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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Colbert Does the WH Correspondence Dinner

I can't recall when I've seen so many unhappy reps. And he bashed the press too. He salted the earth after scorching it. Colbert rocks and has Giant Brass Balls.

WASHINGTON A blistering comedy "tribute" to President Bush by Comedy Central's faux talk show host Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinner Saturday night left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close.

Earlier, the president had delivered his talk to the 2700 attendees, including many celebrities and top officials, with the help of a Bush impersonator.

Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged the Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, "and reality has a well-known liberal bias."

He attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. "This administration is soaring, not sinking," he said. "They are re-arranging the deck chairs--on the Hindenburg."

Colbert told Bush he could end the problem of protests by retired generals by refusing to let them retire. He compared Bush to Rocky Balboa in the "Rocky" movies, always getting punched in the face -- "and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world."

Turning to the war, he declared, "I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."

He noted former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in the crowd, as well as " Valerie Plame." Then, pretending to be worried that he had named her, he corrected himself, as Bush aides might do, "Uh, I mean... Joseph Wilson's wife." He asserted that it might be okay, as prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was probably not there.

Colbert also made biting cracks about missing WMDs, "photo ops" on aircraft carriers and at hurricane disasters, and Vice President Cheney shooting people in the face.
Observing that Bush sticks to his principles, he said, "When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday - no matter what happened Tuesday."

Also lampooning the press, Colbert complained that he was "surrounded by the liberal media who are destroying this country, except for Fox News. Fox believes in presenting both sides - "the president's side and the vice president's side." He also reflected on the good old days, when the media was still swallowing the WMD story.

Addressing the reporters, he said, "You should spend more time with your families, write that novel you've always wanted to write. You know, the one about the fearless reporter who stands up to the administration. You know - fiction."

He claimed that the Secret Service name for Bush's new press secretary is "Snow Job." Colbert closed his routine with a video fantasy where he gets to be White House Press Secretary, complete with a special "Gannon" button on his podium. By the end, he had to run from Helen Thomas and her questions about why the U.S. really invaded Iraq and killed all those people.

As Colbert walked from the podium, when it was over, the president and First Lady gave him quick nods, unsmiling, and left immediately.

E&P's Joe Strupp, in the crowd, observed that quite a few sitting near him looked a little uncomfortable at times, perhaps feeling the material was a little too biting--or too much speaking "truthiness" to power.

Asked by E&P after it was over if he thought he'd been too harsh, Colbert said, "Not at all." Was he trying to make a point politically or just get laughs? "Just for laughs," he said. He said he did not pull any material for being too strong, just for time reasons.

Helen Thomas told Strupp her segment with Colbert was "just for fun."

Perhaps the best part was when they panned the audience and you could see the stone-faced repubs. Bunnypants has never had someone punk him like that in public. This one goes in the vault.

The Smothers Brothers must be giggling - at last justice for the bravery of comic geniuses. You might recall that the Brothers were cancelled after Pete Seeger sang "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy". I remember being very angry at the injustice of it all, but tonight - justice has been served.

The silence was priceless. And Stephen just marched on, driving the nails in further. A must-see! My favorite: "The President stands for things. He stands on aircraft carriers. He stands on rubble. He stands in abandoned, flooded city squares. There's no place he won't stand for a photo op."

categories: Soul
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1:31:56 AM    

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Neil Young's "Living With War" Here Today!

Click album cover to hear the full record of Neil Young's "Living With War"

Pink performs Dear Mr President Live in NYC. It's a controversial song from her new album that all people should hear.

Here it is for you - a very powerful video.

(Or, if you prefer, or you're not seeing the above video...this WMV version via Wes Clark's website...)

categories: Soul
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12:09:55 AM    

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

Get outta my face, you mangy old dog!

categories: Humor
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1:40:17 AM    

Wade Got Hookers for Duke -- and Others?

CIA Chief Drawn Into Hill Sex Probe? Sweeney Puts "Party" In Grand Old Party and since Cunningham swung both ways, were the prostitutes male or female? Inquiring minds want to know. Finally! Hookers and sex. Impeach Porter Goss!!

The wall Street Journal reported today that indicted former California Congressman Randall "Duke" Cunningham may not have limited his good times to partying on a rented yacht. It turns out the FBI is currently investigating two defense contractors who allegedly provided Cunningham with free limousine service, free stays at hotel suites at the Watergate and the Westin Grand, and free prostitutes.

The two defense contractors who allegedly paid most of the bills, said the Journal, were Brent Wilkes, the founder of ADCS Inc., and Mitchell Wade, the founder of MZM Inc.; both firms profited greatly from their connections with Cunningham. The Journal also suggested that other lawmakers might be implicated. I've learned from a well-connected source that those under intense scrutiny by the FBI are current and former lawmakers on Defense and Intelligence comittees—including one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post. I've also been able to learn the name of the limousine service that was used to ferry the guests and other attendees to the parties: Shirlington Limousine and Transportation of Arlington, Virginia. Wilkes, I've learned, even hired Shirlington as his personal limousine service.

It gets even more interesting: the man who has been identified as the CEO of Shirlington has a 62-page rap sheet (I recently obtained a copy) that runs from at least 1979 through 1989 and lists charges of petty larceny, robbery, receiving stolen goods, assault, and more. Curiously—or perhaps not so curiously given the company's connections—Shirlington Limousine is also a Department of Homeland Security contractor; according to the Washington Post, last fall it won a $21.2 million contract for shuttle services and transportation support. (I tried to contact Shirlington but was unable to get past their answering service.)

As to the festivities themselves, I hear that party nights began early with poker games and degenerated into what the source described as a "frat party" scene - real bacchanals. Apparently photographs were taken, and investigators are anxiously procuring copies. My heart beats faster in fevered anticipation.

Expect further details to emerge . . .

Scarborough tonight leads with the Wilkes/prostitution scandal. One of the issues the Republican used against Clinton was the threat of blackmail, not just from Monica, but from anyone who knew about it. The perception is that once a Lobbyist has "something" on you, it's cheaper to blackmail you than to bribe you.

MZM bought Goss and Cunningham prostitutes and Katherine Harris must have stole their makeup.

categories: Outrages
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12:39:37 AM    

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Monster Under Your Bed

Once upon a time we had a great wartime president who told Americans they had nothing to fear but fear itself.
Now we have George W. Bush, who uses fear as a tool of executive power and as a political weapon against his opponents.

Franklin D. Roosevelt tried his best to allay his nation's fears in the midst of an epic struggle against fascism. Bush, as he leads the country in a war whose nature he is constantly redefining, keeps fear alive because it has been so useful. His political grand wizard, Karl Rove, was perfectly transparent the other day when he emerged from wherever he's been hiding the past few months -- and gave the Republican National Committee its positioning statement for the fall elections: Vote for us or die.

categories: Politics
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10:35:36 PM    

Mythical Teen-age Sex Cults

Why can't American women have the emergency contraceptive Plan B over-the-counter? Three words: "Teen sex cults." Actually, four words: "Mythical teen sex cults."   Alas, I am too old to join a teen sex cult. Why didn't they have those when I was young? Oh wait, they don't have them now.

Goddess Tuptim Shrine, Bangkok, originally uploaded at Majikthise

We've discussed the strange phenomenon of wingnut fascination with bestiality, specifically sex with dogs. And recently we've been treated to the ick inducing sight of seven year old girls dressing up in ball gowns and pledging to their fathers to remain "sexually pure" until daddy turns them over to their husbands.

Via Septic Tank at Kos, here's another peek into the strange, disturbed world of rightwing moralist sexual imagination: teen sex cults. It has even infiltrated the hallowed halls of science at the FDA:

The FDA is only supposed to consider the safety and efficacy of drugs.

In the memo released by the FDA, Dr. Curtis Rosebraugh, an agency medical officer, wrote: "As an example, she [Woodcock] stated that we could not anticipate, or prevent extreme promiscuous behaviors such as the medication taking on an 'urban legend' status that would lead adolescents to form sex-based cults centered around the use of Plan B."

"This was the level of scientific discourse," Heller said in an interview, referring to concerns attributed to Woodcock. "I find it very odd that these people who are supposed to be responsible scientists and doctors are making up wacky reasons."

They believe that the morning after pill is an abortion. But they would be against it even if it weren't because it encourages promiscuity. Or it allows men to exploit women. Or it's unsafe. Or it will give women emotional problems. Or physical problems because women who have abortions are more likely to die than women who don't. Except they aren't. But no matter, even if that isn't true, there are always a thousand reasons why women should not be allowed to have sex. Pick one and run with it.

"The morning-after pill is a pedophile's best friend," Wendy Wright, senior policy director for Concerned Women of America, a public policy organization, said in a statement after learning of Galson's decision. "Morning-after pill proponents treat women like sex machines."

Pedophiles and sex-machines. Hoo baby. But hey, if it's fantasies of teen sex cults that rev these gruesome, obsessive imaginations, have at it. It would be nice if the scientists at the FDA got their jollies elsewhere, however. This is important.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute reported: "The younger women are when they first have intercourse the more likely they are to have had unwanted or nonvoluntary first sex, seven in 10 of those who had sex before age 13, for example."

This is given as a reason to avoid making Plan B available? That girls are being forced into sex at a young age? Are they totally nuts?  Let me go through that again. The younger a girl is when she first has sex, the more likely that she is to have not wanted it. Therefore we should make it easier for those younger girls to get pregnant from those unwanted encounters?

Where do they come up with this stuff?   [Scratches head]  That's difficult to believe - when you enter "teenage sex cult" into Google, the hits are in seven figures...

OK then,  Oppose Plan B[ackseat]! Coupes only!

Indeed. Certainly, SUVs encourage teen promiscuity too.

categories: Outrages
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12:38:40 PM    

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tell The GOP To QUIT Messing With Al Gore's & My Internet

Phone companies must treat all calls equally, regardless of where they come from, where they're going, or what the callers are saying. Historically, the same non-discrimination policy also covered Internet communications.

Now, a handful of giant telecom companies and their allies in Congress are on the verge of abolishing net neutrality for broadband internet. (Video)

Art Brodsky explains:

The telephone companies, which carried all of the Web traffic until relatively recently, had to treat all of their calls alike without giving any Web site or service favored treatment over another. The result was today’s Internet, which developed as a result of billions of dollars of investments, from the largest Internet company that spent millions on software and networking, to the one person with a blog who spent a few hundred dollars on a laptop. The Internet grew into a universal public resource because the telephone and cable companies simply transported the bits.

Last fall, however, the Federal Communications Commission, backed by the U.S. Supreme Court, decided that the high-speed Internet services offered by the cable and telephone companies didn’t fall under that law, the Communications Act. Out the window went the law that treated everyone equally. Now, with broadband, we are in a new game without rules. [TPMCafe]
How would the gutting of Network Neutrality affect you?
  • Google users—Another search engine could pay dominant Internet providers like AT&T to guarantee the competing search engine opens faster than Google on your computer.
  • Innovators with the "next big idea"—Startups and entrepreneurs will be muscled out of the marketplace by big corporations that pay Internet providers for dominant placing on the Web. The little guy will be left in the "slow lane" with inferior Internet service, unable to compete.
  • Ipod listeners—A company like Comcast could slow access to iTunes, steering you to a higher-priced music service that it owned.
  • Political groups—Political organizing could be slowed by a handful of dominant Internet providers who ask advocacy groups to pay "protection money" for their websites and online features to work correctly.
  • Nonprofits—A charity's website could open at snail-speed, and online contributions could grind to a halt, if nonprofits can't pay dominant Internet providers for access to "the fast lane" of Internet service.
  • Online purchasers—Companies could pay Internet providers to guarantee their online sales process faster than competitors with lower prices—distorting your choice as a consumer.
  • Small businesses and tele-commuters—When Internet companies like AT&T favor their own services, you won't be able to choose more affordable providers for online video, teleconferencing, Internet phone calls, and software that connects your home computer to your office.
  • Parents and retirees—Your choices as a consumer could be controlled by your Internet provider, steering you to their preferred services for online banking, health care information, sending photos, planning vacations, etc.
  • Bloggers—Costs will skyrocket to post and share video and audio clips—silencing citizen journalists and putting more power in the hands of a few corporate-owned media outlets.

Blocking Innovation

Corporate control of the Web would reduce your choices and stifle the spread of innovative and independent ideas that we've come to expect online. It would throw the digital revolution into reverse. Internet gatekeepers are already discriminating against Web sites and services they don't like:

  • In 2004, North Carolina ISP Madison River blocked their DSL customers from using any rival Web-based phone service.
  • In 2005, Canada's telephone giant Telus blocked customers from visiting a Web site sympathetic to the Telecommunications Workers Union during a contentious labor dispute.
  • Shaw, a major Canadian cable TV company, is charging an extra $10 a month to subscribers who want to use a competing Internet telephone service.
  • In April, Time Warner's AOL blocked all emails that mentioned www.dearaol.com -- an advocacy campaign opposing the company's pay-to-send e-mail scheme.
This is just the beginning. Cable and telco giants want to eliminate the Internet's open road in favor of a tollway that protects their status quo while stifling new ideas and innovation. If they get their way, they'll shut down the free flow of information and dictate how you use the Internet

This is an example of why we need to talk about common carriers. As soon as we use that term, we hook into a legislator's existing body of knowledge on the subject. We shift the ground from:
Having the government tell a cable or phone company how to manage the pipes that offer their clients Internet service would fare no better than having the government tell Wal-Mart how to stock its lawn and garden department.
... to: "Having the government tell Internet carriers that they must treat all their clients neutrally would fare as well as when the government said the same thing to the railroads and then to the phone companies."

At that point, we're no longer in a debate on the merits. Most of them know that worked quite well. With them, we win, presumptively, and the burden is on the other side to open up a debate.

Matt Stoller runs down the players in the fight for net neutrality. To help save net neutrality you can: write your Representative, Sign MoveOn's net neutrality petition, check out the Save the Internet Community on Myspace.

categories: Outrages
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7:09:29 PM    

Monday, April 24, 2006

The New Christian Science Textbook

categories: Outrages
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11:16:43 PM    

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Eating Up The Amazon Rainforest

It is a globally known symbol: the golden arches can be seen in many countries around the world. But whatever the fast food giant wants you to believe the golden arches stand for, McDonald's today stands for rainforest destruction. And that is one very 'Unhappy Meal' for the planet.

Greenpeace said McDonald's Corp. was fueling the destruction of the Amazon rainforest by using soybeans grown in the region as feed for chickens that end up served in the fast-food chain's European restaurants.

In a reported entitled, "Eating up the Amazon," the environmental group said it has traced soy beans grown in illegally deforested areas of the rainforest to McDonald's restaurants, as well as other restaurant chains and supermarkets across Europe.

"Fast Food giants like McDonald's are trashing the Amazon for cheap meat. Every time you buy a Chicken McNugget you could be taking a bite out of the Amazon," Greenpeace forests campaign coordinator Gavin Edwards said by telephone from London.

McDonald's spokeswoman Anna Rozenich said the company was looking into the claims.
McAmazon, we're trashing it.

The journey from rainforest to restaurant might sound simple enough but it has taken a year-long investigation using satellite images, aerial surveillance, previously unreleased government documents and on-the-ground monitoring to expose.  What we found was a global trade in soya from rainforest destruction in the Amazon to McDonald's fast food outlets and supermarkets across Europe.

"This crime stretches from the heart of the Amazon across the entire European food industry. Supermarkets and fast food giants, like McDonald's, must make sure their food is free from the links to the Amazon destruction, slavery and human rights abuses"
Greenpeace forests campaign co-ordinator, Gavin Edwards.

Most of the global trade in soya is controlled by a small number of massive traders: Cargill, Bunge and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). In Brazil, this cartel plays the role of bank to the farmers. Instead of providing loans they give farmers seed, fertiliser and herbicides in return for soya at harvest: Bunge alone provided the equivalent of nearly US$1 billion worth of seed, fertiliser and herbicides to Brazilian farmers in 2004.

This gives the companies indirect control over huge areas of land that used to be rainforest. Together, these three companies are responsible for around 60 percent of the total financing of soya production in Brazil.

Banks too have been caught up in the destruction of the Amazon. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank, wrongly assessed a loan to Grupo Andre Maggi as being of 'low environmental risk,' despite evidence to the contrary. Other banks have also lent huge sums of money to the company without conducting their own environmental or social impact audits.

So far, Rabobank, the Netherlands' biggest agricultural bank has lent over US$330 million to Grupo Andre Maggi. Rabobank admitted that it didn't do its own assessment of the risk of the loans, simply accepting the (flawed) assessment of the IFC.

So fast food and supermarkets, soya traders and big banks are all trashing the Amazon rainforest.  SHAME ON THEM!!!

categories: Outrages
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1:24:25 AM    

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Kidnap Killer of 10 Year Girl Was A Blogger

The victims families, parents and a concerned public feels very strongly that sex offenses against our nations youth are reaching an epidemic level. It is up to each citizen to work together to bring about changes in our legal system that will keep these predators far away from our children.

Missing since April 12, 2006, 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin was found dead the evening of April 14, 2006 in neighbor Kevin Underwood's apartment, within ten feet of her father's apartment
- much closer to home than anyone would have thought. The case of the red-haired, blue eyed and freckled girl with glasses, wearing a blue sleeveless shirt and pink shorts, and riding her purple bicycle was initially treated as a possible runaway, then as a possible abduction by a man she met online. She vanished after a trip to the library.

Police are not yet certain whether Jamie and Underwood had chatted online, but are still investigating and believe there is a strong possibility, due to a statement from one of Jamie's friends. The FBI and OSBI are working on the case along with local and state law enforcement, and have removed two computers from the library that Jamie visited for inspection. An Amber Alert was issued April 13, 2006 in Purcell, Oklahoma for Jamie Bolin.

It has been reported that Kevin Underwood, after aiding in the search for Jamie Rose Bolin, told authorities at a checkpoint near his apartment that the media was wrong in the description of what Jamie had been wearing when last seen. It is also reported that the night before Jamie went missing, Kevin Underwood offered the use of the telephone in his apartment for her to order a pizza, and on the day of her abduction he allegedly lured her into his apartment with his pet rat and a Sponge Bob Square Pants video.

Kevin confessed Friday to killing his 10-year-old neighbor, Jamie Rose Bolin, telling FBI agents searching a container in his apartment: "Go ahead and arrest me. She is in there. I chopped her up," police wrote in an affidavit. Kevin Ray Underwood, 26, intended to eat Jamie's body and had targeted other potential victims, police said.

Investigators alleged Saturday that Underwood hit Jamie on the head three times with a wooden cutting board, smothered her with his hand and duct tape, tried to cut off her head and sexually molested her after she was dead.

Today is the day I refuse to allow the name of Jamie Rose Bolin to be overshadowed by the evil of the perpetrator who viciously ripped her from our midst.

Jamie loved Barbie dolls and her bicycle, puppies and kittens and all of the other things 10-year-old girls like, according to her grandmother, Rose Fox. The shine of her startling blue eyes were not dimmed by the glasses she wore, and her impish grin will not be forgotten. Rose said that she loved pillow fights with her sisters, and her infectious giggle and personality "could just light up a room."

It is a shame what the world is coming to when you cant trust your neighbors. What the comunity is doing in her memory is great , but she deserves much more.... she deserves to be alive with her family... i dont know her but i will always remember .. god bless The important part is that her family has set up a memorial fund "The Jamie Rose Bolin Memorial Fund", which can be contributed to at any Bank of Oklahoma.

Steve Huff writes about this case on his crimeblog here. Jules Hammer of the Duncan Crime Blog found Mr. Underwood's rather expansive web presence and posted the information to Steve's discussion forum. Optymyst of Look Who's Tattling Now took the baton, so to speak, and cached Mr. Underwood's (presently inaccessible) MySpace pages and also wrote a corresponding article here. Within minutes of Jules' posting, visitors, both anonymous and named were posting invectives under the comments sections of Mr. Underwood's blogs. Understandably so. After all, a 26 year-old man had not only kidnapped and murdered Jamie, but from news reports, may have tortured her as well. For up-to-date details of this most horrible crime, please refer to the aforementioned blogs, consider reading Mr. Underwood's primary blog.

Citizens for a One Strike Law (CFAOSL) has filed Dylan's Law in honor of Dylan Groene who was "allegedly" sexually brutalized and violently murdered by Joseph Duncan III. Dylan's Law is a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole for violent and predatory sexual crimes such as kidnapping, to the vicious rapes and molestations of our young and defenseless children.

Important Links:

Blogger Profile Kevin Underwoods Blogger Profile

Questions Survey from Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K Kevin Underwood's Blog

Kingdom of Loathing Forum Profile - HippyGriff

eBay Profile - SubSpecies23 - Kevin Underwood used his eBay account to purchase elements for his Kingdom of Loathing game.

Overclocked Remix Profile - SubSpecies23 - Thanks Steve Huff

Post List From Church of the SubGenius

Strong Mothers Against Child Molesters

Protect The Kids

Family Watch Dog

Survivor Resources

Child Predator Watch List (Oprah)

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Rape Abuse & Incest National Network

categories: Outrages
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2:03:00 AM    

Friday, April 21, 2006

If Bush Has Lost Peggy Noonan Then ....

Noonan inherently knows that the Bush ship is going down. She is vainly trying to separate the conservative movement from Bush's sinking ship. As November election approaches, I expect to see more rancor in the ranks - and afterwards, lots of finger-pointing.

In her column today, Noonan offered some commentary on the staff changes at the White House and explained, with surprising candor, why moving a few deckchairs around won't make a substantive difference.

George W. Bush, on the other hand, does not tolerate dissent, argument, bitter internal battles. He is the decider. He decides, and the White House carries through. He is loyal to his aides, who carry out his wishes. (It is unclear whether this is a loyalty born of emotional connection or one born of calculation: Do it my way and the tong protects you.) His loyalty means they will most likely not be fired or leaked against, no matter what heat they take from the outside. And so his aides move forward with the sharpness and edge of those who know their livelihoods and status are secure. Bruce Bartlett has written of how, as a conservative economist, he was treated with courtesy by the Clinton White House, which occasionally sought out his views. But once he'd offered mild criticisms of the Bush White House he was shut out, and rudely, by Bush staffers. Why would they be like that? Because they believe that as a conservative, Mr. Bartlett owes his loyalty to the president. He thought his loyalty was to principles.

There are many stories like this, from many others. It leaves friends on the outside having to self-censor or accept designation as The Enemy. It leaves a distinguished former government official and prominent Republican saying, in conversation, "Those people aren't drinking the Kool-Aid, they're sucking it from a spigot!"

The president has taken, those around him say, great comfort in biographies of previous presidents. All presidents do this. They all take comfort in the fact that former presidents now seen as great were, in their time, derided, misunderstood, underestimated. No one took the measure of their greatness until later. This is all very moving, but: Message to all biography-reading presidents, past present and future: Just because they call you a jackass doesn't mean you're Lincoln.

Noonan explained her belief that the staff "shake-up" is of little consequence because the president, as she put it, "does not tolerate dissent, argument, bitter internal battles" the way an informed president should. Noonan concludes that it's less important for the staff to change and more important for Bush to broaden his base of information by tolerating "dissent, argument, ambiguity." This, she argues, would be more meaningful progress for the Bush White House, as opposed to shuffling around a few staffers, which is, as Noonan put it, is merely the "appearance of change."

My only point would be is that the conservatives (at least, the libertarian, small-government, fiscal conservative ones) have a right to cut Bush et al loose. Rove and Addington have not governed this country as conservatives, they have just used the Republicanite party and the residual conservative leanings of the American people from the Reagon era to seize power and enrich their friends while trying to recreate the imperial presidency of Richard Nixon.

First, I'm not at all comfortable agreeing so much with Noonan, but today I'll make an exception. Second, I think Noonan may soon be taken off the White House Christmas-card list and won't be invited down to the ranch.

categories: Outrages
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1:43:29 AM    

Friday Cat Blogging

For Friday Cat VideoBlogging Fans

I have no idea how they made this video, Jan, it's great. Enjoy.

Fatboy Slim's version of The Joker.

(which, btw, is far better than the original, what with Bootsy Collins on vocals and all.)

categories: Humor
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12:12:09 AM    

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Purity Balls:  Not Your Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Ok, this is just creepy. I find it ironic that many conserviative christians look down their nose at Muslims for subjugating women, and then participate in ceremonies affirming that a woman is a wedding gift to her husband! It seems to me that the only difference between this and a burkha is a matter of degree.

Responding to the odd, disturbing nature of the Father-Daughter Purity Ball, about which I posted below, PZ Myers says:

"Daddies of the world, keep your hands off your daughter's sexuality, OK? Raise them to be independent and thoughtful and informed and able to make their own decisions, and then just trust them."

That sounds like common sense to me. Girls pledging to their dads to stay virginal in ritualistic ceremonies just doesn't seem like a healthy thing to do.   It's striking how young many of these girls are, some look to be no more than seven.

Apparently, this is common. Here's a testimonial from Generations of Light magazine:

"How can you measure the value of your eleven year old looking up into your eyes (as you clumsily learn the fox-trot together) with innocent, uncontainable joy, saying, 'Daddy, I'm so excited!' wrote Wesley Tullis in a letter describing his grateful participation. 'I have been involved with the Father-Daughter Ball for two years with my daughters, Sarah and Anna. It is impossible to convey what I have seen in their sweet spirits, their delicate, forming souls, as their daddy takes them out for their first, big dance. Their whole being absorbs my loving attention, resulting in a radiant sense of self-worth and identity. Think of it from their perspective: My daddy thinks I'm beautiful in my own unique way. My daddy is treating me with respect and honor. My daddy has taken time to be silly, and even made a fool of himself, learning how to dance. My daddy really loves me!"

I can understand why the little girls would want to do this. It's a chance to dress up and spend time with their father. If it were for another purpose, it might be sweet. But this is what that little girl is reading to her father from that card:

I pledge to remain sexually pure...until the day I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband. ... I know that God requires this of me.. that he loves me. and that he will reward me for my faithfulness.

And this is what Daddy says in turn:

I, (daughter’s name)’s father, choose before God to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity. I will be pure in my own life as a man, husband and father. I will be a man of integrity and accountability as I lead, guide and pray over my daughter and as the high priest in my home. This covering will be used by God to influence generations to come.

He's the "high priest" in his home. Are we getting the picture?

What about the sons and the lack of mother-son purity pledges. Commenter Llamajockey hits the nail on the head with this:

The truth is is that in most Red-State/Fundy households the Dad is just as obsessed if not more so with the possiblity of his young son being gay as with his daughter's virginity. Therefore teenage males feel an acute pressure beyond their already out of control hormones to prove their heterosexuality. That is why athletic over anything resembling academic or intellectual, acheivement is so highly prized. It improves the young man's standing in the eyes of the young females and reassures Dad his son can not be gay. However, with it comes a double edge, for the young man is now supposed to act the role of stud.
Virgin girls and studly boys. Can we all see the problem with this?
"Virgin girls and studly boys" means there is going to be a class of girls for those boys who are by definition not virgin; my prediction is they won't be white and they won't be middle-class, and the family values creeps will go out of their way to be sure they won't be protected or respected. I wonder what the sisters of the Duke lacrosse players are like.

Aside from the creepiness, these little girls can't possibly have any idea what they're promising. What does any 7-year-old girl know about either virginity or sexuality?

And, what happens when an 18-year-old girl regrets her decision made at 11 and gets herself laid?    Are we like, one step away from honor killings?  Because, here we are seeing girls treated as though they are family property. I would assume they are trained to grow up and be property of the husband?   Looks like we are a heartbeat away from chastity belts. This is unbelievable.

What a wonderful thing for a girl to feel secure in her father's love. The time will come in the lives of these girls when this intrusion will cause confusion and sexual tension.   But of course the purity ball is not about that. It's about Daddy as controlling and judgemental. It is also about Daddy having an unhealthy fixation and idealization of his daughter as a sexual object.A healthy reaction to this may be a rejection of the father and his proscribed behaviors. She might then find herself looking for love in all the wrong places.

If a girl is to truly be celebrated, let it be for her spirit, mind and accomplishments. If she is valued by her family for her humanity, she will value herself. Let her sexuality blossom unconciously in the context of full personhood, rather than the defining characteristic of what she offers in the way of gifts to the world. Please!

categories: Outrages
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4:15:22 PM    

FSM Creature's Picture Irks Board of Ed Member

Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster official website

State Board of Education member Connie Morris took exception Wednesday to a picture of a made-up creature that satirizes the state's new science standards hanging on a Stucky Middle School teacher's door.

Fellow board member Sue Gamble told The Eagle that Morris asked for the picture to be removed.

The creature, called the Flying Spaghetti Monster, is the creation of Bobby Henderson of Corvallis, Ore. It looks like a clump of spaghetti with two eyes sticking out of the top and two meatballs flanking the eyes.

Henderson created the entity and an accompanying mythology on the origin of mankind to make fun of Kansas' recent debate over the teaching of criticisms of evolution, including intelligent design.

In November, the board voted 6-4 to allow criticisms of evolution to be taught in Kansas schools.

Morris, who voted for the new science standards, saw the picture during the tour. She did not return phone calls for this report.

Gamble, who voted against the new standards and was also on the tour, said that Morris asked principal Kenneth Jantz to have the picture taken down. Board members toured Stucky before finishing two days of meetings in Wichita on Wednesday. Gamble said that when she saw the picture during the tour, she knew that some board members wouldn't approve of it.

"When we went into that classroom, students were looking at rock formations," Gamble said. "Connie stopped to talk to a teacher and I moved on. That was when I was aware of the flyer. I thought 'she's probably going to say something to the teacher.' "

Gamble said that when Morris saw the picture, she asked the principal, who was on the tour, to take it down. Jantz did not comment for this report. Gamble said she didn't see Morris talk to Randy Mousley, the teacher, or to the principal, but that she later went up to Mousley and asked if Morris said anything to him about the picture.

That's when Gamble learned that Morris had asked the principal to take it down. The monster's picture has hung on the door since September or October and was put up there as a joke, Mousley said.

"It's a parody," he said. "It's just making fun of anti-evolution."

Mousley said he doesn't teach students about the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Also on the door is a Doonesbury comic strip about science, said board member Carol Rupe, who represents Wichita. She also voted against the new standards.

"It was two little pieces of paper on the door," she said. "It was poking good fun."

Gamble said she told the principal that it was his decision whether the monster could stick around.

"I advised the principal that Morris has no authority," she said. "I told him to deal with his staff as he saw fit, not by what a state board member says."

Board chairman Steve Abrams, who voted for the new standards, didn't see the picture but said he thinks that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is silly.

"Personally, I think it's juvenile," he said.

The picture was still on the door at the end of the school day Wednesday.

America's Taliban has no sense of humor.  Then again, duh.

Board chairman Steve Abrams, who voted for the new standards, didn't see the picture but said he thinks that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is silly.  What a coincidance!  Bobby Henderson, all of the scientific community, and most of the country thinks that the Kansas Board of Education is Silly and Juvenile!!!

Seriously, the American Taliban's GOD sucks. They make their God so mean spirited, small minded and as ignorant as them. They truly limit their God to being just like the Muslim Taliban God they claim to hate. They are in need of some SPIRITUALITY and a little less RELIGION.

The way Jesus Christ spoke, you'd think God could be a spaghetti monster if He wanted to be... I'm with Jesus!

Never thought I'd say this - but home schooling sounds like a damn good idea. I'd rather our side have the smart kids and let the extremists on the right teach their kids to believe in unicorns, elves, and the bogey man.

I'm not sure, but I think persecution of the FSM is one of the signs of the last days!

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Creature's picture irks Board of Ed member ( FSM alert) | Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster | Wichita Eagle | 04/13/2006 | Creature's picture irks Board of Ed | Creature's picture irks Board of Ed Member | GFP: A Community Supported, Progressive Audio, Video & Image | GFP: A Community Supported, Progressive Audio, Video & Image | bc skeptics | news | Flying Spaghetti Monster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia | Flying Spaghetti Monster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia | Thoughts from Kansas: Crazy Connie persecutes religious minority

10:33:09 AM    

Arizona Looks To Run Montana-Style Anti-Meth Ads

In Montana, where the campaign is hard to miss, it's been credited with a 30 percent decline in use of the drug among teens. People are often more disturbed by the truth then a lie.


The gritty, in-your-face ads on television, radio, billboards and newspapers have exposed Montana teenagers to the ugly truth about the evil grip of meth addiction.

They're as subtle as a sledgehammer.

A billboard shows a grungy, dirty toilet with the words, "No one thinks they'll lose their virginity here. Meth will change that."

One TV spot shows a young man covered with scabs harassing people in a coin laundry and beating them up for loose change. At the end of the ad, the teen runs up to his pre-meth self and screams, "This wasn't supposed to be your life!"

Fueled by the deep pockets of software billionaire Thomas Siebel, the Montana Meth Project has become a national success story with its often-shocking content. Now, Arizona officials are close to bringing the provocative ad campaign to the state, where meth has taken hold in cities and suburbs, rural areas, affluent houses and lower-income neighborhoods.

On Tuesday, county and state officials, including staff members from the Governor's Office and the Attorney General's Office, will fly to Helena, Mont., to watch the latest round of TV spots and meet with Siebel. The multimillion-dollar ad campaign, "Not Even Once," has saturated the airwaves in Montana, helping reduce meth use among teens by as much as 30 percent.

"I just don't think we have time to waste," Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said. "I don't think there is hardly a family in Arizona that doesn't have some tragedy associated with meth. It's scary that kids think this is a drug you can experiment with at parties and it won't hurt you."

"We need teenagers talking to teenagers."

The goal is to have an Arizona Meth Project up and running by August, Goddard said. A non-profit organization in Arizona would run the project and continually raise funds. An advisory group, comprised of elected officials, doctors, business owners, educators and tribal officials, would be set up.

Dr. Marc Matthews, director of the trauma unit at Maricopa Medical Center, has seen the physical, emotional and psychological devastation of meth addiction firsthand.

"It's absolutely brutal," Matthews said. "The American people are unwilling to recognize the horror that is happening every day here in Arizona and across the country. The drug is almost maniacal. Once it gets hold of you, that's it."

This campaign takes a lot of hits from ad professionals, which seems strange to me. Toilet sex and flesh slicing are on the minimal end of what meth can inspire.

I am sure that those who have issues with these campaigns have never had a father/son/wife/grandmother who was a junkie... it is a different animal when it is in your backyard and you have to live with it.

I haven't seen these ads but if they are an effective deterrent, then more power to them and the agency that created them. The crack epidemic of the 1980s was very real, and very obvious, to anyone who lived in a city. But that's probably why nobody tried to say its existence was being blown out of proportion. Meth addiction seems to be more of a problem among poor, rural whites who are too often invisible to the media or laughingly dismissed by the general population in "white trash" or "trailer trash" jokes.

categories: Miscelleous
Other Stories according to Google: KATU 2 - Portland, Oregon | KATU 2 - Portland, Oregon

12:24:42 AM    

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What's  Next 9/11 Orphans, Almost As Creepy As The FEMA RAP

Oh, the irony! All the conservatives were bashing the gay parents for "politicizing" the egg roll, and then they pull a stunt like that.  This sounds like a propaganda campaign from the old USSR, where they used to use little children as both props and messengers of propaganda.  After the song was over, the kids grouped up and apologized for being in the way of the water.

Yesterday at the White House Easter Egg Roll, dozens of children "from the stricken Gulf Coast region serenaded First Lady Laura Bush with a song praising the beleaguered Federal Emergency Management Agency.” To the tune of “Hey Look Me Over,” the kids from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama sang:

"Our country's stood beside us
People have sent us aid.
Katrina could not stop us, our hopes will never fade.
Congress, Bush and FEMA
People across our land
Together have come to rebuild us and we join them hand-in-hand!"

Neither Congress, FEMA, nor President Bush should be proud of their response in the Gulf Coast. FEMA's post-Katrina housing program has produced "vast sums of waste and misspent funds," now likely to "top $1 billion and perhaps much more." Despite President Bush's pledge to build the levees "higher and better," federal officials now say "there may not be enough money to fully protect the entire region." And as even Newt Gingrich acknowledged this weekend, "it’s going to be really bad by September when we go back and have a one-year review and we realize how much of New Orleans is not fixed as of this coming September."

It’s not yet clear who actually produced the song, but the mystery writer is definitely in the running for a Grammy.

"Oh, we're the Boys of the Chorus,  We hope you like our show.
We know you're routin' for us, But, now we've got to go!"

All praise to you, Dear Leader, and to the Supreme Conservative Council!
oh.... my head suddenly HUUUURRRRRRRTS!

NO! Shit I'm lost. This stuff is scary.   I better go to the grocery store and buy some garlic and string to make a necklace.   Maybe stop off and pick up some holy water too.

Exploiting children for a photo op, how lovely. To be followed by a double encore from the Iraqi Children's Choir, 'We Never had it this Good' and 'Come Let us Adore Him'.

After singing, were they rewarded with keys to nice shiny trailers ... or are those still in Arkansas?

categories: Outrages
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12:14:11 PM    

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Knock On The Duir

Watch the Video.   When was the last time YOU ....

categories: Soul
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11:54:20 PM    

Rummy Enjoys Full Military Support

Slate Cartoons

categories: Politics
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11:38:59 PM    

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Where Have All The Flowers Gone

The Gospel According to St Douglas and Lance Mannion's Good Friday post

This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

And then, one day, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change...

---from, among other places, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams

Arthur Dent is out of his bathrobe, in love, and wondering why the dolphins said So Long and Thanks for All the Fish. Was the earth really demolished? Why did all the dolphins disappear? What is God's final message to His creatures? Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and the new voivoid gang are off (by commercial airline) on a wacked-out quest to answer these truly unimportant questions.

Listen to the movie song "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

How could the earth be totally demolished? There's an old saying in the 1960's anti-war movement: "A nuclear bomb can really ruin your day." It's now looking more and more probable that we will see the use of nuclear weapons against Iran this year. The White House and the DOD wanted the nuclear bunker buster (NBB) come hell or high water. When I said DOD, I mean Donald Rumsfeld and the civilian executive appointees. If we accept much of the Sy Hersh article, then the actual uniform-wearing soldiers and generals at the DOD are opposed to developing and using NBBs and prefer conventional bunker busters (CBB). It appears that the generals understand, all to well, the NBB whirlwind that we will reap for ourselves and our children.

But, no NBBs is only part of the story. The generals have signed up for the notion that a nuclear capable Iran, or even just the potential to complete a nuclear weapons program, is TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY UNACCECPTABLE. They have signed up to the inevitability of military action, unless there is a complete capitulation by Iran on their nukes. However, they do not want to use NBBs or any kind of nukes when the time comes. The time may be very soon.

What would happen if NBBs were used and the nuclear bunker buster turned out to be a bust?

The Union of Concerned Scientists explains why a nuclear bunker-buster strike on Iran's underground bunkers would be
ineffective and deadly.

The point is that even if a 100% guaranteed kill NBB existed, and the fallout could be minimized and contained to a limited area, it is absolutely batshit crazy to use one. Once the US starts nuking people the rest of the world is going to nuke up as fast as possible. Once that genie is out of the bottle it's only a matter of time before we get a dose of our own medicine.

Juan Cole tells us, that in the background of today's entries, Bob Dylan's "blowing in the wind" is playing.

How many roads must a man walk down Before you call him a man?

In response to the call for a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by a retired marine colonel, decorated Vietnam War veteran and Democratic Congressman, John Murtha, White House Spokesman Scott McClellan implied that Murtha was advocating a "surrender to the terrorists." McClellan is not a veteran of any war, and nor are his bosses, George W. Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney (the latter actively sought 5 deferrals from serving in Vietnam).

Yes, 'n' how many seas must a white dove sail Before she sleeps in the sand?

Peace activist and mother of a GI killed in action in Iraq, Cindy Sheehan, was fined $75 for demonstrating without a permit outside the White House.

Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly Before they're forever banned?

The US military is puzzled about the outcry over the use of white phosphorus at Fallujah. After all, a 500-pound bomb is also destructive. My guess? You can't go to war against Saddam on the grounds that he has stockpiles of chemical weapons, and then turn around and use incendiary bombs of a sort that much of the world regards as a form of chemical weapon. It is the hypocrisy factor. Not to mention that the international community is trying to get such weapons banned.

. . . Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have Before he can hear people cry?

Over two hundred years after the Founding Fathers banned "cruel and unusual punishment," the Congress is considering banning the use of torture on detainees of the US. A no-brainer? Sure. George W. Bush signed the measure into law but in a signing statement said he wouldn't obey this law against torture.

Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows That too many people have died?

Revulsion at the quagmire in Iraq is producing a new isolationism in the American public rivalling the mood in the post-Vietnam period, according to a Pew poll. A good sign: Two-thirds of the respondents felt comfortable with the US acting in concert with international partners.

How many years can a mountain exist Before it's washed to the sea?

Bush's approval ratings are in free-fall! He is down to a 34 percent approval rating. Only Nixon in the last days of Watergate was doing worse. Seriously, these numbers are cause for concern. At some point, the executive will stop being able to govern. Bush has been a disastrous president, but a country without any executive at all can be in real trouble (ask the Iraqis).

Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist Before they're allowed to be free? . . .

The US has detained around 83,000 persons during the four years of the "war on terror," most of them in Iraq. Some 14,500 remain in detention there. Many detainees are not actually guilty of anything, but have difficulty obtaining their release once taken into custody. There have been many instances of torture or at least of cruel and unusual punishment while these persons were in US custody.

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind . . .

All those who have the courage to speak out their minds and to be true to themselves, must be commended. The sum total of all and each of these points of light can finally bring a new day into our present of obscurity, fear, mass killings, and utter disrespect for human rights and the rule of law. There are voices in this time and let there be more, hammer of justice, bell of freedom, and songs about love...

Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,—
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.

That could be the meaning of Easter for me and you.

categories: Outrages
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11:37:52 PM    

Friday, April 14, 2006

How Long Does Runsfeld Keep His Job?

Now you know why:

The only generals who support the Bush Doctrine are General Electric and General Dynamics.

"There is some background noise here, a lot of chatter, a lot of speculation and opining." - George Bush, Oct. 20, 2005

Here's Bush's (1000% Percent support statement) on Rummy: I have seen first-hand how Don relies upon our military commanders in the field and at the Pentagon to make decisions about how best to complete these missions. Secretary Rumsfeld's energetic and steady leadership is exactly what is needed at this critical period. He has my full support and deepest appreciation.

Based on that statement, I'd say a week at most and then Rummy's health problems lead to a resignation, effective, say, the first week of Nov. It is the kiss of death for Bush to say "He has my full support and deepest appreciation."

I know it sounds nuts but I think they are really considering appointing Lieberman. It's a rat fuck move and, well, that's a lot of that going around.

Like it or not, Don Rumsfeld's time as Secretary of Defense is running out. The real question is who will be next to step out of the shadows and denounce him. So far, six retired Generals (four Army and two Marines) have stepped up to the microphone to denounce Donald Rumsfeld as an incompetent, failed leader and the list is likely to get longer in the coming days. The list, so far, of retired Generals is impressive (for those non-military folk, a Brigadier General has one star, a Major General has two stars, a Lieutenant General has three stars, and a General has four stars; four stars outranks the others) :

Lt. General Gregory Newbold, (Marine) retired director of operations at the Pentagon’s military joint staff;
Major General Paul D. Eaton (Army);
General Anthony Zinni (Marine) former Commander Central Command
Major General John Batiste (Army)
Major General Charles Swannack (Army)
Major General John Riggs (Army)

Up to this point, President Bush could offer the lie that he was giving the military everything they asked for and no one challenged him. To quote Edgar Allen Poe, "nevermore". The die is now cast for the Republican controlled Congress. The respective heads of the Armed Services Committees, Senator Warner and Congressman Duncan Hunter, now realize that a critical mass of generals has come forward and that Don Rumsfeld has suffered the parliamentary equivalent of a vote of no confidence.

This is not a simple case of the military trying to usurp or embarrass civilian leaders. The growing chorus of senior military officers recognize that if they do not speak out now that the debacle in Iraq could erode the publics' confidence that military leaders, especially those in the Army and the Marines, and leave the military with a tarnished legacy like the aftermath of Vietnam.

Don Rumsfeld may want to stick it out, but stick a fork in him. His goose is cooked and his reign will soon be over.

That’s an impressive group, but you can’t forget the Fighting Dems either. Over 50 veterans of both the Iraq and Vietnam wars who are running as Democrats in 2006 because of the Iraq war.

Well, when you've got Tim Russert working late on Good Friday to report that they were trying to avert "civil war" at the Pentagon today, sounds like the country has big troubles. Are things in Iraq even worse than we think?

"The Knives Are Out For Rummy", "David Ignatius joins the chorus of folks calling for the head of Secretary Don Rumsfeld in today's Washington Post. Ignatius calls Rumsfeld a "spent force" and says that he's lost nearly all support from the officers’ corps: 'When I recently asked an Army officer with extensive Iraq combat experience how many of his colleagues wanted Rumsfeld out, he guessed 75 percent. Based on my own conversations with senior officers over the past three years, I suspect that figure may be low…."'

The Revolt of the Generals is about Iran, not Iraq. They won't stop it. I think the bombing starts in weeks, not months. Nobody is going to want the job after the war kicks into second gear.

categories: Outrages
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11:39:28 PM    

Friday Cat Blogging

categories: Humor
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12:57:45 AM    

Watch List Stops Iraq Reservist's Homecoming

As if being a Reservist called up for duty in Iraq wasn't bad enough, what if you're called a Terrorist and then not allowed on a plane so you can get home to be with your family.  Just when you think that things can't get any worse - they always do.

There is no recourse for those on the list, and their stories quickly take on a Kafkaesque tone. People can be put on the list for any reason; no standards exist. There's no ability to review any evidence against you, or even confirm that you are actually on the list.

And, for most people, there's no way to get off the list or to "prove" once and for all that they're not whoever the list is really looking for. It took Kennedy three weeks to get his name off the list. People without his political pull have spent years futilely trying to clear their names.

Imagine if the world's most notorious fugitive, Osama bin Laden, attempted to board an airliner in the United States. Suppose he were clean-shaven, sporting short hair, wearing a pinstriped business suit and looked like so many other travelers that no suspicions were raised. How far might he get? If he used aliases such as names of family members, he would be nabbed instantly and whisked away for questioning. That's because many of his relatives are on the FBI's secret "no-fly list," according to intelligence sources.

But suppose he boldly decided to use his own name. Would he be cleared to fly? Insight recently learned that scenario was tested at a U.S. airport in the South during January. The result was troubling: America's most-wanted fugitive is cleared to fly. According to airline-security documents obtained by this magazine, the name Osama bin Laden was punched into the computer by an airline official and, remarkably, that name was cleared at the security checkpoint all passengers must pass through before being issued a boarding pass.

The realization that Osama bin Laden made the cut sent shivers down the spines of airline-security officials who discovered the system gap.

On the other hand, look at someone who is NOT allowed to fly.  A Marine reservist returning home after eight months in IRAQ was told he couldn't board a plane to Minneapolis because his name appeared on a watch list as a possible terrorist.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Brown, who was in uniform and returning from the war Tuesday with 26 other Marine military police reservists, was delayed briefly in Los Angeles until the issue was cleared up.

The other reservists arrived at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as scheduled, but instead of immediately meeting their families, they waited on a bus for Brown.

"We don't leave anybody behind," 1st Sgt. Drew Benson said. "We start together, and we finish together."

Brown, 32, arrived more than an hour later. He had also had airport trouble when he was trying to go to Iraq — and he missed his plane then as well.

"A guy goes over and serves his country fighting for eight or nine months, and then we come home and put up with this?" he asked.

Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said Wednesday he could not confirm or deny whether someone was on a watch list. He said Brown's case should have been fairly easy for the airline to clear up in Los Angeles.

"It should have taken 10 minutes," he said. "We do regret that an American hero was inconvenienced."

Who goes onto these secret lists is of great interest to terrorists but also has been a sore point among passengers who claim the Bush administration may be targeting those critical of administration policies and intelligence operations. While both the TSA and FBI insist they don't target groups based on political orientation but focus on suspicious traveling patterns and names of suspected terrorists, this does not explain why some repeatedly have had problems boarding planes. Consider just a few examples:

  • Barbara Olshansky, assistant director for the liberal Center for Constitutional Rights, was ordered to drop her pants in front of other travelers for a strip search in 2002. She consistently has had problems getting cleared to fly, and the group is in the midst of litigation about this.
  • Doug Stuber, who ran Ralph Nadar's presidential Green Party campaign in North Carolina in 2000, was flagged and questioned by the U.S. Secret Service about his politics prior to attempting to board a flight to Germany for business in 2002. During the discussion, Stuber screamed out, "George Bush is as dumb as a rock," which prompted officers to bring in the Secret Service for further interrogation. Stuber was barred from taking any flight that day and missed his business trip.
  • Two American anti-war protesters, Rebecca Gordon and Jan Adams, who co-publish the San Francisco-based War Times, were stopped at ATA airlines in 2002 after the computer spat out their names as being on the FBI's no-fly list. Airline officials later claimed this was a "mistake" and that the names should not have been so listed. Gordon and Adams eventually were cleared to fly after they were questioned and the ticket agent placed a large "S" on their ticket stubs for additional scrutiny during the baggage-check phase.
  • Virgine Lawinger, a nun in Milwaukee who is an activist with Peace Action, was stopped with about 20 of her students in 2002 as they attempted to board a plane to Washington, where they had hoped to lobby against U.S. military aid to the Colombian government.
What if there was a war but no came? Let's put ALL our soldiers on the no-fly list.

categories: Outrages
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12:50:41 AM    

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mushroom Clouds Over Iran - Anybody Paying Attention....

Condi may get her mushroom cloud yet. While somebody please explain to these End-timers that it's time to WAKE the F*** UP? It's past time to de-bunk the Book of Revelations for the hallucinatory fever dream that it is and give up trying to turn the Bible into a foreign-policy manual.

The US's game of nuclear chicken with Iran continues apace:

Monday's post on Seymour Hersh's contention that plans to attack Iran with nuclear weapons were "operational" and well-underway got people talking here on AlterNet. But in the commercial media? Not so much.

Billmon writes: "I mean, what exactly does it take to get a rise out of the media industrial complex these days? A nuclear first strike against a major Middle Eastern oil producer doesn't ring the bell? Must every story have a missing white woman in it before the cable news guys will start taking it seriously?"

Noting that "our long national journey towards complete idiocy is over. We've arrived," Billmon continues:

Even by the corrupt and debased standards of our times, this is a remarkable thing. The U.S. government is planning aggressive nuclear war (the neocons can give it whatever doublespeak name they like, but it is what it is); those plans have been described in some detail in a major magazine and on the front page of the Washington Post; the most the President of the United States is willing to say about it is that the reports are "speculative" (which is not a synonym for "untrue") and yet as I write these words the lead story on the CNN web site is:
ABC pushes online TV envelope
ABC is going to offer online streams of some of its most popular television shows, including "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," for free the day after they first air on broadcast TV.

Billmon proposes that the story's ho-hum treatment may be due to the conventional wisdom that this isn't for real... I mean, who would do that?

Only someone in a coma during the run-up to Iraq.

Should a nuclear first-strike occur, something we all have a hard time wrapping our heads around, according to Billmon we'd become a rogue state, it would "mark the definitive end of the system of collective security – and the laws and institutions supporting that system – established in the wake of World War II," oil would skyrocket, and Iran, with a very capable terrorist network would likely attack the U.S.

But maybe he's wrong and it's just a ploy to strike fear into Iran. At least the Mets are in first place. Read the whole post HERE. It's well worth the time. (Whiskey Bar)

There is no room for errors here. And what we have is a President who refuses to own up to his past mistakes, and so is incapable of learning from them. What we need are some adults to stand up and say "enough" and to demand that things be done carefully, methodically, and with an eye toward the long-term consequences of our choices.

This has been said time and time again — "yee haw!" is not a foreign policy.

The thing is, the BushCo/PNAC "Real Men Go To Teheran" campaign is playing out exactly as their Iraq run-up did at this time in 2002.

Bogus "evidence" that actual authorities debunk? Check.

The US doing everything it can to provoke an invasion-justifying response? Check.

BushCo/PNAC only briefing those Democrats it knows are already in the tank for them? Check.

The US news media spinelessly going along for the most part? Check.

Except that this is going to be Iraq on steroids.

UPDATE: from The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, 1963

Oh, where have you been, my blue eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I've stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I've walked and I've crawled on six crooked highways
I've stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I've been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin'
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a bleedin'
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin'
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a blazin'
Heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin'
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin'
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it's a hard, and it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a gonna fall

As far as Iran is concerned, only a revolt in the Pentagon can stop these people now. And even then, a lot of the military guys are very loyal to Dubya and think he's doing the Lord's good work or some such insanity.

Spiro Agnew and I are thinking of leaving Hell and relocating to Pluto, just so we can be as far away from this mess as possible. Anyone want to come with us?   ...Nixon's ghost

categories: Outrages
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2:50:55 PM    

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

GOP's Democrat Will Still Run If He Loses Primary

Joementum may be trying to get the party to push Lamont out of the race a la Paul Hackett, by threatening to be his usual turncoat self. Lieberman as God's gift to the people of Connecticut, as according to Lieberman. I imagine the Democratic voters in Connecticut are going to take a different view. They deserve Ned Lamont, and the country deserves Ned Lamont.

Sen. Joe Lieberman's (D-Conn.) willingness to break party ranks on a variety of key issues, including his inexplicable support for Bush's handling of the war, led businessman Ned Lamont to launch a primary challenge this year, which apparently is causing considerable consternation at Lieberman campaign HQ.

In fact, Lieberman is so concerned about his future, he's apparently open to the idea of running for another term, even if he loses the primary.

Here's the audioclip of Joe's stunning answer that shocked all who attended the meeting. Below is the transcript

Joe Lalli: Ned Lamont has already stated that he would support you if you won the Democratic nomination and Zell Miller once stated that he would always be a member of the Democratic party. Can you make similar promises?

LIEBERMAN: I'll always be a member of the Democratic party. I hope there's not a primary. I'm confident if there is one, I'll win it, but I'm not gonna rule out any other option for now because I feel so strongly that I can do better for the State of Connecticut for the next six years in the United States Senate that I want to give all the voters a chance to make that decision on Election day in November. I want to do it as a Democrat. If I didn't want to do it as a Democrat, I would choose to run in some other party, trust me. But I want to do it as a Democrat because I believe in the Democratic party, so really the choice is up to my fellow Democrats...

In other words, stop the primary challenge or I'll jump ship and allow all the voters (including that 70+ of Republicans who LOVE me) to vote for me in November as an Independent.

Who said he ever was a committed Democrat?

I couldn't help but grimace as I read this from RJ Eskow's post about Kerry on HuffingtonPost.

Quoting Kerry.

"I'd been supporting the Biden-Lugar Amendment, a bipartisan effort that would have required that the inspections be completed before any military action took place. We had a good chance of passing it. That amendment reflected my position on the war.

"Then one day we turned on the TV and Joe Lieberman was in the Rose Garden with the President, saying that he was supporting the resolution - as is. We realized that, as of that moment, the amendment was effectively dead."

2354 US Casualties, 34030 Iraqi Casualties - Joe must be so proud.

We need to demand that Joe will not accept the GOP nomination.

My understanding is that no serious Republican has announced a candidacy so far. With no credible GOP candidate on the primary ballot, it becomes possible for Joe to recieve enough "write-ins" in the GOP primary to get the nomination. Without a credible GOP candidate, only a few thousand votes will win the GOP Senate nomination. In fact, he would probably need less write-in votes than the number of signatures needed, in Connecticut, to qualify to go on the ballot as an Independent. Frequently, in state's where a popular incumbent runs unopposed, those incumbents frequently end up with multiple party nominations because of write-in votes in the other party's primary. The Connecticut dynamic could cause just this scenario.

He's the former Attorney Gen. of the state and knows the election law so don't think he hasn't already thought of that.

Republicans may mount pressure to keep a credible GOP candidate off the ballot for just this reason as well. If Joe wins the GOP primary based on write-in votes, then he may feel even more entitled to continue running. Would you be surprised if he also felt comfortable in the role of GOP nominee as well?

Evan Derkacz described Lieberman this morning as a "reluctant Democrat."

Unfortunately, it's an accurate description.
I think if he ever had to run as an Indy (and he can't because of the filing deadline logistics), he probably siphon off more Repug votes than Dems. This crass threat might just do him in. Good bye, good riddance.

categories: Outrages
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1:50:56 AM    

Sunday, April 09, 2006

14 Things To Do If You Have Missed The Rapture

Dude, I can DO this! This is what Grand Theft Auto has been training me for since Vice City.

In pdf or text.

1. DO NOT commit suicide, and stay extremely calm if you have missed the rapture. There will be a period of total chaos, suicides, and heart attacks. People all over the world will be in total chaos. Please understand the fact that you who remain here have missed the rapture, and are living in the tribulation period, and nothing you do can change that fact. Listen! Don’t look back. Face the fact you've been left, but there still is hope for you!!

2. KEEP A TIME TABLE. Look back and find the date people were reported missing or raptured, mark that date, and put it away. Keep track of the following 7 years. The first three and a half years will not be too bad, but the last three and a half years will be so horrible that human vocabulary is insufficient to describe the events that will take place.

5. BEWARE OF A WORLD CHURCH. This church is not of God. Do not back this church. It is from Satan himself. Do not associate with any kind of world church. Beware of Communist agents who will play the role of pastor. Beware of any big church movement after the rapture. Ask Jesus for a spirit of discernment.

7. DO NOT accept the mark of the beast (666). The Anti-Christ will control the economic system completely, and he will destroy the money system and install a number system either on your hand or your forehead. Do not take this mark. If you do, you will be automatically doomed for eternity. Be prepared if you do not take it. You will be tortured or even put to death, but your soul will be saved in the end. You probably won't be able to buy, sell, or trade anything, but do not take the anti-Christ's number system. Begin now to ask Jesus for strength and boldness. There will be very rough times ahead.

Suggested Items NOT in original list:

1) Scope out the church parking lots and take whichever vehicle suits your fancy. After all, they won't be needing their stuff anymore!

2) Find a nice mansion that has been "left behind", preferably with a pool, sauna, bowling alley, movie theater, etc.

6) Find girls/guys that have been Left Behind. Chances are it was for good reason, and these are the girls/guys you always wanted to hook up with before the Rapture anyway.

14) If anything that looks remotely cataclysmic is occurring in your area, go to the nearest marina and take a yacht, then move to a safe location. Begin again at Step 1.

The people left behind will immediately deny that anything out of the ordinary has happened. "The world's leaders will declare that there was no Rapture, that a mass hysteria took place, and the news media will follow the party line," raptureready.com says. "Then to make things easier, shortly after the rapture, one-fourth of the world's population will be decimated due to wars, famine and plague. Those who were Raptured will be counted among the dead."

Even after an Apocalyptic event, politicians and the media will lie. A number of Christian celebrities will also be left behind and they'll also do their best to convince you there was no Rapture. I'm sure Pat Robertson will host an hour-long special on the faux Rapture and use it to call for even more money.

This is where the real fun begins. You'll have to find a way to buy and sell goods without having accepted the government-issued microchip required to be a consumer. If you accept the mark of the beast, you'll be able to buy Hostess Twinkies and All-Tempa-Cheer without worry. But then you'll be assured of going to hell. Tough choice.

Raptureready.com advises, just as in the pre-millennium days, to stock up. Hoard food, ammunition, gold and water and store them in a remote area away from a major city. "You will need enough for seven years," they point out.

The Bible says it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. So in actuality nearly everyone will miss the rapture. What if we already did?

categories: Miscelleous
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11:38:15 PM    

Unscientific Poll
Ted Rall Cartoon

categories: Politics
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3:17:09 PM    

Saturday, April 08, 2006

AT&T Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Eavesdropping

Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF's lawsuit this week. That class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.

According to an AT&T whistleblower, the telephone giant made available to a government snoop every single phone call you made, every single email you wrote, every single online video or text chat you ever had, a list of every Web site or chat room you ever visited, copies of every photo you've ever downloaded or emailed or received, so government spies could go through it and do whatever it is they do when they peep into your private life.

On Wednesday, the EFF asked the court to issue an injunction prohibiting AT&T from continuing the alleged wiretapping, and filed a number of documents under seal, including three AT&T documents that purportedly explain how the wiretapping system works.

"I learned that the person whom the NSA interviewed for the secret job was the person working to install equipment in this room," Klein wrote. "The regular technician work force was not allowed in the room."

Klein's job eventually included connecting internet circuits to a splitting cabinet that led to the secret room. During the course of that work, he learned from a co-worker that similar cabinets were being installed in other cities, including Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles and San Diego.

"While doing my job, I learned that fiber optic cables from the secret room were tapping into the Worldnet (AT&T's internet service) circuits by splitting off a portion of the light signal," Klein wrote.

The split circuits included traffic from peering links connecting to other internet backbone providers, meaning that AT&T was also diverting traffic routed from its network to or from other domestic and international providers, according to Klein's statement.

The secret room also included data-mining equipment called a Narus STA 6400, "known to be used particularly by government intelligence agencies because of its ability to sift through large amounts of data looking for preprogrammed targets," according to Klein's statement.

Klein said he came forward because he does not believe that the Bush administration is being truthful about the extent of its extrajudicial monitoring of Americans' communications.

"Despite what we are hearing, and considering the public track record of this administration, I simply do not believe their claims that the NSA's spying program is really limited to foreign communications or is otherwise consistent with the NSA's charter or with FISA," Klein's wrote. "And unlike the controversy over targeted wiretaps of individuals' phone calls, this potential spying appears to be applied wholesale to all sorts of internet communications of countless citizens."

After asking for a preview copy of the documents last week, the government did not object to the EFF filing the paper under seal, although the EFF asked the court Wednesday to make the documents public.

According to court rules, AT&T has until Thursday to file a motion to keep the documents sealed. The government could also step in to the case and request that the documents not be made public, or even that the entire lawsuit be barred under the seldom-used State Secrets Privilege.

Ok to those fun folks who keep saying "Its ok for them to spy on me, I have nothing to hide!"

Have you done online banking, paid a bill on the phone giving your routing & account number, have you refilled a prescription online or your doctor gave you your lab results by phone? Did you know that NSA's IT and computer functions were privatized in 2001 as part of Project Groundbreaker with the IT backbone, the computer systems that holds and analyzes all those domestic calls being operated by consortia of defense contractors and telecoms.

Just think of the DHS hiring lately... you want those kind of people wandering through YOUR private information, your banking information, you medical records?

What about the phone sex? I usually leave a verbal disclaimer: "Hi, to whoever is listening, this is just a fantasy".

Can you hear me now? I guess the answer is pretty clear by now.
Yeah, it's LOUD and CLEAR!

categories: Outrages
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12:46:15 AM    

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

categories: Humor
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12:46:53 AM    

Why Censure, Bush Will Fire Himself

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Let me just say something about leaks in Washington. There are too many leaks of classified information in Washington. There's leaks at the executive branch; there's leaks in the legislative branch. There's just too many leaks. And if there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.

I must say today has left me a little breathless. Who the gods would destroy they first drive insane. Looks like that might be happening with both Bushites and Dems. Bushites insanely arrogant and aggressive, Dems insanely deluded.

DeLay may have become insanely arrogant. He sends goons out to very goonishly and violently break up a standard every day political rally, pushes old ladies in the face, and all recorded for TV. That clip better be on the news all over the country. It is an odd start for Reverand DeLays ministry in Christ, I must say.

At some point, Dems must react, somehow, someway. Many of us have been predicting that the Bushites would come after the Dems viciously no matter what the Dems did. I did not think that it would be this early though.

Libby's story doesn't directly implicate the president in the Plame leak. But the latest revelations contrast rather sharply with the assurances provided by White House press secretary Scott McClellan back in the fall of 2003, when the administration was still resisting the appointment of a special prosecutor or independent counsel to probe the leak of Plame's identity. On Sept. 29, 2003, Helen Thomas asked him whether "the president has tried to find out who outed the CIA agent? And has he fired anyone in the White House yet?"

In his most patronizing tone, McClellan replied, "Helen, that's assuming a lot of things. First of all, that is not the way this White House operates. The President expects everyone in his administration to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. No one would be authorized to do such a thing." Asked whether the president knew anything beyond what the media had reported, McClellan said, "We don't have any information [about the leak] that's been brought to our attention beyond what we've seen in the media reports. I've made that clear." He emphasized that the president knew nothing about the leak, repeating, "We have nothing beyond those media reports to suggest there is White House involvement."

The press secretary bristled when Thomas and other reporters suggested that the president had reacted too passively to the leak, and seemed unconcerned about its implications for national security and Plame's safety.

"Absolutely, the President believes that this is a serious matter when you're talking about the leak of classified information," said McClellan. "The leak of classified information, yes, you're absolutely right, can compromise sources and methods. That's why the President takes it very seriously, and we've always taken it very seriously."

That was the famous press briefing when McClellan exonerated Rove, while promising that any official responsible for the leak would be fired. "If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration," he said, speaking for the president.

How will McClellan explain away Libby's testimony!"

The latest filing in the Libby case is a doozy, according to the NYSun this morning. If Libby was being truthful in his testimony about this, and if Cheney wasn't misleading him in his assertion that President Bush authorized Libby to leak selected portions of the NIE to the press (specifically Judy Miller), then I think we've discovered a very good reason for Fitz to have met with the President's attorney just prior to Libby's indictment.

But that's the least of the revelation's implications:

A former White House aide under indictment for obstructing a leak probe, I. Lewis Libby, testified to a grand jury that he gave information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003 with the specific permission of President Bush, according to a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case. Read the rest of this entry

This sounds to me like grounds for impeachment. The 'President' violated national security for political reasons.

Of course, this is only one of many crimes that Bush has committed, many much more serious than this, but it is tied into them. The manipulation of national security secrets was a central part of Bush's campaign to lie his way into the Iraq war.

Scotty's head is going to spin a mile a minute on this one. This is HUGE. I even sorta feel sorry for what's in store for him. Well, not really.

There you have it. Bush is now officially implicated in the chain of events that led to the outing of a CIA agent for political reasons. No one has proved that Bush ordered Plame's name released, but this story demonstrates how casual he was with classified information when it came to spreading his false justifications for war. If the uranium story was so important to Bush, imagine how angry he must have been at Wilson: One of the facts Mr. Libby said he planned to disclose to Ms. Miller was that the estimate, produced in October 2002, concluded that Iraq was "vigorously trying to procure uranium." This contention was sharply at odds with Mr. Wilson's op-ed piece which argued there was no evidence of such a procurement effort, at least on a trip he took to Africa at the CIA's request.

Yes, it would be a slam dunk of anyone was going to hold Bush accountable to the law. But he's a proud lawbreaker now, out and proud. So sharing the NIE with improper people? Hell, he showed Bandar sensitive information about our war plans and the wingers didn't blink.

categories: Outrages
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12:34:11 AM    

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Katrina  Aid From Abroad Was Lost

Certainly no one could have predicted that other nations would donate money to a disaster stricken country. 
It's never happened before!

Federal auditors laid out a scenario of omissions, missteps and bureaucratic nightmares that caused the loss of money and other donations sent from abroad to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The Government Accountability Office attributed the errors, which involved as many as eight government agencies, to the United States' lack of experience as a recipient of huge amounts of aid from others.

"Given that the U.S. government had never before received such substantial amounts of international disaster assistance, ad hoc procedures were developed to manage the acceptance and distribution of the cash and in-kind assistance," the GAO said in remarks prepared for delivery to a House committee Thursday.

"It is understandable that not all procedures would be in place at the outset."

The agency said $126 million in cash came in from 36 countries after the Aug. 29 hurricane devastated New Orleans and much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Without a plan for dealing with such a large-scale influx, legal restrictions kicked in that required almost half the cash to be held in accounts that paid no interest, resulting in a loss of almost $1 million and diminished buying power for eventual hurricane relief.

Because $400 million more has been pledged but not yet received, the GAO is urging that instructions be put in place quickly to handle the money.

Typical of the misadventures was the failure to enlist government quality-control experts from the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration.

This resulted in importation of medical items and military food packages that should not have been allowed into the country; because they were, the government had to pay for storing them. One shipment of banned military meals-ready-to-eat was delivered directly to a U.S. base, whose personnel distributed them to hurricane victims.

The report, which will be published later, is the latest of a series of papers that have documented widespread mistakes and incompetence at all levels of government after the storm broke or overran some of the levees on which New Orleans depended for its survival. Wide areas of the city remain unrepaired.

Full story here.

More stunning news...

Yesterday the Army Corps of Engineers finally admitted to Congress that their "Design Failure" caused the 17th St. Canal Levee to break. 588 people died as a result of that break. Now they are evaluating all the levees for similar failures.

All this came out because FEMA finally put the Corps on the spot to certify the levees so FEMA could release flood maps that guide reconstruction. NO maps has meant no rebuilding in NOLA.

Heckuva job awards now to the US Army Corps of Engineers.

To send a message to Preznit "War First, People Last" about his pathetic attempts to cover up his failure of a response, check out First Draft's "Send Bush Beads" campaign.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: People's Weekly World - From abroad , offers of aid for Katrina victims | TexasOnline : Hurricane Katrina Information | TexasOnline : Hurricane Katrina Information | Katrina Resources | Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts | Community College of Allegheny | Harry Thomas hosts Ask the White House | The Chronicle: Daily news: 09/22/2005 -- 04 | Hurricane Katrina - Statements & Background Texts - United States | SPIEGEL's Daily Take: Washington Has Beef with Europe's Katrina | Harry Thomas hosts Ask the White House

10:54:59 PM    

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Delay Bugs Outa Election, To Spend More Time With Family

The engagement of Emily Miller and Michael Scanlon was supposed to mark the coming out of a new Washington power couple.

The two had met on Capitol Hill, where they worked as press secretaries to Rep. Tom DeLay, the feared Texas Republican. They got engaged in September 2001 on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif., and planned an August 2002 wedding. As the date approached, Mr. Scanlon bought a $4.7 million oceanside mansion and guest house, formerly part of the DuPont estate, in Rehoboth Beach, Del. He furnished it down to the monogrammed towels and presented it to his bride-to-be.

Then, with the wedding a few months away, he called off the engagement and started dating a 24-year-old waitress.

Mr. Scanlon and Ms. Miller, now both 35 years old, were among a tight-knit group of aides who helped Mr. DeLay rise to the pinnacle of Capitol Hill in the 1990s and cement his power as House majority leader. Some of those aides provided a link between their boss and Jack Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist.

Ms. Miller was devastated, according to friends. She spent hours at the gym. Two weeks after her planned wedding date, she started a blog with beauty and diet tips for women.

People who have spoken to Ms. Miller say that after her breakup she began questioning how Mr. Scanlon could afford a lavish lifestyle while working summers as a beach lifeguard and doing seemingly little work at his public-relations firm. She talked about the beach house he had presented to her, the private jet he flew around in and the $17,000-a-month apartment he rented at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington. The rest is History.

The resignation of Tom DeLay is the crashing conclusion of his garish career but hardly the end of his legal troubles or the demise of the partisan political machine he constructed. The former majority leader of the House of Representatives has been the Republican strongman in the Congress, known as "The Hammer." As the party whip, he hung a bullwhip on his wall as a symbol of intimidation. The style of the former exterminator from Sugar Land, Texas was bullying and crude. He called the Environmental Protection Agency "the Gestapo," ran a smear operation out of his office that would have won the admiration of Senator Joseph McCarthy, and grabbed whatever he wanted as his right of lordship. When a meek restaurateur in a Capitol Hill steakhouse politely asked DeLay to put out his large cigar because of the city's no smoking law, DeLay bellowed, "I am the government!" And he was not wrong.

DeLay enforced harsh discipline on the Republicans, bondage they savoured as the essence of power. In return, anything a loyal House member wanted, he would provide. "The Hammer" was also known as "The Concierge." Rules, including the House's own, meant nothing to him, irritating hindrances to be broken at his will. In order to gain passage of a bill favouring the big drug companies - preventing the Medicare elderly prescription drug program from negotiating lower rates - he extended debate long past the deadline and was accused of offering the bribe of a campaign contribution to a wavering Republican. DeLay stomped on the Ethics committee, stopping it from meeting to investigate this episode until public outcry forced him to back off. He greeted slaps on his wrist as badges of honour.

DeLay walked over bodies in his own party to reach his pinnacle. He led coups against the Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, tribune of the right, yet too amenable to negotiation with President Clinton as far as DeLay was concerned.

DeLay most notable achievement was coercing the impeachment of President Clinton. Without his arm-twisting, impeachment would have certainly failed. There was a sizeable group of relatively moderate Republicans opposed. They saw no merits in the ridiculous charges and understood impeachment was being pressed out of crude partisanship. But DeLay threatened their financial supporters (whose business interests would be blackballed from receiving congressional relief), and threatened to bankroll rightwing candidates against the moderates in Republican primaries to bleed them white. So one by one, they caved in. A moderate Republican was a moderate when Tom DeLay told them they could be moderate. Under DeLay's thumb, the House Judiciary committee voted for impeachment after refusing to establish any constitutional standards for their action. The constitution was swept away in his exercise of power. President Clinton was acquitted by the Senate, but DeLay was unblemished by his abuse. Fear of him was never higher.

Over more than a decade, DeLay forged a political machine that he called the "K Street project," after the downtown avenue in Washington DC of steel and glass building housing the large law and lobbying firms. DeLay kept a black book in which he noted who gave money to and hired Republicans. When a trade association tried to employ a Democrat, it was issued a warning that it would be punished. From the "K Street project" to the Republicans flowed tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions. Meanwhile, the contracts from corporations for lobbying and legal work went to these Republican firms. It was a perfectly designed system of legal graft.

UPDATE: Until the summer of 2005, Ms. Miller worked as a spokeswoman at the State Department. In May 2004, she earned a bit of fame when she cut off a live interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" with then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. Ms. Miller hasn't held a steady job since leaving the State Department. She blames talk about her involvement with the investigation.

Friends say Ms. Miller still has Mr. Scanlon's four-carat engagement ring.

Familiar and lesser-known political names emerged Monday night as possible contenders for the congressional seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay.

Those who acknowledged interest in the seat or were mentioned as contenders included Harris County Judge Robert Eckels, state Rep. Robert Talton, Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, former state District Judge John Devine and lawyer Tom Campbell, who ran against DeLay in the March Republican Primary.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Wonkette, Politics for People with Dirty Minds | Can your family go a week without computers? | CNET News.com | BlueOregon: Fear and Loathing of Open Primaries and Run-Offs | Eschaton | Family Values | TPMCafe | AlterNet: The Constitution Does Not Apply | AlterNet: The Constitution Does Not Apply | AlterNet: The Constitution Does Not Apply | AlterNet: The Constitution Does Not Apply | AlterNet: The Constitution Does Not Apply

9:47:03 PM    

Monday, April 03, 2006

Hanging Onto The Housing Bubble With An ARM

WaPo had a nifty little article over the weekend on the newly-homeless sleeping in their cars, because they couldn't make payments on their $500k homes.
Good lord, the Browns looking for jobs at 72 and 78. Shoot me now.

USAToday: Some homeowners struggle to keep up with adjustable rates

For 45 years, Robert and Lorraine Brown have lived in their ranch-style home in Florissant, Mo. One of their four children was even born there. But for the past eight months, the couple have been locked in a sleep-wrecking race to keep up with their rising mortgage bills. They've switched to cheaper phone service, cut back on groceries and sometimes put off ordering medicine.

When they refinanced their home two years ago to pay off some bills, Robert, now 78, was working as a deliveryman. But his employer went out of business last April. Now he and Lorraine, 72, a retired nurse, are both seeking work. The rate on their mortgage has jumped from 7% to 10.5%.

"We were having a hard time meeting bills at the time we refinanced. It seems once you get behind, you do desperate things to catch up, and you never do," says Lorraine, trying to hold back tears. "At the time of the loan, they tell you, 'Well, it may go up, but it's probably going to go down.' You want it to be so, so you believe it."

They feel alone, but they're not. America's five-year real estate boom was fueled partly by a tempting array of cut-rate mortgages that helped millions of Americans qualify for home or refinance loans. To afford soaring home prices, many turned to adjustable-rate and other, riskier loans with low initial payments. The homeownership rate hit a record 70%.

Now, the real estate market is cooling, interest rates are rising and tens of thousands more Americans are starting to have trouble paying their mortgages. Nearly 25% of mortgages — 10 million — carry adjustable interest rates. And most of them went to people with subpar credit ratings who accepted higher interest rates, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The number of borrowers in trouble will rise this year and peak in 2007 and 2008 as the largest number of mortgages reset to higher rates, according to First American Real Estate Solutions, a real estate data provider.

Already, in West Virginia, Alabama, Michigan, Missouri and Tennessee, about one in five homeowners with a high-interest (subprime) ARM was at least 30 days late at the end of last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. After 90 days, the foreclosure clock starts ticking. Most of those foreclosures are related to job losses in auto and garment factories; higher mortgage payments were often the last straw.

What worries experts such as Christopher Cagan at First American Real Estate Solutions are the adjustable-rate loans made in 2004 and 2005, at the end of the housing boom. These loans were concentrated in the hottest markets, such as California, where about 60% of all loans last year were interest-only or payment-option ARMs. That's the highest such rate in the country.

Of the 7.7 million households who took out ARMs over the past two years to buy or refinance, up to 1 million could lose their homes through foreclosure over the next five years because they won't be able to afford their mortgage payments, and their homes will be worth less than they owe, according to Cagan's research.

The losses to the banking industry, he estimates, will exceed $100 billion. That's less than the damage from the savings-and-loan crisis in the 1990s, which cost the country $150 billion. "It will sting the economy, but it won't break it," he says.

UPDATE:The Browns in Missouri also have had a happy ending. The lender, Saxon Mortgage Services in Texas, declined to discuss the Browns' case with USA TODAY last week. But within 24 hours of a call from a reporter, Saxon agreed to give the couple a fixed-rate loan at 7%. "I'm so elated," Lorraine said.

The older you get, the more difficult it can be to find work. It's kind of scary.

All the more reason to turn over all of our social security to Halliburton and Enron, or at least their associates in Congress.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: The Marginal Home Buyer by Gary North | No Skin In the Game | Piggington's Econo-Almanac | Southern | On the bubble ? Heed these dos and don'ts: Financial News - Yahoo | On the bubble ? Heed these dos and don'ts: Financial News - Yahoo | Chris Hanson - Cleaning up after the bubble | Jeff Matthews Is Not Making This Up: The Last, Best Hope For | Political Animal: Comment on Housing Bubble | On the bubble ? Heed these do's and don'ts (Page 3 of 3) | Equifax Personal Solutions | Sign of a Pop: Housing is Everywhere. The Great Transition, Part III

6:34:26 PM    

The Immigration Debate

The progressive answer to immigration is to crack down on corporate hiring of illegal immigrants for low pay, to accelerate the path to citizenship for existing illegals, and to reform NAFTA so that it actually produces the wealth for Mexico it promised in the first place.

The unanswered question is, how do you fix the root problem of income disparities. It would seem that NAFTA is actually a step in the right direction in that regard. I know that most Democrats are opposed to this, but I have to think this tackles the problem quite well. When multi-national corporations go into a country and treat it like WalMart treats small businesses in small-town USA, we should expect a double whammy of income disparity AND decimation of locally-based businesses to generate incomes at whatever level. The immigration issue can never be addressed successfully without actually addressing income disparity and economic stability. Capital can move freely across borders, but workers can't. The result is to drive wages down all over. The end result, they note, is likely to be economic nationalism, as workers demand that something be done.

The biggest problem with NAFTA is the exploitative mentality of many of its supporters that knows no boundaries. Hence, CAFTA and all the other efforts. Globalization means that even Mexican jobs are at risk too. Hmm, low-paying and insecure income versus illegal border-crossing for higher income. Why don't free-trade supporters get it that any rational mind will truly consider skirting draconian penalties to feed and house themselves?

Marcela Sanchez puts this in perspective:

Whether you believe Mexican immigrants help or hurt the United States, there is one incontrovertible truth: work here pays much, much better. A low-skilled Mexican worker in this country earns five to six times as much as he would back home, assuming he or she could find a comparable job.

This truth is so obvious it seems a cliche and yet it remains mostly absent from the current debate on how to reform U.S. immigration. For all the talk around the country of border enforcement, guest worker programs, employer sanctions and driver's licensing restrictions, the sad fact is that none of these "solutions'' addresses the root of the problem - a persistent and large U.S.-Mexican income disparity.

Even the most comprehensive and progressive immigration reform proposal in years, introduced this month by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is more concerned with making U.S. immigration policy more humane than dealing with income disparity between the United States and Mexico. The bill crafts a guest worker program -- creating new visa categories and quotas and a secure identification system for employers -- but only provides a vague indication that income disparity might be a problem worth taking on.

Why such reluctance? How can a proposal that purports to reduce the flow of illegal Mexican workers to the United States not take a stab at the root cause? Won't better conditions for immigrant workers here only be an invitation for more illegal migrants from Mexico, as the argument goes, as long as wage disparity remains unaddressed?

To alter income disparity, it is obvious that Mexico must reduce its development gap and raise incomes. What is just as apparent is that Americans do not feel, at least at the moment, that they have a responsibility or even an interest in reducing that gap through investment of money and expertise. They don't feel the same obligation they once felt, say, after World War II for Europe, or that the European Union took on when it bolstered its poorest members. Mexico and the United States may share a 2,000-mile border but their sense of a shared future runs two two inches deep.

When you get half a million people marching in the streets to protest Republican immigration policies, you better believe that the political pot is beginning to bubble in time for the 2006 election.

It presents a real conundrum for conservatives, and a real opportunity for progressives. That was clear from the events that sparked this weekend's protests:

Saturday's rally, spurred by anger over legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last December, was part of what many say is an unprecedented effort to organize immigrants and their supporters across the nation. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is to take up efforts Monday to complete work on a comprehensive immigration reform proposal. Unlike the House bill, which beefed up border security and toughened immigration laws, the Senate committee's version is expected to include a guest worker program and a path to legalization for the nation's 10 to 12 million undocumented immigrants.
The Associated Press report of the rally noted that the legislation "would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally. It also would impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, require churches to check the legal status of parishioners before helping them and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border."

The Republicans in Congress who spearheaded these measures -- particularly Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin -- represent a resurgent Cro-Magnon wing of the party, one that is threatening to swamp the genteel grip of corporate conservatives whose approach to immigration is decidedly different, if equally poisonous.

The Cro-Magnon approach, embodied by vigilantes like the Minutemen, is to blame the pawns. Their policies are predicated on the laughable idea that we can build a fortress wall around the country and just keep people out, a pretty notion that quickly runs aground on the reality that no wall can contain the larger forces driving illegal immigration. They consistently scapegoat the emigres while ignoring -- and indeed abetting -- those same larger forces.

The Cro-Magnon approach is repellent enough on its own merits, but the other side of the Republican coin on immigration is the Bush plan to create a "guest worker" program that is nothing less than the realization of corporate America's wet dream of having a labor force that cannot vote. It would create a permanent underclass of disenfranchised workers, and would forever change the very nature of immigration as we have historically known it in America, severing it from citizenship.

This two-headed approach to immigration is like being given a choice of refreshing beverage: arsenic or strychnine. You pick.

It's all part of the ongoing Latin Americanization of the United States, in which the standard of living and the economic and political power of the middle and working classes is consistently driven downward and held there. As PZ Myers puts it, "The Republican agenda is to turn the United States into a third-world shithole."

It's time, indeed, for progressives to come up with their own plan for dealing with immigration -- one that goes beyond the scapegoating and the narrow business interests and realistically and fairly comes to grips with the issue.

The negative effects of unbridled immigration on American workers is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how liberals should be thinking about this. They need to understand that mass employment of illegal immigrants is open ground for gross exploitation and civil-rights abuses. It also corrodes the value of citizenship.

The progressive answer to immigration is to crack down on corporate hiring of illegal immigrants for low pay, to accelerate the path to citizenship for existing illegals, and to reform NAFTA so that it actually produces the wealth for Mexico it promised in the first place. Oh yeah, and Democrats, this is a great opportunity to get the Latino vote permanently on our side. Many Americans will understand the corporate argument if we start making it. So as usual, progressive policies are good politics.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: In Focus: The Immigration Debate | Senate Panel Approves Immigration Bill - Yahoo! News | Bush Calls for Fair Immigration Bill - Yahoo! News | Senate prepares for divisive immigration debate - Yahoo! News | Immigration debate heats up in Senate - Race in America - MSNBC.com | Immigration debate heats up in Senate - Race in America - MSNBC.com | Immigration Debate Is Shaped by '08 Election | Immigration Debate Is Shaped by '08 Election | ImmigrationDebate.Com - Debate the future of US Immigration policy | BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US immigration debate intensifies

1:56:46 AM    

Sunday, April 02, 2006

North Carolina Shuts Down Sadomasochistic Castration Dungeon

Three men arrested on charges of voluntary castrations without malice, maiming without malice and practicing medicine without a license in what was described as a sadomasochistic dungeon.. " Is maining without malice a crime in North Carolina?

WAYNESVILLE: Three Haywood County men are now in jail on felony charges of castration without malice and practicing medicine without a license.

Emily Kurtz, who lives below the house the three men rented at 541 Peace Mountain Road off Allens Creek Road, said she noticed men in cars with out-of-state plates visiting the home off and on since she moved to the neighborhood in January.

Sheriff Tom Alexander and District Attorney Michael Bonfoey this morning announced the arrests of the men in connection with the illegal castrations. The sheriff and prosecutor said the victims were willing participants.

The victims met the men through a locally produced Web site that published photographs of men engaging in sadomasochistic behavior. Yahoo! shut down the site in December 2004. The castrations took place last year beginning in March and continued through November, according to police documents.

The case is the first involving willing castration in the county and could be the first in North Carolina.

"This right here beats everything I have ever seen," the sheriff said.

Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University and a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, said voluntary castration appears to be a very rare phenomenon.

"The people who I have seen who have undergone voluntary castration have been psychotic and often in the grip of a delusion that their sexual organs were causing them to behave in evil ways," Appelbaum said. "And they felt that to rid themselves of that evil, it was necessary to rid themselves of their sexual organs."

During a search of the home on Wednesday, investigators found DVD recordings of the castrations.

Mendez and Sciara moved to Western North Carolina from Topeka, Kan. Reeves moved to the area from Atlanta, Alexander said. Mendez and Reeves worked together at Harrah's Cherokee Casino on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, where Mendez was honored early this year for his work.

Mendez received $1,000 and a commemorative crystal award for being named one of the 2005 "Shining Stars of the Year," according to a news release sent to area media outlets in February. Mendez worked at the casino as a Total Rewards representative, providing incentives for guests.

Mendez's ex-wife, Anne Moriarty, said she and her former husband had a son and daughter together.

"This sounds highly unlikely," Moriarty, who has not kept in touch with Mendez since he moved to Haywood County. "I mean, this guy is as gentle as a child - the guy I know. "The idea that he could be involved in anything like what you’re talking about is unimaginable. Totally unimaginable."

Neighbors who live along the wooded and private Peace Mountain Road, who did not know the men, were shocked by the news of the arrests.

Investigators used the informant's information to gain a search warrant Wednesday, and found inside the house grizzly evidence of homemade surgeries. In the first-floor room called the dungeon, they found a coffee can with bloody scalpels, a silver tin marked "used instruments," intravenous supplies, syringes, needles, bandages, an electric shock paddle and a video camera and tripod.

In another first-floor room, the investigators found a Physician's Desk Reference book along with stacks of CDs and a computer.

An invoice for lidocaine, topical pain relief medicine, was in the kitchen.

A plastic container in a freezer contained what one of the suspects said was human testicles. The equipment, according to court papers, was used for removing testicles in castrations and at least one penis removal.

The informant told investigators a man from Chile had his testicles replace with artificial ones called "neuticles." He later traveled back to the house to have them removed because "they were too large."

DVDs discovered listed Peace Mountain Enterprises as the production company and surgeries performed by "Master Rick."

Robert McDonald, an Asheville psychologist with 21 years' experience, said he's never heard of voluntary castration as part of sadomasochism, and that it doesn’t seem to fit because S&M behavior tends to be an ongoing lifestyle.

"I can't imagine an experience that's relatively this brief and that would change one's being and behavior for such a long time being worth it," said McDonald, who also serves as the vice chair of the N.C. Association for the Management and Treatment of Sexual Offenders.

"That's a remarkably unwise and difficult to understand behavior. Even if they did get off on the surgery, how long is it going to take? And then it's going to affect the rest of their lives." Some men do have a syndrome known as gender dysphoria disorder.

"There are men who have very negative gender images," McDonald said. "They hate the manifestation of their masculinity. They detest their genitals." Some men have some past behavior that drives them to believe they should remove their genitals, he said.

The Internet, McDonald said, allows relatively small groups of fetish practitioners to get together and receive social reinforcement from one another. "One thing we're finding is through the Internet, people who have the rarest and most bizarre needs are able to find each other," he said.

Because it eliminates the sources of masculine hormones, orchiectomy - surgical removal of the testicles - is a form of sex change for some people. The surgery can be a less expensive alternative or intermediate step to a vaginoplasty procedure, which involves the creation of a vagina.

"Castration without malice". Fascinating. Still trying to figure it out myself. An educated guess: a law put on the books a few hundred years ago to prevent the proliferation of "castrati" (ex: the old-style Vienna Boys Choir)?

It looks like the "if it feels good, do it", no-standards fringe is getting bolder by the day, but this seems here it was more like "if it feels bad, really BAD, then do it."

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: HaywoodCountyNews.com: Authorities shut down sadomasochistic dungeon | newsobserver.com | NC News Wire | EarthLink - News from the Source | EarthLink - News from the Source | EarthLink - News from the Source | MALE PATTERN FITNESS: society Archives | Sexual fetishism | 00databasealphabet I+pw u 00databaseinfo B0 FL 00databasescript I+ | 00databasealphabet I+nD u 00databaseinfo B0 EQ 00databasescript I+ | From: James "Kibo" Parry (kibo@world.std.com) Newsgroups: alt

9:22:24 PM    

Saturday, April 01, 2006

We'll Call Them "Guest Workers"

Slate cartoons

categories: Politics
Other Stories according to Google: LP: Senate GUEST WORKERS BILLS + Ariz.border game + Rep.Gordon | Background Briefing by Conference Call on Immigration Policy | Radio Blogger | Townhall.com :: Columns :: Townhall.com :: | The Washington Monthly | Braceros Or Amnesty? | Latino Vote.com: | State farmers lose workers, profits to border sweeps | Right Wing News (Conservative News and Views) | Dean's World - The Immigration Reform Dilemma

1:41:54 PM    

04/01 - Funniest Day Of The Year

April Fools' Day started a day early on the Web as anxious Internet pranksters couldn't wait to lure the gullible into buying the almost believable.

April Fools' Day Jokes started a day early on the Web as anxious Internet pranksters couldn't wait to lure the gullible into buying the almost believable.

ThinkGeek, a retail site for the technology passionate, launched its annual line up of April Fools' products on Friday, offering such must-haves as the USB Desktop Tanning Center, complete with "eyeball cover thingies;" and the RFID Blocking Kit T-shirt.

For people who find coffee isn't enough to jumpstart their morning, ThinkGeek is offering the Buzzaire inhaler. "One puff and you'll have about two cups of coffee's worth of caffeine zooming through your blood stream."

The Register, a technology Web site based in the United Kingdom, got a jump on the Web's traditional tomfoolery by offering readers a custom-built version of the site called "Pix'n'Mix Reg."

Besides offering the option to block a particular author's stories, readers can chose their own font, including Wingdings; chose whether they want U.K. or U.S. English; and chose stories they don't want to read, such as those containing sex, shameless product plugs for security companies, Web 2.0 and Microsoft.

For readers looking for a safe-for-work version of The Register, a single click will give them their "IT news completely stripped of controversy, polemic, humour and colour."

Following April Fools' Day, people looking for some of the best Web pranks can visit the blogs Waxy.org, which prefers "Internet Jackass Day" to April Fools' Day, and Urgo.org. Both provide annual lists.

Among the pranks on last year's list from Urgo.org were Slashdot.org's report of a Google imaging satellite in which, "if you stand outside and wave you will supposedly show up as a blury fleck," and Habitablezone.com's report that the United Nations had voted to close down the Internet.

Microsoft also made its contribution to prankster day with its Coding4Fun April Fools' Day Special. Among the how-to articles listed on Microsoft's developer site, MSDN, were setting up a PC for the randomly opening CD tray, and creating persistent error messages.

"See how many fake, and progressively ominous messages it takes before your victim figures out it's an April Fools' prank," a description of the article says.

So the Web on Saturday won't be for people who lack a sense of humor. For others, it should be lots of fun.

categories: Humor
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12:01:04 AM    

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