Saturday, December 16, 2006

Just Legalize Gay Marriage

New Jersey's civil union measure is good, but it points up all the problems with this ridiculous, immoral double standard:
With New Jersey on the verge of civil unions for same-sex couples, Rick Connolly called his insurance company to see if he could add his partner of 23 years to his homeowner's policy.

His partner could be added, Connolly was told, but not the same way as a spouse. The difference: If Connolly died, his partner would not be able to keep the policy.

The response is example of the confusion and frustration that might be in store for any gay couples who expect civil unions in New Jersey will give them the same rights as married couples.


Time's Person of the Year: Inanity

What an amazing load of crap.

Time's Person of the Year is "You"? Give me a break.

If you read the article, you'll see that to be a "person," you have to be information-literate and well off enough to access the Internet regularly, which rules out vast numbers of Americans, not to mention billions worldwide.

But then, the mainstream media ignoring the lower classes is hardly anything new.

Time has just phrased it in newly offensive terms:
The "Great Man" theory of history is usually attributed to the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, who wrote that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men." He believed that it is the few, the powerful and the famous who shape our collective destiny as a species. That theory took a serious beating this year.

To be sure, there are individuals we could blame for the many painful and disturbing things that happened in 2006. The conflict in Iraq only got bloodier and more entrenched. A vicious skirmish erupted between Israel and Lebanon. A war dragged on in Sudan. A tin-pot dictator in North Korea got the Bomb, and the President of Iran wants to go nuclear too. Meanwhile nobody fixed global warming, and Sony didn't make enough PlayStation3s.

But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It's not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It's a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it's really a revolution.


Chernobyl Legacy

Courtesy of my brother-in-law.

Warning: Some very disturbing images.


Protests in Bolivia

Morales is having some troubles, it would seem:

Hundreds of thousands of Bolivians in this eastern lowland city protested Friday to demand more autonomy from the government of President Evo Morales and reject his control over an assembly rewriting the constitution.

The crowds stretched for blocks in all directions from the city's signature giant Jesus statue, forming a sea of green-and-white flags of the state of Santa Cruz, which has long sought greater leeway from La Paz, the capital 400 miles to the west.


From Batshit Crazy to Batshit Crazier

Barr goes Libertarian:

A former Georgia congressman who helped spark President Clinton's impeachment has quit the Republican Party to become a Libertarian, saying he is disillusioned with the GOP on issues such as spending and privacy.

Bob Barr, who served eight years as a Republican congressman before losing his seat in 2002, announced Friday that he is now a "proud, card-carrying Libertarian." And he encouraged others to join him.

"It's something that's been bothering me for quite some time, the direction in which the party has been going more and more toward big government and disregard toward privacy and civil liberties," said Barr, 58, a lawyer and consultant living in Atlanta. "In terms of where the country needs to be going to get back to our constitutional roots … I've come to the conclusion that the only way to do that is to work with a party that practices what it preaches, and that is the Libertarian Party."


Friday, December 15, 2006

Cats: Come Here! Go Away! Whatever!

Zora attempts a come-hither glance hoping to get someone into the tub. As long as that someone isn't her, she thinks baths are fascinating. (Especially the bubbles.)

Tista, meanwhile, perfects his "go away!" face. How dare we attempt to put the drawer back into the dresser while he is sleeping!

Gramsci, finally, doesn't really mind what you do; he's comfortable, and he plans to stay that way.


US: In the Way

Big surprise. Once again, we do more harm than good:

Harassment from U.S. forces is a greater threat to the work of the Iraqi Red Crescent than insurgent attacks, a senior official of the Red Cross-linked humanitarian organization said Friday.


I Love Free Speech

Hooray for the First Amendment!
A woman did not break the law when she exposed her breasts to protest laws that bar women from publicly going bare breasted, a judge has ruled.

County Judge David B. Beck said Thursday that Elizabeth Book, 44, of Ormond Beach, did not violate disorderly conduct laws.

Book was arrested by Daytona Beach police July 2, 2005, for disrobing in public.

Her attorney, Lawrence G. Walters, said the city is trying to censor his client.

''I've never seen another city or case where the city has shown so much time and effort to shut down one person's First Amendment right of protected speech,'' Walters said. 'They just can't seem to let it go. They need to stop wasting taxpayers' money.''


McKissic My Ass

Learning of this almost made me throw my computer out the window:
Just when you think Rick Perry is really trying hard to change his polarizing ways, he appoints a controversial gay-baiting preacher to his 2007 Texas Inaugural Committee.
Yeah, that Dwight McKissic. This is from September 2005:

"They have devil worship. They advertise 'Sin City' tours. They celebrate Southern decadence. Girls go wild in New Orleans," Rev. Dwight McKissic, organizing pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, said at meetings last week in San Antonio and Houston of the Texas Restoration Project, which seeks to register 300,000 voters. "Sometimes God does not speak through natural phenomena. This may have nothing to do with God being offended by homosexuality. But possibly it does."

Rather than distance himself from Rev. McKissic, Perry's spokesman, Robert Black, played coy: "The governor does not agree with that. But far be it for the governor to try to divine the will of the Almighty."
Insert eighteen fucking expletives here.


Protecting the Nation

Well done, Tabasco:
The maker of the world famous Tabasco hot pepper sauce has scrapped plans for a museum to pay for a more urgent need: the building of a levee to protect itself from another hurricane.

McIlhenny Co. will shore up its Avery Island facility in Louisiana, 15 months after Hurricane Rita's tidal surge came within inches of flooding the plant and halting production of Tabasco, The Times-Picayune newspaper reported on Thursday.

The plant, which sits over 9 feet (3 meters) above sea level and 13 miles (21 km) from the Gulf of Mexico, will be protected by a 17-foot (5.2-metre) levee that will cost $4.5 million.

"We've got to protect the nation from bland food," company vice president Tony Simmons said.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Jerks in Florida

No equal access for gays and straights, they say:

A Florida school district has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit by a high school student who was prevented from organizing a Gay-Straight Alliance at her school.

A lawyer for the Okeechobee County School Board argue that gay students are not protected by the federal Equal Access Act and that principal Toni Wiersma was following Florida state law in rejecting the club.

Students attempted to organize the club after Yasmin Gonzalez and her girlfriend were told they could not attend the school prom as a couple. The rejection was one of several incidents targeting LGBT students at Okeechobee High School.

When Wiersma told Gonzalez and fellow students Amber Sewell and Erica Rodriguez they could not form the club on school property they went to the American Civil Liberties Union which filed suit.

“Straight kids cannot turn their backs on the plague of violence and discrimination against gay and lesbian students,” said Sewell, who is straight and one of the GSA founders. “When students aren’t safe, we can’t learn. Only when we stand together will we find a solution.”


Michael Crichton Is Insane

I'm just trying to make it into his next novel by saying that...

This March, Michael Crowley wrote a cover story (sub. req.) in The New Republic hitting blockbuster novelist Michael Crichton's very public denials that global warming was a proved phenomenon.

That was the last he'd heard from Crichton until he picked his latest novel, Next. Here's what he found:

Alex Burnet was in the middle of the most difficult trial of her career, a rape case involving the sexual assault of a two-year-old boy in Malibu. The defendant, thirty-year-old Mick Crowley, was a Washington-based political columnist who was visiting his sister-in-law when he experienced an overwhelming urge to have anal sex with her young son, still in diapers. Crowley was a wealthy, spoiled Yale graduate and heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. ...

It turned out Crowley's taste in love objects was well known in Washington, but [his lawyer]--as was his custom--tried the case vigorously in the press months before the trial, repeatedly characterizing Alex and the child's mother as "fantasizing feminist fundamentalists" who had made up the whole thing from "their sick, twisted imaginations." This, despite a well-documented hospital examination of the child. (Crowley's penis was small, but he had still caused significant tears to the toddler's rectum.)


Cheney: Bum Steer of the Year



Another Step

(Fairly) good job, New Jersey:
Lawmakers in the U.S. state of New Jersey legalized same-sex civil unions on Thursday to give gay and lesbian couples the same rights as marriage but would not allow such partnerships to be called "marriage."


Is It Hot in Here...

Or is just the seals?

Male seals are reaping the benefits of climate change by having more sex, scientists have discovered.

Subordinate grey seals are taking advantage of rising temperatures and falling rainfall to mate more often.

Due to climate change female grey seals are being forced to travel further for drinking water - removing them from the watchful eye of the dominant males and allowing the subordinate males to take advantage.

Backdoor seals. What next?


Bush's Work on Katrina: "Legal Disaster"

A federal judge called the Bush administration's handling of a Hurricane Katrina housing program "a legal disaster" Wednesday and ordered officials to explain a computer system that can neither precisely count evacuees nor provide reasons why they were denied aid.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who ruled last month that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had violated evacuees' constitutional rights by eliminating their housing payments without notice, admonished the government for not moving fast enough to restart the program for between 3,600 and 5,500 storm victims.

"Let me make this clear," Leon told government attorney Michael Sitcov. "Tell FEMA that I'm expecting them to get going on this. Like immediately."


What's in a Name?

A lot, apparently:
Despite criticism for adjourning last week without acting on several major legislative initiatives, members of Congress can boast significant achievements in at least one area of federal lawmaking -- naming post offices.

Of the 383 pieces of legislation that were signed into law during the two-year 109th Congress, more than one-quarter dealt with naming or renaming federal buildings and structures -- primarily post offices -- after various Americans.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Time, Time, Time

See what it's done to them
Bush said Wednesday he would "not be rushed" into a decision on a strategy change for Iraq, saying that in a round of consultations he heard both some interesting ideas and some "ideas that would lead to defeat."

"And I reject those ideas," Bush said after meeting with top generals and Defense Department officials at the Pentagon. He said those ideas included "leaving before the job is done, ideas such as not helping this (Iraqi) government take the necessary and hard steps to be able to do its job."
That is rather refreshing: Bush rejecting ideas that would lead to defeat.


Class Warfare

There is no other word for this. It's open warfare on the working class:

Union officials are outraged over a massive immigration sweep yesterday, which sent 1,000 Homeland Security Department agents -- some in riot gear -- to meatpacking plants in six states to round up immigrant workers suspected of using fake identification, but may have picked up legal workers in the process.

"Stormtroopers came in with machine guns, rounded [the workers] into the cafeterias, separated identified citizens from non-citizens, and then they took away all green cards and put non-citizens onto buses," regardless of the immigrants' legal status, Jill Cashen of the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UCFW) told me this morning.

Cashen said that reports from all six states confirmed that legal immigrants were among those taken away, and have not been returned. "We're still trying to find out where the buses went," she said. "Children have been left at church day cares. Nobody knows where these people are."


Ah, Youth

Remember the good old days of childhood, when you would go away to summer camp and swim and canoe and hike and strip down for a porno shoot?

Halcyon days...

The former leader of a Baptist church camp near St. Louis has been arrested for allegedly trying to coax girls to pose partly naked and soliciting a sex act from one of the young women, Columbia police said.

Aaron Niles, 20, of Waterloo, was arrested Tuesday on three counts of child pornography and one count of indecent solicitation of a child, police said.

Police said Niles — a member of First Baptist Church in Columbia — met at least one of his accusers during the summer of 2005 at the Super Summer Baptist Camp in Greenville, where he oversaw up to 10 teenagers as a volunteer team leader.

Niles later communicated with the accusers — who knew they were chatting with Niles — on the Internet using screen names such as "loverboyniles" and "godrocks30," Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards said.


Israel on Nukes: Never Mind!

We have nothing! Really!

With Olmert's quote featured on the front pages of all of Israel's major papers Tuesday and with political rivals calling for his resignation, aides to Olmert - who was in Berlin Tuesday on a state visit - hurriedly said the remark had been misinterpreted.

Olmert spokeswoman Miri Eisin said the prime minister had been listing not nuclear states but "responsible nations."

"The prime minister stated clearly that Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East," Eisin said, adding that the quote had been "taken out of context."


New Poll: Bush Will Suck in the Long Term

Put your tongue away, you horrible, stupid, evil man.

History's view of George W. Bush will be harsh, Americans predict.

In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, a 54% majority says Bush will be judged as a below-average or poor president, more than double the negative rating given any of his five most recent predecessors.


Add Another Dem to Congress!

Thanks to, of all places, Texas. The tide is turning, even here:

Former U.S. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez defeated seven-term Republican incumbent Henry Bonilla in a runoff on Tuesday, adding another Democrat to Congress and deciding Texas' final congressional seat.With 94 percent of the precincts reporting in the state's largest district, Rodriguez had 55 percent to Bonilla's 45 percent.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bush: Screw the Blind

I should have known that Bush would come out swinging against the radical notion that blind people should be able to tell how to tell bills apart:
The Bush administration on Tuesday asked an appeals court to overturn a ruling that could require a redesign of the nation's currency to help the blind.


Go to Jail

Go directly to jail:
A federal appellate court denied former Enron Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling's request to remain free during his appeal Tuesday and ordered him imprisoned immediately.

Judge Patrick Higginbotham of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in his two-page order that "Skilling raises no substantial question that is likely to result in the reversal of his convictions on all of the charged counts."


Insurgents Study Group: War Going Great!

Just days after the Iraq Study Group issued their downbeat assessment of the war on Iraq, Iraqi insurgents announced that they have formed their own study group and have released their own report, one that offers a much rosier picture of the Iraqi conflict.

The Insurgents Study Group, a collection of ten elder insurgents charged with the duty of assessing the war from the insurgents’ point of view, today issued a 147-page report which became an instant bestseller among insurgent readers across Iraq.

“The war in Iraq is going great and is improving every day,” the Insurgents Study Group’s report begins.

In contrast to the Iraq Study Group’s report, which advocates that the United States and its allies change their strategy in Iraq, the Insurgents Study Group recommends “not changing a thing.”

“As insurgents, our strategy could be summarized in three words,” the report concludes. “Stay the course.”


Pay Up, Phelps

Heh. Being a deranged, heartess bigot costs a bit these days:

A Kansas church has been ordered to pay $3,150 for costs and fees associated with a summons and complaint filed by the father of a Marine whose funeral was picketed by the extremist group.


Feelin' Homesick



The Gates Foundation continues to impress:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today pledged $US83.5 million ($106.5 million) to fight malaria by paying for better controls, vaccine research and prevention of a disease that kills more than a million people a year.

The Gates Foundation, the world's largest charity, said the new grants would also help pay for better malaria tests and for advocacy to get more attention for the killer disease.

All totalled, the charity started by Bill Gates, the Microsoft Corp. chairman and world's richest man, and his wife, Melinda, has donated $US765 million ($976.2 million) to fight malaria, which kills one person every 30 seconds.

Good timing, especially given that such events as this tend to imply the imminent spread of tropical diseases farther from the equator:

Global warming could leave the the Arctic without ice during the northern summer as early as 2040, a study by a team of scientists shows.

The research, to be published by the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters tomorrow, found that the extent of sea ice each September could be reduced so abruptly that, within about 20 years, it may begin retreating four times faster than at any time in the observed record.


The Evil Eye

I truly envy Rice her ability to produce a terrifying glare at will.

Also: I really don't want to know whether Bush's gesture is meant to describe his own... attributes, or... hers. [Shudder.]


Monday, December 11, 2006

Bloody Hell

Quite literally, in fact:
Two car bombs targeting day laborers looking for work exploded within seconds of each other Tuesday on a main square in central Baghdad, killing at least 57 people and wounding more than 150, police said.

The coordinated attack in Tayaran Square involved a bomb in a parked car and a suicide attacker who drove up to day laborers, pretended to want to hire them, then set off his explosives as they got into his minibus, Lt. Bilal Ali said.

The blasts went off nearly simultaneously about 7 a.m., setting fire to at least 10 other cars, Ali said. Gunfire — possibly from insurgent snipers — erupted as people fled the scene.

He said at least 57 Iraqis, including seven policemen, were killed and 151 people were wounded.


Another Brilliant Idea from Texas

Blind hunters. That's the ticket.

I'm all for equal access, in general, but this just seems kinda crazy:
A state lawmaker wants to make sure no Texan is left out when it comes to hunting, even if the hunter is legally blind.

Rep. Edmund Kuempel, a Seguin Republican, has filed a bill for the 2007 legislative session that would allow legally blind hunters to use a laser sight, or lighted pointing instrument. The devices are forbidden for sighted hunters.

Blind hunters would also have to have a sighted hunter along with them, but they could hunt any game that sighted people can hunt in the same seasons and using the same weapons.

"This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people, and I think that's great," Kuempel said.

Visually impaired people are able to shoot with the aid of a sighted person, he said.

"I've seen this on TV before, when they're taking target practice," Kuempel said. "When they aim the gun the guide tells them, aim two inches higher or two inches lower and you're on the target, and you're off and running."


An Iraq Success Story!

Well, these guys, at least, are making out like bandits, so to speak:

Iraqi gunmen disguised as soldiers have stolen $1m (£0.51m, 0.76m euro) in cash en route to Baghdad's central bank.

The 10 men, who were wearing Iraqi army uniforms, ambushed the security vehicle and stole bags of cash.


Ah, Waco

I mean, really now. Come on:
WACO, Texas - School administrators gave a 4-year-old student an in-school suspension for inappropriately touching a teacher's aide after the pre-kindergartner hugged the woman.

A letter from La Vega school district administrators to the student's parents said that the boy was involved in "inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment" after he hugged the woman and he "rubbed his face in the chest of (the) female employee" on Nov. 10.

DaMarcus Blackwell, the father of the boy who attends La Vega Primary School, said he filed a complaint with the district. He said that his son doesn't understand why he was punished.


Crazy Racists Lose to Borat


Note to frat boys: Maybe you should try not being racist assholes:
As the esteemed Kazakh television journalist Borat Sagdiyev might say: "High Five. Sexy Time. You Lose."

Two college fraternity buddies shown guzzling alcohol and making racist remarks in the "Borat" movie have lost their bid for a court order to cut the scene they claim has tarnished their reputations, court papers revealed on Monday.


Making Sure No One Catches "Gay"

Absolutely reprehensible:
Legislation being considered by Nigeria's House of Representatives would make it a criminal offense to associate with known homosexuals.

The bill would make make any meeting between two or more people where one is gay a crime punishable up to five years behind bars.

The legislation adds to the growing isolation of gays and lesbians in the African nation where sodomy is illegal. In northern Nigeria, which is under Islamic law, homosexuality can be punishable by death and in the rest of the country by long prison terms.


Good Thing We Pulled Back and Invaded Iraq!

Good for the Taliban
, anyway:
Islamic militants are using a recent peace deal with the government to consolidate their hold in northern Pakistan, vastly expanding their training of suicide bombers and other recruits and fortifying alliances with Al Qaeda and foreign fighters, diplomats and intelligence officials from several nations say. The result, they say, is virtually a Taliban mini-state.

The militants, the officials say, are openly flouting the terms of the September accord in North Waziristan, under which they agreed to end cross-border help for the Taliban insurgency that revived in Afghanistan with new force this year.

The area is becoming a magnet for an influx of foreign fighters, who not only challenge government authority in the area, but are even wresting control from local tribes and spreading their influence to neighboring areas, according to several American and NATO officials and Pakistani and Afghan intelligence officials.

This year more than 100 local leaders, government sympathizers or accused “American spies” have been killed, several of them in beheadings, as the militants have used a reign of terror to impose what President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan calls a creeping “Talibanization.”


"The Aroma of Jesus Christ"

Oh, Lord:

A military watchdog group is asking the Defense Department to investigate whether seven Army and Air Force officers violated regulations by appearing in uniform in a promotional video for an evangelical Christian organization.

In the video, much of which was filmed inside the Pentagon, four generals and three colonels praise the Christian Embassy, a group that evangelizes among military leaders, politicians and diplomats in Washington. Some of the officers describe their efforts to spread their faith within the military.


Army Brig. Gen. Bob Casen refers in the video to the Christian Embassy's special efforts to reach admirals and generals through Flag Fellowship groups. Whenever he sees another fellowship member, he says, "I immediately feel like I am being held accountable, because we are the aroma of Jesus Christ."

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group led by retired Air Force lawyer Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, is requesting an investigation in a letter to the Defense Department's inspector general.

Weinstein, a White House lawyer in the Reagan administration, cites Defense Department regulations barring personnel from appearing in uniform in "speeches, interviews, picket lines, marches, rallies or any public demonstration . . . which may imply Service sanction of the cause for which the demonstration or activity is conducted."

All the officers are identified in the video by their Defense Department positions, "yet the video failed to include any disclaimers indicating that the views expressed were not those of the Department of Defense," the letter says.



With Ratzi on the papal throne, who wouldn't want to defy authority?
An excommunicated Roman Catholic archbishop continued his defiance of the Vatican on Sunday when he ordained two married men as priests.


Homophobes Have Rights Too

This man is a sociopath and needs to be locked up, and preferably given intensive pyschological aid (and while I'm dreaming utopian dreams, I need a million bucks!). But "supermax" prisons are sheer evil and need to be dismantled:
Serial bomber Eric Rudolph - the man responsible for the 1997 bombing of an Atlanta gay bar and three other blasts including the 1996 bombing at the Atlanta Olympics - says his treatment in the Supermax federal prison in Colorado is designed to drive him insane.

In a series of letters to the Colorado Springs Gazette Rudolph says that he is kept in a 7-by-12-foot cell for 23 hours a day.

The Gazette published extracts from several of the letters on the weekend.

"It is a closed-off world designed to isolate inmates from social and environmental stimuli, with the ultimate purpose of causing mental illness and chronic physical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis," he said in one letter.

"Using solitary confinement, Supermax is designed to inflict as much misery and pain as is constitutionally permissible," he wrote.

In August 2005, Rudolph was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the bombing spree.

Four people were injured when a pipe bomb went off near the doorway of Otherside Lounge, an Atlanta lesbian bar, in February 21, 1997. The bombing occurred about 9:30 pm, just as the club was beginning to fill up.

After patrons were evacuated from the club, investigators discovered and detonated a second bomb that had been hung in shrubs overlooking the parking lot.

A week earlier a bomb exploded in suburban Atlanta at the Northside Family Planning Clinic in Sandy Springs.

The bomb, on the back porch of the building, caused minor damage to an examination room at the clinic. The bomb went off before the clinic opened for the day, but about 90 minutes later, at 10:37 a.m., as the parking lot of the building filled with investigators, a second bomb, buried in a flower bed at the front of the parking lot, exploded.

A car that had been moved from the rear of the building after the first blast took the brunt of the second explosion. Seven people were injured.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Watching Their Language

It's always rather refreshing when governments opt NOT to use meaningless phrases on a regular basis:
Cabinet ministers have been told by the Foreign Office to drop the phrase 'war on terror' and other terms seen as liable to anger British Muslims and increase tensions more broadly in the Islamic world.

The shift marks a turning point in British political thinking about the strategy against extremism and underlines the growing gulf between the British and American approaches to the continuing problem of radical Islamic militancy. It comes amid increasingly evident disagreements between President George Bush and Tony Blair over policy in the Middle East.


Turn the World Around

More Belafonte, because, why not?


Word of the Year

To whom else could the award go than to the most Lincolnish and superstantial man on TV?
After 12 months of naked partisanship on Capitol Hill, on cable TV and in the blogosphere, the word of the year for 2006 is ... "truthiness."
"Truthiness" was credited to Comedy Central satirist Stephen Colbert, who defined it as "truth that comes from the gut, not books."


Enforced Christianity

Just maddening:

Life was different in Unit E at the state prison outside Newton, Iowa.

The toilets and sinks — white porcelain ones, like at home — were in a separate bathroom with partitions for privacy. In many Iowa prisons, metal toilet-and-sink combinations squat beside the bunks, to be used without privacy, a few feet from cellmates.

The cells in Unit E had real wooden doors and doorknobs, with locks. More books and computers were available, and inmates were kept busy with classes, chores, music practice and discussions. There were occasional movies and events with live bands and real-world food, like pizza or sandwiches from Subway. Best of all, there were opportunities to see loved ones in an environment quieter and more intimate than the typical visiting rooms.

But the only way an inmate could qualify for this kinder mutation of prison life was to enter an intensely religious rehabilitation program and satisfy the evangelical Christians running it that he was making acceptable spiritual progress. The program — which grew from a project started in 1997 at a Texas prison with the support of George W. Bush, who was governor at the time — says on its Web site that it seeks “to ‘cure’ prisoners by identifying sin as the root of their problems” and showing inmates “how God can heal them permanently, if they turn from their sinful past.”

One Roman Catholic inmate, Michael A. Bauer, left the program after a year, mostly because he felt the program staff and volunteers were hostile toward his faith.

“My No. 1 reason for leaving the program was that I personally felt spiritually crushed,” he testified at a court hearing last year. “I just didn’t feel good about where I was and what was going on.”

WWJD? He would agree with me that this bullshit has got to stop.


Good Riddance

Glad you're gone, you evil bastard. (Side note to Thatcher: Shut up.)

General Augusto Pinochet, Chile's former military leader, whose human rights record divided opinion across the world, died in hospital yesterday. He was 91.

Baroness Thatcher, who remained a loyal supporter to the last, was said to be "greatly saddened" by the news.


Richly Deserved

Scorn heaped on Frist? Couldn't happened to a nicer torturer of cats:
Just before the 109th Congress finally adjourned shortly before dawn Saturday, retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist got some last-minute perks for his home state of Tennessee -- and took a rhetorical beating from his colleagues.

Some Republicans heaped scorn on Frist, faulting him for fostering runaway federal spending.


Oh, Goddammit.

Sorry, that's about as eloquent as I can be in this regard:

Heavy clashes between Islamist militiamen and forces loyal to Somalia's government continued for a second day yesterday, as fears of an imminent war in the Horn of Africa mounted.