Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Happy Day in Warsaw

And, note to protestors: These proud gay people are already home.
More than five-thousand people marched Saturday in the first legally sanctioned LGBT pride parade in the Polish capital.

The marchers carried rainbow flags and some held banners reading "Stop homophobia".

The parade wound its way through central Warsaw under a heavy police presence, but most bystanders cheered and waved back at marchers.

The ultra-nationalist Catholic Youth Movement and the militant far-right All-Polish Youth staged a small counter demonstration nearby. Protestors carried signs reading "Homo go home."


Don't Take This Woman's Advice

Dr. Laura has always been obnoxious and ridiculous, but she apparently raised a profoundly messed-up son:
The soldier son of talk radio relationship counselor Laura Schlessinger is under investigation for a graphic personal Web page that one Army official has called "repulsive."

The MySpace page, publicly available until Friday when it disappeared from the Internet, included cartoon depictions of rape, murder, torture and child molestation; photographs of soldiers with guns in their mouths; a photograph of a bound and blindfolded detainee captioned "My Sweet Little Habib"; accounts of illicit drug use; and a blog entry headlined by a series of obscenities and racial epithets.

The site is credited to and includes many photographs of Deryk Schlessinger, the 21-year-old son of the talk radio personality known simply as Dr. Laura. Broadcast locally on 570 KNRS, "Family Values Talk Radio," the former family counselor spends three hours daily taking calls and offering advice on morals, ethics and values. She broadcast a show from Fort Douglas, in Salt Lake City, last week.


Carter: Bush Is the Worst in History

He'll get no argument from me:
Former President Carter says President Bush's administration is "the worst in history" in international relations, taking aim at the White House's policy of pre-emptive war and its Middle East diplomacy.

The criticism from Carter, which a biographer says is unprecedented for the 39th president, also took aim at Bush's environmental policies and the administration's "quite disturbing" faith-based initiative funding.

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history," Carter told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a story that appeared in the newspaper's Saturday editions.


Republican Civility

Hilarious. The GOP must be feeling rather worked up these days as their party falls apart:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hasn't spent much time in the Capitol this year as he seeks the GOP presidential nomination. But one of his rare appearances this week provided a pretty salty exchange with a fellow Republican.

During a meeting Thursday on immigration legislation, McCain and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) got into a shouting match when Cornyn started voicing concerns about the number of judicial appeals that illegal immigrants could receive, according to multiple sources -- both Democrats and Republicans -- who heard firsthand accounts of the exchange from lawmakers who were in the room.

At a bipartisan gathering in an ornate meeting room just off the Senate floor, McCain complained that Cornyn was raising petty objections to a compromise plan being worked out between Senate Republicans and Democrats and the White House. He used a curse word associated with chickens and accused Cornyn of raising the issue just to torpedo a deal.

Things got really heated when Cornyn accused McCain of being too busy campaigning for president to take part in the negotiations, which have gone on for months behind closed doors. "Wait a second here," Cornyn said to McCain. "I've been sitting in here for all of these negotiations and you just parachute in here on the last day. You're out of line."

McCain, a former Navy pilot, then used language more accustomed to sailors (not to mention the current vice president, who made news a few years back after a verbal encounter with Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont).

"[Expletive] you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room," shouted McCain at Cornyn.


Friday, May 18, 2007


Miriam is away, and has the camera, so it's time to take a look back.


The Lesson Is...

Do not offer Bush any concessions, ever:

In a closed-door meeting with Bush's top aides on Capitol Hill, Democrats said they'd strip billions of dollars in domestic spending out of a war spending that Bush opposed if the president would accept a timetable to pull combat troops out of Iraq. As part of the deal, Democrats said they would allow the president to waive compliance with a deadline for troop withdrawals.

But no agreement was struck.

"To say I was disappointed in the meeting is an understatement," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record), D-Nev. "I really did expect that the president would accept some accountability for what we're trying to accomplish here."

White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten, who rejected the deal, said any timetable on the war would undermine the nation's efforts in Iraq.


The Bushies Are Backwards

Americans actually think bigotry is wrong, unlike Bush and his people:
Facing a threatened veto by President Bush legislation adding sexuality to a federal hate crime law has the support of more than two-thirds of the American public a new national poll shows.

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed the House earlier this month and is pending in the Senate. Shortly before the House vote the White House issued a statement that if the measure passes Congress the President's aides would recommend he veto it.

"The Administration favors strong criminal penalties for violent crime, including crime based on personal characteristics, such as race, color, religion, or national origin However, the Administration believes that H.R. 1592 is unnecessary and constitutionally questionable."

The veto threat followed an intense lobbying campaign by conservative Christian groups


Shut Up! Shut Up! Shut Up!

The delicate flowers of the GOP can't stand even to hear someone suggest that the United States is less than perfect:

The chairman of the Michigan Republican Party said today he will try to bar presidential candidate Ron Paul from future GOP debates.

The Texas congressman made remarks that suggested the September 11th attacks were the fault of US foreign policy at a GOP debate last night. Paul drew attacks from all sides, most forcefully from former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, when Paul linked the terror attacks to US bombings.

Michigan party chairman Saul Anuzis says he will circulate a petition among Republican National Committee members to ban Paul from more debates.


So Long, Ya Weirdo

Wolfowitz is giving in at long last:

World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz said he would resign at the end of June, ending a month-long scandal over a pay and promotions deal he awarded to his girlfriend.

In a statement issued at the end of three days of deliberations by the World Bank board, Wolfowitz said he was resigning in the best interests of the institution.

"I am announcing today that I will resign as president of the World Bank Group effective at the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2007),'' Wolfowitz said in a statement today.

His decision came as White House support appeared to crumble, with US President George Bush earlier expressing "regret'' over the favouritism scandal, despite having stood resolutely behind his former Pentagon number two.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lead for the Babies

Wal-Mart has been protecting our toddlers from X-rays for years:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pulled sets of baby bibs Wednesday from its stores nationwide after the bibs tested positive for high levels of lead, a store official said.

The bibs, sold under the Baby Connection brand name, came in packs of two to seven bibs, with embroidered prints or images of Sesame Street characters. Some were sold as long ago as 2004. The bibs were made by Hamco Inc. exclusively for the Bentonville-based retailer.


Our Government in Action

It's called "priorities":

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is spending up to $4 million to publicize a 200th anniversary celebration, said Bill Proenza, who heads the hurricane center, part of the National Weather Service, which is a NOAA agency. At the same time, it has cut $700,000 from hurricane research, he said.

"No question about it, it is not justified. It is using appropriated funds for self promotion," Proenza said in a phone interview while attending the Florida Governor's Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale.


DoJ to Senate...

You get one. And you'll be happy about it, lapdog!
The Justice Department provided the Senate Judiciary Committee with a single e-mail [PDF] Wednesday in response to a subpoena for the e-mails of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove related to the firing last year of eight U.S. attorneys.


Unbounded Arrogance

Cheney et al. are claiming the right to do absolutely whatever the hell they want:

Attorneys for Vice President Cheney and top White House officials told a federal judge today they cannot be held liable for anything they disclosed to reporters about covert CIA officer Valerie Plame or her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

The officials, who include senior White House adviser Karl Rove and Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, argued that the judge should dismiss a lawsuit filed by Wilson that stemmed from the disclosure of Plame's identity to the media.

The suit claims that Cheney, Libby, Rove and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage violated the couple's privacy and constitutional rights by publicly revealing Plame's identity in an effort to retaliate against Wilson. Plame's identity was disclosed in a syndicated column in July 2003, days after Wilson publicly accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate Iraq's nuclear threat and justify an attack on Baghdad.

Libby was convicted in March of lying to a grand jury investigating the leak.

Attorneys for Cheney and the other officials said any conversations they had about Plame with each other and reporters were part of their normal job duties because they were discussing foreign policy and engaging in an appropriate "policy dispute." Cheney's attorney went farther, arguing that Cheney is legally akin to the president because of his unique government role, and has absolute immunity from any lawsuit.

"So you're arguing there is nothing -- absolutely nothing - these officials could have said to reporters that would have been beyond the scope of their employment [whether it was] true or false?," U.S. District Judge John D. Bates asked.

"That's true, your honor. Mr. Wilson was criticizing government policy," said Jeffrey S. Bucholtz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's civil division. "These officials were responding to that criticism."


No Confidence

The Dems are keeping the heat on Gonzales:
Two Senate Democrats said Thursday they will seek a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales over accusations that he carried out President's Bush's political agenda at the expense of the Justice Department's independence.

Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein (news, bio, voting record) of California, who have led the investigation into the conduct of White House officials and Gonzales, said the attorney general has become too weakened to run the department.

"It seems the only person who has confidence in the attorney general is President Bush," Schumer told reporters. "The president long ago should have asked the attorney general to step down."

"I think the time has come for the Senate to express its will," Feinstein said. "We lack confidence in the attorney general."


Another Excellent Idea...

that will surely be ignored by Bush:

Suppose I told you that we could build an energy source that:

  • unlike oil, does not generate profits used to support Al Qaeda and dictatorial regimes.
  • unlike nuclear, does not provide cover for rogue nations to hide development of nuclear weapons.
  • unlike terrestrial solar and wind, is available 24/7 in huge quantities.
  • unlike oil, gas, ethanol and coal, does not emit greenhouse gasses, warming our planet and causing severe problems.
  • unlike nuclear, does not provide tremendous opportunities for terrorists.
  • unlike coal and nuclear, does not require ripping up the Earth.
  • unlike oil, does not lead us to send hundreds of thousands of our finest men and women to war and spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on a military presence in the Persian Gulf.

The basic idea: build huge satellites in Earth orbit to gather sunlight, convert it to electricity, and beam the energy to Earth using microwaves. We know we can do it, most satellites are powered by solar energy today and microwave beaming of energy has been demonstrated with very high efficiency. We're talking about SSP - solar satellite power.



Simply beyond comprehension:

An Australian man has sparked a storm of protest after creating an online computer game based on the murderous shooting spree at Virginia Tech in the United States last month.

Players control an image of Korean-born gunman Cho Seung-hui, who killed 32 people before turning a gun on himself, and screams can be heard on the soundtrack as shots are fired at the other characters.

The creator of "V-Tech Rampage", 21-year-old Ryan Lambourn, said he made the game "because it's funny," the Sydney Morning Herald reported Thursday.

The unemployed Lambourn responded to outraged calls for him to remove the game from the Internet by demanding 1,000 US dollars for each of the two sites it is on and said that for another 1,000 dollars he would apologise.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Living in Denial

It must be rather frustrating and exhausting being a conservative living in the real world. Thus, they construct their own:
“Tired of the LIBERAL BIAS every time you search on Google and a Wikipedia page appears? Our study suggests that Wikipedia is 6 times more liberal than the American public. Now it’s time for the Conservatives to get our voice out on the internet!”

So begins the rallying cry for, aspiring right-leaning rival to - the online encyclopedia project that now claims 7.2 million articles in 251 languages and traffic that ranks it among the world’s top 15 sites.


Global Warming Doesn't Exist

Warm temperatures melted an area of western Antarctica that adds up to the size of California in January 2005, scientists report.


Another Rat Flees

An uber-neocon turns on Bush:

The Bush administration is beginning to appease rather than confront America's enemies, a former chairman of the Defense Policy Board and leading neoconservative thinker said yesterday, describing the president as "a failure" who is proving powerless to impose his views on his administration.

Richard Perle offered a withering assessment of the president's impotence at a meeting of the Hudson Institute in New York, saying American foreign policy is being applied by an out-of-control State Department.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Some Good News

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter has put his name to legislation allowing same-sex couples to adopt, ignoring a last minute blitz by religious conservatives to veto the measure.
And this:
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has agreed that it will no longer bar lesbian and gay prisoners access to overnight family visitation with their registered domestic partners.



Poor Wolfowitz. He doesn't get his white male privilege, so he throws a tantrum:
An angry and bitter Paul Wolfowitz poured abuse and threatened retaliations on senior World Bank staff if his orders for pay rises and promotions for his partner were revealed, according to new details published last night.

Sounding more like a cast member of the Sopranos than an international leader, in testimony by one key witness Mr Wolfowitz declares: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too."

The remarks were published in a report detailing the controversy that erupted last month after the size of Ms Riza's pay rises was revealed. The report slates Mr Wolfowitz for his "questionable judgment and a preoccupation with self-interest", saying: "Mr Wolfowitz saw himself as the outsider to whom the established rules and standards did not apply."


Monday, May 14, 2007

Ratzi: Repeat Offender

Nothing like European Catholic paternalism to win over the people:
Outraged Indian leaders in Brazil said on Monday they were offended by Pope Benedict's "arrogant and disrespectful" comments that the Roman Catholic Church had purified them and a revival of their religions would be a backward step.

In a speech to Latin American and Caribbean bishops at the end of a visit to Brazil, the Pope said the Church had not imposed itself on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

They had welcomed the arrival of European priests at the time of the conquest as they were "silently longing" for Christianity, he said.

Millions of tribal Indians are believed to have died as a result of European colonization backed by the Church since Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, through slaughter, disease or enslavement.

Many Indians today struggle for survival, stripped of their traditional ways of life and excluded from society.

"It's arrogant and disrespectful to consider our cultural heritage secondary to theirs," said Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, chief coordinator of the Amazon Indian group Coiab.

Several Indian groups sent a letter to the Pope last week asking for his support in defending their ancestral lands and culture. They said the Indians had suffered a "process of genocide" since the first European colonizers had arrived.

Priests blessed conquistadors as they waged war on the indigenous peoples, although some later defended them and many today are the most vociferous allies of Indians.

"The state used the Church to do the dirty work in colonizing the Indians but they already asked forgiveness for that ... so is the Pope taking back the Church's word?" said Dionito Jose de Souza a leader of the Makuxi tribe in northern Roraima state.


This'd Be a Hoot

As if the GOP does have enough blithering, unelectable buffoons on their roster:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday there is a very good chance he'll get into the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, but he won't decide until after September.


Our Allies in Asia

Nothing more democratic than shoot-on-sight orders:
Pakistan's government on Sunday gave its paramilitary forces authority to shoot on sight in an effort to quell political clashes in the southern port city of Karachi that have killed 42 people in the past two days.

The clashes are between supporters of the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and those opposed to his decision to suspend the country's chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Clashes on Sunday left five dead and some 58 others injured, police and intelligence sources said.

In addition to waging gunbattles during the protests, angry mobs burned vehicles and set fire to stores, many of them owned by opposition supporters, the sources said. Police used tear gas and batons in an attempt to disperse the crowd.

Musharraf removed Chaudhry from his post on March 9, accusing him of misusing his powers. The dismissal sparked widespread but largely peaceful demonstrations by some Pakistani attorneys and others who believed Musharraf abused his authority in suspending Pakistan's top judge.

Thank goodness we live in a country where the executive branch doesn't exceed its authority by interfering with the judicial branch!


New Zealand Nuclear Justice

An interesting development in this case:

NEW research showing New Zealand sailors used as "human guinea pigs" in nuclear tests in the 1950s suffered serious genetic damage may pave the way for a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against the British Government.

Veterans say a Massey University study that concluded nuclear test veterans had three times the normal rate of chromosome mutations had confirmed their worst fears.

The chairman of the New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans Association, Roy Sefton, whose organisation commissioned the study, said the findings proved what the veterans had known for decades - radiation caused health problems for them and their families, who were also suffering genetic damage.

"We were human guinea pigs," said Mr Sefton, who served as a 17-year-old on one of two New Zealand ships sent to observe the tests. "We believe the British Government has a duty of care to us and our children who are still paying the price."


1 in 7

It's hard sometimes not to feel all apocalyptic these days:

A BILLION people - one in seven people on Earth today - could be forced to leave their homes over the next 50 years as the effects of climate change worsen an already serious migration crisis, a new report from Christian Aid predicts.

The report, based on the latest United Nations population and climate-change figures, says conflict, large-scale development projects and widespread environmental deterioration will combine to make life unsupportable for hundreds of millions of people, mostly in the Sahara belt, South Asia and the Middle East.

The report, published yesterday, cited case studies in Sudan, Colombia, Mali and Burma as big causes for concern.

According to the development charity, the world faces its largest movement of people forced from their homes.

"Forced migration is now the most urgent threat facing poor nations," said the report's lead author, John Davison. "Climate change is the great, frightening unknown in this equation."


Today in Pedagogy

Offered as an ideological test: Which incident bothers you more?

This one:
A man who claims his granddaughter was traumatized over a screening of gay cowboy movie "Brokeback Mountain" has filed a half-million dollar lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Education.

The lawsuit, filed Friday, claims that a substitute teacher showed the movie to a grade 8 class last year.

Court papers obtained by the Chicago Tribune claim that student Jessica Turner, suffered psychological distress at seeing the film.

Or this one:

Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

The mock attack Thursday night was intended as a learning experience and lasted five minutes during the weeklong trip to a state park, said Scales Elementary School Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip.


Some Jerks Never Quit

Rudolph is one of 'em:
Victims of Eric Rudolph, the anti-abortion extremist who pulled off a series of bombings across the South, say he is taunting them from deep within the nation's most secure federal prison, and authorities say there is little they can do to stop him.

Rudolph, who was captured after a five-year manhunt and pleaded guilty in deadly bombings at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and a Birmingham abortion clinic, is serving life in prison at the "Supermax" penitentiary in Florence, Colo.

Housed in the most secure part of the prison, he has no computer and little contact with the outside world aside from writing letters.

But Rudolph's long essays have been posted on the Internet by a supporter who maintains an Army of God Web site. The Army of God is the same loose-knit group that Rudolph claimed to represent in letters sent after the blasts.

In one piece, Rudolph seeks to justify violence against abortion clinics by arguing that Jesus would condone "militant action in defense of the innocent."

In another essay about his sentencing, Rudolph mocks former abortion clinic nurse Emily Lyons, who was nearly killed in the 1998 bombing in Birmingham, and her husband, Jeff. He uses pseudonyms rather than naming the couple, but there is no doubt he is describing them.

Rudolph recalls how Emily Lyons, in court, described the pain of her injuries and made an obscene gesture at Rudolph as she showed off a finger mangled by the blast. Rudolph writes: "It was a great speech and one that the denizens of freedom should be proud to enshrine in a museum somewhere. Perhaps they could put it next to MLKs `I Have a Dream.' They could call it `I Have a Middle Finger.'"

Jeff Lyons said he doesn't often look at the Web site, which has had some items posted for nearly two years. But he said he is worried that Rudolph's messages could incite someone to violence against abortion providers.



Freedom continues
At least 22 people were killed and another 25 wounded in ongoing violence hitting the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Baquba on Monday.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

President on Acid

This man truly is a freak. He's having a meltdown before our very eyes:
JoAnn Falletta was doing what a conductor should — concentrating on the orchestra in front of her. No wonder it took her a few seconds on Sunday to realize someone behind her was motioning for a try.

She gave him her baton and stepped aside.

Gesturing exuberantly, the president led the orchestra during part of its performance of "Stars and Stripes Forever."

"We didn't expect him to know the score so well," Falletta said afterward. "He was not shy about conducting at all. He conducted with a great deal of panache."

That was the music played for Bush's exit after his speech at a ceremony commemorating the founding 400 years ago of Jamestown, America's first permanent English settlement.

Just before the music ended, Bush turned to Falletta, who stood on a step below him, kissed the top of her head and left without saying a word.


Also, His Car Broke Down...

he had a flat tire, and there was an earthquake and a terrible flood.

Seriously, can a day go by without a GOP candidate making a fool of himself?
Tommy Thompson cited a dead hearing aid and an urgent need to use the bathroom in explaining on Saturday why he said at a GOP presidential debate that an employer should be allowed to fire a gay worker.

Speaking to reporters after giving an address at the state GOP convention, Thompson also said he was suffering from the flu and bronchitis and had been admitted to a hospital emergency room three days prior to the May 3 debate.

"Nobody knows that," Thompson said. "I've been very sick. ... I was very sick the day of the debate. I had all of the problems with the flu and bronchitis that you have, including running to the bathroom. I was just hanging on. I could not wait until the debate got off so I could go to the bathroom."

Thompson said he thought he was being asked if there were enough laws already to address discrimination in the workplace. The question at the debate was, "If a private employer finds homosexuality immoral, should he be allowed to fire a gay worker?"

Thompson replied: "I think that is left up to the individual business. I really sincerely believe that that is an issue that business people have got to make their own determination as to whether or not they should be."

This is not Thompson's first apology or explanation for the remark. The day after the debate, Thompson said he was sorry and that he had misinterpreted the question because he didn't hear it properly.


Leave It to Texas

Just great:

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (AP) - Voters in this Dallas suburb became the first in the nation Saturday to prohibit landlords from renting to most illegal immigrants.

The ban was approved by a vote of 68 percent to 32 percent in final, unofficial returns.

The balloting marked the first public vote on a local government measure to crack down on illegal immigration.