Monday, February 28, 2011

Iran: Logo A No-go

Iran is threatening to boycott the 2012 London Olympics because it claims the official logo for the games resembles the word "Zion," which is a biblical term for Jerusalem.

Bahram Afsharzadeh, the secretary-general of Iran's National Olympic Committee, says he sent a letter to IOC president Jacques Rogge in which he condemns the logo as "racist" and calls upon other Muslim countries to join in protest. "There is no doubt that negligence of the issue from your side may affect the presence of some countries in the games, especially Iran, which abides by commitment to the values and principles," Afsharzadeh said in the letter.

Iran has refused to allow its athletes to compete against Israelis for the past three decades.   It's no surprise that the IOC rejected the complaint. "Our response is as follows: The London 2012 logo represents the figure 2012, nothing else," a spokesman said.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

And You Think Arizona, Texas Immigration Crackdowns Are Bad

In Mexico last year, a total of 11,333 migrants from Central and South America were kidnapped in 214 separate incidents over a 6-month period (an average of 52 per incident). According to the report by Mexico's Commission on Human Rights, most of the kidnappings happened in southern Mexico, affecting migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. About one in nine of the migrants interviewed said that authorities colluded with the kidnappers during the incidents. Victims are tortured until they give up the phone number of a relative in their home country or the United States, and then ransomed or killed outright.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Obama's War On Whistleblowers And Wikileaks Leads To Illegal Spying On U.S. Journalists

Obama's campaign promise to protect government whistleblowers has now given way to the most aggressive crusade to expose, punish and silence "courageous and patriotic" whistleblowers by any President in decades.

As the Federation of American Scientists' Steven Aftergood put it, "[The Obama administration is] going after this at every opportunity and with unmatched vigor." Last May, The New York Times described how "the Obama administration is proving more aggressive than the Bush administration in seeking to punish unauthorized leaks." This war has entailed multiple indictments and prosecutions of Bush-era leaks which exposed various degrees of corruption, ineptitude and illegality . . . But it is DOJ's increasing willingness to target journalists as part of this crusade that has now escalated its seriousness.

And most recently, we have the Obama administration's preoccupation with destroying WikiLeaks -- which has led it to boast of efforts to prosecute the group for publishing classified information (which other media outlets do every day), target WikiLeaks supporters with invasive harassment, and even subpoena the Twitter accounts of several WikiLeaks associates, including a sitting member of the Icelandic Parliament -- has been well-documented.

Obama's DOJ has been trying to break down a New York Times journalist to get him to reveal his source for an article that proved to be only a minor embarrassment to the CIA (the article exposed an irresponsible and badly bungled attempt to infiltrate an Iranian nuclear facility).  For a while, DOJ had been largely unsuccessful in its attempts to identify the source for the story-- at least up to the point when they decided to break the law by secretly obtaining (without prior authorization by the Attorney General) Risen's bank records, information about his phone and travel activities, and even credit reports to discover the source's identity.

Who needs enemies to freedom like George Bush when you have "friends" like Obama?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gaddafi Crackdown Creates Ghost Town In Capital

As BBC reports, Tripoli is still quiet for the most part. Everything is still shut down and people don't really know what is happening. Many are hoping that other people - anti-government protesters and troops who have defected - will come in from the towns or cities around Tripoli, to try to help residents here achieve something.

In Fashloum, one of the poorest districts in Tripoli, people were lined up to buy bread at one of the few bakeries that have remained open. Three people were killed in a drive-by shooting.

Banks and shops remain closed. But there was a text message sent out this morning to users of two state-run mobile phone networks. It told everyone, civil servants and private workers, to go back to work.

In reaction to that text, one Tripoli resident, who works for a foreign company, said, "I don't understand how the government expects us to go back to work when there is a mass exodus of expats here and work is at a standstill because of the dangers of driving. There have been accounts of so-called pro-government protesters hijacking cars that have foreign number plates."

Another resident in Tripoli hopes the people here don't go to work. "This can be our way of peaceful protest," she said. "We all stay home, civil servants and private workers indefinitely, and let Colonel Gaddafi and his sons run a ghost city. Let's see how long they last."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gaddafi Now Just Phoning It In

Gaddafi popped up on state television again, calling in from some unknown location. Astonishingly, he compared himself to Queen Elizabeth II, saying he was only a symbolic leader of Libya. Gaddafi also blamed the unrest on al-Qaeda arming drugged teenagers.

He said that "It's obvious now that this issue has been lead by al-Qaeda ...get control of your children, keep them at home". Gaddafi said the protesters had no genuine demands and were being dictated to by Osama Bin Laden.

He claimed that married people with families and good jobs weren't participating in the protests, saying that no one over the age of 20 was involved and that "people with any brains won't take part in these protests". He characterized the protesters as "trigger happy" youngsters that shoot "especially when they are stoned with drugs".

Order Returns To Bahrain; More Chaos in Libya

In Bahrain, events are proceeding in a peaceful manner-- tens of thousands of people descended upon Pearl Roundabout in Manama, in the biggest rally in more than a week of protests. The government has now allowed peaceful demonstrations and released several hundred political prisoners, meeting one of the protesters' demands-- but are still waiting for the al-Khalifa family, which has ruled Bahrain for 200 years, to accept the principle of a constitutional monarchy before agreeing to enter into an official dialogue.

In Libya, anti-government forces are now in control of most of the eastern part of the country, with Gaddafi's hold on the western region slowly dwindling away, city by city. Most recently, revolutionary forces have driven Gaddafi's troops from Misurata. Eyewitnesses confirm to Al Jazeera that demonstrators have taken control of Zuwarah city, 120km west of Tripoli.

Signs of the decay and the end of regimes that I've seen elsewhere is happening now. People are asking for bribes. If you want to do anything in the airport, it will cost you. A $20 taxi ride to Tripoli airport now costs $200. According to Al Jazeera's correspondents, The airport has become logjammed. Some have been there for three days in pretty awful conditions, though many more are outside. Police are beating people with clubs, stopping them getting into airport, saying it is full. Flights continue to leave, but they are not full, because people can't get into the airport. People are telling horrifying stories - one woman said she watched soldiers shooting people in front of her, then shooting at them, as they do not want witnesses.

Lebanese authorites confirm they refused to allow a Libyan plane to land in Beirut yesterday - because its pilot would not identify its passengers. Online reports suggest the passengers included the wife of one of Gaddafi's sons.

Gaddafi's forces have reportedly kidnapped two daughters of the Libyan leader's former aide, Noura al-Masmari, after he spoke on Al Jazeera yesterday. They were forcibly taken to the television [station] to deny their father's statements. They are still in the hands of Muammar Gaddafi's men, which shows there's a will for reprisals. Aisha, Gaddafi's daughter, appeared on state television, denying a report she tried to flee to Malta. "I am steadfastly here," she said. She added she was unaware that she had been dropped by the United Nations as a goodwill ambassador.

Chinese oil company CNPC says on its website its Libyan facilities have been attacked, and it is evacuating workers.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi appeared on Libyan state TV, saying that there is a conspiracy perpetrated by "Arab brothers" and claiming that the media is spreading lies. He asked Egyptians, in particular, not to participate in the "conspiracy". Egypt's army has already been ordered to evacuate its citizens from Libya, after authorities there took Saif Gaddaffi's earlier speech as incitement to violence against Egyptians. "Life in Tripoli is normal," he said.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Union Bashing Isn't Winning Fans

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is losing the battle of the headlines in his quest to reduce his state's budget gap by breaking the teachers union. The Associated Press says that Democrats are not deterred by a recall threat or withholding of its paychecks; The National Journal calls the plan "Bait and Switch", saying Walker's budget plans don't fix what he says is the crisis; Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Florida will not be following in Walker's union-busting footsteps; and weekend protests by unions are planned in every state capitol.

And now, new polling conducted for the AFL-CIO and reported on The Huffington Post shows Wisconsin voters siding with the state workers, unions and protestors by large majorities and expressing net disapproval of Governor Scott Walker.

Informal polling done by the Daily Dude using Google's auto-fill feature shows that the union-busting GOP governor is losing the battle on the internet as well:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reaction On Gaddafi's Speech

If you want firsthand knowledge of how Libyans feel about Gaddafi's televised appearance on state TV earlier today, you don't have to wait more than 12 seconds in on this video:

Libya Spiraling Out Of Control

The following developments have been reported from Libya in the past 24 hours (most recent first, going back to late yesterday evening):

Abdul Fatah Younis, former Libyan interior minister, has asked Gaddafi to "please end your life" and tells CNN that he expects Gaddafi's regime to fall "in a matter of days or hours".

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh says that all speakers in Libya's state TV press conference keep repeating that "assailants" and arrested men "are on hallucination pills".

The United Nations issued the following statement earlier today:
The members of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the situation in Libya. They condemned the violence and use of force against civilians, deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators, and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians. They called for an immediate end to the violence and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population, including through national dialogue.

Libya's government spokesman goes on national TV to disparage Al Jazeera, which "creates lies and provocation on behalf of rich Egyptians who live in Qatar."

Libya's official spokesman also outlines the vision of Gaddafi's eldest son, Saif al-Islam-- claiming that plans for reform include boosting payments to the unemployed.  Also announces the formation of a committee to investigate events over the past couple of weeks.  He says people "will be shocked by the extent of the distortion committed by Arab and foreign press and media."

Gaddafi himself went on national TV a second time earlier today, this time speaking for more than an hour.  In a rambling speech, Gaddafi accused small groups of youths high on drugs of “attacks” and unrest.  He also claimed that international media are broadcasting lies and deceit about what is going on in Libya.  According to the Libyan leader, the country runs the risk of civil war if order is not restored, warning that U.S. invervention may follow if libya does not deal with own miscreants. He tried to assure viewers that police and army should restore order by tomorrow.

A group of Libyan army officers issued a statement urging fellow soldiers to “join the people” and help remove Gaddafi from power.

Dozens of students and political activists were arrested in Zimbabwe for watching Al Jazeera's reports on uprisings in north Africa.

British Petroleum suspended oil operations in Libya and began evacuating all its employees.

Libyan state TV started airing "confessions" by Tunisians in Libya saying they were behind the uprising.

Further reports came in that Libyan border guards had abandoned the eastern border with Egypt.

Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Gaeim denied use of mercenaries against Libyan citizens. Al Jazeera Arabic reported that advertisements appeared in Guinea and Nigeria offering would-be mercenaries up to US$2,000 dollars per day

Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught, reporting from Istanbul, said a plane sent on Monday to pick up some of the 25,000 Turkish workers in Libya had to turn back after approaching the country - because there was no-one left in air control facilities.

Playboy Prince's Pedophile Pal

Prince Andrew and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein were spotted by England's News Of The World strolling through Central Park shortly after the hooker-loving hedge-fund manager moved back to his $50 million Upper East Side town house. Epstein served an 18-month sentence in Florida for soliciting a 14-year-old minor for prostitution. Epstein, now a registered sex offender, had paid the youngster -- one of a string of girls who allegedly visited him -- $200 for a massage at his Palm Beach retreat. She said he used a vibrator on her while he masturbated. Epstein has since then made 16 out-of-court financial settlements with other girls who had leveled similar sexual allegations against him

But the prince and the pervert's Central Park sojourn was no official business chat between the longtime pals-- following their walk in the park, the pair got down to the business they both apparently prefer -- partying. On his visit to New York City, 51-year-old Randy Andy chilled for four days at Epstein's East 71st Street pad, where the 58-year-old businessman threw his princely pal a bash, featuring NYC celebs such as Katie Couric, Charlie Rose and George Stephanopoulos. Neighbors told the press they witnessed a parade of stunning beauties come calling at Epstein's door during the prince's stay. And once, Andrew was even spotted kissing a long-legged brunette on the doorstep.

The two post-prime playboys share a decade-long history of drinking and debauching, with "Air Miles" Andrew reported enjoying frequent holidays with Epstein. On one trip, Andrew was seen sunbathing with a bevy of topless women off the coast of Thailand. Later that year, a Palm Beach woman claimed she was induced to perform demeaning sexual services for Epstein and had been groped by a visiting Prince Andrew. The prince's decision to keep in touch with Epstein-- appearances be damned -- comes as British press more strongly criticize his taxpayer-funded globetrotting lifestyle and question his past financial dealings.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gaddafi Near The End In Libya

By all accounts, it now looks like it is all over for Gaddafi in Libya. Ambassadors are resigning left and right (Libyan diplomats in DC now say they represent the Libyan people); soldiers are defecting by the truckload; Libyan officials are fleeing the country and the Gaddafi regime is resorting to ever more violent and desperate measures.

Planes of the Libyan Air Force have reportedly opened fire on protesters in central Tripoli. No one has been able to confirm this independently-- but the same reports are coming in from many sources.

Salem Gnan, a London-based spokesman for the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, says eyewitnesses in Tripoli have told him the navy has opened fire on parts of the capital. Military ships are bombing an area in Tripoli and many people have been killed.

Al Jazeera's correspondent in Malta has reported that the pilots of Libyan jet fighters that landed there are "senior colonels", who were ordered to bomb protesters. They refused and have defected to Malta. Back in Tripoli, Libyan soldiers who are caught refusing to obey orders are shot & burned by troops still sympathetic to Qaddafi. Graphic video below:

Libya Protests Gather Steam; Gaddafi Ramps Up Violence; Son Threatens Civil War

The Libyan protests, and the violence resulting from the Government response to them, are continuing to spread across Libya. Human Rights Watch put the number of dead at 233, and now come reports that several senior officials - including the justice minister - have quit their posts after security forces fired on the Tripoli protesters.

French news agency AFP is now reporting that the state-run television station has been "sacked" by protesters and that the offices of the People's Committees (the mainstay of the Gaddafi regime) have been set on fire.

Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, went on TV to promise a series of reforms after bloody protests against his father's rule reached the capital, Tripoli. In the televised address, Saif al-Islam conceded that protesters had taken over eastern cities of al-Bayda and Benghazi. But the leader's son also hit out at those he claimed were behind the violence. He said protests against his father's rule, which have been concentrated in the east of the country, threatened to sink Libya into civil war and split the country up into several small states. Despite reliable reports that say otherwise, Seif al-Islam said his father is still in the country and backed by the army. "We will fight to the last minute, until the last bullet." He said his father was leading the fight, although he added that some military bases, tanks and weapons had been seized.

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior analyst, termed Seif al-Islam's speech as desperate. "It sounded like a desperate speech by a desperate son of a dictator who's trying to use blackmail on the Libyan people by threatening that he could turn the country into a bloodbath.

Saif al-Islam's address followed reports that security forces had shot dead scores of protesters in Benghazi, where residents said a military unit had joined their cause. Protests have also reportedly broken out in other cities, including Bayda, Derna, Tobruk and Misrata.

Wife Of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Now A Hostage

The wife of the jailed Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo said she and her family are "hostages", according to reports. The comment is thought to be her first contact with the outside world for four months.

Supporters have been unable to reach Liu Xia since shortly after October's announcement that her husband had won the award. It was initially thought she was under house arrest at the couple's home in Beijing, but it is now believed she may be being held at her parents' house. The Washington Post said it received a transcript of an online chat Liu Xia had with a friend via an intermediary. According to the transcript:

"I don't know how I managed to get online. Don't go online. Otherwise my whole family is in danger, Liu Xia told her friend.

Asked whether she was at home, she said: "Yes. Can't go out. My whole family are hostages."

She signed off by saying: "So miserable. I'm crying. Nobody can help me."

Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence for co-authoring Charter 08, a call for democratic reforms. The author was represented by an empty chair at the Nobel ceremony last year because all of his immediate family members were prevented from leaving China. The Chinese authorities placed his wife under house arrest when he won. Her communications were cut off a few days later, although she has said she was able to visit him once in prison since the announcement.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gulf Of Mexico's Oily Seabed Still A Complete Mess

Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a top scientist's video and slides that she says demonstrate the oil isn't degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor. The report (not surprisingly) is at odds with a recent report by the BP spill compensation czar that said nearly all will be well by 2012.

Marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site. She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn't. Joye said, “We consistently saw dead fauna (animals) at all these sites. It’s likely there’s a fairly large area impacted.” Much of the oil she found on the sea floor was chemically fingerprinted, proving it comes from the BP spill.

The head of the agency in charge of the health of the Gulf said Saturday that she thought that "most of the oil is gone." And a Department of Energy scientist, doing research (funded by BP, it should be noted) said his examination of oil plumes in the water column show that microbes have done a "fairly fast" job of eating the oil. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab scientist Terry Hazen said his research differs from Joye's because they looked at different places at different times.

Joye's research was more widespread, but has been slower in being published in scientific literature. Mmmm . . . wonder why.

Bush Legacy Of Stupidity Continues On

So much for military intelligence. For most of George W. Bush's administration, the U.S. government paid Dennis Montgomery, a California computer programmer, more than $20 million for software he claimed could stop al Qaeda’s next attack by detecting secret messages in Al-Jazeera broadcasts, identify terrorists from predator drones, and detect noise from enemy submarines. But the software didn’t work, and the government is still invoking national security to keep the details secret and avoid further embarrassment.

The Bush CIA was so excited about the technology at first, one former agency official says, people called it “the most important, most sensitive” program they had. But when it was actually used in 2003, it set off a false alarm that led President Bush to order airlines over the Atlantic Ocean to turn around. French officials, angered that the Bush administration had grounded their planes, launched their own investigation into the program and quickly determined that it was a hoax.

However, the Bush administration kept turning to Montgomery and in late 2008, reacted to another false alarm-- this time, the bogus software claimed to have picked up intelligence that Somali pirates were plotting to disrupt President Obama’s inauguration. Despite that second high profile failure, outgoing Bush officials still did not initiate a closer look at Montgomery. Even worse, Obama administration officials eventually decided that no one else should be able to investigate Montgomery either. According to Montgomery's former lawyer, the Justice Department has recently issued protective orders in an attempt to keep details of his software sealed by the federal court and save the U.S. government further embarrassment.

Montgomery has not faced criminal charges over his deception or been ordered to pay back the money. He is currently in bankruptcy in Palm Springs, California, and facing charges of passing $1.8 million in bad checks at Vegas casinos.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Latest Reports/Graphic Video On Middle East Uprisings

The situation in Libya is becoming increasingly violent. Early Saturday morning, special forces launched a surprise attack against protesters camped out in front of the courthouse in Benghazi. "They fired tear gas on protesters in tents and cleared the areas after many fled carrying the dead and the injured," one protester said. Human Rights Watch estimates that 84 people have been killed so far. On Friday, President Muammar Qaddafi tried to appease protesters be announcing that the congress had been suspended indefinitely and many members would be replaced when it resumed. Qaddafi seems to be following Hosni Mubarak's playbook in other ways as well, as the U.S.-based Arbor Networks security company says the country’s Internet has been shut down. The BBC is reporting that the government has shut off electricity to protest areas, to try to quell rising unrest. The airport in Benghazi, the country's second largest city, has been closed, amid reports that protesters have taken it over with the help of senior army officers who switched sides to join the protesters.

In Bahrain, thousands of protesters flooded back into Pearl Square as the military withdrew Saturday. Violence has been escalating in Bahrain, with the death toll climbing to six on Friday when soldiers opened fire on protesters during a funeral march for someone killed earlier in the week. It’s unclear who exactly in Bahrain is responsible for the violent crackdown. While the king and his son are viewed as modernizers, the king’s uncle, the prime minister is in charge of security. Below is a graphic video of the army firing on peaceful protesters:

In Algeria, the AP reports that police, using clubs and not firearms, thwarted a rally by thousands of pro-democracy supporters Saturday, breaking up the crowd into isolated groups to keep them from marching. The march came on the heels of weeks of strikes and scattered protests in the North African country, which has promised to lift a 19-year state of emergency by month's end in a nod to the growing mass of disgruntled citizens.

In Yemen, riot police fired shots in the air and used tear gas against thousands of government opponents who also clashed with supporters of Yemen's longtime ruler on what protest organizers billed as a nationwide "Friday of Rage." At least four people were wounded, according to HuffPo. Riots also flared overnight in the southern port of Aden, the country's second-largest city, with police shooting to death one demonstrator after cars and a local government building were set ablaze, officials said. Tens of thousands rallied in the southern city of Taiz, a hotbed of dissent.

Hate-Tona 500

After Minnesotan Democratic congresswoman Betty McCollum suggested cutting the Pentagon's sponsorship of NASCAR events, she received the fax below (via Talking Points Memo).  Don't even know what to say, other than these morons shouldn't be allowed to vote.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Heartbreak In Bahrain and Libya

A Bahraini man mourns over the body of a relative at a hospital in Manama this week after he is killed during clashes between opposition protesters and riot police.

Meanwhle, another protester is shot and killed in Libya:

Firefighter Refuses to Respond To Giffords Shooting For Political Reasons

A Tucson, Arizona city firefighter refused to respond to the January 8 shooting spree that critically injured Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona Daily Star reported, citing city memos. His refusal may have slowed the Tucson Fire Department unit's response to the incident that also left six dead and 13 wounded.

Fire Captain Ben Williams wrote in a memo that when firefighter Mark Ekstrum declined to go on the call, "he mentioned something about 'political bantering' and he did not want to be part of it." Williams told Ekstrum he could not refuse a call for that reason, and then talked to the firefighter privately in his office. He said Ekstrum "started to say something about how he had a much different political viewpoint than the rest of the crew and he was concerned." Despite being told that was not acceptable, Williams said Ekstrum informed him he was going home "sick," so they answered the call without him.

Ekstrum's supervisor initially claimed his actions caused "confusion and delay"-- although the fire department later backtracked on that statement. However, one of the fire engines had to stop at another fire station along the way to pick up personnel to take Ekstrum's place. Ekstrum (a 28-year veteran) quit the force two days later as management was considering possible disciplinary action against him.

Frankly, I'm sick of all these religious zealots and political wacktivists who willingly enter life-saving professions and then refuse to do their jobs out of some selfish and misguided personal motivations. If you don't want to prescribe birth control, assist a doctor in performing an emergency abortion, or respond to a shooting of a democratic politician . . . then don't become a pharmacist/nurse/EMT to being with!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bahrain Monarchy Brutally Cracks Down on Protesters

After several days of protests in Manama (with minimal response from the Monarchy), Bahrain's leaders sent tanks into the streets Thursday, unexpectedly launching a severe crackdown that killed five anti-government protesters, wounded more than 200 and turned a hospital into a cauldron of anguish and rage against the monarchy.

After allowing several days of rallies by disaffected Shiites, the island nation's Sunni rulers unleashed riot police who stormed a protest encampment in Pearl Square before dawn, firing tear gas, beating demonstrators or blasting them with shotgun sprays of birdshot. Along with two who died in clashes with police Monday, the new killings brought the death toll this week in Bahrain to seven. "People were attacked while they were sleeping. There was no warning," Nazea Saeed, a journalist with Radio Monte Carlo, said. "And when they ran, the police attacked them from the direction they fled to."

Volunteer doctors, who had set up a medical tent near the protest site, were also assaulted. One medical consultant was severely beaten and but then released because the police didn't want him to die in in the public square.

Al-Jazeera is also reporting that clashes were no longer limited to the Pearl roundabout-- that they are now spread out in different parts of the city. Speaking to Al Jazeera from Salmaniya hospital, the main medical facility in Manama, Maryama Alkawaka of Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, said that she saw dozens of injured demonstrators being wheeled into emergency rooms across the city. Booms could be heard from different parts of the city, suggesting that "tear-gas is being used to disperse the protesters in several neighborhoods".

Kansas Republican Has Uncanny Ability To Detect "Illegals"

Kansas Republican Connie O'Brien is deservedly taking heat back home because of comments she made at a congressional hearing-- saying that she can tell who's illegal by their "olive complexion":

REP. O’BRIEN: My son who’s a Kansas resident, born here, raised here, didn’t qualify for any financial aid. Yet this girl was going to get financial aid. My son was kinda upset about it because he works and pays for his own schooling and his books and everything and he didn’t think that was fair. We didn’t ask the girl what nationality she was, we didn’t think that was proper. But we could tell by looking at her that she was not originally from this country. [...]

REP. GATEWOOD: Can you expand on how you could tell that they were illegal?

REP. O’BRIEN: Well she wasn’t black, she wasn’t Asian, and she had the olive complexion.

Hey Connie, here's a hint-- the unemployed child of a person who's denied state tax refunds and most likely facing persecution in other areas (such as employment and housing) is more likely to qualify for financial aid than the gainfully employed son of a Kansas politician.  You might want to explain that to your child before instilling further racial hatred.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CBS Reporter Raped In Egypt

CBS News is reporting that its chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan suffered "a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating" on Friday, the day Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down. She was covering the festivities in Tahrir Square for a 60 Minutes story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a mob of more than 200 people. Logan was eventually separated from her crew and was brutally assaulted before a group of women and soldiers came to her rescue. Logan, who has a 2-year-old son, was quickly flown back to the U.S. and is recovering in the hospital.

This gruesome attack shows how volatile the security situation in Egypt continues to be. The U.S. networks dispatched some of its top news anchors to Cairo when the protests first started, but after several prominent TV journalists, including Anderson Cooper, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour and Fox News correspondent Greg Palkot, were attacked by angry mobs, most of anchors left Egypt.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mountain Dew-Fueled Bieber Fans On The Attack

Just who is the typical editor of a Wikipedia page got a bit more curious since the Grammy Awards a few days ago. Irate over Esperanza Spalding's dark-horse win for Best New Artist Grammy, Justin Bieber fans took to Wikipedia to vent their rage over this shocking injustice.

"JUSTIN BIEBER DESERVED IT GO DIE IN A HOLE. WHO THE HECK ARE YOU ANYWAY?" is just one of the un-footnoted "facts"added since to Spalding’s entry after her upset win. "SHE IS FUCKING RETARD," was another of the whimsical turns of phrase added (and since removed) from her entry. And according to one helpful editor, Spalding’s middle name was, ever so briefly, "Quesadilla."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

Behind The Scenes Of The Egyptian Protests

WSJ has some reporting on the covert maneuvers that took place in Egypt during the run-up to Mubarak's exit.

In early January, the core of planners from the youth wings of Egypt's opposition movement decided they would try to replicate the accomplishments of the protesters in Tunisia (who ultimately ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali). Their immediate concern was how to foil the Ministry of Interior, whose legions of riot police had contained and quashed protests for years. The police were expert at preventing demonstrations from growing or moving through the streets, and at keeping ordinary Egyptians away. "We had to find a way to prevent security from . . . stopping us," said 41-year-old architect Basem Kamel, a member of Mohamed ElBaradei's youth wing and one of the dozen or so plotters.

According to the article, a group of protesters, including Ziad al-Alimi, a leading youth organizer for Mr. ElBaradei's campaign group, met daily for two weeks planning the protest that would eventually reach, and occupy, Tahrir Square. They decided that some rudimentary subterfuge was needed. Twenty January 25 protests were announced via the Internet, but twenty-one were planned. The announced twenty protests were prevented from reaching Tahrir Square by riot police. But the secret twenty-first protest succeeded. The Bulaq al-Dakrour marchers, the only group to reach their objective, occupied Tahrir Square for several hours until after midnight, when police attacked demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets. On January 28, they seized Tahrir Square again and remained for the duration.

By the way, January 25 was chosen because it is a national holiday celebrating ... the Egyptian police.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bahrain, Kuwait Beat The Heat With Cold Cash

If you don't think that other Middle East leaders aren't freaking out about the collapse of the Mubarak regime-- think again. Kuwait and Bahrain are using good old fashioned capitalism to keep their rulers out of hot water.

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah ordered the distribution of $4 billion and free food for 14 months to citizens in order to stave off grass-roots protests. Each of the 1.12 million native citizens will get 1,000 dinars ($3,572) in cash as well as free essential food items until March 31, 2012, according to reports.

Bahrain is handing out generous cash grants to citizens and promising more freedom to the media as it moved to defuse an aggressive social network campaign calling for a Valentine’s “Day of Rage” on Monday. The king announced that he would hand out 1,000 dinars ($2,650) to every family in a move officially connected with the 10th anniversary of constitutional rule but is widely seen as an attempt to buy off the country’s marginalized Shiite majority and disenchanted youth before they take to the streets.

Finally-- Some Decent Satire From SNL

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Arrest Warrant Issued for Musharraf In Bhutto Assassination

This should make it a bit more difficult for Musharraf to return to Pakistan to run in the next election.

Al Jazeera is reporting that investigators probing the Bhutto assassination have declared that Musharraf was involved in the assassination and was equally responsible. "The [investigative] report said it was a broad conspiracy involving Pervez Musharraf, two police officials and terrorists," public prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali said after a closed-door hearing that took place in Rawalpindi's Adiala prison.

Bhutto was killed in December 2007, in a gun and suicide bomb blast during a rally weeks after returning to Pakistan to campaign in new elections.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Boeing-Owned Company Helps Foreign Dictators

Amid all the jubilation over Mubarak's resignation in Egypt, let's not forget about U.S. involvement in helping the Egyptian dictator monitor and (eventually) shut off citizen's access to the Internet.

Darth Cheney Heckled At CPAC

Cheney was heckled at the conservatives' CPAC this week, being called out a "war criminal" and "draft dodger".  Later in this speech, he was taunted with the chant, "where's Bin Laden?"

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Shooting A President Ensures Happy Valentine's Days For Years To Come

The deranged stalker who shot Reagan in the chest and injured three others in 1981 is dating Cynthia Bruce, a former psychiatric patient he met at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington.  According to The Daily, Hinckley and his gal pal were recently photographed cuddling outside St. Elizabeth’s psych ward. They spent an hour together on a sunny afternoon, sharing snacks and sodas before Bruce took the subway back to her one-bedroom apartment. It's believed they have been dating since at least last October.

The doughy Hinckley has reportedly become an unlikely lothario within the walls of St. Elizabeth's, where he recently romanced at least two other female patients.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Married GOP Congressman Caught Trolling Craigslist For Chicks

Florida GOP congressman Christoper Lee has been caught using Craigslist to hook up with women.   Maureen O'Connor of Gawker details how the married father of one son lied about his age and marital status to con single women into dates.  In the incident that got him busted, he even emailed his target an impromptu snapshot of himself in all his shirtless glory (flex those guns, Chris my boy!).  Our philandering congressman has been a proponent of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and is opposed to federal funding for abortions.

Update: Lee just announced his resignation from the House of Representatives.  Finally-- a politician who does the right thing when nailed for hypocrisy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

No More European Vacations For War Criminals

Oh, those gosh-darned war crimes!  From the Daily Mail:

Former U.S. President George W. Bush has cancelled a visit to Switzerland over fears he could have been arrested on torture charges.  Bush was due to be the keynote speaker at a Jewish charity gala in Geneva on February 12.  But pressure has been building on the Swiss government to arrest him and open a criminal investigation if he enters the country. 

W has admitted in his memoirs and TV interviews to ordering the use of torture in the form of waterboarding.  He better get used to spending his vacation time stateside . . .

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Egyptian Protesters Using Their Heads

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you strapped bread to your head?  Take a look at the imaginative items the protesters are using to protect themselves:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Australian Sacked For Googling "Knockers"

How much privacy does an employee have when using a work laptop at home?  In Australia not a lot, apparently.

The senior civil servant, from the Commonwealth Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, was fired after a software program (called Spector360) was set up by the department to catch any use of the word "knockers".  It all started when the government gave him a laptop for this personal use at home.  But soon afterward, the employee was caught googling the word "knockers" and looking at legal pornography. That was despite the access being out of work hours and the public servant using his own internet service provider.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vatican Calls Dibs On Papal Giblets

In 1999, six years before he was elected to the papacy, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger disclosed that he always carried an organ donor's card with him and encouraged the practice as "an act of love." Recently, a German doctor had been using that disclosure as a tool to advocate the practice. The Vatican asked him to stop, but he did not.

To settle the matter, the pope's secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, sent a letter to the doctor, which was picked up and reported by international press.

"It's true that the pope owns an organ donor card ... but contrary to public opinion, the card issued back in the 1970s became de facto invalid with Cardinal Ratzinger's election to the papacy," Vatican Radio quoted from the letter.

Vatican officials say that after a pope dies, his body belongs to the entire Church and must be buried intact. Furthermore, if papal organs were donated, they would become relics in other bodies if he were eventually made a saint.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Oh, Those Cagey Chinese

A man was sentenced to death for keeping two girls in a dungeon as sex slaves and raping nine other women.  Zeng Qiangbao, a 40-year-old steel worker, was convicted of rape, illegally imprisoning, robbery and kidnapping in central China's Hubei province.

The court heard that Zeng had caged two teenage girls in a dungeon for 590 and 317 days as sex slaves until they were rescued by police last year, according to reports.   He also raped nine other women from July 2007 to May 2010, the prosecutor said. 

The two teenagers were rescued after a man visited his friend's electronics repair shop and found a note in a partially dismantled television.  It read: "Help.  I've been held prisoner underground for more than a year."  Along with the words was a hand-drawn map that showed where the girls were being kept, as well as the telephone number and address of Zhou's family.  The customer called the number and informed the father of one of the victims, who later called the police. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Redskins Owner Little Danny Snyder Seeks Ouster Of Reporter Who Showed How Bad He Sucks At Everything

Phoning it in at Redskins Park
Back in November, the Washington City Paper's Dave McKenna offered the definitive guide to the lameness of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.  To Jason Linkins of the Huff Post, McKenna's only crime in having penned the piece was being immeasurably awesome. But Dan Snyder didn't see it that way, because has escalated his pouty-faced rage to the point that he is now making legal threats and, apparently, seeking McKenna's ouster from the City Paper.  Lots of details here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hitler Hates That SpongeBob Was Cancelled

Obama, Mubarak Speak

Mubarak finally spoke to the Egyptian nation, and it's clear from Mubarak what he wants-- he wants to stay no matter the cost.  Let's look at the words behind the words, shall we?

"Those protests were transformed from a noble and civilized phenomenon of practicing freedom of expression to unfortunate clashes, mobilized and controlled by political forces that wanted to escalate and worsen the situation. They targeted the nation's security and stability through acts of provocation theft and looting and setting fires and blocking roads and attacking vital installations and public and private properties and storming some diplomatic missions.

Translation: We should blame the protesters for increased violence. The fact that I (Mubarak) pulled police from the streets over the weekend had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not there was law and order on the streets. (note from the Daily Dude: in fact, the only people preventing outright pillaging and looting were the citizen patrols)

"The events of the last few days require us all as a people and as a leadership to chose between chaos and stability and to set in front of us new circumstances and a new Egyptian reality which our people and armed forces must work with wisely and in the interest of Egypt and its citizens.

Translation: If you choose to back the protesters, you choose violence.  If you want security, stick with me.

"I say in all honesty and regardless of the current situation that I did not intend to nominate myself for a new presidential term. I have spent enough years of my life in the service of Egypt and its people.

Translation: "Your protests had nothing to do with me leaving--- I was going to leave anyway!

"According to my constitutional powers, I call on parliament in both its houses to discuss amending article 76 and 77 of the constitution concerning the conditions on running for presidency of the republic and it sets specific a period for the presidential term.

Translation: Now that I won't be running for re-election, let's start discussing term limits for the president.

"I also demand the judicial and supervisory authorities to take immediately the necessary measures to continue pursuing outlaws and to investigate those who caused the security disarray and those who undertook acts of theft, looting and setting fires and terrorizing citizens.

Translation: I'm going to characterize the protesters as looters and incite a witch hunt against them-- even though I was the one who encouraged lawlessness by pulling police from the streets in the first place.

"Dear citizens, Egypt will emerge from these current circumstances stronger, more confident and unified and stable. And our people will emerge with more awareness of how to achieve reconciliation and be more determined not to undermine its future and destiny.

Translation: The protesters are undermining Egypt's future-- I want everyone to stop think of kicking my ass to the curb and to shift the focus to reconciliation instead.

Obama's 5-minute speech was even more circumspect-- I'm not even sure what he actually stood for. He didn't even condemn Mubarak's veiled threat to prosecute the protesters. He said he opposes violence-- well who doesn't? And there hasn't been much violence anyway-- whatever violence has occurred is because Mubarak pulled the police from the streets in the first place.

Obama said that he stands for universal values . . . ho hum.  He also claimed he has spoken out for the need to change. Sure-- but what kind of change? It's obvious that something's going to change soon-- but what change are you hoping to see?

Obama said that "it is not the role of any other country to determine Egypt’s leaders . . . the process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties . . . the United States will continue to extend the hand of partnership and friendship to Egypt . . . To the people of Egypt, particularly the young people of Egypt, I want to be clear: We hear your voices . . . There will be difficult days ahead. Many questions about Egypt’s future remain unanswered. But I am confident that the people of Egypt will find those answers . . .

All very non-committal, indeed. So who's side are you on, dude?


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