ThePoliticalCat

A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Consumer Alert - Halloween Toys


Keep your kids away from these. The U.S. just recalled another 440,000 toys for dangerous lead contamination, says AFP.

And the halfwitted CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) head, Nancy Nord, wants her agency to be reduced in size.

Toys included in the recall:
Galaxy Warriors figures
plastic disguise teeth
military-style Elite Operations action figures distributed by the global Toys R Us chain
Ribbit board games.

[...]

Lead can cause damage to the brain and nervous system of children, behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems and headaches, and is particularly dangerous if ingested.
According to the AFP article, the fake teeth contain about 100 times more lead than deemed to be safe. And of course kids put those in their mouths - and they'll ingest the lead.

The CPSC has one full-time toy tester. That might explain why we keep getting poisoned toys on the market.

Dr. Jeffrey Weidenhamer of Ashland University, Ohio, tested approximately 54 items in the weeks leading up to Halloween, and says that some of the items had dangerous levels of lead. He informed the CSPC about this in a report. However, several dangerous items were still on the shelves of stores shortly before Halloween.

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Politics: Bigfoot Quits

Hughes attempting to rejoin her fleeing family

Tired of trying to make Shrub and his administration over as near-humans, Karen Hughes joined the other rats fleeing the sinking ship today, says the WaPoo. She is, reportedly, the last of Shrubya's Texas inner circle.

Secretary of State Bootsie Ferragamo announced, in a footsize snark:
"She will obviously leave a very big hole and big shoes to fill, ...."
Hughes was sworn in as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy in September 2005. Her job was supposedly "to combat negative opinions about the United States following the March 2003 invasion of Iraq and its chaotic aftermath."

Reuters reports that her sucess has been smaller than her footprint:
However, opinion polls around the world continue to show high levels of anti-Americanism, which the Pew Research Center in Washington says is strongest in the Muslim world.
Thanks to Maru for the great pic of Hughes in her natural habitat.

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Politics: Any Straight Republicans Left?


I mean it. Every other day, some Republican politician is outed in the most embarrassing way, or some conservative bible-thumping anti-gay-rights homophobic closet queen of a religious Republican is busted for snorting meth off their favourite gay male prostitute's butt.

You can't help wonder if, like lemmings, Republicans can only take so much of their own hypocritical rhetoric before they all start heading en masse for the closest cliff. Did all these guys "become" gay after listening to themselves bay and howl about how deadly teh ghey was and how it would turn your children gay instantly just to know that two people of the same gender could have a loving relationship?

Just two days ago, we here at ThePoliticalCat brought you the story of Richard Curtis (R-Waaahmbulance!), a Washington state Rep. who was involved in something mysterious and sleazy. Today, we have the details.

The Columbian reports that Rep. Curtis, for reasons known only to himself, I'm sure, went cruising at the local porn store dressed in
women’s clothing, red stockings and a black sequined lingerie top ....
Dude, don't you think that walrusoid face fungus just begs for something more fashionable than a black sequined lingerie top? And what is with the red stockings? Don't try telling us you were getting into the Xmas spirit, it's just barely Halloween, dude.

Yowza. He might be right when he says he ain't gay. Most of my gay friends would rather sit through a six-hour Phyllis Schlafly screechfest than be caught in red stockings. Or maybe his wife picked them, who knows.

The man then proceeded to get into a sex act at the fucking store. Get real, are you crazy? Are you the only person on Planet Earth who doesn't know that porn stores have video cameras in them? Mainly so the help can check to see who's jerking off in aisle three without having to get all sticky and what?

Then he takes his trick back to his hotel. Stupidity compounded by stupidity. You couldn't rent some place with your rent boy? Some place that doesn't have 24/7 video coverage of every single door in the damn place? Naturally, the cops now have the footage from the porn store AND the hotel.

The hotel room works on computerized card keys. Those things write a record to a computer every time you use them. So the cops now have records of when Curtis (and his rent boy) entered and left the room.

Plus, someone in that room rented gay porn movies. Which, of course, hotels keep records of. And naturally, hand over to the cops when requested.

And as if all this wasn't enough, Curtis solicited the young man for unprotected sex. What a maroon. And then tried to cheat him of the promised fee. Hey, Cluetard! You hire a ho, you pay them their fee, or chances are they will talk and it'll all come out, so to speak. Is this starting to sound like the cops might know exactly what happened in this case?

Well, that's about the (hee) size of it. They issued their report yesterday, October 30, with all the grisly details.
Curtis did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday. He initially told police that he did not have sex with the man but later recanted, according to the police report. He also told police that he thought he might have been given some type of drug because his memory of the evening was hazy.
Dude, you must think the rest of the planet was born yesterday. I want to know what kind of drug makes a straight man put on a black sequined lingerie top and red stockings.
After the two men apparently had sex, [name omitted] allegedly left the hotel room with Curtis’ wallet, the report says. Curtis agreed to give the man $200, which he left at his hotel’s desk, only to be confronted with a demand for an additional $800, the report says.
Not wanting to pay, Rep. Curtis called his erstwhile friend Sgt. Roy Rhine of the Washington State Patrol. Rhine, who works out of the patrol’s Southwest Washington office, is a fellow Republican who has run for the state Legislature.

Curtis wanted WSP to investigate “because the local police would talk and it would get out to the press.” The WSP referred the case back to local officials.

It's OK to embrace your inner gay, Rep. Curtis. It's when you try to repress it and then turn to your homophobic Republican friends for help that you run into trouble.

Curtis says his wife, with whom he has two daughters, knew of his proclivities. Maybe she did, and maybe she didn't. I feel sorry for her, in any event, because she and the kids will not manage to live this down. I understand that Rep. Curtis probably came of age at a time when being gay was considered wrong. But instead of marrying and putting other people through hell, he would have done better to have sought a little more insight into himself.

And Larry Flynt of Hustler magazine fame has promised yet another enormous scandal revolving around some closeted Republican. Oy vey!


Digg!

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Veterans: Supporting The Troops?


Words from the therapist who taught us about toxic parents: If this is love, then I don't want it - could be slightly adapted for our poor veterans, who are suffering unbelievably at the hands of the thugs and crooks in Bush's administration. If this is "Support The Troops," then stick it up your keisters and give us what we need, you worms.

According to the Spring 2006 newsletter from Another Mother For Peace:
More than 260,000 veterans who applied to receive health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2005 were turned away!

Since January 2003, the Bush Administration has barred access to VA care to veterans who do not receive monetary compensation for service-connected disabilities and whose incomes were above an arbitrary threshold. The VA estimated that from January 2003 to September 2005, eligibility requirements barred more than 500,000 veterans from services they are entitled to. In 2005, the income threshold that would bar an unmarried veteran from VA services was $26,902. To add insult to injury, the VA has started to charge an annual fee of $250 to new veterans who apply for care!
Excuse me? WTF is this about? $26K for a disabled person is rock-bottom survival money, to begin with. Such a person could barely survive in most cities in the U.S. (which is where accessible health care is located). They'd be eating stone soup and beans and rice to do it. If they're not getting free health care, they're in bad, bad shape - suffering. We don't think - and we'll bet you don't think either - that it's right to treat people like that whose only "mistake" in judgment, as conservatives might label it, was to serve their country. And charging them $250 to apply for care? That is bloody outrageous.

We do not support the illegal and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq. But we'll be damned if these shoddy schmucks get to ride this thing out on the backs of the working men and women who volunteered to serve their country.

And now, the NYT tells us that 1 out of every 8 veterans is uninsured! What the hell does that mean? We don't care if they're insured or not, that's just a way for the insurance companies to get richer bleeding taxpayer dollars out of the treasury. We want them to have health care - the best health care, not the rags and tags and crumbs off the table. The same kind of healthcare that Mr. Colonoscopy got earlier this year when taxpayer-funded doctors were sticking probes up his bung. One out of eight! That's scandalous!

According to the article:
Researchers at Harvard Medical School projected that about 1.8 million veterans overall lack health coverage. That's an increase of 290,000 since 2000. The researchers said most uninsured veterans are in the middle class and are ineligible for VA care because of their incomes. Still others cannot afford their copayments, or lack VA facilities in their community.

''Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people -- too poor to afford private coverage but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid or means-tested VA care,'' said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, an associate professor and a physician at the Cambridge Health Alliance.

The study is based on an analysis of government surveys released between 1988 and 2005. Veterans do fare better than the overall population when it comes to obtaining health insurance. Still, the Harvard researchers said the rising number of uninsured vets points to the need for more funding for the VA. The best solution, they said, would be for universal health coverage in the United States.
For a scathing analysis of what the bushies' budget is doing to veterans' health care, drop by at VA Watchdog.

Meanwhile, Raw Story informs us that Li'l Boots plans to govern by fiat, since Congress is no longer his personal rubberstamp. When the hell did this great nation turn into a dictatorship?

It's enough to curdle the milk in your morning cuppa tea.

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News: Lost Pants, Lost Job


Even ThePoliticalCat has to talk about something other than politics, once in a while. And we're sure you, like the editorial we over here, have been following (even if only half-brainedly) the stirring saga of one Administrative Law Judge Roy L. Pearson, also known as The Man Without The Pants. Mr. Pearson took it upon himself to sue a family-run dry-cleaning business for losing a pair of his pants. For $54 million dollars. Musta been some fancy pants.

Well, karma bit the good Mr. P right hard in the ass today - the WaPoo reports that he just lost his job, and was ordered to vacate his office. We're broken-hearted. Okay, we're not, and we'll bet you aren't either.

Apart from the sheer outrageousness of the lawsuit and the ridiculous amount of damages, the vindictiveness with which the claim was pursued was mildly alarming, to say the least. Especially after the defendants in the case offered a cash reimbursement that we (and, we're sure, you) thought was quite reasonable - $1,200.00.

Pants aside, it appears that Pearson is a litigious individual. Just as well that he no longer has the power to decide administrative issues for Washington. Although it wouldn't surprise us in the least to hear that he plans to sue the Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges, who are responsible for voting not to give him tenure.

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Happy Halloween!


(c) 2007 K Smokey Cormier

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Politics: Another One Bites The Dust


Repulsive ghoul and professional Halloween mask Tom Tancredo has announced that he is retiring from Congress and will not run for a sixth term. Tancredo, who is reputed to be in the Presidential race, has been notable to date for his spittle-flecked mouth-frothing rants against persons of the browner persuasion, slightly disguised as "illegal immigrants."

The Rocky Mountain News, which doesn't agree with me on the illegal immigrant issue, nevertheless superlatively highlights what would make Trollcredo such a bad choice in national politics:
We'll wish Tancredo well when he closes out his congressional career, but we can't pretend we'll be terribly sorry to see him move on. His statements in the past two years - reiterated just three months ago - advocating the razing of Muslim holy sites in retaliation for a terrorist attack involving a nuclear device represent one of the more outrageous positions in living memory offered by an American politician. Tancredo would punish all Muslims for the crimes of a specific Muslim group, in an act of state terrorism perhaps without precedent in modern history.

He's also taken reckless positions on China (proposing the U.S. scrap its One China policy) and is increasingly skeptical of the benefits of free trade. His economic nationalism on trade reflects a growing trend, but that means it poses a greater danger to American prosperity than such views have for decades.
Trollcredo plans to spend more time annoying his family, I believe, for which the voting populace should be truly grateful.

In other news, it is believed that the nasty old codger doesn't have a prayer of winning the presidency.

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Environment: Save The ... Vultures?


Yeah, vultures. They're invaluable in the food chain, removing carcasses that might otherwise rot and render their surroundings uninhabitable. And thanks to a painkilling drug for cattle, vulture populations in South Asia have plummeted from 300,000 in Nepal a decade ago to approximately 1,000 today. That's a 95 per cent drop in the population. Ecologically unsound, because the rate of change does not allow for adequate time to develop an alternative solution.

From Raw Story comes an interesting article about how Nepalis are coping with the problem of saving the endangered vultures.
"Studies have found that vultures feeding on carcasses treated with Diclofenac died of kidney failure within 24 hours," said Hem Sagar Baral, a Nepali ornithologist with Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) who came up with the idea of a "restaurant" where the birds could eat uncontaminated carrion.

[...]

Similar schemes have already been run successfully in South Africa and Europe, but the Nepali project is unique as it is being driven by the local community rather than by professional conservationists.
And in a heartwarming twist, the organization is buying sick cattle, treating them and letting them die of natural causes, then feeding their diclofenac-free carcasses to the vultures. They're also providing safe alternatives for diclofenac to local farmers, and have succeeded in persuading the government to ban diclofenac.

I wonder why the companies that manufacture and sell (at a good profit, no doubt) veterinary drugs don't test for possible harm to the environment? No incentive, perhaps? It's time to start imposing heavy penalties on companies that fail to test for potential damage.

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Consumer Alert: Have Your Say On Nancy Nord


Nancy A. Nord is the current head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Readers of this blog know what an excellent job Ms. Nord is doing. This past month alone, there have been between 50 and 100 product recalls issued, and the Commission often resists issuing a recall until after consumers cause an outcry, having found out the dangers firsthand.

Now, ABC tells us that Nord, a Bush appointee, is opposing plans to expand the agency that she heads. Her reason?
Nord ... disagrees with increasing fines to as much as $100 million for companies that don't quickly report a product that may be defective, ... insist[ing] this provision would result in worried companies reporting every little safety concern, and inundating the agency.
I'm touched that Ms. Nord is so concerned about the worry that commercial producers of consumer goods suffer. However, more surprising is her lack of concern about the worry that consumers of such goods suffer. Haven't we had enough of children's toys contaminated with lead? It's at the point where you can't buy a child a toy any more without worrying that you're poisoning the poor thing.

At any rate, the consumer rights people don't take Nancy's worries too much to heart.
"We wonder who they are protecting. Are they protecting manufactures, or are they protecting consumers?" Donald Mays of Consumer Reports asked.

And some Democrats are asking the same question.

"This is the agency that deals with regulation. She is charged with doing that. If she doesn't believe we ought to be doing it, I think it's time for her to resign," Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said at a press conference.
Today, her namesake in the House suggested exactly that - resign forthwith, Nord.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said:
A commission chair who says "we don't need any more authority or any more resources to do our job does not understand the gravity of the situation," said Pelosi (D-Calif.). "I call on the president of the United States to ask for the resignation."

Democrats in Congress allege that the administration has slowly dismantled the regulatory framework that helped ensure a higher degree of safety for products, both domestic and imported.

Consumer groups, however, have called for more aggressive measures. They complain that the administration has sided with industry, and has waited until product safety issues emerge—either through deaths or injuries or illnesses—before taking action by initiating recalls. By then, they argue, it's too late to prevent harm.

"Recalls are an ineffective method for separating consumers from harm's way," said Donald Mays of Consumers Union. "Last month's recall of one million Simplicity cribs had a consumer response rate of a mere 4.5 percent, leaving 950,000 hazardous cribs still in the homes of unsuspecting parents. "We need proactive measures to prevent unsafe products from reaching the market in the first place, rather than relying on an ineffective recall system." Mays said.
That's right, Nord. Mattel alone has recalled 9 million toys this year. If you can't do your job, step down and let the persons responsible appoint someone who can!

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Social Justice: Kampuchean PM Disowns Daughter


The Prime Minister of Kampuchea, Hun Sen, has disowned his adoptive daughter for being a lesbian, according to reports in PinkNews and PageOneQ. (The PageOneQ link is not working for me, so I'm not including it.)

Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge, came to power when Vietnam overthrew Pol Pot's regime and installed a friendly People's Republic in Kampuchea. Homosexuality is legal in Kampuchea, and former leader King Sihanouk has always been very positive about GLBTQ issues, writing that he believes:
"homosexuals, as well as transvestites, [are] equal because [God loves] a wide range of tastes."
An enlightened monarch indeed. Unfortunately, King Sihanouk holds no political office.

What a small-minded person Hun Sen is.

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Politics: Whack-A-Mole, Round 376,000


Yup, it's that time again, kiddies. Time to play "Republican Whack-A-Mole." And our mole for this round is Washington State Rep. Richard Curtis. Rep. Curtis has voted against domestic partnerships for gay couples and opposed a bill that would have outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation. See if you can guess his political affiliation. See if you can guess why he is our featured mole of the day.

According to Washington station KXLY, Rep. "I am SOO NOT GAY!" Curtis had a little rendezvous with a stranger in a hotel that happens to be equipped with the latest security videocameras - the kind that our politicians want on every street corner, apparently - and ended up talking to the local fuzz when his, um, partner for the evening decided to blackmail him. Rep. Curtis' comment to the local fishwrap says it all:
Late Monday The Columbian newspaper got a hold of Representative Curtis, who said that he did not solicit anyone for sex, that he is not gay and that he got into this mess just trying to help someone out.
Help them out with what, inquiring minds want to know. Did it involve any toe-tapping?

Thanks to PageOneQ for the pointer.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Politics: The Haunted House


Well, the issue of those missing emails has resurfaced. My guess is, it'll keep haunting the WH till this administration is finally consigned to the garbage-heap of history, where it belongs. From Raw Story:
A motion filed Friday by the National Security Archive seeks to compel the White House to hand over records that show it has maintained backup tapes of the deleted e-mails, as required by presidential record-keeping laws. A nearly identical case from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, another watchdog, seeks similar assurances that the Bush administration has not permanently erased the millions of e-mails exchanged among scores of White House aides.
I hope it succeeds. I can't wait to see what this bunch of crooks and liars have hidden from the public.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Iraq: Things Get Worse

Kurdistan and neighbouring territories

And the only way they're going to get better at this point is for the U.S. to get the troops the hell outa there promptly. Turki began sending troops to the common border in April of 2006. Syria, Iran, the failed state of Iraq, and Turki all have very good reasons to resist the creation of a Kurdish state. Kurdistan has not been an independent political entity since the time of the Ataman Turks (early 1500s), although there apparently was a political agreement between the Ataman rulers and the sheikhs of the Kurds that Kurdistan, in allying itself with the Sunni Ataman empire against the Shia Savafids (modern-day Iran), did not forfeit its political autonomy.

Map of The Ataman Empire

By the end of WWI, the European colonial powers were happy to assist Turki in dismantling the last shreds of Kurdish independence, and most of the Kurdish-speaking peoples found themselves a minority population of five countries. The long process of cultural assimilation of the Kurds then began.

As you can well imagine, a history fraught with so much conflict - religious, political, military, territorial, linguistic - does not lend itself to a simple political solution. Turki is a member of NATO and has been attempting to become a member of the EU (European Union). This move has been greeted with some skepticism on the part of European member nations, which have insisted that Turkey institute certain basic human rights reforms (outlined here) before it can meet the standards required of members.

Turki Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the mid-year elections. Although ostensibly pro-American and pro-market reform, the AKP has been having a difficult time with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). On the one hand, there is plenty of internal pressure from Turks who are accusing the government of not responding to attacks on Turkish soldiers. On the other, there is external pressure from the U.S., which has finally realized just what a flammable cargo it's sitting on in Iraq.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
The Woodrow Wilson International Center informs us that fears of a Kurdish separatist campaign have long been a bugbear of Turkish politics. Li'l Boots' ill-considered, unplanned, and rapidly deteriorating invasion and occupation of Iraq is making the Mess O'Potamia even worse, engendering exactly the kind of separatist campaign that Turki has long feared. And, much as it did five hundred years ago, Turki is now talking to Iran about the "PKK problem."

Atul Aneja, writing in the International section of the Hindu, informs us that
Turkey’s Foreign Minister is on a visit to Iran where he discussed the crisis with his Iranian counterpart Manoucher Mottaki. Turkey is actively considering invading northern Iraq to attack the PKK hideouts located in the Kandil mountains there.

The PKK poses a common problem for both Turkey and Iran. The group’s sister organisation, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK), also operates from the similar mountain sanctuaries in the east against Iran. Turkey and Iran fear that the PKK’s aim is to form an independent state by carving out Kurdish enclaves in northern Turkey, Iran and Syria.
Meanwhile, the Times of London informs us that President Massoud Barzani has warned the Turki government that any attack across the common border will be construed as an act of war.
President Barzani gave the warning as a new wave of clashes inside Turkey left up to 20 Kurdish guerrillas dead. He said that Ankara was using its grievances with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as an excuse to challenge the growing prosperity and independence enjoyed by Iraqi Kurds in their largely autonomous region.
President Massoud Barzani of Kurdistan

“If they invade or if there is any incursion, it means war,” Mr Barzani said at his offices on the outskirts of Arbil. “If they attack our people, our interests, our territories then there will be no limit because everything is subject to that incursion.”
Oil is trembling around $90+ a barrel. The Telegraph relays a message from the remaining British soldiers in Basra, in a story titled "Get us out of here." It quotes a senior army officer:
The British Army, said the man sitting in a prefab hut in Britain's last base in the country, were tired of fighting.

Not only that: their very presence in Basra was now the problem.

"We would go down there [Basra], dressed as Robocop, shooting at people if they shot at us, and innocent people were getting hurt," he said. "We don't speak Arabic to explain and our translators were too scared to work for us any more. What benefit were we bringing to these people?"
A question the U.S. would do well to lob at our political representatives.

Meanwhile, in more troubling news, the Times reports that "Britons," whatever that means, are joining the Kurds in the fight against the Turks. It could well be that Kurds who are British subjects, or residents of Great Britain, have returned to their homeland to take up arms. On the other hand, it could also be that adventurers of various stripes are showing up and getting involved in the conflict. The article is not entirely clear on the issue, although it does state that the PKK has "3,000 troops." If so, the 250,000 Turki troops might pay dearly for venturing into their hilly homeland, but they can be reasonably sure of wiping out lots and lots of Kurds - innocent and guilty alike.

Meanwhile, AP is reporting that the Turks have killed 15 Kurdish PKK guerillas, while the Telegraph is reporting that Turkish troops are already well inside the common border - with the apparent knowledge and approval of the peshmerga (Kurdish paramilitary units).

I knew the invasion of Iraq was a bad idea, and the occupation a worse one. The truly Byzantine politics of this region indicates only more of a mess, not less.


I imagine Cheney's whupping Li'l Boots' ass right now.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Human Rights: U.S. Military Whistleblower


blows the whistle. The Independent tells us (although, curiously, neither the NYT nor the WaPoo mention it) that an Army major, a member of the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, has made a scathing attack on the secret trials and the process in which he has participated. He particularly described the detention of one prisoner, a hospital administrator from Sudan, as "unconscionable".

His critique will be the centrepiece of a hearing on 5 December before the US Supreme Court when another attempt is made to shut the prison down. So nervous is the Bush administration of the latest attack – and another Supreme Court ruling against it – that it is preparing a whole new system of military courts to deal with those still imprisoned.

Michael Ratner, president of CCR (Centre for Constitutional Rights), stated:
"Stalin had show trials, but at Guantanamo they are not even show trials because it all takes place in secret."
Yup. That's Bush's legacy. We're now on a par with Stalin. A monster if there ever was one. You might remember Mr. Ratner from yesterday's blog post about Rummy being slapped with a lawsuit for condoning torture of people detained by the U.S.

Read the whole story. And Mitt Romney wants to double Guantanamo? Is he talking through his hol(e)y underwear?

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Entertainment: Perfect Me


Singer Leah Kaufman is taking Ann Coultwhore's suggestion about Jews needing to be perfected seriously, Raw Story tells us. At least insofar as a satirist can.

Click the link to listen to her sing "Perfect Me."

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Bill Maher dressing up for Halloween

Meanwhile over at Salon.com, Bill Maher has an article called "I'm dressing up as a melting polar cap" for Halloween ... 'caus that's what he fears the most.

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Caturday: Vampire Kitty

I can't think of a more un-vicious creature walking the face of this good earth. But here's Willy Billy Button doing his impersonation of a vampire.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Politics: What the HAIL

are they puttin' in the water today? Anyone know?

Because I'm looking at the top headlines here, and this is what I see:
  • Cafferty File viewers: Let's start another revolution

  • White House: Fake FEMA news conference won't happen again
  • Democrats have votes to hold two White House officials in contempt by full House vote: report
  • Rumsfeld hit with torture lawsuit while visiting Paris
  • Plame: Disclosure of classified status amounted to 'treason'
Wha' hoppen? Did the country wake up overnight? Did the Feds forget to put valium in the water this week?

Let's see, did the MSM publish any of these stories?

Well, the NYT did carry the story about Rumsfeld, under the much more innocuous title of "Torture Complaint Filed Against Rumsfeld" in its World news section. I don't see any coverage of the fake FEMA press conference, Cafferty's viewers' reaction to the Chimperor, the contempt vote, or Plame's labeling of her outing as "treason."

The WaPoo covered the FEMA fake press conference on its front page. Nothing about the other stories. The local fishwrap has its usual amazing dearth of stories of any import, although there's always the sob-sister front pagers about dead people and the naughty bits about nekkid people running amuck in the public bogs. Nothing in the Boston Globe. The L.A. birdcage liner, understandably, is dominated by news of the fires.

Okay, maybe it's all a dream and I'll wake up in a bit. But for now, some tasty snippets:

Cafferty: apparently made this remark yesterday, and why the press isn't chasing their tails like mad dogs, I just don't know. Buncha worthless dolts we have in the Fourth Estate:
"The president of the United States didn't have the power to spy on Americans ... operate secret prisons ... suspend due process ... torture ... hide the conduct of the government from the public," Cafferty stated. "It's not like anybody gave President Bush any of these powers -- he took them, as a brain-dead Congress just stood there and watched."
His viewers were even more enthusiastic, opining:
"Remember the 60's?" wrote one Baby Boomer. "Well, they're back. Only this time it's not a decade. It's the age on our driver's licenses. Let's start another revolution. ... It's time to overthrow the government."

"King Bush. Queen Hillary. America is now a democratic dictatorship, nobody is going to change that. Power is everything; get used to it."

An[other] suggested. "George Bush is the next president. He and Darth Cheney will be surrendering none of their bounty. Forty years of planning to hand it all to Hillary Clinton? Not a chance. If you think there'll be a November 8 election, give my regards to the Easter Bunny."
I call that news. Sounds to me like The People are Mighty Pissed Off. And it's not as if Cafferty gets Far Left viewers or dirty fucking hippies (as they're known in the blogosphere) tuning in. View the video clip here.

Fake FEMA press conference: The WaPoo reported today that FEMA held a "press conference" in which members of its own staff pretended to be representatives of the press. They got busted, thank goodness, and the White House quickly distanced itself from the ensuing fallout.
Perino said FEMA alone was responsible for the decision to go ahead with the event.

"FEMA has issued an apology, saying that they had an error in judgment when they were attempting to get out a lot of information to reporters, who were asking for answers to a variety of questions in regard to the wildfires in California," she said. "It's not something I would have condoned. And they, I'm sure, will not do it again."
Upon reading the FEMA equivalent of an apology, it seems to me that the White House might want to mandate courses in apologyology for FEMA staff. They suck ass at it, although I guess it's par for the course.
White House officials face contempt charges: John Conyers says he and Nancy Pelosi are surveying the House Democratic caucus on the issue of bringing criminal contempt charges against Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten. The vote could happen within the next two weeks, although the Justice Department had earlier stated that they would not pursue criminal charges. But now that the criminally corrupt former attorney general is busy alienating his family in Texas, perhaps that's changed too. Anyway. Keep an eye out.
Dummy - oops, Rummy's torture complaint: A coalition of international human rights groups slapped Mr. HappySlappy with a suit that alleges that during his tenure, the former defense secretary "ordered and authorized" torture of detainees at both the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the US military's detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

One of the groups responsible for bringing the charges is the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights.
"There are Guantananamo detainees who were tortured that are living in France," said [its spokesman]. "It gives French courts another reason to prosecute."

Ratner says Europe is "getting very hot for Rumsfeld," and suggests a French court could at least issue its version of a subpoena.

"We hope that this case will move forward," he said, "especially as the US says it can continue to torture people."

Other groups involved in the complaint include the International Federation of Human Rights, the French League for Human Rights and Germany's European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.
Would that be the "Old Europe" you derided back in those heady days of power when you sat at the right hand of that guy you're too busy to miss, Li'l Boots is his name?

For a PDF file with details of the allegations against Rummy, go here.
And finally, Valerie Plame told Chris Matthews on Hardball where to stick it.
Matthews asked Plame how, if she believed the Bush administration had covered up a "false case for war," that she didn't also anticipate that the White House would strike back at her personally.

"Call me naive," she said, "but that wasn't on our list of options...we didn't actually consider they would betray our country's national security to get at me."
That's exactly what they did by blowing her cover. Her job was to keep an eye on acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, especially in the middle-east. She was trained to manage a group of intelligence analysts who cultivated sources of information, analysed the derived data, and prepared reports for our government. Keeping her status secret required the setting up of cover organizations complete with identities and cover stories, personnel, offices, locations, covert and noncovert staff.

In one fell swoop, the petty Darth Cheney destroyed all that because he was pissed off with Joe Wilson. You might not like Mr. Wilson or Ms. Plame, but the fact is that blowing the cover of an intelligence operative is not something to be undertaken lightly. Intelligence networks take time and effort - sometimes decades - to build. Destroying them has far-reaching implications.

Every single person who ever had any contact with Valerie Plame over the course of her entire service and her trips around the world has been placed under scrutiny by multiple intelligence operatives of other governments as a result of that contact. Whether it was a friend's friend, a casual acquaintance, a friendly reporter, or a hotel clerk, they are all going to be followed, sussed out, maybe even questioned, to determine the exact nature of their relationship with her. If any of them were operatives that she turned, or sources of information, their usefulness has been destroyed.

The entire network will have to be recreated, slowly and painfully. Meanwhile, every American living or working abroad will be subjected to additional scrutiny, especially anyone in the diplomatic corps. All because one nasty old man wanted revenge. Yes, it's treason. I'm disgusted that no other fishwrap reported it as such.

See the video clip here.

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Condoleezza Rice: Blood on your hands

Photo: Charles Dharapak/Associated Press

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, arriving to testify on Middle East policy before the House Foreign Relations Committee, was confronted by a protester with hands painted red.
-- from the New York Times


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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Health: More Kids Hospitalized For Obesity-Related Problems

Image from BBC blogs

Raw Story reports that John Morton, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, presented a paper at a conference organized by The Obesity Society that claims that more children have been hospitalized between 1998 and 2004 for obesity-related problems such as sleep apnea and hypertension.

What a surprise! The Huffington Post tells us that the White House
severely edited congressional testimony given Tuesday by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the impact of climate change on health, removing specific scientific references to potential health risks ....
Say yer surprised, c'mon.

Meanwhile, despite multiple incidents of food contamination at home and abroad, the FDA is apparently shutting down half its food safety labs.
According to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, the proposed cutbacks are necessary in order to adapt to increasing imports, growing demand for fresh produce and new food-borne pathogens. He claims that no jobs will be lost from the closings, but that employees will merely be reassigned.

But the House committee found no evidence that the lab consolidation would save money, and concluded that it would, in fact, lead to the loss of experienced employees.
Please let your congresscritter hear from you. Also the FDA. Things are bad enough without them tossing what's left of food safety down the toilet and pulling the handle. For a list of the numbers you can use to contact the FDA, go here.

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Politics: Republican Calls Justice Department

on its bullshit.
Richard Thornburgh, head of the Department of Justice under President Reagan and President Bush (the Not_So_Stupid one), yesterday accused none other than our good friend, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, of pursuing a politically motivated indictment of a prominent regional Democrat. From Raw Story comes the following report:
Thornburgh also charged that Buchanan avoided prosecuting Republicans within her jurisdiction.

"The fact that no investigation was undertaken stands out when Democrats in the western district of Pennsylvania have been investigated in such a highly visible manner," Thornburgh said.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Panel, however, took issue with Thornburgh's accusations.

"Your testimony . . . is the most pathetic example of innuendo and hearsay that I have seen," said Rep. Ric Keller (R-FL), during the hearing.
Oh, my. Eating our own, Rep Keller?

Thornburgh added:
"The citizens of the United States must have confidence that the department is conducting itself...without actual political influence or the appearance of political influence," Thornburgh said. "Unfortunately, that may no longer be the case."
Mr. Thornburgh obviously specializes in the fine art of understatement. I'd say, given the shenanigans conducted by the brazen weasel and liar Alberto GoneZales at the DOJ for the past X years, including late-night bedside visits to pressure seriously ill officials, firing those refusing to toe the ideological line, appointing obviously unqualified political hacks, and the like, I very much doubt there is a citizen anywhere in the confines of this vast land who has a scrap of confidence left in the DoJ.

Legislators also discussed the case of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. For the transcript of Thornburgh's testimony, see Raw Story. For a video, see TPM Muckraker.

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Politics: MessOPotamia

Map showing Kurdish populations courtesy of Kurdistanica.com


Li'l Boots has just made an offer to Turkey: in order to prevent the Turkish invasion of Northern Iraq, the U.S. will bomb Northern Iraq.
According to an official familiar with the conversation, Mr Bush assured the Turkish President that the US was seriously looking into options beyond diplomacy to stop the attacks coming from Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.
How exactly he thinks he's going to do that is unclear.
While the use of US soldiers on the ground to root out the PKK would be the last resort, the US would be willing to launch air strikes on PKK targets, the official said, and has discussed the use of cruise missiles.

[...]

Another option would be to persuade the Kurdistan Regional Government, which runs that part of Iraq, to order its Peshmerga forces to form a cordon preventing the movement of the PKK beyond its mountain camps.
Great. So now the Kurds are expected to risk the lives of their militia - the Peshmerga - to control the PKK. Will Kurds fight each other to protect the U.S. and Turkey from the consequences of Li'l Boots' big mess? Meanwhile, the U.S. puppet in charge bleated:
[Nouri al-Maliki] gave no details on how the rebels could be prevented from launching attacks from their remote mountain bases. Analysts say military action would have to involve US forces in Iraq.
How's that surge workin' for ya, Bootsie? The Turks have threatened to cut off exports to Iraq if something isn't done to contain the PKK. When Iraqi President Jalil Talabani, a Kurd, announced that the PKK would agree to a ceasefire, Turkey responded that the PKK, as a guerilla movement, cannot negotiate a ceasefire. Only nations negotiate ceasefires. It's enough to make your head explode.

As the International Herald Tribune reported in September of last year, in an article written by Peter Galbraith, Li'l Boots' daddy, Humongous Wimp, and his administration, were complicit in Saddam Hussein's attempted genocide against the Kurds.
On Aug. 25, 1988 - five days after the Iran-Iraq War ended - Iraq attacked 48 Kurdish villages more than 150 kilometers from Iran. Within days, the U.S. Senate passed legislation, sponsored by Claiborne Pell, Democrat of Rhode Island, to end U.S. financial support for Saddam and to impose trade sanctions.

[...]

The next year, President George H.W. Bush's administration actually doubled U.S. financial credits for Iraq. A week before Saddam invaded Kuwait, the administration vociferously opposed legislation that would have conditioned U.S. assistance to Iraq on a commitment not to use chemical weapons and to stop the genocide against the Kurds.
And Dr. Najmaldin Karim, President of the Washington Kurdish Institute, writing in the Washington Post in 2006, opines:
The Kurds also attest to the 'realist' betrayal of Iraq in 1991. As Coalition Forces were breaking the back of Saddam's army from the air, President George HW Bush's public suggestion to Iraqis, "to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside," encouraged Kurdish and Shiite uprising against the Baathist regime. George H.W. Bush and Baker provided no support and tens of thousands of Shi'a and Kurdish Iraqis were slaughtered in reprisal once the regime regrouped.
And now, Caligula George wants to bomb them. Why? Because the Turkish government is facing massive internal political pressure from Turks who are tired of PKK attacks across the border, and the Iraqi and American authorities' failure or refusal to do control the attacks.

So, to preempt the Turkish attacks, the U.S. will bomb Kurdistan. Since bombs are not capable of determining PKK membership or degree of hostile activity, it is only to be expected that many civilians will be killed. Kurdish civilians. Who were gassed with the support of Caligula's father 20 years ago, and massacred due to the lack of support by Caligula's father 16 years ago.

Would someone please give the son-of-a-whore a blowjob so we can impeach him already?

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Politics - Hey, Congress, How About Censuring Cafferty?


Nancy? Nancy Pelosi? Are you out there? John Boner? C'mon, let's see you pressure Cafferty into shutting up. After all, look at the incivil things he's saying!
"No money for kids' health insurance, no money to help poor families pay their heating bills but President Bush wants $190 billion additional for 2008 for his wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," CNN commentator Jack Cafferty said Monday. "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the president's new request means the cost of Iraq war is now approaching $650 billion. I wonder if the Democrats will give him the money."
And here's someone else you can go after:
"Parents know that children can freeze to death more quickly than they starve to death, and so most decrease food purchases first to pay for heat," wrote Dr. Deborah A. Frank, director of the Grow Clinic for Children, and Joseph P. Kennedy II, chairman and president of Citizens Energy Corp., in the Boston Globe Sunday.
This is what we've come to. We can't afford to rebuild New Orleans, or fix our rotting bridges and highways. We can't afford to give health care to poor or working-class sick children. We can't afford to give poor families enough to heat their homes so their kids stay warm and healthy.

But we can afford to spend billions of dollars bombing and killing other children, and women, and old people, and sick people, and oh, lucky us, we appear to have killed two more insurgents as well. You bunch of bloodsucking beasts in Congress better tell Caligula II that he is not getting his pet war funded this year.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Desire for Freedom - Dalai Lama


Brute force can never subdue the basic human desire for freedom. The thousands of people who marched in the cities of Eastern Europe in recent decades, the unwavering determination of the people in my homeland of Tibet and the recent demonstrations in Burma are powerful reminders of this truth. Freedom is the very source of creativity and human development. It is not enough, as communist systems assumed, to provide people with food, shelter and clothing. If we have these things but lack the precious air of liberty to sustain our deeper nature, we remain only half human.

-- Dalai Lama, published in the Washington Post, Outlook section, Sunday October 21, 2007

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Politics: Things That Make You Furious

Update below By now, everybody in the world has probably read that Congressmember Fortney "Pete" Stark apologized to Teh Chimperor for telling the truth about that psychopath and his unwillingness to end his pet war.

I was going to get my underoos unbunched enough to actually blog the issue, but I had to calm down first, and maybe snoop around a little to see if someone else had an idea what-all was going on. And I'm glad I waited.

Over on DailyKos, wmtriallawyer diaries the issue thus:
According to the House website of proceedings for today, here's the chronology of what happened:

10:28 a.m.: The Censure resolution is introduced as a "privileged matter," which, within the pervue of the House rules, allows a member to introduce it without any formal procedure of going through the Rules Committee and such.

10:30 a.m.: Two minutes after it is introduced, Democratic floor manager for the day Rep. Bennie Thompson moves to table the resolution.

11:01 a.m.: A roll call vote is held. And the resolution is tabled from consideration by a vote of 196-173.

11:02 a.m.:Rep. Stark asks for a point of personal privilege to address the House chamber, and issues his apology.
Please read his post. It's educational. I say that because:
  • The past 7 years of a Republican president has been sheer hell for the country. It's not an experience we ought to repeat anytime within the next couple of centuries.
  • When Republicans held both houses of the Legislature, they rubberstamped an incompetent president and spent all their time accumulating future convictions. It's fine to have the occasional Chuck Hagel in Congress. It's definitely not OK to have more than one Tom Delay or Dennis Hastert or Duke Cunningham or Jerry Lewis or Lindsey Graham or Mark Foley or ... but you get my drift - per century.
  • Republicans do control the media, thus determining what information we get and how it influences our actions.
  • Republicans have shown themselves to be past masters of spin.
  • Part of the Republican spin is to dispirit voters. If they can get us to think our votes don't count, then we don't vote, and they hold on to power. If they can get us to think, Democrats are just as bad as Republicans, then we don't vote Democrat, or, likely, vote at all. If they can convince us that Democrats are spineless wimps, then we don't want to work to make our vote count by finding less spineless Democrats and funding their races and making sure they represent the will of the people.
So be careful, and don't let the tricksters steal your votes before you can even cast them. California did a good thing in electing Democrat Debra Bowen as Secretary of State. She has undone much of the damage created by the past elections by getting rid of voting machines, returning to a system that includes a paper trail, and fining companies who attempt to subvert California voting rules. We need to do the same in every state, county, parish, municipality, and ultimately, throughout the country. And we won't accomplish that if all we're doing is getting dispirited with our (pretty useless) Democratic party leadership and giving up on them. Instead, let's hold their feet to the fire and call them on everything, make them work for our support, toss them out when they refuse to fulfil their appointed duty.

As to abusing Congressmember Pete Stark (I'll admit, I was furious for a bit), don't. Here's what Jane Hamsher over at Firedoglake had to say on the issue. Read her post. She lays out clearly the weakest links in the Democratic chain. Those are the people that we need to concentrate on removing if the nation is ever to heal. After we get rid of the Hasterts, Youngs, Cornyns, Grahams, and the rest of their ilk, of course. Crucial information from Jane's post:
Update: From reader Cynthia R.:

I called Stark’s office in DC to complain about his apology. The person answering the phone told me that Stark had no choice; Stark was told before the vote was taken that should he not apologize, the vote to censure would pass. According to his office, that is the only reason he apologized.
Nancy Pelosi and the Bush dog Democrats are still a bunch of gutless gobshites, but now we have to work to get rid of them and make sure the next candidates to lead the party have the guts of a Pete Stark or a Barbara Lee or a James Webb or a Jack Murtha. No more wimps!

Update: From Booman:
Though the motion amounts to a failed vote, Stark addressed fellow lawmakers afterward to apologize.

"I want to apologize first of all to my colleagues, many of whom I have offended, to the president. his family, to the troops that may have found (offense) in my remarks as were suggested in the motion that we just voted on, and I do apologize. ... With this apology I will become as insignificant as I should be and we can return to the issues that do divide us but that we can resolve," Stark said to applause.

After his mea culpa, Stark walked off the floor to the Democratic side of the chamber and for at least five minutes stood sobbing while fellow Democrats gathered around him. Reporters close to the Speaker's Lobby were not able to hear why he was crying.
Pete Stark is a good man. I don't doubt that some severe pressure was brought to bear on him, and that he finds it unacceptable that he must apologize for telling the truth while the crooks and liars and thugs all around him need never apologize for their crimes against the nation and against humanity.

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Politics: Cross-Dressing Liberal In Conservative Clothing

Rude Ghouliani has moved on from his ties with shady criminals. He's now busy defending his relationship with Monsignor Alan Placa, a Roman Catholic priest who has been accused of pedophilia.

Creepy image courtesy of BishopAccountability.org

For more information on this rather creepy pedophile, click here or here or here or here or here or ... but you get my drift.

Why is Mr. Giuliani defending and protecting this monster?

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Politics - Good News!


According to former U.S. attorney John McKay (fired as part of the Justice Dept. scandal), the Justice Department's Inspector General might recommend that clueless moraltard and ethically impaired creep Asshole Gonezales be criminally prosecuted.
McKay began calling last spring for Gonzales to step down for his role in "a conspiracy to politicize the Justice Department," which McKay suggested might have been masterminded by Karl Rove.
It Can Bees Tiem For Turdblossom Cleanup Too?

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Politics: What A Surprise - Torture

was authorized by Bush himself, says U.S. General. (/sarcasm)

Is anyone really surprised that someone who blew up frogs as a child and spent most of his youth and early adulthood drinking, snorting coke, and challenging his father to fisticuffs should grow up to be the kind of adult who would sanction causing pain and suffering to others? Despite plenty of evidence that torture doesn't work, and despite generations of fine interrogation work by professionals under much worse circumstances (World Wars I and II come to mind)? The article from Raw Story goes on to say:
"[T]he documents show unambiguously that the administration has adopted some of the methods of the most tyrannical regimes," write Jameel Jaffer and Amrit Singh. "Documents from Guantanamo describe prisoners shackled in excruciating 'stress positions,' held in freezing-cold cells, forcibly stripped, hooded, terrorized with military dogs, and deprived of human contact for months."

[...]

The documents show that prisoner abuse like that found at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was hardly the isolated incident that the Bush administration or US military claimed it was. By the time the prisoner abuse story broke in mid-2004 the Army knew of at least 62 other allegations of abuse at different prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, the authors report.
It describes testimony from an Army investigator that Rumsfeld was present at, and personally responsible for, the torture of a prisoner at Guantanamo.

These people are beneath contempt. It almost makes you want to believe in hell. If there is one, that's where they're all headed, beginning with Li'l Boots and ending with Lynndie. Sick fucks.

Now, put yourself in the position of one of those people "[who] were not even suspected of having terrorist ties," as the book says. Imagine that some people show up and arrest your ass, and do all this shitty stuff to you, and you have no idea why. Do you think, if they ever release you alive, that you will like your former jailors and tormentors? That you'll want to work with them in a spirit of reconciliation? That you will want them in your country to assist with reconstruction?

I fucking think not. In fact, I'd be willing to bet you sign up with the first resistance army of insurgents that shows up on your doorstep.

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Politics: King Bhumipol Of Thailand

Apparently, His Majesty King Rama IX Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand recently suffered a stroke, for which he was hospitalized. His doctors report that he is doing better and nervous system irregularities that he had suffered have "returned to normal."

King Bhumipol is the longest-reigning monarch in the world. Our best wishes to His Majesty for continued health and long life. He has led his beautiful country and people through many trials and tribulations and made his nation strong.

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Politics: Coalition Of The


Mostly unwilling, at this point, apparently. Oh, I know, Iceland withdrew their sole troop a while ago. However, when Donny Rummy was still in charge, he claimed there were 34 countries in the "Coalition of the Willing," including the U.S., which supplied 92 per cent of the troops there. Countries included:
Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, the Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
Dammit, they left out Iceland. And Hungary, apparently. Although there's some disagreement as to how effective the Hungarian troops were, given that the troop contribution was made through NATO/UNAMI, and the Hungarian government announced complete withdrawal at the end of 2004. We know Iceland had a troop there, because they withdrew him or her this year with much fanfare (shockingly, not covered by our media). Slovenia and Turkey apparently contributed to "training," so they don't appear on the list.

Click the link to see who's left.

Still doesn't add up to 34, so we can only assume that Rummy was lying, as usual. Polish prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski was behind Teh Chimperor all the way, on this issue. Although Poland did withdraw some troops at one point, Kaczynski had promised a troop increase. Unfortunately, the recent elections in Poland have made it impossible for Kaczynski to keep his promise. The Press Association states:
Poland's business-friendly and pro-EU Civic Platform party has ousted prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski's conservatives in parliamentary elections, early results said.

It is the strongest showing for any single party since the eastern European country overthrew Communism in 1989.

Voters across the nation of 38 million turned out in record numbers to deal a bruising verdict on Kaczynski's two-year crusade to belatedly purge former Communists and fight for the country's interests in the EU with combative methods that have left the nation marginalised in Europe.
Hmmm, looks like Boy George's reverse Midas touch took effect again - Blair, out, Aznar, out, now Kaczynski. Howard next, perhaps?

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Science - The Environment And The Coming Drought

Those of us who have been paying attention over the past decades always knew the day would come - most likely in our lifetimes - when the human population of the planet would outstrip the natural resources we require to support our lives. I was hoping I'd kack first, but alas, it is not to be. Within my lifetime, I see that we have reached peak oil. The Guardian published a piece today about global oil supplies expected to halve by 2030. The article also predicts declines in coal, gas, and uranium. So much for nuclear power plants, natural gas, and coal replacing oil as a source of power, I guess.

But that's still 23 years off. In the meantime, my main question is, will we make it till global oil supplies are reduced by half? You see, thanks to global warming (which does NOT NOT NOT exist), we're now in the midst of a prolonged drought. In some countries. Others are dying from floods. Hurricanes, typhoons, and other such weather events are getting stronger, and our carbon dioxide sinks - the oceans and the forests - are absorbing less carbon dioxide, leading to greater quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

While parts of Africa drown, Southern California is burning up, and the East Coast is drying up. (Click to view a handy-dandy drought map over at Accuweather.com)

Atlanta (Georgia) is set to run out of water in 90 days and North Carolina expects to run out in 60 days, if it does not rain before then. Meanwhile, Duke University and UNC are watering their - astroturf. Yup. You heard right.

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Science - Environmental News


The Telegraph reports that scientists in the U.S. and Israel are closer to finding a way to influence the path of hurricanes.
Under one scheme, aircraft would drop soot into the near-freezing cloud at the top of a hurricane, causing it to warm up and so reduce wind speeds. Computer simulations of the forces at work in the most violent storms have shown that even small changes can affect their paths – enabling them to be diverted from major cities.

[...]

Moshe Alamaro, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), told The Sunday Telegraph of his plans to "paint" the tops of hurricanes black by scattering carbon particles – either soot or black particles from the manufacture of tyres – from aircraft flying above the storms. The particles would absorb heat from the sun, leading to changes in the airflows within the storm. Satellites could also heat the cloud tops by beaming microwaves from space.
Of course, this is great news, but it fails to address a more important question: Katrina never actually hit Louisiana, yet it caused more than $125 billion worth of damage in property alone, and a death toll over 1300. It was New Orleans' aging infrastructure that caused the death and destruction of a beautiful and beloved American city.

Given that the infrastructure throughout the rest of the country is in similarly poor condition, controlling the direction of hurricanes might not be the most effective solution to potential problems. Furthermore, given that diverting a hurricane from its path might cause it to destroy other cities/settlements, the legal questions that arise are thorny indeed.

Finally, there is plenty of evidence that soot and rubber particles are harmful in and of themselves.

Science and technology can assist us in making our lives better, but they are not a cure-all.

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Politics - Blackwater, The Pentagon, And Corruption


Good grief. It is to scream loudly and flail about.

Read this. Keep a glass of wine, or better yet, 100-proof vodka, close to hand.

Frank Rich details the extent of Pentagon corruption and dirty practices that have turned Blackwater into the billion-dollar industry it is today. Yark.

Note: The link takes you to The New York Times, which requires registration.

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Iraq - Al Qaeda Vanquished

Image courtesy of The FreespeechZone

ABC reports that General Idiotus, who claimed not too long ago that al-Qaeda in Iraq was squooshed, smooshed, geflattenverschlammed, dead, defunct, and a few other choice adjectives I can't think of right now - is, apparently, recovered enough to threaten the troops again:
Citing evidence that insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists are using Iraqi government vehicles and ambulances to carry out missions, Gen. David Petraeus has ordered a new system of checkpoints for almost all Iraqi official convoys and motorcades.
So, wait a minute, we're spending money training the Iraqi army and Iraqi police force and supplying them with arms, ammunition, and transport, while denying our own troops adequate body armour - and they're using this against us?

Somebody remind me again why we're flushing money down the toilet there when we can't afford to give our own children healthcare? Oh, yeah, and Chimpy McTardibus just asked for MORE money for his pet war? While Snarly McCrashcart is making warmongering noises at Iran?

Time to impeach them both.



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Politics - It's Time To Get Rid Of

This godbag.
Marilyn Musgrave (Repulsive-CObag), has just authored a bill to shoehorn the judaeo-christian deity into everything governmental.
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) has introduced a bill that would place on permanent display the Pledge of Allegiance -- with its mention of "one nation under God" -- and the motto "In God We Trust." The bill also would prohibit the Architect of the Capitol from excluding exhibits and materials that contain "a religious reference or Judeo-Christian content."
That would be the same Marilyn Musgrave who dragged troops in uniform into her political activities meant to benefit herself and the GOP alone, at the expense of the troops, who could be charged for such behaviour. According to the Department of Defense (linked PDF), it is against the law for
Members of the Armed Forces [to] attend partisan political events in uniform, even if only as “honorees.” A sharply limited exception is made to provide Armed Forces color guards for national-level political conventions.
For more on Musgrave:
Musgrave has made regulating the bedroom behavior of her fellow Americans the focus of her entire career. An evangelical Christian who married her Bible-camp sweetheart, Musgrave does not believe in the separation of church and state. She entered politics in 1990, running for her local school board on a crusade to end sex education as part of the curriculum. By the time her tenure was over, the schools taught "abstinence only" -- and offending passages in health textbooks had been blacked out. During her eight years in the Colorado legislature, Musgrave continued her moralizing, overcoming two vetoes by the governor to pass a state ban on gay marriage.
check out this Rolling Stone article.


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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Consumer Alert - Food Contamination


Yay, Trader Joe's. Via Raw Story, we learn that Trader Joe's is phasing out "organic" food from China, on the obvious grounds that standards in that country are not as stringent as they could be.
"We feel confident that all of our products from China meet the same high quality standards that we set for all of our products," the statement read. "However, our customers have voiced their concerns about products from this region and we have listened.
Kudos to them for listening. Of course, we really ought to talk about standards in this country as well.

On the plus side, if you buy local, organic, your chances of getting good uncontaminated food are high. On the minus side, if you're poor, you can't afford to shop at most organic food emporia. Look around for farmers' markets, and talk to your local/state organic certification authority. We need to scrutinize much more carefully everything we use. This ought to be the government's job - it's too much to expect people to manage things that they are individually powerless to change, along with everything else that entails surviving in the world today. We can only implement health and safety standards if we have the access to information and the large numbers that spell power.

Republicans believe that government should get out of the way - that it should not govern, except when it comes to who you sleep with, or marry, or whether you can afford to give your sick children health. Then they're all up in your bed, checking out your underwear. The hell with that. It's gonna be a lot of work, but let's all work together to make sure we kick out all the bums who are willing to sacrifice us, and our children, for that extra dollar in their pockets.

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