Saturday, August 02, 2008


I'm sorry, did I say "statesmanlike"?

I meant to type "desperate and paranoid."

"If the shareholders of The New York Times ever wonder why the paper's ad revenue is plummeting and its share price tanking, they need look no further than the hysterical reaction of the paper's editors to any slight, real or imagined, against their preferred candidate," said McCain campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb.

Goldfarb compared the editors to a blogger "sitting at home in his mother's basement and ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons & Dragons."


More Classic Catblogging

We're home, and we found the camera, but can't find the cord.

So enjoy these oldies.


Prison Chic

I think this counts as another example of authority figures who don't really understand how kids' minds work:
A school in Texas will force students who don't follow the rules to wear prison-like jumpsuits in a controversial move this coming school year.

Gonzales High School has new navy blue jumpsuits that students will wear if they break the dress code.

Violators will be forced to wear the jumpsuit for the day, the report said.
Some students said the plan may backfire on the school.

"I talked to some of my friends about it and they said they are not going to obey the dress code just so they can wear the jumpsuit," high school student Jordan Meredith.


Surprisingly Just

It's really rather a shame just how surprising I find this development to be:
A state district judge on Friday decided that the judge presiding over the cases of five black teens prosecuted for allegedly beating a white teen could not be fair and removed him.

Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. had acknowledged calling the teens "trouble makers" and "a violent bunch" but insisted he could be impartial. Judge Thomas M. Yeager, who was asked by defense attorneys to review the case, found there was an appearance of impropriety and took Mauffray off the case.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Enemy Lines

Rape by fellow soldiers likely:

"My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41 percent of the female veterans seen there say they were victims of sexual assault while serving in the military," said Harman, who has long sought better protection of women in the military.

"Twenty-nine percent say they were raped during their military service. They spoke of their continued terror, feelings of helplessness and downward spirals many of their lives have taken since.

"We have an epidemic here," she said. "Women serving in the U.S. military today are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq."

As of July 24, 100 women had died in Iraq, according to the Pentagon.

In 2007, Harman said, only 181 out of 2,212 reports of military sexual assaults, or 8 percent, were referred to courts martial. By comparison, she said, 40 percent of those arrested in the civilian world on such charges are prosecuted.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hope for a Cure?

Interesting developments in Houston:

“We have found an innovative way to kill the virus by finding this small region of HIV that is unchangeable,” Dr. Sudhir Paul of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston said.

Dr. Paul and Dr. Miguel Escobar aren’t talking about just suppressing HIV – they’re talking about destroying it permanently by arming the immune system with a new weapon lab tests have shown to be effective.


Coburn Opposes Aid to Paralyzed Veterans


A bill promising more money for programs that help paralyzed veterans is part of a bundle of legislation tied up in partisan bickering in the Senate.

The Christopher Reeve and Dana Reeve Act, which includes money for research into spinal cord injuries, is one of about 36 bills combined by Senate Democrats into what they are calling the Advancing America’s Priorities Act.

The bills have been bundled in an attempt to bypass objections from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who has used senatorial privileges and procedures to stop action on several bills, including the spinal cord injury bill.


Bush Is a Socialist

But only on the down-low:
In a seeming effort to blunt attention to the fact he was signing a bill he once rebuked as socialistic, President George W. Bush quietly approved a massive mortgage rescue bill shortly after 7 a.m. in the Oval Office and announced his signature by email.

"Only a few aides and administration officials were present, including Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Steve Preston and James B. Lockhart III, the Director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO)," Politico's Mike Allen remarked. "The White House announced the signing by e-mail moments later."

A senior Bush official told Allen the Administration had no desire to herald the Democrats who shepherded the bill through their congressional committees, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).

Typically bills are accompanied by a signing ceremony, replete with souvenir pens.

"Bush initially vowed to veto the bill as being overly socialistic," Allen notes. "He finally dropped his objection when he decided that it was better than nothing. In a rare split, House Republicans opposed the bill and business interests like home builders and bankers favored it."


Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I really wish Bush would just shut up with this nonsense:
President Bush, on a campaign to open offshore waters to oil drilling, said Wednesday that the Democratic-run Congress was letting down the American people by refusing to allow votes on the matter.

The president again pinned the prospect of oil drilling off the coastline — considered a long-term energy solution — to today's high gas prices for consumers.

"The American people are rightly frustrated by the failure of the Democratic leaders in Congress to enact commonsense solutions," the president said.



I believe that describes Rove's most commonly felt emotion:
A House panel Wednesday voted to cite former top White House aide Karl Rove for contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena to answer questions about the dismissals of several federal prosecutors as its Senate counterpart explored punishments for an array of alleged Bush administration misdeeds.


Hate Crime Proves Hate Crime Laws Unnecessary

Brilliant logic:
Less than 24 hours after a man targeted a liberal, gay-inclusive church and killed two of its congregants, one "pro-family" figure said that the case will prove that hate crimes protections are not needed because the media will help prosecute it.

58-year-old Jim D. Adkisson of Powell, Tennessee, entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on Monday and fired shots from a sawed-off 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun during a Monday children's performance of the musical "Annie," killing two and wounding seven. According to the Knoxville, Tennessee police chief Sterling Owen IV, a letter the out-of-work truck driver left in his car indicated frustration over a lack of employment opportunities, a reduction in his food stamp benefits and his "stated hatred of the liberal movement." Adkisson had 76 rounds with him and did not intend to leave the church alive.

"It proves our case" that hate crimes laws are not necessary, said Americans for Truth About Homosexuality president Peter LaBarbera.


Another "Non-Lethal Weapon" Death

How much longer will this go on?

A Statesville man died after being shocked multiple times by Tasers at the Iredell County jail over the weekend, sources say.

Anthony Davidson, 29, was unresponsive when he was taken to Iredell Memorial Hospital Saturday afternoon. He was put on life support and died late Sunday night, police said.

His death is the second Taser-related death this year in the Charlotte area. In March, 17-year-old Darryl Wayne Turner, died after Charlotte-Mecklenburg police used a Taser on him at a Food Lion store in Charlotte.


Ice Is So 20th Century

Farewell, Arctic:

A four-square-kilometre chunk has broken off Ward Hunt Ice Shelf - the largest remaining ice shelf in the Arctic - threatening the future of the giant frozen mass that northern explorers have used for years as the starting point for their treks.

Scientists say the break, the largest on record since 2005, is the latest indication that climate change is forcing the drastic reshaping of the Arctic coastline, where 9,000 square kilometres of ice have been whittled down to less than 1,000 over the past century, and are only showing signs of decreasing further.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Let Them Eat Mudcake

Haiti is suffering horribly under the oil crisis:

At first sight the business resembles a thriving pottery. In a dusty courtyard women mould clay and water into hundreds of little platters and lay them out to harden under the Caribbean sun.

The craftsmanship is rough and the finished products are uneven. But customers do not object. This is Cité Soleil, Haiti's most notorious slum, and these platters are not to hold food. They are food.

Brittle and gritty - and as revolting as they sound - these are "mud cakes". For years they have been consumed by impoverished pregnant women seeking calcium, a risky and medically unproven supplement, but now the cakes have become a staple for entire families.

It is not for the taste and nutrition - smidgins of salt and margarine do not disguise what is essentially dirt, and the Guardian can testify that the aftertaste lingers - but because they are the cheapest and increasingly only way to fill bellies.

"It stops the hunger," said Marie-Carmelle Baptiste, 35, a producer, eyeing up her stock laid out in rows. She did not embroider their appeal. "You eat them when you have to."

These days many people have to. The global food and fuel crisis has hit Haiti harder than perhaps any other country, pushing a population mired in extreme poverty towards starvation and revolt. Hunger burns are called "swallowing Clorox", a brand of bleach.


Still Falling

More bad news in the housing market:
Home prices tumbled by the steepest rate ever in May, according to a closely watched housing index released Tuesday, as the housing slump deepened nationwide.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city index dropped by 15.8 percent in May compared with a year ago, a record decline since its inception in 2000. The 10-city index plunged 16.9 percent, its biggest decline in its 21-year history.

Bush-onomics just keeps on setting records, doesn't it?


On a Bridge to Nowhere

Stevens isn't having a good day today:
Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican senator and a figure in Alaska politics since before statehood, was indicted Tuesday on seven counts of failing to disclose thousands of dollars in services he received from a company that helped renovate his home.

The first sitting U.S. senator to face federal indictment since 1993, Stevens has been dogged by a federal investigation into his home renovation project and his dealings with wealthy oil contractors.



Absolutely disgusting:

19-year-old US Army Private Lavena Johnson, was found dead on the military base in Balad, Iraq in July, 2005 and her death characterized by the US Army to be suicide as a self-inflicted M-16 shot. On April 9, 2008, Dr. John Johnson and his wife Linda, parents of Private Johnson, flew from their home in St. Louis for meetings with US Congress members and their staffs. They were in Washington to ask that Congressional hearings be conducted on the Army’s investigation into the death of their daughter, an investigation that classified her death as a suicide despite extensive evidence suggesting she was murdered.

From the day their daughter’s body was returned to them, the parents had grave suspicions about the Army’s investigation into Lavena’s death and the characterization of her death as suicide. In charge of a communications facility, Lavena was able to call home daily. In those calls she gave no indication of emotional problems or being upset. In a letter to her parents, Lavena’s commanding officer Captain David Woods wrote : “Lavena was clearly happy and seemed in very good health both physically and emotionally.”

In viewing his daughter’s body at the funeral home, Dr. Johnson was concerned about the bruising on her face. He was puzzled by the discrepancy in the autopsy report on the location of the gunshot wound. As a US Army veteran and a 25-year US Army civilian employee who had counseled veterans, he was mystified how the exit wound of an M-16 shot could be so small. The hole in Lavena’s head appeared to be more the size of a pistol shot rather than an M-16 round. He questioned why the exit hole was on the left side of her head, when she was right handed. But the gluing of military uniform white gloves onto Lavena’s hands hiding burns on one of her hands is what deepened Dr. Johnson’s concerns that the Army’s investigation into the death of his daughter was flawed.

Over the next two and one-half years, Dr. and Mrs. Johnson, and their family and friends relentlessly through the Freedom of Information Act and Congressional offices requested the Department of the Army for documents concerning Lavena’s death. With each response of the Army to the request for information another piece of information/evidence about Lavena’s death emerged.

The military criminal investigator’s initial drawing of the death scene revealed that Lavena’s M16 was found perfectly parallel to her body. The investigator’s sketch showed that her body was found inside a burning tent, under a wooden bench with an aerosol can nearby. A witness stated that he heard a gunshot and when he came to investigate found a tent on fire and when he looked into the tent saw a body. The Army official investigation did not mention a fire nor that her body had been burned.

After two years of requesting documents, one set of papers provided by the Army included a xerox copy of a CD. Wondering why the xerox copy was in the documents, Dr. Johnson requested the CD itself. With help from his local Congressional representative, the US Army finally complied. When Dr. Johnson viewed the CD, he was shocked to see photographs taken by Army investigators of his daughter’s body as it lay where her body had been found, as well as other photographs of her disrobed body taken during the investigation.

The photographs revealed that Lavena, a small woman, barely 5 feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, had been struck in the face with a blunt instrument, perhaps a weapon stock. Her nose was broken and her teeth knocked backwards. One elbow was distended. The back of her clothes had debris on them indicating she had been dragged from one location to another. The photographs of her disrobed body showed bruises, scratch marks and teeth imprints on the upper part of her body. The right side of her back as well as her right hand had been burned apparently from a flammable liquid poured on her and then lighted. The photographs of her genital area revealed massive bruising and lacerations. A corrosive liquid had been poured into her genital area, probably to destroy DNA evidence of sexual assault.

Despite the bruises, scratches, teeth imprints and burns on her body, Lavena was found completely dressed in the burning tent. There was a blood trail from outside a contractor’s tent to inside the tent. She apparently had been dressed after the attack and her attacker placed her body into the tent and set it on fire.

Investigator records reveal that members of her unit said Lavena told them she was going jogging with friends on the other side of the base. One unit member walked with her to the Post Exchange where she bought a soda and then, in her Army workout clothes, went on by herself to meet friends and get exercise. The unit member said she was in good spirits with no indication of personal emotional problems.

The Army investigators initially assumed Private Johnson’s death was a homicide and indicated that on their paperwork. However, shortly into the investigation, a decision apparently was made by higher officials that the investigators must stop the investigation into a homicide and to classify her death a suicide.

As a result, no further investigation took place into a possible homicide despite strong evidence available to the investigators.

And she's not the only one to suffer this.


The System Works

Yes, American capitalism truly does produce the best medical care around:
The number of Americans who died at home after ingesting toxic combinations of prescription medications, alcohol and street drugs such as marijuana exploded by more than 3,000 percent during the past two decades, new research shows.

The spike is a serious sign that many U.S. patients are having trouble coping with the shorter hospital stays, less clinical oversight and more powerful medications that have become hallmarks of medical care in recent years, said David P. Phillips, a sociologist at the University of California at San Diego.

“In the old days, you’d stay in the hospital three times as long,” said Phillips, whose team analyzed more than 50 million U.S. death certificates from 1983 to 2004.

More procedures are now performed on an outpatient basis and busy doctors are apt to prescribe more drugs with less follow-up, the researchers theorized. During the study period, the number of per capita prescriptions issued jumped by nearly 74 percent, researchers noted.

“In an effort to save money, more and more of the burden of quality control has been placed on the shoulders of the patient,” he said.

Increasingly, that burden has become fatal, according to the study by Phillips and his colleagues published in the latest issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In 1983, only 92 people died at home from the combination of medications, street drugs and/or alcohol. By 2004, that number had grown to 3,792, an increase of nearly 3,200 percent.


War Porn

There's nothing like teaching kids to kill "genocidal indigenous forces":
In the Tweety Bird section of the parking lot at an amusement park here, visitors are trying a new attraction. They jump into Humvees or Black Hawk helicopters and use fake firearms to hunt down "genocidal indigenous forces." They shoot at huge video screens.

"I like that I got to use a gun!" said 13-year-old Spencer Padgett, after trying the "Virtual Army Experience." His dad, Scott, from Laporte, Ind., said he wanted his son to gain an appreciation of the sacrifices being made by the Army.

The Virtual Army Experience -- a traveling exhibit of the U.S. Army -- has been touring the country for the past year and a half, stopping at amusement parks, air shows and county fairs. The Army, which collects information from the thousands of people who play the game, says it's an innovative way to reach a new audience. But critics don't like the idea of the military using giant videogames as a recruiting tool.

While the Army met its goal of adding 80,000 new soldiers last year, it faces a tough recruiting environment. These days, "parents are less likely to encourage their children to consider military service," said Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

The Virtual Army exhibit is based on a videogame the Army began developing in 1999, after missing recruiting goals. Not only do videogames give the Army a new way to relate to the public, they also present "an opportunity to shape their tastes," said Col. Casey Wardynski, director of the Army's Office of Economic and Manpower Analysis at West Point.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Still Winning

More bombings:
Suicide bombers, including at least three women, struck Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and Kurdish protesters in the northern city of Kirkuk on Monday, killing at least 57 people — a brutal reminder that mass gatherings remain vulnerable despite vast improvements in security.


Heckuva Job, Bushie

Leave it to the Republicans to create massive budget deficits and leave them for Democrats to fix:
The Bush administration on Monday projected the U.S. budget deficit will soar to a record of nearly half a trillion dollars in fiscal 2009 as a housing-led economic slowdown cuts into government revenues.
With the slowing economy and the cost of the economic stimulus plan, the White House said it thinks the deficit will hit a record $482 billion in fiscal 2009, which starts October 1.



Unlikely bedfellows, shall we say?
Some Democratic campaign buttons made for distribution in Idaho show an unlikely pair: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Republican Sen. Larry Craig.

But don’t expect the staunch Republican to throw his support behind Obama or for the presidential candidate to ask Craig to change his mind and run for Senate again. Apparently the button manufacturer picked a picture of the wrong Idaho Larry.

The 3-inch button by Tigereye Design was intended to show Obama beside Larry LaRocco, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, the Lewiston Tribune reported.


If Unitarians Make You Angry...

then something is terrible wrong with you:
An unemployed man accused of opening fire with a shotgun and killing two people at a Unitarian church apparently targeted the congregation out of hatred for its liberal social policies, police said Monday.
“He certainly intended to take a lot of casualties,” Owen said. “He had 76 rounds with him.”


Another Homophobe in the Schools

Fortunately, he's been gotten rid of:
In a stinging rebuke, US District Judge Richard Smoak, said in a written ruling that Ponce de Leon High School principal David Davis led a “relentless crusade” against homosexuality at the school.

“Davis embarked on what can only be characterized as a witch hunt,” Smoak’s ruling said. The ruling also said that Davis led “morality assemblies” that ignored the First Amendment.

The written ruling was released two months after student Heather Gillman and the American Civil Liberties Union won a free-speech lawsuit that cost the school district $325,000.

Davis has since been replaced as principal.

During the two-day trial in May, Davis testified that he believed clothing, buttons or stickers featuring rainbows would make students automatically picture gay people having sex.

He went on to admit that while censoring rainbows and gay pride messages, he allowed students to wear other symbols many find controversial, such as the Confederate flag.