Thursday, April 28, 2005

A Public Service

I just now realized what a valuable service I provide here.

Someone found No Capital by googling "Reasons not to date Republicans." I hope this site helped you out!


Absolutely Brilliant

Guerrilla art of all sorts has always fascinated me. And this is a great example of what art can and should do:
In a city where fame is an industry and privacy is a mark of privilege, guerrilla artists have erected mock guard towers to protest what they see as a disturbing proliferation of gated communities.

Heavy Trash, a coalition of anonymous architects, designers and urban planners, erected the bright orange, 12-foot viewing platforms outside the gates of three upscale Los Angeles neighborhoods.

"Walling off one section of the city from another section is not the right solution," said a Heavy Trash member who identified himself as Jake, an inner-city developer.

"We feel that gated communities are becoming popular at a very alarming rate, and that 10 to 20 years from now, people will realize that the gates are an anathema to a democratic, open society, and that they instead make for a more fearful society."

Early on Sunday morning, members of the group dressed in orange vests and driving construction trucks delivered the platforms to the gates of Brentwood Circle, Park La Brea and Laughlin Park, said group member Susan, an architect.

In a nation where the poor are more and more subject to surveillance, it's nice to see the tables turned for once.


A Handmaid's Tale Begins

As if there's not enough about which to be infuriated today, watertiger brings this to our attention:
The state's social services agency was granted a court order to block an abortion for a pregnant 13-year-old girl living in a state shelter, prompting an emergency appeal Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU in its appeal on the girl's behalf cited Florida statutes that protect a minor's decision to decide on an abortion.

"No (Department of Children & Families) regulation or state law can override a constitutional right as recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court," said Howard Simon, the organization's executive director for Florida.

"But putting aside the legalisms, forcing a 13-year-old to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term against her wishes not only is illegal and unconstitutional, it's cruel."

The girl learned she was pregnant two weeks ago and planned to have an abortion Tuesday. Her caseworker arranged for transportation and help. But the state Department of Children & Families asked a Palm Beach County juvenile judge Tuesday morning to block the procedure.

The state agency argued the 13 1/2-week pregnant girl — described as L.G. in court documents — is too young and immature to make an informed medical decision, according to the ACLU appeal.

A judge granted a temporary injunction and ordered a psychological evaluation.



When are they going to put a straitjacket and muzzle on this deranged moron?
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday it makes "all the sense in the world" to study the feasibility of designing a nuclear weapon capable of penetrating deeply buried targets.

Rumsfeld defended the proposed 8.5 million-dollar study of a "robust nuclear earth penetrator" at a Senate hearing after it came under fire from Senator Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat.
Feinstein noted that Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has acknowledged in previous hearings that no missile could bore deep enough into the earth to trap all fallout from a nuclear explosion.

"It is beyond me as to why you are proceeding with this program when the laws of physics won't allow a missile to be driven deeply enough to retain the fallout which will spew in hundreds of millions of cubic feet if it is a hundred kilotons," Feinstein said.



We all knew it from the first moment we heard it:
Former CIA Director George Tenet said he regretted assuring President Bush in 2002 that he had "slam dunk" evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

"Those were the two dumbest words I ever said," Tenet told about 1,300 people at a Kutztown University forum Wednesday.

The theory was a leading justification for the war in Iraq.

Such weapons were never found.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Because They Have All the Time in the World, Right?

Bastards. I know the numbers seem small, but I reckon that doesn't matter to those wasting away while waiting; this is murderous maladministration:
11 states continue to have waiting lists for low-income HIV and AIDS patients who need help paying for prescription drugs, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Alliance of State AIDS Directors.

"These are lifesaving medications," said Lisejean Freed with the North Idaho AIDS Coalition in Coeur d'Alene. "On my caseload, I have 37 clients in the five northern counties, and probably eight of those people are on a waiting list."

The drugs that slow the advance of HIV and AIDS can cost patients thousands of dollars a month, Freed said. AIDS Drug Assistance Programs nationwide help low-income patients afford the medications, but federal funding is slim. Some states, including Idaho, have been forced to leave patients on a waiting list as health care costs rise.


The Time for DeLay Is Over

Or so it would seem:
Now that it's clear that his controversial private-paid trips abroad will be put under a microscope in Congress, Tom DeLay is in serious danger of being declared in violation of House ethics rules, legal experts say.


The Bitter, Vile Irony

Given the history of the present pope, one would think this cardinal might have chosen a different horribly inapplicable analogy:
Gay rights groups in Spain reacted with anger on Wednesday after a Roman Catholic cardinal compared obedience to the legalization of same-sex marriage to the process that led to the creation of Nazi death camps, Agence France-Presse reports. "If you give obedience to the law priority over obedience to your conscience, that leads to Auschwitz," Cardinal Ricard Maria Carles, former archbishop of Barcelona, told a Spanish television station.


Commie Priest?

Very odd story, this:
A priest in charge of bringing Polish pilgrims to the Vatican was a secret communist informer during the era of Pope John Paul II, it has been alleged.

Father Konrad Stanislaw Hejmo, 69, was said to have collaborated with the secret services in communist Poland during the 1980s.

The allegations have been made by a Polish institute investigating Nazi and communist crimes in Poland.


Fusion Works

But before you get all excited and start envisioning utopia, read the story. It doesn't produce any energy worth mentioning, and the only two possible uses mentioned are homeland security and--get this--drilling for oil:

A tabletop experiment created nuclear fusion — long seen as a possible clean energy solution — under lab conditions, scientists reported.

But the amount of energy produced was too little to be seen as a breakthrough in solving the world's energy needs

For years, scientists have sought to harness controllable nuclear fusion, the same power that lights the sun and stars. This latest experiment relied on a tiny crystal to generate a strong electric field. While falling short as a way to produce energy, the method could have potential uses in the oil-drilling industry and homeland security, said Seth Putterman, one of the physicists who did the experiment at the University of California, Los Angeles.


Reality: Civil War

Not democracy, not liberation. This is what we've brought to Iraq:
Whereas once politicians were not willing to utter the term for fear of dignifying it, it is no longer taboo.

"I do not want to say civil war, but we are going the Lebanese route, and we know where that led," says Sabah Kadhim, an adviser to the Interior Ministry who spent years in exile before returning to Iraq after Saddam Hussein's overthrow.

"We are going to end up with certain areas that are controlled by certain warlords ... It's Sunni versus Shi'ite, that is the issue that is really in the ascendancy right now, and that wasn't the case right after the elections."

It's a civil war, and it's not going to end any time soon, whether we stay or go.


Cardboard Tiger

Appalling. Led into war by an idiot, we're forced to fight it using dummies. Thank you, GWB:
US marines who suffered the highest casualty rate of any unit in Iraq have revealed that they were so short of soldiers that they used cardboard dummies to fool insurgents into believing that they faced more men.

Company E of the First Marine Division dressed the cutouts in camouflage shirts and placed them in observation posts to trick Iraqi rebels into thinking that they were manned.

More than one third of the unit's 185 troops were killed or wounded during its six-month tour last year in Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold west of Fallujah, during which it was targeted by 26 firefights, 90 mortar attacks and nearly 100 home-made bombs.

The deception was revealed yesterday when the marines broke the corp's code of silence to detail the shortages of equipment and manpower that they blame for many of their comrades' deaths.


An Amusing Site

My friend Rosie pointed this site out to me some time ago, and I just rediscovered it.

Take a break from the world's disasters and check it out. It will crack you up.


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Good News, Everyone!

We're only half stupid now!
Half of all Americans, exactly 50%, now say the Bush administration deliberately misled Americans about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the Gallup Organization reported this morning.

"This is the highest percentage that Gallup has found on this measure since the question was first asked in late May 2003," the pollsters observed. "At that time, 31% said the administration deliberately misled Americans. This sentiment has gradually increased over time, to 39% in July 2003, 43% in January/February 2004, and 47% in October 2004."


Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree...

I sold you and you sold me. We must ask ourselves, "What is our children learning?"
For a growing number of students, the easiest way to make a couple of hundred dollars has nothing to do with chores or after-school jobs, and everything to do with informing on classmates.

Tragedies like last month's deadly shooting at a Red Lake, Minn., school have prompted more schools to offer cash and other prizes -- including pizza and premium parking spots -- to students reporting classmates who carry guns, drugs or alcohol, commit vandalism or otherwise break school rules.
Critics call them "snitch" programs, saying they are a knee-jerk reaction to student violence. Some education professionals fear such policies could create a climate of distrust in schools and turn students against each other.

"There are very few things that I can think of that would be more effective at destroying that sense of community," said Bruce Marlowe, an education psychology professor at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I.

(The story includes an online survey, should you wish to express your opinion of cultivating students to be paid snitches.)


Another Step...

Toward the end of the "American Century":
General Motors Corp., faced with shrinking North American market share and evaporating profits, may have no choice but to close more plants and lay off thousands more workers. The automaker is trying to wring cost out of its money-losing North American business, which is saddled excess manufacturing capacity.

In the past 16 months, GM has been forced to shut down various North American assembly plants for 121 weeks because of slow sales and bloated inventories, according to an analysis by The Detroit News.

This week alone, GM temporarily laid off 7,000 workers, joining an estimated 8,500 workers already idled due previous plant closings or permanent production cuts.



Once again, Texas = Stupid:
Same-sex couples in Texas would be banned from marriage under a constitutional amendment House lawmakers approved Monday.

The measure, sponsored by Republican Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa, aims to stem possible court challenges to an existing Texas law making same-sex marriages illegal. It passed with a vote of 101-29, more than the 100 needed for approval of a constitutional amendment in the House.

"I think marriage is important enough to the people of this state that it deserves the highest level of protection," Chisum said.

The measure still must win approval in the Senate and from Texas voters to become part of the state constitution.
Can I just state that any measure sponsored by "Pampa's Chisum" is suspect at best?



No WMDs. And no, they weren't sent to Syria:
Wrapping up his investigation into Saddam Hussein's purported arsenal, the CIA's top weapons hunter in Iraq said his search for weapons of mass destruction "has been exhausted" without finding any.

Nor did Charles Duelfer, head of the Iraq Survey Group, find any evidence that such weapons were shipped officially from Iraq to Syria to be hidden before the U.S. invasion, but he couldn't rule out some unofficial transfer of limited WMD-related materials.


Monday, April 25, 2005

Another Nail in the Coffin

The esteemed statesman proposed by the Bush administration to represent the United States at the United Nations apparently interfered with Europe's attempts to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

The madness just doesn't stop with these people:
JACK STRAW became embroiled yesterday in the controversy surrounding John Bolton, President Bush’s choice to become the next US Ambassador to the UN, after it emerged that the Foreign Secretary had complained to Washington about his behaviour.

As a series of new allegations against Mr Bolton put his chances of confirmation further into doubt, details emerged of how a furious Mr Straw told Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State, that Mr Bolton was trying to destroy a European initiative on Iran’s nuclear programme.


Which Side Would You Rather Be On?

I mean, really. Read this, and tell me who represents the "culture of life."
Stunned that protesters were flashing hateful anti-gay messages to traffic along a busy street on the weekend, Chris Lucas had to pull over to join a counter-protest.

Then, just as spontaneously, Lucas found a way to stun the protesters. The 31-year-old massage therapist and a man he just met locked in a passionate kiss just feet from the protesters.

‘‘I know the protesters were shouting things at me, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying,’’ said Lucas, who is gay. ‘‘I had my eyes closed. It was actually kind of liberating to do this.’’

The kiss was one of several creative responses to a demonstration by 20 members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. The group travels the country to rally against homosexuality.

‘‘These young adults need to know there is a hell and there is a judgment day on which they will be judged for their sins,’’ said church member Deborah Hockenbarger, 51. ‘‘We are trying to warn them about their filthiness. It is not OK to be a fag. God almighty says so.’’

Hockenbarger waved a sign that read: ‘‘Fags are worthy of death.’’ Other church members took shots at Catholicism with signs that read: ‘‘Pope in Hell’’ and ‘‘Your pastor is a whore.’’ They view the church as a pro-gay institution.


I Agree with Ratzinger!

Amazing, but true. We agree on this one issue, at least:
Pope Benedict XVI has revealed at an audience with pilgrims that he prayed to
God during conclave to spare him the "destiny" of becoming Pope.

I, too, wish we had been spared this man as pope.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Multiple-Use Technology

Who knew that condoms could be so useful and versatile? Seriously, though, the Indian government needs to take action, if they don't want an even worse plague on their hands:
Eight months after a government agency warned that 75 percent of India's condoms were being used for just about everything except sex the government has done little to stop the abuse.

India now has the highest rate of AIDS of any country in the world and the government distributes billions of free condoms annually, but most fall into the hands of black marketeers who sell them for everything from the manufacture of saris to paving of roads.

Last August the abuse was documented in a report to the government prepared by King George's Medical University of Lucknow. (story)

The report warned that unless the government immediately acted to stop the vast majority of condoms from being grabbed by manufacturers the number of cases of HIV/AIDS was rise dramatically in the world's biggest democracy.

The Economic Times newspaper reports that since the report was issued virtually nothing has been done.

Sari weavers place the condoms on their thread spools and the lubricant on the prophylactics is rubbed off on the thread, making it move faster through their sewing machines.

Contractors use shredded condoms mixed with concrete and tar to pave roads. The latex apparently helps make the roads smooth and resistant to cracks.


Back to the Stone Age...

I originally got this report from the Deutsche Welle, but can no longer find it on their site; BBC, however, has the same story, reporting that for the first time since the US invasion, a woman was stoned to death in Afghanistan today.
Apr. 23, 2005 A woman has been stoned to death in Afghanistan, reportedly for committing adultery...

A local Afghan government official confirmed the death, and said the government would investigate the case.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said the woman had been sentenced to death by a decree from the local religious scholar.
After all of Bush's rhetoric of concern for Afghan women, and the right's insistence that they are all vitally interested in their fate, how much would you like to bet that this report won't make it to any major news outlets in this country?