Saturday, January 26, 2008

Situation Normal, All F***ed Up

We're the global Keystone Cops:
At least nine Afghan police officers and a civilian were killed early Thursday in a firefight between American forces and the officers in Ghazni Province, just south of the capital, local officials said.

The American forces were searching houses in a village on the outskirts of Ghazni town and blew open the gates of a house, according to local Afghan officials. District police officers heard the explosion and rushed to the scene, suspecting that the Taliban were in the area, but were themselves mistaken for Taliban and shot by the American soldiers, the officials said. Aircraft supporting the operation fired on one of the police cars.

The killings set off protests in the town on Thursday afternoon, and demonstrators blocked the main highway and prevented a government delegation from reaching the town from a nearby airfield, local officials said.

“Another big cruelty was made by American forces this morning,” said Khial Muhammad Hussaini, a member of Parliament from the province who was among the elders and legislators who had traveled to the town to try to calm people and persuade them to reopen the highway.


A Profound Question

Are buttocks sexual organs?
The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $1.4 million fine against 52 ABC Television Network stations over a 2003 broadcast of cop drama NYPD Blue.

The fine is for a scene where a boy surprises a woman as she prepares to take a shower. The scene depicted "multiple, close-up views" of the woman's "nude buttocks" according to an agency order issued late Friday.

ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Co. The fines were issued against 52 stations either owned by or affiliated with the network.

FCC's definition of indecent content requires that the broadcast "depicts or describes sexual or excretory activities" in a "patently offensive way" and is aired between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

The agency said the show was indecent because "it depicts sexual organs and excretory organs - specifically an adult woman's buttocks."

The agency rejected the network's argument that "the buttocks are not a sexual organ."


Friday, January 25, 2008

More Kittehs




Justice or Wherever He's Hiding

Bush is just so bloody pathetic:

Capturing Usama bin Laden has been one of President Bush's top priorities during his time in office, but the president now seems to doubt the Al Qaeda mastermind will be found before his term ends next January.

Speaking about his goals for his last year in the White House, Bush tells FOX News in an exclusive interview to air this weekend that if U.S. military and intelligence knew where bin Laden was, they would have apprehended him already.

"If we could find the cave he is in, I promise you — he would be brought to justice or wherever he's hiding," he tells FOX News in "George W. Bush: Fighting to the Finish," a documentary scheduled to air Sunday, Jan. 27, at 8 p.m. ET.

The president adds: "I will have left behind a mechanism — and a structure for the next president to better protect America."


Deporting Americans

The homeland is secure:
Thomas Warziniack was born in Minnesota and grew up in Georgia, but immigration authorities pronounced him an illegal immigrant from Russia.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held Warziniack for weeks in an Arizona detention facility with the aim of deporting him to a country he's never seen. His jailers shrugged off Warziniack's claims that he was an American citizen, even though they could have retrieved his Minnesota birth certificate in minutes and even though a Colorado court had concluded that he was a U.S. citizen a year before it shipped him to Arizona.

On Thursday, Warziniack was told he would be released. Immigration authorities were finally able to verify his citizenship.

"The immigration agents told me they never make mistakes," Warziniack said in a phone interview from jail. "All I know is that somebody dropped the ball."

The story of how immigration officials decided that a small-town drifter with a Southern accent was an illegal Russian immigrant illustrates how the federal government mistakenly detains and sometimes deports American citizens.


Just Ridiculous

That's all I can say:
Companies can fire employees who use marijuana for medical reasons even if California law allows such use because federal law prohibits it, the state's Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

"Under California law, an employer may require preemployment drug tests and take illegal drug use into consideration in making employment decisions," Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

The War on Education

This is just ugly:

Free-speech zones. Taser guns. Hidden cameras. Data mining. A new security curriculum. Private security contractors. Welcome to the homeland security campus.

From Harvard to UCLA, the ivory tower is fast becoming the latest watchtower in Fortress America. The terror warriors, having turned their attention to "violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism prevention"--as it was recently dubbed in a House of Representatives bill of the same name--have set out to reconquer that traditional hotbed of radicalization, the university.



Farewell, Marie Smith Jones. Farewell, Eyak:
The last native speaker of Eyak, one of some 20 languages spoken in the northwestern US state of Alaska, has died at age 89, reports said Wednesday.

Marie Smith Jones, described as a full-blooded Eyak and a champion of indigenous rights and conservation, passed away at her home on Monday, members of her family told the Anchorage Daily News. They told the paper they believed she died in her sleep.

Michael Krauss, a linguist at the Alaska Native Languages Center, described Smith Jones, who once spoke at a United Nations conference on indigenous peoples, as a "poster child for the issue of mass language extinction."

"She understood as only someone in her unique position could, what it meant to be the last of her kind," Krauss told the paper. "And she was very much alone as the last speaker of Eyak.

"It's the first, but probably not the last at the rate things are going, of the Alaska Native languages to go extinct. She understood what was at stake and its significance, and bore that tragic mantle with grace and dignity."


Writing History

An interesting and useful project:
A liberal advocacy group plans to spend $8.5 million in a drive to make sure President Bush's public approval doesn't improve as his days in the White House come to an end.

Americans United for Change plans to undertake a yearlong campaign, spending the bulk of the money on advertising, to keep public attention on what the group says are the failures of the Bush administration, including the war in Iraq, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and the current mortgage crisis.

In selling the plan to fundraisers, the group has argued that support for President Reagan was at a low of 42 percent in 1987 but climbed to 63 percent before he left office. "All of a sudden he became a rallying cry for conservatives and their ideology," said Brad Woodhouse, president of the group. "Progressives are still living with that."


And Then There's the US

And we still love that torture:
President Bush renominated Steven G. Bradbury as assistant attorney general Wednesday, refusing to yield to Democrats who oppose a permanent job for the official who signed legal memos authorizing harsh interrogations for suspected terrorists.

Bradbury has been serving as acting chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legislative Counsel. Bush wants the Senate to confirm Bradbury as permanent head of the office.

Senate Democrats complain that two secret memos from Bradbury in 2005 authorized the CIA to use head slaps, freezing temperatures and waterboarding - a practice that invokes drowning fears - when questioning terrorism detainees.


That's a Twist

Apparently there's a country in North America that secretly works to oppose torture:
The Canadian military secretly stopped transferring prisoners to Afghanistan’s government in November after Canadian monitors found evidence that they were being abused and tortured.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The D.A. Is Out

So much for Thompson
Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson quit the Republican presidential race on Tuesday, after a string of poor finishes in early primary and caucus states.


Kids, Stay in School

Or you may well wind up somewhere far worse:
The percent of Army recruits with a high school diploma dropped last year, continuing a trend that has worsened since the start of the Iraq war, according to a report released Tuesday.


Insane Militancy

I mean, these people are so crazy that they want food and fuel and such!
Some 350,000 Palestinians poured out of Gaza and into Egypt early Wednesday, the United Nations said, after masked gunmen blew dozens of holes in the wall delineating the border.

The Gazans rushed to purchase food, fuel, and other supplies made scarce by Israel's blockade of the Strip, after militants detonated 17 bombs in the early morning hours, destroying some two-thirds of the metal wall separating the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

Hamas did not take responsibility for knocking the border wall down, but Hamas militants quickly took control of the frontier, as Egyptian border guards took no action.


935 Wrongs Don't Make a Right

Well done
, Bush:
A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat.

"The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of intelligence agencies around the world," Stanzel said.

The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.


Um, What?

I thought "Ron Paul Revolution" was all about libertarianism and such. Apparently not:
On Tuesday, January 22 – the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision – Norma McCorvey has endorsed Texas Congressman Ron Paul for president.

Norma McCorvey runs Crossing over Ministry – formerly Roe No More Ministryand is best known as “Jane Roe” in the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. McCorvey, who is now a pro-life activist, issued the following endorsement of Congressman Paul:

“Ron Paul states, ‘The right of an innocent, unborn child to life is at the heart of the American ideals of liberty.’

“I support Ron Paul for president because we share the same goal, that of overturning Roe v Wade. Ron Paul doesn’t just talk about being pro-life, he acts on it. His voting record truly is impeccable and he undoubtedly understands our constitutional republic and the inalienable right to life for all. Ron Paul is the prime author of H.R. 300, which would negate the effect of Roe v. Wade. As the signor of the affidavit that legalized abortion 35 years ago I appreciate Ron Paul’s action to restore protection for the unborn. Ron Paul has also authored H.R. 1094 in Congress, which seeks to define life as beginning at conception. He has never wavered on the issue of being pro-life and has a voting record to prove it. He understands the importance of civil liberties for all, including the unborn.

“After taking all of the presidential candidates into consideration, it is obvious that Ron Paul is the only one that doesn’t just talk the talk. For this reason and those stated above, I am publicly endorsing Ron Paul for president.”


So Good to Be Home

We finally made it home yesterday. The cats, surprisingly, were not at all standoffish or peevish with us in retaliation for the absence.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

So Very Almost Home

As crazed as we were to see our home again last night, the nasty weather and all-too-slick highways of Wisconsin at 11 PM last night forced us to pull off the road and into yet another hotel.

But we're only a couple of hours away... and the skies look sunny...