Friday, January 30, 2009

What Is Not Wrong with Kansas

Good news:
(Topeka, Kansas) A key legislative committee has approved a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination law.


The Other Economy

When one economy is clearly not working, another will arise:
Criminal gangs in the USA have swelled to an estimated 1 million members responsible for up to 80% of crimes in communities across the nation, according to a gang threat assessment compiled by federal officials.


A Rarity

Being a racist Republican jackass doesn't pay off for once:
CQ reports that Chip Saltsman — who became notorious for mailing out the “Barack the Magic Negro” CD as a Christmas present to friends — will not be on the ballot for chair of the Republican National Committee because he was “unable to cobble together the six supporters necessary for nomination.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Yet More Good

The new administration keeps on giving:
Senate Democrats moved one step closer to handing President Barack Obama an early health care victory Thursday, passing a bill extending government-sponsored health insurance coverage to about 4 million uninsured children.

The bill, which was approved 66-32, authorizes an additional $32.8 billion over the next 4 1/2 years for the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The House plans to take up the same measure next week.

Not perfect, but good.


The War Continues to Take Its Toll

Suicide rates are continuing to rise.

Suicides among U.S. soldiers rose last year to the highest level in decades, the Army announced Thursday.

At least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008. But the final count is likely to be considerably higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated and could also turn out to be self-inflicted, the Army said.


Officials have said that troops are under tremendous and unprecedented stress because of repeated and long tours of duty due to the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The stress has placed further burdens on an overwhelmed military health care system also trying to tend to huge numbers of troops suffering from post-traumatic stress, depression and other mental health problems as well as physical wounds and injuries of tens of thousands.


A Fitting Tribute


When an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at George W. Bush last month at a Baghdad press conference, the attack spawned a flood of Web quips, political satire and street rallies across the Arab world.

Now it's inspired a work of art.

A sofa-sized sculpture — a single copper-coated shoe on a stand carved to resemble flowing cloth — was formally unveiled to the public Thursday in the hometown of the late Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.



I has it.


Fair Pay

Obama's signs his first bill into law:
President Barack Obama signed an equal-pay bill into law Thursday before cheering labor and women leaders who fought hard for it and the woman whose history-making lawsuit gave impetus to the cause.

Obama, choosing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as the first bill to sign as president, called it a "wonderful day" and declared that ending pay disparities between men and woman an issue not just for women, but for all workers.


The Republican Response to Katrina

Commit fraud and profit:

GULFPORT — A Hurricane Katrina-recovery ambassador to President George W. Bush and the nation, Mayor Brent Warr says his work and the city’s will continue as prosecutors prepare a federal case against him and his wife, Laura, on 16 charges of Katrina fraud.

The Warrs cried quietly Wednesday in the corridor of the U.S. District courthouse just blocks from City Hall after they were each indicted on 16 charges: one count of conspiracy, one count of fraud, two counts of theft of public funds, four counts of making false statements, three counts of wire fraud and five counts of mail fraud.

The indictment says the Warrs reconstructed their beachfront mansion with $222,798 in ill-gotten gains from FEMA, HUD and Lexington Insurance Co. from September 2005 to March 2007. The Warrs received the maximum $150,000 HUD homeowners grant through the Mississippi Development Authority, $9,558 in FEMA funds and $88,440.10 from Lexington Insurance Co., the indictment says.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More of What We Do Not Need

Alas, she won't just go away:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin launched a political action committee Tuesday to help support candidates for federal and state office.


Let Them Die

That seems to be Scharwzenegger's position:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and State Attorney General Jerry Brown are planning to ask a federal court to a stop an $8 billion spending plan for prison medical facilities.

The officials also planned Wednesday to call for the termination of a court-appointed receiver overseeing reform of California's prison health care system.

A federal court appointed the receiver after ruling that the quality of health care in California's 33 adult prisons is unconstitutional.



Ratzi's love of anti-Semites is having consequences:
Israel's chief rabbinate severed ties with the Vatican on Wednesday to protest a papal decision to reinstate a bishop who publicly denied 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

The Jewish state's highest religious authority sent a letter to the Holy See expressing "sorrow and pain" at the papal decision. "It will be very difficult for the chief rabbinate of Israel to continue its dialogue with the Vatican as before," the letter said. Chief rabbis of both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews were parties to the letter.


Homophobes Are Insane

Perception becomes reality:
A California appeals court ruled Monday that a Christian high school can expel students perceived to be lesbians, upholding a 2008 lower court ruling that there were "no triable" elements to the case.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Going After Rove

It'll be interesting to watch how this plays out:
House Democrats renewed their effort to force former White House aide Karl Rove to testify in a probe into Justice Department controversies, presenting a challenge to President Barack Obama, who will have to decide whether to defend his predecessor's legal arguments.

Michigan Rep. John Conyers, Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, on Monday issued a subpoena to Mr. Rove, seeking his appearance at a deposition Feb. 2. Mr. Conyers wants the former aide to President George W. Bush to answer questions on the Justice Department's firings of U.S. attorneys in 2006, among other matters.

For more than a year, the Bush administration blocked congressional demands for testimony from Mr. Rove and other Bush aides. The White House's assertion of executive privilege prompted the aides to refuse even to show up for a hearing. A judge last year, in a limited ruling, said the privilege didn't protect the aides from having to appear, even if they refused to answer questions.

"Change has come to Washington, and I hope Karl Rove is ready for it," Mr. Conyers said. "After two years of stonewalling, it's time for him to talk."


The Stupid

It burns:

In their latest attempt to rally against the new economic stimulus package, many conservatives are ridiculing a measure that would aid states by making it easier to provide comprehensive family planning services to low-income women. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) defended the measure on MSNBC’s Hardball this afternoon, noting that “family planning saves, if done correctly, an enormous sum of money down the road in the health care system.” However, host Chris Matthews thought the measure sounded more like something straight out of communist China:

MATTHEWS: I don’t know. It sounds a little like China. […] I think everybody should have family planning and everybody believes in birth control as a right. I’m for — abortion is a right and all that. It’s all right. But why should the federal government have a policy of reducing the number of births?


Whatever Works

Why does this fail to surprise?
The United Nations' crime and drug watchdog has indications that money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis, its head was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Vienna-based UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in an interview released by Austrian weekly Profil that drug money often became the only available capital when the crisis spiralled out of control last year.

"In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital," Costa was quoted as saying by Profil. "In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor."

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime had found evidence that "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," Costa was quoted as saying. There were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."


It's Snowing


High in the sky above Mars, it is snowing right now. Very gently snowing. The snow does not settle on the rubble-strewn land below - not these days, anyway - but instead vaporises into the thin atmosphere long before it reaches the ground.

The first flakes of snow, on a planet that until fairly recently was believed to be waterless, were spotted just a few months ago. A Nasa lander near the planet's north pole was scanning the sky with a laser when it noticed the telltale signs of snowfall. The probe, called Phoenix, announced the news in a radio signal that was picked up by an overhead orbiter and beamed back to Earth. Nothing like it had ever been seen before.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Drug World

This is just not good:
When researchers analyzed vials of treated wastewater taken from a plant where about 90 Indian drug factories dump their residues, they were shocked. Enough of a single, powerful antibiotic was being spewed into one stream each day to treat every person in a city of 90,000.

And it wasn't just ciprofloxacin being detected. The supposedly cleaned water was a floating medicine cabinet — a soup of 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients, used in generics for treatment of hypertension, heart disease, chronic liver ailments, depression, gonorrhea, ulcers and other ailments. Half of the drugs measured at the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment, researchers say.

Those Indian factories produce drugs for much of the world, including many Americans. The result: Some of India's poor are unwittingly consuming an array of chemicals that may be harmful, and could lead to the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obama Forging Ahead

Working to permit states to set emissions limits now:
President Barack Obama will direct federal regulators on Monday to move swiftly on an application by California and 13 other states to set strict automobile emissions and fuel efficiency standards, two administration officials said Sunday evening.


The Global Economy

It killed Iceland:
Iceland's Minister of Commerce Bjorgvin Sigurdsson has resigned, two days after the prime minister announced his own departure due to pressures from the island nation's economic collapse.

The government of Iceland became the first in the world to be effectively brought down by the credit crunch.

It came after several nights of rioting over the financial crisis.


Note to Ratzi

Shut up and get back to reconciling with Holocaust deniers:

The Vatican has condemned President Obama's move to restore US funding for family planning clinics abroad that give advice on or carry out abortions.

One Vatican official warned against the "arrogance" of those in power who think they can decide between life and death.

Another official said it dealt a blow to groups fighting against "the slaughter of the innocents".

The White House says the move aligns the US with other nations fighting poverty and promoting health care.

On Friday, Mr Obama ended a ban on giving US federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide information about them.

UPDATE: Looks as though he's multitasking:
Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops, including that of a Holocaust denier whose rehabilitation sparked outrage among Jewish groups.



It almost seems as though the Bush administration didn't much care about keeping track of who they were imprisoning and torturing:
President Obama's plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials -- barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees -- discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.

Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is "scattered throughout the executive branch," a senior administration official said.


Another Obama Benefit

He has al-Qaeda freaked out and confused:
Soon after the November election, al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader took stock of America's new president-elect and dismissed him with an insulting epithet. "A house Negro," Ayman al-Zawahiri said.
The torrent of hateful words is part of what terrorism experts now believe is a deliberate, even desperate, propaganda campaign against a president who appears to have gotten under al-Qaeda's skin. The departure of George W. Bush deprived al-Qaeda of a polarizing American leader who reliably drove recruits and donations to the terrorist group.
"They're highly uncertain about what they're getting in this new adversary," said Paul Pillar, a former CIA counterterrorism official who lectures on national security at Georgetown University. "For al-Qaeda, as a matter of image and tone, George W. Bush had been a near-perfect foil."