Saturday, February 03, 2007

Circular Catblogging


Shockingly, Gov. Goodhair Gets It Right

What can one say?
Some conservatives and parents' rights groups worry that requiring girls to get vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way they raise their children.

By using an executive order that bypassed the Legislature, Republican Gov. Rick Perry — himself a conservative — on Friday avoided such opposition, making Texas the first state to mandate that schoolgirls get vaccinated against the virus.

Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade will have to receive Gardasil, Merck & Co.'s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Perry also directed state health authorities to make the vaccine available free to girls 9 to 18 who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover vaccines. In addition, he ordered that Medicaid offer Gardasil to women ages 19 to 21.


Victory in New Mexico

Well done, Dems:
Two bills aimed at blocking same-sex couples from marrying have been defeated.

The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted down both a proposed amendment to the state constitution, and a separate Defense of Marriage bill that each would define marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

The vote was along party lines - all four committee Democrats voted in favor of tabling the measures; the three Republicans against it.



Every time we study it, global warming seems to be worse than previously thought. I think we should pay some scientists ten grand or so to make us feel better:
The world's scientists yesterday gave their starkest warning yet that a failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions will bring devastating climate change within a few decades.

Average temperatures could increase by as much as 6.4C by the end of the century if emissions continue to rise, with a rise of 4C most likely, according to the final report of an expert panel set up by the UN to study the problem. The forecast is higher than previous estimates, because scientists have discovered that Earth's land and oceans are becoming less able to absorb carbon dioxide.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Let the Lawsuits Commence!

This time, it's good that the floodgates have been opened:
A federal judge in New Orleans on Friday ruled that residents of areas heavily flooded when Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters were funneled down a New Orleans navigation channel can sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval rejected the Corps' argument that U.S. law protects federal agencies from lawsuits when flood control projects fail.


"Judge Duval's ruling today is a landmark victory for the Katrina victims in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish," said plaintiffs' attorney Pierce O'Donnell. "The government of the United States has stonewalled us in court for a year and a half."

The canal has been controversial since construction began in the late 1950s.

Critics say it has allowed salt water to eat away cypress swamps and the wave action from passing ships has damaged wetlands adjacent to the canal.


Bush Likes Expectations Low

Hardly surprising. Low expectations make his life easier:
U.S. President George Bush told the NHL champion Carolina Hurricanes Friday he likes to be "around people that keep expectations low."


"Eventually There Was Hugging"

Yes, let's praise the racist morons for their courage. And, isn't hugging, like, a pathetic liberal thing?

More than a dozen Clemson University students apologized at an emotional campus meeting for a gang-themed party many criticized as racist after photos emerged showing a white person wearing blackface, school officials said.

The university organized the meeting, allowing 15 partygoers to stand up one by one and express remorse in front of about 200 people.

"Some people really recognized the courage that it took," said Gail DiSabatino, vice president for student affairs. There was discussion, tears, "and eventually there was hugging," she said.


Godd**n Mother******g Piece of S**t

Pardon the language.
President Bush is expected to shift $1.3 billion away from raising and armoring levees, installing flood gates and building permanent pumping in Southeast Louisiana to plug long-anticipated funding shortfalls in other hurricane-protection projects, a move Sen. David Vitter describes as a retreat from the president�s commitment to protect the whole New Orleans area.


Don't Eat the Yellow Snow

Zappa's wisdom rings truer now than ever.

Russia's emergency situations ministry said it was dispatching experts to a Siberian province to find out why yellow and orange snow has been falling in several villages, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Cash for Lies

I bet the money comes with the stipulation that you have to spend it on a Hummer:
Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.

Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).



A student tapes a teacher's idiocy. The result? A ban on taping!
After a public school teacher was recorded telling students they belonged in hell if they did not accept Jesus as their savior, the school board has banned taping in class without an instructor’s permission, and has added training for teachers on the legal requirements for separating church and state.

A junior at Kearny High School in New Jersey, Matthew LaClair, 16, complained to his principal after the teacher in his American history class, David Paszkiewicz, told students that evolution and the Big Bang were not scientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark and that only Christians had a place in heaven. He started recording the comments in September because, he said, he was afraid school officials would not otherwise believe that the teacher had made them. Matthew said he was ridiculed and threatened after his criticism became public.

Meanwhile, Matthew said that Mr. Paszkiewicz recently told the class that scientists who spoke about the danger of global warming were using tactics like those Hitler used, by repeating a lie often enough that people come to believe it.

Mr. Lindenfelser said that the district did not investigate the report of that comment, which he said was not religious or a violation of “any kind of law.”


The US Has Not Yet Cornered the Market on Crazy

Thank ya, Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin carefully sidestepped questions Thursday about Moscow's mayor branding gay pride parades as "Satanic".

Putin said he made it a policy not to interfere in local politics, and said he supported all minorities in Russia, but then suggested he supported banning gay events saying sexual minorities were linked to a declining birth rate in Russia.

Evil gays are killing Russia!



More civilian deaths in Iraq last month:
Iraqi civilian deaths in political violence reached a new high in January, data from an interior ministry official showed on Thursday.

The statistics, widely viewed as an indicative but only partial record of violent deaths, showed 1,971 people died from "terrorism" in January, slightly up from the previous high of 1,930 deaths recorded in December 2006.



There's a special circle of hell for hypocrites:
In her first public remarks since news surfaced she was pregnant, Mary Cheney, the openly gay daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, Wednesday defended her decision to have a baby with her partner and called it a "blessing from God" and "not a political statement."

"It is not a prop to be used in a debate by people on either side of any issue," Cheney said during a Glamour Magazine panel on successful women.

"We have a loving, stable relationship, a loving, stable home," Cheney added. "We can give a child a good home, and we want to have a child."


Bush Lied

More will die:

President Bush and his new military chiefs have been saying for nearly a month that they would "surge" an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq, in a last, grand push to quell the violence in Baghdad and in Anbar Province. But a new study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says the real troop increase could be as high as 48,000 -- more than double the number the President initially said.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Raise More Hell

So every time I go look at any of the tributes to Molly Ivins, I start sobbing. I have never been one for Texas nostalgia - I was raised in the Midwest where, honestly, Texas creeped us the %*&# out - but good lord. Someone on the Atrios comments linked to "The Yellow Rose of Texas", which, so help me Molly, has always seemed kitschy and melodramatic at best. But at the moment, all I want is a big shot of Texas liquor (folks online seem to agree on bourbon, but Tito's vodka is my Texas liquor of choice) and, of course, Molly Ivins to toss it back with. And if "The Yellow Rose of Texas" is playing, I will damn well sing it as a tribute to Molly Ivins and Anne Richards.

Of course given my singing ability it is probably more of a tribute that I do not sing anything in public.

Regardless: Go donate. I understand that I may seem unbearably maudlin, and I really did not expect this would hit me anywhere near as hard... but it is hard enough being a goddamn leftist in Texas without all this damn dying. Quit it!


...Yeah. One line into reading a tribute and I start sobbing. And the Texas ACLU is apparently so popular that for now, they're not accepting online donations. If anything ever was, that right there is a good sign. Don't stop trying; take down their address and send it to them. Just because there's a rush now doesn't mean they won't really need the money later - or, for that matter, now.

And as the ACLU-TX points out:

Molly’s enduring message is, “Raise more hell.”

Once again, I need a godsdamn Kleenex.


Molly Ivins Can't Die, Can She?

I knew it was coming but I'm sitting here sobbing at the 9 O'Clock News. I'm kind of taken aback at my own emotional response. Her passing is a huge loss for leftists everywhere, and especially for those of us leftists in Texas.

In lieu of flowers she asked for donations to the Texas ACLU or the Texas Observer.

I already miss her.

I've got to go wipe my tears.

Edit: I don't know why this post isn't showing up, but while I'm editing: Here's one of my favorite Molly Ivins moments. You have to either watch all the way to the end, or watch the first bit and then skip to the last minute or so.

I promise: She is, as she always was, totally worth the wait.



The War Against the War Against HPV

Yes, there's been a lot of money thrown around to lobbyists, and yes, the creator of this vaccine stands to make loads of cash.

But, seriously, what is all that in the balance, when weighed against the health and welfare of millions of women?
Merck & Co. is helping bankroll efforts to pass state laws requiring girls as young as 11 or 12 to receive the drugmaker's new vaccine against the sexually transmitted cervical-cancer virus.

Some conservatives and parents'-rights groups say such a requirement would encourage premarital sex and interfere with the way they raise their children, and they say Merck's push for such laws is underhanded. But the company said its lobbying efforts have been above-board.

With at least 18 states debating whether to require Merck's Gardasil vaccine for schoolgirls, Merck has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.

A top official from Merck's vaccine division sits on Women in Government's business council, and many of the bills around the country have been introduced by members of Women in Government.

"Cervical cancer is of particular interest to our members because it represents the first opportunity that we have to actually eliminate a cancer," Women in Government President Susan Crosby said.

Gardasil, approved by the federal government in June, protects girls and women against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, that are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. A government advisory panel has recommended that all girls get the shots at 11 and 12, before they are likely to be sexually active.


"Managing Our Expectations"

That's a phrase from manager-ese that I particularly loathe. But it's all they can really do now: Redefine success so that we can achieve it:
The U.S. military reported three more combat deaths on Wednesday after the man tapped to take over command of U.S. forces in the Middle East said Americans may have to lower their expectations for Iraq.

"What we've been doing is not working," Admiral William Fallon, nominated by President George W. Bush to become the top U.S. military commander for the Middle East, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

"The likelihood that Iraq is suddenly going to turn into something that looks close to what we enjoy here in this country is going to be a long time coming," he said.


Legal Experts Say: Congress Has the Power

Okay, Congress. Now, wield it:
The US Congress has the power to end the war in Iraq, several high-powered legal experts including a former Bush administration attorney told a Senate hearing today.

With many lawmakers poised to confront President George W. Bush by voting disapproval of his war policy in the coming days, four of five experts called before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee said Congress could go further and restrict or stop US involvement if it chose.

"I think the constitutional scheme does give Congress broad authority to terminate a war," said Bradford Berenson, a Washington lawyer who was a White House associate counsel under Bush from 2001 to 2003.

"It is ultimately Congress that decides the size, scope and duration of the use of military force," said Walter Dellinger, former acting solicitor general -- the government's chief advocate before the Supreme Court -- in 1996-97, and an assistant attorney general three years before that.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Some Good News For a Change

Gay Mexican immigrant granted asylum in the U.S.
“The court emphasized that you shouldn’t have to hide your sexual orientation — whether you’re gay or straight — in order to avoid being persecuted,” said Jon W. Davidson, Legal Director of Lambda Legal and lead attorney on the case. “This is the happy ending we’ve been hoping for throughout the labyrinthine process of seeking asylum for this man who had been told he’d be killed because of his sexual orientation if he returned home to Mexico.”


Deadly Ashoura

Dozens of Shi'ites killed
Bombers struck Shiite worshippers in two cities Tuesday and gunmen ambushed a busload of pilgrims in a series of attacks that killed at least 58 people as more than 2 million Shiites jammed major shrines for ceremonies marking Ashoura, the holiest day of the Shiite calendar.


Let the Hearings Begin!

The Bush anti-science campaign
regarding global warming is as good a place to start as any:
Federal scientists have been pressured to play down global warming, advocacy groups testified Tuesday at the Democrats' first investigative hearing since taking control of Congress.

The hearing focused on allegations that the White House for years has micromanaged the government's climate programs and has closely controlled what scientists have been allowed to tell the public.

"It appears there may have been an orchestrated campaign to mislead the public about climate change," said Rep. Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif. Waxman is chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a critic of the Bush administration's environmental policies, including its views on climate.


Another Casualty at Home

Won't be the last:
At first, Jonathan Schulze tried to live with the nightmares and the grief he brought home from Iraq. He was a tough kid from central Minnesota, and more than that, a U.S. Marine to the core.

Yet his moods when he returned home told another story. He sobbed on his parents' couch as he told them how fellow Marines had died, and how he, a machine gunner, had killed the enemy. In his sleep, he screamed the names of dead comrades. He had visited a psychiatrist at the VA hospital in Minneapolis.

Two weeks ago, Schulze went to the VA hospital in St. Cloud. He told a staff member he was thinking of killing himself, and asked to be admitted to the mental health unit, said his father and stepmother, who accompanied him. They said he was told he couldn't be admitted that day. The next day, as he spoke to a counselor in St. Cloud by phone, he was told he was No. 26 on the waiting list, his parents said.

Four days later, Schulze, 25, committed suicide in his New Prague home.


Somebody Should Be Losing His/Her Badge

Arresting a rape victim, and then denying her the Morning After pill?

A young woman was walking back to her car after the Gasparilla parade on Saturday when she says a man dragged her behind a building and raped her near the intersection of Howard and Swann.

She managed to get away and called 911. Police took her to the hospital and began a routine rape investigation.

When they started checking the victim's background, they discovered she had an arrest warrant out for her.

It was from an arrest when the woman was a juvenile and she was accused of not paying restitution. The woman says she was not aware there was a warrant out for her, and her attorney says it appears to be a paperwork error.

"They were more interested in prosecuting her for something that's a paperwork snafu from four years ago, that was juvenile. They were more interested in working on that than finding an experienced rapist," stated the victim's mother.

Still, the woman was put in handcuffs and taken to jail. She was not allowed bond, and the medical staff at the jail refused to give her the Morning After Pill even though it had been prescribed at the hospital.

"The medical supervisor would not allow her to take the pill because she said it was against her, the supervisor's, religion. So, here we have a medical supervisor imposing her beliefs on a rape victim," claimed the victim's attorney Virlyn Moore. "As a human being, how someone could be so violated by this monster and then the system comes along and rapes her again psychologically and emotionally - it's outrageous and unconscionable."


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday Catfishblogging


Don't Let the Bastards Win

The Dems bring a bill that would increase the minimum wage; the Repubs try to drag it down. 179 amendments? Several of which would actually abolish the minimum wage entirely?


179: Number of amendments offered by conservatives to the minimum wage bill, including multiple amendments to abolish the federal minimum wage. In a dramatic floor speech (go to 4:30), Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) said today that conservative senators appear to be waging a “filibuster by amendment.” The next vote on the bill will be on Tuesday. (Show your support for a minimum wage increase here.)


About Bloody Time

If this country were truly a democracy, these probes would lead to Halliburton, at the very least, receiving the death penalty--i.e. having its corporate charter revoked:
From high-dollar fraud to conspiracy to bribery and bid rigging, Army investigators have opened up to 50 criminal probes involving battlefield contractors in the war in Iraq and the U.S. fight against terrorism, The Associated Press has learned.

Senior contracting officials, government employees, residents of other countries and, in some cases, U.S. military personnel have been implicated in millions of dollars of fraud allegations.

"All of these involve operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait," Chris Grey, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, confirmed Saturday to the AP.

"CID agents will pursue leads and the truth wherever it may take us," Grey said. "We take this very seriously."


Shocking News

Bush's "change of stance" on global warming is a farce:

Mr Bush recommended a five-fold increase in the production of ethanol and other alternative fuels. He said that increase in production - up to 35 billion gallons by 2017 - would replace about 15 per cent of annual petrol use. Taken with other reforms, including an annual4 per cent increase in vehicle efficiency standards starting in 2010, Mr Bush said his plan could reduce petrol consumption by 20 per cent over the next decade.

But activists said yesterday that however impressive Mr Bush's plans may have sounded - especially given his reputation for intransigence over issues such as the Kyoto treaty - they offered little in substance.

"There is no revolution in global warming policy in anything the President is proposing, no matter how the White House tries to spin it," said Philip Clapp, the president of the National Environmental Trust. " The numbers are calculated to sound big and impressive but the President is being just as intransigent on global warming as he is on Iraq, ignoring Congress, major business leaders, and the public, who have called for action. "

He added: "The President's proposals will contribute almost nothing to stopping global warming. They will allow our carbon emissions to grow by 14 per cent over the next 10 years."