31 May 2007

Nazis & the INS?

A new book entitled "Ringside at the Revolution: An Underground Cultural History of El Paso and Juarez" by David Dorado Romo alleges that the Nazis may have picked up some of their tricks through observation of American treatment of Mexicans in period between the wars.

Hmmm. I may have to give it a read.

Where do they keep finding these guys?

The top man at the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, one Michael Griffin, has expressed his doubts as to whether fighting climate change is a priority. It's hardly even news anymore.

Apostats everywhere

There has been much comment and anger at a Malaysian court's decision not to recognise a Muslime woman's conversion to Christianity. The anger is justified although I think it would be even better if we all expressed concern as to why religious affiliation should even be included on an identify document. Nonetheless the decision clearly restricts freedom of religion and, in a free and open society, should be set aside.

I hope that there will be just as much discussion over the claims by an Israeli rabbi that conversion to Judaism cannot be set aside. Rabbi Haim Druckman's statements relate to a decision by a religious court (yes there is such a thing in Israel!) that a woman who had converted fifteen years ago but failed to keep the mitzvot. In Rabbi Druckman's opinion once a Jew always a Jew.

Whilst we're not looking

The Commander Guy is trying to sneak yet another bigoted, homophobic right winger onto the Federal bench. Leslie Southwick is the latest nominee for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Write or ring you Senator and make sure that Bush has to try at least one more time to come up with someone qualified and at least marginally human for the job.

Tear 'em down

For those of you that haven't been to the UK during the St. Tony Blair years you should know that CCTV cameras now ubiquitous. They are everywhere and frankly one does get used to them after a while. However it turns out that fully 95% of the country's more than 14 million cameras may in fact be in violation of the law.

Time for the de-installation crews I'd say.

The lowest common denominator

Series eight of Big Brother has begun and well, it just gets worse and worse doesn't it? This year's house mates are all female including a bi-sexual, a Spice Girl wannabe and young, blond twin Scousettes.

The first show drew around 8 million viewers fully 7.9 million of which I imagine to be middle aged men entrapped by some twisted sexual fantasy involving the twins.

In case you are wondering I was one of the 52 million British residents that didn't bother to watch this mindless piffle.

The Imperial Vice Presidency

How is it that the only person in the country that US Vice President "I'm a Big" Dick Cheney seems to believe has a right to privacy is himself? Via his lawyer "I'm a Big" ordered the Secret Service to destroy the logs pertaining to those who had visited him at his official residence claiming that they were protected under the Presidential Records Act. The letter came to light as part of a public interest lawsuit brought by the ever optimistic Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington who are attempting to find out what right wing religious leaders visited the Veep. It is not clear if the records were destroyed or not at the time.

Nineteen and losing

It is with a considerable amount of personal pride that I can say I am a lifelong supporter of the Philadelphia Phillies, as was my father before me and his father before him. We Stringers go all the way back to the beginning in the nineteenth century and we never, ever, ever supported those damn Athletics when they were in town.

It is important that you know that these selfsame Phillies are the losingest team of all time having lost more matches than any other team in any professional sport. The current tally is 9,981 leaving us just 19 losses away from the coveted 10,000. If I were in the states I would give anything to be in attendance on June or at worst July day when the milestone is reached. If it happens in Philly how will the crowd react? Will they boo hits by the home side and cheer runs by the opposition? Will there be a standing ovation? Will ticket stubs from the match become collectors’ items?

I have so many questions.

The freedom agenda

Yesterday saw a court in Thailand ban the country's most popular political party from participation in the democracy that doesn't exist in the country. The Thai Rak Thai was dissolved by court order and all of its officials prohibited from engaging in political activity.

Now if we could just manage to do the same with those pesky Democrats...

Whither Palestinian youth?

The six insufferably long years of this Bush administration has meant six long years without any serious US brokered effort to bring peace in the conflict between the Palestinians and the Jews. During that time what has occurred? The largely secular Fatah movement once headed by Yasser Arafat has lost ground to the Islamist Hamas movement, the withdrawal of Jewish troops from the Gaza strip has turned it into a nightmare territory not too far distant from that imagined in Escape from New York and the youth of the occupied territories are become more and more radicalised.

A job well done I'd say.

Antipodean angst

The Times, a Murdoch paper nonetheless, has been running a series on how to reduce one's carbon footprint. One of the recommendations was to buy French wine rather than a tipple from New Zealand. Needless to say the Kiwi's are not well pleased.

One more reason for organic living

A study funded by the European Union and carried out in Italy, Romania, Scotland, and Sweden has established a link between exposure to pesticides and Parkinson's Disease. They found that even low levels of exposure, such as that an amateur gardener might experience, can produce a material difference in likelihood of contracting the condition. Head trauma and injuries associated with contact sports, especially boxing, was also found to be a casual agent.

I, for one, am relieved!

Dr Kevan Wylie of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield has been doing important and much overlooked research in an area which, in my opinion, does not get the funding it deserves. He has been reviewing the results of twelve different studies of attitudes towards penis size conducted over the past 65 years and concludes that women don't care about it as much as men do.

I am so happy for my friends, acquaintances and colleagues who, unlike me, have had to bear the burden of perceived inadequacies in this area throughout their adult lives.

Progress report

Is it Lent again already? It is approaching that in Baghdad at least as middle class Iraqis are having to ration their meat intake as food shortages caused by the waves of violence in the Iraqi capital take hold. In addition nearly 65% of Iraqis are now living below the poverty line due to unemployment and other factors.

Payback time

The Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, has asked the Decider(TM) to decide to decide to intervene in a lawsuit in the Federal courts that accuses the Persian Gulf state of forcing thousands of children to work as camel jockeys. In a letter to GW the sheikh noted that the UAE was "a key partner in the global war against terrorism" and asked for his assistance in having the suit, filed under the Alien Tort's Act, thrown out. I shall be following this one closely I think.

What a surprise

Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, has restated the company's objections to regulation on carbon emissions and continued to cast doubt on climate change driven by the consumption of fossil fuels. Perhaps after they've squeezed the last hundred billion USD or so out of the petroleum market they will consider thinking about discussing whether it might be time to perhaps change their mind.

Mr. Tillerson "earned" a pitiful 4.1 million USD last year although he was only in charge for six months. I'm sure he will do much better this year!

Mela-mine v. Mela-yours

The presence of melamine in animal feed imported into the US from China recently caused an uproar and there was much concern expressed over the lack of oversight, regulation and inspection in China. One wonders if the presence of melaminein animal feed products manufactured in America will cause the same level of concern. Feed products from both Tembec BTLSR Inc. of Toledo OH and Uniscope Inc. of Johnstown CO have now been recalled.

This will teach her!

An eighteen year old Connecticut woman who had snuck out of her house, undoubtedly up to no good, has shot by her father, an off duty police officer after climbing through a basement window in order to return home. Awakened by a motion light Eric Scott of the New Haven PD saw an individual in his basement and shot his daughter with his police issue pistol. The officer has not been charged.

Christ if you can't trust the coppers to use firearms responsibly what hope is there for a heavily armed nation such as America?

Peace in our time...

...but not in our country. The US comes in at 96th out of 121 countries according to the World Peace Index. That is just below The Yemen and just above America's perennial favourites Iran. America's young protégé, Iraq, outperformed its mentor by coming in at 121; that's last for those of you who are rubbish at maths. Infamous whale killers Norway ranked at the top and 18 of the top 20 are socialist states by American standards. The UK ranks 49th; sandwiched between Morocco and Mozambique.

The full rankings with backup detail may be found here.

Does torture pay?

I think that the American Civil Liberties Union is displaying incredible naïveté in its understanding of post-modern capitalism by choosing to sue a subsidiary of Boeing Corporation for profiting from the CIA's extraordinarily illegal 'extraordinary rendition' programme. After all it is clear to me that Jeppesen Dataplan Inc simply recognised a niche in the market and moved into it in order to follow the Prime Directive; maximising shareholder value. Now what could be more American than that, eh?

I cannot stand the suspense

I can hardly wait to learn the results of the US Justice Department's internal investigation into whether it violated civil service regulations by hiring only conservative Republicans. There is no word as to whether only conservative Republicans have been named to work on the investigation. I am certain that Gone-zo Gonzales will tell us just as soon as he has some recollection related to the matter in question if he can remember what the matter in question is.

Reality radio

Performance artist Mark McGowan has eaten what he claims to be cooked Corgi as a protest over the royal family's treatment of animals. The meal took place during a show on Resonance FM, a London station. He also shared the feast, minced Corgi balls with apple, onion and seasoning with Yoko Ono who was also a guest on the show. I have been unable to reach Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England and Wales and Elizabeth I of Scotland for her comments on this matter.

Leftward Ho!

Young David Cameron's Tory Party is accusing New Labour of a "leftwards march of ideas" as the race for the deputy leadership hots up as least according to their shadow Chancellor George Osborne. Well Mr. Osborne in case you haven’t noticed left is the only direction that they have to march to having already moved as far right as any party that used to be used socialist might dare.

Footprints everywhere

Britain is to launch a voluntary scheme whereby consumer products will be labelled as to their carbon footprint. The joint imitative between the government's initiative has been announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Carbon Trust (also government funded), and British Standards (BSI). The labels will rate the products' contribution to greenhouse gas emissions from production, transport and consumption. Even though this is a voluntary enterprise I anticipate that should significant consumer pressure be brought to bear, and I believe it will, that the participation in the scheme will soon become de rigeur.

Perhaps my countrymen can push for a similar proposal on their side of the Atlantic.

Now this is a military industrial complex

A new book entitled "Military Inc. Inside Pakistan's Military Economy" is set to be published in Pakistan. The volume details the tangled web of business interests controlled by the country's military and which are valued in the neighbourhood of 10 billion USD.

The launch party however doesn't seem likely to happen after the government warned hotels, clubs and restaurants in Islamabad that hosting the party would not be advisable.

Why do you think they called them cheetahs?

I plan to launch a crusade calling for the burning and destruction of all children's books that include cheetahs as characters as the news reaches us that the elegant big cats refuse to recognise that marriage is a union between one male cat and one female cat. It seems that the females of the species are a bit slutty and like to sleep around. Thank God that Jerry Falwell didn't live to hear this or the African felines might have been blamed for the 11 September attacks!

Bush does a good thing (no kidding!)

The Decider(TM) has decided to decide to announce that his is to ask Congress to double aid money to be spent on HIV/AIDS from the current 15 billion USD over five years to 30 billion. This will create some pressure, prior to the upcoming G8 summit in Germany, for other wealthy nations to step up their contributions. This is a good.

The bad news of course is that a material portion of the funds will be spent on programmes run by right wing religious groups that promote abstinence as the only method to avoid infection and that refuse to allow the distribution of condoms.

Still some of the money will do some good.

A day in the life

The front page of today's Guardian newspaper sees an article by an anonymous British private security guard in Iraq who details what his life is like in and out of the Green Zone in Baghdad. He is earning about £90K per annum tax-free providing protection for contractors working on reconstruction contracts. He describes the service he and others provide as a "taxi service with guns".

Key quote to be found near the end of the article:

"I will probably bin it fairly soon. I think the writing is on the wall for Baghdad. I think it is about to go ballistic. The Baghdad security plan is not going to work." (Emphasis mine.)

St.Tony's travels*

Blairgacy - the farewell tour continues with the soon-to-be-ex-Prime Minister stopping off in Sierra Leone where he was named Shebora Matof or "Prince of Peace", apparently without a sense of irony. At the same time Gordon Brown has been named Shebora Matof in waiting.

In defence of the Sierra Leonians (sic?) the British Prime Minister's intervention in the country's long running civil war did provide a lesson in how the power of the West can be used for good. It is perhaps not coincidental however that the United States did not take part in any of the military action in the West African country.

*Note: not to be confused with St. Tony's travails - see also Iraq, BAE Systems and Lolly for Lordships.

Gone-zo watch (day 72)

72 fucking days I've been at this and yet US Attorney General and Bush succubus Alberto "Gone-zo" Gonzales is still employed. Why? How? In the private sector, so beloved of his boss, no one this incompetent would last a month. Still the boss thinks that he's doing a bang up job! According to the Decider(TM) "he has done nothing wrong". If it that were the case he also has do nothing, or at least precious little, right. Is that enough for him to remain as the nation's top law enforcement official? Given the otherwise incredibly low standards of the Bush administration it would appear so.

Elsewhere tonight is the first match that England will play at the new three quarters of a billion pounds Wembley stadium under Steve "I've Never Really Coached a Winning Side and It Doesn't Look Like I'm Going to Start Now" McClaren. He has, in an act of desperation, brought back David Beckham to face Brazil in tonight's friendly and then Estonia next week in the must win Euro qualifier. Should England lost that match McClaren looks a dead cert for the sack.

(To be continued...)

30 May 2007

Behind every bad man...

...is a bad woman - allegedly.

Why do governments only listen to the lawyers when they say what they want them to?

Could it be that Israel has known all along, based on the advice of its legal advisers that the construction of Jewish settlements on Arab land occupied after the Six Day War would be illegal? It is hard to imagine that this could be so? I mean would so many successive American administrations give the developments some measure of approval if this were the case?

Well Theodor Meron, undoubtedly another self-loathing Jew, who was the Israeli Foreign Ministry's legal adviser during and after the war wrote a memo to the foreign minister Abba Eban saying just that. Furthermore Mr. Meron, who moved on to become a respected international jurist, says that the settlements are still in violation of the Hague and Geneva Conventions.

Bring out the pork

Despite the fact that the United States spends far more on defence (aka offence) than any other country in the world the good folks at the Heritage Foundation say it isn't nearly enough. They demand that spending levels are ratcheted up until they reach 4% of GDP a roughly 20 - 25% increase over planned levels.

That should lead to lots of prime lobbying jobs for departing Senators, Congressmen, Generals and Defense Department staffers!

America thy name is irony

The US State Department tells us, with not hint of a hidden smirk, that they are taking steps to "prevent an erosion of democracy in the Americas and around the world".

I suggest that they could begin this effort in Washington DC perhaps in the White House. They could run some seminars for those in high office who seem to have forgotten the basics. I would suggest such interesting topics as:

"Why the Whole World is a Free Speech Zone"

"Why the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments Mean Your Need a Court Order to Wiretap"

"Habeas Corpus - A Beginner's Guide"

and of course

"Why Article VI, Clause 2 of the Constitution Means That Ratified Treaties (e.g. the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture) Trump Presidential Power

"I thought I heard buzzing"

The constabulary in Hasland, Chesterfield were called to the local postal sorting office to deal with a suspicious package that was believed to be making a noise of some sort. The coppers did what they normally do in such circumstances; they took it outside and blew it up. How were they to know it was just a vibrator. If this had occurred in Texas it would be more understandable.

There is no mention of the level of compensation the intended recipient is entitled to.

Guns don't kill people...

...chilli sauce does. At least it gets them shot as Renel Frage of Miami can testify. Fortunately for young Mr. Frage, the night manager of the Wendy's Restaurant in question the gunshot woke the security guard who was having a kip at the time.

The fiscal policy behind Bush's immigration deal

I am sure that all of the true, red Republicans who are so upset that the Decider(TM) has thrown open the borders to millions of millions of brown people will come back on board with the plan once they realise that the amnesty for those already in the States is going to be used to finance the tax cut for rich folks through inflation busting increases in visa and citizenship fees.

That old GW - he's dumb as an (idiotic) fox.

The end of the silence

I have refrained from commenting about the tragedy surrounding the abduction of young Madeleine McCann in Portugal largely because I felt I had nothing to add and there was enough sadness already. However as the media circus surrounding the girl's disappearance over the past month I have slowly stirred myself up as her parents, undoubtedly justifiably, use the media in an attempt to keep the case in the spotlight and hopefully ensure her return. Now however I have had enough. Today they have jetted off to Rome to see Il Papa and he has blessed her photograph. Now just exactly how is that supposed to fucking help? Surely even the deranged alleged celibate doesn't believe that will have any impact does he? If so he is madder than I thought. I suppose that should the young girl suddenly be located and returned to her parents when the old German kicks off his supporters can use this as evidence of a "miracle" to propel him on the path to sainthood and a sure reunion with Jerry Falwell wherever Jerry has ended up.

Question: is the Murdoch run newspaper the Times trying to tell us anything by carrying this story on its entertainment page? I thought old Rupert was a good Christian and believe in all this rubbish.

Say it ain't so

Federal investigators are looking into remodeling done at the home of Alaskan Senator Ted "The Tubes Are Clogged" Stevens over suggestions that he may not have paid for it all by himself.

Whether the investigation is related to this story entitled "U.S. to Study Protection for Alaska Loon" I cannot possible say.

The invisible hand of the market stymied yet again by government socialists

The Creekstone Farms Premium Beef company of Kansas City (I'm not sure which one) wants to test 100% of its cattle for mad cow disease because they feel that such tests could enhance the value of their product.

However those dastardly Commies in Bush's Department of Agriculture say "not so bloody fast". Implementation of a court ruling that was to take effect on Friday that would have allowed the company to freely pursue free enterprise has been put on hold after the Feds announced that they were appealing the decision.

Will they get a good draft pick?

In what can only been seen as a bad omen for the fortunes of Philadelphia’s venerable but generally hapless American football team the Eagles the nest of the first pair of bald eagles to call the city home in 200 years has failed.

The pair had made the playoffs (i.e. produced an egg) but the Super Bowl (i.e. eaglet surviving) was just out of reach.

No four star General left behind

True or false: 3445 > 2996

According to American General Peter Pace, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the answer is false. I leave you to come to your own conclusion as to the answer.

Extra! Extra! US environment adviser speaks the truth

To quote James Connaughton, the Decider's environmental go to guy, who is currently on a tour of Europe saying "No" to anything anyone throws at him:
"The U.S. has different sets of targets."
One certainly can't argue with that.

The shores of Tripoli

I forgot to mention that St. Tony's first stop on his whistle-stop tour of Africa could get him in hot water with the Decider(TM) as he as gone to Libya to talk to the known terrorist leader Muammar Gaddafi. Oh wait a minute. They're selling us oil against. They mustn't be terrorists anymore! Never mind.

Time for a rethink?

I have been a lifelong opponent of the death penalty in any and all circumstances. However now that China is showing us its utility in dealing with corrupt and incompetent government officials I may have to reconsider my position.

It is unlikely to change my mind in the end but if someone were to dangle Karl Rove in front of me as bait I would be likely to be sorely tempted indeed.

TB flights

Is it just me or does this story about an flying about the globe whilst infected with a rare and dangerous strain of tuberculosis sound like a puff piece for a bad TV movie starring Lindsay Wagner? Perhaps she just wishes to make yet another half-comeback now that they are remaking the "Bionic Woman" with a younger, British model.

"Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus."

St. Tony's farewell tour in promotion of the "Blairgacy" continues.

The first stop was Washington DC where who knows what goes one when he is alone with the Commander Guy.

Then it was on to Baghdad for a surprise visit so that he could personally thank the troops for dying in the name of the "Blairgacy".

Now he is triumphantly stomping across the Dark Continent accompanied by a writer and two photographers from that serious foreign policy publication Men's Vogue.

Where to next I wonder.

No room at the inn

The British prison and jail system is hereby declared full. Please commit no crimes until further notice. Thank you very much indeed for your cooperation.

Blair's autocracy

A former British Cabinet Secretary, Lord Butler, has come forward to accuse the lame duck Prime Minister of gutting the powers of the cabinet. According to Lord Butler the cabinet took only one decision in Blair's first eight months in office and that was to leave the Prime Minister the task of sorting out the Millennium Dome fiasco. For those in charge of the careful cultivated Blair legacy* the fact that Lord Butler compares St. Tony unfavourably with Margaret "The Milk Snatcher" Thatcher will not be an east pill to swallow.

*Note: from this point forward I shall be refering to the "Blair legacy" as the "Blairgacy" in order to conserve valuable keystrokes.

Is anyone else getting a sense of déjà vu?

The United States has provocatively been going forward with plans to base its son-of-the-son-of-the-son-of-Star Wars missile "defence" system in Eastern Europe. This has the Russians rather worried. After all they do have great deal of oil and natural gas and the Bush administration has shown its willingness to use force in places that have considerable fossil fuel reserves.

So how do they react? They up the ante. Perhaps this time the Russians will force America to spend its way into bankruptcy and the IMF could be sent in to clear up the mess.

Gone-zo watch (day 71)

Yes, US Attorney General and Bush succubus Alberto "Gone-zo" Gonzales is still employed. Who would have thought he would last this long? Not I but then I can't pick horses either. His support is slipping away so rapidly that we have to look as far a field as Idaho to find an editorial that supports him. Unfortunately for him we couldn't find one

Meanwhile the competition for second spot in the who-gets-sacked-first contest is heating up as England football Steve "I've Never Really Coached a Winning Side and It Doesn't Look Like I'm Going to Start Now" McClaren admits that recalling David Beckham could have been the last act of a desperate man. Should England fail to win in Estonia next month he is sure to go. I wonder how the head WAGS feel about the imminent return of Posh.

(To be continued...)

29 May 2007

The Natural Unhistory Museum is open

Well it's open and it is sure to ruin the education of dozens of unhappy children of uneducated adults who take them there.

Welcome to the Creation Museum. I don't plan on going even if I get really, really close!

"Patience my arse I'm going to kill something"

Didn't there used to be a poster that was more or less popular in the states that showed two vultures sitting on a branch or a rock with one saying the above to the other?

It turns out it might have been prophetic.

Jerry Falwell reincarnated!

This didn't take long. How long has he been dead; a week and a bit? He has resurfaced in Poland where the already homophobic government is set to an inquiry into gay propagandists the Teletubbies! And they are having psychologist Ewa Sowinska focus on Tinky Winky because they think he's gay. Tinky Winky is the one that so outraged Falwell before God snatched the good reverend up and clutched him to Her bosom.

The down slope

For the first time in a very long time American men in their thirties can expect to earn less in real terms than their fathers did. In 2004 the real income of thirty year old men was 12% less than in 1974 after adjusting for inflation. Family income for men in thirties is slightly up on that of thirty years ago but only because of the increasing number of wives and mothers in the work place.

It isn't likely to get much better either. For the second time today I feel lucky to be old!

Progress report

Thanks to the efforts of the Commander Guy Iraqi women are no longer relegated to a status of second class citizens virtually imprisoned in the home. They are now free to seek challenging new careers in exciting new places. He's quite a guy - our George.

What happens after

Should the Turkish armed forces finally decide that they cannot resist an incursion into Iraqi territory for a strike against Kurdish separatists based there what then? Does the US abandon Iraqi Kurdistan to a de facto Turkish occupation? Do American troops intervene? What?

At least we can rest assured that the Commander Guy and his minions have at least a good a plan for this eventuality as they did for post-invasion Iraq.

The overlong goodbye

St. Tony's extended and ridiculous farewell tour continues with a completely unnecessary taxpayer funded trip to Africa. The man is now a lame duck and therfore an irrelevance. Why are we paying for this? This is just stock footage for the legacy section on his website.

Obama's curious plan

US Presidential contender Barack Obama has come out in favour of "universal health care". I've only read a bit of the coverage but as far as I can tell it is essentially a welfare programme for insurance companies. This will not provide what Americans need unless of course they work for or own significant stock in a health insurance company. Health insurance firms add no value whatsoever to the process and any engineer worth his or her salt would eliminate them as redundant and unnecessary.

I am sure Sen. Obama will be accused by the right wingers of being a socialist but it is a peculiar type of socialism indeed.

Don't forget the sun screen

A huge collective sigh of relief must have been heard in Brighton the other day after the organisers of the local leg of the World Naked Bike Ride and police have come to an understanding.

The website for the global event, probably not safe for work, may be found here.

Brazil to go to Catholic Hell

Well can there be any doubt of that now? If the country is going to subsidise birth control pills so that poor woman can afford them does Il Papa have any other choice? If they we subsidising or suppressing news of child abuse that would be something entirely different.

How high is too high?

Or for that matter how hot is too hot? Supposedly acting on medical advice the Fédération Internationale de Football Association has banned international football matches in stadia above an altitude of 2500 metres above sea level. Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, all of whom have national stadia above the cut-off, are not well pleased. The ruling is not thought to cause any problems for either Bangladesh or the Netherlands. Personally I would think that matches in temperatures above 35C would be equally, if not more, dangerous.

Meanwhile in "America's Hometown" (and mine)

Is a demonstration of little seen American irony that the Philadelphia Inquirer, from the City of Brotherly Love, provides on its website a handy, dandy interactive homicide map? There is also an interactive shootings maps. That must drive the local National Rifle Association folks crazy! The NRA can at least take solace from the fact that the city's most recent killing didn't involve a gun. Not that they ever do because we all know that "guns don't kill people". We all know that it is "bullets that are shot out of guns that kill people"; and occasionally knives.

The Commander Guy goes to Cloud Cuckoo Land

It will come as no surprise to anyone that George W. Bush, the anti-President, and I don't see eye to eye. In defence of my position he doesn't exactly see eye to eye with reality either. He seems to believe that the American people agree with him and trust him.

There I was thinking he had given up on the booze.

These are your bugs

These are your bugs on drugs. Got it?

The contractor that couldn't shoot straight

Blackwater USA, the controversial security firm and major Pentagon subcontractor, is also the subject of a frightening and important book. They also opened fire on Iraqi security forces last week and killed an Iraqi driver. Since they are theoretically exempt from both Iraqi and American law it is unlikely that any charges will be brought. However, according to a company spokeswoman, they are required to file "action reports on any such incidents". That's a relief. I am sure that justice will be done.

That "Freedom Agenda" thing

As the courts in Thailand prepare to ban the two largest political parties the good old Washington Times, voice of Moonies and wingnuts everywhere reports "U.S.-Thai relations strong". Hmm.

A coward honours heroes

How noble of the Commander Guy to devote yesterday, at least a wee bit of it, to honouring those whose deaths he is personally responsible for. In his remarks at Arlington National Cemetery he said:

"Now this hallowed ground receives a new generation of heroes, men and women who gave their lives in places such as Kabul and Kandahar, Baghdad and Ramadi...Like those who came before them, they did not want war, but they answered the call when it came."

He left the "unlike me" unsaid.

A message to American taxpayers

Are you sitting comfortably? If not, try to relax before carrying on reading the rest of this post. Take a deep breath and perhaps two or three Valium.

Now. Here we go. The US government makes up the accounting rules that it applies to itself as it goes along. It doesn't use what are known as Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP). If you take these rules, which corporations must adhere to unless they are Enron or WorldCom, and apply them to the Federal government last year's deficit was 1.3 trillion USD rather than the 248 billion USD that the government claims. That comes to 11,434 USD per household more than the income tax paid. To make matters worse, especially for those under thirty, the cumulative deficit is actually 59.1 trillion USD or 516,348 USD per household.

Suddenly it doesn't seem so terrible to be old.

Weekend sport

The weather for our Bank Holiday weekend was, to put it mildly, abysmal. It meant that one was stuck in front of the telly trying to find some sport to watch. The test match was basically a non starter due to the rain so that was out.

There was the richest match in football, worth an estimated £60 million to the winner. It wasn't a bad match and Derby County won by a score of one to nil. That means my Palace get to play West Bromwich Albion again next year.

At the other end of the spectrum, admittedly shown only on the news, was the annual Coopers Hill cheese rolling competition in Gloucestershire. Here the contestants stand to win a lot less, a cheese, but it sure looks like a lot of fun if a bit dangerous. There were twenty five volunteers from St. John Ambulance on hand to assist. I wonder if they have an over 50 competition.

Less than human?

The scandals surrounding Iraq and the legal advice given to the Blair regime just won't go away. Today's Independent carries a story about the questionable guidelines set down by the Attorney General related to the rules that British forces were to follow when arresting and questioning Iraqis. His advice was that they were not bound to follow the Human Rights Act which incorporated the European Convention of Human Rights into the British statue books. The ECHR sets a lower threshold for inhuman and degrading treatment than the Geneva Conventions do.

I have a word of advice for Lord Goldsmith; once you define something as a "human right" there are no exceptions unless you chose to define someone as less than human. It really is quite simple and I don't see what it is you don't understand.

Note: the British Army's senior legal adviser, Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholas Mercer, ruled that the ECHR did constrain British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gone-zo watch (day 70)

A new week dawns for US Attorney General and Bush succubus Alberto "Gone-zo" Gonzales and he still has a job, any job. He must be feeling isolated though. Even though the Decider(TM) has decided to decide to hang on to him even members of his ethnic group are thinking it is time for him to go. They seem to think he's giving Hispanics a bad name. Has anyone checked his green card?

(To be continued...)

28 May 2007

This made me laugh

Unfortunately it is all too true.

The police state the police don't want

Frustrated by those damned activist judges and restrained by the UK's obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the Blair government, led on this front by the irascible John Reid, have demanded more powers for the police to harass and detain ordinary folks. The trouble is that the Old Bill don't actually want them. Haven't they read St. Tony's comment piece from yesterday's Times where he instructs us that all of this concern over human rights is just so much fiddle faddle and that we all have to surrender these freedoms in order that his legacy is secure? I'll bet that they haven't.

Why is Putin's Russia like Dubya's America?

In a demonstration of solidarity with right wing Christians in America the Russian authorities stood by as neo-Nazis assaulted gay right activists in Moscow before stepping in to arrest those who had been beaten.

Of for the good old days when you could get away with this in America. Wait a second - you still can get away with this in America. How silly of me!

Finally a reason to intervene in Zimbabwe

Clearly the human rights of Zimbabwe's citizens are no concern of the West as we have demonstrated by continuing to look the other way as autocrat Robert Mugabe tortures, imprisons, kills and starves his people. However now that he is talking about seizing the ownership of western companies I sure the troops will be there sharpish.

After all private property is important!

Who's counting?

Ten more American soldiers have been killed in Iraq pushing the total for May over one hundred again but then to quote White House spokesman Tony Snow: "it's just a number".

More proof that the French hate America and God

The winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival is a low budget Romanian film entitled "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" about a young woman who helps a friend to have an illegal abortion during Ceauşescu's brutal dictatorship. Instead of casting the heroic communist authorities, who fight desperately to save the life of the unborn foetus, in a good light the woman who assists her friend to murder her unborn child is cast as the heroine.

Shame. Shame.

No no child it wasn't me

When I was a kid my father used to tell me that one of the things about growing up was that one had to take responsibility for one's actions. Well it is good to know that sixty three year old Paul Wolfowitz is still a kid at heart as he blames the media rather than his own serious misjudgement for the fact that he will soon be on the dole.

There are also reports that his paramour, Shaha Riza, has dumped him. I suppose that is the fault of the press too and nothing to do with the fact that he was rubbish in the sack.

Dying for a drink

Imagine living in a town of over 125,000 souls with only one off licence. Personally I'd rather not think about it. Of course I don't think I would ever live in Utah let alone the unfortunate town of St. George. Alcohol possession is tightly controlled in the state that is dominated by the less than progressive Church of Latter Day Saints. You can only purchase booze from the state and the state thinks one shop is enough. The queues often start outside.

Hey. Isn't having a state monopoly over anything, including booze, just one small step from communism? Someone should point that out to them. Let the market rule!

Way down south in the heart of dixie..

...terrorists come in all shapes and sizes. Just ask the Alabama Department of Homeland Security. The state security apparatus has had to take down a portion of its website that included antiwar groups, gay rights groups, environmentalists, animal rights advocates and abortion opponents in its list of possible terrorists. Luis Posada Carilles was, however, mysteriously absent. According to the now vanished web page the Department believed that "single-issue extremists often focus on issues that are important to all of us. However, they have no problem crossing the line between legal protest and ... illegal acts, to include even murder, to succeed in their goals".

Haven't they learned anything from Nixon? You're supposed to keep these thoughts secret!

What's a drought good for?

Cleaning out the lake apparently. Officials in Florida are taking advantage of the state's long dry spell to scour the bottom of Lake Okeechobee which has fallen to a near record low depth of only 9.2 feet. I am certain that the South Florida Water Management District staffers carefully checked the documentation of the workers that they hired to do the job. After all we wouldn't want any Democrats slipping into state employment now would we?

Gone-zo watch (day 69)

Given it is a bank holiday in America as well there isn't much to report as to the controversy surrounding US Attorney General and Bush succubus Alberto "Gone-zo" Gonzales. He still has his job. If he isn't spending today in Crawford TX fellating the Commander Guy he's probably at home burning the truth.

(To be continued...)

27 May 2007

Happy bank holiday

Yes it is the resplendently named Spring Bank Holiday weekend here on Old Blighty. What does that mean you ask? It means the weather will be shit. In fact this looks to be the grandmother of all bank holiday weekends. Good thing I haven't any plans, eh?

His legacy is more important than freedom - just ask him

It would appear that St. Tony Blair is leaving in the nick of time after he said yesterday that civil liberty must be sacrificed on the alter of the "Global War on Terra".

By the way Tony I think Gordon and the missus are coming round to Number 10 this afternoon to measure up for curtains.

And you thought the Cubbies sucked!

Some weeks ago after an abysmal start to the season I swore that I would not mention the baseball team I support again until they got above .500. Well the Philadelphia Phillies have managed this in the nick of time. It is time that you all know that I support the losingest professional sports team of all time and they are about to do what no other teams has done before and which precious few will do after them. What is that you ask?

Lose their 10,000th game! Only 21 more to go; a mere doddle for the likes of them. And to think my family has been supporting them from the very beginning. I'm not sure what that says about the Stringers but it sure says something.

Stay tuned for further, sad developments.

There must be a better way

Today the Observer's monthly food supplement highlights the scam that is American food "aid" which is actually little more than a welfare programme for American agribusiness. Read it.

Adventures in learning Kentucky style

If I still lived in the states I know how I would be spending my Memorial Day weekend. Like so many of you I would be heading off to Petersburg KY for the long awaited grand opening of the Creation Museum where you will be able to see the true history of the world's last and only 7000 years. It is sure to be an exciting event and fun for the whole, misguided family.

I fear though that the headline from this ABC story about the opening ("Creation Museum Marries Adam, Eve and Dinosaurs") might be subject to misinterpretation and cause considerable angst amongst those folks most likely to visit. After all marriage is supposed to be between one man and one woman rather than one man and one extinct reptile!

No vacancy

Sometime soon, very soon indeed, the jails (or is it gaols) in the UK are going to be completely full and the head of the prison service plans to refuse ministerial plans to jam more in.

So if you want to do porridge you should think of committing your crime today as there are only 320 spots left!

Will we still need ash trays?

As the United Kingdom prepares to go smoke free, in public at least, in July the European Union is preparing to go one step further as it plans to ensure that only fire safe cigarettes will be available for sale by 2010. These cigarettes will put themselves out when you fall asleep, pissed and smoking in bed therefore saving hundreds of lives. These will undoubtedly be closely followed by fags that are completely fire-proof and will not burn at all.

"Thank you sir may I have another tax exemption?"

What do British public schools* have in common with the Royal Cancer Society, the British Red Cross and Crisis? They are considered charitable institutions and are therefore exempt from taxes. This saves Eton et al in the neighbourhood of £100 million annually. Now Jon Cruddas, a candidate for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party, wants that to end and these havens of the British aristocracy are less than pleased. Well too fucking bad.

*Note: for Americans - public schools in Britain are not actually open to the public unless you have lots and lots of money and the right bloodlines. They are the equivalent of America's most expensive private schools.

Perhaps they should call it Neo-Labour

As a member of a party that used to consider itself a socialist party, and may again, British trade minister Margaret Hodge must be less than pleased by the support she is getting from the far right wing British National Party over her statements on housing priority for British folks over immigrants.

Gone-zo watch (day 68)

I wonder how US Attorney General and Bush succubus Alberto "Gone-zo" Gonzales is spending his bank holiday weekend; perhaps a cook out in the garden with the kids, catching a ball game or just popping 'round the White House and fellating the Commander Guy. No matter what he is doing he has to count himself lucky to still be employed and he must know his days are numbered. If he hasn't yet realised that then reading these opinion pieces from noted America hating communist hot spots such as Tuscaloosa AL and of course Town Hall might be of some help.

(To be continued...)

26 May 2007

God's Army (and Air Force)

Did the Army and Air Force think that no one would notice their involvement with holiday weekend event sponsored by Task Force Patriot USA* whose mission is to share "the fullness of life in Jesus Christ with all U.S. military, military veterans and families"?

Well if they did they were wrong.

*Note: their website seems to be temporarily unavailable!

"I am shocked, shocked I tell you!"

For years I have loyally believed all of those, predominately but not exclusively, Republican American legislators who have been telling us for so long that the reason that OBY/GYNs can no longer "practise their love" is because of extortionately high malpractice insurance costs. And why the premiums for this cover so ridiculously high you ask.

Well let me tell you. It is because the insurance companies are gouging the doctors.

Hey wait a minute. That can't be right can it?

(The full report (PDF) from the American Association for Justice, based on the financial statements of fifteen major malpractice insurance firms is available here.)

In which I celebrate the Detroit Free Press...

...for their opinion piece entitled "Treat all terrorism suspects equally" in which it agrees with what I have been saying about Luis Posada Carilles for months thereby earning my respect! To quote them:

"The Bush administration's failure to bring Posada to justice further undercuts the notion that it is committed to fighting terrorism wherever it finds it."

It should undercut the notion for the notion is palpably untrue. The "Global War on Terra" is a war against whoever the Decider(TM) decides to decide are the, preferably Muslim, evildoers of the month. After all extremism in the defence of autocracy and corporate power is no vice, right?

High hubris

Testifying before the Helsinki Commission in Washington DC on Thursday Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said the following:

"It would be an insult to hold that great country to low standards...We want [insert country name here] to be a partner in the world, and we want [insert country name here] to be strong, but strong in 21st-century terms" America would like to see [insert country name here] "with strong, democratic and independent institutions in and out of government; with a strong civil society, free press and active opposition; with strong and independent middle and entrepreneurial classes...We do not exempt [insert country name here] from our belief in the universal potential of freedom."

The country that Fried was speaking of was:

A) Iraq
B) Israel
C) The United States of America
D) Pakistan
E) The Russian Federation

(The answer is C) The United States of America. No wait - I got carried away - the answer is E) The Russian Federation.)

Green food

It has been proposed that the Soil Association, the organisation responsible for certifying all organic foods sold in Britain, should remove its approval from all foods which are transported by air. Not a day too soon. One is not exactly saving the planet by eating organic asparagus from Chile or organic beef from Australia.

This should confuse the Commander Guy no end

Does anyone know where George W. Bush stands on faith based protest; at least faith based protest that doesn't focus on abortion or the breasts of a member of the Jackson family? In Scotland Christian activists are taking part in protests against nuclear weapons at Faslane naval base. They then plan to march south through Sellafield and end their march in London on 6 August, Hiroshima Day.

Attention Minutemen!

Whilst you folks have been wandering around in the desert near the Mexican American border looking for someone to mow your lawn or watch you kids you have been ignoring the fact that dangerous and Canadian terrorists, who could possibly be French as well, could slip into the country unnoticed by sneaking out of the stacks in the Haskell Library in Stanstead Quebec (that's Canada) into the entryway of the Haskell Library in Derby Line, VT (that's America).

Where have you been? Who knows how many of the Francophile evildoers have brazenly entered the country quite possibly carrying copies of Jean Paul Sartre's L'Etre et le Neant or even the insidious Astérix le Gaulois with which to poison the minds of innocent young Americans.

Au nord mes amis!

So help me L.

A judge in North Carolina has ruled that any religious text can be used to swear an oath in court. Frankly I am surprised that this was not already established law but then we are talking about North Carolina which is certainly not one of the most progressive of states.

I can hardly wait for the first Scientologist witness to take advantage of this ruling by taking his or her oath on a copy of Battleship Earth.

I hope he enjoyed it!

His imperial potentate American Emperor and ruler of all he surveys George the First apparently celebrated last night over the only victory he is ever going to have in relation to Iraq.

The Commander Guy signed into law a bill that provides financing for the illegal occupation of Iraq after Democrats in the House and Senate punked out.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

If it says Libby's, Libby's, Libby's on the cell door

US Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wants I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby to serve thirty to thirty seven months in prison after his conviction on charges of obstruction. Documents that Mr. Fitzgerald filed with the court said:

"Mr. Libby, a high-ranking public official and experienced lawyer, lied repeatedly and blatantly about matters at the heart of a criminal investigation concerning the disclosure of a covert intelligence officer's identity...He has shown no regret for his actions, which significantly impeded the investigation."

How they are going to be able to fit the three years inside between the time that Scooter is sentenced and the moment that the Decider(TM) decides to decide to pardon him is open to question.

Democracy - Texas style

Ah Texas. They always do things bigger and bolder down there. It must have something to do with the fact that the state was once, however briefly, a country in its own right.

Now things are getting a bitted stirred up in the state's House of Representatives because the Speaker, Republican Tom Craddick, is refusing to countenance attempts to remove him from office. He reign has been so ham-fisted that even the other members of his party can't stand him. Yesterday when fellow Republican Fred Hill tried to enter a motion to allow a vote to remove him from office Speaker Craddick refused to recognise him and when that was appealed he said that "the speaker's discretion to recognize a member on a motion on any matter is unappealable (sic)". After Craddick left the building Democrats attempted to storm the podium but were "restrained" by capital police.

If only the Democrats had been exercising their 2nd Amendment rights to carry firearms perhaps they would have succeeded!

Is it cruel and unusual yet?

The great state of Ohio killed Christopher Newton yesterday. It took ten attempts and two hours.

Good work everyone! Kudos is due you.

Persona non grata

The Decider(TM) certainly possesses the Midas touch doesn't he? His former chief of staff, Andy Card, received an honorary Doctorate (in obfuscation?) from the University of Massachusetts yesterday where he was roundly booed and generally treated with disdain.

Wolfowitz to Wal-Mart?

By early summer sacked World Bank President Paul "Old Socks" Wolfowitz should be looking for a new job. I recommend that he consider a career at Wal-Mart; it seems that he would fit right into the corporate culture and would not have to suffer through that awkward adjustment period.

"If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well It were done quickly"

John Major, who has probably proved to be a better ex-Prime Minister than he was Prime Minister, has told Tony Blair, in no uncertain terms, to stop fucking about and get out of Number 10.

Note: I may have paraphrased what Sir John said just a wee bit.

Excuses, excuses, excuses

Should the US government ever get around to deploying the son-of-the-son-of-the-son-of-Star Wars missile shield is it likely that it will make anyone, anywhere feel any safer? Yet another test of the system has failed and had to be aborted.

What is the reason this time you ask?

Answer: the target missile wasn't flying high enough. Should they have announced that? Doesn't this tell the evil doers just what they need to know? I assume that Iran, China and al-Qaeda will all now embark on a development programme for low flying ballistic missiles.

I want to be alone!

Jim Cole is a photographer and author about grizzly bears. On Wednesday, for the second time in fifteen years, he was mauled by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park.

The bear at the heart of the incident, who is known only as Yogi, is quoted as saying that he "finally freaked out" after being tailed by what he termed the "humarazzi". Said Yogi:

"Everywhere I turned he was always there. When I can out of the den first thing in the spring what do I hear but 'Yogi over here', 'smile' and 'click, click, whirr, whirr'. Even if I was just popping round the hive for a bit of honey he was omnipresent. I just couldn't take it anymore. I think something snapped in my head. I hope he's alright but I never want to see him again."

Mr. Cole is said to be in fair condition in a hospital in Idaho Falls recuperating from seven hours in the operating theatre.

Pot meet kettle!

A report by the US Department of Defense to the US Congress accuses China of spending too much on its military and not being transparent enough.

Snigger. Snigger.

Just another day in Philly

"We don't prepare for holidays. We prepare for funerals."

Coke splashing out on water

Yesterday Coca-Cola Corporation announced that it will shell out 4.1 billion USD (£2.1 billion) to acquire Glaceau a bottled water company whose key product is called "Vitamin Water". Are they serious? "Vitamin Water"? This "premium" product seems to be nothing more than ordinary water with some juice or just vitamins added.

Only time will tell if this major investment will have a better pay off for the Atlanta company than its "Source de Sidcup" bottled tap water venture back in 2004.

Followup required

At the end of this article on Afghanistan in today's Guardian newspaper I found this tantalising little snippet:

"Separately, the Guardian has learned that, to the fury of civilian organisations, US forces are using an aid agency's property as a place to interrogate Afghans."

Hopefully we will learn more soon.

New twelve step programme required

Britain has become a nation of "flying junkies" who have done or are willing to do little to alter their lifestyles in the battle to combat climate change. In a Guardian/ICM poll only 20% of the public wanted to see higher airline taxes brought in to discourage air travel as opposed to 30% who wish to see these taxes reduced.

In my defence I travel by train whenever practical although I cannot honestly claim this as a sacrifice I have made to save the planet. I just prefer travelling by rail and couple with a pathological aversion to airports.

The unravelling Ukraine

It seems like only yesterday that Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko was a hero to supporters of democracy everywhere after he was victorious in his "Orange Revolution". How quickly things change. Yesterday, after he siezed command Interior Ministry troops and sacked the country's Prosecutor General Svyatoslav Piskun, the country seems on the brink of violence and left Yushchenko appearing a despot.

Rumours of their death may have been greatly exaggerated

Apiologists in both the US and Britain have been expressing concern over rapid reductions in the bee population and the danger that this poses to agriculture. However an occurrence in Bournemouth yesterday suggest that perhaps the bees haven't actually died off but rather have been lying low and waiting for a opportunity to attack low cost air traffic.

Lest we forget

Four farm workers in Wales and North West England have tested positive for the H7N2 strand of avian influenza which is not considered as dangerous to humans as the H5N1 strain.

British court finds UK guilty of war crimes

Well at least after a fashion they have. The trial of the so-called "Fairford Two" has ended with a finding of not guilty for the two men who were accused of conspiring to cause criminal damage when they broke into RAF Fairford in 2003 with the intent to damage American B-52s which were being used to bomb Iraq. Their defence argued that their acts were justified by the intent to prevent the commission of a crime, e.g. the illegal bombing of Iraq, and as that has been accepted by the jury this essentially means that war crimes have been or were intended to be committed.

Perhaps the case against the government should now be turned over to the International Criminal Court. I shall hold my breath.

Standing alone

Very, very alone. The United States under the control of the Decider(TM) once again shows itself to be isolated from the rest of the world as it rejects out of hand any and all of the climate change proposals put forward by the German government to be agreed at next month's G8 summit. To think it was only yesterday that soon to be ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair was saying that he was optimistic about American acceptance of the proposals. I reckon the Decider(TM) has decided to decide that you are now irrelevant Tony.

A note to anyone living at or near sea level; this might be a good time to consider relocation inland.

Gone-zo watch (day 67)

So US Attorney General and Bush succubus Alberto "Gone-zo" Gonzales has lasted until another weekend and since this one is a holiday weekend it ensures Sr. Gonzales of at least one more day of employment. Even so there are even more difficulties ahead for the inept and incompetent man who is America's top lawyer. Now oozing out of the cess pit that is the Bush administration is the news that Gonzales's process of reforming the corps of immigration judges might have come up a little short. It seems that whilst Republican loyalty and right wing credentials were critical for those appointed to the judgeships by Gone-zo even rudimentary familiarity with immigration law was not. Suspicious behaviour from someone with the surname Gonzales don't you think?

Elsewhere later today we should know how desperate England football coach Steve "I've Never Really Coached a Winning Side and It Doesn't Look Like I'm Going to Start Now" McClaren, the other contender for runner up in the first annual Yank in London who-will-get-sacked-first-competition, is as he is set to name the England squad for the upcoming friendly against Brazil and the European Championship qualifier against Estonia. It appears likely that David Beckham will return from exile but even if he does it will only be a stop gap measure as once he begins to play in America against lacklustre competition his form will assuredly fall off and he will no longer be up to the challenge.

(To be continued...)

25 May 2007

Worth a read

From Colonel Dan Smith, USA (Ret.) a Memorial Day message.

Conrad Black cleared!

Unfortunately for Baron Black of Crossharbour the jury trying him hasn't actually cleared him yet but at least the great man has cleared himself. Speaking after his former business partner testified against him he said:

"I don't think he has any credibility...I don't think any jury in the world would convict anybody on the basis of what he said. I repeat my long-standing view that this was never a criminal case - except possibly against him."

The defence rests your Honour!

We have met the censors and they is us

Washington DC's Smithsonian Museum stands accused of toning down the message in a climate change exhibit. According to a former administrator the changes were made by the museum themselves to "avoid any political conflicts with Congress or the Bush administration". Now which of those two do you think they were really concerned about?

Too good to pass up

"Paula Abdul breaks nose in dog mishap"

The details are a little unclear but according to a spokesman "she's a little sore, but is doing fine". There was no news available as to Ms. Abdul's condition.

As sweet as

In order to soften the blow of the news that Florida's Tupelo honey crop is in severe danger due to the ongoing drought that is definitely not being caused by non-existent climate change I give you -

Van Morrison

Recalls, recalls everywhere

Can anyone explain how diesel fuel gets into tins of turnip greens?

A totally unnecessary apology

Richard Jones, the American ambassador to Israel, has been forced to apologise over remarks he made earlier in the week about convicted Israeli spy and American traitor Jonathan Pollard. After a speech at Bar Ilan University Israeli Radio quoted him as saying:

"It came out in the trial very clearly, Jonathan Pollard took money for what he did, he sold out his country. The fact that he wasn't executed is the mercy that Jonathan Pollard will receive...This is a very emotional issue in the United States. I know he was helping a friend but that's what makes it even more emotional for Americans, if a friend would cooperate in aiding and abetting someone who is committing treason against his own country."

Mr. Jones has now retracted the remarks apologising for being insensitive and saying that he had been "misinformed and misleading" adding that he regretted "any distress that I may have caused Mr. Pollard's family and loved ones".

Can you imagine a similar volte face over a statement about a traitor who had sold out America to any other country? The UK? Russia? China? Iran?

I don't think so. I demand that he apologise for the apology!

"The General" can't get his kit off

That great champion of democracy Pakistan's President Pervez "The General" Musharraf has said that he would like to take off his military uniform but that due to some freak occurrence, not unlike those that happen to superheroes early in their careers, he cannot as his uniform is now his skin. He has also said that the Pakistani military did not wish to become in politics but were "invited to tend civil administration". That has to be the strangest euphemism for a coup that I have ever heard.

Have I got this right?

In the trial of accused terrorist Jose Padilla one Yahya Goba, a Yemeni national already convicted of terrorist offences, has testified that he doesn't know Jose Padilla, hasn't met Jose Padilla but once went to terrorist training camp in the wilds of Afghanistan.

This is helpful to the prosecution how?

Bending the law

The British Medical Association has issued a new report entitled "The use of drugs as weapons - The concerns and responsibilities of healthcare professionals". The addresses the loopholes in international law that allow governments to use drugs as weapons for the purposed of internal law enforcement even though they are banned in war time under both the 1925 Geneva Protocol and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. The BMA document cites three primary reasons why this activity should be outlawed:
  1. The international legal norms which protect humanity from poison and the deliberate spread of disease which have been put in place by decades of negotiation risk being undermined.
  2. Widespread but responsible deployment of drugs as weapons would inevitably result in their reaching the hands of state or non-state actors for whom lethality among those targeted is not of concern. This would simply be chemical warfare with a medical label.
  3. Using existing drugs as weapons means knowingly moving towards the top of a ‘slippery slope’ at the bottom of which is the spectre of ‘militarization’ of biology; this could include intentional manipulation of peoples' emotions, memories, immune responses or even fertility.
The full report (PDF) is available here.

"I'll have one of each please"

A 29 year old woman from Shrewsbury is set to go to trial on charges of "making a false statement" after she entered into a civil union with a woman last year before her marriage to a man had been dissolved. Some folks are just too greedy for their own good.

Was Jesus a shark?

I only ask because it appears that the fish is capable of virgin births. A female bonehead shark in Nebraska has given birth without having been near a male in three years, much like Mary Cheney, and DNA tests have confirmed that the mother had reproduced through a process known as "automatic parthenogenesis".

Gone-zo does his homework

The US Attorney General, Alberto "Gone-zo" Gonzales, has released his annual report to Congress on the government's efforts to combat human trafficking and it is available here (PDF). Why it takes 1.6 MBs to say "I can't remember" I just don't know.

Oops there goes another fire ant

Red imported fire ants are insidiously moving north out of Florida and Texas and are now reported to be making their presence felt in Virginia. Are these communist insects migrating as a consequence of non-existent global warming? Dr. Dini Miller, a pest specialist from Virginia Tech University is quoted as saying "this is a horrid, obnoxious pest that we do not want in Virginia" although it is possible that she was speaking about an impending visit from US Vice President "I'm a Big Dick" Cheney.

Thailand takes another step in the wrong direction

The government of Thailand is run by the members of a military junta who seized power from the democratically elected government with scarcely a murmur of protest out of Washington. That was bad enough.

Now the country, which is embroiled in a bitter and violent conflict with Muslim separatists in its south, looks set to name Buddhism as its official religion.

I expect an even smaller murmur this time.

Freedom of speech ≠ freedom to hear?

The Hattiesburg American out of Mississippi has finally won its long running battle with the US Justice department over access to records pertaining to the seizure tapes belonging to reporter for the paper of a speech made by Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia back in 2004. A member of the US Marshalls Service seized the tapes from the journalists allegedly at the behest of Justice Scalia.

So just exactly what did he say that he didn't want anyone to hear?

Moqtada's back and this time he's angry

It seems that the springtime holiday that Iraqi Shi'a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has been enjoying in Iran is now over. He attended prayers at a mosque in Kufa today where he led the faithful in some chants that should clear up any misgivings you might have should you not be entirely clear on his political positions:

"No, no for Satan. No, no for America. No, no for the occupation. No, no for Israel."

Any questions?

New tool

The Integrity in Science Project has launched an Integrity in Science database wherein you can look up the links between research scientists and industry.

Become a Bushie in three easy steps

Step 1: say "I have broken no laws and have nothing to hide"

Step 2: say "I will tell the truth"

Step 3: say "I won't testify without immunity"

"I shit in your general direction"

Because we all want to be the bird you can find video of an Islamopigeon shitting on the Commander Guy here. Enjoy.

Protect your soldiers!

If you're a bloke and you and the missus are trying to have a kid it is probably best that you say out of the sun this summer; your swimmers don't like it.

You have been warned.

Is the US harbouring terrorists in Iraq?

Attacks across the border from Iraq into Turkey by Kurdish terrorists, or "separatists" if you are so inclined, have resulted in a number of deaths this week. The Turkish government is coming under increasing pressure to attack terrorists hiding out in Iraq there so they won't "follow them home" and strike in Turkey.

The US is, rather curiously, urging restraint.

It didn't work for me

I have suffered from that wonderful seventeenth century affliction known as the gout since my early thirties. I can tell you unequivocally that I have never experienced anything as painful as the now thankfully rare attacks. It can get so bad that the weight of a bed sheet on the afflicted joint is excruciating.

Well researchers from the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada are reporting that drinking four or more cups of coffee a day dramatically reduces the incidence of attacks.

Well it hasn't worked for me. I probably drink four or more cups five days out of seven since my late teens.

Truth in advertising

Connecticut’s Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, is suing American discount retailer Best Buy because they aren't the best buy after all. Such a subtle ploy there is no wonder that gullible consumers fell for it. I mean who would think that name of the store might actually be a porky?

"We've got you surrounded! Come out of there with your leg off."

Dateline: Bellingham, WA, USA - a local woman believed that she saw a man enter St. Joseph's Hospital carrying a gun. Local law enforcement leapt into action and locked down the building immediately saving countless lives! Then it turned out that the rifle was actually a prosthesis. Irrespective of falseness of the alarm local deputy police chief David Doll was pleased. He is quoted as having said "everyone did everything right".

Congratulations are in order

American couple Mary Cheney and Heather Poe have a new baby named Samuel David Cheney. The good news for young Sam is that he has two Mums and they don't live in a state the number of Mums per child is restricted.

The bad news for Sammy is that only three of his four grandparents are not Satan.

The carnage continues

In case you haven't been paying attention six American soldiers were killed yesterday in Iraq bring the total for the month to 88; pushing the month towards the 100 threshold once again.

Whip me, beat me just don't burn me!

Deep inside every journalist who works for a broadsheet newspaper, unmentioned and unmentionable, lurks the desire to write for a tabloid. I am indebted to the Guardian's "Diary" column for pointing me to this story, entitled "Fire whips though bondage parlour", from The Age newspaper in Melbourne about a fire in a facility devoted to bondage. Sit back, relax and enjoy the breathless prose:

"An MFB spokesman said 18 firefighters 'were tied up for some time but disciplined and controlled firefighting contained the blaze'"

I am certain that the credited journos, AAP & Reko Renni, needed to have a fag afterwards.

Air America

Those freedom hating folks at the British Broadcasting Corporation are at it again. Last night the corporation's This World series aired a segment entitled "Mystery Flights". This show attempted to cast America's morally and legally justified "extraordinary rendition" programme in a negative light. They even went so far as to track down the former European head of the CIA, Tyler Drumheller, and forced him to say, undoubtedly after the utilisation of "intensive interrogation techniques" on the unfortunate man:

"It's a mess, and it's going to get worse. A lot of things were done after 9/11 that are going to be looked at for years to come. There are going to be commissions, inquiries, court cases."

I don't know if the Yanks amongst you will get an opportunity to see this. If you get a chance it is worth your time.

(Good) terrorists in America

The alleged mastermind behind the bombing of Greenpeace's ship the Rainbow Warrior, Jean-Pierre Dillais, is alive and happily living in America. Despite his admitted involvement in this act of terrorism M. Dillais, a former French intelligence operative, has never been tried for the crime. Somehow I missed this story when it was covered by Harper's Magazine earlier this month but the story popped up in the Guardian today.

What is M. Dillais doing in America? Well it is obvious isn't it? He is selling weaponry to the US government including those branches involved in the global and everlasting "War on Terra"! Oh, the irony!

Greenpeace has demanded that he be deported but the US government has yet to respond other than to say that "the law is very clear: persons involved in acts of terrorism are not admitted into the United States". That clears that up then.

By the way has anyone seen Luis Posada Carilles lately?

An apology not far enough

Il Papa is trying to makes amends for his recent remarks in Brazil and making a bit of a hash of it. He has admitted that some tactical mistakes (rape, murder, plunder, enslavement etc) might have been made during the forced conversion of indigenous peoples in Latin America to one and only true, God certified religion but that at the end of the day these people should consider themselves fortunate victims because they are now better off.

Lucky them.

So much for a quiet retirement

Jacques Chirac is no longer the President of France.

Ergo Jacques Chirac no longer has immunity from prosecution.

Ergo Jacques Chirac just might be in deep shit trouble.

On the other hand what is 30 million Euros amongst friends anyway?

Gone-zo watch (day 66)

It is hard to believe that US Attorney General and Bush succubus Alberto "Gone-zo" Gonzales is still tenaciously hanging on to his job. If the Decider(TM) were an even marginally competent administrator or leader we should be surprised that Gonezo remains his man; he isn't; we're not. Meanwhile the investigation into acts of malfeasance in the Justice Department seems to widen with each passing hour.

Considering the situation seriously for a moment it is absolutely clear that Gonezo must go. There are really only two scenarios to consider.

The first is that despite all of his testimony before Congress and other public pronouncements he was intimately involved in the sackings of the US Attorneys and that he bowed to political pressure in selecting those who would go. This is what I believe to be the case. If it is true then he must go as he has lied to the American people and he has lied to Congress under oath which is a crime that should be prosecuted.

The second scenario is that he truly did delegate the responsibility entirely for these decisions. Prosecuting US Attorneys are the public face of the US Justice Department. One can make a reasonable argument that they are the most important employees in the entire organisation. If Gonezo believed that it was acceptable for him to leave these decisions to others without even the slightest involvement on his part or at the very least his approval of the decisions having been informed of the reasoning behind them then he is clearly unfit to lead an organisation as important to the American people and to American ideals as the one he does and therefore he must go.

At the end of the day it doesn't matter at all which of these is the truth the man must go and he must go now!

In related news the other contender for runner up in the first annual Yank in London who-will-get-sacked-first-competition, England football coach Steve McClaren is growing increasingly concerned over his rival's incredible staying power and is considering taking desperate measures, such as recalling David Beckham, in order to hang on to his job.

(To be continued...)

24 May 2007

How many wives you got mister?

Samuel Fischer has an idea for the small and struggling Texas town of Lockney but it isn't likely to impress the marriage is a bond between one man and one woman crowd. He'd like them to become polygamists.

Well they are pink!

Two gay flamingos in Slimbridge, near Bristol in the UK, have adopted a baby chick and are caring for it. Undoubtedly there hordes of concerned Christians will soon descend on the wildlife refuge in an attempt to save the poor innocent young bird from a life of sin and damnation.

Supporting the troops

In February of 2005, as things continued to get worse in Iraq and the insurgency grew in strength, the Marine Corps in the field made an urgent request for about 1,000 so-called Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles. After full consideration and an unknown number of three martini lunches things finally started moving on the request eighteen months later.

Semper Fi my arse.

Boom boom

Those freedom hating Democrats in Washington DC have once again struck a blow against the forces of good by refusing to fund design efforts for new atomic weapons.

I mean how the hell is America supposed to be able to blow the hell out of anyone we want to; whenever we want to if we haven't got the latest shit in our silos? And it was only 89 million USD as well. Halliburton wouldn't even bother to get out of bed for that kind of money.

Because human rights aren't for everyone

Three suspected terrorists who were subject to so-called control orders in the UK have gone missing. How has the irascible Home Secretary John Reid reacted to this news? By announcing that to prevent this happening in the future the government will probably have to disregard parts of the European Convention on Human Rights so that he can treat these evildoers more harshly without judicial or international interference.

Wouldn't a better solution be for Mr. Reid to find some remaining speck of the old Empire where he could open his own personal Guantánamo Bay Beach and Leisure Resort*. I've had a look and the Pitcairn Islands, St. Helena and especially South Georgia all appear at first blush to be excellent candidates.

*Note: the US Navy is so humble about the excellent facilities that they maintain that the official website for the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base doesn't even mention the resort facilities that are maintained there for lucky foreigners.