Saturday, March 25, 2006

Kevin Calvey: Homophobic Opportunist

Simply pathetic:
A group of young Americans traveling across the country to draw awareness to colleges that exclude gays and lesbians has wrapped up two days at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee.

It was the sixth stop for the Equality Ride. Unlike visits to three other campuses there were no problems at Oklahoma Baptist.
But while the riders were making inroads with students at the university, in Oklahoma City the state school board was overturning a policy protecting gay students from discrimination from teachers.

The previous policy stated that teachers could not "deny benefits to any student" or "grant any advantage to any student" based on sexual orientation. The new policy reads, "the teacher shall comply with all federal and state anti-discrimination laws." Federal and state laws do not protect students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Just before the vote state Rep.Kevin Calvey (R-Del City) issued a statement saying the recent Equality Ride action at Oral Roberts University in which nine Riders and community members were arrested for trespassing was proof the regulation needed to be changed.

Calvey suggested the policy reversal would "protect" students from LGBT activist groups meeting on public elementary and secondary school grounds.


Clinton's Still in Charge of Those Evil Black Helicopters

Hillary continues to wield the mysterious Clinton ability to drive Republicans crazy:
A former Pentagon official gunning to be the Republican nominee to run against Hillary Clinton claims that the New York junior Senator is using helicopters to spy on her, according to a story on the front page of Saturday's New York Post, RAW STORY has found.

Kathleen McFarland, a first time candidate for office, is reported to have "stunned a crowd of Suffolk County Republicans on Thursday" with her claims.

"Hillary Clinton is really worried about me, and is so worried, in fact, that she had helicopters flying over my house in Southampton today taking pictures," said McFarland as related to the Post by "a prominent GOP activist who was at the events."


Street-Fighting Men

And the civil war proceeds:
The battle between Sunni and Shia Muslims for control of Baghdad has already started, say Iraqi political leaders who predict fierce street fighting will break out as each community takes over districts in which it is strongest.

"The fighting will only stop when a new balance of power has emerged," Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader, said. "Sunni and Shia will each take control of their own area." He said sectarian cleansing had already begun.


So Much for Confidentiality

I suppose we just might as well accept the United States as panopticon, in which none of the traditionally privileged communications exist any longer:
The National Security Agency could have legally monitored ordinarily confidential communications between doctors and patients or attorneys and their clients, the Justice Department said Friday of its controversial warrantless surveillance program.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Bush's Legacy

He just doesn't give a shit. He's created the ultimate snafu, and he's ready to hand it off:
President Bush said yesterday that future administrations will have to grapple with how and when to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, indicating that he doesn't see an end to U.S. commitments until at least 2009.


Lectured by Libya

Ridiculous, yes, but not as ridiculous as it might once have been:
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi lectured a U.S. audience on democracy on Thursday and said Libya is the only real democracy in the world.

Via a video link, Gaddafi addressed an unprecedented gathering of U.S. and Libyan academics prompted by a thaw in relations since the former pariah state decided in 2003 to abandon nuclear weapons and took responsibility for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

He touted Libya's political system as superior to "farcical" and "fake" parliamentary and representative democracies in the West."

"There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet," Gaddafi said to the conference at Columbia University in New York.


The Thrill of the Hunt

Good times:

CANADA'S annual seal hunt begins today on the ice floes off the country's east coast, where, despite decades of protest and boycotts of Canadian products, a record number of seals will be killed this year.

In all, 325,000 seals - most just weeks old - will be clubbed to death by hunters over the next eight weeks. The hunters are mostly fishermen who use boats to reach the new-born pups.


Our Russian Allies

Not quite so much, it would seem:
Russia funnelled intelligence on American troop movements in Iraq to Saddam Hussein during the early days of the war, according to documents contained in a Pentagon report released last night.

Documents apparently from Saddam's regime, seized by the Americans, described how Russia collected crucial plans from "inside the American central command", and channelled it via Moscow's ambassador in Baghdad, Vladimir Titorenko.


One Fewer Armed Freak on the Streets

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has lost his right to carry a concealed handgun in Texas, RAW STORY has learned.

A Texas website, Brazosriver, was the first (to the knowledge of RAW STORY) to post a judge's order to suspend DeLay's license. Under Texas law, indicted felons are not allowed to carry concealed handguns.


Rewarding Waste, Screwing New Orleans

Does this administration serve any purpose other than to funnel taxpayers' money into the pockets of corporate cronies?
FEMA has broken its promise to reopen four multimillion-dollar no-bid contracts for Hurricane Katrina work, including three that federal auditors say wasted significant amounts of money.

Officials said they awarded the four contracts last October to speed recovery efforts that might have been slowed by competitive bidding. Some critics, however, suggested they were rewards for politically connected firms.


Bush: Still Wants to Be a Despot

It's quite frankly amazing how flagrantly he rejects the very notion of checks and balances. Astounding arrogance, really:
When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.


Further Kittens!


Wanker of the Day

Stupid, inane, and offensive, all at once:
Republicans also rebelled against aid for a state that was depicted as a venal Third World society, a failed state like Haiti, out of step with national values. "Louisiana and New Orleans," according to Idaho Senator Larry Craig, "are the most corrupt governments in our country and they always have been.... Fraud is in the culture of Iraqis. I believe that is true in the state of Louisiana as well."



Yet more evidence that will be roundly ignored by everyone who might be able to do something:

Polar ice sheets are melting faster than authorities realize and could eventually submerge coastal communities worldwide, according to two studies released today.

Researchers from the University of Arizona and the National Center for Atmospheric Research noted that sea levels rose 20 feet during a warming period 129,000 years ago and said the waters could rise just as high sometime after 2100 if global temperatures continue to climb.

And what will this mean? Well, just by way of an example, Florida will be getting a drastic makeover:

Two views of southern Florida's topography in a shaded relief map. On the left is a standard view, with the green colors indicating low elevations, rising through yellow and tan, to white at the highest elevations. On the right, elevations below 16 feet above sea level have been colored dark blue, and lighter blue indicates elevations below 33 feet.




War Without End, Amen

What is one to expect? Wars cannot be waged against abstractions, or against tactics. This "war" has never had any vision of what might constitute success. In fact, to the neocons, "success" is quite literally the indefinite continuation of a militarized, belligerent United States, so as to maintain fear in the American people, acquiescence to excessive executive power, and unabated profits for corporations such as Halliburton:
The war on terror will continue long after Iraq and Afghanistan are stable, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told military officials from around the world Friday.


Another Day, Another Pile of Corpses

Drive-by shootings, roadside bombings and sectarian killings left at least 19 Iraqis dead in Baghdad Friday. American and Iraqi troops swept the oil-rich region of Kirkuk for suspected insurgents and captured dozens.

American and Iraqi troops swept the oil-rich region of Kirkuk for suspected insurgents and captured dozens, while drive-by shootings, roadside bombings and sectarian violence killed at least 29 people in Iraq on Friday.


Charging Toward Catastrophe

I've long thought that the discovery of nuclear weaponry in advance of the waning of fanatical religious thought was a highly unfortunate evolutionary snafu.

The same can now be said of the persistent control of all manner of technological and industrial advancements by the intrinsically near-sighted forces of capitalism, which value only the most narrow and venal senses of "profit."

Day by day, the future dims:
Within the next 100 years, the growing human influence on Earth's climate could lead to a long and irreversible rise in sea levels by eroding Earth's vast polar ice sheets, according to new observations and analysis by several teams of scientists.

One team, using computer models of climate and ice, found that by about 2100, average temperatures could be 4 degrees warmer than today and that over the coming centuries, the world's oceans could rise 13 to 20 feet -- conditions last seen 130,000 years ago, between the last two ice ages.

The findings, being reported today in the journal Science, are consistent with other recent studies of melting and erosion at the poles. Many experts say there are still uncertainties about timing, extent and causes.

But Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona, a lead author of one of the studies, said the new findings made a strong case for the danger of failing to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

"If we don't like the idea of flooding out New Orleans, major portions of South Florida, and many other valued parts of the coastal U.S., we will have to commit soon to a major effort to stop most emissions of carbon to the atmosphere," he said.


First the IRA, and Now This?

Once again, I didn't see this coming. And I hope it is real:
Spanish political leaders today demanded that ETA prove that it has abandoned violence before there can be talks on the separatist group's ceasefire in its campaign for independence for the Basque country.

ETA, which has killed almost 850 people in its 38-year armed campaign, declared a permanent ceasefire yesterday and today it offered "dialogue, negotiation and agreement".


More News from the "Successful Invasion"

Somehow, Afghanistan remains our success story. In contrast to Iraq, perhaps. But then, that's not saying much:
Washington has increased pressure on Afghanistan to end the prosecution of a man facing possible execution for converting to Christianity after the case angered President George W. Bush's evangelical supporters.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told President Hamid Karzai by telephone the United States wanted Afghanistan, where US troops are fighting anti-government Islamic extremists, to show it respects religious freedom by resolving the case quickly.

Her call to the close US ally came a day after Bush vowed to use US leverage over Afghanistan to make sure Abdur Rahman's right to choose his religion was upheld.

Under the pressure, which was reinforced by several US allies supporting Afghanistan with aid and troops, Karzai has pledged Rahman would not be executed, according to the Canadian government, which was also in contact with the Afghan president.

A judge has said the man was jailed for converting from Islam and could face death if he refused to become a Muslim again.

Afghanistan's judiciary reiterated on Thursday it would not bow to outside pressure.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Queer Families Are Needed

What has long been clear to those who can see past bigotry is now supported by a study:
A new report on adoption concludes that "there is no child-centered reason to prevent gays and lesbians from becoming adoptive parents", and recommends that they be utilized more extensively to provide permanent, loving homes for children living in state care across the country.

The report, prepared for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute - a nonpartisan policy organization that deals in adoption issues - says that "adoption by gays and lesbians holds promise as an avenue for achieving permanency for many of the waiting children in foster care."


More Levee Failure

I hope they get their act together better than they likely will; hurricane season is but months away:

Mayor Ray Nagin said on Thursday he is confident that $770 million of levee repairs will protect most of New Orleans this hurricane season, but officials warned another Katrina-strength storm could swamp low-lying areas again.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is racing to meet a June 1 deadline -- the formal start to the hurricane season -- to have the 350 mile levee system protecting New Orleans and the surrounding area back to pre-Katrina condition or better.

Nagin and presidents of two nearby Louisiana parishes said after a tour of levee and floodwall repair projects with Maj. Gen. Don Riley, the Corps' director of civil works, they were pleased with the progress, which is now 49 percent complete.


Babs' Generosity

Can they ever just do something good for its own sake?
Former first lady Barbara Bush donated an undisclosed amount of money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with specific instructions that the money be spent with an educational software company owned by her son Neil.


Common Sense in Rhode Island

A refreshing change of pace:
The Rhode Island Department of Education has banned from public schools a privately run abstinence program that critics say violates students' constitutional rights.

A nonprofit group, Heritage of Rhode Island, had been offering its program to schools throughout the state free of charge.

The organization received a $400,000-a-year grant from the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop the program.
Abstinence programs have come under fire from medical and teen advocacy groups including the Society of Adolescent Medicine, Advocates for Youth and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

In January, the Society of Adolescent Medicine issued one of the most exhaustive reviews to date of government-funded abstinence-only programs.
The review said that the federal policy "fails to require the use of scientifically accurate information while promoting approaches of questionable value." (story)


A Nation of Torturers

We've still got so far to go in this country:
A report released Thursday by Amnesty International details widespread homophobia - including the use of torture - by American police officers against gays, lesbians and the transgendered.

The report says that thousands of LGBT people across the country are victims of a system that fuels discrimination and facilitates torture, ill-treatment and impunity.

The report "Stonewalled – Still demanding respect" is based on interviews conducted by Amnesty International between 2003 and 2005 with members of the LGBT community, victims of gender-based violence, survivors of police abuse, activists, lawyers and law enforcement officials across the US.

“The interviews reveal a very clear and worrying pattern. Cases of beatings, sexual violence, verbal abuse, harassment and humiliation by law enforcement officials against LGBT people take place on any given day in detention centers, prisons, in the home, and on the street,” said Amnesty in a media statement accompanying the report.

In one example a women from Athens, Georgia, said that in 2004 she was forced into her apartment at gunpoint by a former County Deputy and raped because she is a lesbian. She said the officer vowed to “teach her a lesson”.


Reason #4,273,107 To Support Indian Sovereignty

The president of the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, a former nurse, is as angry as any woman living in South Dakota about the ban on abortion. However, unlike most SD women, she is actually in a position to do something about it.
“To me, it is now a question of sovereignty,” she said to me last week. “I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction.”
Via Broadsheet.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Just Great

Here's hoping they find new funding:
Out Youth, a drop in center for LGBT teens in Austin, Texas, has closed its doors after 16 years.

The center has run out of cash and has been unable to secure new grants. A crisis phone line is still available but callers must leave a message and wait for a return call.

Board members say they had been trying to get money without luck for several months to keep the center going. For LGBT teens the closure means many have no where to turn.

Nevertheless, they say they hope they can reopen the facility.


"Ex-Gays" Getting Testy

No sense of humor, these people:
A man who posted a parody of an ad promoting "ex-gay" program Exodus International has been served with a cease-and-desist, RAW STORY has learned. The ACLU plans to intervene on the man's behalf.

Justin Watt, a blogger from Santa Rosa, CA, says he was "deeply offended" by an Exodus billboard that read, "Gay? Unhappy?" The ministry believes that it can cure people of homosexuality, thus giving them a happier life. Watt digitally altered an image of the billboard on his website ( to read, "Straight? Unhappy?"

Attorneys representing Exodus sent Watt a cease-and-desist letter earlier this month, claiming he had violated their intellectual property rights. The group threatened legal action if the parodies were not removed. At that point, the American Civil Liberties Union was called to intervene.


Fighting Them in Israel

So that we don't have to fight them here. America is a great ally to have these days:
Signs are mounting that al-Qaida terrorists are setting their sights on Israel and the Palestinian territories as their next jihad battleground.

Israel has indicted two West Bank militants for al-Qaida membership, Egypt arrested operatives trying to cross into Israel and a Palestinian security official has acknowledged al-Qaida is "organizing cells and gathering supporters."

Al-Qaida's inroads are still preliminary, but officials fear a doomsday scenario if it takes root.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

War on Education

Why are some few people so insistent upon teaching the next generation some twisted, conformist fantasy about what America really, factually is?

For the second time Viroqua High School has cancelled Diversity Day after conservative Christians balked at the inclusion of gay speakers.

The day, held every two years for juniors and seniors, was to have been held on Thursday as a opportunity to promote diversity in the community.

Speakers were to have included representatives of the African American, Latino, Jewish, Muslim, native American and gay communities.

And meanwhile, in Ohio:
A public library is no place for gay newspapers a member of the Upper Arlington library board says. Board member Bryce Kurfees wants Outlook Weekly, an Ohio LGBT paper removed.

The paper, and a second LGBT publication - Gay People's Chronicle - were the subject of a similar dispute last summer.

Both papers had been available, along with other newspapers, in the entranceway of the library.

After a noisy protest by a conservative community group the gay papers were moved to a tall bookcase near the front desk in a compromise effort aimed at keeping them in the library but out of the hands of children.
Now Kurfees wants Outlook out altogether.


News from Iraq

It's been three years since the invasion. Let's check in:
Iraqi police have accused American soldiers of executing 11 Iraqi civilians, including four children and a six-month-old baby, in a raid on Wednesday near the city of Balad, it was reported yesterday.

The allegations are contained in an Iraqi police report on the killings, obtained and published by the Knight Ridder news agency. The report emerged at a time when a US navy criminal investigation is under way into a previous incident, in November, in which marines are accused of killing 15 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in reprisal for a bomb attack on a US patrol.

Armed insurgents freed all the inmates of an Iraqi prison today in a raid that left at least 17 police and 10 attackers dead.

Up to 100 militants armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades stormed the judicial compound in Muqdadiya, a Sunni heartland about 60 miles north-east of the capital.

But, not to worry!
President Bush said Tuesday that he believes the United States will succeed in Iraq, and that if he didn't believe so, he would withdraw U.S. forces.

"I'm confident, I believe, I'm optimistic we'll succeed -- if not, I'd pull our troops out," Bush said during a White House news conference.


Lawlessness Continues

Bush does, of course, have illiteracy as a defense that he did this knowingly:
A congressional watchdog group filed a suit on Tuesday in federal court challenging the constitutionality of a $39 billion spending-cut law that passed each chamber of Congress in different forms.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the president signs into law only bills that are passed in identical form by both chambers.

"We have filed a lawsuit against the Bush administration for trying to sign into law something that is unconstitutional," said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook.

In early February, President George W. Bush signed the controversial budget bill into law, carrying out conservative Republicans' campaign to cut domestic programs including federal health care for the poor and elderly.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Back More Or Less.

The wedding was magnificent. The remainder of the weekend at the rorschach household was less than. First M went down with nausea, vomiting, and chills, and then I did. Both somewhat recovered, although I've my doubts about making it to work in the morning ( one more strike towards the old heave-ho.)

So it goes. And I'll blog as a I can, but M has put together a piece about the socio-economic and the psychological realities of this particular point in time in the "new academic's" new hypothethized career.

Read it.


Murtha Keeps up the Drumbeats

On Sunday's edition of Meet the Press with Tim Russert, Congressman John Murtha (D-PA) said that Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should resign for misdecisions in the war in Iraq, RAW STORY has found.