Saturday, July 08, 2006

Saturday Bitter Blogging

Argh. I want to be in Germany, dammit.


We Won! Wait, I'm Part Of The "We"!?

So I'm posting from an internet cafe in Berlin, shortly (well, ok, a couple hours and several beers) after seeing the World Cup 3rd Place game at the "Fan Mile," which is a closed-off major thoroughfare where big screens have been set up for people to watch World Cup games. It was amazing. Germany played against Portugal and won, deservedly, after a really exciting game, 3:1.

German nationalism has always rather disturbed me. People who are tipsy, wearing German flags, and singing the national anthem have, in the past, been people who are singing the now-verboten Nazi third verse of the national anthem, which celebrates "Germany, Germany, over everything," and sets out the boundaries of Germany as including all of Poland, bits of Russia, France, and so forth. In other words, German nationalism has, in the past, been distinctly creepy at best, and outright racist and Nazi at worst.

And then there's now. People are waving German flags in the street as they weave along semi-drunkenly singing the national anthem... the first verse, which talks about the democratic German state as it stands now. People were friendly, not creepy; the few people who were wearing Portugal colors and waving Portuguese flags were as welcome in the crowd as people who had German flags painted on their faces.

Also, the German team has been playing inspired soccer. In the past, I'd say for the past 3 world cups at least, German soccer has been generally workmanlike - it gets the job done, but it ain't pretty. With Jürgen Klinsmann at the helm, though, German soccer has gotten, well, pretty - exciting to watch, and aesthetic. I will admit that I am not a fair-weather fan, but a fair-aesthetics fan. Any team that plays a soccer that is beautiful to watch, I am for. And for the first time in years, that includes the German team.

So, it's very, very strange for me to think of the German team and think in terms of "we." It is also very strange to be in a crowd of people who are waving German flags and not to feel nervous, which, as a German leftist, is a fairly ingrained feeling. People get beaten up for "looking leftist," so it's not an irrational nervousness. But this is a different German nationalism. It's inclusive, and like the guys who were next to us cheering and singing and being silly, it's got a sense of humor and doesn't think the nation is the be-all and end-all - it's just that it's fun to cheer on a German team that's finally playing an inspired, aesthetic soccer. So there I was, watching the game (with my friend Sae, with whom I went to Korea 4 years ago for the previous Cup, my Berlin friend Anja, and my cousin Martin (one of my all-time favorite family members) and his wife Kirsten. It was fabulous. I hadn't wanted to go to the fan mile because of this nervousness, but I let Sae and Martin persuade me, and I am grateful. We cheered when Germany scored. Sae and I jumped around and hugged. She made me wear a German team jersey, and, well, I kinda liked it. Actually, I really liked it. We loved the people around us for their love of Oliver Kahn and Jürgen Klinsmann. It was weird to see a German nationalism that was not threatening, that was actually kind of fun, that wasn't exclusive. Really, it was fantastic.

And also! We went out for drinks afterwards to a totally random bar, and who was at the bar but, damn right, Olaf Thon. I got him to pose for a picture with me, which I will post sometime when I can download pictures off of Sae's camera. Olaf Thon, dude!! Member of Germany's 1990 World Champion team. Excuse the fangirl moment, but damn, that was COOL.

So, that's the news from the Cup. We won third place, and Berlin went nuts like we were champions. And for me, the fact that I can see myself as part of this "we" is almost as impressive as the goals and the game itself.

Only almost, though.


Miriam Actually Likes This

And yet I still love her!


60 Proof

Time for a swim!
The Mirror reports that Lake Brancholinskie in Wielkopolska was transformed from freshwater to 30% alcohol from the spillage. "Farmers and workers from Wielkopolska. in in Poland rushed to fill their boots with the brew - three times the strength of wine. A 71-year-old woman, who lives near Lake Bracholinskie, said: "If God doesn't help, everyone will be a drunkard with only a hole where the lake was."


Big Government Run Amok!

How un-American can you get? Outlawing cyberkilling? Fascist!
Louisiana has joined 21 other states in banning Internet hunting, the practice of using a mouse click to kill animals on a distant game farm.

The cyber-shooting idea was the brainchild of Texan John Lockwood, who started the web site

The idea was this: Hunters sign up on the web site and pay some $1,500 or more. They schedule a session, then log on at their appointed time to watch a feeding station on the computer screen. The animal that was ordered—from wild hogs to antelope—is in the area, and when it approaches the food, the hunter moves on-screen crosshairs into place. A click of the mouse fires a rifle to kill the animal.


Homophobic Bigotry Is Not Hate

According to our government, at least:
FBI investigators probing a cross burning in front of the home of a gay couple said Friday that even if the people responsible are caught they cannot be prosecuted under federal law.

The flaming cross was discovered by Brandon Waters on his front lawn earlier this week. (story)

Waters said that the cross was about 7 feet tall and a hate message bearing homophobic epithets was found nearby.

He said he has no doubt that the cross burning was a hate message, targeting him because he is gay.

Meigs County Sheriff's Department called in the FBI along with state police to investigate.

The federal officers said that under federal hate crime law there is no provision for crimes against gays, lesbians or the transgendered.

Legislation that would have included crimes against gays and lesbians in federal hate crime laws was been dropped in the Senate in May. (story)



I'm reminded of the underground memorial in Berlin. I challenge anyone to look down at those empty bookshelves and not come away feeling haunted and disturbed.

Anyway, these people need to get a fucking life. Go watch the World Cup or something:
The ceremonial burning of the diary of Holocaust victim Anne Frank by far-right extremists in eastern Germany was condemned by the German government on Friday amid calls to intensify efforts to stamp out neo-Nazi activity.

"This act was beneath contempt and could scarcely have been more primitive," the German Interior Ministry said in a statement to Reuters.

The ministry was reacting to an incident in which three men in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt used a copy of the diary of the Jewish teenager to re-enact the Nazis' infamous incineration of 'un-German' literature in 1933.

State prosecutors are investigating the men, who also burned an American flag in front of a crowd estimated to have numbered more than a hundred, on suspicion of inciting racial hatred.

According to news reports, one of the men cast the diary into the flames and said: "I commit Anne Frank to the fire," borrowing words used by the Nazis in 1933.

"All of us in Saxony-Anhalt are put to shame by this," Wolfgang Boehmer, premier of Saxony-Anhalt, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily on Friday.


Blood for No Oil

Bush has done a masterful job of cutting off a huge energy supply:

More than three years after the U.S.-led invasion, no big oil company has stepped forward to spend the huge sums necessary to tap Iraq's giant oil reserves and get crude flowing and revenues pouring into Iraq's government to help pay for food, jobs and even medical care.

"It will take a lot more to bring in the big guys," said Sharif Ghalib, a senior analyst with Energy Intelligence Research in New York.

None is likely to start prospecting until company chiefs feel reasonably assured that their workers won't be sent home in coffins and that their investments have legal protection that won't be taken away by a new government.


I'm Sick of Colin Powell

Actually, I'm sick of all the myriad people who, when they are actually relevant and in positions of power, do nothing, and then, miraculously, figure out what is right and good once they are no longer able to do anything about it.

"Guantanamo ought to be closed immediately," Powell said. He said the value of holding prisoners there was unclear, but the price we were paying around the world for doing so was obvious. He said we should not release the prisoners and dismissed the objection there was no other alternative. "We have ways of dealing with this population" that do not require Gitmo, he said.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Classic Catblogging

Hanger kitten!



Courtesy, of course, of No Aura, where you can find explanations of the images...


Zero for Three

Poor little shrub:
"When history looks back, I'd rather be judged as solving problems and being correct, rather than being popular," Bush said.



Pardon my bluntness, but read this, then see below:

Thursday morning the court in a 4 - 2 ruling issued Thursday morning (story) said that defining marriage is an issue for the Legislature. But, the majority opinion did not stop there, saying that the Legislature could rationally decide that, for the welfare of children, it is more important to promote stability, and to avoid instability, in opposite-sex than in same-sex relationships.


Bad, Getting Worse

Just close it already:
An Australian terror suspect being held at Guantánamo Bay today told relatives that conditions at the prison camp had worsened.


Our Fascist Military

. In one sense, this war is in fact a sort of "flypaper":

A decade after the Pentagon declared a zero-tolerance policy for racist hate groups, recruiting shortfalls caused by the war in Iraq have allowed "large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists" to infiltrate the military, according to a watchdog organization.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and right-wing militia groups, estimated that the numbers could run into the thousands, citing interviews with Defense Department investigators and reports and postings on racist Web sites and magazines.

"We've got Aryan Nations graffiti in Baghdad," the group quoted a Defense Department investigator as saying in a report to be posted today on its Web site, "That's a problem."


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Do They Really Spell It "Utahns"?

It's the only confusing, surprising, or interesting thing about this story:
Utahns React to High Court Rulings on Gay Marriage

The New York Court of Appeals ruled this morning in favor of marriage as the union of man and a woman, not the union of two persons. And the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the validity of Georgia's Marriage Amendment, passed overwhelmingly by Georgia voters.

Now a Utah law firm is celebrating the rulings as victories.


Your Tax Dollars at Work

Money well spent, protecting us from knowing too much:
The federal government will pay a Texas law school $1 million to do research aimed at rolling back the amount of sensitive data available to the press and public through freedom-of-information requests.



A fitting end for DeLay, who has made his mark on Texas by undermining the democratic process:
The Texas Republican Party must keep Tom DeLay's name on the November ballot, even though the former congressman has dropped his re-election bid, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

DeLay, the former House majority leader who resigned June 9 and is under indictment, won the Republican primary for his district in March but decided against re-election a month later.

He is awaiting trial on money laundering and conspiracy charges connected to the financing of Texas legislative campaigns in 2002 with alleged illegal corporate money.

GOP leaders want another Republican to replace DeLay on the ballot and say state election law allows them to select one because DeLay has moved out of Texas. Democrats sued the Republicans to try to block them from picking a replacement nominee.

Lawyers for Texas Democrats argued that DeLay still owns a Houston-area home, where his wife Christine lives and where DeLay spends time. The Democrats also argued that it couldn't be shown conclusively whether DeLay would be an "inhabitant" of Texas on Election Day on Nov. 7.

Democrats want to keep DeLay and his legal troubles on the minds of voters and hope to win his former seat in the 22nd congressional district, where Democrat Nick Lampson is running.

"Now he's on the ballot, now he's off the ballot," said Lampson spokesman Mike Malaise. "We're just campaigning as if we have an opponent."


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What a Mess

Giving even the tiniest shred of credibility to those who want to attack AIDS activisim is just evil. Similarly evil is the defamation of someone just because she's gay:
A woman who traveled the lecture circuit with her account of being raped and infected with AIDS as a child has been charged with defrauding the state of Pennsylvania of $66,000 by falsely claiming to have the disease.

Cassey Weierbach, 27, was arraigned Friday on charges of theft by deception, forgery, tampering with records and making false statements.

She has told her story for years to news reporters, churches, youth groups and medical conferences. But in June, The Morning Call newspaper of Allentown published a story in which a pastor accused Weierbach of duping her congregation.

Weierbach told the newspaper for that story that the pastor, the Rev. Lois Randolph, was lying about her because the pastor was upset to learn that Weiberch was romantically involved with another woman.

"It seems like she is going to make my life living hell," Weierbach said. "Do you hate me so much because I'm gay that you are willing to destroy my life?"

Randolph denied Weierbach's allegation.


Won't Someone Think of the Children?

More information for the religious right to steadfastly ignore:
The nation's largest pediatricians group said Wednesday that children would benefit from the legalization of same-sex marriage.

In a 16-page report the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children of same-sex parents do better in areas of the country which recognize their parents' relationships.


Go Obrador!

Quite the nail-biter down in Mexico:
Mexico's leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had an early, narrow lead over his conservative rival on Wednesday in a recount of a contested election.


Crazy Islamists

There many things wrong with the world today, but The World Cup is not one of them:
Two people are reported dead after Islamist gunmen in central Somalia opened fire in a cinema where people were watching a banned World Cup match.

The cinema owner and a young girl were reportedly killed by militia loyal to the Union of Islamic Courts, who seized control of parts of Somalia last month.

The courts have introduced Sharia law in areas under their authority, including a World Cup broadcast ban.


Racism: A Thing of the Past

Strange how opponents of affirmative action always seem to miss studies such as this one:
African-Americans' share of U.S. national income has narrowed in recent years as a weak job market helped unwind earlier strides, according to a report published on Wednesday.

A black family's median income was 62 percent of the earnings of their white counterparts, down from 63.5 percent in 2000, the Economic Policy Institute said.

"The racial gap widened by 2004 as a result of the recession and the jobless recovery that followed," said Jared Bernstein, economist at the Washington think-tank.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Poof Blogging

Some fluff for viewing pleasure.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Tobacco for Life

Not something you hear every day:
In the perfectly controlled atmosphere of a brick-proof, hermetically sealed greenhouse deep in the Kent countryside, a fresh crop of tobacco plants is beginning to flourish.

There is nothing unusual about the plants' appearance, but they are nonetheless extraordinary. A genetic tweak ensures that every cell of every plant churns out tiny quantities of an experimental drug. When harvested, they could bring cheap medicine to millions.

Scientists say the £8m project could provide a powerful weapon against Africa's HIV pandemic.


Another Reason for Stem Cell Research

Not that the right wingers will care much for the lives that could be saved by this:
UCLA AIDS and Stem Cell Researchers Discover Way to Develop T-cells From Human Embryonic Stem Cells, Raising Hopes for a Gene Therapy to Combat AIDS

Researchers from the UCLA AIDS Institute and the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Medicine have demonstrated for the first time that human embryonic stem cells can be genetically manipulated and coaxed to develop into mature T-cells, raising hopes for a gene therapy to combat AIDS.


Um, a Possible Hate Crime?

What else, exactly, could it be?
The Meigs County Sheriff's Department is investigating a possible hate crime after someone burned a cross at the home of a gay man.

The cross, between 6 and 8 feet tall, was discovered by Brandon Waters, along with a derogatory message late Thursday at his home.

"There are a lot of people that don't approve of it," the 23-year-old Waters told The Daily Post-Athenian, referring to being gay. "They are always bashing us. It makes me fearful of what could happen. I just want to live my life."


When Will Women Learn?

Breasts are meant for the titillation of men, not for the feeding of babies!
A woman who said she was offended when Victoria's Secret staff asked her to nurse her baby in an employee restroom organized a nursing protest in front of the store as part of a national nurse-in.

About 20 women and children came out in support of Rebecca Cook in front of the Victoria's Secret store at the Regency Mall in Racine on Saturday.

Cook said she was shopping at the store with a friend last week when she asked to use a dressing room to nurse her daughter. When she was told no room was available, she offered to sit in the rear of the dressing room hallway but was told that was unacceptable, she said.

"They opened up their employee restroom, which is disgusting," she said. "I said, 'No, I don't eat in the bathroom and my daughter doesn't eat in the bathroom."'


Time to Take a Stand

All anesthesiologists should heed this call:
The American Society of Anesthesiologists called on its members not to attend executions of death sentences by lethal injection, even if called to do so by a court.

In a letter addressed to some 37,000 members, association president Orin Guidry recalled the American Medical Association's code of ethics, which says: "A physician, as a member of a profession dedicated to preserving life when there is hope of doing so, should not be a participant in a legally authorized execution."

Injection of a lethal cocktail is by far the most widely used method to execute death sentences in the United States.

However, the procedure has come under scrutiny. If the condemned is not correctly anesthetized by the first of the three drugs, the final two, which paralyze the muscles and stop the heart, are extremely painful.


One World

One ancestor:
Whoever it was probably lived a few thousand years ago, somewhere in East Asia — Taiwan, Malaysia and Siberia all are likely locations. He — or she — did nothing more remarkable than be born, live, have children and die.

Yet this was the ancestor of every person now living on Earth — the last person in history whose family tree branches out to touch all 6.5 billion people on the planet today.

That means everybody on Earth descends from somebody who was around as recently as the reign of Tutankhamen, maybe even during the Golden Age of ancient Greece. There's even a chance that our last shared ancestor lived at the time of Christ.


"Had you entered any village on Earth in around 3,000 B.C., the first person you would have met would probably be your ancestor," Hein marveled.

It also means that all of us have ancestors of every color and creed. Every Palestinian suicide bomber has Jews in his past. Every Sunni Muslim in Iraq is descended from at least one Shiite. And every Klansman's family has African roots.


Allowing very little migration, Rohde's simulation produced a date of about 5,000 B.C. for humanity's most recent common ancestor. Assuming a higher, but still realistic, migration rate produced a shockingly recent date of around 1 A.D.

Some people even suspect that the most recent common ancestor could have lived later than that.


That Sounds about Right

If anyone has the historical background to know a cruel empire when they see one, it's the Brits!

Britons have never had such a low opinion of the leadership of the United States, a YouGov poll shows.

As Americans prepare to celebrate the 230th anniversary of their independence tomorrow, the poll found that only 12 per cent of Britons trust them to act wisely on the global stage. This is half the number who had faith in the Vietnam-scarred White House of 1975.

Most Britons see America as a cruel, vulgar, arrogant society, riven by class and racism, crime-ridden, obsessed with money and led by an incompetent hypocrite.


Scary Gays!

Yeah, they should ban World Pride because it might offend homophobic bigots. Who knows, it could even set off a citywide epidemic of Gay Panic!

Politicians and religious leaders opposed to holding World Pride in Jerusalem next month are pressuring police to ban the event on the grounds it could lead to violence.


The Pentagon Knows That Bush Is a Military Moron

And they should know by now that he's not going to listen to a word they have to say:
In his speech, Bush also talked about “freedom for the Iranian people,” and he added, “Iran’s leaders have a clear choice.” There was an unspoken threat: the U.S. Strategic Command, supported by the Air Force, has been drawing up plans, at the President’s direction, for a major bombing campaign in Iran.

Inside the Pentagon, senior commanders have increasingly challenged the President’s plans, according to active-duty and retired officers and officials. The generals and admirals have told the Administration that the bombing campaign will probably not succeed in destroying Iran’s nuclear program. They have also warned that an attack could lead to serious economic, political, and military consequences for the United States.

A crucial issue in the military’s dissent, the officers said, is the fact that American and European intelligence agencies have not found specific evidence of clandestine activities or hidden facilities; the war planners are not sure what to hit. “The target array in Iran is huge, but it’s amorphous,” a high-ranking general told me. “The question we face is, When does innocent infrastructure evolve into something nefarious?” The high-ranking general added that the military’s experience in Iraq, where intelligence on weapons of mass destruction was deeply flawed, has affected its approach to Iran. “We built this big monster with Iraq, and there was nothing there. This is son of Iraq,” he said.

“There is a war about the war going on inside the building,” a Pentagon consultant said. “If we go, we have to find something.”


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Time's Getting Snarky

It is, so to speak, about time:
5% of Gitmo detainees no longer face regular questioning

In a sign that the press' relationship with President Bush continues to erode, a major Time Magazine news article in Monday's editions will tell Bush five ways they believe the jail could be fixed. Their Sunday press release to RAW STORY includes the subheadline: "There's Only So Much You Can Glean from Someone Who's Been Interrogated for Four Years."

The magazine, it seems, has decided they can no longer get through to the Administration with news articles.

"The era of Guantánamo as a fount of intelligence may already be ending. There is only so much intelligence you can glean from a man who's been interrogated for four years," the release says. "The base commander at Guantanamo, Navy Rear Admiral Harry Harris, Jr., told TIME shortly before this week's Supreme Court Hamdan decision that 75% of detainees currently held at Gitmo no longer face regular questioning, and some haven't faced it for six months or longer.


Sunday Goofy Catblogging