Saturday, June 30, 2007

This Will Go Well

Hardly surprising, given the massive destabilization enacted upon the Middle East by our idiotic invasion:
Turkey has prepared a blueprint for the invasion of northern Iraq and will take action if US or Iraqi forces fail to dislodge the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from their mountain strongholds across the border, Turkey's foreign minister Abdullah Gul has warned.

"The military plans have been worked out in the finest detail. The government knows these plans and agrees with them," Mr Gul told Turkey's Radikal newspaper. "If neither the Iraqi government nor the US occupying forces can do this [crush the PKK], we will take our own decision and implement it," Mr Gul said. The foreign minister's uncharacteristically hawkish remarks were seen as a response to pressure from Turkey's generals, who have deployed some 20,000-30,000 troops along the borders with Iraq, and who are itching to move against the rebels they say are slipping across the border to stage attacks inside Turkey.


And Another One Down

The halls of the Justice Department must be mighty quiet these days:
An assistant attorney general at the Justice Department announced her resignation on Friday, becoming the seventh official to quit the department since the Democratic-led Congress launched an investigation in March into the firing of nine federal prosecutors.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Some Good News

Another bit of hope regarding HIV:

In a breakthrough that could potentially lead to a cure for HIV infection, scientists have discovered a way to remove the virus from infected cells, a study released Thursday said.

The scientists engineered an enzyme which attacks the DNA of the HIV virus and cuts it out of the infected cell, according to the study published in Science magazine.

The enzyme is still far from being ready to use as a treatment, the authors warned, but it offers a glimmer of hope for the more than 40 million people infected worldwide.



This is what happens when fundies know that common sense and tolerance are winning among most people. They get scared and mean:
Nearly four in 10 gay men and about one in eight lesbians and bisexuals in the United States have been the target of violence or a property crime because of their sexual orientation, according to a new study.


Dems Strive to Fight AIDS

I imagine Bush and the rest of the GOP will oppose them:
Senate Democrats are cutting President Bush's marquee foreign aid program to funnel more money to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in Africa and elsewhere.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is slated Thursday to cut Bush' $3 billion request for the Millennium Challenge Corporation to $1.4 billion. The program channels foreign aid to countries implementing economic and political reforms but has been slow to disburse prior appropriations.

The Senate panel is boosting Bush's $4.2 billion request for the foreign aid bill's Global HIV/AIDS account by $900 million, including adding $550 million to the administration's request for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria - enough to almost triple it.

Altogether, however, the Senate panel would cut Bush's request for foreign aid and the State Department budget by almost $900 million, transferring money to domestic accounts favored on Capitol Hill.

But the Senate foreign aid bill, like its House counterpart, faces a veto since it would ease restrictions on overseas groups that perform or promote abortion by allowing them to receive U.S.-donated contraceptives.


Scary Scuba Terrorists!

Be afraid:
Under water, Jim Hurin teaches his novice scuba divers how to avoid a number of threats, from sharks to barracudas to sharp coral.

But once he's on dry land, the FBI is asking Hurin and scuba instructors across the country to keep their eyes open for a different type of threat: terrorism.

The FBI has sent a nationwide alert to scuba instructors to watch for a number of suspicious behaviors among diving students that the agency says could be signs of criminal activity.


Jurist's Lack of Prudence

Another proponent of fascist tactics embarrasses America:

A TOP-RANKING US judge has stunned a conference of Australian judges and barristers in Chicago by advocating secret trials for terrorists, more surveillance of Muslim populations across North America and an end to counter-terrorism efforts being "hog-tied" by the US constitution.

Judge Richard Posner, a supposedly liberal-leaning jurist regarded by many as a future US Supreme Court candidate, said traditional concepts of criminal justice were inadequate to deal with the terrorist threat and the US had "over-invested" in them.


Melbourne QC Tim Tobin said it was a shock to hear such hard and isolationist positions coming from a judge known as a liberal thinker. While he was disturbed by the judge's proposed crackdown on US and Canadian Muslims, he suspected the sentiment would be welcomed by the Howard Government.

Judge Posner raised the prospect of secret trials as a "tailored regime" to prosecute terrorists in cases where there was a concern about classified information going public.

Queensland SC Glenn Martin said he had been "jolted" by the address: "I hope we never have secret trials in Australia."

(And who exactly thinks this guy is "liberal-leaning," anyway?)


How Not to Catch Pedophiles

Shame on the police and the reporters involved in this ridiculous sensationalism:
A sting in which police teamed up with “Dateline NBC” to catch online pedophiles was supposed to send a flinty-eyed, Texas-style warning about this Dallas suburb: Don’t mess with Murphy.

Instead, it has turned into a fiasco.


The Murphy city manager who approved the operation lost his job in the ensuing furor.

And the district attorney is refusing to prosecute any of the men, saying many of the cases were tainted by the involvement of amateurs.

“Certainly these people should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but the fact that this was all done for television cameras raises some questions,” said Mayor Bret Baldwin.

It is the first time in nine “Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator” stings across the country in the past year and a half that prosecutors did not pursue charges.


“Dateline” has made prime-time entertainment out of contacting would-be child molesters over the Internet, luring them to a meeting place, and videotaping their humiliating confrontations with reporter Chris Hansen.


Thursday, June 28, 2007


The only thing better than a missing white woman is an angry African-American mob on Juneteenth, apparently:
As has now been reported internationally – in an unusually wide broadcasting of an otherwise fairly ordinary, local crime story – on Tuesday, June 19, 40-year-old David Morales was beaten to death by three or four men in the parking lot of the Booker T. Washington apartments in East Austin, just after he got home from work. Morales, a painter, had caught a ride home with a co-worker; as Morales' friend backed his Ford Taurus out of the housing-complex parking lot, he accidentally hit 2-year-old Michael Hosea Jr., who lives in the complex. (As a precaution, Hosea's parents took him to Brackenridge Hospital; the toddler is fine.) Almost immediately, however, three or four men approached the Taurus and began beating the driver through his car window. Morales was already walking toward his sister's apartment when the accident happened, but when the men confronted his friend, Morales turned around and walked back to the car. He was trying to intervene and stop the situation from escalating, said Assistant City Manager Michael McDonald. It didn't work, and the attackers turned on Morales. They beat him and knocked him to the ground, where at least one man continued the beating. The men fled before police arrived. Paramedics transported Morales to Brackenridge, where he was pronounced dead.
Fox News' Bill O'Reilly told his viewers that Morales was "beaten to death by 20 African-Americans … on the grounds of the [city's] Juneteenth celebration," and the Houston Chronicle reported that the beating was administered by a "crowd of Juneteenth partygoers turned violent." None of these reports was accurate, and several, including the Houston Chronicle's (repeated in the San Antonio Express-News), were simply false.
Another study in media hysteria. This attack had nothing to do with Juneteenth, nor with "partygoers," nor with a mob.

But the mainstream media are not so much concerned with facts. Bill O'Reilly, much less so.



Our Dear Leader once again insists that he's above the law and we should all just sod off:
President Bush, moving toward a constitutional showdown with Congress, asserted executive privilege Thursday and rejected lawmakers' demands for documents that could shed light on the firings of federal prosecutors.

Bush's attorney told Congress the White House would not turn over subpoenaed documents for former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor.

"With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual accommodation," White House counsel Fred Fielding said in a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. "We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion."


Pole Position

Russia's making a grab for new territory. This should be interesting to watch as it plays out:
It is already the world's biggest country, spanning 11 time zones and stretching from Europe to the far east. But yesterday Russia signalled its intention to get even bigger by announcing an audacious plan to annex a vast 460,000 square mile chunk of the frozen and ice-encrusted Arctic.

According to Russian scientists, there is new evidence backing Russia's claim that its northern Arctic region is directly linked to the North Pole via an underwater shelf.


To extend a zone, a state has to prove that the structure of the continental shelf is similar to the geological structure within its territory. Under the current UN convention on the laws of the sea, no country's shelf extends to the North Pole. Instead, the International Seabed Authority administers the area around the pole as an international area.

"Frankly I think it's a little bit strange," Sergey Priamikov, the international co-operation director of Russia's Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St Petersburg, told the Guardian. "Canada could make exactly the same claim. The Canadians could say that the Lomonosov ridge is part of the Canadian shelf, which means Russia should in fact belong to Canada, together with the whole of Eurasia."


The shelf was 200 metres deep and oil and gas would be easy to extract, especially with ice melting because of global warming, he said.


Russia first made a submission in 2001 to the UN commission on the limits of the continental shelf, seeking to push Russia's maritime borders beyond the existing 200-mile zone. It was rejected.

But the latest scientific findings are likely to prompt Russia to lodge another confident bid - and will alarm the US, which is mired in a 13-year debate over ratification of a UN treaty governing international maritime rights.

The Law of the Sea Treaty is the world's primary means of settling disputes over exploitation rights and navigational routes in international waters. Russia and 152 other countries have ratified it.

But the US has refused, arguing it gives too much power to the UN. If the US does not ratify it, Russia's bid for the Arctic's energy wealth will go unchallenged, proponents believe.


More Freedom

Iraq update: Things are fine.
Twenty beheaded bodies were discovered Thursday on the banks of the Tigris River southeast of Baghdad, while a parked car bomb killed another 20 people in one of the capital's busy outdoor bus stations, police said.


Fighting Rights

Bush sure knows how to pick his battles in such a way as to prove what an ass he is:
President Bush issued a warning to Congress on Wednesday that he will veto budget appropriations for the District of Columbia unless the measure contains language barring the district from using any of the money for its domestic partner registry.

The registry allows same and opposite-sex unmarried couples to register their relationships.


Sold Out

You've gotta hand it to the Bush administration. They've been extraordinarily thorough in their efforts to rob the government coffers:
The U.S. government has committed to spend a record-high $1.1 trillion with companies holding government contracts "plagued by waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement," according to a new report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

The report blames the rise in bad spending on a sharp increase in noncompetitive contracting and a general increase in the use of private companies to perform government functions.

More than $200 billion in taxpayer money was spent on projects for which only one or a handful of companies submitted bids, the committee found.

That figure has more than tripled since 2000, according to the report, and now comprises more than half of all government spending outside of entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Animal Torture Party

In the grand tradition of Frist, who enjoyed dissecting kittens, here's presidential hopeful Mitt Romney showing his true nature:

Before beginning the drive, Mitt Romney put Seamus, the family's hulking Irish setter, in a dog carrier and attached it to the station wagon's roof rack. He'd built a windshield for the carrier, to make the ride more comfortable for the dog.

Then Romney put his boys on notice: He would be making predetermined stops for gas, and that was it.


As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ''Dad!'' he yelled. ''Gross!'' A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who'd been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.

As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway. It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.


More Heat

Of course the Bushies will drag their feet, as always, but it's still fun to see pressure being applied:
The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office Wednesday for documents relating to President Bush's warrant-free eavesdropping program.


Time to Cower in Fear

That's the advice that the FBI is giving to America's students:
THE FBI IS visiting the nation's top technical universities in a bid to stop students taking their holidays outside the country.

MIT, Boston College, and the University of Massachusetts, have all had a visit from the spooks to warn them about the dangers of foreign spies and terrorists stealing sensitive academic research.

The FBI wants the universities to impose rules that will stop US university students from working late at the campus, travelling abroad, showing an interest in their colleagues' work, or have friends outside the United States, engaging in independent research, or making extra money without the prior consent of the authorities.

How very Stasi of them.


Fighting Back

Australian aborigines know how to hit where it hurts. The bottom line:
Tourists may be banned from climbing Uluru, Australia's famous natural landmark, as part of a protest by its traditional Aboriginal owners over a government crackdown on indigenous communities.

The ban is being considered by leaders of Mutitjulu, an Aboriginal settlement in the shadow of the giant red monolith, commonly known as Ayers Rock, in the central Australian desert. Mutitjulu, a community which has long-standing problems, is the first to be targeted following an inquiry into sexual abuse of indigenous children. The government last week ordered compulsory medical checks for indigenous children, a ban on alcohol and pornography and restrictions on welfare payments, following a report that said sexual abuse of children was rampant in communities in the Northern Territory.


"The community is bewildered as to why there is a military operation against the most poverty stricken members of Australia," he said. The traditional owners of Mutitjulu and Uluru were considering a civil disobedience campaign that would include a ban on climbing the rock.

"The tourist industry brings a lot of dollars into the territory and tourists all come to Uluru. Obviously civil disobedience can come in protest form," said Mr Forrester.

The traditional owners of Uluru regard the rock as sacred and can ban climbing at ceremonial times, such as funerals. However, half a million tourists visit the rock every year and tens of thousands climb to the top.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Common Sense

The Pentagon is against DADT:
The Pentagon, in a policy obtained by The Advocate, has indicated that lesbian and gay military personnel who are discharged under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law are qualified to continue to serve the nation. A copy of the Pentagon policy, included in a statement released by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, now states, "These separated members have the opportunity to continue to serve their nation and national security by putting their abilities to use by way of civilian employment with other Federal agencies, the Department of Defense, or in the private sector, such as with a government contractor.�

According to SLDN Communications Director Steve Ralls, "Pentagon leaders clearly acknowledge that lesbian and gay Americans make important contributions to our national security and that our country is better off when their skills are employed, not turned away."


Another One Down

Abramoff clearly was mad, bad, and dangerous to know:
The Interior Department's former No. 2 official was sentenced to 10 months in prison Tuesday for lying to senators in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, the highest administration official sentenced in the probe.

J. Steven Griles, who was the department's deputy secretary, had pleaded guilty to obstructing a congressional investigation, and a federal judge said he continued to make excuses about his lies.

''Even now you continue to minimize and try to excuse your conduct,'' U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle told Griles before doubling the five-month person prison term he and prosecutors had agreed on.

Griles admitted to lying to Senate investigators about his relationship with Abramoff, the central figure in a corruption investigation that has led to convictions of a former congressman, legislative aides, lobbyists and officials in the Bush administration.


Republicans Care about Workers

They are deeply, deeply concerned:
S.1041, which is cosponsored by 46 Senators, is really pretty simple. It amends the National Labor Relations Act to allow employees to unionize in a more streamlined way if they choose and establishes stronger penalties for violations of the rights of workers seeking to form unions or negotiate first contracts.

Sounds like a good deal, right? The bill would make it easier for workers to get a living wage and decent benefits and, hey, this is America and everything, so who in the world would have a problem with that?

You guessed it -- the same crew that worked like crazy to keep the minimum wage at $5.15 an hour for the rest of our lives or until a Democratic Congress came to town and got a raise passed.

But what's interesting -- or not, if you're accustomed to watching the Republican party's fear-and-smear approach -- is how much concern GOP Senators suddenly seem to have for workers and how afraid they are that employees will lose their right to unionize via secret ballots. And of course, Republicans love to raise the possibility that these poor workers will also be subject to intimidation by big bad union bosses, hell-bent on forcing them into higher wages and better benefits.


A Record High

It would seem that opium is the new opiate of the masses. Well done, Bush:
Afghanistan produced dramatically more opium in 2006, increasing its yield by nearly 50 percent from a year earlier and pushing global opium production to a new record high, a U.N. report said Tuesday.


Gonzales Asleep on the Job Again

Perhaps the Department of Justice isn't part of the executive branch either?
A new battle has erupted over Vice President Dick Cheney's refusal to submit to an executive order requiring a government review of his handling of classified documents. But the dispute could also raise questions for embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. For the past four years, Cheney's office has failed to comply with an executive order requiring all federal offices—including those in the White House—to annually report to the National Archives on how they safeguard classified documents. Cheney's hard-line chief of staff, David Addington, has made the novel argument that the veep doesn't have to comply on the ground that, because the vice president also serves as president of the Senate, his office is not really part of the executive branch.

Cheney's position so frustrated J. William Leonard, the chief of the Archives' Information Security Oversight Office, which enforces the order, that he complained in January to Gonzales. In a letter, Leonard wrote that Cheney's position was inconsistent with the "plain text reading" of the executive order and asked the attorney general for an official ruling. But Gonzales never responded, thereby permitting Cheney to continue blocking Leonard from conducting even a routine inspection of how the veep's office was handling classified documents, according to correspondence released by House Government Reform Committee chair Rep. Henry Waxman.

Why didn't Gonzales act on Leonard's request? His aides assured reporters that Leonard's letter has been "under review" for the past five months—by Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). But on June 4, an OLC lawyer denied a Freedom of Information Act request about the Cheney dispute asserting that OLC had "no documents" on the matter, according to a copy of the letter obtained by NEWSWEEK. Steve Aftergood, the Federation of American Scientists researcher who filed the request, said he found the denial letter "puzzling and inexplicable"—especially since Leonard had copied OLC chief Steve Bradbury on his original letter to Gonzales.



Once again, good job, Bush:
The Pentagon's plan to create a US military command based in Africa have hit a wall of hostility from governments in the region reluctant to associate themselves with the Bush administration's "war on terror" and fearful of American intervention.

A US delegation led by Ryan Henry, principal deputy under-secretary of defence for policy, returned to Washington last week with little to show for consultations with defence and foreign ministry officials in Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Djibouti and with the African Union (AU). An earlier round of consultations with sub-Saharan countries on providing secure facilities and local back-up for the new command, to be known as Africom and due to be operational by September next year, was similarly inconclusive.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Democracy Is Owned

Making our democratic processes a "trade secret" is absurd and is ample reason to get rid of electronic voting:
A Florida appeals court has upheld a lower court decision that denies requests for an independent source code audit of voting machines used by Florida's 13th district, which suffered election irregularities in a highly controversial congressional race. The appeals court has chosen to support a lower court decision which asserts that forcing voting machine maker Election Systems and Software (ES&S) to provide source code access to independent security auditors would amount to "gutting the protections afforded those who own trade secrets."


More Supreme Court Perfidy

You don't like your money going to "faith-based organizations"?

The Supreme Court on Monday barred ordinary taxpayers from challenging a White House initiative helping religious charities get a share of federal money.

The 5-4 decision dealt with a suit by a group of atheists and agnostics against eight Bush administration officials including the head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

The taxpayers' group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc., objected to government conferences in which administration officials encourage religious charities to apply for federal grants.



This is just ridiculous.
These are the people we have interpreting our Constitution?
The Supreme Court tightened limits on student speech Monday, ruling against a high school student and his 14-foot-long "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner.

Schools may prohibit student expression that can be interpreted as advocating drug use, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court in a 5-4 ruling.
What absolute crap.


Voter Suppression

Yet more evidence of Bush's blatant disregard for democracy:

Thanks to rigorous work by the Brennan Center for Justice and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, it is clear that the US. Attorney scandal – as outrageous as it is on its own – is part of a much broader effort by the Bush Administration to use government institutions for partisan gain.

In their report – Using Justice to Suppress the Vote – the two pro-democracy, pro-civil rights organizations demonstrate that the Administration used federal agencies charged with protecting voters' rights to promote voter suppression, influence voting rules, and gain advantage in battleground states. This was achieved through a four-pronged strategy: dismantling the infrastructure at the Department of Justice; fomenting a fear of rampant voter fraud (which has subsequently been disproved – it actually occurs "statistically…about as often as death by lightning strike"); politically motivated prosecutions; and restricting registration and voting.



Not ours. Theirs:
Suicide bombers struck a central Baghdad hotel and four other targets across Iraq on Monday, in a surge of attacks that left at least 29 people dead, authorities reported.


The First Lady We Need

I've been a fan of Edwards for a while now, and this just adds to my desire to see him elected--and to my hope that he will listen to his wife:
Elizabeth Edwards, wife of 2008 Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards, announced her support for legalized gay marriage Sunday, after becoming the first person connected to a major presidential campaign to participate in a Gay Pride weekend event.

"I don't know why somebody else's marriage has anything to do with me," she said at a news conference following

a Gay Pride breakfast organized by the Alice B. Toklas Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Democratic Club in San Francisco. "I'm completely comfortable with gay marriage."

Edwards' remarks put her at odds with the leading Democratic candidates for the presidency — including her husband — on the hot-button issue.

John Edwards, the former U.S. senator from North Carolina who was the party's 2004 candidate for the vice presidency, supports civil unions for gay couples, but not marriage.


The Road to Victory

We aren't on it.
The U.S. commander of a new offensive north of Baghdad, reclaiming insurgent territory day by day, said Sunday his Iraqi partners may be too weak to hold onto the gains.

The Iraqi military does not even have enough ammunition, said Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek: "They're not quite up to the job yet."

His counterpart south of Baghdad seemed to agree, saying U.S. troops are too few to garrison the districts newly rid of insurgents. "It can't be coalition (U.S.) forces. We have what we have. There's got to be more Iraqi security forces," said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Whatever! I Do What I Want!

Both Bush and Cheney seem to be embracing the Eric Cartman philosophy of governance:
The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information.

An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 — amending an existing order — requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight. Although it doesn't specifically say so, Bush's order was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said.

The issue flared Thursday when Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) criticized Cheney for refusing to file annual reports with the federal National Archives and Records Administration, for refusing to spell out how his office handles classified documents, and for refusing to submit to an inspection by the archives' Information Security Oversight Office.


Mr. 9/11

Once again, Rudy is shown to be the great mismanager that he is:
Accusations by former Environmental Protection Agency head Christie Todd Whitman that the city is at fault for health hazards at Ground Zero are "ridiculous," according to representatives for former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

"This is revisionist history," said Giuliani's former deputy mayor Joe Lhota. "She's making this stuff up."

In an interview with Channel 4's News Forum set to air today, Whitman said the city - which was in charge of safety at Ground Zero - did not monitor workers properly, allowing them to work on "the pile" without respirators.

"We had some disagreements with some of the things that were occurring on 'the pile' . . . like not having people wear respirators. We wanted more emphasis on that," Whitman said in the interview.

Impressive, really. A mere mayor, and he was already killing people needlessly in grand presidential style.


All Love Is Holy

Well said
The tattered cloth scraps started arriving at St. John's Lutheran Church shortly after the Rev. Bradley Schmeling took his stand against the church hierarchy, each with an embroidered or drawn message of support.

"God is with you. Make fire in Atlanta," reads one of the hundreds of prayer cloths. "All love is holy," says another.

Schmeling's refusal last year to resign after telling a church bishop he was in a gay relationship has earned him quite a following.

More than 1,000 supporters joined an online prayer vigil to back Schmeling while a disciplinary committee was making its decision to defrock him and order him to vacate his pulpit by Aug. 15. He's appealing the order.

Since the panel's ruling, his congregation's membership has spiked and he came in fourth in the election for the region's next Lutheran bishop. He was even chosen grand marshal for Sunday's annual gay pride parade in Atlanta, one of the nation's largest gay pride festivals.

"I'm a little embarrassed by all the attention," he said Saturday. "But I feel like it's a chance for me to witness for a church that's open, accepting and loving to everyone. So many churches have only harsh and negative words for gay and lesbian people."



We're good at killing
; that is beyond doubt:
U.S.-led coalition and NATO forces fighting insurgents in Afghanistan have killed at least 203 civilians so far this year - surpassing the 178 civilians killed in militant attacks, according to an Associated Press tally.


Texas Hospitality

Adjacent cells and no "use of force." How very kind:

About 400 protesters gathered outside a controversial detention center for immigrant families Saturday as part of World Refugee Day, urging officials to close the facility, an official participating in the protest said.

Civil liberties advocates contend that families at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center are subjected to psychologically abusive guards, inadequate medical care and inhumane conditions in an immigration center they say is run like a prison. They sued federal officials in March on behalf of several children detained there.

"There are hundreds of children in this facility, and it is a prison," Bob Libal of Texans United for Families said. "We don't think immigrant families should be held in prison."

The former prison typically houses about 400 noncriminal immigrants awaiting deportation or other outcomes to their immigration cases. About half of those detained at Hutto are children, officials have said.

Immigration officials describe Hutto as a residential, nonsecure environment and say they have made the facility more family-friendly by housing family members in adjacent cells and prohibiting the use of force.


Wising Up

Oddly, people just don't feel like dying for Bush's vanity "War on Terror":
The number of blacks joining the military has plunged by more than one-third since the Afghanistan and Iraq wars began, as other job prospects soar and relatives of potential recruits increasingly discourage them from signing up.