Saturday, December 10, 2005

Global Temperature Continues to Rise

From New York Magazine:

Bush Threatens U.N. Over Clinton Climate Speech

Bush-administration officials privately threatened organizers of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, telling them that any chance there might’ve been for the United States to sign on to the Kyoto global-warming protocol would be scuttled if they allowed Bill Clinton to speak at the gathering today in Montreal, according to a source involved with the negotiations who spoke to New York Magazine on condition of anonymity.

Bush officials informed organizers of their intention to pull out of the new Kyoto deal late Thursday afternoon, soon after news leaked that Clinton was scheduled to speak, the source said.

The threat set in motion a flurry of frantic back-channel negotiations between conference organizers and aides to Bush and Clinton that lasted into the night on Thursday, and at one point Clinton flatly told his advisers that he was going to pull out and not deliver the speech, the source said.

“It’s just astounding,” the source told New York Magazine. “It came through loud and clear from the Bush people—they wouldn’t sign the deal if Clinton were allowed to speak.” Clinton spokesman Jay Carson confirmed the behind the dustup took place and that the former president had decided not to go out of fear of harming the negotiations, but Carson declined to comment further.

On Friday afternoon, Clinton did end up speaking at the conference,....

Late Friday the U.S. walked out for other reasons.

The conference was able to call Bushco's bluff on Clinton's speech because they knew there was no chance that they would sign on to Kyoto. Sadly, Bushco never intended to participate with the rest of the world in addressing climate change. Not our oil & gas administration. Bye bye glaciers, hello wild weather.

"The United States of Generica"

The mallization of America continues:

Farewell, Filene's

The folding of Filene's into Macy's is part of a homogenizing trend in which our country is becoming the United States of Generica. Suburban shopping malls are already gone: few have unique local businesses, all have essentially the same national chains, and it's hard to tell one from another. In south Florida, which takes this cookie-cutter trend to an extreme, it's hard even to find a locally owned restaurant.

Downtown malls are moving in the same direction, except that they are more upscale. Increasingly, it is hard to tell malls like Copley Place or Prudential from airport duty-free shops.

But to the extent that downtowns are what give cities like ours their special character, it seems almost a crime to turn them into indistinguishable generics. The process takes away what makes a city feel special to the locals, and also makes it less attractive as a destination for visitors. (What is left of the unique feel of a city can always be Disneyfied, completing the corporate process).

I didn't realize until after I chose the name for this blog that Disney has an attraction called "Main St. USA". (I get lots of traffic from that search.) I chose the name because I grew up on Main Street, in a town so small the houses didn't have numbers. Little did I know that Disney had already chosen the name to represent the generic US street. The United States of Generica, I'm going to have to use that phrase.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Group of Death -- Damn You, Steve Sampson!!!

Yes, the worst has happened. While we avoided Brazil, Argentina and Germany, the US (#8 in the FIFA rankings) drew the fabled Group of Death: World #2 Czech Republic, World #12 Italy, and Ghana, the group patsy, World #50.

Even Sports Illustrated, which has belatedly discovered the existence of the world's most popular sport, agrees:

Yes, it's a Group of Death
U.S. got the short end of the stick with its Cup draw

Bobby McMahon, FoxSports: Who's buried in the 'Group of Death'?

Watching the pre-show I realized with horror that Steve Sampson, like a zombie reaching back from the grave, denied the US a seeding. Steve Sampson, the moron who dismissed John Harkes, the team captain, from the 1998 US team just before the World Cup, sending the team into a tailspin of disarray. Steve Sampson, the moron who brought in David Regis (a Frenchman with an American wife, played in only two qualifiers before the Cup, barely spoke English) at the last moment. Steve Sampson, who had the US play a 3-6-1 formation. For that alone he will be remembered with hatred and revulsion. (Are you getting a sense of my feelings about Steve Sampson????) And these brilliant coaching decisions of Sampson helped him coach his way to a dead last 32nd place finish. My god, we lost to Iran.

So why didn't the US get seeded in 2006? Because the FIFA formula for determining seeds took into account team performance at the 2002 and 1998 World Cups. Now in 2002 we finished in the quarterfinals, very respectably, and were a blatant handball and a hideous Scottish referee named Hugh Dallas away from the semifinals. But in 1998 we finished dead last. So in the FIFA system for 2006 we missed out on a seed by one point. And now, unprotected from the other seeded teams (each seeded team is in a separate group, so Brazil was protected from Germany, Italy, France, Spain, England, Mexico and Argentina, the other seeds) we're in the group of death.

Damn you Steve Sampson. Damn you.

Bonnie Raitt Still Rocks

Just picked up her new CD, and found this interview in this week's Newsweek:

Sexy Woman With the Guitar
After four decades, singer Bonnie Raitt is still on the road—making music and speaking her mind.

How People Get Here

I installed a site meter a few months ago, and it's fascinating.

For example, would you have suspected that if you search 'President Dumbass' on google, I'm the #1 result? On yahoo, if you searched 'john murtha wackenhut', again, #1. On, someone searched '"death toll in gulf coast"', #1.

I get a lot of hits from people searching for info on David Ortiz, or people who must be wondering if he got named American League MVP (as he should have been). Sorry, hate to have to say this again, but the Baseball Writers gave it to the pretty loser, Alex Rodriguez (Slappy McBluelips).

I see Wackenhut a lot on my results. I ended up on the blogroll of the "Eye on Wackenhut" site, a watchdog organization maintained by SEIU, because I included them in one of my "The Incompetence, The Corruption, and the Cronyism" posts in October. Wackenhut is one of those shadowy outfits raking in the money hand over fist from Bushco for poorly performed "security" services. They're mucking up security at the Statue of Liberty, for example.

Finally, Jabar Gibson, the kid who commandeered the bus in Houston and drove 80 people to the Astrodome from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (recently busted for drugs) continues to generate a lot of traffic. That's in part because Steve Gilliard posted my post on his site, The News Blog, which generated and still generates a lot of traffic. He's one of those Top 250 bloggers, so there you go.

World Cup Draw

Today is the draw for the groups for the 2006 (men's) World Cup.

The U.S. is not seeded, which is a crime given that Mexico is seeded and we killed them at our last meeting. We hope to avoid Brazil (the favorite), Argentina (my pick to win it all), and Germany (the home team). Let's hope we don't end up in the Group of Death.

Good soccer day for me as my local Fox affiliate is replaying Liverpool-Wigan at noon. Stevie G.! Mr. Crouch!

Snow falling heavily, fine and thick. All local schools are closed. Putting a little Christmas music on the stereo (Mixed Nuts Soundtrack (my personal all-time favorite Christmas CD), Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Alligator Records Christmas Collection, The Platters A Christmas Album, and last but not least, The Brian Setzer Orchestra Boogie Woogie Christmas.)

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

John Lennon, Dead 25 Years

Hard to believe it has been 25 years since John Lennon was shot outside his apartment building, the Dakota, in New York City. I remember hearing on the radio that he had died. Only one of my three roommates was home that night. We put the White Album on the stereo, really loud, and played bongos and cymbals and sticks and sang along with it for hours. I can see V sitting on the back of a chair on one side of the room, eyes closed, banging away and singing at the top of her lungs. Large quantities of alcohol accompanied our wake. There was a strong sense that life would never be the same. (Of course, we had had very similar feelings the previous month when Ronald "Bonzo" Reagan was elected president. That night I spent in a pool hall with another roommate drinking boozy toasts to the end of the world.)


Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
No religion too,
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

They Shot Him Because He Ran

In terror-mad times, "flying while schizophrenic" is the new "driving while black". Yesterday, that was fatal.

White House backs air marshals' actions
Marshals', witnesses' accounts differ on jet bomb threat claim

The marshals say Alpizar announced he was carrying a bomb before being killed.

However, no other witness has publicly concurred with that account. Only one passenger recalled Alpizar saying, "I've got to get off, I've got to get off," CNN's Kathleen Koch reported.

They shot him because he ran. He ran because he was mentally ill, in a manic episode. Huge over-reaction by the federal air marshals. Tragic.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sad Update

Missed this while I was away for Thanksgiving. The hero kid who commandeered a bus and drove it to the Astrodome from New Orleans after Katrina, rescuing 80 people, was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin.

Katrina Hero Booked on Heroin Charge

Two things here. One, it just goes to show that an addict is not a uniformly bad person. I have a friend in jail on drug-related offenses. The year before he got busted, in the midst of his battle with his addictions, he saw an accident on the side of the highway. He pulled over his car & climbed into the car to pull the occupants to safety. The car burst into flames shortly thereafter. You just can't judge a person by only one bad act in their life.

Second, sounds like the kid just went home to the same place where he'd had a shaky beginning. It's hard to change your direction when you keep walking down the same road.

Elves Hard At Work Preparing for Fitzmas

CIA leak prosecutor again goes before grand jury

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Six weeks after White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted in the CIA leak case, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was back at work Wednesday before another grand jury in the drawn-out federal probe.

Fitzgerald, accompanied by several deputies seen carrying files as they walked into the grand jury area of the courthouse, made no comment to reporters about the nature of his visit.


He's Baaaaack

UPDATE #2: And isn't this interesting? No idea how much weight to put on this since the article notes that the WH and Commerce Department is confirming nothing at this point and it appears based on a single "source close to Ralston", but the timing of this article (if it is correct) is quite intriguing. Seems that the Philippine News online is reporting that Susan Ralston has left Rove's office due to *cough* too much pressure. Hmmmm....would that be from the Abramoff investigation or the Traitorgate one? (Hat tip to reader Carrie for the link.)

New Holiday, In Song

From Me3 in the comments on Firedoglake, a new carol:

Neonuts roasting on an open fire,
Cunningham taking off his clothes,
Scanlon singing like a reformed choir, Delay's polls fall about his toes...

And so I'm offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
A very Merry Fitzmas to you!!!

More Fitzmas carols, at Corrente Wire:

O Come All Ye Fitz-Full!

Merry Fitzmas!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Code Pink Punks Tom Delay

Short On Guests, DeLay Fundraiser Lets In Protestors

Cheney yesterday skipped the White House Christmas party to headline a fundraiser for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX). Top ticket prices were $4,200, where donors could attend a VIP reception,... []

While 250 people allegedly attended the event, evidently not everyone had to pay full ticket price. Protestor Diane Wilson of Code Pink said she paid only $50:

I guess they needed people inside. You can get in pretty cheap. I didn’t want to give too much.

You go, girl!

Rethugs Had a Boom-Boom Room?

Must.... reprint.... speculation from right-wing National Journal:

DC Sex Scandal About To Break?

Sometimes we read too many political clips and overlook some amazing things staring us in the face. Among those in Monday's edition, this little factoid, culled from Sunday's San Diego Union-Tribune blockbuster digging deeper into the Duke Cunningham's relationship with "co-conspirator No. 1," a.k.a. lobbyist Brent Wilkes.

According to the U-T, Wilkes also "ran a hospitality suite, with several bedrooms, in" DC -- "first in the Watergate Hotel and then" in a Capitol Hill hotel.

Come again? A "hospitality suite with several bedrooms"?

Talk about raising more questions, including:

-- Why does a lobbyist need a "hospitality suite with several bedrooms"?

-- Who uses those bedrooms and for what?

These lobbying scandals involving Cunningham and Wilkes and Abramoff are looking more and more like a bad movie script every day. Except with one difference from the movies: this stuff actually happened.

Season's greetings! (I'm trying to make the Bill O'Reilly enemies list with all these Christ-less Xmas endings. Will continue until January 1 or until I (or you, my loyal readers) get bored.)

Bushco Tortures In Our Name

From the, excerpts from the diary of Benyam Mohammed, who was arrested in Pakistan and flown in a US government plane a prison in Morocco:

'One of them made cuts in my penis. I was in agony'

They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut. Maybe an inch. At first I just screamed ... I was just shocked, I wasn't expecting ... Then they cut my left chest. This time I didn't want to scream because I knew it was coming.

One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. "I told you I was going to teach you who's the man," [one] eventually said.

They cut all over my private parts. One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists. I asked for a doctor.


I suffered the razor treatment about once a month for the remaining time I was in Morocco, even after I'd agreed to confess to whatever they wanted to hear. It became like a routine. They'd come in, tie me up, spend maybe an hour doing it. They never spoke to me. Then they'd tip some kind of liquid on me - the burning was like grasping a hot coal. The cutting, that was one kind of pain. The burning, that was another.

In all the 18 months I was there, I never went outside. I never saw the sun, not even once. I never saw any human being except the guards and my tormentors, unless you count the pictures they showed me.

Who is Benyam Mohammed? Again, The

Suspect's tale of travel and torture

Mohammed, 26, who grew up in Notting Hill in west London, is alleged to be a key figure in terrorist plots intended to cause far greater loss of life than the suicide bombers of 7/7. One allegation, which he denies, is of planning to detonate a "dirty bomb" in a US city; another is that he and an accomplice planned to collapse a number of apartment blocks by renting ground-floor flats to seal, fill with gas from cooking appliances, and blow up with timed detonators.


Mohammed was born in Ethiopia and came to the UK aged 15 when his father sought asylum. After obtaining five GCSEs and an engineering diploma at the City of Westminster College in Paddington, he decided to stay in Britain when his father returned, and was given indefinite leave to remain. In his late teens he rediscovered Islam, prayed regularly at al-Manaar mosque in Notting Hill, and was a volunteer at its cultural centre. "He is remembered here as a very nice, quiet person, who never caused any trouble," says Abdulkarim Khalil, its director.

He enjoyed football, and was thought good enough for a semi-professional career. "He was a quiet kid, he seemed deep thinking, although that might have been because his language skills weren't great," says Tyrone Forbes, his trainer.

In June 2001 Mohammed left his bedsit off Golborne Road, Notting Hill, and travelled to Afghanistan, via Pakistan. He maintains he wanted to see whether it was "a good Islamic country or not". It appears likely that he spent time in a paramilitary training camp.

He returned to Pakistan sometime after 9/11, and remained at liberty until April 2002 - during which time, US authorities believe, he became involved in the dirty bomb and gas blast plots. His alleged accomplice, a Chicago-born convert to Islam, Jose Padilla, is detained in the US. Mohammed says interrogators repeatedly demanded he give evidence against him.

You will recall despite the three years of claims about Padilla's involvement with a dirty bomb plot, that when the government finally indicted him a few days ago to avoid a Supreme Court decision about his indefinite detention, the dirty bomb plot was not charged. It was not even mentioned.

....Now that Padilla has actually been indicted, he is not accused of dirty bombs, apartment fires or any violent act whatsoever. Instead, he is accused of playing a decidedly marginal role in a group that allegedly sought to provide support for unidentified terrorist acts abroad. No one in the conspiracy is accused of engaging in any violence, and Padilla's role is so tangential that he is not even actually accused of providing material support to terrorists. Most of the case consists of fraud and perjury charges against the other defendants. The most interesting fact in the indictment is that one of Padilla's aliases was "Abu Abdullah the Puerto Rican."

So Mohammed has been tortured to reveal the existence of a plot that probably never existed. We have lowered ourselves to the level of the lowest, the vilest of the nation states of the world. We are in Saddam Hussein territory here, Duarte, Baby Doc, the torturers.

We have a special counsel looking into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, in part because the release of her identification put other covert agents and cooperating persons at risk of torture.

Isn't the torture scandal worthy of its own special counsel? I'm writing to my senators and my representative today.

Not in my name. No longer.

She Really Was Embedded

According to Editor and Publisher, summarizing a Vanity Fair article on New York Times reporter Judy (Judas) Miller due out next week, she

.... "had built a reputation for sleeping with her sources," had dated one of [NYTimes Publisher] Sulzberger's best friends, Steve Ratner, "and had even, for a time, shared a vacation home with Sulzberger," whatever that means.


Treason's Greetings, Judas! I'm sure you'll enjoy this little holiday gift of an article.

Move Over Calendar Girls

Church group launches nude calendar
A German church group has caused controversy by releasing a calendar using nude models to portray bible scenes.

This is a "not safe for work" link. Racy book, that Bible.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 05, 2005

This Is Why Rape Victims Don't Report Rape

Don’t Just Blame the Victim; Prosecute Her

A 17-year-old girl went to police at the urging of her friends after she was allegedly gang-raped by three men, including her boyfriend. The men testified that the act was consensual. After reviewing all the information and statements, prosecutors decided they didn’t think they could prove a rape allegation, and so declined to prosecute the case.

Instead, they prosecuted the victim for filing a false police report. Yesterday, she was found guilty.

The victim has never recanted her story. Instead, the decision was based on the judge’s opinion that the three men were more credible, in part because a police detective and the victim’s friends testified she did not “act traumatized” in the days after the incident.

We call this the "second rape": the humiliations visited upon rape victims by "the system" when they come forward. No wonder so few do.