Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's More Like The GOP Is A Hoax

More GOP bigotry was on display in Congress the other day, as North Carolina Rep. Jane Foxx led the charge against the Hate Crimes bill with an outrageous claim that Matthew Shepard was killed in a robbery (it's been well established that it was a hate crime). In a floor speech she said:
I also would like to point out that there was a bill -- the hate crimes bill that's called the Matthew Sheppard bill is named afte a very unfortunate incident that happened where a young man was killed, but we know that that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. it wasn't because he was gay. this -- the bill was named for him, hate crimes bill was named for him, but it's really a hoax that that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills.
Even worse, Matthew Shepard's mother was in the gallery watching the horrible scene unfold.

Spain Waiting In The Wings If Holder Wimps Out

A Spanish judge has opened a probe into the Bush administration over torture of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, pressing ahead with a drive that Spain's own attorney general has said should be waged in the United States, if at all.

Judge Baltasar Garzon, Spain's most prominent investigative magistrate, said he is acting under this country's observance of the principle of universal justice, which allows crimes allegedly committed in other countries to be prosecuted in Spain.

Garzon's move is separate from a complaint by human rights lawyers that seeks charges against six specific Bush administration officials they accuse of creating a legal framework to permit torture of suspects at Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. detention facilities.

In a 10-page writ, Garzon said documents on Bush-era treatment of prisoners, recently declassified by the Obama administration, ''reveal what had been just an intuition: an authorized and systematic plan of torture and mistreatment of persons denied freedom without any charge whatsoever and without the rights enjoyed by any detainee.''

The judge wrote that abuses at Guantanamo and other U.S. prisons for terror suspects, such as the American air base at Bagram, Afghanistan, suggest ''the existence of a concerted plan to carry out a multiplicity of crimes of torture.'' He said this plan took on ''almost an official nature and therefore entails criminal liability in the different structures of execution, command, design and authorization of this systematic plan of torture.''

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Troubling Press Conference

Just finished watching the Big O's press conference. It's very troubling to continue to hear him refer to torture as a "technique". It's like saying that robbery is a technique for withdrawing money from a bank.

I'm starting to think that Barack is politicizing this issue-- if he thinks waterboarding is torture, then he ought to be consistent and refer to it as a crime and quite trying to pander to the right by using the term "technique". If you don't have the courage to call it what it is, then shut the fuck up about it, and let Eric Holder carry your water for you. And if Eric Holder doesn't have the balls to prosecute torture crimes, then we'll have to let Spain or The Hague take care of business.

Puppy Abuse A Sticky Issue

20-year-old University of Colorado student Abby Toll is facing felony animal abuse charges after she taped her boyfriend's puppy to the side of a refrigerator in a bid to teach the rambunctious animal a "lesson."

Toll used clear packing tape to adhere the eight-month-old dog (a Shiba Inu named Rex) to the appliance in her boyfriend's apartment. Toll was angry at her boyfriend Bryan for failing to get rid of the puppy (which had bit her a few days earlier). When Beck saw his dog stuck to the refrigerator, he told Toll, "Take him down," adding, "You are so sick!" Toll replied, "No, you are sick for not caring enough about me to get rid of the dog."

When cops responded at 5 a.m. to a "report of a male and female yelling" at Beck's apartment, they discovered that "Rex's body was completely encased in packing tape." When asked by the officers what was on the side of the fridge, Toll replied, "The dog." Toll added, "I know this looks really bad, but the dog bites. He is aggressive." When asked how long the puppy had been taped upside down to the side of the refrigerator, Toll replied, "Not long, like 20-30 minutes. It was just until he calmed down."

The animal, whose paws had also been bound with elastic hair ties, was clearly in pain and "yelped and screamed loudly" as cops worked to free him. "Rex just lay motionless, but breathing, on his kennel after he was removed from the tape." The puppy was handed over to the Boulder Valley Humane Society. Toll was turned over to county jailers.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pilot Gets A Whirly-Bird

The FAA has revoked the license of one David Martz, recipient of a blowjob from a Swedish pornstar. He was piloting a helicopter at the time. The incident was videotaped by an unknown person and surfaced on the internet earlier this year.

NTSB law judge Williams Mullins said the 52-year-old Martz may have been unable to respond to a flight emergency because his pants were down around his knees and the woman was at times blocking access to the aircraft's controls.

"The evidence clearly shows grossly reckless conduct on the part of the respondent... Would you fly around and have someone give you oral sex? No I would not."

Giant Sea Worm Wreaks Havok

Workers at a British aquarium spent months scratching their heads over continued damage at their live coral exhibit. One by one, various coral specimens had been left devastated-- in some cases, cut in half.

Staff staked out the display for several weeks, but with no luck. Matt Slater, the aquarium's curator, said: 'Something was guzzling our reef but we had no idea what." They would periodically find injured fish, and baited traps were found completely ripped apart.


Finally, the aquarium had no choice but to systematically dismantle the exhibit, rock by rock. Halfway through the process the deadly culprit was revealed-- they unearthed a secretive 'giant sea' worm, which had been decimating the live coral and attacking prize fish.

The 4-foot long monster, now named Barry, is a polychaete worm, which is also capable of inflicting permanent numbness on humans with its sting. Slater said Barry, who has now been relocated to his own tank, probably arrived as a juvenile in a delivery of living rock from another aquarium.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thank God The Bushies Are Out Of Office And Can't Do Us Any More Harm

The Nation's John Nichols is making some very good points:
When House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long championed investment in pandemic preparation, included roughly $900 million for that purpose in this year's emergency stimulus bill, he was ridiculed by conservative operatives and congressional Republicans.

Obey and other advocates for the spending argued, correctly, that a pandemic hitting in the midst of an economic downturn could turn a recession into something far worse -- with workers ordered to remain in their homes, workplaces shuttered to avoid the spread of disease, transportation systems grinding to a halt and demand for emergency services and public health interventions skyrocketing. Indeed, they suggested, pandemic preparation was essential to any responsible plan for renewing the U.S. economy.

But former White House political czar Karl Rove and key congressional Republicans -- led by Maine Senator Susan Collins -- aggressively attacked the notion that there was a connection between pandemic preparation and economic recovery.

Now, as the World Health Organization says a deadly swine flu outbreak that apparently began in Mexico but has spread to the United States has the potential to develop into a pandemic, Obey's attempt to secure the money seems eerily prescient. And partisan attacks on his efforts seem not just creepy, but dangerously short-sighted.
Aren't these the guys who claim to have kept us safe for seven years (never mind anthrax and being warned about 9/11 in advance)?

Baby Ka-Bob

A Detroit couple are heading to prison for cremating their dead 2-year-old son on a barbecue grill, and then hiding the remains while collecting welfare benefits for the child.

The mother, 23-year-old Nickella Reid, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and welfare fraud in connection with the death of her son, Deuntay Miller. She was sentenced to 10 to 15 years. The father, 28-year-old Joseph Miller, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 22 to 50 years.

Note from the Daily Dude: Notice the unfortunate product placement:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

When Utility Companies Attack

The heartless actions of a greedy Michigan utility have led directly to the death of an elderly man-- and amazingly, no criminal charges will be filed.

Lansing police plan to take no further action after an investigation established that a 93-year-old man froze to death inside his home after an electric utility installed a power-limiting device because of unpaid bills.

Neighbors discovered Marvin Schur's body in January-- the windows were frosted over, icicles hung from a faucet and the World War II veteran lay dead on the bedroom floor in a winter jacket over four layers of clothing.

Workers with Bay City Electric Light & Power had installed a device that restricts power on Schur's electric meter less than a week earlier. The "limiter" blows like a fuse if usage rises past a set level and electricity is not restored until the device is flipped back on by the homeowner, who must walk outside to the meter.

Asbury said it appeared the device tripped and cut off power to the home. The utility had no comment on the prosecutor's decision not to file charges. Michigan's state-regulated utilities are not allowed to shut off power to senior citizens in the winter, but Bay City's utilities are not overseen by the state. Schur's death led the state House to pass a plan banning the use of limiters for elderly customers. The plan is under consideration in the Senate.

More Lies On Bush/Cheney Torture

As it turns out, the newly released torture memos and a CIA Inspector General report from 2005 have revealed even further troubled aspects of the Bush administration's war crimes.

Before we get to the ugly stuff, the OIG report confirms what every credible person has already concluded (but which Darth Cheney continues to lie about):
The CIA inspector general in 2004 found that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques [i.e., torture] helped the Bush administration thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to recently declassified Justice Department memos.
That undercuts assertions by former vice president Dick Cheney and other former Bush administration officials that the use of [torture] was justified because it headed off terrorist attacks.

President Bush told a September 2006 news conference that one plot, to attack a Los Angeles office tower, was "derailed" in early 2002 — before [torture] was approved, contrary to those who claim that waterboarding revealed it.

Last December, FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair magazine that he didn't believe that intelligence gleaned from [torture] had disrupted any attacks on America.

OK-- now comes the more damaging stuff. The OIG report also reveals that administration officials were informed that torture was far more dangerous than originally claimed by the Bushies:
Helgerson also concluded that waterboarding was riskier than officials claimed and reported that the CIA's Office of Medical Services thought that the risk to the health of some prisoners outweighed any potential intelligence benefit.
Contrary to Bush administration's insistence that waterboarding carried few risks and that medical concerns were a priority, the CIA didn't initially seek the help of medical professionals in setting up or carrying out the procedure. According to Bradbury:
OMS (the CIA's Office of Medical Services) was neither consulted nor involved in the initial analysis of the risk and benefits of (enhanced interrogation techniques).
And finally, the whole torture scam is beginning to take on the smell of outright incompetence (again from the Bradbury memo):
According to the IG Report, the CIA . . . could not always distinguish detainees who had information (but were successfully resisting interrogation) from those who did not actually have information. On at least one occasion, this may have resulted in what might be deemed in retrospect to have been the unnecessary use of enhanced techniques.
This is isn't about political retribution or getting even. Bush and his cronies are trying to establish a precedent that a U.S. president can authorize war crimes, and we need to prove to the world that he was wrong and ensure that it will never happen again.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

One Thousand Words

The Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography was awarded last week to Patrick Farrell of the Miami Herald. The committee recognized him for his provocative, impeccably composed images of despair after Hurricane Ike and other lethal storms caused a humanitarian disaster in Haiti. His stunning images are below.

A frustrated woman in flooded Gonaives, Haiti, tries cleaning clothes and dishes in the muddy water September 4, 2008, just days after Tropical Storm Hannah hit the country.


The lifeless body of 5-year-old Tamasha Jean, the daughter of Frantz Samedi, is loaded onto a pickup truck in Cabaret, Haiti, September 7, 2008, along with bodies of other children that died in the floods caused by Hurricane Ike.


A young boy rescues a beat-up stroller September 4, 2008, near his family's flooded home in Gonaives, Haiti, days after Tropical Storm Hannah hit the country.

For Those Catching Up On Torturegate

The Daily Kos has begun updating a handy timeline on the Bush torture. Check it out here.

Shepard Smith Blows It

I've heard about this blooper for a long time, but finally stumbled across it on the Daily Beast and thought I would post it. From 2002:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hurricanes, Anthrax and Bear Attacks Are Natural Too

Nut-job Michele Bachman celebrates Earth Day with her own brand of "earthiness":

Kharma Payback Is A Bitch

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has been detained by police in the Czech Republic on suspicion of denying the Holocaust.

Police spokesman Jan Mikulovsky said the action was taken because Duke does that in his book "My Awakening," which is punishable by up to three years in Czech prisons. Duke traveled to the republic to promote the book's Czech translation of the book at the invitation of neo-Nazis.

Mikulovsky declined to give any further details, citing an ongoing investigation.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chavez to Obama: "Island In The Stream; That Is What We Are-- No One In Between; How Can We Be Wrong?"

In a gesture of good will, the Venezuelan government has formally donated an island near Philadelphia back to the United States.

Petty Island, an uninhabited island some 528 acres in size, is situated in the Delaware River between the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It is owned by Venezuela's Citgo, which has used the island for fuel storage and refining since 1990.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the gift at the Summit of the Americas last week as part of an improvement in ties between the two nations. The island has been donated with the intention of it being used for environmental purposes. Plans are being finalized for the transition, which will not occur before 2020.

The Economy Must Be In A Really Big Downturn

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Torture Scorcher

OK-- so let's get a few things straight.

When Rumsfeld said it was a "few bad apples" that were responsible for the Abu Ghraib, he was lying. The Levin report now conclusively establishes that Rumsfeld himself authorized 15 of the interrogation/torture techniques used at Abu Ghraib.

The torture techniques cribbed from the Pentagon by the CIA were based upon communist-era Chinese torture techniques that were originally designed to elicit false confession from U.S. soldiers-- not true confessions.

We captured Abu Zubaydah in March 2002 and tortured him in August 2002 to gain information on imminent attacks on the U.S. If he was in the brig for five months, whatever information he might have had would no longer be of the "imminent" kind, right?

Abu Zubaydah, whom Bush portrayed as "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States" was really just a low-level gopher. And even worse, CIA and FBI analysts quickly realized that he was mentally ill-- yeah, that's right-- Bush (who allowed the execution of a mentally retarded man in Texas) allowed the torture of a brain-injured man.

It has also come out that the real reason torture was authorized by the White House was in order to backfill missing intelligence that connected Al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein (intel that we now know never existed, since the Iraq war was a bogus war concocted by Bush).

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 via torture quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaydah -- chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates -- was obtained before waterboarding was introduced.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Another Case of Go-Go Gonzales Trading Justice For Political Gain

There are new, well-sourced reports that Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat was caught on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington. There had been such allegations against the Congresswoman three years ago, but DOJ dropped the investigation due to lack of evidence. Now, in addition to the newly-revealed wiretap recordings, there is fresh evidence that the Harman investigation was killed by then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a political favor to Harman.

Harman was recorded by the NSA saying she would "waddle into" the AIPAC case "if you think it'll make a difference." When asked if she could get the federal charges reduced to lesser felonies, she said that Gonzales would be a difficult task, because he "just follows White House orders," but that she might be able to influence lesser officials.

In exchange for Harman's help, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win. Wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, "This conversation doesn't exist."

The sources for the CQ Politics story also say that the original investigation of Harman's "quid pro quo" deal were not dropped by DOJ for "lack of evidence" but as a political favor. But what favor exactly, you say?

According to three top former national security officials, Gonzales wanted a scandal-free Harman to be able to help defend the administration's warrantless wiretapping program, which was about hit the press and engulf the White House in controversy. As for there being "no evidence" to support the FBI probe, a source with first-hand knowledge of the wiretaps called that "bullshit."

Just as DOJ was finalizing formal charges against Harman and getting ready to notify Congressional leaders of their forthcoming prosecution, Gonzales intervened. According to two officials privy to the events, Gonzales said he "needed Harman" to help support the administration's warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the New York Times.

Harman had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story on the eve of the 2004 elections-- and although it was too late to stop the Times story this time around, Gonzales felt she could be counted on again to help defend the program. He was right.

On Dec. 21, 2005, in the midst of a firestorm of criticism about the wiretaps, Harman issued a statement defending the operation and slamming the Times, saying, "I believe it essential to U.S. national security, and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities."

Thanks to grateful Bush administration officials, the investigation of Harman was effectively dead-- and nearly three years later, many people still want to keep it that way. Former CIA Director Porter Goss is declining interviews on this story, as well as Michael Hayden (who was informed of the Harman transcripts while CIA director, but chose to take no action)

Harman dodged a bullet, say disgusted former officials who have pursued the AIPAC case for years. Many believe she was protected by an administration desperate for help-- "It's the deepest kind of corruption," said a recently retired longtime national security official who was closely involved in AIPAC investigation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Obama Talking Shit

Leave it to those sneaky tech guys. If any of you read Obama's "Dreams Of My Father", you might remember a subplot involving one of Obama's high school friends. In those passages, Barack's classmate was portrayed as cursing quite prolifically. The reason this is so significant is because Barack eventually recorded an audio version of the book, which means that he actually read those salty quotes. And of course, some audio expert cut and paste the audio files, so that you can hear our President using language that would put Cheney to shame.

Check out this blog to hear such nuggets as "This shit's getting way too complicated for me"; "There's white folks, and there's ignorant motherfuckers like you"; "Now you know that guy ain't shit. Sorry ass motherfucker got nothin' on me, right? Nothin'"; "Sure you can have my number, baby!"; "You ain't my bitch, nigga. Buy you're own damn fries."

Faith In Distorted Reality

Two ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers have altered a photo of Israel's new cabinet, removing two female ministers. Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver were grouped with the rest of the 30-member cabinet for their inaugural photo earlier this month.

But Yated Neeman newspaper digitally changed the picture by replacing them with two men. The Shaa Tova newspaper blacked the women out. Publishing pictures of women is viewed by many ultra-orthodox Jews as a violation of female modesty. Other Israeli papers reprinted the altered images next to the original photos, with one headlining it "Find the lady".

The ultra-Orthodox community separates itself from mainstream society through its traditional religious practices and distinctive attire of black hats, coats and sidelocks for the men and long skirts and sleeves for the women. Restrictions include using only Kosher telephones, and not accessing websites with content deemed inappropriate.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

You Think It's No Big Deal To Give Up Your DNA? What Happens When You Are Denied Insurance Coverage As A Result?

Law enforcement officials are vastly expanding their collection of DNA to include millions more people who have been arrested or detained but not yet convicted. The move (reported on by the NYT), is intended to help solve more crimes-- but at the same time is raising serious concerns about the privacy of petty offenders and people who are presumed innocent.

Until now, the federal government genetically tracked only convicts. But starting this month, the FBI (with a current DNA database of 6.7 million individuals) will join 15 states that collect DNA samples from those awaiting trial and will collect DNA from detained immigrants.

The FBI , with a currently DNA processing backlog in excess of 500,00 cases, is projecting to increase its annual DNA profiling rate by a whopping 1,700% over the next three years. Law enforcement officials say that expanding DNA databases to include legally innocent people will help solve more violent crimes. But criminal justice experts cite Fourth Amendment privacy concerns and worry that the nation is becoming a genetic surveillance society.

Courts have generally upheld laws authorizing compulsory collection of DNA from convicts and ex-convicts under supervised release, on the grounds that criminal acts diminish privacy rights. However, DNA extraction upon arrest potentially erodes that argument, a recent Congressional study found. “Courts have not fully considered legal implications of recent extensions of DNA-collection to people whom the government has arrested but not tried or convicted,” the report said.

Chavez Chucks Chicanery, Chums Charming Chicagoan

It looks like Hugo Chavez is prepared to dance with the devil again. The unpredictable president of Venezuela recently pledged to restore his ambassador to the U.S. after meeting and shaking hands with Barack Obama. The Summit of the Americas marked a thaw from the American side as well. Obama acknowledged U.S. "heavy-handedness" towards the region, as well as the possibility of an improvement in relations with Cuba. The State Department praised Chavez's decision as "a positive development." According to an expert quoted by Wapo, the former Venezuelan soldier may have been left with little choice, given Obama's popularity abroad. "He can still criticize U.S. policy, but it is much more difficult to criticize Obama the man."

George Carlin Must Be Smiling Down Upon Us

Is Anybody Going To Do Anything About Breaking The Law?

Spanish government lawyers have changed their tune and are now opposing a criminal complaint against six former Bush administration officials who were accused of violating international law by facilitating the use of torture. But the final decision on whether to begin a criminal investigation will be made by an investigating judge (most likely Pinochet-busting Baltasar Garzón, thank god).

Spanish prosecutors initially gave the green light for legal action, according to lawyers who saw a draft of their review. The draft said that Spain had jurisdiction under international law, including under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and that there was enough evidence of wrongdoing for a criminal investigation to proceed, those who saw the legal opinion said. In addition, five former Guantánamo inmates, three of them Spanish citizens and two Spanish residents, have said that they were tortured.

But that green light turned red when Spain’s attorney general, Cáandido Conde-Pumpido, told journalists that he was opposed to an investigation. He argued that the proper forum for any criminal actions would be American courts. And he insisted that the focus of the investigation should be on the interrogators who actually mistreated detainees-- which puts him at odds with Obama, who has said that the CIA operatives who actually performed torture would not be prosecuted.

Obama has left open the possibility that others higher in the food chain could still face criminal penalties, however. I think it was a mistake to publicly leave the CIA operatives off the hook-- without the weight of prosecution over their heads, how will anybody pressure them to turn on the higher-ups? Either way, somebody do something-- and I say if the U.S. doesn't make moves soon to prosecute illegal torture, then let Spain take care of business.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hitler Gets Betrayed In a Game of Risk

Colbert Spoofs Anti-Gay Marriage Ad

Open Mouth, Insert Foot-- French Style

Nicolas Sarkozy has a reputation for irritating people with his boastfulness, exhausting folks with his hyperactivity and offending politicians and world leaders with his tendency to launch televised policy decimations and send text messages during meetings. At a much-reported on lunch recently, he got in some zingers on Obama, Germany's Merkel and Spain's Zapatero.

"He said that Obama had a subtle intelligence but that he was recently elected and had never run a state or an authority before," Jean-Pierre Brard, a Communist MP, told the press. Another lunch guest quoted Sarkozy as saying: "There are numerous things on which he [Obama] hasn't got a position and ... he is not always up to scratch with decisions and efficiency."

Next up: Angela Merkel. "Once she realized the state of her banks and her car industry, she had no choice but to come round to my position," Sarko said. The remarks are unlikely to win him any popularity points with the German chancellor who, despite her display of unity with Sarkozy in London last month, is known to find the hyperactive, over familiar president highly irritating.

Naughty Nick finished up with José Luis Zapatero. Discussing a recent policy move by the Spanish government which had taken France (according to Sarkozy) as its "example", one Socialist MP piped up and said there were "a lot of things to be said about Zapatero". Responding swiftly, Sarkozy said: "Perhaps he's not very intelligent." The remark was greeted with an icy silence in Madrid, where the president is due on an official visit later this month.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Would You Like A Blow Dry Afterward?

Usually a visit to the local hairdressing salon will get you your hair washed, cut and styled. Olga, a 28-year-old hairdresser from Russia, gives you all of that and more-- which a recent attacker found out the hard way. He tried to rob Olga’s store, but sadly for him Olga does taekwondo and kicked the shit out of him.

Then she carried the unlucky thief to the basement and bound him with a hairdryer cord. Olga then told her scared colleague and the client that she would call the police. But she did not. After work, instead of calling the police, she made her hostage undress. Naughty Olga then forced the hostage to take several Viagra tablets. She chained the unfortunate robber with pink furry wristbands and painfully raped him for the next three days. After his release, the exhausted thief filed charges against Olga. He also sought treatment for injuries to his penis as a consequence of rape session.

“That’s ridiculous. We had sex just a couple times. I brought him brand new jeans. I fed him every day and gave him one thousand rubles ($25) before his release,” the hairdresser said. In response, she filed charges against the robber. The robber admitted that the hairdresser really did feed him royally.

“I actually don’t know what will happen to them. But it’s a pity that they could not meet in a prison cell. They would be a great couple,” one of the police officers said.

Palin: The Latest Disaster To Hit Alaska

GOP darling Sarah Palin is reeling after nominating for attorney general a man who allegedly defended the right of men to rape their wives. According to reports, she now may dump him to save herself.

While priming her political machine for a likely 2012 presidential primary run, the Alaskan governor has fomented a scandal that threatens to further erode her reputation in the Last Frontier. In March, Palin nominated Wayne Anthony Ross for attorney general. Ross, a colorful far-right lawyer and longtime Palin ally who sports his initials, W.A.R., on his Hummer’s vanity plates, was once considered a shoo-in for confirmation.

However, his nomination was thrown into grave peril when his opponents presented evidence that he called homosexuals “degenerates,” leveled invective against an African-American student offended by a statue of a Klansman, vowed to undermine the sovereignty of Native American tribes, and who-- in a 1991 speech to the rights group Dads Against Discrimination-- said, “If a guy can’t rape his wife, who’s he gonna rape?”

According to two sources close to the confirmation hearings, Palin may ask Ross to withdraw before his appointment comes to a vote.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More Setbacks For Human Rights In Afghanistan

In Kabul, a group of some 1,000 Afghans swarmed a demonstration of 300 women protesting against a new conservative marriage law on Wednesday. The women were pelted with small stones as police struggled to keep the two groups apart.

The law, passed last month, says a husband can demand sex with his wife every four days unless she is ill or would be harmed by intercourse — a clause that critics say legalizes marital rape. It also regulates when and for what reasons a wife may leave her home alone.

In another incident earlier this week, the Taleban have publicly killed a young couple who they said had tried to run away to get married. The man, 21, and woman, 19, were shot dead on Monday in front of a mosque in the south-western province of Nimroz.

Nimroz is an area where the Taleban have a strong influence. Governor Ghulam Dastageer Azad told reporters the killings followed a decree by local religious leaders and were an "insult to Islam". Azad said, "An unmarried young boy and an unmarried girl who loved each other and wanted to get married had eloped because their families would not approve the marriage."

Officials said the couple were traced by militants after they tried to go to Iran. They were made to return to their village in Khash Rod district. "Three Taleban mullahs brought them to the local mosque and they passed a fatwa (religious decree) that they must be killed. They were shot and killed in front of the mosque in public," the governor said.

Fox Celebrates Tax Day By Teabagging

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bailout Recipient Goldman Sachs Tries to Silence Blogger

Investment bank Goldman Sachs bank has hired Wall Street law firm Chadbourne & Parke to shut down a blogger who has been critical of the Wall Street investment bank. Mike Morgan was warned in an April 8 cease-and-desist letter that he may face legal action if he does not close down his website.

Florida-based Morgan began a blog entitled "Facts about Goldman Sachs" – the web address for which is goldmansachs666.com – just a few weeks ago. In that time Mr Morgan, a registered investment adviser, has added a number of posts to the site, including one entitled "Does Goldman Sachs run the world?". However, many of the posts relate to other Wall Street firms and issues.

Goldman Sachs has came under increasing criticism for the revolving-door relationship in which its highly-paid employees and consultants have moved in and out of powerful U.S. Government positions in which they were able to advance the interests of Goldman Sachs. The current chief economic adviser to President Obama, Lawrence Summers, has received large speaking fees from Goldman Sachs ($135,000 for a single event), and the previous Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, was a former CEO of Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs has received billions of dollars in taxpayer-supported government loans that have protected the firm from insolvency, while its richly-compensated management has remained intact. The combination of secrecy in Goldman Sachs' dealings with the U.S. Government and the consistently favorable government treatment of the company has led to widespread suspicion of improper influence and "legal corruption" of the U.S. Government by Goldman Sachs.

According to Chadbourne & Parke's letter to blogger Mike Morgan, the bank is rattled because the site "violates several of Goldman Sachs' intellectual property rights" and also "implies a relationship" with the bank itself.

But Morgan is unlikely to go down without a fight. He claims he has followed all legal requirements to own and operate the website – and that the header of the site clearly states that the content has not been approved by the bank. "I've had advice from some of the best intellectual property lawyers, and I know exactly what I can and can't do. We're not going to back down from this," he promises.

Need To Think Twice About Ad Slogans In San Francisco

Darth Cheney Vs. The Rest Of Us

A new poll indicates Americans don't agree with former Vice President Dick Cheney's recent assertion that President Barack Obama's actions have increased the chances of a terrorist attack against the United States. A whopping 72% disagree with Cheney's view that some of Obama's actions have put the country at greater risk, with 26 percent agreeing with the former vice president.

Monday, April 13, 2009

One Bag Short Of A Tea Party

I (like most sensible folks, I suspect) have pretty much ignored this whole tea-bag protest nonsense-- and if you don't watch FOX noise (again, like most sensible folks) then you may not even know what I'm talking about. But after spending even 30 seconds too much time reading about them, I'm still confused about the concept.

Are the tea bag protests about tax hikes? There haven't really been any major ones yet-- and didn't Obama tell us over a year ago that is exactly what he wanted to do? Are the tea-baggers upset about immigration? If so, I don't get the tea bag metaphor-- and weren't all the original tea party folks immigrants? If they're protesting government debt, don't the tea-baggers realize that Bush was the one that ushered in the current gargantuan deficit? Are they upset about the bailouts? Surely they know that Bush started those as well.

It seems to me that all this tea-bag nonsense is the work of fringe conservatives (who are ever more frustrated to find themselves out of touch with America), bolstered by more moderate segments of the GOP who are aimlessly looking for something meaningful to occupy their time.

Frank Prank

A Columbus, Ohio deputy sheriff is facing charges of dereliction of duty, disorderly conduct and health code violations in the aftermath of a joke he pulled on a prisoner. According to an inmate, Cantwell and another deputy, Phillip Barnett, brought a bologna sandwich to his cell to eat.

As soon as the inmate had finished eating the sandwich, Deputy Cantwell taunted him, and took out his cell phone on which he displayed a photo of another inmate in the jail with his penis on the bologna sandwich. Cantwell allegedly told the prisoner, "Now you're a peter eater."

Both deputies are also facing an internal affairs investigation.

Happy Easter Monday!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Climbing the Walls Over More Bogus Chinese Crap

At the height of the U.S. housing boom, when building materials were in short supply, American construction companies used millions of pounds of Chinese-made drywall because it was abundant and cheap.

If it sounds like we have another bogus-Chinese-product problem on our hands, you would be right. Hundreds of homeowners and apartment dwellers are now concerned that the wallboard in their dwelling is giving off fumes that can corrode copper pipes, blacken jewelry and silverware, and possibly sicken people.

Shipping records reviewed by The Associated Press indicate that imports of potentially tainted Chinese building materials exceeded 500 million pounds during a four-year period of soaring home prices. The drywall may have been used in more than 100,000 homes, according to some estimates, including houses rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina.

Unlike a few years ago, we now have a President and a Congress that actually care about the average citizen (instead of corporate America or Chinese trade relations). "This is a traumatic problem of extraordinary proportions," said U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat who introduced a bill in the House calling for a temporary ban on the Chinese-made imports until more is known about their chemical makeup. Similar legislation has been proposed in the Senate.

Jokes From Jesus: Part 10

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Using Violence To Secure Amnesty From Violent Crime

Mugabe’s generals and politicians have organized campaigns of terror for decades to keep him and his party in power. But now that the opposition has a place in the nation’s new government, these strongmen worry that they are suddenly vulnerable to prosecution, especially for crimes committed during last year’s election campaign as the world watched.

President Robert Mugabe’s top lieutenants are trying to force the political opposition into granting them amnesty for their past crimes by abducting, detaining and torturing opposition officials and activists, according to NYT reporting.

Mugabe loyalists are also employing another tactic to protect themselves-- they are now attempting to implicate opposition officials in a supposed plot to overthrow the president, hoping to use it as leverage in any amnesty talks or to press the opposition into quitting the government altogether, ruling party officials said.

Like South Africa at the end of apartheid or Liberia at the close of Charles Taylor’s reign, Zimbabwe is in the midst of a treacherous passage from authoritarian rule to an uncertain future. After a bloody election season last year stained by the state-sponsored beatings and killings of opposition supporters, Mugabe and his rivals in the Movement for Democratic Change agreed to a power-sharing government that includes both victimizers and victims.

Amidst Much Moaning And Groaning, Detroit Continues To Display Its Ignorance

Who says that the Obama administration is getting too tough on Detroit? Based on what the auto industry highlighted at the recent New York auto show, it seems that they still don't get it. Automakers showcased a strings of SUV's and SUV crossovers-- forget about fuel economy or alternative forms of fuel. Maybe we should just give on those dinosaurs and let them go bankrupt . . .

Jokes From Jesus: Part 9

Friday, April 10, 2009

Arizona Stupidity University

Arizona State University (site of one of the NCAA's largest point-shaving scandals, and the proud alma mater of steroid-user Barry Bonds) has ignited controversy and embarrassed itself by refusing to grant President Obama an honorary degree when he speaks at its May 13 commencement ceremony. University officials were caught completely off-guard by the near-universal reaction of incredulity at the decision, refusing to comment further and referring all reporters to a prepared statement, which said in part:
"His body of work is yet to come. That's why we're not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency."
I guess being a U.S. Senator, a law school professor, a two-time best-selling author-- as well as being the leader of the free world-- is not accomplishment enough for these pin-headed Sun Devil morons. On MSNBC, former CEO Jack Welch said, "This is the university that grants a Masters degree in lawn-mowing, right?"

Barry Goldwater was awarded an honorary ASU degree before he was even nominated for the presidency. Sandra Day O'Conner was given an honorary degree only three years into her 25-year Supreme Court appointment. William P. Carey was awarded a degree for establishing a New York-based real estate investment-banking firm-- the fact that he donated $50 million to the school five years later didn't have anything to do with it, I suppose. Wu Qidi, the vice minister of education of the People's Republic of China, was given an honorary degree at ASU in May 2006-- we all remember his body of work, right? Rex G. Maughan, founder and president of Forever Living Products and Terry Labs, was honored in 2002-- another memorable "body of work".

Would You Like Decap With Your Cake?

An hour after she finished rehearsal for an upcoming poetry reading, Samantha Revelus was dead on the floor of her family's home. She had been stabbed, police say, by her 23-year-old brother. Kerby Revelus then decapitated his 5-year-old sister as her birthday cake from the day before sat on the kitchen table. It was then that he turned on his 9-year-old sister Sarafina, who called police.

According to the reports, details on the motive or root cause of the attack were unclear in the aftermath of the killings. Revelus attacked his siblings with a household knife while their grandmother was tending to laundry in the basement.

Quick-thinking Sarafina called 911 moments after the attack began. An officer on patrol in the neighborhood arrived within a minute and could hear an altercation inside as he reached the second floor apartment where the family lived. The 911 operator tried to persuade Sarafina to open the door, but when she didn't the officer broke through.

As the officer rushed into the apartment, Revelus decapitated Bianca in front of him. Within moments, four officers were inside and two of them shot Revelus as he tried to get to Sarafina. Revelus fell, still clutching the knife. The surviving 9-year-old was hospitalized with defensive wounds to her hands and stab wounds in her abdomen and one of her legs.

Jokes From Jesus: Part 8

Thursday, April 9, 2009

They Say She Was Just Common Trash

When Eunice Workman disappeared seven years ago, a search was launched but turned up nothing. Now investigators believe they found her bones right inside her own home.

Investigators were called to the elderly woman's house after workers hired to clean the abandoned dwelling discovered the partial remains of a skeleton that is now believed to Workman's. According to reports, the home was filled from floor to ceiling with hoarded belongings. Preliminary reports indicate the victim may have died by being crushed or trapped by collected piles of junk, and was simply never found.

Jokes From Jesus: Part 7

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Faked Documentary Incites Hatred Of Brazilian Tribes

A video made with the help of U.S. missionaries and depicting Amazon Indians burying children alive is "faked" and inciting racial hatred, a group campaigning for tribal rights said. It depicts scenes of Indians in an isolated forest village digging graves and burying several live children in them.



London-based Survival International said the film is "faked, that the earth covering the children's faces is actually chocolate cake, and that the film's claim that infanticide among Brazilian Indians is widespread is false. People are being taught to hate Indians, even wish them dead," said Survival's director, Stephen Corry. Critics claim that the film is a tool for evangelical Christian groups to increase their ability to spread religious beliefs among indigenous peoples.

Enock Freire, one of the makers of the film, acknowledged that it was fictional but was aimed at drawing attention to what he said was a serious problem. "It (infanticide) is common," he said from Hawaii. "This distortion that we are trying to incite hate is untrue."

Infanticide is believed to be practiced only rarely in the Amazon region on disabled children, based on the belief that children who take their last breath above land will come back to haunt a community. Indigenous supporters have argued that hen Brazil's Indian tribes are being forced off their land or killed by ranchers, miners and loggers, the infanticide issue is a destructive distraction.

Jokes From Jesus: Part 6

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Oompa Loompa Bigotry On The Rise

Drugstore chain Walgreens is ordering the removal of the "Chia Obama" from its stores in Tampa and Chicago, saying the ceramic-plant figure of the chief executive is inappropriate for sale.

Spokesman Robert Elfinger said store managers have the ability to market products of their choice. But the top brass of the Deerfield, Illinois-based drug chain was not amused by some of its Tampa and Chicago managers' choices to market the President Obama likeness.

"We got some complaints from people that they thought it was racist," Elfinger said in a telephone interview.


Jokes From Jesus: Part 5

Monday, April 6, 2009

Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

Senate Republicans are now privately threatening to derail the confirmation of key Obama administration nominees for top legal positions by linking the votes to suppressing critical torture memos from the Bush era. As Scott Horton says:
"I am not, in general, a big fan of saying: Republicans: you lost. Get over it. But in this case, I'm going to make an exception. The Republicans do not seem to be willing to allow the President to do things that are plainly his prerogative: appointing the reasonable, qualified, law-abiding people of his choice, deciding which documents should be declassified, and so forth. Any moment now they'll threaten not to pass the budget unless he sets his air conditioner at their preferred temperature."

Pfizer Settles Charges They Used Helpless Africans As Guinea Pigs

Pfizer has reached a broad agreement to pay millions of dollars to Nigeria's Kano state to settle a criminal case alleging that the drug company illegally tested an experimental drug on gravely ill children during a 1996 meningitis epidemic.

The details remain private, but sources close to the negotiations said the total payments -- including those to the children, their families, the government and the government's attorneys -- would be about $75 million under the current settlement terms. Other details, including how the money will be distributed, are to be worked out within weeks.

Nigerian authorities say Pfizer's infamous trial of the antibiotic Trovan killed 11 children and disabled scores more. The world's largest drug company says the deaths and injuries were the result of meningitis.

Jokes From Jesus: Part 4

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rush Issues Alert On Anal Poisoning

GOP leader Rush Limbaugh, commenting on Gordon Brown's kind words to Obama at the London economic summit:

"The slobbering... this guy... Folks I'm telling you, he, if he keeps this up throughout the G20, Gordon Brown will come down with anal poisoning and may die from it."

Jokes From Jesus: Part 2

Friday, April 3, 2009

Score Another One For the Constitution!

A judge has ruled that foreign suspects held by the U.S. in Afghanistan have the right to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.

Judge John Bates denied the motion by the U.S. government to withhold the right to three detainees at Bagram air base. The Supreme Court ruled last year that detainees at Guantanamo had such a right. The justice department later said those held at Bagram did not. Judge Bates smacked down that logic, saying that the cases were essentially the same.

The three detainees have been held at the U.S. military prison at Bagram for over six years after having been captured outside Afghanistan. Judge Bates' ruling now allows them to challenge their detention in the US justice system. A lawyer representing one of the detainees said it was "a great day for American justice".

"Today, a U.S. federal judge ruled that our government cannot simply kidnap people and hold them beyond the law," lawyer Ramzi Kassem was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.

Jokes From Jesus: Part 1

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Colbert Takes The Piss Out Of Glenn Beck

More Proof That Bush Didn't Give A Rat's Ass About The American Worker

The dreadful Bush legacy continues to unfold.

A special government program to improve worker safety in hazardous industries rarely fulfilled its promise, according to a Labor Department audit. Over the past six years, dozens of deaths occurred at companies that should have been subjected to much tighter federal safety enforcement.

The report was the first detailed appraisal of a highly touted Bush administration initiative that called for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to devote attention and resources to improving safety at companies with a troubled history of job-related fatalities. The study found that officials failed to gather needed data, conducted uneven inspections and enforcement, and sometimes failed to discern repeat fatalities because (if you can believe this) records misspelled the companies' names or failed to notice when two subsidiaries with the same owner were involved.

Last year, the administration also changed the program's rules, sharply reducing the number of companies eligible for special attention. Proper enforcement might have "deterred and abated workplace hazards at the worksites of 45 employers where 58 subsequent fatalities occurred," Assistant Inspector General Elliot P. Lewis wrote in the report.

Picture Worth A Thousand Words

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Irish Government Freaks Out Over Nude Portraits Of Prime Minister

Irish federal police are in the midst of an ever-growing scandal over the recent manhunt for an anonymous prankster who hung a nude portrait of Prime Minister Brian Cowen in the hallowed halls of the National Gallery.

The bizarre prank began when an artist (now identified as 35-year-old teacher Conor Casby) calmly walked in the front entrance of the Irish National Gallery carrying a shoulder bag. He perused a number of rooms before making his way to the National Portrait Collection of the National Gallery, which features paintings of Ireland's most famous citizens.

In addition to the nude painting, Casby also stuck up a prepared caption for the artwork, reading, "Brian Cowen, Politician, 1960-2008. This portrait, acquired uncommissioned by the National Gallery, celebrates one of the finest politicians produced by Ireland since the foundation of the state. Balancing a public image that ranges from fantastically intelligent analytical thinker to big ignorant fucker from Offaly, the [prime minister] proves to be a challenging subject to represent."

Casby had painted Cowen as he was sitting on the loo with a roll of toilet paper in his hand. The painter's attempts at lifting the country's spirits certain­ly worked as dozens of visitors to the gallery were left chuckling at the unorthodox artwork. One woman commented: "Well, at least that is one mess he has been able to clean up."

The unflattering picture hung for over an hour and hundreds of patrons of the gallery passed it believing it to be a genuine part of the collection. When the prank painting was spotted by security staff, they immediately took it down and brought it to the attention of gallery management. It later emerged that Casby had hung a second nude portrait of Cowen holding only a pair of purple briefs in the nearby Royal Hibernian Academy Gallery.

The incident quickly exploded into controversy after the Irish national police launched a full-scale investigation into the identify of the artist, seizing email records and demanding that news channels censor all coverage of the event. Government critics said it was a "shocking overreaction" for officers to demand that the TV program "Today FM" publicly apologize for covering the story and then surrender emails relating to the prank-- and that the whole affair constituted a menace to freedom of expression.

After his identity was discovered, Casby underwent lengthly questioning by police over the unauthorized hanging of the two nude portraits, but sources say he will not face charges. Casby was also forced to hand over five paintings of other senior politicians. TV producer Will Hanafin said the detective who demanded censorship of news coverage told him that "the powers that be wanted it done."

Critics condemned the police action as an appalling waste of resources. One said, "At a time when the majority of gangland murders remain unsolved, to have gardaí spending their time investigating what amounted to a practical joke that offended the Taoiseach’s ego is a scandalous waste of resources. The way this matter has been handled is more reminiscent of Russia in the 1930s than Ireland in 2009."

Confused Over The Concept

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