Saturday, July 23, 2005

Homeland Security Keeps Itself Busy

...because heaven forbid that humanitarian aid reach Cuba. (That link is to the Caravan blog; some of the info is fairly far down on the page now, so I'm summarizing the events here.)

The 16th Pastors for Peace Friendshipment of humanitarian aid to Cuba was halted on its way across the Mexican border on July 21st. Homeland Security decided to search every single item in the aid shipment - given that the shipment is about 150 tons' worth of humanitarian aid, it took quite some time. They confiscated some computers (intended for use in schools), keyboards, and any other electronic equipment. The rest of the shipment did pass the border, however, after the search, and is now in Mexico.

It's so comforting to know that Homeland Security is spending its resources ensuring that hurricane-ravaged Cuba doesn't get any assistance.

...and on that note, a couple in Sacramento - the Footes, she a retired social worker and he a college professor - matched, dollar for dollar, the Bush administration's ever-so-generous offer of $50,000 to help Cuba recover from Hurricane Dennis.

"Wrong is wrong, and the Bush offer was an embarrassment to me." [said Ruth Foote.]

Hurricane Dennis left 16 people dead, 150,000 homes and buildings damaged or destroyed, and more than $1.4 billion in losses. Washington's offer was, at best, a cruel joke.

"When I read it, I became angry," Ruth Foote said. "'Fred, we can do this,' I told my husband. And he agreed. If we can donate $50,000 as individuals, imagine what our government could do." ...

The African-American couple is not rich, has never been to Cuba, and is not connected to any group opposed to the embargo or in favor of lifting travel restrictions to the island, not even Pastors for Peace [through whom they are making the donation]. For them, this is a matter of pure and simple human solidarity.


Raging Grannies!

I love this!
A group of anti-war senior citizens calling themselves the "Tucson Raging Grannies" say they want to enlist in the U.S. Army and go to Iraq so that their children and grandchildren can come home.

Five members of the group -- which is associated with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom -- are due in court Monday to face trespassing charges after trying to enlist at a military recruitment center last week.


Bloody Saturday

In Egypt:
Egypt - A rapid series of car bombs and another blast ripped through a luxury hotel and a coffeeshop in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik early Saturday, killing at least 83. Egypt's president vowed to hunt down the culprits as rescue workers said the death toll could still rise.


Friday, July 22, 2005

The Hegemony of Zora


More Gramsci!

"There can be no doubt about the reply: battle or death; struggle or annihilation. This is how the problem is inescapably posed."




The Solution to Energy Woes Has Been Found!

Praise be to these geniuses:
Daylight saving time is going to be extended by four weeks to shorten the winter, lengthen the summer and save energy. The measure was approved Thursday by the Energy Conference Committee made up of Congressional members from the House and the Senate who are working to harmonize their differing versions of the energy bill. The legislation was first introduced by Congressmen Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, and Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.

“Today, we shed some additional light on the need for conservation with our daylight saving extension,” said Upton. “Not only will Americans have more daylight at their disposal for an additional four weeks of the year, we will also be keeping our energy consumption as a nation down."

"Kids across the nation will soon rejoice with the extended daylight on Halloween night that will allow for an additional hour of trick or treating," Upton said.

Yes, they will. Except, you know, for those snatched on the way to school:
The Chicago-based National PTA has opposed Daylight Saving Time for more than 30 years because of concerns about kids walking to school in darkness.


Half Right

Not the steepest learning curve I've ever seen:
Nearly half of Americans say the war in Iraq has hurt what the White House calls its ''war on terror''--the highest percentage since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003--according to a major new poll released Thursday in the immediate aftermath of the latest bomb attacks in London.



From London:
Police today shot a man dead at Stockwell tube station in south London.

Scotland Yard said: "We can confirm that just after 10am armed officers entered Stockwell tube station. A man was challenged by officers and subsequently shot. London ambulance service attended the scene. He was pronounced dead at the scene."

A witness described the man being "shot dead" in front of him as an officer "unloaded five shots" from a pistol. Another witness said he heard three shots.
There was speculation the man may have been a would-be suicide bomber who had been followed by police. Mr Whitby said he did not see a bag, but the man had worn a bulky winter-style coat, and there may have been "something underneath it".
Muslim leaders called on the police to explain why an Asian man was shot dead at Stockwell station this morning. The Muslim Council of Britain said Muslims were concerned there was a "shoot to kill" policy in operation.
"We are getting phone calls from quite a lot of Muslims who are distressed about what may be a shoot to kill policy."

He said in the current atmosphere Muslims were very afraid and other people were looking at them in a very suspicious manner."


We've Got Ours, So Screw You

Have you noticed your energy bills getting higher? My electricity bill doubled last month. I wonder where that money could be going...
When major oil companies report their quarterly profits next week, they're once again expected to post record numbers. With crude trading around $60 a barrel, the oil industry is enjoying one of the biggest windfalls in its history.
“This is the mother of all booms,” said Oppenheimer & Co. oil analyst Fadel Gheit. “They have so much profit, it’s almost an embarrassment of riches. They don’t know what to do with it."

In the immortal words of Arlo Guthrie,

"I'll be glad to tell them all what they can do..."


He Doesn't Just Like Torture, He Loves Torture

Of all the things to pull out the veto stamp for:
The White House on Thursday threatened to veto a massive Senate bill for $442 billion in next year's defense programs if it moves to regulate the Pentagon's treatment of detainees or sets up a commission to investigate operations at Guantanamo Bay prison and elsewhere.

What a complete son of a bitch.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

So that's what Ward Churchill's problem is!

The radical right takes it upon themselves to entertain the nation:

Claiming Ward Churchill is possessed by demons, a Christian group diverted their protest to march near the University of Colorado professor's office.

'That's the power of Christ, to set the captive free from the lies and from those demons that are inhabiting Ward,' the Rev. Flip Benham, of Concord, N.C., told more than 100 members of Operation Save America who traveled to Boulder Tuesday from the group's convention in Denver, according to the Rocky Mountain News. They were in the college town to
protest two clinics that perform abortions, but they turned their white and yellow church bus toward CU's Ketchum Building to make a call on the embattled ethnic studies professor."

Plus, thanks to Churchill, we now know one way of distracting anti-abortion protestors.


Australia Says, No Thank You!

Wise move:
Australia will not send more troops to Iraq to replace departing British forces, Defense Minister Robert Hill said Thursday.


London Shaken Again

It appears minor this time:
The Tube has been plunged into chaos and several stations evacuated after a minor blasts on two trains and a bus.

Met Police chief Sir Ian Blair said three Tube lines were suspended but it was time London returned to normal.

The minor explosions - just two weeks after blasts killed 56 - involved detonators only, a BBC reporter said. There was only one injury.


Active Denial System

It sounds like what the White House has in place around Karl Rove (complete with sudden Supreme Court nominee!), but no. It's a "less lethal" microwave weapon deployed in Iraq--and coming soon, you bet your ass, to an urban center near you.

The thing is, the tests of this device were, well, less than true-to-life:
The Active Denial System weapon, classified as "less lethal" by the Pentagon, fires a 95-gigahertz microwave beam at rioters to cause heating and intolerable pain in less than five seconds.

The idea is people caught in the beam will rapidly try to move out of it and therefore break up the crowd.

But New Scientist magazine reported on Wednesday that during tests carried out at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, participants playing the part of rioters were told to remove glasses and contact lenses to protect their eyes.

In another test they were also told to remove metal objects like coins from their clothing to avoid local hot spots developing on their skin.

"What happens if someone in a crowd is unable for whatever reason to move away from the beam," asked Neil Davison, coordinator of the non-lethal weapons research project at Britain's Bradford University.

"How do you ensure that the dose doesn't cross the threshold for permanent damage? Does the weapon cut out to prevent overexposure?"

Excuse me while I laugh a bit at the notion that those using the weapon care about these questions.


Colonial War

That's what the new Saudi ambassador to the United States calls our invasion of Iraq:
"No matter how exalted the aims of the U.S. in the [Iraq] war, in the final analysis it was a colonial war very similar to the wars conducted by the ex-colonial powers when they went out to conquer the rest of the world."- Turki al Faisal- the new Saudi ambassador to the United States.

Sounds about right, but the source is rather surprising.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Another Misleading Headline

Such headlines as the one below really annoy me.

Seeking to understand and explain why people adopt certain tactics does not mean the same thing as defending the tactics, dammit!
London mayor defends the use of Palestinian suicide bombers

"Given that the Palestinians don't have jet planes, don't have tanks, they only have their bodies to use as weapons," Livingstone told Sky News in an interview."

In an unfair balance, that's what people use," said Livingstone, who has often been strongly critical of Israel in the past.


Roberts Hates Freedom Fries

And the girls who eat them:
As a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Roberts wrote a decision last year upholding the arrest of a 12-year-old girl who violated the ban on eating food on Washington's subway system, Metro.

But Roberts said that while the arrest was legal, he felt transit officers overreacted by handcuffing and jailing the girl.

"No one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation," he wrote. "Her shoelaces were removed, and she was transported in the windowless rear compartment of a police vehicle to a juvenile processing center, where she was booked, fingerprinted, and detained until released to her mother some three hours later — all for eating a single french fry."


Science Geek Blogging, Chemistry Edition

A new periodic table?

Read about it here.


Halliburton: It's Not Just for the Executive Branch Anymore!

Disturbing, the conflicts of interest that might arise from this little fact. For example, if a case involving Iraqi detainees might appear before Roberts:
Yet another first for our boundary-breaching White House: for the first time in American history, we’re going to have a justice on the high court whose spouse facilitates financing and putting together global satellite systems.

Also, the company in which she is a partner, Shaw Pittman, emphasizes among other things its expertise in facilitating business in Iraq:

“We offer one-stop service to clients pursuing projects in Iraq, from solicitation and RFP counseling to working with key government and multilateral agencies, and from initially penetrating the Iraqi marketplace to final project implementation. Our attorneys are recognized as leaders in their fields, and at the cutting-edge in a variety of disciplines relevant to Iraq reconstruction. A number have served in senior government positions in key agencies – including the Departments of Transportation, Navy, Justice and Commerce, as well as the Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank.”
Meanwhile, the nominee husband’s numerous investments also include Shaw Pittman. One wonders whether a Justice Roberts would have to recuse himself on any cases involving Iraq, including cases about profiteering; procedure re “detainees” rounded up in Iraq; Iraq contract fraud; and/or regulatory or other violations by satellite systems companies that hired his wife’s firm or his wife herself.


This War Is, Shall We Say, Getting Old?

Well, older, anyway:
The Defense Department quietly asked Congress on Monday to raise the maximum age for military recruits to 42 for all branches of the service.

Under current law, the maximum age to enlist in the active components is 35, while people up to age 39 may enlist in the reserves. By practice, the accepted age for recruits is 27 for the Air Force, 28 for the Marine Corps and 34 for the Navy and Army, although the Army Reserve and Navy Reserve sometimes take people up to age 39 in some specialties.

The Pentagon’s request to raise the maximum recruit age to 42 is part of what defense officials are calling a package of “urgent wartime support initiatives” sent to Congress Monday night prior to a Tuesday hearing of the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee.


Some Good News to Start the Day

Victory, at last, in Canada:
One of the most raucous debates in Canadian history resulted in a vote late Tuesday night that made Canada the fourth country to sanction same-sex marriage.

The Senate erupted in a loud cheer as it adopted the Liberal government's bill, which will give gay and lesbian couples the right to civil marriages.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Let's call him for what he is:
A man convicted of the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games bombing was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for his role in a blast at an abortion clinic.

Eric Rudolph, who denounced abortion before being sentenced, entered a plea deal that spared his life, giving him two life terms without parole for the 1998 bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed an off-duty police officer.


Good News on Eminent Domain

States are doing the right thing:
Alarmed by the prospect of local governments seizing homes and turning the property over to developers, lawmakers in at least half the states are rushing to blunt last month's U.S. Supreme Court ruling expanding the power of eminent domain.

In Texas and California, legislators have proposed constitutional amendments to bar government from taking private property for economic development. Politicians in Alabama, South Dakota and Virginia likewise hope to curtail government's ability to condemn land.

Even in states like Illinois — one of at least eight that already forbid eminent domain for economic development unless the purpose is to eliminate blight — lawmakers are proposing to make it even tougher to use the procedure.


Making Amends

Our two older cats have not been learning to love the new kitten as quickly as might be hoped, and I fear my blog may be partially to blame.

Thus, in the interest of peace and harmony:


Light Blogging

Due to heavy workload, and lightheadedness from fever...

Perhaps I can manage a kitten in a bit.


Defending the Sanctity of What Now?

You'd think if they wanted to save marriage, straight folk would just go ahead and let gay and lesbian couples take up the slack:
While gays and lesbians fight for the right to get married the number of straight couples tying the knot has declined by 50 percent since 1970 a new study shows.
"The irony of the statistical picture reported in the study is that thousands and thousands of committed, long-term same-sex couples around the country badly want to get married but are shut out of the institution," Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal and lead attorney in a lawsuit seeking marriage for same-sex couples in New York told

"Many of these are parents of children who need the legal protections that come only with marriage."

The one state in the US where same-sex marriage is legal - Massachusetts - has the lowest divorce rate in the country.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Challenge of Felinity is to Live Without Illusions and Without Becoming Disillusioned



Is the next war about to begin?
The United States has been considering attacking Sunni insurgency centers in Syria.

Western diplomatic sources and analysts said the U.S. Defense Department and Central Command have been warning of the increasing activity of a Sunni insurgency network in northern Syria. They said the Pentagon has been discussing a U.S. strike that could end the network's operation."

The Syrians appear to be encouraging some of this activity," a diplomat said. "It's clear that diplomacy hasn't worked and Washington is considering other ideas."


Spreading "Democracy"

The only thing about this story that surprises me is that the plan was rescinded. Honestly, I don't really buy it:
In the months before the Iraqi elections in January, President Bush approved a plan to provide covert support to certain Iraqi candidates and political parties, but rescinded the proposal because of Congressional opposition, current and former government officials said Saturday.


Creating Terror

Proof that we're doing it:
New investigations by the Saudi Arabian government and an Israeli think tank -- both of which painstakingly analyzed the backgrounds and motivations of hundreds of foreigners entering Iraq to fight the United States -- have found that the vast majority of these foreign fighters are not former terrorists and became radicalized by the war itself.

The studies, which together constitute the most detailed picture available of foreign fighters, cast serious doubt on President Bush's claim that those responsible for some of the worst violence are terrorists who seized on the opportunity to make Iraq the ''central front" in a battle against the United States.


Gov. Perry: Still a Phenomenal Jerk

More appalling behavior from Goodhair:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has issued an apology over the way his office handled the signing of a bill that sends to voters a proposed amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Perry apologized to the Jewish community for inviting the leader of a so-called Jews for Jesus group to the event to represent the Jewish community, but he has not apologized to gays for saying that if they want to marry they should get out of Texas.

The governor's signature was not needed on the legislation, but Perry's office organized an "official signing" ceremony anyway and decided to hold it at a Christian school in Fort Worth so the event could become a photo opportunity for Perry. (story)


Too Much

Why, then, is this bastard Rove not in prison?

Last week, Time correspondent Matthew Cooper told a grand jury that Rove told him the woman worked at the CIA, on weapons of mass destruction issues, but ended the call; saying "I've already said too much."



He's a pessimist of the intellect, but an optimist of the will.