Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Ant and the Grasshopper Revisited

One afternoon in late autumn, a grasshopper sat in the shade of a crabapple tree, stuffing his face with cracked wheat and watching in amusement as a tiny ant labored diligently to transport a sizable stash of grain, one kernel at a time, past the grasshopper's place of repose.

"Where ya goin' with all that grub?" the grasshopper asked.

"I'm taking it to the colony," the ant replied. "My six-legged sisters and I have been working our appendages to the exoskeleton for weeks now, and we've accumulated a rather prodigious pile of the stuff."

"What's the point?" the grasshopper asked scornfully. "Why not just take what you need for yourself and screw everybody else? That's the way we grasshoppers do it! Self-reliance, individual initiative, the entrepreneurial spirit, that's what made this garden patch great..."

"Well, that may be so, Mr. Grasshopper, but in the old days it was every ant for herself, and the spider take the hindmost. Oh sure, there was the odd worker who managed to eke out a meager existence for herself, endlessly hoisting and toting twenty times her own weight in a working career spanning eight grueling weeks, after which she might be able to retire in modest comfort to the compost pile, spending her final days feasting on banana peels and mango pits.

"Unfortunately, countless thousands of us were not so lucky, and our lives were upended by calamity and misfortune. Some of us perished in pebble avalanches or were swept away by rainwater tsunamis. Others had their thoraxes punctured, their internal organs liquefied, and their entire insides guzzled by praying (not to say sanctimonious) mantises. Even worse, many of those fortunate enough to avoid such grisly fates were destined to live out their days in humiliating slavery, laboring without rest in the hellish sand mines of plastic ant farms, malnourished on sucrose-water and forced to dig endless tunnels leading nowhere. I tell you, Mr. Grasshopper, it's enough to bring tears to your compound eyes..."

"Heartbreaking," the grasshopper offered dolefully between bites. "A tragic waste of invertebrate life."

"Indeed," agreed the ant, "but all that changed one day when about 40,000 of us pooled our microscopic minds and came up with something vaguely approximating an idea. It dawned on us that the youngest, healthiest and most productive among us were in a unique position to promote the general welfare of the colony by providing a nutritional safety net for the least fortunate, while at the same time ensuring sufficient retirement benefits to carry us through our declining weeks."

"Sounds like communism to me," chirped the grasshopper disdainfully, as he pulled another grain of wheat from under his wing and eyed it with relish. "By the way, have you checked the status of your collective food pile lately? I was inspecting it just this morning, and I'd say it's dwindled considerably. In fact, by my calculations, it's likely to be completely gone in a couple of days, if you don't get your arthropodic abdomens in gear and replenish it quick."

"But how can that be?" the ant murmured in disbelief. "We've been contributing steadily to that pile everyday of our working lives. Where could it have disappeared to?"

"Look, we might as well face facts here," said the grasshopper earnestly, as he wiped the wheat crumbs from his mandibles. "According to statistical analysis provided by the "Leaf-boat Veterans for the Unadulterated Exchange of Trail Pheromones", when this socialist boondoggle of an investment scheme was first misconceived, there were 13,000 active workers supporting each surviving retiree past the age of 65 days. But due largely to a steady increase in the life expectancy of the average ant (with the exception of black ants, of course), that ratio has declined to less that 9,000 to one. And to compound the problem, a few days from now the larva boom of mid-February will arrive at retirement age within minutes of each other."

"What can we do?" cried the panic-stricken ant, wringing her antennae. "We're doomed!"

"Not necessarily," purred the grasshopper, in soothing tones. "I've worked out a bold plan to bail the whole system out."

"What is it? What is it?" pleaded the ant, beside herself with fear.

"The plan is build around a new type of retirement account we in the insect investment community call 'Personalized Investment Stock Securities with Annually Negotiable Treasury Supplements' or 'PISSANTS' for short."

At this point, the grasshopper's voice took on the slightly premeditated (but decidedly sincere) tones of a well-rehearsed sales pitch.

"Here's how it works: For every three grains of wheat, corn, oats or barley you and your fellow workers gather, you deposit one into a personal retirement account managed by one of my trustworthy colleagues at the investment firm of Locust Brothers and Associates. The account manager then designs a custom portfolio, tailor-made to meet your investment needs. There is no simpler, more reliable way to ensure your financial future. And, best of all, upon your death, any accrued and unused portion of active funds remaining in your account will be passed on without tax penalty to your spouse and/or children (but since all you worker ants remain sterile and sexually inactive throughout your adult lives, I guess those provisions don't really apply...)."

"But then who will inherit my accumulated assets?" she inquired.

"Why worry about that?" the grasshopper replied. "You're an ant, remember? Within a few seconds of your insignificant demise, you'll be unceremoniously cannibalized by your friends and neighbors, thereby erasing all trace of your existence forever. Of course, we here at Locust Brothers and Associates will continue to handle your assets in perpetuity, and promise to do so in a financially responsible manner, which should give you a certain peace of mind..."

And so, despite certain reservations, the ant (whose mental acumen was less than half that of the average Bush voter) made the decision to open up a personal investment account, as did the majority of her co-workers. The grasshopper showered extravagant praise on the wisdom of their choice, and immediately set about gathering from them the seed money (so to speak) needed to jump-start the whole operation.

Periodically throughout the next several weeks, the ant contacted the grasshopper regarding the status of her personal account. Each time she did so, the grasshopper (who seemed to be gaining weight so rapidly he was forced to molt his carapace three times a week) assured her that the value of her account was growing with the gusto of an aphid infestation on a rose bush. "The sky's the limit!" he bellowed with exuberant confidence.

Imagine the ant's surprise, then, when two days before her retirement party she picked up a copy of the Weevil Street Journal and read the headline "Locust Brothers plagued by accounting scandal -- CEO's take flight to avoid prosecution" and saw the accompanying photo of Mr. Grasshopper (whose wings were now quite unequal to the task of getting his corpulent body airborne) being lead away in three pairs of handcuffs. The caption read "Grasshopper pleads innocence in fraud investigation -- claims to be the real victim."

The moral of the story: If you're a grasshopper, make your bundle quick and move on to greener pastures. If you're an ant, tough shit. Better get a night job and learn to get by with less sleep.



How to Spend Political Capital

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Truth in Protesting

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Democratic Underground Forums - There's something ugly and ominous going on...

(song for the day)

"Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons,
Packed up and ready to go
Heard of some gravesites, out by the highway,
A place where nobody knows
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,
I’m getting used to it now
Lived in a brownstore, lived in the ghetto,
I’ve lived all over this town

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
This ain’t no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain’t got time for that now

Transmit the message, to the receiver,
Hope for an answer some day
I got three passports, a couple of visas,
You don’t even know my real name
High on a hillside, the trucks are loading,
Everything’s ready to roll
I sleep in the daytime, I work in the nightime,
I might not ever get home

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
This ain’t no fooling around
This ain’t no mudd club, or c. b. g. b.,
I ain’t got time for that now

Heard about houston? heard about detroit?
Heard about pittsburgh, p. a.?
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody might see you up there
I got some groceries, some peant butter,
To last a couple of days
But I ain’t got no speakers, ain’t got no
Heaphones, ain’t got no records to play

Why stay in college? why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time
Can’t write a letter, can’t send a postcard,
I can’t write nothing at all
This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
This ain’t no fooling around
I’d like to kiss you, I’d love you hold you
I ain’t got no time for that now

Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock,
We blended with the crowd
We got computer, we’re tapping pohne lines,
I know that ain’t allowed
We dress like students, we dress like housewives,
Or in a suit and a tie
I changed my hairstyle, so many times now,
I don’t know what I look like!
You make me shiver, I feel so tender,
We make a pretty good team
Don’t get exhausted, I’ll do some driving,
You ought to get some sleep
Get you instructions, follow directions,
Then you should change your address
Maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day,
Whatever you think is best
Burned all my notebooks, what good are
Notebooks? they won’t help me survive
My chest is aching, burns like a furnace,
The burning keeps me alive
Try to stay healthy, physical fitness,
Don’t want to catch no disease
Try to be careful, don’t take no chances,
You better watch what you say

Talking Heads"

Friday, March 18, 2005

Anus?

But it would be put inside then they'd shock me inside my --
...Judge Urbom: Anus?...
Yes... And they would --
...Judge: You mean electrically heated?
...They would put it in and then push a button and it would shock me
...Judge Urbom:..done by Larry King at his direction?
...At his direction..."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Philosopher's Drinking Song

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable.

Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table.

David Hume could out-consume
Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzche couldn't teach ya
'Bout the raising of the wrist.
Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will,
On half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.

Plato, they say, could stick it away--
Half a crate of whisky every day.

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle.
Hobbes was fond of his dram,

And René Descartes was a drunken fart.
'I drink, therefore I am.'

Yes, Socrates, himself, is particularly missed,
A lovely little thinker,
But a bugger when he's pissed.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Photographer for White House child sex ring arrested after Thompson suicide

(if this isn't the most fucked up shit i've ever ready, i don't know what it. it's so freakin fucked up, it's probably true. -- brook)

The Justice Department, acting through the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Omaha, emerges from the record of the Franklin investigations not so much as a party to the cover-up, but as its coordinator. Rigging grand juries, harassment of witnesses, incitement to perjury and tampering with evidence--federal personnel were seen to apply all of those techniques in the Franklin case. (John W. DeCamp, Esq., The Franklin Cover-up, Second Edition, January 2005)


Bless the Beasts and the Children
Photographer for White House child sex ring arrested after Thompson suicide

by Tom Flocco
WASHINGTON -- March 13, 2005 -- TomFlocco.com -- Photographer Russell E. "Rusty" Nelson was recently arrested two days after journalist Hunter Thompson reportedly committed suicide four weeks ago on February 10, according to two phone interviews with attorney John DeCamp last week.

Nelson was allegedly employed by a former Republican Party activist to take pictures of current or retired U.S. House-Senate members and other prominent government officials engaging in sexual criminality by receiving or committing sodomy and other sex acts on children during the Reagan-Bush 41 administrations.
Hunter Thompson’s death and the news blackout of Rusty Nelson’s simultaneous arrest raise questions that someone may be attempting to limit Nelson’s freedom or threaten him, since according to testimony, both men had allegedly witnessed homosexual prostitution and pedophile criminal acts in a suppressed but far-reaching child sex-ring probe closely linked to Senate and House members--but also former President George H. W. Bush. [In U.S. District Court testimony, Rusty Nelson told Judge Warren Urbom he took 20,000 to 30,000 pictures, 2-5-1999, p.52]

Pedophile victim Paul Bonacci--kidnapped and forced into sex slavery between the ages of 6 and 17--told U.S. District Court Judge Warren Urbom in sworn testimony [pp.105, 124-126] on February 5, 1999: "Where were the parties?...down in Washington, DC...and that was for sex...There was sex between adult men and other adult men but most of it had to do with young boys and young girls with the older folks...specifically for sex with minors...Also in Washington, DC, there were parties after a party...there were a lot of parties where there would be senators and congressmen who had nothing to do with the sexual stuff. But there were some senators and congressmen who stayed for the [pedophile sex] parties afterwards...on a lot of the trips he took us on he had us, I mean, I met some people that I don't feel comfortable telling their name because I don't want to --- ...Q: Are you scared?...Yes..."

DeCamp, a former Nebraska state senator and decorated Vietnam War vet, told TomFlocco.com "there are tons of pictures still left; law enforcement is currently looking for them," adding, "you can also assume there are senators and congressmen implicated; otherwise this would not be such a big issue." But no federal official has stepped forward to protect Rusty Nelson's life, as Congress would be reluctant to hold hearings or force a federal prosecutor to probe its own members for sex acts with children--still punishable by law.

much more here

anyone remember when Bush went to the UN to ask for support for the Iraq War and basically insulted everyone and then went on that bizarre rant about child sex slaves? anyone? do i just make this shit up? -- brook

Quillen/Dishner College of Medicine

When I started school at ETSU, the medical school was called, The Quillen-DISHNER College of Medicine.

Why is it only Quillen's name now?

Who was this, Dishner?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Yuckert

CURRENT PERIOD LIKE MCCARTHY ERA?

Newsman says dissent stifled

BOB EDWARDS SAYS CURRENT PERIOD LIKE MCCARTHY ERA

Speaking at Centre College, Edwards, a host for XM Satellite Radio, said the "Bush administration holds reporters in contempt" and has become the "all-time champion of information control."DANVILLE-- Louisville native Bob Edwards warned last night that the United States is in a period like the McCarthy era of the 1950s, in which the government is stifling political dissent while the news media and the public fail to speak out in vigorous opposition.

Edwards built a theme based on a quote by Bush's former press secretary, Ari Fleischer, in the wake of 9/11: "People should watch what they say."

Edwards also said journalists "have done a terrible job explaining their role to the public."

He quoted Edward R. Murrow's famous TV response to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's communist witch hunt: "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty," and "we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."

Let's Do The Budget Boogie-Woogie!

Ain't War Grand?

Jim Morrison at 21

http://floridamemory.com/PhotographicCollection/VideoFilm2/video.cfm?VID=22

Florida - Thirty-four years after his death, the state of Florida has found and restored what it believes to be the earliest film of Jim Morrison, shot in the early 1960s when he was a student at Florida State University.

In the FSU promotional film, Morrison plays a clean-cut prospective student who is denied enrolment at the school.

"We would like to accept you," Morrison's character is told. "Indeed, we'd like to offer more courses, more sections, but we just don't have the space - that together with the lack of professors."

"But what happened?" he asks. "How come my parents, and the state and the university didn't look ahead?"

Morrison, who became lead singer of The Doors, attended FSU before enrolling in UCLA's film school. He died in Paris in 1971 at age 27.

The black-and-white clip was discovered last year among films that WFSU, a PBS station operated by the university, donated to the state in 1989.

It was recently posted on the state's film archive website after being digitally converted.


Bush REFUSES to welcome from Louisville Mayor b/c he's a DEM!

"Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson said the White House turned down his request to welcome President Bush when Air Force One landed at Louisville International Airport.

Instead, Abramson said, he was offered a ticket to the Kentucky Center where Bush spoke.

But Abramson, a Democrat, said he turned that down because he had a previously scheduled meeting. Bush was greeted, among others, by Kelly Downard, chairman of the Metro Council's GOP Caucus.
"

Bush says DON'T BUY GOVERNMENT BONDS!

President *: Gov't Bonds are not safe!: "THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask you something about the Thrift Savings Plan. This is a Thrift Savings Plan that has a mix of stocks and bonds?

MS. WEBSTER: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Now, how hard was that to learn how to do that?

MS. WEBSTER: And I chose the safe plan, government bonds. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: That's all right. Well, not so safe, unless we fix the deficit. But other than that -- (laughter). We're fixing the deficit. (Applause.)"

Friday, March 11, 2005

Diamondback SL Super

I got the frame today and built it up with cool shit! Im as happy as a little girl!!!


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Top 10 States Bankruptcy Filings - ALL RED

Bankruptcy filing rank, by households per filing:

Utah 1
Tennessee 2
Georgia 3
Nevada 4
Indiana 5
Alabama 6
Arkansas 7
Ohio 8
Mississippi 9
Idaho 10

http://atrios.blogspot.com /

Saddam's Capture Said to Be Complete BS

United Press International

A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.

"I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced," Abou Rabeh said.

"We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed," he said.

He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: "You have to surrender. ... There is no point in resisting."

"Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well," Abou Rabeh said.

Abou Rabeh was interviewed in Lebanon.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Good Times, Good Times.

Flashback---1986. While courting my future wife Jennifer Logan, she talks me into stealing a mannequin from Kurt's second-floor apartment downtown. Skinny then, I shinnied up a pole outside and swiped the unclothed lady (removing the Army helmet first) and brought her down to our waiting car while Jen diverted his attention from where she was "standing." Kurt played some Beatles on his guitar (if memory serves me) as I deftly made off with our prize.

Later that night we pretended that "she" was injured in an accident and fooled a friend into believing we had a dying woman in the backseat of the car.

Sorry, Kurt. In case you ever wondered where it went.

how close are YOU to BANKRUPTCY?

Two years ago I contracted a infection in my spine and spent four months in the hospital. The illness resulted in chronic pain in my back and hips, so I keep current on pain issues on message boards and forums. Here's a common theme:

My husband had his insurance policy "converted" after his work injury. Last year, they wanted $800.00 a month premium. We had to take a $7000.00 deductible to make a $329.48 premium each month. We got a letter last week -- they raised his premium to $2,119,90 per month!


Most bankruptcies result from a major illness. Next most common is the loss of a job; then divorce. We have been led to believe people are gaming the system and that's why we need to tighten the grip. People DO game the system, but they aren't the sick, the unemployed or the divorced. It's The Rich. THE RICH can shelter millions in asset protection accounts and real estate in Florida (or Texas, hmmm).

You'd think that bankruptcy "reform" would address the only way people actually do game the system. Charles Shumer thought so, and proposed to close the millionaire's loophole. With a middle finger pointed in our direction, Republicans and two DINOs rejected the amendment. Senator Kennedy wanted to protect people with medical debt. The Republicans voted that down too. Feingold asked that The Elderly be allowed to keep their homes if everything else is lost. Republicans said, "kick the bums out." Dick Durbin had the audacity to request protection for VETERANS RETURNING FROM WAR -- but again, the Republicans say "tough luck Soldier."

Healthcare and credit companies have declared war on the Middle Class and Congress has reported for duty to engage the enemy -- US.

In a consumer-driven society, what sense does it make to eliminate the consumers? Let the anger wash over you. Breathe into in. Become one with your ourtrage. We've worked hard and played by the rules, and this is what we get. Like the woman from my chronic pain group, just when we need it most, The System is going to screw you, and quicker than you can say coronary bypass, you will be homeless.

Maybe this doesn't bother most people because "no one thinks" they are going to get sick. "No one thinks" they are going to lose their job. And nobody plans to ever need to declare bankruptcy. So, none of this applies to you.

There IS a BRIGHT side. The folks most exposed to the potential of bankruptcy -- suburb-dwellers with oversize houses, oversize interest-free ARMs, and big ass SUVs are going to have the last laugh -- because when the bottom falls out, we are all going to wish we had a car the size of a living room parked down by the railroad tracks with the rest of the Ownership Society.

Son of Kurt

In case some of you missed the news, Amy & Kurt Hagardorn are the proud parents of a delightful bouncing baby boy guitar player. Click on the link and see what a stunner he is.

love to all,
Baby Milo's Unabashed Granny Ditty

Monday, March 07, 2005

Mencken

The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

H. L. Mencken Baltimore Evening Sun on 26 July 1920, in an article entitled "Bayard vs. Lionheart"

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Over therrrrrre! Over therrrre!

Q. Whatdya call a college-age male who believes fully in the "War on Terror" in Afghanistan and Iraq but who won't enlist in the military---even as recruiting quotas fall short?
A: A Young Republican.

The last enlistment surge was after "Top Gun" came out. I guess we at least know what they're REALLY made of. Fucking pussies.

follow-up to CHRISTIAN DOCTOR nightmare

folks are writing, urging me to bring these guys up on civil or licensing malpractice. aside from the fact that this was years ago -- i wanted to show everyone that i did pursue lisencing action. here's the response:



and just for kicks, here's a sample of the letters to the editor regarding the story:





Back to the reason why I'm posting this. The Reich Wing has taken their war to the exam room and drug store. This is only going to impact women most at risk for harm either by being denied birth control pills, withholding important information -- like the IS a MORNING AFTER pill and you have a right to access to it! this is especially important to know in case you've been raped. if you go to the hospital and you aren't offered emergency birth control measures -- raise holy immoratal hell. You have a right to it. Get you family in on the action. Having someone else on your side when you are in the hospital can be a BIG help. You can scream all day in pain and they won't do shit. You get your pissed-off husband on the cell-phone on his way down there, and you get action. True story -- another time.

This thing that I wrote and stuck up here -- this is a call to action. my experience in 94 wasn't isolated. This is a movement. There is a Christian Fascist Movement in this country that thrives in places like Johnson City. It's adherents are businessmen. School board members. Students who put red stars on too-liberal professor's doors. They have a 50+year history of using 12-Step programming, direct mail, disciplship programs and prayer events as their means of "tapping" and fundraising. Normal people who don't attend prayer breakfasts or discipleship programs probably wouldn't have any idea these people exist.

Until you ask one to fill your prescription.
Or see one in the ER when you've been raped.

for an exhaustive history of this movement see:
http://www.insider-magazine.com/ChristianMafia.htm

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I'd Rather Have a Stryker.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find it distressing (and curious) that we are "fighting the war on terror" mainly with the lightweight HUMVEE, which was designed solely as a replacement in the 1980s for the venerable JEEP? And we wonder why we're getting our ass kicked by roadside IEDs?

Somehow I think our military hardware buildup under Reagan was squandered on S&L bailouts. And who's left holding the bag? The underequipped shlub in the field. Sweet planning, eh? Rumsfeld at least needs to start watching reruns of Rat Patrol.

Twenty-six congressmembers sign onto resolution forcing vote over Gannon

(here's a press release announcing some follow-up to the guckert/gannon scandal--use the link for more -- brook)


Ranking Members Determined to Get Answers

Resolution Will Force Cooperation, Unless Blocked by House Republicans


Washington, DC - The Ranking Members for House Committees on Rules, Judiciary, Government Reform, Homeland Security and Ways and Means have authored a Resolution of Inquiry, which would require the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security to turn over all documentation regarding James Guckert’s (AKA Jeff Gannon) regular access to the White House.

The resolution comes on the heels of repeated requests by Rep. Louise Slaughter and Rep. John Conyers that the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over the Secret Service, turn over any and all materials related to the GannonGate issue. To date, the White House, the Secret Service, The Department of Homeland Security, and the Justice Department have all failed to respond to such requests.

“We cannot allow the White House to stonewall the United States Congress and the American people on an issue of such importance. This is a matter of national security and unethical White House media manipulation. Everyday more questions are raised and so far, the White House is not providing any answers. We intend to find out what the White House is hiding.” stated Congresswoman Slaughter."

Wounded Italian Hostage Arrives Home, Speaks With Prosecutors

March 5 (Bloomberg) -- Giuliana Sgrena, the Italian reporter that U.S.-led forces shot and wounded hours after she was freed from her kidnappers in Iraq, arrived in Rome today and was immediately questioned by Italian prosecutors.

Sgrena, 57, was wounded and an Italian intelligence officer, Nicola Calipari, was killed when coalition forces fired on their convoy as it approached a Baghdad checkpoint yesterday, according to the Italian government and a U.S. military spokesman. Italy said the shooting came from U.S. forces. The U.S. military wouldn't say who fired the shots.

Sgrena landed at Rome's Ciampino airport earlier today. She had to be helped as she slowly walked down from the plane and into an ambulance. Sgrena underwent two operations during the night, Italy's TG5 television news program reported, without saying how it obtained the information. TG5 broadcast live Sgrena's arrival at Ciampino.

"We are working with our Italian allies as we fully investigate the circumstances of this tragedy,'' Mel Sembler, the U.S. ambassador to Italy, said in an e-mailed statement. "I would like to express the sympathy of the United States of America to our ally the Italian Republic and to the families of the victims of this terrible incident.''"

there's more -- click link above

US attacked Italian journo on purpose -- cut cell phones before shooting!

Rome - The companion of freed Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena on Saturday levelled serious accusations at US troops who fired at her convoy as it was nearing Baghdad airport, saying the shooting had been deliberate.

'The Americans and Italians knew about (her) car coming,' Pier Scolari said on leaving Rome's Celio military hospital where Sgrena is to undergo surgery following her return home.

'They were 700m from the airport, which means that they had passed all checkpoints.'

The shooting late on Friday was overheard by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office, which was on the phone with one of the secret service agents, said Scolari. 'Then the US military silenced the cellphones,' he charged.

'Giuliana had information, and the US military did not want her to survive,' he added.

When Sgrena was kidnapped on February 4 she was writing an article on refugees from Fallujah seeking shelter at a Baghdad mosque after US forces bombed the former Sunni rebel stronghold.

Sgrena told RaiNews24 television Saturday a 'hail of bullets' rained down on the car taking her to safety at Baghdad airport, along with three secret service agents, killing one of them.

'I was speaking to (agent) Nicola Calipari (...) when he leant on me, probably to protect me, and then collapsed and I realised he was dead,' said Sgrena, who was being questioned on Saturday by two Italian magistrates.

'They continued shooting and the driver couldn't even explain that we were Italians. It was really horrible,' she added."

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Pharmacists to have right to reject filling script they deem "immoral."

If you know me, you might remember a few years ago when I had the misfortune of walking into a "Christian" doctor's office. I had no health insurance despite working full-time at an advertising agency that catered to healthcare clients. Life is full of ironies. You just have to roll with it, I suppose.

So, I'm having fainting spells and no energy and I worry that my blood sugar is whacked because it's happened before, and that sort of thing runs in my family. I call around Johnson City for a week trying to find someone who will take TennCare and I found a new clinic called Families, Our Specialty. They happened to be clients of the advertising agency I worked for, so I thought if nothing else -- if I can't have health insurance -- at LEAST I could get a referral to a doc thru my biz.

i walk in to the new office in north JC and it smells of drywall and new paint. there's the obligatory Bible Stories book and children's magazines. The chairs are new and the interior was simply appointed that's always a good sign in a doctor's office. You want things to be clean and orderly with a minimum of crevices for germs to hang out. Since I was the only one in the waiting room they called me in quite quickly.

The exam room was neat and clean too, so I was fairly comfortable and off my gaurd when the Doc comes in to take my patient history. appearance-wise this doc was also what you might imagine an experienced family practitioner to look like -- neat and orderly. having not been to a doctor at all during my seven years in college, and "armed" with TennCare I was ready to settle down and work on some health issues with a trusted family practitioner. I was almost excited.

Doc is taking my history; "any heart attacks in your family? yes. any diabetes? yes. any sexual abuse? whaa?

Gee, I'd never been asked that by a doctor before. Any sexual abuse. How would that fit in to medical history? maybe he's just really thorough.

We continue with the medical history: "any pregnancies? one. how many children? zero.

"WHAAAAT?"

"Zero, I have zero children."

"Oh, then you must have had a miscarriage."

"No. I had an abortion. You've heard of those."

I was always taught that I have to tell my healthcare providers the truth or else I might be really screwing myself if something is wrong. Also, I just expect to be participating in a RATIONAL, post-enlightment world when I enter a DOCTOR's office. These people are supposed to be professionals, right.

WRONG. wrong wrong wrong! If any young women read this and have been taught the same way I was -- that you should be truthful with your doctors, forget it. Choose someone based on solid knowledge of their ideological background. Have a litmus test, and if anyone doesn't live up to your expectation, WALK AWAY, because here's what could happen:



Upon finding out I had (gasp!) had an abortion, this "doctor" ordered me up on the table for a pelvic exam. I was really sick when I walked into the office and since this was my first physical in years, this didn't seem TOO out there. But it's the most abusive exam I ever had. I thought he reaching for the ceiling when he palpated my ovaries, and while he had me in that position he inquired about my religious beliefs and suggested that I would need to find a church that "would take me" and participate in his special 12-step program that included twice weekly group therapy sessions. But if I did everything he told me, I might, MIGHT be forgiven and then, only then, would God allow my healing in terms of diabetes or whatever real medical problem I was experiencing. Then he prescribed anti-depressants. When I asked about the glucose tolerance test, which was the whole reason I made the appointment in the first place, he handed me a brown jug and told me to pee in it for the next 24 hours. I guess this was a do-it-yourself blood sugar test, and naturally I didn't have the commitment to pee in a jug for 24 hours. Do you know difficult it is for a GIRL to PEE IN A JUG?

The doctor was a WHACK JOB. And, as I understand it, he enjoyed quite a following in Johnson City.

These people are called Dominionists (google it) and they are attacking our communities on all fronts, but having them making life and death decisions FOR YOU, based on THEIR version of MORALITY -- well, we've crossed the Rubicon. I didn't pursue the publicity on this to be controversial. This is serious shit and it's getting worse.

Now you have to screen your pharmacists. Can you imagine your phamacist just deciding he doesn't think you should have birth control pills. What if two pharmacies turn you down? How quickly might you lapse in your routine? What other drugs might they object to? Anti-virals? Sorry, no Valtrex for you! We know how you got that and if God wasn't punishing you for your dirty dirty sex, you wouldn't have that.

Have you picked up the phone yet to yell at your Senator? Who cares if it's late. This is so completely over the line -- it is in the realm of the Handmaid's Tale. And even if you don't think this is important enough to call your senator -- do yourself a favor and watch your back at the doctor's office.

_________________________________________


Protecting Christian Health-Care Providers

By Rev. Mark H. Creech
March 1, 2005

(AgapePress) - The FDA is expected to announce any day whether it will permit over-the-counter sales of the 'morning-after pill.' The manufacturer, Barr Pharmaceuticals, has proposed that the pill be made available to anyone over the age of 16 without a prescription. Whether under-age youth will gain access to it remains to be seen, but it's my contention they will have no more difficulty in getting the powerful drug than they do in getting alcohol. But that's another issue for another time.

The question I now have concerns those who own, operate and work in the retail drug establishments. What happens if a pharmacist elects not to sell the morning-after pill -- high doses of hormones that can kill the human embryo early, before it implants in the uterus. If over-the-counter sales of the drug become legal, will they be forced to provide it?

Amazingly, pharmacists across the country are already dealing with this issue because they have decided not to fill birth-control pills of any kind. Late last year, CBS News featured one such pharmacist in Louisiana, Lloyd Duplantis."

(there's plenty more, click the link. you know what to do.)

Daily Kos :: Smackdown delivered to Condi Rice

Daily Kos :: Smackdown delivered to Condi Rice: "Missile Counter-Attack

Axworthy fires back at U.S. -- and Canadian -- critics of our BMD decision in An Open Letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Thursday, March 3rd, 2005

By LLOYD AXWORTHY

Dear Condi, I'm glad you've decided to get over your fit of pique and venture north to visit your closest neighbour. It's a chance to learn a thing or two. Maybe more.

I know it seems improbable to your divinely guided master in the White House that mere mortals might disagree with participating in a missile-defence system that has failed in its last three tests, even though the tests themselves were carefully rigged to show results.

But, gosh, we folks above the 49th parallel are somewhat cautious types who can't quite see laying down billions of dollars in a three-dud poker game.

As our erstwhile Prairie-born and bred (and therefore prudent) finance minister pointed out in presenting his recent budget, we've had eight years of balanced or surplus financial accounts. If we're going to spend money, Mr. Goodale added, it will be on day-care and health programs, and even on more foreign aid and improved defence.

Sure, that doesn't match the gargantuan, multi-billion-dollar deficits that your government blithely runs up fighting a 'liberation war' in Iraq, laying out more than half of all weapons expenditures in the world, and giving massive tax breaks to the top one per cent of your population while cutting food programs for poor children.

Just chalk that up to a different sense of priorities about what a national government's role should be when there isn't a prevailing mood of manifest destiny."

(click the link above for much, much more Canadian goodness!)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Ugliest Guckling: reflections on what makes a journalist tick

One of the most frustrating moments of my career in publishing happened over what should have otherwise been one of those perfect moments sharing wine and pizza with your colleagues. I was working at the Nashville Scene, a grandpappy of an alternative weekly. A the time, 10 years ago, the Nashville Scene was coasting on what little outsider cred it had, being "alternative" only amongst the Christian Music fapsters living in the suburbs. I was just figuring this out.

The early years of the Scene were marked by outing "business pigs;" the mid-years were spent groveling for entré as said "business pig;" now the entity that owns the Scene now owns the Village Voice and the LA weekly. If success is measured in dollars and cents, the Scene hasn't done bad.



If, on the other hand, success for an alternative paper is measured in valuing journalism for the people, the Scene falls somewhere between the Wall Street Journal and Better Homes and Gardens. The trajectory of being a successful capitalist always confronts the trajectory of being a successful journalist. Every little publication -- every journalist -- will face this fact sooner or later. You can either be a successful voice for your community or a successful business. When you lean to one side, the other fades away.

Illustrating this devolution is the Scene's special WAR issue they did Bush went to war in 2003, called, WAR? Scene Writers Opine. Nineteen Scene writers and editors got three paragraphs each to present their arguments FOR or AGAINST the war. Seven argued FOR the war, 11 against, and one took a pass while instructing readers to visit Counterpunch to make up their own damn minds. It broke down like this, folks who covered culture argued elegantly against the war citing international law and lack of evidence of a link to terrorism. Those who cover the news beat were overwhelmingly for the war.

You might say, that's good, the doves won. But, not so fast. After some nauseating name-dropping, the editor-in-chief, makes a three-point argument for his support of Bush's war: "First, I think the war can be fought with the loss of few American lives. Second, the Middle East is strategically important to us (oil). Finally, we're the world's superpower, Saddam is making life difficult, and we have to make him behave."

So, if someone has something we need, or they are annoying us, and IF it isn't too much trouble, GO FOR IT! I would like to end this with saying, "I wonder how he feels now," but I really don't care and I bet neither does he because since the buy-out, he finally got invited to join the Belle Meade Golf Club and probably doesn't spend much time worrying about anything more challenging than his swing.

My "most frustrating moment" in publishing was actually a moment of clarity and a blessing in disguise. The editor-in-chief had just brought his staff pizza to calm our hunger while we finished up the boards. Sitting around the break-room table, he regaled us with his take on the "state of journalism" and made the claim that stopped me in my tracks. Affecting a dramatic stare, he said "nobody makes it in journalism without a degree from Columbia." Journalism is a privilege offered to the children of money -- a vanity career for trust fund nerds.

I had never considered this, and initially wrote the comment (and the Scene itself) off as clearly "not my people." I was in debt to armpits from my Kudzu League education and still living with roommates trying to "make it in the music business." If pedigree were essential to success in this culture, why bother?

Fast-forward 10 years.

Here we sit in the midst of the Bushies' Velvet Coup with the groveling compliance of sycophants infinitely more connected than the small time capitalist pigs at the Scene. Checks and balances are a thing of the past right along with fair elections, and equal protection under the law. As the direct result of having no people of with values beyond being "in the club" we have a media that YAWNS in the face of an obvious gay Pillow Talk Affair involving the White House Press Corps. While the media gently sleeps, journalists risk prison fighting to protect the identity of sources for a story the didn't write. Our newspapers now display full-blown sleep paralysis in their insistence on letting NOVAK off scot-free, having compromised our entire Middle East WMDs intelligence operation. Lets hope they drown in their own drool as journalism evolves into a decentralized blogosphere, because we didn't "win" the Cold War only to be lectured by a Russian dictator on a FREE PRESS.

It's horrible to watch but from the standpoint of chewing on the cynicism of that old editor at the Scene, this is the only way these cards COULD have played out. The "crisis" of journalism as that editor opined 10 years ago would foreshadow the complete Materialization of Values in Journalism. For the Scene, the mission of a newspaper is commodification. It's just a business and it's goal is to make money. Journalism is done by other people with more credentials and a fuller rolodex. You can hire them and they will win awards for you, but in your heart you have no soul. That sir, is in your wallet.

Is anyone else reminded of Ivan Illich's rule of counterproductivity? That the passionate pursuit of a thing often leads to the undermining of the original goal. You don't need to know who Ivan is to understand how a "pretty young thing" might go to Hollywood to live her dream as a star only to wind up in the valley making fake porn for Marriot and Ramada Inns. Is it just too damn obvious to say we become what we hate? Or maybe that's too elegant. Maybe we simply don't have the backbone to follow our dreams.

Guckert didn't graduate from Columbia, but he made it to the White House Press Corps. The Scene editor wasn't born in the Cabbage Patch, but he's made a pile in "journalism." Somehow that seems right for the zeitgeist. Somehow that leaves the universe wide open for others to observe and write about it while everyone else is busy screwing each other.

hockey, beer, sub-zero temps... make level heads, apparently.




O Canada!
Our home and native land,
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee

It's great when its so easy to love your neighbors.
Thanks, Canada, for shaking things up. Let's hope it continues.