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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

April 30, 2005
Saturday Links

Sorry if anyone had trouble accessing the site earlier today. I'm having some work done on it.

Are the containers we use to store and sell our foods endangering men?

Now Washington has Federici's law. I wish more states had such laws. Have any of us ever not had to swerve dangerously on a highway because of littered debris?

The Colors of Memory

From the bruising backstory of imperial history (think Haiti; think the Philippines) to today's Iraq

Not comfortable reading.

Which leads neatly to the news that Tony Blair agreed to help us invade Iraq in the summer of 2002. That would be, for those of you with short memories, long before Bush announced that we'd tried everything to avoid war.

And, speaking of mistakes (heh). From Le Figaro, the Liberals Against Labor Rights.

With apologies to my academic readers, I have to say that from my point of view, our current university system would collapse without TAs and RAs. They're the unpaid or ill-paid labor source that allows too many university professors to concentrate on publishing instead of professoring. Universities and students would both benefit if the never-going-to-get-a-university-job-myself TAs were adequately recompensed for taking over teaching duties that universities currently don't want to pay for.

They only got a dollar, but nonviolent protestors in California got the verdict. Being held down and having pepper spray "swabbed" directly into your eyes is excessive force. (Well duh.)

Republicans don't know of any ethics problems they could bring up against Democrats but they're sure they can find something.

Expectations that Republicans will use the ethics committee, officially called the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, to retaliate against Democrats for — as Republicans see it — politicizing the House ethics rules raises the specter that an ethics committee will result in a partisan ethics war.

For once, the idea of a partisan free-for-all doesn't bother me. Maybe if they all start throwing stones, they'll all stop living in glass houses.

AmericaBlog definitely goes on my permanent "daily read" list.

Well, you lose when you debase and abandon the principals that made this country great. You lose when our government can grab American citizens on American soil, throw them in a hole and insist that it never needs to answer to anyone ever about what we've done.

Atrios is right. The only thing he doesn't mention is that the story never would have obsessed CNN if the woman hadn't been white.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:49 PM | Comments (2)
April 29, 2005
My Inner European

Picture me so surprised.






Your Inner European is French!




Smart and sophisticated.

You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

Who's Your Inner European?
Posted by AnneZook at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)
A Short Ramble

The Bush Administration had a little trouble getting the broadcast networks to cover his chat last night.

(Someone in the White House needs to think. Those of us who were Aaron Sorkin-era West Wing fans know that you don't try to take time from the networks on a Thursday.)

More seriously, networks have a nice, cheap arrangement to use our airwaves ad more than that, they have obligations. They should air presidential press conferences, whether they like it or not. (Okay, no, not during a campaign unless there's a national emergency. But the rest of the time....)

"The networks are in a different kind of business than they were in the Nixon and Reagan years," Kumar said. "It is a business. News is less of a driver than entertainment."

The MSM at work, providing solid value for their twelve cents a year licensing fees.

Of course, I didn't watch the press conference, but I wouldn't have watched television anyhow. I rarely do. I also find I'm more rational about what Bush says if I read the worlds, instead of trying to listen to him talk. So I'll be reading transcriptions and whatnot today. (I started with this.

Anyhow, it was Angel Heart Night (an annual AIDS event) and I had plans to go out to dinner.

(Just exactly how desperate for ratings is Maher?)

More seriously, I read that Guantanamo interrogators actually faked interrogations in front of VIPs, to make it look like they were getting results.

Annan is right and a more credible Human Rights Council is needed in the U.N.

Silly programmer's tricks.

If you visit http://maps.google.co.uk you'll start off with a map showing the southern part of the UK. Zoom out to maximum distance using the slider on the left, and then pan around to see a unique world view that would warm Dubya's cockles...

(The Register)

And, to round out your Friday, an exceptional piece of fiction.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)
April 28, 2005
Later That Same Night

Was John Bolton involved in an illegal arms sale to Haiti? If there is, in fact, a long-term embargo on sending arms to the country, and that embargo was enacted by the USofA government, then if they decide to make the shipment is it automatically legal again or...I'm so confused.

Compensation checks for some tsunami victims are finally arriving and they're...ludicrously, insultingly small. How is a man supposed to replace 500 full-grown trees for under a dollar?

A CBS News report tonight (video online) says that a USofA satellite proves the Toyota that the Italian journalist, Sgrena, was in was traveling in excess of 60 mph, not the 40 mph she has been saying. It also says that the entire incident took place in less than three seconds, making it much more understandable how it all happened. I've been pretty rude about the USofA's story on this event. It now seems that I was wrong.

When you're thinking over Bush's worthless proposals to "solve" our "energy problem" don't forget those new refineries he wants to build. Those won't, of course, lessen our dependence on foreign oil, but they will help to keep already astronomical oil company profits high.

I don't approve of the death penalty. I don't. Except...sometimes sort of wish I did.

I really do wonder...why are the faces of so many of the soldiers handling the coffins returning from Iraq blacked out in the FOIA-requested photos?

``Individual judgments were made to black out some faces and identifying information to protect privacy information,'' said James Turner, a Defense Department spokesman, offering no further explanation.

Not good enough.

Hey, what did I tell you? Heh. Looks like fans are already editing out the boring bits of movies.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:17 PM | Comments (2)
By The Way

In case no one told you, the latest AIDS "supervirus" has been declared a statistically probable event. Drug-resistant, yes. New and potentially epidemic, not really.

The problem, as it has been since the cocktail of AIDS drugs was finally assembled, is that AIDS patients won't take their meds on schedule. It's like when your doctor tells you to take all the antibiotic, even if you feel better in four or five days. If you don't smack the virus down hard, it can mutate and come back nastier than ever.

The article does discuss the line-up of circumstances that turned one man's infection into a near-panic, along with a lot of other interesting stuff. (Short version, for those who don't want to read the article, It might have been a supervirus, but it wasn't. Yes, they jumped the gun, but they did it out of fear for possible future victims. Also, one of the guys, Markowitz, comes off in the article sounding a little unbalanced, even hysterical about the possibility of a new and dangerous strain of disease and, again, the article makes it sound like he's the one who really pushed the panic button. But that's just my interpretation.)

The article is very well worth reading.

(Tangentially speaking, you know what? I'm really getting really tired of reading about crystal-meth. I worry about our society's growing addiction to mood-enhancing drugs. The growing number of USofA citizens who regularly dive into a drug-induced haze to escape reality worries me.)

In the Department of Hmmm, we have Luca finds natural gas-generating microorganisms in Utah field.

Luca Technologies LLC said Thursday its researchers confirmed the presence of microorganisms that are generating methane in soil samples from an oil field in northeastern Utah.

That sounds interesting.

The discovery means natural gas, a form of methane, may not be a finite resource that is getting more difficult and more expensive to produce, but instead might be a renewable resource that can be "farmed" by protecting and cultivating the microorganisms that make it.

That sounds even more promising.

The next sentence of that paragraph has the kicker.

The tiny animals munch on oil, oil shales and coal, turning it into methane.

So, if we leave the oil and coal alone, maybe we can have a renewable source of natural gas? What are the odds of that happening?

"The hydrocarbon resources available in the Monument Butte oil field are very large, making the possibility of shifting from oil production to the ongoing farming of clean, natural gas an attractive consideration," said Robert Pfeiffer, president and CEO of Luca Technologies, in a statement.

Could be better odds than I would have expected.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)
Around And About

Haiti

Police kill five at Haiti protest

Police have opened fire on demonstrators in the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, killing at least five people, witnesses and officials said.

New York

Eliot Spitzer is still on the warpath. This time he's nailing Intermix Media for infesting thousands of computers with adware and spyware. You go, Eliot.

Iraq

You know what puzzles me? What puzzles me is why after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, it took the government a solid year to actually come right out and officially say, "don't do that." I was listening to an NPR story this morning and almost cheered out loud when one man complained in despair about the utter lack of continued public interest on the topic in this country. The media got bored with it and Average Joe has stopped thinking about it.

A glimpse inside the war, at the ground level. This kind of thing (looting) has gone on for as long as soldiers have been fighting wars.

That's not what this story is about, though. It's about the power of money.

"And then … there was a moment that everything turned … evil. The air was thick…The looks had changed. You could see that everyone was just out for themselves."

It does make you understand how it could happen.

Moving on, Belgium sent us a bill.

Belgian doctors sent an Iraqi girl home on Thursday after treating her for leg wounds caused by a bomb during the U.S. invasion -- and sent the 51,570 euro ($66,650) bill to the U.S. embassy.

They make a case for it:

De Belder said he sent the bill to the U.S. embassy because international law dictated that an occupying force was responsible for the well-being of the country's people.

We won't pay for it, of course. It would set a bad precedent that allowed people to assume we're willing to be responsible for what happens in Iraq. And we're not.

And, in the Best Blog Post Title Ever, we have this from Mahablog.

USofA

Thanks to TalkLeft I found the PeopleForTheAmericanWay pdf file that gives the statistics on judicial filibustering.

LaLaLand

Bush has finally made a new energy speech, but it's full of old ideas. We need to lessen our dependence on foreign oil? Let's build new refineries to refine foreign oil. We need to use more "clean diesel" which is refined from foreign oil. Beyond that, he paid some lip service to corn as a fuel source. And then he said we need nukes. If we want to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, we need to little half our states with nuclear power plants and by the way he's going to ease the "regulatory burden" around these and the new refineries, which means we'll know a lot less about the safety of these installations.

Also. Bunker-Buster Bomb Plan Won't Work

The Bush administration's plan to develop a nuclear weapon that could penetrate the earth and destroy underground enemy bunkers while minimizing civilian casualties is flawed, the National Research Council concluded in a report made public Wednesday.

You think that will stop them from building it?

Posted by AnneZook at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)
Who Knew?

Collecting coins makes money for the government.

I was indifferent to the news of Arianna Huffington's celebrity-studded blog idea but everywhere I turn, I find people gushing over the idea.

Fortunately, I found a palate-cleanser in the U.K. In the Guardian, someone's doing a little mocking.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:49 AM | Comments (4)
April 27, 2005
Headline Watch

Watching Togo. There's widespread belief that the voting was rigged and previous reports of a coalition government don't seem to be panning out.

Via Alternet's Peek, I read that most of us are happy with PBS and NPR just the way they are. Which is problematic for the new leadership, which would like to move both of them to the Right and dumb them down. (What kind of idiot put a guy who thinks People Magazine is worth reading, in charge of NPR?)

You know who I want to be protected against? Heterosexual men who treat women in public places like a live peep show.

All things popish (Should that be capitalized?) seem to be in the news these days, like this story of a Vatican priest acting as an informant for the Communist secret police in the '80s.

The AsiaTimes is running a series on World Order, Failed States and Terrorism. I haven't had a chance to read it myself yet, but I'll start this evening. From the titles of the various sections, it looks like it covers an interesting variety of topics.

That democracy we exported to Afghanistan sure seems to be working. I'll bet that woman went to her grave grateful to be stoned to death under a more democratic system than she'd have been killed by five years ago.

Looks like the vote is in and Congressional Republicans are going to save some of their quickly disappearing "political capital" for things that are not DeLay. Maybe the Right is bracing itself for an upcoming showdown.

Whatever else happens, the Democrats need to remember the country is behind them on extremist judges and they need to stand their ground on all of the unacceptable nominations. The more of a foothold extremism gets, the more it moves into the mainstream of USofA society.

And, speaking of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez continues stubbornly to insist that the USofA is not the font all all wisdom and grace in the world today and we're going to foment a little mayhem to prove otherwise.

Condaleeza Rice is going south to test the Left-infested waters.

The USofA government continues to be an embarrassment to its citizens in other ways as well. Someone tell them that arresting 16 year-old girls and hiding them away from the public eye really isn't supposed to be the kind of thing this country tolerates.

Maureen Dowd is pretty wound up today.

And Bob Dole, speaking as nobody in particular any more, thinks the Democrats should be ashamed of "abandon[ing] the tradition of mutual self-restraint that has long allowed the Senate to function as an institution." I think Bob's got brain problems and has forgotten the latter half of the '90s, because the only "restraint" I can remember was Republicans not actually dancing in the aisles as they realized they had the power to waste four years and billions of dollars on childish petulance.

C. Boyden Gray (in USAToday echoes the exact same talking points, including a mention of how filibustering a judicial candidate has never, ever, ever happened before, in 200 years. (Mr. Gray was a counsel for Daddy Bush.)

What if it could happen here? From Robert C. Koehler, Tribune Media Services. Those of us watching understand that it's already happening. Inch by inch, vote by vote, election by election, corruption is taking over our democratic voting processes.

Later note: I didn't realize that Digby already blogged this article. His discussion is better.

I was getting tense, and then I read this and now I'm not taking people quite so seriously any more.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)
Protect the children....

Child porn is a huge problem. The story is encouraging in the dedication of those fighting to get at the predators, but heart-breaking in the sheer numbers of children being abused. And encouraging, again, in the report of Microsoft's active assistance. (And a bit scary, with the whole Trekkie connection.) Warning: Some parts of the article may be disturbing.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)
Reading and the Children

Speaking of censorship, which I was in my earlier post, it's alive and well in Alabama public schools.

Books by any gay author would have to go: Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal. Alice Walker's novel "The Color Purple" has lesbian characters.

I'd be surprised if this is the last move the forces of Paranoid Homophobia (hereinafter, another good word, known as the ParaHo's or ParaHoFo's, depending on the context) make to erase homosexuality from public notice.

On the other hand, I took a The Bible As Literature class in high school myself and found it very interesting. The key is to treat it as literature, of course, and not confine the lessons to modern-day evangelical spinning that cherry-picks to fit a specific political agenda. (I suspect that's a bit much to expect from a Texas school, but I'm very encouraged by the description of the class.) I hope the secularists don't make jackasses of themselves over this one. Better to wait and see how it plays out in the classroom.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:40 PM | Comments (2)
Movie Ranting

(These rants don't always go where I expect them to. I offer no apologies. If you've been here before, you know how I get.)

______________


Hollywood is right. Altering the content of movies is a violation of copyright and companies that sell altered copies of movies, without the studios' consent, should be fined. And they should have to negotiate with studios to pay fees for using copyrighted content. On the other hand, a gadget that allows private users to mute or skip "objectionable" content is harder to argue with.

Granted, anyone who isn't an idiot would use their fast-forward button, but what a lot of parents want are movies automatically sanitized for their children so that they don't actually have to sit down and watch movies with their kids. You see, they also don't want to have to fight with their kids about what they can watch and parents certainly don't have the time to watch these movies themselves to see if they are suitable for kids. Black-box censoring amounts to reprogramming their electronic babysitter. (That's unfair and I know it. But still.)

But whatever, okay? As someone who uses both the fast-forward and mute buttons frequently, I can sympathize with them, I really can. Movies are full of objectionable content and it's good if people don't have to watch it.

I mean, I would hope that any child of mine would never have to face a murderer or be involved in a high-speed chase, or need to know how to escape from a resurrected psychotic wearing a scary mask and a lot of scars, so I don't want those in my child's entertainment/education. Kids have a hard enough life these days as it is, I certainly wouldn't train my child to accept violence as casually as today's movies accept violence.

While we're at it, I think there should be a setting that allows the viewer to skip boring things. Any scene that features a long, slow pan over the landscape, for instance. I can't tell you how many movies have been ruined for me because the filmmaker thought I wanted a twenty-minute look at the trees or the cactus or the sand or whatever. So, let's add a No-Pan setting.

Chase scenes. Once you've watched an action movie once, you know where the chase scene is going. 90% of the time, you don't need or want to watch it again. Skip-Chase.

And scenes of people crying. I don't watch movies to be depressed. I want a No Tears setting on my new DVD player.

Come to that, most movies have at least one character who's really annoying, so I want a No Dorks button, too. The first time a character appears on-screen, you hit the button and the box automatically deletes their lines from then on.

While we're at it, what's with the cheesiness of subtitles? I can't count the number of times I'm watching a foreign film and a character talks for five minutes without pause and the subtitles give me, "He said they went thataway." If you're going to subtitle, then give me all the words. There needs to be a Subtitle - All setting for those of us capable of reading more than ten words a minute.

And the religious stuff. I'm not personally superstitious but I certainly understand the need to reference the gods in historical epics from Roman times, so I don't mind that. I don't mind the religion references in, you know, religious movies (mostly because I don't watch them), but I don't want my mainstream entertainment filled with offensive references to someone's personal mythology unless I'm watching a movie labeled, "fantasy." I want a button that bleeps out religious material. It's offensive to me. I want a No-Cults setting.

Sex is okay, though. It seems reasonable that sex is something most of us encounter in our lives, unlike shape-changing aliens that jump out at you from corners of inexplicably damp spaceships. Sex a part of a normal life and should be treated as such. I'd rather have my kid see sex treated respectfully, and in context, by Hollywood than have them learning it from the neighborhood priest.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:38 PM | Comments (7)
Italy and Cambodia

Berlusconi may be facing charges of tax fraud and embezzlement. What does the Italian Prime Minister have to say about this?

The case is the latest in a long series of investigations against Berlusconi, who says he is a victim of a campaign by "communist" magistrates.

No wonder he's Bush's buddy. They even use the same feeble defense. They blame it all on the Left.

_________________

Rouge justice

On April 17, it was the thirty-year anniversary.

It was exactly 30 years ago. It still is, and will remain for ages, a collective trauma: every single person in Cambodia has at least one relative who was killed in the dreaded Pol Pot years (April 17, 1975-January 7, 1979) when the Khmer Rouge imposed a neo-agrarian social-engineering folly on a whole nation.

Thanks to a little "independent study" when I was in college (I roamed the shelves of the university library and read some of almost everything), I know enough to feel a shiver of nausea when I hear "Khmer Rouge" mentioned.

Nobody was ever punished for the concentration camps, the institutionalized terror, the mass executions, the mass famine.

Two million dead out of a population of 7.7 million people.

To add insult to unspeakable injury, the Khmer Rouge terror - the ultimate Cold War-related tragedy - was far from over after the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in January 1979. During the 1980s it metamorphosed into shameful acceptance, to the point that the United States recognized the "exiled" Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge kept a United Nations seat.

Lest any of us forget that we in the USofA shamed ourselves long before Abu Ghraib.

Dispensing a few drops of justice three decades after the facts depends on a mere fistful of dollars. Late last month, the international community finally pledged a paltry $38 million for the trial, still $4.5 million short of the necessary $43 million. Japan is the largest donor ($21.6 million, half of the total), followed by France ($4.8 million), Britain ($2.8 million) and Australia ($2.3 million). The US has contributed exactly zero dollars.

That's zero, in case you missed it.

The US is not offering a single cent because of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Act of 2005, passed by Congress, which explicitly forbids help to a Cambodian tribunal.

The mind boggles. Not an Act passed at the time. Not an Act passed when it became clear that trials would be held. An Act passed for this year. What the heck are they up to?

Only Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has the power to overturn it, if she judges in her infinite wisdom that the tribunal is competent, independent, impartial, incorruptible and "capable of delivering justice that meets internationally recognized standards".

Rice doesn't sneeze without the Bush Administration's permission. I can only assume there must be something they have that the Bush Administration wants or why, at this late date, would they have passed such a punitive Act?

Maybe it's just that they'd prefer to have the whole thing swept under the carpet, before someone starts talking about the Reagan Administration's part in the mess?

_________________

I was going to say more, but now I'm all distracted reading about Venezuela, thanks to Dr. Fallon.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)
April 26, 2005
Around the World

It's nice to read that we're still giving Haiti a hand.

Things haven't been looking good since we ousted their elected government and started helping them to a better government. Not good at all..

Posted by AnneZook at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)
If You Care

Hmmm....is Russia's Putin another of Bush's "friends"?

In a broadly pro-business state of the nation address, Putin made some more specific proposals than he has in previous speeches, suggesting the abolishment of the inheritance tax and an amnesty for undeclared income.

Speaking of "friends", it's possible, sort of, that Tom DeLay is not a crook, but at the very best he's extremely ethically challenged in a way that reveals the worst of our political system. Throw the bum out. (Also? Anyone desperate enough to want to "bask" in whatever "glow" comes off of a president whose approval rating is steadily tanking is desperate indeed.)

Maybe we should follow Korea's lead in trying to clean up our democratic processes?

In the "Who's Up Next?" game, a lot of countries have been mentioned. I'm wondering if Venezuela should be one of them? (Not "should" as in, "it's our business to tell them how to run their country" but "should" as in, "Bush looks pouty whenever Chávez is mentioned, which could be significant.")

Speaking of us interfering in other people's countries, a Chinese columnist takes the USofA to task for exporting faulty products. Namely, a soiled version of "democracy."

And, speaking of soiled democracy? Politics, religion, and following the pay-off trail money. Most of us have heard of Ralph Reed in connection with that unsavory Indian casino deal, but it's always worth refreshing your memory.

The disintegrating wall between church and state is no laughing matter since millions of " Christians" will support any "Christian" initiative, regardless of whether or not they agree with it. (On the other hand, Borowitz makes it funny.)

For those interested in the latest corporate fraud scandal, an expansion of AIG's "accounting problems" has been announced.

And then there's Adelphi Communications Corporation, reportedly paying the government a hefty $715 million to settle allegations of accounting fraud.

And Huntington (a "multi-bank holding company), offering up $7.5M to put an end to an investigation by the SEC into "accounting fraud."

In the aftermath of a tsunami, need is at war with greed.

For those who care about animals, a follow-up on that slaughter of wild mustangs.

For those who care about, oh, I don't know, personal ethics, maybe, a story of one man doing his bit to muddy the political waters.

For those who care about air safety, you need to understand that muzzling air marshals does not make us safer. It just shuts up anyone who might be in a position to knowledgeably criticize the Bush Administration's tactics in preventing terrorist attacks on USofA soil.

For those who care about labor rights, maybe we should be paying attention to the attempts of graduate students to win better treatment? Where is it written that a union has to be a blue-collar organization? Nowhere, that's where. This country has plenty of white-collar unions. Plus which, while it might seem odd to think of unionizing a university, things wouldn't have come to this if universities treated this labor pool with any fairness. Like any "industry" the universities have taken advantage of their labor pool just one too many times.) As far as that goes, a careful read of the article indicates that it's not just a rumor that "corporatization" is on the move inside of most of our higher learning facilities.

For those who care about outsourcing, it continues to spread to new industries. This time it's the illegal (prescription) drug trade.

Look here! Click the links for truly stunning new Hubble pictures (and links to previous pictures. Here's the Eagle Nebula. Here's the Whirlpool Galaxy.

Blair? Boo or boom? Approval, or Bush-quality spin? Someone could ask the kids, but that would shut down this very entertaining discussion.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:49 AM | Comments (2)
Do You Care?

I started to write about how Italy doesn't like us much these days since we decided that the USofA soldiers who killed intelligence agent Nicola Calipari and wounded journalist Guiliana Sgrena and an unnamed driver, did nothing wrong.

(I find my brain distracted by George Bush's reported "friendship" with Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. He's been under investigation for bribery and fraud off and on for quite a long time now. (Berlusconi, not Bush, although I can see how you'd make that mistake.) In addition to being Italy's Prime Minister, he's at the head of a huge business conglomerate that has its fingers in almost every corner of Italian life. I started to made a snide remark about how I'm not surprised he's Bush's friend if he's rich and alleged to be a crook but what the heck.)

Berlusconi's government is in trouble, not the least because of his meddling in Italian law in an attempt to provide himself and his buddies immunity from prosecution for their alleged misdeeds (sounds very....no, must resist), and this problem with the USofA isn't going to help. Calipari is something of a hero in Italy and the USofA's pigheadedness around admitting any fault in his death is putting Bush's "friend" in a very awkward place.

As I understood it, originally we said it was a mistake and we were sorry, but then we took it back. That's not sitting well with Italy.

I decided not to write about the whole thing, though.

The story hasn't gotten much USofA media play so obviously we don't care much.

The two Italian members of the investigating panel or committee or whatever have withdrawn in protest, refusing to accept the USofA's version of events, but reports of the incident have huge disparities, so we're never gonna know the truth.

Like, the reports of Sgrena's "shoulder wound" we saw in the USofA media? Well...those weren't exactly wrong. From all I've read, she was wounded in the shoulder. But I notice the USofA MSM doesn't usually mention she also had a punctured lung from flying shrapnel. Nor do you see many mentions of the driver in the MSM. He was wounded, too, you know. Sounds to me like the MSM is making an attempt to downplay the seriousness of the incident.

Or, maybe they knew right off the bat that we weren't going to care that much?

Now Italy is mad at us because we sort of have a history of killing Italians and then saying it wasn't our fault. (Remember when one of our military jets was hot-dogging around a ski area and flew far too low, severing a ski lift cable and killing 29 civilians? We investigated us and we decided we didn't do anything wrong.)

So, you know. In case you care, that's what's happening.

I thought you should know, because if what you know of the incident came from the USofA press, the story doesn't quite sound like it did in the European press.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)
April 25, 2005
I Was Wrong

I was totally wrong about that Bloglines thing. This has to be the coolest on-line toy I've found in a long time.

Poking around, I found this:

Future Cohesion Policy
A study of the future of the EU Cohesion Policy and the needs of the new member states by Sieps, Stockholm and six other European Research Institutes.

Sounds like a fascinating study. There seems to be content there that's open to the casual passerby to read, but I'm not sure. I'm going to write and ask.

If you're in the mood for some fiction, via Dead Parrot Society an astonishing story.

Or, if you're a writer or interested in writers, you could read the debate over prolific authors and whether or not they cheapen themselves by making writing look easy.

Still on writing, or at least reading, I have to admit that I've dissed the Oprah booklist myself. But maybe I shouldn't have.

Can you spell c-o-n-t-r-o-l   f-r-e-a-k-s?

Posted by AnneZook at 08:32 PM | Comments (2)
Looking on the bright side

A Diversity Dinner seems likely to produce rich rewards.

Elton John is going to get married. Congratulations!

I'm not crazy about being watched everywhere I go, but there's not doubt that cameras can protect citizens. Not the least because we could eventually see "official" tapes showing the police lying about the circumstances of an arrest.

It's Turn Off Your TV week. I have to admit, in my house, having the television on during a week would be more unusual than having it off. On the other hand, I do tend to watch DVDs or tapes several times a week (as opposed to "live" television.) I guess I could give those up for seven days, in favor of reading a book, listening to music, taking a walk, or even writing blog entries.

Some days, it's really hard to find interesting but upbeat stories to talk about.

I mean, a volcanic eruption? Maybe it's upbeat if no one was killed? (There are stories all over, but no pictures I can find.) (No, wait, look here.)

But profiteering on AIDS drug supplies intended for poor countries isn't good news.

Or, a girl offers to sell her virginity for enough money for medical care for her mother and to keep her younger brother in school? Okay, it's ghastly to think she'd have to do that, but why is her entire country rushing to condemn her while no one seems to have offered to help her and her family?

If it comes to that, what about help for Jimmy?

Not that much good news today.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)
Otherwise, the World O'Blog

I'm afraid I really do have to object to being defined in terms of my reproductive ability.

Avedon Carol continues to pound the drum of open, honest, and transparent voting.

Not strictly WO'B, but still, from an e-mail list from the U.N., so it qualifies as "culled from other than a MSM news source", the U.N. and Haiti.

Wow. Read this. " AIPAC (and Neocon) Scandal Closer to Blowing Up?...What the Times Didn't Mention about a Bad Contractor in Iraq"

Digby talks about how Republicans don't even bother to pretend they'll ever pay the price for their misdeeds. They know the press won't tell and no one else is remembering.

When David Neiwert does a round-up, you can expect to settle down with several hours' worth of reading material.

Now that I've read the internal Microsoft memo, I have to say their position as a corporation is sort of what I'd want a corporation's position to be. They intend to involve themselves in the political process when it's relevant to their business and intend to continue to support equality internally while not using their corporate status to commit shareholders and all employees to political positions they might not agree with. I know many have interpreted their move as fear of being boycotted, but I doubt that Microsoft's grip on the computer software business is that tentative.

Pointless but just adorable penguins and airport security.

Note: I didn't get around to redoing the old blogroll this weekend, or to sending out my minor but well-meant donations to the sites I've chosen to support in the coming year. I mean, just in case you were looking to see if there were any new links or anything.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)
Mixed Headlines

Japan's train wreck yesterday morning. I don’t know what to say. A terrible tragedy.

As is the lack of leadership, foresight, and intelligent planning that's killing soldiers.

Portland, Oregon, continues to stand up for itself. Nice to know there's at least one city in this country with the courage to face off against the Terror Warriors.

Looks like the USofA isn't the only country having trouble with the Religious Right.

It's a shame PBS doesn't have the same courage when it comes to standing up against the Right's propaganda machine (PBS isn't "liberal"), although I'd be perfectly happy if PBS offered no political programs at all and devoted itself to turning out some quality entertainment.

Looks like Gannon/Guckert is back in the news and there are some new questions. How do you get in or out of the White House without being logged in/out? (The mentioned Doonesbury comic.)

If it quacks like a duck? Five months after he may or may not have won the election, Bush is looking lame.

(And, speaking of lame, this guy is getting what he deserves.)

There sure have been changes in the campaign trail in the last 30 years. A journalist tries to cover the '04 campaign and can't find anything to write about.

Let's celebrate the safe return of the astronauts from the space station. Why does this get so little coverage in the USofA any more? Are we blasé about space trips, or are we just too insular to celebrate successes by the Russian space program? They took up the slack when we bailed out on the space station. They're entitled to acknowledgement.

Politics and economic matters in Russia, on the other hand, remain turbulent.

Let's also celebrate this. I missed the announcement earlier about this:

... Unocal had agreed to pay to settle a long-running lawsuit charging the oil company with assisting and encouraging the torture, murder and rape of Burmese villagers by government soldiers so that Unocal could build a gas pipeline.

It's also very good news that big corporations are learning to take human rights lawsuits seriously. But....

Unocal unwittingly revealed the seriousness of the settlement when in March it boldly sued its insurance companies for the costs of the case. "The allegations of forced labor, murder, rape, torture, battery, forced relocation and detention throughout the Myanmar litigation fall within the policies' 'personal injuries coverage,'" Unocal said in the lawsuit.

You can insure for rape and torture?

Maybe not. The insurance company denied the claim.

(I need to broaden the news sources I read. Either that, or I'm going to have to give in and use one of those clipping services things that sends you a note when there's something out on a topic you're interested in.)

Posted by AnneZook at 07:51 AM | Comments (0)
April 24, 2005
Pennies From Everyone

On a lighter note, you know that jar of pennies or odd change you have gathering dust in one corner of your house? Sure you do. It's the one you empty your pockets or purse into when the accumulation of coins is more than a pound or two (weight, not U.K. coinage).

Dump those coins into a bag. (Go ahead. It's not like you're spending them anyhow. They're just sitting there, getting dirty.) Find a sturdy box. Put the bag in the box. Stuff the corners with paper. Mail it here.

The Playground Project
c/o Mrs Fields' Fifth Grade
Horace Mann School
687 Watertown Street
Newtonville MA 02460
Because children should be allowed to play.

Thank you. Once you've done that, you can go play, too.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)
We Need A Little Justice

So, isn't this Justice Sunday or something?

I'm glad to hear it. A little justice is what this country needs, not to mention open, honest, and transparent systems of government controlled by elected officials who have a genuine interest in serving the citizens of this country.

We can do without a lot of what we already have, to make room for that kind of justice.

Colluding with corrupt or incompetent corporations.

Permitting corporations and the wealthy to shelter their money offshore while restructuring the tax code to hit the middle-class.

Accountability that fails to include those at the top of our government agencies.

Fewer and fewer options for needy young people who want futures besides prison.

A dimming future for all the inhabitants of this planet.

Secret committees with the power to dismantle the government.

I volunteer us to do without these and other things, in order to leave our government the time and energy to focus on a little justice for all.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)