Saturday, March 01, 2008

Standing by His Principles

Bush remains a steadfast advocate of torture:

Congress recently passed the Intelligence Authorization Act, which contained a provision creating a single interrogation standard for the U.S. government that bans the use of waterboarding. CQ reports that President Bush will veto the bill next week:

“The president’s expected to veto it next week,” said Emily Lawrimore, a spokeswoman for the White House. “We received it today.”

Although the exact date for the veto is unclear, the president likely will not act until after Tuesday’s primaries, since numerous lawmakers will not be on Capitol Hill then.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Please Stay Home

preparing to plague us with his presence:
Pope Benedict XVI told Washington's new ambassador Friday that he appreciates efforts by what he said are the many Americans opposed to abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage.

He welcomed the American people's "historic" appreciation of the role of religion in shaping public policy.

This was reflected, he said, "in the efforts of so many of your fellow citizens and government leaders to ensure legal protection for God's gift of life from conception to natural death, and the safeguarding of the institution of marriage, acknowledged as a stable union between a man and a woman, and that of the family."


Word Choice

Most unfortunate:
A senior Israeli official warned Palestinians in Gaza on Friday they risked a "shoah" if rocket fire continued, using the Hebrew term for holocaust as the Jewish state contemplated invading the Hamas-run enclave.

Aides rushed to insist the deputy defense minister had meant the word only in its alternative meaning as a general disaster.

But the strength of the language reflected Israel's anger over the recent rocket fire. Israel has responded with two days of air strikes that have killed 33 Palestinians.

Hamas, which organized rallies in Gaza, held the comment up as proof their enemies were the "new Nazis."


Packed House

Comcast really doesn't want your voice to be heard:
How big are the stakes in the so-called network neutrality debate now raging before Congress and federal regulators?

Consider this: One side in the debate actually went to the trouble of hiring people off the street to pack a Federal Communications Commission meeting yesterday—and effectively keep some of its opponents out of the room.

Broadband giant Comcast—the subject of the F.C.C. hearing on network neutrality at the Harvard Law School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts—acknowledged that it did exactly that.


My God

This is simply insane (if true):

A supervisor at a motivational coaching business in Utah allegedly used waterboarding on a member of his sales team to motivate staff, according to a lawsuit filed by an employee, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Chad Hudgens, a former salesman for Prosper, Inc., in Provo, Utah, alleges his manager, Joshua Christopherson, asked him to lie on a hill before he poured water from a gallon jug into Hudgens' mouth and nostrils as other sales staff held him down, the paper reports.

"At the conclusion of his abusive demonstration, Christopherson told the team that he wanted them to work as hard on making sales as Chad had worked to breathe while he was being waterboarded," the paper said the suit alleges. The lawsuit was filed in January.

Company President Dave Ellis told the Salt Lake Tribune that the allegations were "sensationalized" and uncorroborated by co-workers regarding the May incident


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Carceral Society

More than 1% of us are behind bars:
For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report tracking the surge in inmate population and urging states to rein in corrections costs with alternative sentencing programs.



What a surprise. Bush came up with an idiotic plan and then was too inept to enact it:

The Bush administration has scaled back plans to quickly build a "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border, delaying completion of the first phase of the project by at least three years and shifting away from a network of tower-mounted sensors and surveillance gear, federal officials said yesterday.

Technical problems discovered in a 28-mile pilot project south of Tucson prompted the change in plans, Department of Homeland Security officials and congressional auditors told a House subcommittee.

Though the department took over that initial stretch Friday from Boeing, authorities confirmed that Project 28, the initial deployment of the Secure Border Initiative network, did not work as planned or meet the needs of the U.S. Border Patrol.

The announcement marked a major setback for what President Bush in May 2006 called "the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history." The virtual fence was to be a key component of his proposed overhaul of U.S. immigration policies, which died last year in the Senate.



How deeply twisted by hatred this man must be:
When openly gay Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson was sworn in, the African bishop called the event Satanic. However, after reading the latest issue of Atlantic Magazine, it appears that Akinola is the one whose behavior may be modeled on the devil.

The article discusses his prominent role in the slaughter of Muslims. Not only did his thugs shoot children, according to the article, they burned mosques, raped pregnant women and forced Muslims to eat pork and drink booze. I urge my readers to read and digest this article and the implications it has on the Anglican Church - which is allowing a butcher to operate in its midsts.


A Million Terrorists!

Absurd bloating indeed:
More that 900,000 people are currently listed as suspected terrorists on the US government's "do not fly" list, and that number will grow to beyond 1 million by summer, says the American Civil Liberties Union.

"If there were a million terrorists in this country, our cities would be in ruins," Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program, stated in a press release from the group. "The absurd bloating of the terrorist watch lists is yet another example of how incompetence by our security apparatus threatens our rights without offering any real security."


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Testing the Waters

The RNC needs to know just how racist and sexist they can be:
The Republican National Committee "has commissioned polling and focus groups to determine the boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate," according to The Politico. "The secretive effort underscores the enormous risk senior GOP operatives see for a party often criticized for its insensitivity to minorities in campaigns dating back to the 1960s."


Lock Up Your Children

The young men, anyway:

If you've ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in Sen. Larry Craig's office, now's your chance.

The Idaho Republican has just announced he's taking applications for summer internships in his Capitol Hill office, which has been the brunt of gossip and many a colorful "wide stance" joke ever since last summer, when Craig was busted in a Minneapolis-St. Paul airport men's room sex sting.

"Interns have the chance to be an essential part of a working congressional office," Craig said in a press release issued Tuesday. "They participate in the legislative process as well as ensure that constituent services run smoothly. For those interested in politics, it is an incredible opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at how our government functions while serving the people of Idaho."


Bush? Flouting the Law?

Say it isn't so!

The Bush White House has made a mockery of the Presidential Records Act and its requirement that official White House records -- including e-mails -- be preserved for posterity.




House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) challenged Republicans on Tuesday to get off their “dead asses” and start raising money for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

And the Republican leader wasn’t the only lawmaker berating his GOP colleagues to raise more money for the committee’s March 12 fundraising dinner: According to sources in the room, NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also used a closed-door session at the Capitol Hill Club on Tuesday to challenge Republicans to raise more campaign cash.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Trouble in the North

Turkey continues its incursions into Kurdish territory:
Artillery and gunfire echoed through the mountains of northern Iraq during continued clashes between invading Turkish troops and Kurdish rebels on Monday, with Turkey saying 153 guerillas had been killed in four days.

The Iraqi Interior Minister, Jawad Bolani, suggested the US should do more to stop the fighting, which has left villagers stranded.

"They are the greatest force on the ground. They have certain obligations," Mr Bolani said on Monday of the US military, which has neither intervened in nor commented on the Turkish incursion. "They could do more."


Dodd for VP?

Wouldn't be a bad ticket:
Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut has endorsed Barack Obama, his former rival in the Democratic presidential race.


Worse and Worse

Foreclosures keep on climbing:
The number of homes facing foreclosure jumped 57 percent in January compared to a year ago, with lenders increasingly forced to take possession of homes they couldn't unload at auctions, a mortgage research firm said Monday.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Abuse Lawyer Leaving

Good riddance:
The Defense Department's longest-serving general counsel, who has been criticized for his role in crafting Bush administration policies for detaining and trying suspected terrorists, is resigning to return to private life next month, the Pentagon said Monday.

In 2006, President Bush nominated Haynes for a seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond, Va. The nomination was withdrawn in January 2007 when it appeared that the Senate's new Democratic majority would not confirm Haynes.

A group of retired military officers opposing Bush's position on the treatment of detainees had urged lawmakers to block Haynes' appointment to the court. They contended that his role in establishing detention and interrogation policies led to abuses at the detention facility at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and called into question the military's commitment to the rule of law.


No Wonder...

The Clinton camp is so desperate as to send that photo of Obama to Drudge:
A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds Barack Obama with a 16-point lead over rival Hillary Clinton among Democratic primary voters nationwide.

Obama, coming off 11 straight primary and caucus victories, had the support of 54 percent of Democratic primary voters nationally. Clinton had 38 percent support.

In a CBS News poll taken three weeks ago, shortly before Super Tuesday, Obama and Clinton were tied at 41 percent. Clinton led by 15 points nationally in January.

The former first lady has lost her advantage among women, according to the poll: The two leading Democrats now have even levels of support among female primary voters.

Men, meanwhile, disproportionately favor Obama. He leads Clinton among male Democratic primary voters 67 percent to 28 percent, and leads among white men 61 percent to 33 percent.


Ignorance Kills

As China is unfortunately finding out:
New cases of HIV/Aids in China soared by 45 per cent last year compared with 2006, the Health Ministry in Beijing has revealed. The staggering rise was put down to changing social attitudes and an improvement in data collection.
"It's been hard over the years to discover the number of Aids patients because of the social stigma," a ministry spokesman said. The disease is spreading fast in a country where information about Aids has long been suppressed. For many years, Chinese would say HIV/Aids was a disease that affected foreigners, and could be passed through shaking hands or sharing chopsticks.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Here's How Ror Got His Courage Up

And here he is, almost out of the water. (I have no idea why one of the official haul-people-out-of-the-water guys wore a fake muscle suit, but really, that's the least odd of the costumes at the Plunge...)

(posted by Miriam, since clearly Ror wasn't taking pictures there!)


Rorschach Hauls Ass Through Freezing Water

(Wetsuited divers were standing by to prevent injuries. And also occasionally to retrieve stray beach balls or lost shoes.)


Shocking News!

Your maleness has not actually been enhanced:
A federal court jury on Friday found the owner of a company that sells "male enhancement" tablets and other herbal supplements guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, bank fraud and money laundering.

Steve Warshak, whose conviction was reported Friday by The Cincinnati Enquirer, is founder and president of Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, which distributes Enzyte and a number of products alleged to boost energy, manage weight, reduce memory loss and aid restful sleep.



Poor Ralph. He really needs to start paying attention to reality rather than his own pathetic ego:
Ralph Nader is launching a third-party campaign for president. The consumer advocate made the announcement Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." He says most Americans are disenchanted with the Democratic and Republican parties, and that none of the presidential contenders are addressing ways to stem corporate crime and Pentagon waste and promote labor rights.


I Survived

It was a beautiful day for it. Sun shining, a balmy 27 degrees out (the warmest it's been in weeks), no wind. Our posse gathered at Tony's Beer Depot for pre-plunge drinks, and I immediately won the first door prize, a bottle of whiskey.

Eventually, we made our way to the lake, down at the end of Washington Avenue, near the American Legion hall. The hall is undergoing renovation, so there was some concern as to whether there were going to be hot tubs as there had been in the past. But, no worries, there were numerous tubs set up outside.

We regrouped near the beer tent and passed around my flask and various juice bottles full of various concoctions. I stripped down to my t-shirt and shorts.

Teams had been jumping for quite a while before we got there, lining up in groups of five or six and hurling themselves into the hole cut into the ice. Then there were some soloists, such as the man dressed only in aluminum foil and duct tape.

By the time we were called up, we were in no condition to coordinate anything, so we wound up jumping in twos and threes; one guy landed on my head.

I recall jumping into my friend's swimming pool in Arkansas in January when I was 14 or so and the water was like needles. And I remember doing the "water exit" while spelunking as a college freshman, crawling through a cave, the water climbing up as the floor fell away; when it hit my chest, I started hyperventilating. So I had some trepidation about the Plunge.

The water was not so deep as to require one to submerge completely, but most of us (myself included) did. Oddly, it didn't really hurt. Maybe standing outside in shorts for half an hour helped, but the water just felt kinda cold. At any rate, the hot tub felt good. And given the shrinkage factor, the men's changing room moved quickly.

Afterwards, chili and more beer back at Tony's as we all reveled in our idiocy. Miriam (who didn't jump but did photograph) and I danced until the wee hours.