Friday, January 02, 2009


The Canadians are doing it:
There's a "high probability" some Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan – one of the world's biggest sources of illegal drugs – will get involved in the drug trade, a military police report warns.

"Access to illicit drugs in Afghanistan is routine," reads the report obtained by the Star.

"Easy access to heroin, hashish, cannabis presents a temptation for (Canadian) troops in the form of personal use and in the form of importation for the purpose of trafficking," it reads.



It's the new strategery:
In what amounts to an Afghan version of the surge in Iraq, the U.S. is preparing to pour at least 20,000 extra troops into the south, augmenting 12,500 NATO soldiers who have proved too few to cope with a Taliban insurgency that is fiercer than NATO leaders expected.


Thursday, January 01, 2009

My Heart Bleeds

Poor Abu Gonzales:
After maintaining a low profile since resigning as attorney general in 2007, Alberto Gonzales sat down for an interview with The Wall Street Journal and wasted no time in reigniting controversy.

While defending his record in the Bush administration, Gonzales lamented that "for some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with. I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror."
Absolutely nauseating.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Being very smart and very silly has its rewards:

Pratchett, 60, best known for his satirical "Discworld" fantasy series, becomes a knight, one of the queen's most important honors, and will now be addressed as a "Sir."

"There are times when phrases such as 'totally astonished' just don't do the job," he said in a statement.

"I am of course delighted and honored and needless to say, flabbergasted."



Harold Pinter's family bade farewell to the late Nobel-prize winning playwright Wednesday at a simple, private funeral service -- with arrangements directed by the writer himself, in advance.

Fellow thespians including actor Michael Gambon and dramatist Tom Stoppard joined some 50 guests gathered for the 15-minute ceremony in a London cemetery, a week after Pinter's death from cancer on Christmas Eve.



People are still short-sighted morons:
It looks like the Highlander is in and the Prius is out — for now at least.

Trucks and sport utility vehicles will outsell cars for the first time since February, according to a December report by, which tracks industry statistics.

"Despite all the public discussion of fuel efficiency, SUVs and trucks are the industry's biggest sellers right now as a remarkable number of buyers seem to be compelled by three factors: great deals, low gas prices and winter weather," said Michelle Krebs of, a division of, in a prepared statement.



It's important to have the right man for the job:
An Ohio state employee whose job is to prevent discrimination repeatedly sent racist and sexist e-mails from his government account, an investigation found, but kept his job.

The same man was reprimanded a year ago for sending an e-mail joking about giving jobs to women with large breasts.

Jokes about men kissing and a woman's genitalia, as well as a racial joke and a caricature of President-elect Barack Obama, were in the latest e-mails sent by the Transportation Department worker, according to an agency report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Collateral Damage

Suffer, the little children:

As the economic downturn takes its toll on struggling families, child welfare workers across the region are seeing a marked rise in child abuse and neglect cases, with increases of more than 20 percent in some suburban counties.

Neglect investigations appear to have increased most, many resulting from families living without heat or electricity or failing to get children medical care.



What is wrong with people, that they will actively seek to oppose equal representation?
A conservative legal group is calling on lawyers to oppose a proposed revision to the Arizona Bar Association oath of office that pledges equal representation to LGBT clients.

The Alliance Defense Fund calls the proposal “unconstitutional.”

The proposed revision to the oath states: “I will not permit considerations of gender, race, religion, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or social standing to influence my duty of care.”

It must still be approved by the bar association.

The ADF, which is based in Arizona and regularly opposes LGBT rights in courts across the country, said it is particularly concerned about the inclusion of “sexual orientation” in the revised oath.

In a letter to bar association president Edward Novak, the ADF and other conservative lawyers said that “the proposed provision is unnecessary, exceedingly ambiguous, and unconstitutional.”

“We are concerned most particularly that the proposed provision’s vagueness violates due-process and free-speech guarantees and that its application infringes First Amendment rights by compelling conduct and expression in conflict with an attorney’s philosophical or religious beliefs as well as his other professional responsibilities.”

If your beliefs prevent you from doing your job, then get a different job.



It Is True

Bush has been trying to kill you, for years:

In early 2001, an epidemiologist at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sought to publish a special bulletin warning dental technicians that they could be exposed to dangerous beryllium alloys while grinding fillings. Health studies showed that even a single day's exposure at the agency's permitted level could lead to incurable lung disease.

After the bulletin was drafted, political appointees at the agency gave a copy to a lobbying firm hired by the country's principal beryllium manufacturer, according to internal OSHA documents. The epidemiologist, Peter Infante, incorporated what he considered reasonable changes requested by the company and won approval from key directorates, but he bristled when the private firm complained again.

"In my 24 years at the Agency, I have never experienced such indecision and delay," Infante wrote in an e-mail to the agency's director of standards in March 2002. Eventually, top OSHA officials decided, over what Infante described in an e-mail to his boss as opposition from "the entire OSHA staff working on beryllium issues," to publish the bulletin with a footnote challenging a key recommendation the firm opposed.

Current and former career officials at OSHA say that such sagas were a recurrent feature during the Bush administration, as political appointees ordered the withdrawal of dozens of workplace health regulations, slow-rolled others, and altered the reach of its warnings and rules in response to industry pressure.

The result is a legacy of unregulation common to several health-protection agencies under Bush: From 2001 to the end of 2007, OSHA officials issued 86 percent fewer rules or regulations termed economically significant by the Office of Management and Budget than their counterparts did during a similar period in President Bill Clinton's tenure, according to White House lists.


Third Gender

Bangladesh is finally acknowledging its hijras:
Among the millions of new voters in Monday's Bangladeshi elections will be some 100,000 hijras -- cross-dressing, pre- and post-operative transsexuals -- allowed to cast ballots for the first time.

The male-to-female transsexuals are among 32 percent of the impoverished nation's 81 million voters for whom participating in the elections, the first since 2001, will be a new experience.

Hijra social worker Joya Shikder, herself a transsexual, said the move spelled a positive change for the conservative Muslim country.

"We've always been overlooked in previous elections," Shikder said. "It's exciting to be given this recognition but the authorities have stopped short of acknowledging us as a third gender."


Virginity Pledges Are Stupid and Dangerous

The mountains of evidence keep on piling up:
Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a "virginity pledge," but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.


Sunday, December 28, 2008


Not to be blunt about it, but really:

RNC candidate Chip Saltsman’s Christmas greeting to committee members includes a music CD with lyrics from a song called “Barack the Magic Negro,” first played on Rush Limbaugh’s popular radio show.

Saltsman, a personal friend of conservative satirist Paul Shanklin, sent a 41-track CD along with a note to national committee members.

“I look forward to working together in the New Year,” Saltsman wrote. “Please enjoy the enclosed CD by my friend Paul Shanklin of the Rush Limbaugh Show.”

The CD, called “We Hate the USA,” lampoons liberals with such songs as “John Edwards’ Poverty Tour,” “Wright place, wrong pastor,” “Love Client #9,” “Ivory and Ebony” and “The Star Spanglish banner.”

Several of the track titles, including “Barack the Magic Negro,” are written in bold font.


On Atheism

During this holiday season, let me just commend Greta Christina for putting it so well.


A Better Idea

Instead of giving Afghan citizens weapons, let's just keep the warlords busy, um, elsewhere:

America's CIA has found a novel way to gain information from fickle Afghan warlords - supplying sex-enhancing drug Viagra, a US media report says.

The Washington Post said it was one of a number of enticements being used.

In one case, a 60-year-old warlord with four wives was given four pills and four days later detailed Taleban movements in return for more.

"Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people," the Post quoted one agent as saying.


Another Brilliant Idea

Free guns for Afghan citizens!

That will surely lead to peace:

The main job of the local units is to be an "early warning system" and be armed mainly for defensive operations, a U.S. military official said.

Participants will get uniforms so they can be readily identified, officials said.

The first phase of the program is expected to begin next year in Wardak province, where the Taliban have overrun many local government institutions.

For the United States, the most sensitive part of the proposal will be the use of American military funds to purchase small arms, most likely AK-47 rifles, that will be given to local Afghans, according to a U.S. military official.

U.S. commanders acknowledge concerns that arming local groups is risky, as it could lead to new armed conflicts between tribes, putting American troops in the middle of unexpected firefights.