Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Disagreement Between FIFA and Nigeria Reaches The Knockout Stage

Nigeria's president has suspended his nation's football team from international competition for two years after a poor showing at the World Cup.

Special presidential adviser Ima Niboro told reporters the decision by Goodluck Jonathan will enable Nigeria to reorganize its football.  He added: "This directive became necessary following Nigeria's poor performance in the ongoing World Cup."

FIFA, which has a marked dislike for political interference with its sport, has threatened Nigeria with a ban against all participation in FIFA meetings, clinics and officiating programs unless it backs down.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sexuality And The American Culture

Camille Paglia had a fantastic op-ed in the NYT the other day:

Although a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recently rejected an application to market the drug flibanserin in the United States for women with low libido, it endorsed the potential benefits and urged further research.

The implication is that a new pill, despite its unforeseen side effects, is necessary to cure the sexual malaise that appears to have sunk over the country. But to what extent do these complaints about sexual apathy reflect a medical reality, and how much do they actually emanate from the anxious, overachieving, white upper middle class?

The real culprit, originating in the 19th century, is bourgeois propriety. As respectability became the central middle-class value, censorship and repression became the norm.

Read the full essay for a free-wheeling discussion of sexuality within American culture.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

FIFA Agrees That Ball Sucks, But Won't Take Action

FIFA acknowledged there might be something wrong with the Jabulani World Cup ball, but won't act on any problems until after the tournament-- when it will be pointless to act.  Many players have likened the Jabulani to a "supermarket ball," saying it is too unpredictable and flies through the air too easily.

Scoring was down by 16 goals in the first round compared to 2006: 117-101. However, teams played a more defensive style in the opening group stage in South Africa, so whether the ball is a major factor is difficult to measure.

At this rate, the World Cup would set a low for average goals. In 1990, when teams again played defensively – even in the latter stages of the tournament – 2.21 goals were scored per game.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Heartless AirTran Hates Turtles

A caged, 2-inch turtle traveling with a 10-year-old girl caused a crew to turn around a taxiing plane, take the girl and her sisters off the flight and tell them they couldn't bring their pet along.

The little girls called their father, who told them he would immediately pick up the turtle from the airport.  However, the AirTran employees told the girls that they couldn't wait for the dad to come back to the airport-- so they were forced to throw the animal (cage and all) in the trash so that they could return to the aircraft.  Check out this link for more details and to see if this tragic story had a happy ending. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Seized By Fear And Foolishness

Venezuela will nationalize a fleet of oil rigs belonging to U.S. company Helmerich and Payne, the latest takeover in a push to socialism as President Hugo Chavez  struggles with lower oil output and a recession.  In recent years, Chavez has also taken over assets in telecommunications, power, steel and banking.

The 11 drilling rigs have been idled for months following a dispute over $49 million already owed by Venezuela to the Oklahoma-based company.  Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramirez said the rigs were being nationalized to bring them back into production.  He added that companies who refused to put their rigs into production were part of a plan to weaken Chavez's government,

Chavez has kept pressure up on the private sector in recent months, blaming a "parasitic bourgeoisie" for Venezuela's recession and 30% inflation rate.  He has also threatened to nationalize Polar, the nation's top brewer and food processor. The government has also seized a bank belonging to an owner of the leading opposition TV station and issued an arrest warrant for his partner, who is now on the run.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

'Tis Better For Dan Burton To Shut His Mouth and Let Us Wonder Whether He Is A Moron (Instead Of Opening His Mouth and Eliminating All Doubt)

Reps. Dan Burton (R-Ind) questioned whether George Soros, who backs a number of liberal causes and Democratic candidates for office, had invested in a Brazilian oil company, Petrobras, with the knowledge that President Barack Obama might temporarily ban deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (and thus benefiting deepwater drilling by Petrobras in Brazil).

“We don’t need to be spending Mr. Soros’s money in Brazil, so he can make more money by doing offshore drilling with our taxpayer’s money,” Burton said.  Burton’s implication was that Soros, an investor with Petrobras and a major Obama campaign donor, profited from a loan made by the U.S. Export-Import bank to Petrobras.

Problem #1: Bush appointees at the independent Export-Import Bank approved the loan by a vote of 5-0, not President Obama;

Problem #2: George Soros upped his investment in PetroBras in late 2008, some months before the bank made its preliminary commitment to the company-- even before Obama was elected to the Presidency, for that matter.

So where did Burton get these nutty ideas?  He copied them from Glenn Beck's show on Monday-- another fucking idiot (as if we needed yet another one).

Ethically-Challenged Sarah-- But We Already Knew That, Right?

Nearly a year after she quit her governorship of Alaska, Sarah Palin was found guilty today of another breach of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act involving her so-called Alaska Fund Trust (AFT), which she established as a private "legal defense fund" while governor.

Timothy Petumenos, independent counsel for the Alaska Personnel Board issued his findings from the Adventure Room of the Captain Cook Hotel in downtown Anchorage.  In an extremely detailed finding, Petumenos ruled that "the Trust itself, as ultimately conceived, violates the Ethics Act."

The finding is a stinging rebuke to Palin, who must now return more than $386,000 in contributions to the AFT.  It also forces her longtime political crony Kirstan Cole to be removed from serving as Trustee of the fund.  Perhaps most significantly, Petumenos demanded that "all donors to the Trust, whether they donated before or after the resignation, must be publicly disclosed."

Andree Mcleod, the Anchorage-based government watchdog who has filed five Ethics Act complaints against Palin issued a statement today:
    "I've spent more than two years trying to shed light on many of Palin's wrongdoings while governor. Her typical response: to vilify and deride Alaskans who only wanted to hold her accountable for her misconduct; this should give people pause.  Never has a governor lowered the bar as low as Palin has when she breached the public's trust over and over again. Her arrogance, sense of entitlement and recklessness while doing the people's business sets a very bad precedent."

Photoshop Fun With Right Wing Retards

Can you identify all the photo-shopped elements in the latest piece of moronic humor making the round of the wingnut blogs?  Answers are after the jump.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saudi Taxi Drivers Looking Forward To Legalized Titty Sucking

Shaikh Abdul Mohsin Bin Nasser Al Obaikan, member of Saudi Council of Senior Scholars and adviser to the king, has unwittingly sparked an usual debate.  The renowned scholar said Saudi women can breastfeed their foreign drivers for them to become their sons and brothers to their daughters.

Under this relationship, foreign drivers would then be allowed to mix freely with all members of the family without breaking the Islamic rule which does not allow mixing of genders.  Breast milk kinship is considered to be as good as a blood relationship in Islam.

"A woman can breastfeed a mature man so that he becomes her son. In this way, he can mix with her and her daughters without violating the teachings of Islam," the scholar said.

A number of Saudi women initially condemned the fatwa. Fatima Al Shammary was quoted by the local Arabic daily Al Watan as saying the fatwa was "ridiculous and weird.  This fatwa has become a hot topic of debate among women. Is this is all that is left to us to do: to give our breasts to the foreign drivers?" she said.

Another Saudi woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, questioned: "Does Islam allow me to breastfeed a foreign man and prevent me from driving my own car?  I have not breastfed my own children. How do you expect me to do this with a foreign man? What is this nonsense?" she said.

Another woman said the fatwa should also apply to the husbands who should be breastfed by housemaids. By doing so, all will be brothers and sisters," she said.  Saudi writer Suzan Al Mashhadi sarcastically asked: "Do the women have to breastfeed the driver in the presence of their husbands or can they do this alone?  Who will protect the wife if the husband entered the house unexpectedly and found his wife breastfeeding the driver?" she asked.

But in an even more bizarre twist, other Saudi women are using the controversial fatwa in their long-running campaign to obtain the right to drive cars.   If the demand to drive automobiles is not met, women are threatening to actually follow through on the fatwa which gives them the permission to breast-feed their drivers and turn them into their sons.  The campaign will be launched under the slogan: "We either be allowed to drive or breastfeed foreigners."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Somali Militants Winning Fans With Ban On World Cup Viewing

Somali militants have threatened football fans they will be publicly flogged - or worse - if they are caught watching the World Cup on TV.  Gangs of Islamists are reported to be patrolling the areas they control looking for people watching games.

Dedicated fans have been forced to watch matches in secret, or in the few areas controlled by government forces.  Militants recently killed two people as they attacked a house where people were watching a game.  Militant group Hizbul-Islam also arrested 10 others at a house north-east of the capital Mogadishu where fans were watching the game between Argentina and Nigeria.

A spokesman for the group, Sheikh Mohamed Abdi Aros said the rest of Somalia should respect their ban on the World Cup.  "We are warning all the youth of Somalia not to dare watch these World Cup matches. It is a waste of money and time and they will not benefit anything or get any experience by watching mad men jumping up and down," he said. 

One Mogadishu football fan told the BBC, "I have one eye on the TV and the other on the door, and the sound turned down."  One broadcaster went so far as to move their operations inside the fortified airport to protect their equipment from attack during the tournament.

Monday, June 21, 2010

African Leaders Suck, Apparently

In a sad commentary on the state of African leadership, the world's most valuable individual prize is not being awarded for a second year because no-one is deemed worthy of winning it

Sudanese businessman Mo Ibrahim has established a $5 million  prize for African ex-leaders to encourage good governance on the continent.  After receiving the initial award, winners also receive $200,000 a year for life.

"The standards set for the prize-winner are high," Ibrahim said, adding that no new candidates had emerged since last year.  Winners must have been democratically elected and agreed to leave office.  South Africa's Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo and Ghana's John Kufuor are among those who qualified for last year's prize after stepping down in the previous three years.

Botswana's former President Festus Mogae won the prize in 2008 after two terms at the helm of one of Africa's least corrupt and most prosperous nations.  The inaugural prize was given to Joaquim Chissano, Mozambique's former president, who has since acted as a mediator in several African disputes.

Lego Football - U.S. vs. England

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hitler Hates Vuvuzelas

French Soap Opera Unfolding In South Africa

The French national soccer team is in utter chaos as it faces early elimination from the World Cup.  It all started at halftime of the match against Mexico (eventually losing 0-2).  Chelsea forward Nicolas Anelka, star of the French team, was criticized behind closed doors by coach Raymond Domenech for straying out of position during a goalless first half.

According to French sports newspaper L'Equipe, Anelka exploded in rage in the dressing room, verbally abusing the coach. He is reported to have said, "Go fuck yourself you son of a whore."

L'Equipe claim Domenech responded by substituting another player for Anelka.  The 57-year-old coach, who has already announced his departure from the team effective with the end of the World Cup, had been facing great pressure over his leadership of the squad.  However, the entire incident would have likely gone unnoticed had it not been for an unknown member of the French contingent, who leaked details of the incident to the press.  At that point, French team officials had no choice but to demand that Anelka publicly apologize-- and when he refused, he was dismissed from the team and sent home.

The soap opera got into full swing the next morning.  Just a few minutes after taking the practice field for a public training session, team Captain Patrice Evra and fitness coach Robert Duverne became involved in an argument.  Domenech stepped in and Duverne stormed away, as the players walked off the practice field and boarded the team bus.  After a few minutes at the bus, Domenech returned to the practice field and released a prepared statement from the players (which read in part):
"With this statement, all the players in the France squad without exception want to declare their opposition to the decision taken by the French Football Federation to exclude Nicolas Anelka from the squad.

"If we regret the incident which occurred at half-time of the match between France and Mexico, we regret even more the leak of an event which should have remained within the group and which is quite common in a high-level team.

"For its part, the French Football Federation has at no time tried to protect the squad.  It has made a decision (to send Anelka home) without consulting all the players, on the basis of the facts reported by the press.  Accordingly, and to mark the opposition to those at the highest level of French football, all the players decided not to train today.

"For our part, we are aware of our responsibilities as those wearing the colours of our country.   We will do everything individually and also in a collective spirit to ensure that France regains its honor with a positive performance on Tuesday."

Back at the French team headquarters, France team director Jean-Louis Valentin announced he would be resigning. "It's a scandal for the French, it's a scandal for the federation and the French team," he said. "It is a shame. As for me, it's over. I'm leaving the federation. I'm sickened and disgusted.  Under these conditions, I've decided to return to Paris and to resign."

Seemingly not wanting to be left out of the action, the French Football Federation swiftly condemned the action of the boycotting players.  They released a statement saying, "This is an unacceptable consequence of the eviction of Nicolas Anelka, which they feel is injustice.  Contrary to what the players said, this sanction was taken following a long conversation with the person in the presence of the captain.  The FFF apologise to the country for the unacceptable conduct of the players that are representing our country."

The refusal of the France squad to train following striker Nicolas Anelka's exclusion from the squad is arguably the most dramatic bust-up in the history of the World Cup.  The incident is just the latest in what has been a string of rumors about unrest within the France camp and claims Domenech has lost the support of his players. The under-fire Domenech has also brushed aside concerns rivals Uruguay and Mexico may manufacture a draw in their final Group A match to ensure they progress to the knockout stages at the expense of the French.

French midfielder Jeremy Toulalan (who is suspended for Tuesday's South Africa game) has confirmed that dressing-room disharmony is at the heart of France's problems.  But he admits it is time for the players to start delivering after two woeful and goalless performances.  Stay tuned-- the outcome of Group A will be resolved once and for all on Tuesday morning.

Chavez Feeds Off Power; Starves His Country In The Process

Mountains of rotting food found at a government warehouse, soaring prices and soldiers raiding wholesalers accused of hoarding: Food supply is the latest battle in President Hugo Chavez's socialist revolution.

Venezuelan army soldiers swept through the working class, pro-Chavez neighborhood of Catia in Caracas last week, seizing 120 tons of rice along with coffee and powdered milk that officials said was to be sold above regulated prices.  "The battle for food is a matter of national security," said a red-shirted official from the Food Ministry, resting his arm on a pallet laden with bags of coffee.

Chavez supporters are grateful for a network of cheap state-run supermarkets and they say the raids will slow massive inflation.  Critics accuse him of steering the country toward a communist dictatorship and say he is destroying the private sector. They point to 80,000 tons of rotting food found in warehouses belonging to the government as evidence the state is a poor and corrupt administrator.

Much of the wasted food, including powdered milk and meat, was found last month in the buildup to legislative elections in September. The scandal is humiliating for Chavez, who accuses wealthy elites of fueling inflation and causing shortages of products  such as meat, sugar and milk by hoarding food.

A string of expropriations and buyouts of companies during the last couple of years has left the Chavez government now controlling between 20 percent and 30 percent of the distribution of staple foods.  Chavez  rushed to give public support to Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, who as the boss of PDVSA  is also responsible for food unit PDVAL, over the case of the rotting food.  To further fight off criticism over the food scandal, Chavez revived threats to take over the country's largest private food processor, miller and brewer, Polar.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

77 Million Bangladeshi Poisoned By Arsenic In Drinking Water

Amid the unfolding Gulf oil disaster comes another shocking story to remind us yet again how precious a resource clean water is.

In Bangladesh, up to 77 million people have been exposed to toxic levels of arsenic from drinking water in recent decades, according to a report.  A research study assessed nearly 12,000 people in a district of the capital Dhaka for over a period of 10 years.

More than 20% of deaths among those assessed were caused by the naturally occurring poisonous element.  The World Health Organization said the exposure was "the largest mass poisoning of a population in history".

It began after hand-pumped wells were installed in the 1970s to tap groundwater from.  Scientists say even small amounts of arsenic over a long period can cause cancer of the bladder, kidney, lung or skin.

Reality Not In The Curriculum

A Rhode Island boy is attracting a lot of attention after his school banned a hat he made because the toy soldiers  on it carried tiny guns.

8-year-old David Morales was assigned to make a hat last week for a project at the Tiogue School in Coventry. He chose a patriotic theme and glued plastic Army figures to a camouflage baseball cap. But school officials said the hat ran afoul of their no-weapons policy because the Army men held tiny guns.

The school said David was offered the chance to wear the hat if he replaced the toy soldiers holding weapons with ones that didn't have any. A local veteran came to his defense, saying that didn't make sense because soldiers are armed, and met with school administrators-- but to no avail.

The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union then sent a letter to School Superintendent Kenneth DiPietro saying the school's policy was an unconstitutional violation of students' free speech. It called on the district to revise the policy.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Australia To Eliminate Any Remaing Vestige Of Privacy

This is absolutely shocking if true.  Sources are reporting that the Australia government (who is already proposing North Korea-style censorship of the internet) is now looking into a proposal to make ISP's retain a log of every website its citizens ever visit.  What's even more disturbing is they will also want ISPs to link that information to other personal data like your passport number.

Ben Grubb over at ZDNet broke the original story, and has now followed it up with a deeper insight into the proposed scheme. While the government is denying it would capture individual browsing histories, unnamed sources from ISPs are saying that the original data set sent to ISPs from the government said that they’d require allied personal information, including passport numbers.

For all you folks that condemned the Bush administration's strong-armed tactics to deny visas to foreign visitors-- this goes far beyond that.  Potentially, Australia could deny its own citizens the very right to even leave the country if it believes that they have committed questionable acts.  We all know what happens when you entrust the government to pass judgment on moral issues-- everyone gets held to standards developed by bureaucrats to satisfy the most prudish interests.  Imagine if you had surfed some soft-core porn-- but somebody else might think the models on the site were possibly 17 years old.  So you find yourself branded a child pornographer and denied the right to board a flight to go on vacation.  Or perhaps you visited the site of Sharron Angle (who is currently talking up a storm on "second amendment remedies") and an airport official decides that you may be guilty of sedition or pose a threat to stage an armed rebellion-- so you are denied the right to board a plane.

You may think that I am over-reaching here-- but just think about the things that are going on right now in this country and then stop for a minute.  Would you have imagined just five years ago that we would be where we are now?  Don't you wish people would have stood up and objected five years ago to the powers we have granted the government over our private lives?  Wake up, dudes-- we still have time to stand up and make some noise before we all end up governed and controlled by a xenophobic, paranoid, and militaristic society.  It's not too late.

What Exactly Are "Second Amendment Remedies"?

Sharron Angle -- the tea party nutjob who wants to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid --seemed to raise the specter of armed rebellion against the government in three interviews in the past six months, suggesting that some would seek "Second Amendment remedies" if Congress isn't reined in:
"Our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government," Angle told conservative talk show host Lars Larson in January. "In fact, Thomas Jefferson said it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that's not where we're going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies."

Later that month, she told talk show host Bill Manders, "I'm hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies.  I hope that the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems." 
In May, Angle told the Reno Gazette-Journal: "The nation is arming. What are they arming for if it isn't that they are so distrustful of their government? They're afraid they'll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways. That's why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don't win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?"

Harry Reid's spokesman Jon Summers said, "Her rhetoric that if she doesn't win at the ballot box people should go to the bullet box undermines the Democratic process."

Helen Is At It Again-- Busting on the GOP

One of my enduring favorites-- 82-year-old Helen (of Margaret and Helen fame) blogged recently:
A few years back, millions of people across this nation and across the globe marched for peace.  George Bush ignored us and we had to endure his lazy ass being in the White House for eight years.

So now a black man named Barack Obama, elected by the will of the people, has decided to fight for the poor, and work for world peace… and a bunch of white guys who think Fox really is News just can’t stand it.  Well, they can kiss my ass because I am tired of their belly aching.

But let’s be honest - this bunch of idiots  doesn’t like that a black man is the most powerful man on the globe.   I wonder if they know that, while 78%  of  the world is not white, only 13% of the United States is black.   So they can relax.  Barack and Michelle most likely will not be buying the house next door.

Tea Party members should listen up.  You honestly want me to think that your  biggest issue is the cost of healthcare reform?  You sat idly by while Bush squandered billions on a failed war, but all children having health insurance is too much to handle?  That’s your beef?  You realize, of course, that some of those children are white, don’t you?

Trust me.   It’s going to be eight long years for you Tea Party members.  But we survived Bush and  you’ll survive Obama.  I mean it.  Really.

Go get 'em girl!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What Kind Of Lowlife Scumbag Thinks We Owe BP An Apology? A Republican, Of Course!

Gay People Are Icky?

Our Lady Of Fornication

Jarretta Hamilton is out of a job; not because of poor performance, but because she sinned.  That's right--  according to her former employer, Southland Christian School in St. Cloud, Fla., being sinful is cause for termination.  And Jarretta's sin is fornication — having sex before they got married.

Jarretta Hamilton and her husband of 16 months, Samuel Treftz, recently told NBC that the termination violated federal anti-discrimination laws.  In addition, they allege in a pending lawsuit, the school’s principal, Jon Ennis, invaded Hamilton’s privacy by telling other teachers and the parents of her students the exact reason she was fired.  And all of this because Hamilton admitted to her boss that she conceived her 8-month-old daughter before she was married.

“When they let me go, they told the entire staff in a staff meeting that I had been fired and the reason why they let me go. And then they called all of my parents to my fourth-grade students and told them as well,” Hamilton said.

For the record, all of the acts of sexual abuse and pedophilia committed by Catholic priests is also technically fornication (since Catholic priests aren't allowed to marry)-- and hardly any of those creepy bastards lost their jobs, did they?  Three cheers for the Nazi Pope! 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

MSNBC Reaction To Obama Televised Address

Keith Olbermann: "It was a great speech if you were on another planet for the last 57 days."

Chris Matthews compared Obama to Carter.

Olbermann: "Nothing specific at all was said."

Matthews: "No direction."

Howard Fineman: "He wasn't specific enough."

Olbermann: "I don't think he aimed low, I don't think he aimed at all. It's startling."

Howard Fineman: Obama should be acting like a "commander-in-chief."

Matthews: Ludicrous that he keeps saying [Secretary of Energy] Chu has a Nobel prize. "I'll barf if he does it one more time."

Matthews: "A lot of meritocracy, a lot of blue ribbon talk."

Matthews: "I don't sense executive command."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Chatroulette Pioneers Penis Software

Now comes news that the 17-year-old founder of Chatroulette wants to turn it into a more legitimate venture-- and apparently the first order of business is cutting down on the number of disgusting things one witnesses there.

According to TechCrunch, the rawness that drew millions to Chatroulette in the early days is beginning to scare users and investors away.  (Who woulda thought that Chatroulette would be the one place on the web that people aren't looking for naked pictures?)

TechCrunch reports that Chatroulette founder Russian Andrey Ternovskiy has been trying to cut down on the number of penises.  Being introduced soon will be features that will try to send all those pesky penises to the background. Also in the works is new software that can quickly scan video to determine if a penis is being shown.  Users that are consistently quickly skipped over (presumably because they are exposing themselves or otherwise being disgusting) can be flagged as well.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

NYT To Obama: Elevate Your Game, Dude

The New York Times took Obama to task today in an editorial-- and it's about time that someone synthesized the vague dissatisfaction we've had with our President into a coherent critique:

A year and a half into this presidency, the contemplative nature that was so appealing in a candidate can seem indecisive in a president. His promise of bipartisanship seems naïve. His inclination to hold back, then ride to the rescue, has sometimes made problems worse.

It certainly should not have taken days for Mr. Obama to get publicly involved in the oil spill, or even longer for his administration to start putting the heat on BP for its inadequate response and failure to inform the public about the size of the spill. (Each day, it seems, brings new revelations about the scope of the disaster.) It took too long for Mr. Obama to say that the Coast Guard and not BP was in charge of operations in the gulf and it’s still not clear that is true.

He should not have hesitated to suspend the expanded oil drilling program and he should have moved a lot faster to begin political and criminal investigations of the spill. If BP was withholding information, failing to cooperate or not providing the ships needed to process the oil now flowing to the surface, he should have told the American people and the world.

These are matters of competence and leadership. This is a time for Mr. Obama to decisively show both. 

After 18 years, we're over the incompetence of Bush and very glad that we have a capable leader on our hands-- so Barack, how 'bout you step up your game a bit?

Guatemala In Deep Shit

Ran across this incredible picture of the recent Guatemalan sinkhole that swallowed a three-story commercial building and a house.  Guatemala is basically built on pumice fill (from volcanoes), and once a heavy stream of water comes into play, who knows what will happen.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How Soon They Forget District Six

In the lead-up to the World Cup, human rights campaigners say South African authorities have forcibly moved thousands of the impoverished to settlements in order to present a good image of the nation. Cape Town city council officials deny the allegations.  From the Wapo article:
Shirley Fisher says she was evicted from a hostel near a stadium where soccer's biggest stars train. Natasha Flores says she was driven out of squatters' quarters near a new $450 million stadium in one of Cape Town's busiest tourist areas.

Both ended up in Blikkiesdorp, a settlement of corrugated-iron shacks ringed by a concrete fence, home to hundreds of evicted families. Many residents say there is only one reason they wound up in this bleak place, which in Afrikaans means "tin-can town."  "The World Cup," said Fisher, without hesitation.

"Why can't they take the money they spent on the stadiums and use it to build houses, not the dollhouses we now live in, but proper houses?" demanded Margaret Bennet, 45, who lives with eight relatives in a shack the size of a walk-in closet. "The World Cup may be important for the high-powered people, but it means nothing for us on the streets. We are living in a concentration camp," said Padru Morris, 47, another resident.

President Jacob Zuma's government argues that the billions it has spent on building stadiums and improving infrastructure will create jobs, raise the standard of living and showcase South Africa's progress. Many of the poor, though, say the government has misplaced its priorities. They expect their lives to change little as a result of their nation holding the world's most-watched sporting event.

Mitch McConnell Is Now A Full-Fledged Weasel

Over the years, I've grown increasingly tired of reading about the weaselly ways of  Senator (R-KY)  Mitch McConnell, and I've just hit my limit.  It's been just over two weeks since McConnell, on his own, derailed the planned Senate confirmation of 80-plus federal nominees. This left U.S. embassies vacant and the U.S. embarrassed in the eyes of our allies.  Dozens of nominees and their families preparing to move but in limbo; various agencies without their Inspector General or Deputy Director -- and all of this because (as McConnell unashamedly admitted on the Senate floor) he objected to exactly one of the nominees-- Craig Becker of the National Labor Relations Board. 

This is the guy Chief Justice John Roberts (a GOP nominee) asked about during arguments on a case from the deadlocked National Labor Relations Board-- wondering why the administration hadn't given a recess appointment to Craig Becker.  Obama did eventually give Becker a recess appointment, but that didn't help much-- now that little king McConnell has peevishly decided to hold up the business (and personal lives) of 80 other nominees to register his unhappiness with recess appointments (a provision of the constitution, by the way)

This is really about petty little Mitch not getting his way, and it is a slap in the face of the Constitution.  Every nominee deserves an up-or-down vote, so that they can get to work for the American public.  It's not that they're going to serve in their jobs forever, with no way to get rid of them if they suck (like some Senators I know)-- they'll be gone in 4 years or less when the administration changes.

I think it's time for a little public embarrassment for mini-Napoleons like Mitch McConnell.  A life-long politician, McConnell has a long-standing record of being a weasel.  He has voted overwhelming in favor of big-oil interests (having accepted $474,658 from oil companies since from 2000 to 2008, making him a leading recipient of oil money) and has a long-standing record against environmental legislation. 

McConnell also led a successful effort to block the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act of 2007, which would require Senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically to the Federal Election Commission.  Living up to his weasel credentials, he tried to hide his involvement using various parliamentary tricks, but was eventually forced to come out in the open with his opposition.  McConnell also had ties to felon Jack Abramoff and has also led the effort to block recommendations of the 9/11 commission. 

 For a long time, the McConnell Center for Political Leadership (part of the University of Lousiville) fought to keep secret its list of donors.  Two of its largest donors were Ashland Inc ($500K) and UPS ($400K).   After losing their case in the Kentucky Supreme Court, donors to the McConnell Center scattered like cockroaches under the glare of light-- only $31,125 in contributions have been received since 2004.  

In 2007, McConnell pushed $25 million in earmarked federal funds for a British defense contractor that was under criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for bribery. He had taken at least $53,000 in campaign donations from BAE's political action committees and employees since his 2002 re-election.

In 2010, McConnell began pushing for another $17 million in earmarks for BAE, even though they are still the target of corruption investigations by DOJ and the Australian government (Bush pressured the Blair government to drop its investigation).  According to Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, "Most politicians decide that a scandal is a good time to stop doing business with a company, at least until the scandal is over, particularly when we're talking about a criminal investigation over bribery. You would think that a member of Congress [McConnell] would want to steer clear of anyone accused of bribery."

Apparently, McConnell has no shame-- whether serving special interests or selfishly indulging his own petty interests vs. those of the American public.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Himbo Is At It Again

Senator Scott Brown is in a stupidity race with Sarah Palin.  On his vote to deprive the EPA the ability to regulate carbon emissions:
To give a non-governmental agency the ability to regulate the way that they have the potential to, they can regulate churches and restaurants and drop it all the way down from the big emitters to the very smallest emitters and it’s not appropriate.  And, you know, we in Congress should continue to work on this issue and have the authority to do just that.

So if the EPA was actually a government agency, little Scottie would vote for letting them regulate carbon emissions?  I didn't think so . . .

Congressmen Weiner & Chaffetz Blown By Goats?

The horny studs' names are Lancelot and Arthur.  Welcome to Cuamelot . . .

Banned Business Baldies Back

China has canceled a controversial visa restriction on bald Taiwanese visitors amid discrimination concerns, according to reports.  The rule barred bald people from applying for one-year multiple-entry permits.  The Taipei-based Liberty Times quoted unnamed travel agents as saying that Chinese authorities were concerned that "it was easier for bald people to disguise themselves."
"It would probably have raised the question of discrimination if Chinese customs officials were to ask visitors to remove their wigs," said Roger Hsu, a spokesman for the association.  Hsu said the rule had mainly applied to frequent business travellers but he said he did not know how many people had their visas rejected for being bald.  The Taipei-based Liberty Times quoted unnamed travel agents as saying that Chinese authorities were concerned that "it was easier for bald people to disguise themselves".

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Regarding Those Gay Rumors About GOP Congressman Aaron Schock . . .

It hardly needs saying that Aaron's the one on the right.  By the way-- the belt cinches it (excuse the pun).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Crime Already Becoming A World Cup Theme

Just days before the World Cup, a Portuguese photographer was held up at gunpoint and two other journalists also were robbed at the same World Cup hotel.

Antonio Simoes said he woke up around 4 a.m. and found two men entering his room at the Nutbush Boma Lodge outside of Magaliesburg, 75 miles northwest of Johannesburg.  "One of the guys pointed a hand gun at my head, and then they took all my gear — cameras, lenses, laptop," said Simoes, who works for the Portuguese daily O Jogo. "Then they told me to lie on the bed and they covered me with a blanket, pressed the gun against my head and told me to sleep.

Spanish journalist Miguel Serrano (who works for the Spanish sports newspaper Marca) and Rui Gustavo Morais were also robbed, but they slept through it. The three were staying in a detached four-room lodge that looks out over the Magaliesburg Mountains.  Serrano said the thieves made off with his computer, three cell phones, passport, more than $5,000 in cash and all of his clothes. He was left with a long-sleeve black T-shirt and jeans.

About 20 journalists covering the Portugal team are staying at the Nutbush, and they had previously raised concerns about hotel safety.  "We had already complained to the Portuguese federation that the security left a lot to be desired," Serrano said, "but we never thought that something like this would happen."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Immigration Debate Takes To The Road

Road rage over the immigration issue is rampant even in southern Florida-- enterprising racists are now using highway signs as tools to further fuel the debate.  An electronic  highway sign flashing "NO LATINOS NO TACOS" greeted drivers on the Palmetto Expressway in Miami-Dade county recently, after hackers managed to gain access to it.  It took several hours before police were notified and disabled the signs.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Warning Sign For South Africa's World Cup?

On the eve of a World Cup that has raised widespread concern about safety and logistics, thirteen people have been injured and one policeman seriously hurt after a crush outside a South African ground hosting a World Cup warm-up game.

Under extremely lax crowd control, several fans fell under a rush of people outside the Makhulong Stadium in the Johannesburg suburb of Tembisa.  Entry to the friendly game between Nigeria and North Korea was free and many more than the 10,000 capacity turned up for the match.

The policeman, who has been taken to hospital, was reported to have been crushed against one of the gates.  The crowd was mainly made up of local South African and travelling Nigerian fans.  Officials said that hundreds of them were also holding photocopies of tickets and tried to break down the gates after the match had started and police had closed them.

In a separate incident the game was then stopped for five minutes in the second half when a railing collapsed inside the stadium.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

On The Rise: Israel Derangemet Sydrome

Andrew Sullivan is doing some excellent blogging in the aftermath of the Israeli slaughter of the civilians on the Gaza aid flotilla.  In this post, he outlines the symptomatic beliefs of those suffering from the "Israel Derangement Syndrome":

A country permanently occupying and colonizing a neighboring region, and treating its original inhabitants as dangerous interlopers, is the victim.

An elite commando unit attacking a ship carrying toys and wheelchairs in the hours before dawn are those we should feel pity for.

A country with 150 nuclear warheads and the strongest military in its region, the victor in every conventional war it has always fought, is somehow also always fighting for its very existence.

A country backed by the sole superpower, supplied with aid by huge majorities in the U.S. Congress, is facing extinction.

Self-defense requires not civilly disabling and inspecting the cargo of an unarmed ship but raiding it at dawn and killing nine and injuring dozens.

Basic human revulsion at a military that can kill over a thousand people - including scores of women and children in a trapped, impoverished enclave - can only be a function of anti-Semitism.

A territory that is being systematically populated with Israelis in illegal settlements in contravention of the Geneva Conventions is merely a "buffer zone". You need to colonize buffer zones?

Invasion and occupation of neighboring countries is "forward defense".

This is a form of derangement, or of such a passionate commitment to a foreign country that any and all normal moral rules or even basic fairness are jettisoned. And you will notice one thing as well: no regret whatsoever for the loss of human life, just as the hideous murder of so many civilians in the Gaza war had to be the responsibility of the victims, not the attackers. There is no sense of the human here; just the "tribe".  Something has been wrong here for a very long time, and now it is inescapable.

How Low Can These Racists Pricks Go?

An Arizona elementary school mural featuring the faces of kids who actually attend the school has been the subject of constant daytime drive-by racist tirades, from adults (as well as from an actual city councilman, who has a local talk-radio show) to remove the black student’s face from the mural, and now the school principal has ordered the faces of the Latino and Black students pictured on the school wall to be repainted as light-skinned children.

I'm not joking-- from the Arizona Republic:
A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school. The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity.

 R.E. Wall, director of Prescott’s Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town’s most prominent intersections.

“We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” Wall said. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).”
That's right-- the wonderful citizens who support the AZ anti-immigrant bill are now driving to work in the mornings and yelling “Nigger” and “Spic” at this school wall painted with pictures of the children who are currently enrolled in the school. And this has been encouraged by city councilman Steve Blair, who uses his local radio talk show to rile up these people and demand the mural be destroyed.

And now the faces are being painted white, “because of the controversy.”

UPDATE:   A local news website and tourism agency announced in the dead of night that Prescott city councilman and local-wingnut KYCA talk-show host Steve Blair has been fired from his radio show because he’s bringing national shame to Prescott because he campaigned to have the faces of little school children removed from a school mural because some of the kids facing were black and brown (and attracting epithets from assholes in the land of bigotry).  

Friday, June 4, 2010

Palin: Environmentalists To Blame For Oil Disaster

Sarah Palin is blaming "extreme 'environmentalists'" for causing the gulf oil disaster that has been unfolding for over a month. Her logic is that because environmentalists push for tougher drilling regulations onshore in places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge it forces oil companies to explore deeper offshore drilling which has more risks.  I am so dumbfounded all I can think to write is what an absolutely moron this Palin bitch is.  Please, oh please nominate her in 2012 . . .

Thursday, June 3, 2010

AZ Governor Lies About Her Father's Death To Gain Sympathy

Jan Brewer, the governor of the Land of Bigotry, doesn't like all the ugliness surrounding the anti-immigration controversy in Arizona.  Her quote:
"Knowing that my father died fighting the Nazi regime in Germany, that I lose him when I was 11 because of that...and then to have them call me Hitler's daughter. It hurts. It's ugliness beyond anything I've ever experienced."

First of all, Jan-- you were the one that signed off on that hate-filled law and created all the ugliness.   You reap what you sow (hope you choke on it, as well).

Second-- your dad didn't die fighting the Nazi regime.  He died of lung disease in sunny California ten years after WWII ended-- in 1955.  What is with these stupid-assed Republicans?  Don't they know we have access to the "tubes" of the "internets" and can access Wikipedia?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bush Admits To War Crimes

It's utterly shocking how glib Bush can be about committing war crimes.  Here's the quote:

"Yeah, we water-boarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.  I'd do it again to save lives."

The only silver lining I can find in this startling indifference to basic human rights is that maybe somehow this can be construed as a confession-- and that maybe, finally, someone somewhere will take action on the Bush war crimes.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

War On Pussy Backfires Against Future Generations

Facing a shortage of brides, citizens of an Indian state at odds with its neighbor has been forced to seek its help, due to its high female-to-male sex ratio.  The number of young women in Namakkal has fallen since the 1980's because of rampant female foeticide-- according to many wedding brokers, such as Muruga Ravi, who has arranged scores of these inter-caste, “cross-border” marriages.

These marriages are taking place despite generations of politicians having successfully raised passions in both states over their boundary disputes.  The paucity of brides had forced frustrated Gounder men to declare they were ready to marry outside their caste, despite years of cultural resistance against the practice.

“I could not find a suitable bride within my Gounder community. A broker got me a bride from Kerala’s Palghat,” said E. Ponnusamy, 40, a wealthy farmer. “We married four years ago and have not faced any cultural clashes. We celebrate Onam and Pongal and both of us can speak Tamil and Malayalam.”


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