Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cops Collar Cajun Carrying Cannabis Cuttings

A Louisiana man "growing his own" could have done a slightly better job at concealing his marijuana-growing operation. Police say an anonymous tip to narcotics agents led them to a home in Kentwood.

Narcotic Agents say they didn't have to search very hard, finding nine potted marijuana plants on the home's front steps. Their report shows that the homeowner gave consent to search the residence, where police say they also found several homemade marijuana smoking apparatuses and a petri dish containing several germinated marijuana seeds in the bedroom.

The Daily Dude is particularly impressed with the alliterative skills of the editors who wrote the headline to this story: "Police Put Purported Pothead In Pokey; Pinched Placing Potted Pot On Porch Perch"

Taking The Piss Out Of Language Barriers

Unraveling Tortured Logic

Andrew Sullivan continues to provide a reasoned assessment of the torture issue as it slowly develops and we come closer to having the Bushies held accountable for their crimes. He starts by quoting a Sunday article from Wapo:
In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida's tortured confessions. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said. Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. . . . None of [their earlier claims] was accurate, the new evidence showed.
And then this quote from Publius at Washington Monthly:
As weeks passed after the [Zubaida] capture without significant new confessions, the Bush White House and some at the CIA became convinced that tougher measures had to be tried. The pressure from upper levels of the government was "tremendous," driven in part by the routine of daily meetings in which policymakers would press for updates, one official remembered. "They couldn't stand the idea that there wasn't anything new," the official said. "They'd say, 'You aren't working hard enough.' There was both a disbelief in what he was saying and also a desire for retribution -- a feeling that 'He's going to talk, and if he doesn't talk, we'll do whatever.' "

Sullivan points out how this scenario is far from the proverbial ticking time-bomb one routinely hauled out by Bush apologists. Notice how revenge is never easily separated from intelligence-seeking when it comes to torture. Notice the unintended consequences. This particular torture led to the torture of another person, Jose Padilla, an American citizen who also turned out to be far less significant a figure than the Bush administration suspected. It also led to dozens of false leads, wasted time, and bad information. (Remember how the critical bad information that Saddam and al Qaeda were connected came from torture as well.) Cheney and his apparatchiks continue to insist that they got reliable and vital information from these torture sessions, but they can never verify it.

More On Britain's Continuing Obsession With The Hedgehog

Staff at Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Buckinghamshire, who have been caring for Spud the Hedgehog, are baffled by his strange skin condition-- he is completely free of spines.

According to hospital official Les Stocker, "Spud was brought to us last year after someone found him in their garden. He's had biopsies and skin tests, but we've had no answers. He seems quite happy and does all the things a hedgehog should. We're now appealing for someone to come forward with ideas about what has caused his problem, and suggestions for treatment, whether it's homeopathy or some other natural treatment."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Arraigned In Spain

I know Barack is busy with a lot of issues right now. But if he wants to do something about hold people accountable for authorizing torture, he better do something fast-- before Spain takes care of business for him.

Criminal proceedings have begun in Spain against six senior officials in the Bush administration for the use of torture against detainees in Guantánamo Bay. Baltasar Garzón, the counter-terrorism judge whose prosecution of General Augusto Pinochet led to his arrest in Britain in 1998, has referred the case to the chief prosecutor before deciding whether to proceed.

The case is bound to threaten Spain's relations with the new administration in Washington, but Gonzalo Boyé, one of the four lawyers who wrote the lawsuit, said the prosecutor would have little choice under Spanish law but to approve the prosecution.

"The only route of escape the prosecutor might have is to ask whether there is ongoing process in the US against these people," Boyé told the Observer. "This case will go ahead. It will be against the law not to go ahead."

The officials named in the case include the most senior legal minds in the Bush administration. They are: Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney's chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon's general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers.

When Words Fail

Bindi Brunch

Patty Buntine was mystified when her three-year-old Maltese terrier cross Bindi disappeared from her home in Australia's northern territory. But a quick calculation by a professional snake catcher soon provided the answer.

The 10-foot long olive python with the enormously bulging tummy weighed 35 pounds. Usually it would weigh about 21 pounds, meaning that whatever it had swallowed weighed 14 pounds-- roughly the size of poor little Bindi. There is one more piece of compelling evidence. Since the snake showed up in Buntine's back yard Bindi hasn't been seen.

"She didn't show up for her routine breakfast at 7 am and because she was always there I got worried and went to look for her," Buntine told reporters. "I went around the side of the house and that's when I found the snake. It couldn't move and had its head up in a striking position."

Snake catcher David Reed agreed that Bindi was in the snake's stomach. He said the olive python - a species which are harmless to humans - had consumed 60 per cent of its body weight in a single meal. Once the snake has digested its canine meal, it will be released back into the wild - a long way from houses that have small pet dogs.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Letting Cooler Heads Prevail

Just stumbled across some details regarding the recent wave of violence related to drug cartel activity in Mexico. According to reports, five human heads were found in ice chests under a ficus tree in the central Mexican state of Jalisco.

The grisly find was the latest indication of how intent the drug cartels are in upping the ante in their fight for supremacy amidst the Mexican government's crackdown on organized crime.

Each head was found in a separate ice chest beside a road leading to the city of Guadalajara. The tops of the ice chests were inscribed with messages, among them, one that threatened further violence.

"Like these, I am going to finish everyone," says one. Another said, "I'm going after you, Goyo (idiot)". A third said, "Here we go, Goyo."

The victims' eyes were taped shut and the heads had been severed only a few hours before they were discovered. The victims -- all of them men -- were estimated at 30 to 45 years of age. Municipal police said one of the heads appeared to belong to someone well known in the community.

And while we're on the subject-- I have to say I agree with Hillary Clinton in her assessment of the U.S. culpability in all this. It is primarily our insatiable demand for illegal drugs that feeds this illegal activity, and the associated violence it inflicts on our neighbors. And according to most sources, 9 out of 10 weapons used in the Mexican drug wars come from the U.S.-- all the more reason we should implement a complete ban on handguns and all assault-style weapons.

Now That's What I Call Jalepeno Poppers

Some New York City shoppers got more than they expected when they bought some peppers recently-- when they cut into the peppers at home, they found cocaine.

A handful of different customers bought the vegetables at the Liberty Avenue store in Queens. They got them home and cut them open, only to find plastic bags of cocaine inside, according to reports.

"That's really scary," one shopper said. "You open your pepper and see cocaine." Another added, "Somebody's got to be held accountable-- that's not right."

Once police got word, investigators shut down the store to investigate. Despite numerous requests for an interview, employees say the only comment from the owner is "no comment". Police quickly decided not to investigate the store, but instead focus on the company that sold the peppers to the store-- thinking that's who may have put the drugs inside. Duh.

Keeping Us Safe From Secret Bird Attacks

It turns out that there are far more avian attacks on airplanes than we previously knew about-- and even worse, the FAA is conspiring to keep the public in the dark as to the extent of the threat.

Two months after a flock of geese snuffed out an Airbus A320's engines and forced it to ditch in the Hudson, the FAA filed a little-noticed proposal that would bar release of its extensive record of bird collisions dating back to 1990. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says that the information could mislead the public and its release could prompt some airports and others not to report incidents.

Sounds like bullshit to me. If the government is so damn worried that airlines won't report bird strikes, make non-reporting illegal or subject it to a stiff fine. Done. Next issue.

Naughty Monkey

The Idle Mind Of A Bigot

So now GOP leader Rush Limbaugh is using the Fargo tragedy as a springboard for his special brand of hate:
"I heard some top of the hour news and it made me feel uncomfortable. It's about the flooding in Fargo, North Dakota brought on by the melting snowpack and the icepack. (reading from news item) "As the Red River threatens to overflow, they're filling in the dikes." Isn't there a more appropriate word? Do we have to say, I mean, we don't have any dikes here. The 'dykes' are over there...They're filling in the dikes. Couldn't we change that to 'they're filling in the contingencies' or something?...We really need to change that word."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Man, A Plan, The Afghans-- Obama

OK-- so I just finished reading up on Obama's new Afghan plan, and it seems to make sense to me. So before anyone goes off saying that it's the new "surge" or the new "Vietnam", let's review:

1. The 4,000 extra troops being sent over there are not for combat-- they're being sent for training.

2. The extra money being sent is not for weapons or military supplies-- it's being sent to build roads, schools and hospitals.

3. The new strategy is focused on getting rid of Al-Qaeda, not the Taliban

4. The goal is to establish an effective Afghan government, not necessarily install a democratic government.

The last two points may seem like fine distinctions but I think they're important-- an American-style democracy may not be the best form of government for the Afghan people, and we shouldn't be so presumptuous to assume so. Second, we need to remember that Al-Qaeda was the perpetrator of 9-11-- and if we end up having to negotiate with the Taliban to achieve our goals, then as unpleasant as that sounds, that may be our only option. Let's not forget that the U.S. is very chummy with lots of other governments that oppress women and brutalize their own citizens just as badly (China and Saudi Arabia, e.g.). Not that we approve of such behavior-- but there are other ways and other opportunities to affect change on those fronts.

Stimulate This Package!

One of the oldest banks of its kind in the United States, Xytex International, on Tuesday rolled out a stimulus package for customers who are hurting in these tough economic times. Xytex is a sperm bank, and it's offering up to 200 dollars off a vial of sperm to clients wishing to start or add to their family, but need a little help.

"We're all feeling the effects of the economy and, especially for families seeking reproductive options, every dollar counts," according to Xytex spokeswoman Danielle Moores. Consequently, Xytex is offering deals on vials from "select" donors, who come a bit cheaper than the usual "standard" donor.

Select donors, explained Moores, are men from whom Xytex has "many, many vials because they're very successful donors or able to stop in several times a week or -- for whatever reason, we have a huge inventory," and it is being made available in a sort of clearance sale. Xytex prefers to call it the balancing effect of supply and demand. Maybe they could call it the "Don't Blow Your Wad On This Wad" sale.

New York Times Editor Caught Sleeping On The Job

Chump Gets Bumped by Jumper In The Dumps

A Chinese man died after catching his girlfriend as she jumped from the seventh floor of an apartment block in the south-eastern city of Quanzhou, according to media reports.

The young man, identified only by the surname Wang, held out his arms to break the woman's fall as she plummeted from their high-rise apartment this week.

Wang was killed by the impact of his girlfriend landing on top of him, while the woman suffered bone fractures and other serious injuries but was not in critical condition.

The couple had quarrelled shortly before the woman began threatening to jump from the apartment, according to witnesses. Just before the incident occurred, Wang was seen on the street below the apartment, trying to persuade his girlfriend not to jump.

Hardcore Holsteins

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Official: Bush Joins The Ranks Of Herbert Hoover

It's now official-- write another chapter on the Bush legacy and turn the page. Now that all economic statistics are in for the economy's fourth quarter performance, it's fair to say that the final three months of 2008-- the end of the Bush presidency-- will go down as the worst quarter for the U.S. economy since the Great Depression. In terms of the things that matter most -- output, income, wealth, profits, foreclosures and job growth -- the fourth quarter was a disaster. Just like Bush's presidency. Worst. President. Ever.

Killer Indonesian Dragons On The Rampage

A local fisherman has been killed by Komodo dragons after he was attacked while trespassing on a remote island in search of fruit, Indonesian officials have announced.

Muhamad Anwar, 32, bled to death on his way to the hospital after being mauled by the ferocious reptiles at Loh Sriaya, in eastern Indonesia's Komodo National Park. "The fisherman was inside the park when he went looking for sugar-apples. The area was forbidden for people to enter as there are a lot of wild dragons," Park general manager Fransiskus Harum said.

Komodo dragons, the world's heaviest lizards, can grow up to 10 feet in length and have a toxic bite that they use to kill prey (such as buffalo), returning to feast when the animal succumbs to the deadly poison. Despite their ungainly appearance, the carnivorous reptiles can run as fast as a dog in short bursts, jump up on their hind legs, and kill animals with a blow of their powerful tails.

Attacks on humans are rare, but this incident is the latest in a series in which the monster lizards-- which have forked tongues and fearsome claws-- have killed or injured people. Last month a park ranger survived after a Komodo dragon climbed the ladder into his hut and savaged his hand and foot. In 2007 an eight-year-old boy died after being mauled. In June last year, a group of divers who were stranded on an island in the national park-- the dragons' only natural habitat-- had to fend off several attacks from the reptiles before they were rescued. Park rangers also tell the cautionary tale of a Swiss tourist who vanished leaving nothing but a pair of spectacles and a camera after an encounter with the dragons several years ago.

Mozambique's Gruesome Trade In Body Parts

Young men are attacked and their genitals cut off while they are still alive; children's throats are slit and their organs removed; and border-crossers are caught with bags containing human heads and sexual organs.

These stories and more are contained in a horror report on the trafficking of human body parts in Mozambique and South Africa, which has unveiled a scary reality: body parts are frequently used in traditional medicine and there is a commonly held belief that such medicine is very powerful.

"Ritual killings are common here; it's like daily bread. We do not even get shocked when a person is found dead with body parts removed," said one of the South Africans interviewed. Twenty-two percent of those interviewed by researchers had first-hand experience of seeing a mutilated body or separate body parts. Furthermore, researchers could not find a single case in which someone caught carrying a body part had been prosecuted.

According to the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH), which initiated the study, this is because there is no legislation - local or international - that criminalises the carrying of a body part without evidence linking the suspect to the actual murder.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gay British Ducks Imperil Species

They have taken to each other like...well, like ducks to water. Which is all very disappointing for those in charge of Britain's blue duck breeding program-- because this pair of birds represents two-thirds of the entire population of blue ducks remaining in the UK. And they both happen to be male.

Flying in the face of what was billed as the last chance of keeping the species in this country, the two male ducks have completely ignored their female companion, Cherry. Instead the boys of a feather have flocked together, and even engaged in courting rituals normally observed between mating pairs.

Officials have now given up all hope of the ducks breeding, and say the species will soon become extinct in this country. According to keepers, the duo are quackers about each other. "They stay together all the time, parading up and down their enclosure and whistling to each other as a male might do with a female he wants to mate with."

Of the lone female warden Paul Stevens said: "Cherry doesn't seem bothered by it - she's just happy to keep herself to herself."

Newly Released Memos Show How Far Bush Thought He Could Go In Suspending Constitutional Freedoms At Whim

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Justice Department secretly gave the green light for the U.S. military to attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights in order to combat the terror threat, according to a recently released memo.

The memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel—along with others made public for the first time this month—illustrates with new details the extraordinary powers asserted by Bush administration lawyers. Those assertions ultimately led to such controversial policies as allowing the waterboarding of terror suspects and permitting warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens—steps that remain the subject of ongoing investigations. The memo was co-written by then Deputy Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, and who has emerged as one of the central figures in ongoing investigations.

In perhaps the most surprising assertion, the Oct. 23, 2001, memo suggested the president could even suspend press freedoms if he concluded it was necessary to wage the war on terror. "First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully," Yoo wrote.

This claim was viewed as so extreme and politically embarrassing that it was secretly revoked just months before Bush left office. Kate Martin, the director for the Center for National Security Studies, a Washington think tank, said the newly disclosed memo by Yoo was part of a broader legal reasoning that gave President Bush essentially unfettered powers in the war on terrorism. "In October 2001, they were trying to construct a legal regime that would basically have allowed for the imposition of martial law," said Martin.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mauritanian Girls Fattened For Marriage

Fears are growing for the fate of thousands of young girls in rural Mauritania, where campaigners say the cruel practice of force-feeding young girls for marriage is making a significant comeback since a military junta took over the West African country. Aminetou Mint Ely, a women's rights campaigner, said girls as young as five were still being subjected to the tradition of "leblouh" every year.

Leblouh is intimately linked to early marriage and often involves a girl of five, seven or nine being obliged to eat excessively to achieve female roundness and corpulence, so that she can be married off as young as possible. Girls from rural families are taken for leblouh at special "fattening farms" where older women, or the children's aunts or grandmothers, will administer pounded millet, camel's milk and water in quantities that make them ill. A typical daily diet for a six-year-old will include two kilos of pounded millet, mixed with two cups of butter, as well as 20 litres of camel's milk. "The fattening is done during the school holidays or in the rainy season when milk is plentiful," according to children's rights lawyer, Fatimata M'baye. "The girl is sent away from home without understanding why. She suffers but is told that being fat will bring her happiness. Matrons use sticks which they roll on the girl's thighs, to break down tissue and hasten the process."

Other leblouh practices include a subtle form of torture - zayar - using two sticks inserted each side of a toe. When a child refuses to drink or eat, the matron squeezes the sticks together, causing great pain. A successful fattening process will see a 12-year-old weigh 176 pounds. "If she vomits she must drink it. By the age of 15 she will look 30," said M'baye.

Baby Fashion: Part 11

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Turkey Force-Feeding Propoganda To 6-Year-Olds

The father of a 11-year-old Turkish girl is suing the Turkish ministry of education for forcing kids as young as 6 years old to watch a graphically violent movie which attempts to justify the Turkish genocide of Armenians.

Sari Gelin, or "Blonde Bride", was commissioned by the Turkish General Staff and distributed in recent months by the education ministry. It is an attempt to counter what Turkey calls "baseless" claims that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against the Armenians in 1915. The DVD was sent to all elementary schools with a note instructing teachers to show it to pupils and report back. At the school of Serdar Kaya's daughter, children as young as six had to watch.

The films attempts to make the state's case that the Armenians betrayed the benevolent Ottoman Empire during World War I, siding with invading foreign forces and massacring thousands of Turks. The film claims the Armenians were "relocated" as a result of their actions. There is no mention of the hundreds of thousands who perished or were killed on the long march through the desert. Instead, elderly men relate how Armenians cooked Turkish babies alive and used civilians as firewood.

"The word Armenian is used very many times and always negatively," says Ayse Gul Altinay, a board member of the Hrant Dink Foundation.

"They're promoting discrimination, branding certain people as 'others' and teaching children to do the same. My daughter will not be part of this enmity." said Kaya. Kaya has applied to the courts to sue Education Minister Huseyin Celik, arguing the film incites ethnic hatred against Armenians.

Baby Fashion: Part 10

Monday, March 23, 2009

International Criminal Court: Sudanese President Risks Arrest If He Leaves The Country

The chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court has accused Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir of "exterminating" refugees by expelling international aid agencies. Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that by blocking aid the president was attacking the civilians in the giant camps that dot Darfur.

He called for President Bashir to be arrested as soon as he leaves Sudan. The president is due to attend this month's Arab League summit in Qatar. Moreno-Ocampo said that he would work for the arrest of President Bashir as soon as he leaves Sudan.

Judges at the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest on war crimes charges earlier this month. Moreno-Ocampo said that entering international airspace would be enough, since U.N. Security Council resolution 1583 urges all U.N. members to cooperate with the court.

Qatar, which invited President Bashir to the Arab League summit, has not signed the statute that brought the ICC into being. Some Sudanese leaders, concerned about the president's safety, have urged him not to visit the annual Arab summit, due to start at the end of the month.

Former Sudanese president Siwar Al-Dahab urged President Bashir to exercise "patience and wisdom" and not risk traveling to Qatar "for his safety and the safety of Sudanese people".

Baby Fashion: Part 9

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Across The Borderline-- A Yazoo Street Scandal

Talk about "Idiot Wind"-- It seems that some of Bob Dylan's neighbors are singing some Bad Luck Blues about what is Blowin' In The Wind from his Malibu toilet.

A family living on "Desolation Row" near the 67-year-old icon's house in the beachside community of Malibu are singing the Tax Payin' Blues-- and complained to city officials about an outdoor portable toilet, which is apparently used by guards All Along the Watchtower on Dylan's compound.

Cindy and David Emminger say the toilet wafts fumes from waste treatment chemicals, and that the smell carried by breezes from the Pacific Ocean gives them the Subterranean Homesick Blues.

Emminger is calling on his folk singer neighbor to "Quit Your Low Down Ways", telling the L.A. Times, "It's a scandal - 'Mr. Civil Rights' is killing our civil rights." But Malibu Mayor Andy Stern said other neighbors believe that this is all Too Much Of Nothing, having reported no bad smells coming from the toilet, and believes that Times They Are-A Changin', saying that he has referred the matter to the enforcers of the city's code on objectionable odors.

"I really have not involved myself in Bob Dylan's toilet, and by the way I haven't involved myself in anyone else's toilet in Malibu," Stern said.

Baby Fashion: Part 8

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fixed News From Fox Noise

I don't know anybody that really follows Fox Noise, so normally I ignore this kind of crap. But this is too easy-- Fox News' Trace Gallagher recently claimed that the Dow dropped 56 points during a speech by President Obama. According to Gallagher, when the President began, the Dow was up 28 points; by the time the President finished, Gallagher said the Dow was down 28 points. Of course, this is nonsense. In fact, when President Obama started, the Dow was down 34; it was down 28 when he finished. So it actually gained 6 (meaningless) points.

And while we're at it, another instance of tabloid journalism has been lighting up the blogosphere. Fox News’ Martha MacCallum claimed recently that “after weeks of economic doom and gloom, the Obama administration is now singing a slightly different tune. Take a look at what was said in recent interviews this weekend.”

Fox News then aired clips of administration officials giving optimistic views of the economy, which included video of Joe Biden stating: “The fundamentals of the economy are strong.” The problem is, Biden didn't make those remarks during an “interview” over the past weekend or even in the few months he has been Vice President. The clip aired by Fox was edited from footage taken at a September 2008 campaign event-- one in which he was criticizing statements made by John McCain. Check it out below:

Baby Fashion: Part 7

Former Bush Official: Many Detainees Were Innocent And We Knew It

During all the years that Bush and his cronies authorized and oversaw acts of torture, they carefully nurtured and perpetuated one conceit: that most, if not all, those detained were dirty, guilty scum who deserved their fate. Now-- after all that we've learned about the soulless and corrupt Bush/Cheney years-- it shouldn't be a shock to find out that many of those detained and tortured were actually innocent.

According to new admissions by a former Bush administration official, many detainees locked up at Guantanamo were innocent men swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants. "There are still innocent people there," Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, told The Associated Press. "Some have been there six or seven years."

Wilkerson, who first made the assertions in an Internet posting on Tuesday, told the AP he learned from briefings and by communicating with military commanders that the U.S. soon realized many Guantanamo detainees were innocent but nevertheless held them in hopes they could provide information for a "mosaic" of intelligence.

"It did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance," Wilkerson wrote in the blog. He said intelligence analysts hoped to gather "sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified."

How much moral indignation can we tolerate before action is taken to get a full accounting of the crimes that took place and demand that those responsible are taken to task?

Judge Judy Speaks Her Mind

Daytime TV powerhouse Judge Judy was on the Larry King this week and had some interesting things to say:

On surviving the economic downturn: This country has a wonderful spirit. And I think that, in the end, the spirit will take it through. It may take a couple of years. I wish I were younger so that I would have more years to enjoy it. But I think we'll be fine.

On taxing the rich: I resent it when any part of the government refers to people who have money in the pejorative. When states and cities and our country say we're going to tax the rich -- and that word rich or wealthy doesn't sound like it comes from success of hard work, but from something negative -- I resent it. ...

On Bernie Madoff: I think Bernie Madoff has-- or had-- the ego the size of Noah's ark and very little conscience. [Because he] is 70 years old . . . if he's sentenced to 30 years in prison, that's an appropriate period of time. And if he lives to be 100 and he is eligible for parole and makes parole, so be it. ... I was surprised he didn't kill himself, quite frankly.

On the AIG bonuses: We now own, you and I, 80 percent of AIG. And the excuse given for paying out these bonuses were that they were contracts and you can't void those contracts without consequences. And I think it's sort of interesting that you can't void contracts because these people were engaged in actions that were irresponsible, reckless and caused substantial damage. [Don't we] void the contracts of police officers and firemen and other civil servants despite the fact they have contracts? They're forced to take furlough days to make up budgets.

On the bailouts: It seems to me if a company isn't working, there comes a point where you have to say that's what Chapter 11 is for. And I also think that while banks and financial institutions have to bear a great deal of the blame for where we are, I don't pass over the individual and individual responsibility. If you're earning $50,000 a year, you have no business buying a million dollar house. ...

On Proposition 8: We've got a lot of trouble in this country. We've got a lot of trouble in the world. Why the state should be interested in proscribing the word marriage from two people who love each other, who are responsible, tax-paying, productive people, who have created a family ... why the state would have an interest in proscribing that kind of conduct, I don't understand.

Baby Fashion: Part 6

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NFL's Stallworth Facing Felony Charges?

As you may have heard, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth struck and killed a Miami pedestrian last Saturday morning on the way to the beach.

The vicitm, 59-year-old Mario Reyes, was on his way to catch a bus home from his all-night job as a construction crane operator when he was fatally run down by Stallworth's Bentley. Stallworth issued a statement on Wednesday saying that he was "grief stricken" over the incident.

Now comes breaking news that Stallworth tested legally drunk immediately following the accident, which (if confirmed) means that he could face up to 15 years in prison for felony manslaughter. How much do you wanna bet that if it had been Mario Reyes that killed someone driving drunk, he would do hard time-- no question. Let's see what effect money, influence and the NFL will have on Stallworth's fate . . .

Baby Fashion: Part 5

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pope Dope

This should be obvious to most people, even most Catholics--but the Nazi Pope is a complete moron about his position on condoms and AIDS. And he risks making his church even more irrelevant than it has already become. To review:
In a discussion with reporters on the plane to Cameroon, the Pope said "You can't resolve [the AIDS epidemic] with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem."
Almost immediately, humanitarian groups decried his comments, and government officials from European countries began condemning the Pope's stance as well.

Not only is the pope's public comments off the mark, they are dangerous. Doctors on the front lines of the fight against AIDS established long ago that the use of condoms greatly diminishes the transmission of HIV. So any public comments from a world leader against the use of condoms serves to dissuade AIDS-infected people from practicing safe sex.

The pope's comment was so alarming that a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said, "We consider that these statements endanger public health policies and the imperative to protect human life." So in a sense, the pope has also violated the Catholic church's own oft-stated mandate to "protect human life." He should be ashamed of himself.

Baby Fashion: Part 4

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Controversy Sizzling Over "Obama Fingers"

A German frozen food company had hoped to raise sales with a new product called 'Obama Fingers"-- tender, fried chicken bits that come with a tasty curry sauce. When controversy began to build, the company quickly tried to claim that it was unaware of the possible racist overtones of the product.


"We noticed that American products and the American way of eating are trendy at the moment," said Judith Witting, sales manager for Sprehe. "Americans are more relaxed. Not like us stiff Germans, like (Chancellor Angela) Merkel." The idea, she claimed, was to get in on the Obama-mania which is continuing to grip Germany. The word "fingers" in the name refers to the fact that it is a finger food. "It's like hot dogs," Witting said. "No one would ever think they are actually from dogs."

Baby Fashion: Part 3

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pakistani Government Backs Down In The Face Of Protests

In the face of planned demonstrations in Islamabad today, Pakistan’s president has decided to reinstate Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary as chief justice of the supreme court, in an attempt to quash a direct challenge to his rule.

The move by Asif Ali Zardari defuses a two-year dispute that contributed to the downfall last year of his predecessor. Riots broke out in 2007 after Chaudhary was dismissed by then-president General Pervez Musharraf.

Yusuf Raza Gilani, prime minster, said early today in a pre-sunrise speech on national television: “Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary will take charge as chief justice of the supreme court after the retirement of Abdul Hameed Dogar (the present chief justice of the supreme court) when he retires on March 21.” Gilani also ordered the release of all those arrested in a government crackdown last week.

Ahead of Mr. Gilani’s announcement, the police in Islamabad began removing barricades placed on entrances to the city, which were raised to stop protestors from coming in to Islamabad.

Chaudhary’s return follows Sunday’s widespread violence in Lahore, Pakistan’s second biggest city, where Sharif led a large number of opposition party protesters.

Baby Fashion: Part 2

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sick Twist On Hate Crime In South Africa

Lesbians living in South Africa are being raped by men who believe it will 'cure' them of their sexual orientation, a report has revealed.

Women are reporting a rising tide of brutal homophobic attacks and murders and the widespread use of 'corrective' rape as a form of punishment. The report, commissioned by international NGO ActionAid, called for South Africa's criminal justice system to recognize the rapes as hate crimes as police are reportedly failing to take action over the escalating violence.

The extent of the brutality became clear when Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa's national female football squad, became one of the victims last April. Simelane, one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian and an equality rights campaigner, was gang-raped and beaten before being stabbed to death 25 times in the face, chest and legs.

A statement released by South Africa's national prosecuting authority said: "While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritized as a specific project."

Baby Fashion: Part 1

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bissau Kiss Off

The blood-soaked kitchen where Guinea-Bissau's president was brutally murdered is littered with broken glass, bullet casings and a rusted machete. No one has been arrested, and hardly anyone in this sleepy tropical capital seems to care.

The apathy surrounding the slaying of President Joao Bernardo "Nino" Vieira in his own home-- as well as the bombing attack that killed his main rival hours earlier-- symbolizes just how far this drug-wracked state has fallen.

"What are we supposed to do, cry? Demand justice?" asked 41-year-old journalist Zique Choaib. "The powerful people at the top have been fighting each other for decades."

Less than 24 hours after the brutal slayings, market stalls were open, people were back in the streets and the city's dilapidated fleet of blue-and-white Mercedes taxis was again cruising the potholed roads.

During the last several years of his rule, Vieira governed from his own modest home on a crumbling downtown street frequented by mud-covered pigs. The presidential palace has been uninhabitable since its roof was blown apart in fighting a decade ago. Today, it lies neglected — much like this extraordinarily undeveloped nation.

20-year-old student Abenaque Camara still hasn't finished high school because of repeated teacher strikes. When asked about Vieira's fate, Camara asked: "Why should we care? We're more concerned with finding something to eat."

Jonas Brothers Vs. The Mouse

Horse Prefers Only Dry-Roasted Nuts

An Indonesian villager had to be rushed to hospital after a horse bit off one of his testicles.

The 35-year-old man was unloading sand from a horse-drawn cart at a construction site in Sulawesi when the attack occurred, according to reports. A witness said the animal suddenly lunged at the man, sinking its teeth into his crotch. Shocked bystanders loaded the man into a car to take him to hospital, before one noticed a piece of flesh on the pavement.

"Luckily the horse did not chew up or swallow his testicle, but spit it onto the pavement," the bystander was quoted as saying. "So I picked it up and brought it to the doctor at the hospital where the victim was being treated." It was not known whether doctors attempted to sew it back on. The 70-year-old owner of the horse, Budi, said the animal was trained but sometimes turned wild, and had bitten in the past.

Drug Company Exec Caught In Pussy-For-Pills Scandal

AstraZeneca (AZ) is in some serious shit for suppressing a study that showed the firm's blockbuster psychiatric drug Seroquel caused diabetes and weight gain. Seroquel made the company $4.4 billion dollars so it's a no-brainer that the company would desperately want to bury the research. Now, the drugmaker (according to the NYT) faces "about 9,000 personal-injury lawsuits from more than 15,000 former users of Seroquel" and a federal investigation into the marketing of the drug.

Now here comes the sex angle on the story. AZ's former medical director for Seroquel Wayne MacFadden admitted to multiple sexual affairs and his offer of drugs to one of the women he was sleeping with. The confessions include descriptions of sex in hotel rooms paid for by AZ, illicit distribution of Vicodin, and a kinky relationship in which one of his female colleagues asked to be "punished" for looking at a study that had negative results for Seroquel.

MacFadden told that woman: "You will be punished (in the usual fashion!) when I see you … but perhaps more harshly this time!!!" See the article at BNET for the juicy details.

Friday, March 13, 2009

War of Words

The Obama administration quietly announced today that they will no longer use the term "enemy combatant".

That was the term that Bush used during the former "war on terror" to (falsely) create a legal justification for detaining and/or torturing whomever he wanted-- foreign nationals and American citizens alike.

American citizens, you say? Remember Jose Padilla? He has an American citizen arrested on American soil and held indefinitely without legal recourse or access to a lawyer.

Nevertheless, Obama is still holding people indefinitely without charges-- so he can't claim the high ground just yet. But he has given the detainees an additional legal argument to challenge their status.

Thousands Jailed Or Detained In Pakistani Crackdown On Peaceful Protests

Authorities in northwest Pakistan have banned political gatherings and a protest convoy has been halted in Sindh as a crackdown on activists spreads. Dozens of lawyers and political leaders were arrested in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) overnight.

Protesters have been trying to reach Islamabad by Monday on a "long march" that is demanding the reinstatement of sacked judges. The government says the march is aimed at destabilizing the country.

Protest organizers had intended the four-day march from cities across Pakistan to culminate in a sit-in at the parliament in Islamabad, on Monday. According to the BBC, while protests will continue throughout Pakistani cities and activists may try to reach the capital in small groups, the crackdown has effectively ended the "long march". Protest organizers say that more than 1,000 opposition leaders and activists have already been jailed or put under house arrest.

President of the Supreme Court bar association, Ali Ahmed Kurd said he "strongly condemned the Sindh government for stopping our peaceful march". He added: "We will try to reach Islamabad by other routes and appeal to all Pakistanis to reach Islamabad in groups or as individuals by any possible means. This action of the government has shown to the people of Pakistan and the entire world that lawyers cannot move freely in their own country."

Our Lady Of Sexcapades

A former nun's tell-all story which details illicit relationships, sexual harassment and bullying in the convent where she spent three decades is stirring controversy in the Catholic Church in the south Indian state of Kerala.

In "Amen" – an autobiography of a nun, Sister Jesme says when she became a nun she discovered priests were forcing novices to have sex with them. There were also secret homosexual relationships among the nuns and at one point she was forced into such a relationship by another nun who told her she preferred this kind of arrangement as it ruled out the possibility of pregnancy. Sister Jesme, who quit last year as the principal of a Catholic college in Thrissur, alleges senior nuns tried to have her committed to a mental institution after she spoke out against them.

The allegations are not the only controversy to rock the Catholic Church in Kerala. Last summer, a 23-year-old novice committed suicide and left a note saying she had been harassed by her Mother Superior. Reports suggest there have been a number of similar suicides. And in November, police in Kerala arrested two priests and a nun in connection with the killing of Sister Abhaya in a notorious 1992 murder. More details can be found here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stormin' Norm

Looks like soon-to-be ex-senator Norm Coleman had a really bad week.

Coleman is still suffering he consequences of a bonehead mistake he made in January, when he allowed a fully-detailed donor database to become available online-- including the credit card numbers and three-digit security codes for each donor as well. Naturally, someone came along and downloaded the entire database with a simple browser, and then Coleman tried to save face by claiming that "hackers" were responsible.

He then compounded a bad situation by waiting over a month to tell his donors about the potential security risk, after the whole mess was exposed on Wikileaks.org, forcing him to alert his donors to get new credit cards.

Coleman now may have a legal problem, since his failure to report the exposure of private financial data might have been a violation of Minnesota law. But he should have plenty of time to defend himself on those charges, since he continues to lose ground in his protracted battle to hang on to his Senate seat.

Coleman's case in his U.S. Senate trial (against Senator-elect Al Franken)-- once built on the prospects of counting thousands of rejected absentee ballots-- is now down to 1,360 ballots or fewer. Franken's lead hasn't changed for weeks, and still stands at 225 votes. It's been a long and confusing process, which has worked to Coleman's advantage. But, what's not confusing is that Coleman now appears that he will never have enough new votes to beat Franken.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Broadsides From Bill Balsamico

It's time once again for a few more of the classic outdoor signs of Bill Balsamico-- this time, we have a sports theme:





Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Xbox Site Tells Gay Users to F*** Off And Die

A woman named "Teresa" says that she was harassed by other players and later suspended from the Xbox Live gaming site because she identified herself as a lesbian in her profile. When she appealed to Microsoft, she says they told her that other gamers found her sexual orientation "offensive." In Teresa's own words:
My account was suspended because I had said in my profile that I was a lesbian. I was harassed by several players, 'chased' to different maps/games to get away from their harassment. They followed me into the games and told all the other players to turn me in because they didn't want to see that crap or their kids to see that crap. My account was suspended and xbox live did nothing to solve this, but instead said others found it offensive.

This story follows upon reports that other users with the word "gay" appearing in their last name were banned from playing on Xbox Live.

For christ's sake-- when are we going to stop letting bigoted folks from inhibiting the rights of the public at large?

I Am Woman, See My Stock Roar

Now that men have run some of the largest banks and financial firms into the ground, maybe it's time to give some women executives a chance.

A recent study has shown a high correlation between financial performance and the influence of female executives in running successful Fortune 500 firms. The study in question identified the firms that were most aggressive in promoting women to high levels and compared their profit performance to the median performance of Fortune 500 firms in the same industries.

The results were rather astonishing. For 2001, the 25 best firms for women outperformed the industry medians, with overall profits 34 percent higher when calculated for revenue, 18 percent higher in terms of assets and 69 percent higher in regard to equity. Furthermore, the 10 firms with the very best records of promoting women showed greater profit results than the firms that were merely very good.

The results were confirmed in subsequent studies in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. In every one of those years, the companies identified as being the best at promoting women outperformed the industry median on all three profitability measures.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bush Legacy Takes A Double Hit

The dismantling of the Bush era continues. On the same day Obama lifted the ban on embryonic stem cell research, he also ordered that each and every Bush signing statement be reviewed. Ba-rock on!

U2 Coming To You Too

U2 has released the first details of its upcoming tour (in support of their "No Line On The Horizon" CD). U2360 - that's the name U2 have given their world tour-- will see the band playing in the center of stadiums and will feature a giant cylindrical video screen.


"This is going to be completely different," says The Edge, "and that's what makes it exciting. It's hard to come up with something that's fundamentally different, but we have. Where we're taking our production will never have been seen before by anybody, and that's an amazing thing to be able to say. For a band like U2 that really thrive on breaking new ground, it's a real thrill."

With the band playing in a 360 configuration, it is estimated that the capacity for each venue can be increased by 15%-20%, depending on the layout of the stadium. This should enable U2 to keep ticket prices down, with seats generally in the $30-$55 range. Of course, there will be premium seating available-- at premium prices too-- said to be in the neighborhood of $90- $250. (Note from the Daily Dude: It looks like only 4 of the proposed seating charts for the 20 tour stops have the stage configured in the middle of the field, so take all that with a grain of salt)

Initial tour dates in Europe have been announced, with a few early fall U.S. dates:

June 30 - Barcelona, Spain (Campu Nou)
July 7 - Milan, Italy (San Siro)
July 11 - Paris, France (Stade de France)
July 15 - Nice, France (Parc des Sports)
July 18 - Berlin, Germany (Olympic Stadium)
July 20 - Amsterdam, Netherlands (Amsterdam Arena)
July 24 - Dublin, Ireland (Croke Park)
July 31 - Gothenburg, Sweden (Ullevi Stadium)
August 3 - Gelsenkirchen, Germany (Veltins Arena)
August 6 - Chorzow, Poland (Slaski Stadium)
August 10 - Zagreb, Croatia (Maksimir Stadium)
August 14 - London, England (Wembley Stadium)
August 18 - Glasgow, Scotland (Hampden Park)
August 20 - Sheffield, England (Don Valley Stadium)
August 22 - Cardiff, Wales (Millennium Stadium)
September 12 - Chicago, Illinois (Soldier Field)
September 16 - Toronto, Canada (Rogers Centre)
September 20 - Boston, Massachusetts (Gillette Stadium)
September 24 - East Rutherford, New Jersey (Giants Stadium)
September 29 - Washington, DC (Fedex Field) -- unofficial

Additional stadium shows will be scheduled in the U.S. for June and July of 2010, then August and September in Europe. The tour could wrap up in South America in the fall of 2010.

The Ectasy And The Agony

Psychiatrists and researchers are using a notorious party drug to treat veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are asking the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand the program.

Scientists say methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) produces an experience described as "inhibiting the subjective fear response to an emotional threat." Late night rave-goers know it as ecstasy, and say it produces an intimate, euphoric groove and makes you grind your teeth.

Psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer sought and gained FDA permission to test the drug on PTSD sufferers, and apparently there's no lack of volunteers.

"It's basically like years of therapy in two or three hours. You can't understand it until you've experienced it," a former Army Ranger who took part in a recent study said in an interview. "It's an extremely positive thing. I feel so lucky that I got to take part in the project."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Stiffies For Stiffs

For over 16 years, Kenneth Douglas treated his workplace as his own private playground-- he frequently brought drugs or alcohol to work and sometimes had sex with women. But there was a slight problem-- at least three of those women were dead, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

But if Douglas is to be believed, he could have had sex with as many as "over a hundred" dead bodies during the time he worked as night attendant at the Hamilton County morgue.

"I am sure there are more [victims]. I'm certain of it," Deters said in announcing new indictments against Douglas. "This guy's just a pig. I can't explain why someone would do something like this. This is off-the-charts weird."

Plastic Surgery Round-up

Sharon Stone's transparent motives at the Oscars:


Nadya Suleman giving lip-- before sudden fame and after:


Pamela Anderson playing peek-a-boo at Paris Fashion Week:


Michael Jackson [looking like] back from the dead in London:

Protecting The Rights Of Bigoted Catholic Florists Everywhere

Concerned that the state's new same-sex marriage law would infringe on religious liberties, the The Connecticut Catholic Conference has proposed some broad exemptions which it believes are necessary to protect those rights.

The law does not require Catholic priests -- or any other clergy member -- to preside over same-sex weddings. However, the church is seeking additional exemptions. For instance, it wants to ensure that a florist opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds not be forced to sell flowers to a same-sex couple.

Are you f***ing kidding me???

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bambi Porn

Helen Hits 'Em Hard

Many of you probably still remember the little old lady named Helen who made headlines last year when she called Sara Palin a bitch on her blog. Well, she's still socking it to the GOP-- and this week she had some hilarious shout-outs for Rush Limbaugh:
Lately, I find myself tuning in for Open Line Fridays because that is when the real crazies come out. You just have to laugh at these morons if only for the fact that they are calling into a guy who is technically deaf. I mean, what’s the point really?

Having recently seen Mr. Limbaugh on the news giving that speech to the CPAC, I will definitely be listening in on this week’s Open Line Friday when I am sure Krispy Kreme will be calling in asking for their donuts back. Do they make an OxyContin donut these days? It certainly would explain a great deal.

Won't Be Long Until Wapo Goes Under With Hard News Like This

News Flash: for a paper that likes to talk about its world-class reporting, it's strange to find little real news of late on the cover of the Washington Post.

On the front page of the Wapo's March 6 edition was a pair of lead articles about the hardships of U.S. corporations and plummeting stocks-- nothing exactly earth-shattering there. Above the fold, there was a soft news piece on the Obama White House feuding with Rush Limbaugh and a story detailing how investors could be asked by the government to help bail out failing banks.

Below the fold was a feature on a clean coal project in the stimulus bill-- oooh, stop the presses! The one foreign piece reported on a very moldy story about the hunger crisis in North Korea. And by the way-- not one article concerning news or events in the Washington region.

And just in case you think I'm nitpicking-- check out today's front page and decide for yourself.


Before you go away thinking that the Wapo is an unfair victim of a thin news cycle, here is a sampling of what has hit the wires in the last 24 hours and would have been much more deserving of in-depth coverage:
  • Amid concerns of another assassination attempt, Zimbabwe opposition leader and Prime Minister MorganTsvangirai was injured-- and his wife killed-- in a car accident.
  • On the heels of the fatal attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team this week, seven people (including five policemen) were killed when a suspected car bomb hit a police van on the outskirts of the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.
  • Amid rumors of a renewed FBI investigation of suspicious 2006 campaign payments, RNC Chair Michael Steele is coming under fire and facing new calls for his resignation after a public conflict with radio personality Rush Limbaugh.
  • Two senior U.S. envoys are heading to Damascus for the first high-level contact with Syria since 2005.
  • Two Korean airlines are being forced to re-route flights after North Korea said it could not guarantee their safety-- seen as a veiled threat to anyone flying near North Korean air space and a possible indication of an upcoming test rocket launch. Pyongyang's threat follows its warnings that a US-South Korean military exercise, due to take place next week, could trigger a military clash.
  • In a surprise development, the winner of the controversial auction of Mohandas Gandhi's personal effects turned out to be the "Richard Branson" of India, who now says that he will donate the items back to his native country.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Jabs Of Steele

Looks like Limbaugh's takedown of Michael Steele is well under way. In the wake of a conservative onslaught of the comment section, the RNC has taken down Steele's RNC blog. If there was any doubt about who is the leader of the GOP, we now know with certainty it isn't Steele-- and it's looking more and more like it's Limbaugh, cause anybody who was dared criticize the radio blowhard recently has been forced to apologize.

Heed The Harpy

A Wisconsin woman is facing a felony charge for posing as her ex-boyfriend and posting a Craigslist personals ad seeking other men to call him at work and "talk dirty to him." According to the criminal complaint, 20-year-old Kari Heath placed the ad last month after an argument with her (now ex-) boyfriend Joseph Strasburg.

The ad, posted in Craigslist's "Casual Encounters" section, included his business phone number, along with several photos of the 24-year-old Strasburg, including one she had taken of his erect penis. Strasburg contacted cops after men began calling his workplace to respond to the online ad. Strasburg told investigators that Heath subsequently sent him a text message admitting responsibility for the prank, which resulted in her arrest for identity theft.

Sudan's President Now Facing Criminal Charges For Role In Darfur Conflict

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's leader, Omar al-Bashir. It is the first time that the ICC has leveled criminal charges against a sitting head of state.

Bashir is charged with two counts of war crimes, and five counts of crimes against humanity. The president is accused of directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur. Such attacks have included murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians and pillaging their property. The UN estimates that 300,000 people have died in the six-year conflict; millions more have been displaced.

China, which buys most of Sudan's oil and provides it with weapons, urged the ICC to suspend its case, saying it risked destabilizing Darfur. The U.S. State Department said that "those who have committed atrocities should be brought to justice". The EU also welcomed the decision, as did human-rights groups.

The Sudanese government, which had said it would ignore any ruling, reaffirmed it had no intention of cooperating with the ICC. "The court is only one mechanism of neo-colonialist policy used by the West against free and independent countries," Sudanese presidential aide Mustafa Othman Ismail said. In response to the ICC's action, Sudan revoked the registrations of 10 foreign aid agencies hours after the arrest warrant was issued.

"With this arrest warrant, the International Criminal Court has made Omar al-Bashir a wanted man," said Richard Dicker of the New York-based group Human Rights Watch. Amnesty International called on any country visited by President Bashir to detain him.

Bashir, however, will probably not have to fear traveling to many African and Arab countries, where there will be little chance that he might be arrested. Most African and Arab leaders are aghast at the arrest warrant. If a fellow president can be arrested and tried for brutalizing and killing his own people, then many of them might not be safe either.

The ICC's next step is to send a request to the Sudanese government for the arrest and surrender of Bashir-- but nobody is expecting that to happen. In 2007, the ICC issued arrest warrants against two other Sudanese citizens-- Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmed Haroun and the Janjaweed militia leader Ali Abdul Rahman-- and Sudan has so far refused to hand them over.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Daily Show Smackdown

Normally, I avoid blogging about economic issues-- partly because it's too depressing, and partly because it's hard to succinctly speak to the basic issues. But Jon Stewart has absolutely nailed all the nincompoops at CNBC who totally misread the economic collapse. Check it out:

Chavez: Running For President OK, Running On Banks Not OK

The collapse of a Venezuelan bank owned by R. Allen Stanford, the Texas financier accused of fraud, is raising concern that the run on its deposits could spread to other banks, threatening the nation's economy. President Hugo Chávez blamed his political enemies for rumors about mass withdrawals, and urged depositors not to pull their savings from domestic banks.

While Chávez may succeed in restoring confidence, the concerns underscore the problems facing the quasi-dictator. Chávez's ability to fund welfare programs and other subsidies at the core of his popularity is undercut by plunging oil prices. Increasingly, residents of Venezuela say they believe Mr. Chávez will have to devalue the "strong bolivar" currency he introduced last year. Price controls meant to contain 30% inflation have led to food shortages. Just last weekend, Chávez dispatched troops to force rice makers to boost production.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

International Outrage Over Hate Crime Acquittal In Spain

Outrage over a grisly hate crime and the eventual acquittal of its perpetrator has spread from Spain to the United States. Jacobo Piñeiro Rial, who was picked up at a gay bar in Vigo, Spain, and spent the night with a gay couple, eventually killed his two hosts and set fire to the apartment to cover his crime. To the shock of many, he was acquitted by a jury by resorting to what some are calling the "new twinkie defense".

During the trial, testimony revealed that Piñiero had spent the afternoon consuming cocaine and drinking at a gay bar called Strong, at which Pérez Triviñio happened to work as a bartender. When his shift ended, the bartender invited Piñeiro home. They spent the afternoon together until Triviñio's partner Anderson Luciano arrived around. Although there there are no independent witnesses, police and forensic experts have concluded that the murder rampage began around 4:00 am. Pérez Triviñio was first stabbed by Piñeiro but did not die. Piñeiro then stabbed Anderson Luciano twice while in the couples' room, and 22 more times as he followed his victim out of the room, into a corridor and then into the living room - where he died.

Pérez Triviñio, in the meantime, had locked himself in the room and records show that he was able to call local authorities. The call was cut short when Piñeiro was able to break back into the room and finish him off by stabbing him 35 more times.

After going back to the living room, Piñeiro tied Luciano's hands and put a blanket over his body; in the bedroom, he placed a blanket over Triviñio's head, tied a cable around it, and tethered it to a bed post. Piñeiro then threw clothes all over the apartment, doused them with alcohol and set on apartment on fire.

So how did Piñeiro convince the jury to let him off the hook for murder? In a statement to the jury, he said that in the middle of the night "the gays" solicited him for sex and he was totally freaked out. Because he was able to avoid cross examination by the prosecutor, he avoided having to explain why he was hanging out in a gay bar and agreed to go home with a gay man.

In a story riddled by inconsistencies, he claimed that he had slept in a guest bedroom, and was awakened late at night by a naked Luciano, who invited him over for sex. He says that he was 'disgusted' by the sexual advances and rejected them, only to be threatened with a knife. Piñeiro says that he 'panicked' and successfully wrestled the knife away from his assailant - and used it to 'defend' himself. He also claimed that Triviñio came to his partner's defense brandishing a second knife, which he also stripped away and used in self defense.

Piñeiro's lawyer resorted to a form of "gay panic" defense, arguing that Piñeiro was overcome by an "insurmountable fear of being raped and being murdered" and that his judgment was clouded by the alcohol and cocaine he had consumed in the previous two days. However, forensic experts had stated earlier said the effect of the cocaine would have rubbed off long before the killings and upon arrest there were no traces of alcohol in his body. Piñeiro was found not guilty of the double murder, and convicted only of arson.

Marta Pérez Triviñio, Isaac's mother, was heartbroken over the acquittal on murder charges, saying that the jury's verdict was "homophobic, racist and brainless". A small demonstration was held in Vigo the night after the verdict. Larger demonstrations are planned for Madrid, Barcelona and New York City on March 7th. A Facebook page which has been set up protesting the verdict already has nearly 13,000 members. More details on this story can be found here.

Brutal Buffalo Beheading

On the night of Feb. 12, 2009, Aasiya Hassan was murdered and beheaded by her estranged husband, Muzzammil Hassan, inside the building of the American-Muslim TV venture they operated together. While the murder took place, the couple’s two young children—four-year-old Rania and six-year-old Danyal—were waiting for their mother in a car outside the building, along with Muzzamil Hassan’s 17-year-old son from an earlier marriage.

The brutal account is a reminder that domestic violence often has devastating consequences when it goes untreated. Police records show that the Hassan family had been struggling with Muzzammil Hassan’s abuse long before the alleged murder took place. Muzzammil Hassan, a prominent member of Buffalo’s Muslim community, had for years battled a psychiatric illness that led to violent rages when he went off his medication. His two previous marriages were also marred by abuse allegations.

The Daily Beast has reported more details about the family’s secretive private life. On New Year’s Day 2007, for example, Muzzammil allegedly left Aasiya Hassan’s car in the parking lot of a car dealership outside town to keep her from leaving their home.

Almost two years before the alleged murder, on March 26, 2007, a family court judge in Erie County, N.Y., ordered Muzzammil Hassan to complete “co-parenting” and “anger management” classes.

In July 2007, while on a visit with her in-laws in Texas, Aasiya Hassan files domestic violence charges against her husband. According to the police report, she said that Muzzammil “coerced her into a bedroom.”and "pushed her down onto the bed, sat on her chest and pinned her arms and legs down.” “This was done to ‘make’ her listen to him,” according to the report.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Obama FCC Chair To Deal With Digital Transition

President Obama has nominated Julius Genachowski for chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Genachowski is taking over an agency that has had rocky relations with Congress and the telecommunications industry under the Bush administration's FCC Chairman Kevin Martin. The agency is also dealing with the botched transition to digital-only television, which had been scheduled to take place Feb. 17-- but has now been pushed back to the summer.

Porn For Jesus?

A new nationwide study of anonymized credit-card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider shows some interesting trends. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption.

"Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," says Benjamin Edelman of the Harvard Business School.

The biggest consumer, Utah, averaged 5.47 adult content subscriptions per 1000 home broadband users. Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states went for John McCain in last year's presidential election (Florida and Hawaii the exceptions), while six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Shedding A Little Baggage, Perhaps

A convicted murderer at the Washington state prison complex in Monroe was hospitalized after his second attempt to cut off his penis.

A spokeswoman for the Monroe Correctional Complex, Cathy Kopoian, says the 49-year-old inmate has a history of mental illness and already had amputated much of his genitals several years ago.

Making The World Safe From Roving Gay Gangs Giving Free Makovers

Utah State senator Chris Buttars is under fire once again for calling the gay-rights movement "probably the greatest threat to America," likening gay activists to Muslim radicals and dubbed same-sex relationships "abominations."

Last year, the NAACP called for Buttars to resign after comments he made on the Senate floor about a complex school-funding bill, saying, "This baby is black . . . It's a dark, ugly thing." But Buttars kept his seat and won re-election in November.

"It is obvious that he believes he can say and do anything that he wishes without any consequences," said Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP's Salt Lake branch. "His words-- as before-- are despicable." Buttars was removed as chairman and member from the Judicial Standing Committee as a result of the controversy and is still facing calls for his resignation.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Budding Idea

California would become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use under a bill introduced Monday by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano of San Francisco.

A lobbyist for key police associations in the state called it "a bad idea whose time has not come." But Ammiano's proposal has the support of San Francisco Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who said the idea "should be the subject of legislative and public debate."

An analysis by the Board of Equalization concluded the state would collect $1.3 billion a year from tax revenues and a $50-an-ounce levy on retail sales if marijuana were legal. The analysis also concluded that legalizing marijuana would drop its street value by 50 percent and increase consumption of the substance by 40 percent.

Nothing Shows Trust Like Ball-Cupping


Alex Larenty proves he really is a game warden – as he grabs a lion by his "pride". The ballsy warden took a firm grip on Jamu the lion at a reserve near Johannesburg to show another keeper just how much the huge beast likes him.

Alex said that he was “showing another warden that Jamu trusts me completely. People can’t believe it’s real when they see the picture. I tell them ‘yes it’s real, I’m holding a lions’ balls."

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