Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Education System Is Alive and Well

Not here, of course. And what's being taught is not so good for American interests.

So this is the plan? Put all the wrong people together and let them have at it:

America’s high-security prisons in Iraq have become “terrorist academies” for the most dangerous militant groups, according to former inmates and Iraqi government officials.

Inmates are left largely to run their blocks, which are segregated on sectarian lines. The policy has created a closed world run by Iraq’s worst terrorists and militias, into which detainees with no links to insurgent groups are often thrown.

Inmates from Camp Cropper, the US prison at Baghdad airport, described to The Times seeing al-Qaeda terrorists club to death a man suspected of being an informer. Others dished out retribution with razor wire stolen from the fences.


Surprising Move in Florida

The Republican governor of Florida has exerted himself to a surprising extent in order to restore felons' voting rights:

Gov. Charlie Crist persuaded Florida's clemency board on Thursday to let most felons easily regain their voting rights after prison, saying it was time to leave the "offensive minority" of states that uniformly deny ex-offenders such rights.

The change is a major step for Florida, which bans more people from the polls than any other state, but it did not go as far as Crist had hoped. Two of his fellow Republicans on the clemency board rejected his original plan to grant speedy restoration to everyone except murderers and sex criminals.

Florida has as many as 950,000 disenfranchised ex-offenders, far more than any other state, and the vast majority of them are black. Other states have repealed or scaled back similar bans in recent years, but roughly 5 million former felons remain barred from the polls nationwide.

The Jim Crow-era ban, added to Florida's constitution in 1968, has been the subject of especially bitter debate since the 2000 presidential election. A number of legal voters were removed from the state's rolls that year after being misidentified as felons, adding to the drama of a recount that gave George W. Bush a razor-thin margin of victory over Al Gore.

Only two other states, Kentucky and Virginia, constitutionally require all convicted felons to forfeit their voting rights.


Gender Equality Moves Forward in Uganda

Impressive, despite the actions of the attorney general:
Uganda's adultery law has been scrapped by the Constitutional Court because it treated men and women unequally.

The law made it an offence for a married woman to have an affair, but it allowed a cheating husband to have an affair with an unmarried woman.

The attorney general said the move may encourage immorality and promiscuity.

In the same ruling, the court also scrapped parts of the Succession Act which gave more rights to men on the death of their wives, than to widows.

Hat tip to Feministing.


American Diplomacy

The important point to be noted here is that the actions of the Bush administration have rendered such claims as these entirely credible, whether this particular man is telling the truth or not. Bush has handed America's enemies a powerful tool, and they will use it:

An Iranian diplomat freed two months after being abducted in Iraq accused the CIA of torturing him during his detention, state television reported Saturday. The United States immediately denied any involvement in the Iranian's disappearance or release.

Jalal Sharafi, who was freed on Tuesday, said the CIA questioned him about Iran's relations with Iraq and assistance to various Iraqi groups, according to state television.

"Once they heard my response that Iran merely has official relations with the Iraqi government and officials, they intensified tortures and tortured me through different methods days and nights," he said.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Well, I could get up...

...but I prefer not to.

And also, for those of you missing the spring and the sun, some bugblogging:


Tactical Snubbing

A good move on Edwards's part. No Dem should validate Fox in any way, ever:

John Edwards -- who was first out of the box to pull out of the Fox-sponsored Nevada debate, earning accolades from the netroots and Dem activists -- has done it again.

His campaign has just called the Congressional Black Caucus and informed them that Edwards will not be part of the proposed Sept. 23 debate with Fox.


Good Riddance

Goodling quits:
A top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales abruptly quit Friday, almost two weeks after telling Congress she would not testify about her role in the firings of federal prosecutors.


Homophobes Lose in Florida

A bit of common sense
shines through:
A Federal judge has ruled the Okeechobee County school board cannot prevent students from organizing a Gay-Straight Alliance on campus.

U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union that barring the GSA violated the Equal Access Act.

It also is the first ruling in Florida to find that GSAs are not by definition "sex-based" clubs, something that the school board had claimed.

Moore rejected rejected the school’s argument that the club would violate what the board said was a state abstinence-only education policy.


The Lies Just Don't Stop

Cheney denies even the most obvious truths. It is really rather amazing at times:
Vice President Dick Cheney repeated his assertions of al-Qaida links to Saddam Hussein's Iraq on Thursday as the Defense Department released a report citing more evidence that the prewar government did not cooperate with the terrorist group.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Oh Those Kitty Toes!

...snoozing in the sunshine.



Hard to believe, but they're mananging to make things even worse than they have been at Gitmo:
Conditions for detainees at the US military jail at Guantanamo Bay are deteriorating, with the majority held in solitary confinement, a report says.

Amnesty International said the often harsh and inhumane conditions at the camp were "pushing people to the edge".



More bad news, soldiers:
Coming on the heels of a controversial “surge” of 21,000 U.S. troops that has stretched the Army thin, the Defense Department is preparing to send an additional 12,000 National Guard combat forces to Iraq and Afghanistan, defense officials told NBC News on Thursday.

The troops will come from four Guard combat brigades in different states, the officials told NBC News’ chief Pentagon correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski. They said papers ordering the deployment, which would run for one year beginning in early 2008, were awaiting Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ signature.


8 More

The surge goes on:
The U.S. military reported Thursday that eight U.S. soldiers were killed in the Baghdad area over the past three days as militants fought back against a security plan in its eighth week. An Army helicopter went down south of the capital, wounding four, after an Iraqi official said insurgents fired on it.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Good Luck with That

The ever-optimistic Guardian has a story headlined thus:

The US can learn from this example of mutual respect

The outcome of the crisis between Iran and Britain provides a lesson on how to deal with the wider international standoff
Note to England: Learning from others in un-American.


Fuck Bush

That is all:
Bush said Wednesday he knows the nation is weary of war and wondering if the U.S. can win. Still, he said efforts to pull troops home from Iraq only make the U.S. more vulnerable to attack from an enemy that is "pure evil."

"The enemy does not measure the conflict in Iraq in terms of timetables," Bush said to soldiers here, a reference to congressional Democrats' plans to start phasing in troop withdrawals.

"A strategy that encourages this enemy to wait us out is dangerous — dangerous for our troops, dangerous for our security," Bush said. "And it's not going to become law."


Scary Gays!

They're everywhere.

In Italy:
Police have given a leading Italian bishop a bodyguard following outrage over his assertions linking homosexuality with incest.

Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, head of the Italian Bishops Conference, now has 24-hour a day protection.

"Why say 'no' to forms of legally recognized co-habitation which create alternatives to the family? Why say 'no' to incest?" Bagnasco told a meeting of Church workers.

In South Carolina:
Three members of a gay rights group who tried to enter a Christian fundamentalist college campus Wednesday were arrested and charged with trespassing.

Members of Soulforce, a Lynchburg, Va.-based organization, stood mostly silent outside the gates at Bob Jones University, but when three activists tried to walk on to campus, they were handcuffed. Curious students stood on a walkway and watched the arrests.

The gay rights activists wanted to enter the campus to speak with students and university officials about policies they contend discriminate against homosexuals.



Sorry, Bush

Your excuse has gone away:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defused a growing confrontation with Britain, announcing the surprise release of 15 captive British sailors Wednesday and then gleefully accepting the crew's thanks and handshakes in what he called an Easter gift.


He's a Terrorist Again!

Gaddafi's days are numbered if he keeps on talking like this:
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi urged Africa on Wednesday to form a unified continental army to defend its interests, and he said former colonial powers should pay compensation for the raw materials they had extracted.

In a fiery speech at a military parade in Dakar marking Senegal's National Day, Gaddafi said African nations had the right to demand reparations from their former colonial masters for the diamonds, gold and other resources they had "pillaged".

Military and political unity would help Africa resist any attempts to re-colonise it, the Libyan leader said.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

War Criminals

I know this isn't news, but I feel sick:

Rana Al-Aiouby was risking her life delivering essential medicine to the wounded in the Iraqi city of Fallujah when she witnessed first-hand the effect of chemical weapons deployment by US troops. Despite their prohibition under several international treaties and by the Geneva conventions, white phosphorus and a napalm derivative were used without discrimination on the civilian population of a city the size of Edinburgh throughout 2004.

"I noticed something in the garden and it was a body but I couldn't really recognise it, and it looked really bad - it was a body with the colour green, and I have never seen this in all my life, and my work is dealing with dead bodies."

Few people know about the crimes committed during the two sieges of Fallujah - Operation Vigilant Resolve, launched three years ago tomorrow, and Operation Phantom Fury, in the following November - as a result of which 200,000 people became refugees. There are no official figures for civilian deaths.

In the face of repeated independent verification, US forces have now acknowledged the use of chemical weapons, and yet there remains no sustained international outcry and no official response (let alone condemnation) from any government or the United Nations. The US has overthrown a regime while supposedly searching for phantom weapons of mass destruction, only to use such weapons on the newly "liberated" civilian population. The cold hypocrisy of such actions is outweighed only by its extravagant viciousness.

Seventy articles of the Geneva conventions were breached in the two separate months of siege warfare.


Because It Worked Out So Well Before

America's policy of funding Muslim militants (the mujaheddin) against the Soviets in Afghanistan was a resounding success. Hell, it even produced bin Laden.

So I'm sure there will be no blowback from this particular strategy:
A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News.


Shut Up Shut Up Shut Up!

That is our Dear Leader's official policy when it comes to the environment:
Federal climate, weather and marine scientists will be subject to new restrictions as to what they can say to the media or in public, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Under rules posted last week, these federal scientists must obtain agency pre-approval to speak or write, whether on or off-duty, concerning any scientific topic deemed "of official interest."
Although couched in rhetoric about the need for "broad and open dissemination of research results [and] open exchange of scientific ideas," the new order forbids agency scientists from communicating any relevant information, even if prepared and delivered on their own time as private citizens, which has not been approved by the official chain-of-command:


Breaking News! Bush Is a Lying Asshole!

There are not enough expletives in the world:
President Bush on Tuesday called Democrats in Congress irresponsible for approving war bills that order U.S. troops to leave Iraq by certain dates. He said such efforts will backfire, keeping some troops in battle even longer.

"In a time of war, it's irresponsible for the Democratic leadership in Congress to delay for months on end while our troops in combat are waiting for the funds," Bush said in a Rose Garden news conference.

"The bottom line is this: Congress' failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines," Bush said. "Others could see their loved ones heading back to the war sooner than they need to."


Happy Gay Easter!

This just makes me happy:
More than one hundred gay and lesbian families have signed up to take part in this year's annual White House Easter Egg Roll - twice the number that had signed on this time last year.

The annual event on the White House lawn is open to the public.

Thousands of tickets - an estimated 16,000 last year - are given away on a first-come-first-come basis beginning at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

National Park Service officials said that children of all ages may attend as long as there is at least one child 7 years old or younger, and no more than two adults per group.

Last year Family Pride, a national organization that advocates for gay families encouraged gay and lesbian parents to bring their kids to the Roll. About 50 families signed up on the Family Pride website and more than 100 showed up for tickets.

Wearing rainbow-colored leis as a unifying symbol they joined the thousands of other families whose children searched for eggs hidden on the grounds, despite a driving rain.

Publicity surrounding last year's Roll angered social conservatives pushing for a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, calling it a publicity stunt and a protest.

But Family Pride maintained it was not a protest - there were no signs and no chants - just the rainbow leis.


The Invisible Hand at Work

I've always thought that parking garages that charge hundreds of dollars for a tiny bit of concrete were just about the ultimate commodification of space.

I was wrong
NAIROBI, April 3 (Reuters) - Refugees who have fled Mogadishu by the tens of thousands are suffering atrocious conditions, with some living under trees and paying extortionate prices for shelter or even shade, the United Nations said.


More Bad News, Soldiers

Snafu. Fubar. And back you go:
For just the second time since the war began, the Army is sending large units back to Iraq without giving them at least a year at home, defense officials said Monday.

The move signaled how stretched the U.S. fighting force has become.


Monday, April 02, 2007

Richardson Does the Right Thing

Again, kudos:
New Mexico doctors are allowed to prescribe marijuana to help some seriously ill patients manage symptoms including pain and nausea under a bill signed into law by Gov. Bill Richardson on Monday.

"This law will provide much-needed relief for New Mexicans suffering from debilitating diseases," Richardson, a Democratic candidate for U.S. president in 2008, said at the signing ceremony. "It is the right thing to do."


The Third World Still Supplying Raw Materials

Developing nations offer a wealth of spare parts for the wealthier nations of the world.

Once more, capitalism equals cannibalism. Sickening:

Demand for human organ transplants far exceeds supply, fueling the growing trend of "transplant tourism" from wealthy countries to developing nations where organs can be bought, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

The kidney is the most sought-after organ with the 66,000 transplanted in 2005 only covering 10 percent of the estimated need, said WHO. In the same year 21,000 livers and 6000 hearts were transplanted.

"Both kidney and liver transplants are on the rise, but demand is also increasing and remains unmatched," said the agency, which held a meeting of experts from around the world this week to combat the trend.

WHO encourages countries to make use more of the organs of their own deceased people rather than let citizens buy them from developing countries.

Because a person can live with only one kidney, people in poor countries may be lured into selling one of them to a person in need.


In Pakistan 40 percent to 50 percent of the residents of some villages have only one kidney because they have sold the other for a transplant into a wealthy person, probably from another country, said Dr Farhat Moazam of Pakistan, one of the participants in the meeting.

Moazam said Pakistani donors are offered $US2,500 ($A3093)for a kidney, but in the end they receive only about half of that because middlemen take the rest.

In Western countries package deals are advertised on the Internet for as low as $US12,000 or $US20,000 to receive a kidney and seven days of hospitalization in a transplant country, Moazam said.


Republicans: The Party of Puppy and Kitten Killers

Remember ol' Frist and his kitten-killing ways? Well, looks like he and Giuliani's wife are soul-mates:
Judith Giuliani once demonstrated surgical products for a controversial medical-supply company that used dogs - which were later killed - in operations whose only purpose was to sell equipment to doctors, The Post has learned.

"It was a horribly cruel, outrageous program," Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral said about the demonstrations of medical staplers on dogs conducted by U.S. Surgical Corp. employees during Giuliani's tenure there in the late 1970s.

Feral said U.S. Surgical's demonstrations on hundreds of dogs each year through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s were done to boost sales, not for medical re search or testing.


Supremes To EPA: Get to Work!

The Supreme Court stands up to Bush's do-nothing (or would that be "do everything wrong") government:
The Bush administration failed to follow the requirements of the Clean Air Act when it refused to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today. The 5-4 decision in Massachusetts v EPA orders the administration to reconsider its decision, a move that could result in the first nationwide regulations aimed at tackling emissions linked to global warming.

"EPA can no longer hide behind the fiction that it lacks any regulatory authority to address the problem of global warming," said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. "The agency cannot refuse to use its existing authority to regulate dangerous substances simply because it disagrees that such regulation would be a good idea."

Although the ruling only forces EPA to reconsider whether it should set greenhouse gas emission standards for new cars and trucks, Coakley said, it would be difficult for the agency "to refuse such regulation once it applies legally permissible factors."

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, Bush needs to lead, follow, or get out of the way.


VA to Vets: Hit the Bricks

It's not going to get any better, that's for damn sure:
Now that warmer weather is arriving, the giant tent that was a winter home for 150 veterans is being packed away.

``For most of us, it's back on the streets,'' says Marvin Britton, a former military policeman who's been crisscrossing the country since leaving the Army in 1971 following three combat tours in Vietnam.

The battered tent, pitched on a Navy parking lot, is reflective of a problem that almost certainly will worsen as more troops come home from Iraq and Afghanistan and leave active duty - there just aren't enough beds for vets who end up homeless.


According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are about 195,000 homeless veterans on any given night. Last fall, the VA estimated a shortfall of 9,600 ``transitional'' beds for those vets, accommodations intended to serve as a stepping stone from the streets to independent living.


Reader Bitter Scribe notes that the URL for the Veterans Village of San Diego listed in the article is wrong. If you'd like to help out, visit


No Victory

And who would know a lost war when he sees one better than this guy?
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who helped engineer the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, said Sunday the problems in Iraq are more complex than that conflict, and military victory is no longer possible.


She Is the Lorax

She speaks for the trees (and against the Bushies):
A federal judge in California on Friday overturned the Bush administration’s revised rules for management of the country’s 155 national forests, saying that the federal Forest Service violated the basic laws ensuring that forest ecosystems have environmental safeguards.

The rules, issued in early 2005, cut back on requirements for environmental reviews and safeguards for wildlife, and limited public participation in the development of management plans for individual forests.

Instead, they broadened the power of forest managers to decide whether mines, logging operations, cellphone towers or other development would be appropriate uses of forest land.

In the ruling Friday, Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton of Federal District Court in San Francisco said the Forest Service had violated several laws when it changed the rules forest managers must follow when making decisions, and did so without consulting the public or considering environmental impact.

The judge issued an injunction forbidding the service from using the rules to make decisions about the national forests and grasslands, which cover 8 percent of the country.

Judge Hamilton said she could not determine if the rules were environmentally benign, as the Forest Service argued, or if endangered species would be unaffected, because no studies had been done.

“The agency was required to undertake some type of consultation, informal or otherwise, prior to making a conclusive determination that there would be no effect,” she wrote.


More Victory Coming Up in Afghanistan

Sure is a good thing Bush prosecuted that particular war so very well:
Thousands of Taliban suicide bombers have been deployed across Afghanistan to attack Western troops and the government, the group's military chief said on Monday.

Following last year's violence, the worst since the Taliban's ouster in 2001, this year is regarded as the crunch period both for the Taliban and U.S.-led Western troops.

Speaking to Reuters by satellite phone from an undisclosed location, Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's military head, also said the Islamic guerrillas had the ability and the weapons to fight foreign troops for a long time.

"We have sent thousands of Taliban suicide bombers to all Afghan cities for attacks on foreign troops and their Afghan puppets," Dadullah said.

"And we will turn our motherland into the graveyard of the U.S forces and their families should wait for their dead bodies. The Taliban's war is only for the freedom of Afghanistan from the enemies of Muslims."


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Baghdad: Safe for Some

But not for others. How can McCain live with himself?
After a heavily guarded trip to a Baghdad market, Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) insisted Sunday that a U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown in the capital was working and said Americans lacked a "full picture" of the progress. The U.S. military later reported six soldiers were killed in roadside bombings southwest of Baghdad.


Sweat It Out, Gonzales

Well done, Dems:
The White House scrambled Sunday to move up Attorney Alberto Gonzales' planned testimony to Congress on April 17 about his involvement in firing eight federal prosecutors, only to get a cold shoulder from majority Democrats.

The effort reflected the frustration by Republican senators and the White House itself over how long it is taking the embattled attorney general to explain himself under oath. Congress has just begun a vacation - one week for the Senate, two for the House.


Gonzales is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 17. White House counselor Dan Bartlett said the committee ought to reschedule the hearing for next week.

``Let's move it up and let's get the facts,'' Bartlett said. ``Let's have the attorney general there sooner rather than later.''

The committee chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, said Gonzales had been offered earlier dates but turned them down. It was Gonzales who chose April 17, said Leahy, D-Vt., and that date will not change now because ``everybody has set their schedule according to that.''

``It's the date that the attorney general originally picked. It's the date the hearing will take place,'' Leahy said.

Until recently, department officials said they wanted to give Congress enough time to go through the more than 3,000 pages of e-mails, memos, calendar pages and other documents detailing the decision to fire the prosecutors.

That changed Friday - the day after Gonzales' former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, testified to the committee - when aides said they would try to get Gonzales to Capitol Hill as soon as possible to explain his side.

In his testimony, Sampson said that Gonzales was deeply involved in the removal of the U.S. attorneys, contrary to the attorney general's public statements.



On Friday, Ror and I were otherwise occuppied, him defending his dissertation, and me going all fluttery at his brilliance & originality. HE DID DAMN WELL,

But of course we missed the kittens, and they missed us:

Grammy is sitting on $70 worth of NM Hatch green chile.

We wish for hatch chile to be available everywhere!!!!