Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to die by an Iraqi court for the deaths of 148 Shias in a small town north of Baghdad whose name is Dujail. He was sentenced on November 5th. Since his appeal fell today, he must be hung within thirty days of tomorrow-- 12/27/06. The European Union and a former U.S. Attorney General-- Ramsey Clark-- and the Human Rights Watch have all accused the trial as being part of a kangaroo court and/or have protested the death sentence.
Hussein may be tried separately for the Kurdish genocides which took place in the 1980s. His death sentence can be carried out at any time within the next 30 days, whether the next trial runs to its conclusion or not.
Saddam Hussein is not a nice guy. To him, regardless of the circumstances, I say "good riddance." I wonder though if he will kill himself rather than allow himself to be hung.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Metro Police Chief Ian Blair is in disagreement, saying only that he is unaware of any specific plot during the Christmas holidays targeting England. That puts him in notable company with Michael Moore and Dr. Rowan Williams.
It is believed that the Channel plot is being coordinated from Pakistan and possibly involves Western Europeans of Pakistani descent. A separate plot targeting a yet unnamed European country for repeated attacks by April 2007 is being coordinated from Syria and Iraq.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Iran has repeatedly refused to back down on this issue, as expected.
radical sapphoq says: We need to prepare ourselves for a world where Iran does have nuclear capacity. We are fools if we believe what the Iranian government is telling us.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Goode wants illegal immigration to be cut down to zero and he wants legal immigration to be cut back. He is opposed to any more immigration of Muslims from Middle Eastern countries. One pro-Muslim organization based in the U.S. sent him an English translation of the Koran. It was suggested that he read a specific verse relating that people and nations were not created to hate each other.
I suggest that all the people screaming about this read the entire Koran. Then goto http://www.outragedmoderates.org/, click on the Government Document Library, find and download the chapters from a terrorist training manual there and read them word for word. Then come back and state honestly that Islam is peace-loving and so was the founder.
For the text of the letter which Rep. Goode sent to his constituents, goto: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,237990,00.html
radical sapphoq says:
I don't care what book a member of congress uses to swear on when taking office. I do care about a future possibility of Muslims becoming a majority in the United States and/or in public office. While I remain an avid supporter of separation of church and state, I also totally support Rep. Goode on his position on immigration. Good for him for not backing down! If that makes me a bigot, then so be.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
WHY RELIGIONS SOMETIMES PROMOTE HATRED, VIOLENCE, AND GENOCIDE .
I was in attendance at a somewhat public meeting this weekend where it came to pass that some of the folks in attendance were speaking about their monotheistic male christian god in rather lofty and glowing terms, additionally claiming that they "knew" or were seeking to know said god's will for their individual lives. When it came my turn to speak, I advised that I was "sitting in a room of mystics." I asked who this god was and how do we know his will? I went on briefly to mention that people are killing each other in the Middle East right now believing that it is their god's will for them to do so [a mild simplification and thus an under-truth I know]. I also brought up the idea that here in our own country some of us g.l.b.t.i.q. folks are being denied the same basic civil rights that other American citizens take for granted. The denial of our basic civil rights is based partly on what some folks perceive is their god's will for all of us. Thus, I have a problem with this whole mystic experience thing. I shut-up then and the get-together ran its course. My friends are a varied bunch of folks and I love them. My good-natured questioning is nothing new to their ears. The event ended on a rather difficult note. One woman in attendance [an acquaintance rather than a friend] made last second comments about someone violating our cohesiveness as an organization which mystified me.
This evening I had occasion to run into the woman who grandstanded the gathering over the weekend. I asked her to explain what she was talking about. She said, "I was talking about you." I suggested that it might be better for us to sit down and communicate directly with each other about this. She said she thought that the group needed to know. I told her that grandstanding does nothing to improve communication between us but sitting down and talking about our differences might. She had forgotten the word I had called them [mystics] and didn't know what grandstanding was. I told her, adding that I also had my own experience with grandstanding and that is why I recognize it. She bristled then. I tried to explain the difference between unity and uniformity-- I was guessing that her real objection to my opinion lay more in that area. She informed me that I "shouldn't share" my personal struggle. I asked her where that was in the by-laws of said club. She stuttered a bit and finally said, "You make some people feel insulted" or something along those lines indicating that her feelings were my responsibility somehow. At last, the crux of the matter. I told her that is the risk we all take in communication. [I chose not to address the idea that I could make anyone feel anything.] She turned away then, and I left as I had other matters to attend to before sleeping.
I am aware that monotheists certainly do not have the monopoly on intolerance. We Pagans, Witches, Heathens, Druids can also lay vigorous claim to that turf. Anyone who has been involved in a Witch War knows this. And yes, some of us refer to Christians as x-tians. And a few of us boycott certain businesses run by Christians just as some Christians boycott pagan-friendly or glbtiq-friendly businesses. Everyone is guilty of intolerance. No one escapes with innocence in this life.
It is mental masturbation to presume that I know the whys and wherefores of any other human being's actions. I do not totally understand how it is that what I say can provoke such a strong reaction in one individual. I do not have to know.
What I do know is that in a casual circle of human beings, I have as much of a right to put forth my doubts about what others are talking about as much as everyone else there has to speak about their monotheistic male christian god in rather lofty and glowing terms. I endeavor to accord basic human respect to the human beings that I come into contact with in my daily life. In the course of average human relations with other adults, I expect the same basic human respect. I don't care if people respect my spiritual path. And I certainly am not asking for anyone's approval. What I want is to exercise my freedom of self-expression. And I want others to exercise their freedom of self-expression too. A difference of opinion is not something that violates any principle of an honest healthy relationship between two or more human beings.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Actually I don't really care if employees of a store wish me a "Merry Christmas" or a "Happy Holiday." I usually smile and tell them I celebrate Solstice. Some of them know what that is and some of them don't. The blaring Christmas music-- much of it religious-- and the flashing light displays don't do much for my well-being but I know it will be over and things will get back to their secular normal in January.
Here I will insert the recent hoopla about Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky complaining about the Christmas trees over at Seattle-Tacoma Airport. The airport managers ordered the removal of the trees. Some employees rebelled by bringing in their own little trees to display by their work areas. Actually, the rabbi didn't want the trees removed. He wanted an electric menorah to be included in the welcome display. The trees are back and Rabbi Bogomilsky has offered to donate a menorah. No word yet on whether or not Seattle-Tacoma Airport will take him up on the offer. I found myself saying, "Oh gee, ordering the removal of Christmas trees is going to far" but then hesitating when I read that it was a local rabbi objecting.
Then we have the whole question of religion in the public schools. Personally, I do not want my bisexual atheistic Witch tax bucks going to support a public education system where even a few teachers feel free to proselytize for Christ and to promote Intelligent Design in science classes. Right now most public school students come from homes where some form of Christianity is practiced. The argument that the majority of kids are from Christian households does not hold water with me. This is one issue where I differ with my good friend Jeremy Crow.
I still believe in my heart of hearts that the job of public schools is to provide a public education, that Intelligent Design discussions properly belong in philosophy or comparative religion classes, and that it is the parents who are responsible for instilling their own religious beliefs and traditions in their children. Teaching about religions is certainly different than promoting a specific ideology in the classroom. Of course, there are violations on both sides of the issue.
In my mind, a teacher who: forbids students to read their sacred texts during free time, downgrades homework and essays which include religious themes by virtue of their inclusion alone, or the passing out of religious material from one student to another [student who is willing to take it] is guilty of not following the rules regarding freedom of religious expression in public schools. So is the public school teacher who: prays with students, witnesses to students, or otherwise endorses any particular religious ideology during classroom time.
For several weeks, I was drinking the poisoned kool-aid which stated that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. I have since become enlightened to other facts and figures from non-Muslim sources. Whether or not the numbers of adherents to Islam will outstrip the number of Christians in our lifetime is a matter up for debate. If the United States ever was to become primarily Muslim, what would happen then? Muslims, I am told, do not celebrate Christmas. Some Pakistani Muslims celebrate the birth of Abraham though most Sharia Muslims consider that holiday to be "an add-on" rather than one that the Prophet intended. If any other religion was the religion held by the majority of American citizens in the United States, would Christians want that religion to be given endorsement by public school personnel? I think not. What ifs aside, we get all caught up in words and then the press adds to the confusion or to the fury-- depending upon how one wishes to perceive these things.
Unfortunately, many of my liberal friends have bought into the story that the president of Iran is a nice guy, that the American press is somehow distorting his views on the Holocaust [basically: it didn't happen, or, it happened but it wasn't all that bad] into something else, that we oughta give nukes to the Iranians and to the Syrians to "fix" Iraq. The president of Iran is not nice, he was one of the student-leaders-turned-terrorist during the take-over of the American Embassy 27 years ago. He denies the impact of the historical Holocaust and in fact is sponsering a two-day event regarding that. His government and the Syrian government both hold un-upstanding records of upholding human rights for all of their citizenry. Add Iraq's government to that last one, as well as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and a few others over there.
I don't know the "answer" to all the stuff happening in the Middle East. I do know that perpetrating lies does no one any good. The lies that feed the stupid American pubic are thriving. Grown-ups know that not everyone wishes us well. And so this Christmas, this Solstice, this Kwanzaa, this Chanaukah, this whatever winter holidays I've left out, forgot, didn't know about, failed to acknowledge; my sincerest hope for all of us even overrides any hope for peace. I hope that we all remember this: Kool-aid is for kids. Adding cyanide to it can still kill off bunches of people.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
While I do not particularly relish the plot behind Left Behind: Eternal Forces, I also recognize that a company has the right to sell a video game without my censure, that parents have a right to decide what video games their kids will play, what religion their families will practice, what ideologies their kids will be taught. People also have the right to decide where they wish to shop or not shop, support or boycott, write a protesting e-mail or not. I will choose not to purchase the video game, not to purchase any of the books-- I have read them at a bookstore or somewheres and I was not impressed,-- and to continue to shop at our local Walmart because prices are low and cheap is good. I have not actually seen or played the particular video game being targeted by DefConAmerica.
DefConAmerica is an organization that defines itself as being anti-religious right. What I found at their site was inflammatory language describing their stance on various issues. Some phrases I read were things like:
"We cannot let religious zealots turn back the clock on civil rights, privacy, scientific progress, and quality education."
and on the same page:
"breaking all the rules", "preventing scientific advancements", "proselytize or to infringe."
The emotional language cheapens their arguments concerning:
The thing is, I agree with some of their ideas. I am in favor of glbt civil rights [Right to Privacy], Separation of Church and State [as written], and the teaching of evolution in science classes rather than intelligent design [Defending Science]. I am opposed to interference of any state or government interfering in my end-of-life decision making [Right to Privacy].
And yet, I cannot support an organization which relies upon emotionalism to gather support from the masses. Nor do I condone the censorship inherent in deciding to target the removal of a video game from the shelves of a store.
Monday, December 11, 2006
"I realized that these lectures were about what constitutes a free society...and what constitutes a totalitarian one. I realized that the limits on what the state-that is, a police officer-is allowed to do on the street every day determines whether we live in a free society or an oppressive one.
If the state can stop you from freely going about your business whimsically, it is a short line from there to dictatorship. If the state can search your person or belongings at will, we are well down the road to an totalitarian government."
The lectures discussed the differences between probable cause, reasonable suspicions, and getting a "hunch" or feeling that something is hinky. The role and oversight of courts in how a police officer can reasonably respond was also presented.
Mroz went on to contribute his own gems of wisdom to the present debate over how much power the government has in terms of detaining suspected terrorists vs. the expectations of privacy that the common citizen has. Our government has to consider how to uphold the standards of safety that we have become used to as a society. The real question should not be: Is the government empowered to act in certain intrusive fashions considering the serious level of harm that several individuals can now cause to an average group of citizens? The average citizen can take some measures to keep safe from the average criminal via burglar alarms, guns, pepper spray, neighborhood watch programs etc. The average citizen or even a large group of average citizens can not do much to protect themselves from suicide bombings. Thus the government, mandated by its duty to protect average citizens, has to take extraordinary measures in these extraordinary times. Because the terrorists have weapons at their disposal that we cannot defend against with our guns nor with even the average standard-issue police officer's gun, we then become responsible to ensure that our government continues to use its' power to keep us safe and alive.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Beginning in the year 2007, in order for a state to receive Title 5 monies [for Welfare Reform], that state must also preach the say-no-to-sex-outside-of-marriage message to young adults up through the age of 29. That is insane. Somehow, this message of no sex before marriage [to a person of the opposite gender] is supposed to cut down on the welfare rolls. If you are poor and don't have a job, you should not get laid. And marriage just might be your ticket out of poverty. Ignoring the race card, the one that reads "Most poor people on welfare are hispanic or at least they are not white" [because I don't know whether or not that is true and who cares if it is or not and I'm dammed tired of the race card], this proposed solution to cutting back on the illegitimate birthrate just plain is not tenable. Are they going to require unmarried folks age 29 and under to attend a mustn't-have-sex lecture before approving their applications for public assistance?
Tell them instead, every last one of them, that birth control works far better than "pulling it out." And include birth control in their medical benefits. After all, even married folks on welfare can produce lots of babies who grow up on welfare and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. I'm all for fixing the broken system, getting rid of this "I am entitled" mentality or at least stop responding to it by handing out more money for each subsequent pregnancy.
But telling people in their twenties that sex outside of opposite-gendered marriage can hurt them is not a responsible position. I would like to know what the Title 5 programs are going to tell the folks in their audiences who want to have same-gendered relationships. But I digress. Our government's refusal to fund AIDS prevention programs overseas which educate married adults from other cultures about things like use of condoms to prevent spreading of HIV is another thing that makes absolutely no sense. Aw hell, no one ever said that very many of the politicians around these days possess logic or common sense.
No one told Madonna to quit screwing when she was a twenty-something young slut. No one told Madonna that sex outside of marriage can be "psychologically and physically harmful." And somebody really ought to have told her. Oh, I forgot. She is filthy rich so she gets to do whatever she wants.
Friday, December 08, 2006
I myself have ties to New Orleans and I mourn for her as I once knew her bright shining like the sun. Yes, it hard to lose everything in one fell swoop. I've been through that too with a different disaster.
How long must FEMA pay rent for the folks displaced by Katrina? It's been more than a year folks. Ya mean ya couldn't get your shit together in a year and get a job or apply for public assistance or disability in that span of time?
Meanwhile, New Orleans is being rebuilt after a fashion. The little shotgun houses and garage apartments in the poorer sections [read: closer to the water and more below sea level than the richer sections] are gone. A big fancy casino is now operational. There are tons of jobs in New Orleans and not enough people to work them.
The problems which caused the massive flooding were patched, not permanently fixed. Wetlands are nature's way of protecting against what happened. The Corp of Engineers don't want to hear that though. So structural bandaids have been applied to the levees.
The government is still being blamed for not getting people out. Does the city have an evacuation plan in place now? Do the people living their now have their own individual plan to get out, should another Katrina storm do it again?
Meanwhile, people are bitching about being cut off from FEMA's nipple. What is this crap? "I deserve the money." Unbelievable. No, wait. I do believe it. Arrrrgh.
These sources were researched in writing this post:
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Something out of the ordinary is going on at Yahoo-ey. Initial rumors, sometime after the peanut butter manifesto, were that Yahoo-ey will be laying off between fifteen and twenty percent of its y-bots. Then Dan Rosenjweig and Susan Decker were going to lead the company together temporarily after CEO Terry Semel departs, then that Semel is not departing. Maybe there will be layoffs after the holidays and maybe not.
At any rate, Yahoo-ey is going through some big-time shuffling. Focus will be on three areas-- Customers [oh but we aren't customers anymore, we are Audience]; Advertising and Publishing; and Technology. Chief Operating Officer Dan Rosenweig is splitting by the end of March. Lloyd Braun has already left. He was doing Yahoo News, Vid, and Music. A Senior Vice President of International Operations, a guy by the name of John Marcom, will be leaving after the new year.
Chief Financial Officer Susan Decker is being promoted to head up the Advertising and Publishing Sector. Project Panama, new technology which may steal back some of the advertisement profits back from Google, will be fully functional starting in March. Current chief Technology Officer Farzad Nazem will be running the Tech Group. We don't know who will manage the Audience as yet. Supposedly, the customers-turned-audience will get better search, email, and socialization experiences.
I'm from Missouri. Show me. Get rid of the stalkers on 360 and reinstate the antistalker blogger on 360 Ireland, and then maybe-- a very big maybe-- I will believe it. Till then, any so-called improvements in customer experience just plain won't matter.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Times change, and whatever the politicians decide is good for business is usually what happens. Uh, well okay, that was a gross generalization and I am not sure I believe that.
Last month, for $3.oo a month extra, we made the switch. We got high-speed cable computer access, a bunch more teevee stations, AND freebie phone calls throughout the United States and Canada. For three dollars more than what we were paying for cable and computer, I thought that was a nifty bargain.
This month, I got the final AT&T bill, indicating that we had a sizeable credit on our long-distance bill-- that is to say, because we had switched. Today, I got on the phone-- via cable-- with a gentlemen from AT&T customer non-service.
"I have one more question," I said to him. "How long would yous have waited to give me my refund if I hadn't called today?"
"The refunds will be mailed out on the seventh of the month."
After repeating myself three times, I got the answer.
"Ninety days," he admitted hurriedly.
Lookit here phone home come home to AT&T, I am done with being touched by you monthly whatever the current slogan is and all of that. Sure, it is probably legal for you to keep my bisexual bucks for ninety days, and earn interest on my bisexual bucks for ninety days. But is it ethical?
Oh, I forgot. What is good for business is usually what happens.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Currently, states use their own designed tests. The tests are not standardized. The twin aims of the new test is to implement the same test nationally and to provide a test which encourages the understanding of democratic concepts rather than rote memorization. On both levels, the sample test released on Thursday does admirably well.
The pilot is not without its' detractors. Fred Tsao of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights objects. He characterized some questions as being "off the wall." He also thought that the fee for applying for citizenship [currently $400.00 USB] is too high and he is opposed to raising the fee. [Fred Tsao's organization also puts out a pamphlet detailing how "undocumented students" can get financial aid to attend state colleges in Illinois. Currently, the site has some ftp-related problems and some of the links are broken. Typing them into the browser may get you to other parts of the website or it may not.]
Who is Fred Tsao? Well, I am not really sure. He used to work for the ACLU maybe. He certainly is an outspoken guy who is currently living in soundbytes which delineate his aversion to illegal immigrants having fewer 'rights' than the rest of us, to illegal immigrants having to take responsibility for the consequences of getting caught for crossing the border illegally, to test reform which might require a civics engineer from India to know what the current minimum wage in this country is. To Fred Tsao, the code word for illegal is "undocumented." The governor of Illinois is a good guy in his camp cuz said governor wants undocumented immigrants to attend state colleges there at the state's expense. The Illinois governor may also be planning a run for the 2008 presidency. Groan.
Fred Tsao does not like the pilot test. That is abundantly clear. I don't cotton well to people of any nationality crossing our borders illegally and then whining because they are making eleven bucks an hour in a restaurant in New York City and cannot get in on their employer's sponsered healthcare plan for lack of a valid social security number. Perhaps joining the parade of the uncounteds in Massachusetts or Illinois would prove more appealing. Or military service as a path to citizenship in order to avoid taking the test. At any rate, my dad [an American son of two legal immigrants] told me "Anything worth having is worth working for." Fred, are you listening?
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Those who would be apologetics for terrorists and others of their ilk really ought to go to the Kavkaz Center website where they can be educated on exactly how Americans are perceived by some Muslims and governments in the Middle East. From the Kavkaz Center News Station, I learned such informative things as: Witch Shoppes and networking among Witches is a sign that Satanism is becoming the official religion of Western Society [that would indeed be news to my two friends over at the First Church of Satan website]; teaching kids to think for themselves leads to democracy and democracy places itself above the Sharia laws; English prisoners who professed to be Satanists were given Halloween "off" [sapphoq asks: "off" from what?]; Australian Satanists sacrificed a goat on October 13th; and Indian high school dropouts became involved in Satanism, dancing in cemetaries naked at night, and a grafitti spree.
I also hold no respect for the idea that Iranian President Ahmadinejad is a nice guy just like his blog [currently not showing an English translation but has in the past] portrays him to be. On the same board I was on last night, I encountered a well-educated American guy who denied that President Doctor Ahmadinejad wants to blow the nation of Israel off the face of the earth. Ahmadinejah's recent letter to "noble" Americans did little to nothing to persuade me to come over to his view of things. Dude was one of the student-turned-terrorist leaders who took over the American Embassy for 444 days. Evidence points to his role as a rather mean interrogator who engaged in torture. Please do not tell me he is "nice." He is not nice. He is a terrorist and the leader of a country to boot.
The folks over at Religious Tolerance in Toronto and The Battlefield Cry (a small newsletter from the folks over at Chick tracts) both recounted the July 2006 plight of one Reverend O'Neal Dozier. Apparently, he was among a group in Broward County who opposed the building of a mosque in the community of Pompano Beach. Reverend Dozier to his non-credit played the Race Card in arguing that young black men were at risk for converting to Islam. He did also speak of a terrorist plot to blow up the Miami Sears building but what he left out was the fact that terrorists in the United States do meet up at mosques.
Fellow blogger Rick Stark knows this and alluded to it in a letter he wrote to a Florida newspaper. I know it too because of a mosque in Albany, New York whose Iman and another leader were convicted of a money laundering scheme that would have supported a terrorist Pakistani organization. Reverend Dozier had acted upon his convictions by going door to door with religious tracts. Unfortunately, he also called Islam a cult on a radio talk show. For his actions, he was advised that his services were no longer needed at the Judicial Review Committee of Broward County. He was censured by the Council of American-Islamic Relations chapter in Florida. No apology was forthcoming. The Judicial Review Committee and the CAIR-Fla. exercised their rights in the matter.
Reverend Dozier also exercised his rights to freedom of speech. The CAIR Florida Chapter referenced his speaking out as inflammatory. Yet, I maintain that Reverend Dsss has every right to express an opinion regardless of who agrees or does not agree with it [N.B. He has been very outspoken against the "gay agenda." I am a supporter of GLBT civil rights.] What is interesting to note is that no other religious leaders spoke up to back the Muslim community. Reverend Dozier expressed a sentiment out in the public arena that the average American does not admit to in polite society. He struck a chord.
After 9/11, American Muslim leaders did not loudly condemn the terrorists who killed a bunch of people. Rather than disassociating themselves, they became defensive and argued loudly against having to do so. There are 24 fatwas [or fataawa] that are on-line which condemn terrorist acts and suicide bombings. Their existence did not erase the particular chill that was created by the large absense of an American Muslim leadership outcry against the terrorists of 9/11. One fatwa was issued in 2005 by the Figh Council of North America almost 4 years after. Whether or not the fatwa is worth anything can be debated.
Is Islam different in other places? Googling the words heterogeneous Islam will yield results explaining that yes, Islam in such places as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, England, and Italy has a more heterogeneous following than found in the Middle East. But I don't live in the Middle East. I am not living in Egypt or Sudan or France or any other place. I am living here in the United States. Yes, I do worry about terrorists in general and Islamic terrorists in particular. The terrorists who caused me to have nightmares after 9/11, the terrorists who rammed airplanes into buildings in my country, the terrorists who infiltrated our [non-dominantly theistic-Satanist] society and lived among us were followers of Islam. To deny this is the height of folly.