Leftist Boddhisatva

Boddhisatvas love bananas.

Friday, September 30, 2005

a quote

You had to be an adult, with all an adult's cares and responsibilities, before you could appreciate the struggling ignorance that adults termed "innocence," and--usually forgetting the way they, too, had felt at the time--the captivity of childhood they called "freedom."--Iain M. Banks

Current mood: bananas, now.

Chickenhawk recruiting numbers up, Army recruiting numbers down

News Item:
The Army is closing the books on one of the leanest recruiting years since it became an all-volunteer service three decades ago, missing its enlistment target by the largest margin since 1979 and raising questions about its plans for growth.
According to a male 26-year-old right wing columnist, "If only poor people realized that it was their obligation to serve as cannon fodder for democracy, then we wouldn't have this problem. I blame the liberals. They have poisoned the well. They keep complaining about the War in Iraq, the War on Terror. What have they done? What have they done? Ow... my carpal tunnel is bothering me."

Current mood: bashful, declining.

President agrees with sentiment, disagrees with saying so openly

News Item:
The White House on Friday criticized former Education Secretary William Bennett for remarks linking the crime rate and the abortion of black babies.

"The president believes the comments were not appropriate," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

Bennett, on his radio show, "Morning in America," was answering a caller's question when he took issue with the hypothesis put forth in a recent book that one reason crime is down is that abortion is up.

"But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down," said Bennett, author of "The Book of Virtues."
Current mood: sour.

Senators Want Cruise Ship Deal Explained, Demand Free Upgrade

News Item:
Two senators on Thursday asked federal officials to explain their decision to sign a $236 million deal with Carnival Cruise Lines for Hurricane Katrina housing, saying Greece was ready to provide two ships for free.

The six-month deal with Carnival for three full-service cruise ships — which now sit mostly empty in the Gulf Coast — has been criticized by lawmakers of both parties as a prime example of wasted spending in Hurricane Katrina-related contracts.
The presence of slot machines and black jack on Carnival Cruise ships was a factor in the decision. Said one FEMA official, on the condition that he not be identified, "You can't take away poor black people's sense of false hope. How else are they going to survive?"

Current mood: only one banana.

We don't need no stinkin' badges

News Item:
Italian authorities have ordered the arrests of a former U.S. Embassy official here and two other people in connection with a "rendition" case in which CIA operatives allegedly kidnapped a radical Muslim cleric from Milan and flew him to Egypt, where, he has said, he was tortured.
Current mood: banana tiramisu, yum.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Grab bag

Lawmakers Propose Changing Endangered Species Act Into Endanger Species Act

News Item:
In a bid to reshape decades of U.S. environmental policy, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved legislation to overhaul the Endangered Species Act and make it harder to shield the habitat of plants and animals threatened with extinction.
Current mood: endangered.

New Flu Pandemic Could Kill 150 Million, Be Launched Within 45 Minutes

News Item:
Dr. David Nabarro of the World Health Organization called on governments to take immediate steps to address the threat at a news conference following his appointment as the new U.N. coordinator to lead a global drive to counter a human flu pandemic.

"We expect the next influenza pandemic to come at any time now, and it's likely to be caused by a mutant of the virus that is currently causing bird flu in Asia," he said.

Nabarro said with the almost certainty of another influenza pandemic soon, and with experts saying there is a high likelihood of the H5N1 virus mutating, it would be "extremely wrong" to ignore the serious possibility of a global outbreak.
Current mood: Eat more chicken!

The 'Second' Man's unsurprising plot twist

News Item:
U.S. intelligence officials and counterterrorism analysts are questioning whether a slain terrorist—described by President Bush today as the “second-most-wanted Al Qaeda leader in Iraq”—was as significant a figure as the Bush administration is claiming.

“If I had a nickel for every No. 2 and No. 3 they’ve arrested or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’d be a millionaire,” says Kohlmann, a New York-based analyst who tracks the Iraq insurgency and who first expressed skepticism about the Azzam claims in a posting on The Counterterrorism Blog (counterterror.typepad.com). While agreeing that Azzam—also known as Abdullah Najim Abdullah Mohamed al-Jawari—may have been an important figure, “this guy was not the deputy commander of Al Qaeda,” says Kohlmann.
Is Rumsfeld channeling Orson Welles, gorging on the blood of dead Iraqi children while trying to outdo the dead director's ouvre. First, incessant remakes of The Second Man. What next, Citizen Hussein? Or Taste of Evil?

Current mood: déjà indigestion.

With the Fall Season arriving, Judith Miller changes her mind

News Item:
Judith Miller, The New York Times reporter who has been jailed since July 6 for refusing to identify a source, has been released, The Inquirer has learned.

Miller left an Alexandria, Va. jail late this afternoon, a jail official said.

She was released after she had a telephone conversation with the Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, sources said. In that conversation, Libby reaffirmed that he had released Miller from a promise of confidentiality more than a year ago, sources said.
Miller's second conversation was with Judith Miller, who also agreed to release her from confidentiality. No word yet on whether Judith Miller, rumored to be the source of the Valerie Plame leak, will be indicted.

Current mood: unsatisfied.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay Says He Is Innocent of Charges, Guilty of Many Many Other Things

News Item:
A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post. A defiant DeLay insisted he was innocent and called the prosecutor a "partisan fanatic."
Current mood: sick from eating too much Schadenfreude® banana ice cream.

more grab bag

Bye bye greenbacks: new ten dollar bill has color

I've seen this before, but it is good to see it all in one place, and with more photos: Banksy takes on Israel's immoral wall (via Angry Bear)

You need to socialize the little bastards early. Get them used to Big Brother watching you.

Zen Koans (via gordon.coale; something tells me I'll be busy reading...)

Video clip to watch: from "Inside the Bubble," a documentary about the John Kerry summer camp and home for wayward boys. (via Oliver Willis)

dead-on: In his September 15 speech to the nation, President Bush asserted that poverty in America is mostly restricted to the nation's Southern states. Like a lot of right-wing ideologues when it comes to issues of race and poverty in America, he's in denial.
America's claim to shame is that it has the highest level of poverty in the industrialized world. Bush's four and a half years of trickle-down theories have failed miserably. The poor have become even poorer. The nation's poverty rate has climbed from a 27 year low of 11.3 percent to 12.7 percent last year. Thirty seven million Americans are living below the poverty line, a group so large, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter pointed out in a post-Katrina cover article, that it amounts to "a nation of poor people the size of Canada or Morocco living inside the United States."

Violations of Geneva Conventions not a priority until publicized, says Captain

News Item:
Army Capt. Ian Fishback said he tried for more than a year to get his commanding officers to pay attention to reports of widespread abuses of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops.

But it was only after Fishback, 26, a West Point graduate, spoke to Human Rights Watch and several members of Congress that military investigators began to listen, he said Tuesday during a telephone interview from Fort Bragg in North Carolina. His civilian attorney, Gene Fidell, monitored the interview. It was Fishback's first public comment about allegations that surfaced last week in a report by Human Rights Watch.

Fishback served in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004. While in Iraq, he said, he witnessed abuses that included sleep deprivation and exposure to cold.

He said the abuses committed by Army enlisted soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which sparked an international furor, "were not isolated." He also said he wonders "how many other people have tried and been unable to bring things to light, given how hard it has been for me."

The Human Rights Watch report included testimony from Fishback and two 82nd Airborne Division sergeants who served with him in Iraq and Afghanistan and alleged that members of their unit routinely abused prisoners. The sergeants, who described taking part in the prisoner mistreatment, were not named in the report.

Fishback said that Army investigators have interviewed him over the past week and that the Army has told him to reveal the names of the other two soldiers or face disciplinary action.

Fishback said his interest in reporting the abuses was sparked by congressional testimony in May 2004 by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld said that U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan follow rules in the Geneva Conventions barring prisoner abuse. That "raised a red flag," Fishback said. He said that he believed U.S. troops were not adhering to the conventions and that there was confusion over what behavior was acceptable.
An Army spokesman said in response to Fishback's statements, off the record, that Fishback was a metrosexual, "little more than a girl who cared too much about the emotional well-being and self-esteem of terrorists. He should have thought more about the honor and integrity of the US Army." The spokesman also said, "We can't wait to give Fishback a discharge, be it after a long prison sentence or not."

Current mood: suspicious of counter-accusations.

US ever closer to being isolated, alone

News Item:
Military action against Iran is inconceivable and diplomacy could still end the international standoff over Tehran's nuclear program, said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, whose country plays a key role in negotiations.

Iran insists its nuclear program is designed for generating electricity, but the Bush administration believes Tehran intends to produce atomic weapons and has refused to rule out military strikes.

"All United States presidents always say all options are open. But it is not on the table, it is not on the agenda. I happen to think that it is inconceivable," Straw told British Broadcasting Corp. radio on Wednesday.
Current mood: mum.

Poor cannot afford healthy foods

News Item:
Cossey, a 43-year-old community college student, and her son, Andrew, survive on food stamps, trips to the food bank, and a state program for pregnant women and their children that provides essentials such as dairy products, fruit juice and cereal.

She knows they should both be eating more fruits and vegetables. But the foods on the government's new food pyramid are too expensive. Boxed macaroni and cheese costs less than a dollar to feed the whole family; a fresh chicken breast and steamed vegetables cost about $2.60.

"I'm sure we'd all like to feed our children a nice healthy chicken breast and asparagus," she said on a visit to a vegetable market. "If we are low on fruits and vegetables, my child gets his first."
Current mood: hungry for bananas.

A bright star in Canada's future?

News Item:
Michaelle Jean used her maiden speech as Governor General to proclaim that the time of the "two solitudes" is over and to call for greater unity.

Jean, a Haitian-born Montrealer and television journalist who endured controversy over alleged sympathies for Quebec separatism, said it's time to focus on promoting national solidarity. "The time of the 'two solitudes' that for too long described the character of this country is past," she said Tuesday during a colourful swearing in ceremony in the ornate Senate chamber.

"We must eliminate the spectre of all the solitudes and promote solidarity among all the citizens who make up the Canada of today.
Current mood: more whole.

Blog roll update

grab bag

The evil porn of war. (Morning Sedition interviewed Chris Wilson, the proprietor of the porn-for-war-photos web-site in question on Tuesday... and again this morning.)

Sometimes old news is still good news: They're in love. They're gay. They're penguins... And they're not alone. (via Don't Drink the Koolaid, specifically this Koolaid note on Intelligent Design and penguins.)

I agree: Sexual sado-masochism has been out there for millenia but it is highly ritualized fantasy. This is all too real. I have to think that it is problematic that people are getting so negatively and positively aroused by real death and gore at the same time.

a rational response to madness: Beslan mothers ask for legal probe of Russian cult

target Taiwan: Chinese Commission New Class of Warships

When we last left our villain Richard Perle, fearless vampire hunter Patrick J. Fitzgerald took time off from Plame patrol to take aim at his black, bloodless heart as part of the Hollinger International scandal. (via Atrios)

Rightwingers' New Line: "MSM" Made Katrina Aftermath Up (via Atrios & Daily Kos)

Finally, we are seeing articles about how the numerous stories of rape, indiscriminant looting, and murder in New Orleans were actually a bunch of malarky.

No comment.

News Item:
A Bollywood love story based on a rural Indian folk tale, starring top actor Shah Rukh Khan, will represent India at the Oscars next year, film selectors said.

"Paheli" (Riddle), in which Khan plays the role of a lover who is actually a ghost, has been selected by the Film Federation of India to represent the country at the Oscars in the foreign films category.

"The film represents Indian ethos and we found it to be the right candidate to represent India at the Oscars," said Vinod Pandey, acting federation chairman.

"Paheli" failed at the box office when released earlier this year.

Current mood: cinematic ennui.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More important than enlightenment

grab bag

Kerry's not- so-amazing race, on film

Is former vice-president Al Gore gearing up for another run at the White House? Rumors are swirling in Washington that Gore plans to take on New York's Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2008. He's recently launched his new television network, Current, and is back on the speaking circuit. In fact, he'll be the keynote in D.C. next week at a huge Democratic National Committee fundraiser.

Organizers had predicted 100,000; the D.C. police chief was quoted as saying “they probably hit that.” By midafternoon they were estimating that 250,000 people had showed up. (via Welcome to the Sideshow)
There were even soldiers in uniform.

A specialist from the 101st Airborne who asked not to be identified talked about his friends in Iraq, and questioned the reasons given for invading.

“In my opinion, it’s just [expletive.] This [President] Bush went in there because of his dad, to settle a score. There’s no [weapons of mass destruction].

“But now we’re stuck in there. It’s not gonna be over for years. If we pull out, it’s gonna be worse.”

A sergeant with the 42nd Infantry Division nodded agreement.

Governmental incompetence solved -- or rather papered over -- by militarization has a long history. And authoritarianism's hand is usually as clumsy as it is heavy.

Of course, it now seems the White House has realized he deserves the fate of proven incompetents: a new job. Medal of Honor next.

No. 2 Leader of al-Qaida in Iraq Killed, again

News Item:

Wasn't this a movie that came out last year, about a terrorist in the 'high command' who could be killed, but would always come back to life, only to be killed several months later?

Current mood: cinematic ennui.

Blair Vows to Continue Pointless War in Iraq

News Item:
Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday that Britain would not retreat or withdraw from Iraq, saying that to do so would hand the country over to "the mercy of religious fanatics or relics" of Saddam Hussein.

"The way to stop the innocent dying is not to retreat, to withdraw, to hand these people over to the mercy of religious fanatics or relics of Saddam, but to stand up for their right to decide their government in the same democratic way the British people do."
To reinforce his point, Blair announced at the Labour Party's annual conference his bold new plan to "occupy Britain". The important thing, he said, was to "reinforce for all Britons, their right to vote" even in the face of opposition to occupation.

Current mood: mashed bananas, yum.

Michael Brown accepts responsibility, blames others.

News Item:

Former FEMA director Michael Brown aggressively defended his role in responding to Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday and put much of the blame for coordination failures on Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin.

"My biggest mistake was not recognizing by Saturday that Louisiana was dysfunctional," two days before the storm hit, Brown told a special congressional panel set up by House Republican leaders to investigate the catastrophe.

Brown in his opening statement said he had made several "specific mistakes" in dealing with the storm, and listed two.

One, he said, was not having more media briefings.

As to the other, he said: "I very strongly personally regret that I was unable to persuade Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin to sit down, get over their differences, and work together. I just couldn't pull that off."

In his forthcoming autobiography, Un-Moving Mountains, Brown writes, "There were key philosophical problems between myself, Gov. Blanco, and Mayor Nagin. I tried to get them to understand that because I was appointed by the President I was right and they were wrong. Finally, during a frustrating phone call that was taking up too much time from giving press conferences I yelled at both of them, 'Don't you get it: you're on your fucking own! Get over it and stop crying for mommy. Mommy's not coming. Not this time. Not ever. It's your own fucking problem that you live in that miserable state.' And then I hung up on them."

Current mood: ridiculously calm.

I bow to wisdom

j a c k * on strawmen:

Imagine two professional wrestlers getting ready for a bout. We'll call them Lefty and Righteous. In his pre-game event Lefty pumps up his fans by telling jokes about Righteous and making fun of his past fights. Humiliated, Righteous has a life-sized straw effigy made of Lefty which he takes to his fan event, and he brings down the house by pointing out all the weaknesses and flaws in his straw mock-up. The night of the big fight arrives and the excited fans are a bit surprised to see Righteous dragging the straw man into the ring with him. They are quite taken aback as the bell rings and Righteous body-slams the doll, ignoring his flesh and blood opponent, but they are driven to astonishment as Righteous breaks the dummy's little matchstick arms and legs and pounds it into a broken, twisted mass on the mat. The referee raises Righteous' arm and declares him the winner. Lefty shrugs, uncertain exactly how he lost, but vows to fight better next time.

Current mood: punchy.

Australia reacts to latest wave of bombings... abroad.

News Item:

Australia is to impose "draconian" counter-terrorism laws after state and territory leaders agreed on Tuesday to wide-ranging security proposals made by Prime Minister John Howard in the wake of the London bombings.

Howard said the new laws, which include detaining suspects for up to 48 hours without charge and using electronic tracking devices to keep tabs on terror suspects, were needed to combat "unusual circumstances."

Australia has never suffered a major peacetime attack on home soil, but 88 Australians were among 202 people killed in the 2002 Bali bombings and 10 Indonesians were killed when the Australian embassy in Jakarta was hit by a suicide bomb on September 9, 2004.

John Howard also said, "We live on a continent of terror [Terra Australis] and we must do everything we can to protect ourselves."

"In many sense the laws that we have agreed to today are draconian laws, but they are necessary laws to protect Australians," Queensland state premier Peter Beattie told a news conference.

Off the record, Peter Beattie continued, "As we have learned time and time again, with our intolerance to homosexuals and our treatment of aborigines, that the only way to earn the respect of the United States is to everything they do, but to a greater degree."

Current mood: terrorifying.

Senator Frist denies denies denies

News Item:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist promises to cooperate with federal investigators into his sale of stock in his family's hospital company, but says he had no insider information.
Said Frist, off the record, "Anyone could have talked to my father and brother and found out that the stock had become a stinker."

Current mood: not enough bananas.

New fad diet may produce Alzheimer's disease

News Item:

Unexplained weight loss in older people might be an early signal of
Alzheimer's disease, appearing several years before the memory lapses that define the illness, according to an intriguing but unproven new theory.

Current mood: bananas, yum.

Northern Irish Protestant Politicians are assholes, reject IRA's disarmament as inadequate

News Item:
Protestant politicians rejected the Irish Republican Army's disarmament as inadequate, and said Tuesday they would not share power in Northern Ireland's government with the IRA's political party Sinn Fein for years — if ever.

Today's ascendant Protestant hard-liners said they would not revive power-sharing until the IRA disbands.

Other protestant political demands, not mentioned in the press:
  • All Catholics to wear their underwear on their heads on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.

  • Catholics to be given financial incentives to marry Africans, because it is much easier these days to hate people based on skin color than on religion.

  • Catholics to participate in Orange Order marches, as evidence of a willingness to heal historical wounds in Northern Ireland.

  • Catholics to relocate to New Orleans.

Although their demands are not coordinated or consistent, it seems clear that the Norther Irish Protestant Politicians are disinclined to disarm their most fearsome weapon: hate.

Current mood: unenlightened.