Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Goose eats Grand Rapids. Film at 11. & WOOD TV8 - Grand Rapids City Commissioners unhappy with U.S. Patriot Act
Many people aren't happy with parts of the U.S. Patriot Act.

Grand Rapids City Commissioners added their names to the list Tuesday by voting for a measure that puts the city on record as opposing any law discriminating against Arab Americans, Muslim Americans and Americans from South Asia.

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell is taking issue with provisions of the U.S. Patriot Act. He says it violates civil liberties.

"With the USA Patriot Act, those rights are threatened. We've given them up out of fear and perhaps that fear has passed now. But we want to reclaim those rights," said Mayor Heartwell.

Yea! for us.

TV ads score big in Bush turnaround
WASHINGTON — A week of hearings on Capitol Hill and criticism from a former counterterrorism aide have eroded President Bush's poll standing on fighting terrorism. But that's nothing compared to the damage that Bush's campaign ads may have done to Democratic candidate John Kerry.

A USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll shows a remarkable turnaround in 17 battleground states where polls and historic trends indicate the race will be close, and where the Bush campaign has aired TV ads. Those ads say Bush has provided "steady leadership in times of change" while portraying Kerry as a tax-hiking, flip-flopping liberal.

One more finding: TV ads are powerful. A majority echoed the Bush ads' themes about the Massachusetts senator: 57% say Kerry has changed positions for political reasons, and 58% say their federal taxes will go up if he's elected. And the percentage who say he's "too liberal" has jumped from 29% in February to 41% now.

All you have to do to be elected is buy a lot of air time and fill it with lies. America gripes about the negative tone of the campaign, but yet they let themselves be influenced by these ads.

If I were King, this would not be allowed. Equal air time should be provided so nobody can "buy" the presidency.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Yahoo! News - Bush Agrees to Let Rice Testify Publicly
WASHINGTON - President Bush agreed Tuesday to do what he had insisted for weeks he would not: allow National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify publicly and under oath before an independent panel investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The White House also agreed that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney would answer questions — together, in private — before the entire commission.

The turnabout reflected administration concern that the president's strongest point with voters — his leadership in the war on terror — could be eroded if the high-publicity dispute over Rice's testimony lingered.

So this is just an election ploy George? Those poll number slip a bit on terrorism and we trot out Condi? Hmmmmm. I see.

Commissioner Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska, said the president and vice president will not be under oath.

Well of course not!

From the Daily Zen:

Spring has its hundred flowers,
Autumn has its many moons.
Summer has cool winds,
Winter its snow.
If useless thoughts do not
Cloud your mind,
Each day is the best of your life.

- Wu-Men-Hui-Kai (1183–1260)

Very nice. I'll try to keep that in mind.
It's All About The Adobe Learning Curve:

All of the previous pictures that I have made are saved with a low resolution (oops!) which means they look good on the Web but will not print well unless they are very small. NOW I "get it".

Back to the drawing board.

Johnson Controls to lay off 1,065 workers in Michigan, Kentucky
HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) — Automotive supplier Johnson Controls Inc. is transferring sun visor production from its plants here and in Glasgow, Ky., to a Mexican factory, resulting in a loss of 1,065 U.S. jobs.

The company will lay off 885 workers at its Southview component plant in Holland and 180 employees in Glasgow. Those are the only two U.S. locations where it makes visors for cars and trucks assembled in North America.

Liz Boyd, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jennifer Granholm, said Johnson Controls sent a letter to the Michigan Economic Development Corp. informing the state agency about its decision on Monday.

"We are disappointed to say the least," Boyd said. "We're not only disappointed at the news, but we're disappointed the state and the community didn't have a chance to sit down and see what solutions we could come up with to keep those jobs."

Liz, nothing the state can offer would have kept those jobs. We cannot compete with $1.57 an hour. I applaud the efforts- but- face it kids- this is a done deal, and there will be more to follow. Labor at 1/10th (or less) of the US cost is too good to pass up.

From WOOD TV8-

Last quarter, the company earned $164.5 million, up 17 percent from the same period last year. Revenues were up 40 percent to $6.4 billion.

It would appear the company would have no need to cut costs, but auto analysts say suppliers are under constant price pressure from their customers. The auto makers want to sell cheaper cars, and while Johnson Controls may have the customers today, it won't tomorrow, if its price doesn't compete.

Yeah, we wouldn't want to cut into a 6.4 BILLION dollar revenue. I guess it won't matter that these people will no longer be able to afford to buy autos when they lose their jobs.

Won't it be funny when all these companies turn around and discover that they have cut the legs off of their own market.

Yahoo! News - Stem Cells Help Attack Cancer in Mice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Stem cells, immature cells already showing promise as tools to regenerate and replace damaged tissue, may also help target and destroy cancer, U.S. scientists said on Monday.

Tests in mice showed the cells could deliver powerful cancer-killing proteins, destroying tumors while leaving healthy cells untouched.

Dr. Michael Andreeff and colleagues at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston used cells taken from bone marrow. These immature cells, known as mesenchymal stem cells, usually give rise to muscle and other tissues.

Monday, March 29, 2004

You're The Sound and the Fury!

by William Faulkner

Strong-willed but deeply confused, you are trying to come to grips
with a major crisis in your life. You can see many different perspectives on the issue,
but you're mostly overwhelmed with despair at what you've lost. People often have a hard
time understanding you, but they have some vague sense that you must be brilliant
anyway. Ultimately, you signify nothing.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

You're Fiji!

As calm, relaxed, and removed from life as they come, you're just so
chilled out, it hurts people to see you.  Everyone aspires to be where you are, but
most of them just can't put their stress away.  Little do they know that even you
sometimes have inner turmoil and struggles!  For the most part, though, it's sun and
fun for you, and that's the way you like it.  It's just sort of hard to get things
done with all that partying.

the Country Quiz at the href="">Blue Pyramid

AllPolitics - National Security Advisor Sandy Berger - Sep. 12, 1997
Aired September 11, 1997 - 11:30 a.m. ET

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, just a moment ago the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee got under way and resumed hearings. Today the witness is the highest-ranking official of the Clinton administration yet to testify before this committee. He is Sandy Berger, the president's national security adviser. As you can see, he has just taken the oath and seated himself at the witness table. Let's listen.

SEN. FRED THOMPSON (R), GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS CHMN.: Thank you very much. Mr. Berger, we do appreciate your being with us this morning. I know that it's not unprecedented for a person in your position to come to the Hill and testify, but it's not an every day occurrence, to say the least. It is appreciated by this committee. We, of course, will avoid any matters that have to do with national security matters. Any thing that we might get into in that area can be taken up in closed session. But it will not be necessary to get into that in open session.

Huh. Whaddaya know about that. (Thanks Hoos.) & WOOD TV8 - Grand Rapids police monitored anti-war protests, chief says
(Grand Rapids-AP, March 28, 2004, 5:04 p.m.) When opposition to the war in Iraq began to mount last year, city police sent undercover officers to anti-war meetings and rallies, collecting intelligence about the aims of activists, the department's chief confirmed.

Grand Rapids Police Chief Harry Dolan said the officers were sent after police received information activists planned unlawful measures, such as blocking traffic on a downtown Grand Rapids

Police had reason for heightened concern about protesters, because of the arrest of 12 people at a January 2003 rally protesting an appearance by President Bush, Dolan said. The protesters were arrested when dozens marched through downtown streets after the main rally had concluded and refused police orders to disperse.

Blocking streets! Refusing to disperse! All 12 of them! What a bunch of rabble-rousers we have here!

Yahoo! News - Bush Campaign Blasts Kerry's Bible Quote
Kerry never mentioned Bush by name during his speech at New North Side Baptist Church, but aimed his criticism at "our present national leadership." Kerry cited Scripture in his appeal for the worshippers, including James 2:14, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?"

"The Scriptures say, what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" Kerry said. "When we look at what is happening in America today, where are the works of compassion?"

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt said Kerry's comment "was beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse and a sad exploitation of Scripture for a political attack."

I think that Kerry forgot that God, is indeed, a paid spokesman for the Republican party.

Yahoo! News - Rice Rejects Calls for Public Testimony
CRAWFORD, Texas - National security adviser Condoleezza Rice is waging a vigorous defense of her actions in every public forum except one: the Sept. 11 commission where she would be questioned about the government's failure to prevent the terrorist attacks.

Rice declared Sunday night that "nothing would be better, from my point of view, than to be able to testify" to the commission. But, she added, "there is an important principle involved here: It is a long-standing principle that sitting national security advisers do not testify before the Congress." She has appeared before panel members in closed session.

OK then, what's the difference between appearing in a closed session and a public one? The closed session doesn't count as "testimony"? No oath being taken? Why bother with it all? And when did this administration develop "principles" anyway?

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Yahoo! News - Clarke Urges Terrorism Testimony to Be Made Public
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke on Sunday called on the White House to make public his own testimony to Congress as well as other statements, e-mails and documents about how the Bush administration handled the threat of terror.

"I would welcome it being declassified, but not just a little line here or there. Let's declassify all six hours of my testimony," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, slamming Clarke on Friday, called for declassifying Clarke's July 2002 testimony to a joint hearing by the Senate and House of Representatives Intelligence committees.

Frist, a Tennessee Republican, said Clarke's words then, when, as a member of Bush administration he defended its policies, conflicted with last week's sworn public testimony before the bipartisan commission investigating the attacks, known popularly as the 9/11 Commission.

"Let's take all of my e-mails and all of the memos that I sent to the national security adviser and her deputy from January 20th to September 11th, and let's declassify all of it," he said.

Does this sound like a man worried about perjury charges? Hee hee! Go Dick!

Off the Mark: Prior still hurting
MESA, Ariz. -- Mark Prior won't be ready Opening Day and the Chicago Cubs' right-hander is doubtful for the first homestand as well. Prior got a second opinion Saturday on his right Achilles and was given the same diagnosis: It's inflammed, it's sore, and it's going to take time to heal.

Bummer. Really glad we picked up Maddux now.

Psychspring flowers.

Yahoo! News - House leader Pelosi supports gay marriage
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi emerged on Wednesday as the first high-ranking Democrat to publicly support civil marriage for same-sex couples.

Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, was asked by the host of a Fox News show if same-sex couples can get married and if she supported Mayor Gavin Newsom's action of granting licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco. She answered "yes" to both questions during the televised interview.

Finally, a Democrat with some guts. WTG Nancy.

Yahoo! News - Kerry Urges Rice to Testify Publicly to 9/11 Panel
Kerry accused President Bush's White House of stonewalling the commission by keeping Rice off its public witness list, and of attempting "character assassination" against its own former counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke.

"If Condoleezza Rice can find time to do '60 Minutes' on television before the American people, she ought to find 60 minutes to speak to the commission under oath," Kerry said.

No sooner had I said he should keep quiet- he starts talking.

He said Franklin Roosevelt had had no problem cooperating with an investigation of America's unpreparedness for Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II, and added:

"This administration has done the opposite -- stonewalled this commission."

Nice touch.

Still, the Bush camp is well aware the issue is politically explosive for a president running heavily on a claim to strong wartime leadership, and it responded quickly to Kerry's jibe.

"John Kerry's attack on Dr. Rice today is part of the Democrats' strategy to politicize the work of the 9/11 commission," Bush campaign spokeswoman Nicolle Devenish said. "John Kerry seeks to distract Americans from his own failed ideas for protecting America from future attacks."

If these attacks are in the future, how do we know that Kerry's ideas "failed"? Does anyone else see a problem with that claim?

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Reeds Lake Watercolor.
It's All About Hindsight: 48 hours. Maybe it's best that Kerry doesn't say anything about this Clarke fiasco. The Bush team seems to be imploding all on their own. Let's sit back and watch.

Yahoo! News - Rice Discusses Terror, but Not Under Oath
WASHINGTON - Condoleezza Rice says the Bush administration has a good story to tell about fighting terrorism and she's pouring it out in television appearances, interviews and newspaper articles. The one place she won't talk is in public, under oath, before the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

That is blossoming into a public relations nightmare.

The White House finds itself in the awkward position of trying to explain why Rice, the national security adviser to President Bush, can talk at length to reporters but not at the commission's televised hearings because of the constitutional principle of separation of powers.

Heh heh heh...this woman is turning into a twitching, nervous wreck over this. Poor Condi. What did she know and when did she know it?

Yahoo! News - Republicans Want 2002 Clarke Testimony Declassified
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans broadened their drive to discredit White House critic Richard Clarke on Friday by questioning whether the former counterterrorism official had lied in testifying two years ago about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The latest move in the fracas over President Bush's anti-terror and Iraq war policies came as it was disclosed that congressional Republicans were trying to declassify closed-door testimony Clarke gave in July 2002 before Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees. Such declassification would be a rare step for Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, charged that Clarke's testimony in 2002 conflicted with his appearance this week before a bipartisan commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2002, backed the call to declassify, Clarke's testimony but added: "To the best of my recollection, there is nothing inconsistent or contradictory in that testimony and what Mr. Clarke has said this week."

Graham also said in a statement that Clarke's testimony "should be released in its entirety -- not, as the Bush administration has done in the past, selectively edited so that only favorable portions are made public."

Yes, let's release all the testimony. Might be interesting.

Richard Clarke wrote this book knowing what he said in 2002, correct? Dick doesn't strike me as a stupid guy, so I doubt there is anything that damaging in that testimony. Bring it out.

This is just more smoke and mirrors from the administration. They can't refute this guy, so they just try to tear him down.

Good luck Dick. This might get ugly. Hell, I know it will get ugly.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Yahoo! News - Bush Pokes Some Fun During Media Dinner
Bush put on a slide show, calling it the "White House Election-Year Album" at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association 60th annual dinner, showing himself and his staff in some decidedly unflattering poses.

There was Bush looking under furniture in a fruitless, frustrating search. "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere," he said.

Whoa! Thats some funny stuff there, George! Let's make jokes about the reason for the deaths of hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis! Side-splitting humor!

MoveOn should use that clip in their ads. Maybe we could show the reaction of some families who have lost loved ones, too. Betcha they aren't laughing.

This man is totally disgusting.

This from the Boston Herald-

Sen. John F. Kerry last night criticized President Bush for poking fun at his administration's inability to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq during a media dinner known for its biting humor.

"If George Bush thinks his deceptive rationale for going to war is a laughing matter, then he's even more out of touch than we thought,'' Kerry said in a statement issued to the press.

Thanks John. Glad to see you on the ball here.

Yahoo! News - Kerry Heads to Michigan for Speech on Jobs, Taxes
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry heads to the battleground state of Michigan on Friday to propose a broad change in international tax laws designed to discourage companies from shifting jobs to foreign countries.

"Today we have a tax code that does more to reward companies for moving overseas than it does to reward them for creating jobs here in America," Kerry said in remarks prepared for delivery at Wayne State University.

Michigan, a key battleground in Kerry's November showdown with President Bush, has been hit hard by manufacturing job losses and the movement of jobs to foreign countries. In the 2000 election, Democrat Al Gore won the state by 5 percentage points over Bush.

This should play well here. Keep coming back John.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Yahoo! News - Medicare Official Recounts Firing Threats
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Medicare official at the center of a storm about a bill on health benefits for the elderly publicly recounted for the first time on Wednesday the threats and pressures he faced to keep his higher estimate of the bill's cost secret.

Richard Foster, the top actuary at the federal agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid, told the House Ways and Means Committee he was ordered last year to withhold technical information and cost estimates about the Medicare drug benefit bill which was narrowly approved by Congress last November.

Foster said he decided to resign in protest after Medicare administrator Tom Scully ordered him to withhold cost data from Congress last June but his staff persuaded him to stay on and fight within his agency.

Scully, who left the agency for the private sector late last year, did not return a phone call or e-mails.

And why did Mr. Scully leave, hmmmmm? Offered a cushy job in the "private sector", was he? Who ordered Mr. Scully to withhold data? Inquiring minds want to know...

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Is It Just Me:

Or is anyone else a little miffed that John Kerry isn't on the news flapping his gums about Richard Clarke and the testimony before the 9/11 panel? This seems like the perfect time to jump in the fray, and he's on vacation? Hellooooo? Anyone?

Yahoo! News - Report: Military Gay Dismissals Down
WASHINGTON - The number of gays dismissed from the military under the Pentagon's "don't-ask, don't tell" policy has dropped to its lowest level in nine years as U.S. forces fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a report by an advocacy group.

The military discharged 787 gays and lesbians last year, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which attributed the decline to the importance of U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The figure marks a 17 percent decrease from 2002 and a 39 percent drop from 2001, just before the conflicts began in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"You have to ask yourself, and you have to ask the Pentagon, why are the discharges going down?" said C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of the advocacy group and one of the report's authors. "When they need people, they keep them. When they don't, they implement their policy of discrimination with greater force."

Especially when you consider that more people are probably "telling" as a way to get the hell out of Iraq. The hypocrisy continues to astound me.

Yahoo! News - High Court Considers Pledge of Allegiance Case
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court considers on Wednesday whether the words "under God" must be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance during its recitation in public schools, an important case on church-state separation.

The high court will question what role religion can play in public life during an hour of arguments in a case that already has sparked a political uproar and generated widespread interest.

The words "under God" were added to the pledge as part of a 1954 law adopted by Congress in an effort to distinguish America's religious values and heritage from those of communism, which is atheistic.

Get it off the money, too. - Clarke, Tenet to testify before 9/11 panel - Mar 24, 2004
"The president by word and deed made clear his interests and his intense desire to protect the nation from terrorism," Powell said. "He frequently asked us to do more. He decided early on that we needed to be more aggressive in going after terrorism and especially al Qaeda."

Proof? If that's true, why wouldn't he meet with Dick Clarke until Sept. 4th, 2001?

Likewise, former Clinton officials defended the antiterrorism policies of their boss.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Clinton was criticized for overreacting when he launched attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan after the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Albright said: "There should have been no confusion that our personnel were authorized to kill bin Laden. We did not, after all, launch cruise missiles for the purpose of serving legal papers."

I'd like to see the quotes of who critized Bill and what they said. Too lazy to dig them up.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

River in sepia.

What's for dinner?

As I took this, I thought about the many, many men (and women) who have fished this river in the past. I wish there was a picture record of the "rapids" before we put all the cement in it. I bet it was beautiful here.

Yahoo! News - Democrats Say Bush Abuses Power in Slamming Critic
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats on Tuesday accused the White House of election-year "abuses of power" in trying to discredit former top U.S. counter-terrorism official Richard Clarke, who has accused President Bush of ignoring threats from al Qaeda before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Top Democrats tried to turn the political tables on Bush by accusing the administration of attempting to squelch dissent and bad news on a range of fronts.

They recalled moves to discredit former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who questioned Bush's Iraq policy in a book in January, and the leaking of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame when her husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, accused Bush of hyping prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Did anyone expect anything different? Honestly?

Yahoo! News - Gay Marriage Amendment Faces Senate Hearing
Democrats as well as some Republicans on Capitol Hill have voiced reservations about tinkering with the Constitution. And members on both sides of the aisle have predicted supporters will fail to muster the needed two-thirds vote in both the Senate and House of Representatives to pass an amendment.

The revised proposal, like the original, would define marriage as between a man and a woman. But new language, Allard said, would specifically allow state legislatures to continue to determine what benefits same-sex couples could get.

"The new language makes the intent of the legislation even clearer -- to protect marriage in this country as the union between a man and a woman, and to reinforce the authority of state legislatures to determine benefits issues related to civil unions or domestic partnerships," Allard said.

Wouldn't the amendment contradict itself in that case? It would bar "marriage", but what if a state gives the full legal rights of marriage in their civil union language? Wouldn't that still be "marriage"? Would full legal recognition be OK as long as you didn't use the word? Good grief.

Glad this is looking at defeat.

Yahoo! News - China Suspends Human Rights Dialogue with U.S.
BEIJING (Reuters) - China suspended its human rights dialogue with the United States Tuesday, saying it had no alternative after Washington proposed a resolution to the United Nations to condemn Beijing's record.

"The Chinese side cannot but immediately halt bilateral human rights dialogue and exchanges," Assistant Foreign Minister Shen Guofang told U.S. Ambassador Clark Randt, according to a foreign ministry statement.

"The United States should bear all consequences that might arise from this."

It was not the first time China has suspended dialogue with the United States on the issue and analysts said it was unlikely to inflict much damage on overall relations.

We like our shiny beads and cheap trinkets far too much to ever raise a serious fuss with China.

Monday, March 22, 2004

A different version of "down to the river".

This is one powerful graphics program. I haven't even begun to grasp the capabilities.

Yahoo! News - Smoking Speeds Up Memory Loss in Old Age
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Elderly people who smoke show a five-fold faster rate of age-related mental decline than people who never smoked, according to new study findings released Monday.

Among former smokers, mental decline occurred around twice as fast as in those who said they never smoked.

And the more people smoked during their lifetimes, the quicker they appear to lose their mental faculties with age, the authors note.

Aha! I think I've just discovered what's wrong with my Dad...

DeVos Place.

(I have to get all the tourist shots out of my head so I can begin to look at things differently.)
I'm a Big Girl Now:

I managed to get a bat out of my house all by myself last night.

I had drifted into a semi-slumber while watching 60 Minutes- Baby suddenly jumped up on my TV and was staring intently at the corner of the living room. I noticed a dark spot hanging from the molding that rings the ceiling....eeek!

Genius that I am, I attached a curtain shear to the end of my broom and chased him till he fell to the floor- I then dragged the shear with him under it to the front door and out he went, chattering at me all the way. Bats are cute, but creepy!

Very proud of myself this morning- glad I didn't have to kill him, call the Humane Society, or lock myself and the cats in my bedroom all night and hope he just went away.

Bush's Medicare dream turning into a nightmare
WASHINGTON -- Enactment of a sweeping Medicare overhaul law last year was supposed to be the crowning achievement of President George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism" as he readied himself for re-election.

But less than four months after he signed it into law on Dec. 8, Bush's Medicare reform dream has turned into a nightmare and a potential drag on his bid for re-election. The biggest expansion of the government social service net in a generation now is drawing fire on several fronts:

*The Health and Human Services general inspector's office is investigating a claim by the government's top expert on Medicare costs that the administration concealed from Congress the true cost of the program.

*The House Ethics Committee plans to investigate whether threats and bribes were used to pass the bill in the House.

*The General Accounting Office (GAO) is investigating whether the Bush administration spent millions of taxpayer dollars on TV ads touting the Medicare reform law that look suspiciously like Bush campaign commercials.

What? The administration lied and threatened people? Shocked! Shocked I tell you!

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Yahoo! News - Al-Qaida No. 2: We Have Briefcase Nukes
SYDNEY, Australia - Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)'s terror network claims to have bought ready-made nuclear weapons on the black market in central Asia, the biographer of al-Qaida's No. 2 leader was quoted as telling an Australian television station.

In an interview scheduled to be televised on Monday, Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir said Ayman al-Zawahri claimed that "smart briefcase bombs" were available on the black market. It was not clear when the interview between Mir and al-Zawahri took place.

U.S. intelligence agencies have long believed that al-Qaida attempted to acquire a nuclear device on the black market, but say there is no evidence it was successful.

Chilling thought. But if true, why haven't they used them yet?

Yahoo! News - Ex-Adviser Says Bush Ignored Terror Threats
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former White House anti-terrorism adviser has accused President Bush of ignoring terrorism threats before the Sept. 11 attacks and of making America less safe.

Richard Clarke, Bush's top official on counter-terrorism who headed a cybersecurity board, told CBS "60 minutes" in an interview to be aired on Sunday he thought Bush had "done a terrible job on the war against terrorism."

"I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11," Clarke told CBS.

Will anyone listen?

Down to the river.

A view of and from the Grand.


Yahoo! News - Cubs' Kerry Wood Shows Power at Plate
Kerry Wood is more than just a power pitcher. He can swing the bat, too. The Chicago ace threw six dominant innings and homered Saturday, leading a Cubs split squad to a 10-0 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers in Phoenix.

Wood improved to 3-0 in four spring starts. He gave up three hits, struck out five and did not walk a batter.

Portrait of a man on a mission. Save some for the regular season Woody!

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Yahoo! News - Church Jury Acquits Gay Methodist Pastor
BOTHELL, Wash. - A lesbian Methodist pastor was acquitted Saturday in a church trial over her sexual orientation, and will be allowed to continue her ministry.

After about 10 hours of deliberations, a jury of 13 pastors ruled in favor of the Rev. Karen Dammann, 47, who disclosed three years ago that she was in a homosexual relationship.

Church law prohibits the ordination of self-avowed, practicing homosexuals and the church's Book of Discipline declares homosexuality to be "incompatible to Christian teachings." But the church's social principles support gay rights and liberties.

The jury issued a statement saying the church "did not present sufficient clear and convincing evidence to sustain the charge."

Belknap Panorama

(look what I can do!)

Yahoo! News - Thousands Worldwide Demand Troops Pull Out of Iraq
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thousands of antiwar protesters poured into streets around the globe on Saturday's anniversary of the Iraq (news - web sites) war to demand the withdrawal of U.S.-led troops.

From Sydney to Tokyo, Madrid, London, New York and San Francisco, protesters condemned U.S. policy in Iraq and said they did not believe Iraqis are better off or the world safer because of the war. Journalists estimated that at least a million people streamed through Rome, in probably the biggest single protest.

In London, two anti-war protesters evaded security to climb the landmark Big Ben clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, unfurling a banner reading "Time for Truth."

We had something here, too, but I missed it. I saw people walking up the Michigan St. hill with protest signs...damn! I wish I would have paid attention, I could've got some pictures...maybe met some like-minded people.

(Edited at 6:14pm- Local coverage showed that there were probably as many people down at the park/fish ladder as there were at our local protest. Watch this space for fish ladder pictures! :~o )
Apparently appeasing terrorists leads to gay marriage...uh, make that unions...

Yahoo! News - Spain's leader promises civil unions
Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who won the country's elections with a surprise majority last weekend, says the unions will not be called marriage, but they will have similar rights to those currently received by heterosexual couples.

"We are going to present a bill to set gay unions on the same footing as marriage," Zapatero said in a TV interview.

The head of the country's church, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, commented that the promise of equality is an "outrage" because gay families are "incapable by nature of having children." He added that such unions would precipitate the "collapse of the social security system."

See? Social collapse! And if we elect John Kerry we will get the same!

BAHAHAHA! Just playing neocon here...

Yahoo! News - Ex-Adviser: Iraq Considered After 9/11
WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld almost immediately urged President Bush to consider bombing Iraq after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington, says a former senior administration counterterrorism aide.

"Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq," Clarke said. "We all said, 'But no, no, al-Qaida is in Afghanistan."

Clarke, who is expected to testify Tuesday before a federal panel reviewing the attacks, said Rumsfeld complained in the meeting that "there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq."

More proof this war was a done deal. Didn't matter what Saddam did, we were coming the second Bush took office.

Reeds Lake reeds (take 2)

Yahoo! News - Canada: Third province OKs gay marriage
Quebec's top court ruled on Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, making Quebec the third Canadian province to legalize such marriages. The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that declared it unconstitutional to discriminate against same-sex couples when it comes to marriage rights.

Egale Canada, the country's largest GLBT rights group, noted on Friday that same-sex couples now can marry in 70 percent of the country.

"Thousands of gay and lesbian couples have already been married in B.C. and Ontario," said Gilles Marchildon, executive director of Egale. "As far as I'm aware, not one single heterosexual couple has called off their wedding as a result. Instead, Canada has earned a reputation as one of the most progressive countries in the world. Studies show this will attract top knowledge workers as well as a flood of tourists. Now Quebec too can benefit."

The rest of the world moves on...the United States, the "land of the free", lags behind...

Friday, March 19, 2004

Yahoo! News - Tennessee County Reverses Ban on Gays
DAYTON, Tenn. - Commissioners in rural, conservative Rhea County never intended to create the "wildfire" of reaction that resulted from banning gay people, the county attorney said after the board reversed its 2-day-old decision.

The original vote was meant to show support for the state's ban on same-sex marriages, county Attorney Gary Fritts said Thursday.

"They wanted to send a message to our (state) representative and senator that Rhea County supports the ban on same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is what it was all about," Fritts said. "There has just been so much misunderstanding about this. It was to stop people from coming here and getting married and living in Rhea County."

Dude, I can guarantee you that I will NEVER live in Rhea County. I hope I never even think about living in the state of Tennessee.(although it is a beautiful state)

This would be hysterically funny if it weren't so tragic.

Lawmakers keep death penalty off the ballot
LANSING -- Touching on themes of revenge, justice, forgiveness and religion, an impassioned two-hour death penalty debate in the Michigan House failed to garner the 73 votes needed to put the issue before the public.

Still, the 55-52 vote Thursday showed some momentum on the issue. When the same debate was held in 1999, only 30 House members voted in favor of the death penalty.

Gotta admit they have tackled some tough questions this session...

What the penny saw....

(Someday the sun will shine in Michigan, I hope.)

Yahoo! News - Reports of anti-gay violence increase
Incidents of anti-gay hate violence rose 24 percent in the last six months of 2003, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down sodomy laws, according to data released this week by a national anti-violence project.

The data is "clear evidence of the backlash" against GLBT people as a result of heightened media attention following the Supreme Court decision and the controversy over same-sex marriage, according to a press release by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects (NCAVP), which tracks anti-gay hate violence.

In some areas, the number of attacks rose even more dramatically, when compared with data from a year earlier. Incidents increased by 133 percent in Colorado, 120 percent in Chicago and 43 percent in New York. In San Francisco, which became ground zero in the struggle over same-sex marriage rights in February, incidents in the last half of 2003 rose 14 percent.

"This is a stunning increase," Denise de Percin, director of the Colorado Anti-Violence Program, told the Rocky Mountain News. "The polarized daily coverage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues has raised the profile of our community and galvanized into action the people who hate us."

In Multnomah County, Ore., which grants marriage rights to same-sex couples, county commissioners have reported receiving death threats. "I hope your whole family is killed. I hope with all my heart that you're gunned down and killed," said one caller in a phone message to commissioners.

Yahoo! News - Mich. Bars to Get Breath Testing Machines
Rockford is the first U.S. municipality to buy the Alcohol Alert machines from KeRo Corp., said Ken Stoll, who heads the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company.

They are expected to be installed in the Rogue River Tavern and The Corner Bar in May. Sam's Joint is demurring, saying the machine might give the wrong impression to patrons of the family oriented restaurant.

Officials in the southwestern Michigan community of about 4,600 believe the initiative will be a boon for bartenders who are required by law not to serve patrons they believe to be intoxicated.

For 50 cents, drinkers blow through a straw and into the computerized machine, which provides a digital readout and a vocal accounting of the test results — and possibly enough reason to seek a ride home.

Great idea EXCEPT that patrons should be reminded that BA levels fluctuate- the machine says you're at .07 but that last drink hasn't hit the blood level yet- will the bar owners then be liable if a customer has a printed slip that shows them lower than the limit? (maybe it doesn't print slips- the one at the jail did- heh)

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Yahoo! News - County wants to outlaw homosexuality
The Tennessee county where a teacher was famously tried in 1925 for teaching evolution in the Scopes "Monkey Trial" is now trying to outlaw homosexuality.

Rhea County Commissioner J.C. Fugate introduced the measure during a commissioners meeting on Tuesday, asking for an amendment to Tennessee's criminal code so homosexuals can be charged with crimes against nature.

The audience applauded the motion, and the Rhea County commissioners approved the request 8-0.

Fugate also asked the county attorney to find the best way to ban homosexuals from living within the county. That measure is scheduled for a vote during next month's commission meeting.

"We need to keep them out of here," Fugate said of homosexuals, telling the Associated Press he was reacting to recent headlines featuring same-sex marriages.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004 & WOOD TV8 - Grand Rapids news and weather - July 4th Celebration may fall victim to economy
One of the biggest summer events in Grand Rapids is in jeopardy. Organizers of the annual Fourth of July celebration say they may have to cancel the event this year because of the poor economy.

As of now, the fireworks and the rest of the Independence Day celebrations are canceled.

Organizers say the loss of Spartan Stores, one of the event's major sponsors, and a $10,000 bill to help the cash-strapped city of Grand Rapids cover overtime costs, were too much for the other sponsors to absorb.

"It's hard to find someone to pay $60-65,000 for a five hour event in an economy where it's just tough-going right now," said Glenn Delvecchio, Marketing Director for Clear Channel Communications and Chairman of the Fourth of July Celebration Committee.

And it's not just the Fourth of July celebration in doubt. Organizers with Celebration on the Grand say the event's 25th anniversary parade may not step off as planned. The city's overtime costs and the lack of a donor to cover those expenses has put the parade in jeopardy. A final decision on whether to march will likely come in May.

Following that story on the news was a commercial from George telling me how things were oh-so-much better. Now I'm all confused.

" America is moving forward. You can kiss your Fourth of July goodbye. I'm George W. Bush, and I approved of this message."
WHITECAPS Alumni Update!

Mike Rabelo got a hit in spring training! Drove in a run!

M Rabelo DET 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000

(God, I'm bored. Nothing to blog today. I can't wait for Spring.)

Prior passes first test
MESA, Ariz. -- Mark Prior threw off the mound on Tuesday for the first time in more than two weeks, and his right Achilles passed the test. Prior threw 25 to 30 pitches, and Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said that everything went well.

"It was just as we would've hoped," said Hendry. "There was no discomfort."

Prior, 23, will throw long toss from flat ground on Wednesday, and be back on the mound on Thursday for an extended side session.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Yahoo! News - N.Y. Ministers Charged for Marrying Gays
KINGSTON, N.Y. - Two ministers were charged with criminal offenses Monday for marrying 13 gay couples — apparently the first time in U.S. history that clergy members have been prosecuted for performing same-sex ceremonies.

District Attorney Donald Williams said gay marriage laws make no distinction between public officials and members of the clergy who preside over wedding ceremonies.

Unitarian Universalist ministers Kay Greenleaf and Dawn Sangrey were charged with solemnizing a marriage without a license, the same charges leveled against New Paltz Mayor Jason West, who last month drew the state into the widening national debate over same-sex unions.

The ministers will plead not guilty at their arraignment March 22 and are prepared to go to trial, said their lawyer, Robert Gottlieb.

"There have been clergy throughout the country for years and years who have solemnized marriages between same-sex couples, and only the Ulster County D.A. feels compelled to haul them into a court and brand them a criminal defendant," Gottlieb said.

Barbara Cox, a law professor and gay marriage expert at the California Western School of Law, said the case might be difficult to prosecute because clergy had not sworn to uphold the law.

"A minister who has no authority to make a marriage legally valid, how can you say they've broken the law?" Cox said.

Look for these charges to be dropped. Gotta love the Unitarians- "Unitarian Universalists have roots in a movement that rejected Puritan orthodoxy in New England, and they support a free search for spiritual truth. Atheists and pagans are a significant part of their membership."

Maybe I should look into joining them. That's my kind of religion.

If you want to be free,
Get to know your real self.
It has no form, no appearance,
No root, no basis, no abode,
But is lively and buoyant.
It responds with versatile facility,
But its function cannot be located.
Therefore when you look for it,
You become further from it;
When you seek it
You turn away from it all the more.

- Linji (d. 867)

Then how does one "get to know it" if you cannot "look for it"? This Zen stuff is hard. ;~)

Yahoo! News - W. House Calls on Kerry to Reveal Names of Leaders
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Monday said if Democrat John Kerry refuses to name foreign leaders who he says want him to defeat President Bush, then he is probably making it up.

The Republican White House was trying to capitalize on Kerry's recent comment that he had spoken to some foreign leaders who wanted him to beat Bush in the November election and change the course of U.S. foreign policy.

Bush was at odds with leaders of France, Germany, Russia, Canada and other nations during the Iraq conflict because they refused to go along with war. His coalition in favor of war included 34 nations led by Britain, Australia, Italy and Spain, whose pro-U.S. government was toppled in elections on Sunday.

Well, there's four named countries right in this very article of some folks who might like to see Bush out. Gee, guys, if you can't figure out who might have said these things, then perhaps you should read the newspaper and pay more attention to world opinion.

Or does the White House actually think that everyone is on our side? Pretty dangerous assumption to make, in my opinion. Or maybe the White House enjoys being deliberately obtuse just so they can call Kerry a liar.

Yahoo! News - Spanish PM Pledges to Bring Home Troops
LONDON - Spain's newly elected prime minister pledged to bring his peacekeeping troops home from Iraq by June 30. All other governments helping rebuild Iraq said they would stay the course, but there were signs of nervousness after the Madrid bombings and the Spanish government's defeat at the polls.

Socialist leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's remarks Monday came as Spanish police investigated whether Thursday's coordinated bombings were carried out by Islamic extremists — possibly al-Qaida — intent on punishing Spain for its support for the U.S.-led war. The blasts killed 200 people and wounded about 1,600.

Sticky situation. Pulling out seems to give the terrorists a victory, but, if that is the will of the Spanish people, then why shouldn't they? There was also this caveat-

Zapatero described the war as an "error" and said Monday he would bring the 1,300 Spanish peacekeepers home by June 30 unless the United Nations takes control in Iraq.

This, to me, seems reasonable. Let's hope the US doesn't turn on Spain the way we have turned on France, etc. Already the catcalls of "cowards" have started. It seems we are doing our best to alienate the entire world.

Monday, March 15, 2004

I was standing almost a city block away from this sign.

This is one cool camera.

Where Is My Gay Apocalypse? / Over 3,500 gay marriages and, what, no hellfire? I was promised hellfire. And riots. What gives?
After all, gay marriage is supposed to ruin the nation, is it not? Induce actual rioting and civil unrest and shirtless anarchy as millions of stupefied citizens pray to a bloody pulverized Mel Gibson-y Jesus for redemption, as they suddenly begin questioning whether ogling the Pottery Barn catalog for more than 10 minutes might mean they're gay.

"It's anarchy," some guy named Rick Forcier, of the Washington state chapter of the Christian Coalition, actually whined. "We seem to have lost the rule of law. It's very frightening when every community decides what laws they will obey." Why, yes, Rick. It's total anarchy. Just look at all the screaming and the bloodshed and the gunfire. Run and hide, Rick. The gay people in love are coming. And they've got tattoos and funny haircuts and want to get married and celebrate their love and be left alone. Hide the children.

This was -- and still is -- very much the right-wing sentiment. It was almost a guarantee: Same-sex marriage spelled the instantaneous end of all that is good and righteous and edible. Insurrection was imminent, apocalypse nigh. You could see it in their eyes -- they could hardly wait.

Mark Morford is Dave Barry with a "bite". Right on the edge, funny stuff.

Yahoo! News - Spain's Ruling Party Swept From Power
MADRID, Spain - Spain's ruling conservatives crashed to surprise defeat in elections overshadowed by anger over terrorist bombings, becoming the first government that backed the U.S.-led war in Iraq to be voted out of office.

The win by the Socialists over President Jose Maria Aznar's favored Popular Party Sunday came amid charges that Aznar made Spain a target for terrorist by supporting the Iraq war.

Spain's incoming prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has pledged to bring home the 1,300 Spanish troops in Iraq when their tour of duty ends in July.

Can the same happen here?

Sunday, March 14, 2004

It's All About The Hubble:

Yahoo! News - Nun Faces Jail for Drunk Tractor Driving
WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish Benedictine nun is facing jail for driving a tractor into a car while drunk outside her convent in southwestern Poland, police said on Friday.

The 45-year-old nun will be charged with drunk-driving and causing an accident, which carries a prison sentence of up to two years, Dariusz Waluch, police spokesman in the southwestern Polish town of Dzierzoniow, told local news agency PAP.

He said the nun was 17 times over the country's legal alcohol limit for driving.

17 times? Flying nun indeed.

Edge Baby.

Yahoo! News - Bush Says Economic Critics Want to Hurt Families
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Without using his name, President Bush accused Democratic presidential rival John Kerry and other critics on Saturday of wanting to punish American families and workers with old, ineffective economic policies.

"Some politicians in Washington see this new challenge and they want to respond in old, ineffective ways. They want to increase federal taxes. Yet, punishing families and small businesses is not a job-creation strategy," he said.

After all, it's George's job to punish American workers with old, ineffective economic policies. More tax cuts should do the trick, right?

Saturday, March 13, 2004

It's All About A Long Election Year:

While you're shopping, be sure and contribute to your candidate...

Pssst! Kerry fans, check the totals. :~)

Yahoo! News - Democrat Kerry Challenges Bush to Monthly Debates
BOSTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, visiting the site of one of the most famous political debates in U.S. history, planned to challenge President Bush on Saturday to a "real discussion about America's future" in a monthly series of debates.

"2004 can't be just another year of politics as usual," Kerry said in the text. "The challenges we face are just too grave and too great.

"We confront big issues -- as big as any in our history -- and they call for a new and historic commitment to a real and informed exchange of ideas."

Well, that leaves George out.

Kerry will be lucky if he gets one debate. Something tells me George will be too busy.

Yahoo! News - AP: Rumsfeld, FBI Official Kept 9-11 Items
WASHINGTON - The removal of souvenir debris from the scenes of the Sept. 11 attacks reached the highest levels of government, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and FBI Director Robert Mueller's chief of anti-terrorism, a Justice Department investigation has found.

The bureau announced it was banning agents from taking items from crimes scenes, but no agents were being charged with crimes because the bureau did not have such a policy during the Sept. 11 investigation.

A lawyer for retired agent Jane Turner, who blew the whistle on the FBI's removal of souvenir debris, said agents should have been charged.

The amount of theft from Ground Zero by federal officials is shocking," attorney Stephen M. Kohn said. "Every federal employee who stole or converted property from that crime scene must be held fully accountable under the law."

"We have a warrant for Mr. Rumsfeld's arrest...."

Lookin' out my back door- 3/10/04

NightSky Friday: Detailed Viewer's Guide: Five Planets Soon Visible
There are four planets visible to the naked eye now, and a fifth will begin to make brief appearances in the evening sky during the week of March 14. Not until April 2036 will there be another chance to readily see all five naked-eye planets at the same time in the evening.

The sky show will be at its best from late March into the first days of April: the five brightest naked-eye planets will all be simultaneously in view in the early evening sky from roughly 45 to 90 minutes after sunset. In addition, from March 22 through April 2, the Moon will traverse the scene and on some evenings will appear to pass close to this or that world.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Yahoo! News - Star Safety Lynch Leaving the Buccaneers
A little more than a year after helping the Buccaneers win the Super Bowl, John Lynch is through in Tampa Bay.

The star strong safety could not reach agreement with the team on a restructured contract. So the Bucs praised Lynch, then gave him permission to seek a new home.

"Everyone respects who he is and what he's brought to the game of football. But at this time we're going to move forward," Bucs general manager Bruce Allen said Thursday. "We decided the best way to move forward is allow him to talk to other teams and find a home that would be best for him and his family."

You are a Persian! You are quiet, gentle, and
loving, though sometimes you need extra
attention and care. Some might call you high
maintenance, but you just need to be pampered.

What breed of cat are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

It's All About The Drive:

If you click on the individual counties, you can see the highway conditions. As of now, roads south of here are just wet, and it's clear on I-94 from Benton Harbor to the State line.

Forecast for Chicago is sunny skies. - McCain: I'd 'entertain' Democratic VP slot
McCain said in a television interview that he would consider the unorthodox step of running for vice president on the Democratic ticket — in the unlikely event he received such an offer from the presidential candidate.

"John Kerry is a close friend of mine. We have been friends for years," McCain said Wednesday when pressed to squelch speculation about a Kerry-McCain ticket. "Obviously I would entertain it."

Within hours, the Arizona senator's chief of staff, Mark Salter, closed the door on that idea. "Senator McCain will not be a candidate for vice president in 2004," Salter told The Associated Press, saying he spoke for the senator.

McCain had emphasized how unlikely the whole idea was.

"It's impossible to imagine the Democratic Party seeking a pro-life, free-trading, non-protectionist, deficit hawk," the senator told ABC's "Good Morning America" during an interview about illegal steroid use. "They'd have to be taking some steroids, I think, in order to let that happen."

It's not going to happen (never say never), but it sure would have been interesting.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Yahoo! News - Two States Deal Setbacks to Gay Marriage
SAN FRANCISCO - The California Supreme Court on Thursday ordered an immediate halt to gay marriages in San Francisco, delivering a victory to conservatives who have fought for a month to block the ceremonies.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts lawmakers gave preliminary approval to a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage but allow civil unions.

The amendment, which would strip gay couples of their court-granted marriage rights, must still weather several additional votes and anticipated legislative maneuvering by opponents.

The California court did not rule on the legality of such marriages, and justices said they would hear such a case in May or June.

Glad Mom took me to dinner today. It helps ease the pain of the bigotry I see displayed here, and also here-

Bush Tells Evangelicals He Will Fight Gay Marriage
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Thursday sought to solidify his standing with evangelical Christians by restating support for a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage as part of his championship of conservative causes.

In addition to gay marriage, Bush touted his decision last year to sign a ban on a type of late-term abortion and said, "We will vigorously defend this law against any attempt to overturn it in the courts."

He said he was working with the U.S. Congress to pass a "comprehensive and effective" ban on human cloning -- another hot button issue for Christian conservatives.

He also called on Congress to send him legislation that would make killing or harming a "child in utero" a federal crime. Critics said the bill undermines abortion rights by treating the fetus or embryo as a person, although bill sponsors said they included language that explicitly excludes abortion.

I guess we can kiss the right for women to make their own decisions goodbye, too. Perhaps next we can move people of color to the back of the bus. A return of slavery, maybe? After all, it's in the Bible so it must be OK.

Sad day for America. & WOOD TV8 - Investigation concerning Governor Granholm's CEO
(Lansing, March 10, 2004, 8:25 p.m.) The Michigan Republican Party is calling for an investigation by the State Ethics Board.

It claims Governor Jennifer Granholm's chief operating officer has a serious conflict of interest.

Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Betsy Devos announced Wednesday she wants the Ethics Board to take a closer look at Chief Operating Officer Rick Weiner and whether his wife's job is a conflict of interest.

While Devos refused to provide any specific examples, she questions whether the lobbying firm is influencing the Granholm administration.

The Governor called the request for an investigation "utterly ridiculous."

Betsy never provides specific examples of anything, she merely throws these charges out in her never-ending quest to impede any progress for the Granholm administration. She's like the monkey at the zoo who throws her shit against the wall just to see if it will stick.

Betsy obviously needs some new hobbies.

Yahoo! News - Log Cabin Republicans launch $1M anti-FMA ad campaign
The Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) launched a million-dollar ad campaign Wednesday in an effort to stop the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), which would ban same-sex marriage.

The 30-second spot takes viewers back four years ago to the vice-presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky when Vice President Dick Cheney told CNN's Bernard Shaw, "People should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into."

The vice president adds "I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area."

The words "We agree" then appear on the screen.

"I think the vice president made a very valid argument on why we shouldn't change the Constitution, and I don't think anything has changed since," explained Mark Mead, LCR spokesman.

WTG Log Cabin.

Yahoo! News - Kerry Comment Riles Bush Campaign
WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry called Wednesday for deeper tax cuts for the middle class than proposed by President Bush and described his Republican critics as "the most crooked ... lying group I've ever seen." The chairman of Bush's re-election campaign called on Kerry to apologize "for this negative attack."

This after Bush's little diatribe against Kerry the other day? HAHAHA! Can these guys get any more hypocritical than they already are?

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Yahoo! News - Unfunded Programs Cost States $29 Billion
It's an old gripe, but one with an increasingly large price tag: States say they're now paying at least $29 billion for programs that Washington launched but did not fully fund — including education, prescription drugs, homeland security and more.

Similar complaints a decade ago spurred a federal law reining in the practice. But loopholes mean the buck is being passed more and more, state leaders said Wednesday as they called on the Bush administration and Congress to use the federal budget to set things right.

Yahoo! News - "Murphy Brown" Star Pastorelli Dead
Robert Pastorelli, forever known to TV fans as Murphy Brown's sardonic housepainter, has been found dead in his Hollywood Hills home.

The body of the 49-year-old actor was discovered in a bathroom early Monday by his personal assistant. There was no sign of foul play, according to authorities, but the death may have been the result of a drug overdose.

News of Pastorelli's death comes nearly five years after he suffered a personal tragedy. It was in the same Hollywood house in March 1999 that Charemon Jonovich, Pastorelli's live-in girlfriend and mother of his daughter, shot and killed herself in what police ruled an accident. Friends said the incident devastated Pastorelli, who was so shaken he put his career on hold and spent the better part of a year in seclusion.

Tragic story. Rest in peace dude.

Yahoo! News - Study: Ratings Needed for Smoking Films
LOS ANGELES - If Nicolas Cage lights a cigarette in a movie, Hollywood's ratings board should respond as if he used a profanity, according to authors of a new study that criticizes glamorous images of smoking in movies rated for children under 17.

"No one is saying there should never be any smoking in the movies," Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said Tuesday at a press conference at Hollywood High School. "What we're simply asking for is that smoking be treated by Hollywood as seriously as it treats offensive language."

He'd like to see more PG-13 movies that feature smoking — like "Matchstick Men," "Seabiscuit" and the Oscar-winning "Chicago" — get slapped with an R rating.

Since obesity is gaining on smoking as a killer in this country, perhaps films with overweight people should get an R also. We wouldn't want to glamorize that to the kids.

Good fucking grief.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Michigan House can't put gay marriage amendment before voters
LANSING - The Michigan House failed to get enough votes to allow voters to decide this summer whether they want to change the state constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

The House voted 65-38 on the resolution, short of the 73 votes needed to send the resolution to the Senate. Loud applause broke out outside the House chamber and in the balcony after the vote.

*Big sigh of relief from me*

Did we really need a third law on the books that disallows gay marriage?

Notes: Zambrano on the mark
"I'm not a strikeout man, I'm a ground ball man," said Zambrano, who fanned seven over three innings Monday in an 8-4 win against the Milwaukee Brewers. "I really don't pay attention to strikeouts. I just make my pitches and execute my pitches."

"He looked real good," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "He came to camp ready. He came in great shape. He came here ready to pitch and I'm proud of how he worked and how far ahead he is from last year at this time. I like to see that hunger, especially from a guy who knows he's in the rotation."

And that could be the spark that motivates the others to step up their game. His emotional style might serve us well. : Poll Gives Kerry Slight Edge Over Bush
As with Bush's father, much of the discontent pertains to the economy: It's the public's single most important election issue by a sizable margin, and 59 percent — a new high for this president — disapprove of the way he's handled it.

Empathy and emotion carry hazards for Bush as well. Americans by a 41-point margin, 67 percent to 26 percent, think he cares more about protecting the interests of large business corporations than ordinary working people; the figures are essentially reversed for Kerry. Fifty-seven percent think Bush doesn't understand the problems of people like them; 58 percent think Kerry does. And in the broadest gap, 51 percent don't think Bush is tolerant of different points of view; 73 percent think Kerry is.

And there's been a gradual shift in emotional balance: By an eight-point margin, more Americans are now "angry" with the administration than "enthusiastic" about it, 22 percent to 14 percent. (The overall view is another even split — 49 percent enthusiastic or satisfied; 51 percent dissatisfied or angry.)

All subject to change at a moments notice, of course, but I like these numbers.

From USA Today:

Should the U.S. pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?

Total Votes:555175

Monday, March 08, 2004

Yahoo! News - Gay Anglican Bishop Invested in New Hampshire
CONCORD, New Hampshire (Reuters) - The Rev. Canon V. Gene Robinson became the ninth bishop of New Hampshire on Sunday, four months after his controversial installation as the first openly gay bishop in the U.S. Episcopal Church.

Robinson, whose promotion to bishop in November sparked fury among conservative Anglicans both within the United States and around the world and threatened a schism, acknowledged his investiture as head of the church in New Hampshire was a risk.

Opponents protested outside the November service, shouting insults and waving placards with homophobic messages.

Although there were no protests at St. Paul's Church as Robinson was invested to succeed the retiring Right Rev. Douglas Theuner as the diocese bishop, he was protected by at least two bodyguards who stood nearby.

According to 60 minutes, during the November service, Robinson had to wear bullet-proof vest under his robe after receiving "numerous" death threats. At that time he was surrounded by five bodyguards.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

It's All About The Forums:

OK, I have a problem. I vowed I would stop going to them, all of them, because the rhetoric lately has driven me to the point of distraction. A seething anger to the point of hatred rages through my mind and I lose sight of the good people and things in life. Living in fear is not a healthy (or enjoyable) way to live.

I can't seem to tear myself away.

This week, I've read such enlightening things such as: gays should be put to death, gays are less than human, gays are out to destroy traditional family values, the 'ol chestnut that gays are child molesters and just out to recruit children, gays are sick, etc. etc., on and on to the point of nausea. These are the kind of things that were routinely said when I was younger, when the thought of gay rights was, well, unthinkable, because after all we were disgusting sinners that deserved to burn in Hell. It's no wonder I struggled with self-loathing for attractions I couldn't control. It's all coming back to me now.

I'm also seeing the infuriating argument that one shouldn't vote for Kerry because he supports "separate but equal". I guess it's better to let the bigots win and deny all rights because Kerry is quibbling over a word. (which somehow I knew would leave the door open for arguments such as these. Dammit John.)

Crazy. As if I didn't have enough reasons for voting against Bush in the first place. And yes, I have heard that voting against a candidate, rather than for a candidate, is somehow a terrible thing because after all that's how Hitler got in. (this came from a guy who says he will vote Libertarian because of the platform, not the Lib candidate)

On the other hand, on these forums I find articles that I might have missed such as the one below. (Thanks to Hoosier for that, as well as the one about "death to gays") Problem is, I have to wade through too much shit to find them, and read opinions that are at best uneducated, to the worst that are downright hateful and violence-inspiring.

*sigh* Off to play euchre. And think about the trash I feed into my brain everyday.

GOP warns TV stations on anti-Bush ads
WASHINGTON -- The Republican National Committee on Friday asked about 250 television stations to pull a liberal group's ads critical of President Bush. The RNC sent the stations a letter Friday suggesting the outlets may be complicit in breaking campaign finance laws if they air the Voter Fund ads. It asked them to decline to broadcast the ads.

The RNC argues that the group, financed by so-called "soft money," is spending it on ads to influence a federal election. The campaign finance law broadly bars the use of such corporate, union and unlimited donations to influence federal elections.

MoveOn began airing ads Thursday critical of Bush's policies. MoveOn founder Wes Boyd said the ads are legal, and added that the group isn't concerned by the RNC's letter. The ads were financed with unlimited donations from individuals -- one form of soft money.

In the letter, RNC chief counsel Jill Holtzman Vogel wrote: "As a broadcaster licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, you have a responsibility to the viewing public and to your licensing agency to refrain from complicity in any illegal activity, specifically in this case, violations of our nation's federal election laws."

Federal Election Commission spokesman Bob Biersack said the FEC could only determine whether there was anything amiss in the MoveOn ad purchase by reviewing the details, something it typically would do if a complaint was filed against the group.

So why hasn't the RNC filed that complaint? Probably because it's easier to try to bully people with empty threats rather than reveal the true agenda of silencing any speach that portrays Bush in a bad light.

Hmmm. If it bugs them that much, maybe I should send MoveOn some money. :-)

Saturday, March 06, 2004

EC Kitch Stamp

(My last day with Adobe! *sniff*)

Yahoo! News - Job Growth Anemic in February
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economy added a paltry 21,000 jobs last month, according to a surprisingly weak government report on Friday that turned up the heat on President Bush as he seeks re-election.

The February jobs report from the Labor Department was the latest in a string that have fallen far short of expectations, dashing hopes employment would soon turn decisively higher.

In addition, job creation in December and January was weaker than previously thought, by a combined 23,000 jobs.

While the unemployment rate held steady at 5.6 percent, that was only because many people stopped looking for work. Employment as measured by a survey of households plummeted.

I believe these numbers should also be included in the Labor Dept.'s stats. How many have simple fallen off the unemployment list, but have not found work? I would love to see that figure published (or at least publicized -if it is indeed being recorded- and I think it is somewhere) on a monthly basis.

And how are these people who "stopped looking for work" surviving?

The Bush administration released a forecast last month that looked for average job growth of about 300,000 a month this year -- a forecast that looks increasingly pie-in-the-sky.

"The numbers ... reinforce our view that it would be a terrible mistake to raise taxes on American families and American businesses that are working to create jobs," Treasury Secretary John Snow said, referring to Kerry's proposal to roll back tax cuts for the wealthy.

BAHAHAHA! And still they call for tax cuts! After all, it worked so well in the first place!

Yahoo! News - N.Y. Mayor to Abide by Gay Marriage Ruling
ALBANY, N.Y. - The mayor of a college town said he would abide by a ruling that temporarily barred him from performing more same-sex marriages, but was considering his legal options.

In New York, Justice Vincent Bradley issued a temporary restraining order against Jason West, the 26-year-old mayor of New Paltz, at the request of the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, which acted on behalf of a local resident.

A Florida-based group comes into New York, an Arizona-based group comes into California. The AFA, which lists a Mississippi address as their contact, wrote the legislation currently on the Michigan floor.

America, are we going to let various Christian right-wing groups write legislation for us? Do you want them to come into your community and change your laws? In most instances of state amendments, you will find these groups with a politician in their pocket- they are writing the words and putting them in the mouths of those introducing these proposals.

These people are powerful, have deep pockets, and probably will not stop with the gays- if they succeed at beating us down they will start on women next (right to choose) and perhaps even people of color after that.

Makes me wonder who they will pick on if the gays are successful in establishing equal rights.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Yahoo! News - Gay Marriage Challenged in Calif., New York Courts
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California's Supreme Court declined on Friday to make an immediate decision on the state's request to halt same sex marriages in San Francisco that have intensified a national debate on gay rights.

Last week, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer asked the state Supreme Court to review the matter and a second group made a similar request. The court asked San Francisco to file a brief in the case by Friday, but then deferred making an immediate decision.

"This is to inform you that the California Supreme Court is not expected to take any action today on the two same-sex marriage cases that were filed in the court last week," spokeswoman Lynn Holton said. She added that the earliest the court "would decide something would be next week."

Opponents of gay marriage had hoped that the court would issue an immediate injunction to the same-sex weddings that have officially paired more than 3,600 gay couples. But the city's attorney, Dennis Herrera, argued there was no need to rush to a decision as the weddings were doing no harm.

Cubs Win! Big inning knots Cubs with Giants
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago catcher Michael Barrett slammed a two-run triple to highlight a four-run second inning while right-hander Kerry Wood won his first game of Spring Training in the Cubs' 4-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday before 11,151 fans at Scottsdale Stadium.

The first of many to come in 2004! Go Cubs!
From the Michigan Democratic Briefing:
Families Struggling Under Bush

Michigan Democrats said yesterday that the ads unveiled by the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign and scheduled to air in at least 50 media markets across the country will not change the mind of the millions of Michigan voters who fully understand the negative impact that the Bush administration's policies have had on the state's working families.

Since President George Bush Took Office:

- 121,487 more Michigan workers have become unemployed
- Michigan's unemployment rate has increased 65%
- 130,200 Michigan manufacturing jobs have been lost
- 46% of Michigan taxpayers will receive less than $100 from the latest 2004 tax cut.
- Michigan's number of uninsured has increased 12.5% and is now at 1.2 million
- 183,000 Michigan seniors pay more under the Bush Medicare prescription plan.

Hammonds, Giants chill Cubs
MESA, Ariz. -- Kirk Rueter gave up two hits over two innings and Jeffrey Hammonds hit a grand slam to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 9-3 victory Thursday over the Chicago Cubs in the Cactus League opener.

Matt Clement (0-1) took the loss on a drizzly day that felt more like April in Chicago with a game-time temperature of 46. He gave up three runs on four hits and one walk over two innings.

Some extra push-ups might be in order today, Dusty. Giving up nine runs shall not be tolerated!

Brattleboro Reformer - Editorials-Cracks in the GOP base
If Vermont is any indicator of national trends, however, (and the surprisingly influential campaign of Howard Dean would suggest that it is), then the recent voting may suggest a fatal flaw in this strategy, for while all eyes were focused on the Democratic result, a distinct pattern emerged on the Republican side that may loom large in the coming general election. Vermont Republicans, the numbers suggest, are not as solidly behind the president as some might have thought.

Out of a total 1,885 Republican votes cast in Brattleboro and outlying towns (representing less than a third of the total Democratic vote) a statistically significant 30 votes were write-ins for candidates other than Bush. The bulk of these were cast for John Kerry, with others for Howard Dean, John Edwards, and one each for Ralph Nader and Martha Stewart.

To be sure, such votes are not necessarily to be taken seriously, but keep in mind that these are registered Republicans voting at the outset of what promises to be a highly contested campaign season. As such, they point to the possibility that some portion of the Republican base may be prepared to bolt the ticket.

And it isn't as if they have not been given ample cause for disaffection. For those Republicans with truly conservative convictions, there is little to appreciate about the Bush record.

During the past four years the Bush tax cuts have been more than offset by a general shutdown of government funding for state and social programs, while at the same time the size of the government bureaucracy has been expanded at a record-setting rate.

Add to this the fact that a $500 billion surplus has been turned into an equally prodigious deficit, with financial and foreign-policy obligations surrounding the Iraq war stretching as far as the eye can see, and there is very little for traditional conservatives to warm up to here.

I think a delicious strategy would be to hit George from the right, use these numbers and promise a more fiscally conservative government. I would love to see a liberal from Mass. propose this! (whether it's true or not is besides the point) Problem- Kerry's voting record probably shows that he voted for all this spending, too. But does that matter? Just by saying it, getting the message out that Bush is fiscally irresponsible, might swing enough dissatisfied Repubs over to this side. Or maybe they'll just vote for Martha. :-)

Think of it! A liberal from Mass. running on the message that we should cut government spending! That would be all too funny!