Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Talking Points Memo has a look at's take on the back and forth between the Senate and White House.

Now, if they had used "quotation marks" it would be one thing. But here it is just poorly worded and plain biased.

Many members of the media try to tar many of the online investigators, journalist, and bloggers as incompetent and unprofessional.

When these moments pop up, it makes the point, how different is the older media in comparison to newer media?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Earth Day '07

Sunday was Earth Day.

Of course, it is often said that it is odd to get excited and motivated to be proactive about our planet's environment one day a year.

And it is.

But the point is to be a Post It note on our lives to remind us of that something we forgot on our To Do list, Save the world.

One day that reminds us of what we should be interested in on 364 other days. Like family love and togetherness on days other than ones where someone is bringing ham, chicken, goose, or turkey (or turducken).

So One Good Move is pointing up a new portal...COMING SOON.

30 years ago Earth Day was established to remind us each year, for at least one day, how important it is that we understand, appreciate and renew our planet. Today, I am pleased to share with you a preview a major endeavor that will be unveiled later this week. It is called the Earth Portal – a new non-commercial destination on the Web for news, learning and debate about the state and future of our environment.

Backed by hundreds of the world’s top scientists spanning 49 countries, the Earth Portal will enable a new community to emerge, directly connecting scientists, journalists, policy makers and you.

Watch the vision of the Earth Portal now at . You can also a download a high-quality version of the video there.

Given the trends we all are seeing more clearly every day, the future of our planet is at stake in the decisions we make in the next few years, and the Earth Portal community may make a pivotal difference in that future.

It launches in five days. Join us on April 27th at, and let’s make every day Earth Day!

Dawkins on O'Reilly

Dr. Richard Dawkins appeared the O'Reilly factor tonight.

O'Reilly, hates anything secular, non Christian, or not from America. Might be interesting.

One Good Move has the video.

Monday, April 23, 2007

And...we're back.

Darn! Empire Earth II is addictive.

...Just sayin'.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Feministing has a look at an odd, and annoying story out of England, via the BBC.

“Girl power” gone bad.

This is one of the biggest feminist-blaming crocks I’ve seen in quite a while.

BBC News had a piece this weekend about the growing media coverage on girls and violence; not girls being the victims of violence, but being the perpetrators. And apparently some are suggesting a “kind of twisted feminism” is to blame.

Dr. Sally Henry, a researcher from Brunel University who was featured for most of the article, is way too much to take. Check out a few of her “professional observations” on the subject:

‘It's not surprising these things are happening because girls are witnessing scenes on TV, in films and in music videos where it's not just men committing violence, but women too.

. .

These girls think physical violence empowers them. It is feeding their aggression and they are misinterpreting it as some kind of feminism.

. . . It's a bit like the Spice Girls' 'girl power' thing. Kicking and lashing out is seen as a way of empowering yourself, but it's not.’
This one is my favorite:
‘And it's not a way of attracting boys either like some girls might think. Boys might find aggressive women in music videos attractive, but they don't want to take them home and marry them.
Spice girls? Marriage material? “Girl power” corrupts young female minds? You have go to be kidding me. And the fact that she talks like it's some sort of new fad to impress boys totally trivializes these girls’ situations and dismisses the idea that, perhaps, there are bigger issues involved here.

It is truly really just pisses me off, this attempt to tie negative actions or overt sex to feminism. Not that being a feminist, or believing in ideas, precludes one from doing something...bad, or being sexy.

But one does not lead to the others. A does not lead to B, in this example.

But time and again, products, like the Pussycat Dolls, are sold as feminist, as if the scant clothing, posing and posturing are a resultant product. All sales and marketing. Selling a dream, one that really isn't remotely a feminist one.

Buthayna Nasser. Shes a whole lot tougher and braver than me.

Seeing as I have somehow done two post in a row about impressive news women, let's have a trifecta!

So let's go out with someone who is darn impressive.

Buthayna Nasser. A Saudi newscaster. A female Saudi newcaster...but I said already that I would write about a I guess it ain't much of a reveal. Still she has a spirit, sense of self, and pride of person that truly shines in the worst of times, and in the midst of an extremely repressive society.

Feministing, has a video of her going head to with Cleric Nasser Al-Huneini...he's old fashioned...

It is inspiring to watch her stand up for herself and other women as he says it is wrong for her to show neck, hair, or wear makeup and be on TV like she is...tempting men with her...face.

(Some people have noted that memritv, who cut and translated the video, have a some"?" in their file. They are considered, by some, to be pro Israel. So it may be necessary to take the full vid with a grain of salt. Though, the arguments from Nasser are consistent with earlier ones, and Buthayna words look to match her voice and face.

It would be nice if anyone has access to the original Lebanon broadcast (LBC TV), or transcripts, just to be sure.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Crier Wire on worst of the conservative shrill.

Catherine Crier, of CourtTV, has gone on the record critiquing people beyond Don Imus who are quite nasty.

During last night's "Crier Wire," she quickly ran through a small handful of the hateful things uttered by the likes of FOX News, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, and makes the obvious point that they should also be held accountable.

"Let's tell hate spewing radio and TV hosts, and misogynist rappers that this divisiveness is unacceptable."

Crooks and Liars has the video.

Thomas, Helen Thomas

Crooks and Liars has an interview with the watcher of the watchers, Helen Thomas, currently of the Hearst papers.
Sometimes it's hard not to quail before your betters, and I just had that experience, in the best of ways. Helen Thomas agreed to speak with me about the war, the Bush administration, and life in the Beltway, and I am honored and flattered as a Little Blogger to have had this opportunity.

Helen's impressive bio can be found here. She's got long experience with Republican administrations, and earned her credentials as a feminist icon as the only woman member of the press corps to travel with Nixon to China. She written several books, which you can learn more about here.[..] Read full article here

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Wolf in the Bank

Crooks and Liars has a concise look at Paul Wolfowitz, once proud neocon ally and servant of the current president, now head of the critical World Bank.

He's gotten caught, not with his hand in the till, but spreading the wealth.

The saga of Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank really is indicative of the US under neo-con control: A crony with fairly insubstantial bona fides within the arena is appointed to a position of critical importance on the world stage solely on the basis of his connections to ideological brothers. He then bullies and pushes his own arrogant notions, alienating his colleagues and promotes more cronies (and love interests) without regard to appearances. Then when the house of cards inevitably comes tumbling down, he pleads ignorance or cries victim and must send out other cronies to argue for his job. How many times have we seen this pattern–with very little variation–play out again and again in the Bush White House?

There was one passage in the WaPo report that I think may be a much larger issue than his promoting of his girlfriend.

Both staff and management also have raised concerns over what several described as Wolfowitz's insistence that the bank accelerate its lending to Iraq and open an office there.

A principal architect of the Iraq war as deputy defense secretary during President Bush's first term, Wolfowitz has pressed the issue in the bank against strong concerns about security and poor governance in Iraq. "He was pretty aggressive about it, given that he's generally a mild-mannered person. He was really quite hard," said one source with first-hand knowledge of internal bank discussions on Iraq. "I don't know how much of it was flogging for the [Bush] administration rather than his own ghosts and convictions."

The President's Purge

Interesting article related via Talking Points Memo:

Meanwhile Sunday, the Albuquerque Journal reported that Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., told Gonzales in the spring of 2006 that he wanted New Mexico U.S. attorney David Iglesias dismissed, and that Gonzales refused. The newspaper said that Domenici later made the same case to White House adviser Karl Rove and spoke to President Bush about it after the November election, but before the attorney firings were announced on Dec. 7. Iglesias was among those fired.


Bush said that in speaking to Gonzales about U.S. attorneys, "I never brought up a specific case nor gave him specific instructions." Bartlett said that "there was no directive given, as far as telling him to fire anybody or anything like that."

Domenici spokesman Chris Gallegos said Domenici would have no comment.

On Abstinence


After years of research, Mathmatica Research, Inc. just released their 164-page report not only proving that abstinence-only education is totally ineffective, but that it has been totally carried by the Bush administration.

It is obvious to most of us that this was so. And so many studies have already pointed to this. It should be an informative read.


Our friends over at the Abstinence Clearinghouse are holding their annual Leadership Conference, and this year's theme is amazing...if only because it completely reveals just how backwards they are.

...Abstinence is a Black & White Issue: Purity vs. Promiscuity. There's no in-between, ladies. Just incredible.


Virgin or Whore, how Biblical. Women are pedestal material or facial tissues. Way to build self-loathing into a society. Meanwhile, the good Christian male is being told to be more virile and manly.

This should end well.

The politics of Plan B

On Feministing, they are noting the outrage by some conservatives about, what they see as, the politicization of Plan B and its availability.

The Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America are suing the FDA over the agency's approval of Plan B emergency contraception for over-the-counter sale. Their complaint? The FDA's decision was politically motivated.


Indeed! I share Mrs. Yoest's assessment. In fact, women's rights advocates have been pursuing a lawsuit over the politicization of Plan B since January 2005. They've subpoenaed White House officials, and depositions in the case have already revealed a lot about conservative politicians' meddling in the FDA's decision-making process:

As far back as 2003, then-FDA commissioner Mark McClellan agreed to an unprecedented meeting with a White House domestic policy adviser to discuss the Plan B application. And Dr. Janet Woodcock (who also warned that Plan B would create teen sex cults) came right out and said Plan B shouldn't be sold over-the-counter to teens -- not because of the science but "to appease the administration's constituents."
Those constituents are folks like the FRC and CWA. You'd think they would be thrilled by political interference at the FDA. After all, medical research says emergency contraception is safe for women of all ages. Sadly for Yoest and her ilk, science isn't equally supportive of the claim that EC access leads to the formation of teen sex cults.


Here's another point on which I agree with the conservative groups. The FDA's decision to assign Plan B special "dual label" status -- over-the-counter for adults and behind-the-counter for teenagers -- was totally ridiculous. Thousands of pages of research said it was safe for women of all ages. And an independent advisory committee voted 27-1 to allow sale of Plan B over-the-counter with no age restriction. The conservative groups are correct that younger women can still access Plan B without a prescription (they're free to e-mail me; I'd happily purchase the drug for any woman under 18). Which makes it all the more apparent that labeling Plan B differently for sale to teens was not a practical or science-based decision, but a purely political one.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Theocrats in the Hoousse!

Paul Krugman exposes the theocratic infiltration of the Bush administration:

Today, Regent University, founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson to provide “Christian leadership to change the world,” boasts that it has 150 graduates working in the Bush administration.

Unfortunately for the image of the school, where Mr. Robertson is chancellor and president, the most famous of those graduates is Monica Goodling, a product of the university’s law school. She’s the former top aide to Alberto Gonzales who appears central to the scandal of the fired U.S. attorneys and has declared that she will take the Fifth rather than testify to Congress on the matter.

The infiltration of the federal government by large numbers of people seeking to impose a religious agenda — which is very different from simply being people of faith — is one of the most important stories of the last six years. It’s also a story that tends to go underreported, perhaps because journalists are afraid of sounding like conspiracy theorists.

But this conspiracy is no theory. The official platform of the Texas Republican Party pledges to “dispel the myth of the separation of church and state.” And the Texas Republicans now running the country are doing their best to fulfill that pledge.
So much have what we've been saying gets dismissed as just conspiratorial thinking. But, we've been right. It's happening with the theocrats. And, they do want to impose their religious agenda. Anyone who criticizes them is deemed anti-religious, but that's not true. The theocrats want to control our lives. They hate, but are yet oddly obsessed with, gay people. They want to prevent contraception. Yes, birth control. That's not a whacked out's a frightening reality.

Regent is seems like a creepy place, and 1 out of 6 of the graduates are getting plugged into the government. CREEPY!

Trained to be highly religious, zealous to a cause, and blindly loyal.

...and it is Friday the 13th...

And I do apologize here to an Texans. But...

What is the deal with Texas?

Texas Republicans, Laws against atheists, Trigger happy with execution, Texas legislature...

What the hell is the deal there?

The elements of Iraq

From Informed Comment:

The bombing of the cafeteria in the Iraqi parliament on Thursday was likely the work of a bodyguard of one of the members of parliament. Who exactly was killed and wounded among the parliamentarians has been a matter of dispute, as Iraqslogger points out in a good overview. MP Muhammad Awadh of the National Dialogue Front, a secular-leaning Sunni Arab list, is the one on which the various reports agree. At least one other MP was killed, either a Kurd or a Shiite. Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that 3 MPs died, and says 30 persons were wounded, some seriously. It identifies the dead as Awadh, along with Taha al-Lahibi of the Sunni Iraqi Accord Front and Niyami al-Miya'i of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance. Wire services said that between 10 and 14 MPs were wounded, said to include several members of the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance and more Kurds.

Survivors were said to be bloodied and dusty, and to be flicking human body parts off their suits. A video of the bombing is here, courtesy al-Hurra.

Kurdish North:

The powerful Turkish General Yasar Buyukanit said Thursday that Turkish forces needed to go into northern Iraq after Kurdish PKK guerrillas he believes are being given safe haven there. He said he had not yet submitted a request to parliament for authorization. The Turkish-Iraqi border is now a tinderbox. This is the other shoe in the Iraq conflict.

Buyukanit's comments probably come in response to a recent provocative interview given by Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani.

Buyukanit also slammed US President George W. Bush implicitly, blaming the US for spoiling Barzani: “He [Mr Barzani] is at a very low level and I look to the one who enables him to speak so, who enables the division of Iraq, which is the greatest threat to the region.”

Ben Lando of UPI writes the really important story on Iraq-- the insecurity in Basra and its potential impact on the government in Baghdad. I am quoted:

' Also last week, British troops stationed in the area -- and on the verge of being withdrawn from the country -- were ambushed. Six were killed. Cole said if the British do leave, security in Basra is left to U.S. or Iraqi troops. Cole said he doubts they are up to the job.

"Then Basra could go completely out of control," Cole said. "Security in Basra is shaky. That to the extent it exists at all it's being provided by the British. Were the British to withdraw most of their troops by December under the new Labor (Party) prime minister, it's hard to see how security would be maintained.

"And if it's not maintained then it becomes more and more difficult to export petroleum through Basra and make sure the government actually gets any of the receipts," Cole said. "That would be the end of the Iraqi government." '

The Islamic Army of Iraq has split from the Islamic State in Iraq, which claims to be "al-Qaeda." In guerrilla wars, where you have a lot of guerrilla cells, there are often such splits and red on red violence. This was common in Afghanistan, too. Personally, I doubt it means much for the war. Members of both groups may be feuding, but they still hate the Americans more than they hate each other.

Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski points out that the Bush administration is paralyzed by the Iraq War; that Bush rules by instilling fear in the public; that Bush intends to dump the problem in the lap of the next president; that the Dems probably can't stop him from doing just that; and that if Bush drags us into a war with Iran, it will tie down the US for 20 years and cripple US global leadership for a generation. Yup, Zbig has nailed it.
Former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke condemned the Bush administration for being stingy about letting Iraqis come to the US, whose lives had been put in danger because they worked for the Americans and who have been forced out of Iraq.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Update on South Carolina

I have covered the earlier sequence of events here.

In South Carolina their was a move to force women that seek an abortion to take and look at ultrasounds.


A legislative panel on Thursday dropped a measure from an abortion bill that would have made South Carolina the only state to require women to review an ultrasound images of the fetus before terminating a pregnancy.
This is a relief.

But one commenter had this added information.
Actually, the amendment states that if an ultrasound is not required, "the physician must inform the woman in person that ultrasound imaging services are available" and at the woman's request, the health professional must perform the abortion or provide a "list of health care providers, facilities, and clinics that perform ultrasounds free of charge."

Planned Parenthood cannot provide free ultrasounds, at least not here. While the amendment is great that it will not require a woman to view the images, it does send them to the crisis pregnancy centers who do offer free ultrasounds. While getting that free ultrasound, they will become traumatized by their reactions and lies told to them.

Please note, this is only done on the Senate bill 84, not on the House bill 3355. There is another part of the same amendment on S.84 that states the above would be void if they decide to require the viewing while consolidating the bills together.

Our Attorney General, Henry McMasters came to the first subcommittee meeting and said it was constitutional to force a woman to view the images, cause "she could close her eyes." Candy Kern-Fuller, a State NOW member and attorney, pointed out that the case law he cited was incorrect and had nothing to do with the bill. Less than a week later,he issued a letter to the subcommittee saying that it was "illegal and improper" to force a woman to view the image. Magically, it was unconstitutional.

Then again, look at the tactics of the anti-abortionists - - (Sorry, I don't really know how to link it to the text, I should work on that.) Anyway, the few liberals in the state are still trying to end this. But then again, when Rep. Cobb-Hunter was trying to get a vote on an amendment to the House bill for rape and incest victims, the conservative fundamentalists were on the sidelines screaming about how God doesn't make mistakes.

So, thank you for posting about this bill. The more coverage it gets, hopefully, the less likely it is to pass.

So it is a better bill. But it is also a bad one. Damn.


Talking Points Memo has a new video up where Josh Marshall looks at the trouble brewing in Wisconsin over the Attorney Purge.

Late Update: After we finished today's piece, Rep. Conyers (D-MI) put out the word that he now has evidence that some of those RNC emails contain more information about Wisconsin US Attorney Steven Biskupic. All eyes on Wisconsin.

Editorial cloaking device

The Washington Post ran an Op Ed attacking Nancy Pelosi today.

The author, Liz Cheney.

Who is this?

The writer was deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from 2002 through 2003 and principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs from 2005 to 2006.
True...But she is also the daughter of the current Vice President, Dick Cheney.

Some feel their is something insincere in not disclosing it.

No mention that her pop's the Veep. Here's why this is highly questionable, in my view. Ms. Cheney's attack on Pelosi is eerily similar to the one launched on Pelosi recently by her father. So this Op ed looks like a clear effort to help him politically, by reiterating the attack, in however limited a way it does this in actual practice. What's more, this line of attack has a larger context: It is arguably designed to weaken Pelosi at a time when the House Dems she leads are locked in a critical political battle over Iraq with her dad's administration. And the WaPo editorial page has been one of the leading backers of the Bush-Cheney Iraq war.

Finally, this is not the first, but the second, piece by Ms. Cheney in the WaPo attacking one of her dad's leading political opponents in terms similar to those used by Veep Cheney himself (she wasn't fully identified at the end of the first one, either). This is on its way to becoming a pattern. And while many D.C. types know who Liz Cheney is, there's no way of knowing whether many of the Post's readers know this. So why not err on the side of full disclosure?

So they asked the editorial page editor what was up.

Given that Vice President Dick Cheney has been one of the leading critics of Pelosi on a variety of fronts, and given that Mr. Cheney's administration is in the midst of an extremely high-stakes political battle with Pelosi over the future of Iraq, what is the justification for not identifying Ms. Cheney as the Veep's daughter?
We published Liz Cheney's piece based on her qualifications as a former high-ranking State Dept. official with oversight of Near Eastern Affairs. I don't believe qualified professional women need to be identified by their husbands or fathers, even when well-known.
That is pretty nice. Try and turn this into a defense of women. "Well, why do we have to show off just how important she is?"


Almost makes you forget the issue...Not really.

I agree she is knowledgeable. But she is also closely tied with the people who are in opposition to Pelosi. Not just as an operative. But also blood ties. That seems like the kind of thing a responsible editor would want to...hmm, make clear to the customers?

Doesn't it? If Obama wrote a piece on Edwards, or Thompson wrote one on McCain...wouldn't it be important to make it clear that the person writing is just on the periphery of the story?

Cheney can write all she wants, but it is important to know the ties. Didn't we learn this with all the exile community intel we take from Cuba to Iraq to Iran.



Tommy "Damien" Thompson

Didn't you know?

He's the Antichrist.

Janet Folger, formerly the National Director of the Center for Reclaiming America and current President of Faith 2 Action, announces that she will not be voting for Tommy Thompson, primarily because he reportedly supports the use of implantable Radio Frequency Identification chips.

And that smacks too much of the Book of Revelations for Folger's liking...


Implanting RFID is a bit suspect on a number of levels, but the devil's work?

So, does that mean Hillary Clinton is no longer the Antichrist?

I am sure she is relieved.

It isn't fair now.

Rep. Dan Burton, who lead the subpoena race in Congress during Bill Clinton's administration, is miffed at the Democratic use of the subpoena power in the Bush administration.

Rep. Dan Burton — the Indiana Republican who showered subpoenas on the Clinton White House as chairman of the House Government Reform Committee — is joining other Republicans in warning that the committee under its new Democratic leadership may be abusing its subpoena powers.

At the end of March … Burton, along with committee ranking member Tom Davis (R-Va.) and most of the other Republican members warned that the Democrats are straying close to the line of what is appropriate in oversight.

“Effective, constructive oversight is much more a matter of due diligence and digging than depositions and sensational disclosures,” the Republicans wrote.

Sorry, what?

First, though...I would be willing to take his concern at face value. I would, if he would conceded his own fault in the matter. All the subpoenas of the Clinton years led to next to nothing. White Water and the rest were empty things. It came down to a blow job, for you. So would he admit it was a waste on his part? That is was harassment? That is was unneeded and just partisan?

No. Not surprised.

But here and now, we are talking about issues of war, sorry, wars! We are talking about issues where long held rights have been stripped, where a Congress dropped its oversight duties to help out their buddy in the White House.

We, the people, need to know what went on those 6 years where we were left blind by a Republican government.

These groups thought they were entering a many decades long period of unquestioned power and dominance. We have to know what they have done. And if it needs to be undone.

This government has had SO MANY moments of leadership failure and betrayal of national and global trust, we NEED answers.

And putting are heads in the ground isn't going to get answers Rep. Burton.

Maybe if you HAD DONE your job, Waxman and the others wouldn't need to play catch up now.

No, sir. Shame on you.

The trouble with loans, Student Edition

Besides the actual scandal, where top American universities have been cashing in on the backs of students, what really stands out here is that this investigation is happening at the state level and not the federal level. Now why is it that the feds have no interest in pursuing such a scandal?

Cuomo would not divulge where the burgeoning investigation is headed next, including whether more subpoenas are on the way. But he said the investigation could lead to criminal charges against high-ranking officials at both lending companies and universities.

''This is like peeling an onion,'' Cuomo said. ''It seems to be getting worse the more we uncover. It's more widespread than we originally thought ... More schools and more lenders at the top end.

''We have demonstrated this is not just the exception,'' he said. ''This is the rule.''

Cuomo is investigating alleged kickbacks to school officials who steered students to certain lenders. His investigators say they have found numerous arrangements that benefited schools, financial aid officers and lenders at the expense of students.

Investigators found that many colleges have established ''preferred lender'' lists and entered into revenue sharing and other financial arrangements with those lenders. Some colleges have ''exclusive'' preferred lender agreements with the companies.

Bush wants to talk about Iraq with Congress.

By talk I mean, tell them what he wants and have them give it to him without question or pause.

Bush on Tuesday invited Democrats to discuss their standoff over a war-spending bill, but he made clear he would not change his position opposing troop withdrawals. The White House bluntly said the meeting would not be a negotiation. […]

“At this meeting, the leaders in Congress can report on progress on getting an emergency spending bill to my desk,” Bush said. “We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill, a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal and without handcuffing our generals on the ground. I’m hopeful we’ll see some results soon from the Congress.” […]

In essence, Bush invited the Democratic leaders of Congress to come hear the stance he has offered for weeks.

The continued attempts at smearing Nancy Pelosi

The Republican Jewish Coalition has an attack ad, making unfounded claims about Rep Pelosi and her trip to the Middle East.

As Crooks and Liars is pointing it out (And they have the video.):

The Swiftboating of Nancy Pelosi

This is an apt description as it comes from the group started by Sam Fox, who lead the swiftboat assault on John Kerry in '04. That would be Sam Fox, now ambassador to Belgium. The fruits of doing Bush's dirty work.

Ironic that Pelosi was at work, helping Israel on this trip. Not that matters to this group. It isn't about Israeli security. It is about attacking the other side, in American politics, and scoring points.

As points out:

The RJC television ad on Pelosi highlights the baseless Washington Post editorial and contains no mention of the five Republicans who also traveled to Syria last week. The ad’s tag line: “Tough? No. Dangerous and very wrong.”
On Sam Fox's involvement:

Contacted by ThinkProgress, a spokeswoman for the RJC would not rule out that Fox was involved in the ad, saying only that “as far as I know,” Fox was not connected.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bush...Alternative energy...death ride

The media tried to make some hey from a story circulated claiming the president had almost blown himself up while checking out a hydrogen hybrid car.

The story came from the chief at Ford who said that the president had almost stuck a power cord in the hydrogen tank, but he just stopped him.

Trouble is that it was a JOKE!

Not a great joke. But if you just look at the video of the president and him at the car. Nothing he describes occurred. Seems darn clear. But the media never bothered to check before putting the story out.

LAZY. It isn't just about lazy writing on Democratic candidates (Clintons) or on claims against media rivals (CNN's Ware), but even the president.

It would have been SO EASY to check and verify. But they got the story loved it, fit with their perception, and it spread...was spread.


Society realizes on the media. Do your JOB!

It is just ironic that conservatives enjoy using the lazy media to run bad stories on liberals, now they got some blow back...

I'd rather have a consistently competent news media.

Femme, around the world

Things are a hopping globally.

Following the move in Mexico to allow women reproductive choice is being followed up by others.

New Minister of Health in Brazil calls for debate on abortion.

Mr Temporao says that around 200,000 women are treated for complications following abortions every year, the vast majority of them believed to have taken place in illegal clinics involving a high degree of risk for the women.
So many suffering for others prudish fears.

An opinion poll released at the weekend suggests 65% of Brazilians are against changing the existing law.

Mr Temporao says that result is not surprising as he believes the question has always been debated in a superficial way.

He told the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo he wants Brazil to treat the discussion as a matter of public health.

Yes, a public health issue. Brazil has a severe issue with abandoned children. Kids and gangs on the street are serious problems for this nation. It is darn time for them to address and face this issue. Let them get this debate going.

And from one Portuguese nation to the motherland.

Portugal legalizes abortion!

Yesterday, Portugal's president Anibal Cavaco Silva ratified a law allowing women to obtain abortions until the 10th week of pregnancy.

The abortion law, which the Roman Catholic church in Portugal fiercely opposed, will come into force when the government publishes it in official records, probably next month.

The old law was among the most restrictive in Europe. It allowed the procedure in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy only if a mother's health was at risk; in cases of rape, a termination was permitted up to and including the 16th week. The government hopes the new law will put an end to dangerous illegal abortions.
Women’s health organizations say that approximately 10,000 women in Portugal need to be hospitalized every year with complications from illegal abortions.
From extremely restrictive laws to choice being opened up. Good for them. Smart of them.

News from India:

Civil servants in India required to reveal their menstrual cycles

Female civil servants in India are furious with new government guidelines that force them to list intimate details, including their menstrual history, in appraisal forms, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The All-India Services Performance Appraisal Rules 2007 -- which apply to senior government workers -- ask female employees to record their last menstrual period, as well as when they last took maternity leave, the Hindustan Times said.

That is so wrong.
And this relates to job Well, it doesn't. Apparently the head of the personnel department, Satyanand Mishra, was quoted in the Hindustan Times newspaper as saying the questions were based on advice from the Ministry of Health: "We sought the ministry's help to draw up a health-history format. I assume this will help evaluate the officer's fitness." Uh huh. Sure it will.

In Arabia:

Saudi women fighting marital rape.

Women in Saudi Arabia have been filing for divorce because they have been raped and abused by their husbands. As sex is not talked about in the same way, women have a harder time coming out against violence they are facing in their marriages.


Marital rape is not recognized by most countries in the world. The article says that UNICEF found in 1997 that only 17 countries actually recognized marital rape. This coupled with the plethora of reasons women are afraid to come out or leave abusive relationships, is only compounded with courts that will not grant permission to divorce.


Marital rape is just ignored on too many fronts. For some reason if you have a ring, you ask for it. But to many hold that skirt size, Blood Alcohol level, time of day, make up use, etc also speak to your receptiveness.

Even in marriage, sex is NOT guaranteed. Sorry to ruin the magic.

States refusing Abstinence-Only Money.

Sad that the only way to teach students good data, real facts, and practical things is to forgo much needed money. What's even worse is that we put like pressure on the world as well, to get our money.

From Feministing:

VIDEO by Jessica on the story.

By the way, here's the article I mention in the video. And also check out Ann's recent column on the subject.

TIME corrects itself

In the wake of the online uproar over the mischaracterization of Plan B, Time magazine is correcting itself on suggesting that the drug causes abortions (It doesn't.).

Time's words:
The original version of this story inaccurately described morning-after pills being distributed free by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet as "abortion-inducing." Though pro-life advocates claim the pills effect a kind of abortion by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus in the first 72 hours after unprotected sex, the pills are more accurately considered an emergency contraception by the medical community since they technically prevent a pregnancy from occurring in the first place.

Good, but small step. Too many people still hold this misunderstanding, and Pro-Life groups work hard to spread it.

Dawkins and Harries

One Good Move has video of Dr. Richard Dawkins meeting with Bishop Harries in England. It is from an interview during The Root of All Evil? filming.

No, not a fight. They both share a love and respect for science.

It is interesting to watch.

Plus it calls out the lie that Dawkins is utterly intolerant and cruel to religious people.

And Harries, in many ways is an exception.

Amongst Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims, Jews, and many others is a drive to attack science, secular thought and society, and anything that calls their role and power into question. It has been pushed by the Pope and Anglican leaders, looking to cement relations with Islamic leaders.


Bush looking to pawn off the hard work.

WAR CZAR...Yeesch.

The president wants a War Czar. You know, someone to be in charge of all of our wars, past and future. You know, a Commander and Chief. You know, Bush's primary job.

So...didn't we all know this in '04? Heck, didn't many of us know this in '00?

From TPM:
This is truly DC-czarism, 'we can't figure out what the hell we're doing so let's appoint a new bubble on the flowchart' run amok. Instead of 'czar' maybe we can just call the person 'training wheels'? Someone to oversee wars, the Pentagon, the State Department and everything else? Don't we elect that person every four years?

JP says it reminds him of this November 2005 piece from The Onion ...

In response to increasing criticism of his handling of the war in Iraq and the disaster in the Gulf Coast, as well as other issues, such as Social Security reform, the national deficit, and rising gas prices, President Bush is expected to appoint someone to run the U.S. as soon as Friday.
I'm not sure I've ever seen a better sign -- though wrapped in a humorous package -- of why this president really can't be trusted to be in charge of anything and why the Republic is genuinely in peril as long as this pitiful goof remains in office. Bush wants to find a general to do his job for him. But he can't get anyone to agree to do it.
How can they only know be realizing they can't cut it? Is it just a matter of not wanting to be at fault when the pull out comes? Is it that they have had so many goats sacrificed, they need a new one?

And worse yet, no one wants the job. They generals are happy to fight the wars they are ordered to, but to actually get stuck in...they know how bad and deep this is. Petraeus is one of the last believers left, still hoping his Surge idea is going to pan out. Not good.

Not good for us.

Reality 1 / Jedi Mind Tricks 0

On Two Percent Company they have the video of a Kiai Master.

It seems he believes that he has a special power, to strike people down, without touching them.

For those of you who were unaware of this whole Kiai martial arts thing, it is, in short, no-contact martial arts in which the fighting is, er...done with the mind. Fighting with your mind, apparently, involves a lot of waving your hands around (um...why is that exactly? If you're really good at it, couldn't you just lounge about and think your opponents down?). So there's no actual physical contact. At all. And people fall down, and jump back, and wince and flinch and thrash about, just as if they had actually been hit. It's all very entertaining in a silly, delusional sort of way. In all honesty, we used to do the same exact thing with groups of friends...during recess in grade school. It was rather fun, really, and we were cooperative and honest combatants who were all very good about falling down when we'd been "nailed." But, of course, we didn't pretend that it was anything more than pretend.
So he made a challenge - 5000 dollars to a Multiple Martial Arts fighter who can best him and his powers.

The video shows the results. One swipe in the air, which earlier video showed knocking students down, does nothing. Then the MMA fighter starts to work. Not pretty.

I agree with Two Percent, at least he put up and accepted the challenge.

Now, what happens afterwards?

If you look at dowsers and psychics, they quickly rationalize and justify failure. It was the equipment, the room, the people around, the day, the time, and ON and ON.

So, I am sure he still believes in his power...but we got video that makes get evidence to the contrary.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Plan B

SORRY. Got to break the habit of not spell checking, and link checking before submitting. BAD SKEPTIC!

The media seems to have a problem, with science, politics, social issues, news stories...


To science and medicine.

Plan B. I imagine the term provokes one thought or another in your minds (Yes, I know. Duh!). Still, it is an unfortunate that too many choose to tie it to abortion. For the Pro-Life lot, they are...I can't expect much. But the media, they choose ignorance or to accept the louder yells from the Pro-Life lot as facts.

It is quite simple. Plan B does NOT equal abortion. Okay?

Feministing - PLAN B

Plan B can be taken up to 72 hours after sex, and works by preventing pregnancy. If a woman who takes Plan B is already pregnant, it does not cause an abortion.
The trouble is Plan B is confused with RU-486. THIS IS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THING!!!
Mifeprex (RU-486) is taken between 3 and 10 weeks after a woman
is confirmed to be pregnant, and causes an abortion.

* Only one in five women knows about EC [Emergency Contraception].
* One-third of those women confuse Plan B with RU-486, the abortion pill.
* Less than 8 percent of women really understand how EC works and when it should be used.
SO, we rely on the media to clear this up. Help women understand what medicines are available to help them. To inform people of what medicines do what.

Time magazine has trouble understanding this.

The ignorance in the media is not as bad as the ignorance they spread or confirm. So consider expressing your concern about their inaccuracies.

More from Feministe.

They have email addresses for Time.

Also some notes on the good info in the article.
The article is otherwise fairly interesting, and it does point out that criminalizing abortion does not lower the abortion rate, and only results in women’s deaths...

Abortion is illegal in Latin America largely because of the influence of the Catholic church. There are a great many Catholic leaders and individuals throughout Latin America who see the harm that illegal abortion has caused, and who back abortion rights because they see what it looks like on the ground. But the church as an institution has caused significant harm to women in Latin America. Thousands of women die every year from unsafe abortion. Hundreds of thousands (millions?) are injured. In Mexico alone, more than 100,000 of the 500,000 women who procure illegal abortions every year are hospitalized — a full fifth. Two thousand die.


Pelosi - The Shock and Awe, Behind the Curtain

The drive to besmirch Rep. Pelosi over her trip to Syria seems to have fluttered and failed. Except in the hearts and minds of conservative talkers and bloggers.

But let's look back at what happened during this tempest, of the teapot variety.

So what happened in parts of the media?

WaPo’s Robinson Smacks WaPo Editorial Page Over Pelosi Coverage

It is often funny to hear the talk of the liberal Washington Post. The editorial board of the Post is surprisingly like minded to that of the Wall Street Journal. Meaning very conservative.

But in a strange bizarro world moment, Wallace, at FOX News, nails a conservative, who is looking to jump into the presidential race. Sometimes it is almost like they want to be journalist at FOX News. I am sure they got their staffs back on the medication.

Chris Wallace Exposes Newt Gingrich’s Pelosi Hypocrisy

On "FOX News Sunday" today, Chris Wallace confronted Newt Gingrich with the statements he made in 1997 on a trip to China in which he directly contradicted President Clinton's policy regarding Taiwan. Newt Gingrich — along with the right-wing echo chamber and short-memoried MSM — spent the week condemning Speaker Pelosi for doing what Speaker Gingrich did just a decade before. Only then, Gingrich carried a message that was in stark contrast to US foreign policy; something that Nancy Pelosi didn't do, despite baseless right-wing accusations to the contrary.

Boy, something like this must be just the kind of thing a good friend of Pelosi would jump on. I bet someone, say Lieberman, is ready to go to it...Maybe no.

Guess Which One Was Defending Pelosi’s Trip?: Hint: It wasn’t Lieberman

Yes. Surprise , surprise. Republican Arlen Spector stood to defend the Congress's right to travel, study, and converse. Lieberman, a onetime Democrat - now and Indie - who claims to side with the Democrats, chooses to attack legislative power time and again.

Yeah, who needs Balance of Power.

And speaking of...ah, hell, let's talk Israel.

TPM: More dirty tricks from the crooked crowd in the White House?
More dirty tricks from the crooked crowd in the White House?

From the start of this sub-controversy over Speaker Pelosi's comments in Damascus I've suspected a tampering hand from the White House.

You know the details. Pelosi said she had conveyed a message of peace from the Israelis to the Syrians. And then Prime Minister Olmert's office issued a statement appearing to contradict what Pelosi said...


But I've never thought it was that simple since before Pelosi ever made her statement, the Israeli press was reporting that Olmert had entrusted Pelosi with such a message. As Ha'aretz highly respected diplomatic correspondent Aluf Benn wrote the day before Pelosi's arrival in Damascus...


If you read Benn's article you'll see that Olmert's message was part of an effort to head off a possible confrontation this summer tied to Arab fears of an American strike against Iran. (It's a complicated issue, which can find out more about by reading Benn's article.)

Now, who else says this? Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) is the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a Holocaust survivor and very close to AIPAC. He was with Pelosi in the key meetings in Jerusalem and Damascus and he says "The speaker conveyed precisely what the prime minister and the acting president asked."

So what happened? Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency is another person who follows these issues closely and knows a lot about them -- that is to say, he doesn't approach these issues through the prism of reading Drudge or what the Vice President said on the Rush Limbaugh show. In any case, Kampeas takes a look at the story. It's a lengthy piece with a lot of important detail. But let me excerpt this section which touches on the issue of, again, what happened?

If that was the case, why did Olmert need to make a clarification, as Israelis were not speaking on the record. Lantos suggested there was pressure from the White House.


Last year, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice talked Olmert into a 48-hour cease-fire during the war with Hezbollah to allow humanitarian relief, but within hours Israeli planes were bombing again, to Rice's surprise and anger. Olmert had received a call, apparently from Cheney's office, telling him to ignore Rice.
So we've had a lot of fun over the last few days with the RNC political shop and Drudge leading a lot of dopes around by the nose. But let's hear a bit more about this. The message the Israelis sent to Damascus was intended to convince the Syrians that the Israelis were not planning to attack the Syrians in concert with an American attack on Iran. There was concern in Israel that this might lead to a preemptive Syrian attack. A message like that from Israel to Syria might be very unwelcome to some people in the White House. Did the White House pressure Olmert? If there was no message, why was the existence of the message being discussed by Israeli officials before Pelosi went to Damascus? Will the White House deny pressuring Olmert? And did any of this occur to the folks who write the Post's editorials?


Finally, Josh Marshall, of TPM, has done a video on the subject. Good stuff. If they are going to make this regular, it will be great. Marshall, and the TPM lot, are a great source and a perfect example of what "NEW MEDIA" can be. You should be reading the Talking Points Memo site.
One more post, from The Horse's Mouth:
On Hardball, former Clinton ambassador, Richard Holbrooke, went after political and journalistic opportunist trying to take down Pelosi.

They're not pursuing a shadow foreign policy. They're making trips to the region. The Republican group had gone out before her. She had Republicans on her group. Congressmen are supposed to travel to understand better how to spend the taxpayers' money, which is their responsibility.


I think this whole thing has been blown out of proportion by a deliberate ambush plan by the opposition, in this case the Republicans, and frankly, exploited by journalists who are just looking for a fake controversy. There is no issue here. Congressman Wolf, a major Republican, was in the region a few days earlier. Republicans were on her trip. There's no issue. None.
From the Horse's Mouth:
One point about this. Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen any Democratic elected officials or direct Pelosi allies denouncing this story in such stark terms as Holbrooke did -- that is, by striking directly at the fraudulent nature of this whole tale, by asserting that this story is a complete GOP ruse that's only being kept alive because of journalism that's incompetent at best and outright dishonest at worst. And frankly, I'm wondering why I haven't seen more Democrats doing this.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter is coming to an end

Easter is wrapping up.

So go over to Blog Against Theocracy and check out the various posts on topic, if you haven't yet. They have a link to a great video expressing the need to stand against theocracy. Check it out.

And also check out First Freedom First. It is a valuable resource, and good organization to get to know.

April is...

Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Prevent Sexual Violence…in our communities.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is observed in April and is the month dedicated to making a concerted effort to prevent and raise awareness of sexual violence and its prevention through special events, although such activities may occur at any time throughout the year. Recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month each year highlights sexual violence as a major public health problem and reinforces the need for prevention efforts.

The purpose of Sexual Assault Awareness Month is to increase the public's understanding about sexual violence in our society. This effort can help communities support rape and sexual assault survivors, victims, and their families, as well as the individuals and agencies that provide rape crisis intervention and prevention services throughout the year. It is also a time to encourage the public to take steps to address sexual violence. The hope is that a month of intensified awareness efforts combined with the broad spectrum of sexual violence prevention work throughout the year will bring us closer to ending sexual assault.

Learn something about SAAM.

I am a little late in getting the news out. But, it is important to get people aware and cognizant of the issues.

Inside Out, from is running a similar concept, focused on writing and editing in comics.
This month, I’m gonna do something a little different in Inside Out (as opposed to the whopping…er…two months’ worth of precedent that I’ve set). I’m going to write a month’s worth of columns about sexual assault issues in comic books and how they correspond to real life. If you have any doubt that I can fill a month with this topic, here’s something to chew on: in order to cover everything I want to, I’m probably going to be posting semiweekly for the duration of April. Although I already have a fair idea of the topics I want to discuss, if you have any questions, suggestions, or requests, please let me know in the forum.

Scientists Sound Bites

PZ Meyer, disagrees with the critique of the scientific community.

Scientists CAN TALK. And talk purty to.

Abbie makes an excellent point on it the ongoing discussion of the Nisbet/Mooney paper: just how often do scientists get an opportunity to discuss their work to the public, anyway?

I have a few simple points to make.

1. Why are scientists being told so often that they're bad at communicating? Because, like, we aren't. Most scientists are awesome at communicating, just not on the terms dictated by Fox News.


2. Blame the media. Slamming the scientists is the wrong thing to do when the flaws are obvious and elsewhere.


A perfect example: the recent Anderson Cooper show that purported to be discussing the role of religion and science. What did we get? Ten minutes of animatronic dinosaurs, Ken Ham babbling, home schooling moms explaining that evolution is bunk, and the one token scientist gets two sentences. What if instead, he'd been given 5 minutes and the opportunity to explain why his favorite mammal fossil was important, and how it supported evolution? I guarantee you that it would be informative, interesting television in which the audience might have learned something that would make them think. But no…cue the Fred and Wilma Flintstone Memorial Museum and the lying con man who will promise you eternal life, if only you really believe Jesus created the earth in 4004 BC.

Look at the rest of the list and consider. Some simpler talk is good. But people should take the time to listen to and take in bigger and more complicated ideas. And these academics are ready and waiting to share.

Have you given a professor a hug lately?

Disneyland, following the pendulum back around

Disney for a long while was very supportive of homosexuals. It was very tolerant of them, especially with the large numbers employed in critical business areas. But with the Right's attacks on giving concessions (health care to partners, etc.), they clammed up.

So, it is nice to see them deciding to go back around again.

Now if they could only do something about ABC and ABC News (Path to 911 and Halperin).

Crooks and Liars:

The Walt Disney Co. had limited its Fairy Tale Wedding program to couples with valid marriage licenses, but it is now making ceremonies at its parks available to gay couples as well.

"We believe this change is consistent with Disney's long-standing policy of welcoming every guest in an inclusive environment," Disney Parks and Resorts spokesman Donn Walker said Friday. "We want everyone who comes to celebrate a special occasion at Disney to feel welcome and respected."


Creationists also don't believe in anniversaries.

PZ Meyer on an old argument with a creationist, trying to use pseudoscience to trump science.

I was just reminded that last year at this time I announced an anniversary. In March of 2004, I critiqued this mysterious abstraction called "ontogenetic depth" that Paul Nelson, the ID creationist, proposed as a measure of developmental and evolutionary complexity, and that he was using as a pseudoscientific rationale against evolution. Unfortunately, he never explained how "ontogenetic depth" was calculated or how it was measured (perhaps he was inspired by Dembski's "specified complexity", another magic number that can be farted out by creationists but cannot be calculated). Nelson responded to my criticisms with a promise.

On 29 March 2004, he promised to post an explanation "tomorrow".


On 13 January 2005, he told us to read a paper by R Azevedo instead. I rather doubt that Ricardo supports Intelligent Design creationism, or thinks his work contributes to it.

Ever since, silence.


I'm sure he is just waiting, to build up anticipation for his earth shattering...thing. That must be it. Brilliant.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Taking the words away...

Not in the sense of they are my words...NOT THAT!

But, I read and hear what these people are saying...and I'm just at a loss for words.


Ann Coulter
Ann Coulter Plumbs New Depths of Inhumanity

This is truly one of the most disgusting columns I have ever read. I refuse to link to any website from which she can benefit, but this hate-mongerer should be exposed for what she is, so I will link to the Salon post about her here. [..]Coulter's take on Darfur:

These people can't even wrap up genocide. We've been hearing about this slaughter in Darfur forever - and they still haven't finished. The aggressors are moving like termites across that country. It's like genocide by committee. Who's running this holocaust in Darfur, FEMA? This is truly a war in which we have absolutely no interest.

She's asking for a more speedy genocide. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the voice of the Republican Party. Never–ever–let them try to untie themselves from this abomination of a partisan hack.
And the words are knocked out of me..."Why can't they kill themselves quicker! Bored now." WOW!

Tucker Carlson
Tucker: Disenfranchised Voters Should Just Vote Anyway

While talking about Florida Governor Charlie Crist's proposal to restore the voting rights of non-violent ex-felons on MSNBC today, Tucker Carlson told Democratic strategist Peter Fenn that the disenfranchised blacks in Florida in 2000 should have just voted anyway. Has Tucker ever voted in his life? When you go to your designated polling place, you need to check in and make sure your name is on the list. If it's not — which is what happened to tens of thousands of black voters — you can't vote. Period. You can't say "I'm not a felon" and pull the lever.

I know the whole "Bush stole the presidency" controversy is tired, but there's no doubt the 2000 Florida vote count was fishy. Robert Greenwald's superb film Uprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election makes the case clearly and persuasively, as does Rep. Conyers' 2004 report Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio...
They have the video as well.

Just do it anyway...Says the pasty whine white guy, who has never been hassled. Need we remind people that Ann Coulter couldn't even be bothered to go to the right polling site in the last election.

New York Sun
Open Thread: Cheney for President?

The vice presidents's stature would put him instantly into the first rank of contenders on the Republican side.

Are their conservatives that addicted to the Kool Aid? I didn't know that was even possible.

John Podhoretz
J-Pod’s genocidal delusions

"What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn't kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn't the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence noread on"
More killing? If it isn't that we need more troops in harms way, we need to kill more people.

Anyone remember the true meaning of the term decimate? And, isn't that in the realm of genocide.

Have he and Coulter met yet? I bet they'd love each other.

Pelosi had the right with how to deal with this.

Ms. Pelosi, in a telephone interview from Lisbon on Friday, said she could not account for the Bush administration’s assault, which she at one point equated to a tantrum. (She said her children were teasing her about Mr. Cheney’s accusation of bad behavior.)


“I come back thinking, all right, we will get through their tantrum,” Ms. Pelosi said, in a reference to the administration, “but the fact is, we accomplished what we set out to do. I think we improved the understanding among the different parties.”
Tantrums and hiss fits, over the lack of genocide, or the fact it isn't genocidy enough. They need to grow up and be less of a Glenn Beck.

Bush and Cheney do throw tantrums when they don't get their way. When the GOP ran Congress, it worked. Not anymore.

Someone at CNN should show this article to Suzanne Malveaux. And someone at the Today Show should at least try to explain it in simple terms to Matt Lauer.
Put this in 'cause when you mouth and spit out talking points, you deserve to have the...talking point flung back at you.

How could Nature hurt you? I mean, name ONE time Nature has hurt a human being!

More from Neurologica.

ALL NATURAL. It is used like a truncheon on the public. It is as if it is an end all be all of GOOD. Mercury. Poison Mushrooms. Cauliflower. Things just ain't that simple.

All Natural Arsenic
The naturalistic fallacy – the notion that all things natural are good (and therefore the unnatural must be bad) is pervasive in our culture, and quite dangerous when applied to medicine. In the context of food and medicine an unhealthy reverence for nature takes the form of assuming that something which is natural must be magically safe and effective. Of course, nature does not care about us and it is more often toxic and deadly than helpful. In the US the word “natural” is used as a marketing ploy to convey a sense that a product is good and wholesome. This is combined with a terribly unscientific scheme for categorizing foods vs drugs vs supplements and regulating health claims about them. The end result is that the public is being sold many drugs as if they were vitamins...

The latest example of this situation is the discovery that popular herbal kelp supplements are contaminated with arsenic.


The Memory Game

From Neurologica, Novella is looking at our memories, the faults in them, and why it can't be a basis for scientific arguments. Memory can be tricky, over the years I have noticed the various gaps and alternations of my own.

For instance, I thought I went to one doctor for a treatment, but I looked back at my records and it was another doctor, in another city. My visual memory says one thing, I can visualize it, but I know I was in another city at the time.

Memory is a funny thing. A tricky thing.

If people sat back and took stock of their memories, they'd be shocked.

The Foibles of Human Memory

To put it bluntly, human memory stinks. Well, everything is relative, so let me clarify – it works fine, even quite well, for the purposes for which it evolved. However, now we humans are trying to survive for 80+ years in a complicated technological civilization with brains that evolved on the savanna and are designed to work for maybe 40 years.

Our memories work well for some things. Memory is largely based on pattern recognition, and this remains our cognitive strong point. We remember patterns well, we can see correlations between different patterns, we can see underlying meaning in patterns. However, this also biases our memory. We tend to anchor our memories to meaningful patterns – and this helps us remember and also we tend to remember the important stuff and forget the not-so-important stuff.

But the flip side of this is that we are not very good at remembering details. The details of our memories tend to fade, even when the big picture remains. Worse, the details change to suit the patterns we think we remember. In other words, we remember well the emotions of an event, the significance it has in our lives, and the meaning we attach to it. The little details then morph over time to enhance the emotion, significance, and meaning of our memory of the event. We even make up new details as necessary.

This is why subjective memory (read anecdotal evidence) is not very useful to science. Science works in a way very opposite to that of human memory. Memory focuses on the meaning and then alters the details to fit. Science endeavors to start with the details (often obsessing over the details with fanatical fidelity) and then derive the meaning from them.

Feminism, Bads News, and some good.

The treatment of women is still a troubling issue dealt with in every nation. It is still worrying, and aggravating, that improvements look to come so slowly.

Feministing has some stories on some troubling treatment and attitudes. But also a piece of good news.

Let's start with the good news...ease our way in.

Ugandan law struck down for being sexist

Here's some good news: The adultery law in Uganda has been struck down by the Constitutional Court because it was sexist.

The law made it an offence for a married woman to have an affair, but it allowed a cheating husband to have an affair with an unmarried woman.

The attorney general said the move may encourage immorality and promiscuity.

In the same ruling, the court also scrapped parts of the Succession Act which gave more rights to men on the death of their wives, than to widows.

Under the previous law, women who were found guilty of adultery could be fined or even sent to prison.
Good. Plenty of other troubling issues of treatment of women in Africa, but it is a step in the right direction.

Now the disconcerting.
Victim-blaming at its finest

Shorter Kathleen Parker: Women in the military are raped because they're stupid enough to be around men.

Oh, and the ladies are probably exaggerating anyway. No, seriously. Check out these gems:

No serious person doubts that sexual harassment and even rape occur in a war zone. But the degree to which sex is consensual or forced -- often a question of he-said-she-said -- is further complicated by military hierarchy and the extenuating circumstances (and passions) of war.

...Clearly, some of what is considered sexual harassment falls into the category of harmless sport -- the usual towel-snapping that is, in fact, a way to neutralize sex.
This one is my all-time fave though:

But more overt sexual aggression may be the product of something few will acknowledge, at least on the record: resentment.

Off the record, in dozens of interviews over a period of years, male soldiers and officers have confided that many men resent women because they've been forced to pretend that women are equals, and men know they're not.

And clearly, the best way to put us bitches back in our place is with a good raping, huh?
This perspective is definitely a twisted one. Women are just inferior? It is a desperate attempt to justify something that is so despicable. I shudder to try and imagine why she is trying to defend these acts.

Quick hit: The 13-Year-Old Prostitute

Check out this piece in New York Magazine about teen sex workers and how the law in New York punishes them instead of helping them.

If Lucilia were a 13-year-old Chinese girl smuggled to New York and made to work in a Queens brothel, she would not be seen, in the eyes of the authorities, as a prostitute at all. She would be a sex slave, a victim of human trafficking, and if she had the good fortune to be discovered by the police, she would be given federal protection and shielded by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. But she’s not.

In this city, a U.S. citizen like Lucilia is seen by the law as a prostitute.
Some disturbing stuff.
Is there anyway to say it? This is just messed up. Enslaved. Abused. A CHILD! And she is to blame? What about the legal protections enshrined to protect children.

It says something of the troubling view of "prostitutes". This is a child before anything else. No violent crimes, none what so ever. So, how can even a conservative look over that critical first point. CHILD.

Get Tough. Three Strikes. Things like them are great sound bites and vote getters. But is a callous and blind approach better for society? Is it better for people?

Oh, and now it gets worse.
Man who raped 10 year-old gets no jail time
A judge in Wales has let a 20 year-old man who raped a 10 year-old off with no jail time because the man was "acutely embarrassed and ashamed" and "his belief that she was over 16." Yeah.
Liam Edgecombe, from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, was given a conditional discharge by the judge, saying he could see why he thought the girl was 16.
The court heard Edgecombe, who admitted rape, was "visibly traumatised" when he was told the girl's real age.
Mr Justice Roderick Evans, at Swansea Crown Court, said the girl "was looking for a man and got what she wanted".
Oh, but the class doesn't end there. The judge also brought up that "it was not [the girl's] first sexual experience."
Well I guess that makes raping a 10 year-old all good then.
There is an old sort of joke. "I thought she was/She told me she was 16/18."

In case you are waiting, you can officially start finding it unfunny.

She was looking for it? She was...DAMN IT! It is a...a 10 year old. Of course, the judge said he could see how the RAPIST could mistake the 10 YEAR OLD for a 16 year old...What the hell is happening in Wales? He's a 20 year old, he asked her twice what her age was, to which she was evasive...So he was worried, but figured it was worth it? Oh and he was traumatized. Shoot! He thought he got himself a nice young barely legal girl...OOPS! So if she was 12 or 13, he'd be a lot better?

Push comes to shove, what we have is a ten year old having sex, and her sexual history makes her LEGALLY available to be used by adults. That is sick and utterly irresponsible act by the court. She asked for it. This is beyond the pale. What history does she have? What kind of consent? If this is an abused child, abused once more...guess the judge just didn't care. And if she had sex with another youth, how does that make it okay for a 20-something?

Asking for it...impure and dirty...
This attitude towards women is sick.

Juan Cole, on the Middle East

Juan Cole, of Informed Comment, and President of the Global Americana Institute, is an avid student of the Middle East situation. If you aren't giving his work a look see, you aren't doing yourself a favor.

Cole has an article in The Nation.
How to Get Out of Iraq
Both houses of Congress have now backed a timeline for withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq in 2008, which George W. Bush has vowed to veto. He gives two major rationales for rejecting withdrawal. At times he has warned that Iraq could become an Al Qaeda stronghold, at others that "a contagion of violence could spill out across the country--and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict." These are bogeymen with which Bush has attempted to frighten the public. Regarding the first, Turkey, Jordan and Iran are not going to put up with an Al Qaeda stronghold on their borders; nor would Shiite and Kurdish Iraqis. Most Sunni Iraqis are relatively secular, and there are only an estimated 1,000 foreign jihadis in Iraq, who would be forced to return home if the Americans left.

Bush's ineptitude has made a regional proxy war a real possibility, so the question is how to avoid it. One Saudi official admitted that if the United States withdrew and Iraq's Sunnis seemed in danger, Riyadh would likely intervene. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has threatened to invade if Iraq's Kurds declare independence. And Iran would surely try to rescue Iraqi Shiites if they seemed on the verge of being massacred.

But Bush is profoundly in error to think that continued US military occupation can forestall further warfare.


From Informed Comment:
Israel vs. Bush & the Neoconservatives on Syria?

70 Killed in Iraq
Diplomacy of Iran May be Legacy of British Sailor Hostage Crisis

Bernard Gwertzman's interview of me on the release of Iran's hostages and the Iranian role in Iraq is available at the Council on Foreign Relations web site.

Jim Lobe interviews Gary Sick, Trita Parsi and me on the Iranian capture and release of the British sailors, and what might be the aftermath.


Someone should please tell Cheney that his own government captured documents in Iraq that show that Saddam's security forces were a) afraid of al-Qaeda and Zarqawi and b) were trying to capture him once they heard he was in Iraq. The pdf link in my posting on this shows the APB Iraq put out for Zarqawi and the wanted poster.

A returning US naval reservist reveals how bad the situation is in Iraq. Money quotes:
' “If you’re going to walk around over there, I’d strongly suggest investing in Kevlar (body armor),” Christensen said. “There are definitely warmer spots of American compassion, but things are still very ... touchy.”
A spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani denied on Wednesday that the Shiite spiritual leader opposes a new law supported by President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that would reinstate Baathists in high government positions if they cut off any relationship to the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement. Sistani's opposition was reported by visiting politician Ahmad Chalabi, who admittedly has credibility problems.


Iraqi officials cannot account for $8 billion during the past 3 years, with much of it embezzled. Some $2 billion disappeared during the prime ministership of US-appointed PM Iyad Allawi.