Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Olympic Spirit

Because the Olympics are all about shooting people:
Nepalese soldiers and police guarding the slopes of Mount Everest are authorized to shoot to stop any protests during China's Olympic torch run to the summit, an official said Sunday.



Darwin for the people:
Cambridge University has posted the bulk of Charles Darwin's writings, handwritten notes and manuscripts online. The world's richest trove of information on Darwin's evolution teachings -- once restricted to researchers at the prestigious university -- is now available to the world for free.



Nato forces mistakenly supplied food, water and arms to Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan, officials today admitted.


Still Winning

Nothing to see here, move along:

A vicious civil war is now being fought within Iraq's Sunni Arab community between al-Qa'ida in Iraq and al-Sahwa while other groups continue to attack American forces. In Baghdad on a single day the head of al-Sahwa in the southern district of Dora was killed in his car by gunmen and seven others died by bombs and bullets in al-Adhamiya district.

US spokesmen speak of a "spike" in violence in recent weeks but in reality security in Sunni and Shia parts of Iraq has been deteriorating since January. The official daily death toll of civilians reached a low of 20 killed a day in that month and has since more than doubled to 41 a day in March. The US and the Iraqi government are now facing a war on two fronts.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

GOP Class

Just lovely:

A Republican congressman used some of the most racially charged language of the election season to attack Barack Obama's fitness to be president, causing the Illinois Senator's campaign to issue a sharp rebuke Monday.

Rep. Geoff Davis was speaking to about 400 donors at a fundraiser in Kentucky, when he said of Obama, "That boy's finger does not need to be on the button."


Business Is Booming

If you happen to be in the foreclosure business:
U.S. foreclosure filings jumped 57 percent and bank repossessions more than doubled in March from a year earlier as adjustable mortgages increased and more owners lost their homes to lenders.

More than 234,000 properties were in some stage of foreclosure, or one in every 538 U.S. households, Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac Inc., a seller of default data, said today in a statement. Nevada, California and Florida had the highest foreclosure rates. Filings rose 5 percent from February.


Obama Is a Marxist!

According to the of course unbiased commentator Karl Rove:

ROVE: Alan, Alan, the point he was making was this is the dominant culture in rural America. It wasn't that there might be a person or two who feels this way. But this is how he characterized rural America. My view of rural America is different. I find people in rural America are people of deep faith, they love the outdoors, many of them make a conscious decision to remain in rural America because of the quality of life and because they have ties to the land or they want their children to grow up in that kind of an environment.

I don't find a lot of people in rural America, I certainly don't find the dominant view to be I'm so bitter that I'm going to hold on to my gun or I'm going to -- you know it was almost Marxist, in that they cling to their religion. I mean it's sort of like it's the opiate of the masses instead of this is something that fulfills their lives and gives them a great of...


Better Late Than Never?

In this case, probably not really much of a difference:
Justice John Paul Stevens, a key vote in upholding the death penalty 30 years ago, now says he believes capital punishment is unconstitutional.

Stevens on Wednesday became the first of the nine sitting justices to say the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

"I have relied on my own experience in reaching the conclusion that the imposition of the death penalty represents 'the pointless and needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes. A penalty with such negligible returns to the state (is) patently excessive and cruel and unusual punishment violative of the Eighth Amendment,'" he said in a concurring opinion rejecting a challenge to lethal injections in Kentucky.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Con Man

If McCain has ever been anything else, it's been a long time:
Democratic Party officials want a federal judge to order an investigation into whether Sen. John McCain violated election laws by withdrawing from public financing, saying federal regulators are too weak to act on their own.

A lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission, to be filed Monday in U.S. District Court, questions the agency's ability to enforce the law and review McCain's decision to opt out of the system. The Republican presidential candidate, who had been entitled to $5.8 million in federal funds for the primary campaign, decided earlier this year to give up that money so he could avoid strict spending limits between now and the GOP's national convention in September.

During a conference call with reporters Sunday, DNC officials said the FEC is unable to act because four of its six seats are vacant. They want a judge to either order the FEC to begin an immediate review, or allow the Democratic Party to file a lawsuit against McCain's campaign challenging his decision.

Tom McMahon, the party's executive director, said "there is a compelling public interest in determining whether Senator McCain agreed to participate in the matching funds program so he could get a loan for his campaign, then violated the terms of that agreement so he could ignore the spending cap and raise unlimited money from lobbyists and special interests."

The DNC is seeking civil fines or an order barring McCain from exceeding spending limits, said DNC general counsel Joe Sandler.


We're a Drag

On the global economy, that is:
The collapse of the housing bubble in the United States is mutating into a global phenomenon, with real estate prices swooning from the Irish countryside and the Spanish coast to Baltic seaports and even parts of northern India.

This synchronized global slowdown, which has become increasingly stark in recent months, is hobbling economic growth worldwide, affecting not just homes but jobs as well.

In Ireland, Spain, Britain and elsewhere, housing markets that soared over the last decade are falling back to earth. Property analysts predict that some countries, like this one, will face an even more wrenching adjustment than that of the United States, including the possibility that the downturn could become a wholesale collapse.

To some extent, the world’s problems are a result of American contagion. As home financing and credit tightens in response to the crisis that began in the subprime mortgage market, analysts worry that other countries could suffer the mortgage defaults and foreclosures that have afflicted California, Florida and other states.


Monday, April 14, 2008

I've Always Liked That Town

Used to go there rather frequently when I lived up in Fayetteville:
The town of Eureka Springs is turning into the "San Francisco of Arkansas," warns the American Family Association, and it can happen in your town too.

The presentation in the AFA trailer below, "They're Coming to Your Town," tells the tale of an uncharacteristically diverse resort town's government infiltrated by "a handful of homosexual activists" and bent to their will through the enactment of the town's domestic partner registry on June 22, 2007.

"Watch, and learn," says the trailer, "how to fight a well-organized gay agenda to take over the cities of America, one city at a time."

Eureka Springs, most recently, has gotten an honorable mention from unlikely celebrity and Oklahoma House Rep. Sally Kern, who propped it up as an example of the "gay agenda" that she has called a "death knell" and a larger threat than international terrorism, in addition to comparing such an "agenda" to cancer.


Real Science

Some surprising news, this:

With little fanfare, a small number of prominent academic scientists have made a decision that was until recently all but unheard of. They decided to stop accepting payments from food, drug and medical device companies.

No longer will they be paid for speaking at meetings or for sitting on advisory boards. They may still work with companies. It is important, they say, for knowledgeable scientists to help companies draw up and interpret studies. But the work will be pro bono.

The scientists say their decisions were private and made with mixed emotions. In at least one case, the choice resulted in significant financial sacrifice. While the investigators say they do not want to appear superior to their colleagues, they also express relief. At last, they say, when they offer a heartfelt and scientifically reasoned opinion, no one will silently put an asterisk next to their name.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Get Ready for a Bloody Spring

In Afghanistan:
With the advent of warmer weather, villagers say, Taliban fighters are filtering back from their winter shelters in Pakistan, ensconcing themselves across Afghanistan's wind-swept south.


Papal Snub

One evil man avoids another:

The White House has scheduled a dinner next week in honor of Pope Benedict XVI's first visit to the United States, but one guest will be conspicuously absent from the proceedings: the pope himself.

There are no competing events listed on the pope's schedule, and the White House was unable to explain Benedict's absence from the dinner.