Saturday, May 31, 2008


Looks like California's progressive move has riled some people up a bit:
The attorneys general of 10 states are urging the California Supreme Court to delay finalizing its ruling to legalize same-sex marriage.

The attorneys general say in court documents filed Thursday that they have an interest in the case because they would have to determine if their states would recognize the marriage of gay residents who wed in California.

They want the court to stay its ruling until after the November election, when voters likely will decide whether to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown is urging the court not to grant the stay.


Crime Wave Hits New Zealand

Is there nowhere safe left in the world?

A New Zealand man has been convicted for assaulting a teenager with a hedgehog after asking him if he wanted to "wear a hedgehog helmet".

William Singalargh, 27, was fined for assault and offensive behaviour by a court in the east coast North Island city of Whakatane after a more serious charge of assault with a weapon -- the hedgehog -- was dropped.


Another Bigot

To quote comedian Louis C. K. on parents who are opposed to gay marriage: "You don’t want to talk to your ugly kid for eight minutes. Fuck your kid."
Sirbrina Guerrero says she was approached at a baseball game and told to stop kissing her girlfriend after a woman complained to staff at Seattle's Safeco Field that they were "groping and making out."

Guerrero was told by a seating host that the woman didn't want to explain to her son why two women were kissing, she said to KOMO 4 TV, but she refused to give in.

"If you want to kick me out, you're going to have to," she told the host. After the exchange, Guerrero took pictures of heterosexual couples kissing that were not targeted by staff.


Friday, May 30, 2008

No, Really, There's a Cat Under That Hair

Zora and her hair relax on the couch.

For a neurotic, paranoid cat, she can be remarkably relaxed.

And in case you were doubting that that bunch of fur really is a cat, here she is up close. You can even see the fur between her toes....

(posted by Miriam)


Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Stupid

It burns:
Dunkin' Donuts has pulled an online advertisement featuring Rachael Ray after complaints that a fringed black-and-white scarf that the celebrity chef wore in the ad offers symbolic support for Muslim extremism and terrorism.

The coffee and baked goods chain said the ad that began appearing online May 7 was pulled over the past weekend because "the possibility of misperception detracted from its original intention to promote our iced coffee."

In the spot, Ray holds an iced coffee while standing in front of trees with pink blossoms.

Critics, including conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, complained that the scarf wrapped around her looked like a kaffiyeh, the traditional Arab headdress. Critics who fueled online complaints about the ad in blogs say such scarves have come to symbolize Muslim extremism and terrorism.


Better Late Than Never?

Not so much:
Under a court order and four years late, the White House Thursday produced what it called a science-based "one-stop shop" of specific threats to the United States from man-made global warming.

While the report has no new science in it, it pulls together different U.S. studies and localizes international reports into one comprehensive document required by law. The 271-page report is notable because it is something the Bush administration has fought in the past.

Andrew Weaver, a Canadian climate scientist who was not involved in the effort, called it "a litany of bad news in store for the U.S."

And biologist Thomas Lovejoy, one of the scientists who reviewed the report for the federal government, said: "It basically says the America we've known we can no longer count on. It's a pretty dramatic picture of all kinds of change rippling through natural systems across the country. And all of that has implications for people."



America's wars keep killing:
The number of Army suicides increased again last year, amid the most violent year yet in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

An Army official said Thursday that 115 troops committed suicide in 2007, a nearly 13 percent increase over the previous year's 102. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because a full report on the deaths wasn't being released until later Thursday.

About a quarter of the deaths occurred in Iraq.



More gay rights in California and New York:
Gay rights advocates had reason to celebrate on both coasts Thursday, with New York set to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and California preparing to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on June 17.

Hours after California issued a directive Wednesday authorizing that date, word came that New York Gov. David Paterson instructed state agencies - including those governing insurance and health care - to immediately change policies and regulations to recognize gay marriages.


The Cross and the Gun

Very bad:
At the western entrance to the Iraqi city of Fallujah Tuesday, Muamar Anad handed his residence badge to the U.S. Marines guarding the city. They checked to be sure that he was a city resident, and when they were done, Anad said, a Marine slipped a coin out of his pocket and put it in his hand.

Out of fear, he accepted it, Anad said. When he was inside the city, the college student said, he looked at one side of the coin. "Where will you spend eternity?" it asked.

He flipped it over, and on the other side it read, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16."

"They are trying to convert us to Christianity," said Anad, a Sunni Muslim like most residents of this city in Anbar province. At home, he told his story, and his relatives echoed their disapproval: They'd been given the coins, too, he said.


Slow Learner

If we're relying on Bush's learning curve, we are truly in trouble:
President Bush said Wednesday that rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan as the wars rage on is proving difficult and "we're learning as we go."


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Law Enforcement Abroad

Apparently, Bush feels that Iraq is more important than the U.S.:
At the same time the Bush administration has been pushing for deep cuts in a popular crime-fighting program for states and cities, the White House has been fighting for approval of $603 million for the Iraqi police.

The White House earlier this year proposed slashing the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program, which helps local law enforcement officials deal with violent crime and serious offenders, to $200 million in the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

In 2002, the year before the Iraq war, the program received $900 million.


Oklahoma Is Number One

In all manner of very bad ideas:

The Republican-dominated Oklahoma legislature is defining the frontier of xenophobic immigration laws, anti-Muslim bigotry, gay bashing and encouragement of gun-toting students – with Democratic legislators often too timid to resist.

Rep. Randy Terrill, Republican chairman of the Revenue and Taxation Committee, has emerged as a hero of the “protect our borders” crowd by authoring a law – known as HB1804 – that makes it a felony even to give an illegal immigrant a ride.


After the law’s passage, its extreme – one might say unchristian – features prompted virtual declarations of civil disobedience from the Southern Baptist Convention and the Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches, which announced they would not curtail aid to anyone.

Terrill then attacked Roman Catholic Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa as “misguided,” accusing Catholics of opposing the law out fear that it would curtail a growth in population and thus revenues for the church.


As Terrill and his supporters mounted legal assaults against non-English-speaking immigrants, Republican colleague Rep. Sally Kern focused on what she viewed as an even graver danger – gays and lesbians. In April, she went before a local GOP meeting and labeled that threat worse than the one from al-Qaeda:

“Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it’s the death knell of this country. I honestly think it’s the biggest threat our nation has, even more than terrorism or Islam. … which I think is a big threat. Okay?

“’Cause what’s happening now is they are going after, in schools, two year olds … and this stuff is deadly, and it’s spreading, and it will destroy our young people and it will destroy this nation.”



It's remarkable how many Republicans play along with Bush until it ceases to be profitable and then suddenly find their consciences:
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that President Bush relied on an aggressive "political propaganda campaign" instead of the truth to sell the Iraq war, and that the decision to invade pushed Bush's presidency "terribly off course.'

The Bush White House made "a decision to turn away from candor and honesty when those qualities were most needed" - a time when the nation was on the brink of war, McClellan writes in the book entitled "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception."

The way Bush managed the Iraq issue "almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option."

"In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president's advantage," McClellan writes.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Killing the Planet

On land:
Destruction of the Amazon is again on the upswing despite a recent crackdown on illegal logging, Brazil's new environment minister said Wednesday.

Carlos Minc said official calculations of how much rain forest has been cut down would be released Monday by the National Space Research Institute.

"It will be bad news. It will be data showing an increase in deforestation," Minc said in an interview on Globo TV.

And at sea:
More than 80 percent of the world's fisheries are at risk from over-fishing and the World Trade Organisation must act urgently to scrap unsustainable subsidies, lobby group Oceana said Monday.

"The world's fishing fleets can no longer expect to find new sources of fish," said Courtney Sakai, senior campaign director at Oceana.

"If the countries of the world want healthy and abundant fishery resources, they must improve management and decrease the political and economic pressures that lead to overfishing."

Based on data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the report found that only 17 percent of the world's known fish stocks are under-exploited or moderately exploited.


Opposing Propaganda

About time
The House passed an amendment to the annual defense bill last week that would outlaw the Defense Department from spreading propaganda to the American people. Sponsored by Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the measure would also mandate an investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general and the Government Accountability Office into efforts to plant positive news stories about the Iraq war in U.S. media.

Last month, the New York Times exposed a secret Pentagon campaign that embedded 75 military analysts -- many of whom were also employed by defense contractors -- in the nation's news media. Media Matters for America documented that analysts in the Pentagon's program appeared or were quoted in major outlets more than 4,500 times. Yet most of the major networks have failed to cover or follow up on the Times' investigation. The Department of Defense has "temporarily" shut down the program pending an ongoing internal review.



And counting. Happy Memorial Day:
Two U.S. soldiers were killed in a pair of roadside bombings over the weekend, the U.S. military announced Monday.
The deaths, announced on Memorial Day, raised the U.S. military's fatalities in Iraq to at least 4,082 since American-led forces invaded the country in March 2003, according to, an independent website that tracks military casualties.


Boy Scouts Fight Back

They aren't just going to sit back and watch their subsidized bigotry be taken away:
A local Boy Scouts chapter embroiled in a battle over gay rights is suing the city of Philadelphia to avoid eviction from their headquarters.

The Scouts, in their federal suit, seek to stop the city from charging about $200,000 a year in rent or evicting them. The Scouts currently pay $1 annually for the space.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts, as a private group, have a First Amendment right to bar gays.

However, taxpayers cannot keep subsidizing the rent of a group that discriminates, City Solicitor Shelley Smith said Tuesday.

"They're free to exercise their First Amendment rights," Smith said. "What they're not free to do is get a benefit from the city while violating our policy."

The city has given the Scouts until Saturday to revise their policy or start paying rent.


FEMA Keeps on Giving

Perhaps for a lifetime:
The anguish of Hurricane Katrina should have ended for Gina Bouffanie and her daughter when they left their FEMA trailer. But with each hospital visit and each labored breath her child takes, the young mother fears it has just begun.

"It's just the sickness. I can't get rid of it. It just keeps coming back," said Bouffanie, 27, who was pregnant with her now 15-month-old daughter, Lexi, while living in the trailer. "I'm just like, `Oh God, I wish like this would stop.' If I had known it would get her sick, I wouldn't have stayed in the trailer for so long."

The girl, diagnosed with severe asthma, must inhale medicine from a breathing device.

Doctors cannot conclusively link her asthma to the trailer. But they fear she is among tens of thousands of youngsters who may face lifelong health problems because the temporary housing supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency contained formaldehyde fumes up to five times the safe level.

The chemical, used in interior glue, was detected in many of the 143,000 trailers sent to the Gulf Coast in 2006. But a push to get residents out of them, spearheaded by FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did not begin until this past February.


Monday, May 26, 2008


Bob Barr
never fails to entertain:

Barr, once a congressman from Georgia, also is a former Republican -- he left the party in dismay over its direction.

The Libertarians, convening in Denver, named him their nominee.

"I'm sure will we emerge here with the strongest ticket in the history of the Libertarian Party," Barr said in his victory speech today. "I want everybody to remember that we only have 163 days to win this election. We cannot waste one single day."



Guantanamo is America's albatross:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who last year said he would look for ways to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison, has told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee that his inter-agency effort has been brought to a "standstill" by what he called "a serious not-in-my-back-yard problem."

Gates said there are "about 70" detainees whom the United States is prepared to send back to home countries. But those governments "either won't accept them or we are concerned that the home government will let them loose once we return them."


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Helping Vets

That crazy radical Michael Moore is doing it:

It's no secret that Michael Moore is among the country's most outspoken critics of the war in Iraq.

What's far lesser-known is Moore's empathy for the troops who've fought there.

Moore, founder of the Traverse City Film Festival that owns the State Theatre downtown, said the theater is implementing a new labor policy requiring all its contractors and vendors to attempt to hire veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moore described it as an "affirmative action" measure to help area veterans find employment opportunities when they return home -- opportunities that Moore said are severely lacking for many servicemen and women.

McCain, not so much:

Times have changed since McCain needed veterans services so urgently. And for many of those thirty-five years, McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, the candidate who talks the best talk on veterans issues, has demonstrated a tendency to work against veterans' interests, voting time after time against funding and in favor of privatizing services--in other words, of rolling back the VA's improvements by supporting some of the same policies that wrecked Walter Reed.

During a March 2005 Senate budget debate, McCain voted to kill an amendment that would have "increase[d] veterans medical care by $2.8 billion in 2006." That amendment lacked an assured funding stream, but lest one mistake this incident for a maverick's stance against budget-busting, there's more. Just a year later McCain voted against an amendment that would have "increase[d] Veterans medical services funding by $1.5 billion in FY 2007 to be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes." Two days after it failed, he voted to kill "an assured stream of funding for veterans' health care that [would] take into account the annual changes in the veterans' population and inflation to be paid for by restoring the pre-2001 top rate for income over $1 million, closing corporate tax loopholes and delaying tax cuts for the wealthy." That amendment died quietly, forty-six to fifty-four.



McCain can't even fill a fundraiser. Not even with Bush's help:

A Tuesday fundraiser headlined by President Bush for U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign is being moved out of the Phoenix Convention Center.

Sources familiar with the situation said the Bush-McCain event was not selling enough tickets to fill the Convention Center space, and that there were concerns about more anti-war protesters showing up outside the venue than attending the fundraiser inside.

Another source said there were concerns about the media covering the event.

Bush's Arizona fundraising effort for McCain is being moved to private residences in the Phoenix area.