Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Heartwarming Tale For Halloween

A former Southeast Texas funeral director has been arrested for taking some naughty photos of himself with various corpses. James Patton, the former funeral director at Earthman's Hunter Creek Chapel, has been charged with abuse of a corpse and fired from his job.

Police seized Patton's computer from his apartment earlier his year while investigating an unrelated case. That’s when they found the 27 disturbing photos.

In the photographs, investigators saw images of a man's penis touching the foot of a nude female corpse. They also found an image of a female corpse with the legs spread open.

“I can tell you that the defendant’s male sexual organ was seen in various poses with those of dead bodies,” said Donna Hawkins with the Harris County DA’s Office.

When questioned, Patton admitted that he last abused a corpse "a year ago," according to the probable cause warrant. If Patton is convicted, he could face up to a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

Lawlessness Continues Unabated In Mexico

Fifteen people have been killed on a remote ranch in northern Mexico, with a prominent union leader among the dead. The body of Margarito Montes, an organizer of agricultural workers, was among those found riddled with bullet holes in the northwestern state of Sonora.

Correspondents say the killings bear the hallmarks of drug gang murders--more than 15,000 people have died in drug-related violence since a concerted push against drug gangs began in 2006.

President Felipe Calderon has so far deployed some 45,000 extra security forces in key areas across Mexico in a bid to tackle the cartels. Correspondents say farmers are often caught up in drug violence, by being paid or coerced to grow marijuana and opium poppies.

This incident follows closely on recent shootings in Juarez (across the border from El Paso). In September, gunmen carried out an attack on a drugs rehabilitation center, killing 10 people and injuring two others. The shooting followed the deaths of 18 other people in an attack on a separate rehab center in the same city that month.

Such shootings have been blamed on drug traffickers who accuse the clinics of protecting dealers from rival gangs. A vicious inter-gang drug war in Ciudad Juarez has seen some 1,400 drug-related deaths so far this year.

Get Me Kim Jong-Il-- On The Double!

Stories are starting to circulate on the net that the Kim Jong-Il that met with Bill Clinton earlier this year was a fake. Sources freely admit they are short on facts, but in the same breath point out that North Korea has long been a source of outlandish rumor. And they got more outlandish than ever after Kim suffered a stroke in August 2008-- the diminutive leader was variously said to be close to death, about to be toppled by a coup, or desperately fixing the succession for his youngest son. Stories that his public appearances since recovering from the stroke were being by doubles have been rife.

The mainstay of the Kim-is-fake cottage industry is a Japanese university professor called Toshimitsu Shigemura, who once claimed that the real Mr Kim died in 2003, and that everything since has been make-believe. One Mr Kim, he maintains, even flatly confessed to a Japanese visitor, "I am a double." More details here.

Freedom Of The Press Means Squat In Rabat

The editor of a Moroccan daily newspaper and its cartoonist went on trial recently in what journalists say is part of an unprecedented government crackdown on the press in the North African country. The court case, in the city of Ain Sebaa, near Casablanca, is the third trial of reporters in less than a month.

"We are here as part of the ongoing massacre of press freedom," said Taouflik Bouachrine, editor of Akhbar Al Youm, Morocco's second largest Arabic language daily, shortly before he and cartoonist Khalid Gueddar appeared in court. In September, the paper printed a front-page carton of King Mohamed's cousin Prince Moulay Ismail celebrating his wedding to a German woman.

The government said the cartoon was an attack on the royal family and contained a Star of David. "The use of the Star of David reflects a leaning towards blatant anti-Semitism," it said.

Both Bouachrine and Gueddar dismissed the accusations. "We wanted to express our affection to the prince for his marriage in his cartoon. I do not know from where they get these Star of David and anti-Semitism things," Gueddar said.

Before this incident, the editor and two journalists from another Arabic language weekly Al Michaal were arrested for what the government called false information after they published articles about King Mohammed's health.

In yet another case, the editor and a reporter at daily Al Jarida al Oula were also being tried for a report on the king's health.

The monarchy, army, religion and the contested Western Sahara region are still off-limits to an increasingly intrepid media in Morocco where reform-minded King Mohammed is widely seen as more tolerant than his late father King Hassan.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Honduras Continues Its Lawful Pursuit Of Democracy

Honduras has lodged legal proceedings against Brazil at the U.N. court in The Hague seeking an end to Brazil allowing ousted President Manuel Zelaya to take refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

Zelaya has been holed up at the heavily guarded Brazilian embassy since he snuck back into the country last month. The leftist leader was removed from office earlier this year by the Honduran Supreme Court and Congress after his repeated attempts to run for another term in office, in violation of the Honduran constitution.

In its filing at the ICJ, or world court, Honduras says Zelaya and others are using the embassy as a platform for political propaganda, "threatening the peace and internal public order of Honduras."

Honduras requested the court declare that Brazil does not have the right to allow its embassy to be used to promote "manifestly illegal activities" by Honduran citizens. It wants the court to order Brazil to stop providing refuge.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Compassion, Less Brutality Needed In Iran

An Iranian man was hanged recently in Tehran by the parents of his victim whom he murdered in a brawl as a teenager, despite international calls urging the Islamic republic to stop such executions. Behnoud Shojaie was convicted of stabbing to death 17-year-old Ehsan Nasrollahi during a fight in August 2005 when he was also 17.

According to a spokesman at the detention facility where Shojaie was held, "The mother and father of Ehsan Nasrollahi themselves carried out the punishment in the Evin prison." Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, a former Iran judiciary chief, had agreed in June last year to suspend Shojaie's death sentence to give the victim's family a chance to pardon him under Islamic law. Nasrollahi's family refused to pardon the teenager and instead, used the time to carry out their revenge.

A judiciary bill awaiting parliamentary approval aims to ease punishments for offenses committed by youths and make it harder for courts to sentence minors to death.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In The Meantime, His Girlfriend Was Pulling A Train

A German man mooning at railway staff in a departing train got his trousers caught in a carriage door and ended up being dragged half-naked along the platform, out of the station and onto the tracks.

The whole incident started when the 22-year-old student (no surprise) shoved his ass against the window of a low-slung double-decker train when train personnel forced him off for traveling without a ticket. "It's a miracle he wasn't badly hurt," said a spokesman for the Bremen police department. "This sort of thing can end up killing you."

Instead, dangling by his trousers, the dimwitted student got pulled along the tracks for about 650 feet, all the while managing to keep his legs away from the wheels of the train. The ordeal ended when a passenger pulled the emergency brake.

Warning to Hillary: Stretching The Truth Will Leave Unsightly Marks

While the Daily Dude was stomping the Arabian peninsula, it seems that Hillary Clinton was up to her old tricks again. She was caught "mis-speaking" again-- showing that she has not learned any lessons from her previous globe-trotting "lily gilding" speeches.

The U.S. Secretary of State had been exposed during her campaign against Barack Obama over her claims to have landed in Bosnia under sniper fire. Film footage later disproved that. She had even tried to claim greater credit than was due for the Irish peace process, having made several visits to Northern Ireland as First Lady.

But most recently she was back in Belfast, giving a push to politicians dragging their heels over the peace process. But at Stormont Parliament, she said that Belfast's Europa Hotel was devastated by an explosion when she first stayed there in 1995.

The Europa, where most journalists covering the conflict stayed, was famed as Europe's most bombed hotel. However, the last provisional IRA bomb to damage it was in 1993, two years before President Clinton and his wife checked in. It last underwent renovations because of bomb damage in January 1994, 22 months before the Clinton entourage booked 110 rooms.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rifle Shooting and Shotput Events To Be Highlighted At the Rio 2016 Games

Drug traffickers shot down a police helicopter and killed two officers in a burst of drug-based violence just two weeks after the city won the 2016 Olympic games. Three suspected drug traffickers were also killed.

Bullets flying from the Morro dos Macacos ("Monkey Hill" in Portuguese) slum in northern Rio de Janeiro hit the police helicopter pilot in the leg as he hovered above a clash between rival drug factions, causing him to lose control and crash.

Rio mayor Eduardo Paes tried to downplay the wave of violence that has underscored what many have criticized about the selection of the Brazilian city.

“We never hid our problems during the bid process — we always told people we had problems and we are facing the problems,” Paes told the Global Sports Industry Summit in London. “We still have a lot to do, we have a long way to go and what [has] happened showed that.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Politics Can Be A Tough Cookie In Britain

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently revealed his favorite cookie-- after 24 hours of dithering about it.

The PM did nothing for his reputation for indecision when he refused to give a straight answer to the vital issue during a live web chat. The next day, he tried to bring the "Biscuitgate" controversy to an end by announcing that he was partial to chocolate ones. Even then, he would not be pinned down and declined to say whether he preferred Bourbons, chocolate digestives, Jaffa cakes or American-style chocolate-chip cookies.

The Biscuitgate row started when Brown answered questions on the Mumsnet webssite on a wide range of issues, including his recent eye problem. But it all went horribly wrong when he repeatedly failed to respond to inquiries from parents about his favorite cookies (biscuit). With a determination worthy of a gang of pitbulls, the audience put the question (a staple of past interviews on the site) to Brown no fewer than twelve times. Time and time again he refused to answer.

One questioner commented, "Maybe he needs to consult with his advisers o what would be the most vote-winning biscuit to admit to liking?" Brown left the hour-long session with the question unanswered, and afterwars Downing Street still refused to comment. But finally, Brown responded on his Twitter page writingm "I missed Mumsnet question about biscuits: the answer is absolutely anything with a bit of chocolate on it, but trying v hard to cut down."

Marriage Can Be Torture

A Saudi Woman is suing for divorce after she found out that her husband had branded her "Guantanamo" on his cellphone.

The wife sneaked a peek at the phone when her husband of 17 years left it at home, only to discover that his phonebook entry for her came under the name of the notorious U.S. torture prison in Cuba, according to reports.

Outraged, the woman demanded divorce or, at the least, substantial damages.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

And You Thought Being A Woman In Saudi Was Bad Enough

A Saudi court sentenced a female journalist Saturday to 60 lashes for her work on a controversial Arabic-language TV show that aired an episode in which a man bragged about his sex life, according to reports.

Abdul Jawad, a 32-year-old airline employee and divorced father of four, spoke openly about his sexual escapades, his love of sex and losing his virginity at age 14 on "A Thick Red Line."

That episode caused an uproar in deeply conservative Saudi Arabia, where Shariah law is practiced. Premarital sex is illegal, and unrelated men and women are not permitted to mingle.

Journalist Rosanna Al-Yami, who has assisted in producing other segments for the program, was not involved in setting up the episode in which Abdul Jawad appeared.

The court in Jeddah also imposed a two-year travel ban on Al-Yami, which will prevent her from traveling outside Saudi Arabia.

Impromptu Happy Hour On Dubai Creek

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hot Time In Qatar

On the morning the Daily Dude left Doha, a fire broke out in a sporting goods shop on Al Ahmad Streeet in the Al Deera Souq. Stacked inventory and strong winds factored into the blaze spreading to neighboring shops. Faulty electrical wiring is suspected to be the cause of the fire. No injuries were reported.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chinese Reptile Claws Its Way Into The Headlines

A 66-year-old Chinese woman recently discovered a strange reptile clinging to the wall of her bedroom with its talons in the middle of the night.

"I woke up and heard a strange scratching sound. I turned on the light and saw this monster working its way along the wall using his claw," Suining resident Dean Qiongxiu said. Duan said she was so scared she grabbed a shoe and beat the snake to death before preserving its body in a bottle of alcohol.

The snake – 16 inches long and the thickness of a little finger – is now being studied at the Life Sciences Department at China's West Normal University in Nanchang. Snake expert Long Shuai said: "It is truly shocking but we won't know the cause until we've conducted an autopsy."

The Long And Short Of It In France

There is continuing controversy in France over the alleged lengths pursued by President Nicolas Sarkozy's aides in order to conceal his short stature.

In a recent television appearance, the employee of a French factory visited by Sarkozy admitted being chosen to stand behind him because she was no taller than him. The report became an internet hit in France and other workers have since backed the allegation.

But the charge has been robustly denied by the president's office. A spokesman for the Elysee Palace called it "completely absurd and grotesque". French websites Le Post and Rue89 have since quoted union representatives at the plant, some of them named, as confirming that height criteria for staff to appear with Sarkozy had been received by the management.

President Sarkozy is reported to be extremely touchy about his height, which is believed to be about 5ft 5in. Tthe president has been continually mocked by the opposition Socialists for his "complete stage management".

He has previously been pictured wearing shoes with a substantial heel and giving speeches standing on hidden platforms. The French media have also previously noted the propensity of Sarkozy's wife, the former model Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, to don flat shoes when in the presence of her husband.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Circumspection Regarding Female Circumcision

I was over at The Peking Duck to take a read on the recent marches in China marking their 60th anniversary. What I found more interesting is his recent post on female genital mutilation:

The topic of female genital mutilation always brings out an odd type of commenter, always male (of course), usually someone who insists on seeing it as the equivalent of male circumcision (which is like comparing what Van Gogh did to getting one’s ear pierced) and/or who vigorously defends multiculturalism, a warped argument because you cannot defend torture and trauma.

The issue raises all sorts of questions of freedom - the freedom to choose what is done to your body, the freedom to observe your thousand-year culture, the freedom to be left free of meddling from outsiders.

Maybe those who want it done should be permitted to preserve their tradition and choose their own path. But since it is mainly done in a state of ignorance, I would argue that we should do everything possible to at least educate them as to the reality of their choice. And again, that’s not the arrogant belief of a snobby white guy looking down at disgust at something in another culture he finds disconcerting. It’s what thousands of African women and global health workers are fighting to do. It’s about saving lives, about protecting women from unbearable pain and suffering.

[Does] the mantra, “It’s our culture” excuse all behavior no matter how sadistic and unjust?

Very Naughty Monkey

Arched Eyebrows Over Golden Arches

Lovers of France's two great symbols of cultural exception – its haute cuisine and fine art – are aghast at plans to open a McDonald's restaurant and McCafé in the Louvre museum next month.

America's fast food temple is celebrating its 30th anniversary in France with a coup -the opening of its 1,142nd Gallic outlet a few yards from the entrance to the country's Mecca of high art and the world's most visited museum.

Many in France view "McD" as the Trojan horse of globalization and the scourge of local produce and long lunches. The chain faces a groundswell of discontent among museum staff. "This is the last straw," said one art historian working at the Louvre, who declined to be named. "This is the pinnacle of exhausting consumerism, deficient gastronomy and very unpleasant odours in the context of a museum," he told reporters.

Didier Rykner, head of The Art Tribune website found the idea "shocking".

"The Louvre welcomes the fact that the entirety of visitors and customers, French or foreign, can enjoy such a rich and varied restaurant offer, whether in the museum area or gallery," the museum said in a statement.

There was already an outcry last year when Starbucks opened a café perilously close to the Right bank museum's entrance. Employees and art aficionados sent management a petition in protest; the café opened regardless but was asked to provide a cultural corner of brochures and catalogues as a placatory measure.

"Starbucks was bad enough but McDonald's is worse," said the Louvre art historian. "Once this happens, the first thing visitors will likely see when they arrive are big golden arches."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What Really May Have Derailed Chicago's Olympic Bid

Chicago's high-powered presentation to the IOC yesterday was the culmination of a multi-year $48 million effort. But what is going largely unreported is that during the 15 minute Q&A period afterward, Pakistani IOC member Syed Shahid Ali threw a huge bucket of cold water over the proceedings. Ali correctly noted the significant difficulties facing foreigners seeking entry into the United States, and wondered what impact that would have on world visitors to the Chicago games. Obama failed to address Ali's concerns, saying only that hosting the Games in Chicago would be "a reminder that America at its best is open to the world."

America's visa processing issues have been well-publicized throughout much of the world, with some tourists waiting six months or more to have a 10 minute appointment with a visa examiner in an embassy or consulate to visit America on a vacation. Business visas or those for cultural ambassadors, like artists and athletes, are similarly problematic. Many applicants complain that the system is opaque at best and a crap shoot at worst, with few guidelines provided for applicants and rejections issued pro forma.

The visa issue has been an growing problem since new draconian requirements were issued by Bush after 9/11. I've been reading about global resentment to U.S. visa requirements for many years now, and I've got a feeling it's not going to go away on its own.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rejoicing In America's Failure?

Today, all of the United States lost out on a huge economic and patriotic boost when Chicago was eliminated as host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. Can you imagine that any red-blooded American would be gleeful over such a loss? How about the following folks:

Glenn Beck, who rejoiced at the "sweet" news that Chicago lost its Olympic bid

Rush Limbaugh, who joined Beck in rejoicing: "The world has rejected Obama"

Michelle Malkin, who jokingly asked, "Hey, can we close the White House Olympic Czar's office now?"

Erick Erickson of RedState, who summed up his feelings by writing, "Hahahahaha! I thought the world would love us more now that Bush was gone. I thought if we whored ourselves out to our enemies, great things would happen. Apparently not."

Matt Drudge, whose webpage's top story soon blared, "THE EGO HAS LANDED-- WORLD REJECTS OBAMA: CHICAGO OUT IN FIRST ROUND."

The Weekly Standard, who twittered "Chicago Loses! Chicago Loses!" Their own website bragged that cheers erupted in the Weekly Standard newsroom when news of Chicago's elimination came across the wires.

So I'm guessing these pricks would be happy if the U.S. lost the war in Afghanistan, right? If I lived in Chicago, there would be no way I'd listen to any radio station that carried Rush or Beck anymore.

Priapus' Penus: Pornographic Portrait

A Brazilian art restorer has discovered a new layer hidden in a centuries-old painting of the Greek God of fertility Priapus, by French artist Nicolas Poussin -- the deity's erect penis.

"They hid the phallus of Priapus. It's what we call adjustment for modesty, and it's not uncommon," said professional restorer Regina Pinto Moreira. She suspects the cover-up was made in conservative Catholic Spain in the 18th century.

Moreira, who worked as a master art restorer at the Louvre in Paris for some 30 years, spent eight months alongside two French experts restoring Poussin's large 1634-1638 painting "Hymenaios Disguised as a Woman During an Offering to Priapus." The painting depicts Hymenaios, the Greek god of marriage ceremonies, dressed as a woman and dancing with Priapus, who was traditionally depicted with an erect penis.

Jackson Autopsy Report Finally Leaked

The Michael Jackson autopsy report has finally found its way to the media and it provides some interesting details and unexpected conclusion: he was healthy. Even though MJ had arms covered with punctures, scarred face and neck, and tattooed eyebrows and lips, he was not the sickly skeleton of a man portrayed by tabloids.

According to the AP story, Jackson weighed 136 pounds-- in the acceptable range for a 5-foot-9 man. His heart was strong with no sign of plaque buildup. His kidneys and most other major organs were normal. Signs of arthritis were found in the lower spine and some fingers, and there was mild plaque buildup in his leg arteries. His lungs were chronically inflamed and had reduced capacity that might have left him short of breath.

"His overall health was fine," said Dr. Zeev Kain, chairman of the anesthesiology department at the University of California, Irvine, who reviewed a copy of the autopsy report for the AP. "The results are within normal limits."

Jackson also had chest bruising and cracked ribs from CPR, and a mechanical device known as a balloon pump was inserted into his heart to try to restart it. Aside from propofol and the sedatives, the only substances found in his system were the local anesthetic, Lidocaine, sometimes used to numb injection sites and ephedrine, a commonly used resuscitation stimulant. No other drugs—legal or otherwise—were detected, nor was any alcohol.

The autopsy findings cut off a potential defense for Murray—that Jackson hid serious pre-existing conditions that increased the risk of death from the drugs he willingly took.

The autopsy report also provided further details on Jackson's physical condition. He had a 3/4-inch scar behind his left ear and another apparent scar behind his right ear. He had a scar beside each of his nostrils and another, 4-inch scar on his right shoulder. He had a pair of additional scars about 3-inches long at the base of his neck and smaller scars on his arms and wrist. He also had a small scar near his navel and a 2-inch scar on the right-hand side of his abdomen.

The medical examiner found numerous punctures on both arms and on a knee and ankle. Jackson had several tattoos, all them cosmetic, including dark tattoos in the areas of both eyebrows and under his eyes, and a pink tattoo around his lips.

He was going bald at the front of his head, with his remaining hair described as short and tightly curled. The bald part of his scalp was darkened with what appeared to be a tattoo stretching across the top of his head from ear to ear. The coroner found depigmentation of his skin around his chest, abdomen, face and arms.

The coroner also found Jackson was actively producing sperm.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Argentina: La Nueva "Tierra Del Fuego"

In case you missed it, Argentina's Supreme Court recently decriminalized the small-scale use of marijuana, opening the way for a shift in the country's drug-fighting policies to focus on traffickers instead of users.

The high court ruled it unconstitutional to prosecute cases involving the private use of marijuana. "Behavior in private is legal, as long as it doesn't constitute clear danger," Supreme Court President Ricardo Lorenzetti said. "The state cannot establish morality."

Elsewhere in Latin America, Colombia and Mexico have already decriminalized the possession of small amounts of drugs. Brazil and Ecuador are looking at an initiative to legalize some drug use.

Have Some Fun While Enjoying Over-Priced Coffee

Giving American Tourists A Bad Name

A crocodile attacked a young American tourist as he tried to urinate in a lagoon near the Mexican tourist resort of Cancun, according to reports. Lagoons in the area are clearly marked with crocodile warning signs.

20-year-old Andrew Dales admitted that he had been draining his pickle when the crocodile objected to having someone piss on his pad and then suddenly snapped at him.

Police spokesman Alejandro Solorzano said that Dales suffered "multiple bite wounds" to his leg and neck and was also left with a head injury after the reptile knocked him to the ground.


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