Nine Things We Learnt This Week

1. George Bush, explained.

The devil made him

” ‘Evil exists in politics, quite often in fact,’ Father Amorth said.  ‘The devil loves to take over business leaders and those who hold political office.  Hitler and Stalin were possessed.  How do I know? Because they killed millions of people.  The Gospel says: ‘By their fruits you will know them.’  Unfortunately, an exorcism on them would not have been enough, since they were convinced of what they were doing.  We can’t say it was a possession in the strict sense of the word, but rather a total and voluntary acceptance of the suggestions of the devil.’ ”

2. Ships of the Damned.

“The analysis, due to be published this year by the human rights organisation Reprieve, also claims there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006, when President George Bush declared that the practice had stopped.

It is the use of ships to detain prisoners, however, that is raising fresh concern and demands for inquiries in Britain and the US.

According to research carried out by Reprieve, the US may have used as many as 17 ships as ‘floating prisons’ since 2001. Detainees are interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, it is claimed.

Ships that are understood to have held prisoners include the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu. A further 15 ships are suspected of having operated around the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has been used as a military base by the UK and the Americans.”

3. And so it begins. (1)

“His wife going off on a rant about how evil “whitey” is, and conspiracies that he is a covert Muslim trying to infiltrate our democracy are nothing more than rumors…at least at this point. However, there are plenty of things the media don’t put enough focus on that are true about the Obamas. Instead they would rather focus on things like his playful fist-bump. They have to keep their priorities on the important issues.”

4. And so it begins. (2)

The victim of a plagiarized lie

“Despite the tenuousness of this rumor, Obama was actually asked about this non-existent video in front of the national press by a reporter the other day. Understandably, he pushed back hard on the notion that he should have to answer such a question.

Now Jim Geraghty of National Review has claimed that the rumor may be based on…fiction. A political thriller called The Power Broker, published in 2006 by Stephen Frey, features the presidential campaign of Dem candidate Jesse Wood, who’s aspiring to be the country’s first African-American president.

We went out and got the book. And sure enough, in the novel, Wood’s opponents discover video of the candidate himself — not his wife — discussing with a radical black minister how he will ‘f— whitey’ when he gets into office, despite all his public rhetoric about racial reconciliation.”

5. We’re shocked. Really.  (1)

“The space agency’s internal watchdog, the inspector general, reports that from autumn 2004 until early 2006 Nasa’s central public affairs office handled global warming in a way that ‘reduced, marginalised, or mischaracterised climate change science made available to the general public’.

The confirmation of political interference is vindication for James Hansen, Nasa’s chief climate scientist and one of the first to sound the alarm over global warming. Claims of political dallying surfaced when Hansen said he had been blocked from taking part in a National Public Radio interview in December 2005.”

6. We’re shocked. Really. (2)

” ‘In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent,’ Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), the committee chairman, said at a news conference. ‘As a result, the American people were led to believe that the threat from Iraq was much greater than actually existed.’

The report, the last and most contentious of a series of Senate reviews of prewar intelligence, sought to compare the administration’s public claims about Iraq with the intelligence reports available to them at the time. While many of the White House’s statements — such as Bush’s warnings about a secret Iraqi nuclear program — were amply supported by intelligence files at the time, the report said, others were not.”

7. Still dead.

Miracle of the embalmer’s art

8. Must-read essay of the week.

“I am not blind to the imperfections of this America, or the failures to always meet these ideals at home and abroad. I spent 20 years of my life in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Balkans as a foreign correspondent reporting in countries where crimes and injustices were committed in our name, whether during the Contra war in Nicaragua or the brutalization of the Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces. But there was much that was good and decent and honorable in our country. And there was hope.

The country I live in today uses the same words to describe itself, the same patriotic symbols and iconography, the same national myths, but only the shell remains. America, the country of my birth, the country that formed and shaped me, the country of my father, my father’s father and his father’s father, stretching back to the generations of my family that were here for the country’s founding, is so diminished as to be nearly unrecognizable. I do not know if this America will return, even as I pray and work and strive for its return. The “consent of the governed” has become an empty phrase. Our textbooks on political science are obsolete. Our state, our nation, has been hijacked by oligarchs, corporations and a narrow, selfish political elite, a small and privileged group which governs on behalf of moneyed interests. We are undergoing, as John Ralston Saul wrote, ‘a coup d’etat in slow motion.’ We are being impoverished — legally, economically, spiritually and politically. And unless we soon reverse this tide, unless we wrest the state away from corporate hands, we will be sucked into the dark and turbulent world of globalization where there are only masters and serfs, where the American dream will be no more than that — a dream, where those who work hard for a living can no longer earn a decent wage to sustain themselves or their families, whether in sweatshops in China or the decaying rust belt of Ohio, where democratic dissent is condemned as treason and ruthlessly silenced.”

9. Because they can.

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Crocodile Tears

I’m only sorry I got caught

When Tom Lukiwski’s now infamous (and soused) anti-gay remarks became public two months ago, it was reported the hapless MP cried. The more tenderhearted in the media said Lukiwksi wept for embarassing his family, his party, and the government; more cynical wags suggested tears were shed for shattered political propects. It appears the latter was actually correct.

According to The Hill Times:

Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski, who offered an emotional and national apology in the Commons on April 4 and attracted national headlines after the Saskatchewan provincial NDP released a 17-year-old video tape of him making derogatory remarks about homosexuals, still hasn’t reached out to gays in his riding.

Nathan Markwart, a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Community of Regina (GLCR), a not-for-profit organization that runs a community centre in Mr. Lukiwski’s riding, said his organization, along with other Regina-based gay advocacy groups, sent a letter on April 11, both through the mail and electronically, in which they invited Mr. Lukiwski to meet with them, but Mr. Lukiwski did not respond.

“[Mr. Lukiwski] stated he is going to spend the rest of his life making amends, well when does that kick in? It’s been quite a long time [since we sent the letter] and we still have received nothing. He says the only explanation is that it was stupid, thoughtless and insensitive, well I would say isn’t it thoughtless and insensitive not to engage the community after you’ve received an invitation to?”

You’d think. But maybe he’s busy. Maybe he is waiting for the moment political to launch le grand rapprochement. Maybe’s he’s talking to some other gay and lesbian group in Regina — though it’s hard to imagine whom, exactly. Maybe’s he’s mortified into inaction, and spiralling into a pit of depression and self-reproach.  Maybe when he said “the rest of his life” he means some future, yet-to-be-named life uncluttered with confusing and complex realities. Or maybe, he’s just another sad excuse for a politician who really believes what he said 17 years ago and is willing to tell any lie to save a tattered political career.  You choose.

Spain’s new (pregnant) Minister of Defence ¡Viva España!

In an attempt to out-cool only himself (and in contrast to a dorky Berlusconi), Spain’s prime minister, Jose Luis Zapatero, announced his new cabinet. Not to bore you with all the inner-workings of Spanish politics and a who’s who of ‘up and coming’ and ‘down and out’ socialist politicos, there is one new minister who does need mentioning: Carme Chacón. Continue reading

Gay Libels

Apparently, one of Stephen Harper’s cabinet ministers is a big juicy old closet case.  Which is a story that bores me so much I’m falling asleep writing about it.  Which is why I can’t be bothered to souse out the names of unmarried cabinet ministers on Wikipedia, though someone surely will in the next five minutes or so.

It got me thinking though.  Is calling someone gay still considered libellous?  There was a time in this fair land (and not so long ago either) where calling someone a Jew or or stating so-and-so had black ancestry was considered actionable — and we all can be thankful the venom has been pulled from that particular snake. 

Just asking.

A Guys and B Guys

There’s A’s and there’s B’s. The A’s are guys like me. The B’s are homosexual faggots with dirt on their fingernails that transmit diseases.  — Tom Lukiwski, 1991 Continue reading