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Monday, February 28, 2005

ThePete's Weird Quotient

I don't know why I do these stupid things:



Oh yeah! Because I'm bored with my dayjob. Heh-heh.

SUICIDE BOMBER KILLS 120+ IN IRAQ

Well, I'd like to wish a hearty congratulations to George W. Bush, for being indirectly responsible for another 120+ deaths in Iraq. It happened when a suicide bomber managed to blow himself up by driving into a crowd of Iraqi cops and army recruits. Over 150 were wounded in this, the largest single bombing since the Iraq Attack began. Of course, the article I'm getting all this from at NYTimes.com, doesn't bother to point out that there were a few individual American bombings that killed more Iraqis than this.

Anyway, congrats, Bush. It really was a good idea to go into Iraq!

OH yeah, and if you're curious how many Americans were killed in said bombing, the number is zero--but why does that matter?

Dead people are dead people, right?

VERMONTERS MOVE AGAINST IRAQ WAR

According to an article at CSMonitor.com a bunch of citizens from Vermont have managed to get resolutions in front of local lawmakers that speak out against the ever-continuing Iraq War. Sadly, these resolutions are tooth-free and can force the USG to do nothing even if they are passed.

Still, as the CSMonitor reporter suggests, they could represent a new grass roots movement to get the USMil out of Iraq.

Boy, that sure would be nice, wouldn't it?

Fingers crossed!

Read more about it in that article at the Christian Science Monitor website.

9 YR OLD SOCIAL SECURITY LOBBYIST

Well, the Repubs have proven it--they have no shame. According to an article at NYTimes.com, they've now got a 9 year old kid travelling the country ahead of Bush, going on about how great King George's plan to overhaul social security is.

Yes, that's right--they've got a 9 year old as the literal poster child for the new Social Security plan. His name is Noah McCullough and was essentially hired by a former aide to Senate ethics violation charge-lightning rod, Tom DeLay. Why does it not surprise me that an associate of Mr. Bribes would come up with this amoral plan to use a kid as a shill for this dubious new plan.

I mean, this is wrong on so many levels, it's not even funny. This kid isn't a concious human being yet. How many of us can remember what being 9 was even like?? I have no clear memories of that time in my life and I bet neither can most adults. Yet, this kid is being put on stages and being touted as a person you can trust. He hasn't been on this planet long enough to have listened to all the sides to politics. He doesn't understand how the world, let alone his government, actually works.

Sure, he may know trivia about the USG, but that doesn't mean he understands it.

What's really sad is all those stupid-ass Bush voters out there who bought all of Bush's other lies will actually decide they can trust this "smart" little kid.

He's a kid he can't be that smart because wisdom comes with experience and knowledge.

Don't be stupid and fall for this kid.

People who need/use children to fight their fights for them are pretty damn dispicable. Yes, I know the kid's mom is a Dem, but I think they're spineless, too--so her behavior makes perfect sense to me.

Read more about this story at the NY Times website.
February 26, 2005

At 9, He's Out Stumping for President's Social Security Plan

At 9, He's Out Stumping for President's Social Security Plan
By GLEN JUSTICE

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 - The battle over Social Security has been joined by an unusual lobbyist, a 9-year-old from Texas who has agreed to travel supporting President Bush's proposal.

The boy, Noah McCullough, made a splash with his encyclopedic command of presidential history, earning five appearances on the "Tonight" show and some unusual experiences in the presidential campaign last year. He beat Howard Dean in a trivia contest at the Democratic National Convention and wrote for his local newspaper about his trip to see the inauguration.

"He's very patriotic and very Republican," said Noah's mother, Donna McCullough, a former teacher and self-described Democrat. "It's the way he was born."

In a sign of how far groups go to carry their message on Social Security, Progress for America has signed up Noah, a fourth grader, as a volunteer spokesman. He starts on spring break from James Williams Elementary School in Katy, Tex.

Progress for America, which spent almost $45 million backing Mr. Bush last year, plans to lay out $20 million on Social Security this year. It has spent $1 million on television commercials and is working to send experts around the country. Among them are Thomas Saving, a trustee of the Social Security Trust Fund; Rosario Marin, a former United States treasurer; and one really, really young Republican. Noah will not be eligible to collect Social Security for nearly 60 years.

Noah will travel to a handful of states ahead of visits by the president and will go on radio programs, answer trivia questions and say a few words about Social Security. Though he is obviously not an expert (and not really a lobbyist, either), officials say the effort is a lighthearted way to underline Mr. Bush's message.

"What I want to tell people about Social Security is to not be afraid of the new plan," Noah said. "It may be a change, but it's a good change."

The trip was a brainchild of Stuart Roy, a former aide to Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, who recently joined the DCI Group, a political consultancy here with ties to the Republican Party and Mr. Bush.

The firm is heavily involved in Progress for America's efforts. The president of the organization, Brian McCabe, is a partner at DCI, and the organization contracts with the firm. In the 2004 campaign, the Progress for America Voter Fund paid DCI about $800,000, records show. Mr. Roy knew Noah because the boy lives in suburban Houston, part of Mr. DeLay's district, and the House majority leader has met him. "We'll have Noah there as the face of Social Security reform," Mr. Roy said. "It's about the next generation."

Noah became interested in presidents as a 5-year-old after a mock election in kindergarten. Today, he has more than 3,000 books on presidential history. He campaigned for Mr. Bush, speaking to Republican groups and handing out bumper stickers. After 27 trips to the first President Bush's presidential library at Texas A&M University in College Station, he scored a meeting with the former president.

Noah plans to run for the White House in 2032 - and he wants Social Security addressed before then.

"It will be bankrupt when I'm president," he said.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

LEBANON GOV RESIGNS AMID PROTESTS

Lebanese ministers forced to quit
Huge celebrations have erupted in Beirut after the Lebanese government announced its resignation following two weeks of popular protests. (source: News.BBC.co.uk)


Yeah, try that in the US and see if it works!

Congratulations to the citizens of Lebanon--I hope a new government is really what you guys want and not just something some CIA spooks wanted.

My Grandmother RIP

Well, I kept TheBlog silent yesterday in honor of the passing of my mother's mother, my grandmother--Dorothy Johnson. She and I haven't been close in well over a decade, but when I was a kid, she used to call me her favorite eldest grandson. I was sad that I couldn't make it to the funeral yesterday. I had a shoot, a comic to edit, stacks of copy writing to do and a personal budget not too far away from a shoe-string. When you live paycheck-to-paycheck the way I do (which I don't recommend), you really can't take time off without having serious consequences.

Anyway, she was a very nice woman and lived a loooong life. Here's a picture of her at her 90th birthday party which I actually was able to make it to:



She passed away a week ago today at my aunt's house. Four days from today she would have been 94. Here's the obituary that my family (whom I am also not terribly close with) had to shell out $200 to get in the local paper:
Dorothy Herbert Johnson
Dorothy Herbert Johnson, 93, born March 3, 1911, in Whiting, Indiana, to Genevieve and Hugo Herbert. Teacher (Michigan City, IN; Pecatonica and Elmhurst, IL), Choir Director (Seward, IL), Girl Scout Leader (Pecatonica, IL); beloved wife of Dr. O.W. Johnson, loving mother of six; cherished Grandmother of fourteen peacefully passed away at her daughter’s home Monday, February 21. She received her BA and MS in Education from Rockford College. Preceded in death by her husband of 47 years and her brother, Victor Herbert. Visitation Sunday, 1 – 4:30pm, Toon Funeral Home, 4920 Main St, Downers Grove, IL. Funeral Service, Sunday 5pm, St Andrews Episcopal Church, 1125 Franklin St, Downers Grove, IL 60515. In lieu of flowers please send donations to St. Andrews Episcopal Church.
That's funny, my grandma wasn't a cartoon--I wonder why she was taken care of at a funeral home with a name like that... oh, I don't get my family. I like them just fine, but it seems like nobody really tries to stay in touch/contact with everyone else. It's funny, I'm the black sheep of the family--doing the "artist thing" yet most of my family are all successful yuppies and they use similar excuses as I do as to why they don't stay in touch.

They're busy with work, to tired when they get home from work, can't afford to visit, got a lot on their mind, etc. It's so funny to me since none of us are doctors, scientists or anything resembling truly important people. One of my uncles works for a religious TV station. Another (I think) works for Motorola. Another builds houses. One aunt is in the mental health field and the other is a teacher. Do any of those things sound like they should keep them from a phone for years at a time? How about keeping them from a computer? As for my cousins, I've no idea what they're all doing--can't keep track of all of them.

Still, in the world of instant communication that we all live in, why is it so hard for them to stay in touch?

Oh well.

Good luck, Grandma. I hope there is an afterlife and that you have a good time there. Please say hi to Hunter S. Thompson for me and tell him that I'm mad because he killed himself. Oh but DON'T have a drink with him--he'll probably spike it with something just to see your reaction.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

DELAY TO FACE NEW CHARGES?

National Journal’s Saturday bombshell: DeLay cited with new House rules violations (source: RawStory.com) Here's an excerpt:
The prominent lawyer and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is being investigated by federal authorities for his lobbying efforts of an Indian tribe and his relations with House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), paid for DeLay and DeLay’s staff’s stay in an expensive London hotel in mid-2000.


Whoa--hang on a sec.

So, George W. Bush:

1) violates International Law by invading Iraq
2) violates Federal Law by manufacturing propaganda and masquerading it as news
3) totally screws the pooch on Iraq (no WMD, turns Iraq into Al Qaeda training ground)
4) gives medals to guys who helped him screw said pooch

and it's a "bombshell" when DeLay accepts a bribe from a lobbyist?

God should really stop blessing America now. Specifically God should stop blessing George W. Bush and his lackeys. They are getting away with SO much crap, it's really not even funny any more.

SO MUCH FOR PEACE IN PALESTISRAEL

Bomber Kills Four in Tel Aviv, Shattering Truce (source Reuters.com)

Damn, and I had just blogged on peace over there a couple weeks ago. It should now be interesting to see if Israel drops a nuke on the occupied territories in retribution.

SALON: MEDIA IGNORES GANNON

Remember this story about a gay-escort-cum-Repub-reporter Guestblogged about by Jen? Well, Salon.com now has an article on their website talking about how that Gannon/Guckert guy is being conveniently blown off by the mainstream media.

This is just another example of how the mainstream media is softpedalling the USG. Why are they doing this? Who knows at this point. Big Business in collusion with Big Government--HEY, isn't that FASCISM??

Oh well...

Check out that Salon article to read more about the media ignoring this story.

RICE PRETENDS US CARES ABOUT DEMOCRACY

So, according to an article from AP.org and News.Yahoo.com, US SoS Condoleezza Rice was expected to travel to Egypt during a whirlwind tour of the Middle East but cancelled it because of the Egyptian government having arrested an Egyptian political activist named Ayman Nour. Here's a clip from the article:
A senior U.S. official, citing Rice's displeasure with the arrest and other internal actions taken by the Egyptian government, said change was needed and she wanted to see what steps were taken before going to Cairo. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity.

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Adam Schiff (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., said in an interview that he hoped Egypt "gets the strong message that the United States will not look the other way anymore, that the suppression of democracy is no longer a matter of purely domestic affairs in a country."
HA! This coming from a government that decided the volumes of evidence of irregularities in the 2004 election weren't enough to merit an official investigation.

This coming from the government that never bothered to address evidence that the 2000 election was fixed, too.

This from a government that had an official cancel a trip to Germany because it looked like the German government would arrest said official on warcrimes charges.

This from a government that counts such dictatorships as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan among its strongest allies.

I could go on--you know I could.

What a joke.

Give me one good reason to believe anything anyone in the USG says anymore.

Read that AP article about Rice's cancelled trip to Egypt at Yahoo.From AP.org and News.Yahoo.com:

Rice Will Go to London, Not Middle East

Fri Feb 25, 9:31 PM ET

By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is deferring an expected trip to Egypt and other Mideast countries next week, confining her travels to a conference in London on assisting the Palestinian Authority.

The Middle East stops were never announced officially. But State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday in providing the revised schedule that there had been "some consideration to going out to the region at this time," especially since Egypt was to host a meeting between the G-8 economic group and the Arab League.

The decision not to go apparently caught Egypt off-guard. The country's major pro-government newspaper, Al-Ahram, reported Friday that Rice would be in Egypt next Saturday.

Egypt last Sunday postponed the G-8-Arab conference on promoting democracy in the midst of a dispute with the Bush administration over the jailing of a political activist.

Rice had registered her "very strong concerns" about the detention of Ayman Nour, the leader of an opposition party, when she met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Tuesday in Washington.

Boucher said she would reschedule a visit to the region "at a fairly early date."

A senior U.S. official, citing Rice's displeasure with the arrest and other internal actions taken by the Egyptian government, said change was needed and she wanted to see what steps were taken before going to Cairo. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity.

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in an interview that he hoped Egypt "gets the strong message that the United States will not look the other way anymore, that the suppression of democracy is no longer a matter of purely domestic affairs in a country."

Last week, Schiff introduced a resolution deploring Nour's arrest and calling on Rice to reconsider attending the Cairo conference.

Boucher pointed out, meanwhile, that Rice had met recently in Washington with Aboul Gheit and other Arab ministers.

She also will have a chance to confer with Arab officials at a conference beginning Tuesday in London to support the Palestinian Authority as it undergoes changes.

She will also meet with senior U.N., European and Russian officials in London on their "road map" they jointly produced in the hopes it would spur Israel and the Palestinians to hold negotiations on a settlement.

Some 30 delegations are expected to attend the London conference.

© 2005 The Associated Press

Friday, February 25, 2005

HUNTER S. THOMPSON RIPped

I guess "ripped" can mean intoxicated, can't it? Oh well... I was hesitant to blog about Thompson's death because I admire(d) him for what he had managed to do without killing himself up to this point only to kill himself now. I think everyone should have the right to kill themselves--we should have the freedom to choose death if we want. It's the least than can be done since life is forced on us. And I also don't assume people are clinically depressed when they kill themselves. I usually think "WHY?"

I'm still wondering why Thompson put a .45 caliber bullet into his brain. I've read a bunch of stuff about him and I still can't make heads or tails out of it. He hated Bush, he was unhappy about certain aspects of society, I think--yet why kill yourself now? His voice was still being heard as a voice of dissent--a powerful voice. Yet he chose to throw it away.

Sad, really.

I think if I was ever going to kill myself I'd explain why I was doing it so people could know why. Suicide is a very selfish act--the least you can do is let people know why--and not some bullshitty "life is hard" or "everyone hates me" or "I can't take it any more." Those reasons are all crap--the words of a weakling.

I need something more like "I don't see the point of living a life that I can no longer live in peace or happiness." How about "I realize that life in the world today requires that we all be corrupted and I refuse to be corrupted."

You know what I'm getting at here--if you can argue that there's just something wrong with life, then I will respect your wishes.

But if you just some pansy-ass loser who thinks he or she can't deal with whatever life is throwing at you, I'm sorry, I'm not going to have much sympathy for you.

So what's the deal with Thompson? Beats me and now it's pretty doubtful anyone will ever know.

Here's a very bizarre read about what Thompson's wife went through around the time Thompson killed himself. A very creepy read from RockyMountainNews.Com.From RockyMountainNews.Com:

'Loving' farewell to writer

Wife details family gathering with Thompson dead in chair

By Jeff Kass, © 2005, Rocky Mountain News
February 25, 2005

ASPEN — Hunter S. Thompson heard the ice clinking.

The literary champ was sitting in his command post kitchen chair, a piece of blank paper in his favorite typewriter, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot through the mouth hours earlier.

But a small circle of family and friends gathered around with stories, as he wished, with glasses full of his favored elixir — Chivas Regal on ice.

"It was very loving. It was not a panic, or ugly, or freaky," Thompson's wife, Anita Thompson, said Thursday night in her first spoken comments since the icon's death Sunday. "It was just like Hunter wanted. He was in control here."

Anita Thompson also echoes the comments that have been made by Hunter Thompson's son and daughter-in-law: That her husband's suicide did not come from the bottom of the well, but was a gesture of strength and ultimate control made as his life was at a high-water mark.

"This is a triumph of his, not a desperate, tragic failure," Anita Thompson said by phone, recounting that she was sitting in her husband's chair he called his catbird seat in the Rockies.

She added: "He lived a beautiful life and he lived it on his own terms, all the way from the very beginning to the very end."

Anita Thompson, like her husband's other close relatives, understood how Hunter Thompson wanted to make his ultimate exit.

"I always knew that Hunter was going to die before me," Anita Thompson, 32, said of her 67-year-old husband. "I'd accepted that. I just did not know it was going to be like this. I would rather have him back."

Yet Anita Thompson quickly came to embrace Hunter Thompson's gesture with a .45-caliber handgun.

She was at the gym when her husband took his life. And when family friend and Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis confirmed the news, her mind raced. "I have enough will power," she thought. "I can turn back time. No, no, no. This is not right. This can't happen."

But upon seeing Hunter Thompson's body, she embraced him. "Since he'd done this, I did not want to make it difficult for his spirit," she said. "I wanted to make it loving."

Anita Thompson believes she will stay on at the expansive property and famous house that was an ever-changing archive of political, literary and name-your-category items. And she will continue to help administer Hunter Thompson's works.

"I'm going to keep on working for Hunter," she said. "He wanted this. He made sure that I was in place to continue on. I'll just do my job until I can be with him again."

She adds, citing the property's nickname: "It will remain Owl Farm. It will remain Hunter Thompson's Owl Farm."

The last book they had read out loud together was parts of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, a dense classic that explores the fragility of civilization by one of Hunter Thompson's favorite authors. Yet, said Anita Thompson, "He thinks Conrad is funny."

Anita Thompson and her husband had a small tiff that afternoon. Hunter Thompson told her to leave the kitchen that was known across the world as his funky and sacred work space. A weird look came across his face.

"I don't know why he wanted me to leave the room," she said. "It's all speculation. He'd never asked me to leave the room before."

But Anita Thompson did not go to the office with Hunter Thompson's son, as he had requested. Instead, she left the house.
"I'm going to get my gym bag. I'm going," she recalled. "He said, 'I don't want you to leave the house.'"

But she went to the gym. At 5:16 p.m., according to her cell-phone display, she called and spoke with Hunter Thompson for 10 minutes and 22 seconds.

Hunter Thompson put almost everyone on speakerphone. But he picked up the handset to speak with his wife.

"I knew it was odd, first of all, that he picked up with the handset ... I thought, 'That's sweet,'" she said.

The talk was good.

"He said, 'I want you to come home after you work out. Come home and we'll work on a column,'" she recalled.

The conversation, however, never really ended. Before formal goodbyes, Anita Thompson heard a clicking sound. She thought Hunter Thompson might have put down the handset and was typing. Or maybe it was the television. She waited. Maybe a minute passed.

"He did not say anything about killing himself," she said.

The official time of death is 5:42 p.m.

But did Hunter Thompson shoot himself while on the phone with his wife?

"I did not hear any bang," she says, noting that Hunter Thompson's son, who was in the house at the time, believed that a book had fallen when he heard the shot.

Anita Thompson can imagine what was going through Hunter Thompson's mind before the fatal shot: My beloved son, grandson and daughter-in-law are here. I'm in my perch. The fireplace has fire.

"I don't know if it mattered if I was here," Anita Thompson says. "I just like to think, and believe in my heart, he felt happy in his life."

A woman at the gym saw Anita Thompson in the bathroom. She asked if Hunter Thompson was OK. Anita Thompson pretty much blew it off. Rumors about Hunter Thompson were always in the air. Anita Thompson replied, "Oh yeah," but added, "he's been pretty stressed out lately."

A strange look was on the woman's face. She told Anita Thompson to check her phone messages. The woman said she would stay at her side.

Now she was shaking, and could barely dial.

There was a message from Juan Thompson, Hunter's son. "Anita, you have to come home now, he's dead."

Anita Thompson then spoke to the sheriff on the phone.

Had Hunter Thompson intended for his wife of two years to be in the house?

"I don't know, and it's not that important," Anita Thompson says. "I know he loved me. There's no question ... I know he did not want me to find him alone. He knew I was opposed to it."

After wading through the police officers outside, Anita Thompson recalls seeing her husband's dead body for the first time. "He was sitting in the chair when they brought me in, and I got to hug him and kiss him and rub his legs," she said. "All the anger was gone when I saw him."

Anita Thompson does not know why Hunter Thompson chose the .45 from his vast collection of guns. But he was deft with his death. "He did not destroy his face," Anita Thompson says. "He did it in his mouth. His face was beautiful. It was quick. It was not grisly or gruesome by any means. That's probably why he took that gun. He spared us a gruesome scene."

She adds: "His face did look calm and peaceful. He looked content. Like he wanted it."

For Tuesday's cremation, Anita Thompson dressed her husband. He was wearing a light blue, seersucker suit, a Tilly hat and his reading glasses, which he had on when he died. He had asked her to include a lock of her hair with him on this occasion. She complied, and more, cutting off her one-foot long blonde ponytail.

Anita Thompson is depending on mundane chores, but also family, friends and the estimated 50 messages a day.

"Being alone with Hunter in our bedroom, and I've been reading his letters to me," she added. "They have a different charge now. He wrote the most beautiful love letters I have ever seen ... I'm so lucky."

Then there was the flag. Hunter Thompson is an Air Force veteran. And following protocol, according to Anita Thompson, a deputy coroner from neighboring Garfield County presented her with a U.S. flag. It now hangs on a storyboard in the kitchen area, normally used for Hunter Thompson's works in progress. A white, silk scarf that the Dalai Lama presented to Hunter Thompson — the two men looked alike — drapes over the flag.

The house is filled to the brim with flowers — especially orchids, Hunter Thompson's favorite.

"It's nice in here," says Anita Thompson. "He would like it. He does like it, I guess."

Yes, Anita Thompson says, the landmark writer is nearby. "Mainly in moments when you're quiet, you can feel him; it's a different energy than when he was in his body," she says. "It's in the chest. It's all encompassing, but just for a second. It's beautiful."

Hunter Thompson was huge on swimming for his exercise. But he was also known for his love of fine whiskey, and to put it far too mildly, for experimenting with most every intoxicant known to man.

"He loved his body, look what he did to it," Anita Thompson jokes. She then adds a line that maybe even she fails, on its face, to grasp the significance of: "He gave his body everything it wanted."

2005 © The E.W. Scripps Co.

WORLDWIDE CORRUPTION NEWS SITE

www.Transparency.org has news coverage of stories most corporate news outlets won't touch--corruption stories. What's great about this site is that it pretty much exists to point out how bad governments are. That is to say, how corrupt some of them can be--including the USG. However, this site isn't just about pointing out the US Government's failings, but governments and businesses, from around the world.

Here's a quote from their "about us" page:
Transparency International, the only international non-governmental organisation devoted to combating corruption, brings civil society, business, and governments together in a powerful global coalition.
Sounds pretty damn good to me! Check them out and learn all sorts of scary crap!

WOMEN: SHOCK THE JERK

This is pretty sweet. When I was a kid I used to read Iron Man comics--as I recall, he had a feature at one point that would allow him to charge the skin of his suit with electricity. When anyone would touch it, they'd be incapacitated instantly. Finally, someone in real life has come up with something akin to the same concept for women to wear. Check out the No Contact Jacket:

The following is from the official website:
When activated by the wearer, 80,000 volts of low amperage electric current pulses just below the surface shell of the entire jacket. This
exo-electric armor prevents any person from unauthorized contact with the wearer's body.
If an assailant were to grab hold of the wearer the high voltage shocking exterior would interrupt their neurological impulses which control voluntary muscle movement. The neuromuscular system would be overwhelmed causing disorientation and loss of balance to occur and of course pain. The pain experienced is non-lethal but is enough of a shock to effectively and immediately deter contact with her body and provide a critical life saving option for escape.
Sounds good to me. No more getting pawed by slimebags. Just turn this puppy on and zap them into regretting being dirty bastards. Imagine using this on a Japanese subway? You could shock like 8 guys at once!

Check out No-Contact.com for more. Be sure to check out the demonstration video--it's pretty funny watching the dude get zapped... (don't worry--it's not graphic or anything).

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

MARTIAN OCEAN... damn!!

Well, it's frozen solid, but European scientists say that it's there. I'll let an excerpt from an article from News.BBC.co.uk explain:
The interpretation is based on images taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on Europe's Mars Express spacecraft. These show extensive fields of large, platy features - reminiscent of the fractured ice floes found in polar regions on Earth.

Finding exposed ice at the equator would be unlikely. Very low pressures on the planet would lead to sublimation - the ice would erode over time straight to water vapour.

But the research group, led by John Murray, from the Open University, UK, tells Nature that a crust of dust and volcanic ash, perhaps just a few centimetres thick, has prevented this happening.

"The story runs that water flowed in some kind of massive catastrophic event; pack ice formed on top of that water and broke up, and then the whole thing froze rigid," explains Professor Muller.

"Large amounts of dust then fell over that area. The dust fell through the water and on top of the pack ice, which explains why the pack ice is a different hue to the area around it."
That sorta makes sense, doesn't it? The point is, up until now, scientists thought that there was only ice at the caps--but a Martian ocean?? That's a whole different reason to believe life could have existed there.

Hell man, if there's some sort of heat from inside the planet, liquid water could exist down there and that'd mean there was an even better chance at life on Mars right now.

Of course, before anything else, I'm a scifi writer, so naturally I'm hopeful that there is life somewhere out there. Still more ice means more water (duh) which means a larger likelihood for life.

Now, if we could just get someone up there to check for us...

Hey, Bush, didn't you have a plan for that?

Read more about the Martian ocean at the BBC News website.

New Shoes!

A Picture Share!

They're here!! Now if it would just stop raining so I could actually wear them outside.

TOM CRUISE PUSHES SCIENTOLOGY ON SET

I'm probably being overly sensitive about this, but this does bother me. According to an article at NewYorkMetro.com, Tom Cruise set up a Scientology booth on the set of his new Spielberg film War of the Worlds. I have nothing overtly against Scientology. Well, certainly nothing more than I have against any other religion. I'm not a militant Atheist--you can believe what you want to believe. However, if your religion affects others in a negative way or gets in my face, then I have a problem.

Cruise has been going on about Scientology a lot more than Scientologists normally do. I've seen more than a few in interviews squirm around to avoid telling people what the hell it's all about. Here's Cruise openly trying to convert people. Last year Cruise gave an interview to Rolling Stone magazine and said that Scientology was "the shit."

If I was on that set and was an actor of the same (or at least similar) power-level as Cruise, I'd probably say something to him. Religion is fine and all--we all have a right to believe what we want, but Tom, is it very professional to set up a booth for your religion at the workplace?

Cruise's sister and spokeswoman says the booth is Cruise's gift. Right, but it's only a gift for people who are willing to accept the Scientology strings attached to it. What if Spielberg started forcing everyone to obey the sabbath? (If the director obeys it, there's not much everyone else can do in the meantime.) What if the Catholics on the set had a confession booth next to Tom's Scientology booth? Hey, could any Arabic members of the crew set up an America-hating madras?

OK, so that's taking it too far. But then, isn't religion overtly in the workplace taking it too far, too?

Who likes gifts with strings attached anyway?

"Here's this car, but you have to believe that Jesus was an alien. Enjoy!"

From what I understand, Scientology believes that humans are all aliens simply wearing human shells. Again, this is according to what little I've heard about their actual beliefs--they are said to believe in a master-alien-type-dude called "Xenu." When he comes to Earth, all humans (or maybe just the Scientologists) will ditch their human shells and zoom off into space.

I'd love for any Scientologists out there to set me straight on what your beliefs are. I've studied about a half-dozen religions and only yours isn't completely up front about your beliefs.

In the meantime, you can check out the official Scientology website (you look it up, I'm not doing favors for any religion) for the official story or check out Xenu.Net for Operation Clambake--the site that claims to represent the fight against the Church of Scientology on the 'Net. Anyone that is questioning a religion, is likely to get a link from me.

UPDATED 6/24/5: For more on Scientology and my relaxed quest to get to the bottom of it, check out the following post:
http://thepete.com/the-official-whats-up-with-scientology-page/

Read more about the specifics of Tom's booth at the New York Metro website.

From NewYorkMetro.com:
"Intelligencer: February 21-28, 2005"

Tom Cruise Wants to Assist

With on-set Scientology.

In the upcoming Steven Spielberg remake of War of the Worlds, one family fights for survival when Earth is invaded by Martian war machines. But on the set of the movie, there’s been an invasion of another sort: Scientologists! Tom Cruise, the film’s star and the religion’s most well-known adherent, has set up a Scientology tent with a volunteer minister. “It’s a gift from Tom to the crew,” says Lee Anne De Vette, Cruise’s sister and spokeswoman. “You can receive what’s called an assist there,” a Scientologist practice that, as she describes it, seems to be a glorified mini-massage. “If someone has an injury in a certain part of their body, if their back is killing them, they can come in and get an assist. It’s something that helps the body get in better communication with itself.” Actual Scientology literature is available, too, in case “someone walks in looking for a solution.” All of which has caused a certain amount of grumbling. Scientology watchdog Rick Ross says that he’s received e-mails from crew members wondering, “Where are the booths for the Catholics and the Jews?”
—J.B.

ARAB AMERICAN PLOTTED TO KILL BUSH?

Well, let's see here--so far in TWAT, there has been exactly one conviction of someone charged with a terror-related crime. It was that lawyer who took a note from an accused terrorist and gave it to an associate of the accused. Said lawyer was then accused and found guilty of aiding a terrorist. I'll be blogging about this case, soon--but for now, suffice to say that the only conviction the USG has gotten so far in TWAT is an American lawyer. This may change, however, with the arrest of one Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a 23 year old Arab-American who has been accused of plotting to kill Bush while a student in Saudi Arabia.

First question: Can you be arrested there, for committing a crime that isn't illegal there but is here? Because that's what happened in this dude's case. Predictably, he claims he was held in Saudi Arabian custody so they could "harshly interogate" him in the words of an article from AP.org and MyWay.com. In other words, he was tortured by SArab authorities. He's even got the scars to prove it, according to the above mentioned article.

What does this mean for us individuals? Who knows? Threatening the guy in the Oval Office has always been a crime. Think of it like pornography. Freedom of speech does have it's limits, after all.

One other thing I think is worth noting is a poorly phrased paragraph from the above article that quietly biases us against the accused. Check it out:
He did not enter a plea but contended he was tortured while detained in Saudi Arabia and offered through his lawyer to show the judge his scars. "It's all lies," his father said of the charges, and his lawyer said he would plead innocent.
When I first read that, i got as far as "his father said" and thought for a moment: "The dude's parents are against him??"

It just seems like an odd way to construct your paragraph. You make the statement that the accused claims torture, then you say something about how the USG has denied it. Then you have a new paragraph about the dad saying the charges are all lies. It's kind of a little criticism, but if this kind of little thing happens a few hundred times, it can actually start to sway people against a person.

OH yeah, my second question is: WHERE'S OSAMA, YOU LIAR??

Hee-hee.From AP.org and MyWay.com:

Man Charged in Alleged Plot to Kill Bush


Feb 22, 5:58 PM (ET)

By MATTHEW BARAKAT

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) - A Virginia man was charged Tuesday with plotting with al-Qaida to kill President Bush in a conspiracy prosecutors said was hatched while the man studied in Saudi Arabia.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 23, a U.S. citizen, had been held without charges in Saudi Arabia since June 2003. He was returned to the United States and made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court shortly after his arrival Tuesday morning at Dulles International Airport.

He did not enter a plea but contended he was tortured while detained in Saudi Arabia and offered through his lawyer to show the judge his scars. "It's all lies," his father said of the charges, and his lawyer said he would plead innocent.

Before the indictment, a lawsuit filed on behalf of Abu Ali claimed U.S. officials had Saudi authorities detain him so he could be harshly interrogated. Federal prosecutors have been fighting attempts to get the government to disclose why he was being held in Saudi Arabia.

According to the indictment, Abu Ali discussed Bush-assassination plans with an unidentified al-Qaida member in 2002 and 2003, while Abu Ali was attending college in Saudi Arabia.

They discussed two scenarios, the indictment said, one in which Abu Ali "would get close enough to the president to shoot him on the street" and, alternatively, "an operation in which Abu Ali would detonate a car bomb."

While the indictment does not identify the conspirator, it says he was one of 19 people publicly identified by the Saudi government in 2003 as terrorists.

The only other detail of the alleged plot in the indictment states that Abu Ali received a religious blessing from another unidentified conspirator to assassinate the president.

The White House had no comment on the indictment, referring questions to the Justice Department.

U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty said in a statement that "after the devastating terrorist attack ... of Sept. 11, this defendant turned his back on America and joined the cause of al-Qaida. He now stands charged with some of the most serious offenses our nation can bring against supporters of terrorism."

More than 100 friends and family jammed the courthouse to show their support for Abu Ali. Many of them laughed in the courtroom when government lawyers described the alleged assassination plot.

"It's lies. It's all lies," his father Omar Abu Ali, a Falls Church, Va., resident, said after the hearing. "The government lied from the very first day."

Abu Ali's lawyer, Edward MacMahon, said after the hearing that his client would plead innocent. MacMahon said he saw the scars on Abu Ali's back and accused the government of relying on information obtained through torture.

"He expects a fair trial in which he will be vindicated," MacMahon said. "Evidence that comes through torture is the most unreliable evidence."

During the hearing, Abu Ali asked to speak to the judge. U.S. Magistrate Liam O'Grady suggested he consult with his attorney, who then relayed Abu Ali's claims of torture.

When Abu Ali offered to show the judge his back, O'Grady said that he may be able to do so on Thursday at a detention hearing, in which his lawyers will seek his release pending trial.

"I can assure you you will not suffer any torture or humiliation while in the marshals' custody," O'Grady said.

The Abu Alis have fought for nearly two years to have their son returned. They sued the U.S. government, alleging that the Saudis were detaining the young man at the behest of the U.S. government.

The judge dealing with the family's lawsuit against the government never issued an order demanding Abu Ali's return, but had said the family provided "considerable" evidence that the U.S. government orchestrated his arrest.

Abu Ali was born in Houston and moved to Falls Church, a Washington suburb. He was valedictorian of the Islamic Saudi Academy in nearby Alexandria, Va.

"He was very wise, very mature for his age," said Jamal Abdulmoty, who knew Abu Ali through their shared involvement in northern Virginia's Muslim community. "We cannot imagine" that he would be involved in an assassination plot.

According to the indictment, in September 2002 Abu Ali told a friend of his interest in joining al-Qaida, and at one point he decided to fight against the Americans in Afghanistan and unsuccessfully applied for a visa to Iran as a way to get there.

The court papers also allege that an al-Qaida member provided Abu Ali about $1,800 for purchase of a laptop computer, cell phone and books. Abu Ali allegedly discussed with this al-Qaida member ways in which Abu Ali could help al-Qaida's cause, including establishment of an al-Qaida cell in the United States.

Al-Qaida members also provided training in weapons, explosives and document forgery to Abu Ali, according to the indictment.

Abu Ali is charged with six counts and could face a maximum of 80 years in prison if convicted. The charges include conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida, providing material support to al-Qaida, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists, providing material support to terrorists and contributing service to al-Qaida.

---

On the Net:

Justice Department: www.usdoj.gov

Copyright 2005 Associated Press

Monday, February 21, 2005

FREE MOJTABA AND ARASH

Mojtaba Saminejad and Arash Sigarchi, according to the Committee to Protect Bloggers, are two Iranian bloggers who were arrested and thrown in jail for blogging against the Iranian government. Read about Sigarchi's arrest. Saminejad has been released but still faces charges.

Mind you, neither of these bloggers are American citizens--this is not another one of my "Fight BigBrother" type posts. This is about the larger human community and about protecting fellow-bloggers in other countries that don't have it as lucky as I and other American bloggers do. In short, we've got to do something, anything we can, to help people in this situation.

Blogs are the new media--like it or not. The old media are mostly too big and too motivated by profit. We need to pick up the slack and get truth out in every country in the world. It's a big job, but together, we can do it.

So...


If you have a blog please blog about their situation preferably today, Feb 22, 2005 which has been named by the CtPB. Learn more about their situation.

Who knows, you may need protecting one day...

CONSUMER-CONFIDENCE DATA USELESS

Study: Consumer-Confidence Data Useless
(AP.org / News.Yahoo.com)

Basically, the article says that while people may be uncool with the economy, they may not let that sway them from buying a new car or going on a vacation if they want to. Therefore, surveys taken have no ability to predict anything but how people are feeling but not how they'll actually act on those feelings. So, when Bush, or any other politician tries to use consumer confidence as a way to measure his own success, don't believe the hype.

Just add this to that ever-longer list of things we humans have gotten horribly wrong.

CHAVEZ: USGOV WANTS ME DEAD

So, this guy, he's a local and he grows up poor, joins the military, where he excels, becoming a well-respected leader. Guy runs for the highest office in his land and is elected. Tells the big companies and rich folks that they'll be making less money off of their number 1 commodity and the poor folks will be getting more money because said commodity comes from the land everyone lives on top of. Guy then survives a coup attempt, and five referendums and a recall vote. Now is convinced that George W. Bush wants him dead.

Guy's name is Hugo Chavez and he is the legally elected president of Venezuela. You can read my Pocket Review of a docu made about him and the coup attempt. You can also read about Greg Palast uncovering evidence that the USGov helped pay for one of the recall votes. You might want to check out how the recall vote went despite USGov interference. Then, there's this story about how the exit polls were off compared to the recall vote results so the opposition cried fowl. (Ha! That's funny compared to what happened in the US election just 2 months later.)

So, there you have it. Think Chavez is nuts? Check out what an article from News.BBC.co.uk said covering Chavez's claims:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently described the former paratrooper as a "negative force" in Latin America, while CIA chief Porter Goss said Venezuela was a possible source of instability in the region.

Washington blames Mr Chavez of being heavy-handed towards Venezuela's opposition, and has recently criticised Caracas for arms purchases from Russia.

Diplomatic ties between Washington and Caracas have soured since Mr Chavez came to power in 1999.
Hm, I wonder why that is... oh WAIT! I bet it's because Chavez decided to get a little picky about who he sells oil to. I remember reading something about him turning away anyone with American money who was interested in buying oil in favor of trading goods and services for oil. Why is this bad? Well, most of the oil in the world is traded using American cash--Petro-Dollars, to be specific--a kind of oil-only American dollar. Every OPEC country trades oil ONLY in Petro-Dollars--except Venezuela. Actually, I'm not sure if this is still true. I know Iraq had started selling oil only to buyers paying with a Euro back in 2001. Look what happened to him.

But wait, there's more from that BBC article:
"If, by the hand of the devil, those perverse plans succeed... forget about Venezuelan oil, Mr Bush, " Mr Chavez said during his weekly TV show.

"If you try, you will regret it Comrade Mr Bush."

Venezuela is one of the world's leading oil exporters - it sells about 1.5 million barrels a day to the US.


There's one last bit from that article:
Mr Chavez's comments echoed the words of Cuban President Fidel Castro who said last week: "If Chavez is assassinated, the blame will fall on Bush."

"I say that as someone who has survived hundreds of the empire's (assassination) plans," Mr Castro added.

"Now, I am going to say it. Neither Fidel Castro nor I talk nonsense," Mr Chavez said on Sunday.
Well, quoting Castro will hardly get you any points in America, but the thought was there. We KNOW Castro has been a target of the USGov in the past, so he might know something about this.

Either way, it'll be interesting to see how things progress between us and a major oil supplier. If Chavez feels threatened, I'd say he should cut off oil to the US. Then we can watch as the US decides Venezuela has WMD and needs to be invaded.

Hey, remember when the biggest deal in the news was Clinton lying about oral sex?

My kingdom for a Repub who will admit that Bush has made a colossal mess of the world on a highly rated, nationally televised broadcast TV show (no, the Daily Show doesn't count).

Don't forget to read that BBC article to make up your own mind.

You might also see if you can catch that docu I mentioned.

From News.BBC.co.uk:
Last Updated: Monday, 21 February, 2005, 00:59 GMT

Chavez says US plans to kill him

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he believes the US government is planning to assassinate him.

"If they kill me, the name of the person responsible is [President] George Bush," Mr Chavez said.

Mr Chavez - who offered no evidence to back his claim - said any attempt on his life would backfire and threatened to cut off oil supplies to America.

He was apparently reacting to growing criticism by top US officials of his left-wing government.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has recently described the former paratrooper as a "negative force" in Latin America, while CIA chief Porter Goss said Venezuela was a possible source of instability in the region.

Washington blames Mr Chavez of being heavy-handed towards Venezuela's opposition, and has recently criticised Caracas for arms purchases from Russia.

Diplomatic ties between Washington and Caracas have soured since Mr Chavez came to power in 1999.

There was no immediate response to his comments from Washington.

'No-nonsense talk'

"If, by the hand of the devil, those perverse plans succeed... forget about Venezuelan oil, Mr Bush, " Mr Chavez said during his weekly TV show.

"If you try, you will regret it Comrade Mr Bush."

Venezuela is one of the world's leading oil exporters - it sells about 1.5 million barrels a day to the US.

Mr Chavez has repeatedly accused the US of backing Venezuela's opposition to oust or even kill him, a charge Washington denies.

He has alleged that the White House played part in an April coup in 2002, which briefly removed him from power.

Mr Chavez's comments echoed the words of Cuban President Fidel Castro who said last week: "If Chavez is assassinated, the blame will fall on Bush."

"I say that as someone who has survived hundreds of the empire's (assassination) plans," Mr Castro added.

"Now, I am going to say it. Neither Fidel Castro nor I talk nonsense," Mr Chavez said on Sunday.

© BBC MMV

OK, BUSH, SO WHEN DOES THE KILLING STOP?

Iraq Mosque Attacks Kill 17 Amid Shi'ite Ceremony (Reuters.com)

Marines Launch Bid to Secure Iraq City of Ramadi (Reuters.com)

It seems that, despite the Iraqi election, extreme violence is continuing to go on perpetrated by both insurgents and the USMil.

Do you have an exit strategy YET? It has been two years.

ThePoll Results: Are You Real?

After about a month, 50 of you have weighed in on the big question for the first ThePoll at ThePete.Com. Here's how it went:

Are you real?
Yes(60 %)
No(6 %)
Not Sure(34 %)
50 total votes
Powered by © Chipmunk Poll

Check out a new ThePoll right now! (You should be able to find it underneath the hit map toward the top of the sidebar.)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Regular Exercise, Here We Come!!

A Picture Share!

New addition to the family!

A Fly on the Denny's Sign?

A Picture Share!

A fly on the Denny's sign? Yeesh...

Comic Drawing Day #2 Behind Us

Wow--has it been a month already? Yesterday we did our Comic Drawing Day #2 which was a general success.

In case you're not following our drawing adventures, CDD is sort of a bastard offspring of Scott McCloud's 24 Hour Comic. We tried to do a 24 Hour Comic back in January, but we just didn't have our heads in the right places. None of us were really willing to allow our 24 page comics to look as sucky as they would have needed to look in order to do 24 pages in 24 hours. So, we abridged the concept and decided that we should instead simply spend a day drawing comics. We get to Boba Loca in Westwood as close to the time it opens as possible (10am) and draw until we finish or they close, which ever comes first.

Since none of us are "professional" artists, this worked out the best for us. Yesterday we were able to finish most of our stuff. Siskita finished all 24 pages of her comic, Jen did a really funny 2 pager, Tim Toon came very close to finishing his Dan Danger 24 pager and I finished my 7 pager. We didn't make it to closing but we all did some good work, so I'm satisfied that we achieved our goal of drawing stuff for an entire day.

Over the next week I will begin putting together the first issue of ThePete.Com/ic. With any luck, Tim will finish his stuff before next weekend and that should give me enough time to get everything up and read and (with some more luck) on Amazon.com by mid-to-late March. I have no idea how long it will take since I've never done it before.

In the meantime, we'll be doing Comic Drawing Day #3 on March 12. Once again, it'll be at Boba Loca, starting at 10am and going to closing which is usually around 12 midnight. If you're going to be in the LA area, please stop by and say hello. Do you draw? Then join us and you can contribute to the second issue of ThePete.Com/ic!

I'd like to thanks John Kim, owner of Boba Loca in Westwood for hosting the Comic Drawing Day and to Ryan and Izet for keeping us in drinks all day long. We'll see you next month!

Friday, February 18, 2005

BUSH & THE SOCIAL SECURITY MYTH

So, I'm walking back from the post office this morning after checking my PO Box and I pass this car parked on the street. It's got a flyer in the back, passenger-side window with two pictures of King George. I passed it by at first, but then thought better of it and went back. I read it and liked what it said, so I whipped out my camera phone so I could share it with you:


Click it to make it larger.

Pretty cool, huh? Nice to see that someone is so annoyed with some of Bush's lies that he'd turn his back, passenger-side window into a mini web page.

I wonder if he'll use the other window regarding an attack on Syria/Iran (SyrIran?). I hope he does. Anyway, the point is, well, I'll just quote Captain Kirk when he replied to Spock's urgings in Star Trek 6 to trust the Klingons.

"Don't trust them. Don't believe them."

While Kirk was wrong in Star Trek 6, everyone knows that Klingons are much more trustworthy than the Neo-Cons.

TheFiancee just joked with me:

"Neo-KHAAAAAN!!"

THE OTHER SHOE FALLS ON PERLE

Ha-ha, if only this were true figuratively and not just literally. It turns out that neo-con pimp-daddy Richard Perle was participating in a debate against DNC chairman Dr. Howard Dean, when someone in the audience started calling him a liar and literally threw his shoe at Perle! (source: AP.org/MyWay.com)

FINALLY! Someone with a SPINE!! If it had been Dean who had thrown his shoe, I would be renaming my website to ILoveHowardDean.com. At last someone had the guts to be irrational with Perle--now if someone can just have the guts to be rational with him.

It would be so simple, too--in a public forum, simply remind him of his Straussian roots and how Strauss felt that the "masses" need to be kept in line by lying to them about their enemies being much more threatening and bad than they really were.

This is, of course, what Perle and the other neo-cons are doing. Lying to us about outside threats so we stay in line. It's a protection racket and someone's got to call Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Bush, Rice and the others on it in public, to their faces so they can't back down.

I was just musing to myself earlier today about a conversation I had with TheFiancee's step-dad a bunch of years ago. It had to be 1997 or 98. I was telling him how I had read on CNN that there simply weren't that many military incursions going on and those that were were minor compared to the strife the Earth had faced throughout the 20th century.

"You were reading CNN?" he asked.

"Yeah, CNN has a website now."

"Oh."

I went on to explain how, in my opinion, we were done with major wars. All the major threats were gone thanks to capitalism. Capitalism had literally put the USSR out of business (or into it?) and even China looked to be coming to our way of thinking.

My feeling was that while there were a few hotspots around the world, (at the time, Bosnia/Serbia, Israel/Palestine, Latin America, corners of Asia, major wars were over. The world had achieved relative peace. I wasn't aware of the genocide in Africa at that time, but still, I think compared to Vietnam, Korea and even the cold war, the world was doing fairly well.

Don't get me wrong, any war is bad, my point was simply that America had run out of threats. Of course, this was before Bush had been "elected."

Anyway, you hopefully see my point. Certainly for America, the Clinton years brought a significant amount of peace and stability to the world. Not total peace, granted, but compared to even what we had under Bush 41 and Reagan (Iran/Contra, Iraq War I, bombing Libya, Noriega, etc.) the Clinton years were downright tame.

Now the neo-cons are in charge (as they were coincidentally during the Reagan/Bush 41 years) and look where we are.

It's a Straussian wet dream.

And most of us are too stupid to know any better.

Read more about that debate Perle and Dean were taking part in over at MyWay.

Protester Throws Shoe at Richard Perle

Feb 18, 7:37 AM (ET)

By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Howard Dean, the newly minted leader of the Democratic Party, and former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle made clear their opposing views on the war in Iraq during a debate marred by a protester who tossed a shoe at Perle.

Perle had just started his comments Thursday when a protester threw a shoe at him before being dragged away, screaming, "Liar! Liar!"

Perle, who was Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's top policy adviser, was a key architect of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and Dean is among the war's most prominent opponents.

In his new role as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Dean has stressed that Democrats are stronger than Republicans on defense.

"Defense is a lot broader than swaggering around saying you're going to kick Saddam's butt," Dean said Thursday, drawing cheers from the crowd in this city that overwhelmingly voted Democratic last November.

Perle said the war in Iraq was justified based on the intelligence available at the time. "Sometimes the things we have to do are objectionable to others," he said.

Dean also said the Bush administration has ignored the mounting threat in Iran and North Korea. "We picked the low hanging fruit in Iraq and did nothing" about the other, more dangerous regimes, he said.

Perle had his own barbs, too. He began his opening comments in the 1 1/2-hour debate by saying Democrats "looked at the Democratic Party and chose a physician to lead them."

Perle, a veteran of the Reagan administration and a former Pentagon adviser, was forced by one of the questioners to recast a comment he made on Sept. 22, 2003, in which he predicted that within one year, there would be "a grand square in Baghdad named for President Bush."

"I'd be a fool not to recognize that it did not happen on the schedule I had in mind," Perle said, adding that he did not deny that the administration had made mistakes in Iraq.

But, Perle added, "I will be surprised, yet again, if we do not see a square in Baghdad named after this president." He did not specify a time.

Dean became chairman of the DNC earlier this month. The former governor of Vermont had been leading the race for the Democratic presidential nomination but failed last January in the Iowa caucuses. His candidacy sparked interest among young voters and attracted millions of dollars, largely through the Internet.

Thursday's debate was part of the annual forum held by Pacific University to honor Tom McCall, a former Republican governor of Oregon.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press

ThePete.Com--DOWN??

Sorry about the down time, folks! I know what happened, but not how. The what is that suddenly PHP went all wonky. For any non-gearheads out there, PHP is a sort of application that runs on a webserver that allows you to do all sorts of cool stuff. A file that ends in ".php" will automatically engage this app and the app will look for php tags in the .php file. It finds them and then executes php scripts located inside the .php file or another one.

Essentially, PHP is what allows me to run this site. So, logically, when it crashes or fails to run, my site goes kaput.

I can't complain too much to my host, either--they've been rock solid for me for years. I think it's been something like 4 or 5 years I've been with them. Allwebco.com is a great host and I still love them. One bad day does not make me want to run to another host. Their prices are fairly competitive, but it's their service that's kept me with them all these years.

Anyway, so they are investigating why PHP stopped working on my server and I seriously doubt it'll happen again. So, again, apologies for the downtime! It (hopefully) won't happen again.

Hard Hitting News from ABC... or not...


Has Osama been caught?

Has Bush been brought up on charges for breaking International Law?

Isn't there SOMETHING that is more important for ABC News to be covering than UFOs??

Hm... can we send Jennings back to Canada?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Porn Resort?

So, my dayjob is writing boring copy for boring websites. Every once in a while it will get interesting, but most of the time it's bland boring work. This is why I spend so much time working on this site and why I'm always so broke. Ha.

Anyway, so I did this job recently for a website on resorts. I found this resort with very suggestive pictures. They seemed to be suggesting that certain types of sexual activities would be going on there... check out these pics I grabbed from their site--now, mind you--I didn't doctor any of these at all:

First off, this is an American resort--what's this topless chick doing on the beach?


Another topless chick! And some dude's spotted her!
Lucky dude!!

With this next pic, the resort seems to promise lesbians some complimentary action from the staff. Check it out:
This resort isn't in Las Vegas, either, so this type of thing is legally questionable.

Finally, if they don't get a lot of customers off of this pic, I'll be shocked. This one suggests that you can get foursomes going--look at this pic of a happy man and woman getting shtooped from behind--on the same bed!


WHAT IS AMERICA COMING TO??? SEX RESORTS?

Eh, actually... I wonder if they take Paypal...

BUSH & CO: ORWELLIAN MEDIA MASTERS

Two (count 'em!) articles have popped up today regarding the Bush 43 Admin's pushy relationship with TheMedia. Well, one's an editorial. Anyway, so the idea is that the Bush and Co have done more questionable things regarding how the press tells us "the truth."

Here's the first one:

Bush administration blurs media boundary from CSMonitor.com.

Bush's Barberini Faun from NYTimes.com and the English version of the German news source Spiegel.de. This second story is an editorial from so-called "liberal" columnist and closet-hottie Maureen Dowd.

Don't forget to have another look at a couple of stories I did on this very same topic:

BUSH 43 ADMIN STAGES PHONY NEWS REPORTS ON MEDICARE BILL’S FUTURE SUCCESS from 3/16/2004.

BUSH 43 ADMIN’S FAKE PRO-MEDICARE BILL TV “NEWS” STORIES RULED ILLEGAL from 5/20/2004.

BUSH 43 ADMIN LIES, BREAKS FED LAW AGAIN from 10/12/2004.

Look at those dates, man--I've been ON THE JOB, brutha!

CANADIAN KID HELD FOR 3 YEARS

Give a listen to this story from NPR.org about an 18 year old Canadian kid who was snagged in Afghanistan by the USMil and stuck in Gitmo for three years. Predictably, he's not been allowed a lawyer or charges against him. Remember, it's NPR, so you'll need your headphones or speakers turned on to get the story.

pIRANoia RUNS RAMPANT!!

Wow, lots of Iran news today.

Iran Will Know How to Build Bomb in 6 Months - Israel from Reuters.com.

Hm... seems like we've heard a similar claim before. Wasn't it Saddam that could lauch some sort of WMD within a really short period of time, too? I don't see why we should believe the press or the USGov or the Israeli Gov on this until we se some serious smegging proof. An Iran Attack would be a bad idea--worse than the Iraq Attack. I digress, more headlines:

Iran and Syria confront US with defence pact from Guardian.co.uk. I think the headline is pretty obvious. If the US and/or Israel invade/attack Iran/Syria, Syria/Iran will fight back together.

Bush Favors Diplomacy to Solve Iran Nuclear Dispute from Reuters.com. Again, the headline is pretty obvious. The deal here is that Bush seems to be quietly admitting that he's learned from his mistakes with Iraq. He has learned from his mistakes, but not in the way we should hope. He's now making a bigger deal about giving diplomacy a chance so when he decides enough is enough, he can invade and point to this point and say "Look! I tried diplomacy!"

Obviously something's going to happen with Iran and Syria. Maybe Israel will do an airstrike or something to relieve pressure or maybe it will be a full-on Iraq-style invasion. Then again, it might be something else entirely--but I'm betting that it'll be one of the attacks.

The Bush 43 Admin is just so obvious these days.From Reuters.com:

Iran Will Know How to Build Bomb in 6 Months - Israel

Wed Feb 16, 2005 08:17 AM ET

By Andrew Cawthorne

LONDON (Reuters) - Israel said on Wednesday arch-foe Iran was just six months away from having the knowledge to build an atomic bomb, as Tehran accused the United States of using satellites "and other tools" to spy on its nuclear sites.

The Israeli warning followed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's call last week for Iran to abandon any pursuit of nuclear weapons and meet its international obligations if it was to be sure of avoiding conflict.

"The question is not if the Iranians will have a nuclear bomb in 2009, 10 or 11, the main question is when are they going to have the knowledge to do it," Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on a visit to London.

"We believe in six months from today they will end all the tests and experiments they are doing to have that knowledge."

The chief of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency said in January Iran would have the capability to produce enriched uranium, which can be used in both power stations and nuclear bombs, by the end of 2005.

Iran's Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi on Wednesday again denied that his country's civilian nuclear facilities were a cover for an atomic weapons program, saying U.S. satellites were spying on Iran but would find nothing as "we have nothing to hide."

While Europe has pursued a policy of engagement with Iran, the United States and Israel have taken a more aggressive stance. Washington has said it favors diplomacy but does not rule out any option in stopping Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and Israel has hinted at possible military action.

An Israeli air strike on the Iraqi reactor Osiraq in 1981 dealt a severe blow to Saddam Hussein's nuclear program.

Israel plans to buy 500 "bunker buster" bombs from the United States that could prove effective against Iran's nuclear facilities, many of which are underground.

"They are trying very hard to develop the nuclear bomb. This kind of extreme regime with a nuclear bomb is a nightmare, not only for us," Shalom told reporters at the London briefing.

SATELLITES AND DRONES

France, Britain and Germany have been trying to persuade Iran to scrap potentially weapons-related activities in return for economic incentives, but Iran says its suspension of uranium enrichment activities last November is only temporary.

Iran has warned it would both retaliate and accelerate its drive to master nuclear technology if the United States or Israel attacked its atomic facilities.

The Washington Post, citing information from unnamed U.S. officials, reported this week the United States had been flying drones over Iran for the past year looking for evidence of nuclear weapons programs.

The pilotless planes flew into Iran from U.S. military bases in Iraq and used radar, photography and air filters to detect signs of nuclear activity, the newspaper said.

"We believe the United States has been spying against Iran for some time using satellites and other tools," Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted Yunesi as saying on Wednesday, after he was asked about U.S. denials that it was using drones.

"Our nuclear and military activities are transparent. We have nothing to hide," he said.

The Central Intelligence Agency's National Intelligence Council has ordered an updated assessment on Iran's WMD program and a comprehensive new report on the country, known as a national intelligence estimate.

The Iranian air force was ordered in December to shoot down any unknown or suspicious flying objects over its territory.

"If any of these bright objects come close, they will definitely face our fire," Yunesi said.

(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi)

© Reuters 2005
From Guardian.co.uk:

Iran and Syria confront US with defence pact

Ewen MacAskill in Beirut and Duncan Campbell
Thursday February 17, 2005
The Guardian

Iran and Syria heightened tension across the Middle East and directly confronted the Bush administration yesterday by declaring they had formed a mutual self-defence pact to confront the "threats" now facing them.

The move, which took the Foreign Office by surprise, was announced after a meeting in Tehran between the Iranian vice-president, Mohammed Reza Aref, and the Syrian prime minister, Naji al-Otari.

"At this sensitive point, the two countries require a united front due to numerous challenges," said Mr Otari.

Regarded as rogue states by the White House, Iran is under pressure over its nuclear ambitions, while Syria came under renewed scrutiny over the assassination this week of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Yesterday's announcement came as the Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, predicted that Tehran would have the knowledge to produce a nuclear weapon within six months.

Speaking in London, he accused Iran of preparing nuclear weapons that would be able to target "London, Paris and Madrid" by the end of the decade.

"We believe the Iranians will never abandon their dreams" of nuclear weapons, Mr Shalom said. "It is not Israel's problem any more, it is the world's problem."

He said that "the question is not if Iran will hold a nuclear bomb in 2009, 2010, 2111, it is whether they have that knowledge. In six months, they will finish the tests to have the knowledge to produce weapons of mass destruction".

A British official cautioned that Israel has always put Iran's nuclear development "ahead of the estimates here and in the US".

"But no one knows for sure. We know the Iranians will not surprise us tomorrow, but whether it will be one year, or five or 10, we do not know."

The potential for further conflict in the region was highlighted yesterday by the reaction of the financial markets to speculative reports of an explosion near a nuclear facility in Iran. Oil prices surged by more than a dollar. It later emerged that the explosion had been caused during construction of a dam.

Though Syrian diplomats insisted the alliance with Iran was not a move to provoke the US, there was no qualification when the declaration was made in Tehran. Speaking at the end of the talks, the Syrian prime minister said: "This meeting, which takes place at this sensitive time, is important, especially because Syria and Iran face several challenges and it is necessary to build a common front."

Mr Aref added: "We are ready to help Syria on all grounds to confront threats."

Syria and Iran do not have a natural affinity but are alleged by western governments to have engaged in covert military cooperation in the past.

The British official said the pact could just be rhetoric, "a marriage of convenience" for two countries feeling a need to bolster one another.

Syria has recently been engaged in a diplomatic offensive to try to ward off US criticism, and its ambassador to the UN, Imad Moustapha, reflected this yesterday, denying the pact was anti-American.

"Today we do not want to form a front against anybody, particularly not against the United States," he said.

But tension between the countries remains high.

Washington recalled its ambassador to Damascus on Tuesday after the assassination of Mr Hariri, who advocated the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon.

As well as withdrawal from Lebanon, the US has called on Damascus to close the headquarters in the capital of Hamas, the main Palestinian group responsible for suicide bombers; to end its support for Hizbullah, the Lebanese-based, anti-Israeli militia; and to block support for the insurgency in Iraq from within Syria. It has also called on Iran to end its support for Hizbullah.

Washington at present is focused on pressing the security council to introduce new sanctions against Iran and Syria.

Iran denies having ambitions to build a nuclear weapon and claims its programme is for purely civil purposes.

Iran's intelligence minister, Ali Yunesi, claimed yesterday the US has been flying spy drones over Iran's nuclear sites and they would be shot down if they came within range.

Negotiations in Geneva between Britain, France, Germany and Iran aimed at resolving the crisis ended last week. Further talks are planned, but the US and Israel are sceptical about the value of these talks.

The Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, said in Berlin that the negotiations could succeed. "I believe there are possibilities ... to remove the concerns of the European side," he said.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005
From Reuters.com:

Bush Favors Diplomacy to Solve Iran Nuclear Dispute

Thu Feb 17, 2005 10:46 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush said on Thursday that he would use diplomacy to convince Iran that it would be unacceptable for it to develop nuclear weapons, and vowed to support Israel if its security is threatened by Tehran.

"Iran has made it clear they don't like Israel, to put it bluntly. And the Israelis are concerned whether or not Iran develops a nuclear weapon, as are we, as should everybody," Bush told a news conference.

"We've made a very strong commitment to support Israel," he added. "We will support Israel if their security is threatened."

Bush said he would use next week's trip to Europe to discuss "strategies, ways forward" with key allies who are negotiating with Iran.

"The objective is to solve this issue diplomatically, is to work with friends -- like we're doing with France, Germany and Great Britain -- to continue making it clear to the Iranians that developing a nuclear weapon will be unacceptable," he said.

© Reuters 2005

BUSH BABY NEGROPONTE NEW INTEL DIRECTOR

Ah, Bush Baby John Negroponte continues his life long service as a Republican stooge by becoming the new Uber-Intel Director, or as I'll be calling him, America's Id. (Just a little Freudian pun for ya!) All you need to do if you want to hear how good a guy Negroponte has been is listen to Bush and his lackeys. In other words, you can read the mainstream press.

In fact, in this article from AP.org and MyWay.com, it's not until the last three paragraphs where some of this dude's shadier shit gets mentioned.

To find out some bad stuff about Negroponte, check out below:

Here's a good primer for those concerned about Negroponte compliments of the Foreign Police In Focus website. Here's a highlight:
Negroponte was the officer-in-charge for Vietnam at the National Security Council (NSC) under Henry Kissinger. In 1987, during the administration of George Bush the elder, Negroponte returned to the NSC to work under Colin Powell as deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs. Within two years, he was back in Latin America; Bush appointed Negroponte ambassador to Mexico, where he served from July 1989 to September 1993. There, he officiated at the block-long, fortified embassy and directed, among other things, U.S. intelligence services to assist the war against the Zapatista rebels of Chiapas.

Negroponte was the officer-in-charge for Vietnam at the National Security Council (NSC) under Henry Kissinger. In 1987, during the administration of George Bush the elder, Negroponte returned to the NSC to work under Colin Powell as deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs. Within two years, he was back in Latin America; Bush appointed Negroponte ambassador to Mexico, where he served from July 1989 to September 1993. There, he officiated at the block-long, fortified embassy and directed, among other things, U.S. intelligence services to assist the war against the Zapatista rebels of Chiapas.


Here's more about Negroponte's death squads compliments of the Spanish-language human rights website Equipo Nizkor. Here's a highlight:
John Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985. As such he supported and carried out a US-sponsored policy of violations to human rights and international law. Among other things he supervised the creation of the El Aguacate air base, where the US trained Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980's. The base was used as a secret detention and torture center, in August 2001 excavations at the base discovered the first of the corpses of the 185 people, including two Americans, who are thought to have been killed and buried at this base.


Here is an editorial predicting bad things for Iraq after Negroponte had been named US ambassador to Iraq compliments of Counterpunch.org. Little did author Ghali Hassan know that it would be America that he would soon be applying his expertise to.

There's plenty more to read about this dude. Have a look around the 'net but remember: just because you're not getting it from mainstream news doesn't make it right. Don't fall for the Fallacy of the Middle. Basically, the idea is that just because you assume the truth is somewhere in between the truth of the left and the truth of the right doesn't mean you're accurate. This assumes the right and left arguments are accurate in some ways when they aren't always (if ever).

Anyway, so read this stuff and realize that the while both sides are right with the facts, they may both be wrong regarding what he will do. Personally, I like to err on the side of going with the guy who hasn't worked with death squads, but that's just me.

MORE ON CHINA'S "THREAT"

Remember that other thing I wrote about China as the new perceived threat to the US? I wrote in that post how China had been infected by capitalism--well today, I found this article from News.BBC.co.uk that backs me up on China being a new bastion of capitalism. In fact, looking at the facts presented in the article, I'd say China is doing the American Way better than America is. Here are some facts reported by a survey performed by the Earth Survey Institute and quoted in the BBC News article:
According to the report:
* 64m tons of meat were consumed in China in 2004 compared to 38m tons in the US

* 258m tons of steel were used in China in 2003 compared to 104m in the US

* China's factories and homes burned 40% more coal than in the US

* The number of PCs in China is doubling every 28 months.

The latest official figures for the Chinese economy, the sixth-largest in the world, show it is growing at an even faster rate than expected.

It expanded by 9.5% in 2004, its highest rate for eight years, the figures show.

"China's eclipse of the United States as a consumer nation should be seen as another milestone along the path of its evolution as a world economic leader," Lester Brown, the institute's president, said.

"China is no longer just a developing country," he said. "It is an emerging economic superpower, one that is writing economic history".
So, not only does China have a massive military, they've got a massive economy.

Here is my question:

Would it not be more logical to court China as a future market for American goods and services as opposed to courting it as a future enemy?

People who know me tend to think I am anti-corporate. This is not true. I do believe that corporations can be horrible, but I also believe they don't have to be. Capitalism has the power to change the world for the better, assuming we don't abuse the system. This is what's happenning now.

However, if we are smart and treat China like a business partner and a friend and as someone we can make money off of, we just might be able to avoid a serious to our world-powerness.

If my meager knowledge of finance and economy is accurate, the US economy usually grows around 3-4% a year. China's economy has grown more than twice that. These guys could very easily be a major threat, or a good friend depending on how we treat them. Hell, with the right financial incentive, maybe we can even get them to become official capitalists.

Learn more about China in the above quoted BBC News articleFrom News.BBC.co.uk:
Last Updated: Thursday, 17 February, 2005, 10:07 GMT

China emerges as global consumer

China has overtaken the US in the consumption of basic agricultural and industrial goods, a survey has found.

With a booming economy and 1.3bn people, it is now the world's largest consumer of grain, meat, coal and steel, said the Earth Policy Institute.

But China's insatiable demands are putting ever more pressure on the country's natural resources.

Air and water pollution are already serious problems, and there is talk of a looming ecological crisis.

China is well ahead of the US in the consumption of goods such as television sets, refrigerators and mobile phones, according to the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute.

However, per capita consumption in China - the world's most populous country - remains far below that of the US.

According to the report:

* 64m tons of meat were consumed in China in 2004 compared to 38m tons in the US

* 258m tons of steel were used in China in 2003 compared to 104m in the US

* China's factories and homes burned 40% more coal than in the US

* The number of PCs in China is doubling every 28 months.

The latest official figures for the Chinese economy, the sixth-largest in the world, show it is growing at an even faster rate than expected.

It expanded by 9.5% in 2004, its highest rate for eight years, the figures show.

"China's eclipse of the United States as a consumer nation should be seen as another milestone along the path of its evolution as a world economic leader," Lester Brown, the institute's president, said.

"China is no longer just a developing country," he said. "It is an emerging economic superpower, one that is writing economic history".

Illegal timber

The report said China's massive appetite for goods ranging from grain to platinum had placed it "at the centre of the world raw materials economy".

One of these raw materials is wood - and the illegal trade in stolen timber is stripping Asia of its last substantial forests, according to a report by the US and UK-based Environmental Investigations Agency and Indonesian campaigning group Telapak.

Indonesia is now suffering the fastest rate of deforestation in the world, losing a wooded area the size of Switzerland every year.

According to investigators, Chinese factories process one stolen Indonesian log every minute of every working day.

Deforestation is not the only unwanted consequence of China's huge consumption of natural materials, says the BBC's Louisa Lim in Beijing.

Coal-fired power plants supply much of the country's energy and according to government estimates, 60% of Chinese cities have serious air pollution problems, she says.

The Kyoto Protocol considers China a developing nation, and it is currently exempt from cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Experts also say that more than three-quarters of the water flowing through China's cities is unsuitable for drinking because of pollution from industrial waste, according to our correspondent.

Scores of rivers have dried up and water tables are getting ever lower.

An official from the Chinese environmental watchdog, Panyue, said the nation's resources and its environment had already reached the limits of their capacity to cope.

Initial moves are now being taken to enforce environmental laws, but moves in this direction could ignite new tensions between government agencies and big business.

© BBC MMV

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trailer Caps

Hey, if you're interested in seeing the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie that opens in May, you might be interested in checking out some caps from a leaked trailer for the film. Check 'em out in full size at my friend Gypsy Jr's LJ. Or check out her page for them at Photobucket.com. WATCH OUT FOR ANY SPOILERS!!

Personally, I'm going to hold off looking at them as much as I can. I just want to see the movie--I don't want anything even vaguely resembling a spoiler to sneak in to my head. I do hope this movie is as good as I've heard it is.

What My Name Stands for:

















































































THEPETE
T is for Tasty
H is for Honest
E is for Entertaining
P is for Proud
E is for Explosive
T is for Thoughtful
E is for Enchanting