All purpose vertically integrated publishing empire for cynicism, hopelessness and misanthropy. Mild nausea is common when using this product. Other symptoms may include, but are not limited to: dizzyness, headache, homicidal rage and yellow discharge. Rarely, users may begin to hear voices urging them to kill. If this occurs, discontinue use and seek psychiatric attention. Do not read when pregnant or nursing; the author thinks that's gross.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Clemens Watch


We have such idiots in Congress.

To wit:

A Democratic congressman asked the FBI on Wednesday to drop its investigation of Roger Clemens because the pitching great had suffered enough from the probe into steroid use.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, a candidate for New York mayor in 2009, said the FBI is too busy with more important crimes to spend time trying to determine if the ex-Yankees pitcher lied to Congress about taking performance enhancing substances.

"Roger Clemens has been shamed. I think the public record is replete with examples of how he did not likely tell the truth. What is the public benefit of continuing with an FBI investigation?" Weiner said.
Well, my half-wit friend, if he did lie, he lied before Congress. That, to my mind, is a serious crime.

Since his statement and that of his sleazy trainer are mutually contradictory, ONE of them is a perjurer.

That's serious enough for me. Not for Weiner (god what an appropriate name too), though.
If investigators conclude Clemens lied on critical details, he could face charges of perjury, making false statements or obstruction of justice.

In a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Weiner wrote: "Whether or not Roger Clemens may have committed perjury should not compete with real national security threats for the FBI's time, attention and resources."

A rich white man might go to jail for lying!


Source: Raw Story

News Is Like a Box of Chocolates

Random Assortment

Gym Class
In an effort to cater to a wider variety of theocrats, Harvard is running one of its student gyms gender-segregated part time.

In a test of Harvard's famed open-mindedness, the university has banned men from one of its gyms for a few hours a week to accommodate Muslim women who say it offends their sense of modesty to exercise in front of the opposite sex.

The policy is already unpopular with many on campus, including some women who consider it sexist.

"I think that it's incorrect in a college setting to institute a policy in which half of the campus gets wronged or denied a resource that's supposed to be for everyone," said student Lucy Caldwell, who also wrote a column in The Harvard Crimson newspaper critical of the new hours.

Student Ola Aljawhary, who is Muslim and works out elsewhere on campus but is not one of the women who requested the change, rejected that argument.

"The majority should be willing to compromise," she said. "I think that's just basic courtesy. We must show tolerance and respect for all others."
No, Ola, the majority should not be willing to compromise our secular state to accomodate your partiarchial desert cult.

Nor that of the Mormons in Utah who want the same thing.

If you don't like men in your gym, work out at home. There's no reason to accomodate your backward religious crap in a public institution, any more than we should have to teach Creationism to appease idiot Christians.
Kent Blumenthal, executive director of the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, which has 660 member colleges and universities nationwide, said he could not think of any other institution with a similar policy.

"It seems in some ways contrary to the purpose of campus recreational programs, which is all about access," he said.

Harvard's policy is no different from commercial gyms that cater partially or even exclusively to women, said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"The Muslim bashers portray it as the world coming to end, but if women have a couple hours a week to work out in private, I don't see it as a major issue," he said.
Now now, I bash many kinds of religious nuts. Be fair.

Though I don't think it's the end of the world; I think it's creeping theocracy. If theocracy could end the world we'd all be dead already.

Still, hardly a positive development.

Source: Raw Story

Around 300 priceless artifacts from Europe's oldest civilisation, the Minoans of ancient Crete, will go on display in New York from March 13, the private Alexander S. Onassis foundation said Wednesday.

Titled "From the Land of the Labyrinth: Minoan Crete, 3000-1100 BC", the six-month exhibition will feature gold jewellery, seals, votive figures, tools, weapons, engravings and frescoes from several Cretan museums, including the prestigious museum of Heraklion in the island's capital.

Most of the artifacts have never been displayed outside Greece, said archaeologist Maria Vlazakis, supervisor of museums in western Crete.

"The first palatial civilisation on European soil flourished on Crete during the third and second millennia BCE," she told a news conference.
Awesome! I love the Minoans.

A highly technological, refined culture thousands of years ahead of its time, brought low by environmental disaster and weak politics.

Sound familiar?

Source: Raw Story

So Youtube is now more popular than Wikipedia (in the UK at least), in terms of unique users.

Not really surprised. Youtube is just so popular, and Wikipedia's glamour is wearing pretty thin these days.

Source: The Guardian

Free Trade?
The next time you hear someone ramble on about how Free Trade is the best policy, remind them that the US engages in its own protectivist tariff scheme.

If that doesn't work, you could remind them of our huge agricultural subsidies too.

Source: US Government
(A hat-tip to Atrios for pointing this out)

So three right feet have washed up off a couple of islands in Canada.

That can't be good.
Canadian police are investigating the mystery of three right feet that have turned up off Vancouver Island in the past six months.

The first was washed up in August on an isolated island in British Columbia. A 12-year-old girl beachcombing with her family found a size 12 running shoe with a human right foot still inside. Six days later a couple hiking around coves on another remote island found another size 12 right foot in a trainer under a tree trunk. Then, last month, another right foot was spotted, this time bobbing about in the water off a third island.

Although the discoveries sound like a film plot, the scenario is flummoxing police in western Canada. They collected DNA from the remains but could not match them to anyone on their database.

Dr Simon Boxall, an oceanographer from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, said: "It is not that unusual for body parts to turn up in the sea - they can be the result of a fishing accident, or a whole body getting hit by a passing ship, for example - but the fact that all three were clustered so close together does suggest dodgy dealings."


As for why all three feet were right and not left, Boxall believes it is a coincidence.

Not everyone agrees. Curtis Ebbesmeyer, a former professor of oceanography at the University of Washington, and an expert in floating objects (he is writing a book called The Floating World for HarperCollins), said: "Left footwear and right footwear often tend to wash up at different times at different places because they float differently.

"There are beaches that collect mostly rights and other beaches that collect mostly lefts. The winds or the currents sort out left and right footwear."

However, resident Digby Jones, 80, told the New York Times: "The whole thing is a scam, as far as I'm concerned, all part of a big joke. If they go to the mortuaries on the mainland, they'll find some guy laughing his head off."
Beaches that collect one foot or the other?

This I'd have to see. Though I think I might not want to.

Also, let's all hope it's just a sick and unjustifiable joke, eheh. The alternative is of course even worse.

Source: The Guardian

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Done To, Rather than By, For

A page of what happens if you speak out about government incompetence and corruption.

Typically? Nothing good.

Source: Mother Jones


Cops charged in Halloween prank on teen

Associated Press
Mar. 4, 2008 07:44 PM
NEW YORK - Two police officers pleaded not guilty Tuesday to handcuffing a 14-year-old boy, kicking and hitting him, and abandoning him in his boxer shorts on isolated road as payback for a Halloween prank.

Officers Thomas Elliassen, 28, and Richard Danese, 29, were indicted on 33 counts Monday, some of them felonies. They were released without bail.

The officers were arrested last fall on charges of unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of Rayshawn Moreno.

Prosecutors say the officers were trying to teach the boy a lesson after he supposedly threw eggs at a car near their Staten Island precinct. But Moreno's attorney said the boy was throwing eggs at a friend.

The officers handcuffed Moreno and drove him to a remote area, then kicked and hit him while he lay facedown on a road, stripped to his boxer shorts, the indictment said. The officers then left the boy to find his way back, it said.
That's not a prank, lazy writers. Don't conflate the egg-throwing with the cops.

What the cops (allegedly) did was assault and battery on a child. Disgusting.

Source: AZ Central

It's been bad enough watching Jon Stewart pull his punches on McCain, or fawn over him to Democratic guests, but this is a whole other level of bad.
Brian Williams: You know what I thought was unsaid ---they took their position Chris, we're seeing the replay --- they end up in this spot and the sun is coming is just from the side and there in the shadow is John McCain's buckled, concave shoulder. It's a part of his body the suit doesn't fill out because of his war injuries. Again you wouldn't spot it unless you knew to look for it. He doesn't give the same full chested profile as the president standing next to him. Talk about a warrior...

Chris Matthews: You know, when he was a prisoner all those years, as you know, in isolation from his fellows, I do believe, uhm, and machiavelli had this right --- it's not sentimental, it's factual --- the more you give to something, the more you become committed to it. That's true of marriage and children and everything we've committed to in our lives. He committed to his country over there. He made an investment in America, alone in that cell, when he was being tortured and afraid of being put to death at any moment -- and turning down a chance to come home.

Those are non-political facts which I think do work for him. When it gets close this November, which I do believe, and you likely agree, will be a very close contest between him and whoever wins the Democratic fight. And I think people will look at that fact, that here's a man who has invested deeply, and physically and personally in his country.

Williams: Absolutely, Couldn't agree more. Of course the son of a Navy Admiral, a product of Annapolis who couldn't wait to become a Navy aviator...
He's a Warrior. He's the most committed American alive -- the FACTS say so!

Yeesh. Gimme a goddamned break. Get these guys a cold shower already.

Source: Hullabaloo (Digby)

Alternately, we could just let Keith deal with his colleagues whenever they get all weepy. He seems to hold them in thinly-veiled contempt much of the time to begin with.

Check out his backhand to Chris Matthews, famed hater of all things Hillary.
Summary: During MSNBC's coverage of the Democratic presidential primaries, referring to Tina Fey's statement on the February 23 edition of Saturday Night Live that " 'bitch' is the new black," Chris Matthews asked: "Dare we repeat what Tina Fey said was the new black?" Keith Olbermann responded: "There's another word that begins with the same letter as 'black' does. Let's distance ourselves -- especially you. Distance yourself as far as you can from that."

Source: Media Matters

Goverment: Injuns Don't Need Money!
That seems to be the argument.

Well, that, and 'Math is Hard'
A federal judge said Wednesday he wants to resolve a 12-year lawsuit over government mismanagement of American Indian lands this June.

In a January decision, U.S. District Judge James Robertson said Interior Department accounting for billions of dollars owed to American Indian landholders has been "unreasonably delayed" and is ultimately impossible.


Lawyers for the government disagreed with Robertson at the hearing, saying the Interior Department's complicated methods of accounting are not impossible. Those efforts have already cost the government $127 million
We didn't intentionally hide money! It's just that math is hard!

So very hard. Much like piles of gold.

Source: Raw Story

Whiny Ass Titty Babies
Boeing's various flunkies are not happy that they lost out to those filthy Eurocommies on the new fuel tanker plane.
Nonetheless, the uproar continued. Boeing supporters and union officials criticized the decision and Boeing said its interpretation of the bidding criteria was different from the Air Force's.

Jim Albaugh, head of Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems unit, said Boeing offered its 767 aircraft because the company thought that plane offered the size and flexibility the Air Force wanted.

"We didn't think they wanted a bigger plane," Albaugh said at a conference of defense analysts in New York. "We were discouraged from offering the 777," a larger model.


Air Force officials have said the larger size of the KC-30 tanker offered by EADS and Northrop Grumman helped tip the balance in its favor because the tanker's larger size will enable it to carry more fuel, cargo or personnel.

Wynne, the Air Force secretary, told senators the planes were judged on nine key criteria and "across the spectrum, all evaluated, the Northrop Grumman airplane was clearly a better performer."

In addition, he said the Boeing proposal was judged to be more risky and more expensive.
Silly Americans. Size isn't the only way you lost out.

Though that's probably demeaning.

Seriously, Airbus is widely known to make better planes than Boeing. This only comes as a jolting surprise to Americans, Boeing (who surely thought they bought more goodwill with their bribes and so forth), and people who haven't paid attention to Europe's rising military star in the last decade.

Source: Raw Story

Torture Playlist
NEWS: Music has been used in American military prisons and on bases to induce sleep deprivation, "prolong capture shock," disorient detainees during interrogations—and also drown out screams. Based on a leaked interrogation log, news reports, and the accounts of soldiers and detainees, here are some of the songs that guards and interrogators chose.
Oddly, I don't see a lot of country on there.

Lead balloon. Ok.

In all seriousness, the musicians should sue. I'm fairly sure that their ASCAP licenses don't cover torture.

Source: Mother Jones

Steve Marshall is an English travel agent. He lives in Spain, and he sells trips to Europeans who want to go to sunny places, including Cuba. In October, about 80 of his Web sites stopped working, thanks to the United States government.

The sites, in English, French and Spanish, had been online since 1998. Some, like, were literary. Others, like, discussed Cuban history and culture. Still others — and — were purely commercial sites aimed at Italian and French tourists.

“I came to work in the morning, and we had no reservations at all,” Mr. Marshall said on the phone from the Canary Islands. “We thought it was a technical problem.”

It turned out, though, that Mr. Marshall’s Web sites had been put on a Treasury Department blacklist and, as a consequence, his American domain name registrar, eNom Inc., had disabled them. Mr. Marshall said eNom told him it did so after a call from the Treasury Department; the company, based in Bellevue, Wash., says it learned that the sites were on the blacklist through a blog.

Either way, there is no dispute that eNom shut down Mr. Marshall’s sites without notifying him and has refused to release the domain names to him. In effect, Mr. Marshall said, eNom has taken his property and interfered with his business. He has slowly rebuilt his Web business over the last several months, and now many of the same sites operate with the suffix .net rather than .com, through a European registrar. His servers, he said, have been in the Bahamas all along.

Mr. Marshall said he did not understand “how Web sites owned by a British national operating via a Spanish travel agency can be affected by U.S. law.” Worse, he said, “these days not even a judge is required for the U.S. government to censor online materials.”
It's time for the US to stop meddling with the interwebs.

I'd say we should hand control over to the EU, but Germany and France have little love for free speech when it suits them.


Source: The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of thousands of dollars are missing and presumed stolen from the chief fund-raising arm of House Republicans, according to party officials who described the findings of emergency internal audits.

The financial records of the group, the National Republican Congressional Committee, may also have been falsified for several years, Republican officials said. The campaign committees of several Republican lawmakers may also have been victims of a scam that is now under criminal investigation by the F.B.I.

The audits were ordered after the abrupt departure several weeks ago of Christopher J. Ward, who had been treasurer of the committee. Lawmakers said that Mr. Ward, who served a similar role for dozens of individual members of Congress and their political committees, is the focus of the F.B.I.’s criminal investigation.

The committee has acknowledged publicly that it was aware of “irregularities in our financial audit process” and that it had called in the F.B.I. in February because “these irregularities may include fraud.”

But until now the committee has not acknowledged that any money was missing from its bank accounts or that the financial irregularities might extend beyond the national committee to the campaign funds of individual Republican lawmakers who also worked with Mr. Ward, a longtime party operative.
Republicans have such sticky fingers. Tsk, tsk.

Source: The New York Times

Comcast Owns Your Government
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Comcast Corp. on Tuesday acknowledged hiring people to fill seats before the start of a contentious federal hearing on how the company manages its broadband network, allowing its employees to take those seats when the filled-to-capacity hearing started.

Many people were turned away before Monday's Federal Communications Commission hearing at Harvard Law School, leading critics to accuse Comcast of stifling debate over the company's practice of favoring some forms of Internet traffic over others.

Comcast said it hired people to hold seats only after an advocacy group called Free Press urged its backers to attend.
That makes it all better, doesn't it! How dare people agitate against their Corporate Feudal Lords!

Source: (Boston Globe)

Blah Blah, Politics, Blah

Stuff Happens

Brokered Conventions
Ignore the folksy tone of the article, for it does contain some interesting insight into just how... parochial.. nominating conventions used to be. As well as fractious.

Source: The Washington Post (no insults to women here I swear)

Give Me a Break
Certain doe-eyed lefties are crying racism over a Clinton campaign ad that uses the old trick of washing out the image of your opponent while using the scary muzak on Barack Obama.

See, on a black person, it sorta makes the skin darker.

Of course, what it really does is make him, and anyone else, look like a zombie from the original Dawn of the Dead.

But zombie movie is the new minstrel show, I guess. If you're way, way overly sensitive.

Source: Daily Kos

Speaking of Obama, Tony Rezko goes on trial soon.

That could be a real minefield, especially if he rats out his, ahem, friends from Chi-town.

Source: The Chicago Tribune

More on Charlotte Allen
The dumbest woman alive continues on her march to Stupidtown. This next piece is from her chat on the WaPo website defending her article.

New York: In addition to writing here that women are “dim,” at the Independent Women’s Forum you’ve written that Hurricane Katrina might have been “the best thing” to happen to New Orleans, which is full of “whiners … chiseling us taxpayers” out of money. Is that supposed to be satire too? Your sense of humor sure does seem hateful. What Really Happened After Hurricane Katrina (Independnet Women’s Forum, Oct. 11, 2005)

Charlotte Allen: I said Katrina was the best thing to happen to New Orleans because it finally opportunity to a huge number of New Orleans residents living in passive dependency on welfare to get out of New Orleans and change their lives for the better.
Yes, that's right. Those shifty chiselers deserved it.

Still want to stand by this hack, Washington Post? How many more skeletons do you think she has in her closet? She's not even trying to hide them!

Source: Sadly, No!

Progress, With Caveats
The Dems in Congress are looking to repair our battered finances a bit, once the Man-Child is out of office.
House and Senate Democrats rolled out election-year budget blueprints Wednesday that would produce sizable surpluses by 2012 by allowing President Bush's tax cuts to expire as scheduled.

The $3 trillion budget plans for 2009 would award greater-than-inflation increases to domestic programs. The White House said Bush would veto agencies' spending bills.


The Democratic plans do not to take on the exploding growth of Medicare, Social Security and other benefit programs. Doing so would be a painful exercise in an election year.

"Our budget ... is no grand solution, but it moves us in the right direction," said Democratic Rep. John Spratt Jr. of South Carolina, the House Budget Committee chairman.
Even breaking even would be a huge step forward.

Though, to do that, we have to stop bleeding money in Iraq...

Source: Raw Story

Odd Stuff


Hell's Angels
A new BBC documentary is claiming that the Hell's Angels, angry about taking the blame for Altamont, planned to kill Mick Jagger.

Mangold said the men tried to reach Jagger by sea. "The boat was hit by a storm and all of the men were thrown overboard," he was quoted as saying. They all survived but made no other attempt on his life, Mangold said.

It was not clear whether Jagger was ever informed of the alleged plot against him.
The best laid plans of mice and men...

Source: Detroit Free Press

So apparently there's a pro-reading charity called 826 that has come up with an interesting way to raise money: theme stores.

In Brooklyn, they have the Superhero Supply Store.

In LA, a time-travel themed convenience store.


So some Swedish MPs who don't drink are a bit miffed about the booze that flows freely at Swedish government functions.
A teetotal group of Swedish lawmakers said Wednesday alcohol-free drinks should be served at official parliamentary functions because alcohol prevents some MPs from fulfilling their duties.

"We want (official functions in parliament) to be alcohol-free by default," Egon Frid, a member of the opposition Left Party and the head of a group of 14 teetotal MPs, told AFP.

He said those who wanted an alcoholic drink could have one, but they should have to ask.
It seems like your government works pretty well when oiled up. Why rock the boat?

Source: Raw Story

So there's a growing movement to make the first manned trip to Mars a one-way jobby, to save on all the fuel you'd have to bring to get back.

Yeah, this is going to go so well.
“When we eliminate the need to launch off Mars, we remove the mission’s most daunting obstacle,” said McLane. And because of a small crew size, the spacecraft could be smaller and the need for consumables and supplies would be decreased, making the mission cheaper and less complicated.

While some might classify this as a suicide mission, McLane feels the concept is completely logical.

“There would be tremendous risk, yes,” said McLane, “but I don’t think that’s guaranteed any more than you would say climbing a mountain alone is a suicide mission. People do dangerous things all the time, and this would be something really unique, to go to Mars. I don’t think there would be any shortage of people willing to volunteer for the mission. Lindbergh was someone who was willing to risk everything because it was worth it. I don’t think it will be hard to find another Lindbergh to go to Mars. That will be the easiest part of this whole program.”


And the whole world would be watching, said McLane, so it wouldn’t be as if the lone astronaut would be completely by himself. “You would have constant communication,” he said. “The astronauts on the International Space Station have an army of people on earth keeping track of what they are doing. They really have no peace. Somebody is constantly planning and monitoring their activities. I don’t think being lonely will be much of a problem on a mission to Mars.”

Of course McLane’s hope is the solo astronaut would be joined by others shortly in the future. Orbital mechanics provides a desirable launch window from Earth to Mars every 26 months. “This person wouldn’t be there by himself for very long. It’s just returning home that would be impossible,” he said. Another option McLane has offered is a one-man and one-woman crew, possibly creating an Adam and Eve-type situation.
So many bad ideas in one place!

To begin with, when something goes wrong, and it inevitably will eventually, since the guy can't come back, he'll die out there, slowly, on tv. People will have to sit back and watch helplessly. No doctors, no nothing.

That'll kill manned space travel forever right there.

Plus, an Adam and Eve scenario? WTF? Is he nuts?

Do NOT base scientific work on the bible, man. It's like building your blast shelter out of flash paper.

Source: Universe Today

Science types have decided to try and ruin my fun by announcing new-fallen snow is still dirty.
PITTSBURGH - To the list of simple childhood pleasures whose safety has been questioned, add this: eating snow.

A recent study found that snow - even in relatively pristine spots like Montana and the Yukon - contains large amounts of bacteria.

Parents who warn their kids not to eat dirty snow (especially the yellow variety) are left wondering whether to stop them from tasting the new-fallen stuff, too, because of Pseudomonas syringae, bacteria that can cause diseases in bean and tomato plants.

But experts say there's no need to banish snow-eating along with dodgeball, unchaperoned trick-or-treating and riding a bike without a helmet.

"It's a very ubiquitous bacteria that's everywhere," says Dr. Penelope Dennehy, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on infectious diseases. "Basically, none of the food we eat is sterile. We eat bacteria all the time."
If I was a tomato plant, I'd be a lot more concerned.

Though if I was a tomato plant, I also wouldn't be typing. Or eating. Or what not.

(To be perfectly fair, the article states that the original science publication did not evaluate the risks to people in any way. This is more scaremongering on the part of the journamalism types)

Source: AZ Central

Bushworld Security

Is It Safe?

The Kurds
So apparently Turkey has gone from invading Northern Iraq on foot to bombing it.

We're doing nothing to stop them of course.

Source: Raw Story

The Colombians
Our proxy state in South America looks to have ignited a possible three-way land war, as Venezuela and Ecuador are both unhappy about their cross-border incursion. Venezuela is moving tanks to the border now.

Source: Raw Story

Remember Democrats saying that securing our ports would be a nice first priority for national security, as opposed to blowing up Middle Eastern countries?

That would have been nice. Instead we get this.

Department of Homeland Security tests of new radiation detection machines last year did not show whether the costly devices performed well enough to be used as planned at ports and borders to protect the country against nuclear attacks or dirty bombs, according to a new report about the process.

The performance tests were organized by the department's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, which has been trying to deploy the machines along the borders and at ports in a $1.2 billion project, despite allegations from government auditors that the office misled Congress about their effectiveness and later conducted flawed tests to show they worked well.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had said the development and purchase of the machines was a "vital priority" for the department. Officials from the nuclear detection office had asserted the tests -- mandated by Congress before the project was allowed to move forward -- showed they worked well.

But Chertoff called for an independent team to review the program last summer after a Washington Post article spelled out questions about the project. Last fall, Chertoff put the project on hold, conceding that the machines were not ready for wide use.
Ahh, all that taxpayer money gone.

I've never been too sure how this was supposed to work anyway. If you want to transport nuclear material and live, you have to shield it anyway, and if it's shielded, it can't be detected. These devices are essentially big geiger counters. If the uranium or what not is either wrapped in lead or already in a bomb, they wouldn't detect a damn thing.

Source: The Washington Post

Come ON, China!
Yet more wonderful products from our Sino-Industrial Overlords.
A blood thinner tied to the deaths of at least 19 people in the U.S. has a "possibly counterfeit ingredient," a federal agency revealed.

Raw components of the drug, heparin, are produced in China, reports The New York Times in a story set to appear on their Thursday front page.

"Routine tests failed to distinguish the contaminant from [heparin]," write Gardiner Harris and Walt Bogdanich for the Times. "Only sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging tests uncovered that as much as 20 percent of the product's active ingredient was a heparin mimic blended in with the real thing."
Naturally, the Bush administration fell down on the job here too.
A series of independent assessments, including one by the agency’s own Science Board, have found that the F.D.A. is increasingly overwhelmed by its many responsibilities and is incapable of protecting the public from unsafe drugs, medical devices and food — particularly from China. The Government Accountability Office recently discovered, for example, that over a six-year period, the F.D.A. inspected just 64 of the nearly 700 medical device plants registered in China. Medical devices can include items like stents and spinal screws.
Well, I hope you like being poisoned. It's the status quo, now.

Source: Raw Story

Apocalypse Now(ish)?

Pretty Please?

So we have another candidate for a killer star to wipe out the pesky human race.

Eta Carinae, you need to work harder or you'll lose the limelight.

SYDNEY: A spectacular, rotating binary star system is a ticking time bomb, ready to throw out a searing beam of high-energy gamma rays – and Earth may be right in the line of fire.

Astronomers at the University of Sydney, in Australia, first discovered the unusual and beguilingly beautiful star system eight years ago in the Constellation Sagittarius. One member of the pair is a highly unstable star known as a Wolf-Rayet, thought to be the final stage of stellar evolution to precede a cataclysmic supernova explosion.

"When it finally explodes as a supernova, it could emit an intense beam of gamma rays coming our way", said Peter Tuthill, lead researcher of the team that report their findings in the current Astrophysical Journal.
Wooh! Death star!

Come on, give me those beautiful details...
At a distance of 8,000 light-years from Earth, the pair of stars are a short hop away in galactic terms, and just one quarter of the way to the centre of our Milky Way galaxy.

The researchers took images of the system, known as WR 104, over a period of eight years using Hawaii's Keck Telescope. These images reveal a vast and glowing plume of heated dust and gas, billowing out in a spiral as the stars rotate once every eight months. This 'tail' is up to 30 billion kilometres long.

But something curious about the images caught the attention of the experts.

"Viewed from Earth, the rotating tail appears to be laid out on the sky in an almost perfect spiral. It could only appear like that if we are looking nearly exactly down on the axis of the binary system," said Tuthill.

This means we are peering down the barrel of the gun, as when binary supernovae go off, all their energy is focussed into a narrow beam of wildly destructive gamma ray radiation that emanates (both up and down) from the poles of the system.

"If such a gamma-ray burst happens, we really do not want Earth to be in the way," he said. "I used to appreciate this spiral just for its beautiful form, but now I can't help a twinge of feeling that it is uncannily like looking down a rifle barrel."
For those creationist types out there, I have to ask: why did God stack the local universe with so many giant supernova stars just itching to burn our ass?
Though the risk may be remote, there is evidence that gamma ray bursts have swept over the planet at various points in Earth's history with a devastating effect on life.

A 2005 study showed that a gamma-ray burst originating within 6,500 light-years of Earth could be enough to strip away the ozone layer and cause a mass extinction. Researchers led by Adrian Melott at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, U.S., suggest that such an event may have been responsible for a mass extinction 443 million years ago, in the late Ordovician period, which wiped out 60 per cent of life and cooled the planet.
Ahh.... yet another way we can all die.

Sources: Cosmos Magazine
Physics Department, University of Sydney

Another Edition of Heartland Values

Go Indiana!

Segregationist Center
So it turns out that one of IU's buildings is named after a staunch segregationist and bigot, one Ora Wildermuth.

I bet you’ve passed it a few hundred times, maybe more.

It is a sign, small and simple. White words wrap around a dull maroon rectangle with the declaration: Ora L. Wildermuth Intramural Center.

This sign, which stands outside of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation building, represents the man, and the man represents the institution.

So who is the man?

One thing Judge Ora Leonard Wildermuth advocated would have made George Wallace proud. For Wildermuth, it was segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever. He put it in his own words on Nov. 19, 1945, in a letter to IU comptroller Ward G. Biddle. Wildermuth, then-president of the IU board of trustees, wrote, “I am and shall always remain absolutely and utterly opposed to social intermingling of the colored race with the white. I belong to the white race and shall remain loyal to it. It always has been the dominant and leading race.”
Ooh yeah, that's the old time white power schtick. You can't get hate like that anymore.

A bit of an irony for those of us who know Indiana these days too:
Wildermuth was one of the first citizens of Gary when he arrived there in 1906. He served as Gary’s first schoolteacher, librarian and municipal judge.
For those of you outside the state, Gary is a very heavily black majority city... with one of the highest per capita levels of violence in the country. Being a white supremacist from Gary these days would buy you a one way ticket to Hell on the Express train.

But back to the asshole.
From 1938 to1949, Wildermuth was president of the IU board of trustees. When the school sought funds, the trustees sought a reason. Both reason and racism clashed in the summer of 1948 when IU President Herman B Wells sent out a correspondence to the homes of each board member. Wells specifically requested from the trustee president to spend $60,000 to build new dormitories for the “colored housing situation.”

Wildermuth responded to Wells by writing, “So few of them succeed and the average of the race as to intelligence, economic status and industry is so far below the white average that it seems to me futile to build up hope for a great future.”
Much like a white-sheet clad Energizer Bunny, he kept going and going and going!

So, ok, the man was clearly a bigot, and having a campus building named after him is a disgrace. Right?

We'll surely be seeing some swift action on this point too, right?
When former IU President Adam Herbert discovered last April that a campus building bears the name of a known segregationist, he vowed to take speedy action. Almost a year later, with Herbert out of office, the team of faculty and administrators responsible for resolving the issue is still requesting more time.


Terry Clapacs, University vice president and chief administrative officer, heads the committee. He said a decision could not be reached last week because the committee members “all wanted to do more individual research.”

“There are a lot of opinions,” Clapacs said. “There were 17 of us that met, and everybody had something to say about it, so it was a very interesting conversation.”
The way I see it, you have basically two options, Clapacs, you moron. Either take his name off the building, or put on the white sheets yourself.

That's about the size of it.

Source: The Indiana Daily Student (original column) (status article)

Midwestern Poison
So as it turns out, Indiana found a way to enrich itself at the trough of Hurricane Katrina: selling the formaldehyde soaked trailers to FEMA.
Northern Indiana’s recreational vehicle industry is at the center of a federal inquiry into toxic air found in emergency trailers supplied to victims left homeless in 2005 by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that it measured the highest levels of formaldehyde in emergency trailers made by three Indiana firms: Gulf Stream Coach, Inc., the largest privately held RV maker in the U.S., based in Nappanee; Pilgrim International, Inc., based in Middlebury; and Keystone R.V. Co., based in Goshen.


Officials at plywood industry trade groups in the United States and Canada suggest improperly sealed plywood imported from China might be the culprit. The plywood would have been used to make cabinets and build the structure of the trailers.

American and Canadian plywood makers say they commonly use phenol formaldehyde to make both interior and exterior plywood. The phenol variety’s tight bonding characteristics make it impervious to water, while the other variety, known as urea formaldehyde, can allow gas to escape if it is not sealed properly, said Paul Jaehrlich, technical services director of the Canadian Plywood Association.
China too! We should have known.

So basically, they cut corners (and padded their profit) by using cheap Chinese plywood. What harm could that possibly cause?
The results showed 121 Gulf Stream trailers tested had an average formaldehyde level of 0.103 parts per million, 39 Pilgrim units tested had an average of 0.108 parts per million and 38 Keystone units tested had an average of 0.102 parts per million.

The average exposure level for typical indoor air is 0.01 to 0.03 parts per million.


What is Formaldehyde?
It is a colorless gas emitted from many construction materials and can cause breathing problems, itchy eyes and rashes. The gas is also a suspected carcinogen.
Oh, right. It could KILL PEOPLE.

Selfish, arrogant, greedy, grasping pricks.

Another lesson in the true meaning of 'Heartland Values'

Source: The Indianapolis Star

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Life Under An Idiot

So, a defense contractor turns out to have been shortchanging the Army on the kevlar they use in helmets for soldiers.

How.. scrupulous.

At the core of the investigation was the contention by two former plant managers that Kevlar woven at Sioux failed to meet the government’s “critical” minimum standard of 35 by 35 threads a square inch. When properly woven, Kevlar, a polymer thread made by Dupont, is stronger than steel, and able to deflect shrapnel and some bullets. Government regulations call for rejecting Kevlar below the 35-by-35 standard. The company “was underweaving,” [The United States attorney for North Dakota, Drew H.] Wrigley said. “That is undebatable,” he said. The factory’s own inspection records often showed weaves of 34 by 34 threads or as low as 32 by 34 and 33 by 34. Looms were “always set for 34 by 34, always,” said Jeff Kenner, who operated and repaired the looms and oversaw crews on all three shifts.

Source: Raw Story

Yeah. No wonder Bush wants to gut whistleblower protections. They can be so.. inconvenient.
"The Bush administration has absolutely not endorsed the concept of whistleblowing—they see it as disloyalty," one senior osc official told me. Bloch's tenure, echoes Sibel Edmonds, a former fbi translator and the founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, is simply "a very good example that shows that the system is broken." Helped by post-9/11 security fears, the Bush administration has worked to lock down information in all areas of government. "Secrecy has become a central axis of executive branch policy," William Weaver, the Texas professor, testified before Congress this winter.

The administration has fought disclosures by invoking provisions such as the State Secrets Privilege and "sovereign immunity"—the English common-law notion that the king can do no wrong. It has worked behind the scenes on Capitol Hill to undermine whistleblower legislation, and, in the case of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, has launched a criminal probe to determine the source of leaks to the press. The president himself told reporters that leaking the nsa program had been "a shameful act" and said "the fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy." More documents than ever before are being shielded from public view—the number of classifications nearly quadrupled from 1995 to 2005, from 3.6 million to 14.2 million. The rampant classifications put whistleblowers at risk of criminal prosecution: Disclosing classified national security information to someone not cleared to receive it is a felony. In fact, in the administration's view, even members of Congress who sit on the intelligence committees and have top security clearances don't have the right to know some of the government's business. After nsa whistleblower Russ Tice made clear his intention to report the agency's warrantless surveillance program, carried out under a highly classified Special Access Program (sap), the nsa warned him that "neither the staff nor the members of the [Senate and House intelligence committees] are cleared to receive the information covered by the saps."

The courts have also not been kind to whistleblowers. Last May, in what whistleblower lawyer Steve Kohn calls "the single biggest setback for whistleblowers in the courts in the past 25 years," newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito cast the tiebreaking vote in Garcetti v. Ceballos, a case involving a prosecutor in the Los Angeles district attorney's office who claimed whistleblower retaliation. Under the ruling, Kohn says, public employees—all 22 million of them—have no First Amendment rights when they are acting in an official capacity, and in many cases are not protected against retaliation. "What that means is for employees who are making these disclosures on the job or in any official capacity, unless they have some statutory protection, they're shit out of luck," says Jeff Ruch, executive director of peer, the whistleblower advocacy group. Kohn estimates that "no less than 90 percent of all whistleblowers will lose their cases on the basis of that decision." Members of Congress—both Democrats and Republicans—scrambled to pass broader protections but failed in the face of opposition from the White House.
Ahh, the removal of the First Amendment, Sovereign Immunity... you have to admire just how open they are about their completely unAmerican, treasonous activities.

Source: Mother Jones

Food Safety a Thing Of the Past
Yet another food contamination scare.

Gee, it would be nice if we had a functioning USDA to watch out for our food supply, wouldn't it?
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) -- Gorton's Inc. recalled about 1,000 cases of frozen fish in 10 states Friday after confirming a Pennsylvania customer found pills in her food.

Gorton's said it ordered the recall as a precaution while a laboratory works to determine the nature of the pills. Those tests should be complete early next week.

"Obviously product alteration is a very serious matter," said Jud Reis, vice president of marketing for the company, based in Gloucester, Massachusetts "We are conducting a full investigation into the source of the problem."

Tracy Rowan of New Freedom, Pennsylvania, called police after she bit into one of the pills Sunday and found another on her daughter's plate. On Friday, Reis said the material was some sort of pill, not compressed batter or bread crumbs.

Rowan described the pills as beige and aspirin-size.


Without the USDA, It Falls to Congress to Protect Us
Entire blurb/article:
Members of Congress say they want answers from the owner of a Southern California slaughterhouse involved in last month's massive beef recall.

Congressman John Dingell says members of a House oversight subcommittee will meet Wednesday to vote for a subpoena of Hallmark/Westland Meat Co. owner Steve Mendell. The Michigan Democrat says Mendell will be required to testify next week on Capitol Hill. Mendell was a no-show at a meeting of the subcommittee last week.

Federal officials recalled 143 million pounds of beef last month after the Humane Society of the United States released undercover video showing workers at the slaughterhouse abusing sick and crippled cows.
Nice of him not to show, btw. Respect for the law is a real fading tradition these days.

Source: Raw Story

Proxy Wars
So the US proxy in South America, the ridiculously inept, corrupt, murderous government of Columbia, invaded Ecuador without provocation and in flagrant violation of international law, to murder some of its political opponents (who, it must be said, are also murderous thugs).

The entire region is now set to go up like a tinderbox.
Warning that Colombia could spark a war, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sent tanks and thousands of troops to the countries' border Sunday and ordered his government's embassy in Bogota closed.

The leftist leader warned Colombia's U.S.-allied government that Venezuela will not permit acts like Saturday's killing of top rebel leader Raul Reyes and 16 other Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas at a camp across the border in Ecuador.


Chavez said he had just spoken to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and that Ecuador was also sending troops to its border with Colombia. Chavez said his Ecuadorean ally told him that Uribe had lied and that the rebels were killed while asleep "in their pajamas."

"This is something very serious. This could be the start of a war in South America," Chavez said. He warned Colombian President Alvaro Uribe: "If it occurs to you to do this in Venezuela, President Uribe, I'll send some Sukhois" — Russian warplanes recently bought by Venezuela.
Chavez is, it's worth noting for the dense, correct here. Colombia invaded a sovereign country without permission to attack people on their soil. It's inflammatory and completely outrageous.

Imagine if Canada launched a cross-border raid on some survivalist group in Upstate New York, if you want a comparison.

Source: Raw Story

Another day, another national park/monument/treasure violated for oil profits.
WASHINGTON — A subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum has notified the Bureau of Land Management that it would like to explore for oil in a central California national monument.

John Dearing, a BLM spokesman, said the agency can do nothing to stop Vintage Production from testing for oil under the Carrizo Plain National Monument in eastern San Luis Obispo County because the company has owned the mineral rights there since before President Bill Clinton created the monument in 2001.

“Because this is a national monument, there will be environmental concerns that will have to be strongly looked at,” Dearing said. “But they have a right to access.”

The monument's 250,000 acres are not virgin territory for drilling rigs. The monument is just over a hill from the oil fields of Kern County. There is a small amount of production already occurring in remote canyons of the monument.

But Vintage’s holdings are under the heart of the monument grounds, and whatever it does can’t help but affect the natural grasslands and wildlife diversity of the area. The monument contains the last remaining vestiges of San Joaquin Valley grasslands and is home to the greatest concentration of endangered species in the country.

Source: McClatchy

A Puppy and the Culture of Cruelty
This has been making the rounds since yesterday.
(CNN) -- The military is investigating a "shocking and deplorable" YouTube video that seems to show a Marine throwing a puppy off a rocky cliff.

The black-and-white puppy makes a yelping sound as it flies through the air.

"That's mean, that was mean," one companion says off-camera, addressing the alleged puppy thrower by his last name. The fate of the animal is not known.

The Marine is identified on the video and in other Internet postings as a lance corporal stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.

It's not clear where the video was shot, although the man who appears to throw the puppy and another Marine are in full combat gear with helmets.
What can you expect when your government turns a blind eye to stuff like Abu Ghraib and water torture?

It shouldn't surprise anyone that we're plunging toward an almost cartoonish level of villainy in society now.

Greatscat! (original source for me, still links to a copy of the video)
The Honolulu Advertiser

The Lottery
I remember, a few years ago, reading a sci-fi short story, whose name and author escape me at the moment. It was about a future where health-care is allocated by a cruel lottery system that forces people to risk their lives in a grotesque series of games to earn basic medical care for themselves or others.

Funny how the worst nightmares of yesterday become reality under Bush.
PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon is conducting a one-of-a-kind lottery, and the prize is health insurance.

The state will start drawing names this week for the chance to enroll in a health care program designed for people not poor enough for Medicaid but too cash-strapped to buy their own insurance.

More than 80,000 people have signed up since registration for the lottery opened in January. Only a
few thousand will be chosen for the program.

"It's better than nothing, it's at least a hope," said Shirley Krueger, 61, who signed up the first day.

It's been more than six months since she could afford to take insulin regularly for her diabetes. That puts her at higher risk for a number of complications, such as kidney failure, heart disease and blindness.

Her part-time job leaves her ineligible for her employer's insurance plan and with too little income to buy her own.

"I'm worried about it. I know it's a death sentence," Krueger said.

An estimated 600,000 people in Oregon are uninsured, according to the Oregon Department of Human Services.

Those selected in the lottery will be eligible for a standard benefit program, which was once a heralded highlight of the Oregon Health Plan.

At its peak in 1995, the program covered 132,000 Oregonians. State budget cuts forced the program to close to newcomers by 2004, but it now has several thousand openings.

The program covers their most basic health services, medications and limited dental, hospital and vision services at little or no cost.

The health insurance lottery winners will be chosen in a series of drawings that could take a few months.

"This is such a wonderful opportunity," said Ellen Pinney, director of the Oregon Health Action Campaign. "We've heard absolutely no complaints, just a lot of hope that they are the ones who will be selected."
Who's up for a stirring round of God Bless America? Hmm?

Source: AZ Central


Science Update

So there are boats that are powered solely by waves. Who knew?

I do wonder how it would work, steering wise, if you had to sail a boat against the prevailing wave currents. The article proposes wind sails to augment the waves, but since wind and waves are tied together I'm not sure how much that would help.

Still, a neat piece of concept engineering.

Source: TreeHugger

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was watching routine climate changes and got an eyeful of a surprise event.

A robotic spacecraft circling Mars has snapped the first image of a series of active avalanches near the planet's north pole, scientists said Monday.

The image, taken last month, reveals at least four avalanches of fine ice and dust breaking off from a steep cliff and settling on the slope below. The cascade kicked up massive debris clouds, with some measuring more than 590 feet across.

Sources: Raw Story

Rise of the Hexapus
A London aquarium has acquired a six-legged octopus.

Yes, you read that correctly.
The unique sea creature, which has two limbs fewer than a normal octopus, is believed to be the result of a birth defect rather than an accident, say his keepers at the Blackpool Sea Life Centre in northwest England.


It was only when he attached himself to the inside of a glass tank that Sea Life staff noticed he was two limbs short of a full set. Octopuses are renowned for having three hearts and blue blood, but not usually six legs.

"He's a lovely little thing," said a spokeswoman, adding that he will go on display to the public later this month.

Source: Yahoo News

So businesses are looking to get the right to embed RFID tags in your clothing and track what you do, where you go, etc. All in the name of 'serving' you.

They seem shocked that people aren't willing to go along.
"For us, consumers have to be protected," said Emilie Berrau, a legal officer for the BEUC, the European Consumers Organization in Brussels. "They haven't asked for the technology, so why should they have the burden of protecting themselves?"


"How can you make an assumption that consumers will want their tags deactivated at the point of sales?" she said. "How can we justify that? So far we haven't heard from consumers with day-to-day concerns. There is a distance there. This technology is developing very quickly. And if there is an opt-in approach, that will probably deter many retailers from adopting the technology."

Retailers have tended to use the chips for logistical purposes like tracking deliveries, but companies are starting to get more inventive. A British uniform supplier, Trutex, said it was developing clothing with chips to track schoolchildren, in part because of surveys that showed parents were favorable to the idea.
Oh no, won't somebody please think of the children!?

The children that we can spy on for money?!

Source: The International Herald Tribune

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The War on Stupid

Posts from the Front Lines

Grope Your Children Well
Some teachers with grab-hands.

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. - A class of third-grade students got a lesson in civil liberties when an envelope containing $5 disappeared from their teacher's desk.

The students at Martin Luther King Elementary in Hopkinsville were asked to remove their shoes and socks during a search. Some were patted down and had their pockets checked.

Some parents were angered by the Feb. 15 searches, which did not turn up the missing money at the western Kentucky school.
Of course it didn't. Even if one of them had the money, how are you going to find an envelope, or just a five dollar bill, with a pat-down search? THEY'RE KIND OF THIN WHEN YOU LOOK AT THEM, MORONS.

(The paper/cottony paper products, not the children.)

This did take place in Kentucky. I guess that helps to explain things.

Source: AZ Central

An El Reg military analysis article on the likelihood of robot drone insurgent weaponry. Basically: very expensive, unlikely to work as well as the stuff they do today, and beyond their capability.

Of course, you could read the longer article, but that would use up precious brain energy that can be saved for reality tv.

Source: The Register

Shocking Loss to Forces of Dumb
On Sunday, the style section of the Washington Post lobbed a stupid Weapon of Mass Destruction directly into our camps by publishing an op-ed by one Charlotte Allen, who has refined stupid to such a level that she must qualify as a Mad Scientist of Moron.
"Women 'Falling for Obama,' " the story's headline read. Elsewhere around the country, women were falling for the presidential candidate literally. Connecticut radio talk show host Jim Vicevich has counted five separate instances in which women fainted at Obama rallies since last September. And I thought such fainting was supposed to be a relic of the sexist past, when patriarchs forced their wives and daughters to lace themselves into corsets that cut off their oxygen.

I can't help it, but reading about such episodes of screaming, gushing and swooning makes me wonder whether women -- I should say, "we women," of course -- aren't the weaker sex after all. Or even the stupid sex, our brains permanently occluded by random emotions, psychosomatic flailings and distraction by the superficial. Women "are only children of a larger growth," wrote the 18th-century Earl of Chesterfield. Could he have been right?
In your case, I think 'children' is a bit generous. How about 'stunted twits of a larger growth'?

Alternately, the growth you're part of could be a tumor. On my brain.
Then there's Clinton's nearly all-female staff, chosen for loyalty rather than, say, brains or political savvy. Clinton finally fired her daytime-soap-watching, self-styled "Latina queena" campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, known for burning through campaign money and for her open contempt for the "white boys" in the Clinton camp. But stupidly, she did it just in time to alienate the Hispanic voters she now desperately needs to win in Texas or Ohio to have any shot at the Democratic nomination.
Mark Penn is many things. A moron. A clumsy, inept pollster. The sloppiest dresser alive.

But, err, not a woman. He's the head of her campaign, her chief strategist. And male.

Her long-time political fixer, brought in to try and salvage Penn's abortive campaign? A very well connected man named Harold Ickes.

Also, err, not a woman.

What great research!
Depressing as it is, several of the supposed misogynist myths about female inferiority have been proven true. Women really are worse drivers than men, for example. A study published in 1998 by the Johns Hopkins schools of medicine and public health revealed that women clocked 5.7 auto accidents per million miles driven, in contrast to men's 5.1, even though men drive about 74 percent more miles a year than women. The only good news was that women tended to take fewer driving risks than men, so their crashes were only a third as likely to be fatal. Those statistics were reinforced by a study released by the University of London in January showing that women and gay men perform more poorly than heterosexual men at tasks involving navigation and spatial awareness, both crucial to good driving.
So let me get this straight. Women have slightly over 10% more accidents per mile than men. But men have 200% more fatal accidents than women.

And this makes WOMEN the worse drivers? Come again? Could we have that in ENGLISH please?
So I don't understand why more women don't relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home. (Even I, who inherited my interior-decorating skills from my Bronx Irish paternal grandmother, whose idea of upgrading the living-room sofa was to throw a blanket over it, can make a house a home.) Then we could shriek and swoon and gossip and read chick lit to our hearts' content and not mind the fact that way down deep, we are . . . kind of dim.
Please, follow your own advice. Stop writing, go home, and start making doilies. I promise to never miss you.

Source: The Washington Post

One Two Punch
Not content with merely asserting that women are stupid, the WaPo published a second op-ed in the same section, on how women are shallow and fickle.

And there we have one of the most puzzling conundrums of the 2008 Democratic contests. Black voters of all socioeconomic classes are voting for the black candidate. Men are voting for the male candidate regardless of race or class. But even though this is also a year with the first major female presidential candidate, women are split every way they can be. They're the only voting bloc not voting their bloc.

For the Clinton campaign, this is devastating. A year ago, chief strategist Mark Penn proclaimed that the double-X factor was going to catapult his candidate all the way to the White House. Instead, the women's vote has fragmented. The only conclusion: American women still aren't strategic enough to form a meaningful political movement directed at taking power. Will they ever be?
People fail to vote according to her predictions. This, obviously, implies a flaw with the people.

So many feminists' turn to solidarity with their own class is a surprise. For decades, they've been loudly proclaiming their loyalty to working-class women and criticizing reporters for writing chiefly about elite women who resemble themselves. Before the election got hot, Ellen Bravo, longtime director of 9 to 5, a national association of working women, asserted that working mothers "with more opportunities" must "take a stand with those who have fewer." I've been the target of some of the more pointed criticism myself, for writing a book about educated women quitting their jobs for motherhood. Nation writer Liza Featherstone "guessed" that my life did not look "very much like that of a Starbucks barista."
This is the part where she asserts that all feminists are wealthy.

Female too, for that matter.

Yeeesh what a tool.
Maybe Obama is the best candidate, and these highly educated women, with their greater political savvy, have recognized his value. A less charitable explanation is that college-educated women don't need the social safety net as much as their less fortunate sisters do, so Clinton's early stand on family leave or her slightly more generous health-care plan aren't as important to them.
Yes, her ever-so-slightly-earlier endorsement of one position and ever-so-slightly broader position on health care must surely be the only explanation.

There can be no other choice! The 'elite' women are gyno-traitors!
Or maybe it has to do with what Pollitt expressed in a recent blog posting: "On foreign policy Obama seems more enlightened, as in less bellicose." Educated women focusing more on foreign policy fits with what we know about women and politics. Although at every class level, women know less than men do about politics in general, they know more as their education level goes up. So it may be that foreign policy issues are more salient to women with a college degree.

Or it could just be that women with more education (and more money) relate on a subconscious level to the young and handsome Barack and Michelle Obama, with their white-porticoed mansion in one of the cooler Chicago neighborhoods and her Jimmy Choo shoes.
Hur, women are dumber than men. Nevermind that men vote for Republicans, the party OF Idiots, far more often than women.

Also, dur, Obama is wealthy. Clinton meanwhile lives a hard-scrabble life on the streets, fighting with the rats for her dinner.

Err, no wait. She's also a wealthy Senator. Huh.
When faced with a "movement," resistance is costly. And for weeks now, online and on cable news channels, almost anyone who expresses criticism of Obama or support for Clinton has elicited a firestorm of disapproval. Obama's scores of defenders -- "Obamabots," they're called -- immediately recite the anti-Clinton litany: Billary, Monica Lewinsky, Hillary's Iraq war vote, identity politics. Well-regarded activists such as Planned Parenthood's Feldt or successful writers such as Tina Fey who support Clinton are excoriated as worthless pieces of nonsense. After Steinem wrote an op-ed on Clinton's behalf in the New York Times, the New Republic published an article titled "Gloria Steinem's Awful Op Ed." Not wrong. Not misguided. But "awful."
Call me cynical, but I read a lot of political news.

A lot.

And I've never heard this "Obamabot" term.

I would remember hearing it. Retarded crap sticks in my brain.

So who precisely calls them that?

Also, GASP, people who support a candidate may have to endure slight criticism from others! "Awful"!
Has this rhetorical firestorm had an effect on the political decisions of college-educated white women?
Seriously, 'firestorm'? A firestorm is when napalm turns your village into cinders and schoolkids running around with their skin falling off.

"Awful" is not a firestorm.
Whatever the explanation, the Clinton campaign could now be stuttering to its close, and Mark Penn has been criticized for everything from short-sightedness about the primary schedule to overspending on sandwich platters. But those failures pale beside the biggest one of all: not recognizing the fickleness of the female voter.
If they're so fickle, why are these trends so hard to overcome? Surely Clinton can just bribe them with chocolates, right?

God what a twit this woman is.

Source: Again, The Washington Post.

The House Intelligence Committee chairman expects a compromise soon on renewal of an eavesdropping law that could provide legal protections for telecommunications companies as President Bush has insisted.

Rep. Silvestre Reyes, in a television interview broadcast Sunday, did not specifically say whether the House proposal would mirror the Senate's version. The Senate measure provides retroactive legal immunity to the companies that helped the government wiretap U.S. computer and phone lines after the Sept. 11 attacks without clearance from a secret court.
Hey Reyes.

Go fuck yourself.

Source: Raw Story

Gun Incident Near Bush Ranch
Now now, don't get your hopes up. Cheney only shoots *really* old men in the face.
CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) — A Danish journalist came this close to getting shot Saturday by an elderly woman packing a pistol near President Bush's ranch here in what was easily the strangest incident I've ever witnessed covering the White House.

It all started so innocently as I sat with a group of Danish journalists just down the street from Bush's ranch during a visit by Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The two leaders were having lunch on the ranch, so I was waiting at a nearby historic one-room schoolhouse with White House staff to interview Rasmussen after the meal. Then the prime minister was going to do a brief press conference with the Danish press corps.

Terkel Svensson, a writer for the Danish News Agency, could not get wireless Internet access at the schoolhouse to file a story. But Svensson could get his cell phone working so he called his editor in
Copenhagen and started wandering across a quiet country road as he chatted away.

"I was just so occupied dictating my story that I didn't really see where I went," Svensson told me later. "I was just walking and talking."

What Svensson didn't realize was that he had stopped walking a couple hundred feet away, on the front lawn of an elderly woman. An elderly woman who looked through her window and didn't like that a strange man was standing outside her house. An elderly woman who had, um, a gun.
Texas, ladies and gentlemen.

That's it. That's the joke. Texas.

They don't need parody.


No, not in general. One in particular.
An Iranian court has ordered a man to buy his wife 124,000 roses after she filed a complaint against her "stingy" husband to claim her dowry, a press report said on Monday.

"After 10 years of marriage Hengameh had decided to claim her dowry of 124,000 red roses to punish her very stingy husband," the Etemad newspaper said.

"Shortly after marriage I realised that Shahin was very cheap. He even refused to pay for my coffee if we went to a cafe or restaurant," said the woman, identified only by her first name Hengameh.

But Shahin told the court he could only afford five roses a day and complained that it was "her billionaire friends who had put such ideas in her head."

The court has seized his apartment worth 600 million rials (64,000 dollars) until he has bought her the entire 124,000 roses. A long stemmed red rose costs 20,000 rials (about two dollars) in Tehran.

Under Iranian law, a woman can claim her dowry or mahr, which is a gift pledged by the man at the time of marriage, at any time during married life or when getting a divorce.
So she's demanded, and a court has agreed, that her husband buy her 248,000 dollars worth of roses.

Right. She's a moron, he's one for marrying her, the courts are full of morons, and.... argh. I can't stand it anymore!!

Source: Raw Story

Isn't it fun when idealists crash on the cold, hard, merciless rocks of reality?
A British peace activist aiming to walk to India to prove a money-free world is possible has turned back at the first hurdle, after getting to France and finding he needed to speak French.

Writing on his blog Friday, 28-year-old Mark Boyle said he and two friends accompanying him ran into problems the minute they arrived in the French port of Calais.

"Not only did no one... speak the language, they also see us as just a bunch of freeloading backpackers, which is the complete opposite of what the pilgrimage is really about," he wrote.

"That really scared us, and given that we now were pretty much out of food, hadn't slept in days and were really cold, we had to reassess the whole situation.

"We spoke to a few people who were willing to talk and they said that France would not go for this unless we could speak fluent French, which none of us could."


"He has not given up his project," she told AFP. "He is currently walking in the southeast of England. He will tour around the UK, learn French and leave again for Porbandar."
So in a few years we'll see a repeat when he manages to mooch his way to the German border, only to discover he doesn't know the 43 syllable word for 'Help, I am a mentally deficient individual in need of food or a damn good kicking!'

Fortunately, they're German. They'll give him one anyway. It's their charitable nature.

Source: Raw Story

The Name Game
So Greece and Macedonia are having a spat.
Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis said today that his country will block Macedonia’s entrance into the EU and NATO if the country does not change its name. Macedonia expects an invite to NATO at the organization's summit in April and could possibly start EU negotiations this fall.

So what’s wrong with “Macedonia”? According to Greece, the name belongs to its northern region, an area that covers what was once ancient Macedonia back in the glory days of Alexander the Great (and they were glorious). Greece claims that use of “Republic of Macedonia,” as Macedonia calls itself in its constitution, not only violates Greece's historic cultural claim to the name, but also suggests territorial ambitions. Instead, Greece, and the U.N. by default, have continued to call Macedonia by the outdated name “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” ever since Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia seventeen years ago. It’s an awfully long name for a tiny country, but you can call it FYROM for short.
Greece's historical claim to the name? What? They only have an area called Macedonia because the Macedonians beat them silly!

It's just like how, apparently, there are a rather large number of towns in England with French names. BECAUSE THE FRENCH CONQUERED ENGLAND REPEATEDLY.

Honestly, Greece, don't be such prats. Nobody's looking to conquer your backward, imporverished country.

Macedonia, your Southern neighbors are being jerks. Pick a longer form of the name. Like "The Better-than-Greece-by-a-Long-Shot Republic of Macedonia.

Source: Reuters

Math Major He's Not
So Mark Halperin, the same jackass who recently said that McCain should go racist on Obama, now says that Clinton has to stay in the race because she'd be too damn old to run again in 2016, assuming Obama got two full terms.
"I think people are underestimating how badly she'd like to continue and not give up," said Halperin, who edits Time's online tip sheet The Page. "This is probably her one chance to become the Democratic nominee, given everything else going on in the world, and in her actuarial table, and Obama's chances of winning, and I think if she does not win this time she probably realizes that is it."


At 68, Clinton would still be younger than presumed Republican nominee John McCain is now. The 71-year-old Arizona senator has also faced questions about his age.

Clinton also would be younger in 2016 than Golda Meir was when she became Prime Minister of Israel in 1969, at age 71. Ronald Reagan, the oldest US president in history, celebrated his 70th birthday just after he was sworn in in 1981.
Combine that with the fact that McCain is already in shaky health, and that women live longer than men, and you can see why Halperin is in the running for Dumbest Man Alive (Not Named Bush Edition)

Source: Raw Story

So, let's say, and why not, that you're Jimbo Wales, one of the big muckity-mucks at Wikipedia. You've been trying for years to earn an image of legitimacy for the online news-o-rama, and constantly fighting off accusations of bias, incestuous editing, and general hamfisted amatuerism.

Surely the best course of action is to then use the site to dump your girlfriend.
On one level, it's an encyclopedia. On another, it's The Comedy of Errors.

Over the weekend, in response to a story from Valleywag, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales used the world's most popular online encyclopedia as a means of dumping his girlfriend - onetime Fox News pundit Rachel Marsden.

Marsden responded by sending Valleywag an IM conversation that indicates Wales ordered changes to her Wikipedia biography in an effort to further his, shall we say, personal agenda.

In discussing his sex life on the "free encyclopedia anyone can edit," Wales says that his sex life is not something anyone should be discussing. "Over the last few days, a few gossip websites have decided that my personal life is somehow of interest to people and, against my wishes, are publicizing details about a brief relationship I had with Rachel Marsden," explains the man who calls himself Wikipedia's Spiritual Leader. "While, typically, this would not warrant a response, because my role with Wikipedia is being dragged into it, I felt the need to set the record straight on a couple of issues."


But according to the IM conversation Marsden shared with Valleywag, Wales was well aware that in ordering changes to her bio, he was breaking one of Wikipedia's cardinal rules. Wikipedia bills itself as an encyclopedia with a "neutral point of view," and contributors are told not to edit articles where they have a conflict of interest.

During the IM chat, Wales asks Marsden to approve several edits to her bio, and he says that he forwarded these edits to his OTRS team. Wales also explains that in emailing the team, he told them he would be meeting Marsden to "give her advice about her website" and that it would not be appropriate for him "to directly edit the article with a conflict of interest."

Then he tells Marsden that he wasn't exactly honest with his OTRS team: "The truth is of course a much worse conflict of interest than that :) but that will do."
So, slutty ladies out there, if you want a positive Wikipedia bio, just sleep with Wales. He'll handle the rest.


Source: The Register (your primo source for Wikipedia dirt)

Comic Strip
Eight British soldiers have been forced to return home from Norway after they reportedly stripped naked and urinated on each other in a bar during an Arctic training exercise, the defence ministry confirmed Tuesday.

"It's being taken extremely seriously," a spokesman for the defence ministry in London said.
Only an Englishman could say that, in this situation, with a straight face.
"They were drunk and there was a problem in the bar, but we are quite used to dealing with British soldiers like this," Harstad police spokesman Gair Pederson was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.
Oooh, burn.

Source: Raw Story

One Toke Over the Line
Some marijuana legalization advocates wrote to Senator Tom Harkin, asking him why medical pot should still be illegal.

His rambling, incoherent response may go down in legend.
It's 2008, and that teenager drug marijuana is still raping our children. But why does that have to be illegal? According to The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), some person wrote to Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin "asking him to justify why medicinal cannabis is still illegal" after the American College of Physicians recommended it shouldn't be. It merited a hilarious reply from Harkin, which noted many of pot's notorious doom scenarios: "the small child whose parents are so addicted to illegal drugs that they sell everything including perhaps their own children to obtain a fix." Harkin knows the routine: smoke up, eat gyro, play Legend of Zelda, sell children to pirates for more pot, repeat.
Seriously. He said that. Amongst a lot of other nonsense
Marijuana is often the drug singled out for legalization. However, marijuana is not the recreational drug that many believe it to be. In a study completed by the Drug Abuse Warning Network, the number of marijuana related emergencies has nearly reached the level of cocaine related emergencies. As this statistic indicates, marijuana use often has fatal consequences.
Similarly, the Knitting Awareness Network, of which I am the founder, editor, President and Chairman, reports that the number of knitting emergencies in my apartment has nearly reached the number of Cthulhu related emergencies.

Accusations of a conflict of interest, or that I have a very good reason to over promote this issue as a fundraising tool, are clearly vicious lies from the Pro-Knit agenda.
The victims of the drug war are many - the small child whose parents are so addicted to illegal drugs that they sell everything including perhaps their own children to obtain a fix; the police officer's family which must now learn to cope with the loss of their loved one as a result of a violent drug bust gone awry. These are the people I think of when I say that drugs pose a significant threat to the security of this nation.
See, it's the pot that causes the damage. Not the war.

Similarly, all those civilian casualties in Iraq? Iraqis' fault. They should have known we'd carpet bomb them and become fireproof.

Source: Wonkette

Horror News

The Horror

I've been meaning to put these stories up forever. Oops.

In advance of the Olympics, China has decided to ban the noble horror movie.

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has added ghosts, monsters and other things that go bump in the night to its list of banned video and audio content in an intensified crackdown ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

Producers have around three weeks to look through their tapes for "horror" and report it to authorities, the General Administration of Press and Publications said in a statement posted on the government Web site.

Offending content included "wronged spirits and violent ghosts, monsters, demons, and other inhuman portrayals, strange and supernatural storytelling for the sole purpose of seeking terror and horror," the administration said.

The new guidelines aim to "control and cleanse the negative effect these items have on society, and to prevent horror, violent, cruel publications from entering the market through official channels and to protect adolescents' psychological health."
Yes, let's make sure people aren't exposed to the ghastly horror of a zombie movie. That might make them unhappy, and if they're unhappy, they won't be nearly as productive in the slave labor factories churning out crap to enrich their masters/owners in the Communist hierarchy.

Source: Reuters

Michael Bay Must Be Stopped
Michael Bay, the man who thought Hawaii should be cleansed of Asian characters for Pearl Harbor, is baaaaaaack.
Transformers director Michael Bay and his partners at the Platinum Dunes production company have been tasked by New Line Cinema to "relaunch" the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.

Wes Craven’s 1984 slasher classic gave the world the iconic Freddy Krueger, who haunted a total of nine films and two TV series. According to Variety, the new outing will represent a "complete overhaul" of the Nightmare concept.

Bay and chums are also gearing up for a May start on resurrecting Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th in a new film to be helmed by Marcus Nispel. This is apparently up for a "complete overhaul" as well, and movie buffs will remember just what a complete overhaul did for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - remade in 2003 by New Line with Nispel calling the shots and Platinum Dunes lurking in the shadows.

And just to reinforce the feeling that Hollywood has completely lost the ability to come up with an original concept, Variety adds that Platinum Dunes is "prepping an exorcism thriller" for Rogue Pictures, plus a remake of Near Dark to be directed by music vid vet Samuel Bayer.

Oh yes, and the company's filling its spare time "developing a Universal remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds", in which Casino Royale director Martin Campbell will presumably ensure that slated star Naomi Watts will get plenty of unwanted avian attention.
Oh dear Eris protect us all.

He's remaking Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, The Birds AND Near Dark. As well as an Exorcist ripoff.



Source: The Register

Israel, Again

Still Not Our Ally

So it seems that the Israeli government has decided that genocide, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

GAZA (Reuters) - A year-old Palestinian girl and a senior Hamas bombmaker were killed in the Gaza Strip on Friday as Israel pressed home air strikes after a senior official warned Gazans they risked a "shoah" if rocket fire did not stop.


Israel's deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio: "The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they will bring upon themselves a bigger 'shoah' because we will use all our might to defend ourselves."

The word "shoah" is rarely used in Israel beyond discussions of the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews but government spokesmen said Vilnai had employed the word only to mean "disaster".
Sure he did.

With friends like these...

Source: Reuters

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Clinton Campaign

Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying My Ever Increasing Annoyance

Goalposts Moving?
Clinton initially swore that Texas and Ohio would more or less win her the nomination, and that if she lost there, she'd go home.

Not so much.

Hillary Clinton's camp vowed Sunday she will resist calls to abandon the White House trail after pivotal nominating contests in Ohio and Texas, where rival Barack Obama hopes to land a knockout.


But Clinton's communications chief Howard Wolfson was adamant the race would go on after Tuesday, into the next key showdown in Pennsylvania in April.

"What I'm saying is, we're going to have a great day on Tuesday. We're going to win this nomination. This nomination fight is going to go forward after Ohio and Texas," he said on ABC television.

"We're going to go to Pennsylvania, where a lot more Americans are going to vote, and we're going to be the nominee in Denver."
And then the magical ponys will come down from the sky on a beautiful rainbow with sparkling glitter and a chorus of happy guardian angels!

Or not.

Source: Raw Story

Fictional Murderers for Clinton
Obama gets Dodd, Clinton gets.. The Joker.


As Far As She Knows
So Hillary is hedging her bets on the "Is Obama a Muslim?" question.
“You don't believe that Senator Obama's a Muslim?” Kroft asked Sen. Clinton. “Of course not. I mean, that, you know, there is no basis for that. I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that,” she replied. “You said you'd take Senator Obama at his word that he's not…a Muslim. You don't believe that he's…,” Kroft said. “No. No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know,” she said.
Of course, he could in fact be A LYING MANCHURIAN MUSLIM CANDIDATE OH NOES!!!

She has a good reason to hedge, though.
A widely debunked smear campaign attempting to convince voters that Barack Obama is Muslim maintains a foothold among some rural Ohio voters, 60 Minutes found in a segment aired Sunday.
Anything to win, eh?

Source: Raw Story