Sunday, April 30, 2006

Speaking Truthiness to Power: Stephen Colbert Nails Bush at White House Correspondents' Dinner

Stephen Colbert rules.
His wicked, wicked, wickedly truthy appearance at the White House Correspondents Dinner had me screaming for mercy, and had his Washington audience gasping at this take-no-prisoners demonstration of the magnitude of Stephen's much-ballyhooed huevos. Not to be missed.

Video here via Crooks and Liars. Complete video at YouTube here. Article at E&P here.
[Update: Peter Daou here on MSM attempt to ignore Colbert into non-existence, creating their own unreality. NY Times coverage by Bumiller failed even to mention the name of Colbert, featured speaker of the night. How's that for the erstwhile paper of record?]

Saturday, April 29, 2006

And Now for Something Completely Different

"Try to understand how we perceive good and bad things in life according to our own delusions, our confused thoughts and conflicting emotions. We must try to understand that samsara is by nature impermanent, that things change constantly, that there are no solid entities to cling to. If we begin to look at the world in this way, then we can begin to generate inconceivable compassion toward all beings, with the thought of freeing them from suffering and confusion and fostering their happiness and peace of mind." --Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Torture torture torture, war war, lies, incompetence, ill will, all causing suffering, I'm just not up to writing about it or even linking to it at the moment. I've been feeling revulsion. Since "revulsion is the foot of meditation" (as is said), I thought to exclude what is downright repulsive and concentrate on other things.

To wit, Matthieu Ricard's "Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill," from Wisdom Books at Amazon. Matthieu holds a doctorate in cellular genetics, and has been a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition for thirty-some years. He is a major participant in the research collaboration between cognitive scientists and Buddhist practitioners, spearheaded by the Dalai Lama and the Mind and Life Institute. He received the French National Order of Merit for his humanitarian work in the East.

Another work deserving, well, attention, is Alan Wallace's "The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the Focused Mind." Wallace has many practice in attention-enhancing meditation and has been an active participant in the much-publicized dialogues between contemporary Buddhist practitioners and neuroscientists.

As I write this, I can hear in the background our cocker spaniel puppy howling at the top of her lungs. An aria from Lohengrin is playing, a soprano aria -- and Chloe apparently thinks this sound means that something/someone is being horribly tortured.

Which makes our sweet little black and white doggie rank way higher up on the humane chain than the empathetically-challenged Rummy and Cheney and Preznit Toad Exploder. So it goes.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Neil Young: Living With War

Now playing online here.

It's time our artists got on board, and with this album, Neil Young is on board. Big-time. So go f*ck yourself, Deadeye Dick Cheney; down with you, down with Bubble Boy, down with Rummy the Torture Queen, all the rest who are responsible for morally and fiscally bankrupting this country. Down, down, down.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Crappy "Christian" Chooses Wrong Over Right

So-called "Christians" Sue for Right Not to Tolerate Tolerance
ATLANTA — Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant. Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.

Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she's demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.

With her lawsuit, the 22-year-old student joins a growing campaign to force public schools, state colleges and private workplaces to eliminate policies protecting gays and lesbians from harassment. The religious right aims to overturn a broad range of common tolerance programs: diversity training that promotes acceptance of gays and lesbians, speech codes that ban harsh words against homosexuality, anti-discrimination policies that require college clubs to open their membership to all.

The Rev. Rick Scarborough, a leading evangelical, frames the movement as the civil rights struggle of the 21st century. "Christians," he said, "are going to have to take a stand for the right to be Christian."

[Hey, Ruthie, hey Ricky, get this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Ring a bell, Ruthie? If not, why not?]

In that spirit, the Christian Legal Society, an association of judges and lawyers, has formed a national group to challenge tolerance policies in federal court. Several nonprofit law firms — backed by major ministries such as Focus on the Family and Campus Crusade for Christ — already take on such cases for free. . .

Christian activist Gregory S. Baylor responds to such criticism angrily. He says he supports policies that protect people from discrimination based on race and gender. But he draws a distinction that infuriates gay rights activists when he argues that sexual orientation is different — a lifestyle choice, not an inborn trait.

By equating homosexuality with race, Baylor said, tolerance policies put conservative evangelicals in the same category as racists. He predicts the government will one day revoke the tax-exempt status of churches that preach homosexuality is sinful or that refuse to hire gays and lesbians.

"Think how marginalized racists are," said Baylor, who directs the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom. "If we don't address this now, it will only get worse."

I personally worry so very much about marginalized racists. And marginalized homophobes.

I'm worried they aren't marginalized nearly enough.

More here.

American Hero Chooses Right Over Wrong

To left, American hero and CIA analyst Mary McCarthy, fired by the Bush government for helping to reveal their heinous inhumane practices -- to wit, the CIA secret prisons where torture's just another word for nothin' [moral] left to lose.

Nice that someone in the American government can tell right from wrong these days, is it not?

Glenn Greenwald's take here.
Larry Johnson's take at truthout here.

Cheney Naps, Bush Fiddles, Rome Burns

My favorite part of this is that Cheney's office is giving out that he WASN'T napping, but was "reviewing notes". With his piggie little evil eyes wide shut. Oh dearie me.

Friday, April 21, 2006

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fitzmas

Deck the halls with boughs of -- indictments? Fa la la la la. La la, la, la.

More here.

This, from Faux News, is quite a nifty barrel of Fitzmas cheer, too:

President Bush’s job approval rating slipped this week and stands at a new low of 33 percent approve,

down from 36 percent two weeks ago and 39 percent in mid-March.

A year ago this time, 47 percent approved and two years ago 50 percent approved (April 2004).
Time wounds all heels? (ho ho ho)

No Blood for Hubris mini-mental health interlude:

"President Bush met with the president of China at the White House. The arrival ceremony was interrupted by a protester who started yelling, 'Stop the persecution, stop the torture!'

President Bush had to ask, 'Hey, lady. Which one of us are you talking to?'"

--Jay Leno

"President Bush creating thousands of new jobs. The bad news, they're all in the White House.

As you know, staff members have been leaving the White House in droves. Today, press secretary Scott McClellan stepped down. He said he wanted to spend more time lying to his family."

--Jay Leno

Nepali Maoists Are Useless and Bloodthirsty, and Therefore Can Go Jump in the Bagmati

I love Counterpunch, usually, but this is a really stupid article about Nepal. Just because I think the current King is a heinous murderer (which I do, along with his evil son Paras) doesn't mean I think he should be replaced by another group of heinous murderers. Just wanted to get that straight, eh?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

No US Support for Democracy in Nepal: We'd Rather Just Start Random Wars Elsewhere

Random so-called pro-democracy wars, that is. The Bushist fascists don't seem to be down with democracy right here in the US of A, now, do they?

SHOOT TO KILL ORDERS IN KATHMANDU: Human Rights Monitors Forbidden to Observe: Bush Dithers/Does Nothing to Support Nepali Democracy

KATHMANDU, 20 April (IRIN) -
At least three protestors were killed and at least 50 injured at the hands of the security forces on Thursday afternoon during demonstrations in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, according to the Himalayan Human Rights (HimRights), a local rights group.

In total, 14 demonstrators have been killed and over 3,500 injured since the nationwide strike and pro-democracy rallies against Nepal's absolute ruler King Gyanendra began 15 days ago, another local rights group, Insec, said.

The protests, led by the seven main opposition parties, have gathered pace since 5 April, with almost 2.5 million Nepalis coming out to demonstrate. . .

To foil the largest rally to date planned in the capital, the royal government imposed an 18-hour curfew. But, defying government orders, nearly 100,000 demonstrators took to the streets with anti-king banners.

Even the United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OCHCR) in Nepal was denied curfew passes - thus preventing monitors from observing what was happening.

"The authorities told us that we can have limited movement between our residences and office, and insisted that this can only take place under police arrest," said Kieran Dwyer, spokesperson for OCHCR-Nepal, adding that their office was not allowed to deploy its human rights monitors in the capital during the curfew.

So far, only five local human rights activists were able to reach the main demonstration sites in the capital by taking huge risks as none of them were issued with curfew passes.

"The security forces threatened to shoot us if we didn't leave at once," said activist Sukaram Maharjan from HimRights, shocked by the direct threat from a group of armed police.

Meanwhile, no journalists were given curfew passes, but many continued to go out at great personal risk after the authorities were ordered to shoot on sight anyone who defied the government's curfew orders.

As an added consequence of the curfew, even those needing emergency medical assistance were not allowed to leave their homes. "The policeman told me to wait for another day to take my daughter to hospital," said a local resident, whose 7-year-old daughter was seriously ill. Desperate to take his daughter to hospital, he had called the government's emergency line to plead for help, but his call was in vain.

Ah, well. Bush in Washington, Gyandendra in Nepal-- power is all, is it not? Sometimes seven year olds must be sacrificed, must they not? Rummy and Cheney agree, do they not?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Regional Diplomats Predict Democracy Protests Will Topple Crappy Nepali King

From the Calcutta Telegraph:

Anti-monarchy protesters kept up the pressure in the Nepali capital today despite bad weather as diplomats said the movement against King Gyanendra appeared to be reaching a climax. . . .

At least [seven] people have been killed and hundreds wounded in police action against protesters during the campaign, which has brought the impoverished nation to a standstill. Food and fuel in the capital is running short and anger against Gyanendra is mounting.

Diplomats said time appeared to be running out for the monarch. "We could see him toppled if he doesn’t do something in the next few weeks or days,” said one. “I am very afraid we are moving into a revolutionary situation."

One flashpoint could come on Thursday when the parties have called for mass rallies, and have vowed to bring out hundreds of thousands of people on the street. The king held talks with the US, Chinese and Indian ambassadors on Sunday, and indicated he could meet some of the protesters' demands. Diplomats said they knew of no specifics.

"He has to hand over power to the political parties," the diplomat said. "And if he does not, it’s not looking good."

Although the powerful army remains loyal to the king, protests are spreading from the street to the civil service. Home ministry officials held a demonstration at their offices today and about a dozen were arrested, witnesses said.

The president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Haruhiko Kuroda, urged the international community to remain engaged with Nepal and said it would be premature for donors to consider any suspension of aid to the impoverished kingdom.

"I don’t think we can decide lightly on this very serious issue," Kuroda said in Manila, while acknowledging that the instability had made the ADB’s work in Nepal more difficult. "We have to be very careful because people are suffering."

More here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Push Continues for Democracy in Nepal; Troops Open Fire, One Killed; Food in Short Supply in Remote Himalayan Capital


"The political situation is getting worse, just inhumane violence. I was in the midst of one the worse clashes. It was very painful to be there. I am ok but tired and with burning eyes. I had been inhaling
tire fire and brick dust for almost 10 days. I have been in the clash sites almost right after I returned from NY. I was supposed to attend a meeting in Malaysia but I cannot leave the country in this state. I have not been able to do any other work than be in the clash sites to lessen the violence.

At this point I am raising money too for health care of those who had been injured. We gave 3 days of our salary from our organizations both Beyond Beijing Committee and HImRights along with matching fund. Once we sent it in the media others are doing the same. But there are just too many injured, disappeared, and arrested."

From the Times of India:

KATHMANDU: Fears that a desperate monarch unable to contain the democratic upsurge may reimpose emergency loomed over Nepal on Monday even as Gyanendra called in ex-prime ministers for a palace meeting to create a veneer of negotiations with political leaders. Most of these leaders had helped the monarch’s father, Mahendra, and brother, Birendra, run their autocratic rule from 1961 to 1990.

Outside the sequestered royal grounds, war raged on the streets. Soldiers fired on protesters at Nijgarh in the Nepalese lowlands, killing one and wounding four others. Police fired bullets, teargas shells and baton-charged demonstrators at least at six places in the Kathmandu valley. . . .Alarmed by growing shortages, the government moved to offer armed escorts to truckers willing to bring goods in to Kathmandu and announced a 3,500-rupee incentive to truckers breaking the virtual blockade.
Full story here. More via Reuters, here.
Via NY Times here.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Heckuva Job" Rummy: Bad at Defense, Good At Torture

Like most classic conservatives, I've always been a great fan of personal responsibility. I wonder, once this total shitstorm breaks over him, will Rummy feel that way, too?

Lt. General Randall Schmidt Implicates Defense Secretary Himself

From Human Rights Watch, here:
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld could be criminally liable for the torture of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay in late 2002 and early 2003, Human Rights Watch said today. . . A December 20, 2005 Army Inspector General’s report, obtained by this week, contains a sworn statement by Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt that implicates Secretary Rumsfeld in the abuse of detainee Mohammad al-Qahtani. Based on an investigation that he carried out in early 2005, which included two interviews with Rumsfeld, Gen. Schmidt describes the defense secretary as being "personally involved" in al-Qahtani’s interrogation.

Human Rights Watch urges the United States to name a special prosecutor to investigate the culpability of Rumsfeld and others in the al-Qahtani case.

"The question at this point is not whether Secretary Rumsfeld should resign, it’s whether he should be indicted,"said Joanne Mariner, Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program director at Human Rights Watch. . .
Human Rights Watch has obtained an unredacted copy of al-Qahtani’s interrogation log, and believes that the techniques used during al-Qahtani’s interrogation were so abusive that they amounted to torture. . . ."A six-week regime of sleep deprivation, forced exercises, stress positions, white noise, and sexual humiliation amounts to acts that were specifically intended to cause severe physical pain and suffering and severe mental pain and suffering," said Mariner. "That’s the legal definition of torture."

In 2005, the Judge Advocates General of the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps told the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services that the techniques used on al-Qahtani violated the U.S. Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation, and would have been illegal if perpetrated by another country on captured U.S. personnel. The U.S. State Department also regularly condemns as torture the same techniques in its annual Country Report on Human Rights, citing their use in countries such as North Korea and Iran. . . .

Rumsfeld could be liable under the doctrine of "command responsibility" – the legal principle that holds a superior responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates when he knew or should have known that they were being committed, but fails to take reasonable measures to stop them.
I think Rummy should be "personally involved" by himself receiving the treatment he ordered to be meted out to others. Sure, it's a little eye-for-eye, but Rummy's an eye-for-eye kinda guy, ain't he?

More at Salon, here.

Crappy King Cracks Down On Nepali People

Charming Gyanendra was long known as the "Black Prince." Once a timely royal massacre eliminated all the relatives standing between him and the throne of Nepal, the world's only Hindu kingdom, Gyanendra turned Nepal's democratic constitutional monarchy into a backward autocracy, starring himself as autocrat-in-chief.

He tossed out democratically-elected Prime Ministers as if they were rubbish, and seized total power. He still has it. So far.

But the people of Nepal are fighting back. Lawyers have protested for the restoration of democracy, and have been beaten and jailed for their trouble.

Journalists have protested, and have been beaten and jailed for their trouble.

Full story here, via CBS, with troubling video footage available on the right side of the screen (a commercial precedes it). Worth a look.

Via United We Blog! for a Democratic Nepal, more on arrests and beatings of professionals and demonstrators, as well as deportation of sympathetic foreigners like Dr. Brian Cobb, who treated wounded demonstrators and Nepali police alike.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Torture Pix by US Surface in Afghan Bazaar; Evidence Too Gruesome to Show

This week, an NBC News producer, using a hidden camera, visited [a] bazaar [outside the US base at Bagram, Afghanistan] and bought a half dozen of the memory drives the size of a thumb known as flash drives. On them, NBC News found highly sensitive military information, some which NBC will not reveal.

"This isn't just a loss of sensitive information," says Lt. Col. Rick Francona (ret.), an NBC News military analyst. "This is putting U.S. troops at risk. This is a violation of operational security."

Some of the data would be valuable to the enemy, including:
Names and personal information for dozens of DOD interrogators;
Documents on an "interrogation support cell" and interrogation methods;
IDs and photos of U.S. troops.

With information like this, "You could cripple our U.S. intelligence collection capability in Afghanistan," says Francona.

Among the photos of Americans are pictures of individuals who appear to have been tortured and killed, most too graphic to show.

NBC News does not know who caused their injuries. The Pentagon would not comment on the photos.
When will it end?

Full NBC story here.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Chickens Come Home to Roost for Chickenhawks Rummy, Cheney

So Big Dick Cheney, in a bulletproof vest, gets roundly booed by the people in Washington, DC, in an incident so humiliating the Bush-administration teat-sucking New York Times declined to mention it at all in its story. Then there's that ongoing Fitzgerald kerfuffle that's raising Big Dick's blood pressure.

Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, former Director of Operations at the Pentagon's military joint staff broke his silence in this Time story, "Why Iraq Was a Mistake."

Today, there's another career military man speaking his mind about Bloody Rummy.

Oh, say can you say--"full-scale frontal assault"?

Ex-Iraq Commander Calls for Resignation

The retired commander of key forces in Iraq called yesterday for Donald H. Rumsfeld to step down, joining several other former top military commanders who have harshly criticized the defense secretary's authoritarian style for making the military's job more difficult.

"I think we need a fresh start" at the top of the Pentagon, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-2005, said in an interview. "We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork."

Batiste noted that many of his peers feel the same way. "It speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense," he said earlier yesterday on CNN.

Batiste's comments resonate especially within the Army: It is widely known there that he was offered a promotion to three-star rank to return to Iraq and be the No. 2 U.S. military officer there but he declined because he no longer wished to serve under Rumsfeld. Also, before going to Iraq, he worked at the highest level of the Pentagon, serving as the senior military assistant to Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense.

Batiste said he believes that the administration's handling of the Iraq war has violated fundamental military principles, such as unity of command and unity of effort. In other interviews, Batiste has said he thinks the violation of another military principle -- ensuring there are enough forces -- helped create the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal by putting too much responsibility on incompetent officers and undertrained troops.

His comments follow similar recent high-profile attacks on Rumsfeld by three other retired flag officers, amid indications that many of their peers feel the same way.

"We won't get fooled again," retired Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, who held the key post of director of operations on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2000 to 2002, wrote in an essay in Time magazine this week. Listing a series of mistakes such as "McNamara-like micromanagement," a reference to the Vietnam War-era secretary of defense, Newbold called for "replacing Rumsfeld and many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach."
"Fool me once--I won't get fooled again?"
Full WaPo story here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Bubble Boy Chuckles? You Bet! Traitorgate's Apparently Just as Funny as Not Finding Those Pesky WMDs

Via Rawstory:

Bush spoke today at the The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, at The Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C.

STUDENT: First let me say thank you very much for being here. And thank you for taking questions. I know we appreciate that. My name is Ben Deering. I'm a second-year Masters student studying international energy policy.

PRESIDENT BUSH: International -- ?

STUDENT: Energy policy.


STUDENT: Sorry. (Laughter.) My question, sir, is -- well, as Anthony alluded to earlier, and as you're aware, we have many students at SAIS who are currently working for or considering working for the State Department, the various intelligence agencies, and such.

And, how do you respond to the recent report by Prosecutor Fitzgerald that there is, in his words, "evidence of a concerted effort by the White House to punish Joseph Wilson," who himself has a distinguished record of government service?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah. No. I -- this is -- there's an ongoing legal proceeding which precludes me from talking a lot about the case. There's also an ongoing investigation that's a serious investigation. I will say this, that after we liberated Iraq, there was questions in people's minds about, you know -- about the basis on which I made the statements, in other words, going into Iraq. And so I decided to declassify the NIE for a reason. I wanted to see people -- people to see what some of those statements were based on. That's what I wanted to see. I wanted people to see the truth. And I thought it made sense for people to see the truth, and that's why I declassified the document.

...And I felt I could do so without jeopardizing, you know, ongoing intelligence matters, and so I did. And as far as the rest of the case goes, you're just going to have let Mr. Fitzgerald complete his case, and I hope you understand that. It's a serious legal matter that we've got to be careful in making public statements about it. (Chuckles.)
Chuckles? Chuckles? Chuckles?? Bet Bubble Boy's Daddy don't think this stuff is funny anymore.

Bubble Boy may find it less funny as time goes by.

From Jason Leopold at Truthout:

In early June 2003, Vice President Dick Cheney met with President Bush and told him that CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson was the wife of Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson and that she was responsible for sending him on a fact-finding mission to Niger [which is untrue] to check out reports about Iraq's attempt to purchase uranium from the African country, according to current and former White House officials and attorneys close to the investigation to determine who revealed Plame-Wilson's undercover status to the media. . .

The revelation puts a new wrinkle into Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's two-year-old criminal probe into the leak and suggests for the first time that President Bush knew from early on that the vice president and senior officials on his staff were involved in a coordinated effort to attack Wilson's credibility by leaking his wife's classified CIA status.

Now that President Bush's knowledge of the Plame Wilson affair has been exposed, there are thorny questions about whether the president has broken the law - specifically, whether he obstructed justice when he was interviewed about his knowledge of the Plame Wilson leak and the campaign to discredit her husband.

Care to place bets, anyone?

But, wait, there's more!!

According to four attorneys who last week read a transcript of President Bush's interview with investigators, Bush did not disclose to the special counsel that he was aware of any campaign to discredit Wilson. Bush also said he did not know who, if anyone, in the White House had retaliated against the former ambassador by leaking his wife's undercover identity to reporters.

Lucky that Bubble Boy thought to get himself all lawyered up way back when, eh?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Nepal, Zone of Peace, Take 3

A Nepali journalist protects an injured Nepali policeman from an angry crowd during continuing pro-democracy protests.

From United We Blog! For a Democratic Nepal:
In the evening, the news of half an hour blackout and torch rally was circulated. The local guys chanted slogans for a while. A while ago, police entered our area and fired rubber bullets, but no one was injured. At Ghattekulo, Mr. Jiwan Bhattarai, a shopkeeper, was injured in the morning. Few protesters were arrested. An army man's (who denied shelter to the protestors) house was damaged.

Today evening at 8 p.m., I saw the biggest torch rally in long time. So many people were gathered at Ghattekulo chowk. Blackout was observed successfully. In the dead night, the crescent moon gave ample light to the impromptu protest program. Protesters with torches in their hands rallied towards Dillibazar. One could hardly identify another, but they all were gathered for [one] cause, i.e., restoration of democracy.

Jai Nepal!

Master Thangka Painter Glen Eddy Dies

Glen Eddy, reknowned Thangka painter, passed away on April 5, 2006 in Cordoba, Argentina.

Mr. Eddy was among the first Westerners fully trained in traditional Tibetan thangka painting using handmade mineral paints and other methods. For over thirty years, his deity drawings have been widely published. In recent years, he experimented with watercolor and mixed media producing exquisite non-traditional works of Tibetan deities from the lineage of Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, including Tara, Gomadevi, and Mandarava. At the time of his death, he was working on a manual on Tibetan art, "The Treasury of Luminous Manifestations."

Poetrymind has more here.

Photo: Ellen Pearlman

Nepal, Zone of Peace, 2


KATHMANDU, April 9 (Reuters) - Thousands of angry Nepalis tried to storm a state hospital on Sunday, burned government vehicles and clashed with riot police despite a curfew aimed at stopping pro-democracy rallies.

A woman, wounded in police firing in a town south of the capital Kathmandu, died on Sunday, a doctor said.

Three people, including the woman, were wounded at Narayanghat, about 150 km (95 miles) from Kathmandu, when troops fired at protesters demanding King Gyanendra end his absolute rule.

"She died this morning," Bhojraj Adhikary, a doctor at a local hospital, told Reuters by phone.

It was the second death in shooting by government forces on protesters during a four-day anti-monarchy strike across the poor Himalayan kingdom that started on Thursday.

Tension was rising in Narayanghat, witnesses said, adding that a curfew had not stopped people from coming out on the streets.

In the western tourist resort town of Pokhara, thousands of people tried to storm a state hospital where the body of a man shot dead by troops on Saturday was taken, witnesses said.

The crowd burned some security posts in the area and clashed with riot police who tried to stop them for violating a curfew.

"Thousands of people are out on the streets. There is high tension here," said Keshav Lamichhane, a local journalist.
The late King Birendra first declared Nepal to be a "Zone of Peace." In 1991, Birendra responded to a people's revolution marked by massive peaceful protests, and established a constitutional monarchy and democracy in Nepal. In fact, Nepal became the first country democratically to elect a Marxist-Leninist government; in a subsequent election, it was the first Marxist-Leninist government democratically to be thrown out.

The current king, Gyanendra, came to the throne through a violent series of carefully orchestrated events. Last year, he seized power and overthrew democracy. With luck, Gyanendra will be overthrown and democracy re-established.

More here.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Official No Blood for Hubris Mental Health Interlude

Yuh, okay, so I used to number these, but I'm too lazy to go back and count. Maybe it's interlude number six. Who cares? I need a break. How about you?

His closest advisors came to visit Dubya at the White House one evening and found him slamming down beers and whooping it up. They were astonished, since he had given up drinking years ago. When asked why he was off the wagon, Dubya replied that he was celebrating finishing a jigsaw puzzle. They smiled and told him that wasn't much of an accomplishment. "Ah, but you're wrong. I did it in record time!" When asked what that record was, he replied that he had finished it after only 6 months. Again, they told him that wasn't that great. "Oh yeah?" said the commander in chief, "Well, the box says 3-5 YEARS!"

George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush were dragging the deer they had just shot back to their truck. Another hunter approached, pulling his along, too.

"Sirs, I don't want to tell you how to do something," he said, " But I can tell you that it's much easier if you drag the deer the other way. Then the antlers won't dig into the ground."

After the third hunter left, they decided to try it. A little while later George said to George, "You know, that guy was right. This is a lot easier!"

"Yeah," says George, "but we're getting farther from the truck."

Cheney gets a call from his "boss", Dubya.

"I've got a problem," says Dubya.

"What's the matter?" asks Cheney.

"Well, you told me to keep busy in the Oval Office, so, I got a jigsaw puzzle, but it's too hard. None of the pieces fit together and I can't find any edges."

"What's it a picture of?" asks Cheney.

"A big rooster," replies Dubya.

"All right," sighs Cheney, "I'll come over and have a look."

So he leaves his office and heads over to the Oval Office. Dubya points at the jigsaw on his desk.

Cheney looks at the desk and then turns to Dubya and says, "For crying out loud, Georgie - - put the corn flakes back in the box!"

Extremists overthrow the US government, and they start rounding up important American politicians to execute. A firing squad is convened and Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush are all marched to a wall to be shot. As the extremists are loading their guns, Al Gore thinks, "Hmm. I've got to cause a diversion so I can get away." He yells "Oh, no. A TORNADO!!" and points behind the firing squad. As the extremists turn around to see if there is a tornado approaching, Al Gore jumps over the wall behind him and runs away.

The firing squad turns their attention back to the two men who are left. C linton quickly observes how well Gore's ruse has worked and yells "EARTHQUAKE!!" As the firing squad frantically looks for a place to take cover, Clinton jumps over the wall and he, too, escapes.

The firing squad resumes their stance and proceeds to take aim at George W. Bush. Dubya, believing that he, too, can create a diversion, frantically searches his mind for another natural disaster to use. Smiling to himself, he yells "FIRE!!"

Nepal, Zone of Peace

From the Guardian:

Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested in Nepal today after students fought pitched street battles with police, hurling stones and setting the central post office on fire. Home minister, Kamal Thapa, said that 751 people had been arrested and 115 were taken to prison under a tough public safety law that allows authorities to jail people without charge for 90 days.

"The government is using minimum force to control the situation. The government has made adequate arrangements to ensure the security of the people. There is no need for people to be scared and we are doing what we can to foil the protest," he told the AP news agency.

The protests happened on the second day of a strike called by an alliance of seven political parties to protest against King Gyanendra, who seized power a year ago.

Police fought the protestors with tear gas and batons. Students at Kathmandu's Tribhuwan University ransacked the dean's office and briefly took several officers hostage. . . Days before the strike, the government banned all forms of public protest in Kathmandu.
The photo above is of current King Gyanendra, who seized absolute power in Nepal last year. Gyanendra, once known as "The Black Prince," came to the throne under unusual circumstances, due to the timely massacre of virtually the entire Nepalese Royal family save several relatives of the current king.

Jai Nepal!

photo: Gopal Chitrakar/Reuters

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Child Abuse Prevention Month -- And Miss America By Day

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In acknowledgment thereof, we might talk about the Republican Homeland Security pedophile guy, Brian Doyle, who went sex-trolling for adolescent girl children via the internet.

We might talk about all the bruised, beaten, starved and neglected unwanted children, but we've already talked a lot about them (scroll on down).

Or we might talk about Miss America of 1958.

That would be Marilyn Van Derbur, who was the victim of child abuse. The Miss America who was incested by her own pedophile father, and who, at 69, still suffers the consequences.

Americans don't like to talk about child physical abuse, much less child sexual abuse, much less incest. We prefer to be oblivious, like the South Dakotans who support a rapist's right to breed -- even an incestuous rapist's right to breed.

That's why, as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month, I think it's good to bring Miss America's story to the fore.
Her father was a rich and powerful man. His name was Francis S. Van Derbur, but his friends -- and he had many -- just called him "Van." He owned mortuaries and made himself a millionaire.

He was a socialite, a philanthropist, a renaissance man who recited poetry from memory -- and a rapist of children who violated his own daughter hundreds of times.

"Terror was my nightly blanket," Van Derbur writes in her award-winning autobiography, Miss America By Day. . .

When Van Derbur talks about child molestation, her demeanor is fierce, and her turquoise eyes burn with a natural-born warrior's zeal for battle. She rattles off shocking statistics like this: "One in six boys and one in four girls are sexually violated before the age of eighteen in this country; fourteen-year-olds comprise the greatest number of sex offenders of any age group. If those statistics don't frighten you, you are in total denial."

Or sums up the feelings of victims of child molestation like this: "We stay shamed by acting ashamed, when we have nothing to be ashamed of. Together we must say to every violator, 'The child may be mute today, but someday the child will speak her name and your name. The children will speak every single name!'"
More on Ms. Van Derbur here. More on Child Abuse Prevention Month at the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fly the Tortured Skies of [the] United --- [States of America]


Amnesty International today released a new report which exposes a covert operation whereby people have been arrested or abducted, transferred and held in secret or handed over to countries where they have faced torture and other ill-treatment. The report describes how the CIA has used private aircraft operators and front companies to preserve the secrecy of "rendition" flights. . .the CIA has exploited aviation practices that would otherwise require their flights to be declared to aviation authorities. The report lists dozens of destinations around the world where planes associated with "rendition" flights have landed and taken off -- and lists private airlines with permission to land at US military bases worldwide.

Amnesty International has records of nearly 1,000 flights directly linked to the CIA, most of which have used European airspace; these are flights by planes that appear to have been permanently operated by the CIA through front companies. In a second category, there are records of some 600 other flights made by planes confirmed as having been used at least temporarily by the CIA. . .

"The US Administration has tried to circumvent the ban on torture and other ill-treatment in many ways. The latest evidence shows how the Administration is manipulating commercial arrangements in order to be able to transfer people in violation of international law. It demonstrates the length to which the US government will go to conceal these abductions," said Amnesty International Secretary General, Irene Khan.

The report uncovers part of the mystery surrounding the practice of renditions. Secrecy surrounding rendition operations means it is impossible to know how many people have been arrested or abducted, transferred across borders, held in secret detention or tortured in the 'war on terror'. Information from governments themselves indicates that numbers are likely to be in the hundreds. . .

"Most victims of rendition were arrested and detained illegally in the first place. Many were abducted, denied access to any legal process and have subsequently "disappeared". All of those interviewed by Amnesty International described being tortured or otherwise ill-treated."

"The callous and calculated multiplicity of abuses is shocking. People captured have been subjected to a range of abuses of human rights by a number of governments acting in collusion, and all of this has been shrouded by secrecy and deceit," said Ms Khan.

"The report shows not just how arrest and extradition procedures have been ignored, the ban on torture and other ill-treatment has been disregarded, but also how aviation practices have been undermined: in essence the rule of law has been put aside."

Amnesty International cautioned that states that tolerate these flights landing on their territory and companies that carry them out, may find themselves complicit in serious human rights abuses. . . The Egyptian prime minister noted in 2005 that the US has transferred some 60-70 detainees to Egypt alone, and a former CIA agent with experience in the region believes that "hundreds" of detainees may have been sent by the US to prisons in Middle Eastern countries. The USA has acknowledged the capture of about 30 "high value" detainees whose whereabouts remain unknown, and the CIA is reportedly investigating some three dozen additional cases of "erroneous rendition", in which people were detained based on flawed evidence or confusion over names.
Lawless George, at it again. Spreadin' democracy, spreadin' torture, it's hard work. More here.