Saturday, November 08, 2008


At least she was doing what she loved, till the end:
Miriam Makeba, the South African singer who wooed the world with her sultry voice but was banned from her own country for more than 30 years under apartheid, died after collapsing on stage in Italy. She was 76.

In her dazzling career, Makeba performed with musical legends from around the world — jazz maestros Nina Simone and Dizzy Gillespie, Harry Belafonte, Paul Simon — and sang for world leaders such as John F. Kennedy and Nelson Mandela.

"Her haunting melodies gave voice to the pain of exile and dislocation which she felt for 31 long years. At the same time, her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us," Mandela said in a statement.

He said it was "fitting" that her last moments were spent on stage.

My parents-in-law named my wife after her...


Good Investment

The banks certainly had a nice return on their lobbying money:
Nineteen banks taking taxpayer money from the Treasury Department have spent $32.4 million lobbying the federal government during the first nine months of this year, their lobbying disclosure reports show.

Combined, the Treasury is investing in the banks $159 billion from the $700 billion financial rescue package approved by Congress last month. None of the banks has indicated it plans to stop lobbying.


Head in the Sand

If you don't say it, it never happened!

Protestors spoke out Thursday against The Terrell Tribune's decision not to put Barack Obama's presidential victory on its front page.

The day after Obama was elected as president, the banner headline for the Tribune focused on the county commissioner's race. The headline read, "Jackson defeats Schoen."


Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Catblogging: We're Hungry!

Gramsci and Tista know there's something under the stove and they plan to catch it. (Nothing ever came out, but that didn't stop them from sitting, staring, and waiting for about an hour.)

Zora, meanwhile, knows she's more likely to get food by sitting near the food dish. (Plus, a mousie in case she gets bored.)



Actually punished. And in Texas, no less:

University of Texas lineman Buck Burnette has been thrown off the team after he posted a racist message to Barack Obama on his Facebook page.

Brunette updated his Facebook profile status with the following comment:

"all the hunters gather up, we have a #$%&er in the whitehouse"

Longhorns head coach Mack Brown immediately kicked Burnette off the team for "unspecified violations of team rules".


Fearmongering to the End

It's all he knows how to do:

GEORGE BUSH, warning that terrorists "would like nothing more than to exploit this period of change," intends to talk to president-elect Barack Obama on Monday about issues that will face his administration, including the turmoil in the financial markets and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The White House is especially concerned that the nation will be vulnerable during the transition between the administrations.



The US is nothing if not relentless:
A suspected U.S. missile targeting a Taliban commander killed 13 people near the Afghan border Friday, a sign that America's new general for the region is not heeding Islamabad's pleas for a halt to the strikes.

There has been a surge in U.S. cross-border attacks since August, angering Pakistani officials who say the raids violate the nuclear-armed country's sovereignty and undermine its anti-terror war in the border region.

A U.S. coalition airstrike and clashes with the Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan earlier this week killed 37 civilians and 26 insurgents, according to an Afghan government report released Friday.

The report also accused the Taliban militants of seeking shelter near a wedding party in the Kandahar province's Shah Wali Kot district shortly after ambushing a coalition patrol on Monday, according to the findings compiled by the governor of Kandahar province.

The report said that another 27 civilians were wounded in the strike. It added that the government has already paid $2,000 to families of each victim, and $100 to those who were wounded — a standard practice in these cases.



Down we go:
The nation's unemployment rate bolted to a 14-year high of 6.5 percent in October as another 240,000 jobs were cut, far worse than economists expected and stark proof the economy is deteriorating at an alarmingly rapid pace.


More Child Soldiers

Having taught Ishmael Beah's memoirs the past few semesters, the ongoing atrocity of child soldier recruitment depresses me to no end:

Save the Children said that two schools have been attacked in eastern Congo, with several children kidnapped. It is looking after a number of children who have escaped their captors.

It was not immediately clear which of the several factions active in the region were responsible during a conflict in which hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by clashes in recent weeks,

"There has been an explosion in the number of children being recruited since the latest violence began and the attacks on schoolchildren are a disturbing development," said a spokesman for Save the Children in eastern Congo.

"One child told me that they are scared to go back to school for fear of being attacked. For these children, getting an education is their only hope for the future. If they can't go to school, they lose that hope."


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Paranoia Nation

Americans can be so pathetic and ridiculous:
Sales of handguns, rifles and ammunition have surged in the last week, according to gun store owners around the nation who describe a wave of buyers concerned that an Obama administration will curtail their right to bear arms.

“He’s a gun-snatcher,” said Jim Pruett, owner of Jim Pruett’s Guns and Ammo in northwest Houston, which was packed with shoppers on Thursday.

“He wants to take our guns from us and create a socialist society policed by his own police force,” added Mr. Pruett, a former radio personality, of President-elect Barack Obama.


Good Riddance

If I never have to see his face again, it'll be too soon:

IF THE Republican Party has an unusually difficult adjustment to its new minority status, Karl Rove, former top political adviser to George Bush, might be singled out for particular responsibility in what could be a long period of soul searching.

After President Bush's victory in 2000, Mr Rove assured the party he foresaw a long period of Republican dominance, perhaps even a permanent majority.

And as former top political adviser and influential policy hand, his stamp is all over the now-profoundly unpopular Bush Administration.


The Stupid Goes On

I expect we'll be seeing many more such stories, unfortunately:
A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today called on the FBI to launch a hate crime investigation into an Election Night assault on a New York Muslim by a gang allegedly angry that Barack Obama was elected president.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said media reports indicate that four "white men" beat a Muslim of Liberian heritage as he was walking near his Staten Island home. The victim said the alleged attackers jumped from a car and attacked him after shouting "Obama." Local law enforcement authorities are investigating the attack as a hate crime.

And yes, Republican politicians and right-wing pundits are directly responsible for this sort of thing, due to their promulgation of the big lie.


Time for a Change

It's a very good thing America wised up on Tuesday:
The number of out-of-work Americans continuing to draw unemployment benefits has surged to a 25-year high, while shoppers turned extra frugal, further proof of the damage from sinking economy, credit problems and financial stresses.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of people continuing to draw unemployment benefits jumped by 122,000 to 3.84 million in late October. It was the highest level since late February 1983, when the country was struggling to recover from a long and painful recession.


Forging Ahead

More victories may well be imminent:
Bills that would legalize same-sex marriage are expected to be taken up by law makers in five states when the new sessions of the legislatures begin. In three of the states - New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire -LGBT rights groups say there is a strong indication they will be passed.


Bye, Bye

You will not be missed:
The architect of two failed attempts to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage was defeated in her bid for re-election on Tuesday.

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) was defeated by Democratic businesswoman Betsy Markey in a closely watched race.

Markey becomes the first Democrat in two generations to represent Northern Colorado in Congress. Her campaign received large cash infusions from gays and lesbians across the country.

In July, Musgrave said that if she were re-elected she would support a new bid to advance the federal anti-gay measure.


An Offer He Could Not Refuse

Has Medvedev gotten one?
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev could resign from his post in 2009 to pave the way for Vladimir Putin to return to the Kremlin, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Thursday, citing an unidentified source close to the Kremlin.

Medvedev Wednesday proposed increasing the presidential term to six years from four years, a step the newspaper said was part of a plan drawn up by Vladislav Surkov, who serves as Medvedev's first deputy chief of staff.

Under the plan, Medvedev could implement changes to the constitution and unpopular social reforms "so that Putin could return to the Kremlin for a longer period," the newspaper said.


Semper Fi

Not so much:

A Brooklyn-raised Marine sergeant and his new bride were tortured and killed execution-style in their California home - allegedly by four other Marines under his command.

Sgt. Jan Pawel Pietrzak, who was raised in Bensonhurst, and his wife, Quiana, were found bound and gagged in the ransacked house, each shot in the head.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Fight Goes On

Proposition 8 will not cease to be a battle:

Civil rights groups moved quickly today to challenge Proposition 8, asking the California Supreme Court to strike down the latest attempt to ban same-sex marriage across the state.

While refusing to concede that the ballot measure has passed, gay marriage supporters nevertheless filed a petition with the state's high court in the event the current vote holds and Proposition 8 amends the California constitution to once again outlaw marriage for gay and lesbian couples.


Bush: An Insult to Sewage

It turns out that San Francisco voters didn't think naming a local sewage plant after President George W. Bush was a fitting tribute to the president — or the plant.

Voters on Tuesday rejected Measure R, which would have changed the name of the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant to the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. More than 69 percent had voted against the idea.

The measure's supporters said it was an appropriate way to memorialize the 43rd president, who they blame for a long list of national woes from the Iraq war to the slumping economy.

But some critics had pointed out the name switch would have been unfair — to the hardworking sewage plant.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

WE WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Go Obama!

That is all.


War Breeds War

Man hands on misery
to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
--Philip Larkin
Preschoolers with a parent away at war were more likely to show aggression than other young children in military families, according to the first published research on how the very young react to wartime deployment.

Hitting, biting and hyperactivity — "the behaviors parents really notice" — were more frequent when a parent was deployed, said lead author Dr. Molinda Chartrand, an active duty pediatrician in the U.S. Air Force.


Modified Duty

As in, their sodomy privileges have been revoked:
The NYPD yesterday took away the guns and badges of the four Brooklyn police officers under investigation for allegedly beating and sodomizing a marijuana suspect on a subway platform near Prospect Park, police said yesterday.

Their assignment to modified duty that includes desk jobs is considered significant because the department had kept the officers, all from the 71st Precinct, on full duty since the suspect, Michael Mineo, 24, made his claim nearly three weeks ago.

Police had said two civilian witnesses told Internal Affairs investigators they did not see anyone violate Mineo.

In recent days, however, a fifth officer, who works in transit and is considered a witness in the case, has moved toward entering into a cooperation agreement with the Brooklyn attorney's office as it continues presenting evidence to an investigative grand jury.


Just Voted

Party-line for the Libertarian Party, of course.


Monday, November 03, 2008


Few ideas are more despicable than the notion of stealing money slated to help those with AIDS:
Zimbabwe’s government has misused millions of dollars meant to fight AIDS and other diseases, an international aid agency alleged Monday as it demanded US$7.3 million of its money back.

Zimbabwe has one of the world’s worst AIDS epidemics, a collapsing health infrastructure and a growing hunger crisis.

In addition to the issue of corruption, the country’s cash shortages and banking problems are severely hampering efforts to feed the hungry and care for the sick, according to several aid agencies.



Must be a very stressful and confusing time for Obama right now:
Barack Obama's grandmother, whose personality and bearing shaped much of the life of the Democratic presidential contender, has died, Obama announced Monday, one day before the election. Madelyn Payne Dunham was 86. Obama announced the news from the campaign trail in Charlotte, N.C. The joint statement with his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng said Dunham died peacefully late Sunday night after a battle with cancer.

They said: "She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances."


Last-Minute Rape

The Bush administration wants to do as much damage as it possibly can to the environment:
As the U.S. presidential candidates sprint toward the finish line, the Bush administration is also sprinting to enact environmental policy changes before leaving power.

Whether it's getting wolves off the Endangered Species List, allowing power plants to operate near national parks, loosening regulations for factory farm waste or making it easier for mountaintop coal-mining operations, these proposed changes have found little favor with environmental groups.

The one change most environmentalists want, a mandatory program to cut climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions, is not among these so-called "midnight regulations."



Sunday, November 02, 2008

Real Class Warfare

Not metaphorical. Real:
Five homeless people -- three men and two women -- were found shot dead on Sunday in Los Angeles area, a police spokesman said.

The five bodies were found under two major highways north of Long Beach, 50 kilometers south of Los Angeles, said police sergeant Dina Zapalski.


Several homeless people have been attacks these past few months in the Los Angeles region, a city of 10 million inhabitants where some 73,000 homeless people are estimated to be living.

In September, a homeless person was doused with gasoline and set alight until he burned to death.

In July 2007, three teenagers were arrested for allegedly attacking several homeless persons and posting footage of the attacks on the Internet.


Rhode Island Is Afraid of...

um, "foreign" influence:

The Narragansett Indian Tribe bought a 31-acre lot in 1991, saying it would be used for "economic development" and housing for the elderly and poor.

However, the state of Rhode Island, fearing the tribe really wants to create a tax-free zone or build a casino, sued to block the Narragansetts from putting the land into federal trust, which would essentially free it from state and local law.

On Monday, their fight reaches the U.S. Supreme Court in a case being closely watched across the country because it could determine how tribes recognized after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act are allowed to buy, govern and use land.


Rhode Island and 21 other states want the Supreme Court to limit that authority because states lose control over tribal trust land within their own borders. They say trust lands can alter the character of surrounding communities, especially when casino income allows tribes to embark on major projects.



It's really all they know how to do in order to win:
The residents of Broward County, Florida have recently received misleading robocalls telling them that they can vote by phone on Election Day, according to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Friday.
Another unknown group is distributing flyers (see the flyer after the jump) with official-looking letterhead around the area of Hampton Roads, Virgina that erroneously inform recipients that because of the crowds at the polls, the Virginia State Board of Elections is scheduling Republicans to vote on November 4th, and Democrats on the 5th.


Another Embarrassment

Do we really need yet more ignorance in the White House?

Sarah Palin told a Canadian comedian posing as French President Nicolas Sarkozy during a prank call that "maybe in eight years" she will be president.

The US vice-presidential nominee unwittingly discussed politics, the perils of hunting with Vice-President Dick Cheney, and Sarkozy's "beautiful wife", in the telephone call with comedian Marc-Antoine Audette released on Saturday and set to air on a Quebec radio station on Monday.

When the caller tells the Republican in a strong French accent that he can see her as president, she laughs and says: "Maybe in eight years."


The comedian, one half of Canada's popular Masked Avengers duo, drops several clues that the call is a trick. He refers to French singer Johnny Hallyday as his special adviser to the United States and to Canadian singer Steph Carse as Canada's prime minister. In reality, the Prime Minister is Stephen Harper.

At one point in the conversation, Audette tells Palin that he enjoys hunting and loves "killing those animals".