Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Stance Widens

Larry Craig's hypocrisy

Four gay men, willing to put their names in print and whose allegations can't be disproved, have come forward since news of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea. They say they had sex with Craig or that he made a sexual advance or that he paid them unusual attention.

They are telling their stories now because they are offended by Craig's denials, including his famous statement, "I am not gay, I never have been gay."


Friday, November 30, 2007

Chillin' on the Couch

As you can see, Tista is very, very content in the new home.

Today, we're having the first real snowfall, and damn but the cats are intrigued. Every window seems to have a cat in front of it (or vice versa, I guess). What is all that white stuff? Why is it coming from the sky, and what is it doing on the ground? This is the blissful ignorance of indoor cats from Texas.

(posted by miriam, even though it says rorschach.)


The Dignity of the Office

Yeah, the Republican frontrunner is definitely the guy we want for president:
Well before it was publicly known he was seeing her, then-married New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan, former senior city officials tell the Blotter on

"She used the PD as her personal taxi service," said one former city official who worked for Giuliani.


War Crimes

The Winter Soldiers are going to Washington to tell their tales:
U.S. war veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have announced they're planning to descend on Washington, DC this March to testify about war crimes they committed or personally witnessed in Iraq.

"The war in Iraq is not covered to its potential because of how dangerous it is for reporters to cover it," said Liam Madden, a former Marine and member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War. "That's left a lot of misconceptions in the minds of the American public about what the true nature of military occupation looks like."

Iraq Veterans Against the War argues that well-publicized incidents of American brutality like the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of an entire family of Iraqis in the town of Haditha are not the isolated incidents perpetrated by "a few bad apples," as many politicians and military leaders have claimed. They are part of a pattern, the group says, of "an increasingly bloody occupation."

"This is our generation getting to tell history," Madden told OneWorld, "to ensure that the actual history gets told -- that it's not a sugar-coated, diluted version of what actually happened."

Iraq Veterans Against the War is calling the gathering a "Winter Soldier," named after a similar event organized by Vietnam veterans in 1971.


It's an Anti-Straight World

Poor, beleaguered heteros:

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have announced a new program that will charge heterosexuals 10 percent extra for their air travel to specific locations during the Christmas season.

The company actually offers the 10 percent as a discount but only if the purchaser obtains the ticket through a "gay" page of the company's website, a location not typically patronized by families seeking travel arrangements, according to an Idaho activist who was distressed by the offering.

Bryan Fischer, of the Idaho Values Alliance, told WND the company boasts of its "nondiscrimination" policies, but, "here they are blatantly discriminating against heterosexuals in their pricing structure."

Word of the discount came through an airline employee, who needed to remain anonymous because of concerns over retaliation. The employee reported the company had sent e-mails out announcing the "very soft launch" of the new promotion.

"They are giving preferences to male passengers who want to wear dresses on the planes, and giving them preference over married couples," Fischer said, noting families typically buy more tickets than individuals or pairs traveling together.

Yeah, because all gay men like to wear dresses. And all straight people are too stupid to go to the "gay page" to buy their tickets.

This truly is an outrage.

Or something.


Fraud = Success

That's the slogan of the Bush administration:
Two FEMA public relations staffers who posed as reporters during a staged news conference about the California wildfires last month no longer have their jobs -- but only because the disaster management agency has promoted them to better ones.

Despite their participation in the bogus presser, FEMA's former deputy director of public affairs, Cindy Taylor, and another employee, Mike Widomski, are both receiving the promotions they were earlier promised, Washington Post columnist Al Kamen reports.

"On Oct. 23, the day of FEMA's now infamous phony news conference, the agency's former external affairs chief, Pat Philbin, announced plans to promote a number of people in the shop as part of an effort to build a 'new FEMA,'" writes Kamen, who originally broke the news about the fake press event. Kamen cites an email from Philbin stating that Taylor was to be tapped to head the organization's Private Sector Office, and Widomski would be bumped up to assume Taylor's former position.

"After our item, and an investigation of what Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called 'one of the dumbest and most inappropriate things I've seen since I've been in government,'" Kamen reports, "we're happy to announce that Taylor and Widomski appear to have been disciplined, FEMA-style. They've received the promotions they were in line to get."


Happy Anniversary

Fourteen years later, Don't Ask, Don't Tell has proven to be a resounding success:
On the 14th anniversary of the signing of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," 28 retired, high-ranking military leaders have joined the call to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the armed forces.

That brings to over 60 the number of high-ranking former officers who have endorsed a call for repeal by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili in January.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christian Retail

I'm sure Jesus would be proud:
The National Labor Committee (NLC) has released a shocking report showing that Christian crosses marketed in the United States by the Association for Christian Retail (ACR, founded as the Christian Booksellers Association) are being made in a Chinese sweatshop with working conditions that are appalling even by Chinese legal standards. The report is titled, Today Workers Bear the Cross: Crucifixes Made Under Horrific Sweatshop Conditions in China.

The ACR supplies nearly all of the nation's Christian specialty stores with a wide range of items including Bibles, Christian books, curriculum, apparel, music, videos, gifts, greeting cards. Perhaps their largest client is Family Christian Stores, a Grand Rapids based compeny that is the largest Christian retailer in the nation with over 300 stores. ACR did $4.63 billion in business in 2006, at least a portion of it apparently profiting from the suffering of workers at the Junxingye factory in Dongguan, China. The facts in this report are stunning even by Chinese standards:

Crucifixes are being made at the Junxingye Factory in Dongguan, China, by mostly young women-- several just 15 and 16 years old--forced to work routine 14 to 15 ½-hour shifts, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 or 11:30 p.m., seven days a week. There are also frequent 17 to 18 hour shifts ending at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. and even monthly all-night 22 ½ to 25-hour shifts before shipments must leave for the U.S. All overtime is mandatory, and anyone missing even a single overtime shift will be docked a full day's wages. It is common for the workers to be at the factory at least 100 hours a week. Workers are paid just 26 ½ cents an hour, which is half of China's legal minimum wage (already set at a below-subsistence level) of 55 cents an hour. After fees deducted for room and board, the workers take-home wage can drop to just nine cents an hour. Workers are housed in primitive dorm rooms sleeping on narrow double-level metal bunk beds that line the walls. There is no other furniture, and the rooms reek of perspiration. The walls are filthy, smudged with black, while spider webs cling to the ceiling. The bathrooms are so damp and dirty that moss grows on the floor...Anyone missing a day due to sickness will, as punishment, be docked two-and-a-half day's wages. Workers fear that they may be handling toxic chemicals, but they are not told the names of the chemicals and paints, let alone their potential health hazards.


American Family Association Hijinks

The AFA has outdone itself once again:
Note to our friends in the media: The religious right groups lie. Do not quote them unless they prove what they're telling you, because they lie. The American Family Association, one of the largest, and most extreme, religious right groups is selling a video promoting the notion that you can "cure" gays. The guy on the cover of the video? Michael Johnston, an HIV+ man who claimed he was "cured" of being gay, but then was accused by numerous witnesses of having unsafe sex with other men at gay orgies. (The religious right groups subsequently admitted that Johnston had fallen.) You'd think having unsafe gay orgy sex while HIV+ would be a deal-breaker for serving as a spokesman of the "I was cured of my homosexuality" movement. But not with this crowd. The American Family Association is still hocking Johnston's face right there on the cover of their video.


Left Behind

Reading is for losers anyway, right?
U.S. fourth-graders have lost ground in reading ability compared with kids around the world, according to results of a global reading test. Test results released Wednesday showed U.S. students, who took the test last year, scored about the same as they did in 2001, the last time the test was given — despite an increased emphasis on reading under the No Child Left Behind law. The U.S. students were ranked in 11th place internationally in the latest test, compared to 4th place in 2001,



Yet another atrocity to add to the long list inflicted upon indigenous peoples worldwide:

HIV/AIDS is spreading among tribal peoples due to increased contact with outsiders and dramatic social change, says Survival International in its new report, ‘Progress can kill’.

West Papua has a rate of HIV/AIDS at least 15 times the rate in Indonesia as a whole. The province is home to 312 tribes who have suffered extreme oppression and violence since the Indonesian occupation in the 1960s. Many tribespeople even believe that the Indonesian military is introducing HIV/AIDS deliberately in order to wipe them out.

HIV/AIDS was virtually unknown among the Bushmen of the Central Kalahari in Botswana before the government evicted them from their land. But in New Xade resettlement camp in 2002, at least 40% of Bushman deaths were due to AIDS.

Yanomami Indians in Brazil report that soldiers stationed on their land have brought gonorrhoea and syphilis to their communities through sexual exploitation of tribal women. They fear that the soldiers will also transmit HIV/AIDS.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Tribal people die because their land is invaded and taken and because they succumb to outside diseases they never knew before. Increasingly now we can add HIV/AIDS to the list of killers. It is striking the most vulnerable peoples of all: those who have no grasp of the risks of unprotected sex; no access to condoms; no appropriate treatment; and whose numbers are already small. The first solution is the simplest – governments must ensure tribal lands are properly protected.’

Saturday, December 1, is World AIDS Day.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Depoliticizing Environmental Science

This story is a welcome change of pace for the Bush administration:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday reversed seven rulings that denied endangered species increased protection, after an investigation found the actions were tainted by political pressure from a former senior Interior Department official.

In a letter to Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., the agency acknowledged that the actions had been "inappropriately influenced" and that "revising the seven identified decisions is supported by scientific evidence and the proper legal standards." The reversal affects the protection for species including the white-tailed prairie dog, the Preble's meadow jumping mouse and the Canada lynx.

The rulings came under scrutiny last spring after an Interior Department inspector general concluded that agency scientists were being pressured to alter their findings on endangered species by Julie MacDonald, then a deputy assistant secretary overseeing the Fish and Wildlife Service.

MacDonald resigned her position last May.

Rahall in a statement said that MacDonald, who was a civil engineer, "should never have been allowed near the endangered species program." He called MacDonald's involvement in species protection cases over her three-year tenure as an example of "this administration's penchant for torpedoing science."


Just in Time for Christmas

The perfect gift:
An online company that markets Christmas gifts from the whimsical to the satirical is selling a Larry Craig action doll that speaks, proclaiming in Craig's own words "I am not gay".

The doll, which stands about 12 inches tall, wears a T-shirt with his now famous "I am not gay" pronouncement.

The action figure is sold by for $34.95.

The arms are "bendable, so you can put him in all sorts of poses... even the famous 'wide stance' the Senator refers to," the company says on its web site.

The doll even talks. "Press the button, and he delivers a portion of his Press Conference" proclaiming his innocence of charges of lewd conduct.


Locked Out

For some reason, blogger is rejecting my attempts to log in from my home computer.

Hence the slow posting of late...