Friday, May 29, 2009

The Dude Will Be Less Than Daily

Unfortunately, I will be suspending my blog for the time being-- my internet service is so unreliable, it has become too time consuming to even post even a single blog entry (which can take up to 20 minutes or so).

Every unit in my building is likely sharing a single DSL router and I suspect someone in the building is also clogging up any available bandwith between late afternoon and early morning. During the day-- no problems; but like most people-- I have to earn a paycheck. When FIOS finally arrives later this summer, perhaps I will be back online.

I hate having to mark my 1,500th post this way . . . 'til next time, folks.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sad News From The Land Where Shame and Honor Still Mean Something To Former Presidents

South Koreans have expressed deep shock at the apparent suicide of former president Roh Moo-hyun, who was under investigation for alleged corruption.

62-year-old Roh was killed in a fall from a mountain near his home. Current President Lee Myung-bak said the news was truly unbelievable and deeply sad. The former president left a brief suicide note which read as follows:
I can't imagine the countless agonies down the road. The rest of my life would only be a burden for others. I can't do anything because I'm not healthy. I can't read books, nor can I write.

Don't be too sad. Isn't life and death all part of nature? Don't be sorry. Don't blame anybody. It's fate. Please cremate me. And please leave a small tombstone near home. I've long thought about that.

Roh apologized last month over allegations he and his family took $6m in bribes during his 2003-2008 term in office. He came from a humble farming family, but rose to the highest office on a platform of clean government and reconciliation with the North.

Man to Suicide Jumper: "Kill Yourself On Your Own Dime!"

A man threatening to commit suicide by jumping from a Chinese bridge was approached by a passer-by who shoved him over the edge.

The drama got underway when Fuchao Chen climbed on to Haizhu Bridge in Guangzhou and threatened to jump. He told police he wanted to kill himself because he was $293,000 in debt following a failed construction project,

Traffic around the bridge was stopped for five hours while officers tried to coax Chen to safety. Retired soldier Jiansheng Lai at first volunteered to try to talk Chen down but was turned away by police. But that didn't deter Lai in the least. The intrepid soldier then broke through the police cordon and climbed to where Chen sat. After first greeting the suicidal Chen with a handshake, Lai then pushed him off the edge.

Pictures taken by reporters showed him saluting to the crowd after Chen fell onto a partially-filled emergency air cushion. "I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish," the Lai said. "Their action violates a lot of public interests. They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities' attention to their appeals."

According to reports, Chen suffered spine and elbow injuries and is recovering in a Guangzhou hospital.

And You Thought The Janet Jackson Thing Was Out Of Control

Guess what, folks? If you have a wireless router, a cordless phone, remote car-door opener, baby monitor or cellphone in your house, the FCC claims the right to enter your home without a warrant at any time of the day or night in order to inspect it.

Those are the rules the renegade agency has followed for years to monitor licensed television and radio stations, and to crack down on pirate radio broadcasters. And the commission maintains the same policy applies to any licensed or unlicensed radio-frequency (RF) device.

“Anything using RF energy — we have the right to inspect it to make sure it is not causing interference,” says FCC spokesman David Fiske. That includes devices like Wi-Fi routers, Fiske says. George Washington University professor Orin Kerr, a constitutional law expert, questions the legality of the policy.

“The Supreme Court has said that the government can’t make warrantless entries into homes for administrative inspections,” Kerr told Wired.com, referring to a 1967 Supreme Court ruling that housing inspectors needed warrants to force their way into private residences.

But that isn't stopping the FCC-- they slapped a whopping $7,000 fine on a Corpus Christi, Texas man in 2007 when he refused an FCC agent entry to search his home. And the man had reason to refuse entry-- the Supreme Court has also ruled that anything found in an illegal (warrantless) search can be used against you. So damned if you do, damned if you don't-- I guess that's the America we inherited from Bush and Cheney.

Judge Judy Vs. Michele Bachman: Chapter 6

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Burris Broadcasts His Own Brand Of Bullshit

Through a spokesman, Blago-tainted Senator Roland Burris said yesterday he heard a loud bang at take-off [of his Washington-to-Chicago flight]. Once the plane was in the air, the noises became deafening and the plane began to shake. The pilot announced to the passengers there was a hydrolic system failure and the plane would be making an emergency landing in Pittsburgh. Emergency vehicles met the plane on the tarmac upon landing. Burris helped an elderly woman off the plane.

But one of the passengers immediately began twittering on the incident: "Senator Burris was one of the first off the plane. Haven't seen him since." said one post. "Reading news reports re: emerg. landing. Burris did not help elderly woman off plane, nor was there a loud bang. He's lying."

Bush Basking In Barney's Bowelings

While former Veep Darth Cheney was grabbing headlines this week recycling the same old batch of bullshit on Iraq and terrorists, his former boss recycled some shit of his own by scooping poop for Barney in his toney Dallas neighborhood:
"And there I was, former president of the United States of America, with a plastic bag on my hand," he told a group of graduating high school students in New Mexico on Thursday. "Life is returning back to normal."
You got that right, Bushie. Normal-- as in giving speeches to high school graduations.

I Overspent, I Lied; Please Feel Sorry For Me

Over the last few weeks, you might have run across the harrowing story of Edmund Andrews, the New York Times economics reporter who got himself into a debt nightmare and defaulted on his mortgage. He wrote a book out about it and had a big excerpt in last week's NYT Magazine. He's also all over radio and TV, painting his circumstances as a "could-have-happened-to-anyone" story, saying that "our situation was not all that unusual."

Well, it turns out that he left out one big detail; one that reduces his entire story to utter bullshit. It turns out that his wife had declared bankruptcy not once-- but twice.

The second time was while they were married, a detail that didn't make it into either the book or the excerpt that ran in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine. His wife, Patty Barreiro, first declared bankruptcy during her first marriage in 1998. The bankruptcy code requires filers to wait 8 years after a previous Chapter 7 discharge. But in 2007, barely four months after she became eligible, Patty Barreiro filed again.

Bankruptcy can happen to the average American, I suppose, with a little bad luck. But two-- right in a row, no less? I don't think so.

Judge Judy Vs. Michele Bachman: Chapter 5

Friday, May 22, 2009

Unexpected Hypocrisy In The Presence Of The Actual Constitution

Watched Obama's speech at the Archives yesterday. Among the lofty rhetoric and inspirational words about upholding the constitution and obeying the rule of law came these chilling words:
We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified. I know that creating such a system poses unique challenges. Other countries have grappled with this question, and so must we. But I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for Guantanamo detainees – not to avoid one. In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so going forward, my Administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution.

So now we're going to start incarcerating people for crimes that they might commit in the future? Not even King George proposed something along the lines of "prolonged detention".

I thought that we were doing away with the concept of a permanent "war on terror"-- and even so, the thought of "prolonged detention" of an individual without being charged with an actual crime seems to me to be incredibly unconstitutional and against any modern democratic "rule of law". Say it ain't so, Big O.

Let's All Quit Piling On Pelosi And Move On, Already

Enough with the phony indignation about the current Pelosi situation-- the CIA has a long history of lying to Congress. In 2001, a plane carrying Baptist missionaries from Michigan was shot down in Peru as part of a drug interdiction program run by the CIA and Peruvian officials. The victims' cause was taken up by Republican lawmakers, and an ensuing internal CIA investigation "concluded that agency officials deliberately misled Congress, the White House and federal prosecutors" about the incident.

New questions surfaced Wednesday about the accuracy of a CIA document meant to settle who in Congress knew about the torture approved by the Bush administration.

Another Democratic lawmaker--former Sen. Bob Graham--was listed as having been briefed four times. When Graham--a famously meticulous diarist--told the CIA that he was actually only briefed once, they agreed and corrected their records.

Even House Republican Leader John Boehner has now been forced to concede that the CIA has lied to Congress.

And finally, Time magazine has already concluded that Pelosi was right-- detailing how Porter Goss is already equivocating on his previous statements, how Senator Shelby is backing Pelosi's version, and how even CIA Director Leon Panetta is now saying that we shouldn't trust the CIA's records.

Judge Judy Vs. Michele Bachman: Chapter 4

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Dawn Of Constitutional Rights

Mickey Edwards and William Sessions write in the Washington Times:
Because we believe in the importance of the constitutional separation of powers, we sometimes criticized Mr. Obama's predecessor when we thought he had received faulty legal advice that had resulted in presidential overreaching and ignoring of constitutional prohibitions. We will want to know that the current president will receive better counsel. All Americans - Republicans as well as Democrats - should want the same thing.

The president has nominated Dawn Johnsen, a University of Indiana law professor, as the director of his Office of Legal Counsel. The Senate should act expeditiously to approve her nomination. Though Ms. Johnsen's politics may not mirror the choice John McCain or other Republicans might have made - they lost the election, after all - her views on the limits of presidential power are precisely what the Constitution envisions and conservatives have long championed.

Just the kind of lawyer DOJ needs-- someone who will firmly repudiate the stench left behind by Ashcroft and Gonzales (we'll leave Mukasey off the hook).

Maligned Swine In Decline

Afghanistan's only known pig has been taken off display at Kabul Zoo and locked away to avoid panic among visitors who may be worried about swine flu. "We put the pig temporarily in his winter house under quarantine because of swine influenza," the zoo's director Aziz Gul Saqib said. "Most people don't have much knowledge about swine influenza and seeing a pig, they panic that they will be infected.

The interned animal - known simply as "Pig" - was one of two given to Afghanistan by China in 2002, months after the ouster of the hardline Taliban regime, to help re-establish the zoo after it was destroyed during civil war. The zoo's other pig - and their offspring - had been killed in an earlier attack by a bear.

Judge Judy Vs. Michele Bachman: Chapter 3

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Judge Judy Vs. Michele Bachman: Chapter 2

Chick Nicks Dick

A Chinese woman accidentally bit off the penis of her employer while giving him a blow job in his car.

Sin Chew Daily and China Press reported that while the 30-year-old woman was performing oral sex on the man, the car was hit by a reversing van. The impact of the crash, China Press reported, caused the woman to bite off her lover's organ.

After the car was hit by the van, there was a loud scream from the woman whose mouth was covered with blood. The woman later followed her lover to the hospital with part of the sexual organ. No word on whether the dismembered member was re-membered.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Speak The Truth And It Shall Set You Free

Every now and then cranky-ass Jack Cafferty spits out a gem:

The Bush presidency is thankfully over...but the damage he and Dick Cheney did continues to press on the nerve of the American people like an impacted wisdom tooth. And until the questions surrounding arguably the most arrogant and perhaps most corrupt administration in our history are addressed, the pain won't go away.

Judge Judy Vs. Michele Bachman: Chapter 1

Monday, May 18, 2009

What Does Uruguay Know That We Don't?

Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez announced that his government will allow gays to join the armed forces by scrapping military rules that define homosexuality as a disorder. Vazquez explained his decision saying, “The Uruguayan government does not discriminate against citizens based on their political, ethnic or sexual identity.”

A Cancer On The Face Of Good Sense

Let's hope this nutty woman doesn't skip town with this sick boy and refuse further medical treatment for him. The misguided acts people commit in the name of religion are endless, unfortunately. Don't bother searching for objective information on Nemenhah Hand, Philip Landis, or "Cloudpiler"-- there isn't any. He's just another wacko preying on emotionally needy folks who are willing to pay him a few hundred bucks for the privilege of being one cup of grape kool aid away from oblivion.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Collective Wisdom On Drone Tactics

David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum had an interesting point about the use of American drones on terrorist targets in Pakistan:
Imagine, for example, that burglars move into a neighborhood. If the police were to start blowing up people's houses from the air, would this convince homeowners to rise up against the burglars? Wouldn't it be more likely to turn the whole population against the police? And if their neighbors wanted to turn the burglars in, how would they do that, exactly? Yet this is the same basic logic underlying the drone war.

I'll Take That With A Gun And A Side Of Grits

An early morning breakfast at a Columbia, SC Waffle House turned terribly wrong for Crystal Samuel. When it was all over, Yakeisha Ward-- her 29-year-old waitress-- was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill.

"I thought I was gonna get me an All-Star," said Samuel. "Grits, sausage, toast, eggs and a waffle." But she didn't get what she came for. While waiting for her take-out order, Samuel's friends got hungry and began eating theirs. That's when Samuel and her friends were told they couldn't eat from carryout trays inside the restaurant.

"I said what is your fuss about . . . we haven't paid for our food. She (Ward) said 'well you all got to leave'. How you want us to leave and we ain't paid for the food yet," says Samuel.

And then it got ugly quick. Samuel threw a waffle at the Ward, which prompted trigger-happy waitress to jump across the counter and start duking it out. The altercation continued outside where Ward broke free and got a gun from her car.

During the ensuing struggle, the gun discharged-- but only a small fragment stuck in Samuel's arm. Ward added insult to injury by pistol whipping Samuel for good measure. The sassy waitress was bonded out of jail and back on the job the next day. The victim's take on the incident? "She got the last lick," said Samuel.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cheney Is Waist-Deep In It

There is now even more information confirming that Bush-Cheney authorized torture way in advance of the DOJ faux-legal memos-- but even worse, the they OK'd the torture in the hopes of tying Al-Qeda to Iraq and not for protecting the U.S. against terrorists.

According to NBC News investigative producer Robert Windrem:
Two U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney’s office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.

The former chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, in charge of interrogations, considered the request reprehensible.

Check out the Daily Beast for further details.

Crack Falls Through The Crack

Pennsylvania police served a search warrant earlier this month in East Stroudsburg, and ended up arresting three men on drug charges— one of them (26-year-old Donte Graham) who lacked a certain degree of intestinal fortitude for the drug business.

Police searched Graham's room and found a bag of crack cocaine, a smoking stem and several ripped corners of bags used for packaging drugs. When officers proceeded to search Graham's person, he resisted. He then had a bowel movement, in which police found two large bags — one containing five grams of loose crack and the other holding about 40 smaller bags of crack.

Friday, May 15, 2009

British Company Caught Lying About Toxic Waste Dumped On Ivory Coast

Documents have emerged which detail for the first time the lethal nature of toxic waste dumped by British-based oil trading company Trafigura in one of west Africa's poorest countries.

More than 30,000 people from Ivory Coast have been sickened by the ­poisonous cocktail and are currently bringing Britain's biggest-ever group lawsuit against the company, Trafigura.

The firm chartered the ship, Probo Koala, which transported the cargo to Ivory Coast in 2006. Trafigura originally issued statements back then denying the tanker was carrying toxic waste. It said it merely contained routine "slops" – the dirty water from tank washing. Company executives repeatedly tried to deny over the years that the waste contained any hydrogen sulphide.

However, an official Dutch analysis of samples of the waste carried by the Probo Koala now indicate that it contained approximately 2 tons of hydrogen sulphide, a killer gas with a characteristic smell of rotten eggs. According to the Guardian report, if the same quantity and mixture of chemicals had been dumped in Trafalgar Square, millions of people several miles around would have been sickened.

There is also evidence that one of the victims who had sued the company had been flown business class from Ivory Coast to Morocco, put up at a luxury hotel, and offered money. The claimant said he had also been interviewed in the Morocco hotel by Simon Nurney, partner at ­Macfarlanes, Trafigura's solicitors.

After that incident and other reports that the Trafigura had been attempting to "nobble" witnesses to induce them to change their stories, a court order was issued barring Trafigura from contacting any of the victims or claimants.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Saudi Judge: It's OK For Men To Beat Their Wives

A Saudi judge told a conference on domestic violence that a man has the right to slap a wife who spends money wastefully and said women were as much to blame as men for increased spousal abuse. The remarks do not carry the weight of law, as they were made out of court. But such public pronouncements by Saudi judges—who are also Islamic clerics—are often widely respected.

A rights activist decried the remarks and said she and other campaigners viewed them as the latest setback in women's efforts to gain the right to vote, drive, freely participate in politics and be protected from violence. Activists have become more vocal in recent years in their criticism of cases involving women's rights, including what many see as the religious police's harsh enforcement of the segregation of sexes.

Darth Cheney Bitch Slap

Ran across this this sweet-ass smackdown of chicken-hawk Cheney, courtesy of Col. Lawrence Wilkerson:
First, more Americans were killed by terrorists on Cheney's watch than on any other leader's watch in US history. So his constant claim that no Americans were killed in the "seven and a half years" after 9/11 of his vice presidency takes on a new texture when one considers that fact. And it is a fact.

There was absolutely no policy priority attributed to al-Qa'ida by the Cheney-Bush administration in the months before 9/11. Counterterrorism czar Dick Clarke's position was downgraded, al-Qa'ida was put in the background so as to emphasize Iraq, and the policy priorities were lowering taxes, abrogating the ABM Treaty and building ballistic missile defenses.

Second, the fact no attack has occurred on U.S. soil since 9/11--much touted by Cheney--is due almost entirely to the nation's having deployed over 200,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and not to "the Cheney method of interrogation."

Those troops have kept al-Qa'ida at bay, killed many of them, and certainly "fixed" them, as we say in military jargon. Plus, sadly enough, those 200,000 troops present a far more lucrative and close proximity target for al-Qa'ida than the United States homeland. Testimony to that fact is clear: almost 5,000 American troops have died, more Americans than died on 9/11. Of course, they are the type of Americans for whom Cheney hasn't much use as he declared rather dramatically when he achieved no less than five draft deferments during the Vietnam War.
Go away, Dick-- go away. Take your shame and go back to your bunker.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Camille Back In Fine Form

Camille, who has been hit and miss since the election, knocked one out of the park today. On talk radio:
Talk radio has been seething with such intensity since Barack Obama's first week in office that I am finding it very hard to listen to it. How many times do we have to be told the sky is falling? The major talk show hosts, in my opinion, made a strategic error in failing to reset at lower volume after Obama's election.

On religion and politics:
I applauded the low profile taken by the Obamas on National Prayer Day, when they enjoyed family time in the White House instead of parading their piety around in front of TV cameras. This is a very positive first step toward detaching the American presidency from the heavy religious baggage that has complicated our politics for far too long.

And finally, she sucker-punches her one-time BFF Madonna:
Madonna, like Joan Crawford or the late Marlene Dietrich, has become a mask whose eyes see nothing but itself. Her life, for all her globe-hopping, has become rigid, predetermined, suspicious and claustrophobic. Despite her spiritual talk, Madonna is a voracious materialist and status-monger who is as addicted as Leni Riefenstahl to her triumph of the will. Persons have become mere instruments to her -- which is why she cannot communicate with them heart-to-heart. And it is why Madonna's creativity has tragically withered.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chinese Government Denies Citizens Their Culture, Inflicts Emotional Cruelty

Parents who lost their children in China's earthquake fear they will not be allowed to properly commemorate the disaster's first anniversary.

Many parents want to return to the site of the schools in Sichuan that killed their children when they collapsed. But the Chinese authorities have cruelly stopped them from going to the schools on sensitive occasions, and are said to be monitoring the parents ahead of the May 12 anniversary.

China has not said how many children were among the 90,000 dead and missing. The government has admitted that nearly 14,000 schools - some of them poorly or hastily built - were damaged in the magnitude-8 earthquake.

One mother, Hu Hongfang, wants to return to Juyuan Middle School to mark the first anniversary of the death of her 15-year-old son Guo Jun. But she is not hopeful that she will be allowed to get to the collapsed school site, in the city of Dujiangyan in northern Sichuan Province. "On every occasion parents have wanted to pay their respects to their children, the whole school and nearby area have been sealed off," she said.

Zhou Siqiang, whose daughter died at the Juyuan school, said parents have been prevented from visiting the site on a number of occasions. He said they were stopped from going to the site on last month's Tomb Sweeping Day, when Chinese people traditionally visit family graves.

Across Dujiangyan, parents at another collapsed school said that many methods were used by the authorities to prevent them from staging public displays of grief-- including stopping them from leaving their homes and taking them away from the city during sensitive times.

The local government and police did not comment on the parents' claims. But the man who runs a cemetery where many of the Xinjian schoolchildren are buried confirmed that there is a special team monitoring the parents. Chen Hua, who works at Baoshanta Cemetery, told reporters that a special "work team" was attached to the local police station.

Amnesty International has also released a report saying the authorities continued to intimidate and detain parents who had lost children in the earthquake.

The Ugly Side Of Swine Flu

Monday, May 11, 2009

Court: OK To Track Innocent Citizens With Hidden GPS Devices

Police can attach GPS to cars to secretly track anybody's movements without obtaining search warrants, a Wisconsin appeals court has ruled.

In a unanimous decision, the court said police can mount GPS devices on cars to track people without violating their constitutional rights -- even if the drivers aren't suspects in a crime. "Police are seemingly free to secretly track anyone's public movements with a GPS device," Judge Paul Lundsten wrote.

One privacy advocate said the decision opened the door for greater government surveillance of citizens. Law enforcement officials called the decision a victory for public safety because tracking devices are an increasingly important tool in investigating criminal behavior.

Of course, when the first abuses start rolling in (like when cops begin harassing the boyfriends of their teenage daughters, or start tracking their ex-wives, or stalk women pulled over for traffic violations, for example) nobody will have the good sense to question whether it was a good idea to begin with.

Maureen Klings On A Bit Too Much

Sure, I'm a Star Trek fan. And I've always liked Maureen Dowd's culture-laden columns-- especially when they focused on the disfunctional Bush family. But me thinks the Doyenne of Dis stretched a bit too far with the strained references in her May 9 column, comparing Barack Obama to Spock. Yep, you got that right-- Barack is likened to Spock, and he will save journalism from annihilation. The tortured lead:
I dreamed that Spock saved our planet, The Daily Planet of journalism. Instead of swooping in to figure out the dimensionality and logarithms to rescue the world from red matter, as Spock does in J. J. Abrams’s dazzling new “Star Trek,” I imagined Spock rescuing read matter for the world. Newspapers are an “endangered species,” as John Kerry called us in a Senate hearing last week, just as the Vulcans are in the new prequel.

Nevertheless, I did enjoy the following section, comparing the Bushies to Borg villains:
Commanding his own unwieldy starship of blended species, with Cheney, Limbaugh and other pitiless Borg aliens firing phasers from all sides, Mr. Obama has certainly invoked Mr. Spock’s Vulcan philosophy of “Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.” And he even recruited some impulsive Rahmulen muscle for his Utopia.
And finally-- even though the star fleet pin was a nice touch, the photo illustration came across as a bit too creepy. Sigh . . . Maureen just hasn't been the same since Bush left the White House.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Obituary Of The Constitution: A Continuing Story

Last March, armed FBI agents stormed the home of Annette Lundeby looking for her son. They handcuffed him and presented her with a search warrant. "I was terrified," Lundeby's mother said. "There were guns, and I don't allow guns around my children. I don't believe in guns."

Lundeby told the officers that they had discovered recently that someone had hacked into her son's IP address and had beenusing it to make crank calls connected through the Internet, making it look like the calls had originated from her home when they did not.

That information was apparently ignored. Agents seized a computer, a cell phone, gaming console, routers, bank statements and school records. After all the hustle and bustle and non-stop investigations, the FBI turned up no bomb-making materials, not even a blasting cap, not even a wire.

Yet Lundeby's son still sits in a juvenile facility in South Bend, Indiana. His mother has had little access to him since his arrest. She has gone to her state representatives as well as attorneys, seeking assistance, but, she said, there is nothing she can do.

Yet another example of the USA Patriot Act being used to strip U.S. citizens of their due process rights. Read all about it here.

A Nation Of Sin: Part 7

Another map of the seven deadly sins from those clever geographers at Kansas State University, using county-by-county crime and census statistics:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Government The Somalia Way

Bogie Man

CBS golf analyst David Feherty really teed up a doozy in an online column this week:
From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this, though: despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death.

Despicable words from someone who (despite his claims otherwise) has fed off the right-wing trough for eight long years. The GOP has been playing the politics of hate for so long, that's all their supporters have left to hang onto.

A Nation Of Sin: Part 6

Another map of the seven deadly sins from those clever geographers at Kansas State University, using county-by-county crime and census statistics:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Saudi Judge: 8-Year-Old OK To Marry; Not OK To Divorce

An 8-year-old Saudi girl has divorced her middle-aged husband after her father forced her to marry him last year in exchange for about $13,000.

The girl was allowed to divorce the 50-year-old man after an out-of-court settlement had been reached in the case, said her lawyer, Abdulla al-Jeteli. The exact date of the divorce was not immediately known. They were married in August.

A court in the central Oneiza region previously rejected a request by the girl's mother for a divorce and ruled that the girl would have to wait until she reached puberty to file a petition then. (note from the Daily Dude: She's old enough to get hitched to a pervert but not old enough to say she wants out?)

Saudi Arabia has come under increasing criticism at home and abroad for permitting child marriages. The United States, a close ally of the conservative Muslim kingdom, has called child marriage a "clear and unacceptable" violation of human rights. There are no laws in Saudi Arabia defining the minimum age for marriage. Though a woman's consent is legally required, marriage officials don't always seek it.

A Nation Of Sin: Part 5

Another map of the seven deadly sins from those clever geographers at Kansas State University, using county-by-county crime and census statistics:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Australian Nursing Home Horror

A pack of mice mauled a bedridden 89-year-old man at an Australian nursing home, shredding parts of his ears and prompting the government to launch an investigation into the facility.

Ray Hopper, a state opposition legislator who was alerted to the mauling by the man's family, said the resident had been found covered in blood by nursing staff. "An elderly, bedridden gentleman had the tops of his ears severely chewed, his head badly bitten and a very bad wound in the throat," Hopper said. "His hands were covered in blood when they found him; he'd obviously been so distressed trying to get the mice away."

Hopper accused health officials of being slow to respond to an out-of-control mouse infestation at Dalby Hospital, where Karingal Nursing Home is located. "It is the most disgusting, horrific thing," Hopper said. "There wasn't a wall of mice suddenly hitting the place — this has been building up for three weeks. They had plenty of time to act."

Federal Minister for Aging Justine Elliot ordered a probe into what the government-run nursing home in Queensland state was doing to protect residents, saying in a statement that the attack was "extremely disturbing and traumatic for residents and their families."

A Nation Of Sin: Part 4

Another map of the seven deadly sins from those clever geographers at Kansas State University, using county-by-county crime and census statistics:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kenyan Women To Politicians: "No Booty If You Don't Do Your Duty"

The fight for political reform in Kenya has moved into an unlikely venue -- the nation's bedrooms. Activists in the East African nation are urging women to withhold sex for a week to protest the growing divide in Kenya's coalition government.

"We are asking even sex workers to join the cause, even if we have to pay them ourselves," said Patricia Nyaundi, executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya.

The campaign was organized by G-10, an umbrella group for women's organizations. It called on the wives of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to join the cause.

Odinga's wife, Ida, told CNN last week that she supports the campaign "100 percent". "I will not get into what my husband thinks," she said, chuckling, "but I will say leaders need to focus on the things that affect our people, and I hope the publicity from this campaign will raise awareness on those issues."

Me Thinks Thou Hate Too Much

If you're still living in Oklahoma, there's still time to get the hell out before the whole state goes completely to shit.

Despite the fact that registered Democrats still outnumber registered Republicans by about eleven points, the electorate is voting more and more Republican. And don't forget that Oklahoma is the only state in which not a single county went for Obama. And the GOP controls both houses of the state legislature for the first time in the state's history.

But the icing on the cake is the bizarre party platform recently adopted by the Oklahoma GOP. The 27-page document, which covers a whole gamut of issues (healthcare, education, philosophy, crime, economics, environment, immigration, insurance, transportation, defense, foreign policy, social security, agriculture, election reform, taxation)-- is freakishly obsessed with homosexuality. Although the issue of gay marriage is covered very early in the document, the paranoid Okie GOP still managed to work in over a dozen other gay references (courtesy of Obsidian Wings):

Page 2: As Republicans, we believe: . . . In traditional marriage consisting of one man and one woman . . .

Pages 4: Traditional marriage, consisting of one man and one woman, is designed to provide for each family member’s physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, and social well-being . . .

Page 5: We affirm the state’s recognition that marriage between one man and one woman is a covenant relationship, instituted by God, not to be entered into casually, and is fundamental to our very existence and survival as a nation. Therefore, we strongly support a U.S. Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. . . .

Page 5: We support Federal and State legislation, which prohibits recognition of same-sex marriages, civil unions, and/or domestic partnerships . . .

Page 5: We oppose efforts to redefine marriage. Employers and taxpayers should not be forced to violate their convictions or to bear the cost of granting “same-sex marriages” the benefits that are due traditional marriages . . .

Page 6: We believe that in order to encourage and protect family values, those promoting homosexuality or other aberrant lifestyles, should not be allowed to hold responsible positions over children which are not their own or over other vulnerable persons . . .

Page 7: Except for adoption by a qualified relative (as defined by existing law), we support adoption only by traditional families . . .

Page 7: We oppose the promotion of homosexuality, the elimination of laws against sodomy, and the granting of minority protection or special status to any person based upon sexual preference or lifestyle choices . . .

Page 8: We believe that homosexuality is not a genetic trait but a chosen lifestyle. . . .

Page 8: We support programs including faith-based organizations that promote traditional marriage, marriage enrichment, abstinence education, and encourage responsible parenting.

Page 9: The traditional family unit, consisting of a (husband) man, (wife) woman and child(ren), is the foundation of our social structure. The Oklahoma Department of Education and various Boards of Regents should uphold and teach this definition of traditional family, at all levels of public school and higher education….

Page 10: Any mandated sex education shall hold to the following guidelines: Neither homosexual nor extramarital sexual activity shall be presented as safe, nor shall they be presented as morally or socially acceptable behaviors; HIV shall be presented as incurable and fatal.

Page 12: We oppose the portrayal of homosexual or promiscuous behavior in a positive light in public schools.

Page 16: We oppose the erosion of our military’s readiness through:
a. “Gender-norming” for training and promotion.
b. Co-ed basic training and housing.
c. “Sensitivity training” that supports or promotes the homosexual lifestyle.
d. Openly practicing homosexuals serving in the military.

A Nation Of Sin: Part 3

Another map of the seven deadly sins from those clever geographers at Kansas State University, using county-by-county crime and census statistics:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Disney On A Power Grab

There are indications that Walt Disney is close to trademarking the character name "Princess Aurora" for all media-- stage, sound, film, TV, video, Internet, photographs, news-- in short, everything except literature.

The name Aurora comes from the 1697 Charles Perrault fairy tale, and its first noted use was in Tchaikovsky's 1890 ballet "The Sleeping Beauty", which was the basis for the 1959 Disney animated film.

According to Nikki Finke of Deadline Hollywood, a successful trademark application would result in Disney effectively controlling the legal right to all future performances of the ballet. The move also could sink any movie about the ballet or that uses a scene of the ballet in another movie.

"This would be like a film studio trademarking the character name "Ebenezer Scrooge" for all media (no one has) and then no one could perform "A Christmas Carol" on a stage, TV, in a film, radio, etc. without first securing the right to use the name from the trademark owner," a critic told Finke.

Finke is calling for a campaign to complain to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for those that feel this trademarking of a pre-existing character name should not be allowed. You can email the PTO at TrademarkAssistanceCenter@uspto.gov and reference the following information:

SERIAL NUMBER: 77130191
MARK: PRINCESS AURORA
OWNER: Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Not Quite A $50 Million Dollar Pair Of Pants, But Equally Assinine

The Atlanta attorney who caused an international health scare when he flew to Europe for his wedding even though he was infected with a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis is suing federal health officials, claiming they invaded his privacy.

Andrew Speaker drew worldwide attention to himself in 2007 after he flew knowing he had tuberculosis. Doctors first thought he had a more severe form, but later tests revealed a less dangerous strain.

Speaker's lawsuit claims the CDC damaged Speaker's reputation and made him the target of death threats-- not that knowingly risking the health of dozens of people and sneaking back into the country via the Canadian border would have anything to do with that.

A Nation Of Sin: Part 2

Another map of the seven deadly sins from those clever geographers at Kansas State University, using county-by-county crime and census statistics:

Monday, May 4, 2009

One Child Policy Helps Drive Surge In Kidnappings Of Chinese Baby Boys

Thousands of children who have gone missing from the teeming industrial hubs of China’s Pearl River Delta have almost certainly been kidnapped and will likely never be seen again by their parents or police. Anecdotal evidence suggests the children do not travel far, however. Although some are sold to buyers in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, most of the boys are purchased domestically by families desperate for a male heir, parents of abducted children and some law enforcement officials who have investigated the matter say.

The demand is especially strong in rural areas of south China, where a tradition of favoring boys over girls and the country’s strict family planning policies have turned the sale of stolen children into a thriving business.

Su Qingcai, a tea farmer from the mountainous coast of Fujian Province, explained why he spent $3,500 last year on a 5-year-old boy. “A girl is just not as good as a son,” said Mr. Su, 38, who has a 14-year-old daughter but whose biological son died at 3 months. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have. If you don’t have a son, you are not as good as other people who have one.”

The centuries-old tradition of cherishing boys — and a custom that dictates that a married woman moves in with her husband’s family — is reinforced by a modern reality: Without a real social safety net in China, many parents fear they will be left to fend for themselves in old age.

The extent of the problem is a matter of dispute. The Chinese government insists there are fewer than 2,500 cases of human trafficking each year, a figure that includes both women and children. But advocates for abducted children say there may be hundreds of thousands.

Southern China's dense region of manufacturing towns is packed with migrant workers, and desperate families there say they get almost no help from the local police. In case after case the police have insisted on waiting 24 hours before taking action-- and then claim that too much time has passed to mount an effective investigation.

Several parents, through their own guile and persistence, have tracked down surveillance video images that clearly show the kidnappings in progress. Yet even that can fail to move the police. “They told me a face isn’t enough, that they need a name,” said Cai Xinqian, who obtained tape from a store camera that showed a woman leading his 4-year-old away. “If I had a name, I could find him myself.”

A Nation Of Sin: Part 1

Geographers from Kansas State University have come up with what is being called a precision party trick-- via the use of rigorously mapped statistical data. By categorizing stats (like sexually transmitted disease infection rates (lust) or killings per capita (wrath)) and using the measurements to quantify the sins of the average American on a county-by-county basis, the crafty dudes have come up with national maps of the various degrees of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride across the country.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Increasing Irrelevance Of Organized Religion

Studies continue to show that Catholics' opinions on social issues are falling in line with the general public, in opposition to the teachings of the U.S. bishops. According to a recent Pew poll, Catholics are giving high job approval ratings to Obama, and their attitudes about abortion and stem-cell research have come to largely mirror the public's.
"I think the bishops who believe abortion is the ultimate litmus test look at the polls and realize Catholics are not listening to them," said the Rev. Mark Massa, co-director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University. "They're playing a very dangerous game because they do not have the moral authority they had before the sex abuse crisis, and they're trying to find a toehold and get heard."

So far, the Notre Dame saga doesn't seem to be resonating either. Only about half of Catholics surveyed by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life from April 23 to 27 had even heard about the controversy.

In my opinion, most people have left church leaders behind-- on issues that should matter most (unjustified war, hatred, bigotry, torture, e.g.) the Catholic leadership has been relatively silent. At the same time, the Pope and his minions have been preoccupied with grabbing headlines on matters that don't affect Catholics that much (gay marriage, condom use in Africa).

Don't Touch My Monkey!

Acting on a tip, the Nebraska Humane Society seized a monkey and a sugar glider from an Omaha apartment. Ann and Andrew Gnusen were ticketed for harboring a non-domesticated animal and obstructing police. Officers said the couple tried to hide the monkey from them. The monkey was found in a closet.

Admittedly, there's nothing that special about the story-- just wanted to write that headline.

Hong Kong Authorities All Piggish Over Swine Flu Threat

Travelers quarantined in a Hong Kong hotel for a week after a Mexican tourist tested positive for the H1N1 flu expressed dismay at the government's tough measures, while an infectious disease expert said the authorities had over-reacted.

Police wearing surgical masks sealed off the Metropark hotel (in the popular Wanchai tourist district) after test results on a 25-year-old Mexican man came back positive for swine flu-- ordering approximately 200 guests and 100 staff to stay in the hotel. Officials said no one would be allowed to leave the hotel.

The measures taken by the authorities in Hong Kong underscore the unwarranted concern about the new flu and the first confirmed Asian case of the swine flu. Hong Kong was badly hit by the SARS virus in 2003 and has had repeated episodes of H5N1 bird flu over the past decade.

Americans Are Finally Coming Around On The Bush Crimes

It now seems that the majority of Americans favor investigation of torture and warrantless eavesropping-- two of the most high profile crimes of the Bush administration. The details from the Daily Kos poll are as follows:

Question: As you may know there have been allegations that the Bush Administration used the Department of Justice for political purposes. Which of the following would you favor the most: a criminal investigation into those allegations or an investigation by an independent panel or neither?

Independent Panel 36
Criminal Investigation 29
Neither 18

Question: There have also been allegations that the Bush Administration engaged in torture in terror investigations. Which of the following would you favor the most: a criminal investigation into those allegations or an investigation by an independent panel or neither?

Independent Panel 31
Criminal Investigation 22
Neither 22

Question: There have also been allegations that the Bush Administration used telephone wiretaps against American citizens without court warrants. Which of the following would you favor the most: a criminal investigation into those allegations or an investigation by an independent panel or neither?

Independent Panel 33
Criminal Investigation 23
Neither 21

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Finally-- Someone Who Gives A Damn About Our Privacy

The Swedish telecom operator Tele 2 plans to erase all data identifying its 600,000 customers, a decision that will undermine Sweden's new IPRED law and make the hunt for internet scofflaws more difficult.

Starting next week, Tele 2 will destroy records of IP addresses after they’ve been used. The company took the action to secure their customers’ privacy and strengthen the ISP’s market position.

“This is a strong wish from our customers and therefore we’ve decided to no longer keep records of customers’ IP addresses,” Tele2’s CEO in Sweden, Niclas Palmstierna, told the Swedish news agency TT. “We do this to strengthen the protection of customer privacy.”

The IPRED law went into effect on April 1 in Sweden and allows courts to order ISP’s to hand over details that can identify suspected illegal file sharers. With no data to reveal, the new law will be ineffective.

Who Would Jesus Torture?

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new analysis.

54% of people who attend services at least once a week said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than 6 in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only 4 in 10 of them did.

Supremes: Fuck The Shit On Our Airwaves

The Supreme Court ruled this week that the FCC may penalize even the occasional use of certain expletives on the airwaves but left for another day the question of whether such a policy is constitutional.

"The commission could reasonably conclude that the pervasiveness of foul language, and the coarsening of public entertainment in other media such as cable, justify more stringent regulation of broadcast programs so as to give conscientious parents a relatively safe haven for their children," Scalia wrote for the five-member conservative majority.

Scalia critics who believe the 73-year-old justice harbors a bitter resentment of what he calls "cultural liberalism", garnered further evidence of their theory from Scalia's own decision, which actually used the phrase "foul-mouthed glitteratae from Hollywood."

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Thomas and Scalia in the majority that upheld the FCC's action in the case, FCC v. Fox Television Stations. Six of the nine justices wrote separate, occasionally biting opinions to explain their decisions and criticize the others.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Does It Matter If Bush Didn't Legally OK Torture?

There are still many folks out there that don't believe that Bush's "enhanced interrogation techniques" constitute torture. For the sake of argument, what do the Geneva Conventions say about acts of inhuman treatment that do not rise to the level of torture?
Article 16

1. Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

Catching Up With Billy Boy At Casa D'Ice

Bill Balsamico has always had a soft spot for Asia . . .



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