the Quarter with a lot of my stuff visible in the back seat of my car. When I came back to the car after having a pitcher of Abita with a couple of friends at Checkpoint Charlie's, I found my driver's side window smashed. Some of my things were on the sidewalk nearby.

And the guy who did it was still there, leaning into the car. Foolishly and angrily, I grabbed him and put him up against the wall. At that point, I realized that he was much larger than was I. I was fortunate that he sought to talk his way out of the situation rather than, say, knife or shoot me.

One of my friends, meanwhile, had flagged down some cops, who arrested the guy.

The guy was black. The cops were white. I am white.

The cops, laughing, offered to let me taser him while he was cuffed and sitting on the sidewalk.

At 1:28 p.m. last Jan. 17, Baron "Scooter" Pikes was a healthy 21-year-old man. By 2:07 p.m., he was dead.

What happened in the 39 minutes in between--during which Pikes was handcuffed by local police and shocked nine times with a Taser device, while reportedly pleading for mercy--is now spawning fears of a political cover-up in this backwoods Louisiana lumber town infamous for backroom dealings.


Taliban = Remote

Anything that the Taliban controls is by definition remote, yes? That's the rhetorical technique generally employed by the Western media, anyway:
Afghan officials say Taliban militants have captured a remote district in southern Afghanistan.

Officials said Monday that local security forces fled Ajiristan district in Ghazni province after Taliban fighters attacked overnight. Authorities say they are working on a plan to regain control of the district.

Taliban militants have captured remote villages in the past, but Afghan and international forces are often able to push out the fighters.


Legally Mandated Lies

Doctors are now required to lie to their patients in South Dakota (as if having only one clinic in the state weren't insult enough):
In a victory for antiabortion forces, doctors in South Dakota are now required to tell a woman seeking an abortion that the procedure "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit last week lifted a preliminary injunction that prevented the language from taking effect. A spokesman for Planned Parenthood, which runs the state's only abortion clinic, said doctors will begin reciting the script to patients as early as this week.


On Trial

Sadly, I expect that it will be the US that proves to be more guilty:

Even the US does not claim that the driver and sometime mechanic, who earned a mere $200 (£100) a month, was a major terror figure. But prosecutors allege that he carried weapons used by al-Qai'da and helped to spirit Bin Laden out of Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. If convicted, he could find himself in prison for life.

For many, however, it is the erosion of America's historic liberties that will be on trial tomorrow. The Bush administration created a system of detention without due process when it set up the Guantanamo prison camp in 2002, a legal limbo in which hundreds of detainees – including Mr Hamdan, according to his lawyers – have suffered psychological and possibly physical torture. The driver is alleged to have gone mad as a direct result of being kept in solitary confinement for 22 hours a day in a tiny cell; he is hardly the ideal subject for the first major test of President George Bush's much-criticised system of military commissions to bring terrorism suspects to justice.