Thursday, June 28, 2007

Two amusing tales

A prisoner in the UK declares her right to a sex toy:
She is arguing that it is her right to have a satisfying sex life and that she is being denied it. She will take her case to the European Court of Human Rights if she doesn't get what she wants.
And a trip to the UK's latest tourist attraction, Amora, the Academy of Sex:
There is an exhibit about how to find erogenous zones. An 'orgasm tunnel' about the biological mechanisms which accompany sexual arousal. And a fridge full of aphrodisiacs, including the disclosure that 'the scent of black liquorice increases the blood flow to the male genitals'.
I don't know what's got into the UK, but...oh, never mind.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sabbath made me do it

Who cares if it's true?

A Swedish man is to receive sickness benefits for his addiction to heavy metal music.

The lifestyle of 42-year-old dishwasher Roger Tullgren from Hässleholm in southern Sweden has been classified as a disability by the Swedish Employment Service, which has agreed to pay part of Tullgren's salary, and his new boss has given him special dispensation to play loud music at work.

According to Swedish online newspaper The Local, Tullgren first developed an interest in heavy metal when his older brother bought a Black Sabbath album in 1971. Since then, Tullgren is a classic (albeit softly spoken) heavy metal head with tattoos and skull and crossbones jewellery. Last year he attended almost 300 heavy metal shows, while playing bass and guitar in two rock bands, including Silverland.

Tullgren says he has always had difficulty holding down a job, mainly because he is absent most of the time.

Monday, June 18, 2007


One of the things that the Bush administration has done that I've approved of is their push about the genocide in Darfur. It hasn't won them any points among some conservatives and I haven't always been happy with the speed of their strategy, but they have been pressing the issue with Sudan through the U.N. (which is what they should have done in Iraq, but I digress). The Guardian reports, however, that the deal recently pushed for by the Bush administration and reached may all be undone. Why? The U.S. refused to pay their dues to the U.N. Snippet:

But former Colorado senator Timothy Wirth, president of the United Nations Foundation, warned Congress last week that the proposed Darfur deployment, and other current or future UN operations, were being jeopardised by mounting US debts. "As of June 2007 the US was $569m in permanent arrears to the UN for UN peacekeeping," Mr Wirth said. "The administration's budget request for the UN peacekeeping account for fiscal year 2008 [beginning in October this year] was found to be short by an additional estimated $500m.

"If this is left unaddressed, US arrears to the UN will exceed $1bn by the end of 2007 for peacekeeping alone," Mr Wirth said.

Actions as well as words, Mr. Bush.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rumsfeld should be investigated

Oh, those words will make some people roll their eyes. By such people's logic they are just happy the man is gone and in their minds the issues are dead. But Seymour Hersh reports in the New Yorker a lot of information that points to further investigations of Rummy and his cohorts, including Wolfowitz, et al.

Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld’s testimony was simply not true. “The photographs were available to him—if he wanted to see them,” Taguba said. Rumsfeld’s lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, “Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There’s no way he’s suffering from C.R.S.—Can’t Remember Shit. He’s trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves.” It distressed Taguba that Rumsfeld was accompanied in his Senate and House appearances by senior military officers who concurred with his denials.

“The whole idea that Rumsfeld projects—‘We’re here to protect the nation from terrorism’—is an oxymoron,” Taguba said. “He and his aides have abused their offices and have no idea of the values and high standards that are expected of them. And they’ve dragged a lot of officers with them.”

That's Army Major General Antonio Taguba. He was the one who investigated the Abu Ghraib torture for the Pentagon. He's also recently retired and is ready to tell his story to Hersh. The whole sordid, disgusting tale really needs to be read, investigated, and completely exposed. If we are, as we like to tell the rest of the world, a nation of laws and a just people with a just government, then we need to investigate and prosecute. Another snippet:

Taguba eventually concluded that there was a reason for the evasions and stonewalling by Rumsfeld and his aides. At the time he filed his report, in March of 2004, Taguba said, “I knew there was C.I.A. involvement, but I was oblivious of what else was happening” in terms of covert military-intelligence operations. Later that summer, however, he learned that the C.I.A. had serious concerns about the abusive interrogation techniques that military-intelligence operatives were using on high-value detainees. In one secret memorandum, dated June 2, 2003, General George Casey, Jr., then the director of the Joint Staff in the Pentagon, issued a warning to General Michael DeLong, at the Central Command:

CIA has advised that the techniques the military forces are using to interrogate high value detainees (HVDs) . . . are more aggressive than the techniques used by CIA who is [sic] interviewing the same HVDs.

DeLong replied to Casey that the techniques in use were “doctrinally appropriate techniques,” in accordance with Army regulations and Rumsfeld’s direction.

The article closes with this view from Taguba:

Taguba went on, “There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff”—the explicit images—“was gravitating upward. It was standard operating procedure to assume that this had to go higher. The President had to be aware of this.” He said that Rumsfeld, his senior aides, and the high-ranking generals and admirals who stood with him as he misrepresented what he knew about Abu Ghraib had failed the nation.

“From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Yet another drug raid gone wrong

Police will naturally tell you that these are unfortunate and either isolated or extremely rare incidents. This is the third I've read about in 2 weeks. From the Durango Herald Online:

Law-enforcement officers raided the wrong house and forced a 77-year-old La Plata County woman on oxygen to the ground last week in search of methamphetamine.
Virginia Herrick sits in her Durango West I home on Thursday. She is sitting in the same chair where she first saw men wearing gas masks outside the window on her right June 8. The men, agents of the Southwest Drug Task Force, moments later barged into her home, ordered her to the floor and put handcuffs on her. Virginia Herrick stands in front of the spot in her home where she was ordered to lie on the floor when law-enforcement officers mistakenly raided her house June 8. The officers intended to raid a house next door to Herrick’s. The house on the right is Herrick’s home. The one to the left is the trailer that was supposed to be raided.

The raid occurred about 11 a.m. June 8, as Virginia Herrick was settling in to watch "The Price is Right." She heard a rustling outside her mobile home in Durango West I and looked out to see several men with gas masks and bulletproof vests, she said.

Herrick went to the back door to have a look.

"I thought there was a gas leak or something," she said.

But before reaching the door, La Plata County Sheriff's deputies shouted "search warrant, search warrant" and barged in with guns drawn, she said. They ordered Herrick to the ground and began searching the home.

"They didn't give me a chance to ask for a search warrant or see a search warrant or anything," she said in a phone interview Thursday. "I'm not about to argue with those big old guys, especially when they've got guns and those big old sledgehammers."

La Plata County Sheriff Duke Schirard and Southwest Drug Task Force Director Lt. Rick Brown confirmed Herrick's story.

Some deputies stayed with Herrick as others searched the house. They entered every bedroom and overturned a mattress in her son's room.

Deputies asked Herrick if she knew a certain man, and she said no. Then they asked what address they were at, and she told them 74 Hidden Lane.

Deputies intended to raid 82 Hidden Lane - the house next door.

One from the Guardian

Interesting. I'm sure we'll hear more from this author as her book is about to be released. Indeed, this article is a variation of one that appeared in the Nation. The article is titled How War Was Turned Into A Brand. Clip:

Since Israel began its policy of sealing off the occupied territories with checkpoints and walls, human rights activists have often compared Gaza and the West Bank to open-air prisons. But in researching the explosion of Israel's homeland security sector, a topic explored in greater detail in my forthcoming book, it strikes me that they are something else too: laboratories where the terrifying tools of our security states are being field-tested. Palestinians - whether living in the West Bank or what the Israeli politicians are already calling Hamastan - are no longer just targets. They are guinea pigs.

So in a way Friedman is right, Israel has struck oil. But the oil isn't the imagination of its techie entrepreneurs. The oil is the war on terror, the state of constant fear that creates a bottomless global demand for devices that watch, listen, contain and target "suspects". And fear, it turns out, is the ultimate renewable resource.

The author is Naomi Klein and her new book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, will be published later this year by Picador.

Two from the Independent

Tony Blair may find the paper to be in decline, but I offer 2 examples to the contrary. First up, Robert Fisk has a fine essay about the West's failure in Palestine. Clip:

So what will we do? Support the reoccupation of Gaza perhaps? Certainly we will not criticise Israel. And we shall go on giving our affection to the kings and princes and unlovely presidents of the Middle East until the whole place blows up in our faces and then we shall say - as we are already saying of the Iraqis - that they don't deserve our sacrifice and our love.

How do we deal with a coup d'état by an elected government?

Good question. We demanded democracy in Palestine and when we didn't like the results we took our incentives and went home. We scolded the Palestinians for electing Hamas and then let Israel engage in further punishments incentives. We did not take the time to understand the situation appropriately nor did we attempt to work with the elected officials. As Peggy Noonan says, Reagan's former speech writer who apparently has decided not to be Bush's poodle any longer (warning to Republicans, she's a fair weather hack), this White House could use a little wisdom and understanding of history.

The second story in the Independent reports on how the Clintons sold off their stocks recently in order to reduce their political liability ahead of the 2008 presidential race. I read tales in the American media about how much the Clintons were worth in the recent financial filings, but I wasn't aware of this:
But their holdings in companies such as Raytheon, which makes missiles which have killed civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, or Exxon-Mobil, which has spent at least $8m to challenge the existence of global warming, were certain to be attacked by her opponents.

The Clintons' investments in pharmaceutical companies was also bound to draw attention. Their stake in Fox News was equally sensitive given that the Democratic candidates are boycotting the network.

The Clintons claim that the holdings were in a blind trust and that they never would have made those same choices. Setting aside the fact that the couple have been out of the White House for 7 years and therefore didn't need to continue with the blind trust (why do I keep typing it as "bling trust"?), I'm skeptical of the fact that a family that has openly courted campaign donations and backing from Rupert Murdoch wasn't aware of their investments in News Corp (aka Fox News).

Mrs. Clinton wants to bring the troops home from Iraq now, but her first votes were whole heartedly for the war and she is wont to say that she made a mistake. Did her investments guide that decision? Surely it's safe to claim that she wants them home, now. After all, with the devastation wreaked upon the military forces by this ill-conceived policy there will need to be significant investments in equipment to replenish the forces. Naturally, if elected, Mrs. Clinton's investments will once again be in a blind trust where she can reap profit and claim no knowledge of how the money got into her checking account. And note, dear reader, that I haven't printed one word about Afghanistan where under a presidency run by Clinton, Obama, Edwards, or any of the Republican candidates our troops will continue to toil under inept leadership combined with poor political decisions by the civilian commanders. In other words, we'll still need more bombs for that boondoggle.

An oil company is a great investment. One can surely expect a president who has made a fortune in the energy industry to protect American interests by seeking out alternative resources that don't promote either global warming or sharp increases in food commodities. After all, look what Bush-Cheney have done after their years in the oil and arms industries.

Goodness knows, after years of profiting from investments in pharmaceutical companies, I'm sure Mrs. Clinton will bring her insider knowledge to turn around the health care industry. After her first attempt at doing so in the 90s, I'm confident that these investments were the financing version of the fact finding missions all congressional representatives are so fond of. We can trust that she'll bring those experiences to the table.

To be sure, the tone of this post has turned a bit sarcastic. Some of the criticism is probably unfair. The Clintons claim that they sold the stocks - at great cost to themselves, they are quick to note (apparently unaware that the people that they are asking to vote for them generally do not have a few hundred thousand to lose in taxes, let alone earn in a lifetime) - to "avoid an appearance of conflict". No doubt that they are telling the truth on this score. Also, no doubt that the American media will give them a pass on this issue as they did George W. Bush in 2000. Transparency, after all, is the mantra and transparency without scrutiny (followed by potential penance and flagellation) is the ritual. Will Mrs. Clinton's opponents push the issue further?

At least with the Internet we can turn our attention overseas in order to get some slightly more detailed reporting of our news.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Just a couple for today. Sippy cups are the latest security threat to the citizens of the United States.

Hamas has taken over the Gaza strip and effectively ended the possibility of a 2 state solution near Isreal for the foreseeable future. It also puts an Islamist state right at Israel's border. Of course, this plays into the hands of certain Israeli politicians (and, one supposes American politicians) who had no interest in a solution to the problem short of annihilation of all Palestinians in the territories. I'd propose however that this is the result of bungling by both the Israeli government and the Bush administration and that it will become a bigger boondoggle than the Iraq policy. It will mean many more lives lost, much more violence, and no solution for years and possibly decades to come. Sad....and to think that at one time in the 90s I thought we might see a solution in my lifetime.

Oh, My. God.

Somehow I missed this clip from a couple of years ago on the American version of Who's Line Is It Anyway? A friend sent it to me this morning and I laughed harder than I had in a long time. At nearly 6 and a half minutes long it's worth every second. Dear reader, Richard Simmons is the guest. Enjoy:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Glad I don't live in Pennsylvania

Brian D. Kelly was arrested on May 24th. He spent 24 hours in jail before his mother put her house up as collateral for a $2,500 bail payment. He will likely face a conviction with some sort of punishment including a possible criminal record. His crime? Videotaping a police officer during a routine traffic stop. Whole terrible story here.

What kind of special needs politician writes a law that forbids videotaping the police doing their duties in a public forum? Citizens entrust other citizens acting as police officers to enforce laws. Sometimes enforcing those laws will require deadly force. As public servants police officers, like politicians, should be required to maintain maximum transparency so that the public can rest assured that their employees are not violating fellow citizen's rights.

We know, from past abuses, that we cannot take the police officer's words that they are always acting in accordance with the laws. Sure, we can take most of them at their word most of the time, but human nature being what it is there will always be some corruption within departments just as there will always be mistakes. In order for the public to maintain trust in their servants, we need to be able to be free to record events and make them available in public forums. My guess is that more often than not we'd see police acting just fine in the line of duty. It is that rare occasion when something goes wrong that videos get hyped and seen by more eyes. Is that fair? Sure it is. It's the same burden other public officials live under be they politicians or celebrities.

To make this law even more absurd is hard to do, but the article does not this:
An exception to the wiretapping law allows police to film people during traffic stops, Mancke said.
So, police can turn their cameras on you, but you - their employers - cannot do the same to them? Bullocks. Pennsylvania voters should find out who wrote this bill and who voted for it and demand action. Who watches the watchers is an important civil liberties issue.

Women in politics

Stephen Colbert takes on the way the media covers Hillary Clinton's campaign as well as women in politics in general. It's great watching Colbert use his right wing commentator schtick to stick it to so-called "liberals" like Chris Matthews as well as the Fox News team. Enjoy! (h/t to Feministing)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jose Hernandez

Born in Tangiers in 1944, Jose Hernandez works in many different mediums. Oil paintings, engravings, collage, and illustration are all familiar to him. In 1964, Hernandez settled in Madrid where he still resides. Mysterious and haunting work born of dreams or nightmares.

Go Ask Alice

A collection of illustrations based on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Everyone knows this famous children's book. It's characters and the world it describes are rich for interpretation by illustrators from around the globe. Featured above: テニエルでないアリス, Fernando Falcone, Anna Ignatieva, Lucie Laroche, and Dominic Murphy. There are many more listed in the link and they cover a wide variety of styles.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


It's one of my favorite topics because it seems to be an essential characteristic of human nature. For most of us our hypocrisies are little things such as espousing environmental concerns and then rationalizing an environmentally unsound practice by saying we do so much in so many other areas. When people become public figures hypocrisy takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes part of the public display and, as with the celebrity sought by the individual, the hypocrisy becomes blown larger than life as well.

This is particularly true for politicians. They are elected to guard the public interests. When they violate the oath that they take for office they inevitably cry foul, tell lies, and seek to persuade the public of their infallible behaviour. In American politics, Richard Nixon is the prime example. There have been many others since him - Democrat and Republican alike - but Nixon's statement that he couldn't commit a crime because presidents don't do that (paraphrasing here) boosted him into the hall of fame for political hypocrisy.

There's something delicious about catching a politician in committing not just a crime, but a hypocritical act. The bigger the blow hard and self righteous rhetoric, the more fun it is to see him/her fail. Think of when it was revealed that Newt Gingrich, he of old time family values, was having an affair and then sought a divorce. Think of Senator Robert Byrd chastising other politicians for racist rhetoric when he was a former member of the KKK. It is a pantheon of rich stories and colorful characters when, because of the essential nature of hypocrisy is guaranteed to grow and continue to amuse us throughout our lives. To wit, I present a new entry:

"Courts are now meccas for every conceivable unanswered grievance or perceived injury. Juries dispense lottery-like windfalls, attracting and rewarding imaginative claims and far-fetched legal theories."

Bork and Olson, Trial Lawyers and Other Closet Federalists, Wash. Times, March 9, 1995.

That's Judge Robert Bork, failed Reagan nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. He filed a lawsuit this past week against the Yale Club for failing to provide a railing to their dais. Nothing like seeking "lottery-like windfalls and rewarding imaginative claims" if there?
Former U.S. Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork sued the Yale Club of New York City for more than $1 million, claiming he tripped and fell because of the club's negligence as he ascended a dais to give a speech.

Bork, 80, a former Yale Law School professor, said the club was grossly negligent for failing to provide steps or a handrail between the floor and dais at an event for the New Criterion magazine last June, according to a complaint filed yesterday in Manhattan federal court.

``Because of the unreasonable height of the dais, without stairs or a handrail, Mr. Bork fell backwards as he attempted to mount the dais, striking his left leg on the side of the dais and striking his head on a heat register,'' he said in the complaint.

The article goes on to note:

Bork didn't ask for a specific amount of punitive damages in his lawsuit. In a June 2002 article in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Bork suggested there might be instances where punitive damage awards are excessive.

``Proposals, such as placing limits or caps on punitive damages, or eliminating joint or strict liability, which may once have been clearly understood as beyond Congress's power, may now be constitutionally appropriate,'' Bork and a co-author wrote in an article that discussed Congress's power to regulate commerce.

In a 1995 opinion piece published in the Washington Times, Bork and Theodore Olson, who later became a top Justice Department official, criticized what they called the ``expensive, capricious and unpredictable'' civil justice system in the U.S.

``Today's merchant enters the marketplace with trepidation -- anticipating from the civil justice system the treatment that his ancestors experienced with the Barbary pirates,'' they wrote.

Finally, from the New York Personal Injury Law Blog comes these observations:
  1. This is a routine New York personal injury case. There is nothing particularly exceptional about it from the Complaint other than the plaintiff, a noted conservative jurist who has been part of the American Enterprise Institute, which engages in tort "reform" activities.
  2. Since no hospitalization is mentioned, I assume that the surgery for the hematoma was out-patient and may have been a simple drainage of some kind. Perhaps the med-bloggers who visit here can offer up a bit more on what kind of surgery was likely;
  3. The Complaint doesn't even come close to explaining why punitive damages would be warranted in such a routine negligence matter. My gut reaction is that it is frivolous.
  4. The Complaint asked for attorneys fees. Why? You can't get them in New York for a standard personal injury claim.
  5. The Complaint asks for pre-judgment interest. Why? You can't get that here either. Sad, but true. Interest runs from the date of the judgment not from the date of the accident, thereby giving insurance companies a reason to delay litigation as long as possible. Perhaps Judge Bork wants to come with me the next time I lobby the legislature to amend the law to include pre-judgment interest?
  6. The Complaint asks for an amount "in excess of $1,000,000" (not merely $1M, but in excess of). Where are the damages for making such a huge demand?

Friday, June 08, 2007


The Turks now say that they didn't send troops into Northern Iraq. Instead, they are using the language of Bush to justify and peremptory strike into the country if they feel the need to do so. This has finally woken up the NY Times which has sent a reporter into Turkey to check on the front lines of the build up.

The person who would be War Czar has said that he had/has doubts about the "surge" policy. This guy has seen what the new position is all about - placing blame - and is attempting to protect his place in history from the onset.

CIA jails confirmed in Europe, according to an EU investigator. The Guardian has more.

Don't Ask, Don't Translate: the tale of an interpreter fired from the military for being gay. Fired not because his peers or commanders were surprised to find out he was gay or even cared, but rather because of some stumbled upon IMs.

From the drug war front: another botched raid complete with pregnant woman, a man kicked in the groin, immigrants who speak little English, flash grenades, and the standard police regrets and assurances, basically saying "it happens, but it rarely happens in our district." When will we stop the madness?

LA residents told to cut back on showers as the worst drought in 130 years hits the area. Sure, you'll stink, but your lawns will remain green.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


From the AP:
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Several thousand Turkish troops crossed into northern Iraq early Wednesday to chase Kurdish guerrillas who operate from bases there, Turkish security officials told The Associated Press.

Two senior security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the raid was limited in scope and that it did not constitute the kind of large incursion that Turkish leaders have been discussing in recent weeks.

"It is not a major offensive and the number of troops is not in the tens of thousands," one of the officials told the AP by telephone. The official is based in southeast Turkey, where the military has been battling separatist Kurdish rebels since they took up arms in 1984.

The U.S. military said it could not confirm the reports but was "very concerned."

The last major Turkish incursion into northern Iraq was in 1997, when about 50,000 troops were sent to the region.

The officials did not say where the Turkish force was operating in northern Iraq, nor did he say how long they would be there. Both officials are involved in anti-rebel operations, though they did not disclose whether they participated in the planning of the operation on Wednesday.

The officials said any confrontation with Iraqi Kurdish groups, who have warned against a Turkish incursion, could trigger a larger cross- border operation. The Turkish military has asked the government in Ankara to approve such an incursion, but the government has not given formal approval.

Expect Kindasleazy Rice to say in 3, 2, 1: "No one could have anticipated that Turkey would do such a thing without informing their allies in Europe and the United States first."

Actually, I think this is Turkey's way of expressing to Washington that they are serious. Should Washington ignore this "surge" Turkey will most likely take that as a positive sign (a la Hussein into Kuwait in 1990) and make a large scale attack. Will Washington bungle this obvious sign? Probably. They've bungled much more obvious signs in Iraq, Iran, Korea, the U.S., Russia, etc.


A friend pointed out the me that yesterday's acknowledgment of the city of Bellevue offering benefits for domestic partnerships (same or opposite sex) was not without a caveat. The devil is in the details and the people who originally brought suit, aided by Lambda, are not dropping their legal action until the details are revealed. Among the concerns: earlier staff report to council that recommended the domestic partners of city workers who die in the line of action, such as police or firefighters, not be eligible for insurance payouts.
Fair enough and it's a good thing that Lambda is on the watch. Bellevue should offer the exact benefits to all city workers in domestic partnerships, regardless of marital status.

What really caught my eye in the original story was the cost estimate for providing these benefits: between $166,000 and $414,000 per year. I just looked up the city of Bellevue's biennial budget for 2007 - 2008. Their total budget cost for that period is $965.7 million. The costs to cover domestic partnerships in the city is a drop in the bucket compared to the good will, morale increase, PR, and ability to recruit future candidates that it will engender. Shame on Bellevue for not providing these benefits earlier and recognizing the positive values that doing so will provide the community. Praise to Bellevue for moving to fix this inequity, but damn it, folks - do it right! You've got a second chance. Don't screw up the progress you've made thus far!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Bush criticizes Russia for rolling back democratic reforms. Good for him. Maybe he should look at his own policies while he's at it. Speaking of which, maybe Bush should look at the work of another ally - Pakistan (where killing adulterers is applauded).

In other ally news: Kurd rebels continue to attack Turks, making for a continuing volatile situation. These are allies versus allies. The Turks have been indicating for months that this situation is intolerable. How long before the Turks make a radical strike of their own, sending the whole Iraq mess to another level?

Osama is still alive according to the Taliban leader. What?!!? The Taliban is still alive?!!?

Scooter gets 30 months! Good deal.

William Jefferson, D-La, was charged with bribes. How long will this guy insist on embarrassing his party? Even Delay resigned.

In other Congressional corruption news, Carol Lam, the U.S. Attorney from San Diego in charge of the Duke Cunningham corruption case (and investigating others) was forced to resign sooner rather than later (she wanted a smooth transition with several high profile cases coming up). Impeach Gonzales, now.

Israeli army forgets the lessons of the 1967 war. Interesting read on the 40th anniversary.

Interesting and sad report on how AIDS is affecting young democracies in Africa.

Sad coincidence: Bellevue, WA corrects an embarrassing mistake and provides domestic partnership benefits to both gay and straight employees while Kalamazoo, MI, in light of an embarrasing amendment to their state constitution rolls back partnership benefits.

DNA from a chicken bone may provide evidence that Polynesians beat Europeans to the shores of South America.

Red T Culture is a Beijing based art and music company. The art from the site is varied and fantastic. Featured above from top down: Xiong Li Jun, Zhang Hui, and Mei Xin Wu.


Guan Zeju is an artist from China. These are from his Timeless series. I love the mixture of the modern with the ancient as a backdrop. All in oil on canvas paintings.


Ion Birch's erotic art often evokes an art from a different age: Victorian or even earlier when pictures of nuns and priests in erotic poses with larger than life genitals pointed in impossible ways in order to expose them as much as possible were made. His update includes a few images of the surreal nature informed by modern psychology.


The internet connection was down at home over the past several daze. After a complaint, it was finally restored yesterday. There apparently was something amiss in the line. The company fixed it at their shop.

Above are paintings by Frank Kortan. His mixture of surreal images, collage, and realism in these oil paintings are quite lovely and often thought provoking. Kortan was born in Prague and now lives in Germany.