Sunday, September 30, 2007

Why I don't hate Americans

...even though I am dead opposed to Amerikan Empire, Amerikan exceptionalism. It's because of people like this, publications like Mother Jones magazine, and Bob Dylan. People are just people. Often a majority of them are amazingly stupid and hate-filled, but when they're good, they're very very good. It's mostly when they're thick that they're horrid. But when the lunatics (the hate-filled right-wingers, the anti-democracy politicians and those who own them, the religious nutbars, the fascist wealthy, etc. etc.) take over the playhouse (as they did very quickly in Amerika, running the show for more than a century now) that things become rage-inducing. But the population, well, they're just like the rest of us; one minute they've picked up torches and headed up the road to burn a witch, the next they're donating time, energy, and money to rebuild someplace they'd never heard of five minutes earlier. We're a weird species, but somehow, in the depths of all this cynicism, I still find hope (yeah, I'm talking to you, Naomi Klein, Gwynne Dyer, and Wal-Mart Watch).

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The Net is SO over...

Seriously, how long did you think that unmediated communication would last? This quote from the International Herald Tribune:

In the name of counterterrorism, Western countries are moving to erect
online security borders with aggressive proposals to block Web sites
and to unleash Trojan e-mails containing spyware that would monitor

Critics warn that the security measures could lead to censorship and
privacy invasion, but governments are pressing for legislation aimed at
thwarting attacks and walling off Web sites that espouse illegal
activities or are "likely to have the effect of facilitating" crime."

You can read the rest here.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

By The Numbers

Last year, according to this USA Today story, Gen. John Abizaid, then commander of military forces in the region, estimated the Sunni insurgency to be 10,000 to 20,000 fighters. He said the Shiite militia members were in the "low thousands."
Interestingly, there are 25,000 detainees in US military custody in Iraq and the US esitmates that 19,000 militants have been killed in fighting with coalition forces.
In other words, the US has killed or captured at least twice the number of people that it estimates are fighting against US forces.

Must be seen... be believed. The Lego Bible. Yeah, pretty much as insane as you think. Of particular interest is the section "The Law" which tells you when to stone your children, your whole family, and when to marry your sister-in-law.

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In case you thought I was kidding...

...about slavery being back on the table for discussion in the US, check out this piece of writing from Michael Medved. Thankfully, there is a rebuttal by Jillian posted to Alternet.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Don't argue. The Corporation knows what's good for you

As this article in the NY Times explains, Verizon refused NARAL access to its short code texing service. This would have allowed people to sign up for the receipt of text messages from NARAL (the National Abortion Rights Action League). Verizon claims the denial was based on;

"[An] "internal policy” that “was designed to ward against communications such as anonymous hate messaging and adult materials sent to children.” The policy, Mr. Nelson said, had been developed “before text messaging protections such as spam filters adequately protected customers from unwanted messages.”

Let's be clear. Once again, this was a service that people had to request. Verizon has now changed the policy in regards to NARAL, and claims to have instituted a new policy, but refuses to make that new policy public. But it also needs to be noted that "[T]he company did not retreat from its position that it is entitled to decide what messages to transmit."

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007


...usually refers to sewage, which is about right. Steve Benen provides an entry point into the whole Blackwater mess in Iraq. Check out also the Washington Post story about the divisions that Blackwater is generating between the State Department and the Pentagon.
The deeper issue, that the US government has now got a private army that is unaccountable to Congress or the Senate (note that the State Department has asserted that information possessed by Blackwater (including the terms of their contract) belongs to the State Department and cannot be disclosed to anyone) isn't discussed. The only thing discussed is how to recover from this "black eye" that Blackwater has given the US forces in Iraq by shooting two dozen unarmed civilians, killing 11. As Naomi Wolf pointed out both in her book The End of America and on The Colbert Report the other evening, this is one of the ten historic signals that a country has descended into fascism. Wolf seems to think that the collapse of Amerika can be reversed. The rest of us under the boot of the Amerikan empire certainly hope so--as our business and political elites have bound us to tightly to the Empire.

Update: As reported on Yahoo News, "Blackwater has argued in court that it is immune to [...] a lawsuit
because the company operates as an extension of the military and cannot
be responsible for deaths in a war zone." Clearly, Blackwater believes it is a private military force above any oversight by anyone except it's own CEO. No laws restricting it, no rules it must follow.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Everything's Going Good in Iraf

Just a thought

Maybe James Lovelock is right with his Gaia theory. This story on the BBC website points out that these guys,

(image from the BBC website)

Salmonella typhimurium, when flown on the space shuttle in weightless conditions, become three times more virulent, and change the way they express 167 genes.

"Wherever humans go, microbes go; you can't sterilise
humans. Wherever we go, under the oceans or orbiting the Earth, the
microbes go with us, and it's important that we understand... how
they're going to change," Cheryl Nickerson, from the Center for
Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at Arizona State University, US,
told the Associated Press.

Now this is wild-ass baseless speculation, but maybe Gaia doesn't want this plague of humans spreading through space. Maybe this is one more step in containing the cancer. I realize that I'm just poking at a bruise here, but maybe all that great SF taking place in human colonies on other planets, on generation craft, and the like, maybe the planet, maybe the universe, aren't all that interested in letting us out. This is, after all, just one of the many many microbes we carry around with us. If we hit space and they all start going bugfuck on us, well, then maybe the enviro's are correct. Maybe we have to deal with our life here at home, 'cause Earth might be the only planet we get. Just a thought....

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Finally Revealed: Why the US Invaded Iraq

Finally, someone's come up with the answer, with that someone being Gwynne Dyer:

"I have written tens of thousands of words on the Bush
administration's motives for invading Iraq, but in the end I do not know
why they did it. I suspect that they don't, either. It just seemed like a
neat idea at the time."

What means this "rich"?

An income of at least $89,000 was needed to be in the top five per cent of earners in 2004, Statistics Canada said Monday.

This "five per cent club" earned 25 per cent of the income Canadians
declared in 2004 — up from 21 per cent in 1992. They paid 36 per cent
of the personal taxes collected in 2004.

The country's 1.2 million high-income earners — those among the top
five per cent — were predominantly male (75 per cent), aged 45 to 64
(54 per cent) and married (78 per cent), Statistics Canada said.

That's what rich is--the consumption of an inordinate share of the available resources. 89K means you are in teh top 5% of income earners--and that means you consume 25% of the available pie.

But in Amerika it's different:

In the U.S., an income of at least $165,000 was the requirement to join the "five per cent club."

Statistics Canada said the income differences between the two
countries became even bigger farther up the income distribution ladder.

In Canada, the top .01 per cent of income earners made at least $2.8
million, while in the U.S., you couldn't join that super-elite club
unless you had an income of at least $9.4 million.

Keeping in mind the differences between the two countries, of course.....

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I pretty much knew this

as do many of the people living in Oilberta. But even so, the extent and intensity of the impact the tar sands have on the world environment is huge.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hillary Compares Cheney to Vader

Two nights ago while speaking at a fund-raiser, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton compared "Vice President" Dick Cheney to well-known movie villain Darth Vader.
Clinton said, "Vice President Cheney came up to see the Republicans yesterday. You can always tell when the Republicans are getting restless, because the Vice President’s motorcade pulls into the Capitol, and Darth Vader emerges."
Cheney is not reported to be upset at the comparison. In fact, he's made it himself, once telling CNN in 2006, "I suppose people sometimes look at my demeanor and say, well, he's the Darth Vader of the administration."
However according to B. Oba Fett, a Lucasfilm representatives, The Dark Lord of the Sith was not amused. "Mr. Vader is very upset at this comparison. While Mr. Vader, like Mr. Cheney, has endorsed the use of invasion and torture in the service of an evil and tyrannical Emperor, Mr. Vader feels that his actions were due to a bad childhood, separation anxiety and a life spent suffering from various physical disabilities, whereas Mr. Cheney, who has had a life of riches and privilege, is just a fat and greedy bastard who is giving the Dark Side of the Force a bad name."

Cognitive Dissonance

Okay, first head off to see this video clip from Current TV. It's funny, snide, and quick. Oh, and in the intro, see if you can catch what is on the Office Assistant panel that pops up on the CRT.

Alright, you're back? Good. Now, that the clip really shows off the two Amerikas isn't so suprising or shocking. It just is what it is. What slays me is when Sherri Shepard is asked what she will tell her child when asked if the world is flat. ~"That will mean a trip to the library,"~ she says.
Let's just think about that for a minute; the assumption that very smart people have put the knowledge she might need in books, that's automatic, she doesn't have to think about that. When you need to know something, the information is there. But at the same time, she's quite willing to reject out of hand anything she reads in a book (written by those very smart people who have put the knowledge into the book just for her). The facts may contradict recieved knowledge. Knowledge may contradict superstition. But comfort is more important than reality.
Cognitive dissonace, my friends. Cognitive dissonance.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Seriously. midwestteensexshow is a terrific flash-powered site that had us laughing. Should be compulsory in schools--but it's probably better if kids find it for themselves, and it spreads virally. Check it out.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

People you don't know about...

...but probably should. In this case, Thomas d'Aquino, president and CEO of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE, formerly the BCNI or Business Council on National Issues). No federal budget has been written since the early eighties without being vetted first by Mr. d'Aquino.You might want to know a bit more about him, eh?

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sure, I feel safer.

From The Guardian:

Russia's military yesterday announced that it had successfully tested a
lethal new air-delivered bomb, which it described as the world's most
powerful non-nuclear weapon.
In what appears to be the Kremlin's latest display of military might,
officials said Moscow had developed a new thermobaric bomb to add to
its already potent nuclear arsenal.
The development of this latest device appears to be another response to
the Bush administration's plans to site elements of its missile defence
system in central Europe. Mr Putin has denounced the plan, arguing that
it upsets Europe's strategic balance, and has vowed to respond.

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It all depends on who's paying....

From Democracy Now:

Chiquita Execs Won’t Face Charges for Funding Colombia Militia

The Justice Department has announced it won’t seek criminal charges
against any current or former executives of the fruit giant Chiquita
International. Earlier this year Chiquita admitted to making $1.7
million in illegal payments to the United Self-Defense Forces of
Colombia -- considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government.
Questions are being raised whether the Justice Department decision is
an attempt to avoid scrutiny of whether the Bush administration gave
Chiquita its tacit approval. Last month Chiquita revealed it told
Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff of the payments while
Chertoff was at the Justice Department in April 2003. Chertoff promised
a response, but never replied. Chiquita kept making payments for nearly
another year. The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia has been on
the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations for six years.
It’s blamed for thousands of murders in Colombia.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Really, this is news?

I mean, didn't you think that the concept of Wikipedia was just too good to survive this world of "truthiness"? Of course corporations are going to edit the content. We saw how the Republican party "swiftboated" John Kerry. Microsoft paying experts to edit entries on Microsoft was new to me, but not unexpected. Everything is image.

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

You Say APEC, I Say OPEC....

"President" Bush was in rare form during his speech at the APEC Summit in Australia -- please note, Australia -- this week.
His troubles began before he even appeared as APEC officials moved people out of the balcony down to fill the empty seats in the main orchestra level below which would have been visible on camera, thus delaying his speech by 10 minutes.
When he finally began, he didn't get three sentences into it before his first gaffe when he thanked Australian Prime Minister John Howard "for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit."
Bush corrected himself but quickly referred to Australian troops fighting in Iraq as "Austrian troops." Bush did not correct himself this time, but the official text of the speech released by the White House corrected his statement to "Australian Troops," not the first time the Bush White House has re-written history.
At the end of his speech, Bush strode off the wrong way and almost walked off a steep drop until Howard redirected him to the stairs.
His APEC performance is a highlight in a career of gaffes that include placing Queen Elizabeth II in the 18th century, and greeting former British Minister Tony Blair at the 2006 G8 Summit by calling out, "Yo, Blair."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Just where IS Camp Okutta?

Check out this nnicely made site for Camp Okutta, and then ask yourself, "Why is the Canadian Armed Forces targeting its advertising at 16 and 17 year olds?"

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“No particular reason we chose Canada,”...

Prank rattles Asian summit security reports the Star, as comedians choose to fake up a Canadian motorcade and make it through two checkpoints before being stopped at the APEC summit in Sydney, Australia. My favourite quote?
“No particular reason we chose Canada,” cast member Chris Taylor was
quoted as saying on The Sydney Morning Herald's website. “We just
thought they'd be a country who the cops wouldn't scrutinize too
closely, and who feasibly would only have three cars in their motorcade
— as opposed to the 20 or so gas guzzlers that Bush has brought with

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NRC = Nobody Really Cares

As this Reuters article points out, the real problem with nuclear power isn't nuclear power (No Karl, I'm not dissing nuclear power. Really.), it's with the class criminals running the plants and the seemingly complete lack of oversight on the part of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Nuclear power isn't safe until the regulations are enforced. Alberta really needs to pay attention to this before the plant gets built. Not that I think they will--Alberta's regulation tends to lag 3 or 4 decades behind problems.
The Alberta government under Ed Stelmach knows they're facing a problem with building a plant in Fort MacMurray--the public doesn't want it. But they also know that can be changed; just tell everyone that "those Eastern bastards don't want us to build one, they want to keep us down!" and then pass the permission as an order in council at the beginning of a new term. That's the easiest way to avoid democratic oversight....
BTW, you might want to check out The Postnormal Times--someone who's trying to get the science right.

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