Saturday, August 09, 2008

They Say They Want a Revolution

Well, you know:
They’re not exactly rooting for Barack Obama, but prominent white supremacists anticipate a boost to their cause if he becomes the first black president. His election, they say, would trigger a backlash - whites rising up, a revolution of sorts - that they think is long overdue.

He’d be a “visual aid,” says former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, in trying to bring others around to their view that whites have lost control of America.


Language Counts

Very good:
The ballot question originally had been described as a measure to limit marriage between a man and a woman. Last month Attorney General Jerry Brown changed the description to say the proposed amendment would eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry and that it could result in California losing tens of millions of dollars in taxes.

The Project Marriage Coalition, the umbrella group that collected enough names to have the question placed on the ballot went to court, accusing Brown of twisting the wording to influence the vote.

At a hearing Thursday attorneys for Brown’s office said the original definition was written before the California Supreme Court in May struck down the state ban on same-sex marriage. Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples began lining up for marriage licenses the following month when the ruling took effect.

In a written ruling issued Friday morning Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley said that the title and summary accurately summarizes the proposition.

“There is nothing inherently argumentative or prejudicial about transitive verbs, and the Court is not willing to fashion a rule that would require the Attorney General to engage in useless nominalization,” Frawley wrote.

The decision is a setback for gay marriage foes who say they will appeal.



I'm sure nothing but good can come of this:
the Bush Administration is finalizing plans to establish yet another massive surveillance program -- and has classified almost every single detail.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Friday Frogblogging

Today's visitor in our backyard pond:

(posted by Miriam)


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Artificial Timetable or Horizon?

Who knows?
Two Iraqi officials say the U.S. and Iraq are close to a deal under which all American combat troops would leave by October 2010 with remaining U.S. forces gone about three years later.


The High Cost of Homophobia

Just how stupid is DADT?


After firing over 300 gay translators under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which prevents gay and lesbian personnel from serving openly, the military is now preparing to offer retention bonuses of up to $150,000 to those who remain, as the Christian Science Monitor reported Tuesday. The policy that put the military in such a position, which Olbermann called "moronic," he notes, remains in place, as costs to replace the translators, in bonuses alone, could reach $45 million.

"George Bush," Olbermann said, "has told us for seven years that Iraq is the front line in the 'War on Terror.' John McCain has screamed it at us for seven months and talked about needing to keep an American presence there from anywhere from a month to a millennium. But we're kicking out Arabic translators who want to stay, while we're offering $150,000 to the ones who want to leave."


Monday, August 04, 2008

Ask Congress to Investigate LaVena Johnson's "Suicide"

Go to Color of Change here and ask Congress to investigate the rape and murder of LaVena Johnson, a young African American soldier, which the army (against all the available evidence) designated a suicide. Ror posted on this a while back, and Color of Change also has more information at that link.


Novel Approach

I suppose this is one way to avoid the needle:
An inmate scheduled for execution in October says he's so fat that Ohio executioners would have trouble finding his veins and he might not be properly anesthetized.

Lawyers for Richard Cooey argue in a federal lawsuit that Cooey had poor veins when he faced execution five years ago and that the problem has been worsened by weight gain.


Italy Deploys Soldiers

Another rather fascist move by Berlusconi:

In the most controversial part of the exercise, about 1,000 troops will be sent on patrol alongside the police in large Italian cities such as Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin. The move has prompted critics to warn of the militarisation of the cities.

The deployment of soldiers is intended to free up the Carabinieri for other duties.

The government has repeatedly linked rising crime rates to illegal immigration, which last month prompted Berlusconi and his ministers to declare a national state of emergency.

The deployment of the military is the latest high-profile element in a campaign that already includes the fingerprinting those of who live in camps on the outskirts of Italy's big cities. The vast majority of such people are Roma.

The opposition criticised the move as "window dressing", warning that it could hurt the country's image abroad and even deter tourists.

But Ignazio La Russa, the defence minister and a leading figure in the formerly neofascist National Alliance, dismissed claims that the soldiers would scare tourists or residents, saying the troops could help address citizens' concerns about security.


Lamest Olympics Ever

No drunken streaking? What is the world coming to?
Do not sleep outdoors to save money at the Olympics. It is banned to "maintain public hygiene and the cultured image of cities."

Do not let the stifling summer heat tempt you into streaking, do not get drunk nor set off fireworks nor wave "insulting banners."

Anyone with mental illnesses or sexually transmitted diseases is banned. Smoking is not allowed at Olympic venues.

The rules on the organizers' official website say it all:

"Foreigners must respect Chinese laws while in China and must not harm China's national security or damage social order."

The security-obsessed authorities are taking no chances with the 500,000 tourists set to hit Beijing for the Games.

A battery of surface-to-air missile launchers are being deployed around the showpiece sites.

No detail is too trivial.

Lighters have been banned on domestic flights. Commuters are being asked to take a swig from water bottles on the subway to ensure they do not contain suspicious substances.

All public swimming pools in Shanghai will check shampoos and body wash.


"No Picketing Signs Were Harmed"

Too bad:
Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, known for its vocal condemnations of homosexuality, website and picketing of gay pride parades and funerals, has sustained thousands of dollars in damage after a fire early Saturday morning. Impromptu protest followed as firefighters carried out their response.

"There is evidence that hatred of our religion was the motivation, in part at least," states a "Civil Rights Hate Crime Complaint" written by pastor Fred Phelps Sr. to Attorney General Michael Mukasey. In a recently released YouTube presentation, Phelps also blames law enforcement, judges, and the "filthy, fag-riddled military" for what he considers an assault on his First Amendment rights.

Meanwhile, a neighbor is suspicious that the fire is a hoax meant to intimidate her into giving up her property. "They keep claiming that this property is theirs, and it is not theirs," said 91-year-old Leona McQueen. "They keep wanting to buy me, but I don't want to sell it. I don't know if whether they are trying to push me out."

"It's a ridiculous accusation," Phelps-Roper countered. "The fire was started by someone as we slept. Thankfully the lord our god (sic) keeps us in all our ways."

The cause of the fire has not been determined. No picketing signs were harmed.


Bad Odds

Soldiers stand a high chance of sustaining hearing damage and PTSD:
Hearing loss is one of the most common ailments that affects troops sent back to combat, according to the Pentagon and government researchers. One in four soldiers serving in Iraq or Afghanistan have damaged hearing, the Army said. In addition, a recent study from the Rand Corp. reported one in five combat veterans suffer post-traumatic stress disorder or depression. Back pain, leg injuries and other musculoskeletal problems are the top ailments of troops in the war zone, said Ellen Embrey, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for force health protection and readiness.