Monday, May 31, 2010

How Many Atrocities Can We Stand Before We Abandon Our Ally?

Andrew Sullivan has an excellent point.  From the Daily Dish:

A simple point. The violence by the activists is pretty abhorrent. These are not followers of Gandhi or MLK Jr. But the violence is not fatal to anyone and it is in response to a dawn commando raid by armed soldiers. They are engaging in self-defense. More to the point: they are civilians confronting one of the best militaries in the world. They killed no soldiers; their weapons were improvised; the death toll in the fight is now deemed to be up to 19-- all civilians.

It staggers me to read defenses of what the Israelis have done. They attacked a civilian flotilla in international waters breaking no law. When they met fierce if asymmetric resistance, they opened fire. And we are now being asked to regard the Israelis as the victims.


This is like a mini-Gaza all over again. The Israelis don't seem to grasp that Western militaries don't get to murder large numbers of civilians because they don't like them, or because they could, on a far tinier scale, hurt Israelis. And you sure don't have a right to kill them because they resist having their ship commandeered, in international waters. The Israelis seem to be making decisions as if they can get away with anything. It's time the U.S. reminded them in ways they cannot mistake that they cannot.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Child Brides Flogged In Afghanistan By Civil Authorities

Disguised in boys’ clothes, 13-year-old Khadija Rasoul and 14-year-old Basgol Sakhi fled their local village to escape their illegal, forced marriages to much older men.  After two days navigating rutted roads and mountain passes in central Afghanistan, they finally reached the relatively liberal Herat Province.

But unexpectedly, the police officer spotted them as girls-- and ignoring their pleas, promptly sent them back to their remote village in Ghor Province. There they were publicly and viciously flogged for daring to run away from their husbands.  Their tormentors, who videotaped the abuse, were not the Taliban, but local mullahs and the former warlord, now a pro-government figure who largely rules the district where the girls live.

Neither girl flinched visibly at the beatings, and afterward both walked away with their heads unbowed. Sympathizers of the victims smuggled out two video recordings of the floggings to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which released them after unsuccessfully lobbying for government action.

The ordeal of Afghanistan’s child brides illustrates an uncomfortable truth. What in most countries would be considered a criminal offense is in many parts of Afghanistan a cultural norm, one which the government has been either unable or unwilling to challenge effectively.

According to a Unicef study, from 2000 to 2008, the brides in 43 percent of Afghan marriages were under 18. Although the Afghan Constitution forbids the marriage of girls under the age of 16, tribal customs often condone marriage once puberty is reached, or even earlier.  Flogging is also illegal.  Read more about it here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Criminal Charges For BP? Hell Yeah!

As the nation comes to grips with the worst oil disaster in its history, there is evidence BP has one of the worst safety track records of any major oil company operating in the United States.

In two separate disasters prior to the Gulf oil rig explosion, 30 BP workers have been killed, and more than 200 seriously injured.

According to this ABC News report, BP (over the last five years) has admitted to breaking U.S. environmental and safety laws and committing outright fraud.  BP paid $373 million in fines to avoid prosecution.

BP's safety violations far outstrip its fellow oil companies. According to the Center for Public Integrity, in the last three years, BP refineries in Ohio and Texas have accounted for 97 percent of the "egregious, willful" violations handed out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BP Thinks It Owns The Beaches Of Louisiana

Astounding video showing the arrogance of BP CEO Tony Hayward:

Super Bowl Super Slam

In a total slam against little Danny Snyder (who has been trying for years to get the Super Bowl in Washington DC), the National Football League awarded the 2014 championship game to New York City.

That's right-- the NFL (which for  years told the Redskins that the Super Bowl had to be played in a dome stadium or in a city with warm weather) voted to have Super Bowl XLVIII in the new Meadowlands Stadium, where it averages a balmy 32 degrees (with a likelihood of rain) in early February. 

Of course, the average football fan won't give a rat's ass about having the championship game in freezing rain, since he/she was priced out of being able to attend the big game years ago.  The NFL ("No Fun League") long ago stopped caring about the average fan and sold the majority of Super Bowl tickets to commercial interests-- so let the corporate fat cats freeze their butts off.   The rest of us will enjoy the game on free TV on our HDTV screens in the warmth of our homes. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another Bush Effort Goes Bust

Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers, the team that foolishly signed Alex Rodriquez for a whopping $252 million dollars ten years ago, has filed for bankruptcy.

This was the team that GW Bush "bought" in 1989-- when in fact, he only coughed up $600,000 while his daddy’s oil buddies put up the real money.  The American League franchise is also one of the dumbest franchises in MLB--  it was Bush's idea to trade away future slugger Sammy Sosa back in 1989, before Sosa made seven All-Star game appearances as a Chicago Cub (Bush later ordered the invasion of Iraq).    When the Rangers were sold in 1998, Dubya walked away with $15 million.

Just like the United States under the Bush presidency, the Rangers built up huge piles of debt. And now-- just like America-- the world-famous Texas Rangers baseball team has gone bust.

Finger Lickin' Good

According to the Reno Gazette Journal,  chicken suits are being added to the list of banned campaign material such as political buttons, shirts, hats and signs within 100 feet of polling places.

In this election year, wearing a chicken costume would be an “inappropriate and obvious” advocacy message against one particular candidate for U.S. Senate, said Washoe County Registrar of Voters Dan Burk.

But which candidate and why?  That's right-- remember GOP wingnut Sue Lowden, who is running against Harry Reid?  She was the one that said we don't need health care reform because patients could barter with their doctors like they did in the "olden days" when "our grandparents would bring a chicken to the doctor."

Monday, May 24, 2010

BP Tells EPA To "Kiss Off"-- It Will Do Whatever It Wants

BP officials and the Environmental Protection Agency feuded over the oil company’s failure to stop using chemical dispersants—despite the EPA’s orders to do so. The EPA asked BP to use a less toxic chemical for breaking up the oil, but the company continued spraying what is known as Corexit, arguing there was no better alternative available. Around 700,000 gallons of the dispersant have been released since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded last month. Critics of the chemical, which was developed in the '80s and '90s, claim there are less toxic and more effective products available now. So who's running the show here-- BP or the U.S. government?

Instead Of Addressing Police Brutality, Maryland Intimidates Citizens

In order to protect themselves from lawsuits over police brutality, Maryland police officials are now using phony interpretations of the law and outright intimidation to prevent citizens from videotaping public arrests.  Several Marylanders face felony charges for recording their arrests on camera, and others have been bullied into shutting their cameras off.

A man whose arrest was caught on video faces felony charges from Maryland State Police for recording it on camera.  Video of another arrest at the Preakness quickly made its way online, despite an officer issuing this warning to the person who shot it, "Do me a favor and turn that off.  It's illegal to videotape anybody's voice or anything else, against the law in the state of Maryland."

But can police stop you from recording their actions, like the recent beating at the University of Maryland College Park?  The American Civil Liberties Union says no.

"For the government to be saying it has the power to prevent citizens from doing that is profoundly shocking, troubling, and particularly in the case of Maryland, simply flat-out wrong," said David Roach, ACLU. 

Washington Post's Outrageous Coverage Of Kagan Nomination

Wapo's editors can't bring themselves to have their regular reporters traffic the rumors about Elena Kagan's sexuality, so they assign that duty to their fashion editor instead-- in a despicable article headlined (no joke), "Elena Kagan goes on Supreme Court confirmation offensive in drab D.C. clothes"  Quote:
But Kagan took the anti-style offensive several steps further. She put on rouge and lipstick for the formal White House announcement of her nomination, but mostly she embraced dowdy as a mark of brainpower. She walked with authority and stood up straight during her visits to the Hill, but once seated and settled during audiences with senators, she didn't bother maintaining an image of poised perfection. She sat hunched over. She sat with her legs ajar.
The article then proceeds to use code words to ease its way into the issue of Kagan sexuality:
In the photographs of Kagan sitting and chatting in various Capitol Hill offices, she doesn't appear to ever cross her legs . . . She does not cross her legs at the ankles either, the way so many older women do.
About two-thirds into the article, the reporter finally comes clean about the sexuality issue-- practically admitting that their reporting is only based on 50's-era stereotypes:
For Kagan, that means folks are using fashion as a limited tool for making sense of her sexual orientation (Well, she's 50, a bit plain and never married!)

Absolutely disgraceful.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pediatricians Want To Open Door To Legal Genital Mutilation

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently put forward a proposal  on female genital mutilation. They would like that American doctors be given permission to perform a ceremonial pinprick or “nick” on girls born into communities that practice female genital mutilation.

Female circumcision is a custom in many African and Asian countries whereby the genitals of a girl child are cut. There are roughly four procedures. First there is the ritual pinprick (what is commonly referred to as the “nick” option).  In this procedure, a preteen girl is held down by adults while her clitoris is tweaked so that the person performing the procedure can hold the clitoris between her forefinger and her thumb. Then she takes a needle and pierces it, using enough force for it to go into the peak of the clitoris. As soon as it bleeds, the parents and others attending the ceremony cheer, the girl is comforted and the celebrations follow.  Frequently, there is a more sinister meaning to the word “nick”--  when in fact the peak of the clitoris is cut off entirely.

Then there is the second method whereby a substantial part of the clitoris is removed and the opening of the vagina is sewn together (infibulation). The third variation adds to this the removal of the inner labia.

Finally, there is a procedure whereby as much of the clitoris as possible is removed along with the inner and outer labia. Then the inner walls of the vagina are scraped until they bleed and are then bound with pins or thorns. The tissue on either side grows together, forming a thick scar. Two small openings roughly equal to the diameter of a matchstick are left for urination and menstruation respectively.

Often these operations are done without anesthesia and with tools such as sharp rocks, razor blades, knives or scissors depending on the location, family income, and education. It is thus more accurate—as does the World Health Organization—to use the term female genital mutilation (FGM) instead of the obscure and misleading term of "female circumcision.”

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, more than 130 million women and girls worldwide have undergone some form of female genital cutting. Some immigrant parents from countries like Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, and others in Europe, where FGM is common, continue this practice in the West even though they know that it is criminal. Some of them sneak their daughters out of the country during the long school summer vacation so that they can be subjected to any one of these forms of FGM.

Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) recently introduced a bill to toughen federal laws by making it a crime to take a girl overseas to be circumcised. He argued, rightly, that FGM serves no medical purpose and is rightfully banned in the U.S.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that FGM serves no medical purpose, it argues that the current federal law has had the unintended consequence of driving some families to take their daughters to other countries to undergo mutilation.

So the solution is to pander to the misogynists and give quasi-legal status to the least objectionable form of their crime?  Give them an inch, and they'll take a mile.  Instead, I say make their heinous crimes as expensive and costly as possible-- common sense and basic human decency obviously mean nothing to them.

Racists In Arizona Having Second Thoughts

"Lost" Finale Tonight

Monday, May 10, 2010

Christian Right Leader Caught Vacationing With Call Boy

The pictures of "Lucien" on his Rentboy.com profile show a shirtless young man with delicate features. His profile touts his "smooth, sweet, tight ass" and "perfectly built 8 inch cock (uncut)."  He is "up for anything"-- as long as you pay.   

Several weeks ago, Miami's News Times caught "rent boy" Lucien arriving at Miami International Airport after a ten-day, fully subsidized trip to Europe. He was accompanied by a much older man with a mustache and a blond comb-over, pushing an overburdened baggage cart.

The older man was George Alan Rekers — the call boy's client and, as it happens, one of America's most prominent anti-gay activists. Rekers, a Baptist minister who is a leading scholar for the Christian right, left the terminal with his gay escort, looking a bit uncomfortable when a picture of the two was snapped with a hot-pink digital camera.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

British Bungalow Brothel Beats Bum Rap

To the great relief of British men with overly "stiff muscles", the owner of a massage parlor who offered "happy endings" has been cleared of running a brothel from her bungalow.  Claire Astrid Finch, 49, of Chalton Heights in Bedfordshire, England was found not guilty  of keeping a brothel for prostitution.

Madam Finch took out advertisements in local newspapers and on the internet, selling topless massage "with happy endings".  She told the court she wanted to work with other women for the sake of "safety" and "camaraderie".

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Catch Rays And Catch Shit

Women with suntans are violating Islamic law and will be arrested in Iran, the capital city's police chief was reported as saying recently.

"The public expects us to act firmly and swiftly if we see any social misbehavior by women, and men, who defy our Islamic values," Brigadier Hossien Sajedinia said.

"In some areas of north Tehran we can see many suntanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins," he continued. "We are not going to tolerate this situation and will first warn those found in this manner and then arrest and imprison them."

The warning follows recent comments made by a hard-line Iranian cleric, who claimed women dressed in revealing clothing were disturbing young men and causing earthquakes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Holy Semen!

An Israeli man has been imprisoned for 10 years for tricking women into sexual acts by claiming his semen was holy and had healing powers.

Nissim Aharon, a former employee at the Israeli defence ministry, was convicted of rape, sodomy, indecent acts and aggravated fraudulent acquisition. Women paid him large sums of money, believing he was a holy rabbi who could heal body and soul.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Apple Wages Corporate War Against Adobe

Adobe recently announced that it is shifting its focus away from trying to get its Flash software to run on Apple products.

Apple has been steadfast in refusing to allow Flash to be used on its iPhone, iPod and iPad products.  Adobe  Flash is the technology used on the vast majority of websites to power media players, games and other animations.   Adobe has decided to shift its focus to get Flash working well on gadgets made by Google, RIM, Palm, Microsoft, Nokia and others.

The letter came soon after Adobe announced it would stop making tools that allow developers to quickly translate Flash code to run on Apple gadgets.  These tools allowed developers to make applications once and then distribute them for use on all phones and operating systems, including Apple's iPhone.

Tweety Bird

Sister Sarah has so many thoughts on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill-- it just takes a while for her to learn from others what she is supposed to think about any particular issue.  Her latest tweet:

So it's the evil foreign-owned companies that shouldn't be trusted (the same company, by the way, which employed hubby Todd for 18 years).  And of course, if you're a victim of the spill, you shouldn't trust the insurance companies if they try to make a settlement with you. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Suns Shine A Light On Arizona Racism

In an extremely bold move, players on the Phoenix Suns basketball team have elected to wear uniforms labeled "Los Suns" as a symbol of solidarity with racially targeted latinos in the southwestern state. 

According to Steve Kerr, the team discussed it internally before going to the league for approval to wear the 'Los Suns' jerseys, but also to come out publicly in this way.  Kerr said both the NBA and the San Antonio Spurs were fully supportive of the Suns move.

Team captain Steve Nash made a public statement regarding the uniform switch.  "I think the law is very misguided. I think it is unfortunately to the detriment of our society and our civil liberties and I think it is very important for us to stand up for things we believe in.  I think the law obviously can target opportunities for racial profiling. Things we don't want to see and don't need to see in 2010."

Amare Stoudemire and Alvin Gentry also expressed their support for the decision with more of a focus on supporting their neighbors. "It's going to be great to wear 'Los Suns' to let the Latin community know we're behind them 100%," Stoudemire said.

There's no question that this public move will receive considerable backlash in this state and likely among many Suns fans and perhaps even sponsors.  "We want to celebrate the diversity that exists in our state and exists in the NBA. We know what's going on and we don't agree with the law itself," Kerr said.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Teabagger Tuesday

After Long Struggle, Cape Cod Wind Farm Wins Approval

After a vicious nine-year fight on Cape Cod, 56-year-old retired energy executive Jim Gordon has finally won approval of  his wind farm to be built in the iconic waters of Nantucket Sound. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed off on the project last week.

"We're trying to pioneer a new path to move America forward in obtaining cleaner energy, a healthier environment and putting people to work to harness the inexhaustible winds that we're blessed with off the Cape," he said.

It has been anything but easy.  Gordon's Cape Wind organization has spent more than $45 million -- most of it from Gordon's own pockets -- since 2001, when the project first sought a permit.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Economic Boycott Of Arizona Already Gaining Ground

Arizona's passage of a controversial anti-immigration law could cost the state Major League Baseball's  All-Star Game, potentially depriving an already battered economy of millions of dollars.

A New York congressman who called for the league to move the 2011 game from Phoenix is the latest person to push for an economic boycott against the state in protest of the new law.  Companies have been pulling conferences out of Arizona resorts while others have suggested consumers shun companies, such as U.S. Airways, that are based in the state and have yet to condemn the the law.

"I think that when people, states, localities make decisions this monumental, they should know the full consequence of that decision," Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y., said. "I think Major League Baseball, with 40 percent Latino ballplayers at all levels, should make a statement that it will not hold its All-Star Game in a state that discriminates against 40 percent of their people."

The iPad Continues To Underwhelm

As if you needed another reason to avoid wasting money on the new oversized iPhone iPad. 

According to iLounge's research, iPad’s built-in YouTube application strips both standard and HD videos to a dramatically lower resolution over the cellular data connection-- instead of staying at a higher quality setting. 



Other third-party applications (such as ABC's video player-- for "Lost" fans) refuse to work at all over the cellular connection, producing a notification pop-up that states, “Please connect to a Wi-Fi network to use this application. Cellular networks are not supported at this time.”

Great-- spend a lot of money to upgrade to a device with a larger screen just to see video at a lower resolution.  Great job, Apple!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tidbits From Laura Bush's Memoir

“The royal family is not without its quirks. When Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, came to visit us, they requested glasses of ice before we began a long receiving line. The staff dutifully produced them, and the prince removed a flask from his pocket and added to each a small splash of what I presume was straight gin, so that they might be fortified before the hour of shaking hands.” (p. 296)

Note from the Daily Dude: I'd need a few belts of the hard stuff myself to make it through a boring evening with W.

“The following afternoon we had a cookout with hamburgers made from Texas beef [with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Crawford]. When I next saw the Japanese prime minister, he raised his arm and made a muscle, telling me, “That hamburger made me strong. I went home to do political battle, and I was strong because of that hamburger.” (p. 291)

DD: With George's cronies running the USDA into the ground, he's lucky he didn't get sick from e.coli poisoning.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Immigration Rallies In DC And Across The Nation

Angered by a controversial Arizona immigration law, hundreds of thousands of protesters - including 50,000 alone in Los Angeles - rallied in cities nationwide demanding President Barack Obama tackle immigration reform immediately.

Police said 50,000 rallied in Los Angeles where singer Gloria Estefan kicked off a massive downtown march. Estefan spoke in Spanish and English, proclaiming the United States is a nation of immigrants. "We're good people," the Cuban-born singer said atop a flatbed truck. "We've given a lot to this country. This country has given a lot to us."

Public outcry, particularly among immigrant rights activists, has been building since last week when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed controversial legislation known as SB 1070. The law requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally. Critics say that the law institutionalizes racism and will result in "legalized" racial profiling.

"I want to thank the governor of Arizona because she's awakened a sleeping giant," said labor organizer John Delgado, who attended a rally in New York where authorities estimated 6,500 gathered.

From Los Angeles to Washington D.C., activists, families, students and even politicians marched, practiced civil disobedience and "came out" about their citizenship status in the name of rights for immigrants, including the estimated 12 million living illegally in the U.S.

Several thousand attended the Washington, DC rally in Lafayette Park just one block north of the White House. Many carried signs saying "We are All Arizona", "Shame on Arizona-Boycott Racism" and "Immigrant Rights Are Civil Rights". Protesters saved plenty of anger for politicians as well - President Barack Obama in particular. Pedro Sanchez, a 37-year-old who is not in the country legally, carried a sign that mentioned Obama's children by name: "Malia, Sasha, what would you feel if someone separated you from your parents?" Sanchez, a Maryland resident who entered the U.S. on a now-expired visa from Mexico, said he's the only one in his family who is here illegally and he worries that without action from the president, many states will follow Arizona's lead. "I worry this will be a domino effect," Sanchez said. "You know, once one falls, the others start falling behind it."

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