Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ah, the Sanctimony

Can we just go ahead and revoke their tax-exempt status? Please?
Politicians who support gay rights and abortion have been banned from
speaking at Roman Catholic churches in the Phoenix Diocese by Bishop Thomas
Olmsted, former bishop of Wichita.

So far, Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano is the only person affected.
She was forbidden to speak at a Scottsdale church, so an event was moved to
another site.


The Sanctity of Marriage

I'm sorry, but Catholic hypocrisy is just getting tedious:
As rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral Monsignor Eugene Clark blamed gays for
"destroying the church", now he's been named as "the other man" in a nasty
divorce involving a woman who worked for the diocese.

In divorce papers filed in Eastchester, New York, Philip DeFilippo
alleges Clark had a long term affair with his wife, Laura, the Monsignor's
personal secretary. The filing claims that the affair led to the breakup of the
DeFilippo's marriage.


A Little Sanity

Thank you, Schroeder:
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has rejected the threat of military
force against Iran, hours after US President George Bush said he would consider
it as a last resort to press Tehran to give up its nuclear program.


Invasion on the Cheap

This is just great:
A US company operating out of Ecuador says it has signed up about 1,000
Colombian police and military staff to work as hired guns in Iraq, for less than
half of their US counterparts' salaries.

Colombians "have been fighting terrorists for the past 41 years and are
experts in their respective areas" such as explosives and guerrilla warfare, Epi
Security and Investigation says on its website,


Friday, August 12, 2005

A Feast of Kittens!


No Talking!

Okay, this seems more than a tad insane:
It is a regular pastime for co-workers to chat during a coffee break, at a union hall, or over a beer about workplace issues, good grilling recipes, and celebrity gossip. Yet a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows employers to ban off-duty fraternizing among co-workers, severely weakening the rights of free association and speech, and violating basic standards of privacy for America's workers.

Link found via All Spin Zone.


Killing the Guard

Despicable. This war has to end:
The National Guard and Reserve suffered more combat deaths in Iraq during the first 10 days of August — at least 32, according to a Pentagon count — than in any full month of the entire war.


Fuurther Kittens!


Kansas Gets It Right!

Strange, yet true:
A move to prevent gays and lesbians from adopting children in Kansas has stalled after the chair of the committee that was to have considered the measure dropped it from the agenda.

Rep. Willa DeCastro (R-Wichita), the chair of the Joint Committee on Children’s Issues said there were more important things to deal with.

“I have a full agenda,” said DeCastro. A prohibition on gay adoption “didn’t make the cut with this chairman.”


No Dearth of Kittens


Yay Democr--Wait, What?

The former mayor of Baghdad tells it straight:
Baghdad's former mayor, ousted by force this week, said on Friday the new Iraq had degenerated into a militia state ruled by the gun and not the ballot box.

"I was elected. I had dreams. Then I was removed in a coup by gunmen. This is very bad. Acts like these set a dangerous precedent for a country that wants to be democratic," Alaa al-Tamimi told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"Elected officials are just removed by force. We live in a militia state even with American troops here. Imagine when they leave. It will be worse than Saddam Hussein's time."


Our Own Sturmabteilung!

This is just such a great idea:
There's been no shortage of ideas to stem the flow of illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexican border: Build a long wall. Send the Marines. Double the number of federal agents.

A Texas congressman has added another: Deputize armed civilians and deploy them as a militia to serve alongside the Border Patrol.

"We always relied on each other in frontier days in Texas," said Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas. "We relied on neighbors and friends to arm themselves and ... protect the neighborhood against bandits. I'm fed up."

His plan to create a Border Protection Corps has drawn support from four dozen House colleagues - and warnings from immigrants' advocates.


It's Official!

Gramsci is leukimia-free and is joining our family permanently (despite his propensity to bite Miriam harder than he should)!


The South Lives!

More's the pity:
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit Thursday against Tyson Foods, Inc. on behalf of black employees at the company's Ashland plant who claim white workers posted a "Whites Only" sign on a locked bathroom at the facility.

Plaintiffs Henry Adams and Leon Walker claim in the federal suit that keys to the bathroom were distributed only to white employees. According to the suit, the plaintiffs were subjected to suspensions and disciplinary write-ups when they complained to management about the segregated bathroom.


Some Good News

Another step towards curing AIDS:
A new treatment strategy has shown promise in helping to transform HIV into a curable infection.

Preliminary research published this week in The Lancet medical journal outlines how scientists used an anti-convulsant drug to awaken dormant HIV hiding in the body, where it is temporarily invisible but still dangerous.

HIV infection is incurable because current drugs only work when the virus is multiplying, which occurs only when it is in an active cell. However, HIV sometimes infects dormant cells, and when it does, it becomes dormant itself.

While the virus poses no threat in its resting state, the sleeping cells sporadically wake up, reactivating the virus and causing it to multiply. Patients must continue to take medications for the rest of their lives so they can fight the virus when it comes out of the reawakened cells. Only if every last infected dormant cell is wiped out - or the virus purged from these cells - can patients stop taking medication and be virus-free, experts say.


Thursday, August 11, 2005


The Republican Party says it still has a zero-tolerance policy for tampering with voters even as it pays the legal bills for a former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to thwart Democrats from voting in New Hampshire.


The Answers We Already Know

I doubt we will really get them, but just hearing the questions asked would be gratifying:
Among the many questions surrounding the investigation into who in the Bush administration leaked the name of an undercover CIA officer is whether President Bush's top political adviser told his boss the truth about his connection to the case.

Two years ago, the White House denied that Karl Rove played any role, but revelations in the past month have shown that Rove spoke with two journalists about the operative, Valerie Plame. Whether Bush knew the truth while the White House was issuing its denials is not publicly known.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan was so adamant in his denials in September 2003 that he told reporters the president knew that Rove wasn't involved in the leak.

``How does he know that?'' a reporter asked, referring to the president.

``I'm not going to get into conversations that the president has with advisers or staff,'' McClellan replied.


The Heat

Oh, please let DeLay feel the flames!
Investigators said that sale eventually led to the murder of the flamboyant owner, Gus Boulis.

Local 10 News has learned that two very powerful men are named in the federal indictment: Jack Abramoff, who is a hugely successful and well-connected lobbyist in Washington, and Adam Kidan, who was the public name behind the partnership that bought the Suncruz empire from the late Boulis. Abramoff and Kidan were partners in the deal.


Another Generation, Screwed

Bush has truly spawned another Vietnam, and the homeland is already feeling it. He has destroyed lives. And bodies. And minds. And do you think he cares?
Many central Iowa soldiers have returned from combat in Iraq with health problems that Polk County veterans officials say they are not equipped to address."

Almost every single Iraq vet who walks into our office has some kind of serious problem, many with mental health problems. So we just have to refer them on," said David DeBolt, director of the Polk County Commission on Veteran Affairs . "We're here to help with basic needs - some rent money, help with the bills, prescriptions, transportation around town."


Birthday Wishes

Everyone should go give NTodd late birthday wishes... (I know, I suck!)

And Vestal Vespa timely birthday wishes!


When Straights Aren't Straight

A little Schadenfreude to lighten the day:
The conservative group behind last year's successful drive to outlaw
same-sex marriage in Oregon has been fined $19,811 for errors in its
campaign-finance reports.

The state Elections Division found that the Defense of Marriage
Coalition failed to report $58,000 in campaign donations by the required

I'd say this calls for another vote, but then that's just me.


White, Ergo Not Terrorist

Let's invade Missouri!
OKLAHOMA CITY - An explosive device was found in a passenger's carryon bag as the man passed through a checkpoint, and federal agents arrested him, the FBI said Thursday.

Officials have found no apparent connection between Charles Alfred Dreyling Jr. and any terrorist group or activity, said Agent Gary Johnson, an FBI spokesman.

Dreyling, 24, was going through the security checkpoint at Will Rogers World Airport on Wednesday when a Transportation Security Administration employee noticed something suspicious in his bag on the X-ray machine, Johnson said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Troester described the device as a carbon-dioxide cartridge with a black-powder detonator.


The New "No-Fly Zone"

It's called "America":
Foreign citizens who change planes at airports in the United States can legally be seized, detained without charges, deprived of access to a lawyer or the courts, and even denied basic necessities like food, lawyers for the government said in Brooklyn federal court yesterday.

The assertion came in oral arguments over a federal lawsuit by Maher Arar, a naturalized Canadian citizen who charges that United States officials plucked him from Kennedy International Airport when he was on the way home on Sept. 26, 2002, held him in solitary confinement in a Brooklyn detention center and then shipped him to his native Syria to be interrogated under torture because officials suspected that he was a member of Al Qaeda.

Syrian and Canadian officials have cleared Mr. Arar, 35, of any terrorist connections, but United States officials maintain that "clear and unequivocal" but classified evidence shows that he is a Qaeda member. They are seeking dismissal of his lawsuit, in part through the rare assertion of a "state secrets" privilege.


Early Kittens!


Our Bastards in the Middle East

I'd be surprised if the Bush administration did anything to oppose this policy, sad to say. Bush is probably envious:
Saudi Arabia reportedly refuses to provide antiretroviral treatment to
HIV-positive foreigners and instead confines them to caged hospital rooms until they are deported or die.


The First of Many

This protest is but a harbinger of things to come:
More than 600 truckers gathered in their big rigs Wednesday to protest the rising gas prices in South Florida, NBC 6's Hank Tester reported.

The trucks, which included tractor-trailers, dump trucks and box trucks, gathered at the intersection of Okeechobee Road and the Florida Turnpike in Miami-Dade County.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tipping Point

We are touching--no, pounding--untouched stretches of the earth... And this will come back to haunt us. Can I just say that this is the point to which globalized capitalism has brought us? And this is the point that Marxist vision could not foresee.

The tragedy of this is that the global economy is still in the grip of a system that cannot see beyond one or two years at most, and this system owns almost all of the world's governments. So, such discoveries by committed scientists amount to, "hold on for the ride":
A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today.

Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.


Ain't Going Nowhere

But, note the timeline... Next summer. Just before our own elections, perhaps?
Iraq's leaders and military will be unable to lead the fight against insurgents until next summer at the earliest, a top U.S. military official said Wednesday, trying to temper any hopes that a full-scale American troop withdrawal was imminent as Iraq moves toward elections scheduled for December.

Both Americans and Iraqis need "to start thinking about and talking about what it's really going to be like in Iraq after elections," said the military official, who spoke in an interview on the condition he not be named. "I think the important point is there's not going to be a fundamental change."

Truer words never spoken.


Conspiracy to Commit Justice

And the government has no tolerance for that, as we well know. To the tune of a quarter million dollars, and six years:
Two days before the invasion of Iraq, four Catholic Workers from Ithaca (NY), in an act of non-violent civil resistance, entered a military recruiting center, read a statement, and carefully poured their own blood around the vestibule. The four, all parents, were tried in Tompkins County Court in April 2004 on charges of criminal mischief. Nine of twelve jurors voted to acquit.

However, almost a year later, the US government decided to retry the four, now on charges of conspiracy. If convicted, they face up to six years in prison and $250,000 in fines. The St. Patrick's Four trial begins September 19 in Binghamton, NY.


Third Tours?

This will do wonders for morale:
The U.S. military is “good for several years” if the current troop level in Iraq must be sustained, but third tours for active-duty servicemembers might be needed, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday.

And the Defense Department is adhering to the prohibition on placing reservists on active status for longer than 24 months, Myers told Pentagon reporters during a news conference that included Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

However, “there’s the possibility of people going back for a third term, sure,” Myers said. “That’s always out there. We are at war.”


Falwell's Latest Idiocy

The man is just so stupid (not "misunderstood"):
A Jewish organization is calling on the Rev. Jerry Falwell to retract a "vote Christian in 2008" statement made months ago in a letter raising money for his ministries.
Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director, said Falwell's statements are "directly at odds with the American ideal and should be rejected."

"Understanding the danger of combining religion and politics, our founding fathers wisely created a political system based on individual merit and religious inclusiveness," Foxman said.

Falwell told The News & Advance of Lynchburg Tuesday that his statement was misunderstood.

"What I was saying was for conservative Christian voters to vote their values, which are pro-life and pro-family," Falwell said. "I had no intention of being anti-Jewish at all."


America: Less Progressive Than Thailand

We keep slipping further and further behind the rest of the world:
Thailand on Wednesday removed restrictions on gays and transsexuals serving in the military.

Thailand has a draft but gays and transsexuals have been barred from serving under the "mental disorder" exemption.

All Thai men at the age of 20 are required by law to register to serve. Recruits are selected through a lottery system, but each year thousands of LGBT draftees are rejected.

Wednesday the military announced that it was removing homosexuality and transgenderism from its list of mental disorders following years of complaints from the LGBT community that the ban was discriminatory.

The military said that the change was part of a program to keep up with a changing society.



What a grotesque display this promises to be:
The Pentagon would hold a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an announcement tucked into an Iraq war briefing today.

"This year the Department of Defence will initiate an America Supports Your Freedom Walk," Rumsfeld said, adding that the march would remind people of "the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation".

The march will start at the Pentagon, where nearly 200 people died on September 11, 2001, and end at the National Mall with a show by country star Clint Black.

Word of the event startled some observers.

"I've never heard of such a thing," said John Pike, who has been a defence analyst in Washington for 25 years and runs

The news also reignited debate and anger over linking September 11 with the war in Iraq.


Ah, Democracy

Yes, this is how we change mayors here in America:
Armed men entered Baghdad's municipal building during a blinding dust storm on Monday, deposed the city's mayor and installed a member of Iraq's most powerful Shiite militia.

In continuing violence, the United States military announced today that four American soldiers were killed on Tuesday and six others were wounded when insurgents attacked a patrol near Baiji in northern Iraq. Two Iraqi policemen and four civilians were killed in a suicide car bombing today in western Baghdad, the Interior Ministry said.

The deposed mayor, Alaa al-Tamimi, who was not in his offices at the time, recounted the events in a telephone interview on Tuesday and called the move a municipal coup d'état. He added that he had gone into hiding for fear of his life.


The New Wedding Destination

Spain's same-sex marriage law includes foreigners the justice ministry has ruled, overturning a decision by a court in Catalonia that said a Spanish man could not wed his Indian partner because India does not allow same-sex marriage.

Since the Catalonia ruling nearly a dozen gay foreign nationals have been told in various parts of Spain that they cannot wed.

The ministry said that restrictions on the marriages of same-sex couples is illegal. In a ruling published this week in the Official State Bulletin, the ministry said it came to the "conclusion that a marriage between a Spaniard and a foreigner, or between foreigners of the same sex resident in Spain, shall be valid as a result of applying Spanish material law, even if the foreigner's national legislation does not allow or recognize the validity of such marriages."


Real Commitment to Equality

Norway is showing its radical side again:
Get more women on the board or we will shut you down. This is the Norwegian government's stark warning to companies in an attempt to break the glass ceiling holding back female executives.
Last year, the Norwegian parliament passed a bill forcing private firms to have at least 40% women on their boards. Companies had until July to boost participation of their own accord. If the numbers are insufficient, which the state will decide by August 15, sanctions will be applied and they won't just be a slap on the wrist.

"If they don't follow the rules, at the end of the day, they will be dissolved," said Ansgar Gabrielsen, the 50-year-old conservative politician who initiated the law when he was trade and industry secretary.

"Companies will find the candidates they need long before they head to the courtroom," added the current children and family affairs secretary, Laila Dåvøy, who is in charge of gender equality. "It's not a demand they can't fulfil. They have hundreds of women they can recruit from."


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

What Bush Has Made

We are clueless as to what will happen:

"It's going to take time; nobody knows," Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Pentagon news conference. "It's event-driven. It's going to be driven by a lot of events."

Though a constitutional referendum in October and elections for a permanent government in December will represent significant political milestones for Iraq, the strategy for an eventual drawdown of the 138,000 American troops in the country hinges in large part on when Iraqi troops can take the primary role in battling insurgents. Estimates of when that might happen have varied widely in recent months.

But it's probably going to be bad:
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned today that violence in Iraq could worsen, comparing insurgents to desperate Nazi SS officers and Japanese kamikaze pilots at the end of World War II.


The Fight Goes on in Cherokee Nation

A group of conservative Cherokee Nation council members have filed a new challenge to the marriage of two tribal lesbians.

The move comes a week after a tribal court dismissed a similar lawsuit that held up Dawn McKinley and Kathy Reynolds' effort to have their marriage recognized by the Cherokee Nation.

Todd Hembree, who serves as counsel to the tribe's legislative body and opposes same-sex marriage, went to court arguing the Cherokee Nation had no right to recognize the marriage.
The court ruled that Hembree had no standing to sue and could not show that he suffered any harm by the couple's attempt to be recognized as a married couple. (story)

Tuesday, a group of elected tribal councilors filed a new court challenge.

"We do have standing in this case because we're the ones who make the laws," said Linda O'Leary, one of the councilors behind the suit.

"We don't want gay marriages in the Cherokee Nation. It's that simple," she said.


Nuclear Racism

Bush's plans to build new nuclear reactors is even more irresponsible than it at first appears:
The Entergy Nuclear company of Jackson, Missippippi, with the blessing of the Bush Administration, is seeking preliminary approval to add one or two new nuclear reactors to its existing reactor at Grand Gulf. If the move is approved, the company, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, will become the first US utility to order a nuclear reactor since 1978. This expansion, viewed by critics as a form of environmental racism, would worsen already significant health hazards to the area's poor, mostly black population.

Since African slaves began arriving two centuries ago, the Grand Gulf region of woods, soybean farms, and cotton farms has been plagued by the grinding poverty characteristic of the Deep South. In the five counties within 30 miles of the site, which are home to 92,000 people, poverty and unemployment levels are double the national levels. Poverty means undernourishment, inadequate housing, lack of access to medical care--and ultimately more deaths. Placing a buffet of radioactive chemicals in the midst of vulnerable people is like holding a lighted match over kerosene. In the two years after Grand Gulf first started emitting airborne radioactivity in 1982, local infant deaths jumped by 35 percent and miscarriages by 58 percent. Adult death rates soared past the state and nation beginning in the early 1990s.


Female Genital Mutilation Found in Iraq

Very disturbing news from the rural Kurds:
Set on an arid plain southeast of Kirkuk, Hasira looks like a place forsaken by time. Sheep amble past mud-brick houses and the odd sickly palm tree shades children's games. There is no electricity.

Yet along with 39 other villages in this region that Iraq's Kurds have named Germian (meaning hot place), Hasira and its people have become noted for presenting the first statistical evidence in Iraq of the existence of female circumcision, or female genital mutilation (FGM), as critics call it.

"We knew Germian was one of the areas most affected by the practice," says Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, director of a German nongovernmental organization called WADI, which has been based in Iraq for more than a decade.

Of 1,554 women and girls over 10 years old interviewed by WADI's local medical team, 907, or more than 60 percent, said they had had the operation. The practice is known to exist throughout the Middle East, particularly in northern Saudi Arabia, southern Jordan, and Iraq.

There is also circumstantial evidence to suggest it is present in Syria, western Iran, and southern Turkey.

But while this practice was suspected in the region, there was never solid proof that the procedure was so prevalent.
When WADI presented the results of its survey in Vienna this spring, Mr. Osten-Sacken recalls, various Iraqi groups accused the group of being an agent of the Israelis. Even the Iraqi Kurdish authorities, who have backed efforts to combat FGM since the late 1990s, were rattled.

While urban Kurds are generally more lax in religious practice and more Western-looking than most Iraqis - they are the major opponents of sharia for Iraq's new constitution, for instance - many rural pockets cling to traditions.

"The [Kurdish] Ministry of Human Rights hauled us in for questioning," says Assi Frooz Aziz, coordinator of WADI's Germian medical team. "They accused us of publicizing the country's secrets."



I mean, shocking that a Bush advisor would admit this:
Treasury Secretary John W. Snow acknowledged yesterday that the fruits of strong economic growth are not spreading equally to less educated Americans, as he and the rest of President Bush's economic team prepared to meet today to discuss wages and income distribution in an otherwise surging economy.


Boor in the White House

Bush continues to appall:
Summertime often produces unexpected media figures, and this is Cindy Sheehan's season. Ms. Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq last year, is camping out near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex., and says she won't leave until Mr. Bush agrees to meet with her to discuss the war.
Ms. Sheehan's 24-year-old son, Casey, was killed in Baghdad. She says she and her family met privately with Mr. Bush two months later, and she is sharply critical of how the president acted. He did not know her son's name, she says, acted as if the meeting was a party and called her "Mom" throughout, which she considered disrespectful.


Gay Priests Rebel in England

Well, who wouldn't? It's an incredibly ridiculous "compromise":
Gay priests in the Church of England are in open revolt over a Church directive that allows them to have civil unions but requires them to be celibate.

The directive (story) to allow gay clergy to form civil partnerships was issued to comply with Britain's partner registry which comes into effect in December.

But, the requirement that gay priests abstain from sex follows a longstanding Church position. The directive, however, now requires them to give an "assurance of celibacy" to their bishops.

Gay priests surveyed by the Daily Telegraph said they would defy their bishops and refuse to give guarantees they would abstain from sex in their relationships.

One priest told the paper that he was "furious" with the way gay clergy were being treated. The paper said that LGBT rights activists were predicting widespread revolt.

"If a bishop asks me if I am having sex I will say, it's none of your business. Frankly, it is a breach of my human rights for him even to ask," said the Rev Stephen Coles of London.


Anti-Choice White House

They never fail to do the wrong thing, do they?
The Bush administration jumped into the legal dispute over a New Hampshire abortion law Monday, arguing that the outcome could affect a final ruling on a federal abortion law that has been struck down by three courts.

In a legal brief filed with the Supreme Court, the Justice Department said New Hampshire's parental notification law for minors seeking abortion does not violate the Constitution, and urged justices to uphold it.

The court decided in May to review the 2003 New Hampshire law. An appeals court ruled it was unconstitutional because it didn't provide an exception to protect the minor's health in the event of a medical emergency.


Sunday, August 07, 2005


No other word for them:

The White House has failed to turn over any of the information requested by the 10 members of the disbanded Sept. 11 commission in their renewed, unofficial investigation into whether the government is doing enough to prevent terrorist attacks on American soil, commission members said.

The members said that the Bush administration's lack of cooperation was hindering a project that was otherwise nearly complete.