Friday, May 09, 2008


Thank goodness
the government moved so swiftly to reinforce our vehicles in Iraq:
The U.S. military is reinforcing the sides of its topline mine-resistant vehicles to shore up what could be weak points as troops see a spike in armor-piercing roadside bombings across Iraq, The Associated Press has learned.


Everything Old Is New Again

Russia showcased its military might and youthful new president to the world Friday, as heavy tanks and missile launchers rumbled across Red Square in a Victory Day parade for the first time since the Soviet era.


Obama Forges Ahead

Another victory over Clinton
Barack Obama all but erased Hillary Rodham Clinton's once-imposing lead among national convention superdelegates on Friday and won fresh labor backing as elements of the Democratic Party began coalescing around the Illinois senator for the fall campaign.

Obama picked up the backing of nine superdelegates, including Rep. Donald Payne of New Jersey, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who had been a Clinton supporter.

In addition, the American Federation of Government Employees announced its support for Obama. The union claims about 600,000 members who work in the federal and Washington, D.C., governments.

And here I was, under the impression that elitist Obama couldn't relate to the "working white man."


More Family Values

Yet another anti-gay bigot
proves exactly how much he reveres the sacred institution of marriage:
Rep. Vito Fossella of New York ran a red light, and wrecked his life. A drunk-driving arrest last week led to talk of an extramarital affair, and then finally Thursday, an admission of a child from that affair.

"My personal failings and imperfections have caused enormous pain to the people I love and I am truly sorry," said Fossella, a Republican, who lives in his Staten Island, N.Y., district with his wife and their three children.

Fossella is the only Republican member of Congress from New York City, and the paternity revelation could lead to the loss of a seat in Congress at a time when the House GOP faces the possibility of a second grim November of election setbacks.

In Congress Fossella voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would bar same-sex marriage and against the Matthew Shepard Act which would add gay under hate crime law.


As Always

The women will bear the brunt of this war, in some ways, for decades:

Violence in this country creates more widows by the day, and some members of parliament and women's advocates warn of a growing class of poor, single mothers unable to raise Iraq's next generation.

They say the situation has been made worse by U.S.-backed constitutional changes that allow each religious sect to decide its own rules on marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody.

The shrinking of women's rights in marriage "is as important as the oil issue," says Maysoon Al-Damluji, a secular member of Iraq's parliament.

She says Article 41 of Iraq's new constitution is "a recipe for disaster." If parliament implements it, the deference to Islamic law would reverse gains made under a 1959 law that gave Iraqi women greater rights than in any other Arab country, women's advocates say.



Just horrendous:
THE death toll in cyclone-ravaged Burma could hit 500,000 – more than TWICE the total killed by the Boxing Day Tsunami.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I Think I Have an Idea...

as to a possible motive:
The U.S. military is confirming that a former Guantanamo detainee from Kuwait carried out a recent suicide attack in northern Iraq.

A spokesman for U.S. military's Central Command told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Abdallah Salih al-Ajmi took part in an attack in Mosul.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Scott Rye says authorities don't know the motive for the attack, which was reported last week by Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television.


The Pundits Speak

And declare Clinton to be done:

Very early Wednesday morning, after many voters had already gone to sleep, the conventional wisdom of the elite political pundit class that resides on television shifted hard, and possibly irretrievably, against Senator Hillary Clinton's continued viability as a presidential candidate.

The moment came shortly after midnight Eastern time, captured in a devastatingly declarative statement from Tim Russert of NBC News: "We now know who the Democratic nominee's going to be, and no one's going to dispute it," he said on MSNBC. "Those closest to her will give her a hard-headed analysis, and if they lay it all out, they'll say: 'What is the rationale? What do we say to the undeclared super delegates tomorrow? Why do we tell them you're staying in the race?' And tonight, there's no good answer for that."


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Turning a Blind Eye

One more instance of US forces put in an untenable position:
The Marines of Bravo Company's 1st Platoon sleep beside a grove of poppies. Troops in the 2nd Platoon playfully swat at the heavy opium bulbs while walking through the fields. Afghan laborers scraping the plant's gooey resin smile and wave.

Last week, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit moved into southern Helmand province, the world's largest opium poppy-growing region, and now find themselves surrounded by green fields of the illegal plants that produce the main ingredient of heroin.

The Taliban, whose fighters are exchanging daily fire with the Marines in Garmser, derives up to $100 million a year from the poppy harvest by taxing farmers and charging safe passage fees — money that will buy weapons for use against U.S., NATO and Afghan troops.

Yet the Marines are not destroying the plants. In fact, they are reassuring villagers the poppies won't be touched. American commanders say the Marines would only alienate people and drive them to take up arms if they eliminated the impoverished Afghans' only source of income.

Many Marines in the field are scratching their heads over the situation.

"It's kind of weird. We're coming over here to fight the Taliban. We see this. We know it's bad. But at the same time we know it's the only way locals can make money," said 1st Lt. Adam Lynch, 27, of Barnstable, Mass.


Florida Does Itself Proud Once Again

Teacher Jim Piculas does a magic trick where a toothpick disappears and then reappears.

Piculas recently did the 30-second trick in front of a classroom at Rushe Middle School in Land 'O Lakes.

Piculas said he then got a call from the supervisor of teachers, saying he'd been accused of wizardry.

"I get a call the middle of the day from head of supervisor of substitute teachers. He says, 'Jim, we have a huge issue, you can't take any more assignments you need to come in right away,'" he said.

Piculas said he did not know of any other accusations that would have led to the action. The teacher said he is concerned that the incident may prevent him from getting future jobs.


Unrepentant Racist

Tancredo truly is phenomenal in his bluntness:

Anger has been growing for months in southern Texas over plans to build a wall along the US side of the border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants. The city of Brownsville, which has a largely Hispanic-American population, has been a center of opposition by residents, who cite both environmental impacts and their own centuries-old ties with the Mexicans on the other side of the border.

Tempers flared even higher last week, after Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), an anti-immigration Republican who has been a major proponent of the border fence, told residents at a congressional hearing in Brownsville, “If you don’t want a fence between the city and Mexico, I suggest then you build the fence around the northern part of your city.”

Tancredo’s remark was met by boos and hisses, and Brownsville Major Pat Ahumada denounced it as an insult to his city. “You have people like the congressman there who are bigots,” he told CNN. “It’s a racist thing to them. They’re afraid of us Mexicans taking over politically, I think.”

However, Tancredo has refused to apologize and continues to insist, “Loyalties are actually at stake here. … It’s a question of who you’re loyal to, what country you’re loyal to. In that case, multiculturalism becomes a danger to a nation like the United States.”


VA Suicide

If this doesn't show just how badly the system is broken, I don't know what will:

Harriett Chapman's eyes filled with tears Sunday as she recalled one of the last conversations she had with her 89-year-old father before he fatally shot himself outside a Greenville veterans' clinic last month.

Grover Cleveland Chapman told his family, "No matter what I apply for at the VA, they turn me down," she recalled.

The next day, the World War II veteran took his own life outside the Veterans Outpatient Clinic at 3510 Augusta Road, said Greenville County Deputy Coroner Mike Ellis.

Harriett Chapman sees her father's April 24 death as his way of sending a message about the medical care offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


Monday, May 05, 2008

Idiocy = Death

Simply infuriating:
Russia is "not ready" to adopt measures that could prevent thousands of people from getting infected with the virus that causes AIDS, the country's chief public health officer said Monday.

Gennady Onishchenko said regulations are not strong enough to allow measures such as methadone replacement therapy for heroin addicts to work properly.

Health advocates say such therapy is vital to Russia because of the particular way HIV has spread through the country.

Up to 80 percent of Russia's 1.6 million HIV-positive people became infected through dirty needles, according to various estimates. The World Health Organization, the United Nations and United States, among others, have published studies showing that injecting drug users who switch to clinic-supplied methadone are up to five times less likely to contract HIV.

Nevertheless, Onishchenko said he was "not convinced" about the effectiveness of the so-called substitution therapy, which is illegal under current legislation.



Another pioneer has died:
Mildred Loving, a black woman whose challenge to Virginia's ban on interracial marriage led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling striking down such laws nationwide, has died, her daughter said Monday.


The Other War

Perhaps more deadly
than the battlefield:
Suicides and "psychological mortality" among US soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan could exceed battlefield deaths if their mental scars are left untreated, the head of the US Institute of Mental Health warned Monday.