Saturday, June 10, 2006

A Different Sort of Catblogging

Steven Colbert's influence extends even to cats, it would seem.

Jack, a 15-pound orange-and-white cat, cat sits under a treed black bear in a backyard in West Milford, N.J., Sunday, June 4, 2006. When the bear climbed down, the cat chased it up another nearby tree.


Vile, But Sometimes Hilarious

Oh, Phelps, you crazy freak:
When Southern Baptists meet next week in Greensboro, North Carolina for their annual convention they'll be met by a protest like they have never seen before - one accusing them of being too liberal - especially when it comes to gays.

The Southern Baptist Convention condemns homosexuality, denies gays the right to become pastors, and gives churches the right to refuse membership to gays. It also has been supportive of constitutional bans on same-sex marriage.

Nevertheless, the Rev. Fred Phelps and members of his Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas are planning to picket the convention.

Phelps and his followers - mostly family members who have been described as a cult - are particularly angry that the denomination will honor the Rev. Billy Graham.

A statue to Graham will be unveiled at the convention, but Phelps calls the evangelist, who has ministered to presidents, a shill for gays.


More Progress in Afghanistan

What says "democracy and freedom" more than a bunch of well-armed warlords?
The Afghan government is considering arming tribal groups across the south of the country, where Nato is set to take command next month, in a move diplomats say would destabilise the country.

As violence in the country’s four southern provinces rises to its worst level since 2001, armed village and tribal groups would be recruited to back up the increasingly overstretched police force and fledgling national army.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Shocked, I Tells Ya!

Who on earth could have foreseen that a blatantly illegal and imperialistic war would have led to an extended period of occupation?

Not I. I'm just not that quick, I suppose:
Congressional Republicans killed a provision in an Iraq war funding bill that would have put the United States on record against the permanent basing of U.S. military facilities in that country, a lawmaker and congressional aides said on Friday.


Zarqawi Did Not Exist, So Bush Was Forced to Invent Him

The madness never ends:
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a little-known Jordanian petty criminal before he became the Islamic fundamentalist fanatic denounced by the United States in 2003 as an insurgent leader of great importance.
His status enabled him to recruit men and raise money to wage a cruel war, mostly against Iraqi civilians.
In one macabre innovation, he staged beheadings of Westerners - including Ken Bigley and Eugene Armstrong - which were then put on the internet.
President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed news of his death but, paradoxically, among those most pleased by his elimination may be the other insurgent leaders. "He was an embarrassment to the resistance," said Iraqi commentator Ghassan al-Attiyah. "They never liked him taking all the limelight and the Americans exaggerated his role."
Zarqawi's rise was attributable to the US in two ways. His name was unknown when he was denounced in 2003, by Secretary of State Colin Powell before the UN Security Council as the link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
There was no evidence for this connection and Zarqawi did not at that time belong to al Qaeda. But to Muslims, Powell's denunciation made Zarqawi a symbol of resistance to the US. It also fitted Washington's political agenda that attacking Iraq was part of the war on terror.
The invasion gave Zarqawi a further boost. Within months of the overthrow of Hussein, Iraq's Sunni Arab community of five million appeared united in opposition to the occupation. Armed resistance was popular and for the first time Sunni militants known as the Salafi had a bedrock of support in Iraq.
The next critical moment in Zarqawi's career was the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003. Previously, US military and civilian spokesmen blamed everything on the former Iraqi leader.
No sooner was Saddam captured than the US spokesmen began to mention Zarqawi's name in every sentence.



You're done, DeLay. And perhaps what you ought to have done differently was behave with one iota of ethics:
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said goodbye to Congress Thursday in typical fighting form, delivering a pugnacious defense of the iron-fisted partisanship that defined his decade in power.

"Given the chance to do it all again, there's only one thing I'd change," DeLay said in a defiant retirement speech on the House floor. "I'd fight even harder."


Enabling Surveillance

Another battle lost:
A federal appeals court sided with the Bush administration Friday on an electronic surveillance issue, making it easier to tap into Internet phone calls and broadband transmissions.


Happy Anniversary!

The mind boggles that Canadian society has not yet crumbled into dust:
Dozens of same-sex couples celebrated in front of Toronto City Hall on Friday, marking the third anniversary of the landmark court ruling that struck down Canada's ban on gay marriage.

On hand to mark the occasion was federal New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton, a former Toronto city council member.

On June 10, 2003 the Ontario Court of Appeals - the highest court in the province - ruled that prohibiting gay marriage was a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the Canadian Constitution.

The ruling allowed same-sex couples to immediately receive marriage licenses and wed.

"The existing common law definition of marriage violates the couples' equality rights on the basis of sexual orientation under [the charter]," the 61-page written ruling said.



Changing-the-Sheets edition.

Tista, getting off the bed in an extraordinarily graceful fashion:

And after Tista's departure, Zora, who doesn't go in for the whole under-the-sheets business, cautiously approaches The Lump That Is Gramsci.


Capitalizing on the Crackdown

Nothing like "defending our borders," eh?
A border inspector accused of accepting cash and a luxury vehicle from smugglers driving carloads of illegal immigrants through border crossings was arrested Thursday.
Elizalda's arrest came a day after another border officer was arraigned on similar charges of accepting more than $500,000 in bribes from smugglers driving illegal immigrants through the border crossing at Otay Mesa, several miles east of San Ysidro. Investigators said they believe the two cases are unrelated.


Petty Bullshit Becomes Even Pettier

John Bolton will just not shut up:
AMERICA’S bitter dispute with the United Nations escalated last night when John Bolton, the US envoy to the UN, threatened to withhold funding to the organisation unless it apologised for the remarks of a senior British official.

Speaking at the Centre for Policy Studies in London, Mr Bolton assailed Mark Malloch Brown, the British Deputy UN Secretary-General, for the disparaging remarks he made about the American public this week. “Mark Malloch Brown has a sentence in his speech where he says the role of the UN is a mystery in Middle America,” he said.

“Maybe it is fashionable in some circles to look down on Middle America, to say they don’t get the complexities of the world and they don’t have the benefit of continental education and they are deficient in so many ways,” Mr Bolton added. “It is illegitimate for an international civil servant to criticise what he thinks are the inadequacies of citizens of a member government.”


Death Knell for the Internets


The U.S. House of Representatives definitively rejected the concept of Net neutrality on Thursday, dealing a bitter blow to Internet companies like, eBay and Google that had engaged in a last-minute lobbying campaign to support it.

By a 269-152 vote that fell largely along party lines, the House Republican leadership mustered enough votes to reject a Democrat-backed amendment that would have enshrined stiff Net neutrality regulations into federal law and prevented broadband providers from treating some Internet sites differently from others.

Of the 421 House members who participated in the vote that took place around 6:30 p.m. PT, the vast majority of Net neutrality supporters were Democrats. Republicans represented most of the opposition.

The vote on the amendment (click for PDF) came after nearly a full day of debate on the topic, which prominent Democrats predicted would come to represent a turning point in the history of the Internet.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Urban Warfare on Sesame Street

The GOP will not rest until Big Bird is pushing up daisies:
House Republicans yesterday revived their efforts to slash funding for public broadcasting, as a key committee approved a $115 million reduction in the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that could force the elimination of some popular PBS and NPR programs.


Sad Rich White Men Will Lose Money When Dead

Senate Republicans talk to reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday, June 8, 2006, after losing a cloture vote on repealing the estate tax. From left are Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah., and Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.


FDA Does Good

At long last, the HPV vaccine has been approved:
Women for the first time have a vaccine to protect themselves against cervical cancer. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday licensed the vaccine, Gardasil, for use in girls and women ages 9 to 26.

The vaccine works by preventing infection by four of the dozens of strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease.

By age 50, some 80 percent of women have been infected.

Gardasil protects against the two types of HPV responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. The vaccine also blocks infection by two other strains responsible for 90 percent of genital wart cases. The vaccine will be available by the end of the month, with a three-shot series costing $360.


Estate Tax Safe for Now

Bush's latest attempt to give more money away to the super-rich has failed for the moment:
The U.S. Senate on Thursday killed a bill backed by President George W. Bush that would have permanently repealed estate taxes, but some senators held out the possibility of compromise on the election-year issue.

The Senate vote of 57-41, mostly along party lines, was three shy of the 60 needed for the measure to advance. The House of Representatives had previously passed a bill to wipe out what Republicans call the "death tax."


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hell, No

He won't go:
A U.S. Army officer said on Wednesday that fighting in the war in Iraq would make him "party to war crimes" and he would not go.

First Lt. Ehren Watada's supporters -- including clergy and a military family group -- said he is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to serve in Iraq and risked being court-martialed.

The Pentagon said Watada was among a number of officers and enlisted personnel who have applied for conscientious objector status.

"The wholesale slaughter and mistreatment of the Iraqi people is not only a terrible moral injustice but a contradiction of the Army's own law of land warfare. My participation would make me party to war crimes," said Watada in a taped statement played at a Tacoma news conference.

His superiors at the nearby Fort Lewis military base would not let Watada leave the base to attend the press conference.


US Critic of UN Criticizes UN for Criticizing US

The deputy secretary-general (unlike John Bolton) is still living in a world in which truth has not yet given way to truthiness, it would seem:
The deputy secretary-general of the United Nations was last night accused of making "a very, very grave mistake" after calling the Bush administration hypocrites who were feeding a right-wing anti-UN frenzy in middle America.

Washington's ambassador to the UN responded with undisguised fury to a speech by Mark Malloch Brown, the deputy secretary-general, in which he accused Washington of using the international body "almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool" while failing to defend it at home.

"Much of the public discourse that reaches the US heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors, such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News," Mr Malloch Brown said in a speech in New York on Tuesday. Depending on the UN while tolerating "too much unchecked UN-bashing and stereotyping" was "simply not sustainable", he said. "You will lose the UN one way or another."

John Bolton, the US envoy and an outspoken critic of the UN, called the comments "a very, very grave mistake". He said he told the secretary-general, Kofi Annan, yesterday morning: "I've known you since 1989, and I'm telling you, this is the worst mistake by a senior UN official that I have seen in that entire time." He called on the secretary-general to repudiate the speech.

Tensions between the UN and George Bush's White House have been simmering since the war in Iraq, but they also encompass deep splits over the international criminal court and the new human rights council, whose formation the US was one of only four states to oppose.


Like Chavez Gives a Flying F*ck

He's gotta be laughing about this:

OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) -- President Bush on Wednesday suggested that Venezuela's fiery anti-American President Hugo Chavez has done "a great disservice to the traditions and people" of his South American nation.

Venezuela is a major supplier of oil to the United States, but relations between Chavez and the Bush administration have deteriorated sharply.

Chavez, an ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro, has called Bush an alcoholic, a terrorist and an imperialist.


Mr. Pharmacist

No, "Opus Dei" does not translate as "the work of the druggist," you silly Catholic:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. acted appropriately by firing a Catholic pharmacist who refused to interact with patients seeking birth control prescriptions, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

U.S. District Judge John Shabaz dismissed a lawsuit brought by Neil Noesen, who claimed he was fired last summer at a Wal-Mart store in Onalaska out of religious discrimination.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Global Trade Is Flourishing

Auctioning sex slaves in the airports!? Madness:
WOMEN are being sold off in "slave auctions" in the arrivals lounges of British airports, say authorities desperate to crack down on the burgeoning trade in trafficking humans.

The Crown Prosecution Service said foreign women were being sold as sex workers as soon as they arrived, and police are appealing to men who frequent brothels to contact them in confidence if they believe the prostitutes may be there against their will.

In one instance a slave auction took place outside a coffee shop in the arrivals hall of London-Gatwick airport, and it is believed similar auctions have taken place at airports across the country.


Black Hole Sun

Rather a weak omnipotent deity, if two people of the same gender loving each other can "eclipse" him, wouldn't you say?
The Vatican said on Tuesday that gay marriage, abortion, lesbians wanting to bear children and a host of other practices it sees as threats to the traditional family were signs of "the eclipse of God".


Monday, June 05, 2006

The Show Me Very, Very Slowly State

Well done:
Missouri lawmakers have repealed the Sexual Misconduct law - three years after the US Supreme Court ruled such laws were unconstitutional.


President, Undaunted by Phallic Object, Takes Anti-Gay Stand

President Bush on Saturday backed a resolution to amend the Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman even though the idea has little chance of being passed in the Senate.

"Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society," Bush said in his Saturday radio address. "Marriage cannot be cut off from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening this good influence on society."


Sorry about All the Cancer and Birth Defects

Except not really. (And can anyone doubt that, decades from now, the same story will be written with the words "Iraq" and "depleted uranium" substituted?)
The United States won't compensate Vietnam's Agent Orange victims but will offer advice on dealing with the wartime defoliant, a US official said, during a visit by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
US forces widely sprayed Agent Orange, which contained the lethal chemical dioxin, in southern Vietnam during the conflict to deprive enemy guerrillas of forest cover and destroy food crops.

Vietnam says millions of its people have suffered a range of illnesses and birth defects as a result of the use of the chemical.

A New York court last year rejected a Vietnamese lawsuit against US chemical giants Monsanto and Dow Chemical, who manufactured the herbicide during the war. The Vietnamese side has appealed.

In April, visiting US Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Nicholson was pressed by Vietnamese journalists on why the United States compensates its own veterans for health defects linked to the chemical, but not Vietnam's.


Militants May Have Taken Mogadishu

And the warlords propped up by the US may have fallen:
Islamic militia appeared to control Mogadishu on Monday after winning a bloody three-month battle against warlords who have run the Somali capital for 15 years.

The warlords are widely believed to be covertly backed by a U.S. administration concerned, according to former U.S. intelligence officials, that Islamist rulers could provide a save haven for al Qaeda akin to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. Many fled on Monday to other parts of Somalia or neighbouring Kenya.

The Islamic side, which supports sharia courts in Mogadishu, announced they controlled the city in radio broadcasts and public meetings. Both residents and some members of the warlords' own militia said the city was in Islamic hands.

"The era of warlords in Somalia is over," resident Mohamed Asser said. "This morning Mogadishu is under only one hand, the Islamic courts."

The chaos in Mogadishu, battered by weeks of artillery duels, made it difficult to verify Islamic control of the city.

If confirmed, it would be the first time control of all of the city had been wrested from Somalia's powerful warlords since they ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, ushering in years of extreme violence and anarchy.


A Moneymaking Idea

Someone should gather together all the photos in which other leaders are looking at Bush with incredulity and/or contempt. That would be quite a book:

President Bush, right, meets with Denis Sassou-Nguesso, left, the president of the Republic of Congo and head of the 53-nation African Union, in the Oval Office of the White House Monday, June 5, 2006 in Washington.


God Helps Those...

who aren't complete and utter morons:

A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said on Monday.

"The man shouted 'God will save me, if he exists', lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions," the official said.

"A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery."


The New Barbarism, Codified

Well, I guess we're not being hypocritical, in this instance, at least:
The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials, a step that would mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.

The decision could culminate a lengthy debate within the Defense Department but will not become final until the Pentagon makes new guidelines public, a step that has been delayed.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Building the Next Generation...

of people who hate America:
A lawyer who had several relatives among 24 Iraqis allegedly slain by U.S. Marines last fall and is representing kin of other victims complained in a videotape Saturday that American compensation paid to the families was inadequate.

Khaled Salem Rsayef also said U.S. officers accused him and other relatives of lying when they recounted the shootings in their first meeting with the military after the Nov. 19 deaths in the western town of Haditha. He did not say when they met.

In interviews taped Friday by an AP Television News cameraman, 9-year-old survivor Iman Walid Abdul-Hameed demanded that those responsible be executed.

"Because they hurt us, we want the Americans to be executed," Iman said, wearing a violet-colored striped shirt, matching pants and headband while sitting on a couch at a relative's home. She was reluctant to speak at first, but was eventually persuaded by her relatives.

The girl lost her parents, a brother, grandparents and two uncles in the incident. Another brother, Abdul-Rahman, who was 6 at the time, and a sister, Asia, who was 5 months old, survived. Iman and Abdul-Rahman were slightly injured.


Colbert: Still a Genius

The immigration problem is solved:
"My name is Stephen Colbert, but I actually play someone on television named Stephen Colbert, who looks like me, and talks like me, but who says things with a straight face he doesn’t mean."

In that vein, Colbert considered the immigration debate: “It’s time for illegal immigrants to go — right after they finish (building) those walls." People keep saying immigrants built America, “but here's the thing, it's built now. I think it was finished in the '70s sometime. From this point it’s only a touch-up and repair job."

His suggestions for securing the U.S.-Mexico border went beyond walls to include moats, fiery moats and fiery moats with fire-proof crocodiles.


Will South America Continue to the Left?

It stands a pretty good chance of doing so, thanks to the Peruvian run-off:
Alan Garcia, 57, whose 1985-1990 presidency left Peru in economic ruin, faces Ollanta Humala, 43, a nationalist retired army officer enthusiastically endorsed by Venezuela's anti-American President Hugo Chavez.

A win by the left-leaning Humala could shift Peru into the political camp of Chavez, who is seeking to extend his influence throughout South America after gaining a loyal ally with the December election of Evo Morales as Bolivia's president.


Of Course He Has

The answer is obvious, but who can fault people for looking for an excuse to go to New Orleans?
The board of governors of the American Bar Association voted unanimously yesterday to investigate whether President Bush has exceeded his constitutional authority in reserving the right to ignore more than 750 laws that have been enacted since he took office.

Meeting in New Orleans, the board of governors for the world's largest association of legal professionals approved the creation of an all-star legal panel with a number of members from both political parties.

They include a former federal appeals court chief judge, a former FBI director, and several prominent scholars -- to evaluate Bush's assertions that he has the power to ignore laws that conflict with his interpretation of the Constitution.