American Samizdat

Friday, December 31, 2004. *
... and to my great surprise, the redefinition is a movement toward sanity and compassion rather than a further narrowing of what is considered torture in the interest on the 'war on terror.' Thank goodness that Religious News Blog out of Europe reads the Daily Telegraph out of Australia so that I can learn what is going on in the United States where I live.
posted by Trevor Blake at 1:05 PM
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Thursday, December 30, 2004. *
I am often told I am "too angry." I have never totally understood what that means, honestly. "Too angry for what?" is what I always think. Too angry to be a submissive housewife? Okay, I agree with that. Too angry to be a complacent wage slave? Okay, that is true too. Too angry to sit silently by while my government commits what constructively amounts to international war crimes? Okay. Too angry to allow sexism without a counterargument of intellectual feminism? Guilty as charged. I guess maybe what I wonder about is not the "angry" part, but the "too" part. "Too angry" implies my anger exceeds what the situation warrants. "Too angry" implies irrationality, a loss of perspective, an emotional irresponsibility. I agree that I am angry. Even angry as hell. But I am not convinced that I am "too angry." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 2:12 PM
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I spoke to Gary and in the conversation he indicated he had a lot of evidence that did not appear in his writings. I cautioned him that the CIA might contrive to "suicide" him, and he indicated that if he died it would not be suicide.

The CIA has experts on producing authentic-appearing "suicide notes". If you ever get a report like this about me, you can be absolutely certain it was not suicide. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 2:09 PM
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Klintron's Brain is a tourist-worthy hub as always!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:52 AM
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After 25 years of state service, Patricia Freund's career is on hold at best. The reason, she says, is because she has been outspoken about beliefs that public employees should keep their religious lives separate from their work lives. Her downfall, she says, came after she questioned why co-workers, particularly supervisors, attend the governor's annual prayer breakfast, an event she went to in 2000 and found offensive.

But of course this is just an isolated event, and it isn't happening to others.
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:40 AM
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Wednesday, December 29, 2004. *
No Progressive or Democrat Should Use Netzero
. . . because they now employ, as their spokesman, that uber-prick Dennis Miller. Hey, Chachi, why don't ya just get Trent Lott in blackface singing the praises of Aunt Jemima while using Netzero, eh? Or, maybe you could animate a dead Iraqi baby so that it says, from between it's gurgling bloody lips: "Support the death of more Iraqi babies. Use Netzero!" Or . . . you could get Dennis Miller as your spokesman . . . how do the kids say?: it's all good!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:12 PM
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a priori

Amount US is giving to help Asia's tsunami recovery efforts: 35 million.

Price of 2004 US Presidential Election for George W. Bush (who stole his second term, as well): 40 Million.

Ya gotta have priorities, you know . . .

posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:24 PM
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Tuesday, December 28, 2004. *

     I finally got unlazy (plus access to a windows machine) and compiled Clint Curtis's program.  It works well enough.  He had replied to an e-mail from me...

Don't know why the code didn't zip correctly. Have attached a new zip and ftped to the site. Clint

     It doesn't prove much, either way, but my last comment on the matter suggested it was definitely bunk code.  All it proves, one way or the other, is that Mr. Curtis is a VB coder or knows one.  Anyone who wants to e-mail me with further questions can find me at Josh at Narins dot net.

posted by JoshSN at 6:31 PM
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Consider the ubiquitous grocery bag: Light in weight yet capable of handling hefty items. Cheap to produce. Given away virtually for free. Shoppers practically consider it a birthright to be queried, "Paper or plastic?" Yet production of the bags consumes natural resources. The bags frequently end up as litter, which has to be cleaned up. The plastic varieties are difficult for garbage haulers, recyclers and landfill operators to handle. And all of that costs money. [more]

At my local Kroger-owned QFC, they don't even ask you if you'd like plastic or paper about the half the time, and then when they do ask you, they never say, "Paper or plastic?" They say, "Is plastic OK?" No, paper please. I always thought paper was nominally better than plastic, and it seems by this article that it is. Alas, I should go back to carrying my old bike messenger bag around (from when I was actually a bike messenger) and putting the stuff in that.

Of course, this topic seems a bit irrelevant, but going back to the recent buyblue.org link, I have been thinking lately that if protesting in the streets doesn't do anything, and voting doesn't do anything (see Ohio, Diebold, Kenneth Blackwell the wannabe Katherine Harris, et al.), then I guess the only thing conscientous people in America can do these days is be more careful about where their money goes. Money--not democracy--is the only thing that affects Bush and his supporters (including Amazon.com, Home Depot, Taco Bell, etc.). Turn your back on Bush--and turn your back on them!

But keeping it all straight would take some research . . . I had previously thought of a device that would scan barcodes in stores to tell you where the product was made, if it was made with slave labor, etc. And then I saw someone else have the very same idea in Adbusters. You could call it the "SmartShopper" . . . and perhaps you could make it an add-on somehow to your iPod . . . both of which would make, of course, fashionable accessories to your bike messenger bag . . .
posted by Dr. Menlo at 4:30 PM
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. . . surely the mark of a man who has nothing to hide.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:46 AM
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Dupe-Meister Dub, Time's Madman of the Year
My latest poem about the Social Security scam Bush is trying to pull off is called
Dupe-Meister Dub.

I've also written a poem called
Time's Madman of the Year.

And I've given out a few blogger awards.
Some people are happier with their awards than others.
posted by Mad Kane at 10:39 AM
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Monday, December 27, 2004. *
George Carlin enters rehab center

While you hate most of the human race, this part loves and respects you for both the humor and the cranky old fucker that you've become. You take shots at the worst of us, and we are better for it because you make us think about the stupid pointless shit that we do.

I hope you find what you need to get well soon.
posted by platts42 at 1:40 PM
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Sunday, December 26, 2004. *
Republicans like to brag about the sweeping mandate that President Bush received o­n Election Day. But as he prepares for his second term, Bush approaches Inauguration Day with historically weak job-approval ratings, according to a series of new opinion polls. Unless there's a dramatic turnaround in public sentiment between now and Jan. 20, Bush will be sworn in to office with the lowest job-approval rating -- barely 50 percent -- of any president in the last 80 years, or since modern-day presidential polling began.

"It's striking how weak he is right now," says presidential historian Richard Shenkman, editor of George Mason University's History News Network. "You'd have to go back to Woodrow Wilson to find a president who was reelected in a position as weak as this o­ne. There's been no euphoria around Bush's win." [more]


Why, it's almost as if he didn't win! As if Kerry actually got more votes and somehow that was reversed! Holy Mass Perception, Factman!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:01 PM
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Bush never met a tree he didn't like . . . to cut down.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:58 PM
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Countdown to invasion "for our protection" in 3, 2, 1 . . .
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:55 PM
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Claiming Ohio’s 2004 election results were more troubling than Florida’s four years ago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson yesterday said Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry called it quits too soon.

"Kerry conceded much too quickly, before the facts were in," Jackson said in a conference call with reporters to discuss an ongoing challenge to Ohio’s election results.

"When he pulled the plug, the national media left as well," Jackson said of Kerry’s concession on Nov. 3, the day after the election.

Since then, a Jackson-led group claims to have uncovered a wide range of voting irregularities in the Buckeye State, including tabulations that contradicted early exit polls pointing to a Kerry victory, voting machine errors, absentee ballot counting errors and inaccurate directions given to voters trying to get to polling places. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:46 PM
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A National Guardsman who pleaded guilty to killing a 17-year-old Iraqi soldier said he shot the young man after they had consensual sex in a guard tower, a newspaper reported Saturday, citing court-martial records. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:29 PM
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Saturday, December 25, 2004. *
. . . via Medbh Sings.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 3:01 PM
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Happy Holidays from AmSam!


While we can all most probably agree that it is overcommercialized and downright silly, we can also probably agree that we are grateful for the time off work (except today because it is a Saturday, of course) and the additional time spent with loved ones. So laugh at the fat man in red (was Santa's obesity a portent of the future of the weight of America?), or the dubious (at the very least) claim that today some son of an old man in the sky with a big white beard who created everything (including the strings which hold the multiverse together) was born on this planet--but enjoy your mate, your kids, your parents, your grandparents, your sisters, your brothers, your nieces and nephews, your pets, your friends, your abode (if you are lucky enough to have one), and your meals (that, too). Hold the ridiculousness of Xmas at length while still enjoying the concept of peace on earth. We all need a break from that fastidious doom and gloom that is the administration of He-Who-Not-Be-Named, so take that break where you can get it. Be warm, be fed, and wish the same for others, eh?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:52 AM
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Not My Holiday, Actually; But Thanks Anyway
[The following is from Ron at God Is For Suckers...]

I don't celebrate Xmas; it's a Xian holiday marking the mythical birth of their mythical messiah, and so it's not my holiday. I don't object to the Xians celebrating; they can celebrate what they want. And although I wish we non-Xians would establish our solidarity in not celebrating their religious holiday, I understand and mostly don't condemn non-Xians who decide under pressure of family ties or their own personal history to embrace "secular" Xmas.

Although here in New York, people are more likely to do "Happy Holidays" (thanks no doubt to the fact that we have more Jews here than in most of the country), I still occasionally get a "Merry Xmas". I'm not offended; it's usually offered in a spirit of at least faux warmth. On the other hand, since it's clearly offered with the presumption that it's my holiday too (unlike, say, when I wish someone a Happy Darwin Day), I usually try to be pleasant but also correct the faulty assumption. So, my stock answer is "Not my holiday, actually; but thanks anyway." Sometimes the person seems slightly flustered and perhaps a tiny bit embarrassed at this, which seems like a mostly healthy reaction. Rarely do they seem at all huffy. Sometimes they ask me about Hanukkah.

But now that I'm the father of a 5-year-old, we get a little different taste: People ask my son if he's "excited for Santa to come" or some such thing. This I actually do find annoying. In fact, when the family went to a local restaurant for supper last Saturday, my son got two of these inquiries. He has, in fact, been taught that the appropriate answer is "We don't celebrate Xmas."

And when he gives this answer, it's clear the person who asked is embarrassed. I'd like to think it's because they've just been given a little remedial lesson in inclusiveness by somebody who still likes a sippy cup, and sometimes it is. But come on, folks, think a little. I know you're trying to be nice to my son. But unless you just think we're monsters for not doing Xmas (and you probably wouldn't, if we were Jews instead of Atheists), you've got to be able to recognize that saying to a kid what amounts to "looking forward to all those presents? oh, what's that, you don't get those? you poor deprived child!" isn't making his life happier. Aside from the whole creepiness of the imaginary old fat guy who sneaks into your house through the chimney in the middle of the night story, it's really not very decent of you to ask a 5-year-old to think about the ways he might be excluded from something like this.

So shut the fuck up. If a kid is talking about Xmas, or wearing a Santa hat, or whatever, fine. But asking random small children how excited they might be about the pile of loot that comes to all good kids on Xmas morning is pretty insensitive.

Another year, and we'll have taught him to say all that.
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:31 AM
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I brazenly stole that from Tom Tomorrow.

And here's a Christmas Wish from Riverbend:

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Christmas Wishlist...I have to make this fast. No electricity for three days in a row (well, unless you count that glorious hour we got 3 days ago...). Generators on gasoline are hardly working at all. Generators on diesel fuel aren't faring much better- most will only work for 3 or 4 straight hours then they have to be turned off to rest. Ok- what is the typical Iraqi Christmas wishlist (I won't list 'peace', 'security' and 'freedom' - Christmas miracles are exclusive to Charles Dickens), let's see:


1. 20 liters of gasoline
2. A cylinder of gas for cooking
3. Kerosene for the heaters
4. Those expensive blast-proof windows
5. Landmine detectors
6. Running water
7. Thuraya satellite phones (the mobile phone services are really, really bad of late)
8. Portable diesel generators (for the whole family to enjoy!)
9. Coleman rechargeable flashlight with extra batteries (you can never go wrong with a fancy flashlight)
10. Scented candles (it shows you care- but you're also practical)

When Santa delivers please make sure he is wearing a bullet-proof vest and helmet. He should also politely ring the doorbell or knock, as a more subtle entry might bring him face to face with an AK-47. With the current fuel shortage, reindeer and a sleigh are highly practical- but Rudolph should be left behind as the flashing red nose might create a bomb scare (we're all a little jumpy lately). By the way, until further notice, please send any emails to riverbend_baghdad@yahoo.com as I'm having some minor problems with the other accounts.
posted by river @ 3:57 PM
posted by Philip Shropshire at 9:05 AM
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Friday, December 24, 2004. *
The Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus is confident that at least a few U.S. Senators will join House members on January 6 to question the fairness of the November 2 election. John Conyers, Jr., the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, told Salon.com he doesn’t believe the Senate will repeat its performance of four years ago, when Black lawmakers sought in vain for one senatorial objection to “official misconduct, deliberate fraud, and an attempt to suppress voter turnout by unlawful means” in Florida, as Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) put it at the time.


“No, I think the Senate is going to go along with an inquiry this time,” said Conyers. “I don't think they would embarrass themselves to let this happen two times in a row… I just don't think the Senate would get caught in that position.” Conyers is careful not to name names, claiming he hasn’t spoken directly to a single Senator, but adding, “there are Republicans who support what I'm doing who haven't been willing to come forward.” [more]


Or maybe Conyers should get the Democrat of the Year award . . . let's hope he's right about the above. What would it take for the corporate media in this country to take the Ohio vote fraud story/investigation seriously? If one of the players was related to Scott Peterson?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:27 AM
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The Reason for the Season
Jesus was named Jesus and was born of a young woman, unless Jesus was named Emanuel and born of a virgin. Jesus' mother, Mary, did or did not remain a virgin for the rest of her life. Jesus was the grandson of Jacob or Heli or maybe somebody else. Jeconiah was one of his ancestors, unless he wasn't because that would mean Jesus was not the messiah. Joseph was or was not his father. The birth of Jesus as a Nazarene was fortold in prophecy, except that prophecy does not occur in the Old Testament. Jesus was fortold by Moses, except that prophecy does not occur in the Old Testament. Nevertheless, Jesus was born in Bethlehem or Nazareth or Galille. After Jesus was born, the young family went to Egypt or Nazareth. Good thing that, because King Herod ordered the slaugher of all male babies in whatever town Jesus was in, or maybe he didn't order that at all.

But don't let these contradictions regarding the nativity bother you. The religion founded around Christ, Christianity, can be found by reason alone. Unless it can't.

Merry Christmas!
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:12 AM
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. . . oh, now he's entering?

In the meantime, Christine Gregoire already fought and won. Gregoire gets the Democrat of the Year award, while Kerry should count himself lucky if somebody leaves him a pair of balls in his stocking tonight. I bet Edwards wanted to fight (and heard a rumor he fought Kerry over conceding the day after, to his credit) . . . Meanwhile, where is legislation banning paperless voting machines?

Still, this victory (so far, the Repubs are still thinking of ways to steal it, although they don't have a legal leg to stand on) in Washington gives democracy-loving Americans a glimmer of hope that at least somewhere in this country there are people who care about all votes being counted. Three cheers for Gregoire!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:13 AM
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Thursday, December 23, 2004. *


There's two things about the "debate suit bulge" that I was fairly confident of: that it really was some kind of device and not bad tailoring or a bulletproof vest, and that it was not a radio receiver to allow someone to prompt him.

The radio receiver theory never made sense to me because if he wanted to be wired, he would have used one of the commonly available receivers that are so tiny as to be essentially invisible (in-ear, bone conductor, whatever). Also, even Bush would have done better in the debate with a little coaching.

Here's a theory, however, that actually makes sense. It not only explains the bulge in a reasonable way, but also explains other Bush mysteries such as the decline of his verbal performance and increased klutziness.

(via MonkeyFilter)
posted by JohnFen at 5:33 PM
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WASHINGTON In one of the first signs of the effects of the tightening U.S. budget, in the past two months the Bush administration has reduced its contributions to global food aid programs aimed at helping millions of people climb out of poverty.

With the federal budget deficit expanding and President George W. Bush promising to reduce spending, the administration has told representatives of several charities that it is unable to honor some promises.

Groups have been told they will have money for food only in emergencies like that in Darfur, in western Sudan.

The cuts to charities, estimated by some charities at up to $100 million, come at a time when the number of hungry in the world is rising for the first time in years and all food programs are being stretched. [more]

Hey! The millionaires are suffering, too! They need their tax breaks!

And at the other end of the humanity spectrum, you have The Millennium Project, which plans to "significantly improve the human condition by 2015." What a lofty, noble goal! I guess just not as lofty to Bush and his friends as invading a sovereign country to plunder their resources and giving all his millionaire friends tax cuts. But hey, if you can't make the marvelous new global free market work for you--then you deserve to starve, right? Leo Strauss rules!
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:15 PM
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Florida Rules All Religions Equally Meaningful/less
Why did the Polk County Commission (Florida) decide to allow the display of a particular religion (go on, guess which one) on public property? "A group had asked to display a scene important to their beliefs; I felt we shouldn't suppress their right to do so," said Commissioner Samuel K. Johnson. So if a person has a 'belief' then they get to do what they want, right? Because to not let them do anything they want would be 'suppressing their right' to 'believe' something. And if their 'belief' is that the United States Consititution is a nice option but not actually connected to American law, history, tradition or governance, then they should not have their 'beliefs' 'suppressed.' Religion, and only religion, gets this special exemption from the law. Open up a social service agency and you have to account for every penny you take in and spend - but do the same work (or just say you do - there isn't any oversight) and call it religious and you get to do anything you want with no accountability. We've had a few thousand years of moderately well documented history now - what usually happens when religion gets to trump the law?

The area where the religious display is located has been declared a 'public forum' for any sort of disply. Shrines for Zoroastrianism and Festivus have already gone up. So Florida has ruled that all religions are equally meaningful, or meaningless, depending. But only religion gets to circumvent the law; when was the last time a secular display, or an advertisement, or a work of art, was allowed to be posted anywhere the creator wanted because they 'believed' in it?
posted by Trevor Blake at 9:58 AM
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. . . now they're looking for him . . .
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:00 AM
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Wednesday, December 22, 2004. *
From Reason Magazine:


Many of the most loudly trumpeted complaints in this vein are, after all, complaints about the absence of special treatment: no special spot for the Ten Commandments in the courthouse rotunda; no pride of place for Christmas among those happy winter holidays; no exceptions for the Christian charity.

Since "special rights" has been a term of aspersion among conservatives for decades, would-be theocrats have at least the decency to be too ashamed to demand them explicitly. Instead, they've learned the power of the victim narrative, of framing the debate to cast themselves as underdogs.

[...]

The stratagem is so perverse as to be almost admirable: Take a holiday associated with sentiments like peace and goodwill, mix in some well-intentioned attempts to acknowledge it in an inclusive way suited to a pluralistic society, and then use the combination to generate fear, divisiveness, and high ratings.


via Sauceruney
posted by Klintron at 3:34 PM
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"Nearly half of all Americans believe the U.S. government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim-Americans, according to a nationwide poll."

Didn't see this linked anywhere else on the site... via Stupid Evil Bastard.
posted by Klintron at 3:31 PM
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Spider Man! Bat Man! Spider Man! Bat Man!
When I was a freshman in high school, it was very important to be known as someone who liked Marvel Comics and disliked DC comics. If you were especially cool then you would be buying First or Eclipse Comics, and if you were a little older you would have some Rip Off Press. It wasn't so much that I could articulate a difference between any of these comics, but it was very important to be vocal as to which ones were cool and which ones were dumb.

That's the feeling I got reading Tear Down the Cross by John Gorenfeld. Gorenfeld reports people being very upset about some Christians being in favor of crosses at their church while other Christians are in favor of taking down crosses. Both Presidents Bush have voiced their support for leaving / removing crosses, and the answer might surprise you. The main force behind removing the crosses may also be of note, particularly with their connection to the White House. But what comes to mind most is the foolishness of getting upset about symbols.

A symbol, by definition, is standing in for something else. It is the difference between a map and a place, between a word and a thing. Whatever happens to the symbol does not, magically, happen to the thing. If that kind of magic worked, wouldn't it make sense that humanity would use it (for good or ill)? If music can cause people to do things, why aren't we all in love from the love songs on the radio? If pornography can cause people to do things, why aren't we all having sex (or not having sex)? A symbol doesn't make anyone do anything; at most, it can make a person feel better about doing something they were already inclined to do. In this case, the symbol in question represents not a thing or a place or a person but a ghost story not based in reality. And a ghost story that says if you do as you're told by people who are doing as they have been told by an invisible monster that lives in the sky, then you can do anything you want and then click your heels three times (sorry, I mean 'pray for forgiveness') and it's like it never happened. It's just like how I thought about comic books when I was around thirteen years old. Except I grew out of it, and I never tried to legislate my preferred symbols into the law of the land or flew airplanes into buildings over it. I still like comics, but I know now that a good comic is where you find it and brand allegiance is a game only the owners of the brands can win.
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:47 AM
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Score One For The Good Guys

Yahoo! News - Bush Monkey Picture Shown on Giant Billboard




Organizers expect more than 400,000 drivers to see the billboard each day for the next month.
posted by platts42 at 9:45 AM
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Tuesday, December 21, 2004. *
It's nice to know that some tough, smart people are kicking ass.
posted by Deleted at 9:18 PM
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That's the question Left I on the News asks after noting a kernel of info in this Agence France Presse article on the recent American assault on Fallujah:
The US-backed government put rebel losses at more than 2,000, although unit commanders later revealed their troops had orders to shoot all males of fighting age seen on the streets, armed or unarmed, and ruined homes across the city attest to a strategy of overwhelming force.
Tune in 30 years from now for a new book by a consortium of Abrams Tank Veterans For Truth denying this ever happened.
posted by Bill at 1:10 PM
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U.S. meat plants are allowing brains and spinal cord from older cattle to enter the food supply, violating strict government regulations aimed at preventing the spread of mad cow disease, a federal meat inspectors union said on Monday.

Nearly a year after the first U.S. case of mad cow disease, meat plants have yet to implement measures required by the U.S. Agriculture Department to protect consumers, said the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals.

"We are seeing little to no change at these plants," said Stan Painter, the union's chairman.

The USDA has said its ban on brains, spinal cord, eyes and other so-called specific risk material (SRMs) was the most important action it has taken since the discovery of mad cow disease in the United States.

The deadly disease is carried within the infected animal's brain and nervous system and can be spread to humans when eaten. Older cattle, over 30-months of age, are thought to be at higher risk for mad cow disease than younger animals. [more]


And yet people make fun of vegetarians and vegans? People who are not interested in eating animal corpse--especially their spinal cords and brains which may be infected with Mad Cow Disease? These are people to laugh over?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:02 AM
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Monday, December 20, 2004. *

Welcome to America the Dictatorship. When it comes to caring about Democracy, the Ukraine kicks our ass all over the place.

posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:42 PM
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A document released for the first time today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq. Also released by the ACLU today are a slew of other records including a December 2003 FBI e-mail that characterizes methods used by the Defense Department as "torture" and a June 2004 "Urgent Report" to the Director of the FBI that raises concerns that abuse of detainees is being covered up.

...The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that the President directly authorized interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and "sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc." The ACLU is urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order and immediately to release the order if it exists. The FBI e-mail, which was sent in May 2004 from "On Scene Commander--Baghdad" to a handful of senior FBI officials, notes that the FBI has prohibited its agents from employing the techniques that the President is said to have authorized.
More good stuff from the ACLU's FOIA mining operation, here.
posted by Bill at 6:34 PM
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For the umpteenth time in the past three years, everybody's jumping on the bandwagon aimed at Donald "Tuff Shit" Rumsfeld, our Secretary of Offense.

Don't you get it? The Dumbocrats see him as the easiest target; the Repoobs see him as an embarrassment. The fact is that Rummy was hired to carry out the core military policies of PNAC and the Doubleduh-Cheney Gang, i.e. fight wars cheaply, make the military unattractive to all but the hardest-core Rambo wannabes, develop as many high-tech meta-weapons as possible (seen the DARPA site lately?), encourage privatization of ALL military functions (including soldiering).

None of this stuff was created by Rummy ('tho he absolutely LOVES it). So we fire the stupid SOB - what then? My point, of course, is that we can change all the faces, but the dicks are still there.
posted by total at 8:25 AM
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Summary : the concerns of the American religious right about "societal decay" in American culture, in 1960's through the 1990's, were actually grounded in empirical fact - rates of violent crime, murder, teenage pregnancy, divorce, declines in SAT and other test scores, and a broad range of other proxy measures for societal pathology, or dysfunction, peaked in the late 1980's to the mid 1990's. In other words symptoms were real and - in mocking those concerns, the left goaded the religious right towards a paraxysm of hatred and political activism to the point where it can now forcibly legislate it's solutions to these presumed societal ills. But those solutions are based in magical thinking - in fact, there was a common factor which accounted for most of those trends. It was not the removal of the Bible from US classrooms : It was leaded gasoline.



posted by Bruce Wilson at 7:59 AM
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US Dept of Energy office supports Peak Oil theory

US Dept of Energy office supports Peak Oil theory EB / DoE, DoE -- December 17, 2004; An office of the US Department of Energy addresses - and supports - Peak Oil research in this unusually frank document, Strategic Significance of America’s Oil Shale Resource. An essential reference.

A "wealth" of related information is available at EnergyBulletin.net.

posted by Michael Miller at 1:11 AM
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Saturday, December 18, 2004. *
In the Spirit of Tolerance and Diversity
Personally, I think the whole monotheism thing is just a bad idea. But, in the spirit of tolerance and diversity, I felt I should point out this site I just came across.

It's not good to over-generalize, and I am often guilty of lumping all Christians together into one hate-filled bunch. Here is a cool anti-war protest strategy called "ghosting."
The New Yorker has lampooned possibly the most noteworthy ghost-type -- the lone figure patrolling city streets with a sign saying 'The End is Nigh'. Ghosting should not be confused with Gandhi's tactic of 'Haunting', whereby the poor would silently and swiftly confront the affluent by standing briefly on a golf course.

...
We are driven by an overriding concern for social and economic justice. Several of us have a strong spiritual connection to God. We have no master plan for making a better world. But with the right tools, operated within a true democracy and guided by the principles of our founders -- such as, "we are all created equal"—we could collectively create a better world. We have faith that our fellow Americans will not let us down or harm us. We are willing to take the risk and make ourselves vulnerable so that all people may be empowered.
posted by Dave at 3:48 PM
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Really, has the Bush administration ever met an Earth-hostile chemical they didn't like? George Bush: Master of Earth Disaster! Can a Bush He-Man doll replete with nuclear waste be far behind?
posted by Dr. Menlo at 2:32 PM
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Becoming a Harbinger
I recently asked Dr. Menlo if I could sign on to his group blog, American Samizdat, as a harbinger. And recently, he announced me as a new harbinger on his own blog.

I decided to join based on my distress over media coverage of the U.S. presidential election, especially on television. The inability (or unwillingness) of the media to counter the disinformation released by the so-called Swift-Boat Veterans for Truth this summer was a turning point for me. As a result, I found myself increasingly turning to alternative outlets for news and opinion, including American Samizdat.

Now that the election is over, I believe the situation of the press in this country is only going to get worse. Already, the conservative marketing of lies has grown bolder: the economy is in great shape, incompetents are praised as heroes, there is no torture happening. My blood ran cold when I heard about William Donahue's recent statements on MSNBC. "And I'm not afraid to say it," he claimed.

It is becoming easier and easier to say these hateful things in the U.S., and eventually we will grow used to hearing them. That's why I've chosen to speak out now, by joining American Samizdat.
posted by Teresa at 11:21 AM
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According to Michael Schwartz, here are some of the proposed new "rules" to be put in place by the US military for Fallujah's returning residents:

  • Entry and exit from the city will be restricted.

  • Fallujans are to wear their universal identity cards in plain sight at all times.

  • No private automobiles will be allowed inside the city.

  • Only those Fallujans cleared through American intelligence vettings will be allowed to work on the reconstruction of the city.

  • Those engaged in reconstruction work -- that is, work -- in the city may be organized into "work brigades."
Ah, the sweet smell of liberation, just above the stench of burnt and decaying corpses.
posted by Bill at 4:06 AM
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Friday, December 17, 2004. *

The Press-Enterprise in San Bernardino County, California, ran a feature story this morning on Murphy, the county's latest narc, a presumably cute and loveable drug dog who in the last month alone has helped to interdict 67 pounds of drugs and $295,000 of cash that 'apparently had passed though the fingers of people who had handled narcotics.'

[ka-snip!]

It turns out that a phenomenally high percentage of the paper currency in circulation has traces of drugs on it, particularly cocaine, users of which sometimes use rolled up bills for snorting. For example, in 1999 Thomas Jourdan, the chief of materials and devices at the FBI Laboratory in DC, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that 85-90% of the cash in circulation has measurable amounts of cocaine. Though Jourdan didn't think a properly trained drug dog would react to that level of cocaine presence, but other experts drew cautions.

Clearly a drug dog's reaction to cocaine on a stack of bills does nothing to prove that the person in possession of the currency at that time earned it through an illicit transaction, even if such a transaction took place in the past. So I'm not sure how confident we should be that some of the $295,000 Deputy Hague picked out with Murphy's help was not the legitimately accumulated earnings of wholly innocent people. All of a sudden it doesn't sound so cute anymore.

Via del.icio.us
posted by Shannon at 11:25 PM
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In the plastic bag with its newspaper this Sunday, The Colorado Springs Gazette will be distributing New Testament bibles to all 91,000 of its subscribers. The paper will get $36,000 from the International Bible Society for mixing church and fourth estate.

via Romenesko
posted by RHerman at 8:02 PM
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What Harm Is There in the Kooky Parts of the Bible?
Everybody knows that the Bible contains some kooky parts. So there's no harm done if they never get ammended, or if clergy never bluntly say 'you know, some of that stuff is just two-thousand year old superstition and nonsense' - right? Except when mothers cut off their children's arms because the Bible told her to. Or fathers mutilate their son's genitals with a hunting knife because the Bible told him to. Or sons strangle their father, because the Bible told him to. Or when a juror uses the Bible to sentance a person to death in court. Or when a serial killer quotes the Bible while raping and murdering women. Or... well, you get the idea.

[reply]

Really? Well, no one has ever suggested that to me before. You say that these are bad people who use the Bible to justify their bad behavior, and that the Bible itself is good or at least neutral? I'm in partial agreement: no book or song or picture has ever made anybody do something they weren't already inclined to do. But I can say that some media lend themselves to atrocity more than others. And a book that says if you pay lip service to an invisible monster that lives in the sky then you can do anything you want and be 'forgiven' is right up there in ultimate excuses for atrocious behavior. The Bible shouldn't be banned - just demoted to the boring collection of ghost stories that it really is.
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:55 AM
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Strategies for the New Resistance: Secession.



Perhaps you've seen this flag. I think the man behind it is probably joking.

On the other hand, I sincerely hope that the people behind Move On California are quite serious. I support them. There has to be a more vigorous way to show our dissent other than voting for Democrats who won't even fight for our votes. I can't think of anything more serious than secession. I might add that I'm willing to fight and die for things I actually believe in, as opposed to slaughtering Iraqi civilians for fossil fuels. It's aggressive. And it puts the right on the defensive. To use the crudely inappropriate football metaphor that our Moron in Chief uses to describe the War on Terror, we get to take it to them. We get to ask what's so great about the United States? You clearly don't give a fuck about us. We don't even have basic healthcare. We get to say that if you criminalize stem cell research or a woman's right to choose, then we're out of here. I've emailed those Move On folks and I'm not clear if they've thought of the ballot initiative. I guess there's a question of legality and this is where you would need some leadership with some balls that would say: "You just try and stop us from taking this vote and you'll have a civil war on your hands." And for some strange reason I could imagine Arnold mouthing those words. Offer him a shot at being the King of Cascadia or something, or vote someone in who has the guts to move for radical change. Time it for the 2006 Gubernatorial elections. Condition it's adoption based on the choice issue or approval of transparency in the voting process.



If California could pull this off, then the rest of us could follow. We could create a Canadian Union. I'm ready for a radical change. How about you? This is what the new country might look like:




Again, I'm not sure where the MoveOn folks are at in terms of a constitution or the ballot initiative. But, again borrowing from Oliver Willis' Brand Democrat theme, here's how you could brand progressive change.











posted by Philip Shropshire at 6:23 AM
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New Tunes for the End Times


Here's a temporary distraction from the political stuff:

WELCOME TO PHIL'S ONLINE VID AND TUNE EMPORIUM. TURN IT TO 11.

For those of us who long for another Portishead record or keep on wondering what happened to that gorgeous vocalist who headed Esthero (Update: Esthero just put out a new album and the first song is here. Kinda of a rockin' tune where she says Britney and rapists of little girls (R. Kelly I think but that seemed consensual, urine notwithstanding...) get way too much vid time. Mentions MTV mediocrity by name. I guess I won't be seeing her video too soon..), Ilya might just fill your need for cinematic grooves and beautiful soulful lyrics. If you don't believe me, then watch the incredible video for Bellissomo. It's stunning. Trust me. You can watch it either here at Soundgenerator (A great online site for videos by the way in case you're sick of MTV. They do this relational thing where they point out that if you like Portishead, you might like Ilya. And they were right.) or at the band's site. And here's an interview with the band. The new album, blaring in my personal background, is called They Died for Beauty.

If you're looking for more of this kind of music, I highly recommend Soma online, which actually plays about several different brands of Acid Jazz. I usually have the Secret Agent stuff in the background...



All Hail the Return of the King: And speaking of stunning artists you won't be seeing on the MTV countdown anytime soon--or anywhere on MTV for that matter--Kaki King has a new album out. You might remember I declared Kaki the best female guitarist that I had ever seen, just narrowly beating out Joe Pass Protege Mimi Fox, also incredibly gifted. At her website, she has about three video downloads where you can check out her incredible Stanley Jordanesque tapping style. You can also find a Kaki King NPR interview, which features another video and four of her tunes.

Her compositions are just as mind-blowing as her technique. You're watching a living legend, once in a generation kind of artist. Now, if they would only play her on the radio. All Hail the King.

posted by Philip Shropshire at 6:10 AM
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Thursday, December 16, 2004. *
Buy Blue

. . . thanks Susan!

posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:33 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:00 PM
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Marines in Iraq conducted mock executions of juvenile prisoners last year, burned and tortured other detainees with electrical shocks, and warned a Navy corpsman they would kill him if he treated any injured Iraqis, according to military documents made public Tuesday.

[Aren't these the kind of things that President Bush used as a justification for the US invasion of Iraq? Does that mean other countries are justified if they invade the US? For the record, I do not advocate the invasion of the US. Only bringing GWB and his chums before an international court to face charges of war crimes.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 5:32 PM
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In the dream I had
bush cheney rumsfeld
and condi were all
that were left of the army
and a few talk show
hosts: hannity, boortz
limbaugh and o’reilly,
and a few thousand elderly
National Guard folks,
who cheated out of their
retirement had no choice
but to keep on fighting
(hell most thought it
was the same as WWII
anyway—senility will
have its way, it's true)
And Ann Coulter of course
was there too, shooting wildly
at the backs of our deserting
young troops, who were
wearing signs that read:
‘You’ve got to go to war
with the army you’ve got
not the one you wish you had.’
posted by rays at 1:49 PM
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"What is driving the resistance is the same thing that drove it during Vietnam - a lack of trust in the civilian leadership and a sense that the uniformed leaders are not standing up for the forces," says retired Army Col. Dan Smith, a military analyst with the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington. Colonel Smith doesn't expect the kind of "fragging" incidents that occurred in Vietnam where soldiers attacked their own officers. "This force is too professional," he says. "But the lack of trust and the inequity of the tours will very likely be reflected in the numbers of Guard and reservists who vote no-confidence with their feet."
posted by A.Q. at 9:20 AM
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On Sunday the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), already responsible for 3.8 million deaths, started again. If you missed it, you’re in good company.
See also, from earlier in the year: "Victim's licence"
posted by Bill at 1:13 AM
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Wednesday, December 15, 2004. *
Judge Ashley McKathan has begun showing up to his job wearing a judicial robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered on the front in gold.

The original article does not state which Ten Commandments Judge McKathan is sporting. But let's examine what the Bible-mandated punishments for violating 'The' Ten Commandments are...

1. Exodus 22:20: He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.
2. Leviticus 24:16: And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death.
3. Exodus 31:15: Whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
4. Exodus 21:15: He that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.
5. Exodus 21:17: He that curseth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
6. Exodus 22:19: Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death.
7. Leviticus 20:13: If a man lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death.
8. Leviticus 20:10: And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.
9. Mark 16:16: He that believeth not, shall be damned.
10. Malachi 2:1-4: And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart to give glory to my name [...] behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces.

... goodness me! It sure would be nice to know which Ten Commandments we should follow, since the penalties can be so rough. Being damned isn't a big deal: there is no hell, heaven, god or soul to suffer damnation. Having poop put on your face is nasty and can lead to infection, but worse things have happened. Worse things like entering a court room run by a religious freak who thinks an invisible monster that lives in the sky gives him special permission to kill people.

But enough of all that. Everyone knows that religion is good for you.
posted by Trevor Blake at 3:16 PM
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Tuesday, December 14, 2004. *
A vid.

Opinions?


posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:43 PM
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In the summer of 1956, Russian poet Boris Pasternak - a favorite of recently deceased Joseph Stalin - delivered his epic Doctor Zhivago manuscript to a Soviet publishing house, hoping for a warm reception and a fast track to readers who had shared Russia's torturous half-century of revolution and war, oppression and terror.

Instead, Pasternak received one of the all-time classic rejection letters: A 10,000-word missive that stopped just short of accusing him of treason. It was left to foreign publishers to give his smuggled manuscript life, offering the West a peek into the soul of the Cold War enemy and winning Pasternak the 1958 Nobel Prize in literature.

These days, Pasternak might not have fared so well.

In an apparent reversal of decades of U.S. practice, recent federal Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations bar American companies from publishing works by dissident writers in countries under sanction unless they first obtain U.S. government approval.

The restriction, condemned by critics as a violation of the First Amendment, means that books and other works banned by some totalitarian regimes cannot be published freely in the United States.

"It strikes me as very odd," said Douglas Kmiec, a constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University and former legal counsel to former Presidents Reagan and Bush. "I think the government has an uphill struggle to justify this constitutionally." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:04 PM
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"Witness says voting company tampered with machines after vote and tried to plant false information into Ohio recount" ( via The Blue Lemur )
posted by Bruce Wilson at 10:45 AM
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While it is sometimes easy to confuse the Democratic party with boneless animals such as Squid and Octopus we have in the NW a Democratic candidate actually fighting... of course, the Republicans are claiming the Liberal King Country district judges are stealing the election... hee hee - goes both ways.

Republicans are now "absolutely convinced that King County is trying to steal this election," said Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance.


Awwww... que lastima... where do I send a sympathy card?
posted by ben at 7:20 AM
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"Oh the juxtaposition part...See Kahle, via the NDIIPP, wants to make access available to all human knowledge to every human being, and then this morning I read this: The New York Times > Hearts and Minds: Pentagon Weighs Use of Deception in a Broad Arena, By THOM SHANKER and ERIC SCHMITT. So, the Pentagon wants to lie 'officially'? I mean, is that the point? Because it's not like they haven't been lying to us for years."

More The good, the bad and the bullshit
posted by rick at 5:52 AM
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Monday, December 13, 2004. *
If you believe that we are in a State of Emergency . . .

If you believe that the United States' government is now controlled by anti-democratic interests determined to bring the country to economic, political, and social collapse . . .

If you believe that the political system is fundamentally broken and that "adjustments" within the two-party system will not prevent further decay . . .

If you believe in the potential for democracy only through empowerment and nonviolent, sustained movement toward fundamental systemic change . . .

If you sense that liberalism and neoliberalism are as improverished as conservatism and neoconservatism . . .

(read more)
posted by total at 1:54 PM
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'We are going to win. It is a free speech right for students to receive alternative views,' said Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Centre.

What issue is Thompson hoping to bring before court after court until the Supreme Court makes a ruling in his favor? The issue of creationism (oops, new name, intelligent design) in public school. Science is in favor of examinging things from many angles, so shouldn't the 'alternative view' of creationism be offered in schools? Isn't it unscientific to only offer one view? And isn't it anti-free speech to oppose someone who claims to be for free speech? That's how the creationists want to present the issue. But that's not what's really going on.

First off, are we getting alternative views or crypto-Christianity? If we were getting alternative views, we would be getting all of the superstitions about human origins presented with equal time. But that's not what the creationists want - they want an unnamed but you-know-who monotheistic origin, not a polytheistic origin (as many other religions offer). Second, science does look at all possible explanations as possibly true or helpful but then makes desicions about which ones are more accurate than others. Having a 50/50 choice does not make the possible choices equally true or false. There is no evidence at all that creationism occured, and there are mountains of evidence that humans evolved from earlier life forms through a process of natural selection (non-random survival of randomly-generated traits). Third, part of the deal with living in the United States is not having a state religion. Some great nations have a state religion: France, for instance, seems to have its head screwed on pretty good in many ways, and they have a state religion. But if you live here, you don't get to use state power (ie tax-funded public schools) to promote a religion, or any religion. Don't like it, move to France.

It isn't a scientific issue, and it isn't a free speech issue. It's another way Christianity is seeking to roll back the enlightenment.
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:57 AM
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[I usually confine my posts to American Samizdat to American news, but this just takes the cake. And note that the article stresses that only an 'extremist' Muslim would plan such a thing. How can we know they were extremists? Because they planned such a thing. A real Muslim is a person of peace, and the Quran is a book of love.]

Justice authorities arrested a Moroccan man last month after receiving a tip-off that Islamic extremists were allegedly planning an attack on the Red Light District in Amsterdam, it was reported on Friday. The pizza-delivery courier allegedly conducted reconnaissance of the capital's prostitution zone while riding through the area during work hours on his scooter. He was arrested on 5 November. Newspaper De Telegraaf described him as a "radical Moroccan pizza deliverer".

The National Detectives Unit was alerted to the supposed attack plan by three anonymous emails, the first of which was received on 14 September. Emails dated 27 September and 11 October gave further details of the suspects and addresses. The emails warned that "terrorists in Amsterdam East" were plotting an attack on the Wallen area in Amsterdam, De Telegraaf reported. Muslim extremists, the paper said, were allegedly furious at the lack of morals in the prostitution zone.
posted by Trevor Blake at 10:36 AM
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In 1996, journalist Gary Webb wrote a series of articles that forced a long-overdue investigation of a very dark chapter of recent U.S. foreign policy – the Reagan-Bush administration’s protection of cocaine traffickers who operated under the cover of the Nicaraguan contra war in the 1980s.

For his brave reporting at the San Jose Mercury News, Webb paid a high price. He was attacked by journalistic colleagues at the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the American Journalism Review and even the Nation magazine. Under this media pressure, his editor Jerry Ceppos sold out the story and demoted Webb, causing him to quit the Mercury News. Even Webb’s marriage broke up.

On Friday, Dec. 10, Gary Webb, 49, died of an apparent suicide, a gunshot wound to the head.

Whatever the details of Webb’s death, American history owes him a huge debt. Though denigrated by much of the national news media, Webb’s contra-cocaine series prompted internal investigations by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department, probes that confirmed that scores of contra units and contra-connected individuals were implicated in the drug trade. The probes also showed that the Reagan-Bush administration frustrated investigations into those crimes for geopolitical reasons.

posted by Bill at 9:30 AM
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This is an excellent analysis by Stan Hister of the issues lurking behind "right wing populism" and the November 2 election results, which like countless post-election pieces uses Thomas Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas? as a launching point for a larger discussion about the future of class-based politics, liberalism, and radicalism.
posted by Bill at 8:46 AM
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The New York Times has an editorial today that in eloquent and searing prose describes how AIDS has become disproportionately a disease of young women. The numbers come from an Annual report from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization. Around the globe in the worst hit regions, young women are now two to six times more likely than young men to be infected.

The root causes: women kept ignorant of sex and sexuality until they marry, no legal rights to personhood or property; a large number reporting rape as their first sexual experience at the hands of family, older men who purchase them or soldiers who abuse them as an act of war. Warning: the WHO report is sickening to read; it is a compendium of every cruelty that can be visited on women because they are women.

The most effective weapon against poverty and exploitation, the one strategy that is proven to increase the health of families and the wealth of nations is the education of girls.

VIA Girl In The Locker Room
posted by RHerman at 8:24 AM
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[Sunday Herald] DEAD AND BURIED - Iraq’s civilian body count may go officially undocumented but the widows and the orphans know the true extent of the toll
“He was so polite and religious, but he was not a fighter,” said Um Haider, crying as she spoke of her dead son.

The day Ahmed was killed a tank had been destroyed by the Mahdi Army. She went outside with him to see what happened, and he was struck in the head by shrapnel from a rocket fired at fighters from a US helicopter.

“His blood was all over me while he prayed for God to save us,” she said...

Abu Khadim, sitting nearby sipping tea, spoke of his nephew’s death. “The Americans were taking everyone from the hospital in Sadr City if they were wounded, because they thought they were all Mahdi Army,” he said.

“So we took him out of Sadr City. But the next day, he died anyway.”

Ali, Ahmed’s 22-year-old brother, expressed the rage held by so many Iraqis who have lost loved ones to coalition forces. “When I grow older I will buy a Kalashnikov and I’m going to use it to shoot the Americans,” he said."
posted by platts42 at 7:16 AM
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Sunday, December 12, 2004. *
Reprinted for clarity:
1.  80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies:  Diebold and ES&S.
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diebold

2.  There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0916-04.htm
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html

3.  The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.
http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/private_company.html
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html

4.  The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/07/28/sunday/main632436.shtml
http://www.wishtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=1647886

5.  Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S.  He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.
http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2004/03/03_200.html
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/031004Fitrakis/031004fitrakis.html

6.  Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.
http://www.blackboxvoting.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=26
http://www.hillnews.com/news/012903/hagel.aspx
http://www.onlisareinsradar.com/archives/000896.php

7.  Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.
http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_28/b3689130.htm
http://theindependent.com/stories/052700/new_hagel27.html

8.  ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.
http://www.essvote.com/HTML/about/about.html
http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html

9.  Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes.  In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.
http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0225-05.htm
http://www.itworld.com/Tech/2987/041020evotestates/pfindex.html

10.  Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.
http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0225-05.htm
http://www.diebold.com/solutions/default.htm

11.  Diebold is based in Ohio.
http://www.diebold.com/aboutus/ataglance/default.htm

12.  Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.
http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,61640,00.html
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/10/301469.shtml

13.  Jeff Dean, Diebold's Senior Vice-President and senior programmer on Diebold's central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree.
http://www.chuckherrin.com/HackthevoteFAQ.htm#how
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf

14.  Diebold Senior Vice-President Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.
http://www.chuckherrin.com/HackthevoteFAQ.htm#how
http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf

15.  None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.
http://www.globalexchange.org/update/press/2638.html
http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/10/26/loc_elexoh.html

16.  California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad.  Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it!  (See the movie here.)
http://wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,63298,00.html
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4874190

17.  30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/07/28/sunday/main632436.shtml

18.  All -- not some -- but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.
http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,65757,00.html
http://www.yuricareport.com/ElectionAftermath04/ThreeResearchStudiesBushIsOut.htm
http://www.rise4news.net/extravotes.html
http://www.ilcaonline.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=950
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0411/S00227.htm

19.  The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is the President's brother.
http://www.tallahassee.com/mld/tallahassee/news/local/7628725.htm
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10544-2004Oct29.html

20.  Serious voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation.
http://www.yuricareport.com/ElectionAftermath04/ThreeResearchStudiesBushIsOut.htm
http://tinyurl.com/6nlhr
http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/tens_of_thousands.html
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1106-30.htm
http://www.consortiumnews.com/2004/110904.html
http://uscountvotes.org/

posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:29 PM
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Farewell, Mr. Moyers.

Bill Moyers, signing off, as quoted on Asia.News.Yahoo

"I'm going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee," says Moyers. "We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people."

posted by JoshSN at 8:47 PM
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Dr. John Caulfield thought it had to be a mistake when the Army asked him to return to active duty. After all, he's 70 years old and had already retired - twice. He left the Army in 1980 and private practice two years ago.

"My first reaction was disbelief," Caulfield said. "It never occurred to me that they would call a 70-year-old." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:58 AM
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Saturday, December 11, 2004. *
The Bush administration on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to allow Ten Commandments displays on government property, adding a federal view on a major church-state case that justices will deal with early next year. The administration's top Supreme Court lawyer, Paul Clement, told justices in Wednesday's filing that Ten Commandments displays are common around the nation and in the court's own building, the Capitol and national monuments.

"Reproductions and representations of the Ten Commandments have been commonly employed across the country to symbolize both the rule of law itself, as well as the role of religion in the development of American law," Clement wrote. Clement said the displays are important in educating people "about the nation's history and celebrating its heritage."

[Okay, that sounds fair. Let's also make sure to note that there are several unresolvably contradictory accounts of 'The Ten Commandments.' So to be sure that we celebrate our nation's heritage, we should post all of them. And all the main texts of all religions, existant and past, to make sure we honor the 'religious freedom' of all people. And all the main texts of secular thinking, too, just for fun. At all the buildings, in all of the United States. In six foot granite tablets. That sounds like a great use of tax dollars.]
posted by Trevor Blake at 2:24 PM
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A few years ago, a Mormon named Warren Jeff made his followers promise to drain the resources of the only bank in the area by taking out as many large loans as possible. Jeff convinced his followers that the Christian end of the world was just around the corner and since the economies of the world should collapse, they should buy things while money was still valued. This went on for years - Mormon after Mormon took out large sums of money with no demonstration that they could or would pay it back. The total was no less than $18 million USD. And at no time was there an investigation into this bank's strange practices.

The activities of the bank and Jeff and his followers were only revealed when the government investigated claims that Jeff was a polygamist. While investigating the possibility that Jeff might be having consenting sex with more than one woman, the state accidentally discovered his financial activities. So there's your priorities for the day here in the USA. If you take out so much money that you force a bank to be closed, and you do it in the name of religion, you might get away with it. But if you want to have a non-traditional sexual relationship, you better be ready to go to prison.
posted by Trevor Blake at 2:07 PM
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George W. Bush’s record-smashing vote totals in Election 2004 have two possible explanations that the mainstream press has kept off the table: the first is that somehow the vote tallies were manipulated; the second is that negative campaigning is far more effective than almost anyone wants to admit.
posted by Bill at 1:22 PM
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On November 22, 2004, I made this post at Metafilter.com ( which was deleted) : it compared the US 2004 Election to the Ukranian 2004 Election - called invalid by the Bush Administration and many international observers for numerous instances of vote fraud and voter suppression [ and, now tests show opposition candidate Yushchenko was poisoned with Dioxin] and the Ukranian Supreme Court has invalidated the results of that election. ] - and the post pointed out that - according to international standards for democratic elections, the US 2004 election would have been invalid from the start due to partisan control of the electoral process ( Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who ran Ohio's voting system, was co-chair of the Ohio Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign ).

Last week, a considerable amount of new evidence surfaced supporting the case that the US 2004 election was rigged - by voter supression certainly, and perhaps thorough vote fraud as well. These facts and allegations have now hit the mainstream media ( AP ) and Congressional hearings are underway.

But now new evidence of apparent illegality emerges : On Dec. 10, Kenneth Blackwell ordered voting records "locked down" (seized) from certified volunteers from the Ohio Recount team who were studying Greene County voting records for discrepencies a: "Upon [ their ] requesting copies of precinct records from predominantly minority precincts [ in Greene County ]", the local Ohio elections official present called Blackwell's office asking for a "lock-down" order that seems to be in blatant violation of Ohio elections law, which calls such actions "prima facie" evidence of fraud : "Ohio Revised Code Title XXXV Elections, Sec. 3503.26 that requires all election records to be made available for public inspection and copying. ORC Sec. 3599.161 makes it a crime for any employee of the Board of Elections to knowingly prevent or prohibit any person from inspecting the public records filed in the office of the Board of Elections. Finally, ORC Sec. 3599.42 clearly states: "A violation of any provision of Title XXXV (35) of the Revised Code constitutes a prima facie case of election fraud within the purview of such Title.""

Fraud : slam dunk.
posted by Bruce Wilson at 8:47 AM
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That he has Cuba as his number one target for investigation of terrorist money?  No, not al-Qaeda, Cuba.  Praise the Lord that he is getting a promotion!
posted by JoshSN at 7:25 AM
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Friday, December 10, 2004. *
Great column by Chris Floyd this week. A snippet:
When the devil comes knocking on your front door, looking for a way to spread his evil inside, he won't be sporting horns and a tail. He's going to come dressed as your sweetest dream, clean as a whistle, pious, sincere. He's going to speak your lingo, ape your ways -- and when he opens up his little box of poison, it's going to look like the heaven your mama sang about when she rocked you to sleep in your cradle.

Then one day, when the mind-fog lifts, you see him sitting at the head of the table, the walls of the room smeared with filth, dead bodies swelling on the blood-mucked floor, the still-living victims hog-tied and naked, screaming for mercy as the whipcords strike. He beckons you forward with a welcoming smile. You pause for a moment. It seems so strange: All this horror -- it would have once made you sick, but now it just feels like...home. You shrug, you grin, you take your place beside him at the feast.

In just this way, while Americans were finishing their Thanksgiving dinners and preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a series of stories exposed -- once again -- the torture chamber at the heart of their feast: a government gone insane, embracing terror, atrocity and tyranny. Yet there was no public outcry against these desecrations. Few even noticed; fewer still cared.
posted by Bill at 8:40 PM
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He lost his arm serving his country in Iraq.

   Now this wounded soldier is being discharged from his company in Fort Hood, Texas, without enough gas money to get home. In fact, the Army says 27-year-old Spc. Robert Loria owes it close to $2,000, and confiscated his last paycheck.

   "There's people in my unit right now – one of my team leaders [who was] over in Iraq with me, is doing everything he can to help me .... but it's looking bleak," Loria said by telephone from Fort Hood yesterday. "It's coming up on Christmas and I have no way of getting home." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:20 PM
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"We have to organize and become involved in well coordinated action which will involve any means necessary to bring about complete elimination of the conditions that exist . . . It takes action to get action." - Malcolm X
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:08 PM
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In Other Religious News...
Sam Bodman, former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, is the new Energy Secretary!  Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!

  Jim Nicholson, great and hallowed chair of the Republican National Convention during the Monica Years and President George Walker B.'s election, will be stepping up to take care of our Noble, Christian Veterans.  God Bless.

  Can't say any Hosannahs over the choice of Bernard Kerik, but it should keep the New Yorker's off our backs for a while.  After all, he's one of them.

posted by JoshSN at 1:57 PM
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Today in Religious History
There are any number of sources for religious news of today, such as Religious News Blog. But sources for 'this day in religious history' are harder to come by. Many thanks to Daily Rotten for gathering together these inspirational examples of the grand diversity of religious thought and behavior on this day, December 10th.

On December 10th, 1520, Martin Luther burnt the papal bull issued by Leo X, titled "Exsurge Domine", demanding an end to his heresies. Luther had published 95 points against the practice of granting indulgences, and the Catholic Church only had 94 points in favor of them. Luther was subsequently excommunicated, leaving him free found Protestant Christianity and author such works as The Jews and Their Lies. ["What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? ... First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. ... Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. ... Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. ... Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. ... Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. ... Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. ... Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam."]

On December 10th, 1792, the General Assembly of Virginia ruled "That if any do commit the detestable and abominable vice of Buggery, with man or beast, he or she so offending, shall be adjudged a felon, and shall suffer death, in the case of felony, without the benefit of Clergy."

On December 10th, 1958, Ralph Muller and Peter Kamenoff (two ex-members of the Fountain of the World) accost guru Krishna Venta at the religion's hillside compound in Box Canyon, Ventura County, California. The men accuse Venta of having had sex with their wives. Venta, the reincarnation of Jesus Christ formerly known as Francis Pencovic, is unable to placate the men. So they detonate twenty sticks of dynamite they brought. The three men are instantly blown to pieces along with seven other believers. Venta's remains are only ever identified through dental records.

And on December 10th, 1993, Adolf Hitler was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in a ceremony performed inside their London temple. Mormons use this retroactive baptismal ritual to ensure ancestors or other relatives may join them in heaven. Hitler, like Luther, had a thing or two to say about the Jews (although he got along just fine with the Roman Catholic Church).

Oh thank heaven for all the good things religion brings to us every day!
posted by Trevor Blake at 11:04 AM
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Halliburton, the Texas company once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, has been given more than $10 billion worth of business in Iraq so far despite critical audits and investigations into its work. According to figures released by the U.S. Army on Thursday, Halliburton unit Kellogg Brown and Root, the U.S. military's biggest contractor in Iraq, has work orders totaling $8.3 billion under a logistics contract to support U.S. troops. Separately, KBR was given about $2.5 billion in work via a no-bid, March 2003 deal with the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild Iraq's oil industry, the Corps said.

According to Hoover's, Halliburton's total revenues from 2003 were about $16bn, up from about $12bn the year before.

This means that the Iraq war contracts are far and away the main source of Halliburton's income. I wonder what they would have done if there hadn't been a war... Hmm.
posted by A.Q. at 10:42 AM
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US troops fire off another volley of shots amid the trashed houses of Fallujah, hunting down new adversaries carrying a potentially deadly weapon that threatens to plague reconstruction efforts.

But this time the marines are not chasing down the insurgents who they defeated in a devastating assault on the city last month. Their quarry is stray animals grown fat on the flesh from corpses and who could harbor rabies.
posted by A.Q. at 10:38 AM
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When he was four years old, Iqbal Masih was sold into bonded servitude by his parents, a common practice of poor Pakistani families hoping to pay off debts owed to landlords and local merchants. For the next six years, Masih was forced to work in a carpet factory—usually chained to a loom—for up to sixteen hours a day, six days a week. A small, sickly boy, Masih’s growth was further stunted by malnutrition, carpet dust, constant stooping, and beatings he received as punishment for his repeated escape attempts and occasional refusal to work. At the age of ten, however, Masih saw posters distributed by the Bonded Labor Liberation Front (BLLF), a human rights organization founded by labor activist Ehsan Khan. These posters revealed that bonded and child labor were illegal in Pakistan—a fact generally ignored by the local manufacturers and civil officials. Masih secretly contacted BLLF members, who helped him escape from the carpet factory. Soon afterwards, Masih joined the BLLF and worked with them to liberate 3,000 bonded children from textile, brick, and steel factories in Pakistan. (source)

Iqbal Masih was shot to death in Muritke, Pakistan on April 16, 1995. Because he received repeated death threats over the last weeks of his life, many thought Iqbal was a target because of his activities in fighting child labor. Pakistani authorities report Iqbal's death as accidental.

Applaud his life; remember his commitment; and vow to continue his work.

stop child labor
posted by A.Q. at 10:13 AM
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posted by Deleted at 3:10 AM
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Thursday, December 09, 2004. *
Rep Henry Waxman's report on The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence- Only Education Programs finding that these curricula, meant for children and adolescents, present "false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health" (including assertions that an abortion will make you sterile and that condoms don't protect against STDs) and stunningly outdated stereotypes about gender roles. This paragraph from the report made me whoop and then go grimly silent:

"Another curriculum lists 'Financial Support' as one of 'The 5 Major Needs of Women' and 'Domestic Support' as one of 'The 5 Major Needs of Men.' The curriculum states: Just as a woman needs to feel a man's devotion to her, a man has a primary need to feel a woman's admiration. To admire a man is to regard him with wonder, delight and approval. A man feels admired when his unique characteristics and talents happily amaze her."

The spirit of Phyllis Schlafly, if you remember her. I'd worked hard to forget.

VIA Girl In The Locker Room
posted by RHerman at 6:40 PM
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Since the war started in Iraq, the Pentagon says 5,500 U.S. soldiers have deserted, with some of them seeking refugee status in Canada, CBS reported Thursday.

Among them is 26-year-old Jeremy Hinzman, whose Toronto court bid for refugee status wrapped up Wednesday.

Hinzman of Rapid City, S.D., joined the Army in January 2001, and was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. He said he didn't want to simply get out of the Army.

'I had signed a contract for four years,' he said. 'I was totally willing to fulfill it -- just not in combat arms jobs.'

Following his hearing, his lawyer and the Solcitor General's office is expected to file written submissions by Jan. 24. After that, the judge said a decision would be made as soon as possible, the Toronto Sun said.

Meanwhile, other soldiers who were denied conscientious objector status are using the Internet to locate Vietnam-era resisters who assist and even drive objectors to Canada, CBS said.

via Propaganda Matrix
posted by ninah pixie at 4:21 PM
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U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the country, and advocates fear they are the leading edge of a new generation of homeless vets not seen since the Vietnam era.

"When we already have people from Iraq on the streets, my God," said Linda Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. "I have talked to enough (shelters) to know we are getting them. It is happening and this nation is not prepared for that."
posted by Bill at 2:00 PM
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Wednesday, December 08, 2004. *
Thanks, Ann, for 'allowing' Canada to Exist on the Same Continent as Murka!
Ann Coulter on Canada:

Canada has become trouble recently...It's always, I might add, the worst Americans who end up going there...They need us...they are lucky we don't roll over one night and crush them....they are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent.

Catch all the insane whack-job punditry here

I was going to suggest that you can still move to Canada, but it seems that Canada is now in Murka's sights too. I hear Finland is nice!
posted by Inspector Lohmann at 1:08 PM
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