Saturday, June 24, 2006


How he makes his money is one thing, but I have to say I like the way Bill Gates spends it:
Public libraries hit by hurricanes Katrina and Rita are getting nearly $18 million to rebuild and set up bookmobiles or temporary mini-branches while they do so, three groups announced Thursday.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is giving $12.2 million, the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund is giving $5 million, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services, a federal grant-making agency, is offering $500,000 for staffing temporary facilities.


Friday, June 23, 2006

A Final Solution

Perhaps not THE final solution, but this idea has merit.... If only we could, perhaps, "concentrate" the illegal immigrants into some sort of "camp":
A Republican gubernatorial candidate's call for creation of a forced labor camp for illegal immigrants drew rebukes Friday from two GOP lawmakers, who labeled it a low point in the immigration debate.

Don Goldwater, nephew of the late Sen. Barry Goldwater, caused an international stir this week when EFE, a Mexican news service, quoted him as saying he wanted to hold undocumented immigrants in camps to use them "as labor in the construction of a wall and to clean the areas of the Arizona desert that they're polluting."


Catblogging: The Cat Is In The Bag

At least they let me unpack the dufflebag first. My suitcases were cat-occupied all last night from the minute they were opened, and never got unpacked.


Keeping the Ratings Up

The viewers might not show up if we decided to execute people humanely. I understand their quandary:

Switching to an injection method with less potential to cause pain could undercut many of the lawsuits. But so far, in this chapter of the nation's long and tangled history with the death penalty, no state has moved to alter its lethal injection protocol.

At the core of the issue is a debate about which matters more, the comfort of prisoners or that of the people who watch them die. A major obstacle to change is that alternative methods of lethal injection, though they might be easier on inmates, would almost certainly be harder on witnesses and executioners.

With a different approach, death would take longer and might involve jerking movements that the prisoner would not feel but that would be unpleasant for others to watch.


Freeance, Peeance

All is well. Nothing to see here. Move along:
The Iraqi government declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew Friday after insurgents set up roadblocks in central Baghdad and opened fire on U.S. and Iraqi troops just north of the heavily fortified Green Zone.

U.S. and Iraqi forces also clashed with insurgents in southern Baghdad.

The prime minister ordered everyone off the streets of the capital from 2 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Saturday. The order came at around noon, when many residents were in prayer, and sent many rushing home to beat the curfew.


Let the Circular Firing Squad Commence


While many Nashvillians prepare to see Al Gore at his book signing and movie premiere in Green Hills today, a group of people has alternate plans. members will be protesting Al Gore from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today at the Green Hills Mall during the book signing at Davis Kidd Booksellers, also in Green Hills.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Israeli Gaybashing

Where to begin? I am at a loss:
A member of the ruling Kadima Party is calling for gays to be banned from entering the Knesset.

An international gay youth group is planning on visit the Israeli Parliament during World Gay Pride Week in August to see how the Israeli government works.

In a letter to Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik on Thursday Otniel Schneller said that the visit would turn the chamber into "Sodom and Gomorra."

"They should conduct their lives in their homes, and not visit the Knesset as a group," the letter said.


Two Americas

Such overt scorn for America's poor is utterly revolting. Can you say "class warfare"?
The U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated a proposal pushed by Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage in increments from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour by January 1, 2009.

Especially in light of this:
The average chief executive in the United States earned 262 times the pay of the average worker in 2005, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a non-profit think tank.

In 2005, a CEO earned more in one workday (there are 260 in a year) than an average worker earned in 52 weeks, according to the EPI (Washington, D.C.).

In 1965, U.S. CEOs in major companies earned 24 times more than an average worker; this ratio grew to 35 in 1978 and to 71 in 1989, according to the EPI.


Aging the Army, Again

Once more, the Army is stretching to make its quotas:
The U.S. Army, aiming to make its recruiting goals amid the Iraq war, raised its maximum enlistment age by another two years on Wednesday, while the Army Reserve predicted it will miss its recruiting target for a second straight year.

People can now volunteer to serve in the active-duty Army or the part-time Army Reserve and National Guard up to their 42nd birthday after the move aimed at increasing the number of people eligible to sign up, officials said.

It marked the second time this year the Army has boosted the maximum age for new volunteers, raising the ceiling from age 35 to 40 in January before now adding two more years.


Hopefully Not...on a Plane!

A Wall Street Journal editor demonstrates sound reason, equating gay marriage to, well, you know:
HENNINGER: This is a footnote to our gay marriage discussion: A woman in India last week married a snake. I would like to ask the proponents of gay marriage--which violates, after all, traditions going back through all of human history--to now absolutely, positively guarantee that the next movement is not going to be allowing people to marry their pet horse, dog or cat. And you know What? Given the "anything goes" culture we live in, I don't think they can deliver that guarantee.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hamhanded Chirac

Nothing like a dark, lizardlike zoo of a museum to celebrate "primitive"--um, indigenous art:
The French president, Jacques Chirac, unveiled his great cultural legacy to the country yesterday, a new museum for indigenous art which he promised would inspire "peace and tolerance" in the world.

But even as Mr Chirac announced in the presence of the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, that he was giving a voice to "peoples humiliated and scorned", questions lingered over whether the museum was rehashing colonial cliches, why exhibits appeared to be scantily labelled and whether the €230m (£160m) project, which has already overrun and overspent, would be finished before opening to the public on Friday.

The Musée du Quai Branly - the biggest museum to be built in Paris since the Pompidou centre in 1977 - is Mr Chirac's attempt to cast himself as the defender of art from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. A long-time fan of indigenous artefacts, he also wanted to leave Paris with an architectural imprint to rival François Mitterand's legacies, such as the glass pyramid at the Louvre. Asked this week whether the museum would one day become known as "Musée Chirac", the 73-year-old president said he would be honoured if it did.

Controversy has surrounded the 11-year project from the start. It was initially to be called a museum of "primitive" or "primary" arts but was instead named after its location as the term was considered demeaning.

The historian Gilles Manceron said this week that the museum, designed around a jungle theme, still risked perpetuating colonial stereotypes and that non-European art should be shown alongside European works and not ghettoised.

Jean Nouvel, the celebrated Paris architect who designed the interlinking buildings on the banks of the Seine, described his museum on stilts as "a snake or a lizard into which you walk and discover not so much a building as a territory - a zoo really".

Le Monde hailed the "spectacular" displays but some found the museum too dark, cluttered and lacking in explanation of objects. Others complained of headaches and eye-strain from the darkened rooms.


Down. Under.

Australia truly is the United States of the Southern Hemisphere:
Death rates among Aboriginal children are nearly three times higher than non-indigenous infants, a study of Australian health trends revealed today.

The damning figures also show that 70% of the Aboriginal population, who number almost 500,000, die before the age of 65, compared with 20% of non-indigenous Australians. The average life expectancy for Aboriginal men is 59, compared with 77 for non-indigenous males, according to the report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.


Voting Rights on Hold

Pathetic. Just pathetic:
A bipartisan bill to extend the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a crown jewel of the U.S. civil rights era, was unexpectedly and indefinitely delayed on Wednesday amid objections from some southern Republican lawmakers.

The controversy centered on extra scrutiny faced mostly by states in the U.S. South with a legacy of civil rights violations, and on requirements that some areas supply bilingual ballots to voters whose English is poor.

House Republican leaders, who had expected a fairly straightforward vote with support from both Republicans and Democrats on Wednesday afternoon, instead indefinitely put off consideration of the legislation, aides said. A vote is not likely before the July 4th holiday break.


Ending Suicide Bombings

Yeah, I'm sure this will work:
Remember the egg, the frying pan and the message? "This is your brain," the ominous narrator told us before cracking an egg over the sizzling skillet. "This is your brain on drugs." Public service announcements have changed a lot since that foreboding culinary lesson. They now include exploding cars, flying Matrix-style stuntmen and exceedingly dire messages like "Don't Suicide Bomb." A new, American-made PSA aimed at discouraging these deadly attacks is currently in production. The ad is slated to air as a 60-second spot on Iraqi television this summer.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Innovation from the Labor Movement

Now this is a brilliant idea to raise awareness and boost membership:
The U.S. labor movement is asking workers to move their complaints about their bosses from the water cooler to the Web.

Working America, the AFL-CIO union federation's affiliate for nonunion workers, invited workers throughout the country on Monday to share their best stories about their worst bosses in its "My Bad Boss Contest."

Top prize is a one-week vacation.

"It's an opportunity for people to get this off their chests and to see what's happening out there and to shine a spotlight on this," said Working America Executive Director Karen Nussbaum.

It's also an opportunity for the worker advocacy group, which has more than 1 million members, to pick up new members, since contestants must go to to enter.


Traumatizing Two Generations at Once

Very cost-effective, no?

More than 30 years after their war ended, thousands of Vietnam veterans are seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder, and experts say one reason appears to be harrowing images of combat in Iraq.

Figures from the Department of Veterans Affairs show that PTSD disability-compensation cases have nearly doubled since 2000, to an all-time high of more than 260,000. The biggest bulge has come since 2003, when war started in Iraq.

Experts say that, although several factors may be at work in the burgeoning caseload, many veterans of past wars reexperience their own trauma as they watch televised images of U.S. troops in combat and read each new accounting of the dead.



As far as I know, this system has never passed a single test that remotely resembled reality. "Good to be ready"? Wha?
The United States has moved its ground-based interceptor missile defense system from test mode to operational amid concerns over an expected North Korean missile launch, a U.S. defense official said on Tuesday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed a Washington Times report that the Pentagon has activated the system, which has been in the developmental stage for years.

"It's good to be ready," the official said.


Ongoing Victory in Afghanistan

We're back to "full war" there. Thanks a lot, Bush, for your short attention span:
The United States military is quietly carrying out the largest military offensive in Afghanistan since U.S. troops invaded the country in 2001.

"The Taliban has made a comeback, and we have the next 90 days to crush them," said a senior U.S. military official.

The offensive, "Operation Mountain Thrust," [don't get me started--ror] involves almost 11,000 U.S. troops and is focused on four southern Afghanistan provinces.

The Taliban has re-emerged as the Afghan government "has created vacuums of power" says the official. Proceeds from the growing opium trade in the region has helped the Taliban obtain new weapons and pay local officials.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Roberts Loses, the Environment Wins

Good, although then, of couse, we come to the question of who decides what constitutes, "proof":
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the government can block development on hundreds of millions of acres of wetlands, even on land miles away from waterways, as long as regulators prove a connection to the waterways.

Chief Justice John Roberts, in his first major environmental case, came up one vote short of dramatically limiting the scope of the landmark Clean Water Act.


Conservative Episcopalians Peeved

The horror! A woman in charge!? And she is in favor of gay marriage!?

A word of advice: If this bugs you, just become Catholic:
One of three Episcopal dioceses that rejects ordaining women appealed for help Monday from the head of the Anglican Communion after the U.S. church elected a female bishop as its national leader, the first woman ever to lead an Anglican province.

Bishop Jack Iker of the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, read a short statement from the floor of the Episcopal General Convention, asking Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to put the diocese under the oversight of another Anglican leader.

On Sunday, the convention chose Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as the first female presiding bishop for the Episcopal Church, the U.S. arm of the global Anglican Communion.


Jefferts Schori would not say whether she thought the church should stop electing gay bishops for now since delegates hadn't yet voted on the measure. The meeting ends Wednesday.

However, she had voted to confirm Robinson in 2003 and supports blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. She will be installed for a nine-year term Nov. 4 in the Washington Cathedral.


Sexism + Capitalism

And the roots of marriage are laid bare in some Indian states:
Some husbands in western India are renting out their wives to other men, cashing in on a shortage of single women available for marriage, according to a news report Monday.

Atta Prajapati, a farm worker who lives in Gujarat state, leases out his wife Laxmi to a wealthy landowner for $175 US a month, the Times of India reported, citing unidentified police officials. A farm worker earns a monthly minimum wage of around $22. Laxmi is expected to live with the man, look after him and his house, and have sex with him, the report said.

The Times said this was not an isolated incident in the western state, and that several men rent their wives to other men on a month-by-month basis.

Gujarat officials were unwilling to comment on the report when contacted Monday by The Associated Press.

The male-female ratio is becoming increasing skewed across India because many parents abort female fetuses, preferring sons to daughters.


Stripping the Dutch for Budweiser

Orange lederhosen are dangerous to Bud's profits, apparently:
For Dutch football fans it has become the summer's cult outfit. Over the past few months, a quarter of a million Holland supporters have bought themselves a pair of patriotic orange lederhosen - wearing them whenever Holland take to the pitch in the World Cup.

But when Holland fans turned up on Friday to watch their team play the Ivory Coast, wearing the garish trousers, officials from Fifa were not amused.

The lederhosen carry the name of a Dutch beer, Bavaria.

The only problem is that the Dutch brewery which makes Bavaria is not an official World Cup sponsor. And so, in one of the most surreal incidents of the World Cup so far, stadium officials in Stuttgart made the supporters take their trousers off - leaving many of them to watch Holland's 2-1 victory in their underpants.

"They put our trousers in the bin," said an aggrieved Peer Swinkels, the chairman of Bavaria, Holland's second biggest brewery. "Fans going into the stadium had to dump them in a big container. Fifa said that the supporters could get them back afterwards. But the container was full of rubbish so most people didn't bother. I understand that Fifa wants to protect its sponsors. But this is very strange."


Don't These People Listen to Themselves?

Now that we've deposed Saddam and liberated Iraq, what should we do? According to O'Reilly, we should become the very evil we are fighting:
O’Reilly: Now to me, they’re not fighting it hard enough. See, if I’m president, I got probably another 50-60 thousand with orders to shoot on sight anybody violating curfews. Shoot them on sight. That’s me… President O’Reilly… Curfew in Ramadi, seven o’clock at night. You’re on the street? You’re dead. I shoot you right between the eyes. Ok? That’s how I run that country. Just like Saddam ran it. Saddam didn’t have explosions - he didn’t have bombers. Did he? because if you got out of line, your dead.


Guard Back in New Orleans

Acting at the mayor's request, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Monday she would send National Guard troops and state police to patrol the streets of New Orleans after a bloody weekend in which six people were killed.

"The senseless slaying of five teenagers this weekend is shocking," Blanco said in a statement. "Things like this should never happen, and I am going to do all I can to stop it."


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Let the Killing Resume!

The whalers are ready to go:
Pro-whaling nations have won their first vote towards the resumption of commercial whaling for 20 years.


Kitties, Missing a Certain Miriam

And this is the result of a mere week away in Michigan! Just imagine how bad it will be when she's gone for two weeks to Germany! They'd probably be much happier if I went instead.


Sunday Morning Kitties

Why did I wake up at 5 AM today? Why am I still not revising the essay due to the journal Socialism and Democracy by Tuesday?

I have no answers. Nor do the kitties. But they don't seem too worried.