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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

December 09, 2005
No Hablo Espanol

Kansas is at it again, struggling hard to maintain their new reputation as the Stupidest State In the Union.

This time a Kansas school has suspended a student for making a casual remark in Spanish while he was standing in the school's hallway.

" No problema," he said.

Anyone here who hasn't used the same phrase themselves at one time or another?

No word on whether or not the other Spanish-speaking student involved in the conversation will be facing disciplinary action.

Or, you know, be hauled off by the English Only cops, to be held incommunicado for a few years until he's no longer considered a terrorist threat to society.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:27 AM | Comments (5)
Happy Holidays

To rich people, as another $56,000,000,000 (that's 56 billion) in tax cuts winds its way through Congress.

Making a total of $95,000,000,000.

Voting 234 to 197, almost purely along party lines, the House approved $56 billion in tax cuts over five years, one day after it passed other tax cuts totaling $39 billion over five years. The biggest provision would extend President Bush's 2001 tax cut for stock dividends and capital gains for two years at a cost of $20 billion.

Fifty-six billion dollars. How dow you pay for that? (Can you bring a political party up on charges of discrimination, negligence, and willful endangerment?)

The budget that the House passed just before Thanksgiving, would cut $51 billion over five years from programs like Medicaid, food stamps, farm subsidies and child-support enforcement. The Republican-controlled Senate passed a much more cautious tax package just before Thanksgiving. The Senate bill would cut taxes by $60 billion over five years, and it would not extend the tax cut on stock dividends.

In other news, legislators in Washington D.C. will be thrilled to learn that one of their favorite foods is now back in season. If they don't want to pay $111,000 for their own (single) white truffle, entrees start at a mere $135 at their favorite high-end D.C. restaurants. Call your favorite lobbyist for reservations.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)
Sick Society

For anyone who cares, the follow-up to the "exploding pen" story reveals that it was, indeed, a kid who created the bombs. He was angry over being expelled from school.

I wonder what he'll do after he's angry over being locked up?

Posted by AnneZook at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)
Good News

The article says that, "peace is finally taking hold in Congo's remote northeastern Ituri region, a key battleground in a stubborn pan-African war that's claimed 4 million lives."

The situation is still dire for the people who live there, but any sign that a fragile peace process is starting to gain strength is very good news indeed.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)
Why's He Grouching?

I don't know why George Bush is getting all huffy about corruption in government in Iraq

He said he wanted to export our democracy to them. Looking at the headlines around Republican finance and influence-peddling scandals these days, it looks to me like he's getting what he asked for.

(We're all about promoting oil-rich, pro-USA democracies.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)
SCLM

Conservative blogs "rock" because conservative bloggers don't offer individual thought, don't concern themselves with the rights and wrongs of conservative policy, and do stick to the party line in sellng conservative talking points to the gullible public.

Those darned libruls, on the other hand, are always being distracted by issues and personal opinions and keeping an eye on the doings of their own party.

So, you know, ignore the numbers that say liberal blogs are more highly trafficked. Everyone reads them, but they don't rock.

Ahhh...the So-Called Liberal Media is such a joy to read these days.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)
Pollution Watch

A system that allows researchers to see pollution hotspots around the globe. Fascinating.

Is emitting a ton of pollution and contributing signifcantly to global warming a human rights violation if it means you're destroying the lifestyle and ecosystem of a people?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:48 AM | Comments (2)
Extraordinary

Looks like "extraordinary rendition" practices are what gave the Bush Administration some of their bogus ammo for their case for invading Iraq.

And now the guy is claiming he made it up to avoid being tortured? (Okay, the article says he wanted to avoid "harsh treatment" but the implication is clear.)

We also admit we don't give the Red Cross access to everyone we have locked up in various places.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)
December 07, 2005
What's the score?

Are we winning the war on grammar?

Are we winning yet? Well, the current focus on the CIA policy of flying terror suspects to countries where they can be questioned outside the protection of US law reveals that the latest word to get its ass kicked is "rendition". That, and the more vogueish phrase "extraordinary rendition". Hitherto, for me at least, "rendition" conjured up images of musical actors dressed in brightly coloured clothes crying "hey, let's do a song about it!". In its qualified state, it would indicate someone garnering critical acclaim for said rendering, as in: "That really was an extraordinary rendition of Memory from Cats." Now it turns out the phrase refers to sitting on the tarmac at Glasgow Prestwick airport while your CIA interrogators stock up on fuel before exporting you to some facility that doesn't show up on any Romanian Ordnance Survey maps. Who knew?

Certainly, the dictionary has once again been left with egg on its face. "Rendition", it states. "The act of rendering." To render is defined among other things as to present, to give what is owed, to translate into another language and to reduce by heating. Not one word about being cellophaned to a ducking stool in the former eastern bloc.

That's the problem with dictionaries...they're so often so far out of date!

Indeed, "rendition" has some way to go before its definition becomes as elastic as that of "freedom" now is. Frankly, the Bush administration's "freedom" knocks the "patriot" of Patriot Act fame into a cocked hat. You can prefix anything with this baby. It can only be days before Fox News starts referring to white phosphorus as "freedom dust". As for the potato chips ... There's a moment in David Rees's brilliant internet cartoon strip Get Your War On when two office workers discuss the US Congress's decision to rename french fries in the wake of France's refusal to support America's stance on Iraq. "Freedom Fries???" one demands. "OK, I have a question - is the War on Terrorism over? Because I sure as hell want to know that ALL THE TERRORISTS IN THE WORLD HAVE BEEN CAPTURED before legislators actually take the time to rename their GODDAMN CAFETERIA FOOD!"

Indeed.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:21 AM | Comments (2)
Well, ick

Stroke the bunny? Even by the standards of "video games" could that be any stupider of an idea?

If you're hitting someone and calling them a "dirty negro" then how is it possible for a court to say you weren't demonstrating real hatred?

The supreme court is no stranger to controversial judgements.

In recent years it has ruled that "an isolated and impulsive" pat on a woman's bottom at work did not constitute sexual harassment, and returned a verdict that a woman could not have been raped because she was wearing skin-tight jeans.

I suppose the Bush Administration is salivating over these Italian decisions. It's probably the kind of court they'd like to have.

And, finally, it's pretty clear that Lieberman is slipping off his pants and getting ready to jump into Bush's bed.

(Raw Story had good stuff today.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:04 AM | Comments (2)
Misreporting Iraq

If we must send children to die in Bush & Cheney's war, the least we owe them is honesty.

(Please note: Due to circumstances beyond our control, winning the 'war on terror' no longer means actually defeating terrorists.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:28 AM | Comments (2)
War Crimes

It's worth considering, the question of just what human rights, international law, and the global community means to us.

We should be cautious in tearing down civilized progress. There's no guarantee that we're always going to be the world's only superpower. In fact, the way we're acting, it's no surprise there's a renewed interest in nations around the world in building up their own military might.

Because we have become the evil that the world must guard against.
The nave innocent in me still stands wide-eyed and astonished at how far the USofA has gone down the path of evil in my own lifetime.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)
30,000...60,000

Ford may cut 30,000 jobs in the next five years. We add this, don't forget to notice to GM's announcement of up to 30,000 job cuts.

Merry Christmas, from the Bush Administration's economic advisors, who brought you this entry in the, "tax cuts for rich people will make everything all better parade.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:48 AM | Comments (0)
We're In Good Hands

Oh, yeah. The Bush Administration is doing us up right. We're strong.

We're strong on fighting terrorism, and we do what it takes, no matter who thought of it first. (You gotta admit...those Nazis had it down when it came to how to treat protesting "focus group" types.)

And let's not forget they're strong on defense. Because nothing says "we're a strong, proud country" like chaining someone up and beating him to death.

And a strong central government...well, that's not traditionally thought of as a Republican goal, but this bunch sure is fighting for it. Of course, their "central" mostly meansas much power as possible in a single pair of hands those of the President, but that's nothing like what Saddam Hussein did. Nothing at all. (Nothing at all like a tyrannical dictator who imprisoned protesters on the flimsiest of excuses, used banned weapons and sought to acquire or develop more, and invaded nonagressive countries. Nothing at all.)

Don't be fooled by people trying to convince you that we've been down this path before...disastrously. Nosiree, we're fighting the good fight against dangerous enemies.

The role models of the Bush Administration should worry you.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)
Well?

Another Republican is facing charges for tampering with the election process.

Will we ever reach a point where we all agree that it's time to clean up the process? Or will Republicans continue to pretend it's not really a problem just because they're temporarily in the majority?

Posted by AnneZook at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)
Atwa

It does read like a possible solution for Iraq. Especially if we leave now, before the damage runs even deeper.

The atwa is an old and venerated system of dispute-resolution practiced in the region for generations. McDermott learned of the tradition during a recent trip to Jordan from influential Iraqis who had the means to flee the violence that's plagued Iraq since the United States' attack.

The process is, as the Iraqis say, "hutwa bi hutwa" -- "step-by-step." It begins with a ceasefire. Then respected leaders on both sides negotiate a series of mutual obligations that bridge the divide between the parties. Instead of the kinds of treaties favored by the West in which a "winner" wrenches concessions from a "loser," the atwa's great strength for a situation like the one plaguing Iraq today is that the process saves face (for more, read McDermott's essay, "Atwa in Iraq: A Tale of Two Villages").

And don't miss the linked-to expanded discussion of the process and the possibilities.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)
December 06, 2005
War

If we leave Iraq, the terrorists will win.

Speaking at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld warned that al-Qaida leaders such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden would seize power in the wake of an American withdrawal and turn Iraq into the kind of terrorist safe haven that Afghanistan was before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Something that could never have happened before we invaded Iraq and turned the country into a terrorist breeding ground. (I accept that admitting to the USofA's contribution to Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for terrorists would have given Rumsfeld an aneurism.)

"The message that retreat would send to the free people of Iraq and to moderate Muslim reformers throughout the region and the world would be that they cannot count on America," Rumsfeld said.

They already know that.

The Bush administration has been warning of the dangers of a new caliphate - an Islamic superstate based on Islamic laws with religious and political authority over much of the Muslim world - to bolster waning support for its policy in Iraq.

The message is similar to the domino theory that U.S. officials used 40 years ago to muster support for the Vietnam War by arguing that abandoning South Vietnam would allow the communists to conquer neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

The disaster that we've created in Iraq is no one's fault but our own. As distasteful and undemocratic as Saddam "The Americans Put Me In Office, You Know" Hussein was, and as much as I would have wanted him removed and a better government installed by the Iraqi people, the danger of Iraq becoming a terrorist haven for violent Islamic fundamentalists was pretty much nil under his regime.

And as much as my heart and head scream for us to get out of their country, I fear what will happen when we do. But I also suspect that the sooner we leave, the better off Iraq will be in the long run.

And...the one thing I've learned in the last four or five years is that whatever the Bush Administration is doing, it's almost guaranteed to be exactly the opposite of the right thing to do.

Rumsfeld say we have to stay.

That makes our path clear. Bring 'em home.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)
Diebold

I'm just saying. If they didn't have something to hide, they wouldn't be willing to lose business rather than let customers know what they're up to.

Diebold would rather lose all of its voting machine business in North Carolina than open its source code to state election officials as required by law, the Associated Press reports.

Due to irregularities in the 2004 election traced to touch screen terminals, North Carolina has taken the very reasonable precaution of requiring vendors of electronic voting gizmos to place all of the source code in escrow. Diebold has objected to the possibility of criminal sanctions if they fail to comply, and argued for an exemption before Wake County Superior Court Judge Narley Cashwell. The judge declined to issue an exemption, and Diebold has concluded that it has no choice but withdraw from the state.


Posted by AnneZook at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)
Surprised?

It may surprise you to know that I think military recruiters should be allowed on college campuses.

Freedom of speech and stuff. Any other organization that handed the university a lot of money would be allowed to proselytize on campus, so why not the government?

But it's a bit different than if the Moonies came calling, checkbook in hand. How public money is spent is a public issue. Most people approve of public money being spent on education, so the government doesn't have a lot of choice in that matter.

Also, I have to say that professors claiming that their freedom is infringed by having somneone whose views they don't agree with sharing the campus with them? Strikes me as kind of stupid and whiny. No, they shouldn't be required to promote the appearance of recruiters on campus, but universities are about having a lot of different and ideas and beliefs on display so, you know, don't be such weenies. If you object to what the recruiters stand for, civil rights-wise, then speak up. But you won't win the battle by trying to repress views you don't agree with.

The military can be an honorable and a worthwhile profession. Let us not let the Bush Administration's stupidity, greed, and brutality blind us to that. (I'd like to see a lot more public debate over exactly when and how we should use our military in the future, but that's a different rant.)

Also? I think the local College Republican organizations should get a special reception and a bit of pressure to put their money where their mouths are. Because their "hey, we should go kill people, but not me because I have a life and there's a party Saturday night" attitude really annoys me. (Not to mention that the fact that they feel entirely free to say, "someone else should die for this" says something scary about our society as a whole.)

I think each university's GLBT club should set up an "information" table right next to the recruiters' stands. With a few photos of prominent GLBT members of the military or in civilian life on display and info about their careers and accomplishments.

The other side of the recruiting stands might be a good place for whatever local anti-war organization exists and wants to discuss what we're doing in Iraq. And Afghanistan. And Guantanamo. And however many "secret" detention facilities we have around the world. And here at home.

If universities have such a thing as environmental groups these days, one could set up behind the recruiters' tables and hand out flyers discussing the weapons research the military funds or conducts and the toxic pollution it creates.

I'm sure most universities have some kind of history club. They could hand out information on the evolution of the military in this country...how it claimed at every step that every innovation would destroy it utterly and yet it continues to exist and thrive.

Tell the whole story.

Yes, I'm rather ambiguous about the military. I see the necessity and I understand it. But I also disapprove of many of the uses it's been put to in the last century and I entirely disapprove of institutionalized bigotry.

As more and more nations around the world open the doors of legal and social equality to their GLBT citizens, our shining light of democracy dims and becomes tarnished by the continued refusal of some people to accept that someone can be unlike them, but just as worthy as a human being.

The Bush Administration, losing public support in their unwinnable "war on terror" around the world, is increasingly turning to open bigotry in an attempt to recover their popularity. (What else are those constant speeches about "immigration reform" if not thinly coded bigotry intended to whip up fear of "brown people" taking over the country?)

That's what people like them do. They hate. That's what holds them together, as a group. They have no positive impulses, no improvements or progress to offer in any field. They just...hate. And, sadly, where they hate, they try to kill.

It's not just a legal issue. It's not even mostly a legal issue. It's a social one. Whether people are willing to admit it or not, misogyny, racism, and homophobia are still firmly embedded in our culture. Discrimination on gender or racial grounds is technically illegal, leaving our GLBT citizens as the most vulnerable.

And, as the class divisions in this country grow ever wider, the "have nots" are going to be increasingly desperate for someone to blame. The easy solution has always been to blame a group even weaker than yours, to find an enemy you can defeat. Those with little or nothing have always propped up their egos and their self-esteem by finding groups with even less and taking it out on their members. The Bush Administration is using this well-known impulse for short-term political gain and, as with most of their actions, creating problems we're going to have to deal with for decades.

I think this is the decade's most important social issue. Have we reached the limits of freedom that an increasingly paranoid rightwing can accept or is there a way to teach the next generations that "other" is not the same as "enemy"?

Are all 'men' created equal, or are they not?

It's time to bring this fight out of the closet.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:04 AM | Comments (4)
Give Me Strength

I totally care. But that doesn't mean I don't occasionally have a bit of trouble dealing with the news.

Like, for instance, the knowledge that if the children are sick, the society is sick.

EL MONTE, Calif. Booby-trapped pens have exploded and injured three people at local high schools, causing minor burns and scratches on their hands and faces.

The pens were found lying on the ground and blew up when people pulled off their caps.

(Warning: Short but irritating registration process required. I'm really just not in the mood for that today.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)