Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another Man Dies At Gitmo Gulag

A Saudi Arabian prisoner died of an apparent suicide at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base on Wednesday, the U.S. military said.

"The detainee was found unresponsive and not breathing in his cell by guards. The detainee was pronounced dead by a physician after all lifesaving measures had been exhausted," the U.S. Southern Command in Miami said in a statement. The military did not indicate how the prisoner died.

He is the fourth detainee to die of suicide at the detention camp, which opened in January 2002 and holds about 380 foreign terrorist suspects. Three other prisoners -- two Saudis and a Yemeni -- hanged themselves with clothing and bedding in their cells last June and their deaths are still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Human rights activists, who have long urged Washington to close the Guantanamo prison operation, denounced the earlier deaths as a sign of desolation while the U.S. military characterized them as acts of "asymmetrical warfare" in the war on terrorism.

Guantanamo officials have reported 41 unsuccessful suicide attempts by 25 detainees since the U.S. began taking prisoners to the base in January 2002. Defense lawyers contend the number of suicide attempts is higher.

Mark Denbeaux, a law professor at Seton Hall University in New Jersey who represents two Tunisians at Guantanamo, said he believes others there are candidates for suicide. Denbeaux said one of his clients, Mohammed Abdul Rahman, appeared to be depressed and hardly spoke during a June 1 visit. Rahman was on a hunger strike at the time and was force-fed soon after, Denbeaux said. "He told us he would rather die than stay in Guantanamo," the attorney said. "He doesn't believe he will ever get out of Guantanamo alive."

Pakistani Supreme Court Censors Song Lyrics After College Girl Is Teased

The BBC has reported that one of Pakistan's leading pop artists has appeared in court over an allegedly insulting song. Ibrarul Haq, a well-known singer of Punjabi bhangra tunes, was summoned to the Supreme Court in Islamabad over his song that apparently contained words "Parveen you are so salty".

The move came after a girl called Parveen had claimed that the lyrics embarrassed her and her family. But Mr. Haq said the song did not use the name Parveen but Parmeen - which is not a recognised name in Pakistan.

"It's a misunderstanding - the general public has misunderstood... it's not my fault," Mr Haq said. Mr Haq's lawyer said that the copyright had been issued for a song with the word Parmeen. Parveen is a common name in Pakistan, and a number of girls are reported to have been teased about the song's words.

The court case began after a university student from Lahore called Parveen wrote to Pakistan's acting Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas, claiming that Mr Haq's lyrics embarrassed her. Lahore is the country's most culturally rich and vibrant city, but while known for its liberals, artists, intellectuals and fun-loving people, it is also home to some of the most conservative sections of Pakistani society.

The song has proved to be a hit in Pakistan, with roadside stalls and cafes playing it repeatedly.

"This matter is very sensitive and such things cannot be allowed in Pakistani society," Mr Bhagwandas was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. "Nobody can be allowed to hurt the sentiments of others," he said.

After weeks of deliveration, the Court finally ordered the singer to omit the name of the girl and some other objectionable words in his lyrics. Haq said he would abide by the court decision.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Agent Jack Hoff Calling!

It seems that an Arizona Special Agent is now a hardened criminal-- at least, according to the tale told by campus police at Tucson's University of Arizona, where FBI Agent Ryan Seese was arrested May 3, shortly after a cleaning lady observed him whacking off in the women's restroom of the student union.

According to the campus police report, “As [the cleaning lady] was wiping off the last stall door, the door was opened by a white male standing inside the stall with his pants below his knees. She went on to say she saw his penis and the male was masturbating by rubbing his hand over his erect penis.”

Seese fled the bathroom after exposing himself, and the cleaning lady's supervisor called the campus cops. Officer Gary Fountain soon arrived and walked with the frazzled custodian back to the scene of the crime. He writes, "I was standing outside of the women's bathroom with (the cleaning lady) waiting for the women using the bathroom to exit, when I saw a male walk out of the same women's bathroom."

As soon as he reappeared, the custodian cried "That's the guy!" And Seese took off faster than Agent Mulder after a UFO. The chase continued to the parking garage where Seese was eventually aprehended by Officer Fountain. Seese was then taken to a holding area where police swabbed his hands for samples and made him take off his clothes, now evidence. Seese was cited on three counts: indecent exposure, public sexual indecency, and criminal trespass. Seese was later released, with his FBI supervisor stopping by to pick him up.

Back in the bathroom, Tucson police investigators collected "wadded up tissue with possible semen from the feminine product receptacle," as well as "a hair found inside the toilet bowl." They also took a sample of the stall floor using sheets of sticky tape.

No word on whether Special Agent Seese had been "discharged" by the FBI.

Sweet Mary Jane

It was a big enough bummer for Kenneth Affolter when he was sentenced to more than five years in prison for making pot-laced treats and soft drinks. Now he faces the wrath of a candy giant.

The Hershey Co. has sued Affolter, 40, for giving his marijuana goodies names like "Stoney Rancher", "Rasta Reese's" and "Keef Kat". Each marijuana-laced treat came in packaging similar to Hershey's Jolly Rancher, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Kit Kat candies, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Hershey's suit, filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in San Jose, accuses Affolter of trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition. The company is seeking $100,000 in damages. Papers were served on Affolter while he was in a county jail awaiting transfer to state prison. Affolter's lawyer, David M. Michael, said he would be negotiating a settlement with Hershey immediately.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Owner of Napoleon Bone-apart's Penis Goes Stiff

The owner of Napoleon's penis died this month in Englewood, N.J. John K. Lattimer, who'd been a Columbia University professor and a collector of military (and some macabre) relics, also possessed Lincoln's blood-stained collar and Hermann Goering's cyanide ampoule. But the penis, which supposedly had been severed by a priest who administered last rites to Napoleon and overstepped clerical boundaries, stood out from the professor's collection of medieval armor, Civil War rifles and Hitler drawings.

At the time of Bonaparte's death, the physical remains of celebrities held a strong attractions. Many of Shakespeare's belongings were sought out and preserved, as well as the wood from trees that stood outside the bard's former homes. After Napoleon's capture at Waterloo, his possessions toured England. His carriage, filled with enticing contents like a gold tongue scraper, a flesh brush, "Cashimeer small-clothes" and a chocolate pot, drew crowds and inspired the poet Byron to covet a replica. When Napoleon died, the trees that lined his grave site at St. Helena were slivered into souvenirs.

The belief that objects are imbued with a lasting essence of their owners, taken to its logical extreme, led to the mindset that caused Mary Shelley to keep her husband's heart, dried to a powder, in her desk drawer.

Napoleon's penis was not the only Napoleonic body part that became grist for the relic mill. Two pieces of Napoleon's intestine, acquired by the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1841, provoked a long-simmering debate beginning in 1883. That year, Sir James Paget called the specimens' authenticity into question, contrasting their seemingly cancerous protrusions to the sound tissue Napoleon's doctor had earlier described. In 1960, the dispute continued in the Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, long after the intestine pieces had been destroyed during a World War II air raid.

Lattimer, a urologist, could claim a professional interest in Napoleon's genitalia. Not so its previous owner, the Philadelphia bookseller and collector A.S.W. Rosenbach, who took a "Rabelaisian delight" in the relic, according to his biographer, Edwin Wolf. When Rosenbach put the penis on display at the Museum of French Art in New York, visitors peered into a vitrine to see something that looked like a maltreated shoelace, or a shriveled eel.

Whether the object prized by Lattimer was actually once attached to Napoleon may never be resolved. Some historians doubt that the priest could have managed the organ heist when so many people were passing in and out of the emperor's death chamber. Others suggest he may have removed only a partial sample. See the article by Judith Pascoe for more details.

Los Angeles Hospital Staff Face Criminal Charges Over Death Of Woman

In the emergency room at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, Edith Isabel Rodriguez was seen as a complainer. "Thanks a lot, officers," an emergency room nurse told Los Angeles County police who brought in Rodriguez early May 9 after finding her in front of the Willowbrook hospital yelling for help. "This is her third time here."

The 43-year-old mother of three had been released from the emergency room hours earlier, her third visit in three days for abdominal pain. She'd been given prescription medication and a doctor's appointment. Turning to Rodriguez, the nurse said, "You have already been seen, and there is nothing we can do," according to a report by the county office of public safety.

Parked in the emergency room lobby in a wheelchair after police left, she fell to the floor. She lay on the linoleum, writhing in pain, for 45 minutes, as staffers worked at their desks and numerous patients looked on. Aside from one patient who briefly checked on her condition, no one helped her. A janitor cleaned the floor around her as if she were a piece of furniture. A closed-circuit camera captured everyone's indifference.

Arriving to find Rodriguez on the floor, her boyfriend unsuccessfully tried to enlist help from the medical staff and county police — even a 911 dispatcher, who refused to send rescuers to a hospital.

Alerted to the "disturbance" in the lobby, police stepped in — by running Rodriguez's record. They found an outstanding warrant and prepared to take her to jail. She died before she could be put into a squad car.

How Rodriguez came to die at a public hospital, without help from the many people around her, is now the subject of much public hand-wringing. The county chief administrative office has launched an investigation, as has the Sheriff's Department homicide division and state and federal health regulators. The triage nurse involved has resigned, and the emergency room supervisor has been reassigned. Additional disciplinary actions could come this week.

The incident has brought renewed attention to King-Harbor, a long-troubled hospital formerly known as King/Drew. The Los Angeles Times reconstructed the last 90 minutes of Rodriguez's life based on accounts by three people who have seen the confidential videotape, a detailed police report, interviews with relatives and an account of the boyfriend's 911 call.

"I am completely dumbfounded," said county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who has seen the video recording. "It's an indictment of everybody," he said. "If this woman was in pain, which she appears to be, if she was writhing in pain, which she appears to be, why did nobody bother … to take the most minimal interest in her, in her welfare? It's just shocking. It really is."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Turning The Tables Down Under

An Australian hotel popular with gay men has won the right to refuse entry to heterosexuals and lesbians, officials and the owner said Monday. The Peel Hotel in Melbourne won an exemption from the Equal Opportunity Act to prevent insults and abuse directed toward gays in its bars and nightclubs, owner Tom McFeely told reporters.

"The hotel predominantly markets itself towards homosexual males, towards gay men and we want to protect the integrity of the venue as well as continue to make the men feel comfortable," McFeely said. "When large numbers of heterosexuals or even lesbians are in the hotel that changes the atmosphere and many gay men can feel uncomfortable."

The landmark decision by a civil tribunal gives the establishment -- which does not offer accommodation -- the right to refuse entry to people considered a threat to the safety and comfort of its patrons. Helen Szoke, the chief executive of the Victoria state government's Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, said the Peel Hotel's gay clientele had experienced harassment, hostility and violence. "(They) also have felt as though they've been like a zoo exhibit with big groups of women on hens' parties coming to the club," she said.

McFeely said his aim was not to ban all straight patrons and lesbians but to limit their numbers so gay men could freely express their sexuality. He said he expected a backlash from other patrons, but added: "I'm not worried about it because to be frank I don't really care what heterosexuals or lesbians think. "My main motivation is to protect my gay male customers and I realise heterosexuals and lesbians may be upset. but I don't care about that. We are open at 8.00pm and we go all the way through till the morning. We have two dancefloors -- it is a nightclub environment."

McFeely said it would be easy to sort out desirable gays from undesirable straights and lesbians. "It is particularly easy to implement with the females 'cause that is pretty obvious. With the heterosexual males, if they identify themselves as that at the door, or indeed we question their behaviour in the venue and if they come across as being heterosexual, then we will simply ask them to leave if the behaviour is unappropriate."

Human rights group Liberty Victoria supported the decision, vice-president Michael Pearce said. "There are numerous places where heterosexual people can go," he said. "I think what (the tribunal) has said is that there aren't that many places where gay people can go and meet without the risk of being harassed or vilified, and that they are entitled to have their own spaces to do that in."

War On Terror Is Perhaps Just A War Of Words?

Claims of terrorism represented less than two one-thousandths (2/1000) of one percent of charges filed in recent years in immigration courts by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to a report issued Sunday by an independent research group. This revelation comes despite the fact the Bush administration has repeatedly asserted that fighting terrorism is the central mission of DHS.

The Transactional Records Action Clearinghouse (TRAC) said it analyzed millions of previously undisclosed records obtained from the immigration courts under the Freedom of Information Act.

Of the 814,073 people charged by DHS in immigration courts during the past three years, 12 faced charges of terrorism, TRAC said. Those 12 cases represent 0.0015 percent of the total number of cases filed.

"The DHS claims it is focused on terrorism. Well that's just not true," said David Burnham, a TRAC spokesman. "Either there's no terrorism, or they're terrible at catching them. Either way it's bad for all of us."

The TRAC analysis also found that DHS filed a minuscule number of what are called "national security" charges against people in the immigration courts. The report stated that 114, or 0.014 percent of the total of roughly 800,000 individuals charged were charged with national security violations.

According to the report by TRAC, which is affiliated with Syracuse University, the results show that there is an "apparent gap between DHS rhetoric about its role in fighting terrorism and what it actually has been doing."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

I Guess China Can Afford To Cut Corners On Food Safety-- They've Got A Billion More People To Spare

Costa Rican health officials said Friday they have seized more than 350 tubes of Chinese-made toothpaste tainted with a deadly chemical reportedly found in tubes sold elsewhere in the world.

Health Secretary Maria Luisa Avila said 56 tubes of toothpaste containing diethylene glycol, a chemical commonly used in antifreeze and brake fluid, were found in the northern city of Liberia, and 306 more were seized from a warehouse in the capital of San Jose.

Diethylene glycol, or DEG, is a thickening agent used as a low-cost - but frequently deadly - substitute for glycerin, a sweetener commonly used in drugs. DEG was blamed for the deaths of at least 51 people in Panama last year after it was mixed into cough syrup, another case with ties to China.

On the heels of the Costa Rican seizure, Nicaraguan police announced the following day that they had seized 6,000 tubes of the potentially-lethal Chinese-made toothpaste. All U.S. imports of Chinese toothpaste have been halted as of last week to test for diethylene glycol.

Nicaraguan Health Minister Maritza Cuan told reporters the seized toothpaste, labeled "Excel" and "Mr. Cool," had been smuggled in from Panama. "What we have to do now is recover all the toothpaste imported into the country so it doesn't damage the population," Cuan said. In Nicaragua, the toothpaste was seized from a vast market in the capital. Some vendors also were hawking it door to door, Cuan said. The product also could have been smuggled from Panama to Honduras and Colombia.

And just last week, the FDA also warned U.S. consumers not to buy or eat imported fish labeled as monkfish because it might actually be pufferfish, which contains a potentially deadly toxin called tetrodotoxin. Eating pufferfish that contains the potent toxin could result in serious illness or death, the FDA said.

An importer recalled 282 22-pound boxes labeled as Chinese monkfish that it distributed to Illinois, California and Hawaii, the FDA said. Two Chicago-area people became ill after eating the fish, which government testing later revealed contained life-threatening levels of tetrodotoxin.

“There is a harsh reality here: When it comes to food, ‘Made in China’ is now a warning label in the United States,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL. The Chinese government has said it is investigating the case involving the toothpaste (which the manufacturer has said is safe) and has formed a government task force to deal with the matter. Earlier this year, food ingredients from China were also blamed in the deaths of dogs and cats in North America.

In response to the recent spate of food safety issues related to Chinese-made products, the Bush administration asked the Chinese government to increase oversight of food and drug exports. In response, Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi (in Washington for high-level economic talks last week) warned against politicizing economic and trade issues.

Attention China: Broken radios and cheap tennis shoes won't kill ya-- but if you keep cutting corners on food products (and our government won't take serious action) things are going to get political pretty fast.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

India: Small Cocks, Big Problem

According to a BBC report, a survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men. The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms.

It has led to a call for condoms of mixed sizes to be made more widely available in India. The two-year study was carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research. Over 1,200 volunteers from the length and breadth of the country had their penises measured precisely, down to the last millimetre.

The scientists even checked their sample was representative of India as a whole in terms of class, religion and urban and rural dwellers. The conclusion of all this scientific endeavour is that about 60% of Indian men have penises which are between three and five centimetres shorter than international standards used in the manufacturing of condoms.

According to Doctor Chander Puri, a specialist in reproductive health at the Indian Council of Medical Research, there is an obvious need in India for custom-made condoms, as most of those currently on sale are too large. The issue is serious because about one in every five times a condom is used in India it either falls off or tears, an extremely high failure rate. And the country already has the highest number of HIV infections of any nation.

Puri said that since Indians would be embarrassed about going to a chemist to ask for smaller condoms there should be vending machines dispensing different sizes all around the country. "Smaller condoms are on sale in India. But there is a lack of awareness that different sizes are available. There is anxiety talking about the issue. And normally one feels shy to go to a chemist's shop and ask for a smaller size condom."

But Indian men need not be concerned about measuring up internationally according to Sunil Mehra, the former editor of the Indian version of the men's magazine Maxim. "It's not size, it's what you do with it that matters," he said. "From our population, the evidence is Indians are doing pretty well."

Speaking of Big Pigs . . . Just In Time For The Memorial Day Cookout

Meet Monster Pig. An 11-year-old Alabama boy used a pistol to kill a wild hog his father says weighed a staggering 1,051 pounds and measured 9-feet-4 from the tip of its snout to the base of its tail.

If the claims are accurate, Jamison Stone's trophy boar would be bigger than Hogzilla, the famed wild hog that grew to seemingly mythical proportions after being killed in south Georgia in 2004. Hogzilla originally was thought to weigh 1,000 pounds and measure 12 feet in length. National Geographic experts who unearthed its remains believe the animal actually weighed about 800 pounds and was 8 feet long.

Regardless of the comparison, Jamison is reveling in the attention over his pig, which has its own Web site that is generating Internet buzz.

Jamison, who killed his first deer at age 5, was hunting with father Mike Stone and two guides in east Alabama on May 3 when he bagged Hogzilla II. He said he shot the huge animal eight times with a .50- caliber revolver and chased it for three hours through hilly woods before finishing it off with a point-blank shot.

Through it all there was the fear that the animal would turn and charge them, as wild boars have a reputation of doing. His father said that, just to be extra safe, he and the guides had high-powered rifles aimed and ready to fire in case the beast with 5- inch tusks decided to charge.

With the pig finally dead in a creek bed on the 2,500-acre Lost Creek Plantation, a commercial hunting preserve in Delta, trees had to be cut down and a backhoe brought in to bring Jamison's prize out of the woods. It was hauled on a truck to the Clay County Farmers Exchange in Lineville, where Jeff Kinder said they used his scale, which was recently calibrated, to weigh the hog.

The hog's head is now being mounted on an extra-large foam form by Jerry Cunningham of Jerry's Taxidermy in Oxford. Cunningham said the animal measured 54 inches around the head, 74 inches around the shoulders and 11 inches from the eyes to the end of its snout. "It's huge," he said. "It's just the biggest thing I've ever seen."

Mike Stone is having sausage made from the rest of the animal. "We'll probably get 500 to 700 pounds," he said. Jamison, meanwhile, has been offered a small part in "The Legend of Hogzilla," a small-time horror flick based on the tale of the Georgia boar. The movie is holding casting calls with plans to begin filming in Georgia.

Jamison is enjoying the newfound celebrity generated by the hog hunt, but he said he prefers hunting pheasants to monster pigs. "They are a little less dangerous."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rosie Runs From "View"

OK-- let's just go over this Rosie thing one time and be done with it. It started with the May 17th show, when the following exchange took place between Rosie and Elisabeth Hasselbeck:

O’DONNELL: …… I just want to say something. 655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?

HASSELBECK: Who are the terrorists?

O’DONNELL: 655,000 Iraqis — I’m saying you have to look, we invaded –

HASSELBECK: Wait, who are you calling terrorists now? Americans?

O’DONNELL: I’m saying if you were in Iraq, and the other country, the United States, the richest in the world, invaded your country and killed 655,000 of your citizens, what would you call us?

HASSELBECK: Are we killing their citizens or are their people also killing their citizens?

O’DONNELL: We’re invading a sovereign nation, occupying a country against the U.N.
On his show the next day, Chris Matthews and a panel of journalists, including Howard Feinman, Jill Zuckman, and Jonathan Capehart, unanimously agreed that O'Donnell did, in essence, call U.S. troops terrorists. Most journalists who have reported on this comment have taken the same point of view.

Then, on the May 23rd show, a political discussion over the war in Iraq became heated when an angry O'Donnell decried Hasselbeck for not standing up for her when media outlets suggested that she'd called U.S. troops "terrorists" on the May 17th show.
O'DONNELL: "What you did was not defend me. ... I asked you if you believed what the Republican pundits were saying -- you said nothing, and that's cowardly."

HASSELBECK (sternly): "Do not call me a coward, because No. 1, I sit here every single day, open my heart and tell people what I believe."

O'DONNELL: "Do you believe that I think our troops are terrorists? And you would not even look me in the face, Elisabeth, and say, 'No, Rosie.' ".

HASSELBECK: "Because you are an adult, and I am certainly not going to be the person for you to explain your thoughts. They're your thoughts! Defend your own insinuations!"
O'Donnell (who had initially planned on leaving the ABC talk show in June) said she wasn't going to fight anymore, claiming that the media spins it as "Big, fat, lesbian, loud Rosie attacks innocent pure Christian Elisabeth." . . . "So for three weeks, you can say all the Republican crap you want."

Later that day, according to sources from the show, Rosie’s chief writer, Janette Barber, was escorted from the building after she was caught drawing moustaches on photographs of Hasselbeck that hang in the “View” studios.

ABC confirmed in a statement only that “photographs at ‘The View’s’ offices were defaced. Rosie O’Donnell was not in the building. ABC Legal and Human Resources are investigating the matter.” Barber is an old friend of O’Donnell who worked with her years ago on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show.”

There were also rumors O’Donnell was so angry after her argument with Hasselbeck that she trashed her dressing room, although ABC denied the tantrum. But Rosie's blog entries (in addition to her on-air demeanor) clearly show that the incident struck a deep nerve.

So-- in much the same way Rosie left her signature magazine, she has now left "The View"-- in a tirade. As for Hasselbeck-- guess you can still call her a "survivor".

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Chilean Artist Plans Makeover For Mt. Blanc

Last year, Chilean-born artist Marco Evaristti mixed fat removed from his body by liposuction with ground beef to make meatballs, which he fried in olive oil and displayed in a public gallery.

This year, he plans to climb Western Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc on the French-Italian border, colour the summit pink and declare it an independent state, with himself as president.

His work has been slammed as disgusting, publicity-seeking and immoral but Evaristti says he is simply trying to highlight some of the double standards he sees in the world around him. "What I'm trying to do with these works is to give society a jolt and make it ask questions," the 44-year-old said in a telephone interview from Denmark.

In perhaps his most infamous work, Evaristti filled food blenders with water, dropped live goldfish into them and invited museum goers to create their own fish soup by turning on the blenders. He also painted an iceberg in Greenland red and placed an embalmed human corpse in the front seat of a Ferrari, all in the name of art and introspection.

Undeterred by warnings from French authorities, he also refuses to disclose how he will color the top of Mont Blanc. "[French officials] haven't given me permission, they say I'm mad," he said. His next event after that will be staged either in the Sahara or Chile's Atacama Desert later this year, although he would provide no details.

Frozen Fetus Farce

A Pittsburgh woman was charged with abuse of a corpse last week after police found the remains of a baby in her freezer.

Officers got a tip from someone who knew 22-year-old Christine Hutchinson that there was "possibly a baby that was dead and was in a freezer in an apartment in Bloomfield," a working-class neighborhood several miles east of downtown, Pittsburgh police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said.

Detectives found what initially appeared to be a late-term fetus in a brown bag in the freezer, police said, though it wasn't immediately clear whether the remains resulted from a miscarriage, late-term abortion or a death shortly after birth.

But later, Lt. Daniel Herrmann was forced to admit that the crime of "abuse of a corpse" applies only to human beings, and under the law a fetus is not considered a human being. So unless further charges are brought, Hutchinson will go free.

Police also questioned the woman's ex-boyfriend but said they do not believe he was the father. He was not charged.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Government For the People or Against the People?

It's a story we've seen over and over again. Two years agao, the FDA was forced to keep medical solutions off the market because they don't meet with the Bush administration's idea of "moral behavior." Earlier this year, NASA was forced to alter exhibits on astronomy to conform with fans of creationism. The FDA recently withheld the identity of corporate distributors of tainted food. Again and again the Bush administration has turned government agencies once charged with protecting the public's health, education and safety into tools of religious ideology and corporate greed.

Now the EPA faces what might be the most crucial test of its integrity.

Back in 2004, California adopted a requirement that would force automakers to reduce CO2 emissions from autos beginning in September 2008. Los Angeles faces some of the most alarming levels of smog and pollution in the country. Eleven states have adopted the California regulations, including New York, Maryland, Rhode Island and Vermont. In order to put those regulations into effect, a waiver is needed from the EPA. In the 40 years that the EPA has been granting such waivers to allow states to regulate various environmental dangers, it has never turned down a request. Although California first sought this new waiver in 2005, Bush's EPA has stalled until now-- and California is threatening to go to court.

Automaker executives claim that the proposed regulations would devastate their industry. Production costs would cause the price of new vehicles to soar, they say. Somehow, GM expects you to believe that producing lighter, higher mileage cars will make your vehicle much more expensive than producing bloated SUVs, despite the plain fact that sticker prices for Expeditions, Hummers and Suburbans are clearly higher than Corollas, Civics, or Sentras-- even high-tech hybrids.

The truth is, US automakers already sell many inexpensive, high mileage vehicles-- they just want to do it overseas, where they can't affect domestic sales of the higher-margin behemoths.

If the EPA refuses to allow California to regulate car emissions and denies their waiver, it will be the purest possible testimony that public good comes behind corporate cronyism.

Edwards: Less Time on Hair, More Time on Foreign Affairs

John Edwards made a major speech today on the role of the military in foreign policy. He went beyond the usual Democratic stance on Iraq ("get out of Iraq now") and framed the issue in a way that resonated more clearly than the rhetoric I've heard from other major candidates. Some select quotes:
The core of this presidency has been a political doctrine that George Bush calls the "Global War on Terror." He has used this doctrine like a sledgehammer to justify the worst abuses and biggest mistakes of his administration, from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, to the war in Iraq. The worst thing about the Global War on Terror approach is that it has backfired—our military has been strained to the breaking point and the threat from terrorism has grown. We need a post-Bush, post-9/11, post-Iraq American military that is mission-focused on protecting Americans from 21st century threats, not misused for discredited ideological pursuits.

. . .

The war on terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It's a bumper sticker, not a plan. It has damaged our alliances and weakened our standing in the world. As a political "frame," it's been used to justify everything from the Iraq War to Guantanamo to illegal spying on the American people. It's even been used by this White House as a partisan weapon to bludgeon their political opponents. Whether by manipulating threat levels leading up to elections, or by deeming opponents "weak on terror," they have shown no hesitation whatsoever about using fear to divide.

. . .

As president, I will close Guantanamo Bay, restore habeas corpus, and ban torture.

Read the entire speech here.

Disabled Deutsch Dude Driving Drunkenly

A wheelchair-bound German man stunned police when they pulled him over for using the road and found he was 10 times over the legal alcohol limit for drivers.

"He was right in the middle of the road," said a spokesman for police in the northeastern city of
Schwerin. "The officers couldn't quite believe it when they saw the results of the breath test.
[His blood-alcohol level was] a life-threatening figure." The 31-year-old disabled man told police he had been out drinking with a friend and was only about 1 1/2 miles from home when a squad car stopped him as he passed through the village of Ventschow.

Police said that because the man was technically travelling as a pedestrian, he could not be charged with a driving offense. "It's not like we can impound his wheelchair," the spokesman said. "But he is facing some sort of punishment. It's just not clear yet what exactly that will be."

Blind Golfers Playing the Fair-Way?

Members of a Scottish blind golfers' society have been accused of cheating after players were witnessed hitting balls off the tee and holing long putts without assistance.

After a tournament at Downfield Golf Club, in Dundee, one club member spoke of what he witnessed. The golfer, who did not wish to be named, said: "I am employed in the voluntary sector so am aware of most disabilities and their consequences, but it was obvious that the majority of these 'blind' people were sighted. In the clubhouse I observed 'blind' people walking around unaided, buying refreshments and going up and down stairs with ease. Outdoors was a similar experience with many pulling their own golf trolleys and one in particular reading a scorecard."

He described watching players tee off with "little or no assistance," while several golfers "watched their own shot approach a green." He added: "Perhaps the worst of all was the number of 'blind' players who putted out without any assistance and then picked their own ball out of the cup. There are many thousands of legitimately disabled people throughout Scotland, but this group clearly take advantage and abuse the goodwill of others."

George Derby, captain of Tayside Blind Golf Society, described the claims as "a lot of rubbish." He said all of its members are registered blind although they have different degrees of visual acuity. One Tayside player dismissed the claims as "mischiefmaking" and insisted that all those who took part in the tournament were registered blind. Robin Clayden, Secretary of the Scottish Blind Golf Society, said: "If the spineless person who accused these golfers can't come forward and identify himself then we can't educate him on the various aspects of sight loss. "To remain anonymous highlights a greater disability within that person's mind and soul." See the article for more details.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chess Prodigy Plays the Game

15-year-old Emilio Cordova was crowned South American chess champion in January after winning a tournament in the Argentine city of Cordoba. But instead of returning to Lima, he told relatives he was heading to Brazil to compete in tournaments there in a push to reach the rank of international grandmaster.

But far from focusing on his grandmaster dreams, Emilio hooked up with 29-year-old go-go dancer and single mother Adriane Oliveira-- dubbed the "Bella Brasileira" by the Peruvian media. Emilio met Adriane in a night club called Love Story, a hot city club where young Emilio took to spending his nights dancing.

To fund his Brazilian sojourn, he told his family he had fallen ill and needed them to wire out money to pay for medical expenses. He even sold his laptop computer, which contained all his chess notes and training programs.

As weeks turned into months, Emilio's family became worried about him, and the Peruvian media went on a mad hunt to locate the missing prodigy. After the Peruvian media located his son, his father set out to bring him back home. At first Emilio was adamant he would not leave Brazil, and the Peruvian Foreign Ministry had to ask the Sao Paulo police to prevent the boy leaving the city before his father arrived and dragged him back home. Upon his return, Emilio told reporters that Adriane was just one of several girlfriends, and explained, "I have to live."

See more details here.

White Elephant

The new U.S. embassy in Baghdad, is destined, at $592 million, to become the biggest and most expensive U.S. embassy on earth when it opens in September. It will cover 104 acres of land, about the size of the Vatican. It will include 27 separate buildings and house about 615 people behind bomb-proof walls. Most of the embassy staff will live in simple one-bedroom apartments.

The U.S. ambassador, however, will enjoy a little more elbow room in a high-security home on the compound reported to fill 16,000 square feet. His or her deputy will have to make do with a more modest 9,500 sq ft. They will have a pool, gym and communal living areas, and the embassy will have its own power and water supplies.

But commentators and Iraq experts believe the project was flawed from its inception, and have raised concerns it will become an enormous, heavily targeted white elephant that will be an even greater liability if and when the Americans scale back their presence in Iraq. Edward Peck, a former American diplomat in Iraq, told reporters, "What kind of embassy is it when everybody lives inside and it's blast-proof, and people are running around with helmets and crouching behind sandbags?"

There have been suggestions that the compound will not be large enough to house hundreds of diplomats and military personnel likely to remain in Iraq for some time. Scores of US officials are currently housed in trailers which are vulnerable to bombs landing on their roofs.

The embassy is one of the few major projects the Bush administration has undertaken in Iraq that is on schedule and within budget.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Flank Attack

Speedy Gonzales Slowly Sinking Away

There was some dramatic testimony on the hill this week concerning Gonzales' role in re-approving Bush's no-warrant wiretapping program and his later attempts to prevent people from testifying to the real story behind it. See stories here and here at for details.

Despite Gonzales efforts, Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey went ahead with his testimony this week, and told Senators that he thought Bush's no-warrant wiretapping program was so questionable that he refused to reauthorize it-- leading to a standoff with White House officials at the bedside of John Ashcroft. Back in March 2004, Comey was "acting" AG because Ashcroft had just fallen ill with pancreatitus and was in the hospital.

Alberto Gonzales (then White House counsel) and Chief of Staff Andrew Card quickly staged a dramatic confrontation at Ashcroft's sickbed in the intensive care unit at GW Hospital (According to some sources, Bush personally called Ashcroft's wife to arrange for the visit). Comey got wind of it and arrived before Gonzales and Card had a chance to grill the ailing Attorney General. In front of a room full of White House and DOJ officials, Ashcroft lifted his head from the pillow, explained why he was against the program, and pointed out that Comey, not he, held the powers of the Attorney General at that moment. Gonzales and Card stormed out of the hospital room. Comey told the Senate Judiciary committee, "I was angry-- I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man who did not have the powers of the Attorney General."

The White House went ahead and re-certified the program without DOJ approval, allowing it to operate anyway. Comey, Ashcroft, and FBI Director Mueller told Bush that they were ready to resign over the matter. After three weeks of wrangling, Bush himself stepped in and brokered changes to the program to address DOJ concerns.

One Mother of a Fight

An Ohio family celebrated Mother's Day with a public brawl that resulted in multiple arrests and injuries. About 10 police units responded to the melee at the Golden Corral restaurant last Sunday, and found an estimated 15 people involved in a fight inside the restaurant. Five people were arrested and six people were hurt, including four who were taken to hospitals for minor injuries.

The incident started shortly before 3:30 p.m. in the crowded, buffet-style restaurant in Toledo. According to police, 56-year-old Christine Lewandowski repeatedly asked 24-year-old mom Sylvia Harris to quiet her 1-year-old child, who was sitting in a high chair and screaming. When the infant continued to scream, Ms. Lewandowski shouted at the baby to “shut up.”

That’s when Ms. Harris lunged at Ms. Lewandowski and began punching the woman, the sergeant said. Other people quickly joined in the fight. “It was a big exchange,” Sergeant Kikolski said. “It seemed like everyone wanted to get their licks in, or it could have possibly been they were trying to break up the fight.” Chairs and tables were thrown as the fight participants quickly grew out of control and restaurant managers called police.

The restaurant was eventually shut down for nearly two hours, and about 100 customers were forced to leave, police said. Customers left the restaurant with take-out boxes as they briskly walked to their vehicles, some shaking their heads in disbelief about the "Mother’s Day Massacre". Tony Puckett, the general manager at Golden Corral, declined to comment on the incident.

Killer Cock Convicted

A Windsor, Ontario man faces life in prison after pleading guilty to 15 counts of aggravated sexual assault for engaging in unprotected sex without telling his partners that he had AIDS. He has been free on bail since 2004, but it took three years for Canadian prosecutors to figure out he was a danger to the community. See the story here for more details.

This Will Not End Well

Back to Floggin' the Blog

After being wicked sick early in the week, and digging myself out of my inbox after that, I've got a lot of catching up to do with the online world--- but let me start with something I should have posted about last week.

In Camille's latest column on Slate, she expounded on Bush, Hillary, the political debates, and Rosie O'Donnell:
Bush seems increasingly passive and hemmed in. We get sporadic declarations of stirring resolution, followed by long, vague periods of desultory indifference, as the dead and severely wounded are shipped undercover stateside. Bush's utter inability to project steady, consistent day-to-day leadership on Iraq certainly betrays his lack of control of this mission from the start.

. . .

[In the Democratic candidate debate] Hillary kept doggedly doing a cringingly bad Southern drawl for African-American audiences and then had the audacity to suggest it was evidence of how gloriously "multilingual" she is after living in Arkansas. Pass the mint juleps, Auntie Mame! We sho' never heard that lip-smacking down-home gumbo when little ole Hillary was first lady of Arkansas and then of the United States.

. . .

Rudy and Hillary seem weirdly analogous in their glibness and artificiality. Of course, they've been symbiotically locked for years: Hillary owes her senatorial rank to the New York Democrats who drafted her (a non-resident of that state) to counter Rudy's anticipated run, which never materialized because of his illness. If she's Sister Frigidaire (her youthful nickname) and the Queen of Denial (Bill's enabler), Rudy is a casuistical crypto-priest of ramrod rigidity. Billing and spooning with Judy on Walters' show, he seemed like a puritanical poker coming up through the runny butter-cream frosting like a 5 o' clock shadow.

. . .

I greeted with relief the news that Rosie O'Donnell will be leaving ABC's "The View." Joy Behar will get some oxygen at last. What a crass solipsist, clod and yahoo O'Donnell is -- and what a bad advertisement for both liberalism and lesbianism. I thoroughly enjoyed Donald Trump putting the shiv to her with his eye-opening insults of withering accuracy. The list of O'Donnell's faults overfloweth -- beginning with her stentorian humorlessness and her infantile rudeness to her cohosts and ending with her crackpot conspiracy theories and her constant flaunting of her banal regimen of antidepressants.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Please Play Nice in the Sandbox, Everyone!

Another lead from the venerable WaPo-- it seems that Paul Brinkley, a deputy undersecretary of defense, has been called a "Stalinist" by U.S. diplomats in Iraq. One has accused him of helping insurgents build better bombs. The State Department has even taken the unusual step of enlisting the CIA to dispute the validity of Brinkley's work.

His transgression? To begin reopening dozens of government-owned factories in Iraq.

Brinkley and his colleagues at the Pentagon believe that rehabilitating shuttered, state-run enterprises could reduce violence by employing tens of thousands of Iraqis. Officials at State counter that the initiative is antithetical to free-market reforms the United States should promote in Iraq.

It's been months and years since Powell and Rumsfeld were at loggerheads in this administration-- yet their legacies seem to linger on. Can't this government get its act together?

. . . . And the Drums Beat Ever So Strongly . . . .

According to a weekend Wash Post article, recently-resigned DOJ official Monica Goodling was known for running suspected Democrats out of the DOJ ranks. She also went so far as quiz civil service applicants with questions that most U.S. attorneys now say were wildly inappropriate, like who was their favorite president and Supreme Court justice. One department official said an applicant was even asked, “Have you ever cheated on your wife?”

Ms. Goodling also moved to block the hiring of prosecutors with résumés that suggested they might be Democrats, even though they were seeking posts that were supposed to be nonpartisan, according to sources. In addition, she helped maintain lists of all the United States attorneys that graded their loyalty to the Bush administration, including work on past political campaigns, and noted if they were members of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.

By the time Ms. Goodling resigned in April — after her role in the firing of the prosecutors became public and she had been promoted to the role of White House liaison — she and other senior department officials had revamped personnel practices affecting employees from the very top of the agency all the way to the bottom.

The people who spoke about Ms. Goodling’s role at the department, including eight current Justice Department lawyers and staff, did so only on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Several added that they found her activities objectionable and damaging to the integrity of the department.

On the heels of those revelations, the White House was hit by two sudden resignations late Monday when Paul McNulty, a top Justice Department official, and Lanny Davis, the only Democratic member of the president’s civil liberties watchdog board, announced they were stepping down. Both resignations are likely to fuel allegations of White House political meddling in law enforcement and national security issues.

Although McNulty, the deputy attorney general, cited family reasons for his resignation, close associates said that McNulty’s decision to leave was prompted by his disenchantment with both Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and top White House officials over their handling of the U.S. attorney controversy.

At the same time, Davis, a former Clinton official who had been named by Bush to serve on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board, resigned his post in a letter to the White House and his fellow board members protesting the panel’s lack of independence. In recent months, Davis has had numerous clashes with fellow board members and White House officials over what he saw as administration attempts to control the panel’s agenda and edit its public statements.

How long can AG-AG possibly last?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Salem Revisited?

A report says that hundreds of Britons accused of being pedophiles in the country's biggest Internet child pornography investigation were actually victims of credit card fraud. More than 7,000 - including rock star Pete Townshend - were said to have downloaded child-porn images from a U.S. website.

But an investigation has found that many of those charged as part of the police inquiry code-named "Operation Ore" were innocent and their card details had been used illegally. Police admit some of the 7,200 names on a list supplied to them by U.S. officials were victims of card fraud but say they were not prosecuted. Reportedly, 39 of those contacted about having their names on the list ended up committing suicide rather than having the accusations against made public. Because those cases were closed, it is not known whether or not they were actually victims of credit card fraud.

Hundreds, possibly even thousands, of other people suffered for years under the threats of prosecution for child pornography when in fact they had nothing to do with child pornography.

Approximately 2,300 of the 7,200 cases eventually resulted in criminal charges. Jim Gamble, former head of the National Crime Squad who is now head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, attempted to justify the whole mess, saying, "Over 90 per cent of those involved pleaded guilty. That's not about credit card fraud."

Artful Campaigning

The Smoking Gun this week posted the following item:

When Barack Obama arrived this week for a campaign fundraiser at a Virginia art gallery, one large painting was covered by a curtain and another had been removed entirely before the Democrat's arrival. Obama's staff apparently was concerned that the paintings--both by artist Jamie Boling--would somehow embarrass the Illinois senator, who spoke Tuesday night to a crowd of 500 supporters at Richmond's Plant Zero gallery. One of the paintings, a 6' x 10' work titled "Snake Charmer," is a reproduction of the famous paparazzi photo showing Britney Spears, sans underwear, stepping out of an automobile driven by Paris Hilton. The 33-year-old Boling's oil painting can be seen below. The second work, "Honest Abe," shows a woman wearing a t-shirt with the words "Kill Lincoln." Fans of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" will recall characters from the 1982 movie wearing a t-shirt with the same slogan (though it referred to a rival high school, not the 16th president)

Colorado Woman Keeps Her Head on Straight After Freak Accident

A car crash on January 25 threw 30-year-old Shannon Malloy up against her vehicle's dashboard. In the process, her skull became separated from her spine. The clinical term for her condition is called internal decapitation. Incredibly, she has survived to tell her story.

"I remember the impact and then I had no control over my head," said Malloy. "I've seen [a case like this] once before and, unfortunately, the patient didn't make it," said her doctor, Gary Ghiselli.

Malloy spent four months in a head-stabilizing device that was screwed to her skull and her neck. It wasn't exactly a pain-free procedure. "My skull slipped off my neck about five times. Every time they tried to screw this to my head, I would slip," said Malloy. During that recovery time, she also endured many other complications-- a fractured skull, swollen brain stem, bleeding on the brain, GI tube in my stomach, inability to swallow, and nerve damage in my eyes.

But she is alive, and looking forward to other miracles in the days ahead. See the article for more details and video.

Do We Need to Call Barbara?

Along with some commentary on Queen Elizabeth's visit, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a nice synopsis of the various other social gaffes we've seen from our "towel-snapping" president-- in case you've forgotten about the incidents with Tony Blair, Angela Merkel, Hu Jintao, and Nancy Pelosi . . . . .

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Finally, A Measure of Justice for the 'Pillow Angel'

A hospital that performed a controversial procedure that stunted the growth and sexual development of a profoundly disabled child violated Washington state law by sterilizing her, according to an investigative report released this week. Read my original blog entry on Ashley's story here. The case raised medical ethics questions and rankled disability and feminist groups across the globe.

The Washington Protection and Advocacy System, a private group vested with federal investigative authority for people with disabilities, found that Seattle Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center violated the constitutional and common law rights of a girl (who become known as the "Pillow Angel") by performing a hysterectomy without a court order from the state.

"Washington law specifically prohibits the sterilization of minors with developmental disabilities without zealous advocacy on their behalf and court approval," said Mark Stroh, WPAS executive director, in a statement. Get more details on the investigation here. Read the family's blog here.

License to Offend?

Heather Morijah, of Rapid City, South Dakota, had very strong views on the Bush administration and its role in taking the country to war in Iraq. So last fall, she paid the $25 extra to get vanity plates for her Toyota Prius. Her request: MPEACHW.

The plates arrived, no problem. That is, until she go a letter on April 18 from the DMV.

The agency “is in receipt of a written complaint about your personalized plates,” the letter says. “With this complaint I am sorry to inform you that the set of plates MPEACHW are being recalled. . . . You will have 10 days from the date of receiving this letter to surrender the plates.”

The ACLU advised her not to hand her over her plates and urged Morijah to speak to the press-- resulting in stories by the AP and CNN, as well as bloggers all over the globe. Long story short: it worked. Read the full story here.

Going To Pot

While looking for details on the Ricky Williams story (the Miami Dolphins running back who again tested positive for marijuana, likely jeopardizing his return to football this coming season), I ran across a story on Believe it or not, they actually profiled the most exotic varieties of marijuana available on the marketplace. For the purely intellectual benefit of my readers, I reproduce their list below:

Sour Diesel
Average price: $30 per gram

This strain, awarded the "Cannabis Cup" by High Times magazine in 2005, has a limey green hue and a crystal-like texture. When crumbled, it smells like a diesel fuel spill at a gas station.

OG Kush
Average price: $25 per gram

A popular Southern California strain of Kush, OG is a marijuana breed that supposedly originated in the Afghani Kush region. Fans say it has a neon-green hue, dense buds and an intense effect requiring a long recovery period.

Average price: $35 per gram

Named one of High Times magazine's Top Ten Strains of 2006. Connoisseurs speculate that the big leafy strain, which has a tangy aroma, originated in Montana.

Jack Herer
Average price: $25 per gram

This strain was named for Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of Cannabis and the Conspiracy Against Marijuana. According to Sensi Seeds, a distributor of medical marijuana seeds, the buds are encrusted with crystals, lending the plant a sugar-frosted appearance.

Average price: $25 per gram

Haze is a Jamaican-born strain, according to fan sites. This tall, bushy plant has gold-tinged buds and narrow leaves. Although the buds are small, they are said to be extremely potent.

If We Don't Feed Them, Who Will?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Butterfly Massacre

Four days after its opening a weel ago, 200 of the 300 butterflies at the All-Russia Exhibition Center attraction have been killed.

Visiting children "just didn't know" how to properly react with butterflies, either manhandling them (causing injury) or crushing them altogether while trying to catch one. The butterflies flutter free around the room and can land on visitors, said Andrei Kuleshov, spokesman for the butterfly exhibition.

The attraction is still open, and butterfly numbers are expected to be back up to 300 within a week or two. Kuleshov would not reveal how much the new insects cost, and said parents would be warned to supervise their children.

The butterflies include common breeds like hawk moths and rare examples from South America and Southeast Asia. "If a butterfly lands on someone, it's lucky," Kuleshov said. (Note from the Daily Dude: but not so lucky for the butterfly, apparently)

Survival Guides Allow Man to Die of Thirst in Utah

A man died of thirst during a wilderness-survival exercise designed to test his physical and mental toughness, even though guides had water. They didn't offer him any because they did not want to spoil the character-building experience.

On his second day in the blazing Utah desert, Dave Buschow, one of 12 hikers being led by expert guides on a wilderness adventure, was in bad shape. Pale, wracked by cramps, his speech slurred, the 29-year-old New Jersey man was desperate for water and hallucinating so badly he mistook a tree for a person. After going roughly 10 hours without a drink in the 100-degree heat, he finally dropped dead of thirst, face down in the dirt, less than 100 yards from the goal: a cave with a pool of water.

Buschow's companions were carrying his possessions for him. He was within earshot of other hikers exhilarated about finding the pool of water, when he collapsed for the last time.

The guides, it turned out, were carrying emergency water-- but failed to offer Buschow any of it. The guides did not want him to fail the $3,175 course. They wanted him to dig deep, push himself beyond his known limits, and make it to the cave on his own.

"He said he could not go on," staff member Shawn O'Neal wrote two days later in a statement ordered by the Garfield County Sheriff's Office. "I felt that he could make it this short distance and told him he could do it as I have seen many students sore, dehydrated and saying 'can't' do something only to find that they have strength beyond their conceived limits. I wanted him to accomplish getting to the water and the cave for rest," he wrote. "He asked me to go get the water for him. I said I was not going to leave him. ... Shortly thereafter I had a bad feeling and turned to Dave and found no sign of breathing."

Five people took turns trying to revive Buschow while red biting ants crawled over his face. A rescue helicopter from Page, Ariz., arrived about 90 minutes after he passed out, but a defibrillator failed to jump-start his heart.

Nearly a year later, documents obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act reveal these and other previously undisclosed details of what turned out to be a death march for Buschow. They also raise questions about the judgments and priorities of the guides at the Boulder Outdoor Survival School.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Campaign of Words

Both political parties have now conducted their first high-profile debates with all the major candidates. As I was roaming the b-sphere last weekend, I stumbled across an analysis of the candidates' debate performances by a company called Upstream Analysis. I thought it quite interesting just to look at the top five most frequently-used words from each candidate's answers (excluding the common words-- and, but, for, the, as, in, etc.). Here are the results (some may have more than five words if there was a tie for fifth):


Senator Biden: Able, Administration, Better, Court, Game, Going, Talking
Sentator Clinton: Administration, Care, Health, President, Ready
Senator Dodd: Administration, Believe, Direction, Important, Justice, Years
Senator Edwards: America, Believe, President, States, United
Senator Gravel: Congress, Going, Iraq, Soldiers, Terrorism, Vain, War
Congressman Kucinich: Care, Constitution, Health, President, War
Senator Obama: Around, Families, Going, Intelligence, Sure, Women
Governor Richardson: Care, Deal, Health, Mental, President


Senator Brownback: Engage, Ideas, Key, Lead, Regimes
Fmr. Governor Gilmore: Conservative, Going, Middle, President, Sales, Tax
Fmr. Mayor Giuliani: Deal, Decision, Going, New-York, States
Fmr. Governor Huckabee: Decision, Faith, Government, Jobs, Nation, States, Tax
Representative Hunter: Border, Fence, Iran, States, United
Senator McCain: Americans, Going, President, Spending, States, United
Representative Paul: Decision, Foreign, Government, Policy, Tax, War
Fmr. Governor Romney: America, American, Decision, Government, Nation
Governor Tancredo: Absolutely, Believe, Going, Spending, States, United
Fmr. Governor Thompson: Elect, Going, President, States, Wisconsin

Humans For Animals Campaign: Part 2

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pig-tailed Predators from Perth

Two teenage girls from Perth, Australia will be serving 15 years to life in prison for the murder of a 15-year-old friend at a sleepover last summer. What has shocked Australia (and the world) is the chillingly blase manner in which they formulated and carried out their fatal plan.

The two girls had been discussing whether or not they could (hypothetically) ever feel bad about murdering someone. They decided that the only to know for sure was to actually kill someone-- so they agreed to kill their friend who, having gone to bed earlier, was sleeping in the next room.

The girls changed into old clothes, got some speaker wire from the stereo, and strangled their friend, Eliza Davis, as she slept. The pair then dug a grave under the house and buried the body there. Their next move was to report their friend as missing, and went so far as to assist family and friends with the search. The deadly duo confessed their deed to the police only after deciding that the grave they had dug was too shallow, would eventually be discovered, and inevitably lead to their arrest.

Police and experts remained dumbfounded over the pair's sociopathic attitude toward the crime. According to news reports, the girls admitted that they knew it was wrong to kill, but told police in the end "that it felt right." In court, they also admitted that they did not regret Davis' death.

Because of their age, neither their names nor their photographs have been released.

Here's An Ad You Won't See in the U.S.

Salesman Getting a Hard Time

Richard Carter, a salesman for a British company, fears he's facing the sack after struggling with a seven-year erection. Carter, 34, developed the rare condition priapism after taking panic attack medication.

It left his manhood almost constantly stiff and he needed eight hospital operations to reduce it. Richard's bulge also left him in agony as he drove vans selling fire extinguishers for Chubbs.

He was forced to take so much time off that bosses have told him they may need to "reassess" whether he can still work for them as an on-the-road salesman. The hard-up salesman, from Holbrooks, Coventry, claims he's been threatened with redundancy and offered a pay-off of just ten weeks' wages - despite ten years service.

He said: "Some may think it's good to have an erection for that long, but I was often in terrible pain. I had to wear knee-length coats in summer to hide it, yet people at work thought it was a joke." After his most recent operation, Carter's condition improved. He said: "I was told the operation may make me impotent, but I had to risk it to avoid any more pain."

Chubbs said, in effect, that they didn't want to stiff him and would seek to find Carter an alternative job. A spokesman said: "We sympathise with him. His position is under review."

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Superglue Bandits On the Run in South Africa

A Johannesburg gang of armed robbers forced a man to strip naked and then glued him to his exercise bike while they ransacked his house in one of South Africa's more bizarre crime incidents.

Kobus van Deventer, 50, was left stuck to the bike with super-strong glue for three hours until he was rescued by his girlfriend. His lips also had been sealed with glue.

The South African Press Association reported that van Deventer was hijacked while driving in Johannesburg's northern suburbs. His assailants, dressed in suits and armed with handguns and an automatic assault rifle, forced their way into van Deventer's car and made the property developer drive to his house.

"The victim was then forced to strip, after which he was super-glued to the seat of an exercise bicycle, his hands were super-glued as were his feet and then his mouth was super-glued shut," Mark Stokoe, spokesman for emergency services Netcare 911 told SAPA. Workers from Netcare, a private company, use a combination of Vaseline and other chemicals on the scene to free the man.

Stokoe said the robbers ransacked van Deventer's house and safe while "helping themselves to Chivas Regal and the like."

South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world with about 50 people being murdered everyday. The government is desperate to counter the country's violent image, especially in the run up to the soccer World Cup, which it will host in 2010.

Big Ol' Jet Airliner: Don't Carry Me Too Far Away

Residents of the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) are wondering how long it will take to remove a disused Boeing 737 that has been abandoned in a busy road. The decommissioned aircraft was being driven through the city last weekend when the driver got lost and then abandoned the plane. The Boeing used to belong to the private company Air Sahara.

Some locals are angry that no action is being taken to move the plane. Others say it is a tourist attraction. It appears that after taking a wrong turn, the driver found himself facing a flyover that was too low for him to take the plane under. The driver has not been seen since and no one is assuming responsibility for the 737.

See the BBC article for more details, pictures and quotes.

Late Night GOP

"The Republican presidential debate was held tonight in California, and ten candidates took part. Political experts say that the ten Republican candidates represented all races, creeds, and colors of rich white men."
---Conan O'Brien

"Four years ago, the president stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier and announced 'Mission Accomplished.' Two years later, the president appointed one of the main architects of that mission, Paul Wolfowitz, to head the World Bank. Because when someone has been completely wrong about everything, ya gotta put him where he can't do any in charge of the world's poor."
---Jon Stewart

"Former CIA director George Tenet has a new book where he says there was no serious debate within the administration about going into Iraq. It'll hit the stores on Monday, under the title: No Shit."
---Bill Maher

Who Says Women Can't Be Territorial?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Going Bananas Over Monkeys

In a case that could set a global legal precedent for granting basic rights to apes, animal rights advocates In Vienna are seeking to get a 26- year-old male chimpanzee named Hiasi legally declared a "person."

Hiasl's supporters argue he needs that status to become a legal entity that can receive donations and get a guardian to look out for his interests. "Our main argument is that Hiasl is a person and has basic legal rights," said Eberhart Theuer, a lawyer leading the challenge on behalf of the Association Against Animal Factories, a Vienna animal rights group.

"If we can get Hiasl declared a person, he would have the right to own property. Then, if people wanted to donate something to him, he'd have the right to receive it," said Theuer, who has vowed to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

Austria isn't the only country where primate rights are being debated. Spain's parliament is considering a bill that would endorse the Great Ape Project, a Seattle-based international initiative to extend "fundamental moral and legal protections" to apes.

If Hiasl gets a guardian, "it will be the first time the species barrier will have been crossed for legal 'personhood,'" said Jan Creamer, chief executive of Animal Defenders International, which is working to end the use of primates in research.

Read the full story here.

Only The Best for a Pest

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Advertising Going to the Dogs

You Can Go Ahead and Cross Them Off the List

During Thursday night's Republican debate, the ten GOP candidates for president were asked whether they believed in evolution.

Three — Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas; Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas; and Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado — indicated they did not.

So now there's seven Republicans left to choose from-- unless more of them take leave of their senses.

The Dishonor of Killing

I'm sure that many of you have heard about the practice of so-called "honor killings" in Muslim cultures. So even though this may not be a new phenomenon, there is no way we can hope to end this barbaric practice unless we continue to call it out when it occurs and express our outrage.

In the most recent case last week, a 17-year-old girl has been stoned to death in Iraq because she loved a teenage boy of the wrong religion. A horrifying video of the stoning is now available on the Internet. Amnesty International condemned the death of Du’a Khalil Aswad as "an abhorrent murder" and demanded that her killers be brought to justice.

According to reports, a local security force witnessed the incident, but did nothing to try to stop it. Now her boyfriend is in hiding in fear for his life.

Miss Aswad, a member of a minority Kurdish religious group called Yezidi, was condemned to death as an "honor killing" by other men in her family and hardline religious leaders because of her relationship with the Sunni Muslim boy.

Miss Aswad had tried to take shelter in the house of a Yezidi tribal leader. But as a large crowd watched, eight or nine men stormed the house and dragged her into the street. They hurled stones at her for over 30 minutes until she finally died.

The stoning happened last month, but only came to light with the release of the Internet video. More details are available here.

On January 25th of this year, the Associated Press reported on one of the first honor killings of 2007-- one that occurred in Jordan when a father fatally shot his 17-year-old daughter whom he suspected of being sexually active-- despite a medical exam performed before her death that proved her virginity, according to a government forensic pathologist from Jordan's National Institute of Forensic Medicine.

The young woman had apparently "run away from home several times for unknown reasons" and had returned home from a family protection clinic after doctors "vouched for her virginity" and her father signed a pledge not to harm her. He ignore the pledge and killed her anyway. The pathologist reported that the autopsy performed after her death again demonstrated her virginity.

According to a 2002 United Nations report, the "honor" defense for murder is allowed by law in the following countries: Argentina, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Peru, Syria, Venezuela and the Palestinian National Authority.

Egyptian Crackdown on Bloggers

A popular Egyptian blogger known for his withering criticisms of the government has given up writing after becoming the latest victim of a state crackdown on dissent.

The blogger, known as Sandmonkey (and read regularly by the Daily Dude), signed off last week, writing that he had noticed state security agents on his street and heard clicking noises on his phone. "There has been too much heat around me lately," he wrote.

In recent months, the Egyptian regime has jailed several bloggers, ending a period in which it had taken a more relaxed attitude towards internal critics. Human rights activists claim the about-turn follows the US administration's decision to relax pressure on Middle Eastern governments to enact democratic reforms.

During Sandmonkey's three years on the internet, his was one of the most widely read Egyptian blogs, popular especially among Western readers for his unconventional opinions about his country and the Middle East. "Cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled" was how he described himself.

He is a 26-year-old American-educated investment banker, and his mother is a member of Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party. Read the article on the Telegraph website for more details on other victims of the Egyptian crackdown on bloggers/activists.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Help Solve the Brooke Shields Mystery

This small bit of grafitti has been popping up all over London for the past few weeks, and is puzzling the living daylights out of everyone who spots it. There are even reports of it appearing as far away as Hamburg and the Netherlands.

A Google search reveals nothing, but there is rampant speculation on the blogosphere speculating as to what's so special about the actess, model, former Mrs. Andre Agassi, and sparring partner of Tom Cruise. Does she have her own private alphabet? What?

A London blogger first spotted it, but none of those readers were any the wiser. A Flickr pool has been set up dedicated to cataloguing all of the graffiti's appearances, including a map of all the recorded AOBS locations. There's a Facebook group dedicated to solving the mystery, as well. The website contains nothing but a plea for the person who created them to get in touch. It's a genuine mystery.

Spiderman Product To Make Your Head Spin

Spiderman 3, out this weekend, reportedly cost Sony Pictures in the neighborhood of $250 million. So naturally they’ve licensed the superhero’s image for hundreds of products. Well, if you have an amputee 8-year-old, this item's just for you: The Amazing Prosthetic Arm / Spider-Man Fishing Rod

This product came about as a result of an open source project designing prosthetic limbs-- when an engineer submitted a proposal to combine a prosthetic arm with a fishing rod. Just imagine a happy child writing their own version of the Spider-Man theme song…about their arm:

"Spiderman, Spiderman
Dis-arming neighborhood Spiderman
Can't spin webs-- of any size
But he catches fish, using flies
Lookout-- get hooked by the Spiderman"

Aussie Editors Muff Up Magazine Re-Launch

An image showing the "naughty bits" of a young female model has forced an issue of a popular teen magazine off supermarket shelves across Australia.

The May issue of "Dolly" magazine was intended to be a high-profile re-launching of the periodical, with an all-new layout and redesign. In an embarrassing and costly mistake however, about 50,000 copies of the magazine were recalled from Woolworths and Coles stores due to the offensive image. The publisher is now frantically applying stickers by hand to the "too rude" photo in a bid to get the May issue back on stands.

According to the magazine's spokeswoman, "This was the result of a printing error." But an arrow pointing to the girl's genitalia, accompanied by the text "Umm ... we think you forgot something" would suggest editors were well aware of exactly what they were exposing.

In an interview given in anticipation of the re-launch, the magazine's editor, Bronwyn McCahon, said the idea of the new-look title was "to give readers more bang for their buck".

Mission accomplished!

D.C. Madam Speaks Out-- Rather Uneventfully

The ABC News telecast on the D.C. Madam last night, as expected, lacked few explosive details on the identities of her clients. A few excerpts from the Brian Ross report:
The phone records trace back to thousands of men, including a career Justice Department prosecutor. There are NASA officials; at least five military officers, including the commander of an Air Force intelligence squadron. Also named by Palfrey is Harlan Ullman, a leading military analyst who wrote the book "Shock and Awe," a concept cited by the Pentagon in planning the war in Iraq.

The phone numbers also track back to Georgetown mansions and prominent CEOs, officials at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and lobbyists both Republican and Democratic. But as usually is the case in Washington, much of it is dull. There were no members of Congress that we could find in these phone records, no White House officials. Quite frankly, but for the few exceptions, most of the men on this list just aren't newsworthy, not even as customers of the D.C. Madam's escort service.
You can read the full transcript of the interview here.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Freedom of the Almighty Dollar

The International Herald Tribune (IHT) is under fire for publishing an advertisement from the Government of Iran, seeking bids to build two pressurized Light Water Reactors in the Iranian Bushehr Province.

According to security experts, bidding on light water reactors "violates the spirit" of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737, which prohibits all states from the supply, sale or transfer of goods and technologies which could contribute to Iran's enrichment related processing or heavy water related activities of nuclear weapons delivery systems.

An IHT spokesman, asked whether accepting such an ad was appropriate, wrote: "We believe that advertising should be as free and open as the dictates of honesty and decency allow. In our view, advertising is an essential ingredient in the broad concept of a free press."

Was it Lenin who said that a capitalist will sell you the very rope with which to hang himself?

Can I Get an "A-Men", Brother?

Dissin' the Dead: Major Karma Hit

In Milwaukee this week, a former alderman and controversial radio talk show host said he's happy the mother of his radio rival is dead.

Michael McGee Sr. made the comments during his radio show on WNOV-AM Thursday morning. Charlie Sykes is a radio talk show host on WTMJ-AM. Sykes' mother, Katherine B. Sykes, died in a house fire earlier in the week. According to the Ozaukee County coroner, Mrs. Sykes died of smoke inhalation.

According a transcript on the website of local TV station WISN, the comments went as follows:
"Mother Sykes, she dead. To me it's the vengeance of God. I ain't got no tears. Matter of fact a woman that would have a fool like that deserve whatever is coming her. She raised a sure enough idiot," McGee said on his radio show. "My instincts say Charlie Sykes killed his momma, cuz she live out in this big palace in Mequon all isolated. He got tired of waiting for her money."
When a caller later asked on-air if he meant it, McGee responded, "Man, you don't think I mean that, man, you out of your mind."

Guinea's Muslims: Dirty Dancing-Bad; Rape and Beating-OK

Men in Guinea's capital have begun attacking women who they accuse of doing the popular buttock-swinging Wolosso dance from Ivory Coast. Teenagers wearing skirts or hipsters (shorts which partly expose the buttocks and midriff) have been stripped naked and beaten up.

The attacks follow a performance by an Ivorian Wolosso group last week. The provocative dance is considered by many in the mainly Muslim West African country to be pornographic. See the BBC story for more details.

Trying To Clean Up Bush's Mess

More than a fifth of the approximately 385 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been cleared for release but may have to wait months or years for their freedom because U.S. officials are finding it increasingly difficult to line up places to send them, according to Bush administration officials and defense lawyers.

Since February, the Pentagon has notified about 85 inmates or their attorneys that they are eligible to leave after being cleared by military review panels. But only a handful have gone home, including a Moroccan and an Afghan who were released Tuesday. Eighty-two remain at Guantanamo and face indefinite waits as U.S. officials struggle to figure out when and where to deport them, and under what conditions.

In many cases, the prisoners' countries do not want them back. Another major obstacle: U.S. laws that prevent the deportation of people to countries where they could face torture or other human rights abuses, as in the case of 17 Chinese Muslim separatists who have been cleared for release but fear they could be executed for political reasons if returned to China.

Compounding the problem are persistent refusals by the United States, its European allies and other countries to grant asylum to prisoners who are stateless or have no place to go. "In general, most countries simply do not want to help," said John B. Bellinger III, legal adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "Countries believe this is not their problem. They think they didn't contribute to Guantanamo, and therefore they don't have to be part of the solution."

See the Washington Post article for more details.


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