Saturday, July 29, 2006

Payback Time

We're on the receiving end now:
On a mountaintop overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Steven Cliff collects evidence of an industrial revolution taking place thousands of miles away.

The tiny, airborne particles Cliff gathers at an air monitoring station just north of San Francisco drifted over the ocean from coal-fired power plants, smelters, dust storms and diesel trucks in China and other Asian countries.

Researchers say the environmental impact of China's breakneck economic growth is being felt well beyond its borders. They worry that as China consumes more fossil fuels to feed its energy-hungry economy, the U.S. could see a sharp increase in trans-Pacific pollution that could affect human health, worsen air quality and alter climate patterns.


Homophobic Freak

Good to hear that this twisted creature has been dealth with:
In the first charge laid by Rhode Island's newly formed Office of Civil Rights Advocate a Providence area woman has been convicted of harassing a gay man with AIDS. Kenneth Potts turned to the Advocate's office, a division of the Attorney General's Department, after enduring what he calls months of abuse from his upstairs neighbor, Theresa Deschenes.

In court Friday Potts said that he had been subjected to homophobic slurs and a campaign of abuse.

He told Superior Court Judge Netti C. Vogel that he has called police more than a dozen times to complain about Deschenes. The last time, June 12, he said, there was "excessive music and loud jumping up and down on the floor and obscene names."

Potts said that his problems began shortly after he moved into the apartment building and mention to Deschenes that he was gay and ill. Several days later, Potts said, he received a phone call from Deschenes.

"She said, 'If you do anything to my daughter I'll [expletive] kill you.' I said, 'I'm gay, not a pedophile.' "

Potts said that the stress inflicted on him has had a negative impact on his battle with HIV.


Martial Law

Great. Now our legislature is opting to fly completely blind. And why aren't the Dems screaming bloody murder about this? Madness:

The House Republican Leadership has announced its intention to have the House vote, before adjourning on Friday or Saturday, on several major pieces of legislation that are not yet available to House members in final form because behind-closed-door negotiations on the proposals are still going on. The Leadership apparently intends to use a process known as “martial law” to allow these bills to be brought to the floor very shortly after negotiations are completed, with the result that Members of the House are likely to have virtually no time to examine and consider the details of the legislation before they will be required to vote on it.

Among the matters the House may be asked to vote on under martial law are a major conference report on pension legislation, a costly bill that would permanently reduce the estate tax and extend certain expiring tax provisions, and a bill that would combine a controversial health insurance proposal with an increase in the minimum wage. The House Rules Committee on Thursday afternoon reported a resolution that would provide martial law authority in relation to all of these bills.

Under the martial law procedure, longstanding House rules that require at least one day between the unveiling of significant legislation and the House floor vote on that legislation — so that Members can learn what they are being asked to vote on — are swept away. Instead, under “martial law,” the Leadership can file legislation with tens or hundreds of pages of fine print and move immediately to debate and votes on it, before Members of Congress, the media, or the public have an opportunity to understand fully what provisions have been altered or inserted into the legislation behind closed doors. This is the procedure that the Leadership intends to use to muscle through important bills in the next two days.


Poor Joe

It seems all the ships have abandoned the sinking rat:
Anti-war Democrats bailed in droves. Teachers unions left over vouchers. Men are drawn to his challenger, and women aren't all that crazy about the incumbent, either.

Once, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut seemed on the brink of the vice presidency, a principled moderate in a party that didn't always warm to them. Now, hewing to his support for the war in Iraq, he confronts a political abyss, abandoned by all groups but the poorer, older and less educated Democrats in his state.


Friday, July 28, 2006


Just... bastards:
Republican leaders are willing to allow the first minimum wage increase in a decade but only if it's coupled with a cut in inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates, lawmakers said Friday.

The House appeared headed for a session stretching past midnight and a close vote. But even if the plan passed the House, it seemed likely to die in the Senate, keeping the minimum wage frozen at $5.15 per hour as it has been for a decade.

Republicans saw this as their best chance to date of winning permanent cuts to the estate tax, which comes in response to a powerful lobbying campaign by farmers and small businessmen - and super-wealthy families such as the Walton family, heirs of the Wal-Mart fortune.



Sadly, my first reaction was, "Well, at least he's not raping altar boys":
A priest who resigned from a church in an affluent Connecticut community misspent up to $1.4 million in parishioner donations to lead a life of luxury with another man, according to a church-directed investigation.

The Rev. Michael Jude Fay spent church money on limousines, stays at top hotels, jewelry, Italian clothing and a Florida condominium shared with the other man, auditors hired by the diocese found. About half the money he spent was kept in a secret bank account, according to their report, which was mailed Friday to 1,700 parishioners of the Darien church and obtained in advance by The Associated Press.

Bridgeport Bishop William Lori, who ordered the investigation by Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, said he was shocked and angered by the findings. The report also was sent to federal authorities.

"The amount of money that was misused is tremendous," Lori said. "I think this report and other things we found out shows a real betrayal of trust and abuse of power."

Messages seeking comment were left Friday with Fay's attorney, James Wade. Fay, 55, has not commented since he resigned in May from St. John Roman Catholic Church amid accusations by a private investigator that he had misspent church money.


Somalia Burning

Yet another nation spiralling down into bloodshed. Meanwhile, Bush has called for his fiddle:
THE interim Government of Somalia was teetering on the brink of collapse yesterday after the assassination of a Cabinet minister as he left Friday prayers.

Witnesses said that Abdallah Isaaq Deerow, the Minister for Constitutional and Federal Affairs, was shot several times in the chest as he left a mosque in the government seat of Baidoa, about 150 miles (240km) from Mogadishu.

In a turbulent 48 hours, the transitional Government has also been rocked by mass resignations and today the parliament is due to debate a motion of no confidence in Mohamed Ali Gedi, the Prime Minister, for allowing troops from neighbouring Ethiopia into the country and failing to secure peace.

The limited authority of the administration has dwindled in recent weeks as Islamic militias have advanced across the country after seizing the capital Mogadishu.


Not the Solution

Bloody, depressing:
A woman was killed and five other women were wounded on Friday when a gunman opened fire at a Jewish organization in downtown Seattle that last weekend organized a rally in support of Israel.

A Seattle police spokesman said the gunman, who was thought to be acting alone, had been taken into custody but that authorities were "taking every precaution" in searching for explosives and additional suspects.

Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle Vice President Amy Wasser-Simpson told the Seattle Times in a story on its Web site that a man got through security at the building and shouted, "I'm a Muslim American; I'm angry at Israel," then began shooting.




Quota System

This is how we are going to win the War on Terror?

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the Chief Privacy Officer of the Department of Homeland Security to investigate a recent news report that federal air marshals are labeling innocent Americans as "suspicious" after being directed to fill a monthly watchlist quotas, RAW STORY has learned.

The Air Marshals Service responded to earlier complaints by indicating that the complaints came from disgruntled Denver employees. However, Denver's KMGH-TV contacted 17 employees in 4 different states, who confirmed the story.


Glutton for Punishment

Tube boob:
Mocked by comedian Jon Stewart for calling the Internet a bunch of tubes, U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens said on Thursday he is open to going on Stewart's popular "Daily Show" for a rebuttal.

The comedian has parodied the dean of the Senate Republicans for rejecting calls by some Internet companies for a law to block high-speed Internet providers from charging higher prices to carry certain content. Backers of such a law say it would preserve what they call "Net neutrality."

"The Internet is not something that you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's, it's a series of tubes," Stevens, an Alaska Republican, said last month.

Stewart parodied the senator's remarks on three episodes, which have spread over the Internet and were widely viewed on He questioned Stevens' knowledge of the Internet, and quipped, "You're just the guy in charge of regulation."

Stevens, whose committee has authority over many Internet issues, defended his comments and said he had even received support from experts.

"I have a letter from a big scientist who said I was absolutely right in using the word 'tubes,'" he told reporters. However, Stevens said he had not been invited to appear on the show to respond.


Felon Evacuee Misplacement Agency

Thanks, FEMA!

When Texas welcomed thousands of Katrina evacuees last summer, it took in one group it hadn't bargained for — parolees and probationers.

Monitored in Louisiana, hundreds of them fled to Texas, taking advantage of the chaos and opting not to report to authorities in either their home or host state.

After a long struggle with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state authorities learned exactly where they lived but couldn't round them up unless Louisiana issued warrants for them, which seldom occurred.

Now, nearly a year after Katrina, Louisiana has finally begun to account for nearly 1,300 criminals it says came to Texas and applied for federal emergency relief. Texas officials think as many as 1,700 are in that category.


Above the Law

The Repubs are scrambling desperately to undo a law passed by Repubs back when Clinton was in charge:

An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.

In light of a recent Supreme Court ruling that the international Conventions apply to the treatment of detainees in the terrorism fight, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has spoken privately with Republican lawmakers about the need for such "protections," according to someone who heard his remarks last week.

Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield is needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal, and under Justice Department legal opinions that have been withdrawn under fire, the source said. A spokeswoman for Gonzales, Tasia Scolinos, declined to comment on Gonzales's remarks.


It's the 60s All Over Again

Don't cops have better things to do?
Two Oakland police officers working undercover at an anti-war protest in May 2003 got themselves elected to leadership positions in an effort to influence the demonstration, documents released Thursday show.


Thursday, July 27, 2006


Wise allocation of resources:
A decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist was dismissed from the U.S. Army under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, though he says he never admitted being gay and his accuser was never identified.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

India on the Verge of Showing Intelligence about AIDS

Do it:
NEW DELHI - Health authorities are calling for a repeal of a 145-year-old law that makes gay sex a crime, fearing it is causing HIV and AIDS to spread quickly in India's homosexual community, officials said Wednesday.

The government's main AIDS prevention agency has filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court, supporting a request by an AIDS activist group to scrap the law.


EPA: Slackers

Of course, what else would you expect from an administration that is A) owned by corporations, B) blithely ignorant of the state of the environment, or perhaps merely callous, and C) bent on politicizing every last government agency?
The government is failing to reduce health risks from toxic air pollution as required by law, congressional investigators said Wednesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency has not met 30 percent of the Clean Air Act's requirements and regularly misses deadlines, they said.

EPA scientists issued their own report Wednesday, saying the agency should consider tightening its national health-based standards for smog-forming ozone to a level similar to California's, though not as restrictive as what the Swiss-based World Health Organization recommends. They said the risks of asthma and other respiratory ailments are greater than previously believed. EPA is under court order to propose a decision on this by next March.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said the EPA largely has failed to regulate air pollutants from small sources, including dry cleaners and trucks. The GAO report said the EPA has not yet met 239 of the law's requirements; of those the agency did fulfill, only 12 were met on time.


Success in Chicago

An amazing act of social justice. I reported the debate, and the retailers' reactions, a few days back, and brought out the pro-exploitation trolls in the comments!

Choke on it, trolls:
Brushing aside warnings from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the City Council approved an ordinance Wednesday that makes Chicago the biggest city in the nation to require big-box retailers to pay a "living wage."


Mugabe: Just Bloody Insane

Yes, it's the critics and rights activists that are causing all those problems in Zimbabwe:
Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe on Tuesday blamed the country's worsening situation on critics of the country's civil rights record.

In a speech opening a new session of Parliament Mugabe blamed rights activists for what he called an attempt to overthrow the government.

He failed to give details but implied that Britain was behind the attempt.

Last March he accused British gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of being behind an alleged coup plot.


Oklahoma's First Gay Legislator

He's an American Indian ex-cop and a Navy veteran:
Oklahoma will have its first openly gay legislator when the new session begins this winter.

Al McAffrey won the Democratic primary Tuesday night in a district that includes downtown Oklahoma City. With no Republican challenger automatically gains the seat.

McAffrey, 58, with a diverse background is uniquely positioned for his new role. He is a Navy veteran, a member of the Choctaw Nation, a former Oklahoma City police officer and currently works as a funeral director.

He also is a father and a grandfather.


Due Process Out the Window

Bush sinks lower and lower still. Giving credence to hearsay evidence? Isn't that what got us into Iraq in the first place? And barring defendants from being able to confront their accusers?

The White House has drafted legislation covering trials of terror detainees that would allow hearsay evidence and let defendants be excluded from trials to protect national security, The New York Times reported in Wednesday's edition.



At least, it should be. But with these people in charge, not so much:

Even before the bombs fell on Baghdad, a group of senior Pentagon officials were plotting to invade another country. Their covert campaign once again relied on false intelligence and shady allies. But this time, the target was Iran.


The Old South Lives On

Some things just never change, it sometimes seems:

On Feb. 6, 2006, Jessie Lee Williams, Jr., a 40-year-old black man in a Southern Mississippi jail, was allegedly hooded and hog-tied by police, beaten about the head and testicles and ultimately died from blunt injuries to the head.

The coroner determined the death was a homicide. The local sheriff indicated law enforcement agencies were investigating and that the individual targeted by the investigation is “no longer employed by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.”

Despite the fact that the beating was videotaped, no arrests have been made.

Williams’ family has filed a $150 million civil suit for damages. Last Friday, the sheriff’s attorney in the Williams case asked the court to halt the civil proceedings until the criminal investigation is complete in order to avoid self-incrimination.

The complaint documents numerous previous incidents of abuse in the Harrison County jail booking room where Williams died, including beatings, hooding, use of a restraint chair – called “the torture chair” or “the devil’s chair” by inmates – and a technique similar to water-boarding where a sheet was wrapped tightly around the head of a man in the restraint chair and water was poured into the breathing hole.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tents for the People

I really like this as a means of generating attention and, one would hope, solutions:
Tent camps have become a familiar sight in Paris since the aid group Doctors of the World, or Medecins du Monde, first distributed tents in December to shelter the homeless and make their plight less invisible.

About 300 tents with the aid group's insignia still dot Paris — and they are even harder to overlook in July, when tourists fill the streets and Parisians live outdoors. Now, some homeless are even saving money to buy tents themselves.

Doctors of the World says it will take down one tent for every permanent housing option provided by the government. It acknowledges the risks of tents — that heat-struck homeless could die hidden from view, for example — but adds that street life is dangerous, no matter what.

"We never said that tents were the solution," said Graciela Robert, who heads the homeless mission for the aid group. "But a tent is better than the sidewalk."


Amazing Find

For the history geeks and literary geeks among us:
Irish archaeologists Tuesday heralded the discovery of an ancient book of psalms by a construction worker who spotted something while driving the shovel of his backhoe into a bog.

The approximately 20-page book has been dated to the years 800-1000. Trinity College manuscripts expert Bernard Meehan said it was the first discovery of an Irish early medieval document in two centuries.

"This is really a miracle find," said Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland, which has the book stored in refrigeration and facing years of painstaking analysis before being put on public display.

"There's two sets of odds that make this discovery really way out. First of all, it's unlikely that something this fragile could survive buried in a bog at all, and then for it to be unearthed and spotted before it was destroyed is incalculably more amazing."

He said an engineer was digging up bogland last week to create commercial potting soil somewhere in Ireland's midlands when, "just beyond the bucket of his bulldozer, he spotted something." Wallace would not specify where the book was found because a team of archaeologists is still exploring the site.

"The owner of the bog has had dealings with us in past and is very much in favor of archaeological discovery and reporting it," Wallace said.

Crucially, he said, the bog owner covered up the book with damp soil. Had it been left exposed overnight, he said, "it could have dried out and just vanished, blown away."


Another Step Toward Criminalizing Abortion

This will work especially well in states like Mississippi, where there may soon not be a single abortion clinic in operation:
A bill to make it a crime to transport a pregnant girl over state lines to get an abortion without her parents' knowledge was heading toward Senate passage Tuesday.
The bill would punish, with fines and up to a year in jail, anyone who helps a pregnant girl get an abortion in another state to get around parental notification or consent laws.


Heaven Forbid

Offering abortion services to the victims of sexual violence?

The horror!
Known for its human rights work, Amnesty International is under siege from religious groups outraged by a proposal that would expand Amnesty's mandate to include supporting access to abortion in cases such as sexual violence.

A small but growing band of antiabortion campaigners and Roman Catholic clerics -- including some who have backed Amnesty's activities in the past -- say the Nobel Prize-winning group is drifting away from its principles of unbiased advocacy.

They have threatened to pull away members and donations, and have called for a flood of protest letters to Amnesty offices, the same strategy Amnesty uses to pressure for the release of political prisoners and others.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Why the Right Is Vile

Whenever their rights are curtailed--the same rights they would not hesitate to take away from those with whom they disagree--they run for the same organizations they normally deride for protection.

The hypocrisy is maddening
The Kansas church group that protests at military funerals nationwide has filed suit in federal court, saying a Missouri law banning such picketing infringes on religious freedom and free speech.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo., on behalf of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church, which has outraged mourning communities by picketing service members' funerals with signs condemning homosexuality.

The church and the Rev. Fred Phelps say God is allowing troops, coal miners and others to be killed because the United States tolerates gay men and lesbians.

Missouri lawmakers were spurred to action after members of the church protested in St. Joseph, Mo., last August at the funeral of Army Spec. Edward L. Myers.

The law bans picketing and protests "in front of or about" any location where a funeral is held, from an hour before it begins until an hour after it ends. Offenders can face fines and jail time.


Scary Criminal Gays in Ohio

More stupid blathering:
Ohio's largest LGBT civil rights organization is demanding an apology from GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell after he compared gays to criminals in a newspaper interview.

Asked by the Columbus Dispatch if homosexuality is a sin and if it can be cured Blackwell said: "I think homosexuality is a lifestyle, it's a choice, and that lifestyle can be changed. I think it's a transgression against God's law, God's will. The reality is again ... that we make choices all the time. And, I think you make good choices and bad choices in terms of lifestyle. Our expectation is that one's genetic makeup might make one more inclined to be an arsonist, or may make one more inclined to be a kleptomaniac. Do I think that can be changed? Yes."


Camping in Iowa

Now might not be the best time to go
, and I'm not talking about the heat wave:

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Iowa's laws restricting where sex offenders can live are causing some of them to reside at campgrounds around the state.

Some sex offenders are listing campgrounds in county and state parks as their home addresses because they are out of money, are struggling to find and keep a job and are facing state laws and town ordinances that keep them from living in many places.

"It's not uncommon," Linn County Sheriff Don Zeller said. "We've had them in all of the county parks and some of the state parks."


Formaldehyde Exposure Management Agency

More good news from Katrina:

For nearly a year now, the ubiquitous FEMA trailer has sheltered tens of thousands of Gulf Coast residents left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. But there is growing concern that even as it staved off the elements, it was exposing its inhabitants to a toxic gas that could pose both immediate and long-term health risks.

The gas is formaldehyde, the airborne form of a chemical used in a wide variety of products, including composite wood and plywood panels in the thousands of travel trailers that the Federal Emergency Management Agency purchased after Katrina to house hurricane victims. It also is considered a human carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Air quality tests of 44 FEMA trailers conducted by the Sierra Club since April have found formaldehyde concentrations as high as 0.34 parts per million – a level nearly equal to what a professional embalmer would be exposed to on the job, according to one study of the chemical’s workplace effects.


Curse Those Enviro-Fascist Brutes!

Nothing like reasoned, measured discourse:
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is the nation’s most prominent global warming denier. He famously declared that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” Now, he’s taken the argument a step further. In an interview with Tulsa World, Inhofe compared people who believed global warming was a problem to Nazis:

In an interview, he heaped criticism on what he saw as the strategy used by those on the other side of the debate and offered a historical comparison.

“It kind of reminds . . . I could use the Third Reich, the big lie,” Inhofe said.

“The big lie,” is a propaganda technique Adolf Hitler attributed to Jews in his book Mein Kampf. It involves telling lies “so colossal” that no one would believe “others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

Inhofe added that every claim in An Inconvenient Truth “has been refuted scientifically.” He also admitted he’d never seen the movie.


Sunday, July 23, 2006


Because our Constitution says we should:
Security agents in Jordan are torturing terrorism suspects on behalf of the United States in hopes of forcing confessions, the human rights watchdog Amnesty International contended in a new report Monday.

The report said its investigators had identified about 10 suspected cases of men subjected to rendition from U.S. custody to interrogation centers in Jordan, a close U.S. ally in the Middle East.


One Jury I Wouldn't Want to Be On

And I wonder why I'm not hearing about the trial of the people who fled, leaving inmates at OPP to drown...
To Louisiana's attorney general, the doctor and two nurses arrested this past week are murderers. But many in the medical community are outraged at the arrests, saying the three caregivers are heroes who faced unimaginable horrors as Hurricane Katrina flooded the city and trapped them and their patients.

Dr. Anna Pou and nurses Cheri Landry and Lori Budo were accused of being principals to second-degree murder in the deaths of four patients at Memorial Medical Center three days after Katrina hit. The charge carries a mandatory life sentence, though the state will turn the case over to the New Orleans prosecutor, who will decide whether to ask a grand jury to bring charges.

Pou, Landry and Budo are accused of killing four patients, ages 61 to 90, with morphine and a powerful sedative called Versed.

Dr. Ben deBoisblanc, director of critical care at Charity Hospital, said he and others are angry at the accusations against a doctor and nurses who risked their own safety, and provided care in a chaotic and frightening situation.

"This doctor and these nurses were heroes. They stayed behind of their own volition to care for desperately ill people. They had an opportunity to leave and chose not to," he said.


Home Cookin'

Ah, American know-how. How long until Bush sends out the revenooers to bust up these stills?
A growing number of Americans are setting up mini-refineries in their homes to produce biodiesel, a fuel made from waste cooking oil which is cleaner and cheaper than the petrol sold in gas stations.
Biodiesel plants are a boom industry in America, but thousands now make fuel in their garages from the oil left after frying french fries or scrounging around restaurants and food factories.