Monday, June 30, 2008

Gitmo goodness

Gitmo news fron the NYT:

In the first case to review the government’s secret evidence for holding a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal appeals court found that allegations against an ethnic Chinese man held for more than six years were based on bare and unverifiable claims, according to the decision released Monday.

With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its allegations against a detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.

The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a Lewis Carroll character: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”

“This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true,” said the panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
But wait for it. Here's the punchline of the story:
American officials have said that they cannot return Mr. Parhat and 16 other Uighur detainees at Guantánamo to China for fear of mistreatment.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Pam Lach brings us another sweet, sweet re-cut trailer.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"I'm dying!"

"You're not dying, you just can't think of anything good to do."

A Ferris Bueller trailer re-cut and set to the music from Requiem for a Dream. Apart from being slightly too long, this is about as close to perfection as anything on Youtube.

Via Cynical-C.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

OK, so I linked below to Nader's less than enthusiastic appraisal on Obama, so I figure that I should even the score and post something as unflattering about McCunt McCain.

So here's an interview on MSNBC with General Wesley Clark on why, contrary to public opinion, McCain does not have the foreign policy credentials he claims to have.

Both via Pandagon.

Nader on Obama

Barack Obama: "The Corporate Candidate"? So says Ralph Nader on Democracy Now!

Barack Obama really now has to be examined very carefully. He has worn out the word “change.” We now want to know what change is involved. And it’s quite clear that he is a corporate candidate from A to Z. In his voting record, he voted against reform of the Mining Act of 1872, which gives away our hard rock minerals. He voted for a terrible class-action restriction law that the corporations wanted him to vote for. He, in many ways, has disappointed people who had greater hopes for him. He’s voted for reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act. He refuses to even discuss—he’s vigorously against impeachment of Bush and Cheney. He won’t even support his colleague Senator Russ Feingold motion to censure the Bush administration for systemic repeated illegal wiretaps. He—you know, he’s letting the corporate-dominated city of Washington, the corporations who actually rule us now in Washington, determine his agenda. And that does not augur well.
It is regrettably true that Obama opposes impeachment, but to imply that he is pro-Patriot Act is misleading, even if he did vote for its reauthorization.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This is what Democracy looks like?

As blogged the other day, in response to a question about the lack of public will for the Iraq war, Big Dick Cheney caustically responded, "So?" At a White House press briefing back in March, Dana Perino explained it:

“So is the vice president saying it really doesn’t matter what the American public thinks about the war?”

“No, I don’t think that’s what he’s saying,” Perino responded. But later, she echoed Cheney, saying that the 2004 presidential election was the last time American public opinion on the war really mattered:

HELEN THOMAS: The American people are being asked to die and pay for this. And you’re saying they have no say in this war?

PERINO: No, I didn’t say that Helen. But Helen, this president was elected…

THOMAS: But it amounts to it. You’re saying we have no input at all.

PERINO: You had input. The American people have input every four years, and that’s the way our system is set up.

So sit back and shut up, America. You don't like this war? Well I guess you should have thought about that four years ago when you re-elected George Bush. It's his turn to say what goes. And he says the war goes on. Too bad.

Via an old post at Think Progress.

Suck on that, Taser Inc.

Good news on the taser front--for once:

A San Jose, California, jury yesterday said Taser had failed to warn police in Salinas, California, that prolonged exposure to electric shock from the device could cause a risk of cardiac arrest. The jury awarded $1 million in compensatory damages and $5.2 million in punitive damages to the estate of Robert Heston, 40, and his parents. The jury cleared the police officers of any liability.

...``I think Taser’s going to have to rethink its litigation strategy and its warning policies,’’ Burton said. The jury awarded $5 million in punitive damages to Heston’s parents and $200,000 in punitives to his estate.

Heston died on Feb. 20, 2005, after his father had called Salinas police because his son was ``acting strangely,’’ and seemed to be on drugs, according to the lawsuit complaint. Salinas police shot Heston multiple times with the stun-gun, continuing to discharge their Tasers into him until he stopped moving, the lawsuit claims.

Heston went into cardiac arrest and died, his family said.

Maybe NYC will rethink it's fire-away taser policy.

Via Pandagon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tasers take Manhattan

KDS passes a link from the NYT. What do you do when you realize that your city's cops are shooting too many people? Give them tasers and tell 'em to fire away. Remember, tasers don't kill people (except sometimes).

Police recruits and veteran officers could benefit from more frequent firearms training and a wider use of Taser stun guns, according to a study of the New York Police Department’s shooting habits released on Monday.

The study, by the RAND Corporation, was commissioned in January 2007, about seven weeks after a Queens man, Sean Bell, died in a hail of 50 police bullets. Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at the time that questions about the department’s effectiveness and training required an independent review.

RAND researchers raised the phenomenon of “reflexive shooting,” or contagious shooting, in which one officer’s gunshots spur a fusillade of bullets by others in the area.

Though they could not say whether the phenomenon occurred more often than in the past, they recommended that the department add “reflexive shooting scenarios that include a stimulus or the sound of gunfire, to sensitize officers to cues that may not be reliable, and to teach them that such cues may generate unwanted responses.”

What a dick

The novelist V S Naipaul has damned the achievements of his literary contemporaries by declaring that there are "no more great writers".

Naipaul, 75, who won the Booker in 1971 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, is said to have called this year's Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival "unimportant and meaningless".

He made his outspoken comments while at a launch of a new magazine at the Wallace Collection, in London. "Publishing has gone down in quality so much in recent years and the problem is that there is no literary life any more because there are quite simply no more great writers," he said.

He added that he had also noticed the people who go to Hay were "incredibly ugly". A spokeswoman from the festival said that Naipaul had not made an appearance at Hay in any official capacity.

From The Independent, Via Harpers

Monday, June 9, 2008

What a disgrace

Via Democracy Now!, more pathetic news from Gitmo:

Lawyer: Gitmo Interrogators Told to Trash Notes

The Pentagon urged interrogators at Guantanamo Bay to destroy handwritten notes in case they were called to testify about potentially harsh treatment of detainees, a military defense lawyer said Sunday.

The lawyer for Toronto-born Omar Khadr, Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, said the instructions were included in an operations manual shown to him by prosecutors and suggest the U.S. deliberately thwarted evidence that could help terror suspects defend themselves at trial.

Kuebler said the apparent destruction of evidence prevents him from challenging the reliability of any alleged confessions. He said he will use the document to seek a dismissal of charges against Khadr.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, said he was reviewing the matter Sunday evening.

The "standard operating procedures" manual that contained the purported instructions was made available to Kuebler last week as part of a pretrial review of potential evidence, the Navy lawyer said.

By the way, Omar Khadr has been in US custody since he was fifteen years old.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Change in Cuba?

A killer link from my co-conspirator, KDS. Maybe this is why the US is mobilizing its long-inoperative Latin American naval fleet:

Cubans to get free sex changes

The Cuban Government has approved 28 sex-change operations and says it will perform them free of charge.

Cuba's sex education centre is run by President Raul Castro's daughter Mariela Castro and for many years she has pressed the Government to offer free sex-change treatment for transsexuals.

The health ministry has decided it is time to oblige.

Ms Castro says a Cuban team has been training with Belgian surgeons to prepare for the operations.

The decision marks a contrast with previous official policy on gender issues.

According to Ms Castro, a sex-change operation did take place in Cuba in 1988, but she says there was so much opposition to it that the health ministry cancelled plans to do others.

Via ABC News.

Another crazy link from A. Mitchel:

Discrimination against albinos is a serious problem throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but recently in Tanzania it has taken a wicked twist: at least 19 albinos, including children, have been killed and mutilated in the past year, victims of what Tanzanian officials say is a growing criminal trade in albino body parts.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

vaya pues

Former Sandinista Foreign Minister, Miguel d'Escoto, was elected president of the UN General Assembly yesterday. The power of the Latin American scourge continues to grow.

Worry not, gentle reader: the US is re-establishing a Naval fleet to oversee activity in the Caribbean and Central and South America for the first time since the 1950s.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Christly Couture

Sweet Jesus: abstinence pants!

Yes, I said "abstinence pants." Kmart in-house designer Piper & Blue has jazzed up this year's summer collection with a pair of sweatpants for teen girls that say "True Love Waits" in your choice of colored bubble letters. No, there is no corresponding set for boys.
Via Mother Jones, and the devilish lady herself, KDS.

the antagonistic character of capitalist accumulation - Watch more free videos

Don't worry: he got tazered when it was all said and done. (Plus, it may or may not be staged)

Message to World: Prioritize

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Researchers at the University of Munich have created new environmentally friendly bombs." That's such a relief, isn't it? Now we just need to manufacture reusable bullets, biodegradable cluster bombs, and pesticide free land mines and we'll be good to go.


Dick Cheney thinks you are stupid, myopic, and self-centered. Don't bother to have an opinion on anything important, because he's not listening. That's the CIA's job.

"On the security front, I think there's a general consensus that we've made major progress, that the surge has worked. That's been a major success," Cheney told ABC News' Martha Raddatz during an exclusive interview in Oman.

When asked how that assessment comports with recent polls that show about two-thirds of Americans say the fight in Iraq is not worth it, Cheney replied, "So?"

"You don't care what the American people think?" Raddatz asked the vice president.

"You can't be blown off course by polls," said Cheney.
The day before yesterday, Cheney tried to backtrack by claiming that when he said "So?" he was confused because he didn't think Raddatz had asked him a question. Either way, he's still not listening.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


So, I've been slowly wading into my year-long reading period for the exams I am taking next April. Thus far I've been focusing on modernist novels to come out of the countries that formerly comprised Austro-Hungary -- Kafka, Sandor Marai, Joseph Roth, Jaroslav Hasek, Karel Capek, etc. Today I finished a book that I though was really exceptional, Bruno Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles. Part Borges, part magical realism, this book is absolutely luminous. It's one of those rare books that makes you see the world anew. Schulz very deliberately sets out to defamiliarize the everyday, and is successful to a degree far surpassing the expectations. I feel that now having read it, I would almost be justified in doing nothing else for the rest of the year but re-reading this one work.

And one more thing: if it makes a difference, Schulz's life is fascinating, not least of all because he was shot in the head by a Gestapo officer in 1942.

its war, war, and the environment. get used to it.

Highlights from the Harper's Weekly (with links!):

Monday, June 2, 2008

From Kendra, my resident snack expert, comes this gem:

Designer of Pringles carton buried in crisp tube

The designer of the Pringles crisp tube has died – and had his remains buried in one of the containers.

Dr Fredric J. Baur, who was 89, had told his family to ensure his final resting place was the inside of one of his most famous creations.

They honoured his request by having his ashes buried in a Pringles tube – and a m

ore conventional urn for the overflow – at Arlington Memorial Gardens in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Another choice link from our resident Titanic aficionado, A. Mitchel Fraas:

The man who located the wreck of the Titanic has revealed that the discovery was a cover story to camouflage the real mission of inspecting the wrecks of two Cold War nuclear submarines.

When Bob Ballard led a team that pinpointed the wreckage of the liner in 1985 he had already completed his main task of finding out what happened to USS Thresher and USS Scorpion.