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January 30, 2004

Is a call for divestiture in order for USofA corporations giving 'aid and comfort' to terrorsts?

Why does Halliburton's name always show up on these lists? I'd imagine their senior management is tearing their hair out these days.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:39 PM | Comments (2)
Please note:

To the person who hit my website after googling, "please google show me kuwait international passport". I give you full marks for courtesy but you won't find what you need on this blog.

To the person looking for, "karl rove bed & breakfast texas" - I can only say these are not concepts I personally have any desire to have linked in my mind.

To the person seeking, "bud light institute cards" - I regret that the knowledge you seek must be found elsewhere.

To the person searching on, "anne coulter is a vapid idiot" - I'm sure I never said that exact phrase, so it seems that Google has some type of psychic ability.

To the person who searched, "smallpocks" - let me point out that spelling is very important. And I have no idea how that pulled up my site, no.

Ditto to the person who searched "sichophant". Kindly bookmark a decent dictionary.

To, " underestimate cheese" - let me promise you I don't.

To the person seeking, "arabs sexual preferences anal" - I'm assuming you searched my site in vain. If you didn't, I don't want to know about it.

I congratulate the person who sought, "harley or cook or drowsiness or impressed or crow" for the eclectic nature of their interests.

Ditto to the seeker after, "enervate or prometheus or multibus or configures or bankrupt."

To the person who wanted to know, "how to annoy people in a grocery store" I hope I was able to be of some assistance.

I don't remember writing anything about how, "automatic elevators really annoy me" but if I did, I'm happy someone cared.

And, to the 26 people seeking information on, "Zena Mahlangu", thank you for caring.

The "search phrases" are really the only statistic that's any fun to see at all, aren't they?

I mean, I'll never know why 10 people sought a "muzzled rotweiller" but I don't really need to, just as I don't know if dozens of seekers after "Democracy" found anything of use on my site. It's an honor just to be searched.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:40 PM | Comments (6)

To: Homeland Security Guys.

Urgency: Seriously

Re: Take a chill pill.

I don't think you should be able to walk into any business in this country and demand that everyone in the building produce their identity papers and you sure as heck better not be acting like jackbooted stormtroopers* while you're doing it.

It's a uniform, okay? It's not an extension of your Manly Organ and you're not the Terminator or Rocky, or any other fantasy superhero you've been dreaming about.

(Lest we all think the agents' attitudes began and ended with immigrants, consider my daughter's welcome Saturday upon arriving in Portland by bus from Boston: After she gave a border agent her license, he demanded her passport. She correctly told him that U.S. citizens don't need passports for interstate travel. "Let me give you a word of advice," he replied tersely. "You need to learn to watch your mouth.")

You know what I need? I need to live in the kind of country where she could tell him he'd better watch his ass because it was about to wind up in a sling.

What the hell country is this, anyhow? Is this still a democracy or did someone sign a new Executive Order I'm not aware of?

Bennett calls such fears unfounded. If confronted by a federal agent, he said, all anyone has to do is "be friendly, be straightforward and answer their questions."

They can 'kiss that shit good-bye.' How on earth can they pretend you have to be "friendly" when approached by armed and, from the sound of it, hostile men? I'm more than happy to be straightforward, and I'll answer any question where I think the answer is any of their business, but not otherwise.

I'm quite the potty-mouth today, aren't I? Sorry. I was aggravated by the story until I got to the "watch your mouth" comment, then I started seeing red.

Write your representatives and inform them they'd better stand firm on striking down more than just a few of those so-called 'Patriot Act' clauses or start polishing up their resumes.

* Okay, in retrospect, I regret those two words but on the off-chance someone already read this and sent me a (rightfully) chastising message, I'll leave them there. I'm sorry I wasn't more temperate, though.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:37 PM | Comments (2)

Jerome shows us how the threat of annihilating thousands of people with WMD is relative. 200 nuclear weapons detonators are apparently not of as much concern to us if they're being peddled by someone who, shall we say, isn't Muslim.

This is painful to me, but I have to say it. I read this morning's Morford Morning Fix, and I'm disagreeing with Mark. This isn't funny.

I promise you, if someone sees a guy wearing a tee-shirt that says, "Girls are whiney - put muzzles on them" no one will be laughing. So what makes, " Boys Are Smelly -- Throw Garbage Cans At Them" okay? Nothing. It's not.

I thought about it, but Tom Burka made it funny.

I mean...think about it. What if the reason we're so positive we're gonna get bin Laden 'late this year' is because we've already got him but the gov'mint is saving the announcement to give Bush a nice pre-election bounce?

No, of course I don't believe that. It's Friday, okay? Lighten up.


Posted by AnneZook at 11:31 AM | Comments (4)

And, speaking of scary, in yet another attempt to turn back time and restore that long-lost era when people cowered beneath the fear of the great, unknown universe and wondered at the marvel of fire, Georgia is thinking of removing the word "evolution" from the curriculum. "Evolution," you see, is just a "buzzword" and it's offensive to some people.

Speaking of science, I didn't see CNN covering this one, but the BBC is on it. The campaign to save the Hubble telescope is taking off. I hope many of us from this country not only sign the petition but write our representatives. It's not enough to just let them 'review' their decision. We have to make sure science isn't strangled.

Not all science, anyhow. Some "experiments" are too horrifying to contemplate and some of them, and their instigators, do need to be strangled. And someone needs to take note of the proof of a WMD program in a country our government seems amazingly reluctant to confront.

Not that I'm advocating regime change or anything. Enough people have died for murky goals already and I doubt this Administration could sell anyone on the idea they were going into North Korea on 'humanitarian' grounds. Besides that, I get annoyed when I read articles suggesting that us creating governments friendly to us is the most important factor in these situations.

Also. Guess what's coming back into fashion? Curfews for kids. Because someone on the way to commit a crime is going to be deterred by the realization that it would mean he'd have to be out after curfew.

If you smoke, brace yourself. They might be declaring matches and lighters forbidden to airline passengers.

The so-called Patriot Act is being revisited by Washington. Bush likes it as it is and wants to renew it, only more so. Congress, or at least the parts of Congress more responsive to the concerns of the people, thinks it all goes a bit far and wants to scale it back. Even though the proposed scale-backs are modest in the extreme, the White House is already threatening that Bush will veto the bill when it hits his desk.

When you think about it, the Administration's determination to curtail our freedoms and hand the country, lock, stock, and Oval Office, over to Big Business, well, that's just another way of letting the terrorists win, isn't it?

And, speaking of things like that, some of you know I really do try hard not to categorize Halliburton as the spawn of satan, in spite of the stories about the conglomerate. I try to be fair and realize I don't have all the story. It's not always easy.

But not everyone feels that way. Here and there are signs that the current wave of terrorism-fueled hysteria can still be fought with common sense and intelligence. And that people's individual rights still count for something.

The new Medicare bill, unsatisfactory and unfair as it is, is going to be even more expensive than originally projected. The White House is predicting a bigger shortfall than the Budget office. Is that because the White House hopes to generate enough resistance to get the entire plan scuttled and replaced with an even more unsatisfactory and more unfair, but less expensive plan? (That was obnoxious of me, wasn't it?) Anyhow. It's hard to see how those who voted for it are going to justify not requiring negotiating drug prices now, isn't it? (And we never did get a satisfactory answer why the biggest single healthcare plan in the country isn't getting the kinds of drug price breaks that any plan with a thousand or two members manages to win.

I've seen some pretty obnoxious coverage of the candidates so far, but I think this is the stupidest thing I've seen yet.

Is Wal-Mart an unstoppable evil the center of our world now? I don't think so. I'm pretty sure that LA, even if it bans Wal-Mart 'superstores' it will survive.

Headlines from The Hill.

Republicans tout unity; brace for budget fight

GOP split on memos: Factions battle on strategy for Bush’s judicial nominees


Posted by AnneZook at 09:52 AM | Comments (2)
Googling Ashcroft

(Mostly without Plame.)




Here (and that's the first time I've ever heard of Crisco being used for that).

Here (to give the other side of the story).

Here (from 2000).

I'm going to pick up a copy of the February issue of Vanity Fair on the way home tonight and read the article for myself. I'm told it makes him out to be a scary, scary guy.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)
January 29, 2004
Freedom from stupidity

You know what you get when you get a president who thinks reading more than half a page of text is just too much work? You get so-called education initiatives that push phonics instead of reading. I'm struggling hard to remember that I imposed a ban on rude and profitless name-calling.

There are a lot of good things this country could spend $23 million on, and drug-testing schoolkids doesn't hit the top of the list. But maybe they're going to pay for it from the money they save from axing other drug testing programs. Because, yeah, I'm all about pre-emptive guilt, so testing students instead of criminals really thrills me. Even more than I was thrilled by the presumption of drug-guilt implicit in testing arrestees, regardless of the charges against them.

As Tom points out, although he doesn't put it that way, the problem with drug testing is that we're not testing the right people.

In other news, either the Bush Administration is once again demonstrating that they can't even spell science, much less comprehend what it is. Either that, or there's some out-of-context quoting going on again.

The Administration questions the scientific basis for “the linking of fruit and vegetable consumption to decreased risk of obesity and diabetes.”

Well, that's right and wrong. If you're wondering whether potato chips or an apple offers more useless calories, then you're an idiot.

If you're arguing on the basis of the recent, low-carb diet phrase that lower carb consumption is healthier, then you're on more solid ground. Not quite so much of an idiot. Most fruits and many vegetables contain a lot of carbohydrates, which are essentially sugar. (Of course, there are carbs and there are carbs. Some carbs are superior to others, but I won't go on and on about it.)

So, yes, you should limit your daily consumption of certain fruits and vegetables, unless you intend to replace these foods with Fritos, french fries, and M&Ms.

Fruits and vegetables aren't the be-all and end-all of health food, although they're important components of a healthy diet, and unless the Bush Administration comes out on the side of high-calorie, almost nutrition-free food, I'm not buying this interpretation of their report.

Anyhow. So I went and read the source material.

There is also an unsubstantiated focus on "good" and "bad" foods, and a conclusion that specific foods are linked to non-communicable diseases and obesity (e.g., energy-dense foods, high/added sugar foods, and drinks, meats, certain types of fats and oils, and higher fat dairy products). The USG favors dietary guidance that focuses on the total diet, promotes the view that all foods can b e part of a healthy and balanced diet, and supports personal responsibility to choose a diet conducive individual energy balance, weight control, and health.

Okay, they came out on the side of high-calorie, almost nutrition-free food.

Then they go on to diss the way the WHO conducts scientific studies and to practically imply that they deliberately slant their results.

And, this will make you laugh, the report goes on to chastise the WHO for not providing "clarity and transparency of the process" in how they arrived at their conclusions. Got that? The Bush Administration is taking someone to task for lacking "transparency" in how they arrive at decisions.

Not everything they say is ignorant, but there's enough ignorance mixed in to make the sensible bits hard to pick out.You just can't help these guys, can you? Every time I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, it turns out to be a mistake.

(Thanks to Jerome for the original link.)

Remember Zena Mahlangu? The media seems to have given up on the story (well, they really had to with the girl insisting she was looking forward to spending her life with the man of her dreams and his six, or was it nine, other wives). Now, if the king gets his way, Zena and the others are each going to get a palace of their own. In the meantime, citizens of his country continue to sicken and die for lack of basic necessities.

Chris brings up something I've been contemplating for the last couple of months - the potential for real, wide-spread rebellion in Iraq. If we went in to bring 'freedom' to the Iraqi people, what, precisely, will our government do if Iraq rises up, throws us out, and creates their own kind of freedom? At what point to we make the choice to leave? How many people have to protest, or die, before we leave Iraq to the Iraqis, even if they haven't yet selected a government favorable to us?

I'm not advocating leaving Iraq at this juncture. I think many people underestimate the kind of anarchy that would settle over the country if there's not even a nominal government in charge, with the force that will be needed to establish safety and security for Iraqi citizens. It's just an problem I've been puzzling over.

Check out The Center for American Progress. They've given us a nice list of WMD claims from the Administration, larded with multiple warnings about how Saddam Hussein was the most dangerous problem facing the world last year.

I get to Oliver Willis's blog and follow the links to the source to discover that part of Dean's financing problem might be...well, who knows? Yeah, it looks like he collected commission on advertising buys, but that's pretty common in politics and it's a bit disingenuous of the Washington Post not to mention that fact. Nor are any hard numbers mentioned in terms of what Trippi actually wound up collecting, any comparisons to what's the norm for commission on ad buys, or anything else concrete.

It's Jane's birthday and while you're over there congratulating her, check out the interesting post on slavery reparations.

More on anti-Semitism versus anti-Israelism from Bjorn. I don't agree with all of it, but it makes for interesting reading.

Also? Is death returning to Minnesota?

To drum up support for his plan, the Governor brought out the father of a murdered rape victim who said he believed in "an eye for an eye." There was no mention of Mahatma Ghandi, who sagely said, an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.


I'm not in the mood to work today and none of this morning's news headlines inspired anything but boredom. Dead people here, dying people there, sick people somewhere else. Same old headlines of people in trouble. Same old government trying desperately to pretend the yellow brick road of prosperity is just around the corner while desperately stuffing bundles of cash in unmarked envelopes and shoving them into the hands of wealthy donors.

Hal seems to be taking those penis pill offers to enlarge his 'equipment' in entirely the wrong spirit. He keeps going off on irrelevant tangents about sick people and the sad state of the economy when he's supposed to be imagining how thrilled his partner(s) will be.

If you're feeling more Deeply Intellectual than that, read this, instead.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)
January 28, 2004
What's this all about?

A mystery illness in the Sudan. So far, it's struck about 300 children.

And there's another illness that strikes adults, looks like Parkinson's disease, can sometimes be treated with the drugs used for Parkinson's, but isn't Parkinson's.

I point these things out to illustrate that the "science" of medicine is anything but exact and to remind us all that when we growl and grumble about 'malpractice' and pass around horror stories about ghastly mistakes made in hospitals and complain about the high price of insurance or the lousy quality of our coverage, that when we do all of that, we need to mentally except the researchers who really are dedicating their lives to trying to discover and cure what ails us. Theirs is not an easy task.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:20 PM | Comments (2)

I thought the Constitution already provided for the government's continuation in case of catastrophe?

Apparently senseless censorship hasn't been killed. It was just resting, and now it's trying for a comeback.

Ferial Haffajee is the first woman to become the editor of a major South African Newspaper.

Occasionally some incident like this drives home to me the absolute lack of freedom and equality around the world. Because we enjoy so freedom in this country, I think these concepts become a bit abstract sometimes. It's a shock to get hit with the truth.

This is an amazing site and likely to get only more important over the next year. Fact-checking media coverage of the coming election cycle is a huge undertaking.

The Taliban is still active in Afghanistan.

The Israeli army ran another raid in the Gaza Strip and killed at least 8 Palestinians.

Under the heading of, "funny but true" you do need to remember when people in office or seeking office talk about the sad state of health care today, they're not talking about insurance companies. Insurance companies are doing just fine, thank you.

Also, when you hear that they need to remove caps on media ownership to save the poor, beleaguered media from disaster, don't forget to check earnings to verify these statements. (And consider the possible consequences of too much media consolidation.)

Have you read that book, Nickle and Dimed? Reality TV met with this concept in the U.K. (many years ago) and continues to be a phenomenon today. Allow me to point out that any idiot who thinks "living poor" for a week, a night, or even a month, is quite mistaken. In order to understand the real cost and the real pressure of poverty, you have to live that way, day in and day out, for years on end. Maybe even your entire life. Some well-fed politician or reporter who dips a dainty toe into the lifestyle for a few days, smug in the knowledge that it won't last long and if it gets too bad, they can always bail out, is never going to get it.

And what about trafficking in human flesh? It's now being called 'sexual slavery' which is maybe closer to the truth but it's time to stop coming up with labels and start addressing the problem seriously.

Fred Barnes tries hard to paint Kerry as inconsistent, but really only manages to make himself look like an idiot.

Inconsistency? 30 years ago, Kerry didn't plan to run for president and now he's running for president. Anyone ask Bush, Jr. if he wanted to be president 30 years ago? Anyone ask Reagan if he planned on being president 30 years before he ran? Is that the dumbest "inconsistency" you ever heard of?

Inconsistency? In 1991 he didn't want to invade Iraq because Iraq invaded Kuwait. Twenty years later, after sanctions were clearly not working, he was in favor of ousting Saddam Hussein. (For the record, had 9/11 not happened and had Bush made that his reason for taking down Hussein, it's quite possible I would have supported the war. But it did and he didn't and I didn't. And it's far from certain I would have, anyhow. There are doubts about that rationale.)


There are a few other points, none of them any more convincing. The 'gay marriage' issue has been my biggest problem with Kerry all along and yet I have no problem believing that Republicans were trying to create a "wedge issue" with DOMA.

Kyoto? Okay, there I have a few problems, but I've taken on trying to figure Kyoto out as a sort of part-time hobby, so I'm abstaining from coming out 'for' or 'against' for a while.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:44 AM | Comments (2)
January 27, 2004

What have we got?

Impassioned defense of Howard Dean.

Edwards. Good guy or sneaky meanie?

Kerry and Edwards. Bad men who don't understand voodoo trickle-down economics.

Israel's fence-wall-whatever.

Bush is suave and amiable and Rove's an awfully nice fella.

Lessons From Iowa.

The whole primary system needs work.

Bush says "bring 'em on!" to the Democrats and he's gonna whup 'em, too.

Lots of people use the internet, and the number is growing.

Dean's been throwing a year-long temper tantrum and the media is unfair and mean to Bush.

Seriously. I love Creator's Syndicate.

By all accounts, Kerry's running first in New Hampshire. I'm very pleased, of course, but don't make the mistake of thinking that I'm not dismayed by the media that suddenly turned on Howard Dean, or by the voters who were too-easily persuaded that they shouldn't vote for someone who actually allowed himself an unscripted moment.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:44 PM | Comments (2)
Speaking of....

Speaking of reforms needed in the legal system, what's this 'withhold of adjudication' thing all about and aren't there any rules around how it's used?

In thousands of cases, the courts gave the break to child molesters, child pornographers, child abusers and men who had sex with adolescent girls. For every 10 offenders who walked into a courtroom charged with child abuse, more than half walked out with a withhold, The Herald found. The list includes adults arrested for punching a child and beating two toddlers over the head with an oak plank.

What's going on in Florida, anyhow?

(Also? Notice the racial bias. We're talking about Florida again, after all.)

(Thanks to Bobby who promises to stay on top of the story as it's released.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:36 PM | Comments (2)
Sad, Sick, and Twisted

I don't often post "celebrity news" because, honestly, it would be difficult for me to care less who is or isn't marrying/divorcing/boinking who or what, but I'm making an exception today.

There are problems with the criminal justice system. Serious problems that need to be fixed.

An actor named Scott Bairstow was arrested for having a sexual relationship with a girl, a relationship that started when she was twelve.

He's been given a four month sentence, because "Bairstow's attorneys argued that the actor's time in prison may have a negative impact on his ability to try out for future parts" so they didn't want him to have to serve longer.

(The mind boggles. Is anyone going to hire him after this? Well, maybe if he were, you know, Roman Polanski or something.)

According to prosecutors, Bairstow repeatedly told the girl he would lose everything if she told anyone about the illicit relationship. Police captured some of those comments during a wire-tapped telephone conversation when he contacted the girl in 2003 to ask for phone sex.

During one conversation quoted in court papers, the girl said she was thinking about telling someone about Bairstow. The actor is quoted as saying, "Well...I'm a dad and I've got a job, and if you were to tell anyone I would be thrown in jail for 10 years."

He didn't have anything to worry about. Sentences for this type of offense apparently range between three and nine months. That's nine months maximum. For assaulting a twelve year-old girl. And the prosecutor only asked for a six-month sentence.

This just has to be one of those where there's something we don't know. How on earth could a four-month sentence be justified?

Posted by AnneZook at 12:16 PM | Comments (2)
Think about these

Let me tell you, I like to get my news from a lot of sources, but I am right on the verse of abandoning those sites that have begun using those irritating "floating" ads that cover the text on the web page and force me to search for a "close" button without accidentally clicking on the blasted ad and encouraging the fools to think I have any interest in whatever over-hyped trash they're trying to sell me.

Diane Wilson has been fighting Dow Chemical for years (as I've mentioned before) but in all those years, I've never seen a single major media outlet so much as comment on the story.

Can you "recast" a war that's already been fought or is that just a polite, Canadian way of saying that the Bush Administration is hoping they can find someone clueless and spin the whole story into something it wasn't?

On the way to work this morning, I heard that three more soldiers were killed by roadside bomb, and now there's a report of an unexplained explosion with casualties.

This is a very, very strange story. Why should Canada pay for the flight of someone who, from the sounds of it, was fighting with terrorists? Is there any possibility that his father is going to go to prison for, you know, child endangerment, aside from the whole "supporting al Qaeda" thing?

I'm still tired of hearing about that electability thing and Kucinich had a good answer to the question.

And yet another form of home-grown terrorism.

Actually, I'm sort of obsessing over today's primary, even though I know we won't get any results for hours and hours yet. It's very distracting.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)
January 26, 2004
Icy Monday

Nearly two hours to get to the office this morning. As I pointed out to my boss, with some bitterness, I didn't want to be here that badly. Fortunately, Buehler (that's what I call him in my head) has a sense of humor about that kind of remarks.

It's just my opinion, of course, but I didn't really see anything wrong with the plan to have caucuses in Iraq. I think pushing for all-out national elections at this point is a mistake and I think the people of Iraq would get better representation by personally discussing and agreeing on local representatives and then sending those representatives to Baghdad to form a government. And I think the religious leader who is making all the fuss about this system is just making trouble and (at least I suspect) afraid that the local caucuses won't chose the kind of religious figures he wants to see forming a government.

What are they doing with this case? If they actually had a case against this guy for espionage, why are they now charging him with adultery. Are they trying to make us look like idiots to the rest of the world, or what? Do have case cases or do we not?

And what's this story about some comedian making a bad joke in an airport and facing 15 years of jail time?

Oh, and I almost forgot! Today on NPR, we were told that Ashcroft (wandering around overseas somewhere instead of paying attention to Homeland Security) has announced he's sure we'll find WMD in Iraq because Saddam Hussein used "evil chemistry" and "evil biology" on people in the past.

The mind boggles.

Via Cursor, proof of what I've been saying, the amount of money we spend on 'defense' is obscene. (Would someone care to explain to me why the Department of Energy is in any way involved in "nuclear weapons activities"?)

In the meantime, Mustang Bobby is talking about racism and the courts in Florida and making the point, quite rightly, that it's still racism if it's part of the "cultural upbringing of those institutionalizing such patterns.

I'll probably be back later.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:03 AM | Comments (6)