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Welcome to the Me Show.
Saturday, January 31, 2004
 
  • Greg just brought this new CNN/AP article on William Krar, the Texas-based travelling cyanide-bomb salesman, to my attention. Having only skimmed it, I can't see any new information in it, but I'm glad to see the story's still getting coverage.
     

  • Friday, January 30, 2004
     
  • Now this is something I hadn't heard before: Islam permits prostitution, ahem, that is - fixed-term marriages, at least according to the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the primary Shia opposition figure in Iraq:
    In a fixed time marriage (Mut'ah), the period of matrimony is fixed, for example, matrimonial relation is contracted with a woman for an hour, or a day, or a month, or a year, or more. However, the period fixed for the marriage should not exceed the span of normal lives of the spouses, because in that case, the marriage will be treated as a permanent one. This sort of fixed time marriage is called Mut'ah or Sigha.

    (link via Riverbend)
     

  • Thursday, January 29, 2004
     
  • Blix Watch:

    My hero favourite weapons inspector is heading up a new commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction, funded by the Swedes. Meanwhile, he's writing a book on Iraq. Now that should be an interesting read.
     

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  • Condoleeza Rice's strategic ambiguity:

    In an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC about Iraq's non-existent WMD:
    Asked by Mr. Lauer why, then, the White House did not favor an outside inquiry, she said: "I think we simply believe that there is work still to be done. The Iraq Survey Group is trying to complete its work. In fact, the intelligence community has its own investigation, inquiry, going on into a kind of audit of what was known going in and what was found when they got there."

    She added, "No one will want to know more than the president."

    So, are we to assume that means the investigators will actually try to know less than the president, then?
     

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  • State-sponsored terrorism: Josh Marshall points out Richard Perle's ties to Iraq-based terrorist organization Mujahedin-e Khalq.
     

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  • Never forget, and if possible, never forgive:
    Exxon Mobil Corp. must pay nearly $7 billion in damages to the fishermen and communities affected by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, a federal district judge in Alaska ruled yesterday.

    It's been nearly 15 years and the 34,000 people hurt by the spill have yet to see any money from Exxon. "The spill affected 1,300 miles of coastline and decimated local fisheries," to say nothing of local fish and wildlife. So, is Exxon finally going to accept the consequences of its mistakes? No, it's appealing the decision again.
     

  • Tuesday, January 27, 2004
     
  • Novak shoves a guy, gets hit with assault charges. Heh. Via Eschaton.
     

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  • If you break the law trying to get elected, does the election still count? Apparently so:
    Arnold Schwarzenegger broke California's campaign finance laws by attempting to conceal the identity of his political donors from voters who elected him governor in October, a state judge has ruled. ...

    The judge found that Mr Schwarzenegger violated a state campaign finance law introduced three years ago by popular initiative intended to prevent wealthy candidates from lending more than $100,000 to boost their own campaigns.

    Mr Schwarzenegger's team of lawyers argued that, because the $4.5m came from a bank loan, not from Mr Schwarzenegger's accounts, they had remained within the law.

    But following Judge McMaster's ruling, his lawyers backed off and said they would abide with the court's findings, which will probably oblige Mr Schwarzenegger to return any campaign money received to cover the loan and pay the $4.5m out of his own pocket.

    ...But the issue is not likely to do more than superficial political damage to Mr Schwarzenegger's standing.
     

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  • I'm just reading through Monday's whitehouse press gaggle and thought that as a public service I would provide a simple and accurate summary:
    Reporter: Given the comments by Dr. Kay, does the administration continue to believe there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

    Scott McClellan, autistic spokesman: The president made the right decision, the president made the right decision, the president made the right decision, the president made the right decision, the president made the right decision, the president made the right decision. If you're speaking I can't hear you because the president made the right decision, the president made the right decision, the president made the right decision. Anything else?

    It's pretty damn unbelieveable. Everytime a reporter asks a question, McClellan says, "I'm sorry" like he's stalling while he remembers his line. The reporter repeats the question, and McClellan responds with a line which he then repeats as many times as it takes to make the reporter give up.
     

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  • If only I had more time, I would keep a very close eye on belinda.com --- oops, I mean belinda.ca. Stronach's website colours are downright disconcerting. One Martha Stewart in the world is plenty, thanks. From her blog:
    I too worry about the Canada that my children will live in. That's why I'm doing something about it by running. We need a strong economy to create opportunities for all of our children. We just can't stand still like we have for the last 11 years and let the world pass us by.
    Right, because the Liberals were, um, bad for the economy... Belinda, this is not an effective critique.
     

  • Friday, January 23, 2004
     
  • Canadian politics gets interesting: Politics, meet Money and Sex Appeal.
     

  • Wednesday, January 21, 2004
     
  • Three Poems by the Indian Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Former-Chinese President Jiang Zemin also writes poetry. Why don't western leaders publish poetry? Oh, I suppose there are those poems by Rumsfeld...
     

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  • If you haven't already, go read Josh Marshall's interview with George Soros.
     

  • Tuesday, January 20, 2004
     
  • Trent Lott (who only works for the devil), then and now on the subject of recess appointments, courtesy of Atrios.
     

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  • This is just stupid: France Adds Beards to List of Taboo Religious Signs.
     

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  • Word of the day: crapulent (KRAP-yuh-luhnt) adjective : Sick from excessive drinking or eating.

     

  • Sunday, January 18, 2004
     
  • Looking for a reason to get angry? www.bushgreenwatch.org.
     

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  • One tycoon down. Still a few to go.
     

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  • When idiocy reigns: First read this post by Kevin Drum about Richard Perle's hare-braned schemes of the 1980s. Then read this comment to that post about Dick Cheney's hare-braned schemes of the 1990s. The parallels of lunacy and hubris are striking.
     

  • Saturday, January 17, 2004
     
  • Hey, look, an asshole!
     

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  • Gore gave a speech two days ago on Bush's environmental record. Here's the link for the video and transcript.
     

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  • Um, those scientists don't work for you so, no, you can't make them change their results to suit your friends:
    The Bush administration is challenging a World Health Organization (news - web sites) report that outlines steps for nations to take to reduce obesity.

    Administration officials questioned the science behind some of the recommendations, such as limiting food advertising aimed at children and limiting fats, salt and sugary sodas. But consumer groups on Friday accused President Bush (news - web sites) of kowtowing to the food industry, some of whose executives are among his biggest fund raisers.
    (Via Counterspin)
    Yet another reason to revoke Philip Morris's corporate charter. Class-action laws, WHO reports, what else will Bush try to rewrite for the sake of the Republican Party's all-time biggest donor?
     

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  • Betty Bowers asks "Is President Bush a Homo?" Via Suburban Guerrilla.
     

  • Friday, January 16, 2004
     
  • BLITZER: Michael Moore and Madonna both support Wesley Clark.
     

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  • I for one am going to be looking closely at this site: www.paulmartintime.ca, which says it is "your source for critical news, analysis and parody of our recently unelected Prime Minister." The Liberal Party, under PM PM's leadership, are apparently suing the website for allegedly stealing Liberal Party intellectual party.
     

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  • The first victim of Bush's moon-launch-to-Mars scheme: the Hubble Space Telescope.
     

  • Thursday, January 15, 2004
     
  • Old Canadian News That's News to Me:

    July 4, 2003:
    Municipal court Judge Denis Boisvert found five people guilty of swinging-related offences, but he said in his judgment that "contemporary Canadian society tolerates swinging and swingers clubs if the sexual acts take place in private."

    Jean Hamel, president of the 8,000-member Quebec Swingers Association, predicted Boisvert's ruling released Friday will have national ramifications.

    "This judgment will affect all of Canada," Hamel said in an interview. "I don't think more clubs will open in Quebec but I think it will open doors for other places in Canada like Toronto, where they didn't have any clubs with sexual activities on premises.

    "So that will be a big change for Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver, because the only province in Canada that you could find sexual relations on premises was Quebec. Quebec has always been a pioneer with sexual practices." [...]

    At the heart of Boisvert's ruling was the notion of public sex versus private sex.

    "If the sexual acts take place in public, even among consenting adults, that is no longer swinging, but an orgy," he wrote. "And Canadians do not tolerate orgies or other Canadians participating in orgies." [...]

    A lawyer who defended a woman acquitted by Boisvert said there was cause for celebration for swingers despite the convictions.

    "This is good news because now we have a judgment establishing clearly that swinging is perfectly legal in Canada, depending if the act happens publicly or in private," said Bernard Corbeil.
    You gotta love this place. A liberal democratic state should not aim to enforce moral preconceptions on people. It should aim (among other things) to protect people from one another. What kinds of activities represent threats to fellow citizens is a matter for reasonable democratic debate. Private group sex between consenting adults is obviously not a threat to anyone. So, bravo to Boisvert, even if I am half a year out of date.
     

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  • Read the whole transcript of WaPo's online chat with John H. Gibbons, former Science and Technology adviser to Clinton, about Bush's moon-launch to mars plan, here.
    Alexandria, Va.: [...] What do you think the chances are that his program will actually be approved?

    Dr. John H. Gibbons : Extremely small. But, even the discussion is a diversion from reality. It didn't take Congress very much time or effort when George I made his proposal near the end of his term in office and I expect the same.

    Denver, Colo.: Two questions:
    Is there really that much new to discover about the Moon that we need to send probes and manned missions there?

    And, if the Moon becomes a base for further Solar System exploration, doesn't darn near everything need to be hauled out there from Earth, effectively defeating any benefit of a Moon-based exploration platform?
    Thanks.

    Dr. John H. Gibbons : First case, we know a lot about the moon now, which is why I talked about the claim of harvesting resources on the moon.

    The moon is a much smaller body than the earth with less gravity, so if you want to take off from the moon to go to mars, it takes much less energy. The problem is how do you get the stuff on the moon to go to mars? Its silly to think we could use the lunar resources to substitute for earth's resources in making a journey to mars. We're not even sure there's water there or how much it would cost to extract it, or how much it would cost to convert it to energy.

    These things are absolutely impractical. It's like project Sherwood: "Sherwood be nice if it would work."
     

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  • Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb! Read all about it here. (It's about the Moon.)
     

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  • Here's a nice story about a Rabbi and a bulldozer by Juan Cole.
     

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  • The electric utility industry has known for "more than a decade" that it was violating the Clean Air Act:
    Not since the tobacco industry's deceptions have we seen such a brazen corporate conspiracy to hide an intentional assault on public health," said John Walke, director of the clean air program at NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council). "This is smoking-gun evidence that the utility industry has been lying to the American people, its shareholders and the government for years."
    The corruption is, of course, not only corporate. The industry claimed either that it didn't know it was breaking the law, or that the EPA had in fact suddenly narrowed its interpretation of the law and then attempted to apply this new interpretation retroactively to make past behaviour look illegal. The Bush administration willingly accepted and supported the lies its industry friends were telling, even after it clearly knew they were lies.
    The administration's support for this industry canard continues, despite the fact that EPA won the only enforcement case that went to trial and has proved coal-fired plant owners knew all along that their emissions-boosting overhauls violated clean air rules.8 For example, in a speech to the Edison Electric Institute on January 9, new EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt said that "[u]tilities are ready to go to the mat because they believed they were in compliance with the rules, then had the rules changed and applied retroactively."9 He had to know that the utilities' claim is false.

    Moreover, it is ironic that Administrator Leavitt parroted the industry's claims that the rules were "changed and applied retroactively." The rules that landed the polluting utilities in court were in effect and well understood at the time the companies flouted them, but since Leavitt became EPA administrator, his agency has tried to change those rules retroactively to let polluters off the hook for past violations. This came in the form of an order that Assistant Administrator J.P. Suarez, who has since resigned as the head of enforcement, delivered to the agency's enforcement staff late last year. On November 4, Suarez directed the agency's enforcers to stop investigating and prosecuting past air pollution violations that would have been covered by a new, broader and illegal regulatory loophole that EPA had adopted on August 27 -- despite an assurance in the text of the August rule that "[t]oday's rule applies only to conduct that occurs after the rule's effective date" of December 26, 2003.10 EPA's unprecedented clean air enforcement reversal provoked an enormous public outcry and condemnations from EPA's own enforcement staff.11

    Since the recently disclosed utility industry documents were handed over to the government on November 1, it is now clear that the Bush administration made its November 4 NSR enforcement reversal with full knowledge that it would essentially pardon an industry that had been lying to and harming the American public.
     

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  • The Russians are leaving...
    The Russian Embassy in Chisinau on 13 January denied media reports that the separatist authorities in Tiraspol have again halted the process of evacuating Russian military equipment, Flux reported. A spokesman for the embassy said the withdrawal was merely "interrupted" during the Orthodox Christmas season, because authorization for the transition of train freights through Ukraine could not be obtained during that period. Separatist leader Igor Smirnov last month threatened to halt again the withdrawal process[.]
    (Source)

    If you don't know why this matters, click here.
     

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  • Back to basics: It was exactly this kind of crap that started me blogging. Why do people suck so much? A little I could understand, but it's like they are deliberately trying to suck. They're working hard at being as stupid and small-minded and evil as they can. This one too is via Eschaton, which is a damn good blog. Just go read it already.

    Update: If you've read the article, now go read Margaret Cho's response.
     

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  • "an infernal machinery that, minute by minute, produces an impressive number of poor."

    The early-rising president can get crabby and punchy if he doesn't hit the pillow by 10 or so at night. On Monday, Bush was not scheduled even to arrive at a dinner hosted by Mexican President Vicente Fox until 9:10 p.m. local time (10:10 Eastern).

    Bush, who returned to the White House on Tuesday night, sounded tired and bored at the few public appearances during his 28-hour visit. His remarks had unusually long pauses. Cutaway television shots captured Bush glowering into space as other heads of state talked about "economic growth with equity to reduce poverty," "investing in people" and "democratic governance."

    One of the million great things about being president is that you rarely have to listen to people who bore you. Dignitaries who introduce Bush are asked to limit their remarks to one minute. Bush praises those who are quicker, and his aides have been known to scold those who run over.

    But "international summit" means "plenary session," and Bush had to sit through speech after speech by his detractors -- most notably Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who had infuriated the Bush brigade over the weekend by describing national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who is considered family by the Bushes, as "illiterate."

    During the summit's inauguration ceremony Monday, Chavez was supposed to speak for three minutes, but he rambled on about his time in jail, his taste in economics books and supposed mischaracterizations of him. He referred to the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a proposed hemisphere-wide, low-barrier trade zone strongly backed by the White House, as "an infernal machinery that, minute by minute, produces an impressive number of poor."

    "How many minutes do I have?" he asked at one point, looking at the timekeeper. After getting the response, he said with disappointment, "Just one?"

    One of the first signs that Bush was already over the summit came Monday night, when he was scheduled to pose for pictures and take a few questions from reporters toward the end of his 20-minute meeting with one of his most vociferous critics at the summit, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

    The meeting ran late and the media session turned into a handshake and a back pat for Lula. The whole thing lasted less than 20 seconds. Then Bush's staff began shooing the press corps out of the room.

    White House regulars know that when the young aide barks "Lights! Thank you all!" that's the cue to scram or else incur the wrath of Bush and his palace guard. The foreign reporters, though, took some cajoling.

    "Okay!" various Bushies shouted. "Thank you. Let's go. Back out the same door. Let's go. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Let's go. Thank you. We're moving. Thank you. Sir, we're done! Thank you. Thank you. Let's go, sir -- we're done! Thank you. Let's go."

    Over the racket, Bush could be heard saying: "So long, folks. Thank you very much."

    Jenna Bush, one of the president's 22-year-old twin daughters, generally shuns the limelight. But she looked poised and notably slim at Bush's news conference with President Fox on Monday, where she was seated in the second row, right behind her mother. Jenna Bush was sitting with Fox's stepson, Fernando Bribiesca, who was declared "a hottie" by several women nearby. Fox's staff said he was "escorting" Bush, not dating her.
    [...]
    Bush and her father repeatedly smiled at each other during the news conference. Witnesses said she turned and glared at one reporter who asked about attacks by former treasury secretary Paul H. O'Neill on Bush's style and policies.

    Yuck. That's all I have to say. Yuck. Source. Link via Eschaton.
     

  • Wednesday, January 14, 2004
     
  • Counterspin's posts of note: Walmart continues to suck. And Dick Cheney is being investigated in France on charges of "misappropriating" (i.e. stealing) public property.
     

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  • For an interesting trip, click here.
     

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  • Are you gay? Then you can't fly with us.
     

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  • A while back I saw an executive for a big tobacco company (I think it was Philip Morris, but I can't be sure now) giving an interview on PBS. This was at the time that the US was starting to lay into the tobacco companies for their having poisioned and lied to the public, particularly children. The executive was adamant that children, including his own, should not be permitted to smoke until the age of 18, but that as adults they should be free to choose for themselves. Every time he spoke about his concern for children, it was for "American children". "American children shouldn't be smoking." And we need to protect "American children" from cigarettes. Then the reporter asked if the executive was concerned that the various steps being taken to protect American children were going to hurt his company's revenues. "No," he said (and I'm paraphrasing obviously, since its been a few years), "We will continue to grow. We are expanding our operations overseas, for instance." In other words, getting American kids hooked on nicotine-enhanced tobacco is immoral, but I have no compunctions about marketing to little non-American kids. Here's another story (via a comment at Calpundit) on Philip Morris. This one's from 2001:
    Corporate accountability and public health advocates are condemning Philip Morris�s attempts to convince the Czech government that tobacco-related deaths are good for the country�s economy. A recent report commissioned by the world�s largest tobacco corporation, which controls 85% of the Czech tobacco market, claims that tobacco cuts government spending for programs such as health care, pensions, and housing for the elderly due to the premature deaths of smokers, resulting in a net economic gain. The Philip Morris-sponsored report flies in the face of a 1999 World Bank study, which found that comprehensive tobacco control policies could bring unprecedented health benefits without harming economies.
    And here's Adbusters' campaign to revoke Philip Morris' corporate charter. Note: I'm still calling it Philip Morris out of habit. It changed its name to Altria Group Inc. in order to confuse people.
     

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  • Rush Limbaugh, an unprincipled ass.
     

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  • Disgraceful.
     

  • Tuesday, January 13, 2004
     
  • Battle of the Oligarchs:
    Billionaire George Soros, probably the single biggest giver to Democratic causes, said Monday that Republican criticism of him could be very costly.

    "It has got a rise out of me," he said, adding that his anger "will probably find expression" in additional donations to efforts to defeat President Bush.
    Although I hate what it says about the power of the uber-rich, I am very glad he's on our side. Too bad about all the rest of them.
     

  • Sunday, January 11, 2004
     
  • Here is a good new article on the travelling cyanide bomb salesman. It's got a lot of background on Krar and on the threat of domestic terrorism generally.
     

  • Saturday, January 10, 2004
     
  • Amidst all the (well-earned perhaps) vitriol directed at Paula Zahn and CNN in the Comments forum at Eschaton (see my last post), is this bit of brilliance (with a line bolded by me):
    Something I've noticed lately is how these debates over Dean gaffes never progress past their early stages. For example, the Dean campaign responded weeks ago to this charge that he had accused Bush of foreknowledge of 9/11. But Paula Zahn asks her question from square one: what is your response to this partial quote? So Trippi might have just as effectively asked Paula Zahn if she was aware of the Dean response to this particular media smear. If she says no, then he says, well maybe you should be following the news, if you had continued reading the quote . . .

    Taking people to task for not fostering an evolving discourse should be an important part of fighting the smear campaigns.

    Another example is Lieberman's charge that Dean wishes to raise taxes on the middle class. Weeks ago, Dean responded to this by saying that the Bush tax cuts have actually cost the middle class because education costs, etc. have increased. So when Lieberman asked that question at the Iowa debate, maybe it would have been a good time to ask him if he had even listened to the prior responses and to try to get him to repeat them. If he can't, then it shows he's not really interested in discourse.
    Fostering discourse, that should be the goal of the media and the politicians alike, and having some degree of memory about what has been said before is a necessary condition for that goal. Therefore, fostering memory becomes an important part of the process of fostering discourse.
     

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  • Go read this and this over at Eschaton and (when you're done vomiting) try repeating the phrase "the media don't lie" several times over.
     

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  • So, So, So, So, So:
    Researchers at the University of Toronto just finished analysing the popular sitcom Friends and have released their findings in a new report:
    The authors also found the show's popularity peaked at the same time the characters said "so" the most, and as the use of the word declined, so did the show's popularity.
    So I guess now I know so well that so as to get so many blogreaders that I'll be so popular that I won't be so lonely anymore, all I need to do is write just so, eh? Hey, did you know that popular Irish idiom includes ending phrases with 'so' in much the same way we Canadians use 'eh' (or 'what' if you're from out east)? At least, so I've been told...
     

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  • Some insight into Bush the Misleader. Kevin Drum has comments.
     

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  • Justin Logan of the CATO institute has a good post on his blog about the state of things in Iraq. First, there are the matter of its Kurds. And the Kurds in Syria. And the Kurds in Turkey. And the Kurds in Iran. And the Kurds in Russia. (Did you know there were Kurds in Russia?) Second, there's the matter of the DoD's efforts to convince soldiers to re-enlist. That is turning out to be a very hard sell.
     

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  • Heh. Ellen Goodman of the Washington Post discusses Britney Spears's recent marriange/annulment:
    After 55 hours, the "I do's" became "I don'ts," the vows were annulled and assorted folks chimed in with the same thought: Hey, a man and woman can get married on a lark, but when a committed gay couple wants to make it legal, they're accused of wrecking the institution?
     

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  • Pookastew does a good job reading between the lines of a NYT story on the IMF's recent alarm over the US debt's threat to the world economy.
     

  • Friday, January 09, 2004
     
  • Go watch MoveOn.org's Bush in 30 Seconds finalists. Good stuff. You need a valid US zip code to vote, however, so those of us abroad can't participate. Oh, well, still fun to watch the little talkies.
     

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  • Lots of new coverage of the travelling cyanide-bomb salesman, including this article with a really charming photo of the man himself. The article is quite thorough. I've only had time to skim it, but from what I've seen it pretty well covers everything else we've seen so far in the media, including the fact that "People who operate Internet Web sites known as "blogs" have seized on the Krar case, and what they perceive as the inattention it received from the Bush administration and major media." As I don't have time to go through all the new stories right now, the links are here (the Guardian), here, here, here, here, here, here (Boston Globe), here (Newsday), here (finally CBS picks up on the story it's own affiliate broke a month and a half ago!), here (more Newsday), here (LA Times), here, here, here, here, here (more LA Times), here, here (ABC), here (more Newsday), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and finally, here.

    UPDATE: David Neiwert of Orcinus was the source for some of the LA Times story (warning:subscription required), which many of the articles linked to above are based on. He's been very succesful at bringing this case to national attention. So, congratulations and many thanks to David Neiwert!
     

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  • "God as a more homophobic version of Stalin" is John Gorenfeld's summary of Sun Myung Moon's religious faith. Moon, a billionaire with no relation to the terrestrial satellite, owns the Washington Times and countless other papers, magazines, and who knows what else. Gorenfeld's Salon article describes him as 'Bush's most embarassing friend'. Here's a lot of information about the crazy Moonies. (Via Eschaton).
     

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  • From the Daily Kos: Powell, then and now.
     

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  • Wow that was quick: NASA's Spirit rover has found possible evidence of water on Mars, namely carbonate which may have been formed by water.

    More space news: Bush is reportedly going to announce plans for a moonbase and an eventual manned mission to Mars. Hesiod has a good analysis of this move (its a neat way of shaping the electoral debate, putting Bush the bold visionary up against a small-minded money-pinching Democrat). Hesiod's also got a plan for how Democrats should respond:
    The way to respond to this is to say: "That's a wonderful idea, Mr. President. But, you left out how you were going to fund this endeavor. I suggest we repeal your tax cuts on rich people in order to pay for it. I also suggest that we make it an international effort with our allies. That way, we can share the financial and technical burdens, and go a long way toward rebuilding some of the relationships you trashed during the Iraq fiasco."
    Greg Easterbrook's got an alternative analysis. He first trashes the idea of a Mars mission...
    In the days to come, any administration official who says that a Moon base could support a Mars mission is revealing himself or herself to be a total science illiterate. When you hear, "A Moon base could support a Mars mission," substitute the words, "I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about."

    ...and he then asks:
    And why might George W. Bush endorse a Moon base or Mars mission? Either he's a science illiterate surrounded by advisors who are science illiterates, or it's a blank check for aerospace contractors.
     

  • Wednesday, January 07, 2004
     
  • This is ominous. The Homeland Security department (how I hate that name) has been sending teams of undercover nuclear experts to US cities with radiation detection equipment to sniff out dirty bombs. They score points for preparedness, I'd say. Here's the ominous bit:
    The only detection of radiation so far was on Dec. 29 at a rented storage locker near downtown Las Vegas, one government official said. The White House was told, the FBI called in, and a robot was used to retrieve a duffel bag. In it was a stainless steel capsule of radium used for treating cancer.

    A homeless man who provided the key to the locker told government officials he had found the capsule several years earlier. Officials said the man is not a terrorism suspect.
    Yeah, definitely ought to clean that stuff up.
     

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  • Newsflash: Via Calpundit, Acadamics tend to be Democrats, but (by a wider margin) the Oil and Gas companies tend to be Republicans. Jesse asks: I have to wonder how many academics are turned off to the Republican Party because the Republican Party has turned themselves off to academics.
     

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  • This is fun. The Spirit rover's view from Mars in 3D. Click on the second 'Open' button under the title 'First 3D Image'.
     

  • Tuesday, January 06, 2004
     
  • More travelling cyanide bomb salesman coverage. From CNN.com. The transcript's a bit messy, and the former FBI agent commentator sort of plays down the threats posed by domestic terror groups without commenting on the fearsome nature of Krar's arsenal. All the same good to see CNN paying some attention.
     

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  • Where have I heard this before?
    By boiling and drowning, electrocution and incineration, civet cats went to their deaths Tuesday in southern China in a mass eradication designed to stem a suspected - but unproved - link to SARS.
    Oh, yeah. Europe. Middle Ages. They killed the cats (and dogs) too, and only made the bubonic plague worse:
    Despite the extermination of millions of Fluffies, Lassies, Snowballs and Spots, the plague not only persisted but actually accelerated, since the brilliant strategy of executing all the cats allowed the rats (the actual culprits) to multiply freely in the absence of their most dangerous predator.
    Now, the civet cat is more like a weasel than a cat, but the musteline nature of the animal does not make its execution any less foolhardy. Know your enemy. Don't just randomly exterminate a species on a hunch or a rumor.
     

  • Friday, January 02, 2004
     
  • Howard Dean has proposed raising the minimum wage to 7$/hr. Kevin Drum discusses it here, and also suggests indexing the minimum wage to congressional salaries:
    Congress can then increase their own salaries anytime they want, but only if they're willing to help out the working poor at the same time. Seems fair to me.
    Here, here.
     

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  • Travelling Cyanide Bomb Salesman update. In an interview with David Neiwert, Fox finally gets to the big story. Neiwert has lots of good coverage of the Krar case, as well as other material on US militias/domestic terrorists. Also, here are three new stories from a google news search:
    You may have to go through an obnoxious subscription procedure to get to the last article. So here are some exerpts, including new statements from Krar's lawyer:
    Praising the federal agencies that cooperated in the case, U.S. Attorney Matthew D. Orwig of Beaumont said, "We live in a safer world because of the efforts of these agencies."

    But some say that if the package had been correctly delivered, Mr. Krar might have gone unnoticed because the government is focused on terrorists abroad and isn't doing enough to root out homegrown threats.

    "It wouldn't surprise me at all if there ended up being a terrorist attack from a domestic extremist that fell through the cracks," said Annette Lamoreaux, East Texas director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has criticized the emphasis on Arabs and Muslims.

    Mr. Krar's lawyer says the arrest and prosecution of "an eccentric old man" who had a pharmacy-size bottle of cyanide and some acid indicates something other than inattention. "They did not underreact to it," defense lawyer Tonda Curry said.

    [...]
    According to his lawyer, Mr. Krar was not a threat but "collected guns and military memorabilia and would travel around to trade days, flea markets and set up and sell stuff. ... He also marketed some stuff by direct mail to law enforcement agencies," Ms. Curry said.

    Ms. Bruey pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess illegal weapons and faces a possible five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

    Mr. Feltus, in custody in New Jersey, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the transportation of false identification documents.
     

  •  
  • Bush nominates anti-PBS Republicans to PBS board of directors.

    Arms-length public broadcast media is a very good thing. Catching up on my reading, I find:
    The Bush Administration has awarded two major Republican donors seats on the nine-member board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Bush appointees Cheryl Halpern and Gay Hart Gaines and their families have given over $800,000 to Republican causes in recent years.

    But just as troubling are the agendas that Halpern and Hart Gaines would bring to the CPB. Both have stated views or espoused causes that call into question their qualifications to service on a board whose mission is to promote and fund public television and radio programming.

    Halpern, in her confirmation hearings, indicated that she would welcome empowering the CPB board members to intervene in program content when they felt a program was biased. And, Gaines was an ardent supporter of Representative Newt Gingrich (R-GA) who, as House Speaker in 1994, proposed cutting all federal assistance to public television.
    More info is here.
     




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