Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rumsfeld: Degrading and Abusive

To prisoners, to the American people, and so on:
Donald Rumsfeld was directly linked to prisoner abuse for the first time yesterday, when it emerged he had been "personally involved" in a Guantánamo Bay interrogation found by military investigators to have been "degrading and abusive".

Human Rights Watch last night called for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate whether the defence secretary could be criminally liable for the treatment of Mohamed al-Qahtani, a Saudi al-Qaida suspect forced to wear women's underwear, stand naked in front of a woman interrogator, and to perform "dog tricks" on a leash, in late 2002 and early 2003. The US rights group said it had obtained a copy of the interrogation log, which showed he was also subjected to sleep deprivation and forced to maintain "stress" positions; it concluded that the treatment "amounted to torture".


Friday, April 14, 2006

More Good Clean American Fun

I seem to recall having blogged about some similar event a while back, but the protests seem to have galvanized this lovely sport once again:
The College Republicans at Penn State University wanted to enter the debate about the nation's borders by playing a "Catch an Illegal Immigrant Game."

People would be invited to "catch" group members wearing orange shirts symbolizing illegal aliens.


A Surprising Victory

This essentially wipes out all laws pertaining to loitering. Next stop, vagrancy? Neither lying down, nor sitting, nor walking while poor should be a crime:
Los Angeles' policy of arresting homeless people for sitting, lying or sleeping on public sidewalks as "an unavoidable consequence of being human and homeless without shelter" violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and punishment, a federal appeals court ruled today.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, decided in favor of six homeless persons, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. The suit challenged the city's practice of arresting persons for violating a municipal ordinance, which states that "no person shall sit, lie or sleep in or upon any street, sidewalk or public way."


More Arrests for the Soulforce

The homophobes aren't holding back on this tour:
Ten members of the Soulforce Equality Ride were arrested Friday on the grounds of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Thirty-five Equality Riders are on a 51 day cross-country trip organized by the nondenominational Soulforce to draw attention to schools that bar gay enrolment.


The True Spirit of Easter

Ratzi has got the spirit! It's a day to disparage others! God bless!
In marking the Stations of the Cross during Good Friday observances in Rome Pope Benedict XVI called for the "filth" the surrounds society to be cleansed and said the world is in the grip of "a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family".

"Lord, we have lost our sense of sin," he said. "Today a slick campaign of propaganda is spreading an inane apologia of evil, a senseless cult of Satan, a mindless desire for transgression, a dishonest and frivolous freedom, exalting impulsiveness, immorality and selfishness as if they were new heights of sophistication.”

Although the Pontiff did not specifically name same-sex relationships the message was clear, less than a week after Italian voters elected a leftist government committed to recognizing gay and lesbian couples.


A Tiny Bit of Common Sense

Surprising, yet true:
Under international pressure the South African government will allow the country's leading HIV/AIDS action group to attend the United Nations Special Session on AIDS.

Earlier this month the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was told it would not be allowed to take part in the UN meeting (story) - even though it is recognized worldwide as one of the leading advocacy groups for people living with the virus and despite South Africa having the highest number of AIDS cases in the world.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Friday Catblogging


Time to Go

Unsurprisingly, one of Bush's top guys is tone deaf. Or, rather, he just doesn't give a shit what the military thinks:
The Pentagon yesterday faced a deepening rift between its civilian and military leadership over the war on Iraq after a fourth retired general called for the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to stand down.


Gay Easter!

I blogged on this a while back, but the time is drawing nigh:
Hundreds of gay and lesbian parents hoping to take their families to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll plan to start lining up Friday evening to make sure they get tickets for the Monday event.

Thousands of tickets - an estimated 16,000 last year - are given away on a first-come-first-come basis beginning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.


Gramsci and Tista Fest!


What's the Audio Equivalent of "Panopticon"?

I think the word is something like "Oakland":
A city councilor hopes to curb a rising murder rate by installing a gunshot-locator system that uses sensitive microphones attached to buildings to remotely pinpoint shootings.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

No, No, No Civil War!

Those aren't refugees! They're vacationers! Iraqi tourism is booming:
At least 65,000 Iraqis have fled their homes as a result of sectarian violence and intimidation, according to new figures from the Iraqi government.

And the rate at which Iraqis are being displaced is increasing.


Raise, Don't Raze

As long-time readers may recall, I have some experience with house-raising in the wake of flooding, and this strikes me as sound advice. Of course, it ain't cheap:

A long-awaited government projection on this city's flood danger recommends that thousands of homes and businesses in areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina be raised at least 3 feet, a requirement that clears the way for residents to decide how, or whether, to rebuild.

"This will enable people to get on with their lives," said Donald Powell, the chief federal coordinator for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery.

The so-called flood advisories detail how high the water might rise in certain sections of the city during a once-in-a-100-year storm, and how well the levees would protect residents.

Property owners who ignore the guidelines risk losing out on government aid to rebuild and could miss an opportunity for lower flood insurance premiums. The flooding projections will also be key in planning the city's overall reconstruction.


The government recommended that levee-protected homes damaged by flooding during Katrina be raised by 3 feet, but some residents may have to lift their homes higher, depending on the elevation and location of their property.

Federal aid is available to pay for raising houses, but many homeowners could still be stuck paying for a portion of the costs, which can be $40,000 for the first foot.


Yes, Yes, Bush Is a Bloody Liar

How much higher need we pile the evidence?
The Washington Post reported that a Pentagon-sponsored team of experts determined in May 2003 that two small trailers were not used to make biological weapons. Yet two days after the team sent its findings to Washington in a classified report, Bush declared just the opposite.

"We have found the weapons of mass destruction," Bush said in an interview with a Polish TV station. "We found biological laboratories."


DeLay: Gone But Not... Gone?

It comes as no surprise that DeLay's fall will not be far, nor his landing hard. But a position within the White House? Jeebus:

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten is said to be leaning toward selecting an outsider with strong fiscal conservative credentials to take his spot as director of the Office of Management and Budget, according to some insiders.

"It would be a savvy move," said one official. Previous reports from the West Wing were that Bolten would pick an insider for the post, possibly Deputy OMB Director Joel Kaplan; Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council; or trade czar Rob Portman. But new indications are that Bolten might use the opening to send Congress a signal that he means business when he says the president wants to cut costs.

"This job gives him the ability to curry favor with Congress," said one insider. Sources said that he is considering former and current House members for the post. One associate even suggested that retiring Rep. Tom DeLay was being considered, though the most likely pick would be from a conservative budget association.


America: Still Clueless and Belligerent

Did I say "belligerent"? I think "murderous" might be more accurate. "Clueless," is of course right on the money:
A poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg reveals that 48% of Americans would back military action against Iran if the government continues pursuing nuclear technology, RAW STORY has found.

Okay, not completely clueless :
However, a majority (54%) of the poll's respondents indicated that they don't believe President Bush will make the "right decision."


Cut Them Off

In a case that's rather reminiscent of one I mentioned yesterday, a school based on bigotry continues to seek federal money:
A gay rights group has asked Kentucky's governor to veto state funding for a private Baptist university that expelled a student who is gay.

The Kentucky Fairness Alliance asked Governor Ernie Fletcher to veto $11 million that state lawmakers approved earlier this week for the private University of the Cumberlands. The money is for building a pharmacy school and scholarships.

Jason Johnson, 20, of Lexington, was asked to leave the small Baptist school last week after it was discovered he had come out on his personal Web page at the popular Internet site (story)


Fired Catblogging


Bombing the Indians, Again

Bush seems determined to reinvigorate every last miserable American tradition there is (and none of the the proud, positive, progressive ones):
Native Americans want U.S. authorities to cancel plans to detonate 700 tons of explosives on what they say is tribal land in Nevada.

The planned explosion, scheduled for June 2 some 90 miles from Las Vegas, is aimed at aiding U.S. efforts to develop ''bunker buster'' weapons capable of penetrating solid rock.

Officials have suggested the test would constitute the largest non-nuclear, open-air blast in the test site's history.

Federal officials have described such efforts as essential to the administration of
President George W. Bush's self-styled ''war on terror'' but to leaders of the Shoshone, also known as the Newe people, the planned detonation is just the latest in a decades-long history of experiments at the Nevada Test Site to shake the earth and raise a dust cloud.

''We are opposed to any further military testing on our lands,'' said Raymond Yowell, chief of the Western Shoshone National Council.


Boos, and a Bounce

Nothing like a little objective correlative to reinforce the fact that Cheney is, quite simply, weak and despised:
A loud mixture of cheers and boos greeted Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals baseball game.

Cheney, wearing a red Nationals warmup jacket, tossed a pitch that reached Nationals catcher Brian Schneider on one bounce.

The vice president, whose popularity is slumping along with that of President Bush, walked out on the field to cheering and booing from the near-sellout crowd. The boos appeared to be little louder than the cheers at RFK Memorial Stadium.


The Equality Rides On, Gathering Police Records

This is the Soulforce Equality Ride, mentioned before here and here. They're still on the move:
Twenty-four people were arrested at a gay "die-in" Tuesday afternoon at Brigham Young University in Provo - the second day gay demonstrators from the Soulforce Equality Ride were arrested at the Mormon school.


Diversity for Some Day

Now that's a day of which to be proud:
Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher celebrated "Diversity Day" by dropping sexuality from a longstanding executive order that bars discrimination in the public service.

As several hundred school students watched, Fletcher declared Tuesday to be "Diversity Day" and signed a new executive order replacing one signed in 2003 by then-Gov. Paul Patton.

Fletcher told the students that state employees should not be discriminated against because of race, ethnicity, religion or "differences."

He went on to say that the executive order was meant to be an affirmative action policy that sets high goals for the state to have minorities make up at least 10 percent of the government's work force.

But Fletcher's version omits the provision on sexuality that had been a key part of Patton's provision.


Gay Group "Sexually Explicit"

Sigh. I guess they're right, if by "sexually explict" they mean that these people are committed to discussing sexuality (and guess what, people? We ALL have sexuality in one form or another. Deal with it!) in an open and healthy manner:
A suburban Charlotte school district has banned students from forming a Gay-Straight Alliance, calling the group which advocates tolerance "sexually explicit".


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fight for Workers' Rights Can Succeed

France has shown it to be so, and Chirac is no wilting flower when it comes to such matters:
President Jacques Chirac caved in yesterday to France's biggest street protests for decades and scrapped the controversial new youth employment law, handing a victory to the unions and a blow to his prime minister, Dominique de Villepin.

Mr Chirac was desperate for a way out of France's two-month political crisis which has seen millions march, sixth-formers and students blockade schools and universities, and protesters occupy the Sorbonne for the first time since 1968.


More Homophobic Idiocy

Which amendment is it again that guarantees the right to be a self-righteous asshole?
Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.

Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.

Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she's demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.


Sunday, April 09, 2006


Prisoners are vanishing in Iraq. I don't think it's alien abduction:
Iraqis arrested by coalition forces have disappeared into a 'black hole' with no records of where they are being held, Tony Blair's personal envoy on human rights has warned.

Ann Clwyd said if the scandal of the missing prisoners had been taken more seriously from the start by the US, it could have helped prevent the abuse of detainees in their jails.


Of Course They Do

"Faith-based groups" fight for every last dime of taxpayer money, but still want exemption from discrimination laws:
Religious groups claim in a lawsuit against the state of Wisconsin that they are being wrongly excluded from a program that allows state employees to make payroll deductions to charities.

The lawsuit challenges rules that require the charities receiving donations to pledge not to discriminate on the basis of religion or sexual orientation in hiring staff and accepting members.


Civil War

How many iterations before acceptance of the reality?
A senior official in the Iraqi government has for the first time said Iraq is in a state of civil war.

The deputy interior minister, Hussein Ali Kamal, was speaking a day after suicide bombers killed at least 70 people at a Shiite mosque in Baghdad.

A further 160 were injured when three suicide bombers struck the Bharatha mosque.


We Love Theron

Just too cool:

Charlize Theron was honored with a top prize Saturday from the country's leading gay organization that monitors the media.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation presented its Vanguard Award to Theron at the 17th annual GLAAD Media Awards for increasing "visibility and understanding in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community."

"This is very surreal for me because two years ago, I stood right here and won my Oscar for 'Monster,'" Theron said in ceremonies at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Her portrayal of lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster" won her the 2003 Academy Award for best actress.

Last year, Theron told TV's "Extra" that she and her partner, Stuart Townsend, would not wed until gay and lesbian couples attained the legal right to marry.


Smooches for Scalia!

Or as he might say, "Vaffanculo!"
University of Connecticut law students are gearing up for a visit next week from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The justice, known for his conservative rulings, will teach two courses and deliver a speech Tuesday and Wednesday at UConn Law School's Hartford campus.

The visit is not open to the public.

Since Scalia's visit was announced, professors have hosted panel discussions and students who disagree with his views have debated the best way to protest.

Some members of the Lambda Law Society, a gay student organization, said they plan to hold a mini-carnival with a same-sex kissing booth during Scalia's lecture.