Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, whose home back in Alaska was raided by federal investigators Monday in a wide-ranging corruption investigation, has threatened to place a hold on the Democratic-drafted ethics legislation just passed by the House and expected on the Senate floor by week's end.
The senator told a closed session of fellow Republicans today, including Vice President Dick Cheney, that he was upset that the measure would interfere with his travel to and from Alaska-and vowed to block it.
And Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), confirming Steven's threat, said bluntly: "There could be a lot of holds on this bill." Let me guess-those holds will be connected by the Intertubes...
Staking out a position at odds with that of his own Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney was just quoted on CNN saying that he agrees with a Pentagon official's recent assertion that Hillary Clinton's request for info about withdrawal contingency plans is helpful to the enemy.
In an excerpt from an interview with Larry King set to air later today that was just shown on the network, Cheney was asked whether he agreed with an earlier assessment by Under Secretary of State Eric Edelman, who recently sent Clinton a letter chiding her request for info about the plans as helpful to "enemy propaganda." Cheney's reply: "I agreed...I thought it was a good letter."
In respsonse, Hillary spokesman Philippe Reines emailed us a statement pointing out that Cheney had broken with his own DecDef on the issue.
"It seems the right hand doesn't know what the far-right hand is doing," Reines said in the statement sent to Election Central. "Senator Clinton calls on President Bush to set the record straight." Regardless of how you feel about Hillary or her request, IMO Cheney just stuck a Texas-sized shoe in his mouth. So let's see how much support Bush is willing to give the Secretary of Defense over his pal Dick.
It was Cheney's most direct public admission of how badly the administration had undereestimated the strength of America's enemies in the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq.
But Cheney, an architect of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, otherwise gave no ground in an interview on CNN's "Larry King Live" as he defended President George W. Bush's Iraq policy. There now, Dick. That wasn't so hard, was it? Now if only we saw this kind of honesty more often...
Gingrich blasted the city of Detroit, Detroit Public Schools, the United Auto Workers and Michigan's unemployment rate during an interview on Fox News Sunday in which he talked about how he would transform Washington.
A spokesman for Gingrich, an indeclared Republican presidential candidate who has been ramping up his public appearances, singled out Detroit and its schools because they're the "best worst-case example" of bureaucracy and "a union structure that doesn't work." Well, at least he didn't call the Detroit city leaders pygmies, although in this case he would have been right. The truth hurts, doesn't it?
U.S. Magistrate Kelly Arnold in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Monday sentenced the counterfeit Vietnam vet to two years' probation and 500 hours laboring at Tahoma National Cemetery for posing as a decorated U.S. Marine captain and military chaplain in 2005 and 2006.
Buddle, who never was in the Marine Corps, pleaded guilty in April to unalwful wearing of U.S. military medals and decorations. That followed an investigation by the inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Poor John Kerry and Jack Murtha...they keep losing more constituents that way...
Larisa Arap of the anti-Kremlin group United Civil Front and her colleagues say she is a victim of a local vendetta by healthcare workers after she gave an account to a newspaper alleging patients at another psychiatric unit in the same region were beaten and raped.
The full details of the case are not known, but Arap's detention has caused an outcry among Kremlin opponents who say it echoes the Soviet practice of confining political dissidents in mental institutions to keep them quiet. If Putin turns back the clock any more they'll have to clone Lenin.
Monday, July 30, 2007
After four hours of one-to-one talks with the US President at his Camp David retreat, Mr Brown told a joint press converence he would make a Commons statement in October on the future of the 5,500 British troops in the Basra region.
The Bush administration, under mounting domestic pressure to produce an exit strategy from Iraq, has been nervous that a full British withdrawal would add to the criticism. But Mr Brown made clear-and President Bush accepted-that Britain would go its own way, even if that gave the impression that the two countries were diverging. "It's not a divorce, honey-it's a trial separation. And please don't call me again."
Vegansexuals are people who do not eat any meat or animal products, and who choose not to be sexually intimate with non-vegan partners whose bodies, they say, are made up of dead animals.
The co-director of the New Zealand Centre for Human and Animal Studies at Canterbury University, Annie Potts, said she coined the term after doing research on the lives of "cruelty-free consumers." Oh, to be spurned by a vegan. It must be my cruel nature...
In an interview with CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller, the vice president also said Gonzales has been truthful in his testimony before Congress.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, a Democrat, has said he doesn't trust Gonzales, but Cheney saud the attorney general has the support of the only man who really counts.
"I've had my differences with Pat Leahy," Cheney said. "I think the key is whether or not he (Gonzales) has the confidence of the president-and he clearly does." Well, at least he didn't say Gonzo was doing a fine job. If he hears that from Bush, Gonzo will know he's in trouble.
Obediently, couples move to a special section of dormitory tents arranged in a heart-shape and called the Love Oasis, where they can start procreating for the motherland.
With its relentlessly upbeat tone, bizzare ideas and tight control, it sounds like a wierd indoctrination session for a phony religious cult.
But the organisation-known as "Nashi," meaning "Ours"-is youth movement run by Vladimir Putin's Kremlin that has become a central part of Russian political life. He's not only their Uncle-he's their pimp!
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) came a step closer to suggesting he will not run for president as he praised other Republicans on "Fox News Sunday."
He confirmed he recently had dinner with Fred Thompson, adding that the former Tennessee senator would be a "very formidable candidate."
Gingrich didn't sound like a candidate looking to enter the political fray as he complimented Thompson, Rudy Giuliani, and Mitt Romney.
"These three are serious people. They're working very hard, and if they can fill the vacuum, I don't feel any great need to run," Gingrich said. I'm sure the "Pygmies" will be glad to hear that. It's not that he's not right about some of the candidates, or the process, but if you're going to make a lot of noise, at least have the guts to stand by your own words.
SAGINAW, Michigan-A 73-year-old man has been ordered to clean a veterans memorial with a toothbrush for taking part in a scam to solicit scrap yards for metal, saying it was to be used to build a memorial for soldiers in the Iraq war.
Philip Kolinski and another man were arrested after scrap yards reported the men soliciting metal donations for a sculpture. Detectives said the men sold their metal and kept the money.
"You certainly should be ashamed," Saginaw County District Court Judge A.T. Frank said as he sentenced Kolinski to clean the veterans memorial in front of Governmental Center on Aug. 7.
"You will have a toothbrush and a bucket with a placard saying you stole from veterans," Frank said. And after that, there are plenty of toilets in jail for these idiots to clean. And I mean spotless!
PHEONIX-Officers responding to a report of an exorcism on a young girl found her grandfather choking her and used stun guns to subdue the man, who later died, authorities said Sunday.
The 3-year-old girl and her mother, who was also in the room during the struggle between 49-year-old Ronald Marquez and officers, were hospitalized, police said. Their condition was unavailable.
The relative who called police said an exorcism had also been attempted Thursday.
"The purpose was to release demons from this very young child," Sgt. Joel Tranter said. Well, maybe they were just performing the exorcisms that other Americans won't do.
As the summer rainy season hits, concern is growing that hundreds of cracks, holes and fractures that line this city could open up with disasterous consequences in a metropolitan area of 20 million people.
The fear became a reality this month in a Mexico City slum when heavy rainfall ruptured a fissure in the street, swallowing a car and an onlooker, who was killed when he tumbled into the muddy depths more than 60 feet below.
Mexico City's latest urban ill stems from its geography and history. Built on a drained lake bed after the Spanish destroyed the Venice-like city of Tenochtitian, Mexico City has been sinking steadily for centuries, falling the equivalent of a three-story building since 1900. Considering its politics, I'm surprised the city wasn't swallowed up by a black hole long ago.
In a statement Friday, the Libertarian Party said it had "serious concerns about the plan's flaws" and said it "would jeopardize the safety of U.S. forces."
"The House's plan shows a lack of military planning, which will inevitably compromise the safety of our troops," said Shane Cory, a Marine Corps veteran and current executive director of the Libertarian National Committee. "The plan seems to be more of a symbolic message to the president rather than a practical plan for ending the conflict in Iraq."
"While the Libertarian Party continually calls for an end to the conflict, we know you can't play political games with the lives of our brave soldiers," Cory said. "Proper lines of withdrawal should be followed, which will culminate in the complete withdrawal of American troops without leaving a small, vulnerable force behind. This is one of the most basic tenets of military strategy-something the House's plan clearly lacks."
The Libertarian Party descrives itself as the third largest political party in the United States and says it follows "a non-interventionist foreign policy." The party said it had been "a vocal critic of the invasion and occupation of Iraq." Even these guys at least have a plan. Which is more than I can say for Pelosi and Co.-or Team Bush.
But the grueling, soul-sapping war in Iraq has unsettled that idea considerably. Many Americans look at trying to coax democracy or even stability in the Arab world and conclude that it's a mug's game. If this is interventionism, could isolationism be much worse? The lead-up to the war disabused Americans of any notion that they could easily corral global support for their policing the planet. The follow-through has convinced them they cannot do it by themselves either. You can see why opting out has begun to appeal.
The Bush-Cheney argument that we have to fight the terrorists in Iraq or we will have to fight them in Kansas has not persuaded many. And rightly so. The core truth of Islamist terror, as 9/11 proved, is that it's not that hard for very few people to do a lot of damage. The years-long occupation of a Muslim country, morever, seems to have made the terror threat worse, not better. Americans have never been much for long-term meddling in other countries' affairs. We want to win our wars and then go home. Bush seems to think it's our job to remake the world in our image no matter what the cost. Woodrow Wilson felt that way, too-and look what eventually happened.
SCIENTISTS have created the world's first schizophrenic mice in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the illness.
It is believed to be the first time an animal has been genetically engineered to have a mental illness. Until now they have been bred only for research into physical conditions such as heart disease. It will allow researchers to study the disease and develop treatments using a limitless supply of laboratory animals.
Animal rights campaigners have condemned the research, saying that it is morally repugnant to create an animal doomed to mental suffering. Maybe they're right. After all, there are plenty of mentally ill liberals around; why not use them as test subjects? They could even be observed in their natural habitat, and their fellow liberals probably wouldn't even notice the difference.
Amid furor over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' handling of the government's secret warrantless wiretap program, Bush urged legislators to pass the update of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) proposed in April.
The changes would ease intelligence collection aimed at people plotting attacks on the United States, Bush said in his weekly radio address. Ah, good luck with that one, chief. As usual, a day late and a dollar short.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
They have been discovered mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but not in Iraq, a US Defence Department spokesman told The Age yesterday.
Commander Jeffrey Gordon said the detainees had, while in custody, falsely claimed to be farmers, truck drivers, cooks, small-arms merchants, low-level combatants or had offered other false explanations for being in Afghanistan.
"We are aware of dozens of cases where they have returned to militant activities, participated in anti-US propaganda or engaged in other activies," said Commander Gordon. Killed or recaptured, eh? It makes you wonder-just whose side are those who advocated their release really on?
The struggle is a homegrown version of the global debate on slowing climate change.
Developed countries are trying to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the most ubiquitous gas usually linked to climate change, and argue that rapidly growing nations like India and China should avoid building coal-fired power plants. The critics' targets say it is unfair to keep them from powering their way to prosperity with cheap and abundant coal.
The Navajo president, Joe Shirley Jr., said his tribe felt similar pressure. Mr. Shirley said the plant here would mean hundreds of jobs, higher incomes and better lives for some of the 200,000 people on the reservation. The tribe derives little direct financial benefit from the operation of the existing coal-fired plants and it has not yet invested heavily in casinos.
"Why pick on the little Navajo nation, when it's trying to help itself?" he asked. Ah, but if you were allowed to help yourselves, you wouldn't be of any use as victims for the Great White Liberal. See how that works?
Rove's clear advice to the candidates is to distance themselves from the culture of Washington. Specifically, Republican candidates are urged to make clear they have no connection with disgraced congressmen such as Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley.
In effect, Rove was rebutting the complaint inside the party that George W. Bush is responsible for Republican miseries by invading Iraq. Well, I'm sure Jack Abramoff will be glad to hear that Karl is now so concerned about keeping the party honest.
The founder of the DLC says the Democratic no-shows are a matter of location (Tennessee is not a swing state) and the nature of primary contests (campaign for the flank, not the center, of the party).
"During the primaries, you try to hit the early states, over and over again; you focus on interest groups," DLC founder Al From said in an interview Friday afternoon.
But he warned that the winning candidate would eventually have to adopt DLC-style thinking.
To capture the White House, From said, "you have to talk to the whole country. You win presidential elections by being bigger than your party." Unfortunately for today's Democrats, the only thing bigger than their party is their egos. And they need their camp followers to constantly stroke them.
Friday, July 27, 2007
So we let others decide.
There is a Facebook.com group called "I can't say why, but I kinds think Nancy Pelosi is cute." There's another group there, too, but its name is too crass to print.
Moreover, Pelosi has become a fashion icon in colorful Armani skirt-suits.
Robin Givhan, the Washington Post fashion critic, earlier this year wrote, "She looks polished and tasteful...dignified and serious [and] she also happens to look quite good." A copy of a Chinese Sea Pearl ring that Pelosi has been wearing sells on eBay. Opening bid: 88 cents. I've heard of to each his own, but this is ridiculous.
Willie Lee Hill, 93, told police he saw the robber while in his bedroom Wednesday night. Hill confronted the man and was struck at least 50 times, police said. He was struck unconscious.
Covered in blood, Hill regained consciousness a short time later and pulled a .38-calibere handgun on his attacker. The suspect, Douglas B. Williams Jr., saw the gun and charged the man, who fired a bullet that sstruck Williams in the throat, police said.
"I got what I deserved," Williams, 24, told police when they arrived, officers said. Investigators reported finding, among other items, a Craftsman drill bit set, three pocket knives and two hearing aids inside his pockets. I wonder what the hearing aids were for. Maybe so he could hear his would-be victims telling him what a dumbass he was?
Young people react with hostility to the Republicans on almost every measure and younger voters disagree on almost every major issue of the day. The range of the issue disagreements range from the most prominent issues of the day (Iraq, immigration) to burning social issues (gay marriage, abortion) to fundamental ideological disagreements over the size and scope of goverment. This leaves both potential Democratic nominees with substantial leades over Rudy Giuliani, but importantly, both Democrats still have some room to grow their support among younger voters. The current problems with the Republican brand are not fully reflected in young peoples' preferences in for President. The youth vote was what got the first Clinton elected. Old white guys, ignore it at your peril.
The survey also found that 15% named Illinois Senator Barack Obama and 11% picked former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson. Failing to reach double digits on this question were Arizona Senator John McCain at 7%, former North Carolina Senator John Edwards at 6%, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney at 2%.
(snip) Historically, national security has been an issue dominated by Republicans. Over the last year or two, especually since the Dubai Ports incident, the GOP has lost that advantage. Recent tracking polls have shown the two parties close to parity on the issue while the public generally prefers Democrats on a whole range of issues. Darn. All that nannystating for Jesus and authoritarianism gone to waste.
Thomas Ho admitted to falling asleep during surgery in December 2005 after taking a prescribed medication. Ho admitted that he "was under a great deal of personal stress," the state said in its complaint against him.
He also said he inhaled Isoflurane, an anesthetic, during his lunch break in January 2006 because he was having a panic attack and "felt like he was going to die." As opposed to the panic attack his patients might have felt had they known the Doc was a doper.
He warns, in the video segment posted by his campaign, that if we don't beat back these unnamed ogliarchs, "They're going to control the media. They're going to control what's being said."
He doesn't go into detail about who "They" are, other than a reference to people who make $100 million a year, and compares them to the (actual well-funded, conservative) operation that put the Swift Boat ads on the air. He also doesn't explain exactly how this corporate-media collaboration works, but his audience seems to be rapt. Well, at least he didn't say it was all done by the Jews. that would have been too obvious.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
The notion that I was somehow going to be inviting them over for tea next week without having initial envoys meet is ridiculous," he said in an interview outside his Senate office. "But the general principal is one that I thin Senator Clinton is wrong on, and that is if we are laying out preconditions that prevent us from speaking frankly to these folks, then we are continuing with Bush-Cheney policies."
Later Wednesday, the Clinton campaign issued a statement by former U.N. Ambassador Richard Hollbrooke, who is supporting her candidacy, taking issue with Obama's comments and saying she would bring an end to "the cowboy approach of the Bush years." Yeah, but the difference is, you get the idea that Obama would mean it. I would probably never vote for the guy, but this is one of the reasons why he is seen by so many as an alternative to Camp Hillary. When he talks, he can actually get you to listen to him.
The "trial" of David Hicks, which took place in March 2007, was a charade.
A pre-trial agreement had been signed and the balance of the legal procedings was entirely surplus to requirements, although designed to lay a veneer of due process over a political and pragmatic bargain. The veneer cracked immediately.
Ultimately, there has been no benefit from the process; only a corrosion of the rule of law.
No ground can be claimed to have been made in the so-called War on Terror. The Military Commission process at Guantanamo likewise has neither gained from it, nor shown any prospect of improvement. Well, it's not like a real trial would have mattered. After all, the law only applies to certain people, and even then Team Bush gets to decide who those people should be. After all, we gotta stop them terrists at all costs and anything goes, right?
PROVIDENCE, R.I.-Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.
"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patienst are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one," said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University. Well, I could think of far worse ways to go. Here's looking at you, kitty.
BOSTON-In a stinging rebuke of the FBI, a federal judge on Thursday ordered the government to pay a record judgement of nearly $102 million because agents withheld evidence that would have kept four men from spending decades in prison for a mob murder they did not commit.
Judge Nancy Gertner told a packed courtroom that agents were trying to protect informants when they encouraged a witness to lie, then withheld evidence they knew could prove the four men were not involved in the 1965 murder of Edward "Teddy" Deegan, a small-time thug shot in an alley.
Gertner said Boston FBI agents knew mob hitman Joseph "The Animal" Barboza lied when he named Joseph Salvati, Peter Limone, Henry Tameleo and Louis Greco as Deegan's killers. She said the FBI considered the four "collateral damage" in its war against the Mafia, the bureau's top priority in the 1960s.
Tameleo and Greco died behind bars, and Salvati and Limone spent three decades in prison before they were exonerated in 2001. Salvati, Limone and the families of the other men sued the federal government for malicious prosecution. "One day, when I have a long gray beard and two or three marbles rolling around upstairs, then they'll let me out."
This unidentified employee, who works for a NASA subcontractor, cut wires inside the computer that is supposed to be delivered to the international space station by Endeavour, said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's space operations chief. The worker also damaged a similiar computer that was not meant to fly in space.
The sabotage occured outside Florida. Gerstenmaier did not identify the subcontractor or where the damage took place.
NASA's inspector general office is investigating. How can you tell a Jihadist nerd from other Jihadists? He can identify every single Star Wars character before calling them all infidels.
Instead, their bottles provoke nightmares. Allen Hershkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council says, "It's ironic that on some of the labels of the bottles, you will see snow-capped mountains and glaciers when in fact the production of the bottle is contributing to global warming, which is melting those snowcaps and those glaciers."
Complaints like that have led San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome to issue an executive order banning city departments from purchasing bottled water, even for water coolers.
And Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson ordered his city's Fire Department to replace the usual chests of bottled water and sports drinks used to quench firefighters' thirst . Every firefighter will now be given a refillable 10-ounce container instead. And, get this, two city personnel will be assigned to fill them as they fight fires. I thought only high-schoolers got the job of water boy. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.
"I don't think the fact that it's coming from BET makes it right. I don't think the fact that these communities are sort of devouring themselves culturally is something we should be applauding," said nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Naverrette Jr. on a recent edition of NPR's "Barbershop: What's the Buzz?"
Even Bill O'Reilly joined the conversation. "It's degrading," he said. "There's nothing funny about it. It's not a freak show in the inner city. It's not." Don Imus hasn't released his statement on the show, yet.
Reginald Hudlin, president of entertainment at BET, said the show's core principals--encouraging discussion about the negative images of African-Americans in mainstream media--are the same as Bill Cosby's, or even Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama's.
That's a stretch. Obana's campaign has said nothing about the show thus far and probably never will. Hey, pushing negative stereotypes sells. Just ask any rapper.
Mueller was not in the hospital room at the time of the dramatic March 10, 2004 confrontation between then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and presidential advisers Andy Card and Gonzales, who was then serving as White House counsel. Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee he arrived shortly after they left, and spoke with the ailing Ashcroft.
"Did you have an understanding that the conversation was on TSP?" asked Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. TSP stands for terrorist surveillance program.
"I had an understanding the discussion was on an NSA program, yes," Mueller answered. Break out the popcorn, boys and girls, this one's gonna get real interesting.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
"Children have a right to a father and a mother, but not to two mothers or two fathers," Fernando Ferrin Calamita, a judge in the southeastern city of Murcia, wrote in a custody case ruling last month.
Ferrin said the mother, who was not identified, "Must choose between her children and her new partner," according to leading Spanish daily El Pais and other media.
The judge went on to order the mother to relinquish the children by the end of June and said the father-her former husband-should have custody. There are, unfortunately, stupid judges all over. We've got plenty of them right here at home, too.
The team aboard the mini-submarine Mir is expected to carry out scientific experiments and measurements on the sea bed.
Reports say it will also leave behind a Russian flag and a capsule with a message for future generations.
"The Arctic is ours and we should demonstrate our presence," Mr Chilingarov told Russian TV.
His colleague and fellow parliamentarian Vladimir Gruzdev was quoted as saying: "We must remind the whold world that Russia is a great polar and scientific power." I just hope the polar bears don't mind eating caviar.
Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (Alaska) both argued that the Internet was a dangerous place where parents alone will not be able to protect their children.
"While filitering and monitoring technologies help parents to screen out offensive content and to monitor their child's online activities, the use of these tehnologies is far from universal and may not be fool-proof in keeping kids away from adult material," Sen. Inouye said. "In that context, we must evaluate our current efforts to combat child pornography and consider what further measures may be needed to stop the spread of such illegal material over high-speed broadband connections." Hey, I'm all for stopping child porn, but putting Ted "It's All Tubes" Stevens in charge of anything Internet-related is like asking Ted Kennedy to be a designated driver. I guess personal responsibility is just too outdated these days.
Mark Gorton, chairman of the file-sharing program LimeWire, was the designated whipping boy. A congressman from Nashville was happy to flog away.
The most scathing criticism came from Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who launched into a lengthy monologue in which he deemed Gorton "one of the most naive chairmen and CEOs I've ever run acros," and accused his company of making the "skeleton keys" that grant access to material harmful to U.S. national security.
"I'd feel more than a shade of guilt at this point, having made the laptop a dangerous weapon against the security of the United States," Cooper said. "Mr. Gorton, you seem to lack imagination about how your product can be deliberately misused by evildoers against this country." (Cooper also, at one point, claimed that Gorton's own home computer was probably leaking sensitive documents.)
Hmmm...does anyone want to point out that the users themselves--you know, the federal employees who are dumb enough to install LimeWire on a computer with sensitive documents--may bear some of the responsibility? Yes, many of our politicians really are this stupid.
The Pope, speaking as he was concluding his holiday in northern Italy, also said the himan race must listen to "the voice of the Earth" or risk destroying its very existence.
In a talk with 400 priests, the Pope spoke of the current debate raging in some countries, particularly the US and his native Germany, between creationism and evolution.
"They are presented as alternatives that exclude each other," the Pope said.
"This clash is an absurdity because on one hand there is much scientific proof in favour of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such." Meanwhile, the directors of creationist museums were last seen with their heads exploding.
LOS ANGELES-A minister with mail order credentials who faces drug charges for distributing marijuana through his Hollywood church argued unsuccessfully Tuesday that federal law protects his use of the drug because he believes it is a religious sacrament.
The Rev. Craig X. Rubin, 41, the leader of the 420 Temple who has appeared in episodes of the Showtime comedy "Weeds," faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of possessing marijuana for sale. Jury selection was set to begin Wednesday.
He and some 400 members of his church believe marijuana is a religious sacrament and burn and smoke pot during services.
"We feel pot is the tree of life mentioned in the Bible, so it is incorporated into the ceremony," Rubin said before the hearing began. Well, why not? I'm pretty sure even the Apostles took a toke every now and again. That's why Jesus gave everybody free fish-they had the munchies!
The company said in a brief statement it would end the print version of the tabloid newspaper next month but would maintain the online version (www.weeklyworldnews.com).
"Due to the challenges in the retail and wholesale magazine marketplace that have impacted the newsstand, American Media, Inc. today announced it will close the print version of the Weekly World News, effective with the August 27 issue. Weekly World News was AMI's smallest weekly publication," the company said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters. No more Elvis sightings, end-of-the-world predictions, or tales of alien abduction. Some may say it died a well-deserved death, but for those of us with a sense of humor, the news world has become a whole lot duller.
In each house of Congress, Democrats are showing signs of returning to business as usual. In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has been holding up the ethics reform package because he wants to strip it of a earmark transparency provision that he and 97 other senators voted for in January.
Despite facing pressure from his own leadership, conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (R.-S.C.) won't relent, insisting the language be preserved. It's causing all sorts of heacaches for Reid, who is now facing criticism from liberal advocacy groups that don;t like the fact he refuses to release the text of the legislation.
The dirty little secret on Capitol Hill is that the text of the legislation was written months ago by a handful of people in a smoke-filled room. That's right. A bill that's supposed to bring ethics reform to Congress is itself antithetical to transparency.
Trouble is that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.Ky.) might just go along with it. According to Roll Call ($), conservatives fear that the consequences of Republican capitulation could be devestating. "For our leadership to vote against earmark reform and be AWOL on this debate is no way to win back the majority," one conservative staffer told the newspaper. If the GOP leadership can't get why they're a minority, the Republicans deserve to stay a minority.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
French doctors are amazed that a 44-year-old civil servant with an abormally small brain has led a normal life with a slightly lower than normal IQ, according to a report on Phsyorg.com.
Doctors said the father of two went into the Hospital de la Timone in Marseille with mild weakness in his left leg. He was given a CT scan and an MRI, which showed that his cerebral cavities or ventricles had massively expanded, according to a case history to be published in Saturday's Lancet.
"The brain itself, meaning the grey matter and white matter, was completely crushed against the sides of the skull," Dr. Lionel Feuillet told AFP. "The images were most unusual...the brain was virtually absent." It's not so unusual...I can think of at least a dozen or more Senators and Congressmen who are like that, and some presidential candidates, as well.
Britain and Russia have each expelled four diplomats in a spat over the murder and Moscow's refusal to extradite the chief suspect in the case.
"What they propose is an obvious vestige of colonial thinking," Putin was shown saying on Russian state television. Well, I'm sure Estonia, Poland and the rest of Mother Russia's neighbors will be glad to hear that Uncle Putin is now so opposed to colonial tendencies.
They were accompanied by the European Union's foreign affairs commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and the wife of France's president, Cecilia Sarkozy, who had helped secure their release and had flown with the medical workers from Libya.
In a press conference at the airport terminal, standing in front of the nurses, Bulgarian foreign minister, Ivailo Kalfin, said that the Bulgarian president, Georgi Parvanov, had pardoned the medical workers, this ending all their legal liabilities, to the emotional applause of the waiting crowd. I guess for Libya railroading foreign aid workers just wasn't worth it in the long run.
Cucciniello, a 55-year-old resident of Branford, Connecticut, was arrested in May by New York City police on charges that he took money from three undocumented Irish immigrants, promising to secure them permanent resident status but delivering nothing. These charges may just be the beginning: an investigation is under way in Connecticut, where authorities believe Cucciniello may have collected millions of dollars from more than 200 Irish immigrants over the last two years. It just goes to show-not all of the con artists in universities have to be with the faculty.
For Andrew and about a dozen people in our circle who have recently converted from vegetarianism, eating sustainable meat purchased from small farmers is a new form of activism-a way of striking a blow against the factory farming of livestock that books like Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma describe so damningly. Pollan estols the virtues of independent, small-scall producers who raise pasture-fed livestock in a sustainable and ethical manner. In contrast, he provides a compelling critique of factory farms, which cram thousands of cows, pigs or chickens into rows of cages in warehouses, feed them drugs to plump up their meet and fight off the illnesses caused by these inhumane conditions, and produce innumerable tons of environmentally destructive animal waste.
The terms "grass fed" and "pasture raised"-meaning that an animal was allowed to graze the old-fashioned way instead of being fed an unnatural and difficult-to-digest diet of mostly corn and other gran-have now entered the food-shopper's lexicon. But Andre and I didn't fully understand what those phrases meant until we got to know Greg Nauta of Rocky Canyon Farms. Nauta is a small-scale rancher and farmer from Atascadero, California, who grows organic vegetables and raises about 35 animals on pastureland. Since we met him at the Hollywood Farmer's Marker a year ago, it has become even clearer to us that supporting guys like him-by seeking out and paying a premium for sustainably raised meat-is the right thing for us to do. Once again, the consumer decides and the free market will provide. So much for nannystating our menus.
The group, organized by Code Pink and Women for Peace, bared their mammories in full view of God and country outside the San Francisco federal building at noon, calling on Pelosi to use her position as the most powerful woman in U.S. political history to impeach President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.
"We're here to press the Speaker to call for impeachment because the office of the presidency has been abused," said Sherry Glaser. "Whether it's spying on the American people, or false representation in going to war...these are impeachable offenses." And causing hysterical blindness is an offense too, ladies.
Muslims around the world increasingly reject suicide bombings and other violence against civilians, according to a new international poll dealing with how the world's population judges their lives, countries and national institutions.
A wide ranging survey of international attitudes in 47 countries by the Pew Research Center also reported that in many of the countries where support for suicide attacks has declined, there has also been decreasing support for Al Qaeda leader Usama Bin Laden.
The 95-page survey found that surging economic growth in many developing countries has encouraged people in these countries to express satisfaction with their personal lives, family income and national conditions, said Andrew Kohut, the center's director.
"It's a pro-globalization set of findings," Kohut said. Darn. Free trade and capitalism works. The Pat Buchanans of the Muslim world are going to be awfully disappointed.
BOULDER, Colo.-The University of Colorado's governing board on Tuesday fired a professor whose essay likening some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi leader provoked national outrage and led to an investigation of research misconduct.
Ward Churchill, who had vowed to sue if the Board of Regents took action against him, said immediately after the 8-1 vote was announced: "New game, new game."
Three faculty committees had accused Churchill of plagiarism, falsification and other misconduct. The research allegations stem from some of Churchill's other writings, although the investigation began after the controversy over his Sept. 11 essay. Well, if nothing else Cindy Sheehan needs a new speechwriter. Good riddance.
WASHINGTON (AP)-Angry senators suggested a special prosecutor should investigate misconduct at the Justice Department, accusing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday of deceit on the prosecutor firings and President Bush's eavesdropping program.
Democrats and Republicans alike hammered Gonzales in four hours of testimony as he denied trying, in 2004, to push a hospitalized former attorney general into approving a counterterror program that the Justice Department viewed as illegal.
Gonzales, alternately appearing wearied and seething, vowed anew to remain in his job even as senators told him outright they believe he is unqualified to stay.
He would not answer numerous questions, including whether the Bush administration would bar its U.S. attorneys from persuing contempt charges against former White House officials who have defied congressional subpoenas for their testimony.Mum's the word, Gonzo. Just remember that when you're out of work and wondering why the hell you were so loyal to King George.
James Oyebola, 47, was having a drink in the garden area of the venue when a dispute erupted over the new smoking ban.
One of the men pulled out a gun and fired at point-blank range into his face and leg.
Mr Oyebola, a father of two, was critically ill las night on a life support machine. His partner of 15 years and their children are keeping a vigil at his bedside. I'm sure that Michael Moore will be the first to blame this on the violent restaurant culture. After all, England is a crime-free paradise with no guns allowed, right?
The movie star was booked for investigation of driving under the influence and driving on a suspended license, both misdemeanors, and possession of cocaine and transport of a narcotic, both felonies, authorities said.
During a pre-booking search, police found cocaine in one of Lohan's pants pockets, Talbot said.
Several hours later, Lohan was released on $25,000 bail. Question: What do you call a revolving door in Hollywood? A: A rehab clinic.
What most of the troops, and Iraqi civilians, notice is the lower level of violence. Since the surge offensive began four months ago, Iraq (military and civilian) deaths have declined by more than 50 percent, and American casualties are down by over a third. U.S. troops are still taking the lead in moving into hostile areas, and being exposed to ambush and IEDs. But U.S. tactics and training have made enemy efforts much less lethal. This has helped demoralize an increasing number of terrorists. Many are tired of killing Iraqi civilians, and the increasing difficulty at getting at American troops. Look at this from the Iraqi perspective. In a very good month, Iraqis make a hundred or more attacks a day on American troops, and kill, on average, about four of them. While the terrorists make a big deal out of every American killed, they know that most of their attacks were not only failures, but got a lot of their buddies killed. On average, 10-20 terrorists die for every American killed. This has been going on for years, and an increasing number of Iraqi fighters are demoralized and quitting. Many either become informers, or surrender and speak freely. This is resulting in fresher intelligence, and raids that are catching terrorist cells preparing for operations, and in possession of weapons, bombs and incriminating documents. Hey, if it works I'm all for it. The problem is it should have happened at least three years ago and without nearly destroying our reputation as a country in the process. But here's hoping they can get the job done right this time.
A female police officer deployed in Tehrah's latest moral crackdown tells a woman that her manto (overcoat) is too short and infringes Iranian Islamic dress rules.
"Azizam (my dear), good afternoon. If possible could we have a friendly chat, please allow us to have a small chat," the officer, a graduate of Tehran's police academy, tells the young woman.
"My dear there is a problem with your manto. Please do not wear this kind of manto. Please wear a longer manto from now on."
Some are just let go there, but others are escorted to waiting minibuses with dark black tinted window panes and labelled "Guidance Patrol." Morality police. This is what happens to a once-civilized society when they are allowed to take over. American fundamentalists, please take note.
Many have arrived with large suitcases or bags holding their belongings, which they keep in sight. Several are smoking cigarettes. One works a crossword puzzle. Another bangs a tambourine, while several drum on large white buckets. Some of the men walking the line call out to passing women, "Hey, baby." A few picketers gyrate and dance while chanting: "What do we want? Fair wages. When do we want them? Now."
Although their placards identify the picketers as being with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters, they are not union members.
They're hired feet, or, as the union calls them, temporary workers, paid $8 an hour to picket. Many were recruited from homeless shelters or transitional houses. Several have recently been released from prison. Others are between jobs.
"It's about the cash," said Tina Shaw, 44, who lives in a House of Ruth women's shelter and has walked the line at various sites. "We're against low wages, but I'm here for the cash."
Carptenters locals across the country are outsourcing their picket lines, hiring the homeless, students, retirees and day laborers to get their message across. Larry Hujo, a spokesman for the Indiana-Kentucky Regional Council of Carpenters, calls it a "shift in the paradigm" of picketing.
Political groups also are tapping into local homeless shelters for temps. The wages may not be that great, but I understand the union has a great health plan.
Legends say that an entry to the underground realms was located somewhere in the North, and legendary ancient tribes living on the planet centuries ago used the entries to have a good shelter under the Earth's surface. Mystics believe that the entry to the legendary Hyperborea, Shambala and Plutonia is carefully concealed from outsiders somewhere close to the North Pole. Recently, a reliable edition reported that UFOs coming to this planet start not from space but burst out from huge holes under the surface in the North Pole. I wonder if Putin's been listening to mystics. It might explain a few things.
"We've been moving back to 'buy local,'" Mrs. Edwards said, outlining a trade policy that "acknowledges the carbon footprint" of transporting fruit.
"I live in North Carolina. I'll probably never eat a tangerine again," she said, speaking of a time when the fruit reaches the price that it "needs" to be.
Edwards had talked about "sacrifice" at the meeting, but Elizabeth's suggestion illustrated just how difficult it is to sell the specifics of sacrifice. I can see how that might be when you have your own estate, with enough room to grow all the fruit you'll need.
Monday, July 23, 2007
(snip) Gingrich mocked Republican presidential candidates for subjecting themselves to a May debate hosted by Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball."
"You're watching an utterly irrelevant, shallow television celebrity dominate everybody who claimed they want to lead the most powerful nation in the world," he said.
Gingrich ridiculed "the idea of 10 or 11 people standing passively at microphones," and said he refused to "shrink to the level of 40-second answers, standing like a trained seal, waiting for someone to throw me a fish." Newt's problem is that he's probably too smart for the job. As for trained seals, maybe they ought to run for Congress. That's where the real circus is.
The government's call to work is crucial to its ambitious campaign to revitalize the French economy by increasing both employment and consumer buying power. Somehow Mr. Sarkozy and his team hope to persuade the French that it is in their interest to abandon what some commentators call a nationwide "laziness" and to work longer and harder, and maybe even get rich.
France's legally mandated 35-hour work week gives workers a lot of leisure time but not necessarily the means to enjoy it. Taxes on high-wage earners are so burdensome that hordes have fled abroad. (Mr. Sarkozy cites the case of one of his stepdaughters, who works in an investment-banking firm in London.)
In her National Assembly speech, Ms. Lagarde said that there should be no shame in personal wealth and that the country needed tax breaks to lure the rich back. They're asking the French to actually WORK for a living? Who do they think they are-Americans?
CARACAS, Venezuela-President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that foreigners who publicly criticize him or his government while visiting Venezuela will be expelled from the country.
Chavez ordered officials to closely monitor statements made by international figures during their visits to Venezuela-and deport any outspoken critics.
"How long are we going to allow a person-from any country in the world-to come to our own house to say there's a dictatorship here, that the president is a tyrant, and nobody does anything about it?" Chavez asked during his weekly television and radio program. Hey, Baby Hugo-it's called free speech. You believe in it, don't you? After all, it's not like you were a Communist thug or anything, right?
"Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointee's ideological, theological or political agenda is often ignored, marginalized or simply buried," Carmona said. "The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is noothing worse than ignoring science or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds."
This is a common criticism of the Bush administration, made most throroughly in journalist Chris Mooney's 2005 book, The Republican War on Science. When it comes to issues such as global warming, stem cell research or the teaching of evolution-the argument goes-the White House adopts what you might call a "fath-based" approach to science, not an approach grounded in empiricism. This is Bush in a nutshell. When it comes to the word of the Almighty versus that pesky science, he'll take the Almighty. After all, He's on the Republicans' side, right?
Sunday, July 22, 2007
All Marines must now qualify for their tan belt in the Corps' version of martial arts by the end of 2007, Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway said in a recent Corps-wide message.
The move mostly affects those who joined before 2001, when the service made the Marine Corps Martial Arts program part of basic training and the Basic School, said 1st Let. Brian P. Donnelly, a spokseman for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. Now they won't sleep. They'll wait.
The money was allocated in January and May after the killings of two top commanders, Mullah Osmani and Mullah Dadullah, and the arrest of Mullah Obaidullah, all members of the Taliban's ruling shura, or council.
British officials expected this would lead to a dip in the Taliban morale and encourage less extremist members to cross over, fearing that they were on the losing side-the so-called "Dadullah effect".
Instead, heavy fighting has continued in the southern province of Helmand, where British forces have suffered 23 deaths so far this year. The only Taliban who had defected have mostly been foot soldiers, of whom there seems to be an unlimited supply, both from the madrasahs, or religious schools, in Pakistan and among disillusioned Afghans.
"It hasn't had the results we'd hoped," admitted a senior Foreign Office official, "though not for want of effort on our part." If you're going to buy somebody off, at least throw in a few incentives along with the cash. A new home theater, maybe, or free lessons on how to use soap.
"It means they don't participate in our operations," said Hamadoun Toure, spokesman for the U.N. mission in Cote d'lvoire (ONUCI). "Those who are found guilty will be sent back home."
The world body said the measure was in addition to a decision to confine the entire battalion of 734 soldiers to barracks. Well, at least that way they'll have each other...
EL PASO, Texas-Wholesale prices of cocaine have risen in more than a dozen major U.S. cities as supplies of the powerful drug have shrunk, including in high-volume markets such as Los Angeles and New York, White House drug czar John Walters said.
But the same federal report that Walters said indicates the short supply also suggests that producers might be stockpiling cocaine in South America or Mexico, perhaps waiting until the time is right to export to the United States.
The scarcity was first noted in a May report by the National Drug Intelligence Center, said Walters, who heads the Office of National Drug Control Policy. I say its high time (pardon the pun) we got off our dependence on foreign dope. Support American blow!
CHICAGO-The yellow school bus runbles through vacant lots and past demolished buildings, full of people who have paid $20 for a tour of what was once among the most dangerous areas of this or any other city in the United States.
But for the woman with the microphone, this "Ghetto Bus Tour" isn't just another way to make a buck from tourists. It's the last gasp in her crusade to tell a different story about Chicago's notorious housing projects, something other than well-known tales about gang violence so fierce that residents slept in their bathtubs to avoid bullets.
"I want you to see what I see," says Beauty Turner, aftere leading the group off the bus to a weedy lot where the Robert Taylor Homes once stood. "To hear the voices of the voiceless." Nightly gun battles and slums. Ah, the good old days.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
By "dangerous ideas" I don't have in mind harmful technologies, like those behind weapons of mass destruction, or evil ideologies, like those of racist, fascist or other fanatical cults. I have in mind statements of fact or policy that are defended with evidence and argument by serious scientists and thinkers but which are felt to challenge the collective decency of an age. The ideas listed above, and the moral panic that each one of them has incited during the past quarter century, are examples. Writers who have raised ideas like these have been vilified, censored, fired, threatened and in some cases physically assaulted.
While people of good will can disagree, I believe that there are no dangerous truths. It is always better to know than to remain ignorant. For the sake of argument, Pinker enterains the notion that some ideas may, indeed, be too dangerous to air publicly. Why? Perhaps because malevolent people may seize on the ideas to justify harming other people or groups. He also properly urges us to be "suspicious when the danger in a dangerous idea is to someone rather than its advocate."
But in the end, Pinker concludes:
Though I am more sympathetic to the argument that important ideas be aired rather than to the argument that they should sometimes be suppressed, I think it is a debate we need to have. Whether we like it or not, science has a habit of turning up discomfiting thoughts, and the Internet has a habit of blowing their cover. Go read the aforementioned list. Some of the ideas will no doubt be offensive. But the truth can often hurt, and the whole idea of living in a free society is the right to express unpopular or morally challenging opinions. One man's thought crime is another man's scientific truth. Which is more important-dealing with that truth, or trying to pretend that it doesn't exist?
WASHINGTON-President Bush signed an executive order Friday prohibiting cruel and inhuman treatment, including humiliation or denigration of religious beliefs, in the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects.
The White House declined to say whether the CIA currently has a detention and interrogation program, but said if it did, it must adhere to the guidelines outlined in the executive order. The order targets captured Al Qaeda terrorists who have information on attack plans or the whereabouts of the group's senior leaders.
"Last September, the president explained how the CIA's program had disrupted attacks and saved lives, and that it must continue on sound legal footing," Whote House press secretary Tony Snow said. "The president has insisted on clear legal standards so that CIA officers invilved in this essential work are not placed in jeopardy for doing their job-and keeping America safe from attacks." Well, Tony, the problem is that Bush himself has decided what those legal standards should be, and most of them wouldn't pass muster in an actual court of law. But yeah, just keep saying it's all fer keeping Amurka safe from terrists.
ABUJA (Reuters)-Nigerian schoolchildren who received laptips from a U.S aid organization have used them to explore pornographic sites on the Internet, the official News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported Thursday.
NAN said its reporter had seen pornographic images stored on several of the childrens' laptops.
"Efforts to promote learning with laptops at a primary school in Abuja have gone awry as the pupils freely browse adult sites with explicit sexual materials," NAN said. Well, maybe now their parents will stop sending us those Emails asking for "Investments..."
Not so George Walker Bush. Among Republicans, 63 percent still think he is doing an outstanding job.
Congress now has no base outside of its staff, the reporters who cover it and Mom, and even she is wavering.
I am not laughing. I am not gloating. I am troubled.
I am not alone. Law professor Glenn Reynolds, who runs the Instapundit Web site, wrote, "This has gone past the point of being funny. It's really worrisome."
In a democracy, people must have faith in their institutions. In a totalitarian government, fear will do.
The problem is that neither party shows leaders in Washington who are in touch with the realities that their constituents face. Congressmen and senators have too much money, too much power, and too much tenure. Add to that the fact that people are getting tired of replacing one set of nanystating big spenders with another. They say that the first job of a politician is to get reelected. That may be so, but eventually they also have to show WHY they should get the job. So far, neither party has been up to the task.
The key oil industry, which accounts for more than 75 per cent of the government's income, is being starved of cash. Efforts to attract some $15 billion in foreign investments in the oil and gas industries have borne no fruit. Foreign investors are wary of violating United Nations sanctions or running afoul of the US Treasury's plans to put the financial squeeze on the Islamic Republic.
All this may seem surprising if only because Iran has earned almost $150 billion from oil exports since Ahmadinejad won the presidency in 2005. So, where did the money go? Call me crazy, but I think that "Peaceful" nuclear program might have had something to do with it...
Friday, July 20, 2007
Shays reportedly grabbed the officer during the dispute over whether the officer should allow a group of tourists to enter the building, said several sources. Tourists are not allowed to use the West Front entrance, but Shays was trying to bring the group through that entrance amyway. The officer refused to allow them in, and Shays then "yelled and screamed" at the officer, including using profanities, the sources said. If you think he's yelling and screaming now, wait until the GOP loses another election...
Press secretary Tony Snow told reporters Friday that Bush will have the procedure looking for signs of cancer at his Camp David Md., mountaintop retreat.
He last had such a colorectal cancer check on June 29, 2002. It will be a normal procedure, except that they will have to remove Mr. Bush's head from his ass first.
I keed, I keed!
What: A fatwa is simply a religious ruling in Islam-most often, it seems, fatwas are about sexual matters-but Westerners usually associate the term with the notorious 1989 death sentence against British author Salman Rushdie. At the time, Khomeini was seeking to distract his followers from the pointless slaughter of the recently ended Iran-Iraq war, during which hundreds of thousands of Iranians were killed and wounded. Rushdie had just authored The Satanic Verses, an edgy novel about the origins of the Koran, and thus proved the perfect foil for Khomeini's designs. Thousands of irate Muslims around the world protested the book as an insult to Islam. For a decade, Rushdie lived in hiding, fearing assassination for his "apostasy." More recently, when Queen Elizabeth II knighted the author for his literary achievements, al Qaeda called for retaliation against Britain. And Khomeini's successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini, reversed his earlier position and said that the original 1989 fatwa remains in force.
Who:Rashad Hassan Khali, former dean of Islamic law at al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt
What: When Khalil ruled in January 2006 that for married couples, "being completely naked during the act of coitus annuls the marriage," liberal Egyptians howled with derision. Other scholars rejected Khalil's logic on the grounds that everything but "sodomy" is halil in marriage. Absorbing the criticism but seeking to appease religious conservatives, Abdullah Megawar, the fatwa committee chairman at Al-Azhar, reached for an awkward compromise. Sure, he said, a husband and wife could see one another naked, but should not look at each other's genitals. And they should probably have sex under a blanket, he added for good measure.
Who: Saudi Arabia's Higher Council for Scientific Research and Islamic Law
What: Denouncing the lovable Japanese cartoon characters as having "possessed the minds" of Saudi youngsters, Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority banned Pokemon video games and cards in the spring of 2001. Not only do Saudi scholars believe that Pokemon encourages gambling, which is forbidden in Islam, but it is apparently a front for Israel as well. The fatwa's authors claimed that Pokemon games include, "the Star of David, which everyone knows is connected to international Zionism and is Israel's national emblem." Religious authorities in the United Arab Emirates joined in, condemning the games for promoting evolution, "a Jewish-Darwinist theory that conflicts with the truth about humans and with Islamic principals," but didn't ban them outright. Even the Catholic Church in Mexico got into the act, calling Pokemon video games "demonic." There are a couple more, but you get the idea. Islamic fundamentalism-keeping ignorance in the top ten for more than a thousand years!
But for all that, I still don't hate Bush. I think he is a small, shallow, feeble-minded man, whose "resolve" you cherish is merely the result of a man incapable of thinking on the spot and changing course. While he is ultimately responsible for anything that has been done during his tenure, I am of the opinion that he is little more than a puppet.
So, Hugh, I don;t hate him. In fact, I almost feel sorry for him. This will go down as the most incompetent and morally compromized administration in history, and when those history books look back, they will not refer to this sorry period as the "Cole administration," nor will they refer to it as the "Hewitt administration," despite the fact that so very many of your bad ideas have, in fact, been instituted (and usually not because they reflect or represent your 'dep' princaples, but because you felt there was some sort of immediate political/electoral gain to be seized). History will dub this sorry era as the Bush Administration. Unfortunately, kool-aid drinkers like Hugh Hewitt and his ilk have come to represent the state of conservative discourse in this country. Dumbing down your ideas to talking points, calling anyone who dares to challenge you or your sycophants on Bush's lack of actual conservatism or originality un-American and therefore by definition a traitor, making excuses and rationalizing, parroting the Bush administration's simplistic responses because you can't come up with any of your own-this is honest? I'm sorry; I must have missed something.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) yesterday released a revamped database detailing misconduct by the top 50 government contractors, including some of the world's largest military hardware, information technology, construction and energy companies. The database is stirring up criticism from industry members concerned that minor or even irrelevant issues are given too much attention.
POGO, which for years has criticized government waste in defense-related and other programs, said it set up the database due to the lack of centralized federal tracking of misconduct. The next time you see something built by the lowest bidder, ask yourself how much money was spent before it became a piece of overpriced crap.
NEW YORK-Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton now holds a slight lead over top Republican Rudy Giuliani for the first time in a hypothetical 2008 presidential matchup. In fact, to varying degrees, Clinton and fellow Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama beat every Republican candidate they are tested against in the latest FOX News Poll.
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from July 17 to July 18. The poll has a 3-point error margin.
President Bush can do little to give Republicans a boost as his own ratings remain dismal. Today, 32 percent of Americans say they approve of the job Bush is doing and 61 percent disapprove. His current approval is just 1 point higher than his record-low 31 percent approval rating received last month (June 26-27). Aye, and there's the rub. Presiding over a party that lost both houses of Congress and blowing all of your political capitol in the process is not a smart thing to do in the face of an upcoming, pivotol election. But they have no one but themselves to blame.
PARIS-A French judge questioned former President Jacques Chirac for more than four hours Thursday in an investigation into a party financing scandal that dates to his time as mayor of Paris, his lawyer said.
It was the first time a French former president has undergone questioning under such conditions, and marks a sobering point in Chirac's four-decade political career.
The party financing investigation is the most potent of a string of potential legal problems the 74-year-old Chirac faces now that he no longer has presidential immunity. It remains unclear whether Chirac, who turned over power to Nicolas Sarkozy in May, will ever be tried in this or other legal cases implicating him. I don't know if punishing him for anything is really the answer. It seems that having to live with the shame of being a French leader is enough.
LOS ANGELES-The co-founder of semiconductor maker Broadcom Corp., under scrutiny in a federal stock options probe, was accused seven years ago of building an underground hideaway at his estate to indulge in drugs and sex with prostitutes, according to court documents.
In a draft complaint made against Henry T. Nicholas III, a construction crew claimed the billionaire failed to pay them millions of dollars for work performed between 1998 and 2002, and used "manipulation, lies, intimidation, and even death threats" when anyone threatened to quit.
The illegal network of tunnels and rooms underneath Nicholas' Laguna Hills estate was kept secret from his wife and city officials, the documents said. If you want to be a pimp, at least have the decency to do it above ground. Yikes!
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