Friday, February 24, 2006

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-Iraqi soldiers are reflected in a pool of blood at the site where a roadside bomb exploded in central Baquba city, northeast of Baghdad. Iraq has imposed a daytime curfew on Baghdad and three neighbouring provinces to prevent further outbursts of sectarian violence on the Muslim day of prayers(AFP/Ali Yussef)

FOXNews responds:

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Canada Post

Letter sent to Toronto Star:

Much is being made regarding Stephen Harper’s allegiance to the American political right. He contends that the reason he had told the American right wing that they are “a light and an inspiration” and that Canada is “alienating its allies” on Iraq is because he was standing up for Canada’s best interests by giving George W. Bush a political shoulder rub.

At question is whose American opinion of Canada matters. Mr. Harper worries a lot about “anti-Americanism;” acutely in the US political left and chronically in Canada. If “America” equals only George W. Bush, then he has a point.

But it doesn’t.

I was born, raised, and live in the United States. I know who my friends are. My inspiration comes not from Bush, but from Canada. Because my president has not bothered to find Osama bin Laden, I appreciate Canada for lending a hand in Afghanistan. My president and our FEMA—heckuva job notwithstanding—did little in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Instead, my inspiration is the Vancouver Urban Search and Rescue team for their quick and needed response.

Anyone—even those who would be Prime Minister—who contend that Canada has been anything less than a good neighbour is sadly mistaken.

Yet I understand the electorate’s desire to punish the scandalous Liberals. I endorse this; they deserve to lose the government. However, Mr. Harper should not be given a majority. He simply does not represent the Canada that I know and have come to admire. If one is looking to vote against the Liberals, but not make George W. Bush smirk, why not support the NDP instead?

Here’s a bonus: the NDP is right on the issues in this election. It is notable that they offer the only balanced approach to crime and gun smuggling. They are the only credible party to clean up government. They want to work on behalf of ordinary Canadians, not of political movements. On the 23rd, give the NDP a chance.

Unlike Mr. Harper, I would never deride Canada as a “Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it.” Canada is something else: the Western Hemisphere’s best example of how to actually run a decent country.

Call it what you will, but Canadians are right to be proud of that. Don’t give a government to a man that isn’t.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Who Says

We don't make anything in the States anymore?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

This Is the Modern World

Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.
-Leonardo da Vinci

(Brand names eliminated by me):
The black-on-white graffiti shows wide-eyed cartoon characters riding the [electronic game platform] like a skateboard, licking it like a lollipop or cranking it like a Jack-in-the-Box.

But there's no mention of the [company] or [electronic game platform] brands — nor any hint the wordless display is an ad.

"I don't think that's graffiti," [local resident] Griggs said as she paused beside the [electronic game platform] ad. "That's art."
-[electronic game platform] Graffiti Ads Spark Controversy
Associated Press
29 Dec 2005

Whenever I hear the word culture, I release the safety-catch of my Browning!
-Hanns Johst

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


In the St Paul suburbs:

A tattoo shop would have a stigma that doesn't fit the image of the area, they said. Some complaints: There's a bus stop nearby, and the neighbors want positive influences for children. It threatens neighborhood values and ways of life. Property values might decrease. Adult-only businesses don't belong near neighborhoods.

Neighbor Rockne Waite, who said he has nothing against people with tattoos, attended the meeting.

"I don't care that there's a tattoo parlor. It's just not a good neighborhood for it," he said. "Coupling [the thrift shop] with a tattoo parlor would again bring in people that think a little differently than people around here. There's not a lot of people around here who are heavily tattooed."
-Tattoos draw opposition in suburbs
21 Dec 2005

Also at issue in the story is how an "adult" business (the tattoo parlour) fits in with the particular suburb's zoning codes. Do the codes allow such a business or not?

Or should we even have such things as zoning?

Cities are vibrant places, but the legacy of zoning has separated land uses and caused the standardization of our cities. A professional class of managers, lawyers, developers, and planners (among others) has risen to mange and navigate the labyrinthine laws created to control the functionality of the city. I should be grateful, I guess, as I'm applying to grad school in...urban planning!

But it's bittersweet. Actually, more bitter than sweet. Yes, I understand the need to regulate such things as building and sanitary codes and occupancy limits; these regs were the correct response to the hypergrowth seen in US cities during the Industrial Revolution.

But I think that it's all gone too far. Cities should be given the benefit of the doubt. They should be allowed to develop as "organically" as possible. I belong to the school of thought that contends that cities are living things; that the city itself knows how to grow and develop and live.

Managers don't. They simply know how to regulate, how to divide and parcel, and how to extract maximum profit from a development.

And pity the small business owner that tries to follow their dreams by opening up a tattoo parlour or a coffee shop and has to navigate all of these regulations. It begins to make sense at how Starbucks and Olive Garden and Barnes and Noble - with their mercenary armies of city code legal specialists - swallow up the mom-and-pop shops that once were the tax base of the city.

If someone wants to sell books out of their home, why couldn't they? If someone wants to rent out their unused garage as a housing unit, why not? Sure, there should be some sanitary standards, but how successful have our managers been in solving the affordable housing shortage? Not very.

Lastly, I find it interesting that these laws and regulations are enforced most strongly in the suburbs, with their reliable Republican vote. As the "free market" supporters and "pro-Freedom" party, you'd think that they would support small businesses (what's more, the tattoo parlour owner identified himself as a devout Christian!) more and regulations less. You'd think that such things as minimum lot sizes - an intrusion into the market - would be rejected. Yet, for all my criticism, it is the heathen liberal central cities which are more flexible in such matters. But we can be more flexible.

Let's relax zoning laws and figure out a way to dismantle the whole "property value" canard while we're at it.

I'm tired of giving a legalist legitimacy to those who want to separate us geographically into constituent groups.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Makin' Progress

Consider a line buried deep in the AP report of the vice president's visit to Taji Air Base in Iraq: "U.S. forces guarded Cheney with weapons at the ready while Iraqi soldiers, who had no weapons, held their arms out as if they were carrying imaginary guns."

For all of Cheney's cheerleading about how well things are going, those carrying the real guns recognize that they will not soon be coming home from a country where their "replacements" are carrying imaginary guns.
-Cheney's Cheerleading Falls Flat [emphasis added]
The Nation
19 Dec 2005





Jesus Christ.

Two Americas

Senators launched new salvos in the battle over national security and civil liberties yesterday as recent revelations of domestic spying continued to color the chamber’s stalemate on an extension of the anti-terrorism law known as the Patriot Act.

“None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former judge and close ally of the president who sits on the Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who has led a bipartisan filibuster against a reauthorization of the Patriot Act, quoted Patrick Henry, an icon of the American Revolution, in response: “Give me liberty or give me death.”

He called Cornyn’s comments “a retreat from who we are and who we should be.”
-Civil liberties don’t matter much ‘after you’re dead,’ Cornyn says on spy case
The Hill
20 Dec 2005

New Colour

Lavender to be added to Terror Alert colour chart...


They're on to me...

To any FBI or NSA Agents, let it be known that I will be transporting 4 vegan pumpkin pies across the MN-WI state line on 22 December. I plan on feeding the tofu-containing pies to numerous relatives.

Go ahead and stop me.

In all seriousness, when al-Qaida is active in 60 countries (as the President points out here) and we're bogged down in Iraq (which had nothing to do with al-Q), I FEEL MUCH SAFER when the FBI is doing surveilance against vegan potlucks.

I mean, we use nutritional yeast.

Friday, December 16, 2005

CLOTURE FAILS - 52/47!!!!!

Go Russ!

WASHINGTON - The Senate on Friday rejected attempts to reauthorize several provisions of the USA Patriot Act as infringing too much on Americans' privacy and liberty, dealing a huge defeat to the Bush administration and Republican leaders.

In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill's Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47.
-Senate Rejects Extension of Patriot Act
Associated Press
16 Nov 2005

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Patriot Acts

WASHINGTON - In Congress, where numbers are everything, the math on the Patriot Act suddenly seems to be moving in favor of Sen. Russell Feingold.

He was a minority of one four years ago, when the Wisconsin Democrat cast the lone Senate vote against the USA Patriot Act in the traumatic weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. The law, he said then, gave government too much power to investigate its citizens. Ninety-nine senators disagreed.

Now add more than two dozen senators to Feingold's side, including the leaders of his party and some of the chamber's most conservative Republicans, and the balance of power shifts.
Feingold finds himself with some unlikely allies, including the Christian Defense Coalition. Notably, the National Rifle Association has not endorsed the Patriot Act renewal that was personally negotiated by Vice President Dick Cheney. The NRA's non-position allows its Senate supporters to oppose renewing the law in its entirety.

"Folks, when we're dealing with civil liberties, you don't compromise them," said Sen. Larry Craig (news, bio, voting record), R-Idaho, an NRA board member.
-Feingold Now Has Numbers On His Side
Associated Press
15 Nov 2003

A showdown vote was scheduled Friday, with the White House and its congressional allies rejecting suggestions for a short-term extension of the current law as is. White House allies said they would prefer to let the 16 temporary provisions expire completely rather than give critics more time to add additional restrictions on the FBI's ability to comb through Americans' computer files and bank and library records.

Making most of the Act's provisions permanent is a priority for both the Bush administration and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill before Congress adjourns for the year.
-Senate May Derail Patriot Act Extension
Associated Press
16 Nov 2005

Today's going to be a big day for Russ Feingold. Consider the fact that Russ was the ONLY Senator to vote against the PATRIOT Act in the first place. This vote was cast in the context of the US just being attacked by al Qaida and the subsequent "rally around the president." This could never be considered as a "political vote." It was pure conscience.

Yet now, Feingold has lined up support all across the political spectrum. He has single-handedly - single-handedly - orchestrated the impending defeat of one of the Cheney Administration's major legislative goals.

And he's done it in a hostile political climate. He's done it in spite of being labeled as a "terrorist sympathizer." He's done it in a GOP-controlled Senate. He's given courage to the Senate Democrats (perhaps the most amazing coup!).

And he did it because he's a fighter and because any patriot would; he loves this counrty. Kind of like something a nation would look for in a President...

Whatever happens with the renewal, the mere debate is a boost for Feingold and any presidential aspirations he may nurture after next year's midterm elections — a development that carries some irony.

"People don't go to the well of the Senate and become the only senator to vote against something called the 'USA Patriot Act' five weeks after 9/11 because they're trying to get ready to run for president," Feingold said.

But four years later, during visits to the presidential proving grounds of New Hampshire and Iowa, Feingold says there's evidence his position has resonated with more than just the Democratic base.

"It's something that people like about me," he said. "We'll see where it goes."
-Feingold Now Has Numbers on His Side

We'll see indeed...

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