Saturday, July 17, 2004

Praise for the People's Heroes
The Second Republic was a bright and shining moment in the fight for the rights of the people to govern themselves.  This tribute is long overdue.  It chokes me up a bit just to read of it; I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be there:
Josefa Vazquez Gallego kept her life story private for 65 years: separated from her husband by war, left to raise her daughter in poverty, jailed for giving food to dissidents under Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.

Now, 87-year-old Vazquez Gallego has been in the spotlight for the first time in her life, hailed as a hero by thousands of people.

She was one of about 550 elderly people from the losing side of the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War who gathered on a recent summer evening outside Madrid to receive a passionate tribute from a crowd of 15,000 at an event called "Recovering Memory."

"After so many years of silence, I never expected to see a night like tonight before I died," said Vazquez Gallego through her tears.
They were all old Republicans -- fighters and supporters of Spain's short-lived Second Republic, proclaimed in 1931 and brought to an end by the Civil War and the victory of Franco, the general who ruled Spain until his death in 1975.

Gathered near the stage, they sang the old anthem of the Republic, waved its flag and roared "Viva la Republica!" in between songs and readings. Thousands of younger people cried.


Schwarzenegger Actually Calls His Opponents "Girly Men"
Not that I ever thought much of him, of course, but this is rather stunning:
With fast-food restaurants and a video game arcade as a backdrop, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told hundreds of people attending a rally Saturday in a mall food court that they should vote Democratic lawmakers out of office if they stand in the way of passing a state budget.

After saying lawmakers should put the people's interests first through bipartisanship, Schwarzenegger said Democrats were holding up the budget by refusing to back down on issues important to trial lawyers and unions. He drew boisterous cheers from mall-goers when he said the lawmakers were "girlie men" too afraid to admit they favored "special interests" over the public interest.

"If these guys won't do the job, I'm going to announce each of you a terminator," Schwarzenegger said in reference to his well-known action film. "Nov. 2 is judgment day. That's when you go to the polls."


Most Stupid Comparison of the Year?
This rivals Bush's compulsive comparisons of our present misadventure with WWII a few months ago:
First, Martha Stewart declared she is used to hard work and is not afraid of prison.

Later, in an interview with ABC News, the homemaking expert repeated that she would be able to handle it and compared her plight to that of anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela.

"I could do it," she said, according to excerpts released by ABC late Friday. "I'm a really good camper. I can sleep on the ground. There are many, many good people who have gone to prison. Look at Nelson Mandela."
Honestly, whatever you have to do to prepare yourself for about 300 days behind bars is fine, but Stewart ain't no Mandela.


Race Does Not Equal Ideology
The very fact that the FBI is sending out this little bit of instruction depresses me to no end.  These people are in charge of protecting us?
The FBI's weekly alert bulletin, sent to 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, focused this week on the possibility of al Qaeda recruiting non-Arabs to carry out attacks in the United States.

"Finding operatives with U.S. [citizenship or legal residency] status would greatly facilitate al Qaeda's ability to carry out an attack within the United States," the bulletin said.

There are just so many things wrong with this.  First of all, I hate to disillusion them, but there in fact Arabs who have U.S. citizenship and legal residency.  At least six or seven of them.  Maybe more.
Second, al Qaeda is a Muslim fundamentalist movement.  Yes, it likely is composed largely of Arabs, but why would anyone think that it is exclusively Arab?  Islam is a vast and multi-cultural religion.
Here's a quiz.  What's the largest Muslim nation in the world?  Hint:  It ain't full of Arabs, and it's nowhere near Iraq.

posted by rorschach @ 5:12 PM  


It's a Boy!
Another happy step forward that deserves to be celebrated:
A lesbian couple who married earlier this year in Massachusetts has become the first same-sex couple to have both their names on the birth certificate of their baby.

Cora Roelofs and Liz Steinhauser are named as mother and ``second parent'' on the birth certificate issued by the town of Wellesley and approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Under state law, married couples that have a child through artificial insemination are automatically recognized as parents. Same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts May 17.

Roelofs and Steinhauser were married June 3.  The following day Roelofs gave birth to a son who was conceived through artificial insemination. The birth certificate was issued June 29.
"We hope people realize this is both justice and a joy, and we hope they support our family,'' Roelofs told the Boston Herald.

The issuing of the birth certificate drew immediate fire from conservative Christian groups opposed to gay marriage.

"From the very moment this child comes into the world he is marked as being part of some kind of new social order,'' said Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.
That's right, Mineau.  A new social order that prizes equality and humanity over bigotry and intolerance.  He's a lucky baby.

posted by rorschach @ 4:49 PM  


American Phallus
Bigger.  Better.
The United States plans to develop an experimental 30,000-pound bomb, the biggest in its inventory, aimed at destroying deeply buried targets beyond the reach of existing bombs, the Air Force said Friday.

The Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, would be about one-third heavier than the 21,000-pound Massive Ordnance Air Blast, MOAB, dropped twice last year in "live" tests at a range in Florida.

posted by rorschach @ 4:41 PM  


More Death on the Web
The phenomenon of disseminating images of gruesome politically motivated murders via the internet is one that I have a hard time wrapping my head around on a theoretical level.  I know I need to try to think about the why's and the wherefores of this, but for now, it's just visceral disgust.
A video tape of the beheading of U.S. aviation engineer Paul Johnson by al Qaeda militants in Saudi Arabia a month ago appeared on the Internet Saturday.

The tape shows what appears to be the motionless body of Johnson being decapitated and his severed head held up for the camera.

The nearly two-minute tape, posted on the Web site of al Qaeda's cell in Saudi Arabia, begins with shots of destroyed houses in what appears to be Iraq interspersed with images of U.S.-made Apache helicopters, which Johnson trained the Saudi air force to use.

posted by rorschach @ 4:27 PM  


Gaza Meltdown

The situation is very bad:
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie quit over chaos in Gaza and militants threatened to lay down their own law, stepping up pressure on Yasser Arafat to stamp out corruption and reform his forces.

Before Saturday, the Palestinian president -- veteran symbol of a struggle for statehood -- had not faced such a chorus of local and international demands for change during nearly four years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Calls for reform have multiplied amid a brewing factional power struggle in the Gaza Strip in anticipation of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's planned withdrawal of troops and settlers from the occupied territory in 2005.

Submitting his resignation Saturday, Qurie spoke of unprecedented chaos in Gaza triggered by the brief abduction of four French aid workers, the police chief and another official by gunmen demanding reforms.

Arafat refused to accept Qurie's resignation and ordered a security shake-up in Gaza, combining 12 competing armed forces into three.

posted by rorschach @ 4:21 PM  


Bad Tidings from the Sudan
The peace talks aren't doing so well:
Rebels have walked out of talks aimed at bringing an end to fighting in Sudan's troubled Darfur region.

Rebel groups are refusing to negotiate with the Sudanese Government and the peace talks have now collapsed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The negotiations were organised by the African Union.

However, rebel leaders say they will not take part until the Sudanese Government meets their demands.

The rebels are calling on the Government to withdraw its forces from the Darfur region and disarm militia groups that have driven more than 1 million people from their homes.
The United Nations has described the situation in Darfur as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Rebels say they will stay in Addis Ababa until later today but mediators say it is unlikely the talks will resume.

posted by rorschach @ 3:11 PM  


This Is Just Getting Ridiculous
I thought that America's anti-drug ads that suggested smoking a joint would fund Muslim militants were absurd, but they've been outdone:
If you buy a pirated DVD from a bloke in the pub, you could be personally responsible for the deaths of innocent women and children in terrorist attacks. That, essentially, is the message being promoted this week by the Industry Trust for Intellectual Property Awareness (Itipa), the body that represents some of the world's largest film companies. This week it launched a £1.5m "public awareness campaign" to inform people of supposed links between the "Del Boy" characters who sell pirate DVDs and terrorist cells.

posted by rorschach @ 2:10 PM  


Workers Still Losing
Even if you aren't one of the "lucky duckies" who don't have jobs, unemployment is still hurting you:
The amount of money workers receive in their paychecks is failing to keep up with inflation. Though wages should recover if businesses continue to hire, three years of job losses have left a large worker surplus.

"There's too much slack in the labor market to generate any pressure on wage growth,'' said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research institution based in Washington. "We are going to need a much lower unemployment rate.'' He noted that at 5.6 percent, the national unemployment rate is still back at the same level as at the end of the recession in November 2001.

Even though the economy has been adding hundreds of thousands of jobs almost every month this year, stagnant wages could put a dent in the prospects for economic growth, some economists say. If incomes continue to lag behind the increase in prices, it may hinder the ability of ordinary workers to spend money at a healthy clip, undermining one of the pillars of the expansion so far.

posted by rorschach @ 2:00 PM  


Blast Misses Iraqi Minister of Justice
A powerful bomb has exploded in the path of a convoy for Iraq's Minister of Justice Malik Duhan al-Hasan in Baghdad.

The blast killed at least four Iraqis, two of whom were his bodyguards, witnesses and officials said. Al-Hasan escaped unhurt.

"There was a blast alongside the convoy. A booby-trapped car came alongside and blew up," said traffic policeman Husayn Abid.

Abd Al-Nasir Muhammad, an Iraqi bodyguard at the scene, said four people were killed in the explosion. He pointed at one destroyed car and said: "Two were killed in this car and all we found was body parts."

Five gutted cars were littered across the road and Iraqi police collected human remains from the street.

posted by rorschach @ 1:18 AM  


National Labor Relations Board Tells Grad Students to Go Cheney Themselves
The stream of profanity that I produced upon hearing this would fill several posts.  Anyone who would like to make the argument that graduate students are "not workers" should walk a mile in grad shoes.
The fast-growing movement to unionize graduate students at the nation's private universities suffered a crushing setback yesterday when the National Labor Relations Board reversed itself and ruled that students who worked as research and teaching assistants did not have the right to unionize.

In a case involving Brown University, the labor board ruled 3 to 2 that graduate teaching and research assistants were essentially students, not workers, and thus should not have the right to unionize to negotiate over wages, benefits and other conditions of employment.

The Republican-controlled board reversed a four-year-old decision involving New York University, a private institution, in which the board, then controlled by Democrats, concluded that graduate teaching and research assistants should be able to unionize because their increased responsibilities had essentially turned them into workers.

posted by rorschach @ 1:03 AM  


Friday, July 16, 2004

Left Behind Is Insane Racist Intolerant Drivel
I've known this for as long as I've known these books existed.  And I cannot believe how popular they are--and they are popular, as I know from reviews, as well as from my job.
It is refreshing to see mainstream media call bullshit on this series:
If a Muslim were to write an Islamic version of "Glorious Appearing" and publish it in Saudi Arabia, jubilantly describing a massacre of millions of non-Muslims by God, we would have a fit. We have quite properly linked the fundamentalist religious tracts of Islam with the intolerance they nurture, and it's time to remove the motes from our own eyes.

In "Glorious Appearing," Jesus merely speaks and the bodies of the enemy are ripped open. Christians have to drive carefully to avoid "hitting splayed and filleted bodies of men and women and horses."

"The riders not thrown," the novel continues, "leaped from their horses and tried to control them with the reins, but even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted and their tongues disintegrated. . . . Seconds later the same plague afflicted the horses, their flesh and eyes and tongues melting away, leaving grotesque skeletons standing, before they, too, rattled to the pavement."
Should we really give intolerance a pass if it is rooted in religious faith?

Many American Christians once read the Bible to mean that African-Americans were cursed as descendants of Noah's son Ham, and were intended by God to be enslaved. In the 19th century, millions of Americans sincerely accepted this Biblical justification for slavery as God's word — but surely it would have been wrong to defer to such racist nonsense simply because speaking out could have been perceived as denigrating some people's religious faith.

People have the right to believe in a racist God, or a God who throws millions of nonevangelicals into hell. I don't think we should ban books that say that. But we should be embarrassed when our best-selling books gleefully celebrate religious intolerance and violence against infidels.

That's not what America stands for, and I doubt that it's what God stands for.  

As an atheist, I really have little to say about "what God stands for."  "God" stands for anything that whatever group manages to grab hold of the moniker chooses to make it mean to enhance its own power.  This particular series of books, and its popularity, should be taken as a warning about whose hands "God" has fallen into in this country.

posted by rorschach @ 11:47 PM  


Can They Squeeze Us In?
It sounds like a valuable service:
The Iraqi authorities accepted on Friday the support for electoral issues offered by Chile four months ago during a conference of donors for Iraq, Chilean Vice Foreign Minister Cristian Barros said.

He added that experts of the Chilean Electoral Service will study ways to support the establishment of a democratic electoral system in Iraq, after the Arab country accepted the offer of support made by the government of Chile's President Ricardo Lagos.

posted by rorschach @ 11:37 PM  


Unintended Consequences
Who knew that irresponsible above-ground nuclear testing decades ago would prove useful today?  But the tests are helping to fight the slaughter of elephants for ivory:
Africa's elephant war between those who want to lift the ban on ivory sales and those who want to keep it is about take a new turn.

Nuclear physicist Elias Sideras-Haddad says he can determine when an elephant died as well as its age by a new carbon-dating technique applied to the tusks -- a process made possible by the above-ground nuclear tests of the past.

Verifying when an elephant died could, he hopes, enable poor countries to resume ivory sales -- banned in 1989 -- through regulations which could stipulate that only tusks from animals dead for a specified period of time could be sold.

This could be a huge deterrent to poachers who are unlikely to hoard illegally taken tusks for years. The trade was halted in 1989 in a bid to snuff out rampant poaching.

The new dating system relies on traces of carbon 14 which became abnormally abundant in the atmosphere globally because of early nuclear weapons tests.

The amount of carbon 14 in the atmosphere peaked in the mid-1960s when such testing was banned by the nuclear powers and has since been decreasing -- though it won't reach pre-testing, or pre-1945 levels, for about another 20 years.

posted by rorschach @ 3:11 PM  


This Is Our Government at War
Get the bastards out of power now.  America is being made into a monstrosity:
Young male prisoners were filmed being sodomised by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, according to the journalist who first revealed the abuses there.

Seymour Hersh, who reported on the torture of the prisoners in New Yorker magazine in May, told an audience in San Francisco that "it's worse". But he added that he would reveal the extent of the abuses: "I'm not done reporting on all this," he told a meeting of the American Civil Liberties Union.

He said: "The boys were sodomised with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking. And this is your government at war."

He accused the US administration, and all but accused President George Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney of complicity in covering up what he called "war crimes".

posted by rorschach @ 2:42 PM  


A Weather Channel for the Red States
This is long past due:
Fox today launched the first right-wing weather channel, taking aim at what it perceives as a liberal bias permeating most television weather coverage.
In its first day on air, The Fox Weather Channel trumpeted its self-styled “fair and balanced” look at the weather and accused The Weather Channel of being “a safe haven for left-wing weather-liberals everywhere.”
Blasting what it called The Weather Channel’s view that “the weather can do no wrong,” Fox Weather Channel anchor Bill O’Reilly vowed that the new network would “take on and challenge the weather at every opportunity.”
Mr. O’Reilly then launched into an editorial blasting Mother Nature, sarcastically calling her “The Mother of all Natures.”
The network then switched to live footage of conservative pundit Ann Coulter screaming at a tornado.

posted by rorschach @ 2:29 PM  


At long last, the tax-exempt status of religio-political blowhard Jerry Falwell is under attack:
Hoping to send a warning to churches helping the Bush campaign turn out conservative voters, a liberal group has filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service charging that an organization run by the Rev. Jerry Falwell has violated the requirements of its tax-exempt status by endorsing Mr. Bush's re-election.

"For conservative people of faith, voting for principle this year means voting for the re-election of George W. Bush," Mr. Falwell wrote in the July 1 issue of his e-mail newsletter "Falwell Confidential'' and on his Web site, "The alternative, in my mind, is simply unthinkable. To the pro-life, pro-family, pro-traditional marriage, pro-America voters in this nation, we must determine that President Bush is the man with our interests at heart. It is that simple."

He added: "I believe it is the responsibility of every political conservative, every evangelical Christian, every pro-life Catholic, every traditional Jew, every Reagan Democrat, and everyone in between to get serious about re-electing President Bush."

Mr. Falwell, who helped lead conservative evangelical Protestants into politics 20 years ago as the founder of the Moral Majority, also asked for contributions to a political action committee run by the social conservative Gary Bauer. "It is the organization that I believe can have the greatest impact in re-electing Mr. Bush to the Oval Office," he wrote.

Yesterday, the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, argued in a letter to the I.R.S. that one of Mr. Falwell's religious organizations, Jerry Falwell Ministries, had disseminated the message in violation of tax rules, which restrict tax-exempt religious groups and charitable organizations from engaging in politics.

posted by rorschach @ 1:43 PM  


Confirmed: Martha Stewart Is a Cyborg
Initial reports do not indicate whether she spoke with an Austrian accent:
Stewart appeared outside the courthouse after she was sentenced and expressed regret, but also pledged, "I'll be back."

posted by rorschach @ 1:40 PM  


Sure, But He's Our Cold-Blooded Killer
Allawi's style of leadership resembles that which Bush thinks would be easier than being president of a democracy:
Iyad Allawi, the new Prime Minister of Iraq, pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station, just days before Washington handed control of the country to his interim government, according to two people who allege they witnessed the killings.

They say the prisoners - handcuffed and blindfolded - were lined up against a wall in a courtyard adjacent to the maximum-security cell block in which they were held at the Al-Amariyah security centre, in the city's south-western suburbs.

They say Dr Allawi told onlookers the victims had each killed as many as 50 Iraqis and they "deserved worse than death".

posted by rorschach @ 1:08 PM  


Bobby Fischer, the former world chess champion wanted in the U.S. on charges of violating a ban on travel to Yugoslavia in 1992, is under arrest in Japan and may be deported, an immigration officer said.

posted by rorschach @ 4:39 AM  


Life on Mars? 
New evidence indicates that there may be:
Ammonia may have been found in Mars' atmosphere which some scientists say could indicate life on the Red Planet.

Researchers say its spectral signature has been tentatively detected by sensors on board the European Space Agency's orbiting Mars Express craft.

Ammonia survives for only a short time in the Martian atmosphere so it must be getting constantly replenished.

There are two possible sources: either active volcanoes, none of which have been found yet on Mars, or microbes.

posted by rorschach @ 2:24 AM  


Quit Saying That!
That this altercation occurred in the context of a resolution meant to bar federal official from requesting the United Nations to come have a gander at the next elections adds to the bitter humor:

The verbal battle broke out after Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., proposed a measure barring any federal official from requesting that the United Nations formally observe the U.S. elections on Nov. 2.

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., and several other House Democrats have made that suggestion. They argue that some black voters were disenfranchised in 2000 and problems could occur again this fall.

"We welcome America to observe the integrity of our electoral process and we do not ask, though, for the United Nations to come as monitors at our polling stations," Buyer said.

"I come from Florida, where you and others participated in what I call the United States coup d'etat. We need to make sure it doesn't happen again," Brown said. "Over and over again after the election when you stole the election, you came back here and said, 'Get over it.' No, we're not going to get over it. And we want verification from the world."

At that point, Buyer demanded that Brown's words be "taken down," or removed the debate's permanent record.

The House's presiding officer, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, ruled that Brown's words violated a House rule.

"Members should not accuse other members of committing a crime such as, quote, stealing, end quote, an election," Thornberry said.

When Brown objected to his ruling, the House voted 219-187 to strike her words.

posted by rorschach @ 1:06 AM  


Newsflash: Oil Companies Still Evil
Dealing with despots in western Africa:
Senate investigators say three U.S. oil companies may have "contributed to corrupt practices" while doing business in the West African country of Equatorial Guinea.

Examining possible money laundering at Washington's Riggs Bank, the investigators uncovered information about questionable business dealings involving Exxon Mobil Corp., Marathon Oil Co. and Amerada Hess Corp. in that oil-rich land.

Staffers on the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations pointed to arrangements between the oil companies and entities controlled by the family of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, as well as to scholarships doled out to relatives of the country's elite.

Sen. Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the panel, questioned whether the oil companies are doing enough to ensure they aren't helping corrupt government leaders loot Equatorial Guinea of its oil patrimony.

"You're now in a situation where you are basically in with either the dictator or his family," Levin said. "It seems to me that as Americans we've got to be troubled by that."

posted by rorschach @ 12:25 AM  


Cutting Off Saudi Arabia
Rather a surprise:
Lawmakers cheered as the House of Representatives voted on Thursday to strip financial assistance for Saudi Arabia from a foreign aid bill because of criticism that the country has not been sufficiently cooperative in the U.S. war on terror.

The vote was a stinging defeat for the Bush Administration which had strongly opposed the measure saying it would "severely undermine" counterterrorism cooperation with Saudi Arabia and U.S. efforts for peace in the Middle East.

posted by rorschach @ 12:01 AM  


Thursday, July 15, 2004

More Security Snafus
Classified work as Los Alamos has ground to a halt:
The Los Alamos National Laboratory, a key U.S. center for nuclear weapons research, has temporarily ceased all classified work after vital data was reported missing last week from a research area, lab officials say.

Such a precaution at Los Alamos, the New Mexico birthplace of the first atomic bomb during World War II, has not occurred in recent memory, lab officials said, highlighting the seriousness of the breach.

posted by rorschach @ 11:52 PM  


The British Display Common Sense
That makes it virtually unanimous:  The United States has a ridiculous policy when it comes to AIDS:
The UK yesterday signalled a major rift with the United States over its Aids policies, publicly rejecting the Bush doctrine that sexual abstinence is the best way to stop the spread of the pandemic.

The international development minister, Gareth Thomas, also made it clear the UK did not support the US over its reluctance to endorse the use of cheaper, generic drugs to fight the disease.

Arriving at the International Aids conference yesterday, where America has been relentlessly attacked by campaigners and criticised by UN agencies, Mr Thomas made it clear that the UK was neither prepared to fall in with conservative American thinking nor sit on the sidelines.

His intervention came ahead of the launch by the prime minister next Tuesday of the government's own £1.5bn Aids plan. "We work with the Americans in a whole variety of ways, but we have a difference of view on abstinence-only campaigns," said Mr Thomas.

The Bush administration pledged $15bn (£8bn) to Aids over five years, but the vast bulk will go to programmes that stress abstinence.

posted by rorschach @ 11:39 PM  


Homophobes Regrouping in the House
Did some one say sneaky tactics?  Did someone say DeLay?
Realizing that a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage faces little chance of passing soon, if ever, House Republicans yesterday discussed alternative approaches, including stripping federal courts of jurisdiction over the issue, passing a federal law to define marriage and using the appropriations process to ban gay marriage in Washington.All the legislative action on gay marriage is currently in the Senate, but the House GOP is rapidly developing its own tactics. Leaders will take their first step next week when they take up Rep. John Hostettler’s (R-Ind.) “jurisdiction stripping” bill. This would bar federal courts from hearing lawsuits related to gay sex and marriage.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), left, Rep. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), center, and Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), supporters of a constitutional ban of gay marriage, await a press briefing in Russell Park after yesterday’s vote.

While the House will not debate a constitutional amendment before the summer recess, it might take it up when Congress resumes in September. Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) told reporters yesterday that he plans to use “jurisdiction stripping” measures to achieve other social policy goals as well.

posted by rorschach @ 11:25 PM  


Trudeau: Bush Has Always Liked Torture
A bit of disturbing backstory on W from the writer of Doonesbury:
Trudeau attended Yale University with Bush in the late 1960s and served with him on a dormitory social committee.

“Even then he had clearly awesome social skills,” Trudeau said. “He could also make you feel extremely uncomfortable … He was extremely skilled at controlling people and outcomes in that way. Little bits of perfectly placed humiliation.”

Trudeau said he penned his very first cartoon to illustrate an article in the Yale Daily News on Bush and allegations that his fraternity, DKE, had hazed incoming pledges by branding them with an iron.

The article in the campus paper prompted The New York Times to interview Bush, who was a senior that year. Trudeau recalled that Bush told the Times “it was just a coat hanger, and … it didn’t hurt any more than a cigarette burn.”

“It does put one in mind of what his views on torture might be today,” Trudeau said.

posted by rorschach @ 11:01 PM  


Congress on Abu Ghraib: Meh
This abdication surprises even me:
 The Congressional investigation into the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison has virtually ground to halt, as a senior Senate Republican said Thursday that no new hearings would be held on the matter until this fall at the earliest.

The Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee made it clear weeks ago that it believed that the several current military investigations of the scandal were sufficient, and that summoning commanders to Washington would only hinder American operations in Iraq.

That left the issue to the Senate Armed Services Committee, whose chairman, Senator John W. Warner, a Virginia Republican, has held a series of hearings, but none since May 19. On Thursday, Mr. Warner said he would hold off calling any more witnesses until several criminal prosecutions and seven pending Pentagon inquiries were completed.

posted by rorschach @ 8:41 PM  


I posted a day or two ago about the tensions between China and Taiwan, which are adding to the instability of Southeast Asia.
This doesn't relieve my anxieties:
A crisis-simulation drill based on a growing Chinese military threat to Taiwan was played out this week by U.S. decision makers, Pentagon officials said on Thursday.

The exercise, called Dragon's Thunder, was held on Monday at the Pentagon's National Defense University, or NDU, even as China prepared to stage a mock invasion of the self-governing island.

Pentagon officials cautioned against reading anything into the timing of the strategy drill or into the deployment of seven U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups worldwide simultaneously.

posted by rorschach @ 6:37 PM  


More Debates!
I do look forward to the three presidential debates, but I am quite disappointed at the fact that they've agreed to just one VP debate.  I'd love to see Edwards wear Cheney down to a "Go fuck yourself" moment on national TV:
The Kerry-Edwards campaign has accepted a schedule for three presidential debates and one vice- presidential debate, the campaign announced Thursday.

The Commission on Presidential Debates needs to hear whether the Bush-Cheney campaign will accept the same proposed dates before the schedule is approved.

posted by rorschach @ 5:47 PM  


Coming Out of Retirement

Nelson Mandela makes a public appearance for a very good cause:

Nelson Mandela came to the 15th International AIDS Conference here today to lend his prestige to the battles against tuberculosis and AIDS, two deadly diseases that are intricately linked.

The former president of South Africa was diagnosed with tuberculosis while in prison, where he spent 27 years for opposing the former apartheid regime before his release in 1994.

"We cannot win the battle against AIDS if we do not also fight TB," Man-dela said at a press conference today. "TB is too often a death sentence for people with AIDS."

Mandela has acknowledged that, as president, he did not recognize the severity of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa, which now leads the world with 5.3 million people infected with HIV, the virus that causes the disease. Since Mandela left office, he has embraced the fight and has pushed his successor, Thabo Mbeki, to confront HIV and tuberculosis.

posted by rorschach @ 5:35 PM  


Bush's Manichaeanism
Maureen Dowd tears down Bush's deranged reliance on bullshit dichotomies:
Campaigning at the nuclear lab in Oak Ridge, Tenn. — he finally found nuclear-related capability — Mr. Bush defended the Iraq war: "So I had a choice to make: either take the word of a madman or defend America." He also said of the terrorists, "We will confront them overseas so we do not have to confront them here at home."

That's nonsense. Just because more terrorists are attacking Americans abroad doesn't mean terrorists aren't poised to also attack us at home. And in fact, Bush officials keep warning us that terrorists are planning "something big" here, as the acting C.I.A. director, John McLaughlin, said yesterday in a radio interview.

It's just like the president's other false dichotomies: You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists. If we don't stop gays from marrying, it will destroy the institution of marriage.

His illogic's flawless and may be catching.

And I would be remiss if I did not include Dowd's hilarious dig at the purely cynical decision to trot out the twins:

The strapless sisters are helping a campaign that's increasingly strapped. Barbara and Jenna, glamming like the Hilton sisters, are in gowns in Vogue, and in vogue on the trail, giving Dad some much needed cover by uncovering their shoulders.

posted by rorschach @ 5:26 PM  


More Science for Bush to Ignore
We spent millions of dollars on this satellite.  Now we need to take that next step and put an administration in office that will not disregard what it has to tell us:
NASA successfully launched a new satellite from California that promises scientists their best gauge yet of how the tug of war between international treaties and industrial pollutants is being played out in Earth's atmosphere.

The bus-sized Aura spacecraft, built for NASA by Northrop Grumman Corp, was launched aboard a Boeing Co Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 6.02am EDT (2002 AEST).

The $US785 million ($A1.09 billion) mission will use four instruments aboard the Aura to sweep and scan the atmosphere as it circles the planet in a polar orbit, studying the movement of pollutants and paying particular attention to the stratospheric ozone layer that buffers the Earth from potentially harmful solar radiation.

"Whether you're in Europe getting pollution from the United States or you're in the United States getting pollution from China, it's one atmosphere and we need to look at it from a global sense," said Mark Schoebert, a project scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

posted by rorschach @ 4:30 PM  


Queers with Guns
As Athenae at Eschaton notes, the Center for Reclaiming America is protecting us from these power-crazed radicals:
Unfortunately, many of our elected leaders in Washington, D.C. have been taken hostage by militant homosexual advocates, who seek to redefine our most precious institutions, indoctrinate our children, and silence our pulpits. In doing so, it has become very obvious that many of America's elected leaders have lost touch with mainstream America.

posted by rorschach @ 2:24 PM  


Alternative Energy

Since the Bush administration is, as we all know, full of crap, does this mean that we can stop fighting wars for oil now?

posted by rorschach @ 1:51 PM  


Beyond the Blue Event Horizon

I have always had a casual, layman's interest in theoretical physics, though I haven't had the leisure to keep up with it lately.

Anyway, I find this fascinating:

The author of "A Brief History of Time" now believes some "information" sucked into black holes escapes over time, contradicting some of his most famous work on the phenomenon.

Hawking will present his latest findings at a scientific conference in Ireland next week, New Scientist magazine said, after asking at the last minute to speak.

Black holes are formed when massive stars collapse from their own gravity, the pull of which was thought so strong that nothing can escape.

The idea has been fascinating astronomers since the late 18th century, suggesting images of unimaginably strong cosmic whirlpools sucking up space matter and consigning it to oblivion.

In the 1970s, Hawking said that once a black hole formed it lost mass by radiating energy, known as "Hawking radiation," but it contained no information about the inside matter and once the hole evaporated, all information was lost.

This however, created a paradox, since the laws of quantum physics assert such information can never be completely wiped out.

Hawking responded that the gravitational pull of black holes was so strong, it unraveled the laws of quantum physics. But that argument failed to convince skeptics in the scientific community.

He will now argue that the black holes never quite shut themselves off completely and, as they emit more heat, they eventually open up and release information.

The possible solution to the paradox has sent waves of excitement through the physics community.

"He sent a note saying: 'I have solved the black hole information paradox and I want to talk about it,"' organizer and physicist Curt Cutler told the New Scientist.

posted by rorschach @ 1:35 PM  


The End of the Rule of Law

Jonathan Schell describes our trajectory:

For if the policies of the Bush Administration have exhibited any one constant theme, it has been contempt, visceral as well as philosophical, in domestic as well as foreign affairs, for law. The Administration's distaste for international treaties and laws soon became evident. The President withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, pulled out of talks to create an inspection system for the Biological Weapons Convention and "unsigned" the Rome statute for the creation of an International Criminal Court. Since laws and legal opinions come into effect only upon signing, the act of "unsigning"--an invention of the White House, with no precedent in the annals of the presidency--seemed to symbolize a world of evaporating statutes.

The deed was one aspect of a comprehensive onslaught, which quickly unfolded, on the very idea of law. Its chief elements were the claim by and for the United States, and the United States alone, of a right and duty to order the twenty-first-century world through the use of America's unchallengeable military force. The vision's essential corollaries were the right to wage preventive war and to overthrow other governments violently and unilaterally. Its goals were to stop the spread (but not reverse the existing possession) of weapons of mass destruction and to remake the world politically and economically in the image of the United States.

The conflict between this vision--correctly called imperial by many of its supporters as well as its detractors--and international law is not incidental but systemic. The ideas of empire and of international law are both ordering principles: Both are means for organizing the world. They are in competition for the same turf.

posted by rorschach @ 1:24 PM  


Too Many Enemies

The problem with adopting an overly aggressive stance toward the rest of the world? Lack of resources means (more) mistakes will be made:

With al Qaeda and Iran now topping an already hefty "hit list" of Israel's enemies, analysts say Mossad may have too many missions and too few spies to carry them out.

Two Israelis jailed by an Auckland court Thursday for trying to obtain a New Zealand passport by assuming the identity of a wheelchair-bound cerebral palsy victim displayed the rashness of intelligence agents under pressure to perform, experts say.

Has it ever been clearer that we cannot afford more intelligence mistakes? The United States should take a lesson.

posted by rorschach @ 1:07 PM  


Wasting No Time

Bush was thin-skinned enough to snub the NAACP rather than face the barest possibility of having to face people who might not adore him. Kerry is seizing this golden opportunity to call attention to Bush's cowardice and partisanship:

Likely Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry has criticized President Bush for refusing to speak to the country's oldest and largest civil rights group.
Speaking Thursday at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, Mr. Kerry said a U.S. president needs to talk to all people. He said if elected president he will be a "uniter."

President Bush declined to address the NAACP convention for a fourth year in a row, citing a scheduling conflict.

White House spokesman Scott McCllellan said Thursday the president has great respect for the NAACP. But he says the group's current leadership has engaged in "hostile political rhetoric," and is not interested in "a constructive dialogue."

posted by rorschach @ 1:00 PM  


The House Always Wins

I truly hope that Chris Bell manages to take DeLay down as hard as he deserves to be taken down. But it's never easy to win a rigged game, and DeLay already has several aces hidden up his sleeve:

It's not easy going head-to-head with Majority Leader Tom DeLay, the most powerful member in the House, but that's exactly what Houston Democratic Congressman Chris Bell is doing. According to the Associated Press, in mid-June, Rep. Bell "claimed DeLay illegally solicited campaign contributions in return for legislative favors and laundered illegal corporate contributions for use in Texas elections. Bell also alleged that DeLay improperly used his office to solicit help from federal agencies in searching for Democratic legislators who slipped out of Texas during last year's redistricting fight."

After Republicans - with support from DeLay - took control of the Texas legislature for the first time in well over 100 years, the Texas GOP redrew the state's congressional map – a plan aimed at costing at least five Democrats their House seats in November. Democrats in the state legislature left the state to avoid voting on DeLay's redistricting plan, but eventually returned and were unable to kill the remapping effort. While they were out of state, Rep. Bell charges that Delay illegally used the Federal Aviation Administration to track down the legislators.

Rep. Bell's charges are slated to be taken up by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, also known as the House ethics committee. Will Rep. Bell get a fair hearing? It might be difficult, seeing as how four of the five Republicans on the committee "have received campaign contributions from DeLay's political action committee," according to Sheila Krumholz, the research director for the nonpartisan government watchdog group, the Center for Responsive Politics. She told Alternet that the four ethics committee members received $27,004 in contributions from DeLay entities.

posted by rorschach @ 12:50 PM  


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Free Market Comes to Iraq

In the form of hordes of weapons dealers:

When the 15-member United Nations Security Council legitimized the US-imposed interim government in Baghdad in June, the five-page unanimous resolution carried a provision little publicized in the media: the lifting of a 14-year arms embargo on Iraq.

The Security Council's decision to end military sanctions on Iraq has triggered a rush by the world's weapons dealers to make a grab for a potentially multimillion-dollar new arms market in the already over-armed Middle East.

The former US-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which handed over power to the new Iraqi government on June 28, finalized plans for the purchase of six C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft, 16 Iroquois helicopters and a squadron of 16 low-flying, light reconnaissance aircraft - all for delivery by next April.

Because that is just what Iraq needs these days. More weapons.

posted by rorschach @ 7:08 PM  


Yukon Ho!

The Supreme Court of that province is exercising a bit of common sense:

The Yukon Supreme Court says the territory must license a gay couple's wedding this weekend.

Justice Peter McIntyre says the old definition of marriage is wrong, and discriminatory. He's ordered the government to change its definition to say, "The voluntary union for life of two persons, to the exclusion of all others."

Following the ruling, McIntyre got verbal promises from Yukon government that it would comply by immediately issuing a wedding license for Stephen Dunbar and Rob Edge.

The ruling makes the Yukon the fourth jurisdiction in Canada where same-sex marriages are legal.

posted by rorschach @ 7:05 PM  


Again, the People Will Pay

This is stunning:

A judge ruled Tuesday that former Rep. Bill Janklow was on duty when he caused a deadly traffic accident, meaning taxpayers would have to pay for any civil damages in a wrongful-death lawsuit.

posted by rorschach @ 6:46 PM  


Torture in Guantanamo

A Swede has been released after two and a half years, and he is talking:

A Swede released from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay last week said he had been tortured by exposure to freezing cold, noise and bright lights and chained during his 2-1/2-year imprisonment.

Mehdi Ghezali, 25, the son of an Algerian-born immigrant who was arrested in Pakistan where he says he was studying Islam, told Swedish media in interviews published or aired Wednesday that he was interrogated almost every day.
Ghezali said he was deprived of sleep for about two weeks by constant switching of cells and interrogation, was exposed to powerful flashes of light in a dark room, to very loud music and noise and was chained for long periods in painful positions.

"They forced me down with chained feet. Then they took away the chains from the hands, pulled the arms under the legs and chained them hard again. I could not move," he said.

posted by rorschach @ 6:35 PM  


He Must Be Wearing Asbestos Pants

Tom Ridge:

"We don't do politics in homeland security," Ridge said.

posted by rorschach @ 4:08 PM  


Bugging Ashcroft with Trivia

I mean, our anointed attorney general obviously has important work to do, like interfering with medical marijuana programs and harassing Oregon for its right-to-die laws.

He doesn't have time for nuisance lawsuits:

A total of 22 U.S. electric utilities could be sued for harmful emissions from aging coal-fired plants if the Bush administration pursues cases recommended by Environmental Protection Agency staff, according to an internal EPA list obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

The EPA has forwarded 14 cases to the U.S. Justice Department, and could send another eight cases within 30 days, the list said.

The Justice Department has not yet committed to pursue the cases, many of which have likely sat idle since 2001, when the Clinton-era department finished filing cases against nine utilities for violating the Clean Air Act. Many of the original cases are still unresolved.

Emissions from older coal-fired power plants can aggravate asthma, chronic bronchitis and pneumonia.

posted by rorschach @ 1:25 PM  


Yucca's Silver Lining

And yet one more reason to vote Kerry:

The longstanding - and understandable - "not in my backyard" attitude of citizens toward nuclear waste has galvanized anti-Bush forces in Nevada. Now it’s up to John Kerry to capitalize on opposition to the Yucca Mountain repository site and score a victory in a swing state that chose Bush over Gore by only 3.5 percent.

The Democratic Party took a major step to help Kerry this weekend, approving a national platform plank that opposes turning the site 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas into a repository for waste from around the country. The anti-Yucca plank will be included in the convention platform later this month, echoing Kerry’s longstanding opposition to the site.

posted by rorschach @ 11:58 AM  


Pork Trumps Progess in Fight Against AIDS

Every time you hear the Bush administration pat itself on the back for the $15 billion it has allocated for global AIDS initiatives, remember this:

The Bush administration's prohibition against using money from its $15 billion global AIDS plan to buy foreign-produced generic drugs is complicating the delivery of medicine to some of the millions of poor people who badly need it, according to AIDS experts at an international conference here.
Specified in the giant President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the restrictions against unapproved generics, which for now include all foreign-made generics, have added to the already long list of obstacles to bringing antiretroviral (ARV) therapy to poor countries, experts attending the 15th International AIDS Conference here say.

"It was very confusing. You're trying to figure out who can buy what with what money," said Joia Mukherjee, medical director for Partners in Health, a Boston-based organization that has run an AIDS treatment program in Haiti for seven years and is developing others in Latin America.

The policy "slows the coordination" between the Bush plan and the people running treatment programs in the countries, Mukherjee said in an interview at the conference.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office reached similar conclusions in a report issued this week.

In a nutshell, Bush wants the money to go to Big Pharma, regardless of who dies.

posted by rorschach @ 11:47 AM  


First Transferred Detainee Walks Free

From Guantanamo, to a Spanish prison, to (relative) freedom:

A Spaniard held for two years in the US military camp at Guantanamo Bay before being handed over to Spain walked out of prison on bail on Tuesday, judicial sources said.

Hamed Aderrahman Ahmad was the first detainee to be transferred from the prison camp where the United States is holding about 600 people, captured since US forces invaded Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks.

Judicial sources said investigating magistrate Baltasar Garzon had ordered Abderrahman released on bail of 3000 euros ($5670). He has to report daily to a police station and weekly to court and is forbidden from leaving the country.

Abderrahman embraced those waiting for him outside the Alcala de Henares jail, near Madrid, and thanked the judge whose investigation into al Qaeda's Spanish activities had brought him back to Spain.

posted by rorschach @ 11:34 AM  


Bouquets and Brickbats

My thanks to commenter John at Atrios for summing it up succinctly so I don't have to.

Regarding the Hate Amendment:

Republicans who voted to block the amendment were Susan M. Collins (Maine), Olympia J. Snowe (Maine), John E. Sununu (N.H.), Lincoln D. Chafee (R-I.), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Colo.) and John McCain (Ariz.). Democrats who voted to bring up the amendment were Zell Miller (Ga.), Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Robert C. Byrd (W.Va.).

posted by rorschach @ 10:59 AM  


Republican National Committee Schedule

This just in via listserve:

New York, NY

6:00 PM Opening Prayer led by the Reverend Jerry Falwell

6:30 PM Pledge of Allegiance

6:35 PM Ceremonial Burning of Bill of Rights (excluding 2nd Amendment)

6:45 PM Salute to the Coalition of the Willing

6:46 PM Seminar #1: Katherine Harris on "Are Elections Really

7:30 PM Announcement: Lincoln Memorial Renamed for Ronald Reagan

7:35 PM Trent Lott - "Re-segregation in the 21st Century"

7:40 PM EPA Address #1: Mercury: It's What's for Dinner

8:00 PM Vote on which country to invade next

8:10 PM Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh

8:15 PM John Ashcroft Lecture: The Homos Are After Your Children

8:30 PM Round table discussion on reproductive rights (men only)

8:50 PM Seminar #2: Corporations: The Government of the Future

9:00 PM Condi Rice sings "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man"

9:05 PM Phyllis Schlafly speaks on "Why Women Shouldn't Be Leaders"

9:10 PM EPA Address #2: Trees: The Real Cause of Forest Fires

9:30 PM break for secret meetings

10:00 PM Second Prayer led by Cal Thomas

10:15 PM Carl Rove Lecture: Doublespeak Made Simple

10:30 PM Rumsfeld Lecture/Demonstration: How to Squint and Talk Macho Even When You Feel Squishy Inside

10:35 PM Bush demonstration of trademark "deer in headlights" stare

10:40 PM John Ashcroft Demonstration: New Mandatory Kevlar Chastity Belt

10:45 PM GOP's Tribute to Tokenism, featuring Colin Powell & Condi Rice

10:46 PM Ann Coulter's Tribute to "Joe McCarthy, American Patriot"

10:50 PM Seminar #3: Education: A Drain on Our Nation's Economy

11:10 PM Hilary Clinton Pinata

11:20 PM John Ashcroft Lecture: Evolutionists: A Dangerous New Cult

11:30 PM Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh again

11:35 PM Blame Clinton

11:40 PM Newt Gingrich speaks on "The Sanctity of Marriage"

11:41 PM Announcement: Ronald Reagan to be added to Mt. Rushmore

11:50 PM Closing Prayer led by Jesus Himself

12:00 PM Nomination of George W. Bush as Holy Supreme Planetary


Commenter bo has acquired a confidential addendum to the schedule:

12:01 AM The Rapture begins

posted by rorschach @ 10:07 AM  


Bush Administration Scraps Overtime for Millions

How can working-class people vote for this guy?

Revised changes to overtime rules proposed by the Bush administration will still fail to protect overtime pay for six million workers, according to a new study.

The original proposal would have stripped overtime protection for 8 million workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which studies issues affecting middle- and lower-income workers and receives funding from some labor groups.

But the revisions would still strip OT pay for about 6 million workers, EPI said in a study released Tuesday.

posted by rorschach @ 10:02 AM  


It's Official: Anti-Gay Amendment Is Dead

Good riddance:

A divided U.S. Senate rejected a bid on Wednesday to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, likely killing the measure backed by President Bush for at least this election year.

Proponents failed to muster the needed votes to clear a procedural hurdle raised by Democrats, who accused Republicans of pushing the proposal merely to rally their conservative base for the November presidential and congressional elections.

"We all know what this issue is about," declared Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat. "It's not about how to protect the sanctity of marriage. It's about politics -- an attempt to drive a wedge between one group of citizens and the rest of the country, solely for partisan advantage."

posted by rorschach @ 10:00 AM  


The Lines Are Blurring in Afghanistan

With the ascendancy of "private contractors" as elements of twenty-first century warfare, such confusion will only proliferate:

NATO-led forces in Afghanistan were tricked into helping a group of U.S. vigilantes hunting for militants and who were arrested for illegally detaining Afghans, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

Three U.S. nationals were arrested last week after a brief shootout in Kabul. They and some Afghan accomplices had been illegally detaining and interrogating people they believed to be terrorists, Afghan officials said.

The group had asked for, and received, help from members of Afghanistan's NATO-led peacekeeping force, who believed they were members of a genuine military task force, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.

posted by rorschach @ 9:02 AM  


Governor of Mosul Killed

Another day, another assassination in "sovereign" Iraq:

Attackers killed the governor of the Iraqi city of Mosul Wednesday as he was driving in a convoy of vehicles toward Baghdad, an Interior Ministry source said.
The assailants threw a grenade at the governor's vehicle and fired automatic weapons, the source said.

"He was on his way to Baghdad with a security escort of four cars, when the attackers in another car pulled up beside his vehicle and threw a grenade, and then shot at his car," said the source, who declined to be named.

Iraqi officials have frequently been targeted for assassination by insurgents battling U.S.-led troops and Iraqi security forces in the country.

posted by rorschach @ 8:56 AM  


More on the Yucca Mountain Fiasco

I think that there are so many problems with the plan to turn Yucca Mountain into a nuclear waste facility that it needs to be scrapped immediately. First of all, if all the nation's waste makes it to Nevada, the facility will be full almost as soon as it opens, and the problem of what to do with all the waste still being produced by nuclear reactors will remain. Second, I do not relish the thought of vast amounts of toxic nuclear waste rolling through cities and towns and farmland on our highways and railways. What more inviting target could there be for any would-be terrorists? Third, the continuing resolve of the Bush administration to go ahead with the plan disregards future generations and flies in the face of the rule of law, since a court has ruled against it.

But here's another reason that the Yucca Mountain plan is fundamentally wrong, a reason that almost never gets brought up:

Can you imagine the government of Saudi Arabia telling the people of that country that they are going to have to open a landfill in Mecca? Can you imagine the French government supporting industries that dump wastewater into the aquifer that feeds the fountain at Lourdes that millions of pilgrims have flocked to over the years? The very idea is absurd. Governments have respect for the religious beliefs of all of their citizens (or do they?) and would never pollute sacred sites. Surely the American government wouldn't do such a thing, right? Wrong.

Yucca Mountain in Nevada is considered sacred by the Shoshone tribe of Native Americans. The mountain is located on land that was never deeded by the Shoshone to the U.S. government, though the government found ways of controlling what happens to it. Indeed, like many other Native American peoples in this country, the Shoshone have little say over what happens to their land. The federal government is constantly trying to wear down Shoshone leaders, promising financial compensation in return for allowing the federal government to use the land for their purposes.

Since 1970 the federal government has been pursuing a plan to build a gigantic nuclear waste dump on Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Nuclear waste from all of the country's power plants and nuclear weapons projects would be sent to this holding facility. Government scientists claim that Yucca Mountain is ideal for nuclear storage because it is inhospitable and uninhabited. In February of 2002, the Bush administration made an official recommendation for the location of the nuclear waste facility on Yucca Mountain. Nevada's governor vetoed it, but Congress overturned the veto and the President signed the bill making Yucca Mountain the official planned national nuclear waste repository.

In claiming that Yucca Mountain is ideal as a location for the storage of nuclear wastes that remain deadly in their toxicity for thousands of years, the government has conveniently disregarded the concerns of the Shoshone tribe of Native Americans. Many Shoshone live in the area of Yucca Mountain, and though it is true that the mountain itself is uninhabited, the acquifer that is the source of water for the nearby Shoshone and a large agricultural community lies underneath Yucca Mountain. Certainly all of the nearby citizens are concerned about these poisonous nuclear wastes seeping into the soil and poisoning the groundwater. Two thirds of all Nevada lands are held by the federal government and it is the state that is most heavily utilised by the government for nuclear waste storage and weapons testing. Many of these projects are put through on Shoshone land, and they have been exposed to nuclear weapons testing for decades. The federal government would probably claim that it is coincidence that the Shoshone happen to suffer from higher rates of cancer, leukaemia, and other diseases that can develop in response to exposure to high level radiation.

posted by rorschach @ 8:38 AM  


Agriculture Department Plan for Mad Cow Is Flawed

The apathy with which the government is addressing the issue of a fatal disease potentially spreading in our food supply is appalling:

The Agriculture Department's new testing plan for mad cow disease, which calls for testing up to 220,000 cows by the end of 2005, is seriously flawed and will result in "questionable estimates" of the prevalence of the disease in the nation's cattle, according to a draft report by the department's inspector general.

The harshly critical draft, released yesterday by Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat who has long been a critic of the department, said the sampling that began June 1 was not random "because participation in the program is voluntary."

In addition, it said, the department has fallen short of its own standards by failing to test all cattle condemned at slaughter with signs of brain disease, and it now lacks a credible plan for testing animals that die on farms.

They are relying on voluntary participation? They aren't testing all cattle with signs of brain disease? This is a "plan"?

posted by rorschach @ 6:56 AM  


Slamming ABC

The Bush "policy" regarding the fight against AIDS would be laughable if it weren't lethal. The acronym stands for Abstinence, Being Faithful, and if those fail, then Condoms.

The administration needs to stop with the faith-based initiatives and listen to some truths about the real world:

ABC "is not a sufficient means of prevention for women and adolescent girls," said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, a Saudi woman who is executive director of the UN Development Fund for Women (Unifem).

"Abstinence is meaningless to women who are coerced into sex. Faithfulness offers little protection to wives whose husbands have several partners or were infected before marriage. And condoms require the co-operation of husbands."

This was not only the case in sub-Saharan Africa, she said.

Studies had found that in the United States, those states where there was the biggest abstinence campaigns also had the highest rates of sexually-transmitted diseases.

Equally important was empowerment for women, a broad phrase that means ending stigma and sexual prejudice and giving women the laws, social rights and medical care to protect themselves, said Dennis Altman, a professor of politics at LaTrobe University, Australia.

ABC is "the old Nancy Reagan [dictum] of 'just say no'," he said. "You have to actually be in a pretty good position of power to 'just say no'. Most young women are not in that position of power."

posted by rorschach @ 6:48 AM  


Australian Debut

Michael Moore's success continues:

Michael Moore's controversial film Fahrenheit 9/11, which has its first screenings in capital cities around the country tonight, looks set to become Australia's highest-grossing documentary, breaking the record held by Moore's previous film, Bowling for Columbine.

Although not released until July 29, almost 10,000 seats have been sold.

posted by rorschach @ 6:44 AM  


McCain Against Marriage Ban!

After spending minutes of life last night--minutes that I will never get back--watching the mealy-mouthed Santorum pretend that there are any grounds for a Constitutional amendment, it is nice to see him get the spanking he deserves. This public pronouncement strikes me as truly amazing, given the extent to which McCain has been kowtowing to W lately:

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona broke forcefully with President Bush and the Senate GOP leadership Tuesday evening over the issue of same-sex marriage, taking to the Senate floor to call a constitutional amendment to prohibit the practice unnecessary -- and un-Republican.

"The constitutional amendment we're debating today strikes me as antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans," McCain said. "It usurps from the states a fundamental authority they have always possessed and imposes a federal remedy for a problem that most states do not believe confronts them."

McCain also said the amendment "will not be adopted by Congress this year, nor next year, nor any time soon until a substantial majority of Americans are persuaded that such a consequential action is as vitally important and necessary as the proponents feel it is today."

posted by rorschach @ 6:31 AM  


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

A Glimpse Behind the Scenes

We all know that O'Reilly lies as often as he speaks, but I find David Cole's peek into the actual workings of the show fascinating:

I sat in the Washington studio as the taping of the show began in New York with a rant from Bill O'Reilly. He claimed that "the Factor" had established the link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, and then played a clip from Thomas Kean, head of the Senate's 9/11 Commission, in which Kean said, "There is no evidence that we can find whatsoever that Iraq or Saddam Hussein participated in any way in attacks on the United States, in other words, on 9/11. What we do say, however, is there were contacts between Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Iraq, Saddam--excuse me. Al Qaeda."

I was impressed. O'Reilly, who had announced his show as the "No Spin Zone," was actually playing a balanced soundbite, one that accurately reported the commission's findings both that there was no evidence linking Saddam and 9/11, and that there was some evidence of contacts (if no "collaborative relationship") between Saddam and Al Qaeda. Maybe all those nasty things Al Franken had said about O'Reilly weren't true after all.

But suddenly O'Reilly interrupted, plainly angry, and said, "We can't use that.... We need to redo the whole thing." Three minutes of silence later, the show began again, with O'Reilly re-recording the introduction verbatim. Except this time, when he got to the part about Kean, he played no tape, and simply paraphrased Kean as confirming that "definitely there was a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda." The part about no link to 9/11 was left on the cutting-room floor.

Now it was my turn. O'Reilly introduced the segment by complaining that we are at war and need to be united, but that newspapers like the New York Times are running biased stories, dividing the country and aiding the enemy. "The spin must stop--our lives depend on it," O'Reilly gravely intoned. He then characterized the Times story that day as claiming that the Guantánamo detainees were "innocent people" and "harmless." He said the paper's article "questions holding the detainees at Guantánamo."

I noted that the Times had said nothing of the sort. And I pointed out that the article relied on a CIA study finding that the detainees seemed to be low-level and had provided little valuable intelligence.

That didn't convince O'Reilly, however, who again criticized the Times for misleading its readers by terming the detainees innocent and not dangerous. I replied that he was misleading his own viewers, by exaggerating what the Times had said. "No, I'm not," he retorted. So far, the usual fare on newstalk television.

But then I decided to go one step further: "It seems to me like the pot calling the kettle black, Bill, because I just sat here five minutes ago as you re-recorded the introduction to this show to take out a statement from the head of the 9/11 commission stating that there was no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11."

Apparently O'Reilly does not like being called "the pot." He exploded, repeatedly called me an "S.O.B." and assured me that he would cut my accusation from the interview when the show aired. He also said I would "never ever" be on his show again. At this point, I wasn't sure whether to take that as a threat or a promise.

Sure enough, when The O'Reilly Factor aired later that night, both Thomas Kean's statement about 9/11 and my charge about O'Reilly deleting it were missing. All that was left was Bill O'Reilly, fuming at the liberal media's lack of objectivity and balance, and ruing the divisive effect "spin" has on our national unity.

posted by rorschach @ 9:45 PM  


Senior Citizens Need to Vote Democrat

Arguing purely from self-interest, it makes no sense to support the Republicans. If Bush stays in, seniors will feel the pain two years down the road:

New government estimates suggest that employers will reduce or eliminate prescription drug benefits for 3.8 million retirees when Medicare offers such coverage in 2006.

That represents one-third of all the retirees with employer-sponsored drug coverage, according to documents from the Department of Health and Human Services.

No aspect of the new Medicare law causes more concern among retirees than the possibility that they might lose benefits they already have.

posted by rorschach @ 9:30 PM  


Another Trouble Spot

The US has been engaged in a number of extensive naval maneuvers in the Pacific of late. The reasons for this show of force are deeply unnerving. This is not a conflict we want heating up:

Over recent weeks - and the operations will continue through to next month - the US Navy has been testing an awesome display of military force, by deploying seven aircraft-carrier strike groups simultaneously at different locations around the globe.

The aim is to prove a new operational doctrine called the "fleet response plan" that can provide six carrier groups in less than 30 days to deal with military contingencies anywhere in the world, with another two carrier groups to be battle-ready within three months.

The exercise, "Summer Pulse 04", is being studied very closely in Beijing, where it is clearly being read by some as a warning to China as much as any of the so-called rogue nations that might challenge American dominance.

Concern about a Chinese military strike against the US-shielded Taiwan has sharpened drastically since the island's independence-leaning President, Chen Shui-bian, gained a new term in the March elections and foreshadowed changes to its constitution.

This month, the People's Liberation Army is holding ground, sea and air exercises involving its latest fighters, submarines and missile ships around Dongshan Island, off the Fujian coast near Taiwan, to send what official media called "a substantial warning" to the island's leadership.

The tone of Beijing's rhetoric has changed, notes Richard Baum, a leading China specialist at the University of California in Los Angeles. The decibel-level of harsh anti-Chen polemic has subsided, replaced by a mood of "grim determination", Baum said in a Yale Review article. "Before a tiger attacks, it remains calm and quiet," one Chinese scholar told Baum.

posted by rorschach @ 6:09 PM  


This One Is for Cornyn

You've been warned.

May not exactly be work-safe, due to downright weirdness, rather than explicit images or anything such as that.

posted by rorschach @ 4:39 PM  


Bush to Courts (and to the Environment): Go Yucca Yourself!

The court says the safeguards aren't good enough. The Bush administration says, "So what?"

The Bush administration will proceed with a plan to build a nuclear waste site in Nevada this year despite a court decision ordering it to prevent radiation leaks for more than 10,000 years, a senior Energy Department official said on Tuesday.

Critics of the project, including Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid of Nevada, say this recent federal court ruling could permanently derail a plan to build a massive underground storage depot beneath Yucca Mountain about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The administration said, however, that it does not intend to slow down.

``We are still on track toward submitting a license application in December of this year, and opening the repository and beginning waste acceptance in 2010,'' Deputy Energy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow told a Senate Energy Committee hearing on nuclear energy.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week rejected Nevada's attempt to block the plan to store 77,000 tons of waste on constitutional grounds.

However, the court also said the administration wrongly ignored a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences to ensure safety from leaks for well beyond 10,000 years.

Radioactive releases could peak in 300,000 years and the administration must assure safeguards on that scale, the court found.

Republican Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, a long-time nuclear industry proponent, said assuring safety over that timeframe is ``impossible,'' and that the industry will ``stand or fall'' on how the court's objection is addressed.

Reminds me of a remark Bush once made about how history will see him, along the lines of, "Who cares? I won't be around to see it." Sums up his short-sightedness quite nicely.

posted by rorschach @ 3:47 PM  


Update: Rangel Indeed Arrested

For protesting the genocide in Sudan:

Representative Charlie Rangel, the controversial House Democrat from Harlem who proposed that the draft be reinstated to provide more socioeconomic and racial equity in the military, has been arrested for blocking the entrance to the Sudanese embassy in Washington, UPI reports. Rangel was participating in an ongoing (but scantily covered) protest that is advocating the United States formally declare Sudan’s actions in the Darfur region genocide.

posted by rorschach @ 2:50 PM  


Get on Down with the Holy Red Breast

Via Political Animal, the story of a truly hilarious encounter between one of those Nigerian spammers and a skillful scambaiter.

posted by rorschach @ 2:06 PM  


Republicans: Hate-mongers, Failures

Not only do the Republicans fall short of the votes needed to pass the anti-gay amendment, they probably cannot even muster the 60 needed to prevent a Democratic filibuster.

Is the era of the box turtle finally upon us?

posted by rorschach @ 12:55 PM  


The Diddly Awards

Mother Jones details the "highlights" of the 108th Congress. Read the whole thing. Here's a teaser:

With billions in Iraq construction contracts pending last year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) borrowed World War II-era language for an amendment that would criminalize war profiteering. But the Republican leadership not only removed it; they also raised the limit on no-bid contracts from $7.5 million to $200 million, inaugurating a new era of raiding the U.S. Treasury, all of it legal.

posted by rorschach @ 11:26 AM  


NAACP: Still a Bunch of Big Meanies

I'm enjoying watching the effects of Bush's thin-skinned and politically stupid snub of the NAACP:

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond called on members of the nation's largest and oldest civil rights organization to boost voter turnout to help oust President Bush.

During his keynote speech at the group's 95th annual convention Sunday night in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bond also assailed the Bush administration and the Republican Party, accusing the GOP of "playing the race card in election after election."

The party appeals "to the dark underside of American culture, to the minority of Americans who reject democracy and equality," Bond said. "They preach neutrality and practice racial division."

Many black people are "ready to turn anger into action, to work for regime change here at home," Bond said. "But they have to be asked. They have to be registered, organized and mobilized."
The White House said Bush had a scheduling conflict, but Bush also has described his relationship with the NAACP leadership as "basically nonexistent."

"You've heard the rhetoric and the names they've called me," he said last week.

posted by rorschach @ 11:18 AM  


Unexpected by Whom?

Anyone who has been paying attention to Nader since he ditched the Greens and just kept on riding by his lonesome will not be at all surprised by this:

In his run for the White House, Ralph Nader is getting help from an unexpected source: Republicans. Of the $1 million that Nader has raised for his campaign so far, about $50,000 is from donors who have also given to President George W. Bush's campaign. One in 10 of Nader's biggest contributors—individuals who've written checks of $1,000 or more—are longtime GOP donors.

Among the notable: Richard Egan, Bush's former ambassador to Ireland. Egan raised more than $100,000 as a Bush Pioneer in 2000 and at least $200,000 this cycle as one of the Rangers, the Bush campaign's most elite fund-raising circle. In 2001 Egan contributed $100,000 of his own money to help pay for Bush's Inauguration, while he and his family rank among the biggest contributors to the Republican Party in general, giving nearly $1 million to the GOP since 1999, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And according to Nader's campaign-finance reports, Egan, his son John and his daughter-in-law Pamela each contributed the maximum $2,000 donation to Nader's effort. Egan declined to comment to NEWSWEEK.

posted by rorschach @ 11:15 AM  


Embarrassing Themselves

Everyone knows that being queer is, without question, utterly hip. But, in defense of traditional marriage, the Republicans show us exactly how unhip it is to be anti-queer. It ain't pretty:

The Senate Republican Conference is tired of the Hollywood liberal elite using its awesome star to, ahem, push the gay agenda down America's throat. Take "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," Madonna and Britney, "Will and Grace," Kerry and Edwards. . . They're fighting fire with fire. Today at 3PM, former Washington Redskin Darrell Green, actor Dean Jones, and Pat fucking Boone will speak out in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

So it's really more like fighting fire with a stick that's been sitting under a lamp for awhile.

Also: Rick Santorum will will be rutting with a dog himself if these are the best celebrity spokespeople for heterosexuality they can find. Dean Jones? Famous for (or, as the press release more accurately puts it, "known chiefly as") his role in "Herbie the Love Bug." Everyone knows that Herbie took it up the tailpipe. And Darrell Green? Really, nothing screams traditional values more than a guy who spends a lot of time around other sweaty, naked men. As for Pat Boone: Are we trying to say that straight people are pussies? And that pussies are boring?

Classic mixed message.

posted by rorschach @ 10:55 AM  


Terror Threat Rising in the Philippines

And, no, it has nothing to do with whether or not they pull their fifty troops out of Iraq a month early to save the life of a hostage:

The links between a Filipino Islamic separatist group and the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah are threatening the peace effort in the southern Philippines and could worsen the terrorist threat in Southeast Asia, according to a report released Tuesday by the International Crisis Group.

The report said links continue to exist between Jemaah Islamiyah and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been waging an Islamic separatist war in Mindanao since the 1970s. The International Crisis Group is an authority on Southeast Asian terrorism, particularly on Jemaah Islamiyah. "The most significant threat of all for the Philippines and the wider region is the possibility of international terrorism and domestic insurgency becoming ever more closely interwoven and mutually reinforcing," the report said. "This lends new urgency to the quest for peace in Mindanao."

While Bush's War has all eyes turned to the Middle East, the threat of a destabilized Southeast Asia seems to be growing.

posted by rorschach @ 10:17 AM  


Representative Rangel Takes to the Streets against Genocide

This country needs more representatives willing to put themselves on the line for causes they believe in:

News Advisory:

What: Rep. Charles B. Rangel to be Arrested at the Sudanese Embassy; Radio Talk Show host Joe Madison Begins Hunger Strike

When: Tuesday, July 13, 12 noon

Where: Embassy of Sudan, 2210 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.

At 12 noon on Tuesday, July 13, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, (D-N.Y.) will be among the protesters arrested at the Sudanese Embassy, 2210 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington D.C.

Congressman Rangel, along with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), are calling for an end to the genocide in Sudan. The CBC is demanding sanctions against the government of Sudan. Many of the protesters are planning to get arrested. In addition to being arrested, radio talk show host and civil rights leader, Joe Madison, will launch a hunger strike. Madison demands an immediate end to the Sudanese government's obstruction of humanitarian aid to victims of the Sudanese genocide. Madison says if trucks filled with food and medicines are not allowed through to the victims before rainy season begins hundreds of thousands of people could die needlessly.

posted by rorschach @ 10:03 AM  


Elections Over: Bush Wins in a Landslide

This newsflash brought to you by Tom Burka.

posted by rorschach @ 8:43 AM  


Stupidity on Parade

Courtesy of The Burnt Orange Report, we have some of the pearls of wisdom on display during the floor debate over the Marriage Amendment yesterday:

From Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY):

I don’t know why these judges believe they are so wise and how they cannot see how dangerous their actions are.

But they now threaten our way of life and it is up to us to act to ensure that the American people have the opportunity to decide what is right for this society.
It is the law of nature, and no matter how much some might not like it, or want to change it, or push for technology to replace it, this law is irrefutable.

It is upon this law that so much of our society and our cultural institutions are based - families, communities, work, and schools.

And when families suffer - when they are undermined - we all suffer.

We know that weak families lead to more poverty, welfare dependence, child abuse, substance abuse, illness, educational failure, and even criminal behavior.

And failing to protect marriage will send the message to the next generation that we do not care about them and that we have thrown away a cultural institution that has served human beings throughout recorded history.

Ok. Thanks, Jim. It's nice to know that gay people threaten the American way of life, and that Trent Lott and Rick Santorum taught you that homosexuality is equatable to "poverty, welfare dependence, child abuse, substance abuse, illness, educational failure, and even criminal behavior".

Next up. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT):

The bedrock of American success is the family, and it is traditional marriage that undergirds the American family. The disintegration of the family in this country correlates with many serious social problems, including crime and poverty. We are seeing soaring divorce rates and out-of-wedlock birth rates that have resulted in far too many fatherless families. Weakening the legal status of marriage at this point will only exacerbate these problems. We simply must act to strengthen the family.

posted by rorschach @ 8:05 AM