Saturday, April 01, 2006

Pure As the Driven Snow

It's almost poetic:
Two men suspected of helping smuggle cocaine to New York from Mexico inside statues of the Virgin Mary were arrested Thursday, U.S. authorities said.



How dare this mere woman cast any doubt upon the glorious grand scheme devised by our Dear Leader?
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accepted today the US had probably made thousands of errors in Iraq but defended the overall strategy of removing Saddam Hussein.


Well Done

If our invasion of Iraq has accomplished anything at all, it is this: Providing hands-on training to those who would attack America:
Islamic militants in Iraq are providing military training and other assistance to Taliban and al Qaida fighters from eastern and southern Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal areas, U.S. intelligence officials told Knight Ridder.


Reefer Madness

Even I, cynic that I am, never thought the moronic "War on Drugs" would reach such a pitch:
After approval by the State Senate and House, a bill that bans "drugged driving" is set to become law in Ohio, RAW STORY has found.

Activists groups that focus on the decriminalization of marijuana are outraged that the almost-certain-to-become law will also target individuals found with trace amounts of tetra-hydro cannabinol or THC - the active ingredient in the drug - still in their system, even if they weren't "drugged" at the time. Marijuana can remain in a user's system for up to weeks afterward.


Taking Down the Homophobic LoC

I am glad to see this lawsuit moving ahead:
A federal judge Friday ruled that an employment discrimination lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a transgender veteran against the Library of Congress can go forward.

"I couldn't understand how the country that I had risked my life for could believe that it was ok to rescind its job offer to me solely because I'm transgender," said Diane Schroer, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Army. "Today's decision begins to restore my faith in our government."
The court held that given these complexities, it may be that federal law prohibits discrimination against transgender people because it is a form of sex discrimination, pure and simple.
The court will rule on that question in the case after evidence about the nature of gender and gender identity is developed."Today the court sent a very clear message to employers everywhere that transgender discrimination won't be tolerated in the workplace," said Sharon McGowan, a staff attorney with the ACLU's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Project.


Friday, March 31, 2006

Corporate Profits. Low Wages.

The priorities of America are in order. Massive, obscene profits for a few, and no real improvement for the many workers who create the value in the first place:
U.S. corporate profits have increased 21.3% in the past year and now account for the largest share of national income in 40 years, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Strong productivity gains and subdued wage growth boosted before-tax profits to 11.6% of national income in the fourth quarter of 2005, the biggest share since the summer of 1966. See full story.

For all of 2005, before-tax profits totaled $1.35 trillion, up from $1.16 trillion in 2004 and just $767 billion in 2001.

Meanwhile, the share of national income going to wage and salary workers has fallen to 56.9%. Except for a brief period in 1997, that's the lowest share for labor income since 1966.


Cruel and Unusual

What sort of beast would deny a lesbian the right to have a dog?
A Swedish court has imposed a $2,600 fine on a woman kennel owner who refused to sell a puppy to a lesbian.

The kennel owner, who was not identified, had initially been willing to sell the woman a puppy but changed her mind when she found out the woman was living with a lesbian partner, according to Sweden's discrimination ombudsman, a government watchdog who filed the lawsuit.


Friday, Hence, Kittyblogging


Massive Work Needed for Indigenous Australians

It's good to see that it's finally getting some attention:
Hundreds of millions of dollars are needed to pull indigenous Australians out of a health and housing crisis, Indigenous Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma says.

Mr Calma said up to $550 million was needed to introduce health programs that could improve the life expectancy of indigenous Australians, which is 17 years below that of other Australians.

The average life expectancy of indigenous people between 1998 and 2000 was 59.4 years for males and 64.8 years for females, compared to 76.6 years for all males and 82 years for all females.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were also needed for reasonable housing before indigenous people could claim equality with non-indigenous Australians.

In releasing the annual social justice and native title reports in Sydney on Friday, Mr Calma said indigenous people had a right to the highest attainable health and education.


This Is an Issue?

I am sorry, but sometimes the only questions are how much do you need and how fast do you need it. And when it comes to New Orleans's levees, with the next hurricane season looming... This is one of those times:
With a limited role in helping New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina's wrath, the federal government is weighing how much it should spend to improve levees there, the Bush administration's recovery coordinator says.

Listen. This "limited role" is chosen. Bush could just get up and sign an executive order fixing the levees. It'd be done at much less cost in cash and human lives than the Iraq war! And, oddly, the outcome would be beneficial for people other than Bush and the couple dozen people he knows...

Ay, there's the rub...


We Don't Need No Information

Another phase of Bush's "put your fingers in your ears and go LA LA LA real loud" approach to education reform kicks in:
It was to have been a speech on diversity but the head of the national Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GSLEN) cancelled after a group of parents claimed it was nothing more than "propaganda for the gay agenda".


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Early Morning Cat Blogging!


Don't Say a Prayer for Me Now

Could it be that God is just sick and tired of all the supplication?
In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that having people pray for heart bypass surgery patients had no effect on their recovery. In fact, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of complications.


Newsflash: Pedophilia Is Just Not Cost-Effective

I'm jaded, but these figures were still rather shocking:
New figures released Thursday by the nation's Roman Catholic bishops show the unrelenting toll of the clergy sex abuse crisis: 783 new credible claims last year, most of which date back decades, and costs of nearly $467 million.



Scalia is clearly a graduate of the Dick Cheney School of Statesmanship:
Amid a growing national controversy about the gesture U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made Sunday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, the freelance photographer who captured the moment has come forward with the picture.
Smith was working as a freelance photographer for the Boston archdiocese’s weekly newspaper at a special Mass for lawyers Sunday when a Herald reporter asked the justice how he responds to critics who might question his impartiality as a judge given his public worship.

“The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, ‘To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’ ” punctuating the comment by flicking his right hand out from under his chin, Smith said.

The Italian phrase means “(expletive) you.”


This Pope Remains Offensive

In fact, he grows more offensive by the day, it seems:
Pope Benedict used a meeting with Italy's right of center party o Thursday to launch a new salvo against same-sex marriage and the left of center coalition that supports domestic partner law fired back accusing the pontiff of trying to influence next month's election.

Benedict told members of Premier Silvio Berlusconi's European People's Party (EPP) that the Vatican would oppose "attempts to make [marriage] juridically equivalent to radically different forms of unions which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization."

The church's stand, he said, was "non-negotiable".

The remarks, broadcast on Italian television, were seen as an endorsement of the EPP which has steadfastly refused to pass LGBT civil rights legislation.



This is an impressive illustration of the Iraq debacle.


Gay Money Still Spends

The bottom line, in this case, works in favor of equality:
Signs began popping up in store windows this week in Kanab, Utah proclaiming ''Everyone welcome here!'' in a desperate move to avoid a threatened gay boycott. Some businesses went so far as putting small rainbow flag stickers on their front doors.

Dozens of business owners in the small southern Utah community are trying all they can to distance themselves from a proclamation by the city council that Kanab supports the "natural family" consisting of a working husband, a stay-at-home wife and a "full quiver of children."

The measure was passed by the council in January angering gays in the state and prompting LGBT groups to consider calling a boycott.
Well known syndicated travel columnist Arthur Frommer in an article called the council move discrimination.

"I think they know perfectly well this is a smokescreen for discriminating against gays," Frommer told the Associated Press this week. (story)

Tourism is Kanab's biggest industry and business owners say they need gay money.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Some Things Don't Change

I can tell you from personal experience, New Orleans cops are not at all hesitant when it comes to wielding their clubs:
Two sacked policemen and one current officer have been indicted in the videotaped beating of a retired teacher in cyclone blasted New Orleans.

The October 8 beating of Robert Davis, 64, was caught on videotape by an Associated Press Television News crew covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


Ain't That America

Just wonderful:
A 5-year-old boy climbed from a chair onto a washer-dryer, got an old pistol out a cupboard and brought it to kindergarten, where he was expelled for 10 days, officials said.

The boy took the unloaded .22-caliber gun to Whittier Elementary School in this Tacoma suburb in his backpack and showed it to a friend on the playground, then put it into a friend's backpack, Police Chief John Cheesman said Tuesday.


The Peeps Do Not Fear the Patriot Act

Their use of library resources proves that marshmallow peeps are undeterred in their search for information, however perilous it may be.

I believe that they should be more careful...


The World Is Better for This

The bastard has finally been caught:
Former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, who vanished in Nigeria after authorities reluctantly agreed to transfer him to a war crimes tribunal, has been arrested trying to cross that country's border, Nigerian police said Wednesday.


Our Victory

Afghanistan continues to be a triumph:
Militants attacked a coalition forces base in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, sparking a battle that killed two soldiers — an American and a Canadian — and at least 12 rebels, officials said.


Belligerent, Somnolent, Literate


Tuesday, March 28, 2006



Continuing to Abandon New Orleans

Sadly, unsurprising:
The government has slowed down in deciding whether to approve or deny hundreds of applications for federal loans to help small businesses recover from Hurricane Katrina, a senator said Monday.
Earlier this year, the government was resolving 355 cases daily; that figure has dropped to 99 cases daily. The slowdown came as 682 disaster assistance employees left the Small Business Administration, said Sen. Olympia Snowe (news, bio, voting
), R-Maine, who chairs the Senate committee that oversees the agency.

In a letter to Small Business Administrator Hector Barreto, Snowe said she was troubled by the staff decrease "at a time when efficiency and production are of such high importance."

"I am deeply disturbed by the agency's reluctance to finish resolving all of the applications submitted by hurricane victims," Snowe said in the March 23 letter that was released Monday.



Nothing like vat-grown meat:
Scientists can grow frog and mouse meat in the lab, and are now working on pork, beef and chicken. Their goal is to develop an industrial version of the process in five years.

If they succeed, cultured or in vitro meat could be coming to a supermarket near you. Consumers could buy hamburger patties and chicken nuggets made from meat cultivated from muscle cells in a giant incubator rather than cut from a farm animal.

Fred Pohl saw it coming half a century ago:
Skum-skimming wasn't hard to learn. You got up at dawn. You gulped a breakfast sliced not long ago from Chicken Little and washed it down with Coffiest. You put on your coveralls and took the cargo net up to your tier. In blazing noon from sunrise to sunset you walked your acres of shallow tanks crusted with algae. If you walked slowly, every thirty seconds or so you spotted a patch at maturity, bursting with yummy carbohydrates. You skimmed the patch with your skimmer and slung it down the well, where it would be baled, or processed into glucose to feed Chicken Little, who would be sliced and packed to feed people from Baffinland to Little America. Every hour you could drink from your canteen and take a salt tablet. Every two hours you could take five minutes. At sunset you turned in your coveralls and went to dinner --- more slices from Chicken Little --- and then you were on your own. You could talk, you could read, you could go into trance before the dayroom hypnoteleset, you could shop, you could pick fights, you could drive yourself crazy thinking of what might have been, you could go to sleep.


Utterly Vile

Debra Maggert is disgusting. That's all I can say:
Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, said she still believes homosexual couples should not be allowed to adopt children. In fact, in addition to e-mail correspondence with a master’s student at Vanderbilt publicized recently, in which she said as much, she has also said homosexual couples may molest the children they adopt.

"We also have seen evidence that homosexual couples prey on young males and have, in some instances, adopted them in order to have unfretted access to subject them to a life of molestation and sexual abuse," she said.

“In all cases to paint with a broad brush strokes is unfortunate,” said adoptive parent Dr. Christopher Harris.

Harris is a pediatrician by day and a single gay adoptive parent by night.

“She brings such joy into my life,” he said. “It's always said pediatrician doesn’t finished his training till he or she has a kid.”

Harris fits every requirement for the state's definition of a good adoptive parent: loving, healthy and financially stable. He is also gay, and for Maggert, that means he's unqualified.


DeLay Spouts Off Again

This cretin is simply an embarrassment:
Republican Rep. Tom DeLay said Tuesday that former and current Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg "don't get it" when they complain about conservative criticism of judges.

"All wisdom doesn't reside in ... people in black robes," DeLay said.

In recent weeks, O'Connor has said the criticism has threatened judicial independence to deal with difficult issues such as gay marriage. Ginsburg said in a speech that a Web threat against her and O'Connor was apparently prompted by Republican proposals in Congress that tell judges to stop relying on foreign laws or court decisions.

Ginsburg said such actions by Congress "fuel the irrational fringe."

"Didn't you see the comments of Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Ginsburg over the last couple of weeks?" DeLay, R-Texas, asked reporters after a speech to a group of Christian conservatives. "There's still a problem, they don't get it. There are three branches of government. All wisdom doesn't reside in ... people in black robes."

Earlier, the former House majority leader told activists he agreed with their premise that there is a "war on Christianity.

"Our faith has always been in direct conflict with the values of the world," DeLay said. "We are, after all, a society that provides abortion on demand, has killed millions of innocent children, degrades the institution of marriage, and all but treats Christianity like some second-rate superstition."

DeLay was forced to abandon his job as majority leader while facing indictment on charges that he improperly funneled corporate donations to Republican candidates for the House and amid questions about his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff


Mass Conviction

That's what the Bushies are all about: the big sweep, and let God sort 'em out. Insanity:
Wastewater from communities throughout the Potomac River Basin is being tested for the urinary byproducts of cocaine.

"Apparently, they're able to ascertain how many people may be using illicit drugs, in this case cocaine, with such studies," Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly tells WTOP.
"It does not indicate that we have an unusual drug problem in Fairfax County," Connolly says. "I'll be interested, obviously, in the results. It's kind of an unusual study and an unusual request. Obviously, we're prepared to cooperate with any endeavor to try to make sure the use of illicit drugs is discouraged in our community."


Card Folds

There goes another:
White House chief of staff Andy Card has resigned and will be replaced by budget director Josh Bolten, an administration official said Tuesday.



One more aspect of Katrina's wake; one more group of people about whom the Bushies could not possibly care less:
Government and community-based HIV/AIDS agencies are still struggling to get back on their feet seven months after Hurricane Katrina broke the levees and flooded 80 percent of the city in up to 20 feet of water.

"I'd say we're at 40 to 50 percent," said Beth Scalco, director of the Louisiana Office of Public Health HIV/AIDS Program.

"Five of our 10 community-based prevention contractors basically went out of business due to heavy damage to their buildings and because they experienced a big loss of their staff in terms of people who decided not to return to New Orleans," she said.