Saturday, May 06, 2006

Just Ridiculous

That's all I have to say about these pictures.


Nebraskan Says "Wow"

This man needs to get a grip on his wild emotions:
A Fairbury man was watering his yard last week when he had a very rare and close encounter with a possible meteorite.

Brad Kinzie was out watering his yard in the wee hours of the morning Saturday - trying to avoid the hottest period of the day - when an object whizzed by his head and landed.

“It came over my head, probably, about a foot and a half. I could feel the breeze,”Kinzie said. “It was silver and it kind of had red and black on the back of it and smoke.”

The object landed about 65 feet from where Kinzie was watering.
“I stood ... here looking at it, ‘cause it was still glowing. I says, ‘Wow,’” Kinzie said.


Cops Fight for Gay Rights

This makes me happy:
Nassau County's police unions are the latest groups to call for a new vote on a domestic partner registry that was rejected by the county legislature last month.

"We support the domestic registry proposal and urge those legislators who voted against it to reconsider," Gary DelaRaba, president of the Police Benevolent Association, told reporters at Garden City news conference.

DelaRaba was joined by the presidents of the Superior Officers Association and the Detectives Association.
Superior Officers Association president Lt. Gary Learned said the department has gay members who would benefit from a partner registry.

"[T]he definition of a family is far different today from what it was years ago. This is a different society, a different world," said DelaRaba.



It's about bloody time we tried to initiate the unfattening of America. And it is hardly surprising that Clinton continues to do more good than Bush:
Non-diet sodas will be yanked from United States schools, and other drinks will be downsized under a deal announced by former president Bill Clinton and the nation's largest beverage distributors.

"This is a truly bold step forward in the struggle to help 35-million young people lead healthier lives," said Clinton, whose foundation has targeted obesity in children for the past year.

"This one policy can add years and years and years to the lives of a very large number of young people."


Happy Birthday, Sigmund!

Let's commemorate it kitschily:
Today, on the 150th anniversary of his birth, Sigmund Freud is on the couch himself as pyschotherapists analyse his legacy and honour his birth date with talkfests, exhibitions and merchandise, including a Freud action figure, sold with the line: "Freud believed in the power of dreams. But in his wildest imagination he never dreamed he'd be turned into a toy such as this."


Australia Gets It Right

Step by step, Aboriginal Australians are winning back some of what was stolen from them:
Two national parks on the NSW far south coast have today been officially handed back to traditional indigenous owners.

NSW environment minister Bob Debus signed off on an historic agreement with the Yuin people to hand over management of the Gulaga and Biamanga national parks.

Under the agreement, between the state government, local Aboriginal Land Councils and Yuin people, the parks will be jointly managed with majority Aboriginal input.

Mr Debus said the lands held great cultural significance.

"This handback in a significant step in modern Australian history and a big step forward for reconciliation," he said.

Aboriginal affairs minister Milton Orkopoulos said the agreement was the product of two years of negotiations.

"Restoring cultural pride and identity is a vital part of our efforts to end Aboriginal disadvantage in NSW and today sees another tremendous step forward," Mr Orkopoulos said.


Friday, May 05, 2006

An Atheist Victory

Good for him. He fought the good fight for many years, and in the end, he won, in spite of San Diego's attempts to weasel out of its responsibility:
After a 17-year legal battle between the city and a self-described atheist, a judge has ordered San Diego officials to remove a giant cross from a hilltop park or start paying $5,000 a day in fines.

Defying the order is something cash-strapped San Diego can ill afford. Its pension fund is more than $1 billion in debt, the federal government is investigating, and there's been talk of bankruptcy.
The city has tried to sell the half-acre beneath the cross to a nonprofit association that maintains the surrounding memorial walls. But federal judges have repeatedly blocked the sale, saying the transactions were designed to favor a buyer who would keep the cross in place. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the city's appeal in 2003.


Safe from the Son of the Anti-Christ, for Now

Amazing, the scams that some people come up with and other people fall for:
An Italian couple stole 50,000 euros from a woman in the Sicilian city of Palermo after convincing her they were vampires who would impregnate her with the son of the Anti-Christ if she did not pay them.

The man, a cabaret singer, and his girlfriend took the money from their victim over four years by selling her pills at 3,000 euros each that they said would abort the Anti-Christ's son.

Police uncovered the fraud after the 47-year-old woman's family became concerned when they discovered she had spent all her savings, local news agencies AGI and ANSA reported.


Finally, An Answer

Clearly, this is how that bastard Saddam Hussein managed to make Bush look like a fool in regard to WMDs:
It's been the curse of the USS Enterprise and the Klingons' favoured weapon. But back on Earth, mathematicians claim to have worked out how to make a cloaking device to render objects invisible.

An outline for the device is described in a scientific paper published today in which the authors reveal how objects placed close to a material called a superlens appear to vanish.


Common Sense

With soldiers dying and killing in Iraq every day, and gas prices going through the roof, most Americans just don't give a damn if two people of the same sex get married:
New polls show that using same-sex marriage as a wedge issue may not work for Republicans in this fall's mid term election.

A Peter D. Hart poll shows that a proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage is at the bottom of voter concerns.

Of course, certain people remain obsessed with the issue to an almost pathological degree:
Angry conservatives are driving the approval ratings of President Bush and the GOP-led Congress to dismal new lows, according to an AP-Ipsos poll that underscores why Republicans fear an Election Day massacre.
Conservative voters blame the White House and Congress for runaway government spending, illegal immigration and lack of action on social issues such as a constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage. Those concerns come on top of public worries about Iraq, the economy and gasoline prices.


(Ozone) Free Tibet!

Not a good sign:
Chinese scientists have warned a 2.5-million-square-kilometer (one-million-square-mile) ozone hole may be forming over the Tibetan plateau.


Bush Veto?

Yeah, right. Actually, given that some of the money goes to rebuilding in the wake of Katrina, and some of it goes to the war in Afghanistan (yes, we are still at war in Afghanistan), he may very well veto the bill:
The Senate passed a $109 billion war and hurricane-relief bill yesterday that is loaded with a raft of special-interest provisions for farmers, fishermen, and a major defense contractor among many others, setting up what could be President Bush's first veto.

The bill surpassed Bush's declared spending limit by approximately $15 billion, including various provisions, pet projects, and add-ons. Lawmakers, some of them self-described fiscal conservatives, apparently seized the opportunity to attach their own priorities to a bill sure to pass because it helps the troops in the field.

Ultimately, the bill designed to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus some post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding in the Gulf Coast, was saddled with billions of dollars in extras, including $3.9 billion in farm aid, $1.1 billion to benefit the fishing industry, and $6 million for sugar interests in Hawaii.


What's Beyond a December-January Romance?

We need a whole new term for this relationship. I mean, she is over three times as old as he:
A 33-year-old man in northern Malaysia has married a 104-year-old woman, saying mutual respect and friendship had turned to love, the Star newspaper said yesterday.


Thursday, May 04, 2006



A Free Iraq

Where Iraqi police are free to gun down impoverished children:
Gay human rights group Outrage! has today accused Iraqi police of executing a 14 year old boy in the al-Dura district of Baghdad in early April.

Ahmed Khalil was accused of corrupting the community and creating a scandal because he had sex with men.

“Ahmed was, in fact, a victim of poverty. He sold his body to get money and food to help his impoverished family survive,” said Ali Hili, an exiled gay Iraqi who is Middle East Affairs spokesperson for the London-based OutRage!.

“According to a neighbour, who witnessed Ahmed’s execution from his bedroom window, four uniformed police officers arrived at Ahmed's house in a four-wheel-drive police pick-up truck.

“The neighbour saw the police drag Ahmed out of the house and shoot him at point-blank range, pumping two bullets into his head and several more bullets into the rest of his body.”


The Universe...

Is a flip-flopper!
A bouncing universe that expands and then shrinks every trillion years or so could explain one of the most puzzling problems in cosmology: how we can exist at all.


The Stupidity Endures

If this governor cannot grant even this posthumous pardon, what sort of man must he be? And how many living African Americans languish, wrongly imprisoned, because of Barbour's resolute idiocy?
Gov. Haley Barbour won't grant a posthumous pardon to a black Korean War veteran who was wrongfully convicted in segregationist Mississippi after he tried to enroll in an all-white university.

Clyde Kennard was convicted of purchasing $25 worth of chicken feed he knew to be stolen in 1960 and sentenced to seven years in prison, but the only witness against him has recanted his testimony.
Beginning in 1956, after he served four years in the Army, Kennard repeatedly attempted to enroll at what is now the University of Southern Mississippi. His temerity drew the ire of segregationist leaders who were determined to fight integration at USM.

Kennard, a farmer, was arrested on reckless driving and possession of whiskey charges. Those charges were later thrown out by the Mississippi Supreme Court, but Kennard was then convicted on the chicken-feed charge.

The sole witness against him in the theft case, Johnny Lee Roberts, who lives in the Hattiesburg area, has since recanted his testimony.


Gay Bishop = Terrorist Bomb

Why does religion make some people so bloody stupid?
The nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization is demanding an apology from the dean of an Episcopal seminary for equating the election of an openly gay bishop in California to "a terrorist bomb, which is timed to destroy a peace process."


The Flag Is Not Sacred

This is so tired:
A Senate panel on Thursday advanced a proposed constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration, a measure with little chance of congressional passage but potential political impact in an election year.

Approved 6-3 by a Judiciary Committee panel on the Constitution, the amendment reads: ``The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.''


Rorschach to Bush: Shut Up, I Pray Thee

Oh, Jesus:
President Bush said Thursday that America's history is inexorably tied to prayer.

"America is a nation of prayer. It's impossible to tell the story of our nation without telling the story of people who pray," Bush said during a White House celebration of the National Day of Prayer. "At decisive moments in our history and in quiet times around family tables, we are a people humbled and strengthened and blessed by prayer."

Bowing his head many times as Christian and Jewish leaders offered prayers, the president thanked those who pray for him, calling it the greatest gift a citizen can offer him.

Of course, given this study, I also must thank those who pray for the president.



Hungarian builders who drank their way to the bottom of a huge barrel of rum while renovating a house got a nasty surprise when a pickled corpse tumbled out of the empty barrel, a police magazine website reported.

According to online magazine, workers in Szeged in the south of Hungary tried to move the barrel after they had drained it, only to find it was surprisingly heavy and were shocked when the body of a naked man fell out.

The website said that the body of the man had been shipped back from Jamaica 20 years ago by his wife in the barrel of rum in order to avoid the cost and paperwork of an official return.

According to the website, workers said the rum in the 300-liter barrel had a "special taste" so they even decanted a few bottles of the liquor to take home.


Mississippi Weirdness

What to say?
Jackson Mayor Frank Melton said he impulsively asked his police escort to pull four Callaway High buses over on I-220 on Friday afternoon because he needed a hug.

The buses were taking students home from school, about 4:30 p.m.

"It's been such a stressful two weeks," Melton said. "I wanted to shake their hands. I wanted to touch them. That's all it was. ... I went through the buses and shook their hand and hugged them and told then how proud I was of them."

Melton said students saw him out their windows and waved before he had the buses stopped. "I told the kids to have a great weekend and a safe weekend," he said. "I didn't do anything stupid or illegal."
"I reserve the right to go into our schools. I reserve the right to encourage kids. I reserve the right as the mayor," he said.


Fair Wages

The average homemaker is worth many times more than I. I can live with that, but, um, why "full-time-stay-at-home mother," rather than "parent"?

Pay 'em:
A full-time stay-at-home mother would earn $134,121 a year if paid for all her work, an amount similar to a top U.S. ad executive, a marketing director or a judge, according to a study released Wednesday.


Bush Thwarted

He's not used to this, having been the governor of Texas, but he doesn't get to kill this guy:
A divided jury spared the life of Zacarias Moussaoui yesterday, deciding to send to jail for the rest of his life the only man tried on US soil for the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks.



Ginsburg calls it:
In a little noticed AP article Tuesday evening, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was quoted as telling a gathering of the American Bar Association that a Republican proposal to create a judiciary oversight inspector sounds "very much like the Soviet Union was," RAW STORY has learned.


Blaming the Victim?

I will readily admit that New Orleans is all kinds of screwed up when it comes to governance. But, still, are FEMA's actions truly appropriate?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is closing its long-term recovery office in New Orleans, claiming local officials failed to meet their planning obligations after Hurricane Katrina.

The office is responsible for helping the city devise a blueprint to rebuild destroyed houses, schools and neighborhoods.

"FEMA cannot drive the planning _ our mission is to support it. We can only do so much and then we look to the city to embrace and begin planning and managing," said FEMA's national spokesman Aaron Walker. "Once they begin planning, we can re-engage with them."


Backing Out

Fox is caving to US pressure, sadly:
Mexican President Vicente Fox refused to sign a drug decriminalization bill Wednesday, hours after U.S. officials warned the plan could encourage "drug tourism."

Fox sent the measure back to Congress for changes, but his office did not mention the U.S. criticism.

Fox will ask "Congress to make the needed corrections to make it absolutely clear in our country, the possession of drugs and their consumption are, and will continue to be, a criminal offense," according to a statement from the president's office.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Very Texan Invention

Introducing the Riot Slimer:
Rioters could soon be in for a slippery surprise. Researchers at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, US, are working on a new non-lethal weapon that could quite literally bring them to their knees – by sliming them.

The institute has developed a super-slimy substance. When fired at an unruly mob it causes rioters to simply slip over.

Riot police or troops would wear a back pack with three cylinders – one containing compressed air, another filled with plain water and a third containing a supply of very dry, finely ground, polyacrylamide powder. A nozzle, resembling a shower head, would blasts two separate jets, containing the water and the polymer powder, in the general direction of an ugly crowd.

As the two jets mix in the air, after clearing the nozzle, they create a slimy mixture that covers the ground and causes everyone in the area to fall down. Even vehicles should be unable to get a grip on the goo, the patent says.


Our Victory Never Ceases

There are just so many great opportunities for military heroism in Afghanistan. We have brought that nation a wealth of new challenges to make them stronger as a country when all is said and done:
Each spring with the arrival of warmer weather, the fighting season here starts up, but the scale of the militants' presence and their sheer brazenness have alarmed Afghans and foreign officials far more than in previous years.

"The Taliban and Al Qaeda are everywhere," a shopkeeper, Haji Saifullah, told the commander of American forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, as the general strolled through the bazaar of this town to talk to people. "It is all right in the city, but if you go outside the city, they are everywhere, and the people have to support them. They have no choice."

The fact that American troops are pulling out of southern Afghanistan in the coming months, and handing matters over to NATO peacekeepers, who have repeatedly stated that they are not going to fight terrorists, has given a lift to the insurgents, and increased the fears of Afghans.


Our Thin-Skinned Leader

Bush is just such a sensitive little thing, isn't he?
Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert's biting routine at the White House Correspondents Association dinner won a rare silent protest from Bush aides and supporters Saturday when several independently left before he finished.

"Colbert crossed the line," said one top Bush aide, who rushed out of the hotel as soon as Colbert finished. Another said that the president was visibly angered by the sharp lines that kept coming.

"I've been there before, and I can see that he is [angry]," said a former top aide. "He's got that look that he's ready to blow."


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gas Prices Killing Education

I'm just so happy for Exxon, that its profits are hitting record highs. I also envy Tennesseeans who have a school board chairman named "Bimbo":
With high prices for diesel fuel squeezing school transportation budgets nationwide, one Tennessee school system took action on its own by canceling class for two days.

Dallas Smith, superintendent of Rhea County schools in east Tennessee, canceled school Friday and planned to do the same thing Monday to ease transportation spending.
School board Chairman Harold "Bimbo" McCawley said the two-day closing of schools was justified. McCawley said the superintendent "made a decision to try to save some money for the taxpayers. ... I think it was a wise decision."


Berlusconi Finally Gives Up

About time:
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the longest-serving leader in postwar Italy, resigned Tuesday to make way for a center-left government led by Romano Prodi that must re-energize a moribund economy.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Seizing the Means of Production

Evo Morales is on the move:
President Evo Morales nationalized Bolivia's natural gas industry and oil Monday, ordering foreign energy companies to send their supplies to a state company for sales and industrialization.


The Boss

What I wouldn't give to be there:
Bruce Springsteen has criticised politicians for "criminal ineptitude" in their response to Hurricane Katrina in the southern United States.

The singer was performing at the Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, parts of which he had visited after they were devastated in the disaster.

"I saw sights I never thought I'd see in an American city," he said. "The criminal ineptitude makes you furious."

More than 1,300 people were killed across US states affected by Katrina.

The population of New Orleans fell from nearly 500,000 to less than 200,000.

Fans cried and embraced during poignant songs in Springsteen's set.

In one, How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?, the lyrics referred to "bodies floating" in the street and levees which had "gone to hell".


Happy May Day without Immigrants!

I noticed no effect here in Austin, but around the nation, immigrants are demonstrating their strength, their numbers, and their will:
Hundreds of thousands of mostly Hispanic immigrants skipped work and took to the streets Monday, flexing their newfound political muscle in a nationwide boycott that succeeded in slowing or shutting many farms, factories, markets and restaurants.

From Los Angeles to Chicago, New Orleans to Houston, the "Day Without Immigrants" attracted widespread participation despite divisions among activists over whether a boycott would send the right message to Washington lawmakers considering sweeping immigration reform.

"I want my children to know their mother is not a criminal," said Benita Olmedo, a nanny who came here illegally in 1986 from Mexico and pulled her 11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son from school to march in San Diego. "I want them to be as strong I am. This shows our strength."


Don't These People Have Real Problems to Deal with?

First Poland, now Russia:
Police had to form a human chain to hold back more than 150 skinheads and Russian Orthodox Church supporters from rushing a gay event at a Moscow club Sunday night.

The club was to have held a party and rally in support of LGBT pride celebrations the Interfax news agency reported. The city council is expected to make a decision on the pride event in two weeks and Moscow's mayor, the Church, and far right political parties are demanding it be cancelled.

Protestors Sunday night at Club La Guardia shouted anti-gay slogans. "Down with pederasts" and "No perverts here" they yelled.

Skinheads hurled tomatoes and plastic bottles at the gays while members of the Church held religious icons and prayed. One gay man was reportedly beaten unconscious.


Bush Prays

What a moron:
"We recognize that our recommendations will not be enacted in the next five weeks, before the next hurricane season begins,'' said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who led the Senate inquiry.

"But we cannot stay with the same deeply flawed system that has proven that it simply does not work.''

President Bush on Friday rejected the idea of killing FEMA.

"The lessons of Katrina are important,'' Bush said. "We've learned a lot here at the federal level. We're much more ready this time than we were the last time.''

"Let's, first of all, pray there's no hurricanes,'' Bush said. "That would be, like, step one.''


Cheney Defies the President

In case you were still wondering who is really in charge:
As the Bush administration has dramatically accelerated the classification of information as "top secret" or "confidential," one office is refusing to report on its annual activity in classifying documents: the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

A standing executive order, strengthened by President Bush in 2003, requires all agencies and "any other entity within the executive branch" to provide an annual accounting of their classification of documents. More than 80 agencies have collectively reported to the National Archives that they made 15.6 million decisions in 2004 to classify information, nearly double the number in 2001, but Cheney continues to insist he is exempt.

Explaining why the vice president has withheld even a tally of his office's secrecy when such offices as the National Security Council routinely report theirs, a spokeswoman said Cheney is "not under any duty" to provide it.


Sunday, April 30, 2006

Who's Here Illegally, Again?
A new law requiring applicants to present a birth certificate or passport to qualify for Medicaid could leave some American Indians and others without coverage... American Indians and others who were born at home and do not have a hospital birth certificate will no longer qualify for Medicaid under the new law... New Mexico Voices for Children estimates that 1.7 million adults and 2.9 million children do not have birth certificates. ... Navajo Nation officials said the issue concerns them because many elderly Navajos on Medicaid were born at home. Navajo Nation Council Delegate LoRenzo Bates of Upper Fruitland said elderly Navajos cannot prove citizenship and many of them do not speak English.
And they said irony was dead.

(AP State & Local Wire, via H-AmIndian)


Silent Dictatorship

Bush's actions are exactly the sort that destroy democracy. They are quiet, technical claims too boring to report on the evening news. And they serve to undermine all notions of "checks and balances":
President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Among the laws Bush said he can ignore are military rules and regulations, affirmative-action provisions, requirements that Congress be told about immigration services problems, ''whistle-blower" protections for nuclear regulatory officials, and safeguards against political interference in federally funded research.

Legal scholars say the scope and aggression of Bush's assertions that he can bypass laws represent a concerted effort to expand his power at the expense of Congress, upsetting the balance between the branches of government. The Constitution is clear in assigning to Congress the power to write the laws and to the president a duty ''to take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Bush, however, has repeatedly declared that he does not need to ''execute" a law he believes is unconstitutional.


Generous Sunday Catblogging

Sometimes, readers, I think I spoil you...