Saturday, November 24, 2007

Catblogging: It's Zoratime! (Da nuh nuh nah! Zoratime!)

We've got company for Thanksgiving and the cats have taken a bit of time getting used to having four more adults and one toddler in the house. Zora was in hiding for a while - drawers and closets were a favorite...

She got a little more confident and decided to show off her poofitude:

And then she realized where all the fun was at.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Our Carceral Society

Call me cynical, but I think part of the problem here, perhaps, is that somebody somewhere might be profiting from this...
The number of people in U.S. prisons has risen eight-fold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to taxpayers and society, researchers said in a report calling for a major justice-system overhaul.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Absolutely Deranged

Who lets Friedman crank out this madness in exchange for a paycheck? It boggles the mind:
I have no idea who is going to win the Democratic presidential nomination, but lately I’ve been wondering whether, if it is Barack Obama, he might want to consider keeping Dick Cheney on as his vice president.

No, I personally am not a Dick Cheney fan, and I know it is absurd to even suggest, but now that I have your attention, here’s what’s on my mind: After Iraq and Pakistan, the most vexing foreign policy issue that will face the next president will be how to handle Iran. There is a cold war in the Middle East today between America and Iran, and until and unless it gets resolved, I see Iran using its proxies, its chess pieces — Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and the Shiite militias in Iraq — to stymie America and its allies across the region.

And that brings me back to the Obama-Cheney ticket: When it comes to how best to deal with Iran, each has half a policy — but if you actually put them together, they’d add up to an ideal U.S. strategy for Iran. Dare I say, they complete each other.



They're shameless, because no one is holding them to account:
"For the first time, (1) annual federal procurement spending crossed the $400 billion threshold, (2) more than half of this spending — over $200 billion in new contracts — was awarded without full and open competition, and (3) the total value of wasteful federal contracts now exceeds $1 trillion." Yup, the same people who claim government spends too much are responsible for unnecessarily tossing over $1 trillion.



I can't see a single thing that might go wrong with this course of action:

A NEW and classified US military proposal outlines an intensified effort to enlist tribal leaders in the frontier areas of Pakistan in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, US military officials say.

If adopted, the proposal would form part of a shift in strategy that would also likely expand the presence of US military trainers in Pakistan. Officials said it would also directly finance a separate tribal paramilitary force that until now has proved largely ineffective, and pay militias that agreed to fight al-Qaeda and foreign extremists.

The move in strategy towards more local support is being accelerated because of concern about instability in Pakistan and the weakness of the Pakistani Government, and fears that extremists with havens in the tribal areas could intensify their attacks on allied troops in Afghanistan.


Hateful Days

Hate crimes on the rise:
Hate crime incidents in the United States rose last year by nearly 8 percent, the FBI reported Monday, as racial prejudice continued to account for more than half the reported instances.

Police across the nation reported 7,722 criminal incidents in 2006 targeting victims or property as a result of bias against a particular race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability. That was up 7.8 percent from the 7,163 incidents reported in 2005.

Nearly 62 percent of the crimes were racially motivated and almost 19 percent were motivated by religious bias.

Crimes against members of the gays and lesbians were the third larges reported, at 15.5 percent.


Still Struggling

Yet more evidence of the extent of our failure. How much more do we need?
The water tankers arrive twice a week in this parched village surrounded by fallow fields stretching into the horizon. The town's wells still pump out a flow, but few villagers dare drink from it unless in desperation.

At the gate of Kayria Fayhan's home, 250 gallons of the trucked-in cargo fill a metal tank for cooking and drinking, sometimes for washing up if itching from the groundwater becomes unbearable.

Even the "clean" water from the tanker is a gamble on some weeks. "They say the water is clean, but sometimes the water is green," Fayhan said. "Sometimes, there's rust floating in it."

Despite the fact that Iraq and U.S. officials have made water projects among their top priorities, the percentage of Iraqis without access to decent water supplies has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent since the start of the U.S.-led war, according to an analysis by Oxfam International last summer. The portion of Iraqis lacking decent sanitation was even worse -- 80 percent.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Return of.....CATBLOGGING!!

Finally - new pictures of the kitties!!

The first few are still from the trip from Texas to Wisconsin, when Gramsci discovered how neat it is to be under the covers.

Zora, meanwhile, got herself prepared for the Wisconsin spirit by pondering football.

And Zora and Gramsci both enjoyed being able to look down on us (as, of course, all felines do).

These next pictures are in the new house; in spite of his expression, Tista loves the house. But he is Tista, and he has a dignified image to maintain.

Zora and Gramsci have no such image concerns. The basket was a gift to us, but like so many things, turned out to be a gift for the cats instead.

The cats seem to adore the guest bedroom - here's a rare moment of Tista and Gramsci snuggled up together.

Meanwhile, some things never change: They all love being on my lap, even if it means sharing!


Texas Will Not Be Happy about This

The world's largest barbeque held by... a Frenchman!

A French cook has prepared the world's largest barbecue - spit-roasting a 550kg camel for 15 hours at a seaside Moroccan town south of Rabat.

"It's a tradition that's fallen out of favour," said 63-year-old Christian Falco from the south-western French city of Perpignan, describing a time two centuries ago when a Moroccan king offered a roast camel to his people.

"I brought it back," said Falco, a six-time Guinness world record holder whose other culinary claims to fame include spit-roasting the world's largest slab of beef, 985.5 kg, in 1996.


So Much for the Benjamins

Rapper ditches the dollar

Pay attention as you watch the catchy new music video from the mega-star rapster Jay-Z, "Blue Magic", and see if you can't spot the product placement. It is not a fancy car that he is endorsing – although both his rides, a Rolls- Royce and soft-top Bentley, are plenty spiffy – but rather a currency – and it is not the dollar.

Like so many in the hip-hop genre, the song is a celebration of ostentatious wealth. But capturing the attention of commentators in this clip, shot in the glimmering, neon-lit canyons of New York City, are the repeated glimpses of flickering wads of €500 notes. Jay-Z has thus performed a currency defection: the dollar is not just down, it is out. The euro is the new bling.

It is only a music video, but Jay-Z, whose influence on pop culture is immense, may, wittingly or otherwise, be bringing America to what some pundits call the "point of recognition" – the moment when the droop of the dollar against other currencies ceases to be the preoccupation only of economists and American tourists in Paris, and enters the popular zeitgeist as a new and unsettling reality.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that Opec's member countries have expressed interest in converting their cash reserves into a currency other than the depreciating US dollar, which he called a "worthless piece of paper."

His comments at the end of a rare Opec summit exposed breaks within the 13-member oil cartel -- especially after US ally Saudi Arabia was reluctant to mention concerns about the falling dollar in the summit's final declaration, AP reported today.