Friday, November 30, 2007

Uncle Putin's Peeps

He may have restarted the Cold War, but hey, the people love him.
President Putin is very popular. Following uncertainty, confusion and unraveling in the 1990's, Putin has brought back stability to Russia. Symbolically, and on substance such as deployment of missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic, Putin has stood up to President Bush and the West, which earns him Russians' appreciation and admiration. And, most important, Russia's vast oil and gas reserves and skyrocketing energy prices have provided an enormous economic boom. For the first time there is a substantial Russian middle class and amply consumer goods available in Moscow stores.
And I'll bet he makes the trains run on time, too.

Enjoy Your Crow

Mutterin' Murtha is the latest to flip-flop on Iraq.
Murtha, one of the most ardent critics of President Bush's war policy, on Friday issued a statement softening his assessment of the troop surge, calling it "a window of opportunity." Murtha is one of the most powerful House Democrats when it comes to war funding.

The Pennsylvania Democrat gave qualified but likely his most glowing remarks Thursday about the Iraq war.

"I think the surge is working, but that's only one element," said Murtha, who chairs the defense appropriations subcommittee. "And the surge is working for a couple of different reasons. And one reason is the increase in troops."
Careful, there, Murtha, somebody might think we're actually (gasp!) succeeding or something.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Case Of The Glowing Gangsters

And it was all done without Jack Bauer.
A gang arrested by Slovokian police was trafficking uranium so enriched it could have been used by terrorists in a dirty bomb, it emerged today.

Two Hungarians and a Ukranian man were arrested as they tried to sell the uranium last night. The consignment had been tracked by police after it came to their attention inside the former Soviet Union.

A total of 481.4 grams of uranium was found and investigators believe it contained 98.6 per cent uranium-235. Uranium is considered weapons-grade if it contains at least 85 per cent uranium-235.

"According to preliminary information, the material could have been used to make a so-called dirty bomb," Michal Kopcik, a senior Slovakian police official told a news conference today.
The pro-torture crowd will not be pleased. Old-fashioned police work? Don't these Slovakian cops know that the only way to prevent a terrorist attack is to waterboard somebody until they crack?

Berkeley Gets Tough (In Their Own Way)

You call this a crackdown? Well, for them it is.
After months of hand-wringing, the Berkeley City Council this week passed a law to hire monitors to patrol city streets and parks and report inappropriate behavior by the homeless and others to police and social service agencies.

The plan makes it easier for police to enforce a law against camping in public places. It bans lying down on commercial streets during the day and bars smoking on sidewalks on main commercial corridors.

It was a heart-wrenching decision for leaders of a city that was home to the Free Speech Movement, the hippies and an assortment of other anti-extablishment causes.

"A lot of the council had a hard time with it," said Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, a city spokeswoman. "It is nothing that anyone really wants to do."

It was Berkeley's reputation for tolerance and generous social services that helped attract so many homeless.
Wow, ya think that was maybe part of the problem, right there?

No More Beer Fridges, Eh?

Canadians are slow to anger. But this is likely to get them up in arms (if they have any).
Scientists have found a new threat to the planet: Canadian beer drinkers.

The government-commissioned study says the old, inefficient "beer fridges" that one in three Canadian households use to store their Molson and Labatt's contribute significantly to global warming by guzzling gas-and coal-fired electricity.

"People need to understand the impact of their lifestyles," British environmental consultant Joanna Yarrow tells New Scientist magazine. "Clearly the environmental implications of having a frivolous luxury like a beer friedge are not hitting home. This research helps inform people-let's hope it has an effect."
I think it will-it will give Canadians yet another excuse to drink.

United Church Of Assholery

Talk about putting lipstick on a pig.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-An anti-Semetic church formed by white supremacists has abandoned its neo-Nazi imagery, such as swastikas, to make its message more palatable, a change that a leading Jewish group called an attempt to "sanitize hatred."

The group banned the use of Nazi uniforms, red arm bands and similar regalia because they were an instant turnoff to people who might otherwise be open to the church's teachings, including the belief that white Anglo-Saxons-not Jews-are God's chosen people in the Bible.

"We don't like the swastikas. We don't like the negativity," said JonathanWilliams, the leading pastor of the United Church of YHWH. "The majority of people see that as pure evil."
Well, now they can be as mainstream as they wanna be. The scary part is, there are people who will now buy into their line of BS.

The Indians Are Back

It's on again, after all.
A high school that canceled its student theater production of "Ten Little Indians" reversed its decision Thursday to allow the show to go on despite complaints about a racial slur in the original title of the Agatha Christie novel.

The best-selling murder mystery originally was named "Ten Little N--ers" when it was published in England in 1939. It was never published under that name in the United States.

Lakota Superintendent Mikd Taylor apologized, announcing plans to make some changes to the play to homor diversity in the southwestern Ohio community.

"We need to move forward," Taylor said in a statement. "I believe the best way forward is to allow the performance of the play to occur while using it as a learning vehicle."
Sorry, thought police. No censorship this time.

Shotgun

"Can't we all just drink along?"
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.-Southern California police said 1991 police-beating victim Rodney King has been shot, but his wounds are not life-threatening.

Rialto police Sgt. Don Lewis told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that King was hit in the face and arm by shotgun pellets on a San Bernardino street corner Wednesday night. He bicycled to his home in Rialto to call police and was taken to a hospital.

Police said when they arrived at the home, King and others there appeared drunk and few were cooperative in providing information.
Since they most likely saw extra cops that weren't there, they probably thought it was a raid.

Apophisacolypse Now

I thought SG1 already took care of this guy.
Using limited observations and lots of high-end computer modeling, astronomers have gotten a better handle on the limitations of asteroid-track forecasting in a new study of a potentially threatening asteroid called 99942 Apophis.

In this high-stakes game of Whack-a-Cosmic Mole, just knowing exactly what it is you don't know can be useful.

Apophis' chance of hitting our planet in its first pass in 2029 is now slim to none, but astronomers will have to wait four to six years before they can predict what it might do during a second pass in 2036.

A team of scientists arrived at the conclusion after accounting for small influences like the solar wind, gravitational drag of smaller asteroids and human error.
Cripes, I'd better find a place to hide, then...

One Little, Two Little, Ten Little Censors

It's censorship on the PC Express.
An Ohio high school has canceled its student theater production of "Ten Little Indians" after local residents complained about a racial slur in the original title of the Agatha Christie novel, which never has been published under that name in this country.

The best-selling murder mystery originally was named "Ten Little N--ers" when it was published in England in 1939.

The name of the book was changed for production in the United States, and the school was using the name "Ten Little Indians" for the play's title. The book also has been renamed in some productions as "And Then There Were None," which is the closing line of the nursery rhyme with the novel's name.

The play was to be performed this week by students at Lakota East High School in Liberty Township, Ohio.

Students now will perform "Harvey," scheduled for February.
Well, I say "Harvey" is prejudiced against people with invisible friends because everybody thinks Jimmy Stewart is crazy. Whoops, better not give anybody any ideas...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Fudgemobile

No war for...Hershey's?
We've all heard about cars powered by wacky biofuels, including switchgrass and leftover French fry oil. Now, two British men who love the environment are trekking from Britain to Timbuktu in a truck whose fuel comes from cocoa butter extracted from waste chocolate (as in, like, misshapen Easter bunnies).

The vehicle is a Ford Iveco cargo truck, and as it travels 4,500 miles to Timbuktu, it will burn 2,000 liters of biodiesel orginating from 4,000 kg 98,800 lbs.) of misshapen chocoloage. That's enough of the sweet stuff to make 80,000 chocolate bars.
I wonder who gets to lick the tank when it's empty?

Not In Their Back Yard

It's been a bad week for extremists in the Middle East.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 26--Voters rebuked Islamic politicians in parliamentary elections in Jordan last week, following poor showings by Islamic-oriented political blocs in Egypt and Morocco over the past six months.

Islamic political movements are holding their ground in some other parts of the Middle East, but official manipulation of elections in Jordan and elsewhere is driving down voter turnout and curbing support for Islamic political blocs and political opposition groups overall, according to analysts, politicians and voters. In some cases, the Islamic groups have been hurt by internal dissension and political miscalculations.
I guess the idea of blowing yourself up to get the virgins doesn't have the appeal they were hoping for...too bad.

World Wide Identity

The Balkanization of the Web is upon us.
The Latino community may soon have its own top-level domain, .LAT, if a proposal by two organizations goes through. eCOM-LAC, an organization that works to ensure regional representation of Latin America, and NIC Mexico, the entity that manages the top-level domain of .MX for Mexico, announced the new extension earlier this month as an effort to "identify, differentiate, and add value to Internet resources related with Latinos."

Because Latin American culture extends far beyond the geographical boundaries of any one (or several) countries, the organizations feel that .LAT will help identify culturally-targeted sites to the community and the rest of the world. The domain extension has not yet been approved by ICAAN, but the definition of .LAT will get the ball rolling while eCOM-LAC and NIC Mexico complete the application to have it approved as a new top-level domain.
In that case, I want my own cultural domain name. Would .HILLBILLY be acceptable?

N.O.W. M.I.A.

So what are Western, particularly American, feminists saying about that British teacher who faces flogging for letting a teddy bear bear the Prophet's name? Not much, apparently.
In the U.S., a spokeswoman for the National Organization for Women said the situation is definitely on the radar, and N.O.W. is not ignoring it.

But she added that the U.S.-based organization is not putting out a statement or taking a position.

Radio personality Tammy Bruce, former president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women and past member of their board of directors, criticized the organization for not taking a stand.

"We have a duty to make a difference for women around the world," Bruce told FOX News. "The supposed feminist establishment is refusing to take a position in this regard because they have no sensibility of what is right anymore. They're afraid of offending people. They are bound by political correctness."

"The American feminist movement has not taken one stand to support the women of Iraq, the women of Afghanistan, the women of Iran," she said. "It is the United States Marines who have been doing the feminist work by liberating women and children around the world."
N.O.W. and other groups haven't taken a stand because they're too busy demonizing American men, including fathers, as wife and child abusers. Apparently the rest of the world doesn't matter.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Bluehair Brigade

Senility, thy name is electability.
Many young women have been enthusiastic supporters, but Mrs. Clinton, of New York, has shown particular pride in the women in their 70s, 80s and 90s at her events. She spends extra time with them on the rope line and repeats their stories to audiences.

"A couple of weeks ago in New Hampshire, a woman said, 'I'm 98 years old, this will probably be my last election, we need to hurry up," Mrs. Clinton recounted recently in Vinton, Iowa. "And I said, 'I don't know, I may need you for my re-election.' And she said, 'Well, my doctor just put in a new pacemaker, and she says it's good for seven years.'"

The Clinton campaign is courting these women in Iowa as the senator seeks an edge in a three-way fight with Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and John Edwards of North Carolina to win the state's caucuses on Jan. 3.
She should just wait until they're dead. That's the way JFK did it...

Annapolis, The Mirror Universe Version

Now this is what I would call a target-rich environment.
Iran said on Tuesday that it had invited Palestinian militant factions to a meeting in Tehran aimed at countering a US-hosted Middle East peace conference seeking to kickstart the peace process.

"These groups are planning to come to Tehran within the next week or two and they are all the Palestenian groups that are struggling for the freedom of their land," government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters.

Iran is one of the most vocal backers of Palestinian militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad and pledged millions of dollars in 2006 to the then Hamas government crippled by a Western aid cut.
I'm surprised Hugo Chavez wasn't invited to attend. Everyone knows you can't have a decent anti-Western meeting without him.

Merry Solstice, Cheeseheads

It's the most politically correct time of the year.
Another battle over separation of church and state may be on the horizon with a proposal scheduled to go in front of an Assembly committee Wednesday.

The issue? What to call the tree that sits in the State Capitol during the holiday season.

Currently the tree is being referred to as a "holiday tree," but the resolution that will be brought to the Committee on State Affairs would rename it as the Wisconsin State Christmas Tree.

Michael Schoenfield, legislative aide to Rep. Martin Schneider, D-Wisconsin Rapids, who is sponsoring the resolution, said the state should refer to the tree as a Christmas tree because that is what it is.

"A rose is a rose is a rose," Schoenfield said. "Whatever you call it, it is going to be a Christmas tree, so call it what it is."
Ah, but what about those who celebrate Festivus?

Mo Money Mo Problems

You know you're rich when your lawyer is on trial along with you.
Brooke Astor's only son and one of her former lawyers have been indicted on criminal charges stemming from the stewardship of her financial affairs and the handling of her will, according to people who were briefed on the situation.

Her son, Anthony D. Marshall, 83, and the lawyer, Francis X. Morrisey Jr., have been told to surrender to authorities today, those who were briefed said.

A Manhattan grand jury has been hearing evidence from witnesses since mid-September, following an investigation by the district attorney's office into, among other issues, the management of Mrs. Astor's fortune by Mr. Marshall as well as Mr. Morrisey's role in the signing of a third amendment to her 2002 will.
Stealing from your Mom is low. Stealing from her when you've already got more money than God is even lower.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bug Juice

Will lefties someday be saying "No war for insects?"
"The termite is a remarkable machine," said Dr. Raymond L. Orbach, Under Secretary for Science, U.S. Department of Energy, whose program supports DOE JGI. "Termites can digest a frightening amount of wood in a very short time, as anyone who has had termites in their house is painfully aware. Instead of using harsh chemicals or excess heat to do so, termites employ an array of specialized microbes in their hindguts to break down the cell walls of plant material and catalyze the digestion process. Industrial-scale DNA sequencing by DOE JGI was key to identifying the genetic structures that comprise the tools that termites use. Our task now is to discover the metabolic pathways generated by these structures to figure out how nature digests plant materials. We can then synthesize the novel enzymes discovered through this project to accelerate the delivery of the next generation of celluosic biofuels."
Nature's little homewreckers, coming soon to a biofuel station near you.

No Love Lott

Now that he's quitting, the commentators in the vast rightwing blogosphere are having thier say. I think this says it best:
"Lott will most likely be remembered for his arrogance and his inability to adapt to the paradigms of open government in the Internet/blogosphere era," says conservative Ed Morrisey in a Captain's Quarters post that reads like a political obituary. He "could have led the Republicans to adapt to the new reality and become the vanguard of ethics reform and smaller government, but instead remained entrenched in the trappings of a vanishing era. When challenged, he lashed out instead of listened, and now he walks away with little credibility left."
Sounds like an apt description of most Bush Republicans. With the Bush years coming to a close, here's hoping the GOP can learn from the mistakes it made by letting Lott and his ilk hold the reins.

The Queen's Complaint

Hillary the Inevitable? Maybe not.
WASHINGTON 9Reuters)-Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton trails five top Republican presidential contenders in general election match-ups, a drop in support from this summer, according to a poll released on Monday.

Clinton's top Democratic rivals, Barack Obama and John Edwards, still lead Republicans in hypothetical match-ups ahead of the November 4, 2008, presidential election, the survey by Zogby Interactive showed.

Clinton, a New York senator who has been at the top of the Democratic pack in national polls in the 2008 ract, trails Republican candidates Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mike Huckabee by three to five percentage points in the direct matches.
With the exception of John McCain, I'm not exactly thrilled by any of the Republican contenders, but I'd still take one of them over She Who Awaits. The funny thing is, I think many Democratic voters probably feel the same way.

Gore Has Arrived

How weird must this have felt for both men?
WASHINGTON (AP)-Talk about an inconvenient truth. Al Gore finally won his place in the Oval Office on Monday-right next to George W. Bush. Forever linked by the closest and craziest presidential race in history, the two men were reunited by, of all things, White House tradition.

Gore was among the 2007 Nobel Prize winners who were invited in for a photo and some chatter with the president; Gore got the recognition for his work on global warming.

The two men stood together, sharing uncomfortable grins for photographers and reporters, who were quickly ushered in and out.

"Familiar faces," the former vice president said of the media. Bush, still smiling, added nothing.
I'd have given a million bucks to know what was going through Bush's head at that moment.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Let's Talk

What's wrong with talking to a country like Syria? It's only OK when Bush does it.
WASHINGTON-Arab holdout Syria agreed Sunday to attend a Mideast peace conference called by President Bush to restart talks to resolve the six-decade conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, yet expectations for the summit remained low. The two sides came to Washington without agreeing on basic terms for their negotiations.

Bush invited the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to separate meetings at the White House on Monday to prepare for the centerpiece of his Mideast gathering-an all-day session Tudsday in Annapolis, Md. It is to be the only time that Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meet together, and their three-way handshake is expected to be the conference's symbolic high point. Bush closes the U.S. effort with a second set of separate Israeli and Palestinian meetings at the White House on Wednesday.

"The broad attendance at this conference by regional states and other key international participants demonstrates the international resolve to seize this important opportunity to advance freedom and peace in the Middle East," Bush said in a statement Sunday.
Who would have thought that Bush would have gone from being Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon to Jimmy Carter?

Black Gold For Everyone

John Edwards has added America's Oilman to the list of things he wants to be.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP)-Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards will outline a plan Sunday to provide immediate relief to families struggling with high heating oil bills and to ensure affordable prices in the future.

Noting that home heating oil prices in New Hampshire have surpassed $3 a gallon, the former North Carolina senator is calling on Congress to release some of the nation's home heating oil and crude oil reserves as a way to bring down prices by increasing supply. He also is urging Congress to fully fund the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, according to a copy of his plan provided to The Associated Press.

Earlier this month, President Bush vetoed a Democratic health and education spending bill that included $2.4 billion for heating subsidies for the poor, $480 million more than Bush requested.

"American families are facing skyrocketing home heating oil and gasoline prices, while big oil companies earn massive profits," Edwards said in remarks prepared for delivery Sunday afternoon in Rochester. "We need to stand up to the oil companies, increase the use of renewable energy and create affordable choices for regular families.
Ah, yes, the old evil oil companies mantra-those same companies that could provide more oil and bring down those high prices if people like Edwards would allow them to drill for it.

No Kyoto, Eh?

Canada puts the kibosh on Kyoto.
The National Post said Prime Minister Stephen Harper won a victory over the Kyoto Protocol at a meeting of the Commonwealth nations (nee, the British Empire) meeting in Uganda.

Canada succeeded in watering down a resolution backing Kyoto. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, "Canada's view is we need binding targets on all nations."

Reported Mike Blanchfield: "The Kyoto protocol exempts developing nations, including major emitters India and China, from commitments to reduce greenhouse gases. Canada had insisted on Friday that it would sign no agreement in Kampala unless any targets included all major emitters. Disagreement on this issue may explain the vague nature of Saturday's declaration. It called for a post-Kyoto agreement to reduce greenhouse gases but spoke only of 'long-term aspirational goals for emissions reduction to which all countries would contribute'."
In other words, everybody has to cut back their fair share. You'd think Kyoto was being used to punish capitalism or something otherwise.

Ex-Gangland

Now if we could only get this to happen in, say, Los Angeles.
The Gangs of Iraq are killing each other off. What it has come down to is the gangs, militias and organizations that have been making a living planting roadside bombs and carrying out contract hits on American and Iraqi troops for the last three years, are being defeated by tribal and community groups fed up with the constant violence. The terrorist activity of the last three years was paid for by kidnapping, extortion, black market gasoline and so on, and wealthy Sunni Arabs eager to put the Baath party back into power. Religious leaders, who often took fees for allowing their mosques to be used as armories and safe houses, also preached against the heretical Shia, who now ruled the country. Now the pro-peace Sunni Arab clergy have displaced the pro-violence imams, and established their own "Council of Religious Scholars" to prove it.
You could say they're doing the stabilizing that other Iraqis don't want to.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gangbanger Studies

A look at what's replacing those evil dead white guys in the name of multiculturalism.
Anti-Western civilization is what's cool. Third world is wonderful, Western civ is bad. "Multicultural" is all inclusive, right? Wrong. Anything called "multicultural" never includes the American culture. Colleges and universities have been teaching anti-Western dogma for years; popular music has been rapping that tune for a couple of decades; media like the press and TV and movies push it, and you even see it in the edgy names of big chain retail stores.

Would you shop at a store called "Inter-city Gang Wear?" Well, "Urban Outfitters" comes pretty close. How about buying your duds at "Third World Clothiers?" No? Well, you shop at "Banana Republic" don't you? According to the dictionary, a banana republic is a derogatory term for a small country whose economy is dependant on a single export and is usually governed by a dictator or officers of the armed forces. Not a very sophisticated, high tone place. Why would anyone want to go to a country like that to buy clothes? I guess for the same reasons that people want to buy clothing that looks like inter-city gang wear.

See, gangs are acceptable and celebrated in our society because the vast majority of them are populated by "people of color" and cultures other than the European white man culture-so society can't really crack down on them too hard because, hey, it would be deemed "racist." Gangs kill, they traffic in drugs, they destroy property, and they promote disorder but look on the bright side...at least they're not white!
I must have missed the law that says we have to extend tolerance and diversity to people who will put a cap in your ass for wearing the wrong color shirt. I must not be multicultural.

How About A Game Of Chess?

I imagine this sort of thing will be happening quite frequently in Putinland over the coming days.
MOSCOW, Nov. 24-Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion and opposition leader, was arrested Saturday and sentenced to five days in jail after trying to lead a march to the offices of the federal election authorities.

Mr. Kasparov was taken into custody during a scuffle between protesters and security officers on the route to the offices, where he had intended to present a letter asserting that the parliamentary election on Dec. 2 was biased toward President Vladimir V. Putin's party.
Now, why would he think that? Just because Putin keeps channeling Stalin doesn't mean that he...oh, wait.

Beautiful People

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.
Shock rock singer Marilyn Manson has been accused of squandering his band's profit on a child's skeleton and masks made of human skin.

Keyboardist Stephen "Pogo" Bier filed a breach of contract lawsuit in August in which he accused Manson of taking cash belonging to the rest of the band to pay for the "sick and disturbing" purchases.

His lawyer Keith Frank has now filed additional papers adding to a list of artefacts bought by the goth singer-many of which are illegal in the U.S.

As well as the skeleton and masks, Manson is said to have bought a range of stuffed animals, including a grizzly bear and two baboons.
He's not a rock singer. He's an evil Michael Jackson!

Fidel Jr. Faces The Music

Well, just darn.
CARACAS, Nov 24 (Reuters)-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has lost his lead eight days before a referendum on ending his term limit, an independent pollster said on Saturday, in a swing in voter sentiment against the Cuba ally.

Forty-nine percent of likely voters oppose Chavez's proposed raft of constitutional changes to expand his powers, compared with 39 percent in favor, a survey by respected pollster Datanalisis showed.

Just weeks ago, Chavez had a 10-point lead for his proposed changes in the OPEC nation that must be approved in a referendum, the polling company said.
Well, losing a legitimate vote never stopped Revolutions before. As any good Communist thug will tell you, a Revolutionary can still win with the right rigged vote.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

He's outta there.
TULSA, Okla.-The embattled president of Oral Roberts University resigned from his position Friday, officials said.

Richard Roberts' resignation is effective immediately, according to a statement e-mailed from George Pearsons, chairman of the school's Board of Regents.

Roberts and the university have come under fire since a lawsuit was filed by three former professors accusing him, among other things, of misusing school funds to support a lavish lifestyle.
There must be some sort of a rule in fundieland which says how much of a hypocrite you can be. Maybe it comes after the part which says how much to tell others how to live their lives.

Hugo Si, Free Choice No

Bayb Hugo must be feeling the pressure.
CARACAS, Venezuela-President Hugo Chavez warned his supporters on Friday that anyone voting against his proposed constitutional changes would be a "traitor," rallying his political base before a referendum that would let him seek unlimited re-election in 2012 and beyond.

Brandishing a little red book listing his desired 69 revisions to Venezuela's charter, Chavez exhorted his backers to redouble their efforts for a victorious "yes" vote in the Dec. 2 ballot.

"He who says he supports Chavez but votes 'no' is a traitor, a true traitor," the president told an arena packed with red-clad representatives of pro-Chavez local community councils. "He's against me, against the revolution and against the people."
Funny how leaders of "The People" don't trust them to decide if their leader should stay or go, isn't it?

"Stop, You're Killing Me"

They say that God is not mocked. Should we also say the Universe doesn't like peeping Toms?
New Scientist reports a worrying new variant as the cosmologists claim that astronomers may have accidentally nudted the universe closer to its death by observing dark energy, a mysterious anti gravity force which is thought to be speeding up the expansion of the cosmos.

The damaging allegations are made by Prfs. Lawrence Krauss of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and James Dent of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, who suggest that by making the observation in 1998 we may have caused the cosmos to revert to an earlier state when it was more likely to end. "Incredible as it seems, our detection of the dark energy may have reduced the life-expectancy of the universe," Prof Krauss tells New Scientist.

The team came to this depressing conclusion by calculating how the energy state of our universe-a kind of summation of all its particles and all their energies, has evolved since the big bang creation 13.7 billion years ago.
Wow. For a race of semi-intelligent hairless apes, we sure seem to have a lot of influence.

Moneydouchebags

You will be shocked to learn that the same people who say the rest of us should give more have the most to give themsleves.
In a state-by-state, district-by-district comparision of wealth concentrations based on Internal Revenue Service income data, Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the Heritage Foundation, found that the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional jurisdictions were represented by Democrats.

He also found that more than half of the wealthiest households were concentrated in the 18 states where Democrats hold both Senate seats.

"If you take the wealthiest one-third of the 435 congressional districts, we found that the Democrats represent about 58 percent of those jurisdictions," Mr. Franc said.
Republicans-real ones, anyway, not the Bush-worshipping kind-understand that it's their right, or it should be, to keep as much of their own money and use it as they please. Democrats are ashamed of their wealth but won't give it up. To them, that's somebody else's job.

Viva Le Return

Well, so much for that.
PARIS-Initial votes by striking French rail workers on Thursday suggested a large majority were returning to work after a nine-day walkout against President Nicolas Sarkozy's retirement reforms that crippled transport networks.

Votes to end the strike were returned in 42 of 45 meetings by rail workers around the country, the SNCF rail authority said. Dozens more meetings were being held throughout the day.

Initial figures indicated the strike was coming to an end after negotiations opened Wednesday.

"We think a dynamic of return to work has begun," SNFC spokeswoman Julie Vion said.
I guess they figured they were losing more money not working than they were with their 35 hour work week.

Hannibal Lector Goes Green

You are who you don't eat.
THE world's most infamous cannibal has become a vegetarian.

Armin Meiwes-he killed, filleted, froze and ate a man he met in an internet chatroom in Germany-is also the recently elected leader of an environmental group in the prison where he is serving life for his crime.

Meiwes, 45, who said in a book about him that human flesh tasted of pork, was voted to lead the Green Party section in the maximum-security jail in Kassel where he is serving his life sentence, three months ago.

The group of Green supporters is made up of murderers, paedophiles and drug-dealers and now has a convicted cannibal as its leader.
In other words, it's pretty much like any leftist group on the outside.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

All The News That's Fit For Sale

Heh. Anybody want to buy some really cheap fishwrap?
The New York Times' value has been cut in half in less than three years. It's now worth a little more than $17 a share. In 2002, it traded above $50 a share. I wouldn't worry about Rupert Murdoch buying the Times at this point. I'd worry about Rpert Murdoch's nanny buying the Times.
Hey, for birdcage liner you can't get a better deal.

Don't Ac-Centuate The Positve

Seriously, what is it with Team Bush?
Here's the question nobody is asking: Just how stupid is the Bush Administration? OK, well, really, everybody even half a step to the left of...no, wait...everybody asks that question, pretty much all the time. But in my case, I'm not trying to score points with it.

Look, The Surge is not about the extra troops. Oh, the extra boots on the ground were necessary to get things moving, and to show the enemy (and our Iraqi allies) just how serious we were about impleneting a new strategy. But the real key was the change in tactics, not in the increased numbers.

But by allowing the press to label General Petraeus's change of strategy a "surge," without correction, gives the impression that our successes are all about the numbers. And that as we decrease troops levels, the enemy can expect a resite. And our numbers will decrease, starting as soon as next month. And that sets the media stage, far in advance, to embolden our enemoies and discourage our Iraqi friends. Any success we enjoy beyond next summer will owe very little to Bush.
It's a familiar routine-even when this administration does something right, they don't know how to take credit for it. Bush may still be The Decider, but he's never been The Effective Communicator, and never will be.

From Russia With Love

What's the big deal? Even cops need a little lovin' now and again.
The director of Russia's Tretyakov Gallery said Wednesday he is suing the culture minister over his remarks attacking an exhibit that featured a photo of two policemen kissing.

Culture Minister Alexander Sokolov is accused of publicly offending the Tretyakov Gallery when he lashed out at the Sots-Art exhibit currently showing in Paris, describing it as "pornographic" and corrupt.

"The minister has offended the Tretyakov Gallery when he notably accused us of corruption," Valentin Rodionov told AFP. "On Monday, I filed suit against him."
Putin's Russia is aggressive, nationalistic and now wages a war against art they deem morally corrupt. Who says they haven't become more like us?

Here Comes Monsieur Ed

Now this is what I call a low-tech solution.
PARIS (Reuters)-French towns worried about fuel prices, pollution and striking transport workers need look no further than the horse.

Horses are a possible alternative for vehicles such as school buses and refuse trucks, say groups eager to pick up on global concerns about eco-friendly transport.

"It's all about sustainable development and bringing some humanity back to today's monotonous, machine-driven jobs," Stephane de Veyrac, from the French National Stud Organization, said at this week's annual conference of French mayors.

De Veyrac's group says it is the first in France to offer consulting on a wide range of horse-powered vehicles that could also haul bottles and aid street sweeping.
What's next? A return to candles and kerosene lamps? Maybe I should invest in a company that builds outhouses...

The Show Must Go On

I'm no fan of unions, but how do you enforce something like this?
NEW YORK (AP)-All the Whos down in Whoville will have holiday work this year after a Manhattan judge ordered the Broadway production of "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas!" to reopen despite the ongoing stagehands strike.

"I'm going to grant the injunction," agains the lockout, state Supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman said Wednesday. "I think one Grinch in town is enough."

Her ruling came a day after she heard arguments from producers of the show and owners of the theater housing the $6 million production. Producers, citing a special contract between the dhow and Jujamcyn Theaters, wanted the show to go on.
While I feel bad for those who won't get to see the performance, I have to ask if the world would come to an end if the stagehands were allowed to stay on strike. And I have to say no, it wouldn't.

Discs, Discs, Who's Got The Discs

The welfare state has made a major screwup.
Two computer discs holding the personal details of all families in the UK with a child under 16 have gone missing.

The Child Benefit data on them includes name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and, where relevant, bank details of 25 million people.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said there was no evidence the data had gone to criminals-but urged people to monitor bank accounts "for unusual activity."
I know the welfare state robs you blind, but this is ridiculous.

Dear Leader's Dollars And Sense

Is North Korea finally waking up to the inevitable?
North Korea began two days of talks with the US in New York on Monday in what Washington officials described as a bid to educate the country about international financial standards of conduct.

The talks are part of a thawing in US-North Korean ties that began when Pyongyang agreed to abandon its nuclear arms programs.

According to a German expert, Pyongyang is keen to learn how capitalism works but fears that efforts to open up the economy could destabilize its system.
Well, economic freedom and the means to access information about the outside world can have that effect on a society that's literally been in the dark for nearly sixty years. At least Mini Me won't have to print any more funny money.

Outsourcing Of Empire

Call it community-based empire-building.
The US military is on the slow path to the realization that nation-building-from reconstruction to other forms of traditional COIN dogma that serve to return legitimacy to the goverment-doesn't work. Politics and populations in our new global environment fragment faster than they can be assembled into cohesive entities. What does work to slow the spread of temporary autonomous zones and open source insurgencies are open source militias. While messy (and many times as bad as what they replace), these militias do work:

-Columbia. The AUC blunted the spread of the FARC and other revolutionary groups.

-Sao Paulo, Brazil. Neighborhood militias have purged neighborhoods of the PCC (a criminal drug gang).

-Iraq. Anbar awakening and other militias have radically diminished al Qaeda's operational structure.

(snip) In each case, militias developed organically based on local loyalties that have nothing to do with the central government. Their emergence is spontaneous and a surprise to the government or the foreign military occupation.
These groups may indeed work in the short term, but what about tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow? The Roman Empire began relying on foreign mercenaries to help control their provinces and look what happened.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Allahlaw And Order

Saudi Arabia, our allies.
RIYADH (Reuters)-Saudi Arabia defended on Tuesday a court's decision to sentence a woman who was gang-raped to 200 lashes of the whip, after the United States described the verdict as "astonishing."

The 19-year-old Shi'ite woman from the town of Qatif in the Eastern Province and an unrelated male companion were abducted and raped by several men in 2006.

Ruling according to Saudi Arabia's strict reading of Islamic law, a court had originally sentenced the woman to 90 lashes and the rapists to jail terms of between 10 months and five years. It blamed the woman for being alone with an unrelated man.
In a few hundred years they'll get around to actual rights for women. It takes time to get out of the Dark Ages.

Here Comes Thy Son

When will these guys ever learn?
DECATUR, Ga.-The 80-year-old leader of a suburban Atlanta megachurch is at the center of a sex scandal of biblical dimensions: He slept with his brother's wife and fathered a child by her.

Members of Archbishop Earl Paulk's family stood at the pulpit of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church a few Sundays ago and revealed the secret exposed by a recent court-ordered paternity test.

In truth, this is not the first-or even the second-sex scandal to engulf Paulk and the independent, charismatic church. But this time, he could be in trouble with the law for lying under oath about the affair.

The living proof of that lie is 34-year-old D.E. Paulk, who for years was known publicly as Earl Paulk's nephew.
Well, that's one way to keep it in the family...

Jeffs Jugged

He of the many wives is going to the place where he can find many more.
ST. GEORGE, Utah-A judge on Tuesday sentenced a polygamous-sect leader to five years to life in prison for his role in the arranged marriages of teenage cousins.

Warren Jeffs, 51, was convicted of rape as an accomplice for his role in the marriage of a 14-year-old follower and her 19-year-old cousin in 2001. The sentences are to be served consecutively.

It will be up to the Utah parole board to decide just how long he stays behind bars.
Since it's Utah, I wonder if they'll let him serve one year for each "Wife." And if he'll be allowed to perform services for Mormon inmates and their own multiple "Girlfriends."

DeLaying The Invevitable

The Indicted One speaks as one who should know.
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay may not be in a leadership position on Capitol Hill anymore, but that doesn't mean he can't weigh in on the current GOP leadership.

DeLay told Yeas & Nays that Republicans in Congress are "looking for something to believe in" and "they're not getting it out of this Republican leadership...The leadership just isn't getting it."

"They're looking for some backbone," said DeLay, who also chimed in on the 2008 election. He said the Republican party is "going to get our clocks cleaned in 2008" and unequivocally said that "Hillary [Clinton] will be the next president." Which ought to give DeLay's newest projects, the Coalition for a Conservative Majority and a consulting firm called First Principles, LLC, plenty to do.
Which is what I suspect DeLay and his ilk really want. After all, if Rudy or some other Republican wins and somehow brings a new Republican majority with them, all they'll be able to do is crow about how they beat the Democrats-while pocketing the share of pork they enjoyed the last time they were in charge.

Smokin' In The Boy's Room

It it any wonder why the good people of D.C. want their guns?
A Capitol Police officer has been suspended in connection with the series of restroom fires that broke out in Senate office buildings over the past three months.

Several law enforcement sources who wished to remain anonymous confirmed on Monday that Officer Karen Emory recently has been suspended in connection with the fires, although details about her involvement, including whether she is a suspect in the case, are not known.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider refused to comment on the suspension, other than to say that no charges have been filed. "We don't discuss personnel issues," she said. "When there is an ongoing investigation I don't speak about the details in any fashion."
Well, at least there should be plenty of things for her to smoke where she's going...

Capitol Guns

This is one issue where Rudy and I are in agreement.
Rudy Giuliani made the following statement today regarding the Supreme Court's decision to review the Court of Appeals ruling in Parker v. District of Columbia:

"I strongly believe that Judge Silberman's decision deserves to be upheld by the Supreme Court. The Parker Decision is an excellent example of a judge looking to find the meaning of the words in the Constitution, not what he would like them to mean."
Now, if only Rudy would say that about the Fourth Amendment and the right to counsel...

Stemming The Tide

Science scores a major breakthrough.
The promise of using cells from human embryos to treat disease has moved a tantalizing step closer to reality-but without the ethical shackles that have long hindered its progress. The breakthrough is likely to bolster the cause of those who oppse embryo research, and accelerate the pace of stem cell research as scientists rush to build on the new approach.

In a compelling scientific feat, independent teams of researchers in Japan and the U.S. created human embryonic stem cells without destroying any human embryos. The technique appears to be easier, cheaper, and more ethically appealing than an alternative approach that involves a controversial form of human cloning.

Scientists said they "reprogrammed" mature human cells in such a way that they reverted to a primordial, embryonic-like state in a laboratory dish. The hope is to some day convert those cells into fresh heart, nerve or other tissue and transplant them into patients to treat diabetes, Parkinson's and other ailments.
When in doubt, innovate.

Mother Nature's Welfare State

The nannystate explained.
In evolution, host and parasite can engage in a kind of arms race. One side adapts and evolves; the other side adapts and evolves to keep up. At the end of the day, neither side is necessarily better off than the other.

Scientists who study evolution call this Red Queen dynamics, after the character in "Through the Looking-Glass" who tells Alice that all the running she does will only keep her in the same place. The phenomenon helps illustrate why sexual reproduction is important: by producing genetically varied offspring, a slower-evolving organism can defend itself against a faster-evolving one.

But Red Queen dynamics are hard to spot in nature because many generations are needed and the changes from one generation to the next may be slight.
Maybe we as individuals should start paying our bodies' parasites welfare checks and give them free health care to keep them fat and happy. And get them to vote Democrat.

His Number One Fan

Reason Magazine has a review of David Brooks' latest tome extolling the greatness that is Bush that the rest of us obviously don't see. Money quote:
"It was like entering a different universe."
Well, yeah, because that's where Bush seems to have been living the past few years. Read the whole thing to get an understanding of how the mind of a true Bushbot works.

Like A Vegan

Sex sells...veggies?
Substitute rat's milk for cow's milk and you will help save the world. At least, that's what Heather Mills believes.

The 39-year-old former model turned activist turned estranged wife of Paul McCartney launched a pro-vegan campaign Monday in Hyde Park, in England.

Animal charity Viva! features Mills on two huge traffic-stopping billboards and a series of ads that advocate the reduced consumption of dairy and livestock.

"The startling truth is that animals farmed for meat and dairy are now one of the gratest threats to the planet," Mills said. The billboards, numbering near 100, will be put up all over England on Tuesday.
I thought the greatest threat to the planet was the hot air coming out of these celebrity airheads.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

CSI: Crime Scene Incompetence

The FBI's less than stellar reputation these days has gotten another black eye.
Hundreds of jailed defendants across the country may have been convicted by a faulty FBI forensic tool, according to a joint investigation by the Washington Post and "60 Minutes."

According to the National Academy of Sciences the technique, known as comparative bullet-lead analysis, was in 2004 deemed "unreliable and potentially misleading," but the FBI has not yet alerted the affected defendants or courts of the potentially defective test, the Post reported.

In 2005 the FBI abandoned the science, but never went back to determine how many times it may have led to misinformation being passed on to jurors, not did it release the records of at least 2,500 cases in which the analysis was performed, the Post reported.
The defendants can take heart. If the Bush administration had tried them, they could have been convicted with no evidence.

The Emperor Has No Army

It's tough to be the King these days-especially when your soldiers won't fight for you.
WASHINGTON (AP)-Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

While the totals are still far lower than they were during the Vietnam War, when the draft was in effect, they show a steady increase over the past four years and a 42 percent jump since last year.

"We're asking a lot of soldiers these days," said Roy Wallace, director of plans and resources for Army personnel. "They're humans. They have all sorts of issues back home and other places like that. So, I'm sure it has to do with the stress of being a soldier."
But remember, Bush cares about the troops.

Pushing Tin

Forget about hijackers with Muslim surnames. Our own airlines could do the job for them.
CHICAGO-Air traffic control errors like the one that almost caused two airliners to collide near Chicago this week remain extremely rare and saffing levels are adequate despite controllers' complaints of fatigue and overwork, a federal aviation official said Friday.

The reassurance comes just ahead of the start of the holiday travel season and at a time when even the White House has publicly acknowledged the worsening problem of air congestion.

"These incidents are very, very rare," said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory, responding to questions about the near-collision between a United Express plane and a Midwest Airlines plane over northern Indiana on Tuesday night.
Problem one: the airlines have not kept pace with demand as more people take to the skies than ever. Problem two: Government telling us there's nothing to worry about is not exactly reassuring.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Warrants

Think of it as the local version of the Patriot Act.
Police are starting a program to search homes in high-crime areas, without a warrant, for weapons in children's bedrooms, the Boston Globe reports.

The teenagers found to be in possession of guns will only face charges if the weapon is linked to a shooting or homicide, and parents are given the right to deny the detectives access to their homes.

"I just have a queasy feeling anytime the police try to do an end run around the Constitution," said Thomas Nolan, a former Boston police lieutenant who teaches criminology at Boston University. "The police have restrictions on their authority and ability to conduct searches."
Not in Bush's America, they don't. Remember, the Constitution can be "Interpreted" to mean whatever the authorities say it means.

Special Weapons And T&A

You don't see this stuff on Cops.
The Hoboken, N.J. SWAT team was axed from the department on Friday after pictures surfaced showing Hooters waitresses posing with their guns, sprawled on top of police vehicles and dangling off the shoulders of officers, MyFoxNY.com reports.

Public Safety Director Bill Bergin, who was sworn in on Friday, disbanded the SWAT team after controversy over the photos, which were taken two years ago at an Alabama Hooters as the officers returned from a Hurricane Katrina relief mission.

Hoboken created the public safety director position to oversee the police and fire departments.
If this guy is honest, and he seems to be, he's going to have his hands full...

Don't Spike Me, Bro

Oh, I'll just bet Baby Hugo is really concerned about oil prices.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP)-In his opening address of a rare OPEC summit, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned the United States on Saturday that oil prices would further surge if the U.S. contemplates an attack against his country or Iran.

The summit of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries opened Saturday in Saudi Arabia, with heads of states and delegates from 12 of the world's biggest oil-producing nations listening to a recitation from the Quran.

After the quotes from Islam's holy book, Chavez warned that the U.S. should not target OPEC members for foreign policy reasons.

"If the United States attempts the madness of invading Iran or attacking Venezuela again, the price of oil is probably going to reach $200, not just $100," Chavez said.
I'm sure the representatives gathered were pleased to learn that Hugo can dictate their oil markets for them.

Diamonds Are A Network's Best Friend

So it was Wolf's fault?
Maria Luisa, the UNLV student who asked Hillary Clinton whether she preferred "diamonds or pearls" at last night's debate wrote on her MySpace page this morning that CNN forced her to ask the frilly question instead of a pre-approved query about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

"Every single question asked during the debate by the audience had to be approved by DNN," Luisa writes. "I was sked to submit questions including "lighthearted/fun" questions. I submitted more than five questions on issues important to me. I did a policy memo on Yucca Mountain a year ago and was the finalist for the Truman Scholarship. For sure, I thought I would get to ask the Yucca question that was APPROVED by CNN days in advance."
Unfortunately, Ms. Luisa has found out the hard way what the rest of us already know: CNN doesn't care about what you think; only about what you can do to get their candidate elected.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Manbearpig Drops By

How's this for ironic?
Former US vice president Al Gore will make a triumphant return to the White House on November 26 when US President George W Bush honors US Nobel Prize winners, a Bush spokesman said Friday.

It will be Gore's first time visiting Bush at the White House since the Republican took office in January 2001 after the flawed 2000 election pitting them against each other ended with a controversial US Supreme Court ruling.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Gore would be part of a group of five US Nobel laureates that Bush will welcome into the Oval Office.
Hmm, I wonder if Al will give Hillary advice on what color curtains to get when he leaves.

No Stop Shopping

Nathan Berg wonders about the lack of stores in poor neighborhoods.
The typical no-grocery-store neighborhood has half the white residents, twice the black residents, roughly the same number of Hispanic residents, $20,000 less in median annual income and twice the number of HHS clients.

Is this what economic theory predicts? No. It may not surprise you that grocers open fewer stores in low-income neighborhoods, but economic theory actually predicts the opposite.

Economic theory predicts that the typical low-income resident spends a lot less on luxuries like vacations, but not very much less on necessities like food. Everyone has to eat. And because there is no good subsitute for food, low-income residents spend a higher fraction of their incomes on food than high-income residents do.

Economic theory suggests other reasons why grocery stores should thrive in low-income neighborhoods. Rents are lower, which means stores can save on costs by locating there, and there are few competitors nearby to steal away sales.

It seems that store owners are not behaving as economic theory would predict. That led me to investigate basic economic assumptions about how business owners choose where to locate their business.
Call me crazy, but the fact that poor neighborhoods tend to have more crime and that they are by their nature unprofitable for most businesses might be a factor.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Stuck On '68

Who killed the Sixties? A better question is, why do they refuse to die? The answer to both may be the boomers themselves.
I have pointed out that it has been feeling a lot like 1968 for a while now. The saddest thing is that many of the idealists who formed their worldviews in the 1960s do not see that they have become more rigid in their outlook and even more authoritarian than the society they rebelled against in their youth. The same applies to those younger people indoctrinated by that older generation of aging and ossified idealists. There is not a single hint that they see the irony in complaining vehemently over the reaction to an inappropriate display of anti-Bush sentiment by a bridge team while simultaneously screaming for the silencing of talk radio.

No, 1968 never really ended for some of these folks.
It is especially ironic considering that many of these people want to return to the past by bringing the Clintons back into office. Living in the past, wanting to keep the status quo going with their generation in control...they really have turned into their parents.

The Cave Of Doom

It's nice to know that America isn't alone when it comes to doomsday nuttery.
MOSCOW (Reuters)-At least 30 members of a Russian doomsday cult have barricaded themselves in a remote cave to await the end of the world and are threatening to commit suicide if police intervene, officials and media said on Thursday.

"They have covered the entrance and refuse to come out and are threatening to blow themselves up," an official in the local prosecutor's office told Reuters by telephone. "They threaten to detonate a gas tank and blow themselves up."

The cult members, who include 29 adults and four children, are hidden inside a snow-covered hillside in the Penza region of central Russia. A Penza police spokeswoman said they had moved into the dug-out on November 7.
I wonder if David Koresh had any Russian relatives?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blame It On The Maha Rushie

The latest take on the writers' strike? It's Rush's fault.
Scanning message boards and blogs uncovers all manner of allegations about kowtowing to corporate interests. The assumption is that those not fully following the Writers Guild script must be bowing to pressure from their ownership or currying favor among advertisers, with journalists lacking the spine to bite the hand that feeds us.

In this way, strike rhetoric is oddly mirroring modern politics, where partisans now filter straight-ahead reporting through an "us vs. them" prism, seeking out accounts that buttress their views while shunning those that might challenge them.

This represents a relatively recent dynamic, fueled by the Rush Limbaugh era of talkradio, cable news and the Internet, which barely existed during the last strike in 1988. It's an especially poisonous environment when applied to this fracas, since talent and the studios must eventually reunite once the saber-rattling and marching ends, whereas political combatants (or at least their public mouthpieces) are now locked in a state of perpetual warfare, the better to spice up the give and take on "Hannity & Colmes."
This is BS. The writers' strike is about money and old media versus new media. The only thing that's been "Poisoned" in Hollywood is the well of originality and a cash flow that is under seige by the new media.

Bah Hobug

You can't make this stuff up.
THERE'LL be no ho,ho, ho this Christmas. Aspiring Santas have been told not to use the term "ho" because it could be seen as derogatory to women.

Thirty trainees at a Santa course in Adelaide last month, held by recruitment company Westaff, were urged to replace the traditonal festive greeting with "ha, ha, ha".

A Santa veteran of 11 years who attended the course told the Sunday Mail the trainer was very clear in spelling out no to "ho".

Two Santa hopefuls reportedly left the course after the trainer's edict.
I don't know who would misinterpret Santa's laugh, unless Santa was a rapper.

Doctor Love

It was all for science!
WORCESTER, Mass.-A doctor at UMass Memorial Medical Center has been charged with soliciting sex from an undercover Worcester, Mass., police officer who was posing as a prostitute.

But Dr. Peter rice said he is not guilty and was only "gathering information" when he was arrested Saturday. He told the Telegram & Gazette that he is a specialist in infectious diseases and researches sexually transmitted diseases.

Rice offered the undercover female officer $40 for sex, police said. His arrest came as part of a two-day prostitution sweep in the Main South section of the city.
I'm sure he offered her a "Personal examination..."

The King And I

Poor Hugo. Getting slapped down by an adult hurts, doesn't it?
CARACAS, Venezuela-President Hugo Chavez is not about to turn the other cheek after catching a verbal slap from Spanish King Juan Carlos last weekend.

The fiery leftist leader of Venezuela all but openly warned Spain that his country doesn't need Spanish investment, and that he expects the king to offer an immediate apology.

"The king lost it," Chavez said at a political rally late Tuesday night. "He shoud say, '...I, the king, confess, I was beside myself, I made a mistake.'"
I'm sure the King will think about it for five seconds and then tell Hugo to put some ice on that before laughing at Hugo the way the rest of the civilized world does.

If You Say So

Sure, Mushie. Whatever you say.
In an exclusive interview with Sky's Asia correspondent Alex Crawford, General Musharraf suggested elections would be held under emergency rule, which he declared more than a week ago.

He said: "I am not a dictator, I want a democracy.

"The day when there is no turmoil in Pakistan, I will step down."
The way things are going, that's not likely to happen anytime soon. But he's not a dictator-he just took power and tries to hold onto it like one.

On The Job Nannystating

The Ultimate Parent will now get kids to work-whether they want to or not.
TEENAGERS who refuse to work, attend training or go to school are to be issued with on the spot fines under government proposals. Any who still fail to comply would then be taken to court where they could face further penalties.

The measures are designed to enforce a new law which will be outlined in this week's Queen's Speech. It will say that all teenagers must remain in education, training or employment until they are 18.

The change will be phased in by raising the age to 17 in 2013 and to 18 in 2015. Details of the new "age of participation" will be outlined by Ed Balls, the children's secretary, in a television interview today and in a speech tomorrow.
"Now go out and get a job, son. You wouldn't want me and your Mum to turn you in to the Job Police, now would you?"

Ve Are Der Shot Police

Is laziness a crime? According to professional nannystaters, it is.
The parents of more than 2,300 Prince George's County students who failed to get needed vaccinations could face fines of $50 a day and up to 10 days in jail if their children do not meet the state's immunization requirements, county officials said yesterday.

The threat of legal action is a last resort after months in which Prince George's has struggled to get its 131,000 students immunized for chicken pox and hepatitis B, as mandated by the state. More than 2,300 students have not been immunized and have been barred from attending schools, almost two months after a Sept. 20 deadline for meeting the requirement.

"We can do this the easy way or the hard way, but it's got to get done," Prince George's State Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D) said at a news conference in Upper Marlboro. "I'm willing to move forward with legal action."
Hmm, I wonder how many of these upstanding parents are on welfare? And which political party encouraged this dependence on the state and subsequent laziness? You reap what you sow, Mr. Ivey.

This Right For Sale

Democracy is literally for sale these days.
Two-thirds say they'll do it for a year's tuition. And for a few, even an iPod touch will do.

That's what NYU students said they'd take in exchange for their right to vote in the next presidential election, a recent survey by an NYU journalism class found.

Only 20 percent said they'd exchange their vote for an iPod touch.

But 66 percent said they'd give forfeit their vote for a free ride to NYU. And half said they'd give up the right to vote forever for $1 million.
This is how democracies fall. It's so nice to know what the next generation's priorities are, isn't it?

Bits And Pieces

Feel safer yet?
Terrorist could slip past Transportation Security Administration screeners and, with a few readily available components, assemble an explosive that could cause severe damage to an airplane, a new report from the Government Accountability Office finds.

The report, obtained exclusively by CBS News, details how GAO investigators condicted covert tests at 19 airports earlier this year to test the vulnerabilities of the passenger screening process. The investigators succeeded in passing through TSA checkpoints undetected with components for making improvised explosive devices (IED) and improvised incendiary devices (IID).

"Our tests clearly demonstrate that a terrorist group, using publicly available information and a few resources, could cause severe damage to an airplane and threaten the safety of passengers," the report states.
Well, it looks like the airports are doing a pretty good job of that already...

Lardass Airlines

If you're fat, don't fly.
A leading Australian nutritionist has urged airlines to charge obese passengers more for their seats.

Dr John Tickell believes a "fat tax" would highlight his country's obesity crisis and make commercial sense, as heavier loads increase fuel costs.

But health groups have warned that to single out people with weight problems could cause them emotional stress.

Recent studies estimate that 67% of Australian men and over half of women aged over 25 are overweight or obese.
Hmm, I wasn't aware that lifestyle choices in an affluent society constituted a "Crisis." If people are getting too fat, they'll pay the consequences with their health and others will learn from their behavior. That's the way it's done in a free society.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dead Man Weeping

Oh, the poor baby.
WASHINGTON-After confessing to slaughtering 180,000 Kurds and plotting to build a doomsday nuke, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was so upset when his FBI interrogator left for home that he cried like a baby.

FBI Special Agent George Piro whipped out two Cuban Cohibas-Saddam's favorite cigar-and they smoked on the patio behind his cell at Baghdad's airport.

"When we were saying bye, he started to tear up," Piro recalled in the new book "The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack."
Maybe Saddam was lonely. Or maybe he was weeping because he knew where he would end up. In any case, I hope he put some ice on that before his necktie party.

Go Green Or Else

What are they going to do, arrest somebody?
VALENCIA, Spain-The U.N.'s top climate official warned policymakers and scientists trying to hammer out a landmark report on climate change that ignoring the urgency of global warming would be "criminally irresponsible."

Yvo de Boer's comments came at the opening of a weeklong conference that will complete a concise guide on the state of global warming and what can be done to stop the Earth from overheating. It is the fourth and last report issued this year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, co-winner of this year's Nobel Peace prize.

Environmentalists and authors of the report expected tense discussions on what to include and leave out of the document, which is a synthesis of thousands of scientific papers. A summary of about 25 pages will be negotiated line-by-line this week, then adopted by consensus.
They should just have Al Gore write the damn thing. He's a prophet and will save the world anyway, you know.

Top Of The World

China is literally reaching for the skies.
BEIJING-China's largest cell phone service provider successfully tested a transmission station on Mount Everest on Tuesday, making it possible for climbers and those on next year's Olympic torch relay to make calls, a state news agency reported.

China Mobile had to hire yaks and porters to help transport equipment up to the station site at 21,325 feet, the Xinhua News Agency said.

The new station, along with two other China Mobile stations at 17,060 feet and 19,095 feet, would provide cell phone service along the entire Mount Everest climbing route, Xinhua said. It would also be put into use during next year's Olympic torch relay, which will take the flame to the 29,035-foot summit.
Now even the Yeti will be able to say, "Can you hear me now?"

He My Baby's Personal Trainer

Welcome to the weird world of lifelong fitness police.
Parents are taking babies as young as four months to special gyms amid growing fears about childhood obesity.

A US chain has signed up hundreds of babies and toddlers across London for "developmental gymnastics."

Demand for places has surged as government figures reveal one in five London children undere 11 is obese.
I'm sure there are people in government across the pond who are smacking themselves in the forehead, wondering why they didn't come up with something like this.

Monday, November 12, 2007

All Fall Down

You know you've got problems with your campaign when literally everything starts to fall apart.
After a very Presidential-esque news conference-Clinton turned around to leave the reporters and their peppering questions. A stagger swooped open a curtain, and chaos ensued. Four large American flags came crashing in front of Senator Clinton as she headed for the door. In a controlled panic, the staffers and the Senator attempted to catch the flags before they fell to the ground.

"I think the bases are not weighted enough," Clinton said as she propped flags back up. One of Clinton's aides quickly summmoned the advance man in charge to assist in the crisis.

Clinton's spokesperson shifted back and forth between the cameras and the flag commotion before looking right at the cameras and saying, "Thanks everyone."
Howard Dean had his scream. Hillary seems to be having one disaster after another. It makes one wonder what will happen come January.

"There Is Absolutely Nothing To Worry About"

I'm sure everything's just fine.
Pakistan warned Monday it had sufficient "retaliatory capability" to defend its nuclear weapons, after a report the United States had made contingency plans to stop them falling into the wrong hands.

Denouncing "irresponsible conjecture," the foreign ministry said Pakistan was ready and able to defend its nuclear arsenal and there was no risk of the arms being taken.

Its reaction followed a Washington Post report that with Pakistan in the throes of a political crisis, the United States had drawn up contingency plans in case the Pakistani military risked losing control of the weapons.
Well, as long as Musharraf is safe, they're safe...right?

Welcome To www.iwanthalf.com

Finally, freedom for the rest of us.
Broward County residents now can file for a divorce without leaving the house, or at least get the paperwork rolling.

The Broward County Clerk of Courts launched an online service this month that steers citizens through the application process for filing divorce actions, small claims lawsuits and tenant evictions.

"It kind of guides you through, it asks questions. Once it knows your name, it will put it in every space it should go," said Kris Mazzeo, director of the circuit/civil family division of the clerk of courts.
Be thankful this wasn't one of the Bush administration's ideas: "Are you sure you want to get divorced? (click no or maybe). Are you aware that marriage is sacred and that divorce makes baby Jesus cry? (click yes)."

Dead Man's Party

Celebrating death with death.
At least six people have died in gunfire at a rally in Gaza City organised by Fatah to mark three years since the death of Yasser Arafat.

The violence occured when Fatah supporters began taunting Hamas police and throwing stones, witnesses said.

The Hamas security forces reportedly responded by firing towards the crowd.
In civilized parts of the world people hold parades and memorial services to honor fallen leaders. I'd hate to see what would have happened at a Palestinian wake.

The United Nations Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

What's next? Making them pay their parking tickets? One can only hope.
New York City's mayor says the United Nations building is such a hazard that he's threatening to suspend school visits unless conditions inside are fixed by early next year.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that field trips will stop if sprinklers, smoke detectors, exit signs, emergency lighting, alarms that alert the fire department and other safety features aren't put in place by January and March of 2008, the United Nations told FOXNews.com.

The 1950s-era complex is reportedly missing many basic fire protection systems on several floors, according to U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Michael Adlerstein.
Considering how many times the U.S. has been burned by the world's biggest freeloaders in the past, I'm surprised they even paid attention this time.

Homeland Insecurity For Dummies

Well, I feel so much safer now.
November 12- 2007-THE New Jersey Department of Homeland Security's counterterrorism conference last month turned out to be a textbook case of exactly what's wrong with many U.S. counterterror and outreach efforts-a farce that had apologists for terrorism and radical Islam writing the "script" for how to protect Americans from the terrorist threat.

Consider recommendation No. 7 from the final post-conference report:

"Universities can be breeding grounds for radicalization:...Most agreed that radicalization is most likely to find a breeding ground in the open environments of our college campuses, and this it is essential to involve academia in any anti-radicalization strategy."

True enough-except that a key speaker at the event was Georgetown University professor John Esposito. Esposito calls himself a "very good friend" of Sami Al-Arian-who last year pleaded guilty to a "conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad"-a terrorist group.
Just doing the radicalization that other Jihadists won't do...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

When The Boos Come Tumbling Down

Call him John Cougar Mellancampaigner.
DES MOINES, IA--When John Edwards joined his old friend John Mellencamp on the Wells Fargo Arena stage Friday night, he got an unwelcome surprise. A significant part of the audience was unhappy to have their concert interrupted.

Mellencamp crooned a couple verses of the old favorite "Small Town" and paused to introduce a "friend I've had for about the past 7 or 8 years."

"This guy's from a small town," Mellencamp told the crowd, "and he just so happens to be running for president of the United States."

Edwards strode out from stage left, squinting in the spotlight and waving with both hands as the crowd slowly put together what was going on. As it dawned on them, some started screaming, "Let's go, John!" while others began to boo. The resulting cacophony left Edwards's first few words at the microphone unintelligible even in the front rows of the arena. He spoke briefly before relinquishing the spotlight.
Unintelligible? Then he and his good buddy John Mellencamp have something in common.

Senator, Tax Thyself

He's charismatic. He represents generational change. He could very well be the next President of the United States. But he's still a Democrat.
Democrat Barack Obama said Sunday he will push for higher Social Security taxes if elected, viewing it as the best option for improving the retirement program's finances.

Obama and several other Democratic presidential candidates previously have signaled support for lifting the cap on the amount of income that is taxed to provide monthly Social Security checks.

But during an intervew on NBC's "Meet the Press," Obama said taxing more of a person's income was the option he would push for if elected president. He objected to benefit cuts or a higher retirement age.

"I thin the best way to approach this is to adjust the cap on the payroll tax so that people like myself are paying a little bit more and people who are in need are protected," the Illinois senstor said.
Hmm, an interesting proposal. Let's see if Mr. Obama is willing to put his money where his mouth is.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Democrats' Garden

If it's an election year, it's planting season. Or maybe not.
The practice of planting audience members to ask specific questions does not appear to be a common practice, or at least not a politically acceptable one. "Our campaign does not plant questions," said Lauren Rose, Communications Director for Governor Bill Richardson's campaign. When asked what she would think of other campaigns who did plant audience members, Rose said, "I think campaigns should give Iowa caucus-goers the chance to ask the questions they want."

When asked if the John Edwards campaign employed such practices, Jenni Lee, Edwards's Iowa Press Secretary said, "No, they ask whatever they want."

But the Clinto campaign also denied the practice of planting. "It's not a practice of our campaign to ask people to ask specific questions," said Mark Daley, Clinton's Iowa Communications Director. Daley said that when an event is focusing on a specific topic, such as health care or Iraq, "people are encouraged to ask questions in these regards," but denied that they are given specific questions.

But when directly asked if his statements meant that planting does not occur in the Hillary campaign, Daley could only say, "to the best of my knowledge."
It's the classic evasive non-answer answer. I'd expect nothing less from She Who Is Inevitable.

We Don't Need No State Education

Along with National Health, Brits are leaving the state behind when it comes to their kids, as well.
A growing proportion of middle-class parents are giving up on state education after 10 years of Labour rule by paying to educate their children in the independent sector, official figures have disclosed.

The scale of the exodus is shown for the first time in statistics indicating that many families outside the traditional fee-paying heartland of the South East are shunning comprehensives in favor of private schools.

(snip) Mick Brookes, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "We have to consider what parents are buying when they opt for the independent sector.

"They are buying smaller class sizes and quite often enhanced resources. Some parents are buying the fact that their children are not going to be quite as pressured by the tables, targets and tests regime in the state sector."
They're also no longer buying that the state is the solution for everything. There may be some hope for Britain yet.

Goodfelling 101

Tony Soprano could have used this.
Italian police have found what they say is a "Ten Commandments"-style code of behaviour for Mafia members, at the hideout of a captured Mafia boss.

Prohibitions include frequenting bars and looking at friends' wives, while members are urged to treat their own wives with respect.

The list was found during the arrest of Salvatore Lo Piccolo, the reputed new boss of the Sicilian Mafia.

It is thought to have been drawn up as a "guide to being a good mobster."

Other activities apparently beyond the pale for Mafiosi are being friends with the police, being late for appointments and "appropriating money if it belongs to other Mafia members or to other families."
And then there's the most important commandment: Thou shall not whack somebody without permission, badda-bing!

Last Lenin Standing

It really sucks to be a Communist in a former Soviet republic these days.
Tajikstan's Communist Party has asked the authorities for permission to preserve the capital's last remaining statue of Lenin.

The communists want to move the statue to their new party headquarters when the part in which it stands is redesigned.

It will be replaced by a statue of the ninth-century Tajik poet, Rudaki.

The BBC's Tajik section says the authorities hope to promote nationalism but that the move could prompt debate about ownership of old communist items.
Well, the Party could always have a yard sale. They have to learn to embrace capitalism sometime.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bernie Busted

Giuliani's former good buddy is in deep doo-doo.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP)-Bernard Kerik, a protege of Rudy Giuliani who once led the nation's largest police department, pleaded not guilty Friday to a wide-ranging indictment charging him with "selling his office" and lying to cover up the scheme.

Kerik's case could prove to be an ongoing embarrassment for Giuliani, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president.

The indictment accuses Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, of conspiring while a public official with a mob-connected construction firm to accept tens of thousands of dollars in renovations to his Bronx apartment, and then lying to cover up the scheme. It also claims he made false statements dyring his failed bid to head the nation's homeland security department.
Hmm, corruption and cronyism. Where have we seen that before, I wonder?

The Party Of Paranoia

Joe Lieberman is inching closer than ever to the Dark Side.
Sen. Joe Lieberman lashed out as what he called the Democrats' "politically paranoid, hyper-partisan" liberal base, which he charges is more interested in opposing Republicans than promoting a strong foreign policy.

"For many Democrats, the guiding conviction in foreign policy isn't pacifism or isolationism, it is distrust and disdain of Republicans in general," Lieberman said Thursday at a forum co-hosted by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Financial Times.

"In this regard, the Democratic foreign policy worldview has become defined by the same reflexive, blind opposition to the president that defined Republicans in the 1990s, even when it means repudiating the very principles and policies that Democrats as a party have stood for, at our best and strongest...

"The Democratic Party I grew up in was unafraid to make moral judgements about the world beyond our borders."
This is the modern Democratic party-a group that draws its inspiration from Jimmy Carter and George McGovern instead of Truman and JFK. It's as if their memories only go back about thirty years.

It's The Future, Stupid

What's wrong with Bush's domestic policies? We'll be feeling them down the road.
The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a selling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffed in London or Paris-or even the Yukon-becomes a venture in high finance.

And it gets worse. After almost seven years of this president, the United States is less prepared than ever to face the future. We have bot been educating enough engineers and scientists, people with the skills we will need to compete with China and India. We have not been investing in the kinds of basic research that made us the technological powerhouse of the late 20th century. And although the president now understands-or so he says-that we must begin to wean ourselves from oil and coal, we have on his watch become more deeply dependent on boath.
Bush is not a man of the future. He has tried to evoke the ghosts of past presidents-Reagan and Lincoln-without really understanding what their messages were about. They were men who looked to America's future. Bush has done his best to take this country backward.

Why It Doesn't Work

I can't think of a better explanation of why coerced confessions don't work than this.
No one can withstand waterboarding for long without breaking down. "Usually the person goes into hysterics on the board," said Nance, whose job involved training American personnel to try to resist waterboarding. The usefulness of the information elicited, however, is very much in debate. When Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the Sept. 11 attacks, was waterboarded, he revealed valuable details about the operations of al Qaida, the Bush administration says. But CIA agents say Mohammad also "confessed" that al Qaida was plotting to kill former presidents Clinton and Carter and Pope John Paul II, making them realize that he was inventing sensational information to satisfy his interrogators. Another al Qaida operative who was waterboarded, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libbi, blurted out details about the connection between al Qaida and Saddam Hussein, saying that Iraq had trained terrorists in the use of chemical and biological weapons, But al-Libbi later recanted, and the CIA concluded that he "had no knowledge of such training or weapons, and fabricated the statements because he was terrified of further harsh treatment."
But hey, it was done in the name of stopping them terrist plots-even the ones that didn't exist.