Saturday, January 28, 2006

Conspiracy Theories Are Inevitable

But this particular approach seems at least somewhat valid:
An influential group of prominent experts and scholars have joined together alleging that senior government officials have covered up crucial facts about what really happened on 9/11. The members of this new non-partisan association, "Scholars for 9/11 Truth" (S9/11T), are convinced their research proves the current administration has been dishonest with the nation about events in New York and Washington, D.C.

These experts contend that books and articles by members and associates have established that the World Trade Center was almost certainly brought down by controlled demolitions and that the available relevant evidence casts grave doubt on the official story about the attack on the Pentagon. They believe that the government not only permitted 9/11 to occur but may even have orchestrated these events to facilitate its political agenda.

The society includes U.S. and international faculty and students of history, science, military affairs, psychology, and even philosophy. According to its spokesmen, S9/11T represents a concerted effort to uphold the standards of truth and justice and to strengthen democracy in this nation, which has taken a terrible hit in the aftermath of 9/11, when "everything changed." Its function is to bring scientific rigor to the study of 9/11 phenomena.


What a Relief!

That's a load off my mind:
When it comes to romance, women prefer someone who tickles their funny bone while men opt for those who catch their eye, according to an international survey released on Wednesday.


Humuhumunukunukuapuaa Dethroned?

Say it isn't so!

Everyone thought the humuhumunukunukuapuaa was Hawaii's state fish. As it turns out, the brightly colored fish with the excessively long name has been dethroned.

The news shook the world of Rep. Blake Oshiro, who found out the designation was no longer official from Joel Itomura, a 6-year-old fish-loving son of a friend and constituent.
"I was really surprised," said Oshiro, who has drawn up a bill that would make humuhumunukunukuapuaa — also known as the rectangular triggerfish or "humuhumu" for short — the official state fish for the islands.


Getting the Oprah Boot

I've always found it rather odd that a talk-show host, however intelligent, should wield such power over American literary consumption anyway, but it still has to sting a bit. Although, an increase in book sales as a result of the controversy might dull that sting rather:
In an extraordinary reversal of her defense of the author whose memoir she catapulted to the top of the best-seller lists, Oprah Winfrey rebuked James Frey, the author of "A Million Little Pieces," on her television show yesterday for lying about his past and portraying the book as a truthful account of his life.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Don't Ask, Don't Film

Hm, that latter seems self-evident, but no:
Army officials are investigating allegations that members of the celebrated 82nd Airborne Division appear on a gay pornography Web site, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Authorities at Fort Bragg have begun an inquiry into whether the paratroopers' actions violated the military conduct code.

Division spokeswoman Maj. Amy Hannah declined to say how many paratroopers are involved or identify their unit within the division. A defense official speaking on condition of anonymity said up to seven soldiers are involved.

Hannah said soldiers questioned will be allowed to seek legal assistance, but she declined to say if any one had been charged.


Poor Little White Boy Syndrome

It's a tragedy, when it strikes:
A 17-year-old male high school student has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights accusing his public school of discriminating against boys.
The complaint in Milton, an affluent Boston suburb, defies the conventional image of American schools giving more attention to boys than girls.


On the Edge of My Seat

As should the entire Christian world be:
An Italian judge heard arguments Friday on whether a small-town parish priest should stand trial for asserting that Jesus Christ existed.

The priest's atheist accuser, Luigi Cascioli, says the Roman Catholic Church has been deceiving people for 2,000 years with a fable that Christ existed, and that the Rev. Enrico Righi violated two Italian laws by reasserting the claim.

Lawyers for Righi and Cascioli, old schoolmates, made their arguments in a brief, closed-door hearing before Judge Gaetano Mautone in Viterbo, north of Rome. They said they expected the judge to decide quickly.

Cascioli filed a criminal complaint in 2002 after Righi wrote in a parish bulletin that Jesus did indeed exist, and that he was born of a couple named Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem and lived in Nazareth.

Cascioli claims that Righi's assertion constituted two crimes under Italian law: so-called "abuse of popular belief," in which someone fraudulently deceives people; and "impersonation," in which someone gains by attributing a false name to a person.


Remy Is Two!


Victory in Washington

Step by step:
The Washington state Senate voted 25-23 Friday to pass an LGBT civil rights bill that ends a 30 year struggle by gays.

The legislation adds "sexual orientation" to a state law that already bans discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability, religion and marital status.


More Kidnappings in Iraq

It's true, the best way to win a people's hearts and minds is to steal the women:
The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into surrender, U.S. military documents show.

In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him "to come get his wife."

The issue of female detentions in Iraq has taken on a higher profile since kidnappers seized American journalist Jill Carroll on Jan. 7 and threatened to kill her unless all Iraqi women detainees are freed.



This is what passes for wit on the Right these days, it would seem. And the sad thing is, poor little Coulter seems to think this will generate outrage. She like the poor, pitiable child who says, "fuck" over and over just to get the attention she so desperately needs:
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter, speaking at a traditionally black college, joked that Justice John Paul Stevens should be poisoned.

Coulter had told the Philander Smith College audience Thursday that more conservative justices were needed on the Supreme Court to change the current law on abortion. Stevens is one of the court's most liberal members.

"We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee," Coulter said. "That's just a joke, for you in the media."

At one point during her address, which was part of a lecture series, some audience members booed when she cut off two questioners. "I'm not going to be lectured to," Coulter told one man in a raised voice.

She drew more boos when she said the crack cocaine problem "has pretty much gone away."


DeLay on Fox? $14,000

"Truthiness"? Priceless.
Four days after U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's stunning indictment last September in Travis County, the political talk show "Fox News Sunday" trumpeted an exclusive interview with the combative Texas Republican.

Unsaid, but revealed in documents DeLay later filed in the U.S. House, was that DeLay's Oct. 2 appearance cost Fox News $14,000.


Why We Must Rebuild

Another dispiriting study:
The city of New Orleans could lose up to 80 percent of its black population if people displaced by Hurricane Katrina are not able to return to their damaged neighborhoods, according to an analysis released Thursday by a Brown University sociologist.
New Orleans was more than 65 percent black before Katrina hit in August, but it appears most of the estimated 135,000 residents who have been able to return are white. Mayor Ray Nagin recently apologized for saying New Orleans would remain a "chocolate city" as he tried to allay fears that blacks would not return.

The study found that if New Orleans' returning population was limited to the neighborhoods undamaged by Katrina, about half the white population would not return and 80 percent of its black population would not.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Deliverance Nation

Found at Atrios.



The details may seem rather complex, but the situation is simple. If the state withholds these hormones, the two inmates will suffer physical and psychological harm not indicated in statute. Thus, cruel and unusual punishment:
A federal judge has ordered the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to resume hormone therapy for two transsexuals who were denied treatment under a state law.

Judge Charles N. Clevert Jr. granted the temporary restraining order barring the department from withholding the treatment while the case is argued in court.

The women, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal, filed suit earlier this week challenging the Wisconsin law. (story)

Over the objections of the Department of Corrections, the Wisconsin legislature passed a law last year that bars prison doctors from deciding the best course of treatment for transgender people by denying them access to any type of hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery while in state custody.

Legislators supporting the law claimed that it was necessary to reduce expenses.

Lambda Legal and the ACLU are representing Kari Sundstrom and Andrea Fields, who are both serving time in Wisconsin prisons on forgery charges.

Sundstrom, 41, had been on hormone therapy since 1990, Fields, 29, was been on hormone therapy since 1996. Once they were incarcerated the treatments were stopped.

Stopping hormone treatment once they have begun could result in life-threatening damage including hypertension, diabetes, muscle wasting, osteoporosis and potentially even heart failure the ACLU said in seeking the temporary injunction.

The lawsuit charges that it is a violation of the Constitution's guarantee


Berlin Finally Begins Work on a Holocaust Gay Memorial

The question now, is will they succeed in producing something worthwhile, relevant, and dynamic:
A jury has chosen a design for a memorial in Berlin to gays persecuted and killed under the Nazis, a monument that will complement the nearby memorial to the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, the city government said Thursday.

The design by Danish-born Michael Elmgreen and Norwegian native Ingar Dragset is shaped as a gray concrete slab with a window, allowing visitors to view a film projection inside.


Theologian DeBernarnado Replies

To the pope's encyclical:
Under Benedict's leadership, the Vatican has framed homosexuality as a malformed psychological trait or a deviant form of sexual behavior, and has downplayed the understanding of many theologians, priests, bishops, and lay people that same-sex relationships are a validly Catholic and human way that people experience the love of God.


A Wistful Tista Watches as Miriam Flies Away


Panem et Circenses, American Style

Detroit readies itself for the grand spectacle. Better than getting beat down and thrown in jail for no reason, I can tell you that much:
The fliers advertise big screen TVs, lots of food and a DJ. Could be any of a thousand Super Bowl parties in the Motor City next week, right? Except, this one also boasts free clothes, shower facilities and mental health assessments. Its target audience: Detroit's homeless population. The Detroit Rescue Mission is throwing a three-day Super Bowl party beginning Feb. 3 and ending when the game clock closes out the fourth quarter.

"The Super Bowl experience is part of American culture," says Chad Audi, chief operating officer of the shelter on Third Street, less than a half-mile from Ford Field. "This way, instead of being thrown in jail or whatever to get them out of the way, they can feel like human beings being treated with dignity and respect." Along with dozens of volunteers from local churches, the mission plans to have substance-abuse counselors and mental health workers on site to help assess the needs of partygoers. "Maybe we can pay a few utility bills to get them back into housing or get them into treatment," Audi says. He's also hoping they might reach more people than usual, since many who don't usually visit shelters might come for the party. There hasn't been much criticism of party plans. Even the police, Audi says, have agreed to call the Rescue Mission instead of just rousting the homeless. “We'll send a van to pick them up and bring them to the party,” he says.


They Just Wanted to Do It Their Own Selves, with No Standards at All

Can there be any other explanation to this administration's decision not to support a legal means of doing what they now have been shown to be doing llegally?
The Bush administration rejected a 2002 Senate proposal that would have made it easier for FBI agents to obtain surveillance warrants in terrorism cases, concluding that the system was working well and that it would likely be unconstitutional to lower the legal standard.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Newsflash! Old Celibate Man Insists That Erotic Love Must Be Hetero

In other news, the sun rose in the east:

Pope Benedict XVI released his first encyclical on Wednesday, a letter of instruction on the nature of human and divine love.

Titled "Deus Caritas Est" (God is Love) it begins with a statement in support of erotic love and reiterates the pope’s belief that the only valid form of sexual expression comes in the form of monogamous marriage between a man and a woman.


University Alters Position: Fucking Not Mandatory

A breakthrough for non-horny couples, after the previous requirement was rescinded:
A requirement that same-sex couples swear they are in "a non-platonic" relationship in order to enroll for health benefits has been dropped by the University of Florida.


Librarians on the Front Lines

Once again, facing down the government in the name of civil liberties:
Law enforcement and Newton Free Library officials were embroiled in a tense standoff for nearly 10 hours last week when the city refused to let police and the FBI examine library computers without a warrant.

Police rushed to the main library last Wednesday after it was determined that a terrorist threat to Brandeis University had been sent from a computer at the library.

But requests to examine any of its computers were rebuffed by library Director Kathy Glick-Weil and Mayor David Cohen on the grounds that they did not have a warrant.

While one law enforcement official said he was "totally disgusted" with the city’s attempt to hold up a time-sensitive investigation of potential terrorist threat, Cohen is defending the library’s actions, calling it one of Newton’s "finest hours."

"We showed you can enforce the law ... without jeopardizing the privacy of innocent citizens," Cohen said.


More Evidence of Normalcy in New Orleans

Painful, embarrassing politics?

Sounds like it'd make a great T-shirt!


A Woman's a Woman for A'That

Happy Burns night! And congratulations to Sheena Wellington, who will be the first woman in 204 years to offer the traditional Toast to the Immortal Memory of the Bard at the Greenock Burns Club.

Here's to the egalitarian poet:

A Man's a Man for A' That

By Robert Burns, 1795
Is there for honest poverty
That hings his head, an a' that?
The coward slave, we pass him by -
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an a' that!
Our toils obscure, an a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The man's the gowd for a' that.
What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hodding grey, an a' that?
Gie fools their skills, and knaves their wine -
A man's a man for a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
Their tinsel show, an a' that,
The honest man, tho e'er sae poor,
Is king o men for a' that.
Ye see yon birkie ca'd 'a lord,'
Wha struts, an stares, an a' that?
Tho hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a cuif for a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
His ribband, star, an a' that,
The man o independent mind,
He looks an laughs at a' that.
A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an a' that!
But an honest man's aboon his might -
Guid faith, he mauna fa' that!
For a' that, an a' that,
Their dignities, an a' that,
The pith o sense an pride o worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.
Then let us pray that come it may
(As come it will for a' that),
That Sense and Worth o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree an a' that.
For a' that, an a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That man to man, the world, o'er
Shall brithers be for a' that.


Protecting the Troops

I'm sure all the returning amputees and PTSD-sufferers are relieved that the military discharged hundreds of health workers for being gay:
Hundreds of officers and health care professionals have been discharged in the past 10 years under the Pentagon's policy on gays, a loss that while relatively small in numbers involves troops who are expensive for the military to educate and train.

The 350 or so affected are a tiny fraction of the 1.4 million members of the uniformed services and about 3.5 percent of the more than 10,000 people discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy since its inception in 1994.

But many were military school graduates or service members who went to medical school at the taxpayers' expense -_ troops not as easily replaced by a nation at war that is struggling to fill its enlistment quotas.

"You don't just go out on the street tomorrow and pluck someone from the general population who has an Air Force education, someone trained as a physician, someone who bleeds Air Force blue, who is willing to serve, and that you can put in Iraq tomorrow," said Beth Schissel, who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1989 and went on to medical school.

Schissel was forced out of the military after she acknowledged that she was gay.
Opponents of the policy on gays acknowledge that the number of those discharged is small. But they say the policy exacerbates a shortage of medical specialists in the military when they are needed the most.

Late last year Army officials acknowledged in a congressional hearing that they are seeing shortfalls in key medical specialties.

"What advantage is the military getting by firing brain surgeons at the very time our wounded soldiers aren't receiving the medical care they need?" said Aaron Belkin, associate professor of political science at the University of California at Santa Barbara.


Pentagon Study: We Will Lose

Surprise. We went into a war without a plan, without even a definition of "victory."

And we will be driven out. The lasting effects on our military will be profound:
Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a "thin green line" that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon.

Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency.
He wrote that the Army is "in a race against time" to adjust to the demands of war "or risk `breaking' the force in the form of a catastrophic decline" in recruitment and re-enlistment.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Most Deserving of Wider Recognition

Apparently No Capital is one of the nominees...

The voting is not yet open, but just wait, when the voting starts, you can bet that... I might possibly remember to ask for your vote!


Good Luck With That

But I wouldn't hold my breath. This executive branch has nothing but disdain for the demands of the judiciary or the legislature:
A federal judge has ordered the Pentagon to release the names and nationalities of hundreds of prisoners detained at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, rejecting the government's argument that it would be a violation of their privacy and expose them to retaliation by terrorist groups.

The ruling, issued yesterday by Judge Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan, came in a lawsuit brought by The Associated Press in April 2005 under the Freedom of Information Act. The suit sought to force the Pentagon to release transcripts of military tribunal hearings held to determine whether the detainees at Guantánamo had been properly categorized as "enemy combatants."

Last year, the Pentagon released the transcripts of 558 tribunals but blacked out the names and other basic identifying information about the prisoners. In his new ruling, which he described as "final," Judge Rakoff ordered the Defense Department to turn over "unredacted copies" of the transcripts to the news agency.



Interesting, though it seems to me clunky and easily freeped:
Wisconsin's second-largest newspaper is letting readers help decide what to put on the front page.

In an experiment designed to boost reader interest, the Wisconsin State Journal allows readers to go on its Web site every weekday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and vote for their favorite out of five story ideas. Barring late-breaking news, the winning story typically will appear on Page 1 the next day.


New Template Inaugural Catblogging

You knew it wouldn't take long.


Sweet Nebraskan Theocracy

Let's just rename the state "Gilead" and be done with it:
Church and state collided in the Capitol Tuesday when the opening prayer in the Unicameral asked forgiveness for abortions and the teaching of evolution.

Morning prayers typically are general in nature and do not touch on hot-button social, political or religious issues. Guidelines given to those who are asked to deliver the prayer, sent by the clerk of the Legislature's office, forbid talking about issues that are on that day's agenda for debate, or expressing any sentiment that could be considered political in nature.

The prayer was delivered by Tom Swartley, a minister at First Christian Church in Elm Creek.

Standing at the front of the legislative chamber with his comments broadcast statewide, Swartley asked God for forgiveness for abortion, which he called a, "33-year-long nightmare."

"We go to work and school and come home and watch TV while genocide, infanticide and homicide is being committed against our own children," he said.

Swartley also asked forgiveness for "teaching the religion of evolution to our young citizens."

"We put our children in the same category as other mammals and then we wonder why some act like animals," he said.



I have to admit, I'd pretty much given up on the Alito fight, but this development could prove very interesting:
One of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) today announced he would vote no on Judge Samuel Alito Jr.’s confirmation to the Supreme Court -- raising the possiblity of a filibuster, RAW STORY has learned. Just one Democrat has said he'll vote to confirm Alito.


In Good Company

Homophobic regimes of the world, unite!
The United States joined with four of the world's most repressive regimes to reject an application by two international LGBT groups seeking to join a UN agency that advises the world body on economics and social issues.

The application by the International Lesbian and Gay Association and the Danish Association of Gays and Lesbians was dismissed without a hearing.

The groups had sought inclusion on the United Nations Economic and Social Council, a think tank made up of non governmental agencies from around the world.

The United States voted with Iran, Zimbabwe, China, Cameroon against granting a hearing for the application.
"It is an absolute outrage that the United States has chosen to align itself with tyrants — all in a sickening effort to smother the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

"Apparently Iran, which President Bush has deemed part of the 'Axis of Evil,' is a suitable partner when it comes to discriminating against gay people," said Foreman.
The Bush-Cheney administration has also opposed women's and children's rights treaties, sex education, contraception and family planning in international forums.


So Much for Daniel

NBC drops it. I never saw it, and heard mixed reviews, but honestly the fact that dropping the show gives the AFA a chance to preen should have been enough impetus to make NBC keep it on! (Reason #149 why rorschach is not a TV executive.)
NBC has dropped "The Book Of Daniel" from its schedule effective immediately. The episode that was to have aired on Friday has been replaced with a rerun of "Law & Order".
The series was immediately targeted by the Christian right. The American Family Association called on its members to pressure stations to drop the series and issued veiled boycott threats against advertisers.

A number of stations throughout the Bible Belt refused to air the series, and several sponsors pulled out.

But NBC insists it was ratings and not pressure from conservative Christians that sank the show.

"The Book of Daniel" lost about a quarter of its viewers over its few weeks on the air.

Nevertheless, the AFA declared victory.

“This shows the average American that he [sic] doesn’t have to simply sit back and take the trash being offered on TV, but he [sic] can get involved and fight back with his [sic] pocketbook,” said AFA Chair Donald E. Wildmon in a statement Tuesday.


Blithering Idiot

A theory: Bush is determined to cut student loans because he's sick and tired of college kids proving themselves smarter than he is.

Q: My name is Tiffany Cooper. I’m a sophomore here at Kansas State and I was just wanting to get your comments about education. Recently 12.7 billion dollars was cut from education. I was just wondering how is that supposed to help our futures?

Bush: Education budget was cut — say it again. What was cut?

Q: 12.7 billion dollars was cut from education. I’m wanting to know how is that supposed to help our futures?

Bush: At the federal level?

Q: Yes.

Bush: I don’t think we’ve actually — for higher education? Student loans?

Q: Yes, student loans.

Bush: Actually, I think what we did was reform the student loan program. We are not cutting money out of it.
Um, Mr. Bush?
Student Loans: On Dec. 21, 2005, the Senate passed $12.7 billion in cuts to education programs — “the largest cut in student college loan programs in history.” Vice President Cheney cast the deciding vote in favor of the cuts. The bill also fixed the interest rate on student loans at 6.8 percent, “even if commercial rates are lower.” Despite Bush’s claims, students will be left off the program.


Let It Be So

Too good to be true? Probably. But just bask in the notion for a while:
The Bush administration is bracing for impeachment hearings in Congress.

"A coalition in Congress is being formed to support impeachment," an administration source said.

Sources said a prelude to the impeachment process could begin with hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. They said the hearings would focus on the secret electronic surveillance program and whether Mr. Bush violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Administration sources said the charges are expected to include false reports to Congress as well as Mr. Bush's authorization of the National Security Agency to engage in electronic surveillance inside the United States without a court warrant. This included the monitoring of overseas telephone calls and e-mail traffic to and from people living in the United States without requisite permission from a secret court.

Sources said the probe to determine whether the president violated the law will include Republicans, but that they may not be aware they could be helping to lay the groundwork for a Democratic impeachment campaign against Mr. Bush.

"Our arithmetic shows that a majority of the committee could vote against the president," the source said. "If we work hard, there could be a tie."


Many Thanks

To Jeffraham for his advice and to Josh for having dredged up an old list of my links!

That said, if your blog has been inadvertantly dropped, feel free to harass me in comments or via e-mail!


Katrina: The New bin Laden

It is amazing the lengths to which this administration is going to defend its right to obtain information, illegally, when its track record is so very very bad when it comes to acting on information they already have:
In the 48 hours before Hurricane Katrina hit, the White House received detailed warnings about the storm's likely impact, including eerily prescient predictions of breached levees, massive flooding, and major losses of life and property, documents show.
The documents shed new light on the extent on the administration's foreknowledge about Katrina's potential for unleashing epic destruction on New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities and towns. President Bush, in a televised interview three days after Katrina hit, suggested that the scale of the flooding in New Orleans was unexpected. "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm," Bush said in a Sept. 1 interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Um, yeah, just like no one could have foreseen terrorists flying planes into buildings, right?


Just Great

As if I don't have enough to do today preparing for the writing class I just started teaching (the first day of which went very well, well enough that I don't think I'll regret the extra work at any rate), in addition to my full-time job, I begin the day finding that my template somehow went haywire, rending the blog illegible.

After wasting an hour or so trying to fix it and/or figure out how to contact blogger for help, I gave up and just changed templates.

This, of course, wipes out all the bells and whistles.

Comments should be returning soon. The blogroll will be reconstructed over time.

Bloody hell.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Civil Discourse

It's nice to see that the art of diplomacy is alive and well in the Americas:
Venezuela's vice president on Monday told top U.S. Republican Sen. John McCain he could "go to hell" for suggesting that "wackos" were governing the oil-producing South American country.

Commenting on U.S. reliance on foreign oil supplies, McCain told Fox News Sunday, "We better understand the vulnerabilities that our economy and our very lives have ... when we're dependent on Iranian mullahs and wackos in Venezuela."

Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and an OPEC member like Iran, supplies 15 percent of U.S. energy imports. But ties between Washington and left-wing President Hugo Chavez have deteriorated rapidly since his 1998 election.

"He can go to hell," Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said responding to remarks by McCain, a prominent Republican and a possible U.S. presidential candidate in 2008.

"Maybe he has got nothing to do over there in the United States," he said.


Insects Prefer Darkness

So too do corrupt Republicans:
Lawyers for a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday made their first request to use classified evidence at his trial, launching a highly secretive court process that could bog down the case.

In the filings made under seal in federal court, lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby put the judge and prosecutors on notice that they want a jury to hear evidence the government now says is classified.

Their action puts the Libby case on a dual track — one public, the other secret — that often can delay criminal cases from going to trial.


Light Blogging

As you may have noticed.

Illness, general malaise, and the questionable decision to start teaching a night class while retaining my full-time job will likely keep posting at a minimum.