Monday, October 29, 2007


UN nuclear agency chief says Iran should open itself up to inspectors, and criticized the aggressive rhetoric coming from the U.S. MSNBC (video) Iran is adapting to economic sanctions by taking business elsewhere in the world. Washington Post

Crude oil tops $90 a barrel.. up 16% in a month. Here are some reasons why: CBS (video)

Indian children, as young as 10, found to be making clothes for The Gap. Guardian

The Red Sox sweep the World Series. AP/Sports Illustrated

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Phony FEMA Presser

With wildfires raging in California, it was time for the folks at the Federal Emergency Management Agency to face the press in a televised news conference on Tuesday. There was press listening in on the phone, but there was none in the press room. The Washington Post’s Al Kamen reports that FEMA deputy administrator Vice Adm. Harvey Johnson went to the podium and answered questions from.. other FEMA staffers! That’s right, there weren’t any reporters in the room. The questions being lobbed at Johnson were from other FEMA staffers pretending to be reporters. In one instance, a public affairs officer even “interrupted” the press conference to announce there would only be “two more questions.”

How could they try to pull that stunt after their failure with Katrina? FEMA’s deputy director of public affairs Mike Widomski, who played one of the reporters, was quoted as saying, "If the worst thing that happens to me in this disaster is that we had staff in the chairs to ask questions that reporters had been asking all day…trust me, I'll be happy."

Others in the Administration aren’t happy about it. A spokesperson for the Secretary of Homeland Security, who oversees FEMA, called the press conference "inexcusable and offensive." And Vice Adm. Johnson later apologized for the “error of judgment.” It takes a lot of stupidity to not see the error beforehand, and then think no one would notice.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Little Timmy Wants To Drop The C-Bomb

The “C-word” is probably generally regarded as the nuclear bomb of cussing. So, what happens when your 8-year-old son wants know “the worst swearword in the world?” Jon Ronson tells the funny tale in The Guardian about his son Joel who wants to scale “the Everest peak of swearing."


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pumpkin + Missile = Awesome


"Large-scale Loo"

At $50,000 a night, let's hope it doesn't smell like a toilet too.


What Would Clinton Do?

What is the next president going to do with all of the executive power Bush and Cheney have accumulated? Hillary Clinton spoke about that in her interview with Guardian America. What she would do if elected president, Sen. Clinton said, “I think that I'm gonna have to review everything they've done because I've been on the receiving end of that. There were a lot of actions which they took that were clearly beyond any power the Congress would have granted or that in my view that was inherent in the constitution.”

That sounds great, but let’s see what the next president actually does with all the presidential power accumulated during the Bush presidency.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Presidential Power Grab

PBS’s Frontline just aired “Cheney’s Law” that examined the VP’s rise to power and his efforts through to enhance the power of the executive branch. Chapter 1 of the program shows the reasons why Cheney became a “fanatic about executive power.” When he became vice president, Cheney's philosophy of the executive branch, as boiled down by former presidential adviser David Gergen, was “the Congress, in effect, works for us, not with us. That we’re the lead branch, not a co-equal branch.” In Chapter 2, Cheney is reported as saying on the morning of 9/11, “We will probably have to be a country ruled by men, rather than laws in this period.” The other chapters show how Cheney and his office acted on their own through the Justice Department to build presidential power without regard for Congress and the American people.

In his Sunday Op-Ed piece, Frank Rich talks about “This perfect storm of democratic failure [which] began at the top,” that led to the Iraq war. But his piece focuses specifically on the public’s apathy regarding to Iraq: “As the war has dragged on, it is hard to give Americans en masse a pass. We are too slow to notice, let alone protest, the calamities that have followed the original sin.” A weak Congress, a media that gave a free pass in the run-up to the war, and a fearful public that isn’t informed or willing to participate: It’s not only a perfect storm that led to the Iraq war, but a perfect storm that led to a presidential power grab.

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A 430-Part System For The Internet

Having trouble understanding the Internet? Don’t understand blogging or electronic mail? Check out this well-produced video for “Gabe and Max’s How To Get The Dreamlife Of Your Dreams Using The Internet.” After using their easy 430-part system, you can use the Internet to get “flashy clothes, dental insurance, and everything.”


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

By Any Other Name

Last week, the New York Times reported that despite constant denials from the Bush Administration, torturing of detainees by U.S. interrogators was approved by the Justice Department. The article states the DOJ, “provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.”

That’s not “torture”? The Daily Show’s Senior Interrogation Analyst Jon Oliver helps us find lost meaning in “torture” and other words.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

An Anniversary And A Party

It’s been one year since the assassination of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. There was a ceremony for the slain journalist and critic of Vladimir Putin’s government where she was murdered in Moscow, but there were also celebrations in Russia on Sunday. Why? President Putin celebrating his birthday on Sunday, too.

In addition to reporting on the memorial, Reuters also covered one of the Putin parties thrown by Nashi which is described as “the largest pro-Kremlin youth organization.” Pro-Kremlin youth organization?? Hmm.. is that the equivalent of a young Republicans or young Democrats club?

A 19-year-old kickin’ it Kremlin-style, “who described herself as a commissar with Nashi and wore an orange neck scarf, reminiscent of the Soviet-era Pioneer movement.” Said this: “I don't know anything about Anna Politkovskaya. I'm not interested.”

That's cold.


Open Up And Say "Huh?"

The Times of London reports some British Muslim medical students “are refusing to attend lectures or answer exam questions on alcohol-related or sexually transmitted diseases because they claim it offends their religious beliefs.”

There are even reports that a small number of Muslim med students won’t examine members of the opposite sex. To be fair, the article doesn’t state how many prospective doctors have raised this issue (it can’t be many), and it doesn’t appear that medical authorities are going to allow them to be doctors. But here’s another little item further down in the article:

“..[UK grocer] Sainsbury’s is permitting Muslim checkout operators to refuse to handle customers’ alcohol purchases on religious grounds.”

Huh? As a society, we’re getting too sensitive about sensibilities. We’re too concerned someone might be offended. What’s next? Will a willing army enlistee refuse to use a gun? Will a stripper demand that she not perform lap dances? If you don’t want to do part of a job, for whatever the reason, don’t take that job.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

"Put Some Gel In It"

This clip could be as fake as his hair, but still funny..


Mr. and Mrs. Pong

Weren’t these two the 1983 Beer Pong Doubles Champs?


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Keeping An Eye On You

The Economist has a second article in its series on civil liberties. This one looks at how new technology is changing the way western democracies, particularly the U.S. and U.K., collect and use data from citizens. Surveillance may not seem so bad when you think about your safety. You’re not a criminal, right? But when you see every method or proposed idea of data collection and by both governments and corporations, it makes you think about how slippery this Orwellian slope is getting:

“..electronic surveillance has not yet had a big impact on most people's lives, other than (usually) making it easier to deal with officialdom. But with the collection and [centralization] of such vast amounts of data, the potential for abuse is huge and the safeguards paltry.”

The full article is here.

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Only Ugly People, Please

Check out Popeye – or Pop-Eye – and Prince Albert (with his Guinness World Record-holding 475 piercings) as they try out for the Ugly Modeling Agency.


Video of the Violence

Thanks to video cameras and the Internet, the world is able to see the brutality in Burma/Myanmar. CNN obtained video showing brutality that contradicts the government’s version of “utmost restraint” when confronting protesters.

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