Saturday, April 26, 2008

Overnight - A roundup of news items that you might have missed

Another New York Times bombshell hits tomorrow--and this one you ain't gonna believe: Recent letters from the U.S. Justice Department to Congress state that intelligence agents working on counterterrorism can legally use interrogation techniques that might otherwise be banned by international law, The New York Times reported in its Sunday editions. The Justice Department's interpretation shows the Bush administration is contending that the boundaries should have a degree of latitude, the Times said, despite the president's order last summer that he said meant the CIA would hew to international norms on the treatment of detainees. The United States has faced heavy criticism from rights groups and some allies for its use of a simulated form of drowning known as "waterboarding" during interrogations and for holding hundreds of suspected militants in a prison camp at a U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. WHAT THIS MEANS: They are asking for a "degree of latitude" to do whatever the fuck they want. And this means they have no operative idea about what the rule of law looks like. They are caught, they are in trouble, they are scrambling, there are people who are going to go to prison for this, and the worm has fucking turned. More later...

Diamond Lanes??? The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in LA has voted to convert the HOV (carpool) lanes on three of the city's freeways to toll lanes. So...if Marie Antoinette were alive today (yeah, yeah, she would be really freakin' old) would she dismissively say "Let them suck fumes!"?

Parliamentary loss for Mugabe's Zanu-PF party confirmed Recounts in 18 of 23 elections (so far) have failed to overturn election results that defeated Mugabe's allies, favoring opposition candidates. Zanu-PF needed results overturned in nine of the contested seats. With this going against him, how much longer can he suppress the results of the presidential election?

This is just one more reason why you never buy a car that doesn't have a standard transmission. A 7-year-old in south Florida snatched his grandma's keys and took her Dodge Durango for a joyride, smashing mailboxes, plowing into parked cars and knocking over sign posts. He backed out of the driveway, got the truck in "drive" and kept going until a wheel fell off. No word on whether he buckled up or not, but he wasn't injured.

Um, Condi? This is what "Diplomacy" looks like...Maybe you could take a lesson or two? New Mexico Governor and former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson has engaged Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for help securing the release of three Americans being held by FARC rebels in Colombia. Richardson is not an envoy of the United States - he is acting on behalf of the families, who have no faith that the Rice State Department can help. "I think President Chávez can help and can play a role in this issue," Richardson said.

I only thought that the Missouri Legislature took up silly legislation but at least I've never opened my morning paper to see that they are deliberating banning the display of ornamental testicles. Apparently, it's all the rage in certain parts of Florida to hang fake bull testicles from the back bumper of pick-up trucks. I have no doubt we'll see it soon in these parts, and it's stupid, tacky and tasteless - but you don't outlaw bad taste or we would have to lock up everyone who has ever displayed a goose wearing a polka-dot scarf, and my Aunt Rachel wouldn't survive in prison. You fight stupid fads by mocking them, but ultimately letting them run their course, and by not dating the idiots who are prone to such tasteless and tactless displays. Not by passing yet another stupid law that infringes on every Americans right to act like a jackass in public. As we have both exercised that right on multiple occasions, we are prone to defending it. PALE RIDER adds--if you ban fake bull testicles, then you have to ban naked lady mudflaps. It's that simple.

Charles Darwin Blogs, you know: I am used to bad reviews: I was much savaged in the press when I published The Origin of Species, but Expelled holds me responsible for a particularly vile chapter of genocide which occurred in the 1930s and 40s. I do not recall advocating genocide, indeed distinctly remember writing with anguish about the massacres of the Indians in South America during my voyage on HMS Beagle. Could it be that my critics have formed opinions about my work without actually reading it? Surely not. Anyway, one evening I looked up to see a certain Mr Stein gawping at me. Executive Producer of Expelled, no less, and I am afraid it was more than even a marble statue could stand!

Senator Levin starts the ball rolling: Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., has asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to investigate claims laid out by the New York Times on April 20 that the Pentagon gave special treatment to retired military personnel who served as TV analysts in support of the administration’s policies. “While the media clearly have their own shortfalls for paying people to provide ‘independent’ analysis when they have such real and apparent conflicts, that doesn’t excuse the Department’s behavior in giving both special treatment and valuable access to analysts who provide commentary in favor of DoD’s strategy, while not offereing similar access to some other analysts and cutting off access to others who didn’t deliver as expected,” Levin wrote in a letter to Gates.

Sharpton Expresses His Outrage: Hundreds of angry people marched through Harlem on Saturday after the Rev. Al Sharpton promised to "close this city down" to protest the acquittals of three police detectives in the 50-shot barrage that killed a groom on his wedding day and wounded two friends. "We strategically know how to stop the city so people stand still and realize that you do not have the right to shoot down unarmed, innocent civilians," Sharpton told an overflow crowd of several hundred people at his National Action Network office in the historically black Manhattan neighborhood. "This city is going to deal with the blood of Sean Bell." Sharpton was joined by the family of 23-year-old Sean Bell - a black man - and a friend of Bell who was wounded in the 2006 shooting outside a Queens strip club. Two of the three officers charged were also black.

German spy agency caught spying on a reporter. Again. Agela Merckl says she has lost faith in the spy chief, and Spiegel, the paper that employs the reporter, has expressed appropriate outrage.

As always, tonights roundup was compiled with the help of Pale Rider, my partner in thought-crime at Blue Girl, Red State.