Friday, December 03, 2004

This Just In: 'Gay' is a Bad Word, Lose Recess for Using It

Right. So a kid was reprimanded by his teacher for using the word 'gay' to describe his lesbian parents. She made him go to the principal's office during recess and attend behavioral modification class the next week, wherein he was required to repeatedly write "I will never use the word ‘gay’ in school again." His mother threatened to sue the school board for discrimination and is represented by the ACLU. Before she could actually file the paperwork, the frickin teacher sue the mother, accuses her of defamation and demanded $50,000 for damages.

Full deets at
Story found via Atrios

Thursday, December 02, 2004

May Day: Anti Nuke Day

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom is a key civil society participant in the Nuclear NonProliferaton Treaty meetings and is also involved in organizing demonstrations to highlight public support for ridding the world of nukes. For more information on WILPF's work, please see Reaching Critical Will: Reaching for a Critical Mass of Political Will for Nuclear Disarmament.

United for Peace and Justice (a coalition that includes WILPF) applied for a permit to rally on the Great Lawn in Central Park - the same location they were denied access to during the RNC. There's precedent for using the space as a public common: in 1982, 750,000 people gathered at an anti-nuke demo there. More deets in this AP article posted by Newsday.

This Just In: Blood Diamonds Only Bad if Linked with al Qaeda

Spurred by concerns over al Qaeda's suspected involvement in the underground West African diamond trade, Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., has demanded that the FBI open an office in the region and given it money it did not request to do so. Wolf, chairman of the Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary Appropriations Subcommittee, inserted $2 million in the 2005 omnibus appropriations for the FBI to establish an office in an as-yet-to-be-determined West African country to track so-called blood diamonds, local gems traded by criminals and rebels for arms, CQ's Homeland Security Daily reports. At Wolf's urging, FBI agents have traveled to the region twice in the past two years to investigate reports that al Qaeda operatives were involved in buying and trading "blood diamonds" from rebel groups operating in the area from the late 1990s through 2001. The FBI said its investigations had failed to corroborate those reports.
from CQ Midday Update

I'm really unclear why blood diamonds are only horrible when associated with al Qaeda. Frankly, the use of diamonds to fund African civil wars is the primary reason I have no interest in owning one.

Write Rap Lyrics, Ease Frustration Over Republican Hypocrisy
Rep. Major Owens, D-N.Y., pens poetry and rap lyrics to mock the conservative initiatives of the Republican majority, saying this gives him "an outlet for political frustrations."
from CQ Midday Update

Your Tax Dollars Fund Perpetuation of Misogyny
Some course materials cited in Waxman's report present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for "admiration" and "sexual fulfillment" compared with a woman's need for "financial support." One book in the "Choosing Best" series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. "Moral of the story," notes the popular text: "Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."
That is part of the course material in abstinence only programs funded and strongly supported by the Shrub administration. I am disgusted beyond words.

Even more lies passed off as scientific fact can be found in the WaPo article on Waxman's report.

Peace on Earth

Remember when you learned how to make an origami crane in Girl Scouts and they told you it was a symbol of peace? Turns out someone actually thinks the symbol creates peace -
The WSJ details the prime minister of Thailand's plan to quell the beginnings of a rebellion in the Muslim south. His idea: origami. "A flock of at least 63 million cranes--one Japanese-style water bird of folded paper for each Thai man, woman and child" will be dropped from the bomb bays of Thai air force planes, says the Journal. Opposition politicians aren't impressed. Until now, the prime minister has relied on crackdowns in the south that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds. The government's "policy is to depend on repression," said one Thai senator, "and litter."
From Today's Papers

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Salmon and Steelhead Not Important to USG

The LAT fronts an article on the fact that the Bush administration proposed cutting back the salmon and steelhead designated habitat by 90%. Ninety Percent! They also want to claim that hatchery-raised fish are wild fish. Right. And cultured pearls are made by nature.

I've never eaten steelhead, but salmon is my favorite fish to eat. And besides, I think maintaining wildlife is more important than logging or building new McMansions.

Slow Blogger
Anyway else experiencing painfully slow service? I'm extremely sick of it. Between my workload and the inability to edit posts (or even start a new one sometimes), I haven't been feeling the whole blogging thing recently. Hopefully, my friend will get my new and improved blogs up and running on his server soon....stay tuned.

Monday, November 29, 2004

A Day Late Talkie Wrap Up of the few remaining joys of visiting my family is using their TiVo to watch both This Week and Meet the Press. My mom was worried about my religious conviction since she overheard the ministers chatting about Jesus on MTP. (I skipped that bit on This Week because (a)they had less prestigious ministers and (b)I was sick of listening to a bunch of old men talk about morality; what, there are no female moral leaders?!?)

Right. So the other thing on MTP was the chair and co-chair of the 9-11 Commission talkin about how the Intel legislation should be past immediately and like other legislation, the kinks can be worked out later. On ABC, a Republican actually defended the destruction of intel reform, tryin to scare the white, male audience into believing that denying driver's licenses to immigrants would have prevented 9-11. (I'm fairly certain a better intel community that shared its work is the only thing that could've stopped that tragedy; but what do I know? I'm a woman and apparently not a moral person since I'm a Jew and the only moral leaders of worth are Christian, according to the Sunday talkies.)

Right. Mr. Sharpton was decent on MTP - he got some zingers in, but also agreed with the fundies that women old enough to be mothers must consult their parents before deciding whether or not to have an abortion. This makes perfect sense, especially when the woman in question was raped by her father. Also makes sense that the same society that prosecutes 15 year olds as adults should decide that another 15 year old is not adult enough to make decisions regarding her own body. Perfect logic.

The good comics were on vacation last week, so the Sunday Funnies weren't that funny. (You know it's shite when they show a Jimmy Kimmel clip...but I guess they have to b/c they gotta promote their own.) And some people died, but the background music was too loud to hear how many soldiers died in Afghanistan and Iraq last week.

And randomly, the editor of Sojourner magazine is a white progressive minister. Anyone else feel like a female woman of color should head a magazine named an amazing former female slave? Maybe it's just me. other news Starbucks at LAX is way over priced. And Western Bagels rock.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

The connection here in sunny SoCal is so slow that my nephew (age 9) thinks he'll be dead before I finish playing on the 'puter and give him a turn.

I wanted to point out all the interesting articles I read in yesterday's newspapers but I can't get connected to the sites fast enough to hold my attention (and keep Jake off my back).

So here's the most important stuff:

Monsignor William Quinn passed away.
As director fo the U.S. Bishops Committee for Migrant Workers, he tried to bring the workers' troubles to the forefront of society, said his cousin Rev. William Corcoran, pastor of St. Linus Catholic Church in Oak Lawn.

"He fought to raise the church's consciousness of this immigration that has continued to this day," Corcoran said. "He was an advocate for the fair treatment in the field and their working conditions and he pushed to protect their family life and their jobs that were so central to that."
Full obit in the Trib.

On a related note, the NYT had a heart wrenching cover story of the new crackdown on immigrants that is tearing parents away from their State-side born kids. One girl became severely depressed when her mom was thrown out of the country and another went from being a straight A student to failing most of her classes.

According to the LAT, delays at O'Hare reached 3 hours yesterday. According to the Trib, the actual number was 4.5 hrs. Lucky for me, my plane left at 2pm, right when the snow started falling so after a delay to de-ice the plane, we left without a hitch and even arrived at LAX 10 minutes early. Too bad public trans in LA sucks and I had to take the Fly Away back to the Valley (a private bus that runs every half hour). I had to STAND the entire 1.5 hours it took to get over the hill. (During non-rush hour, the bus takes 30 minutes to get to Van Nuys.)

Now both Zach and Jake are insisting that it's their time on the computer, so I must leave y'all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Africa and its children

A Boston globe reporter and photographer - John Donnelly and Dominic Chavez - interviewed African children and their families over the course of the past year and wrote / photographed three "Give Me A Pulitzer, Damnit!" stories which appeared in the Globe over the last three days. Give em a read, cause it's heart breaking.

Odongo was, like thousands of Ugandan children, kidnapped into a rebel army and forced, at age 12, to kill; Now free but alone, he is finding a way to live published November 21, 2004

Bidemi lost her mother and fled her father; Today she leads a pack of girls, orphans and runaways, scrounging life out of a Nigerian slum published November 22, 2004

Thandeka has lost her parents; Should she leave her siblings, too? It may be what she must do to survive published November 23, 2004

Monday, November 22, 2004

FSWE Update

If you live in the States, you have until my birthday to register for the April 23, 2005 FSWE. But don't worry, you haven't missed your chance at your first choice testing center: registration will open in mid-January.

More deets at State's website.

Please read my thoughts on the FSO application process (which I updated yesterday).

Chinese Economy on Target for 9% GDP Increase

That's according to Chinese President Hu Jintao, who schooled fellow APEC leaders on the Wonders of the Chinese Economy during a working luncheon yesterday. He also claimed that macro-control of the whole economy prevented over heating of the Chinese economy and will also prevent them from ever experiencing a 'hard landing' of their economy.

More deets on his briefing from Xin Hua.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

"How to Save a Troubled Kid?"

My letter email to the editors of Time regarding the above linked article:
Dear Sir or Madam,

Your article "How to Save a Troubled Kid?" stated that Spring Creek Lodge Academy opened in 1996. I am wondering about the accuracy of this statement. A family member attended Spring Creek in the 1980s and I am wondering if there are two schools for troubled teenagers in Montana named Spring Creek or if your article contained a factual error. [Please do not publish my email address.] Thank you for your attention to this matter. Sincerely, [name, email address, city, state in provided fields]

This Just In: Pork is In, the Environment is Out

From Today's Papers:
Everyone fronts news that Congress agreed on a $388 billion spending bill that will fund much of the federal government in 2005. NASA and Amtrak were spared, but the EPA got slashed. Weighing in at 14 pounds, the bill almost collapsed: It bars agencies from requiring health care organizations to provide abortion services, a provision that sparked fury and threats of filibustering. But Democrats were appeased when they were promised a separate vote to repeal the abortion provision. Another flashpoint was a clause, apparently sneaked in by a staff aide and soon to be deleted, that would allow designated people to look at the tax return of any American. The White House had threatened to veto the bill if domestic spending grew by more than 1 percent, but some, um, pork nevertheless made its way in: The Missouri Pork Producers Federation came away with $1 million to convert animal waste into energy.
Good to know Republican fat cats never change.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Latin Americans Have Better Military Men Than the US

US Defense Secretary Don Rumsfield (who, by the way, is shorter than you'd expect) met with his Latin American counterparts (defense ministers from 33 countries) in Quito, Ecuador on Wednesday morning. Shrub will be in Chile on Saturday for an economic summit. Here's some classic quotes from the Denver Post:
"In Latin America, there are no terrorists - only hunger and unemployment and delinquents who turn to crime. What are we going to do, hit you with a banana?" --Gen. Rene Vargas, a former head of Ecuador's armed forces, an ex-congressman and now a political player ...

"The only way to fight terrorism is to increase democracy," Brazilian Vice President Jose Alencar said in an interview. "The cause of terrorism is not just fundamentalism but misery and hunger. Developed countries must help less-developed countries." ...

In a speech Wednesday, Alencar said arms trafficking, central to any global terrorist threat, will persist "if the highly armed powers do not take measures toward disarmament."

Chile's defense minister, Jaime Ravinet, said the United Nations "is the only forum with international legitimacy to act globally on security issues."
When the Men of War say stuff like that, it makes me want to move to their country. Sigh. Would that I could be in Latin America.

Discord on Sudan Could Poison China-U.S. ties

The International Herald Tribune has a great commentary by Drew Thompson, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Here's the kicker:
[Chinese people] foresee an aggressive United States increasingly focused on ostensible security threats in Sudan, Iran, Syria and North Korea. China maintains friendly relationships with each of these countries, a reflection of its historic and evolving national interests. This does not necessarily represent part of a grand strategy to aid and support "rogue nations," but rather China's rapidly growing demand for oil and the channeling of Chinese investment to markets with little competition from multinational corporations.
It's fascinating what our global economy and American-owned multinational corporations have created.

Zimbabwe's Dictator Tightening His Grip on The Country

Mugabe forced his puppet parliament to pass a law demanding that all nongovernmental organizations register with the government. Here's why this law is so egregious:
Those not already on the Social Welfare Ministry’s voluntary register will be regarded as illegal as soon as the law comes into force. ...

Announcing the Bill in July, he declared that “we cannot allow them (voluntary organisations) to be conduits of foreign interference in our national efforts”. Since then, the state propaganda mill has incessantly denounced the groups as "puppets of imperialist forces seeking to destabilise the country to effect regime change". ...
And that's why I'm glad I don't live in Zimbabwe.

Circumcised Men Less Likely to Get AIDS

from the Boston Globe:
According to a review of scientific research by the US Agency for International Development, the inner surface of the foreskin absorbs HIV up to nine times more efficiently than female cervical tissue.
There's some other interesting tidbits in the article. So apparently that Big One in the Sky got it right when he commanded his people to circumcise their sons....

Unfortunately, the NYT Company is po' and needs to jack your money by forcing you to pay to see articles written two days ago at their subsidiary, the Boston Globe. What can you do? Trust me on the fact that that was the most interesting of all the titillating quotes...

Sing Us a Song, You're the Piano Man

Anyone else feeling like the refrain "Find a Message Dems!" is becoming a tired old song and dance in and of itself? Yeah, me too. In case you're interested, another opinion writer spewed his opinion on the subject in WaPo. Absolutely, positively nothing new except this line from the last graph:
defending the American middle class means creating the kind of global standards that the Democrats created on the national level during the 1930s and '40s, the time of their greatest popularity.

Once You Start Working...

You start wondering how you ever had time to read so many articles and write so many posts. Today seems to be a light news day domestically, what with all the Democrats and a few Republicans in Little Rock for the Clinton Presidential Library Grand Opening.

I find it abhorrent that House Republicans changed their rules to allow Majority Leader DeLay to keep his post even if a grand jury indicts him. The LAT speaks on it, as does the political paper of record, WaPo.

Even more importantly, USAT has copy on Bush kissing his female subordinates.

Truly more important than all this riff raff is the fact that the UN Security Council is meeting in Nairobi, Kenya today and tomorrow to discuss the genocide in Darfur. More deets as I find the time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

This Just In: 2005 Is the International Year of Microcredit

Actually, it was decided in 1998. If you'll recall, microcredit is when folks give money to poor folks in developing countries and let them work their own way out of poverty. Sounds simple, yet for some reason is not the normal way to handle development. (The specifics is that people are given small loans, usually less than $200, to buy a few goats or cows or sheep or to start a weaving company or to build a corner store in their village and the majority of the microloans are repaid and they tend to go to entrepreneurial women as opposed to male government fat cats.)

Here's the official website (cause everyone needs one).

Here's the official library of info leading up to the year of microcredit (cause the UN is great at creating a paper trail).

Drop me a line at Mi_Hongya AT yahoo DOT com and let me know what you think of my ramblings...