No Ordinary Princess

...anything but ordinary...

Saturday, September 30, 2006

You Have GOT to be Kidding Me

What sort of idiots do we have teaching our children in public school systems? Where has the backbone gone among educators these days? What ever happened to exposing children to a wide range of ideas in elementary and secondary education to foster critical thinking? What sort of leadership are we going to have in 20 or 30 years if the stuff I've seen on the internet lately is any example of the sort of individuals guiding our children in their formative years? Don't our children deserve better than this???

A Dallas-are art teacher of 28 years was reprimanded and recommended for non-renewal after a parent complained to administrators that her daughter had seen a nude sculpture on a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. The parents had all signed consents for their children to attend.

Has no one ever heard of private education? You don't want your child exposed to fine art, send them to a Christian school where they paste a fig leaf over David's bits. But I want to know the bulk of America's kids are gaining exposure to all sorts of ideas and viewpoints in the education my tax dollars provide.

Assholes! I am surrounded by assholes!

Can you tell I'm a little burned up about this topic lately?

tags: education / fundamental conservatism / US politic / vote Democrat in 2006

Former US Representative from Florida, Mark Foley

Also here, from the New York Times. Somebody'd better lock up the guns.

Oh, and I found out about it thanks to Debra Haffner's blog. I hope the Rev. Haffner can forgive my unChristian act of casting a stone, though it wasn't the first one. And for hoping Ken Mehlman doesn't get one uninterrupted hour's sleep between now and Nov. 7th.

tags: abuse / pederasty / pedophilia / Republican Congress / sex / sexual abuse / sexual predator / US House of Representtives / US Politics

Friday, September 29, 2006

This is Outrageous

I was innocently tooling around on the internet this evening, minding my own business. (Aside: They called me yesterday from THAC to ask if I'd do 7AM to 3PM or 11AM to 7PM today instead of my expected 3-11 shift. I jumped at the 11-7, can I tell ya? Get a four-hour head start on my weekend? You betcha!) Anywho, I stumbled across this old news item and am so disgusted I simply have to spew it or burst, even if it is old.

It seems that somewhere in Missouri a couple of years ago, a fourth-grade student was not compliant with completing her schoolwork. Okay, she might have outright refused. Well, haven't we all been fourth-graders? Apparently, being a slacker in MO carries harsher penalties than it does on the east coast. The parents went to a conference with the school superintendent/principal to discuss their daughter's lack of initiative and discipline. The principal, Dan Doerhoff, offered only two disciplinary options: suspension or " the rock punishment."

The rock punishment, apparently the device of the diabolical mind of this particular elementary school administrator, involved sending the reprobate, alone, to a playground at the edge of the school property and adjacent to a surface highway to collect small rocks in a bucket. The rocks are then carried by the student and deposited in the woods nearby. I've made an assumption that this involves more than one trip per day. The punishment was meted out over the course of three consecutive days. The parents gave their permission for the penalty to be carried out.

The only other option offered them by the superintendent was to allow their nine year-old daughter to be suspended.

When a caring, young teacher who had taught the student two years prior saw the child going to the side of the highway to pick up rocks, she protested the punishment to the principal. The principal refused to give in. The teacher, in her free period, accompanied the girl on her task and offered advice. When other teachers witnessed the punishment in action they, too, donated their free time during the day to supervise the girl in her duties. The principal believed the girl would be safe in the task because she was able to be viewed
from within the school by closed circuit television.

It gets worse.

Two years prior, just after the student had completed grade two, she was struck by a truck and hospitalized for her injuries. She had just completed the second grade in the classroom of her teacher/heroine, Christa Price.

Price was fired by the superintendent/principal for insubordination and failing to support the administration. Seven of the remaining nine teachers at the school resigned in protest of Price's firing. Doerhoff even went so far as to refuse to sign Ms. Price's recertification papers, necessary to obtain another teaching position.

This is the way she was described in one of the articles I've referenced:

Price was wrapping up her fourth year in East Lynne, and until then, her performance evaluations had been glowing. By all accounts, she inspired young children to learn. Parents liked her. Colleagues praised her.

"I love this woman," the mother of the girl who was punished said Tuesday. "What happened to Christa is beyond belief."

From the mother of the penalized child.

Since the punishment occurred in September of 2004 and the firing in May of last year, the trail was long cold before I stumbled onto it tonight. I can't find any more information on Christa Price. I don't know whether she is still teaching. I sincerely hope she is. She doesn't have a Wikipedia page, which is a shame. She deserves some credit and recognition. She deserves to be teaching children. I wish she had taught my son. I hope she got the help promised by a Department of Education official in securing her recertification. She is a true American folk hero and I wish there were more like her in the country right now.

I do know what happened to the villain in the story, though. Dan Doerhoff, the principal/superintendent? Remember him? He's still superintendent for the East Lynne School District in Cass County Missouri. Yes, you heard me right. He was not fired. It doesn't even seem as if he was disciplined for his incredibly poor judgment and callous disregard for the safety of a nine year-old child entrusted to his care. According to the information on the 2005-2006 school year in East Lynne he's been with the school district for 8 years. And Christa Price is, apparently, still gone. I hope she and the parents got a great lawyer!

Why is this man still at the helm in East Lynne, MO?

There is a term for this, you know. It's called mental illness. Adult men who must be the epitome of control. Men in positions of authority bullying and brutalizing nine year-old girls. It's called abuse. Sounds to me like nothing a little incarceration won't cure. In a small cell. With a large man. Named Willie Lee.

There also this item I found on Talk Left.

Bright spot of the evening:

Along the road tonight I found another amazing site on ethics. If you have an interest in the topic, you will love the Institute for Global Ethics. I promise.

tags: discipline / education
/ ethics / justice / mental illness / remind you of anybody?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Why Did Bush Declassify the National Intelligence Estimate?

I came home from work tonight to find that Bush and Co. declassified the National Intelligence Estimate I blogged about recently. What I want to know is why. Oh, and isn't it awfully handy to be able to decide which parts of a report remain classified, depending on your definition of "national security," of course.

Do Rove and the other brains think that by reminding the American public about the danger of terror on our doorstep, even though most of this decrease in security and increase in terror potential is the fault of the current administration and Congress, people will be swayed to leave a Republican-controlled Congress in place until the end of the Bush administration?

Don't they see that we're on to them and that this bunch's utter lack of foresight, greedy ambitions and dominion theory have not worked and must be discontinued?

Why, it's plain on the nose on my face to me. Isn't it to you?

tags: Bush administration / foreign policy / Republicans / US politics / world politics

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Well, Duh!

News flash! We are not safer since the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Noooo, really?

The National Intelligence Estimate offers a consensus view of 16 separate US spy services. The report, entitled "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States," concludes that Islamic radicalism/jihad ideology has spread rather than been reduced by the US presence in Iraq and that the world as a whole is less safe than we were in pre 9/11 times.

Imagine that.

Now I'm sure Bush and Co. are going to be outraged about the leak of the conclusions of this classified report because, God forbid the American people are informed about how effective this regime has been at making us globally safer, even if the report isn't telling us anything we don't already know.

You can read the whole thing here, from the New York Times.

(Addendum, 10/01/06: Here is the entire text of the NYT article by Mark Mazzetti, since I have a small enough readership to (hopefully) fly under the media radar:)

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat

Published: September 24, 2006

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe.

An opening section of the report, “Indicators of the Spread of the Global Jihadist Movement,” cites the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology.

The report “says that the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,” said one American intelligence official.

More than a dozen United States government officials and outside experts were interviewed for this article, and all spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a classified intelligence document. The officials included employees of several government agencies, and both supporters and critics of the Bush administration. All of those interviewed had either seen the final version of the document or participated in the creation of earlier drafts. These officials discussed some of the document’s general conclusions but not details, which remain highly classified.

Officials with knowledge of the intelligence estimate said it avoided specific judgments about the likelihood that terrorists would once again strike on United States soil. The relationship between the Iraq war and terrorism, and the question of whether the United States is safer, have been subjects of persistent debate since the war began in 2003.

National Intelligence Estimates are the most authoritative documents that the intelligence community produces on a specific national security issue, and are approved by John D. Negroponte, director of national intelligence. Their conclusions are based on analysis of raw intelligence collected by all of the spy agencies.

Analysts began working on the estimate in 2004, but it was not finalized until this year. Part of the reason was that some government officials were unhappy with the structure and focus of earlier versions of the document, according to officials involved in the discussion.

Previous drafts described actions by the United States government that were determined to have stoked the jihad movement, like the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, and some policy makers argued that the intelligence estimate should be more focused on specific steps to mitigate the terror threat. It is unclear whether the final draft of the intelligence estimate criticizes individual policies of the United States, but intelligence officials involved in preparing the document said its conclusions were not softened or massaged for political purposes.

Frederick Jones, a White House spokesman, said the White House “played no role in drafting or reviewing the judgments expressed in the National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism.” The estimate’s judgments confirm some predictions of a National Intelligence Council report completed in January 2003, two months before the Iraq invasion. That report stated that the approaching war had the potential to increase support for political Islam worldwide and could increase support for some terrorist objectives.

Documents released by the White House timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks emphasized the successes that the United States had made in dismantling the top tier of Al Qaeda.

“Since the Sept. 11 attacks, America and its allies are safer, but we are not yet safe,” concludes one, a report titled “9/11 Five Years Later: Success and Challenges.” “We have done much to degrade Al Qaeda and its affiliates and to undercut the perceived legitimacy of terrorism.”

That document makes only passing mention of the impact the Iraq war has had on the global jihad movement. “The ongoing fight for freedom in Iraq has been twisted by terrorist propaganda as a rallying cry,” it states.

The report mentions the possibility that Islamic militants who fought in Iraq could return to their home countries, “exacerbating domestic conflicts or fomenting radical ideologies.”

On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee released a more ominous report about the terrorist threat. That assessment, based entirely on unclassified documents, details a growing jihad movement and says, “Al Qaeda leaders wait patiently for the right opportunity to attack.”

The new National Intelligence Estimate was overseen by David B. Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats, who commissioned it in 2004 after he took up his post at the National Intelligence Council. Mr. Low declined to be interviewed for this article.

The estimate concludes that the radical Islamic movement has expanded from a core of Qaeda operatives and affiliated groups to include a new class of “self-generating” cells inspired by Al Qaeda’s leadership but without any direct connection to Osama bin Laden or his top lieutenants.

It also examines how the Internet has helped spread jihadist ideology, and how cyberspace has become a haven for terrorist operatives who no longer have geographical refuges in countries like Afghanistan.

In early 2005, the National Intelligence Council released a study concluding that Iraq had become the primary training ground for the next generation of terrorists, and that veterans of the Iraq war might ultimately overtake Al Qaeda’s current leadership in the constellation of the global jihad leadership.

But the new intelligence estimate is the first report since the war began to present a comprehensive picture about the trends in global terrorism.

In recent months, some senior American intelligence officials have offered glimpses into the estimate’s conclusions in public speeches.

“New jihadist networks and cells, sometimes united by little more than their anti-Western agendas, are increasingly likely to emerge,” said Gen. Michael V. Hayden, during a speech in San Antonio in April, the month that the new estimate was completed. “If this trend continues, threats to the U.S. at home and abroad will become more diverse and that could lead to increasing attacks worldwide,” said the general, who was then Mr. Negroponte’s top deputy and is now director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

For more than two years, there has been tension between the Bush administration and American spy agencies over the violence in Iraq and the prospects for a stable democracy in the country. Some intelligence officials have said the White House has consistently presented a more optimistic picture of the situation in Iraq than justified by intelligence reports from the field.

Spy agencies usually produce several national intelligence estimates each year on a variety of subjects. The most controversial of these in recent years was an October 2002 document assessing Iraq’s illicit weapons programs. Several government investigations have discredited that report, and the intelligence community is overhauling how it analyzes data, largely as a result of those investigations.

The broad judgments of the new intelligence estimate are consistent with assessments of global terrorist threats by American allies and independent terrorism experts.

The panel investigating the London terrorist bombings of July 2005 reported in May that the leaders of Britain’s domestic and international intelligence services, MI5 and MI6, “emphasized to the committee the growing scale of the Islamist terrorist threat.”

More recently, the Council on Global Terrorism, an independent research group of respected terrorism experts, assigned a grade of “D+” to United States efforts over the past five years to combat Islamic extremism. The council concluded that “there is every sign that radicalization in the Muslim world is spreading rather than shrinking.”

tags: US politics / world politics

Friday, September 22, 2006

Still Alive

It's been a very busy week. I've spent a lot of time at The Hospital Around the Corner orienting to my new work environment. Although this is a new job at a new place for me, I'm already done with my orientation. The hospital is within the same health system as my last employer and policies and procedures are very similar, many of them used system-wide. My preceptor has been extremely bored this week and claims I'm the easiest orientee she's ever had. No, she didn't mean in that way.

I already know many of the medics who bring patients to us via ambulance and have seen many familiar faces from my old hospital. That's very's kind of a connect with some old friends without having to deal with the chronic burnout and chaos of the last place.

I'm happy here so far and haven't bumped into any personality yet which really bristles. That's a big positive.

I'm spending the day with a former colleague today, working on a project that will soon be moving forward at my old place, because that's just the kind of wonderful person I am. I'm under no obligation to do this but want to see that project implemented in as positive a way as possible, so I'll help out. Then tomorrow it's off to kayak at the Jersey shore, though I've decided to stay home tonight and sleep until I wake up then catch the afternoon rather than the morning tide. Yeah.

I have decided that working day shift is not for me. Next week I begin my usual shift. Though it will be five days a week, it's only eight hours a day so I expect to catch up on many of the great blogs I've been missing out on the last few weeks and offer up my own scathingly witty commentary here once again.

Happy weekend, folks!

tags: bitchy / life / nursing / work

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

THIS is America???

There is a disturbing piece in the New York Times this morning which happens to also be a lead story on NPR. It involves an economist from Ottawa, Maher Arar, who holds dual Canadian & Syrian citizenship.

Mr. Arar was returning from vacation in Tunisia in the fall of 2001. When he arrived for a stopover in New York, he was taken into US custody and questioned. Ultimately, Mr. Arar was "deported" to Syria despite the fact that his home and family were in Canada. He was held in Syria and tortured for a year before he was released because there was no evidence found of a connection between him and Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization. This was a case of "extraordinary rendition."

The US withheld information about Mr. Arar from the Canadian government, lied to the Canadians about plans to deport him (they told Canadian officials they would return him to Switzerland, the origin of the flight that brought him to the US). I, for one, have no doubt that US officials understood full well the treatment Mr. Arar would face in Syrian custody.

Here is the link to the NYT article. Below is the full text of the article:

Canadians Fault U.S. for Its Role in Torture Case

Published: September 19, 2006

OTTAWA, Sept. 18 — A government commission on Monday exonerated a Canadian computer engineer of any ties to terrorism and issued a scathing report that faulted Canada and the United States for his deportation four years ago to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured.

The report on the engineer, Maher Arar, said American officials had apparently acted on inaccurate information from Canadian investigators and then misled Canadian authorities about their plans for Mr. Arar before transporting him to Syria.

“I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offense or that his activities constituted a threat to the security of Canada,” Justice Dennis R. O’Connor, head of the commission, said at a news conference.

The report’s findings could reverberate heavily through the leadership of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which handled the initial intelligence on Mr. Arar that led security officials in both Canada and the United States to assume he was a suspected Al Qaeda terrorist.

The report’s criticisms and recommendations are aimed primarily at Canada’s own government and activities, rather than the United States government, which refused to cooperate in the inquiry.

But its conclusions about a case that had emerged as one of the most infamous examples of rendition — the transfer of terrorism suspects to other nations for interrogation — draw new attention to the Bush administration’s handling of detainees. And it comes as the White House and Congress are contesting legislation that would set standards for the treatment and interrogation of prisoners.

“The American authorities who handled Mr. Arar’s case treated Mr. Arar in a most regrettable fashion,” Justice O’Connor wrote in a three-volume report, not all of which was made public. “They removed him to Syria against his wishes and in the face of his statements that he would be tortured if sent there. Moreover, they dealt with Canadian officials involved with Mr. Arar’s case in a less than forthcoming manner.”

A spokesman for the United States Justice Department, Charles Miller, and a White House spokesman traveling with President Bush in New York said officials had not seen the report and could not comment.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada planned to act on the report but offered no details. “Probably in the few weeks to come we’ll be able to give you more details on that,’’ he told reporters.

The Syrian-born Mr. Arar was seized on Sept. 26, 2002, after he landed at Kennedy Airport in New York on his way home from a holiday in Tunisia. On Oct. 8, he was flown to Jordan in an American government plane and taken overland to Syria, where he says he was held for 10 months in a tiny cell and beaten repeatedly with a metal cable. He was freed in October 2003, after Syrian officials concluded that he had no connection to terrorism and returned him to Canada.

Mr. Arar’s case attracted considerable attention in Canada, where critics viewed it as an example of the excesses of the campaign against terror that followed the Sept. 11 attacks. The practice of rendition has caused an outcry from human rights organizations as “outsourcing torture,” because suspects often have been taken to countries where brutal treatment of prisoners is routine.

The commission supports that view, describing a Mounted Police force that was ill-prepared to assume the intelligence duties assigned to it after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mr. Arar, speaking at a news conference, praised the findings. “Today Justice O’Connor has cleared my name and restored my reputation,” he said. “I call on the government of Canada to accept the findings of this report and hold these people responsible.”

His lawyer, Marlys Edwardh, said the report affirmed that Mr. Arar, who has been unemployed since his return to Canada, was deported and tortured because of “a breathtakingly incompetent investigation.”

The commission found that Mr. Arar first came to police attention on Oct. 12, 2001, when he met with Abdullah Almalki, a man already under surveillance by a newly established Mounted Police intelligence unit known as Project A-O Canada. Mr. Arar has said in interviews that the meeting at Mango’s Cafe in Ottawa, and a subsequent 20-minute conversation outside the restaurant, was mostly about finding inexpensive ink jet printer cartridges.

The meeting set off a chain of actions by the police. Investigators obtained a copy of Mr. Arar’s rental lease. After finding Mr. Almalki listed as an emergency contact, they stepped up their investigation of Mr. Arar. At the end of that month, the police asked customs officials to include Mr. Arar and his wife on a “terrorist lookout” list, which would subject them to more intensive question when re-entering Canada.

However, the commission found that the designation should have only been applied to people who are members or associates of terrorist networks. Neither the police nor customs had any such evidence of that concerning Mr. Arar or his wife, an economist.

From there, the Mounted Police asked that the couple be included in a database that alerts United States border officers to suspect individuals. The police described Mr. Arar and his wife as, the report said, “Islamic extremists suspected of being linked to the al Qaeda movement.”

The commission said that all who testified before it accepted that the description was false.

According to the inquiry’s finding, the Mounted Police gave the F.B.I. and other American authorities material from Project A-O Canada, which included suggestions that Mr. Arar had visited Washington around Sept. 11 and had refused to cooperate with the Canadian police. The handover of the data violated the force’s own guidelines, but was justified on the basis that such rules no longer applied after 2001.

In July 2002, the Mounted Police learned that Mr. Arar and his family were in Tunisia, and incorrectly concluded that they had left Canada permanently.

On Sept. 26, 2002, the F.B.I. called Project A-O and told the Canadian police that Mr. Arar was scheduled to arrive in about one hour from Zurich. The F.B.I. also said it planned to question Mr. Arar and then send him back to Switzerland. Responding to a fax from the F.B.I., the Mounted Police provided the American investigators with a list of questions for Mr. Arar. Like the other information, it included many false claims about Mr. Arar, the commission found.

The Canadian police “had no idea of what would eventually transpire,’’ the commission said. “It did not occur to them that the American authorities were contemplating sending Mr. Arar to Syria.”

While the F.B.I. and the Mounted Police kept up their communications about Mr. Arar, Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs was not told about his detention for almost three days. Its officials, acting on calls from worried relatives, had been trying to find him. Similarly, American officials denied Mr. Arar’s requests to speak with the Canadian Consulate in New York, a violation of international agreements.

Evidence presented to the commission, said Paul J. J. Cavalluzzo, its lead counsel, showed that the F.B.I. continued to keep its Canadian counterparts in the dark even while an American jet was carrying Mr. Arar to Jordan. The panel found that American officials “believed — quite correctly — that, if informed, the Canadians would have serious concerns about the plan to remove Mr. Arar to Syria.”

Mr. Arar arrived in Syria on Oct. 9, 2002, and was imprisoned there until Oct. 5, 2003. It took Canadian officials, however, until Oct. 21 to locate him in Syria. The commission concludes that Syrian officials at first denied knowing Mr. Arar’s whereabouts to hide the fact that he was being tortured. It says that, among other things, he was beaten with a shredded electrical cable until he was disoriented.

American officials have not discussed the case publicly. But in an interview last year, a former official said on condition of anonymity that the decision to send Mr. Arar to Syria had been based chiefly on the desire to get more information about him and the threat he might pose. The official said Canada did not intend to hold him if he returned home.

Mr. Arar said he appealed a recent decision by a federal judge in New York dismissing the suit he brought against the United States. The report recommends that the Canadian government, which is also being sued by Mr. Arar, offer him compensation and possibly a job.

Mr. Arar recently moved to Kamloops, British Columbia, where his wife found a teaching position.

So, this is America? This is the way my country operates nowadays?

The evidence against Mr. Arar was flimsy at best. The Canadian government would never have agreed to transporting him to Syria. The US government lied about his disposition. Syria, which is an authoritarian regime with one of the worst records on human rights in the Middle East, which fosters the very Islamic extremism Bush rails against on a daily basis these days, organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations which seek to thwart the stated US goals for freedom and democracy in the Middle East...this is the ally the US government chooses to gather information through interrogation of suspected terrorists, based on the flimsiest of evidence.

The Geneva Conventions

Article 3

In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

1. Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) Taking of hostages;

(c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

2. The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.

The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.

Is there any question why this administration should not be trusted to define the treatment of detainees? This administration cannot be trusted to intepret Article III of the Geneva Conventions. Detention with no rights to counsel, no visitation. Trials with secret evidence. Torture. Collusion with totalitarian regimes. Lying to other nations and international agencies. Threats.


This is not my America.

I want my America back!

tags: detainees / extraordinary rendition / human rights / torture / US politics / world politics

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sadie is Scary Smart

My dog is scaring me. I swear to God she can fully understand spoken English! I came home from work this evening and was, as usual, met at the door by my loving mutt. We played a bit, did a little belly rubbing and I put out her food.

I gave her a bone to allow me a little wind down time before our walk. She came over to me, sat down alongside the couch to get petted. As I petted her, she slowly lowered her head back and to the side to lay it, seductively, on my lap.

I told her that, indeed, she was lovely but that I wanted her to eat her food. (Her appetite has been a little off for the past few weeks.) My exact words were, "Go eat your food. I want you to eat your food before we go for our walk." Naturally, her Shepherd ears perked up at the word "walk," as they always do. But I reinforced that I wanted her to eat before we go out.

She went down and lay at the apartment door for a little while then came back up, gave me a look (you know, one of those "Whatever" looks) then went out to the kitchen to her food. She then immediately presented herself at my side again to make sure I realized that she'd eaten.

I swear it's like she could understand every word I said along with the abstract concept of doing as I ask in order to get what she wants.

I tell you, it's scary sometimes.

tags: dogs / life

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Gotta Love 'Dem Repubs!

You know, sometimes Republicans surprise me by doing something which doesn't raise a stench like a rotting elephant carcass wrapped in shit.

Case in point: John Warner (R-VA, chairman) and fellow members of the Senate Armed Services Committee today approved a bill as an alternative to the one proposed by the current male resident of the White House regarding the disposition of "enemy combatant" detainees. I'll admit I'm just going on what I've heard on NPR since I got home from work but it seems the committee forwarded a bill which will allow for military tribunals for "terrorist" suspects but allows them to have access to all evidence the prosecution uses against them and excludes all statements obtained "through torture or inhumane treatment." The vote was 15-9, with four Republicans joining the eleven Democrats on the committee.

Yeah! Go, you Republicans!

Okay, okay. I wasn't going to go do the research to find out more about this item but, despite the fact that I slaved over a hot table all day, struggling to keep my eyes open as I listened to things I already knew, I couldn't keep you in the lurch there, having to Google things for yourself. Besides, you know I want to go read more about it anyway, don't you?
Here's the word via USA Today, Bloomberg and CBS/AP.

You know, not all Republicans are wealthy, devil-horned, self-righteous, pompous assholes. Same goes for evangelical Christians. Some of them are really very decent folks. The above is one example. Another example is former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who wrote a stirring letter to the Armed Services Committee which, I'm sure, factored into their decision of today. Here's the excerpt of that letter I heard on All Things Considered this afternoon:
The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism
Here's the whole text of the letter in pdf form. Oh, go read this NPR bit, too!

Beginning to? Beginning to??? Puhleaze! The world began to doubt this administration's "moral" basis a long time ago!

In other news, I started my nursing orientation at The Hospital Around the Corner yesterday. Now I work in the ER 7AM to 7 PM tomorrow and three days next week, plus a little 4-hour shift to make up the 40 hours. Ugh! As much as I'm dreading going to work 5 days a week, I think I'm even less enthused about doing a twelve-hour shift. Also, as much as I've thought I should have gone for the 7AM-3PM position with evening rotation, the prospect of getting in to work at 6:45 AM tomorrow leads me to believe I made the right choice with the straight evening shift.

Hell, what I really want is to be independently wealthy. Any givers?

tags: life / money / nursing / US politics / work

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Book Meme, Courtesy of Sandra

Sandra over at Forgiving Nature tagged me for the book meme going around. Gee, thanks, Sandra! ; )

Wherein Cheryl shows just how shallow she is:

1. One book that changed your life?

I, too, can't choose just one.
2. One book you have read more than once?

There are many I've read more than once so I'll list the one I've read most...The Hobbit and The LOTR trilogy. About 20 times, the four of 'em. And I loved the Peter Jackson adaptations, despite a few nit-picky differences. The set design, costumes and make-up were everything I could have asked. And most roles were well-cast.

Second most re-read: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy of four. God, I miss Douglas Adams.

"Don't Panic"

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

How to Craft and Fully Stock an Ocean-worthy Vessel in 3 Weeks or Less (from the creators of This Old Raft, which is sponsored by Desert Isle Depot, for all your raft needs.)

4. One book that made you laugh?

Since I've already used Douglas Adams, how about we shift to Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. It helps to get the jokes if you have a Christian, catholic or Protestant background or a scholarly understanding of the life of Christ. Had. Tears. In. Eyes. All. Theway. Through.

5. One book that made you cry?

Love You Forever, which I found in Border's as my father lay on what would be his death bed the weekend My son and pregnant daughter-in-law came to visit. Dad died less than a week later. I leaned my head on the shelf and sobbed. It was embarassing.

6. One book you wish had been written?

How to Hang on to What's Magic About 8 for the Rest of Your Life
...though I've figured it out anyway.

7. One book you wish had never had been written?

Any religious text which can be interpreted in such a way as to create the opression of others or radical fundamentalism. Yes, If I could get that wish, even the Bible would be obliterated. I would support that to rid the world of religious extremism and intolerance.

8. One book you are currently reading?

Crimes Against Nature by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

9. One book you have been meaning to read:

American Theocracy
by Kevin Phillips, though having read Sandra's choices I'll have to add The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, both of which I already own, and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggars, since I could use a good laugh.

10. Now tag five people it if you want to and let me know...I'll retro-tag you, 'kay?

tags: blogging / books / memes

Friday, September 08, 2006

President and Pony Show

Through my site meter (gotta love it!) I found my way to Blogslut today. Great politics. Great smut. Great slut!

The post at the top of the page today is about Shiny, the 9-11 pony. You've got to go see it for yourself as it defies my mere mortal attempts at description.

Once you've gone to see it, go back. You see, this fancy little comic is entered into the "Contagious Festival" at The Huffington Post. Apparently, a monthly prize is offered for the most widely viewed project for the festival. Look how close Blogslut is to fame...8th plac
e as of this writing. Surely hers has got to be better than the Veterans for Peace offering.

Click on Shiny. Click on any you want, really. Just don't click on the top two...they've got enough votes already.

Just think, if we spread this out to all the sex bloggers and lefty bloggers, progressive bloggers and rad-feminist bloggers, sex-positive and openly raunchy folks we know in the 'sphere (I think that pretty much covers everybody I know), we could push Blogslut to number 3 or 4!

There's still fun to be had out there on the intertubes! Get it while you still can!

I've given you loads of opportunities. Get clicking! You know you want to...

(Unrelated aside: I will hopefully spend the weekend at the shore and will be, consequently, pretty much incomputicado for a day or a few. See y'all next week.)

tags: blogging / humor / internet(s) / smut / US politics

Thursday, September 07, 2006

David Sedaris, I Love this Man

I love David Sedaris...too bad he's openly gay and I am openly, predominantly, lesbian. You know, if there was ever a man I would've married, it could've only been someone who made me laugh, no...guffaw, no...whoot and holler from my toes to my scalp, tears streaming down my face and other body fluids streaming elsewhere. You know... Robin Williams! Kate Clinton! Tom Hanks! Christine Lavin! David Sedaris! Okay, Kate and Christine aren't men but, well, you get the picture.

I laughed just that way listening to Sedaris read his story, Nuit of the Living Dead, on NPR's Selected Shorts. I often listen only half-heartedly to Selected Shorts because, although I love short fiction, I prefer to get my stories by reading them. I'm not that much an auditory person...I get more out of a story visually. But this story, read by the author with his inimitable voice and cadence, demanded to be paid attention to. And I laughed far more at his retelling of his tale than I ever would have from reading it.

I laughed until i cried! And peed.

Nuit of the Living Dead recounts Sedaris' fears of staying the night alone in a vacation home in Normandy...three doors to the left of a cemetary. Here's what one reader had to say at Book Crossing:

The last story in the collection is "Nuit of the Living Dead," and had me laughing almost to tear-point - partially in recognition. Here's Sedaris, home alone in his remote French farmhouse, trying to dispatch a mouse that had been not-quite-killed in a trap, when some lost travelers stop by for directions. Their growing realization that this strange little man is not only apparently drowning mice for fun but is assembling a model of the human anatomy and has decorated his house with skulls and with pens shaped like human fingers... well, they seem unsettled. I wonder what strangers would make of my skull-and-gargoyle collection if they came upon it at three in the morning?
Here Jackson West recounts seeing Sedaris perform some pieces live, which he lighly recommends. Or just try to catch him on NPR...I've heard several small snippets from him on This American Life. His voice and inflection must be heard to be appreciated.

Jackon West's take on Nuit of the Living Dead is summarized here:
"Nuit of the Living Dead," the last piece, is something new - and soon to be published in the New Yorker in February. Here he takes on his new country situation in Normandy with a morbid overtone. While killing a mouse, he is surprised by some wayward germanics lost on the country roads of France. When he invites the driver inside to offer him a map, he realizes that in his morbid preoccupation with exterminating the vermin he picks up on all the varied things in his home that surely give him away as a serial killer - knick-knacks like knives and skulls, books on the occult, etc. This material was more purely comic, lacking the depth of some of the other pieces. It may be because he hasn't been working with it as long as the others, or even due to his relatively comfortable situation in life, that he is having a harder time finding the notes of discord and sadness that informed the other pieces. He also stooped to making fun of the tourist's pronunciation of "willage" for village - the kind of cheap joke about the Germans the French love, but that rings as hollow as the jokes about Japanese accents in "Lost in Translation.
Now, imagine this story being told by an openly gay man with no small helping of feminine aspects and a highly unusual voice and amazing gift for delivering the most hilarious things without missing a deadpan beat. Try as I might, I couldn't find either a hefty excerpt or a place to listen to Selected Shorts archived shows.

I have found, on This American Life's site, a place where you can listen to Sedaris TAL clips. I recommend it! It's one of those sites that I can't get individual page addresses on so just show up at the TAL site and type "david sedaris" in the search bar. A couple of them spring to mind...American in Paris, (#11, second page, rank 304) which I just heard on WHYY last weekend and I Enjoy Being a Girl, Sort Of, (#18, second page, rank 290) about the "fatty suit."

Nuit of the Living Dead was from Sedaris' collection of short stories and essays entitled Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim, published in 2004. Here's the Amazon page for the book along with David Sedaris' page.

tags: art / books / humor / literature / NPR / radio / theater

Tennessee Guerilla Women

Tennessee Guerilla Women has a plea up on their site. I don't know if things are going badly there or if they've just been depleting resources in a very busy election season but they could use a little help there.

The button to your left is linked to TGW's Paypal site, or you can wander on over there, enjoy the fabulous George Carlin video (which is, as usual, hilarious and dead-on) and click the Donate button from there.

Look at the work they've been doing there. And take a look at how positive things are for progressives this year. Lend a sister a hand, even if it's only in the form of a $5 or $10 tip.

I support them. I hope you'll consider it as well.

tags: feminism / internet / progressive politics / US Politics /women / women's rights

Advice Needed

Now that I'm starting a new work schedule next week, I've come to realize that my life is going to change drastically with a 5-day workweek, 3pm to 11pm.

I will never hear Fresh Air again!

All Things Considered.

Talk of the Nation will be interrupted with showering and dog-walking.

I can't live without my NPR!

So, I think it's time to break down and get one of those iPod or mp3 player thingies so I can download and listen to Fresh Air and Talk of the Nation whenever I want.

So, what do I get, folks? I know you can get these things downloaded to your cell phone or some such. Do I want to do that?

Or do I just get a good pair of Bose headphones and listen on the laptop?

I hate technology!

tags: NPR / pods / podcasts / technology

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bush Speech September 6, 2006


So I somehow managed to (mostly) listen to Bush's speech this afternoon without vomiting. And without any pre-medication, either. Let me see if I've got this all straight now...

His administration has violated the laws of war, international laws, the Geneva Conventions as well as basic tenets of human rights and common decency. They have acted illegally, in violation of the US Constitution, according the the US Supreme Court.

They have maintained secret CIA prisons in other countries, also outside the protection of any national or international human rights conventions or organizations. They lied about the existence of CIA prisons in other countries when directly questioned. I'm sure it's a national security concern...I know I'd be concerned about any government which would do that. They have engaged in extreme interrogation techniques which cannot be construed as anything other than torture, inhumane or degrading treatment.

They have probably violated the rights of many of the detainees to the extent that they could never be successfully prosecuted in any corner of the present US legal system. Well, maybe in Texas.

Based on that, he wants Congress to sanction his illegal actions, retroactively, and allow the government to basically do whatever they want without regard to national or international laws, conventions and treaties, not to mention basic human decency. He wants approval to treat citizens of other sovereign nations who are being detained by our government / military in a manner that, should American citizens be held in the same circumstances, we would be at the UN or the Hague or, more likely, calling up the Reserves so quick it would make your head spin.

He wants Congress to condone the use of military tribunals, with no real options to appeal through US courts, for exacting "justice" in these cases. Under the military system, the "Commander-in-Chief" would be the sole, final arbiter of these cases and the destinies of all "enemy combatants" currently in military custody,
and any future "terrorism suspects" he might decide to throw in the Gulag would be "at the pleasure" of the President, and him alone.

Can we all say 'martial law'??

Can we not see that this could be any one of us who dissents???

Is there anybody else out there who thinks this is not a good idea???
WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush Wednesday asked Congress to pass legislation to help prosecute terrorists accused of war crimes. (Click to read more from UPI via Political Gateway.)
Can we start at the top and just work our way down?

tags: civil rights / human rights / international law / US politics

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Don't Ask

While wending my way across the internet tonight researching that post on Path to 9/11, I checked my technorati tags for "graft." I like to make sure my tags actually lead people to something, except on occasion of the "guess which is the fake tag" contests challenges.

Well, 'graft' led me, somehow, to the net neutrality site, It's a Series of Tubes!!!

Trust me, you're gonna love it. Hilarity at its finest! Poor Senator Stevens.

I also found my way to an online Bajan community. Call it cultural appropriation if you will but I fell in love with many aspects of the culture of Barbados on my summer vacation. I just want to learn more about them, their culture, values and politics. Unfortunately, neither
BIM Today, Little Bimshire nor the Little Bimshire Online Bajan Community blog has been updated for many months. Still, some of the links are quite nice. Shame the sites don't seem to be active. I do happen to be a registered online user of Barbados' Nation News.

Finally, once again by the elusive 'somehow,' I found out about an ecological alternative to burial or cremation at Promessa. The freeze-drying and vibration process sounds all very lovely. Here is an illustrated description of the process. Following preparation, ones remains (and the remains of freeze-dried coffin) are placed in a box made of cornstarch which will allow for the completion of decomposition into compost in 6-12 months.

Vegetation then planted on the site will receive the nutrients of the deceased via the root system.

So, I only need to get my body shipped to Sweden after the organ harvesters, researchers and medical students are done with it. Shouldn't be too hard. I've always wanted to visit Scadanavia, anyway...

Plant anything on me but a wisteria or other beautiful yet evil, vining plant, please. And please don't plant vegetables. That would be too creepy!

For the record and in all seriousness, I am a firm believe in advance directives, including funereal directives. I allow for any sort of celebration or memorial service my survivors might desire but want my physical remains to be utilized as I direct. Do you want your body taking up valuable park space? Drawing dust on a mantle or on display in a sepulchre? I want mine to be of as much use to as many people as possible.

My brain is to be donated to a brain bank for reserach into neurologic diseases. All other organs, bone, tissue are to be harvested with as much as possible used for donation. My remains will then be offered up for research, especially if I die from some rare, tropical megavirus or plague or something. Yeah, cool! Finally, if researchers don't want me or when they're done, I offer what's left to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey for education.

Maybe when they're done with me, they could ship me off to Sweden, hmmm?

tags: burial / cremation /
death / funereal directives / life / travel

ABC Crockumentary "Path to 9/11"

Via Echidne of the Snakes, I found out about the upcoming ABC broadcast of the docudrama, Path to 9/11. Hey, I don't watch much tv, especially network tv. (Ckick here and here [Ack!'ll just have to scroll down to "More on 'Path to 9/11' " since I can't figure out the direct link.] for Echidne's posts on the subject.) I also clicked on the link to Think Progress for this disturbing analysis from Richard Clarke...yes, the former counterterrorism advisor for Bush I, Clinton and Bush II. Here is more on the project from Think Progress.

Representative Louise Slaughter of New York's 28th Congressional district has this to say about the film.

The 'docudrama' has also been a hot topic on Firedoglake. Oh, there's good stuff there.

What really scorches my butt about this is that loads ( or "enormous amounts") of Americans will view this program and believe it. Well, if it's on ABC, it must be true. Do I cast aspersions on the intelligence of the average American television viewer? I'd like to think I am but I doubt it. I work with and treat people who will watch this program and, without question, accept it as reality.

This is a gross misuse of the trust placed by the American public, right or wrong, in its media. This is playing on the tremendous emotional pull of one of the most significant and tragic events in US history at a time of our greatest vulnerability. This betrayal of the American viewing public by a major media and entertainment corporation is for...what? What is ABC getting out of this? What is the corporate motivation here?

Echidne really hit the nail on the head when she asked:

I really hope I'm wrong, because to broadcast the docudrama on the two nights following the 9/11 fifth anniversary, and to do that without any advertising suggests an almost religious treatment. Or an infomercial one. But if the latter, who is paying ABC?

Tell ABC to tell the truth about 9/11 - A project of

Tags: graft / media / partisan politics / television / US politics

Monday, September 04, 2006

What Are the Odds

I'm sure you've all heard by now that Steve Irwin, the famous Australian Crocodile Hunter, was stabbed in the chest by a stingray and killed today.

I never cared for his style. I thought he was needlessly reckless with very dangerous animals. Hey, it's the mother and ER nurse in me.

But, really, I wish someone would do the math and tell me what the odds are. I mean, stingrays swim off the New Jersey coast every summer. Yes, we were taught to be afraid of them because their sting is really painful. But they do not "attack." Like most wild creatures, they prefer to just be left alone or to seek out what they'd like to investigate but have no drive to harm humans.

Even if Irwin got too close, have you got any idea how unlikely it is that the stingray's barb would not only strike him but to penetrate the ribcage and pierce his heart? Astronomical.

I'm sorry he's gone. If I recall correctly, he's got a young daughter. I know kids loved him and I'm all for kids becoming excited about wildlife and conservation.

Damn shame. You can read more about Irwin from ABC, the San Jose Mercury News and The International Herald Tribune.

tags: culture / death / life / television

Sand Sculpture

Somehow, I came upon this site. Not through the usual suspects. No, this was a random Google search for sand sculptures. (Click on the thumbnails to go a larger image at the website of origin.)

The place is Sandsational Sand Sculpting. I tell you, I spent at least an hour and a half there just checking out the product! Amazing stuff!

There are gargoyles thinking.

And gargoyles doing what comes more naturally.


And Pirates. Gaahhrrrrrh!

Ugh! How'd she get in here? See...booze does attract a seedier element.

There are gods.

And demigods.

And, Dooode,
these suckers are big!

Are you a businessperson looking for a novel marketing concept? Reportedly the two artists in question share backgrounds as diverse as design engineering, fine art, performance art and marketing. Imagine a sand sculpture at you next function. Then imagine one of these.

tags: art / performance art / sand art / pirates...Garrrh!