Friday, April 04, 2008

Catblogging: Tista Tolerates Our Presence

Dignified as he is, he even deigns to allow us to pet him sometimes.


A Living Hell

This is simply a national disgrace:

A Texas teen was allegedly offered birthday cake in exchange for sex.

A guard drove his knee into the neck of a frail suicidal Ohio boy after the youth was wrestled to the ground and held down by other guards who stripped him and covered his face with a smock, a state report said.

More than two dozen girls at an Indiana lock-up describe "networking" -- their term for sneaking into each other's cells to have sex, with no interference from guards.

This is a glimpse into what America's juvenile jails look like, according to lawsuits, criminal cases and experts who have spent years delving into what they call a broken system.

"It's a nationwide crisis that has been going on for years, one the public has never been told the extent of," said psychiatric social worker Jerome Miller, the co-founder of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, who has evaluated and helped reform juvenile jails for more than three decades.

This summer, Mississippi plans to close Columbia Training School, a juvenile facility that houses mostly minor offenders. They are often runaways from abusive homes.


Time for an Olympic Boycott


Chinese paramilitary police have killed eight people after opening fire on several hundred Tibetan monks and villagers in bloody violence that will fuel human rights protests as London prepares to host its leg of the Olympic torch relay this weekend.

Witnesses said the clash – in which dozens were wounded – erupted late last night after a government inspection team entered a monastery in the Chinese province of Sichuan trying to confiscate pictures of the Dalai Lama.

Officials searched the room of every monk in the Donggu monastery, a sprawling 15th century edifice in Ganzi, southwestern Sichuan, confiscating all mobile phones as well as the pictures.

When the inspectors tore up the photographs and threw them on the floor, a 74-year-old monk, identified as Cicheng Danzeng, tried to stop an act seen as a desecration by Tibetans who revere the Dalai Lama as their god king.



Abortion doesn't exist! The Bush administration says so:
A U.S. government-funded medical information site that bills itself as the world's largest database on reproductive health has quietly begun to block searches on the word "abortion," concealing nearly 25,000 search results.

Called Popline, the search site is run by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. It's funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, the federal office in charge of providing foreign aid, including health care funding, to developing nations.

The massive database indexes a broad range of reproductive health literature, including titles like "Previous abortion and the risk of low birth weight and preterm births," and "Abortion in the United States: Incidence and access to services, 2005."

But on Thursday, a search on "abortion" was producing only the message "No records found by latest query."


Thursday, April 03, 2008


What kind of world do we live in, in which my university does not cancel all classes and all committee meetings in honor of Battlestar Galactica marathon week on SciFi?

It is an unjust and unnatural world.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Taking Them Down with Us

It's the American Way:
Swiss bank UBS AG today reported more serious damage from exposure to the U.S. subprime crisis, saying it would post first-quarter losses of $12.1 billion and that it would seek $15.1 billion in new capital.

UBS Chairman Marcel Ospel said he would resign as Switzerland's largest bank expects write-downs of approximately $19 billion tied to U.S. real estate and related credit positions in the first quarter.

UBS write-downs have reached a staggering $40 billion in the past nine months, the largest reported by any bank to date.

With word today that Germany's largest bank would write down about $4 billion on subprime exposure, it was the latest indication of how far the severe plunge in U.S. housing prices and a credit crisis triggered by rising mortgage defaults has reached.



More death
Fighting between security forces and Shi'ite militiamen last month has driven civilian deaths in Iraq to their highest level in more than six months, government figures showed on Tuesday.


More Shocking Revelations!

Big Oil has been taking government handouts while simultaneously raking in huge profits.

Who knew?

"These companies are defending billions of federal subsidies ... while reaping over a hundred billion dollars in profits in just the last year alone," complained Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., in previewing the hearing.

The lawmakers were scheduled to hear from top executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Shell Oil Co., BP America Inc., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips, which together earned about $123 billion last year because of soaring oil and gasoline prices.

Markey, chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said he wants to know why, with such profits, the oil industry is steadfastly fighting to keep $18 billion in tax breaks, stretched over 10 years.


Monday, March 31, 2008

Rapist Army

Yet another horrific aspect of today's military:
Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.

The scope of the problem was brought into acute focus for me during a visit to the West Los Angeles VA Healthcare Center, where I met with female veterans and their doctors. My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41% of female veterans seen at the clinic say they were victims of sexual assault while in the military, and 29% report being raped during their military service. They spoke of their continued terror, feelings of helplessness and the downward spirals many of their lives have since taken.

Numbers reported by the Department of Defense show a sickening pattern. In 2006, 2,947 sexual assaults were reported -- 73% more than in 2004.


Boise Under Fire

Rather perplexing, this:
People in Boise, Idaho, have taken pride in favorable lifestyle rankings their city has picked up recently: No. 2 on Forbes' best places for business and careers; No. 9 on's hottest cities for entrepreneurs; No. 1 National Geographic adventure town; and No. 8 on Money magazine's best places to live.

But one title startled and baffled nearly everyone: city most vulnerable to terrorism in the Western United States.
In a study funded by the Homeland Security Department, Idaho's state capital was the only Western city in the top 10 among 132 urban centers ranked by vulnerability based on a unique mathematical calculation.

The top five seemed logical: big cities with exposed ports and bridges. The list reads like a who's who of Eastern and Southern port cities: New Orleans; Baton Rouge, La.; Charleston, S.C.; New York City-Newark, N.J.; and Norfolk, Va.

Not a single West Coast city, from Seattle to San Diego, raised more than an eyebrow.

Juneau, Alaska, ranked least vulnerable.

Out West, at No. 10, stood landlocked Boise, population about 200,000, nicknamed the City of Trees.


Protest, Kind Of!

That would sort of show 'em!
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not want the U.S. to boycott the Beijing Olympics, but she says that President George W. Bush should consider skipping the opening ceremony.