Sunday, December 31, 2006

Top Ten Ways We Got Jacked by Conservatives

If you ever wanted to see how badly 'conservatives' have been shaking the silver out of our pockets in the past six years, this list is it.
Had enough of 'conservative' rip-off artists in Washington? Here's a list of the worst offenses we've seen since 2001.
1) The Bush administration has created the biggest budget deficit, debt, and trade imbalance ever while cutting funding for domestic needs like education, Medicare, and Medicaid.
2) The administrations tax cuts favor the rich, no matter how you look at it. About 87 percent of tax benefits go to the 14 percent of households with incomes above $100,000. Households with incomes below $75,000 -- three-quarters of all households -- get just 5 percent of those benefits.
3) Bush signed the largest corporate tax break package in two decades, $136 billion. After World War II, corporations paid half the cost of running the federal government. Today, they pay 7%.
4) The price of gas doubled under Bush. The top oil companies earned $25 billion during the quarter that Hurricane Katrina struck compared to $50 billion for all of 2004. Former Exxon-Mobil, CEO, Lee Raymond got a $400 million exit package.
5) The Republican Congress has voted against every minimum wage increase, except the one linked to getting rid of the estate tax for the rich. The real income of the average American household has fallen five years in a row.
6) House Republicans chopped education programs by $14.3 billion -- the highest cuts ever. College tuition has increased 34 percent since Bush took office.

7) Since 2001, average monthly health care premiums have risen from $342 to $603. Annual deductibles have doubled. Today 46 million Americans (including 8.4 million children) have no health insurance, an increase of 6 million since Bush took office.

8) The Senate approved the biggest bankruptcy law in a quarter of a century. Republicans voted AGAINST protecting senior citizens, the seriously ill, military members, veterans, and employees.

9) In 1983, the Greenspan Commission put Social Security measures in place that created a $1.7 trillion surplus in the system. This administration borrowed against and cut that to $153 billion while blaming citizens for not dying young enough.

10) In 2005, Americans paid $4.3 billion in withdrawal fees at ATM’s and $16 billion to credit card companies in late fees alone. Republicans have suggested no remedies.

Jane Smiley: The Buck Stops Everywhere | The Huffington Post

I was working on another post, entitled, 'How is the War in Iraq like
a Frontal Lobotomy?' (answer--false advertising), but really, I'm not
that interested in the history anymore. I'm more interested in the
'surge'. I'm interested because the 'surge' is a classic example of a
loser's strategy, and it is about to be put in place by a bunch of
losers. The 'surge' is about saving face rather than achieving an
objective, and, let me say it right here, it's a guy thing. It's like
'going down fighting', except that those who are going to be going down
aren't going to be those who want to save face.

People always comment on how stubborn George W. Bush is, or how stupid
he is, or how ignorant he is, but what they don't comment on is how
selfish he is. Clearly, the face that is being saved in this probable
'surge' is his face, and that's how he wants it. He is willing to
sacrifice any number of troops (and we don't know what that number will
be, but it could be high) and any number of Iraqis (certainly a higher
number, because the American troops will throw off all restraint) in
order to say that---Well, what? What would be the expression? 'We did
our best'? Well, no. The Bush administration didn't do their best,
because they never gave their post war strategy any thought. 'We tried'?
Hardly. 'We did everything we could'? But no. They gave the PR a shot
('weapons of mass destruction'), but in the end, they were indifferent
to everything about the war except George W. Bush's mood. When his mood
was good, they told him some nice things about Iraq, and when his mood
was bad, they kept the bad news from him so his mood wouldn't get
worse. Remember how the former British Ambassador was warned by Condi
Rice as he went into a meeting with Bush, 'Don't make him angry'?
One thing I have always wondered about Bush, that I wonder even more
now, is what is the source of his power over these people, that come
hell (Iraq) or high water (Katrina), they do what he wants? Does he
throw things? Does he hold his breath and turn red in the face, so that
they worry he'll have a stroke? Does he hit people? Does he shout, 'Off
with his head!'? Does he send high level dissenters to Gitmo? (I wish
he would, so that they could come to experience and understand
conditions there). Do they just defer to him because of the office of
the Presidency? (No one did that with Bill Clinton). Why would anyone
feel allegiance to George W. Bush? It's a mystery, and it's a mystery
that is killing people every day."

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Buhbye ice shelf

by AJ in DC - 12/29/2006 04:20:00 PM
What? 41 square miles of ice shelf, one of six major shelves left in Canada's arctic, breaks off into the ocean? Collapse was so powerful that earthquake monitors 155 miles away picked up tremors? No, no; no global warming here, please move on. I said there's nothing to see here! Al Gore is still a lying crazy person, scientists are raving libruls, and hybrid cars are for communists! Why does the Canadian artic hate America? In reality, though, Warwick Vincent of Laval University, who studies Arctic conditions, 'traveled to the newly formed ice island and could not believe what he saw.' He commented, 'It is consistent with climate change.'What a surprise."

Friday, December 29, 2006

Most outrageous comments of 2006

How extreme were conservative commentators in their remarks
this year? How about calls to nuke the Middle East
and an allegation that a 'gay ... mafia' used the congressional
page program as its own 'personal preserve.' Right-wing rhetoric
documented by Media Matters for America included the nonsensical (including Rush Limbaugh's
claim that America's 'obesity crisis' is caused by, among
other things, our failure to 'teach [the poor] how to butcher a --
slaughter a cow to get the butter, we gave them the butter'), the
offensive (such as right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel's question about
'Barack Hussein Obama': is he 'a man we want as President
when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his
loyalties be?'), and the simply bizarre
(such as William A. Donohue's claim that some Hollywood
stars would 'sodomize their own mother in a movie'). Since there
were so many outrageous statements, we included a list of honorable mentions
along with the top 11, which, if not for Ann Coulter, we might have limited to
The top 11 (in chronological order):
William A. Donohue,president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights:
'Well, look, there are people in Hollywood,
not all of them, but there are some people who are nothing more than harlots.
They will do anything for the buck. They wouldn't care. If you asked them to
sodomize their own mother in a movie, they would do so, and they would do it
with a smile on their face.' [2/9/06]
Fox News host John
Gibson: 'Do your duty. Make more babies. That's a lesson drawn
out of two interesting stories over the last couple of days. First, a story
yesterday that half of the kids in this country under five years old are
minorities. By far, the greatest number are Hispanic. You know what that means?
Twenty-five years and the majority of the population is Hispanic. Why is that?
Well, Hispanics are having more kids than others. Notably, the ones Hispanics
call 'gabachos' -- white people -- are having fewer.' [5/11/06]"

Monday, December 25, 2006

Wal-Mart is selling Nazi SS skull t-shirts

Bent Corner: "I stopped in at Wal-Mart today after I got off work. I had to pick up a few things. As I was walking past the men's clothing area, something caught my eye. I noticed something weird over at a wall of t-shirts. One of the t-shirts had a design on it that looked remarkably like something related to Nazis. Specifically, the Totenkopf or "Death’s Head".
I took a picture of it with my camera phone.

The Death's Head symbol was worn by the members of the German Nazi SS. The Totenkopf on the Wal-Mart t-shirt looks very similar to the divisional insignia of the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf. As you can see, It's almost an exact copy.

Neo-Nazi's sometimes use the Totenkopf image because it is not as easily identifiable as other Nazi symbols such as the swastika. You might see one of these tattooed on someone's arm while standing in line at Burger King and think it's just an poorly done pirate skull. It's not.
Is Wal-Mart purposely trying to sell clothing with Nazi symbols on it? I doubt it. They wont even sell CD's with bad words on them. I doubt someone at Wal-Mart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas decided to sell clothing with Nazi symbols on it.
Whoever designed this shirt had to know where the skull image came from. I have no idea what the date 1978 refers to."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cocaine on 94 Percent of Spanish Banknotes - New York Times

MADRID (Reuters) - Traces of cocaine can be found on 94
percent of banknotes in Spain, a country that has one of the
world's highest rates of users, according to a study published
on Sunday.The 100 notes tested were collected in gyms, supermarkets
and pharmacies across Spain, where increased affluence and
falling street prices have made the drug more and more
accessible.Cocaine now sells for as little as 60 euros ($80) a gram,
or 5 euros ($7) a line, and it is regularly used by 1.6 percent
of Spaniards, up from 0.9 percent in 1999, a government report
said this month.Law enforcement agencies say cocaine is getting cheaper and
more popular in Europe because of efforts to boost production
by Colombian paramilitaries and rebels who need money for
weapons. Spain is a major entry point to Europe for the
smugglers.It was not clear how many of the notes had been used to
snort cocaine and how many had picked up traces from other
bills, according to the study by the Sailab laboratory,
published in the daily El Mundo."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Toyota Expects to Be World's No. 1 Automaker Next Year

"We had the foresight to start hybrid development earlier than other companies," Press said. "This year we will sell more hybrids than Cadillac will sell cars."

And 'they' used to say it wasn't economically sensible.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rhetoric Addiction, or “I’m a Pundit, so Eat Me.”

From Mark at Spittle and Ink:
We live in a country where rhetoric is a thing to consume, where words are the stuff with which we sustain our addictions. We no longer care about meaning, about facts, about truth, about history or the future. Like the meth addict or the harbor drunk, we only care about our next fix: that next sweet batch of rhetoric.
So sick have we become with this addiction, we sacrifice our lives, and even the lives of our own children, for the next hit.
Let me back up a second, and throw in some folksy slang so you know I havent suddenly adopted the fey arrogance of that queer little Italian kicking up Green Zone dust in Iraq right now. The American people are frickin idiots, and like Dr. Evil in his underground lair, Im surrounded by em.
Why am I so endlessly shocked by this fact? I mean, holy moley, Ive been politically active since the term holy moley was tossed around by Billy Batson%u2019s red-suited alter ego. (Well, in reprints, anyway.) Why am I so surprised? Why cant I ever just succumb, and slip gently into the warm bath of serene, calming words that fit my simplistic, if horribly erroneous, preconceptions?

In my last podcast, I threw out a manifesto of sorts, announcing to the world that no blog will ever convince anyone of anything.

So what do I do with this stuff? Do I run it? Does anyone really care? Will this suddenly make Kos and his gang realize they are no better than the Rocco DiPolepuffers or Michelle Malkins of the world? That they are just as much the gay whores of the political blogosphere as the ones partying with Duke Cunningham?

No, ladies and gentlemen, the reality is this. No blog anywhere will ever convince anyone of anything. I want to repeat that. No blog anywhere will ever convince anyone of anything.

Why is that? Because unlike television, which you can stumble upon by accident, blogs are not read by those on the opposite side of the spectrum. They are also not read by this mythical creature called the undecided. No, the hard truth is that lefties read lefty blogs, and righties read righty blogs.

No one is convincing anyone of anything. Instead, all these things are doing is reinforcing their own troops. And I call bullshit on the whole thing.

(An aside: it does feel good to be such a fantastic person and remarkable writer that quoting yourself actually adds a level of scholarship to your site. Go, me!)
Because clearly if something isn’t working, than doing a whole lot more of it should work, right?

But in moments of clarity – meaning the Paxil and Goldschlager has kicked in – I see it all for what it is. The American dialogue isn’t about discussing truth or delving into facts. It isn’t about trying to debate an issue in order to actually end up with an outcome. It isn’t anything near what the participants insist it is.

It’s about consumption, just like everything else in our arch-capitalist society. We consume rhetoric for pleasure, just as we buy cigarettes and alcohol and porn and cookies – or, if you’re me, tobacco-laced rum-soaked porn cookies.* We consume what we want to hear, because it gives us pleasure, and America is nothing if not addicted to pleasure.

Climate Change vs Mother Nature: Scientists reveal that bears have stopped hibernating

Bears have stopped hibernating in the mountains of northern Spain, scientists revealed yesterday, in what may be one of the strongest signals yet of how much climate change is affecting the natural world.
In a December in which bumblebees, butterflies and even swallows have been on the wing in Britain, European brown bears have been lumbering through the forests of Spain's Cantabrian mountains, when normally they would already be in their long, annual sleep.
Bears are supposed to slumber throughout the winter, slowing their body rhythms to a minimum and drawing on stored resources, because frozen weather makes food too scarce to find. The barely breathing creatures can lose up to 40 per cent of their body weight before warmer springtime weather rouses them back to life.
But many of the 130 bears in Spain's northern cordillera - which have a slightly different genetic identity from bear populations elsewhere in the world - have remained active throughout recent winters, naturalists from Spain's Brown Bear Foundation (La Fundacin Oso Pardo - FOP) said yesterday.
The change is affecting female bears with young cubs, which now find there are enough nuts, acorns, chestnuts and berries on thebleak mountainsides to make winter food-gathering sorties 'energetically worthwhile', scientists at the foundation, based in Santander, the Cantabrian capital, told El Pais newspaper.
'If the winter is mild, the female bears find it is energetically worthwhile to make the effort to stay awake and hunt for food,' said Guillermo Palomero, the FOP's president and the co-ordinator of a national plan for bear conservation. This changed behaviour, he said, was probably a result of milder winters. 'The high Cantabrian peaks freeze all winter, but our teams of observers have been able to follow the perfect outlines of tracks from a group of bears,' he said.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sagan blog-a-thon is Dec. 20

"Bloggers around the world celebrate Carl Sagan's life on the 10th anniversary of his death"

Fans and bloggers are planning a worldwide blog-a-thon to commemorate the life and legacy of Carl Sagan -- consummate scientist, communicator and educator -- on Dec. 20, the 10th anniversary of his death. Sagan was Cornell's David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences.
The event, organized by New York City fan Joel Schlosberg, encourages bloggers of all stripes to discuss the Cornell astronomer's influence in their lives. Schlosberg plans to compile a meta-blog -- a blog of blogs -- following the event to link Sagan bloggers to one another.
Nick Sagan, one of Sagan's sons, supports the effort. 'The goal here is to make Dec. 20 a blogosphere-wide celebration of the life and works of Carl Sagan,' he wrote. 'So if you're a Carl Sagan fan with a blog, or you know someone who is, I hope you'll join in and take some time on that day to share your thoughts, memories, opinions and feelings about my dad. And if you could help spread the word, it would mean a lot to me.'"

Monday, December 18, 2006

American Apparel to Be Sold to Investment Firm

American Apparel, the casual clothing chain whose socially conscious manufacturing, sexually charged advertising and snug-fitting T-shirts have generated a cultlike following, will be sold to a little-known investment firm for $382.5 million, according to people briefed on the matter.

The decision to sell the privately held company, expected to be announced today, is a surprise move by the company’s eccentric founder, Dov Charney, who is known for exercising strict, and at times controversial, control over the retailer’s operations.

Mr. Charney, who grew up in Montreal, has personally photographed many of the semi-naked women featured in American Apparel advertising and is known for hiring employees, most of them women, on the spot during telephone calls or at parties.

American Apparel’s buyer, the Endeavor Acquisition Corporation, is a small, publicly traded investment group created last year, with less than $125 million in assets. American Apparel is the firm’s first acquisition — and Endeavor is expected the chain across the globe.

Endeavor Acquisition was founded as a so-called “blank check” firm, intended to buy companies, by Jonathan J. Ledecky, who started U.S. Office Products in 1994, expanding it through 260 acquisitions. U.S. Office Products filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001, a few of years after Mr. Ledecky left.

Mr. Charney, 37, will remain chief executive of American Apparel after the sale, according to people with direct knowledge of the deal, who discussed the transaction on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

American Apparel, founded in 1997 in Los Angeles, quickly became a retail sensation, with 145 stores and Gap-like ubiquity with seven stores in Los Angeles and 15 in New York City.

But its sales have slowed significantly in the last year. At stores open at least a year, a crucial measure in retailing, revenue rose 7 percent in 2006, compared with 74 percent in 2004 and 45 percent in 2005, according to documents prepared by Endeavor.

Still, Endeavor predicted in the documents that American Apparel could reach 800 stores worldwide, which would make it as large as established retail brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle Outfitters.

“I think we will get beyond that” number, Mr. Charney said in an interview. “It’s all about manifest destiny. Wherever FedEx goes, we will go.”

Under the terms of the deal, Endeavor valued American Apparel at $382.5 million, people involved in the purchase said. Endeavor will pay about $250 million in restricted stock; assume $110 million in debt; and pay $23 million in bonuses, restricted stock and stock options to top employees. Endeavor will be paying about 12.7 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization on American Apparel’s $30 million in earnings this year, a significant premium given the chain’s profits. But earnings are expected to grow to $50 million next year.

Mr. Ledecky said he became interested in American Apparel after several young analysts at his firm, which has a casual dress code, started showing up to work wearing the retailer’s signature T-shirts and polos.

Both Mr. Ledecky and Mr. Charney declined to discuss details of the transaction.

At the heart of American Apparel are two threads: a high-minded business model that requires clothes to be made in the United States at double minimum wage, and a retro-chic that glamorizes the T-shirt-and-jeans simplicity of the 1970s and 80s.

All of the clothing is made at a factory in downtown Los Angeles, instead of overseas, where most of Endeavor’s competitors make their apparel. The retailer subsidizes employees’ health care, and provides meals as well as free English classes.

The message has won over thousands of young urban residents — Mr. Charney refers to them as “Young Metropolitan Adults” — who flock to the chain for bright-colored T-shirts, leggings and underwear. American Apparel is expected to have $275 million in sales this year.

But as American Apparel has expanded, its founder, Mr. Charney, has been dogged by accusations of sexual harassment and a management style that could make it hard for him to operate within the traditional boundaries of a publicly traded company.

Mr. Charney has gained a reputation as the Hugh Hefner of retailing, decorating his stores with covers of Penthouse magazine and admitting in interviews to sleeping with employees. In lawsuits filed in 2005, several employees charged him with creating a work environment in which women did not feel safe.

They claimed in the lawsuits, for example, that Mr. Charney conducted job interviews in his underwear and gave a vibrator to at least one female worker. Mr. Charney has denied the charges, and judges have dismissed some of the lawsuits against him.

In the interview, Mr. Charney said that the media had “exploited American Apparel on certain issues,” adding, “I would never do an interview in my underwear.”

Speaking generally, Mr. Charney commented, “I think that like everyone, I have made my mistakes.” But he continued, “We have run this company well, having the fastest retail rollout in American history. I am proud of my team.”

As a result of the lawsuits, however, American Apparel employees must now sign a document that declares: “American Apparel is in the business of designing and manufacturing sexually charged T-shirts and intimate apparel, and uses sexually charged visual and oral communications in its marketing and sales activity.”

Mr. Charney said that, in keeping with his policy of paying seamstresses above-average wages, he would ensure that low-level employees receive stock in the company, likely worth up to several thousand dollars.

“I want this deal to reflect the culture of the company,” he said. “I look forward to circulating a memo in Spanish when this deal closes.”

===Chipotle Mexican Grill purchases all uniforms through American Apparel

Paul Taylor, Hitting Close To Home -

If anyone doubted who the savage character in the suit and tie was supposed to represent in Paul Taylor's unsparingly brutal antiwar work 'Banquet of Vultures,' Taylor himself minced no words in explaining.'Frankly, the guy in the red tie is Bush,' the ordinarily reticent choreographer told the audience during a discussion after Friday's richly textured performance of the Paul Taylor Dance Company at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Taylor said he was inspired to create a dance focusing on President Bush after watching him move.
The Paul Taylor Dance Company, shown in rehearsal, performed 'Banquet of Vultures' on Friday night.
The first time I saw Bush walking, on television, I did not trust the man,' he said. 'His walk is a lie.'Walks are like fingerprints,' he continued. 'They tell a lot about us. And this one was not sincere.'Taylor's own body language, his animated demeanor, his very willingness to speak colorfully in a large public forum made clear how pleased this native Washingtonian was that 'Banquet of Vultures' -- an obvious denunciation of the Iraq war and the politicians who started it, a work that Taylor created last year -- was being seen just a short hop from the White House.
Taylor puts his self-described presidential figure right in the middle of the battlefield, watching stonily as agonies fell the troops. Trusnovec, all angles and edges, dances the role with surgical exactitude, and his eyes were sharpest of all, cold and unflinching. After he violates a female recruit, kills her and tosses her aside, the spotlight shifts upstage to a second power figure in a suit and tie. Wracked as if by inner demons, throwing himself to the stage and rising again, this man is has a clear identity as well: He'll be the next sicko to wage war.

100-year-old receives college degree - Wonderful World -

WACO, Texas - When Marvin L. Hub Northen left Baylor University in 1929, he was one chemistry credit shy of graduating. This fall, the 100-year-old was finally granted his degree. Northen, who lives in a nursing home in Shreveport, La., did not attend Saturdays commencement at Baylor. But he was listed among the December 2006 graduates. He had a surprise graduation ceremony at his Shreveport church on Nov. 28 when he was presented with a Baylor diploma, a cap and gown and his official transcript. I didnt expect any of it. Of course, I appreciated it. It wore me out all day long, Northen said. Northen left Baylor because the Great Depression had hit and he needed to work to help his family. According to Glenn Hilburn, the retired chair of Baylors religion department, Northen has been participating in a class that can be substituted for the Chemistry 101 class he never took. Hes passed this substitute class with a grade of A-plus without even knowing it,D Hilburn said. Its Life 101. Hes mastered that course and mastered it well.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tom Toles Cartoons - (

World's tallest man saves dolphin

BBC NEWS : "The world's tallest man has saved two dolphins by using his long arms to reach into their stomachs and pull out dangerous plastic shards.
Mongolian herdsman Bao Xishun was called in after the dolphins swallowed plastic used around their pool at an aquarium in Fushun, north-east China.
Attempts to use instruments failed as the dolphins contracted their stomachs.
Guinness World Records list Mr Bao, 54, as the world's tallest living man at 2.36m (7ft 8.95in)."

Border Fence Firm Snared for Hiring Illegal Workers

A fence-building company in Southern California agrees to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Two executives from the company may also serve jail time. The Golden State Fence Company's work includes some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

`Non-notable' the kiss of death on Wikipedia

Casual readers might assume that Wikipedia's goal is a complete account of all earthly knowledge, but the site maintains a rather elaborate set of criteria for admission. The several thousand unpaid volunteers who write and edit Wikipedia spend a lot of energy ensuring that people, bands, companies and everything else meet what it calls "notability guidelines."

Let's sum it up this way: Not everyone is Wiki-worthy.

In fact, Wikipedia jettisons more than 100 entries each day, many of them from people who posted autobiographies after registering on the site. (Writing your own entry, as we will see, is "strongly discouraged.") The list of nominated rejects is posted each day on a page titled "articles for deletion," and because all of Wikipedia is transparent and public, anyone can watch the editors' votes roll in, and witness those ultimately deemed non-notable get cyber-gonged off the stage. Type "wikipedia deletion log" into Google for a peek at the latest.


Cassini-Huygens: Multimedia-Images

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wonderful World

Guantanamo Detainees Going to New Prison -

The U.S. military transferred the first group of detainees on Thursday to a new maximum-security prison at Guantanamo Bay designed to restrict contact among the prisoners and prevent attacks on guards.More than 40 detainees were brought to the $37 million prison perched on a plateau overlooking the Caribbean Sea from another maximum-security facility at the U.S. naval base in eastern Cuba, said Navy Cmdr. Robert Durand.The 178-cell prison, constructed beside another maximum-security prison built in 2004, will allow the base to phase out an older facility, Durand said.U.N. human rights investigators and foreign governments have called on the United States to close the entire detention center because of widespread allegations of abuse of detainees by guards. The United States labels Guantanamo detainees 'enemy combatants,' which accords them fewer rights than other prisoners."

More politics that just make you say, why?

My girlfriend recently heard an interview on Irish public radio about US Charity 'Send a Piano to Havana', a charity setup to send pianos to Cuba to help musical children get access to pianos, another on the list of item prescribed by the US embargo. I had a piano that my daughter learned on, my sister prior prior to that, but which I can't play and is now surplus.
Anyway, they're chock full of donated pianos, but according to their website, seeking funds to build a piano tuning school in Cuba.

I have the normal European dislike of the economic embargo imposed on Cuba (and hence the rest of the world's ability to deal with Cuba) by the US. I'm pitch deaf but all my kids are musicians. I can't imagine them not being able to be themselves because the US said no one could sell guitars, drums or pianos to Ireland."

Hero Catches Tot as She Falls from Second Story Window

ARLINGTON, Va. — It took a second or two for Jaimen Ortiz to fully comprehend what he was seeing: two toddlers playing in an open second-floor window, and one of them hanging from the window sill.

So Ortiz hopped a fence and ran to the apartment building. Just as he got there, the 2-year-old girl fell, screaming. Ortiz put out his arms and caught her cleanly, perhaps saving her life and certainly preventing serious injury.

"If I had delayed one more second, she would have fallen to the ground," Ortiz said through a Spanish interpreter, recalling the Oct. 13 incident.

Airport Security Nixes Heisman Trophy

BREITBART.COM: "Troy Smith's Heisman Trophy was shipped home because airport security would not allow the Ohio State quarterback to take it on the plane Tuesday. Smith wore a black leather jacket with the Heisman insignia on back when he arrived at the airport from New York, where he was presented college football's most coveted trophy. Eddie George, the last Buckeye to win the Heisman in 1995, had his trophy get stuck in an airport X-ray machine, losing the tip of its right index finger and bending the middle finger. 'We decided to have it shipped. That's much easier. How times have changed. Eddie carried it on the plane and put it in the seat next to him,' sports information director Steve Snapp said. Smith said he didn't mind. 'No, because Eddie's finger got bent,' Smith said. 'I don't want that to happen to mine.' "

Monday, December 11, 2006

Burkina Faso comes to the rescue of alleged witches

(SomaliNet) Burkina Faso has begun a campaign aimed at ensuring that women chased from their villages because of alleged witchcraft enjoy their fundamental human rights.

Burkina Faso's Human Rights Ministry will offer these ladies with Identification Cards. It has come to the rescue of the women who often live in conditions of extreme poverty because they are accused of involvement in witchcraft.

"We are here to tell them, you are citizens," Burkina Faso's Human Rights Minister Monique Ilboudo reached to Burkina Faso's natives via the nation's TNB public television.

"We cannot exclude citizens through accusations that aren't backed up," she added.

Many women in Burkina Faso are often tortured for killing others using witchcraft. These are often thrown out of their villages when found "guilty."

The "soul eaters" are often forced to drink a crude intoxicant, which more often than not, forces them to affirm to the villagers' suspicion that they killed the victim.

Gore chases Oscar nod, possible 2008 bid - Yahoo! News

Al Gore is waging a fierce campaign for recognition and an Oscar statuette for his global warming documentary, while reviving talk that he's pursuing a bigger prize: the presidency.
His recent itinerary has been the ultimate in high profile. The former vice president made self-deprecating jokes on 'The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,' offered ideas on preserving the environment to Oprah Winfrey and her daytime audience and parried questions on Iraq from Matt Lauer on 'The Today Show.'
This Saturday Gore is hosting a network of 1,600 house parties across the country to watch and discuss his documentary, 'An Inconvenient Truth,' with the Democrat planning to address the gatherings by satellite hookup. The movie is on the short list of feature-length documentaries being considered for Oscar nominations.
Crisscrossing the country to promote the DVD version of the movie %u2014 just in time for holiday gift-giving %u2014 Gore insists that he's not planning a return to politics.
'I am not planning to run for president again,' Gore said last week, arguing that his focus is raising public awareness about global warming and its dire effects. Then, he added: 'I haven't completely ruled it out.'"

Music industry frets over popular guitar Web sites

Rob Balch sees himself as a music educator of sorts, and the thousands of guitarists who have flocked to his Web site would no doubt agree. At Balch's Guitar Tab Universe, he posted the chords and finger positions for rock songs--all the information needed to crank out a version of anything from the Rolling Stones' 'Wild Horses' to the latest U2 single. Music publishers, though, see Balch very differently: He's helping people steal the copyrighted sheet music they sell. So over the past several months, they effectively shut down Guitar Tab Universe and several other sites like it. The tussle over the online guitar tab, which is short for tablature, is another manifestation of the great clash between the freewheeling Internet and the cold reality of business law. It pits an industry struggling to combat what it sees as piracy against the Web ethos of swapping information for free. A similar battle played out in the much bigger recorded music business, with the industry scoring significant victories. But just as the record industry still struggles to contain illegal song swapping, guitarists can still easily find free tabs online."

Friday, December 08, 2006

Macaque is such a Menace

NEW DELHI - A top court reprimanded authorities in the Indian capital for failing to stop hundreds of monkeys from terrifying residents, news reports said Thursday.

As forest cover around New Delhi has shrunk, the city has struggled with a growing simian population. Government buildings, temples and many residential neighborhoods are overrun by hundreds of Rhesus macaques. The animals will occasionally snatch food from unsuspecting passers-by and even bite them.

"If you can't control the monkeys, what can you do?" the Delhi High Court acerbically asked representatives of the various municipal authorities in a ruling responding to a petition filed by the harassed residents of a posh residential neighborhood. The court asked authorities to explain "what measures were being formulated to find a permanent solution to the monkey menace in the capital."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Serious Use for Silly String - New York Times

STRATFORD, N.J. (AP) -- In an age of multimillion-dollar high-tech weapons systems, sometimes it's the simplest ideas that can save lives. Which is why a New Jersey mother is organizing a drive to send cans of Silly String to Iraq.American troops use the stuff to detect trip wires around bombs, as Marcelle Shriver learned from her son, a soldier in Iraq.Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo, which can shoot strands about 10 to 12 feet, across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, they know they have a problem. The wires are otherwise nearly invisible.Now, 1,000 cans of the neon-colored plastic goop are packed into Shriver's one-car garage in this town outside Philadelphia, ready to be shipped to the Middle East thanks to two churches and a pilot who heard about the drive.

Serious Use for Silly String - New York Times

New York Times: "STRATFORD, N.J. (AP) -- In an age of multimillion-dollar high-tech weapons systems, sometimes it's the simplest ideas that can save lives. Which is why a New Jersey mother is organizing a drive to send cans of Silly String to Iraq.American troops use the stuff to detect trip wires around bombs, as Marcelle Shriver learned from her son, a soldier in Iraq.Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo, which can shoot strands about 10 to 12 feet, across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, they know they have a problem. The wires are otherwise nearly invisible.Now, 1,000 cans of the neon-colored plastic goop are packed into Shriver's one-car garage in this town outside Philadelphia, ready to be shipped to the Middle East thanks to two churches and a pilot who heard about the drive."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

NY Post's Andrea Peyser Suckles, Slams Obama in Same Day

Radar Online: "As a political columist for a right-wing tabloid, it's tough to know just which Democrat to hate on. The confusion revealed itself yesterday in the ramblings of New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser, who completely reversed her views on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton from one edition of the paper to the next. That's right: Two different versions of the same column appeared in the paper on the same day%u2014one supporting Obama, and the other slamming him.
Depending on which version of her rantings readers encountered, Peyser either praised the Illinois Senator and probable 2008 Democratic presidential candidate as a 'rock star' who has admitted to coke and pot use ('About time,' she said), or chided him as 'The Rev. Al Obama.'
Post owner Rupert Murdoch is a reliable Republican propagandist, but he has a pragmatic streak that sometimes cuts against his politics. Murdoch famously threw a fundraiser for Clinton and bestowed his paper's endorsement upon her for Senate, but the Post's marquee gossip column is unsparing when it comes to the Clintons' personal lives.
The later version of Peyser's column, which is featured on the Post's website, slams Obama as a lefty extremist with no chance of beating Hillary. Could it be that the only thing the Post's puppetmasters might fear more than another Clinton is a skinny kid with a funny name?"

Cheney's Daughter Said Pregnant

Mary Cheney, 37, and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, 45, are 'ecstatic' about the baby, due in late spring, The Washington Post reported in Wednesday's editions, quoting an unnamed source close to the couple.The Post quoted the source close to the family as saying the circumstances of Mary Cheney's pregnancy will remain private. She and Poe moved from Colorado to Virginia a year ago to be closer to the Cheney family.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

WSJ will cut width, amongh other changes - Yahoo! News

The Wall Street Journal, whose wide pages and text-rich look have long been an icon of the American newspaper business, is about to undergo several changes that include cutting three inches off its width.
Along with the size reduction, which is equivalent to about one of its columns, the newspaper will add more color and graphical elements, including greater use of photographs. It also will have fewer stories 'jump' inside the newspaper.
The changes, which take effect Jan. 2, were to be unveiled at a press conference in New York on Monday. Robert Christie, a spokesman for Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the Journal, described several of the features generally but declined to provide fuller details ahead of the announcement.
Other major newspapers have also cut their width in recent years as a way to save money, including The Washington Post, Tribune Co.'s Los Angeles Times and Gannett Co.'s USA Today. The New York Times is planning to reduce its width in 2008.
Dow Jones says reducing the Journal's width will save about $18 million a year. It will bring the newspaper in line with a widely used industry standard, allowing the newspaper to be printed in far more places than it is currently.
As it is, the Journal can't be printed in Hawaii because it can't find presses wide enough to accommodate its size, meaning the papers have to be flown in, Christie said.
Years ago, many major U.S. newspapers were printed in a size similar to the Journal, but most have since cut back, according to Michael Grady, director of production operations at the Newspaper Association of America."

Youths want no migration control

BBC NEWS: "Four out of five youngsters believe people should be able to live in any country they choose, a BBC global survey of 15 to 17-year-olds suggests.
Two-thirds also say that they would emigrate to secure a better future, and one in seven said they would risk their life to reach another country.
The results come from a survey of 3,000 teenagers in 10 cities as part of the BBC's Generation Next series.
The young people were quizzed on a range of contemporary political issues.
The key areas of questioning were immigration, climate change, terrorism and war, crime, religion, education, global population and honesty.
The 10 key cities involved in the poll were New York, Nairobi, Cairo, Lagos, Rio de Janeiro, Baghdad, Delhi, Jakarta, Moscow and London - though due to their sensitive nature, not all questions could be asked in all areas.
On the question of immigration, 79% thought that people should be able to live in whichever country they chose and 64% said that they would emigrate to secure a better future."

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Congressman faulted for Quran at oath

Daytona Beach News: "WASHINGTON (AP) -- Keith Ellison, who will become the first Muslim member of Congress next month, has offended some conservatives with his plan to use the Quran during his ceremonial swearing-in. The decision by Ellison, D-Minn., to use the Muslim holy book for the ceremony instead of the Bible triggered an angry column by Dennis Prager on the Web site this week. Headlined, 'America, Not Keith Ellison, decides what book a congressman takes his oath on,' Prager argued that using the Quran for the ceremony 'undermines American civilization.' 'Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible,' he wrote. 'If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress.' Conservative bloggers have picked up the criticism and run with it. Ellison was unavailable for comment Friday, but his incoming chief of staff, Kari Moe, dismissed the brouhaha. 'I think the criticism is being flamed by the politics of division that were rejected in the '06 election cycle,' said Moe, who worked for 10 years for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn. Moe, speaking in a telephone interview, noted that the tradition is for all members of Congress to be sworn in together on the House floor. It's in the photo-op ceremony that a Bible is used - or in Ellison's case, the Quran. But Prager argued in a telephone interview that the ceremony was no less significant than the actual swearing-in. 'Oh, that's the whole point - it's exactly because it's ceremonial that it matters to me,' he said. 'Ceremonies matter. Ceremonies are exceedingly important. That is the way a society states what is most significant to it.'"

Ho Ho, No? State Bans Santa Beer

On Calling Bullshit

Mainstream-media political journalism is in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant, but not because of the Internet, or even Comedy Central. The threat comes from inside. It comes from journalists being afraid to do what journalists were put on this green earth to do.
What is it about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert that makes them so refreshing and attractive to a wide variety of viewers (including those so-important younger ones)? I would argue that, more than anything else, it is that they enthusiastically call bullshit.

Calling bullshit, of course, used to be central to journalism as well as to comedy. And we happen to be in a period in our history in which the substance in question is running particularly deep. The relentless spinning is enough to make anyone dizzy, and some of our most important political battles are about competing views of reality more than they are about policy choices. Calling bullshit has never been more vital to our democracy.

It also resonates with readers and viewers a lot more than passionless stenography. Im convinced that my enthusiasm for calling bullshit is the main reason for the considerable success of my White House Briefing column, which has turned into a significant traffic-driver for The Washington Posts Web site.

Im not sure why calling bullshit has gone out of vogue in so many newsrooms why, in fact, its so often consciously avoided. There are lots of possible reasons. Theres the increased corporate stultification of our industry, to the point where rocking the boat is seen as threatening rather than invigorating. Theres the intense pressure to maintain access to insider sources, even as those sources become ridiculously unrevealing and oversensitive. Theres the fear of being labeled partisan if ones bullshit-calling isnt meted out in precisely equal increments along the political spectrum."

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Pretenders "Pop Star"

I've recently discovered that chrissie hynde is one of the coolest female musician ever. This video is from 1997, but its so funny, and sorta topical considering the ongoing pop star drama BS. See the Art Thief for a video that proves why she has the right to judge.