the watch
bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.

Evict Bush!

Saturday, December 14, 2002  

William Burton writes a tremendous piece on why Democrats should stop worrying about the non-existant bad PR of their traditional donors, and stop chasing Republican donors that turn off their core constituency. A small sample, but go read it all:

I'd also say that it's good news for the Democrats that some big money that had straddled the fence in the Clinton years has now gone over entirely to the Republican side. That's right. It's good news, but only if the Democrats learn the proper lessons (and some Democrats, like Joe Lieberman, seem unwilling to learn those lessons).

Since the oil companies now give almost all their money to Republicans, the Democrats now no longer have to give a shit what the oil companies think about anything. They can formulate and push policies that favor conservation and that favor consumers even in the face of stiff opposition from the oil companies. Why? Because the oil companies won't support them anyway, so there's no downside. In fact, they can go out of their way to antagonize the oil companies with almost no repercussions. ...

You get the point. The Democrats can make a list of every industry that favors Republicans over Democrats, then go down that list getting rid of every policy they ever instituted to favor those bastards. They once opposed price controls fro prescription drugs; they should now favor them. Not only is it good politics in that millions of voters would benefit from Democratic policies, but sticking it to your enemies is also good politics. It gives the big donors a reason to fear you, and may convince some of them to stay the hell out of politics completely. The same is true for sticking to the oil companies, the insurance companies, the big polluters, etc.

Most of the big Republican contributors do scare voters, and it's much better politics to protect the public from those out to fuck 'em than it is to compete for donations by helping to bend the public over. Does this mean the Democrats will lose some more financial support in the short run? Yes. Does this mean that some Democratic politicians will lose elections in the short run? Yes. Both of these are likely true, but they're worth the cost. Actually articulating a message that puts voters over donors, that truly serves the people and not the powerful would make the Democrats the majority party for the forseeable future. ...

posted by Natasha at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK |

Bill Vann examines the possibility that Venezuela is headed for another coup. After an earlier failed attempt, Venezuela's elite have now tried shutting down factories and oil production. Some excerpts:

...Ships’ officers on oil tankers and private companies that operate oil trucks have been recruited to the anti-Chavez plot in a bid to paralyze the country’s oil industry and thereby shut down its entire economy. Venezuela, the fifth-largest petroleum exporter, is dependent on oil exports for 80 percent of its foreign earnings. It supplies 13 percent of the crude oil imported by the US. The US consumes 70 percent of the 2.5 million barrels of oil Venezuela produces daily. ...

Following the ouster of Chavez last April, US officials welcomed the coup. It was revealed at the time that senior Bush administration aides, including Assistant Secretary of State Otto Reich and White House advisor Elliott Abrams—both key players in the Reagan administration’s covert network for supporting the contra terrorist war on Nicaragua in the 1980s—had met repeatedly in Washington with the coup’s organizers.

Loyally echoing the position of the administration in Washington, the mass media in the US has deliberately distorted the nature of the events in Venezuela. The New York Times refers to it, for example, as a “national walkout,” when in reality relatively few Venezuelan workers have joined the anti-government actions, while most have been locked out by their employers. In some instances, workers have occupied shutdown plants in protest. ...

In Venezuela, outrage over the local media’s role as a propaganda arm for those seeking to topple the Chavez government led to mass demonstrations outside of television stations Monday night, with thousands of protesters chanting “Coup-mongers, tell the truth!” The five privately owned television networks have openly promoted anti-government actions, while broadcasting false stories to undermine the government. In Maracay, demonstrators occupied the station. ...

What? You didn't think that just because Kissinger was gone, the US was going to stop instigating coups against democratically elected governments, did you?

Venezuela Archives

posted by Natasha at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK |

The Daily Howler examines how conservatives, in their mad dash to spin Trent Lott's remarks into oblivion, have been bashing Al Gore Sr. as a segregationist. But Gore's biographer, David Maraniss, had this to relate about Gore Sr.'s record:

MARANISS: [H]ere is Sen. Gore on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1956, taking a dramatic stand against the Southern Manifesto, calling it “the most spurious, inane, insulting” thing he has ever seen and declaiming “Hell no!” while waving away the segregationist document placed before him by colleague Strom Thurmond….

posted by Natasha at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK |

Rittenhouse Review covers The Beast's list of the 50 most loathsome people in America. By the time it got to Ari Fleischer, #16, I was laughing too hard to still be ticked that Pat Robertson was only #34. But I think they probably picked the #1 spot right on. Shiver.

posted by Natasha at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK |

Check out Easter Lemming today.

posted by Natasha at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK |

Buzzflash gets the good dirt:

From a reader commentary, Ari Fleischer unaware of Korean war.

Also, they found this link, where the a Council of Conservative Citizens spokesman tells us in his own words how disappointed he is in Trent Lott's apology. It opens:

It would have been much easier to have believed that all of the denunciations of Trent Lott were being spewed from the old Soviet Union's entrenched communists than to have to come to grips with the fact that this is the dangerous climate now existing in the United States.

Not only do we have Democrats, hoping they can flush Republican integrity down the drain - which paltry amount would not put a strain on the sewer pipes - but we also have Republicans in toto trouncing Senator Lott as roundly as the Democrats. (No wonder Samuel Francis calls them the Stupid Party.) Add to that the subversive media, which is virtually a carbon copy of Pravda, the official newspaper of the old Soviet Union, and you realize that we here have become what the Soviets once were. ...

They're still afraid of the big, bad *communists*, for the love of Mike. If you haven't yet reached your quota for deeply disturbing stories today, read the rest. But moving on to their 'news' page, we find these comments on the subject of a black university lecturer who's committed the sin of disparaging the Confederacy:

...If not American, what is Jonathan Farley? He is the egocentric spawn of pampered black immigrants who has spent his life licking up the cream of white institutions, then hissing back at his benefactors as thanks for their colorblind philanthropy. In other words, he is the quintessential citizen of the global village.

And since the global village is mostly nonwhite, Farley acts as a third world janissary for black hegemony over whites. His attitude differs little from the dark hordes who rampage over civilization to loot and burn what their crude minds cannot appreciate. ...

There are Words for people like this, but they don't bear repeating at the moment. Yet again, we find conservative wingnuts in need of history lessons. (I can add this to the file for people who think that Saudi Arabia was formerly inhabited solely by men and camels, before the West's blessed installation of House Saud.)

I distinctly remember that the rampaging hordes went the other way around. Unless I forgot about an African Empire on which the sun never set, only to have released the last of its cruel stranglehold on the oppressed people of Europe this past century. Maybe the Ottoman blitzkrieg. The Pakistani sponsored assassination of Nixon, and the subsequent coup which left us with a dictatorship. Or how the impoverished Southerners even now have to make the dangerous journey to Mexico and Honduras so they can send money to their families while picking food for their betters ten hours a day at dirt wages.

Indeed, it appears that to the Far Right, the loss of overwhelming privilege is considered a brutal oppression.

posted by Natasha at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK |

In the BBC:

Fifty thousand South Koreans stage anti-US rally, demanding a new trial for two US soldiers acquitted of all charges in the death of two young girls.

Henry Kissinger steps down from 9-11 inquiry panel to avoid having to reveal who his clients have been.

Argentina defaults on $1bn loan from the World Bank.

Syria weighs in on war in Iraq.

Australia joins the pre-emptive strike fray.

EU expansion approved at summit, must now win over voters.

posted by Natasha at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK |

Friday, December 13, 2002  

Tbogg has the latest information on the ongoing bilking of California, the world's fifth largest economy, by the energy companies. I guess it isn't immoral to steal from those California liberals.

posted by Natasha at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK |

From reader email:

...And its men who live years shorter lives than women as a result of the far more unhealthy sex role they have and the lack of interest in men's health. ...

But... Men tend to smoke more. They're more likely to drink heavily. They are more likely to be involved in fatal car crashes, even though women have more accidents per mile driven.

Have no fear, though. Women have begun to treat their bodies as badly as men, smoking, drinking, and eating junk food in higher numbers than ever. So I feel confident in predicting that trends over time (barring unprecedented medical advances) might show womens' life expectancies coming down to meet mens'.

Yet on the plus side, men do receive more tests when hospitalized than women. This may be because as recently as 1980, many women's health complaints were listed as psychosomatic, and either brushed off or inappropriately treated with antidepressants. Men aren't considered to have psychiatric illnesses, even though they are more likely to commit suicide.

Men also receive significant health benefits from marrying. In which case it could be noted that in families, women tend to make over three-quarters of healthcare and nutritional decisions for the family and set most doctor's appointments. What are some of these fabulous benefits that men can expect to get from marrying?

...Health: Nine out of 10 married men alive at age 48 are alive at age 65. With bachelors, only six of 10 men lived to age 65. With married women alive at 48, nine out of 10 survive to age 65 while 8 of ten single women do. An analysis showed that married people start practicing healthier lifestyles after they marry. Married couples encourage responsible health behavior in each other and care for each other when sick. Marriage generally reduces stress and creates better immunity in the body.

Recent research presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Monterey, Calif., shows that divorced men are more likely to drink, smoke, commit suicide, develop Alzheimer's disease and die prematurely. In the current trial of nearly 30,000 men, vegetable intake declined by more than three servings per week in men following the death of a spouse, and nearly two servings per week after a divorce. Divorced men were also more likely to smoke than their married peers but those who remarried were likely to quit, findings show. Widowed men were more likely than married men to drink heavily--more than 21 drinks a week.

Dr. Ichiro Kawachi from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass., speculates that the health of newly singled and widowers decline because of the absence of their wives' influence and contributions to medical visits, health consciousness and cooking. Newly single men also increased their consumption of fried foods outside the home. In an earlier study, divorce or marital separation more than doubled the risk of suicide in men but was unrelated to suicide risks in women. Another study linked lower blood pressure in men with their social support from a spouse. ...

So, who is it, exactly that's uninterested in men's health? Maybe it isn't women, or even feminists. In fact, there's a word men tend to use for female partners who are *too* interested in unhealthy habits they stubbornly persist in: Nag.

posted by Natasha at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK |

Highlights from Al Gore's appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews this past Wednesday, Dec. 11th. Mr. Gore was the only guest on the hour long 'College Tour' show.

On tort reform, and why doctors in some areas are leaving their practices due to legal inurance fees:

  • The healthcare system is collapsing, and doctors now spend more time on paperwork than with patients.
  • Out of 1 trillion dollars spent yearly on healthcare, 300 billion is spent on paperwork.
  • Tort reform is necessary to some extent, but didn't support any pending legislation.
  • Right of access to the courts should not be restricted.


  • Safe, legal, and rare. Few people see this as a first choice.
  • Decision should be left to the individual, not right for the government to make the decision for people.

Backing Clinton on the day of impeachment:

  • Impeachment was a disservice to the country.
  • What Clinton did was wrong, but people separated that from a good record as president.
  • Who would have been the principal beneficiary if the president was convicted? It would have created a crisis for the person in (my) spot to throw fuel on the fire.
  • Did make a statement that the behavior was wrong, but considered it his responsibility to promote stability.

Iraq war:

  • We have the right to respond to imminent threat, but...
  • Attacking unilaterally because of a potential threat down the road could cause problems for us all over the world.
  • Doesn't know if it was intended, but Iraq rhetoric played on raw emotions from 9-11.
  • Wrong to try to confuse Bin Laden with Iraq.
  • Would have voted against the resolution authorizing the use of force.
  • (in response to audience question) "It would be such a serious charge" to say that the war rhetoric was initiated for publicity, but statements by Karl Rove and Andrew Card indicated that it may have been used that way.
  • Iraq is diverting intelligence & military resources from war on terror.
  • Finding one man (Bin Laden) may not have been a realistic goal, but dismantling Al-Qaida is very important.
  • According to the CIA, Al-Qaida now poses as much of a threat as they did before 9-11. According to the Chmn. of the Joint Chiefs, we're now losing ground in Afghanistan, and the Taliban are returning.

Trent Lott:

  • Clearly a racist statement, and part of a long-term political strategy. If it was 'just a birthday party' sentiment, what about the other time he said it?
  • Lott in charge of sheperding SCOTUS justices who will have to decide on civil rights cases.
  • The outcome of the Civil Rights era was by no means certain, and it's a setback for one of the half-dozen most powerful politicians in the country to say something like that.

How did Bush do after 9-11:

  • Did a great job right afterwards.
  • Made a mistake not sending enough troops to Afghanistan to prevent further violence, and lost focus over the Iraq issue.

What would justify attacking Iraq:

  • If we found WMDs, we would be justified in a military strike to destroy them.
  • There's a difference between destroying weapons and unilaterally invading to change the regime.

Do you feel we've created a bad climate through arrogance (audience question):

  • Cowboy, go-it-alone attitude has generated a lot of anger towards the country, squandering the massive amount of good will extended to us after 9-11 in less than a year.
  • "Back during the campaign he said that our foreign policy should be based on humility. Well, I think he lost that speech."

posted by Natasha at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK |

In Belleville Illinois, police have been conducting warrantless, unannounced searches of private residences to enforce overcrowding ordinances. A small sample of outrage:

...A young mother who works two jobs was ticketed because the elderly couple she hired to babysit were not listed on her occupancy permit. A man who agreed to house sit for a friend in the Air Force who was overseas was cited when he was found alone in the house.

In 70 percent of cases, documented in city records since 1999, housing inspectors, called compliance officers, and uniformed police offcers have gone into homes in the city's poorest areas -- around Hough Park, in the Franklin neighborhood and near downtown.

Ninety-five percent of these surprise inspections were at rental housing. ...

People cited with an occupancy violation are compelled to give the police officer personal data that is entered into the Belleville Police Department computer base and used for routine criminal investigations.

The personal information includes race, marital status, birthdates, home and work telephone numbers, criminal history and even a description of scars and tattoos. Crystal Wilson, 25, was asked to describe a Caesarean scar on her abdomen during an occupancy inspection on Nov. 14, 2000, according to an arrest report.

The permits also record the relationship of each person living in a residence to the head of the household. Even an unwed couple who want to live together discretely must state their relationship on a public document. ...

Chandra Miller, 29, was ticketed Jan. 25 for allowing her estranged husband to sleep on her living room floor when their daughter was ill. Tyrone Miller, 30, also was cited, even though he showed the enforcement team a driver's license listing his address in Cahokia. ...

Belleville's current housing codes, which require mandatory inspections and a $25 occupancy permit, were adopted in 1988, but language was added in 1997 that allows inspectors to enter a home without a resident's or a court's permission.

Chapter 18 reads, in part, "With reference to any health nuisance or any housing or maintenance code violation, the director shall have the power to enter and examine any property for the purpose of enforcement ... " and this authority extends to "one-half mile outside the city limits." ...

Link courtesy of Atrios at Eschaton.

posted by Natasha at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK |

See The Forest has a good piece up refuting the "tax cuts are good for us" pablum. Enjoy.

posted by Natasha at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK |

Thursday, December 12, 2002  

Mere expectation of war already creating chaos, havoc, and unrest in the Gulf Region.

posted by Natasha at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK |

Bush to World: We Will Nuke You.

..."The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force -- including through resort to all of our options -- to the use of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies," the statement reads, in part.

"In addition to our conventional and nuclear response and defense capabilities, our overall deterrent posture against WMD threats is reinforced by effective intelligence, surveillance, and interdiction, and domestic law enforcement capabilities," the statement says. ...

"It's the first time you're seeing a complex strategy to deal with a complex threat," said a senior administration official. ...

posted by Natasha at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK |

Chief Justice Rehnquist's daughter under GAO investigation for illegal possesion of a firearm, using her appointment at HHS to aid Jeb Bush, and shredding papers after the inquiry begun. The initial investigation concerned widespread personnel changes in the office, 19 senior staff changes, since Rehnquist's appointment in August 2001.

posted by Natasha at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK |

In the Asia Times:

Day-to-day life in Iran. And why student protests continue, even after repeated crackdowns. Meanwhile, Iraqi opposition groups meet in Tehran.

Australian ruling leaves web publishers open to libel charges from foreign governments. Despots and dodgy bastards everywhere rejoice.

North Korea and Pakistan strengthen ties.

The Chinese diaspora.

posted by Natasha at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK |

It's payback time for the people who put Bush into office. A sweeping executive order will allow federal contracts to be given to faith organizations with essentially no restrictions on hiring practices or other types of oversight.

posted by Natasha at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, December 11, 2002  

More outrage over the Information Awareness Office, the defense department brainchild with the creepiest logo ever. In part:

...TIA's grandiose mission is just what its name implies: to find out everything about us -- what magazines we read, what credit card purchases we make, what doctors and hospitals we visit, what medicines we take, what trips we book, what bank checks we write. Then TIA plans to file the data onto what the Pentagon calls a "virtual, centralized grand database." ...

Yet isn't it fascinating that in all this personal-information gathering, the records of gun buyers will be off-limits. That's the way the National Rifle Association wants it. And one of the gun lobby's proudest picks for government service, Attorney General John Ashcroft, agrees. The NRA commands, and the Ashcroft Justice Department genuflects. ...

And by the way, while you're snooping, why don't you find out something we would all like to know: Where is Osama bin Laden anyway?

So what gives with the 'no gun data' loophole? If you're in charge of monitoring every boring little tidbit of our lives for the sake of security, it would stand to reason that gun purchases would be high on the list of things you want to know about. At least as important, perhaps, as the sum total of all our library records and book purchases. But maybe it's because that's the way we want it.

The NRA also pressured the administration to scuttle the agreement of the UN conference on small arms, which you can read more about at Amnesty International. The US claims the conference was a success, but the agreement is non-binding, and the US is one of the biggest violators. Some of the appalling things that the group wanted member nations to sign on to:

Golden rule on supply No government should authorize any transfer of arms where there is a clear risk that these items will be used by the likely recipient to commit:

  • grave human rights abuses
  • war crimes
  • crimes against humanity

Golden rule on demand Governments should ensure that the circulation and use of arms is strictly limited in terms of UN human rights standards and international humanitarian law so that:

  • use by law enforcement officials is only permitted when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life;
  • military use is only permitted if proportionate, targeted, and in accordance with international humanitarian law;
  • surplus and illegal weapons within the population are collected and destroyed in situations where they could contribute to serious human rights violations.

This article, originally published in The Nation outlines the way that gun purchases in Florida (what's up with that state, anyway) find their way to guerilla troops throughout the Americas. I may have mentioned this article before, but in light of the proposed gun loophole for the IAO, it seemed relevant. The article opens as follows, emphasis ours:

A few years ago, the government of Colombia asked the United States to trace nearly fifty MAK-90 rifles it had seized from the National Liberation Army, or ELN. It turned out these rifles had been obtained by Colombian gun traffickers after being purchased at retail stores in the Miami area. The ELN is on the State Department's foreign terror watch list. Yet, like many other underground armies around the world, it buys its weapons in one of the world's freest arms markets. "The United States has for many years been a warehouse, a shopping center, if you will, for firearms," says retired Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (AFT) resident agent in charge Daniel McBride, "because of the ease of acquisition, not just in the state of Florida but typically throughout the United States. We are a very easy place from which to obtain firearms for transshipment back home."

Law enforcement officials describe the United States as a one-stop shop for the guns sought by terrorists, mercenaries and international criminals of all stripes. And September 11 has not changed that in any significant way. In fact, Attorney General John Ashcroft has refused to permit the use of gun purchase records to track crimes, a practice that the FBI had previously used and that conceivably could help to identify terrorists. Nor did Ashcroft propose closing gun loopholes as part of the USA Patriot Act. The result of the lax US system, says McBride, is "an ongoing cycle" in which weapons bought here end up fueling violence abroad, and in which America is regarded as the firearms "shopping center for the world." ...

So, as a recap, our government wants to know where we are, what we're reading, what we're buying, where we're traveling, and who we're with, but they don't want to know if we've been buying guns. Or to create a database that could trace guns if they were used in a crime. Or to know if terrorists from other countries have been buying guns here and shipping them overseas. Right then.

posted by Natasha at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK |

If you're quite the geek, you might enjoy this video game review of Rez. If it makes no sense whatever, but you'd like to learn more, go to the Reciprocality Project website and marvel at the deep tweakiness.

posted by Natasha at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK |

Top USA Today stories, pointed out by Daily Kos and Stand Down:

ACLU membership at all time high, with enough left over to fund a cable ad campaign targeting Attorney General Ashcroft's attacks on civil liberties.

US set to use landmines in Iraq. The same landmines that they said they weren't going to use anywhere besides Korea after next year. I guess there were some extras lying around, felt they had to use them up.

New polls indicate that public opposition to war in Iraq has nearly doubled in the past year.

posted by Natasha at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK |

Molly Ivins vents about the Kissinger appointment. And the lady can vent, oh yes.

posted by Natasha at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK |

100 people arrested in peace protests. Increasingly the movement is being joined by middle aged and elderly participants, as well as church groups. Quakers, Mennonites, and even evangelicals have been organizing demonstrations.

Yesterday's Democracy Now broadcast hosted a group of ministers from the United Methodist Church, the same church to which Bush and Cheney both claim membership. They said it was their opinion that the war now being contemplated is thoroughly un-Christian, as Jesus was a man of peace.

When a group of UMC representatives attempted to visit Washington to meet with the President and make their stand known, he told them he was too busy to meet. But a pro-war rally organized by the Christian Coalition received a personal videotaped message from the busy Bush.

posted by Natasha at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK |

In the Arab News:

A Zogby poll of the Arab world finally clears up what they think about us. In part:

Clearly, the responses point to an Arab concern with the US and Israel. It is not, as some might hasten to construe, an anti-Western sentiment at work, since France and Canada, both Western countries, were among the countries receiving the highest favorability ratings. Germany also received strong positive scores from most Arab respondents.

As we found in an earlier study conducted by Zogby International in April of 2002, Arab unfavorable attitudes toward the US were a function of US policy in the Arab world.

In that study, which we called Impressions of America, we found that although Arabs who were polled in five Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon and UAE) had strong favorable attitudes toward American science and technology, freedom and democracy, education, movies and television, and also had largely favorable attitudes toward the American people. However, they had extremely negative attitudes toward US policy vis-à-vis the Arab world, Iraq, and most especially toward Palestine.

This would all seem to indicate that the situation is far from the culture war it's been portrayed as, some medieval loonies hating us for our *freedom* of all things. No, in fact having embraced all of our wonderful ideas about freedom, democracy, technology, and popular culture, they'd like some for themselves. The sentiment here might be expressed as 'yes, we like you, but go home already.'

A professor who teaches Islamic law speaks on Princess Haifa's generosity.

...The second factor says much more about us than it does about Princess Haifa and the culture from which she comes. According to Newsweek and the senators, Princess Haifa is now a suspect because she did not interrogate the needy woman, inspect her home, check out her husband’s friends, or have her fill out numerous information forms. Like we do when people apply for public welfare. They find it incomprehensible that the princess would simply give thousands of dollars away without really knowing anything about the object of her generosity, or extracting a quid pro quo. This cannot be true, they say. Newsweek and the senators conclude that she must have known where her money ultimately went, and intended it to go there ultimately, to a league of murderous Saudi thugs. ...

Americans give charity, but our way of doing it frequently humiliates and debases those who seek it. Muslims give charity, too, but in a different way. Princess Haifa, defending herself last week to a reporter, tried to explain: "Our religion tells us to donate to the needy. And it is the kind of thing you don’t announce, you just help, and it counts for you."

"It counts for you" is a telling phrase. Haifa may be a princess and, as Maureen Dowd is fond of pointing out, this may guarantee her glittering jewels, fabulous parties, and numerous elegant homes, but it does not guarantee anything for her in the eyes of God. And Princess Haifa knows it. But charity does bring a guarantee. So, like all devout Muslims, she gives a good amount of her money away quietly and in a fairly indiscriminate fashion because the Holy Qur’an states:

It is not righteousness that ye turn your face toward the East or West. But it is righteousness to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity." ...

Even if there had been forty hijackers, Saudi citizens all, it doesn't excuse the bad treatment of a generous person who was acting as someone of her culture is expected to act. If we prefer that terrorists discriminate between civilian and military targets, we need to learn to distinguish between actual terrorists and charitable grandmothers.

posted by Natasha at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK |

Reckless Endangerment of Public Health

Agricultural scientists working in university or government settings are frequently harassed by agricultural industry groups, and undermined by superiors, when their findings could paint the industry in a bad light. Notable recent cases include the following:

* Bosses told James Zahn, a former federal swine researcher in Ames, that he couldn't publish his findings that air emissions from hog confinements contained potentially health-threatening antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They wouldn't let him speak to citizens groups about the study after pork producers questioned the appearances. The work, they said, didn't fit the lab's mission.

* Burkholder, the aquatic botany professor at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, drew a flood of demands for her dismissal in 1997 after she publicized the human-health dangers of a stream polluted so severely by hog manure that the number of bacteria was 15,000 times higher than the state limit. Burkholder received anonymous death threats, including one against her dog, Peanut.

* Phillip Baumel, a longtime Iowa State University economist, said he faced retribution from the Iowa Corn Growers Association in 2000 after his study questioned the benefit of expanding the lock-and-dam system along the upper Mississippi River. Corn farmers said the work would speed shipments and was worth the money. The corn growers objected to the study and its tardiness, and they declined to pay for it.

Just the sort of thing that knots the underwear of the anti-corporate globalization crowd. I'm sure that other people would care more, too, if they lived downstream from a modern factory farm. As it turns out, those people care a lot. Just the sort of issue that a genuinely populist presidential candidate would bring up in the Iowa primaries if they were smart. ...

...E. coli outbreaks closed half the state's beaches during the summer of 2001. And nitrate levels in the Raccoon River this spring reached a record 18 milligrams per liter, nearly double the maximum level allowed in drinking water.

Fertilizer runoff from corn and soybean fields upstream of Des Moines — not livestock farms — are the biggest source of nitrates in the water, said L.D. McMullen, general manager of the Des Moines Water Works.

But livestock operations are having the same problems of discharging waste into water that municipalities had a generation ago, McMullen said. ...

Des Moines, a city of 200,000, draws its drinking water from the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers, which are among the top five contributors of nutrients to the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone," according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Both rivers feed the Mississippi. ...

Charmingly, both the processes that produce this waste and the huge outlays to try to clean it up are recorded as pure economic growth. Except for people trying to make a living fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Those people are buggered.

So here's my question: If a government researcher isn't allowed to report a possible environmental hazard, and you have to take the day off work to take your sick kid to the doctor, do the doctor's bills represent positive economic growth?

Theoretically, they could be outweighed by your taking the day off, but only if you had to take unpaid leave or make more money than god. But if the doctor's bill was sufficiently high, it would definitely count as an economic positive. I'm assuming that our hypothetical citizen has health insurance, because if not, then the sick kid might not get seen. Which would be bad for the economy.

posted by Natasha at 12:55 AM | PERMALINK |

In the BBC:

Bacteria may cause cancer in those predisposed to getting it. Two types of cancer have already been identified as having microbial causes. This doesn't mean that cancer is communicable, but that a potential trigger for it may be.

A senior member of the Iranian judiciary has resigned over the circumstances surrounding the death sentence of Hashem Aghajari. And young people continue to express their growing resentment against the lack of personal freedom in the country. Student demonstrators rallied around Aghajari, a professor, and were banned from further demonstrations.

Saudi Arabia's oil minister calls for production and export cuts.

In what may surely be one of the most shocking revelations of the year (come on, admit it, we weren't really surprised that Bush wanted to initiate Gulf War II) the IMF publicly admits to being wrong about advice given to Malaysia. The country's economy appears to be coming along nicely under their own counsel, thanks.

Spain and Morocco speaking again.

As civil war continues in the Ivory Coast, thousands of volunteers have stepped forward to join the government in fighting the rebels. To what should be the surprise of no one, oil was discovered off their coast just a short while ago, though explorations would of necessity have started much earlier.

posted by Natasha at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, December 10, 2002  

Andrew Hagen has more to say about Venezuela, and its treatment in the American press.

posted by Natasha at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK |

Tbogg explains what would happen if North Korea had both oil AND WMDs...

Boy. If they had oil they would be in, like, soooooo much trouble. Bush would be like, "Get rid of your weapons", and Kim Jong-il would be all, "Make me", and Bush would be like, "I'll kick your ass" and Jong-il would be all, "Yeah? You and what coalition?". Then Condoleeza Rice would come in the room and they would get all quiet and stuff.

Later Howard Fineman would call the negotiations "intense and very productive".

posted by Natasha at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK |

The blog veiled4allah has this to say about the death sentence of Amina Lawal of Nigeria. According to her understanding and that of the scholar she links to, actually finding someone guilty of adultery under Islamic law should be very difficult. It requires either voluntary confession, four witnesses to the act, or a husband publicly repudiating a child as not his own.

The first two circumstances are so vanishingly unlikely as to probably never happen, which may have been the intent of the author. To say that something was bad, but make it impossible to prosecute. The last case simply wouldn't apply to an unmarried woman like Ms. Lawal.

I find it interesting to note, though, that the case of Amina Lawal and other women similarly treated is held up as an example of Islam. As though individual women had never been mistreated in nominally Christian cultures. Then, as Arundhati Roy noted, wars against Islamic countries are almost portrayed as feminist endeavors to liberate oppressed women. Nothing could be more ridiculous. I always find it amusing to note that three Islamic countries in Asia (Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan) have beat the US to having a female head of state. Indeed, the last national election in Bangladesh was a contest between two female candidates.

posted by Natasha at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK |

The editor of Daily Kos suggested that I shouldn't joke about Islamist terrorism becoming a potential excuse to overthrow populist South American governments. This New Yorker article seems to indicate that the evidence is ripe for misuse. Though Paraguay is reportedly most implicated as an alternate center for groups like Hezbollah, there may be enough fodder to indict the unpopular-on-arrival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil should he prove to be 'unstable.'

Update, later in the evening: It occurred to me that I should clarify the issue of da Silva's popularity. While he is very unpopular in the US and certain other countries, he was elected in his own by the majority of voters. I'd hate to carelessly perpetuate the notion that we have the right to determine the legitimacy of foreign governments based on whether the US government 'likes' them.

posted by Natasha at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK |

Body and Soul posts a thoughtful defense of feminism. She closes as follows, but read the whole thing:

...If you comb through those feminist publications and organizations, you might find something buried in there about beauty pageants and golf courses, but it is far from the central issue. There may, for all I know, be feminist organizations obsessed with things like that. And if there are, all I can say is that isn’t my feminism, and it isn’t the feminism of women I know and work with.

If you pay attention to feminist theory and activism, and also read the mainstream media, you’ll quickly discover that one of the downsides of calling yourself a feminist is that powerful people lie about you. Daily. And since they have more power and louder voices than you do, most of the time they’ll get away with it. ...

posted by Natasha at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK |

In The Nation:

Jim Hightower lays out a road map for progressives. All we need to do, he says, is get out more than 17% of the electorate, the percentage of the public that consistently votes Republican. He closes:

...Nothing's more fun than winning, and it's time to tell the Democratic jefes that winning in politics requires getting more people (not more money) than the other side gets. To get people, there has to be a long-term strategy of going to them with something of interest. As the fighting populist Fred Harris puts it: "You can't have a mass movement without the masses."

Jeremy Rifkin writes on the possibility of a hydrogen economy. Hydrogen closes the alternative energy gap, as a way to store the energy of other renewable sources such as solar and wind. A distributed generation system based on hydrogen fuel cell powered cars could potentially eliminate the need for power stations. A more widespread acces to energy could be a tremendous boon to developing nations. The byproduct of fuel cells? Clean water.

...I have been describing, thus far, the implementation of hydrogen power mainly in industrialized countries, but it could have an even greater impact on emerging nations. The per capita use of energy throughout the developing world is a mere one-fifteenth of the consumption enjoyed in the United States. The global average per capita energy use for all countries is only one-fifth the level of this country. Lack of access to energy, especially electricity, is a key factor in perpetuating poverty around the world. Conversely, access to energy means more economic opportunity. In South Africa, for example, for every 100 households electrified, ten to twenty new businesses are created. Making the shift to a hydrogen energy regime--using renewable resources and technologies to produce the hydrogen--and creating distributed generation energy webs that can connect communities all over the world could lift billions of people out of poverty. As the price of fuel cells and accompanying appliances continues to plummet with innovations and economies of scale, they will become far more broadly available, as was the case with transistor radios, computers and cellular phones. The goal ought to be to provide stationary fuel cells for every neighborhood and village in the developing world.

Renewable energy technologies--wind, photovoltaic, hydro, biomass, etc.--can be installed in villages, enabling them to produce their own electricity and then use it to separate hydrogen from water and store it for subsequent use in fuel cells. In rural areas, where commercial power lines have not yet been extended because they are too expensive, stand-alone fuel cells can provide energy quickly and cheaply. ...

Barbara Ehrenreich and Thomas Geoghegan write about the the declining labor movement, and what it needs to do to get a place at the table again. The problem as they see it is as follows, with several suggestions for change as the article continues:

...But the language and, with it, the ethos of individual rights were quickly co-opted by management, with its stress on the "right to work" and the "right" to have a say in how one's dues are spent. Company anti-union propaganda, as at Wal-Mart, for example, claims that a union will deprive the individual of his or her individual access to management. Never mind that management retains its right to fire nonunion workers at will, for infringements as vague as a "bad attitude," or that, for the past two decades, corporations have steadily encroached on workers' privacy and rights through drug testing, personality testing, ever-more sophisticated surveillance and a proliferation of shop-floor rules such as "no talking."

The AFL-CIO has responded only weakly--with a "Voice @ Work" campaign, suggesting that the workers will be empowered individually, as well as collectively, through unionization. But by and large, it has ducked the issue of individual or civil rights other than the right to join a union. As a result, many workers, perhaps especially white males, perceive unions exactly as management would like them to: as overbearing bureaucracies in which the individual is easily lost or even crushed. This is still true even as workers now are angrier and more willing to take on their employers. ...

posted by Natasha at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK |

In the Christian Science Monitor:

High US troop deployment in the Gulf makes war seem imminent. Over 56,000 publicly accounted for troops are stationed at various points besides Afghanistan or are on their way via recently dispatched carrier battle groups. Around 80,000 personnel are thought to be in the area now, though precise figures and locations are unexpectedly not available. The call up of 10,000 reserve personnel last week would seem to be an indication that war plans are moving ahead rapidly, though at least 20,000 more troops and many more reservists would need to be called up or deployed for full engagement.

In response to growing numbers of students sharing group housing in suburban college neighborhoods, cities are moving to place restrictions on the number of unrelated people who are allowed to live together. Links to further stories on this topic are provided at the bottom of the article.

Sarah Chayes writes on the need to rebuild Afghanistan. Not only its devastated infrastructure, but the political system, which after a brief initial glow has quickly devolved back into the sort of warlord rule that made people there welcome the Taliban at first.

Venezuela's oil strike further discussed. Perhaps because it's an American paper, it does not go into the class or racial divides between the president's supporters and his detractors. But it does mention that the US relies on Venezuela for about 13% of its oil, a fairly hefty proportion.

China gilds Shanghai for the 2010 World Expo, an island of modern buildings entrepreneurship in a country with at least 800,000 peasants. Beautification of a nearby river, a greenbelt, a mag-lev train, and a theme park are all in the works.

Congo's civic organizations and human rights groups struggle to hold the country together and get help for a country where the rule of law has evaporated. Various factions of soldiers and mercenaries have torn the country apart, making murder and robbery common occurences.

EU accepts 10 new members this week. The minutiae of EU rules and regulations are beginning to hit home with the candidate countries, and some believe that they've been oversold on the benefits of membership.

posted by Natasha at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK |

Thanks to TBOGG, we learn that: "Georgia legislators will introduce a bill early next month that refers to abortion as an ''execution'' and will require any mother seeking an abortion to go to court to obtain a death warrant. ..." As I've been saying more frequently of late, we didn't let the South secede why exactly?

posted by Natasha at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK |

In the Guardian today:

Apparently Jerry Springer is the only mainstream media figure thus far to admit that there's a large peace movement in the US. (Though, this may be a plot to discredit the movement altogether.) He has said what few dare to say, that while the vast majority of the public supports the pursuit of Bin Laden and Al-Qaida, the invasion of Iraq is something that many fear will create worse problems in the future.

The UN Security Council is now arguing about photocopying the Iraqi declaration. Apparently the US delegation took charge of the entire document, via an assertion that the White House had better photocopying powers than the UN. The also claimed the right to release a purged version to non-nuclear powers, while reserving the whole version for the permanent members, nuclear powers all. It's suspected that information embarassing to the permanent members will also be purged, such as the identities of international arms dealers who have worked with the Iraqis. The permanent members of the Security Council are home to the world's foremost arms dealers, and actively encourage such business by giving smaller countries foreign aid that can only be used to purchase materiel from their weapons manufacturers.

The popular president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, continues to defend his government against a growing class war. The (white) elite of that country have engaged in a coup attempt already, with a wink and a nod from Washington, and their news networks have been showing non-stop coverage of upper class demonstrations in wealthy neighborhoods. Venezuela's (indian, black, & mestizo) underclasses have mobilized in the realization that if they don't defend the president, a Pinochet style dictatorship will likely be put in place. The president may be forced to declare a state of emergency to gain control of the situation, but it would be wholly unsurprising if such an action were used to justify an invasion or externally supported coup. Venezuela is the world's fifth largest oil exporter.

Matthew Engel examines the 2004 candidate field, mostly looking at Gore and Kerry. He seems to think that Kerry has a real chance, but will end up being more mocked than discussed. Finally, he wonders if a Republican would have to suggest the return of slavery in order to generate outrage, referring to Trent Lott's recent praise of Strom Thurmond's segregationist presidential campaign. But Mr. Engel, just because the press isn't outraged, it doesn't mean that the people aren't. The ones who heard about it, anyway.

Simon Tisdall sketches in the current situation in North Korea. And John Gittings examines North Korea's relationships with foreign powers, notably China. But as Jon Stewart said last night on The Daily Show, if Bush's shake-up of his economic team doesn't turn our economy around, North Korea will have to go.

posted by Natasha at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK |

New material may boost the efficiency of solar cells by allowing them to absorb a fuller range of the solar spectrum.

posted by Natasha at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK |

Monday, December 09, 2002  

Finally played last Friday's episode of Firefly, a space Western I'm beginning to like more every time I watch. Moral ambiguity, character development, tweaky subplots, all there.

This article dated close to the series' initial airing turned up in a search for the official site. The plot weaknesses noted therein are beginning to be fleshed out, much as Buffy: The Vampire Slayer morphed from mere camp to feisty genre romp.

posted by Natasha at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK |

I've only owned the Gores' new book, 'Joined at the Heart' for a matter of a few hours, and yet a random page flipping was able to quickly expose a postworthy passage on p. 168-9:

In fact, when you add it all up, the average American works a full three weeks more each year than the average Japanese. And what about the Germans, whose post-World War II production miracle reshaped the economy of Europe? They work an astonishing ten and a half weeks fewer per year than Americans.

We pride ounselves on having the highest productivity per person in the world - almost 40% higher than in Japan - but one of the main reasons we do is all the extra hours we put in. In productivity per hour worked, as opposed to productivity per person, we actually rank behind workers in Belgium and France. They may be more productive when they are at work partly because they have more time to rest and recuperate after work.

Good right off the bat. I think I'm going to enjoy this book.

posted by Natasha at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK |

Courtesy of Stand Down, we get a link to an article in the Paper of Record's magazine that explains the terrible dilemma of liberals in this time of war agitation:

"...The liberal hawk is a liberal -- someone temperamentally prone to see the world as a complicated place. ..."

This is a problem? Seeing the world as a complicated place? He says it like there's some kind of dispute on that point outside the environs of religious fundamentalism. But a little farther along, it becomes clear what he's getting at:

"...What makes the agony over Iraq particularly intense is the new role of conservatives. Members of the Bush administration who had nothing but contempt for human rights talk until the day before yesterday have grabbed the banner of democracy and are waving it on behalf of the long-suffering Iraqi people. For liberal hawks, this is painful to watch. ..."

It shouldn't be painful in the slightest, because it's obvious that the Bush administration continues to have utter contempt for human rights. They probably always will. But they have discovered its popularity with the public, noting that it's easier to sell an already decided on war if you talk about 'liberation.'

A real concern for human rights would address the serious and ongoing threats to it around the world. A sincere concern might address the healthcare needs of the developing world, the growing threat of water shortages, global warming, and the arms trade which enables rebels all over to wipe out whole villages on a whim. It might even address the concerns of the growing underclass at home whose real wages haven't risen since the '70s.

It seems clear that the only people whose rights the Bush team talks about are the people whose countries he wants to bomb. And so far, the only people whose rights he promotes in his policies are rich, western business owners.

Someone who's genuinely prone to see the world as a complicated place will have recognized that politicians occasionally lie.

posted by Natasha at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK |

Thanks to TBogg, we get this article regarding prayer before county board meetings. It turns out that the Chesterfield county board in Virginia is fine with multi-denominational moments of prayer, so long as those people praying are of the judeo-christian variety. A local Wiccan priestess was flatly rejected, and is filing a discrimination suit which basically contends that either the county must allow all faiths to participate, or stop the practice altogether. This bit pretty much summed up the argument of the opposition:

..."That is basically a non-religion," Miller said of Wicca. "It doesn't recognize the God that we have recognized. My perspective is that we should continue to follow the Judeo-Christian perspective. In the name of diversity, we need not throw away our Christian heritage."

Miller said the policy is "the right course," even though it likely would bar Muslims and Hindus from offering the prayers as well. ...

Wait for a Wiccan to petition to lead the prayer before a football game. Underpants will be tying themselves in knots all over this great nation.

posted by Natasha at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK |

Becky Johnson speaks about the life and death of Phillip Berrigan. Berrigan was a peace activist who had spent over 11 years of his life in jail for protest activities. The following is a partial excerpt from his last words:

"I die with the conviction, held since 1968 and Catonsville, that nuclear weapons are the scourge of the earth; to mine for them, manufacture them, deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and the earth itself."

Note: The original attempt to publish this post resulted in a blogger post meld, as you can see below. Apologies, and the three damaged posts have been put back up in their intended forms.

posted by Natasha at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK |

Via Atrios, TAPPED complains about media bias thusly:

...Tapped realizes that, in recent weeks, we've been dwelling perhaps overlong on the failings of the mainstream media to report on topics and questions that we feel are important. But the truth is, we're getting more and more frustrated. Between the coverage of John Kerry's haircut, the noncoverage of Strom Thurmond's racist past and Trent Lott's paen to it and the softball treatment of Rush Limbaugh in The Washington Post, many big-time journalists seem to act as extensions of the conservative Mighty Wurlitzer, while ignoring the big stories right in their midst. Something is very, very wrong.

Here, here. Check out the full post for links to Suskind's Esquire pieces on Karl Rove and Karen Hughes.

posted by Natasha at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK |

Guardian columnist Al Kennedy defends Germany. In part:

...Still, the second world war gives us the right to mock and revile Germans in perpetuity, right? They started it, they did terrible things; they were wrong and we were right. Never mind that our own glorious leaders weren't all that far from coming down on the pro-Nazi side and had let the (black) Ethiopians and the (communist) Spaniards get bombed to smithereens by the fascists, and were, in many cases, frankly suspicious or even abusive towards the (Jewish or other foreign) refugees who managed to escape murder by fleeing to the UK.

Never mind that we used concentration camps of our own both before and after the war (for foreigners and black people) and never mind that we - and, indeed, our blessed US allies - were falling over ourselves to forgive and pay sums of money to Nazi war criminals who could give us the political support or technical info we needed. (Like the good Dr Strughold, who went from Dachau torturer to CIA researcher in one easy step.) Never mind that we have never really apologised for our own 300-year empire and subsequent geopolitical nightmare hangover. Never mind our home-grown neo-Nazis and our government's decades-long flirtation with South American and Asian fascists, some of whom were also happy to exploit Nazi expertise. ...

posted by Natasha at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK |

Becky Johnson speaks about the


Via Atrios, TAPPED complains about media bias thusly:

...Tapped realizes that, in recent weeks, we've been dwelling perhaps overlong on the failings of the mainstream media to report on topics and questions that we feel are important. But the truth is, we're getting more and more frustrated. Between the coverage of John Kerry's haircut, the noncoverage of Strom Thurmond's racist past and Trent Lott's paen to it and the softball treatment of Rush Limbaugh in The Washington Post, many big-time journalists seem to act as extensions of the conservative Mighty Wurlitzer, while ignoring the big stories right in their midst. Something is very, very wrong.

Here, here. Check out the full post for links to Suskind's Esquire pieces on Karl Rove and Karen Hughes.

posted by Natasha at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK |

Dwight Meredith of PLA has pulled together the outstanding highlights of the current administration's secrecy fetish. I think his post needs to speak for itself, but I very much liked this quote from Bush (via Bob Woodward), presented before the list of shame.

I do not need to explain why I say things. — That's the interesting thing about being the President. — Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation.

The post just above that one details the administration's habit of breaking deals made even with the people 'on their side' of the agreement. Making clear that with the Bushies, no deals are final. He notes that in any small town law enterprise, this sort of weasel behavior is a sure-fire way to doom a career. But of course, the Bushies have never had a need to operate under the values they claimed to represent during their campaign.

posted by Natasha at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK |

Sunday, December 08, 2002  

The End Is Nigh, but the end of what?

I briefly checked out Fox News this evening, just to see if they had anything crazy to say. I wasn't disappointed. Christian Broadcast Network wannabe, Rita Cosby, announced a headline asking if the September 11th attacks may have been predicted in the bible. A stroll through the Google results turned up the following items, Fox doesn't appear to have any such story on their website at the moment.

This Time story, The Bible and the Apocalypse, put out in June indicates that this 'news' is probably old hat to Fox viewers. Especially those enamored of the 'Left Behind' series of books (and a low budget film starring Kirk Cameron), which opens on the day of the Rapture, whereon all true believers and children under 12 are taken bodily to heaven. (L. Ron Hubbard's people said that he was taken bodily to heaven, too. But that's another story.) Lo, the article saith as follows:

...A TIME/CNN poll finds that more than one-third of Americans say they are paying more attention now to how the news might relate to the end of the world, and have talked about what the Bible has to say on the subject. Fully 59% say they believe the events in Revelation are going to come true, and nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the Sept. 11 attack. ...

That was pretty crazy. *Can* you beat it? -Darryl Hammond impersonating Chris Matthews on SNL

If that wasn't enough to keep the crazy train rolling, Christian numerologists have devoted an entire site (and, apparently a small staff) to the idea of finding codes in the bible. A colleague in the field claims to have found a portent of September 11th. The link in question indicates that there is debate over the topic, noting that dates *can* be found 'by chance' and 'just about anywhere.' Though if I'm not mistaken, their assumptions would have to mean that not only did God acting through the prophets predict events and leave in clues as a code to be found after the fact, but also predicted the rise of the modern calendrical system. Jewish calendars are lunar, and their dates don't correspond to those on a solar calendar. But here, in his own words, is the skeptic himself:

...You may have found a significant code on the rapture, but when you say, "this code says the rapture will occur on Sept. 11..." then you are putting your claim all on the chance that that one single term is meant to be there. That is very dangerous. This is exactly how I believe the Bible Codes are can find information about future events, but as far as specific details, (e.g., when they will happen, who is involved) those all depend on 1-2 terms, and if that is the case, you can never be sure. God made it that way, the codes are meant to be used after the fact, to show that although the Bible was written 3,000 years ago, God knew the event would happen. The codes are there to give glory to God, their purpose is not to inform us of future events. The more I look into situations like these, the more I am convinced of that. ...

Well, there you have it. The thing that really gets me, though, is that these people are looking forward to some fiery cataclysm. They want the end of the world, and will follow anyone who also wants to make sure that this expression of 'God's will' via an orgy of blood and death actually comes to pass. A devastating rain of hell on earth that will cause, in the words of a relative of mine, the eyes of unbelievers to "boil in their sockets." Believers won't get virgins afterwards, but some form of eternal bliss is nonetheless promised. Nice for them.

So, remember the next time you talk to someone who's convinced that none of us is long for this world, that it isn't entirely dread they're coming from.

posted by Natasha at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK |

Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) trying to kick opium habit.

posted by Natasha at 6:51 AM | PERMALINK |

In the Christian Science Monitor:

Big money is not free speech.

Scott Adams talks about weasels

More on the Iraqi documents and inspections.

posted by Natasha at 6:44 AM | PERMALINK |

Now that they think about it, eastern europeans not so sure about EU.

posted by Natasha at 6:17 AM | PERMALINK |