Saturday, December 30, 2006


Getting stoned in Pakistan

Someday I'll defend the proposition that Pakistan is a greater nuclear threat than Iran and North Korea combined. But in the meantime there's this from the "tribal areas" that border Afghanistan—

An Afghan refugee was stoned to death on Friday on the charges of attempted robbery and murder. The man was sentenced by a tribal jirga in the Bedamnai area.

Tribal elders of the Musakhel tribe met in Khwezai tehsil, 20km west of the agency headquarters and decided to carry out the sentence in accordance with “Islamic laws”. The Afghan refugee named Imran had allegedly killed a boy named Shah Khalid during an attempted robbery two weeks ago.

The jirga also prohibited local people from renting out houses to Afghan refugees besides threatening violators with a fine of Rs1 million. About 500 tribesmen were reportedly involved in stoning the man to death. Later, some of the tribesmen are also said to have fired at the dying man.

This is the second time that a man has been killed by stoning in two weeks.



Detritus — 12/30/06


Unlike John Kerry in 2004, Democrat Christine Jennings of Sarasota, Florida, is not accepting her "loss" quietly. Jennings lost the race to represent District 13 by a mere 369 votes, with an undervote estimated at over 18,000.

Votes have clearly gone missing, and one possibility is that the code in the iVotronic voting machines is the culprit. But a Florida judge thinks the property rights of ES&S, the voting machine manufacturer, trump the right of the voters to elect a candidate fairly—

revealing the machines' source codes would "result in destroying or at least gutting the protection afforded those who own the trade secrets."



Miracle of the Day

In a normal Christmastide I would look forward to an appearance of the Virgin. But with the nascent world swathed in the evils of the Bush administration, the Ever-Modest seems unwilling to appear. Until better times we must content ourselves with a South Florida chihuahua.


Friday, December 29, 2006


Detritus — 12/29/06


Dr Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Communion, the 3rd largest Christian body (depending upon who's counting), went to the Middle East along with his buddy Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, leader of the English and Welsh Roman Catholics. Now he's laying the blame for the suffering of Iraqi Christians at the feet of the British (and American) governments—

Dr Williams told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there was "no doubt" that life for Christians in Iraq had become more difficult since the invasion.

"What we have seen in the last year or so in Iraq has been attacks on Christian priests, the murder of some Christian priests, and the massive departure of large numbers of Christians from Iraq," he said.

"The situation has got worse since Saddam fell."

Among the results was the shrinking Christian population in Iraq, he said.

He wrote from Bethlehem that despite frequent warnings before the Iraq war, the government had adopted no strategy to protect Christian minorities in the region.

Hard to understand why those two great Christian leaders George Bush and Tony Blair would bring such suffering to the Christian minority.



Jonathan Love wants to become a lawyer, and he's off to a good start. Since he suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), he's suing the creator of the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), for more time to take the test. Shannon Duffy reports

According to court papers, Love first took the LSAT in October 2003 without any accommodations and scored 150, ranking him in the 46th percentile nationally.

But Love's lawyers argue that the score was unfairly low "because he was unable to complete the test within the given time limits, guessing on about half of the questions throughout the test."

The suit says Love is "substantially limited in the major life activities of reading, learning, processing of information, studying and taking tests" by ADHD and a learning disorder that affects his "processing speed and academic fluency."

It's as if George Bush were to head to law school.



Holiday Greeting of the Day

Your houses, your homes, your family, your friends.
May they live in misery that never ends.
I curse you all. May you rot in hell.
To each of you I send this spell.

—holiday greeting of Susette Kelo, one of the owners whose home is to be taken by eminent domain for the benefit of the New London (Conn.) Development Corp. with the approval of the U.S. Supreme Court

Bitching pays. Ms. Kelo will receive $300,000 over the $112,000 appaised value of her home.


Thursday, December 28, 2006


Detritus — 12/28/06

Try "Internet Research Digs Up Private Matters" for some interesting tips on conducting personal investigations.



Another harm of globalization

The real beneficiaries of globalization — that group of mostly men whose wealth was supposed to trickle down on you but instead trickled all over China and Southeast Asia — make the argument that they are benefitting the consumer1 by providing a greater variety of products at a cheaper price. Well, one of the reasons the products are cheaper, aside from working conditions for the producers even worse than those in a Purdue chicken-processing plant, is that there are no liability costs either in the form of insurance payments or in the form of damage awards to injured consumers.

Reporting a case where an injured consumer actually won a judgment against a foreign firm, Rebecca Reddick offers some interesting background—

Typically, it is difficult or impossible for U.S. plaintiffs to recover damages from foreign companies, according to Pedro Martinez-Fraga, chair of Greenberg Traurig's Miami international litigation and arbitration department....

The United States does not have reciprocal treaties to force other countries to recognize judgments in U.S. courts. As products are increasingly being imported, particularly from China, U.S. consumers have less protection from defective goods. Being able to prove that a U.S. company was responsible for the defect is one of the few ways a plaintiff can recover.

"The U.S. to date does not have a single treaty for the recognition and enforcement of judgments," Martinez-Fraga said.

Can this be the same country that has forced country after country to sign treaties giving U.S. soldiers the right to rape and pillage with impunity under the consenting country's laws? Yet the United States can't demand treaties that would give Americans a right to restitution and damages in exchange for access to the U.S. market?

In a saner world I'd say we needed a government that better represents the interests of its citizens—a democratic government maybe. Meanwhile buy local every chance you get.



1Under globalization—and in the economic models by which it is justified—you have no identity as an American, only as a consumer. [back]

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Odd Remark of the Day

There's a lot of emotional damage that goes with being raped, especially when the victims are men. —Lynn Parrish of the National Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network as quoted in "Rapist Preys on Men in Suburban Houston"



Detritus — 12/27/06


A gay man beaten by Toronto police in what a jury described as a "gay bashing" has been awarded more than a half million dollars. It is considered the largest amount awarded against a police service in Canadian history.

I love it when the good guys win.



Simon Jenkins has an interesting commentary on British Prime Minister Tony Blair's moves to "streamline" government by centralizing it. I think of it as the Wal-mart-ization of the British government—

We don't do small any more. We just do big. Small is fiddly and hard to control. Big is beautiful and computable. That is why Tony Blair's legacy crisis is seeing yet another wave of "closures", this time of 29 accident and emergency departments, 81 hospitals, 3,000 post offices, and more police stations after the 630 closed over the past decade. He also wants bigger (and fewer) local councils, bigger police districts and bigger health trusts, plus more Tescos and therefore fewer high streets....

To central government there is no cost in closing a cottage hospital, a weekend surgery, a neighbourhood police station, a branch library or a primary school, only an efficiency gain - though why fewer police stations and hospitals should cost twice as much as before remains a mystery....



Japanese remilitarization continues

For years the U.S. government has urged the Japanese government to abandon the pacifist constitution that the U.S. imposed upon it at the end of World War II and reawaken a proper martial spirit. The U.S. is no doubt pushing even harder since Japan has decided to keep a token force in Iraq for one more year but to avoid combat unless directly attacked.

Many are concerned that the Iraq mission could spell the end for the pacifist article of the country's constitution.

This forever renounces war, and strictly speaking, forbids Japan from even keeping a military force.

Forever renounce war? That doesn't sound like the kind of government we can support. It would ruin the arms industry.

Well, things are looking up

Japan's upper house of parliament has voted to upgrade the country's defence agency to a full ministry.

And what good is a war machine without some good old-fashioned jingoistic patriotism to go along with it?

The upper house also passed a bill that requires schools to teach patriotism in the classroom.

Both moves have caused unease among Japan's Asian neighbours, who remember Japanese militarism last century.

Opponents are wary because Japan's military leaders used patriotism to justify the expansion which led in part to WWII, and they also fear a resurgence of Japanese nationalism.

It's beginning to look like another Bush administration foreign policy coup.

[Japanese Prime Minister] Abe says Japan's education system - unchanged since 1947 - has not done enough to address "moral values, ethics and self-discipline".

I don't know when the military became the prime vehicle for promoting ethics and morals, but is this what he has in mind?



Keeping evil away from the temple

I don't know how I let Jesus' birthday slip by without a mention of the decision in 2003 to ban George Bush from the Church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem. The Orthodox priests at the purported birthplace of Jesus didn't want the likes of George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, British Prime Minister Tony Blair or UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw to besmirch the holy ground. And if Rumsfeld and Straw have now left their posts, it doesn't matter—they were banned forever.

Thanks to Global Research for remembering.

Related post
Gandhi shrine defiled by Bush visit (3/6/06)



Simply Appalling detritus

I read so much news that invites comment, but for which I will never find the time. The result is a monitor cluttered with opened web pages that sit there expectantly awaiting a decision. As days go by the clutter grows until it eventually bring either the computer or my browser to its knees.

So I've decided to include a post from time to time of sparsely commented links to rid myself of these meddlesome news items. Yes, I know it sounds as if Simply Appalling is getting into the news aggregator business, and in a sense it's true. But there are some very good aggregators on the web with resources I lack, so I won't be competing with them for your attention.

For the most part the links will be the "detritus" accumulated by a contrarian who must watch so much interesting news disappear without reflection or comment in the torrent of the mainstream media, where gushing over dead Presidents is preferred to questioning live ones.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Political censorship of the news now official

Two former government employees, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann, tried to write an op-ed piece on American-Iranian relations for the NY Times. They submitted their writing to the CIA for "prepublication review" (a lovely euphemism for censorship), which is a required screening of the writings of all government employees who have had access to classified material.

We the public are supposed to tolerate this censorship because it protects classified materials.1 But here is what Leverett and Mann learned—

Agency officials told us that they had concluded on their own that the original draft included no classified material, but that they had to bow to the White House.

Indeed, the deleted portions of the original draft reveal no classified material. These passages go into aspects of American-Iranian relations during the Bush administration’s first term....

These aspects have been extensively reported in the news media, and one of us, Mr. Leverett, has written about them in The Times and other publications with the explicit permission of the review board.

The Times has published the op-ed online with the deletions shown as blacked-out text.



1Of course the use of the classification procedure itself for political purposes has been raised to a high art form by the Bush administration. [back]

Monday, December 25, 2006


Liar of the Day

Writing of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida—

The top Republican on the next Congress's House International Relations Committee acknowledged Saturday calling for the assassination of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, two weeks after saying she never made the remark.Associated Press


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