Saturday, April 14, 2007

Meet My Physical Therapy Coach

"I think you'll do better with extra weight on your Theraband."

"I've gotta keep a close eye on you. In case you're doing it wrong..."

"...or just to take aim at your foot and bite you."

Because I'm not doing this to help a sprained ankle. I am doing this to entertain my cat.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Good Luck with That, Giuliani

These people, they don't like your kind:
Rudolph Giuliani will court religious conservatives for his presidential campaign when he speaks Tuesday at a Christian university founded by televangelist Pat Robertson.

But Giuliani's talk at Robertson's Regent University comes as several evangelical leaders work feverishly to find an alternative to the front-running former New York mayor, as well as to Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who together lead the field seeking the 2008 Republican nomination.

"We're actively shopping," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "We've got our spec list, and we're seeing who fits. ... There's still a lot of time before the election."


Abstinence Doesn't Work!

Get it through your goddamn skulls
, you moronic makers of policy:
Students who took part in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not, according to a study ordered by Congress.

Teach safe sex and provide condoms for free to anyone who wants them.



Educated Folk Don't Want No Bushes

First, a university refuses Jeb an honorary degree (though the lege is trying to punish them for that move).

Now, SMU is fighting like mad to keep Bush's presidential library from besmirching their good name:

Plans to establish a presidential library and think tank for George W. Bush at his wife's alma mater in Texas have come under fire from both faculty and the clergy associated with Southern Methodist University.

A vocal group of professors, concerned about how an institute billed to be "inspired by the principles of George W. Bush's administration" might affect the university's reputation, have been working to block the library.

At a recent vote, the faculty senate split 13-13 over creating a complete divide between the institute and the university, where First Lady Laura Bush earned a bachelor of science degree in education in 1968.

"I'm concerned that we're going to be judged by the things this institute does," said history professor Benjamin Johnson.

"These guys are so divisive, so unpopular, it seems to me really dangerous to go for an arrangement that could turn the face of your university over to them without any controls over them."

Fifteen current and retired bishops have launched an online petition saying that the "linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate." It currently has over 10,000 signatures.

The bishops are critical of the war in Iraq and the administration's treatment of enemy combatants.

"I am hesitant to see Southern Methodist University welcoming the institute of a Methodist who has been so contrary to the teachings of the Methodist Church," said Reverend C. Joseph Sprague, a recently retired Chicago-area Methodist bishop who helped sponsor the petition.

"It will do nothing but perpetuate the kind of neocon (neoconservative) thinking of this administration which has taken both this nation and the world in the wrong direction."


Winning Hearts and Minds

I can remember the days when the GOP used to rail against the Democratic approach to the educational system as simply "throwing money at the problem."

Seems they've embraced the money-throwing strategy in the stupidest possible fashion in the "War on Terror." I imagine every last story in these files is jaw-dropping in its appalling idiocy:

A family wiped out in its sleep and a playing child killed by a stray bullet: horrific details fill the hundreds of compensation claims for US military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Defense Department released 496 files at the request of the American Civil Liberties Union under the Freedom of Information Act, and the ACLU published them online Thursday.

They detail just some of the compensation requests and decisions for losses relating to US military actions in the war-torn countries.

US Army spokesman Bob Tallman told AFP compensation totaled 31.6 million dollars for civilians in Iraq and 720,000 dollars for Afghanistan.

According to one of the Pentagon files, a civilian from the eastern Iraqi province of Salah Ad Din reported that US forces fired more than 100 hundred rounds on his sleeping family, killing his mother, father and brother, according to the site.

"The firepower was of such magnitude that 32 of the family's sheep were also killed."

"The Army acknowledged responsibility and the claim resulted in two payments" -- 11,200 dollars' compensation and a 2,500-dollar "condolence" bill.

This is a fraction of the total payments for the conflicts so far in Iraq, where US forces are fighting insurgents after invading in the wake of the deadly attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

Iraqi authorities estimated in November 2006 that up to 150,000 people in the country had died in violence since the US-led invasion in 2003.

One claim was filed by a man whose only son was killed by gunfire from US forces patrolling the Tigris River where he was fishing.

"There is sufficient evidence to indicate that US forces intentionally killed the claimant's son," the file reads.

"Unfortunately, those forces were involved in security operations at the time. Therefore, this case falls within the combat exception. The claim is denied."

One of the military case files details a "sympathy payment" for a boy who was hit and killed by a military truck when he ran outside after a "handout of gifts and candy" at a school in the central city of Karbala.

In another, the military recommended a 4,000-dollar payment for the family of a nine-year-old boy killed when a stray bullet from a US soldier hit him in the head as he played outside their house.


Bushies Love Their Gulag

And they hate our democracy.

Simply disgusting:
Administration officials will advise President George W. Bush to veto legislation requiring him to provide lawmakers with details of the CIA's secret prisons for terrorism suspects, a White House statement said.

The disclosure provisions are included in proposed Senate legislation that would set new requirements for giving lawmakers access to intelligence reports and set intelligence program funding for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30.

The Bush administration objected to the disclosure requirements, saying, ``Such matters are appropriately left to sensitive handling in the normal course between the intelligence committee and the executive branch.''


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Another Russian Revolution?

Berezovsky is giving Putin headaches again:
The Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has told the Guardian he is plotting the violent overthrow of President Putin from his base in Britain after forging close contacts with members of Russia's ruling elite.

In comments which appear calculated to enrage the Kremlin, and which will further inflame relations between London and Moscow, the multimillionaire claimed he was already bankrolling people close to the president who are conspiring to mount a palace coup.

"We need to use force to change this regime," he said. "It isn't possible to change this regime through democratic means. There can be no change without force, pressure." Asked if he was effectively fomenting a revolution, he said: "You are absolutely correct."


Feingold and Reid Raising the Pressure

Very nice. If Bush decides to throw his tantrums and veto the withdrawal plan, he may be facing another quandary:
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), on behalf of cosponsor Harry Reid (D-NV) and many other Democratic supporters, went to the Senate floor yesterday and formally introduced the Feingold-Reid bill which, if George W. Bush vetoes the Iraq-withdrawal plan that will hit his desk in the coming weeks, will push the issue further by forcing a troop withdrawal by March of next year.

The bill would end funding specifically for the failed Iraq effort, forcing the president to redeploy American troops elsewhere where, according to Senator Feingold, they can actually begin to defend the country against terror threats.

“The President says he will veto legislation already passed by the Senate that both funds the troops and responds to Americans’ demands for an end to the Iraq war,” Feingold said. “Since the President refuses to change his failed Iraq policy, that responsibility falls on Congress. By setting a date after which funding for the President’s failed Iraq policy will end, we can give the President the time and funding he needs to safely redeploy our troops so we can refocus on the global terrorist networks that threaten the lives of Americans.”

And Feingold made clear on the Senate floor yesterday that Bush and the Republican Congress must understand that, by stranding U.S. forces in Iraq indefinitely, they are expressly defying the will of the American people.


George W. Bush: Petty, Rage-Filled Brat

Sounds right to me
Mister Bush and his handlers like to place him in these pseudo-macho "us ag'in them" political narratives. They actively search for enemies -- real and pretended -- so that the 'Decider-in-Chief' can do a little press conference swaggerin' and talkin' about "smokin' 'em outta their holes" or bringin' 'em tah "justice dead er alive" or, from the safety of Washington DC, demand that they "bring 'em on!"
The problem is that they can surround Mister Bush with the entire U.S. military and wrap him in the flag of every branch of service and it won't matter. He'll still be the Vietnam War draft-dodging chump that played dress up on an aircraft carrier, so that he could declare "mission accomplished" in a war that's only now, more than four years on, getting started. George W. Bush doesn't look like a tough guy when he calls press conferences and utters silly threats and makes him look like Yosemite Sam AFTER Bugs Bunny has him so flabbergasted that he's on the verge of blowing off his own face with his own pistol.

Not only do the staged macho moments make Mister Bush look like Yosemite Sam, but he comes across as a petty, rage-filled brat in the midst of an uncontrolled temper tantrum. Still, nothing makes George W. Bush appear more pathetic than in those moments that he accuses the Democrats of playing politics with the "troops" and then he turns right round and makes those same "troops" his hostages by threatening to keep them away from their families until the Democrats give into his demands.

It is time, perhaps, Mister Bush and his handlers realized that he is in no position to be picking fights or to be playing the macho part. What's more, if he keeps threatening to hold the "troops" hostage...George W. Bush is going to find himself in a whole lot of political trouble. And in that fight, his child-like Yosemite Sam routine won't impress anybody.


Green Zone Blast

Strange that McCain feels Baghdad is safe when our most heavily fortified installation is not:
A suicide bomber blew himself up in the Iraqi parliament canteen in Baghdad's Green Zone Thursday, killing eight people in a staggering breach of security at the country's most heavily guarded site.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Vonnegut has died.
Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died Wednesday night in Manhattan. He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island.


Um, No

The Bush administration is committed to its delusional view of the world, you have to give 'em that:
Filling in for the cancer-stricken Tony Snow at Tuesday's press briefing, White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino defended President Bush's escalation or "surge" strategy as a response to polls indicating that a majority of Americans were disapproving of the Administration's handling of the war in Iraq and sought a new direction.

"The American people have wanted change in Iraq, and they got it," Perino said. "The president announced a new policy on January 10th that was quite different and divergent from where we were before."


Bush Pissiness Knows No Bounds

Two weeks ago, the University of Florida voted to deny Jeb Bush an honorary degree. By a 38-28 vote, the faculty Senate rejected the former governor’s nomination, citing concerns about some of Bush’s education initiatives, including his dismantling of affirmative action programs in the state:

In higher education circles, Bush’s greatest criticism came over his “One Florida” plan, which ended race-based admissions in state universities. Black enrollment dropped at UF and statewide after the change took effect, as critics predicted.

Bush’s policies of “rewarding and punishing schools according to students’ standardized test results and using vouchers to send certain students to private schools at public expense” also contributed to the rejection of his nomination.

Upset by this lack of Jeb Bush adoration, the conservative-controlled House Schools & Learning Council voted yesterday to force the university to rename its education school the “Jeb Bush College of Education.”

Over the faculty’s opposition, the school will now have “to erect ‘suitable markers‘ noting the college’s new name and include the revised name in all university documents, including catalogues and brochures.” The lawmakers acknowledge they “came up with the idea as an answer” to the faculty’s denial of Bush’s honorary degree.


Doomed to Fail

Bush is a political black hole:
Republican leaders across the country say they are growing increasingly anxious about their party’s chances of holding the White House, citing public dissatisfaction with President Bush, the political fallout from the war in Iraq and the problems their leading presidential candidates are having generating enthusiasm among conservative voters.

In interviews on Tuesday, the Republicans said they were concerned about signs of despondency among party members and fund-raisers, reflected in polls and the Democratic fund-raising advantage in the first quarter of the year. Many party leaders expressed worry that the party’s presidential candidates faced a tough course without some fundamental shift in the political dynamic.

“My level of concern and dismay is very, very high,” said Mickey Edwards, a Republican former congressman from Oklahoma who is now a lecturer in public policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. “It’s not that I have any particular problem with the people who are running for the Republican nomination. I just don’t know how they can run hard enough or fast enough to escape the gravitational pull of the Bush administration.


Bush Can't Find a Clusterf*** Czar

These generals are far too smart to jump aboard this sinking ship:

The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation.

At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said, underscoring the administration's difficulty in enlisting its top recruits to join the team after five years of warfare that have taxed the United States and its military.

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Invisible Hand Gives Congo the Finger

Behold the wonders of the global capitalist system:
Vast tracts of the world's second-largest rainforest have been obtained by a small group of European and American industrial logging companies in return for minimal taxes and gifts of salt, sugar and tools, a two-year investigation will disclose today.

More than 150 contracts covering an area of rainforest nearly the size of the United Kingdom have been signed with 20 companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past three years. Many are believed to have been illegally allocated in 2002 by a transition government emerging from a decade of civil wars and are in defiance of a World Bank moratorium.


Edwards at the Forefront Again

This is what all Dems need to be doing.
Quit worrying about the homophobes courted by the GOP and embrace the common sense of treating all people equally. The issue of gay rights is one on which the politicians need to catch up with the American people:

Democrat John Edwards is touting prominent gay supporters who have signed on to his presidential campaign, including a former adviser to President Clinton.

Businessman David Mixner is one of 25 people listed on a news release that the Edwards campaign distributed Tuesday, along with a statement from the candidate saying he is honored to have the backing of so many respected gay leaders.

"They work hard every day to make our country a better place and I am proud to join with them to fight for equal rights for all Americans," Edwards said.


Maryland Is on a Roll

First a living wage law, and now laws promoting gay rights.

The Maryland House of Delegates has passed legislation requiring health insurance companies to write policies inclusive of domestic partners and children up to the age of 25, at the request of an employer.

The 122- 18 vote came with less than an hour before the end of the 2007 session.

The bill has already been approved by the Senate and now goes to the governor for signing.

Equality Maryland proposed the legislation after hearing from numerous members that their employers would offer domestic partner benefits but were unable to purchase a policy from their insurance companies.

"The bill is the first step in reforming health care access for fair-minded employers who want to offer extended family coverage," Equality Maryland said in a statement Tuesday.


The bill was one of several victories at the Assembly this session.

Legislation was passed authorizing insurers that issue policies of group life insurance to extend coverage to the domestic partner of the employee or member who is covered under a policy of group life insurance.

A third bill that passed would allow gay and lesbian Marylanders to sue for compensatory damages in discrimination cases.

The legislation marks a first for gay and lesbian Marylanders who have faced employment discrimination.


Quick, Send in McCain!

His Baghdad is safe, so we should just have him stroll to wherever such incidents occur:
A raging, daylong battle erupted in central Baghdad on Tuesday and four Iraqi soldiers were killed, 16 U.S. soldiers were wounded and a U.S. helicopter was hit by ground fire at the close of the second month of the massive security crackdown on the capital.

Sixty miles to the north, in the mostly Sunni city of Muqdadiyah, a woman with a suicide vest strapped beneath her black Muslim robe blew herself up in the midst of 200 Iraqi police recruits. The attack killed at least 16 men waiting to learn if they had been hired.


Druggy Fundies Are Bad

And apparently Mr. Mackey is now a political advisor for NATO:
When the Taliban ordered Afghanistan's fields cleared of opium poppies seven years ago because of Islam's ban on drugs, fearful farmers complied en masse.

Today, officials say the militia nets tens of millions by forcing farmers to plant poppies and taxing the harvest, driving the country's skyrocketing opium production to fund the fight against what they consider an even greater evil — U.S. and NATO troops.

"Drugs are bad. The Quran is very clear about it," said Gafus Scheltem, NATO's political adviser in southern Afghanistan. But to fight the enemy, he said, "all things are allowed. They need money and the only way they can get money is from Arabs that support them in the (Persian) Gulf, or poppies."


Turning Up the Heat

Executive branch stonewalling has been a hallmark of this administration. It's high time someone called them on it:
The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed new documents Tuesday from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as part of its investigation into the firings of federal prosecutors, with the panel chairman saying he had run out of patience.

"We have been patient in allowing the department to work through its concerns regarding the sensitive nature of some of these materials," Rep. John Conyers (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., wrote Gonzales in a letter accompanying the subpoena. "Unfortunately, the department has not indicated any meaningful willingness to find a way to meet our legitimate needs.,"

"At this point further delay in receiving these materials will not serve any constructive purpose," Conyers said. He characterized the subpoena as a last resort after weeks of negotiations with Justice over documents and e-mails the committee wants.


States Say "F*** Abstinence Only"

Good for them:
In an emerging revolt against abstinence-only sex education, states are turning down millions of dollars in federal grants, unwilling to accept White House dictates that the money be used for classes focused almost exclusively on teaching chastity.

In Ohio, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland said that regardless of the state's sluggish economic picture, he didn't see the point in taking part in the controversial State Abstinence Education Program anymore.

Five other states — Wisconsin, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Montana and New Jersey — have dropped out of that grant program or plan to do so by the end of this year. California has refused all along to participate in the program, which is managed by a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Strickland, like most of the other governors who are pulling the plug on the funding, said the program had too many rules to be practical. Among other things, the money cannot be used to promote condom or contraceptive use. Students are to be taught that bearing children outside wedlock is likely to harm society and that sexual activity outside marriage is "likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects."

And, according to the governor's spokesman, Keith Dailey, Strickland sees little evidence that the program has been effective. "We've spent millions of dollars on such education since Ohio first started getting grant money in 1998," Dailey said. "If the state is going to spend money on teaching and protecting kids, the governor believes it's better to spend it in a smarter, more comprehensive approach."

Strickland announced Ohio's withdrawal from the program last month.


Tom DeLay Invokes the "I'm Millions of Jews" Defense

This man has gone absolutely bonkers:
I am so outraged by this whole criminalization of politics. It’s not good enough to defeat somebody politically. It’s not even good enough to vilify somebody publicly. They have to carpet bomb you with lies and made up scandals and false charges and indicting you on laws that don’t exist. … It’s the same thing as I say in my book, that the Nazis used. When you use the big lie in order to gain and maintain power, it is immoral and it is outrageous…

It’s the same process. It’s the same criminalization of politics. it’s the same oppression of people. It’s the same destroy people in order to gain power. It may be six million Jews. it may be indicting somebody on laws that don’t exist. But, it’s the same philosophy and it’s the same world view.


Monday, April 09, 2007


And Chavez seems just the sort to see this through:
With President Hugo Chávez setting a May 1 deadline for an ambitious plan to wrest control of several major oil projects from American and European companies, a showdown is looming here over access to some of the most coveted energy resources outside the Middle East.

Moving beyond empty threats to cut off all oil exports to the United States, officials have recently stepped up the pressure on the oil companies operating here, warning that they might sell American refineries meant to process Venezuelan crude oil even as they seek new outlets in China and elsewhere around the world.

“Chávez is playing a game of chicken with the largest oil companies in the world,” said Pietro Pitts, an oil analyst who publishes LatinPetroleum, an industry magazine based here. “And for the moment he is winning.”


Living Wage in Maryland

I'm impressed. I hope other states jump on this bandwagon:

Maryland today became the first state to require contractors to pay workers a living wage, the fruit of a months-long coalition campaign that included union members, religious leaders and civil rights advocates.

On its last day in session, the Maryland Senate voted, 31–16, to approve the measure, which was passed by the state House last week. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who campaigned for the legislation, has promised to sign the bill.

The new law will require service contractors doing business with the state to pay employees $11.30 an hour in urban areas and $8.50 an hour in rural areas. The state’s minimum wage is $6.15 an hour.

The final vote is another step toward lifting thousands of Maryland workers out of poverty, says Fred Mason, president of the Maryland State and D.C. AFL-CIO.

This vote is important for all workers. The union movement is the voice for all workers. We look out for workers, whether they are union members or not. And we don’t think the state should ever have been in the business of creating poverty-level jobs.



Hundreds of thousands of people around the world marched against this war before it even began. Hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq are protesting America's occupation now.

Time to leave:
Hundreds of thousands of supporters of the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets of two Shia holy cities in Iraq today and protested against "US occupiers".

The rally was called by Mr Sadr, who said in a statement yesterday that his militia followers should redouble efforts to drive US forces out of Iraq, describing them as "your arch-enemy".

Today, clad in Iraqi flags, demonstrators marched from the city of Kufa to neighbouring Najaf, which is 100 miles south of Baghdad, shouting "we obey your call" and other slogans against the US "occupiers".


Obama Follows Suit

Good job:

Barack Obama has chosen not to attend September's Democratic presidential primary debate co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute and Fox News, an aide said, effectively dooming the event.

Obama is the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus running for President, and his decision allows other candidates to skip the debate without facing criticism that they are turning their backs on a leading black institution.

Friday, John Edwards was the first candidate to announce he'd skip the debate. The CBC Institute is hosting one other debate, with CNN in January, in which all candidates are expected to participate.


The Long Haul

Welcome to the new American hegemony:
The Pentagon has identified some 14,000 National Guard soldiers who may go to Iraq as part of planning for deployments stretching as far as 2010, a senior U.S. defense official said on Friday.


Bad War Means Bad Prosecutions of Good Soldiers

It's really quite simple. No one who thinks about it wants to die for a bullshit war run by a pack of morons:

Army prosecutions of desertion and other unauthorized absences have risen sharply in the last four years, resulting in thousands more negative discharges and prison time for both junior soldiers and combat-tested veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Army records show.

The increased prosecutions are meant to serve as a deterrent to a growing number of soldiers who are ambivalent about heading — or heading back — to Iraq and may be looking for a way out, several Army lawyers said in interviews. Using courts-martial for these violations, which before 2002 were treated mostly as unpunished nuisances, is a sign that active-duty forces are being stretched to their limits, military lawyers and mental health experts said.

“They are scraping to get people to go back, and people are worn out,” said Dr. Thomas Grieger, a senior Navy psychiatrist.


"Crash and Burn" Season Comes Early

McCain is such a nonsensical failure of a man. I'd feel sorry for him if I didn't know better:
John McCain, a forceful advocate of George Bush's plan for a surge of US troops in Iraq, yesterday disavowed his recent rosy assessment of security in Baghdad in an effort to regain his frontrunner status among Republican contenders for the party's nomination for the presidency.

The Arizona senator's appearance last night on the CBS 60 Minutes programme follows twin setbacks for Mr McCain in the space of a week. A trip to Baghdad turned into a public relations debacle, and he came in third behind the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani in the competition for Republican fundraising dollars.

In excerpts released ahead of the broadcast last night, Mr McCain said he misspoke when he said the troop surge had made Iraqi neighbourhoods safe. Such comments, made on the eve of his departure for Baghdad, came back to haunt him during a trip to a market in which Mr McCain, wearing a bulletproof vest, was guarded by 100 US troops and two military helicopters.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Saddam + Inefficient + Incompetent =

In a rueful reflection on what might have been, an Iraqi government insider details in 500 pages the U.S. occupation's "shocking" mismanagement of his country — a performance so bad, he writes, that by 2007 Iraqis had "turned their backs on their would-be liberators."

"The corroded and corrupt state of Saddam was replaced by the corroded, inefficient, incompetent and corrupt state of the new order," Ali A. Allawi concludes in "The Occupation of Iraq," newly published by Yale University Press.


Kill the Manatees!

That seems to be the policy of the Bush administration. More deaths than ever last year, and the Bushies want to revoke their endangered status:
The Florida manatee, this state's imperiled environmental icon, in 2006 suffered its most dismal year on record.

Of a population of about 3,200, 416 died in 2006, the highest number of deaths recorded in 30 years of statistics. Many died in collisions with boat propellers.

Now, according to an internal memo, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been drafting plans under which the celebrated marine mammals would lose their protection as an endangered species.

The planned reclassification of the slow-moving sea cows from "endangered" to "threatened" is expected to elicit criticism from environmental groups that see it as part of the Bush administration's effort to poke holes in the Endangered Species Act.

The new designation would make it easier to loosen boating speed limits and restrictions on waterfront development that have been instituted to make Florida safer for the species, environmental leaders said.

"This is absolutely the wrong time to down-list manatees," said Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club and an aquatic biologist who served as the first federal manatee coordinator. "The terrible thing is, while the last year for manatees was bad, the future could be even worse."

Only this administration would kick a sea cow when it's down.


American Hate

Here's a trickle-down theory that actually works. When you have an administration that blames the poor for their poverty, it sets a cultural tone with very real, very ugly results:

A 2006 report by the National Coalition for the Homeless found 142 attacks last year against homeless people, 20 of which resulted in death — a 65 percent increase from 2005, when 86 were violently assaulted, including 13 homicides.

By comparison, 60 such attacks were reported in 1999, the year the coalition — the only entity to gather such data — began to study the problem.


This pattern of violence, in Stoops' view, hasn't gotten the attention it deserves from the public or law enforcement.

"Homeless people are the newest minority group in America that is 'OK' to hate and hurt," he said. "It's as though, somehow, they're viewed as less deserving, less human than the rest of us."


A number of local governments have adopted ordinances that restrict where and when the homeless can sleep, stroll, beg, eat, bathe, or do laundry. And this trend may have an unintended effect — reinforcing negative stereotypes of homelessness, which contributes to the violence, some advocates say.

"When cities pass laws that target homeless people, they send a message to their communities that the homeless are not as valuable in the public eye as those with homes," says Tulin Ozdeger, a civil rights attorney at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.


Bloody Easter in Iraq

10 more dead:
The powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his militiamen on Sunday to redouble their battle to oust American forces and argued that Iraq's army and police should join him in defeating "your archenemy." The U.S. military announced the weekend deaths of 10 American soldiers, including six killed on Sunday.

Security remained so tenuous in the capital on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the U.S. capture of Baghdad that Iraq's military declared a 24-hour ban on all vehicles in the capital from 5 a.m. Monday. The government quickly reinstated Monday as a holiday, just a day after it had decreed that April 9 no longer would be a day off.


Darwin Award for Bush

Thanks, Mulally:

Credit Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally with saving the leader of the free world from self-immolation.

Mulally told journalists at the New York auto show that he intervened to prevent President Bush from plugging an electrical cord into the hydrogen tank of Ford's hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid at the White House last week.