Monday, July 25, 2005

 

A new hell on Earth

As if we needed another one...

From a letter to one of the correspondents at The Daily Reckoning:
Sent in by John Winter: "I reckon that these are the last days of TKM and ZPF. The darkest hour is always before dawn.

"We are all terrified at what they are going to destroy next...I mean they are actually plowing down brick and mortar houses and one white family with twin boys of 10 had no chance of salvaging anything when 100 riot police came in with AK's and bulldozers and demolished their beautiful house - 5 bedrooms and pine ceilings - because it was "too close to the airport".

"So we are feeling extremely insecure right now. You know - I am aware that this does not help you sleep at night, but if you do not know - how can you help?

"You can't just be in denial and pretend its not going on. To be frank with you, its genocide in the making and if you do not believe me, read the Genocide Report by Amnesty International which says we are in level seven (level 8 is after its happened and everyone is in denial)...

"We need you to get the news OUT that we are all in a fearfully dangerous situation here. Too many people turn their backs and say - oh well, that's what happens in Africa. This government has GONE MAD and you need to publicize our plight or how can we be rescued?

"You can't just say 'Oh you attract your own reality'. The petrol queues are a reality, the pall of smoke all around our city is a reality, the thousands of homeless people sleeping outside in 0 Celsius with no food water, shelter and bedding are a reality.

"Today a family approached me, brother of the gardener's wife with two small children. Their home was trashed and they will have to sleep outside. We already support 8 people and a child on this property and electricity is going up next month by 250% as is water. How can I take another family of 4 - and yet how can I turn them away to sleep out in the open?

"I am not asking you for money, or a ticket out of here - I am asking you to FACE the fact that we are in deep and terrible danger and I want you to pass on our news and pictures and don't just press the delete button for God's sake. Help in the way that you know how. Face the reality of what is going on here and SEND OUT THE WORD. The more people that know about it, the more chance we have of United Nations coming to our aid.

"Please stop ignoring and denying what's happening. Would you like to be protected from the truth and then if we are eliminated how would you feel? Surely you would say 'If only we knew how bad it really was we could have helped in some way'. I know we chose to stay here and so we 'deserve' what's coming to us. For now we ourselves, have food, shelter, a little fuel and a bit of money for the next meal - but what is going to happen next? Will they start on our houses? All property is going to belong to the State now...

"We no longer have [short wave] radio which told us everything that was happening because the government jammed it out of existence - we don't have any reporters, and no one is allowed to photograph. If we had reporters here they would have an absolute field day. Even the pro government Herald has written that people are shocked, stunned, bewildered and blown mindless by the wanton destruction of everyone's homes which are supposed to be 'illegal' but which a huge percentage of them actually do have licenses for. Please...have some compassion and HELP by sending out the articles and personal reports so that something can be DONE."
Meanwhile, the US press is consumed by the latest "runaway" white woman. To be fair, the nomination of a new Supreme Court justice is worthy of massive reportage, although the US press isn't actually any good at that kind of reporting anymore...

Between Darfur, Zimbabwe, and anywhere else on Earth where the governments have gone mad, there's enough for the US to be doing some actual good in the world...if we weren't bogged down in Bush's Folly in Mesopotamia.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

 

This is what our brave young soldiers in Iraq are dying for

And Bush says it's all about the democracy...
Iraqi Constitution May Curb Women's Rights

A working draft of Iraq's new constitution would cede a strong role to Islamic law and could sharply curb women's rights, particularly in personal matters like divorce and family inheritance.

The document's writers are also debating whether to drop or phase out a measure enshrined in the interim constitution, co-written last year by the Americans, requiring that women make up at least a quarter of the parliament.

The draft of a chapter of the new constitution obtained by The New York Times on Tuesday guarantees equal rights for women as long as those rights do not "violate Shariah," or Koranic law.

The draft chapter, circulated discreetly in recent days, has ignited outrage among women's groups, which held a protest on Tuesday morning in downtown Baghdad at the square where a statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by American marines in April 2003.

One of the critical passages is in Article 14 of the chapter, a sweeping measure that would require court cases dealing with matters like marriage, divorce and inheritance to be judged according to the law practiced by the family's sect or religion.

Under that measure, Shiite women in Iraq, no matter what their age, generally could not marry without their families' permission. Under some interpretations of Shariah, men could attain a divorce simply by stating their intention three times in their wives' presence.

Article 14 would replace a body of Iraqi law that has for decades been considered one of the most progressive in the Middle East in protecting the rights of women, giving them the freedom to choose a husband and requiring divorce cases to be decided by a judge.

American and Iraqi officials say that several draft chapters of the constitution are floating around Baghdad and that no final language has been agreed on. Changes can still be made before Aug. 15, the deadline for the National Assembly to approve a draft. Protests by women and relatively secular blocs on the constitutional committee, like the Kurds, may force Shiite members to tone down the religious language.

"Some of the points regarding women's rights in this chapter are still to be reviewed," said Mariam Arayess, a religious Shiite on the committee.

Ms. Arayess said she believed that the draft was the most recent working version, and that it had fairly generous provisions for equal rights. She is one of fewer than 10 women on the 71-member drafting committee.

But women's groups are incensed by Article 14, which would repeal a relatively liberal personal status law enacted in 1959 after the British-backed monarchy was overthrown by secular military officers. That law remained in effect through the decades of Mr. Hussein's rule.

The law used Shariah to adjudicate personal and family matters, but did it in as secular a manner as possible, pulling together the most liberal interpretations of Koranic law from the main Shiite and Sunni sects and stitching them together into one code.

Critics of the draft proposal say that in addition to restricting women's rights, it could also deepen the sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shiites. The draft also does not make clear what would happen in cases where the husband is from one sect and the wife from another.

Religious Shiite politicians tried once before, in December 2003, to abolish the 1959 law. As is happening now, women's groups and secular female politicians took to the streets.

Faced with the mini-rebellion, L. Paul Bremer III, then the effective American proconsul of Iraq, rebuffed the move, to the anger and dismay of many religious Shiites.

"We don't want to use separate Sunni or Shiite laws," said Dohar Rouhi, president of the Association of Women Entrepreneurs. "We want a law that can be applied to everyone. We want justice for women."

A Westerner familiar with the writing of the constitution said that when he saw a draft of the civil rights section less than a week ago, it did not contain the sweeping language on personal status law. In that version, he said, most measures - even those citing Shariah - were not as severe as they could have been.

"Compared to what some of the conservative Shiites were pushing, the glass is half full," said the Westerner, who would speak only on condition of anonymity, because he did not want to appear to be interfering in a sovereign Iraqi process.

He said there was some cause for alarm, though, pointing to a proposal to phase out a measure in the interim constitution requiring that a quarter of parliamentary seats go to women.

Ms. Arayess, the Shiite drafter, said some of the writers were considering keeping the quota for the next two terms of the parliament before allowing it to lapse. After that, she said, women should be able to stand on their own.
Actually, considering what Bush and the American Taliban have done to our democracy, maybe he's right...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

 

Take this blog and launch it!

The things people come up with...
MindComet Launches BloginSpace.com: Free Service Transmits Blogs Into Space

ORLANDO, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 19, 2005--MindComet launches a website sending bloggers where no blog has gone before: deep space. BloginSpace.com is a free service for bloggers allowing them to submit their blog feeds for transmission into deep space. The site will aggregate blog content into transmission packages and send the content into deep space via a powerful earth-based satellite broadcast.

"I've always believed that other intelligent life forms are out there, and now, for the first time, they will be able to peer into the life of average Homo sapiens," explained Ted Murphy, President and CEO of MindComet. "We are giving bloggers the opportunity to send a piece of their lives into space to potentially connect with extraterrestrials."

MindComet hopes that the service will allow humans to connect to alien beings in a new way. "The media is saturated with images of war and anger. We have been transmitting these images into space for years," said Murphy. "This program gives us the opportunity to show our race in a different light."

While the program is designed to promote the human race in a positive manner, Murphy acknowledges that there are potential risks. "We strongly urge our users to refrain from language or content designed to provoke our alien neighbors. We hope that our bloggers understand the importance of keeping our message positive."

This is the second blog-centric service MindComet has launched this year. BlogStar Network, a network designed to connect influential bloggers with advertisers, officially launched in mid-June and has been met with incredible interest from bloggers and advertisers alike. MindComet is expecting similar results with the launch of BloginSpace.com.

MindComet is now accepting registrations to transmit information to deep space. For free registration and more information visit BloginSpace.com.
God help us if the aliens start reading Powerline...

Monday, July 11, 2005

 

I still say, if this were about black crack babies in Harlem, Rush & Hannity would be spewing enough croccodile tears to fill Niagara Falls

On the other hand, this is such a horrible tragedy that it's unseemly to get too political and snarky about.
A Drug Scourge Creates Its Own Form of Orphan

TULSA, Okla., July 8 - The Laura Dester Shelter here is licensed for 38 children, but at times in the past months it has housed 90, forcing siblings to double up in cots. It is supposed to be a 24-hour stopping point between troubled homes and foster care, but with foster homes backed up, children are staying weeks and sometimes months, making it more orphanage than shelter, a cacophony of need.

This is a problem methamphetamine has made, a scene increasingly familiar across the country as the number of foster children rises rapidly in states hit hard by the drug, the overwhelming number of them, officials say, taken from parents who were using or making methamphetamine.

Oklahoma last year became the first state to ban over-the-counter sales of cold medicines that contain the crucial ingredient needed to make methamphetamine. Even so, the number of foster children in the state is up 16 percent from a year ago. In Kentucky, the numbers are up 12 percent, or 753 children, with only seven new homes.

In Oregon, 5,515 children entered the system in 2004, up from 4,946 the year before, and officials there say the caseload would be half what it is now if the methamphetamine problem suddenly went away. In Tennessee, state officials recently began tracking the number of children brought in because of methamphetamine, and it rose to 700 in 2004 from 400 in 2003.

While foster populations in cities rose because of so-called crack babies in the 1990's, methamphetamine is mostly a rural phenomenon, and it has created virtual orphans in areas without social service networks to support them. In Muskogee, an hour's drive south of here, a group is raising money to convert an old church into a shelter because there are none.

Nationwide, the Drug Enforcement Administration says that over the last five years 15,000 children were found at laboratories where methamphetamine was made. But that number vastly understates the problem, federal officials say, because it does not include children whose parents use methamphetamine but do not make it and because it relies on state reporting, which can be spotty.

On July 5, the National Association of Counties reported that 40 percent of child welfare officials surveyed nationwide said that methamphetamine had caused a rise in the number of children removed from homes.

The percentage was far higher on the West Coast and in rural areas, where the drug has hit the hardest. Seventy-one percent of counties in California, 70 percent in Colorado and 69 percent in Minnesota reported an increase in the number of children removed from homes because of methamphetamine.

In North Dakota, 54 percent of counties reported a methamphetamine-related increase. At what was billed as a "community meeting on meth" in Fargo this year, the state attorney general, Wayne Stenehjem, exhorted the hundreds of people packed into an auditorium: "People always ask, what can they do about meth? The most important thing you can do is become a foster parent, because we're just seeing so many kids being taken from these homes."

The drug - smoked, ingested or injected - is synthetic, cheap and easy to make in home labs using pseudoephedrine, the ingredient in many cold medicines, and common fertilizers, solvents or battery acid. The materials are dangerous, and highly explosive.

The drug also produces a tremendous and long-lasting rush, with intense sexual desire. As a result of the sexual binges, some child welfare officials say, methamphetamine users are having more children. More young children are entering the foster system, often as newborns suffering from the effects of their mother's use of the drug.

But the biggest problem, doctors who work with children say, is not with those born under the effects of the drug but with the children who grow up surrounded by methamphetamine and its attendant problems. Because users are so highly sexualized, the children are often exposed to pornography or sexual abuse, or watch their mothers prostitute themselves, the welfare workers say.

But everywhere there are reminders of the dangers of leaving children in homes with methamphetamine. In one recent case here, an 18-month-old child fell onto a heating unit on the floor and died while the parents slept; a 3-year-old sibling had tried to rouse them.

The police who raid methamphetamine labs say they try to leave the children with relatives, particularly in rural areas, where there are few other options.

But it has become increasingly clear, they say, that often the relatives, too, are cooking or using methamphetamine. And because the problem has hit areas where there are so few shelters, children are often placed far from their parents. Caseworkers have to drive children long distances to where parents are living or imprisoned for visits; Leslie Beyer, a caseworker at Laura Dester, logged 3,600 miles on her car one month.

The drain of the cases is forcing foster families to leave the system, or caseworkers to quit. In some counties in Oklahoma, Ms. Rider-Salem said, half the caseworkers now leave within two years.

The state's only other children's shelter, in Oklahoma City, was so crowded recently that the fire marshal threatened to shut it down, forcing the state to send children to foster families in far-flung counties.
Still, why aren't we hearing more about this from the self-appointed guardians of public morality who think the Red States are the Godly repository of all decency and morality (even when they wouldn't live there themselves)? Huh, David Brooks?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

 

Of course, when liberals make this kind of disguised defeatist argument, he's all over them

Shorter John Tierney: Don't blame George W. Bush and the Republicans for their failure to secure our ports, roads, railroads, chemical plants, chemical transports, etc. - I pretended like the D.C. sniper didn't exist, so you all should just pretend like Al Qaeda doesn't exist either. And notice the cool way I pretend to be non-partisan by praising Tony Blair!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

 

If this were crack babies in Harlem, then there'd be a national uproar

In a weird kind of reverse racism, nobody gives a damn about crystal meth kids in Kentucky. (Not that they ever really cared about the crack babies, either...)
METH LEADS TO DOMESTIC ABUSE

One of the more tragic side effects to the crystal meth scourge is its devastation of families. According to the National Association of Counties, 62 percent of counties reported spikes in domestic violence because of meth use. And kids pay the highest price for skyrocketing meth usage; with more and more parents becoming addicted, more and more children have fallen into the already strained foster care system. Mike O'Dell of Alabama estimates 80 percent of children currently in the state foster care system were removed from meth homes. During the past four years, 362 kids with meth-addicted parents entered the foster care system in Arizona; 770 children were removed from meth homes in Kentucky. Iowa now cares for 1,000 kids who were abused or neglected because of their parents' meth habits.
It really is strange that this is not generating the kind of loathing and calls for government action that the crack epidemic did. You'd think a scourge stalking the Heartland would spur even the Bush Administration into action - after all, crystal meth is mostly striking Red States, its victims are Bush's voters. But I guess that would mean admitting that all is not well in the "Real" America. When it's niggers in the big, evil city, then call out the airstrikes and shoot anything that moves. When it's good ol' boys in God's Country, shush - don't make a fuss. Just keep waving that flag and praising JEEEEEEzus - and go off to die in Iraq.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

 

I wonder how they can blame Bill Clinton for this...

After all, it's not like the Republicans have been in charge of the White House for the past 5 years or Congress for the past 10, or anything like that...
Pentagon Weighs Strategy Change to Deter Terror

After years of saying American forces were sufficient for a two-war strategy, "we've come to the realization that we're not," said another Defense Department official involved in the deliberations, who was granted anonymity because he could not otherwise discuss the talks, which are classified. "It's coming to grips with reality."
It's also coming to grips with the lamentable fact that George W. Bush has broken the Army he has been using as a toy to act out his malignant imperial fantasies. We're spending $5 billion a month in Iraq, and not getting a damn bit of security or peace out of it, no matter how much Bush's apologists and worshippers may try to delude the rest of us that this is somehow fighting terrorism (as opposed to creating more of it). What could we do with that $5 billion a month to really make the world more peaceful and secure?

Friday, July 01, 2005

 

So, I guess this means we won't be seeing CSI: Houston anytime soon?

Aw, who cares? They were all probably guilty, anyway.
Officials Ignored Houston Lab's Troubles, Report Finds

For years, while rain from a leaky roof contaminated evidence in the Houston Police Crime Laboratory, and thousands of backlogged rape kits from sexual assault victims went untested, city and police officials turned their backs as the laboratory became a "shambles," tainting an untold number of cases, an outside investigator reported on Thursday.

Officials even failed to take proper action when two laboratory analysts were cited for four instances of fabricating scientific evidence, or drylabbing, said the investigator, Michael R. Bromwich, a Washington lawyer and former Justice Department inspector general called in by the city to conduct the review.

:::snip:::

By the time a state audit in 2002 confirmed problems exposed by a local television station, KHOU, Mr. Bromwich reported, "the DNA Section was in shambles - plagued by a leaky roof, operating for years without a line supervisor, overseen by a technical leader who had no personal experience performing DNA analysis and who was lacking the qualifications under the F.B.I. standards, staffed by underpaid and undertrained analysts, and generating mistake-ridden and poorly documented casework."

By 2002, the number of untested rape kits had grown to 19,500, some dating back to 1980, and the backlog is still about 10,000, the report said. Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 flooded the laboratory, and in 33 homicide and rape cases, employees were quoted as reporting, "this biological evidence had become so saturated with water that they observed bloody water dripping out of the boxes containing the evidence and pooling on the floor."

In another location, the property room - where 280 cartons of misplaced evidence from 8,000 cases dating back to the 1960's were discovered last year - rats were found eating through evidence boxes.
I wonder how many people are on Death Row because of these horrible foul-ups? Not that they are innocent, but they don't have to be. If I had been convicted because of evidence processed by Houston's police lab, I'd be getting my appeal in, oh, say, now. This is going to cost Houston millions, if not more. Some Texas miracle.
 

Friday Pig Blogging: Where are all the professional moralizers when you really need them?

Meaning no disrespect to actual pigs (sus scrofula), of course.

From The Daily Reckoning:
Even if most Americans are facing lean times ahead, the "uber wealthy" intend to continue throwing their uber wealth around.

The "Elite Affluent" (net worth of $10 million+) plan to boost their spending this summer, according to a survey conducted by Elite Traveler/Prince & Associates. These wealthy individuals, for example, expect to spend an average of $317,000 renting yachts, a 19% increase over last summer's yacht-rental expenditures.

"Increased spending by the Elite Affluent provides trickle down economic benefits," beams Douglas D. Gollan, President and Editor-in-Chief of Elite Traveler, the luxury lifestyle magazine of the Elite Affluent which is distributed worldwide aboard private jets and mega-yachts. "The amount of money spent by the Elite Affluent segment of the population is really staggering...[which] is very good news for the luxury segment of the economy."

Happily, even after the uber wealthy spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on jewelry, "experiential excursions" and booze, they still have a few pennies left to toss toward charitable causes. Though the elite affluent will spend six times more money on yacht rentals as on charitable giving, their gifts to charity will still total more than $50,000 apiece.

Thank goodness for trickle-down economics.
So let's by all means eliminate the estate tax; goodness knows, we wouldn't want any of these rich rich rich (and therefore, by current compassionate conservative standards, wonderful perfect deserving) folk not to be able to rent their precious $317,000 yachts next summer.

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