Friday, April 30, 2004

Tigers and Cubs swap left-handed minor league pitchers
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Tigers acquired left-handed pitcher Felix Sanchez from the Chicago Cubs on Thursday in exchange for ex-Whitecap left-handed pitcher Jon Connolly and a player to be named later.

Connolly, 20, started four games at Single-A Lakeland this season and compiled a 2-2 record and 3.68 ERA.

Last season with Single-A West Michigan, he finished 16-3 with a 1.41 ERA in 25 games started and earned the Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year award.

Here's the Cubs Press Release-

Cubs trade Felix Sanchez to Detroit for Jon Connolly and a player to be named later

Best of luck to ya, Jon. It would be great to see you in Cubbie blue someday.

House Democrats blast DeVos for comments that wages too high in Michigan
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State House Democrats said Thursday they are working on a resolution to criticize Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Betsy DeVos for saying that Michigan's economic problems are a result of high wages, high taxes and too much regulation.

House Minority Leader Dianne Byrum, D-Onondaga, said DeVos should apologize to thousands of unemployed and low-paid workers who are having a difficult time providing for their families in the slow economy.

"Betsy DeVos' comments show just how out of touch she and the Republican Party are with the plight of Michigan's working families," Byrum said at an afternoon news conference in the state Capitol.

A resolution criticizing DeVos for her comments is expected to be introduced next week, Byrum spokesman Mark Fisk said.

I already have a resolution to critize Betsy whenever I can. She makes it so damn easy.

Yahoo! News - More Fortune 500 firms bar anti-gay bias

More Fortune 500 companies than ever before have adopted corporate nondiscrimination policies that include sexual orientation. A total of 389 of those companies, or 78 percent, now include the policies, according to Equality Forum.

That's up from 323 companies in fall 2003, based on a list compiled by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

"It's always a good thing when a company adopts a nondiscrimination policy covering sexual orientation because there is no federal law protecting gays and lesbians from workplace discrimination," said Kim Mills, education director for HRC.

Now what we need is a concerted effort from these companies to boycott the states that have discriminatory laws. Don't recognize gays rights? Well, we can't have our convention in your state. So sorry. (Are you listening Ohio? Kansas? Anyone?)

Economics will win in the end.

Yahoo! News - Maine recognizes same-sex pertnerships

While many state legislatures are passing laws that deny legal recognition to gay and lesbian couples, Maine has made same-sex couples in long-term committed relationships eligible for some of the same benefits married couples have in the state.

Gov. John Baldacci signed a domestic partnership bill Thursday that extends rights such as inheritance eligibility, victim's compensation, guardian rights and next-of-kin status to gay and straight couples who live together under long-term arrangements.

Baldacci said he was signing the bill to demonstrate the state's commitment to civil rights for all citizens. In signing the bill, Maine becomes the fifth state to pass statewide laws that provide rights to unmarried couples.

Count Maine in as one of the "free gay" states. I always thought they were kind of conservative up there.

Yahoo! News - Bremer Faulted Bush Before Terror Attacks
WASHINGTON - L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, said in a speech six months before the Sept. 11 attacks that the Bush administration was "paying no attention" to terrorism.

"What they will do is stagger along until there's a major incident and then suddenly say, 'Oh my God, shouldn't we be organized to deal with this,'" Bremer said at a McCormick Tribune Foundation conference on terrorism on Feb. 26, 2001.

At the speech, delivered in Wheaton, Ill., Bremer, whose diplomatic jobs included a stint as ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism, said a war against terrorism would be unending.

"If you call it a war, you suggest there's a victory," he said. "I would argue there is no final victory in the war against terrorism any more than there is in the so-called war against crime."

That is exactly what Bushco has in mind. Unending war. Unending fear. Keep the populace afraid so they will be in your control.

Yahoo! News - Sinclair Stations to Boycott 'Nightline' Tribute
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A major television chain, the Sinclair Broadcast Group, will bar its ABC-affiliated stations from airing a planned "Nightline" tribute to fallen U.S. troops in Iraq , saying the program is a political statement disguised as news.

ABC News plans to devote Friday's entire "Nightline" segment to the tribute, with anchor Ted Koppel reading aloud the names of hundreds of fallen American servicemen and women as their photographs are shown.

Sinclair said the "Nightline" segment "appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq."

Sticking to its plans, ABC News issued its own statement defending the planned broadcast as "an expression of respect which simply seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country."

These men and women are heroes. Do we not honor our heroes? If this war is just and enjoys the support of the American people, why must we hide the dead as if we are ashamed of them?

Censoring the realities of war "appears to be motivated by a political agenda" also. It makes me sad for the families of these men and women. If I had a close family member killed in this war, I would want their memory and sacrifice honored on the national stage.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Yahoo! News - Poll: Iraqis Split Over Whether Iraq Is Better Off
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Most Iraqis believe the ouster of Saddam Hussein was "worth" the hardships they have endured since the U.S.-led invasion, but Iraqis are sharply divided over whether the country is better off, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released on Wednesday.

Forty-two percent of Iraqis said they believe their country is better off since the invasion launched more than a year ago, while 46 percent said the war has done "more harm than good," the poll found.

Yet another country split down the middle.

When asked how they now view coalition forces, 71 percent of all Iraqis said "mostly as occupiers" while 19 percent said "mostly as liberators," the poll said.

By contrast, sentiment was evenly divided when they were asked their view of the foreign troops at the beginning of the invasion. Forty-three percent said they initially viewed them as liberators, while the same percentage viewed them as occupiers.

The hostility is sure to increase as the "occupiers" number is sure to increase. We are totally screwed with no easy out. Thanks George.

Yahoo! News - Bush's Approval Rating at All-Time Low -Poll
NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Bush's approval rating is at an all-time low and fewer than half of Americans now believe invading Iraq was the right thing to do, according to a CBS/New York Times poll released on Wednesday.

The poll found that if the presidential election due in November was held today, 46 percent of Americans would vote for Democrat John Kerry and 44 percent would vote for Bush -- if independent Ralph Nader stayed out of the race. Go away Ralph.

Just 32 percent, the lowest number ever, say Iraq was a threat that required immediate military action a year ago," the poll reported.

Less than half, 47 percent, now say the United States did the right thing taking military action in Iraq, the lowest support recorded in CBS News/New York Times polls since the war began.

The poll said the Iraq war appeared to have hurt assessments of Bush -- his overall approval rating (46 percent), his rating on handling Iraq (41 percent) and his rating on handling foreign policy (40 percent) "are at the lowest points ever in this administration."

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Bo smudge.

Be well, sweet friend.

GR adds property tax surcharge, raises trash fees
It got a little more expensive on Tuesday to live and own property in Grand Rapids.

The City Commission bailed out its ailing Refuse Collection Fund by raising the price of blue trash bags and tags from $1 to $1.25 each. Commissioners also raised the special property tax for trash collection from 1.35 mills to 1.55 mills -- adding $10 to the taxes on a home worth $100,000.

In a separate action, the City Commission pumped an extra $1.3 million into its cash-strapped general fund by imposing a 1-percent administration fee on every property tax bill. City officials said the fee will add about $12 to the average homeowner's property tax bill.

Both increases take effect July 1, when the city's new fiscal year begins. Tags and bags purchased beforehand will be honored.

Time to stock up. And once again, I hope everyone enjoyed their tax cuts! Or maybe we should have socked them away in the bank to pay for -you guessed it - the tax increases! Hahaha! Oh wait, according to the wife of one of the richest guys in Michigan, YOU make too much money anyway! What the HELL were you thinking? Read on-

Betsy DeVos: Michigan workers paid too much

So, who does Betsy DeVos think is getting paid too much?

The Republican state party chairwoman raised the issue Tuesday when she issued a press release saying high wages were partly to blame for Michigan's economic woes.

"Many, if not most, of the economic problems in Michigan are a result of high wages and a tax and regulatory structure that makes this state uncompetitive," DeVos said in the prepared statement.

(Fun fact! Michigan comes in at No. 17 on median income for 2002 according to these folks. For that same year we were also No. 18 in per captia personal income. Now, I are not so smart in the math-e-matics like Betsy is, but doesn't that put us kinda close to the middle? And as for the "tax and regulatory structure", seems to me that Engler had 12 YEARS to fix that. But I don't recall anybody bitching in the gay 90's. Hmmmm.)

The press release was issued as DeVos criticized Gov. Jennifer Granholm for pinning the blame on President Bush for Michigan's loss of nearly 200,000 manufacturing jobs. Granholm was in Washington, D.C. with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow touting plans to protect manufacturing jobs.

Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Butch Hollowell wasted no time in pouncing on the comments.

"I hate to tell Betsy DeVos this, but high wages are not a bad thing," Hollowell said. "They're good, and we need more of them."

DeVos, a longtime West Michigan GOP activist who owns the Grand Rapids holding company Windquest Group, and whose husband's family owns Alticor Inc., said she only was referring to the realities of the global economy.

That may be. That is the reality of the global economy, but this is the reality of the American economy. Two very different things, unless you want to turn this into a third world country. Betsy probably figures she's paying the "help" too much. (Us being the "help", of course)

But let's review the positions of this very wealthy woman.

"Outsourcing good"

" You make too much money."

HAHAHAHA! I laughed all the way to the computer.
It's All About Zen:

If you want to perceive
And understand objectively,
Just don’t allow yourself
To be confused by people. (like Betsy DeVos)
Detach from whatever you
Find inside or outside yourself.
Detach from religion,
Tradition, and society,
And only then will you
Attain liberation.
When you are not
Entangled in things,
You pass through
Freely to autonomy.

- Linji (d. 867)

Notes: Prior set for simulated game
PHOENIX -- Mark Prior will have another bullpen session on Tuesday and if all goes well, he will throw a simulated game at the end of the week at the Chicago Cubs' extended Spring Training camp.

Prior won't be alone in Mesa, Ariz. Reliever Mike Remlinger also will stay behind to throw as well as pitcher Ryan Dempster, who is continuing his rehab from Tommy John surgery last August. Remlinger, who had arthroscopic shoulder surgery last October, threw off a mound for the second time on Sunday.

Even though Prior will finally see game action, don't pencil him into the Cubs' rotation just yet.

"The time table depends on how he's feeling and how he's progressing," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Everybody wants a definitive timetable but I'd be guessing."

Here's some good news.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Yahoo! News - Kerry Demands Bush Prove Guard Service

Conservative critics have questioned whether Kerry deserved his three Purple Hearts for battle wounds, an issue the Democratic presidential candidate sought to put to rest last week by releasing his military records. On Sunday, a top Bush adviser criticized Kerry for leading anti-war protests after he returned from the battlefield.

"If George Bush wants to ask me questions about that through his surrogates, he owes America an explanation about whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. Prove it. That's what we ought to have," Kerry told NBC News in an interview. "I'm not going to stand around and let them play games."

Democrats have questioned whether Bush fulfilled his obligations to the National Guard in spite of White House claims that he completed his duty satisfactorily. Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard in 1968 and transferred to the Alabama Guard in 1972 while working on a political campaign. How often Bush reported for duty in Alabama is unclear.

Bush supporters have tried to turn Kerry's service in Vietnam — a centerpiece of his Democratic campaign — against him even as they say they honor his service to his country. Kerry released his medical records when questioned about the extent of his war wounds, including a report showing he still carries shrapnel in one leg.

That criticism silenced for the moment, Bush adviser Karen Hughes turned to what Kerry did after returning from Vietnam. Hughes said Sunday she was offended by Kerry's anti-war activities in 1971 and accused him of not throwing back his medals when he and other veterans protested in Washington.

Today's armed forces might take note of how this administration treats decorated combat veterans who dare disagree with them. Who the fuck is Karen Hughes to say anything anyway? Yet another way I am thoroughly disgusted by these clowns and their smear tactics.

Yahoo! News - CNN's Lou Dobbs Accused of 'Jihad' for U.S. Jobs
DETROIT (Reuters) - The head of a group representing the chief executive officers of America's largest corporations on Monday accused CNN's Lou Dobbs of alarmist "one-sided" reporting about outsourcing and the shipping of U.S. jobs overseas.

"He's on a jihad," John Castellani, president of the Washington-based Business Roundtable, told reporters.

"It's as if whatever made Linda Blair's head spin around in 'The Exorcist' has invaded the body of Lou Dobbs and left him with the brain of (Democratic presidential candidate) Dennis Kucinich."

Castellani made the comments after giving a speech to the Detroit Economic Club in which he vigorously defended outsourcing and warned against "bone-headed solutions" such as trade barriers to protect American workers.

Castellani contends that outsourcing and free trade reduce prices and costs, while ultimately helping to create new, higher wage jobs in the United States. His speech was entitled "The Myth of the Outsourcing Threat."

Dobbs, a CNN veteran, told Reuters in a telephone interview that Castellani had declined repeated invitations to appear on his show, citing scheduling conflicts.

That's the new neocon way, isn't it? Refuse to prove your accusations or answer any questions and sit back and fling out buzzwords such as "terrorist" and "jihad" as you personally attack your critics. And America buys this shit. Disgusting.

Yahoo! News - Indecency Crackdown Has Bochco in 'Blue' Mood
The so-called indecency crackdown has hit "NYPD Blue" hard, Bochco explains. At ABC's insistence, the show has been forced over the past two months to alter or eliminate visuals in four sex scenes. "We've also had to dial back some of our language issues," he says.

Bochco relates these facts with more sadness and resignation than outrage, like a man who cannot believe he's still fighting the same battles nearly 25 years after bringing "Hill Street Blues" to NBC. He's philosophical about it -- but not at all pleased.

"We unfortunately live in a time where we no longer have broadcasting philosophies," Bochco believes. "We have divisions of giant companies who do staggering amounts of business with the government. Because of their size and responsibility to shareholders, they're prepared to accommodate anything rather than take on the government in ways that could cost money and damage their relationship with advertisers."

That's the new reality. And what upsets Bochco perhaps more than anything isn't the fact his show has to relinquish hard-won freedoms and water down his product 11 years in; it's that he's the victim of what he sees as mere political jockeying.

We are moving backwards. The talent will abandon network television for venues such as HBO where they will not be censored, and once again those who can afford it will have quality entertainment. The rest of us will just have to settle for gratuitous violence as usual.

Monday, April 26, 2004

The tag.

Yahoo! News - Cubs Top Mets 4-1 for Sixth Straight Win
The Cubs beat the New York Mets 4-1 Sunday for the sixth straight win, although Chicago pitcher Matt Clement lost a no-hitter bid in the seventh inning.

During the Cubs' longest winning streak since June 1983, the starters have all six wins, and Chicago has outscored its opponents 39-5 during in the run.

They are starting to look like they team that everyone thought they could be. Awesome.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > MAUREEN DOWD: The Orwellian Olsens

It's their reality. We just live and die in it.

In Bushworld, our troops go to war and get killed, but you never see the bodies coming home.

In Bushworld, flag-draped remains of the fallen are important to revere and show the nation, but only in political ads hawking the president's leadership against terror.

In Bushworld, we can create an exciting Iraqi democracy as long as it doesn't control its own military, pass any laws or have any power.

In Bushworld, we can win over Falluja by bulldozing it.

In Bushworld, it was worth going to war so Iraqis can express their feelings ("Down With America!") without having their tongues cut out, although we cannot yet allow them to express intemperate feelings in newspapers ("Down With America!") without shutting them down.

In Bushworld, it's fine to take $700 million that Congress provided for the war in Afghanistan and 9/11 recovery and divert it to the war in Iraq that you're insisting you're not planning.

In Bushworld, you don't consult your father, the expert in being president during a war with Iraq, but you do talk to your Higher Father, who can't talk back to warn you to get an exit strategy or chide you for using Him for political purposes.

In Bushworld, it's O.K. to run for re-election as the avenger of 9/11, even as you make secret deals with the Arab kingdom where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from.

In Bushworld, you get to strut around like a tough military guy and paint your rival as a chicken hawk, even though he's the one who won medals in combat and was praised by his superior officers for fulfilling all his obligations.

In Bushworld, it makes sense to press for transparency in Mr. and Mrs. Rival while cultivating your own opacity.

In Bushworld, you can reign as the antiterror president even after hearing an intelligence report about Al Qaeda's plans to attack America and then stepping outside to clear brush.

In Bushworld, those who dissemble about the troops and money it will take to get Iraq on its feet are patriots, while those who are honest are patronizingly marginalized.

In Bushworld, they struggle to keep church and state separate in Iraq, even as they increasingly merge the two in America.

In Bushworld, you can claim to be the environmental president on Earth Day while being the industry president every other day.

In Bushworld, you brag about how well Afghanistan is going, even though soldiers like Pat Tillman are still dying and the Taliban are running freely around the border areas, hiding Osama and delaying elections.

In Bushworld, imperfect intelligence is good enough to knock over Iraq. But even better evidence that North Korea is building the weapons that Saddam could only dream about is hidden away.

In Bushworld, the C.I.A. says it can't find out whether there are W.M.D. in Iraq unless we invade on the grounds that there are W.M.D.

In Bushworld, there's no irony that so many who did so much to avoid the Vietnam draft have now strained the military so much that lawmakers are talking about bringing back the draft.

In Bushworld, we're making progress in the war on terror by fighting a war that creates terrorists.

In Bushworld, you don't need to bother asking your vice president and top Defense Department officials whether you should go to war in Iraq, because they've already maneuvered you into going to war.

In Bushworld, it's perfectly natural for the president and vice president to appear before the 9/11 commission like the Olsen twins.

In Bushworld, you expound on remaking the Middle East and spreading pro-American sentiments even as you expand anti-American sentiments by ineptly occupying Iraq and unstintingly backing Ariel Sharon on West Bank settlements.

In Bushworld, we went to war to give Iraq a democratic process, yet we disdain the democratic process that causes allies to pull out troops.

In Bushworld, you pride yourself on the fact that your administration does not leak to the press, while you flood the best-known journalist in Washington with inside information.

In Bushworld, you list Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack" as recommended reading on your campaign Web site, even though it makes you seem divorced from reality. That is, unless you live in Bushworld.

Couldn't pass this one up, thanks Hoos.

Red flower poster.
Daily Zen:

I climb these hills
As if walking on air
Body too light to fall
Bamboo staff resting
Against a great stone
Torn cloak snapping in the wind
A lone bird soars the azure depths
Far distant springs reflected in its eye
Carefree, singing a timeless song
Gone, on a journey without end.

- Shih-shu (17th century-early 18th)

White flower fresco.

Yahoo! News - Women's Rights Marchers Gather in D.C.
WASHINGTON - Protesters from California, Texas and the Carolinas rally on the National Mall for women's reproductive rights, joining marchers from Denmark, Germany and Kenya. Activists from nearly 60 countries say they'll attend Sunday's event, standing with their American counterparts not only in unity but to highlight the plight of women's health abroad.

As the list of sponsors, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, attests, abortion rights in the United States is the rallying point but not the only issue at stake for these protesters. Organizers have sought to broaden the gathering to include birth control, sex education and better health care for women worldwide.

Wish I could be there with ya...go get 'em girls (and guys).

Saturday, April 24, 2004

A South Bend Silverhawk makes a few bucks on the side during the Whitecaps 4-1 loss Friday night.

Yahoo! News - Virginia takes away gay partner rights

Lawmakers in Virginia passed a sweeping ban on same-sex partners on Wednesday that outlaws any "partnership contract or other arrangements that purport to provide the benefits of marriage."

Equality Virginia believes the Marriage Affirmation Act (HB 751) will likely bar same-sex couples in Virginia from obtaining a medical power of attorney, making custody decisions and carrying out estate planning directives.

The statewide GLBT organization also believes the new legislation will halt health insurance coverage through those companies in Virginia currently able to offer benefits to unmarried partners.

The bill is expected to become law July 1. Supporters of HB 751 earned two-thirds majorities in the House of Delegates and the Senate, thus protecting the bill from a gubernatorial veto.

Dyana Mason, executive director of Equality Virginia, promised to "challenge this law in every appropriate forum."

"In the courtroom, or in the General Assembly, we have no doubt that this law will quickly be found unconstitutional," Mason said in a statement. "We call on all fair-minded Virginians to send a strong message to their elected officials that this fight is far from over."

More lawsuits, more money, more time wasted...I foresee "gay states" in the near future; California, Oregon, New Jersey, Maryland, etc etc.- people will move there to escape discrimination in their own state, taking their business(es) with them. Eventually it will be costly to discriminate.

Yahoo! News - U.S. Soldiers Re-Enlist in Strong Numbers
As of March 31 — halfway through the Army's fiscal year — 28,406 soldiers had signed on for another tour of duty, topping the six-month goal of 28,377. The Army's goal is to re-enlist 56,100 soldiers by the end of September.

"It's a very positive retention picture at this point," said Lt. Col. Franklin Childress, an Army public affairs officer. The Army had nearly a half-million active-duty soldiers.

However, Childress cautioned that factors such as an improved economy and the Pentagon's decision to keep about 20,000 troops in Iraq for longer than a year to help quell the violence could change the picture.

Some contend a poor job market and re-enlistment bonuses worth thousands of dollars are keeping soldiers in the Army. Col. Joseph Anderson, commander of the 101st's 2nd Brigade, said it is more about camaraderie, patriotism and duty.

"They've had a personally rewarding and professionally developing experience," Anderson said. "I think they've formed some bonds that are going to last a lifetime. It tends to make them want to stay."

Well, I take back what I said the other day....I guess it's kind of like me staying at Art Express, they like what they are doing despite the fact it's a war. ;-)

Yahoo! News - NL WRAP: Maddux Tames Mets, First Win Back at Cubs
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Greg Maddux scattered seven hits over seven solid innings against the New York Mets on Friday to post his first win since returning to the Chicago Cubs.

Maddux (1-2) had struggled in his first few starts but allowed just one run while striking out eight and walking one to post the 290th win of his career as the Cubs beat the Mets 3-1 at Wrigley Field.

Yea Greg! Ya old goat....

Friday, April 23, 2004

Yahoo! News - Louisiana May Ban Low-Slung Pants
BATON ROUGE, La. - People who wear low-slung pants that expose skin or "intimate clothing" would face a fine of up to $500 and possible jail time under a bill filed by a Jefferson Parish lawmaker.

State Rep. Derrick Shepherd said he filed the bill because he was tired of catching glimpses of boxer shorts and G-strings over the lowered belt lines of young adults.

The bill would punish anyone caught wearing low-riding pants with a fine of as much as $500 or as many as six months in jail, or both.

"I'm sick of seeing it," said Shepherd, a first-term legislator. "The community's outraged. And if parents can't do their job, if parents can't regulate what their children wear, then there should be a law."

What's next, dancing?

Yahoo! News - U.S. Contractor Fired for Military Coffin Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. contractor and her husband have been fired after her photograph of 20 flag-draped coffins of American troops going home from Iraq was published in violation of military rules.

The Pentagon tightly restricts publication of photographs of coffins with the remains of U.S. troops and has forbidden journalists from taking pictures at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, the first stop for the bodies of troops being sent home.

Molino said the policy, in effect since 1991, was crafted with input from families to protect the privacy and dignity of the deceased. Critics have said the rules were aimed at sanitizing the war for the public.

But the Air Force said that, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, it released to a Web site ( on April 14 more than 300 photographs showing the remains of U.S. service members returning home.

Lt. Col. Jennifer Cassidy, an Air Force spokeswoman, said the request to make the photographs public initially was denied by Dover Air Force Base, then was granted by the Air Force Air Mobility Command. But Cassidy said the Pentagon had decided the release violated its own rules and had decided no further copies of the pictures will be made public.

Too late! They are already out there. And they should be required viewing for every American, especially Bush supporters.

House votes to protect conscience rights in health care
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Health care providers and insurers couldn't be fired or sued for refusing to perform a procedure, fill a prescription or cover treatment for something they object to for moral, ethical or religious reasons under bills approved Wednesday by the state House.

The main bill in the package would create the Conscientious Objector Policy Act. It would allow health care providers to assert an objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a procedure with which they don't agree. However, it would prohibit emergency treatment to be refused.

The Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly approved the four-bill package as dozens of Catholics looked on from the balcony. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The other three bills, which were approved by similar margins, would exempt a health insurer or health facility from providing or covering a health care procedure that violated ethical, moral or religious principles reflected in their bylaws or mission statement.

The bill doesn't allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control.

More attempts from the Radical Right to legalize discrimination. While I believe that this bill was shooting at abortion rights, it could also be used to deny service if you are gay. Or "living in sin". Or any host of reasons that they could wave their Bible at.

I would love to see someone denied service because they are Christian.

I'm sure that Granholm will veto this. But if this was Engler? *shudder*

Economy dishes up hunger pains

"Food insecurity" is rising in the state, a nationwide report released today shows.

About 9 percent of Michigan families -- or 359,444 households -- often don't know where their next meal is coming from, according to the study. About a third of them occasionally go hungry, said the Food Research and Action Center in Washington, D.C.

The greatest increase has come in the Food Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, which saw the number of Michigan residents served grow from 750,037 in 2002 to 837,629 last year. Over the past three years, participation is up 39 percent, according to the report.

By February of this year, the number of Michigan residents on food stamps was up to 917,969, state statistics show.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

MSNBC - Britain moves toward endorsing civil unions

LONDON - With the issue of gay marriage still roiling the American political landscape, close ally Britain is quietly setting course for formal recognition for civil unions, following a path carved out by several other European Union countries.

To enter a civil partnership, couples will need to sign a register in front of a registration officer and two witnesses.

The union is similar to the responsibilities that come with marriage such that each partner has a responsibility to one another and children of the family.

The bill will give couples social security benefits in the case of a partner's death, as well as pension benefits and the ability to gain parental responsibility for their civil partner’s children.

Unlike the United States where the two major political parties seem divided on the issue, the governing Labour Party and the main opposition see eye to eye on civil unions.

The rest of the world moves forward.

Lone Cap.

Yahoo! News - McCain Says U.S. Needs 10,000 More Troops in Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States needs at least 10,000 more troops in Iraq and must curb domestic spending to pay for the war (ha ha!), John McCain, a Republican senator and former rival of President Bush, said on Thursday.

McCain called Iraq the "test of a generation" and said the United States would pay dearly if it left the country before establishing a new order based on freedom and democracy.

"We need to make tough decisions about where our wartime priorities lay and this means that we have to reassess our domestic priorities ... we simply cannot have it all -- tax cuts, pork for the special interests, ever-growing entitlement programs and war in Iraq," he said.

"Congress cannot demand discipline and sacrifice only of the men and women fighting in the desert. We need it at home as well," he said.

The Pentagon also wants 4 billion more, John. Better get that draft reved-up. Something tells me that there will be a lot of "discipline and sacrifice", especially from us poor folk.
Quote of the Day:

"In a spirit of shared faith and respect, we feel called to express grave moral concern about your 'Clear Skies' initiative — which we believe is The Administration's continuous effort to weaken critical environmental standards to protect God's creation."

-A letter from the National Council of Churches to George Bush, arguing that planned changes to power plant regulations will allow major polluters to avoid installing pollution-control equipment when they expand their facilities.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Warm up.

5/3rd panorama.
Governor Green Strikes Again:

Governor Granholm Signs Directive to Better Protect Wetlands on Public Land

LANSING – Small wetlands areas, often home to rare animal and plant species, will be better protected starting today as Governor Jennifer M. Granholm signed a new executive directive authorizing the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to have a process in place in the next 60 days to preserve these unique ecosystems on public land.

The Governor signed Executive Directive 2004-4 as part of her efforts to honor Earth Day 2004. The directive was part of the Governor’s Special Message to the Legislature she delivered earlier this year.

“Wetlands provide critical functions in our state, and we continue to lose them to encroaching development,” Granholm said. “Our state has a proud history of strong wetlands protection, but we have up until this time failed to take the opportunity to protect some of the most biologically diverse wetlands in our state. This directive sets us back on course to protect these fragile places of natural beauty.”

Go Jenni Go!

Yahoo! News - You Really May Be Addicted to That Chocolate Cake
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People who say they are addicted to chocolate or pizza may not be exaggerating, U.S.-based scientists said on Tuesday.

A brain scan study of normal, hungry people showed their brains lit up when they saw and smelled their favorite foods in much the same way as the brains of cocaine addicts when they think about their next snort.

"Food presentation significantly increased metabolism in the whole brain (by 24 percent) and these changes were largest in superior temporal, anterior insula, and orbitofrontal cortices," they wrote.

These areas are associated with addiction. For instance, the orbitofrontal cortex has been seen to activate in cocaine users when they think about the drug.

The study, published in the April issue of the journal NeuroImage, may support the argument that food advertising is helping drive the U.S. obesity epidemic.

Heh heh. Maybe "I'm Lovin' It" ads should be made illegal, just like liquor and cig ads. I wonder if the same thing happens when people are presented with non-edible things such of a big pile of money, for example.

Yahoo! News - Oregon Judge Orders Halt to Gay Weddings
A judge told Multnomah County to stop issuing gay marriage licenses Tuesday — but also ordered the state to recognize the 3,000 licenses already granted in the county.

The decision by Multnomah County Circuit Judge Frank Bearden marked the first time in the nation that a judge has recognized gay marriage. An immediate appeal was expected.

"These are the first legally recognized gay marriages in the country," said Dave Fidanque, the ACLU executive director in Oregon. "In no other same-sex marriages that have taken place has there been a court order saying the state must recognize them. That's what's truly historic about this opinion."

Bearden told the county to cease issuing same-sex licenses until the Oregon Legislature has a chance to fashion a new law, perhaps allowing Vermont-style civil unions.

He gave the Oregon Legislature 90 days from the start of its next session to come up with the new law. If that doesn't happen, Multnomah County can resume issuing marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Yahoo! News - Honduras to Pull Its Troops Out of Iraq
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (Reuters) - In a blow to President Bush and his coalition partners in Iraq, Honduras followed Spain on Monday in announcing it will pull its troops out of the country.

President Ricardo Maduro, a close ally of the United States, said he had already told coalition countries that Honduras' 370 soldiers in Iraq would soon quit the country.

He said in a television and radio address the withdrawal would be carried out "in the shortest possible time and under safe conditions for our troops."

Honduras said earlier Monday it was considering the withdrawal due to spiraling violence and pressure created by Spain's decision to pull its forces out.

Spain is commanding troops in Iraq from other Spanish-speaking nations in the coalition -- Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
It's All About The News:

I was going to blog something this morning, but couldn't pick which "White House Denies....." story I wanted to run.

White House denies allegations of Iraq war plan funding.....
White House denies Prince Bandar knew of war before Powell....
White House denies Saudi manipulation of oil prices for the election...

Whew! Too much to choose from!

Monday, April 19, 2004

Pickoff attempt on Blue.

Double play.

(so creative with the names!)
My Green Governor:

Governor Granholm asks Great Lakes Governors to Establish Uniform Quality Standards for Great Lakes

LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that she has asked Great Lakes governors to establish uniform standards for determining Great Lakes water quality.

“The Great Lakes are our greatest treasure” said Granholm. “But each state measures and monitors different standards and then reports those in a different way around the basin, making determining the health of the Great Lakes a challenging process. It is time we made the information uniform.”

Last month, Governor Granholm sent letters to her fellow governors asking them to work with Michigan and Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven Chester to ensure that all Great Lakes states are using the same language to keep citizens informed of the drink-ability, fish-ability, and swim-ability of all of the Great Lakes. To date, Minnesota has responded to the Governor's letter, and Chester is contacting the other Great Lake states to discuss their involvement. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has already indicated its support for such an effort.

Big round of applause for Jennifer on this one. She is really moving on the environmental issues, especially the water.

Yahoo! News - 99 U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Killed in April
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Ten U.S. troops were killed on Saturday in combat across Iraq — including five U.S. Marines killed in pitched battles near the Syrian border — and an eleventh soldier died in a tank rollover, the military said.

The deaths brought to 99 the number of U.S. troops killed in violence since April 1.

At least 697 U.S. servicemembers have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.

Yahoo! News - Rice Denies Book's Claim on Iraq Decision
WASHINGTON - National security adviser Condoleezza Rice forcefully disputed on Sunday an assertion that President Bush decided in early January 2003 to invade Iraq, three months before official accounts say the decision was made.

The statement, in Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's new book about the run-up to war, is "simply not, not right," Rice said.

Rice did not deny the private conversation between her and Bush just after New Year's Day in which Woodward said the decision was made, but she said the writer had misinterpreted what was said.

She said Woodward also misread another comment attributed to her, that since Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld knew of the "go" decision and Secretary of State Colin Powell did not, perhaps Bush should tell Powell.

You guys get to work on Bob Woodward's credibility now. Make sure you trash him the way you have trashed O'Neill and Clarke. Funny how all these people who were in the know were so wrong about Bush! Amazing!

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Foul ball.

Tony Giarrantano beats the throw to first in the Caps 11-6 victory Saturday afternoon.

Photo courtesy of Eptasdi News Service.
Quote of the Day:

"I'm going to have a hard time going with Bush. In my good conscience, I don't know how I can support him," said Shawn Gardner, one of several hundred party members attending this weekend's annual convention of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP organization that backed Bush in 2000.

I don't see how any self-respecting gay/lesbian person can vote for Bush. They cling to the word "conservative" for the sake of their party, but there is a big fact they are missing- BUSH IS NOT CONSERVATIVE!


Say it over and over again till it sinks in.

I don't know what these folks are thinking.

Yahoo! News - Bush Began Iraq War Planning Months After 9/11
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Within months of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, President Bush was huddling secretly with advisers over Iraq war plans, according to a new book that may help fuel criticisms he was overeager for war.

The book, "Plan of Attack," by Washington Post assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, also reports that Bush decided in early 2003 that U.N. arms inspections in Iraq were ineffective and an invasion was probably inevitable.

The Woodward book won't hit store shelves until next week. But the Post reported from it on Saturday and the White House has already confirmed a key revelation -- that Bush ordered Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in November 2001 to draw up a fresh war plan for Iraq.

"Let's get started on this," Bush told Rumsfeld, the Post said, quoting Bush's recollection.

The Post's report says Bush got his first detailed war plans five weeks later from the top commander of U.S. troops in the region, Gen. Tommy Franks, and told reporters afterward the two had discussed Afghanistan.

To further guard the secrecy, Bush funded the war preparations through funds earmarked for Afghanistan and old appropriations, the Post reported.

Lies AND theft. Good one George. The nation still in shock, and already your attention had wandered from Osama to Iraq, if it ever left Iraq in the first place.

Problem is half of America still doesn't care. They like war. It's a big "we're number 1!" game to them. Human suffering means nothing. They don't give a shit, as long as it's not them or their loved ones doing the dying. Makes me wish the Soviet Union was still around to keep our stupid asses in check.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

The Boys Are Back In Town! CAPS WIN 9-4!

A record-setting crowd saw the home debut of the 2004 West Michigan Whitecaps Friday night. For me, it was like being in a dream- time seemed to have been frozen last August, all the familiar faces and sounds and smells washed away a long cold dark winter.

Opening day at the minor league level is like the first day of school- learning all the new kids names, wandering around the building and seeing what has been changed, what has stayed the same, getting reacquainted with old friends. Exciting. And the weather was summer-like, game-time temps in the 70's. Beautiful night.

Vince Blue hit the very first pitch out of the park, and the Caps went on to score 9 runs on 13 hits.

"That jukebox in the corner blasting out my favorite song
the nights are getting warmer, it won't be long,
won't be long till summer comes,
now that the boys are here again....

The boys are back in town, the boys are back in town....."

Winning pitcher Virgil Vasquez picks up a strikeout.

Kelly Hunt rounds the bases after a three-run homer.

Quote of the Day:"It was everything I heard it was going to be," said first baseman Kelly Hunt, who led the scoring eruption for the Whitecaps with a pair of hits and five RBIs, including a three-run homer in the third inning. "It's a lot easier to play when you've got the fans on your side. There were a lot of people screaming and yelling for us. It was awesome."

The only sad thing was that I quite possibly missed the most exciting Cub game of the young year- Cubs won in the bottom of the ninth 11-10 as Sammy Sosa tied Ernie Banks record for Cub home runs. Ah well.

Friday, April 16, 2004

West Michigan Whitecaps - Press Release-"Fun, Fireworks & Food Whitecaps; Home Opener is this Friday (Today!) "
COMSTOCK PARK, MI - Spring is in the air, and pretty soon, baseballs will be too. The West Michigan Whitecaps step up to the plate for their 11th season with the home opener on Friday, April 16 at 6:35 p.m. The game, which will be followed by fireworks, will also serve as the fans chance to honor former 'Caps Manager Phil Regan, who retired following the 2003 season.

YEE-HAH! Baseball is home! Looking forward to the game tonight, hope I don't get delayed on "the drive". Want a free hat!

I feel like I'm awakening from the deep dark slumber of winter. Everything is coming alive again.
Quote of the Day:

"There's always the hunt for Osama bin Laden. We have folks who spend a lot of time worrying about where he is, where al-Zawahri is, where the top leadership in al Qaeda is," he said.

--General Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, on troop strength in Afghanistan

Yes, there is always that hunt for Osama, isn't there? Glad that there are people spending a lot of time "worrying" about it.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Yahoo! News - Purported Bin Laden Truce Rejected
LONDON - Key European nations, including Iraq war opponents Germany and France, vigorously rejected a truce offer purportedly from Osama bin Laden on Thursday, saying there could be no negotiating with his al-Qaida terrorist network.

Many saw the audio taped offer as an attempt to drive a wedge between the United States and its European allies, and one analyst said it might contain a message to militants to hold back on attacks against Europe.

The tape, which the CIA said is likely to an authentic recording of bin Laden, was broadcast on Arab TV stations offering "a truce ... to any country which does not carry out an onslaught against Muslims or interfere in their affairs."

Well, no shit, what are they gonna do, side with him? And is there anyone else besides me who is really, really pissed off that this asshole is still walking around the world free 2 1/2 years after Sept. 11?

Yahoo! News - Army Lengthens Iraq Tours Despite Pledge
WASHINGTON - For about 21,000 American soldiers, the Army's promise to limit tours of duty in Iraq to no more than 12 months has fallen victim to the surge in anti-occupation violence.

Approximately 18,000 soldiers of the 1st Armored Division, which is based in Germany, and about 2,800 of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Polk, La., have been told that they will remain in Iraq for another three months instead of coming home this month, a senior defense official said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The decision, which has not been announced publicly, breaks the Army's pledge to soldiers and their families that assignments in Iraq would not exceed one year. The affected soldiers already have been in Iraq for a year.

The Army is so stretched by its commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere that it has few, if any, forces immediately available to substitute in Iraq for the 1st Armored or 2nd Armored Cavalry.

This should do wonders for morale and re-enlistment. Sorry guys.
Quote of the Day:

"Stop shedding our blood to save your own and the solution to this simple but complex equation is in your hands. You know matters will escalate the more you delay and then do not blame us but blame yourselves. Rational people do not risk their security, money and sons to appease the White House liar."

--Osama bin Laden, on a tape released yesterday to Arab television.

Yahoo! News - First Women's Faith-Based Prison Opens
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The nation's first faith-based prison for women opened in a Tampa-area detention center Wednesday, nearly five months after a similar program began for men.

About 300 female prisoners will be confined at the Hillsborough Correctional Institution, all volunteers who agreed to participate in a program combining vocational classes with worship.

To avoid legal challenges, no state money will be used for religious instruction. Volunteers will provide religious services and materials. Any religion may be represented at the prison, and no prisoner will be required to participate in religious activities, officials said.

The beginning of a scary trend? And if they are not required to participate, why bother? Would they then be sent back to "regular" prison?

In a way it reminds me of my time "in the joint" (ha ha- it was like summer camp) We had a former preacher thumping his Bible as he sang the praises of the AA program in an entirely Chrisitian point of view. ("Je-SUS will save you! Say Amen!") Yes, I found it offensive, but not wanting to make waves in the two weeks I was there, I just smiled and listened. I imagine a lot of prisoners do the same.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Quote of the Day:

"Tonight, President Bush failed to provide the American people with a plan to succeed in the vital mission of creating a free and stable Iraq. Instead of proposing real solutions, he danced around the issues and offered the same hollow rhetoric,"

-John Kerry, on Bush's press conference.

Yahoo! News - Bush Says He Will Stake Re-Election on Iraq
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush said he would stake his re-election on a successful outcome in Iraq at a rare prime-time news conference on Tuesday night where he said more U.S. troops might be needed to stop the violence and transfer power to Iraqis.

Bush, speaking for more than an hour, gave a stay-the-course message, condemned a "power-grab by these extreme and ruthless elements" and said U.S. forces were allowed to use decisive force to maintain order. Some moderate Iraqis have expressed concern at the deadly tactics used to fight Sunnis and Shi'ites on separate fronts.

The reviews are in, and it was exactly as I predicted. Good (campaign) speech, but when it came to answering questions Bush comes off as a bumbling fool with no clear plan for the future. You almost feel sorry for the guy- he appears to be in over his head, and looked old and tired to me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Quote of the Day:

"I'm upset I didn't throw the ball the way I want to throw it. And at the same time you feel like you let a lot of people down. The frustrating part is I felt good. I really did. I enjoyed being out there and you kind of want to do better than you did and it didn't work out."

-- Greg Maddux, after being pounded by the Pirates 13-2.

Yahoo! News - Bush to Face Reporters in Prime Time
With the Sept. 11 commission hearings and the recent battles in Iraq being broadcast into American homes, this is a good time for Bush to defend his policies, said Stephen Hess, a political analyst at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution. "This is an administration that gets in trouble because it doesn't speak up in a timely way and defend itself," Hess said. The news conference is "really quite necessary," he said.

On Monday at his Texas ranch, Bush deflected questions about the pre-Sept. 11 warning, telling reporters that if the FBI had known about an imminent terrorist attack against America, the agency would have told him.

Still, he added that now might be the right time to "revamp and reform our intelligence services."

NOW might be the right time? Almost three YEARS later? Why, because this is blowing up in your face? Because you ignored the warnings and focused on Star Wars? Yes, let's blame the FBI, the CIA and whoever we can pass this off on, you inept asshole.

To questions about whether the security situation in Iraq was untenable, Bush replied: "The situation in Iraq has improved."

The situation has improved ?!? How so, George? The Iraqi police are quitting in droves and joining the "insurgents". We've killed 700 civilians. And lost 70 troops. And here you are on vacation AGAIN. As I type this, a report is coming over the TV about yet another attack on a convoy and yet another soldier is dead.

This is making me sick, it's getting hard to blog anything because of the disgust I feel when the subject comes up.

I want this SOB tried for war crimes, right after we impeach him.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Yahoo! News - Cubs' Prior Not Ready to Pitch Off Mound
CHICAGO - The Chicago Cubs are unsure when Mark Prior might be ready to pitch this season. Unable to pitch during exhibition games because of a sore Achilles' tendon and tender elbow, Prior has been throwing long toss in the outfield. But the right-hander, 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA last season, isn't ready to throw off a mound.

"I wish I could tell you there is a date, but nobody knows, including me," manager Dusty Baker said Monday before the Cubs' home opener.

Prior said Sunday that he doesn't know when his arm will be in shape to throw from the mound.


Sunday, April 11, 2004

Yahoo! Sports - MLB - Braves 5, Cubs 2

From the "Isn't It Ironic? Department-

The comeback spoiled a marvelous outing by Cubs right-hander Sergio Mitre, who pitched five-hit ball over 7 2-3 innings and was in line to get his first big league win.

``I was able to keep them off-balance most of the night,'' Mitre said. ``I learned from my mistakes last year, trying to do too much.''

Antonio Alfonseca (1-0) got two outs in the eighth to pick up the win, and Kevin Gryboski pitched the ninth for his first career save.

Nice game Sergio. Guess we just couldn't get past the mighty Antonio. Ha ha ha! No, wait, thats not funny. Not at all.

Yahoo! News - Federal agency reverses, protects gays
Bowing to pressure from the White House, congressional Democrats and GLBT activists, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced Thursday it would restore protections for gay and lesbian federal employees.

The move ends a protracted struggle that began in February, when the head of the OSC, Scott Bloch, removed language protecting gay and lesbian federal employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Despite vociferous protests, Bloch claimed it was necessary to avoid creating a "protected class."

By the end of March, congressional Democrats banded together to demand the White House take a stand and fire Bloch. They said Bloch did not have the authority to ignore an executive order signed by President Clinton and retained by President Bush.

The Bush administration spoke out last week, effectively rebuking Bloch by promising all federal employees are indeed protected from unfair discrimination at work.

Doesn't it seem a bit hypocritical to protect federal employees on the job, but then deny them full civil rights on the home front? Heh-heh. See? We get our foot in the door and then we want all the rights! Then everybody's gonna want 'em! Jeez, you guys just can't win.

Yahoo! News - Bush's Pre-9/11 al-Qaida Memo Released
CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush was told more than a month before the Sept. 11 attacks that al-Qaida had reached America's shores, had a support system in place for its operatives and that the FBI had detected suspicious activity that might involve a hijacking plot.

Richard Ben-Veniste, a Democratic commissioner and former Watergate prosecutor, said the memo calls into question national security adviser Condoleezza Rice's assertion Thursday that the memo was purely a "historical" document.

"This is a provocative piece of information and warrants further exploration as to what was done following the receipt of this information to enhance our domestic security," he said.

Senior administration officials said Bush saw more than 40 mentions of al-Qaida in his daily intelligence updates during the first eight months of his presidency. The CIA prepared the document "in response to questions asked by the president about the possibility of attacks by al-Qaida inside the U.S," one said.

But the senior officials refused to say what Bush's response to the memo was.

Bush's response was to go on vacation.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Yahoo! News - W.House to Release Aug. 6, 2001, Document
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - The White House planned to release on Saturday an Aug. 6, 2001, intelligence briefing for President Bush that outlined al Qaeda plans to strike within the United States, a senior Bush administration official said.

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice insisted in her public testimony to the 9/11 commission last week that the memo contained mostly historical information and did not warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.

Her account could be contradicted by the fact that the memo included information from three months beforehand that al Qaeda members were trying to enter the United States for an attack with explosives.

Are they going to hang Condi out to dry? Stay tuned.

Sammy whoosh.

In a blur.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Yahoo! News - Rice: There Was No Silver Bullet to Avert Attacks
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - National security adviser Condoleezza Rice told the Sept. 11 commission on Thursday that four U.S. presidents including George W. Bush failed to fully mobilize against terrorism, but there was no "silver bullet" that could have averted the deadly attacks on America.

Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, a Democrat, was the first to take Rice on, focusing on a briefing given Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, at which a document was presented titled "(Osama) Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

As members of the audience -- including some family members of 9/11 victims -- applauded, Ben-Veniste demanded the report be declassified.

Commissioner Bob Kerrey, a former U.S. Democratic senator, revealed some of the still-classified memo.

"This is what the August 6 memo said to the president -- that the FBI indicates patterns of suspicious activity, and I'd say it's consistent with preparations for hijacking," Kerrey disclosed.

The White House said later it was actively looking into declassifying the 1 1/2-page document.

I'll bet they are...

Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were due to meet together privately with the panel. No date has been announced.

On the next episode of "As The 9-11 Commission Turns"

Same time, same station.

World's oldest cat. (and still going strong)

Yahoo! News - Iraq in Turmoil on Anniversary of Saddam's Fall
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Bloody turmoil reigned in Iraq on Friday, the first anniversary of Saddam Hussein's fall, with Sunni and Shi'ite rebels battling U.S.-led forces and holding three Japanese and other foreign hostages.

This week's bloodshed, engulfing the hitherto quiescent Shi'ite south as well as the bastions of Sunni insurgency in central Iraq, has shown how far the United States is from securing the country whose dictator it toppled on April 9, 2003.

Iraq's U.S. administrator Paul Bremer said U.S. forces had unilaterally suspended operations in the Sunni town of Falluja at midday after this week's crackdown on guerrillas.

He said the cease-fire would allow humanitarian access and what would be unprecedented talks with insurgents. About 10 bodies lay in the streets of the town west of Baghdad after heavy overnight fighting, witnesses said.

Bremer announced the Falluja cease-fire after five days of street fighting in which up to 300 Iraqis have been reported killed and U.S. Marines have also taken casualties.

Talks with insurgents? Maybe we should have tried that in the first place, eh? Before this all ever started?
CAPS WIN 11-3!

West Michigan « 0 3 0 2 1 0 0 4 1 11 16 1
Dayton 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 3 9 1

W:A.Baldwin(1-0) L:J.Gillman(0-1)
HR: WMI- G.McKinney (1), R.Burgos (1) DTN- B.Himes (1)

Thursday, April 08, 2004

It's All About The World Being Upside Down:

The Tigers are 4-0.

The Cubs are 1-2, and the Brewers are leading the division at 3-1.

It's like waking up in Bizarro World.
OPENING DAY for your 2004 West Michigan Whitecaps!

vs. Dayton Dragons- 7PM @ Dayton.

Welcome to the Midwest League, boys. See ya next week!

I can't wait to get back out to the ballpark. Hope we get some nice weather.

Yahoo! News - Rice Plans Unapologetic 9/11 Testimony
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Condoleezza Rice will present an unapologetic defense of President Bush before the 9-11 commission on Thursday in the highest profile national security testimony since the Iran-Contra affair nearly two decades ago, officials and analysts said.

Rice's 2-1/2 hours in the spotlight responds to damaging testimony by former White House counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke, who told the panel Bush ignored warnings about al Qaeda before the attacks and focused mistakenly on Iraq afterward.

Senior Bush administration officials said Rice would not rebut Clarke point-by-point in her sweeping review, however.

They also said they expected her to sympathize with 9/11 victims but stop short of emulating the widely publicized apology Clarke offered, at the outset of his own testimony two weeks ago, for government failings leading up to the attacks that killed about 3,000 people.

Dance, Condi, dance!

Yahoo! News - Hospital Chief: Over 280 Iraqis Killed
FALLUJAH, Iraq - More than 280 Iraqis have been killed and 400 wounded this week in the U.S. Marines' siege of insurgents in this city west of Baghdad, the director of Fallujah's hospital said Thursday.

The Abdel-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque was hit by U.S. aircraft that launched a Hellfire missile at its minaret and dropped a 500-pound bomb on a wall surrounding the compound.

The U.S. military said insurgents were using the mosque for a military fire base. Iraqi witnesses estimated 40 people were killed as they gathered for afternoon prayers. U.S. officials said no civilians died and American commanders gave conflicting reports of insurgent casualties.

Apparently the new catch phrase for "civilians" is "insurgents". If we kill 'em, then they were insurgents. Including the women and children I guess.

Is America headed for a big karmic smackdown on this one?

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

It's All About The Free Java:

It seems to have disappeared. I can't find any sports feeds to put up the Cubs box scores. Bummer.

Yahoo! News - Christine McVie Flies Solo Again
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Although deciding to pass on a reunion with Fleetwood Mac, Christine McVie has not given up on music.

The singer/songwriter behind such tunes as "Don't Stop" and "Over My Head," has set a July 27 release date for her first solo album in more than two decades.

"In the Meantime" will be distributed in the United States and Canada by Koch Records, and internationally by Sanctuary Records, under pacts with U.K.-based label/management firm Adventures In Music.

Good for you Christine! I look forward to hearing it.

Yahoo! News - Up to 12 U.S. Marines Die in Worsening Iraq Violence
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S.-led forces grappled with Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim rebels in Iraq on Wednesday after up to 12 U.S. Marines and dozens of Iraqis were killed in Sunni towns in violence coinciding with a radical Shi'ite uprising.

In Falluja, where Marines were pursuing a major crackdown after last week's killings of four American private security guards, doctors said 36 people were killed on Tuesday.

Among the dead were 25 civilians in a house destroyed by what locals said was a U.S. helicopter strike. A U.S. military spokeswoman in Baghdad said she had no word on the incident.

Elsewhere in Iraq, followers of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr fought gun battles with foreign troops in the southern cities of Nassiriya, Amara and Kut on Tuesday and vowed to pursue a revolt that has claimed over 130 lives in three days.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Yahoo! News - Kennedy Likens Bush to Nixon 'Credibility Gap'
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy on Monday accused President Bush of having created at home and abroad "the largest credibility gap" since the Watergate scandal forced Richard Nixon from the White House 30 years ago.

In delivering perhaps his harshest assessment yet of Bush, Kennedy described the Republican president as someone who cannot be trusted on a host of fronts.

Kennedy, the leading liberal on Capitol Hill, renewed his charge that the administration had misled the American people and Congress into the Iraq war, straining relations with allies worldwide.

He also accused the administration of having knowingly sold an unsound tax-cutting economic plan that resulted in the loss of millions of jobs, a faulty Medicare prescription drug law that will cost far more than it acknowledged when the measure won final congressional passage late last year and an education program that Kennedy said Bush has refused to adequately fund.

"They repeatedly invent 'facts' to support their preconceived agenda -- facts which administration officials knew or should have known were not true," Kennedy said.

The senator said, "As a result, this president has now created the largest credibility gap since Richard Nixon," who was forced to resign as president in 1974 as a result of the Watergate scandal that exposed abuses of power.

I was wonderin' when someone was going to use the Nixon analogy. Go get em Ted!

Monday, April 05, 2004

Yahoo! News - Bush Vows to Arrest Iraq Cleric to Quell Violence
CHARLOTTE, N.C./BAGHDAD (Reuters) - President Bush vowed to arrest a radical Shi'ite Muslim cleric leading spiraling anti-U.S. violence that has sparked fears of all-out war in Iraq.

"We just can't let (the violence) stand," Bush said on Monday as U.S. authorities branded Moqtada al-Sadr an outlaw and U.S. helicopters blasted a Baghdad district where the cleric has a stronghold and sent in tanks to quell the violence.

Sadr, backed by armed followers, had taken refuge in Iraq's holiest shrine, the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf, south of Baghdad, a Shi'ite religious source told Reuters. The source said nearby streets had been closed off by members of Sadr's banned militia.

"There's no way Sayyid Moqtada will turn himself in," said a Sadr supporter outside the group's office in the Baghdad slum district of Sadr City. "If the Americans try to arrest him, we will all explode," said the man, who gave his name as Haider.

We storm a mosque to arrest this guy and it will be like pouring gasoline on a fire. It will be open season on American troops. Watch the violence escalate.

Yahoo! News - Cubs Top Reds 7-4 to Start Season
CINCINNATI - Corey Patterson homered and Moises Alou doubled with the bases loaded Monday, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 7-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

After winning their first division title in 14 years, the defending NL Central champions got a good start on their next image-busting quest: back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1971-72.

CUBS WIN!! CUBS WIN!! HOLY COW!! Only 161 more to go...

Yahoo! News - Kerry: Bush Plan Will Cost $6 Trillion
BOSTON - Trying to reverse partisan stereotypes, Democrat John Kerry is launching a campaign to portray himself as a fiscal conservative, comparing his economic strategy with the $6 trillion in unpaid spending that he says President Bush has proposed over the next 10 years.

For weeks, Bush's campaign has been saying Kerry would raise taxes $900 billion over 10 years. Kerry is striking back with a report to be released Monday that says the president would increase the deficit with his unfunded spending proposals and tax cuts.

"We intend to run to President Bush's right on this," said Roger Altman, who was deputy treasury secretary under President Clinton and is advising Kerry's campaign.

HAHAHA! You heard it here first.

From March 5th on this very blog-

"I think a delicious strategy would be to hit George from the right, use these numbers and promise a more fiscally conservative government."

Yahoo! News - Bremer Says Won't Tolerate 'Outlaw' Iraqi Cleric
BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq's U.S. administrator Paul Bremer said Monday radical Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was an outlaw threatening Iraq's security.

"We have a difficult security situation. We have a group under Moqtada al-Sadr that has basically placed itself outside the legal authorities, the coalition and Iraqi officials," said Bremer, head of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority.

"Effectively he is attempting to establish his authority in the place of the legitimate authority. We will not tolerate this," he said.

"We will reassert the law and order which the Iraqi people expect," Bremer told reporters as he met Iraqi government ministers to discuss how to deal with Sadr.

He was speaking a day after running battles between Sadr's militia and U.S.-led forces in Baghdad and near the holy shrine city of Najaf killed nine foreign troops and at least 21 Iraqis.

So whatcha gonna do there, Paul? Shoot more of his supporters? More martyrs for the fire? Lugar says we need more troops. Gonna start up the draft? Or just wait till after the election? I know, let's extend the deadline for handover and keep our name on this mess even longer. Sounds like a plan.

We are screwed. Here comes a civil war.

Gen X's defining moment

It was 10 years ago today Cobain, the scraggly, blond-haired, blue-eyed voice of a generation, took a shotgun and killed himself in the greenhouse next to his home, ending a life of heroin addiction and intense stomach pain. An electrician discovered his body and suicide note three days later.

While his death at 27 helped Cobain achieve rock immortality, it is Nirvana's music - dark lyrics with simple, accessible instrumentation that alternated between soft verses and loud choruses - that explains the staying power.

"Nirvana brought back the fresh air. It was a powerful return to artistry, to making the power and emotion behind a song its center," said Charles R. Cross, a Seattle-based author of "Heavier Than Heaven," the definitive Cobain biography.

Where does 10 years go? Still miss you Kurt.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

My little town.

April 5, 2:10 p.m. ET, Great American Ball Park


RH Kerry Wood
(14-11, 3.20)


RH Cory Lidle
(12-15, 5.75)

Cubs lineup:
1. Mark Grudzielanek, 2B
2. Corey Patterson, CF
3. Sammy Sosa, RF
4. Moises Alou, LF
5. Derrek Lee, 1B
6. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
7. Paul Bako, C
8. Alex Gonzalez, SS
9. Kerry Wood, P

Reds lineup:
1. D'Angelo Jimenez, 2B
2. Barry Larkin, SS
3. Sean Casey, 1B
4. Ken Griffey Jr., CF
5. Austin Kearns, RF
6. Adam Dunn, LF
7. Jason LaRue, C
8. Ryan Freel, 3B
9. Cory Lidle, P

Cubs: WGN-AM 720; FSN
Reds: WLW-AM 700; FSN

The forecast:
Monday. Mostly sunny in the morning. Then becoming partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 50s. Northwest winds around 10 mph.

24 hours from now there will be baseball..............!



We, the undersigned, believe George W. Bush and Richard Cheney should be impeached for the following high crimes and misdemeanors, grounds that the Constitution sets forth for the removal of public officials:

The President and Vice President deceived citizens and Congress in the most serious act that a government can undertake - leading its people to war. The principal reasons they gave have been fraudulent, namely:

*That there was an imminent threat of a secret attack by Iraq which would use weapons of mass destruction against the US and its allies.

*That Saddam Hussein was cooperating with the al Qaida terrorists, with the implication that he was involved in the attacks of those terrorists on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001.

Can't hurt...

Mirror Grand.

Yahoo! News- Least 19 Dead as Coalition Fights Iraqi Protesters
KUFA, Iraq (Reuters) - Spanish-led troops and Iraqi police fired on protesters and clashed with armed Shi'ite militiamen near Najaf Sunday, leaving at least 19 people dead and more than 100 wounded, witnesses and hospital officials said.

After the shots were fired, clashes broke out between the troops and members of the Mehdi Army, an armed militia loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, a virulent anti-American cleric.

Sadr's supporters have staged several marches in the past week to protest against the closure a week ago of al-Hawza newspaper, a mouthpiece for Sadr that U.S.-led authorities accused of inciting anti-American violence.

We shoot people as they demonstrate against the oppression of their free speech. That will win hearts and minds.

In Baghdad, demonstrators chanting anti-American slogans protested at the entrance to the headquarters of the U.S.-led administration and in Firdos square, where a statue of Saddam Hussein was famously pulled down nearly a year ago.

Protesters at the Firdos square demonstration displayed the coffins of two supporters they said were killed by U.S. gunfire during another protest on Saturday night. A U.S. military spokesman said he knew nothing about such an incident.

Separately, the U.S. military said two U.S. Marines were killed in attacks over the weekend in a volatile province west of Baghdad where earlier this week four U.S. contractors were killed, burned and dragged through the streets by a jubilant mob.

And we wonder why...

Saturday, April 03, 2004

In the park.

Yahoo! News - Powell Says Key Intelligence Piece on Iraq Flawed
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged on Friday that the "most dramatic" part of his presentation to the United Nations making the case for war on Iraq was based on flawed intelligence.

Powell also said he hoped a commission investigating the U.S. intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction would reveal how the CIA ended up depending on unreliable sources for key evidence he used to argue for war.

The acknowledgment about alleged mobile chemical arms laboratories could further hurt the credibility of the Bush administration, also under fire in an election year for failing to stop the Sept. 11 attacks.

Take a good look everyone. This may be as close as we get to an admission that the justification for this war was built on unreliable sources.

"I hope (the commission) will look into these matters to see whether or not the intelligence agency had a basis for the confidence that they placed in the intelligence at that time," he said.

And then we'll just blame the CIA.

Yahoo! News - New Jobs Surge 308,000, Unemployment Up
WASHINGTON - After months of dismal job growth, the nation's employers dusted off their help-wanted signs in March and added workers at the quickest pace in four years, swelling payrolls by 308,000.

Even so, the unemployment rate inched up a tenth of a point to 5.7 percent as more people were encouraged to start looking for work again but failed to find jobs, the Labor Department said Friday.

President Bush, whose re-election could depend in large part on the strength of the jobs market, quickly embraced the new figures. "The policies are working," Bush said on his seventh visit to West Virginia, a battleground state he hopes to win again in November's election.

Good job Georgie! Now you only need 2.7 million more to break even!

Yahoo! News - Antidepressant Use Way Up in U.S. Kids, Report Says
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pre-school children are the fastest-growing group of patients in the United States getting antidepressant medication, with use nearly doubling between 1998 and 2002, according to a report issued on Friday.


Friday, April 02, 2004

Yahoo! News - US Promises Overwhelming Response to Iraq Killings
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. troops Thursday promised an "overwhelming" response to brutal killings in the Iraqi town of Falluja and vowed to hunt down those who shot four American security contractors and mutilated their bodies.

Marines took positions on the outskirts of the restive town west of Baghdad where the contractors were ambushed by insurgents Wednesday and then set on by a crowd.

"Coalition forces will respond," the U.S. Army's deputy director of operations, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, told a news conference. "They are coming back and they are going to hunt down the people responsible for this bestial act.

"It will be at a time and a place of our choosing. It will be methodical, it will be precise and it will be overwhelming."

"The Americans may think it is unusual but this is what they should expect. They show up in places and shoot civilians, so why can't they be killed?" said a Falluja store employee who gave his name as Amir.

U.S. troops fired on demonstrators in Falluja last April, killing at least 15 people. Other residents have been killed since and locals accuse U.S. troops of firing randomly and using excessive violence during raids. They always vow revenge.

This is never going to end, is it?