Saturday, May 06, 2006


What appalled us this week

I'm inundated by the daily deluge of appalling news. But I'm not alone, so I thought I'd survey the week through the eyes of others who were appalled and the news that appalled them.


Since today is Derby Day, the day of the great Kentucky Derby, we should consider what becomes of the horses. Most of them live out a blissful retirement, but not all. Some may end in a French or Belgian restaurant surrounded by a little sauce bordelaise or in a can of gourmet dog food.

That's what happened with 1986 Derby winner Ferdinand. He was sold to the Japanese to be used as a stud. But Ferdinand sort of dried up as did the profits. So before you could say "horsemeat," Ferdinand was shipped to that great slaughterhouse in the sky to free up space on an island that hardly has room for golf.

Upon hearing the news Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield—

I was really shocked and appalled... Here we are still slaughtering horses in the U.S. I wasn't aware of that and I don't think many people are aware.

He has a bill he hopes will put a stop to this—

The bill would prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivery, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling or donation of a horse or other equine for slaughter for human consumption. Even if they were trying to move it to Mexico or Canada, it would be a violation.

This will create a dilemma for horse farms that is similar to the problem EU countries face when asked to extradite persons to the United States. The EU countries can't extradite if the person is at risk of execution in the receiving country. So the EU countries have to exact a promise from U.S. federal or state governments not to bring capital charges against the accused.

The U.S. may yet adopt such a humane policy for its two-legged citizens, but first we must try it on horses.

Finnish authorities appalled by May Day riot

Finnish authorities on Tuesday expressed sentiments of surprise and reprehension over the May Day riot in the centre of Helsinki where firefighters attempting to put out blazes and police trying to protect them were attacked.

The riot developed late on Sunday night when up to 200 young people, described by the police as anti-globalisation demonstrators, converged on the disused Finnish Railways warehouses opposite Parliament and lit fires.....

PM 'appalled' at VCs sale offer

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says she is appalled by attempts to sell the double Victoria Cross medals awarded to war hero Charles Upham.

Captain Upham's family wants to sell the medals and his daughter, Virginia Mackenzie, said she thought they might be worth up to $7.65 million.

But isn't that sort of "incentivizing" heroism? What's wrong with that?

In the U.S. we've decided to skip the heroism and go straight for the money. It's estimated that there are now more fake military medals in circulation than real ones. Rep. Salazar of Colorado is working on a law, the Stolen Valor Act. This would "make it illegal to make a false public claim to be a recipient of any military valor award, such as the Medal of Honor, a Silver Star or Purple Heart." As with all our other problems, a new law making bad taste illegal should fix this right up, don't you think?

Motion in House of Commons on Doda massacre
London: Britain's House of Commons today said it was "appalled" by the massacre of unarmed Hindus in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir and asked India and Pakistan to persevere in their efforts to end such "cross-border terrorist outrages."

BB shots hurt two juveniles: Witnesses appalled; arrested man says he fired after provocation

Witnesses were appalled and a Palatka man was charged Thursday with misdemeanor battery after the man fired a BB gun at juveniles, according to police reports. Two of the juveniles -- one 13, the other 14 -- sustained minor injuries.

This was in Florida where shooting to kill is everyone's right. The kids were lucky it was a BB gun.
Bruce Springsteen Was Appalled By Hurricane Katrina Response

Bruce Springsteen yesterday slammed the official response to Hurricane Katrina during a performance at New Orleans' Jazz & Heritage Festival as "criminal." Springsteen took the opportunity to hit out at politicians for the way in which they handled the aftermath of the disaster, which killed over 1,300 people across America's Gulf Coast region last year.

He told the crowd, "I saw sights I never thought I'd see in an American city. The criminal ineptitude makes you furious."


One of the most appalling stories of the week comes, not surprisingly, from George Bush's home state where we find Carswell, "the only — allegedly — full-service federal prison hospital for women in the country."

“I believe there should be a congressional investigation and based on those findings, I would expect criminal charges to be filed against those persons who have inflicted pain and suffering on the inmates, as well as those in authority who condoned these practices. These women have been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment and their constitutional rights have been violated.”

The speaker is no radical prison reformer, but a retired judge who spent 12 years on the state appellate bench in Texas, two years as Harris County district attorney, and more than a decade as a criminal defense attorney. And the inmates Ross Sears is describing are not being held in some distant dictator’s jails, but in Fort Worth, at the Carswell Federal Medical Center for women.

.... He knew nothing about the conditions at Carswell until a friend asked him to represent Holcombe, 66, who had been sent to Carswell in 2002 following her conviction for a white-collar crime.

“I was appalled at what she told me,” he said.

If we are going to torture people abroad, practice at home is essential.


And finally a little fun—

Drag-queen actor lifts British movie

When reluctant shoemaker Charlie Price turns his factory upside down to produce a pair of ghastly boots for a man-size drag queen, said queen, Lola, is appalled.

They're drab. They're dowdy. Worse -- they're burgundy.

"Please tell me I didn't inspire burgundy," pleads Lola. She/he quickly lays down the color-scheme laws of footwear. The boots can only be one color. "Red!" bellows Lola. "Red is the color of sex, fear, danger and signs that say, Do Not Enter!' "

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