Friday, December 31, 2004

end of the world year

Fred Clark over at slacktivist has been posting on the "Left Behind" series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins for over a year.

The apocalyptic heresies rampant in American evangelicalism are more popular than ever.

It's easy to dismiss these loopy ideas as a lunatic fringe, but that would be a mistake. The widespread popularity of this End Times mania has very real and very dangerous consequences, for America and for the church.

Left Behind archives.

the scarred, the maimed, the tormented

The reality of the suffering in Iraq has been rendered invisible by media hype and partisan battle. One doctor, who has treated some of the thousands, speaks about the war wounded.

Gene Bolles has seen more than his fair share of human suffering. Two years in Landstuhl Regional Medical Center – the U.S. military hospital in Germany that receives all injured soldiers evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan – is no doctor's dream job, especially not if you are a neurosurgeon who specializes in brain and spinal injuries – the kind that can destroy a 19-year-old kid's life. Yet as he speaks of the shattered soldiers who were once his charge, Bolles is neither overwrought nor angry.

The soft-spoken 62-year-old civilian speaks not of politics but of humanity – the terrible toll imposed by all wars, unjust or otherwise, on all involved, soldier or civilian. He speaks not of blame but of compassion and duty – our duty as a nation to pay attention and tend to the young men and women we ask to sacrifice life or limb in battle. At a time when the reality of the suffering in Iraq has been rendered invisible by media hype and partisan battle, Gene Bolles remains a steadfast advocate for the scarred, the maimed, and the tormented – whose numbers are far, far greater than what the Bush administration would like to admit.

photo essays of the wounded here, here and here.

friday elfgirl blogging

say hello to

No Insurance Card

Thursday, December 30, 2004

2005 Rollergirl Bouts

So far six Rollergirl Leagues have announced their 2005 bout schedules. Mark your calendars.

Arizona Roller Derby

  • January 8th: Bruisers vs. Surly Gurlies
  • January 14th: "away" game, Details TBA
  • February 12th: St. Valentine's Massacre: Surly Gurlies vs Smashers
  • March 12th: Smashers vs. Bad News Beaters
  • March 27th: Matinee Bruisers vs. Tucson Roller Derby
  • April 9th: Championship Pre-Qualifier: Surly Gurlies vs. Bad News Beaters
  • May 14th: Championship Pre-Qualifier: Smashers vs. Bruisers
  • June 11th: Championship Game: April winner vs. May winner
Kansas City Roller Warriors
  • January 22nd: Exhibition Bout
  • March 19th: Game 1
  • April 23rd: Game2
  • May 21st: Game 3
  • June 25th: Championship Bout
Mad Rollin' Dolls
  • January 30th
  • February 20th
  • March 27th
  • April 24th
Lonestar Rollergirls
  • February 13th: Holy Rollers vs. All Scar Army
  • March 6th: Rhinestone Cowgirls vs. Cherry Bombs
  • April 3rd: Holy Rollers vs. Putas del Fuego
  • April 24th: Hellcats vs. Rhinestone Cowgirls
  • May 15th: Cherry Bombs vs. Putas del Fuego
  • June 5th: Holy Rollers vs. Hellcats
  • June 26th: Rhinestone Cowgirls vs. Putas del Fuego
  • September 11th: Cherry Bombs vs. Holy Rollers
  • September 25th: Hellcats vs. Putas del Fuego
  • October 9th: Rhinestone Cowgirls vs. Holy Rollers
  • October 23rd: Cherry Bombs vs. Hellcats
  • November 13th: Calvello Cup World Championships
Tucson Roller Derby
  • February 19th: VICE Squad vs. Furious Truckstop Waitresses
  • March 5th: Iron Curtain vs. VICE Squad
Texas Rollergirls
  • April 4th: Hustlers vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
    / Hell Marys vs. Hotrod Honeys
  • April 24th: Honky Tonk Heartbreakers vs. Hell Marys
    / Hotrod Honeys vs. Hustlers
  • May 15th: Hotrod Honeys vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
    / Hustlers vs. Hell Marys
  • June 5th: Honky Tonk Heartbreakers vs. Hustlers
    / Hell Marys vs. Hotrod Honeys
  • June 26th: Hell Marys vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
    / Hotrod Honeys vs. Hustlers
  • July 17th: Hotrod Honeys vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
    / Hustlers vs. Hell Marys
  • August 7th: Championship!

support your local rollergirl

Minnesota Rollergirls to debut four teams

The Minnesota Rollergirls will debut their four teams with a mini roller derby bout on January 16, 2005.

  • When: Jan. 16, 2005
  • Where: First Ave (Downtown Minneapolis)
  • Time: 9pm Doors Open-- Show starts @ 9:30 PM
  • Who will be there: The Minnesota RollerGirls, 3 Bands, and YOU!!
  • What Else: 21+ Party (or must have legal guardian with), Bring your ID, and All of your Friends!

The Minnesota Rollergirls are also seeking bout announcers and other volunteers. To sign up, go out to Cheap Skate on Sunday, January 9th at 6pm.

support your local rollergirl

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Poster from the Propaganda Remix Project.

Invisible Soldier

A perilous journey from New York to Falluja and back leaves one soldier out in the cold.

Shelters Gear Up For Returning Vets

Bay State shelters are bracing for an influx of Iraqi war veterans, concerned the returning troops will be confronted by costly housing, cheating wives and a tight job market when they get back home.

"We do expect to see veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts in the shelter. It's just about inevitable," said Stephen Spain of the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Boston.

Related story here.

Are New Army Recruits Pre-Programmed for Violence?

Actually, yes. Says LtCol David L. Thomas II.

the living earth

Simon Winchester has a short essay in this morning's NYT. The Year the Earth Fought Back.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Sad Sign of the Times

SALINAS -- Mary Jean Gamble organized the John Steinbeck historical archives, supervised the Steinbeck literature collection and ranks as an authority on local history and genealogy.

After nearly 23 years with the Salinas Public Library, she might know more about "The Grapes of Wrath" or "Cannery Row" than anyone else in the author's humble hometown.

Gamble doesn't hesitate when asked how Steinbeck might react upon learning that the city's libraries are scheduled to close permanently next spring. Facing record deficits, the Salinas City Council voted Dec. 14 to shut all three libraries, including the branches named after Steinbeck and labor leader Cesar Chavez.

Sigh. More on library pillaging funding here.

Cheap Bastards

The United States has pledged an initial $15 million and dispatched disaster specialists to Asian countries struck by a massive earthquake and tsunamis.

How much is $15 Million? Roxanne gives us some perspective.
The following list of actors earn $15+ million for each film they make:

* Tom Cruise
* Cameron Diaz
* Tom Hanks
* Jim Carrey
* Mike Myers
* Mel Gibson
* Adam Sandler
* Will Smith
* Harrison Ford
* Bruce Willis
* Julia Roberts
* Chris Tucker
* Leonardo DiCaprio
* Russell Crowe
* Eddie Murphy
* Denzel Washington
* Nicholas Cage
* George Clooney
* Vin Diesel
* Toby Maguire
* Johnny Depp
* Ben Affleck
* Brad Pitt
* Keanu Reeves
Clif Burns and Norbizness have more...

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Have a Very Betty Christmas

Orgy of Consumption

Today’s Christmas is sometimes referred to as a consumerist orgy — an annual festival of unbridled commodity purchases aimed at expressing how much we care for others. But there are fundamental contradictions in the “tradition.”

Indeed, today’s Christmas (wouldn’t be what it is had it not been for the power of both the Church and, much more recently, corporations to tame and shape another, more traditional, kind of orgy.


Alongside industrialization came the fragmentation of communities into individualized contract workers. And with urbanization and its displacement of millions from their villages and traditional extended families came a kind of social-psychological vacuum. Accompanying this growing culture of isolation and emptiness was a broad range of “inventions” primarily developed to serve the interests of corporations, including electricity, the telegraph, and the Department Store. Together, they facilitated further urbanization, more efficiency, and importantly, more potential sales. The Department Store, for example, became a central gathering place in most cities; people were free to browse and, for the first time, were not expected to buy anything. Through the magic of electrical illuminations, potential customers now could see all the goods and potential lifestyles available to those hard-working individuals with money.

For Department Stores and the capitalists behind the production, Christmas soon became an opportunity to sell more goods by (and here's the key!) associating these commodities with social-psychological needs emerging in people’s lives.
As urbanization and industrialization proceeded, corporations successfully associated Christmas with what we now take for granted; December 25th became a time for individuals and families to re-unite and, in the absence of truly intimate relationships, familial bonds were expressed through an exchange of purchased clothes, toys and innumerable other products.

Quite suddenly Christmas had become a family holiday – something quite different from what the Church originally intended when it labeled the day as Christ’s birth. Also, through the mystical re-manufacturing of Christmas by corporations as a day - and now a “season” - for buying and exchanging gifts, the emerging world of atomized relations and fragmented communities could them-selves be exploited – exploited as a social-psychological vacuum in which the selling of commodities could be perpetuated.

Today, through the twists, turns and power interests shaping history, Christmas again has become a time of debauchery. From its roots as an agrarian pagan orgy, followed by the attempt to transform it into a religious holiday for the community, it’s now become another kind of pagan orgy – this time a capitalist one.

In our economic system, this faith in Christmas as a celebration of love through consumption has become so deeply entrenched, it exists in the very marrow of our cultural existence. But more significantly, and paradoxically, its ascendancy has paralleled the near collapse of the bases of life and love itself – the environment in which we all live.

Over these past 150 yrs, humanity has consumed more of the earth’s resources and has caused more ecological damage than all the generations, living tens of thousands of years before the mid-19th century, combined. Now, the “developing” world is being told about the wonders of our consumerist religion, and Christmas is being used as a core means of promulgating the faith; a faith being promoted even in non-Christian cultures.

Friday, December 24, 2004

friday elfgirl blogging

elfgirl at Beerland

My kind of Christmas Special

Pulp X-mas (Quicktime)

via Boing Boing

Playing in Traffic

"It's like watching your son playing in traffic, and there's nothing you can do."
Families pay the price. Bob Herbert in today's NYT.

All I want for Christmas

Thursday, December 23, 2004

War Crimes

Today's WaPo editorial

THANKS TO a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA -- truths the Bush administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication of photographs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the administration's whitewashers -- led by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false.


Some of the abuses can be attributed to lack of discipline in some military units -- though the broad extent of the problem suggests, at best, that senior commanders made little effort to prevent or control wrongdoing. But the documents also confirm that interrogators at Guantanamo believed they were following orders from Mr. Rumsfeld. One FBI agent reported on May 10 about a conversation he had with Guantanamo's commander, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, who defended the use of interrogation techniques the FBI regarded as illegal on the grounds that the military "has their marching orders from the Sec Def." Gen. Miller has testified under oath that dogs were never used to intimidate prisoners at Guantanamo, as authorized by Mr. Rumsfeld in December 2002; the FBI papers show otherwise.

The Bush administration refused to release these records to the human rights groups under the Freedom of Information Act until it was ordered to do so by a judge. Now it has responded to their publication with bland promises by spokesmen that any wrongdoing will be investigated. The record of the past few months suggests that the administration will neither hold any senior official accountable nor change the policies that have produced this shameful record. Congress, too, has abdicated its responsibility under its Republican leadership: It has been nearly four months since the last hearing on prisoner abuse. Perhaps intervention by the courts will eventually stem the violations of human rights that appear to be ongoing in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan. For now the appalling truth is that there has been no remedy for the documented torture and killing of foreign prisoners by this American government.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Out of Reach

The National Low Income Housing Coalition once again must report that the cost of rental housing in the United States is out of reach of the vast majority of low wage earners and people who are elderly or disabled with public income benefits. The disparity between income and rent for people of modest means is so wide as to be unfathomable to the two-thirds of the U.S. population who are well-housed at costs that are well within their households’ budgets.

For the other one third of the nation, the consequences of ends that do not meet are all too real. They must devise ways of coping that at a minimum mean forgoing all optional or postponeable spending or saving, too often require making impossible choices among necessities, and in the worst case, managing with no home at all.

For those who labor under the misconception that this third of the U.S. population lives somewhere other than their community, Out of Reach is a reminder that no community, no town or city or county or state, has enough housing for the low income people who live there.


Once again, this year there is not a single jurisdiction in the country where a person working full time earning the prevailing minimum wage can afford a two bedroom rental home.

Moreover, there are only four counties in the country - Wayne, Crawford, and Lawrence counties in Illinois and Washington County, Florida - where a person or a household working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year at the prevailing minimum wage can afford even a one bedroom apartment.

DC Counter-Inauguration Events

There'll be two oaths taken come January 20th, 2005. The first, by George W. Bush, is a promise to continue the appalling and self-serving agenda of a handful of rightwing extremists cloaked under the guise of a falsely assumed people's mandate.

The second oath is a collective one. And there's nothing false about it. It's an unwavering pledge by the tens of thousands of people who mobilized in unprecedented numbers during the election to peaceably counter the Bush agenda.

Wednesday, January 19, 6:30 PM
The night before the inauguration, join CODEPINK and others for a creative protest outside the "Black Tie and Boots" Inaugural Ball, which starts at 7 PM at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road, NW; Washington, DC. Details TBA.

Thursday, January 20
There are several exciting actions planned for inauguration day, and we're sure CODEPINK activists will want to participate in as many of them as possible. The DC Anti-War Network is organizing a January 20 march and rally called “RISE Against Bush/SHINE For a Peaceful Tomorrow.” The rally begins at 9 AM at Malcolm X Park in Washington, DC and continues to the White House. A die-in and possible civil disobedience are also in the works.

Later in the day, activists plan to line the route of the inaugural parade, to express their opposition to the Bush agenda in a myriad of ways. One group called “Turn Your Back on Bush” is encouraging activists to line the parade route and, at a given signal, turn our backs on the president.

There are also dozens of “inaugural balls” that will be taking place in hotels along the parade route and are always good targets for creative, spontaneous nonviolent actions.

Saturday and Sunday, January 22 and 23
On inauguration weekend, CODEPINK will participate in the Progressive Democratic Summit, an event that will feature experienced speakers in the progressive movement, informational workshops, and other useful information for progressive activists and organizations. For more information and to register, click here.

The fine folks at All Spin Zone are offering a plane ticket to get to DC.

If you happen to be in New Orleans, check out the Jazz Funeral for Democracy.

Rosie Cheeks and other rollergirls in Skin & Ink

Skin&Ink February 2005

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

2005 Rollergirl Bouts

Six Rollergirl Leagues have announced their 2005 bout schedule. Mark your calendars.

Arizona Roller Derby

  • January 8th: Bruisers vs. Surly Gurlies
  • January 14th: "away" game, Details TBA
  • February 12th: St. Valentine's Massacre: Surly Gurlies vs Smashers
  • March 12th: Smashers vs. Bad News Beaters
  • March 27th: Matinee Bruisers vs. Tucson Roller Derby
  • April 9th: Championship Pre-Qualifier: Surly Gurlies vs. Bad News Beaters
  • May 14th: Championship Pre-Qualifier: Smashers vs. Bruisers
  • June 11th: Championship Game: April winner vs. May winner
Kansas City Roller Warriors
  • January 22nd: Exhibition Bout
  • March 19th: Game 1
  • April 23rd: Game2
  • May 21st: Game 3
  • June 25th: Championship Bout
Mad Rollin' Dolls
  • January 30th
  • February 20th
  • March 27th
  • April 24th
Lonestar Rollergirls
  • February 13th: Holy Rollers vs. All Scar Army
  • March 6th: Rhinestone Cowgirls vs. Cherry Bombs
  • April 3rd: Holy Rollers vs. Putas del Fuego
  • April 24th: Hellcats vs. Rhinestone Cowgirls
  • May 15th: Cherry Bombs vs. Putas del Fuego
  • June 5th: Holy Rollers vs. Hellcats
  • June 26th: Rhinestone Cowgirls vs. Putas del Fuego
  • September 11th: Cherry Bombs vs. Holy Rollers
  • September 25th: Hellcats vs. Putas del Fuego
  • October 9th: Rhinestone Cowgirls vs. Holy Rollers
  • October 23rd: Cherry Bombs vs. Hellcats
  • November 13th: Calvello Cup World Championships
Tucson Roller Derby
  • February 19th: VICE Squad vs. Furious Truckstop Waitresses
  • March 5th: Iron Curtain vs. VICE Squad
Texas Rollergirls
  • April 4th: Hustlers vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
    / Hell Marys vs. Hotrod Honeys
  • April 24th: Honky Tonk Heartbreakers vs. Hell Marys
    / Hotrod Honeys vs. Hustlers
  • May 15th: Hotrod Honeys vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
    / Hustlers vs. Hell Marys
  • June 5th: Honky Tonk Heartbreakers vs. Hustlers
    / Hell Marys vs. Hotrod Honeys
  • June 26th: Hell Marys vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
    / Hotrod Honeys vs. Hustlers
  • July 17th: Hotrod Honeys vs. Honky Tonk Heartbreakers
    / Hustlers vs. Hell Marys
  • August 7th: Championship!

support your local rollergirl

Monday, December 20, 2004

TXRG announces nominations for "Crowd Favorite Award"

The Texas Rollergirls are accepting nominations for the Crowd Favorite Award to be presented at the Second Annual Whammy Awards. Last year I was proud to present this award to Anna Mosity.

To nominate a Texas Rollergirl for this award email :
devilgrrl AT txrollergirls Dot com by Saturday, January 8th.

The Awards cermony will be held on Saturday, February 12th.

support your local rollergirl

Striker shot down by FIFA

"Marigoal" Posted by Hello

Football's world governing body, Fifa, has ruled that a leading Mexican woman footballer is not eligible to play for a professional men's club.

Maribel Dominguez signed for Mexico's second-division club Celaya this week - a move which would have been a first in North and Central America's sport.

But Fifa's executive committee said that "there must be a clear separation between men's and women's football".

Dominguez, 26, has scored 42 goals in 43 games for the national women's team.

Derby Dolls auction on eBay

Thora Zeen #666 from the Sirens of the LA Derby Dolls has set up an auction on eBay to benefit the Dolls. Items include skateboard decks, lingerie and autographed items.
See the items here.
support your local rollergirl

War on the Cheap

Bob Herbert in the NYT.

Greg Rund was a freshman at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in 1999 when two students shot and killed a teacher, a dozen of their fellow students and themselves. Mr. Rund survived that horror, but he wasn't able to survive the war in Iraq. The 21-year-old Marine lance corporal was killed on Dec. 11 in Falluja.

The people who were so anxious to launch the war in Iraq are a lot less enthusiastic about properly supporting the troops who are actually fighting, suffering and dying in it. Corporal Rund was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. Because of severe military personnel shortages, large numbers of troops are serving multiple tours in the war zone, and many are having their military enlistments involuntarily extended.

Troops approaching the end of their tours in Iraq are frequently dealt the emotional body blow of unexpected orders blocking their departure for home. "I've never seen so many grown men cry," said Paul Rieckhoff, a former infantry platoon leader who founded Operation Truth, an advocacy group for soldiers and veterans.


The Bush administration, which has asked so much of the armed forces, has established a pattern of dealing in bad faith with its men and women in uniform. The callousness of its treatment of the troops was, of course, never more clear than in Donald Rumsfeld's high-handed response to a soldier's question about the shortages of battle armor in Iraq.

As the war in Iraq goes more and more poorly, the misery index of the men and women serving there gets higher and higher. More than 1,300 have been killed. Many thousands are coming home with agonizing wounds. Scott Shane of The Times reported last week that according to veterans' advocates and military doctors, the already hard-pressed system of health care for veterans "is facing a potential deluge of tens of thousands of soldiers returning from Iraq with serious mental health problems brought on by the stress and carnage of war."


From the earliest planning stages until now, the war in Iraq has been a tragic exercise in official incompetence. The original rationale for the war was wrong. The intelligence was wrong. The estimates of required troop strength were wrong. The war hawks' guesses about the response of the Iraqi people were wrong. The cost estimates were wrong, and on and on.

Nevertheless the troops have fought valiantly, and the price paid by many has been horrific. They all deserve better than the bad faith and shoddy treatment they are receiving from the highest officials of their government.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Was Abraham Lincoln


It is news guaranteed to make many Republicans squirm. Was Abraham Lincoln, founder of the party now seeking a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in America, actually gay himself?

A new book, published next month, certainly thinks so. The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln by C.A. Tripp produces evidence that one of America's greatest Presidents had a long-term relationship with a youthful friend, Joshua Speed, and shared his bed with David Derickson, captain of his bodyguards.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

AZ vs. TX Bout Photos

Photo by Michael Osborne Posted by Hello
Also check out the 100+ photos taken by Bob Smith


Propaganda Remix Project

1304 1306 1319

Friday, December 17, 2004

Beerland Benefit

Tim Kerr's Winter Solstice Party
Benefit for the Beerland Logo Legal Defense Fund.

Two very different Texas institutions are set to spar over an image almost as seminal as the state flag. Last month, Red River punk/garage nexus Beerland received a notice from attorneys for cosmic cowboy shrine Luckenbach, informing them Luckenbach considered Beerland's logo an infringement on their trademark. Owner Randall Stockton begs to differ, saying the star-in-oval design – perhaps you've also seen it representing Lone Star Beer, the Lone Star Cafe, and Jerry Jeff Walker – should belong to nobody; or, rather, that it belongs to all Texans. "There's just so many people who affiliate themselves with Texas that use this logo," Stockton puzzles. "It's like a birthright." Ironically, Stockton freely admits that if he copped it from anywhere, it's Lone Star, and they're fine with it. "They said, 'That's really weird,'" he affirms. "'If you need anything from us, let us know.'" He's got an attorney looking into the situation, but right now, basically has to sit back and wait to see how aggressively Luckenbach wants to pursue it. "There's a question of what they would get if they sued us," Stockton says. "Or how much publicity they want." Since Beerland isn't exactly rolling in dough, a nasty legal squabble may not be quite the image the pastoral Hill Country hamlet recently profiled on CNN wants to project. "It's not exactly that laid-back cosmic cowboy persona," agrees Stockton. Luckenbach's lawyers, the San Antonio commercial firm of Cox Smith Matthews Inc., hadn't returned a phone call at press time, but "TCB" is very interested in their side of the story.

Where: Beerland
When: Friday, December 17th , 10:00pm
$5 suggested donation

saturday, saturday, saturday

Rat City Rollergirls

Street Sense

Across the country, homeless people are working for newspapers that deliver news about life on the street to the homeless and the general public. With roughly 3.5 million homeless people in America, these "street newspapers" provide important information about poverty and new ways to combat it. Terence Smith looks at the challenges behind the Washington, D.C. paper, Street Sense.

friday elfgirl blogging

 Posted by Hello

The Greatest (Freak) Show On Earth

Melicious and Kim Sin have written an article about rollergirls in Carbon 14 Issue #25.
support your local rollergirl

TRD Wheelies & Punk Rock Prom

Tucson Roller Derby 2004 Wheelies Awards

Best Blocker - Jezebelle
Best Fighter - Deadlock Doe
Best Injury - Barbicide
Best Jammer - Sloppy Flo
Best Pivot - Kamanda
Highest Scoring Jammer - Fisti Cuffs
Miss Congeniality - Sassy Sue
Dirtiest - Deadlock Doe
Crowd Favorite - Fisti Cuffs
Furious Truckstop Waitresses MVP - Sloppy Flo
Iron Curtain MVP - Kay G.B.
Tucson Roller Derby MVP - Whamma Pavlova (aka: Whiskey Mick)
Most Improved - eeka
Most Penalites - Kim Sin
Wiliest - Fisti Cuffs
Best Ass - Fisti Cuffs
Sweetest - Sassy Sue
Most Enthusiastic Ref - Will E. Punisher
Most Stoic Ref - Smacky

support your local rollergirl

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Ronnie Earle cuts a deal

From the Austin Chronicle

"Defendant further acknowledges that the basis for the Texas prohibition against corporate contributions is that they constitute a genuine threat to democracy."

That's the penultimate sentence in the agreement signed last week between Diversified Collection Services Inc. and Travis Co. District Attorney Ronnie Earle, allowing the company to be conditionally cleared of the felony charge of illegal corporate contributions – specifically the sum of $50,000 – to the now-defunct political action committee known as Texans for a Republican Majority. On the face of it, it's an odd note to strike in a criminal dismissal agreement, and the lawyers to other targets of the investigation were quick to snort their disapproval. "This is a very suspicious agreement," Austin attorney Joe Turner told the Statesman's Laylan Copelin, complaining about the "political stuff" in the document.

Turner's suspicion is understandable, as he represents the rather more heavily indicted former TRMPAC director John Colyandro, and the conventional sections of the DCS agreement note forebodingly, "The Defendant will cooperate with the State of Texas in its prosecution of any other indicted person for any offense related to the corporate contribution made by the Defendant."


There are other matters addressed in the brief agreement, including the company's assurances that it will not only go and sin feloniously no more, but it will underwrite "non-partisan, balanced, and publicly informative ... educational programs related to the role of corporations in American democracy." That's a touching ambition, even for a hardball prosecutor; an unretouched portrait of the true role of corporations in American democracy, alas, is a good deal more than we can wish for. It will be plenty if Earle and Diversified – and the Williams Cos., and Sears Roebuck, and Westar Energy, and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, and the rest of the corporate indictees – help fill in the blanks on the true role of corporations in the Texas legislative elections of November of 2002.

In that regard, it's useful to recall where we are politically. Thanks at least in part to the money provided by the TRMPAC 8, along with another $2 million or so funneled through the Texas Association of Business, the Republicans seized dominant control of the Texas House and the Legislature, and were able to ram through reactionary policies that otherwise might have been held at bay or at least diluted. On a broader scale, at DeLay's insistence they redrew the Texas congressional map for a second time, effectively disenfranchising millions of Texas voters, many of them minorities, in the process, and strengthening DeLay's stranglehold on the U.S. House. (Indeed, last week House Speaker Dennis Hastert let it be known that he will bring no bill to the floor that does not enjoy majority Republican support, a DeLay strategy that effectively silences the elected representatives of at least half the population.)


So one down, seven to go – if the Diversified deal, and any subsequent arrangement, lead to some substantial justice in the Case of the Purloined Statehouse, then perhaps "the community would be better served by resolving the case through this agreement." But if the gun to those corporate heads turns out to be loaded with nothing but blanks, sponsored homilies on corporate responsibility will be small compensation for felony theft of democracy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Don't get your labia pierced in Georgia

Georgia House bans genital piercings for women

Genital piercings for women were banned by the Georgia House Wednesday as lawmakers considered a bill outlining punishments for female genital mutilation.

The bill would make such mutilation punishable by two to 20 years in prison. It makes no exception for people who give consent to have the procedure performed on their daughters out of religious or cultural custom.

An amendment adopted without objection added "piercing" to the list of things that may not be done to female genitals. Even adult women would not be allowed to get the procedure. The bill eventually passed 160-0, with no debate.

Two to twenty years in prison.
Bill passed 160-to-0.
This is ALL about subjugating women. Fuck!

UPDATE: It must have been a slow news day in Georgia. BlondSense posted about this story waaay back in March. File this in the "Get Out of MY Pants You Perverts" Bin

CCR war crimes complaint update

Richard Cranium from All Spin Zone has an update on this story.
Read it here.

FOIA detainees abuse update

On June 2, 2004, the ACLU and its allies filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act demanding the release of information about detainees held by the United States at military bases and other detention facilities overseas. The lawsuit relates to a Freedom of Information Act request that was filed in October 2003 - almost eight months ago - with the Defense Department and other government agencies. The request seeks records concerning the treatment and interrogation of detainees in United States custody, the deaths of detainees in United States custody, and the “rendition” of detainees to countries known to use torture.

Since the request was filed, numerous news agencies have reported the abuse of detainees held in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is growing evidence that the abuse of detainees was not aberrational but systemic, and that senior officials either approved of the abuse or were deliberately indifferent to it. The ACLU believes that the public has a right to know what the government's policies were, why these abuses were allowed to take place, and who was ultimately responsible.

Records Released in Response to Torture FOIA Request

Phony Fun Facts

Molly Ivins on Social Security

The Bushies don't want to mend it, they want to end it – and they are quite upfront about it.

This is not some leftist conspiracy theory: Grover Norquist of The Club for Growth has been open about it for years. What we have here is a happy convergence of ideology (the Market Can Solve All Problems) and greed. The greed is from the financial industry, which stands to pick up an incalculable sum in profits – and, of course, the financial industry contributes generously to Guess Who. Just the Bush plan of partial privatization would cost about $1.5 trillion in transition costs over 10 years, and Bush wants to borrow that money.

Next week, the White House will launch a giant public relations campaign, just as it did with the campaign to sell us on the Iraq war, with a lot of phony information to convince us all this lunacy is good for us. Social Security is of particular concern to women, since we live longer and have fewer earnings to rely on in retirement.

It's kind of hard not to be stunned by the irresponsibility of this scheme. To just blithely borrow the money to destroy a successful social program is, well, loony, bizarre and irresponsible.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

the nerve

Sex advice from some of the Gotham Girls.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

punctuation substitution

How to rethink e-mail communications.
Ze Frank's Communication Course #1.

via Boing Boing

Saturday, December 11, 2004

What Are You Reading For?

Propaganda Remix Project

Foreign dissidents facing U.S. hurdles to publishing

In the summer of 1956, Russian poet Boris Pasternak -- a favorite of the recently deceased Joseph Stalin -- delivered his epic "Doctor Zhivago" manuscript to a Soviet publishing house, hoping for a warm reception and a fast track to readers who had shared Russia's torturous half-century of revolution and war, oppression and terror.

Instead, Pasternak received one of the all-time classic rejection letters: A 10,000-word missive that stopped just short of accusing him of treason. It was left to foreign publishers to give his smuggled manuscript life, offering the West a peek into the soul of the Cold War enemy, winning Pasternak the 1958 Nobel in literature and providing Hollywood with an epic film.

These days, Pasternak might not have fared so well.

In an apparent reversal of decades of U.S. practice, recent federal Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations bar American companies from publishing works by dissident writers in countries under sanction unless they first obtain U.S. government approval.

The restriction, condemned by critics as a violation of the First Amendment, means that books and other works banned by some totalitarian regimes cannot be published freely in the United States.


Several groups, led by the PEN American Center and including Arcade Publishing, have filed suit in U.S. District Court in New York seeking to overturn the regulations, which cover writers in Iran, Sudan, Cuba, North Korea and, until recently, Iraq.

Violations carry severe reprisals -- publishing houses can be fined $1 million and individual violators face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

"Historically, the United States has served as a megaphone for dissidents from other countries," said Ed Davis of New York, a lawyer leading the PEN legal challenge. "Now we're not able to hear from dissidents."

Yet more than dissident voices are affected.

The regulations already have led publishers to scrap plans for volumes on Cuban architecture and birds, and publishers complain that the rules threaten the intellectual breadth and independence of academic journals.

Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has joined the lawsuit, arguing that the rules preclude American publishers from helping craft her memoirs of surviving Iran's Islamic revolution and her efforts to defend human rights in Iranian courts.

In a further wrinkle, even if publishers obtain a license for a book -- something they are loathe to do -- they believe the regulations bar them from advertising it, forcing readers to find the dissident works on their own.

"It's absolutely against the First Amendment," fumed Arcade editor Richard Seaver, who hopes to publish an anthology of Iranian short stories. "We're not going to ask permission (to publish). That reeks of censorship."

via The Smirking Chimp

Fun at the Library

the Bellydancing Librarian
foxy librarian
Free Range Librarian
Librarian's Rant
Library Juice
sex and the library
Tales from the "Liberry"
Tiny Little Librarian

Friday, December 10, 2004

friday elfgirl blogging

kadie Posted by Hello

He lost an arm in Iraq; the Army wants money

He lost his arm serving his country in Iraq. (via Raw Story)

Now this wounded soldier is being discharged from his company in Fort Hood, Texas, without enough gas money to get home. In fact, the Army says 27-year-old Spc. Robert Loria owes it close to $2,000, and confiscated his last paycheck.

"There's people in my unit right now – one of my team leaders [who was] over in Iraq with me, is doing everything he can to help me .... but it's looking bleak," Loria said by telephone from Fort Hood yesterday. "It's coming up on Christmas and I have no way of getting home."

Loria's expected discharge yesterday came a day after the public got a rare view of disgruntled soldiers in Kuwait peppering Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with questions about their lack of adequate armor in Iraq.

Like many soldiers wounded in Iraq, Loria's injuries were caused by a roadside bombing. It happened in February when his team from the 588th Battalion's Bravo Company was going to help evacuate an area in Baqubah, a town 40 miles north of Baghdad. A bomb had just ripped off another soldier's arm. Loria's Humvee drove into an ambush.

When the second bomb exploded, it tore Loria's left hand and forearm off, split his femur in two and shot shrapnel through the left side of his body. Months later, he was still recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and just beginning to adjust to life without a hand, when he was released back to Fort Hood.

AFTER SEVERAL MORE MONTHS, the Army is releasing Loria. But "clearing Fort Hood," as the troops say, takes paperwork. Lots of it.

Loria thought he'd done it all, and was getting ready to collect $4,486 in final Army pay.

Then he was hit with another bomb. The Army had another tally – of money it says Loria owed to his government.

A Separation Pay Worksheet given to Loria showed the numbers: $2,408.33 for 10 months of family separation pay that the Army erroneously paid Loria after he'd returned stateside, as a patient at Walter Reed; $2,204.25 that Loria received for travel expenses from Fort Hood back to Walter Reed for a follow-up visit, after the travel paperwork submitted by Loria never reached the correct desk. And $310 for missing items on his returned equipment inventory list.

"There was stuff lost in transportation, others damaged in the accident," Loria said of the day he lost his hand. "When it went up the chain of command, the military denied coverage."

Including taxes, the amount Loria owed totaled $6,255.50. The last line on the worksheet subtracted that total from his final Army payout and found $1,768.81 "due us."

"It's nerve-racking," Loria said. "After everything I have done, it's almost like I am being abandoned, like, you did your job for us and now you are no use. That's how it feels."

UPDATE: Lawmakers help wounded soldier get home after dispute with Army

Krugman on Social Security Privatization

If Mr. Bush were to say in plain English that his plan to solve our fiscal problems is to borrow trillions, put the money into stocks and hope for the best, everyone would denounce that plan as the height of irresponsibility. The fact that this plan has an elaborate disguise, one that would add considerably to its costs, makes it worse.

And maybe the fact that serious financial experts, the sort qualified to be Treasury secretary, understand all this is the reason why John Snow has just been reappointed.

Paul Krugman

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Homeless War on Terra Vets

Homeless Iraq Vets Showing Up at Shelters

Washington, DC - U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq are beginning to show up at homeless shelters around the country, and advocates fear they are the leading edge of a new generation of homeless vets not seen since the Vietnam era.

"When we already have people from Iraq on the streets, my God," said Linda Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. "I have talked to enough (shelters) to know we are getting them. It is happening and this nation is not prepared for that."

"I drove off in my truck. I packed my stuff. I lived out of my truck for a while," Seabees Petty Officer Luis Arellano, 34, said in a telephone interview from a homeless shelter near March Air Force Base in California run by U.S.VETS, the largest organization in the country dedicated to helping homeless veterans.

Arellano said he lived out of his truck on and off for three months after returning from Iraq in September 2003. "One day you have a home and the next day you are on the streets," he said.

In Iraq, shrapnel nearly severed his left thumb. He still has trouble moving it and shrapnel "still comes out once in a while," Arellano said. He is left handed.

Arellano said he felt pushed out of the military too quickly after getting back from Iraq without medical attention he needed for his hand - and as he would later learn, his mind.

"It was more of a rush. They put us in a warehouse for a while. They treated us like cattle," Arellano said about how the military treated him on his return to the United States.

"It is all about numbers. Instead of getting quality care, they were trying to get everybody demobilized during a certain time frame. If you had a problem, they said, 'Let the (Department of Veterans Affairs) take care of it.'"


Nearly 300,000 veterans are homeless on any given night, and almost half served during the Vietnam era, according to the Homeless Veterans coalition, a consortium of community-based homeless-veteran service providers. While some experts have questioned the degree to which mental trauma from combat causes homelessness, a large number of veterans live with the long-term effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse, according to the coalition.

Some homeless-veteran advocates fear that similar combat experiences in Vietnam and Iraq mean that these first few homeless veterans from Iraq are the crest of a wave.

"This is what happened with the Vietnam vets. I went to Vietnam," said John Keaveney, chief operating officer of New Directions, a shelter and drug-and-alcohol treatment program for veterans in Los Angeles. That city has an estimated 27,000 homeless veterans, the largest such population in the nation. "It is like watching history being repeated," Keaveney said.


Advocates said seeing homeless veterans from Iraq should cause alarm. Around one-fourth of all homeless Americans are veterans, and more than 75 percent of them have some sort of mental or substance abuse problem, often PTSD, according to the Homeless Veterans coalition.

More troubling, experts said, is that mental problems are emerging as a major casualty cluster, particularly from the war in Iraq where the enemy is basically everywhere and blends in with the civilian population, and death can come from any direction at any time.

Interviews and visits to homeless shelters around the Unites States show the number of homeless veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan so far is limited. Of the last 7,500 homeless veterans served by the VA, 50 had served in Iraq. Keaveney, from New Directions in West Los Angeles, said he is treating two homeless veterans from the Army's elite Ranger battalion at his location. U.S.VETS, the largest organization in the country dedicated to helping homeless veterans, found nine veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan in a quick survey of nine shelters. Others, like the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training in Baltimore, said they do not currently have any veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan in their 170 beds set aside for emergency or transitional housing.

Tucson Roller Derby - Wheelie Awards

support your local rollergirl


Retiring Senator Zell Miller, a teacher not a lawyer, will join the government affairs practice of one of his home state's major law firms when he leaves his Senate position early next year.

According to a statement from the firm, his employer to be, McKenna Long And Aldridge, provides expertise to clients in such areas as tax policy, international trade, homeland security, health policy and higher education.

Miller will work from the firm's Washington and Atlanta offices.

He had a hard time today describing exactly what his duties will be. Miller said -- quote -- "I haven't been able to talk to anybody very concretely because of the rules of the Senate."

But, he insisted, one thing he won't be is a lobbyist.

(via Raw Story)

State of the World's Children

Leaving Our Children Behind

More than half the world's children are suffering the effects of poverty, war and HIV/AIDS, denying them a healthy and safe childhood, Unicef's annual report said Thursday.

The United Nations children's fund report on The State of the World's Children found more than one billion children are growing up hungry and unhealthy, schools have become targets for warring parties and whole villages are being killed off by AIDS.

A failure by governments around the world to live up to standards outlined in 1989's Convention on the Rights of the Child caused permanent damage to children and blocked progress toward human rights and economic advancement, the report said.

“Too many governments are making informed, deliberate choices that actually hurt childhood,” Unicef executive director Carol Bellamy said.


The report found 640 million children did not have adequate shelter; 300 million had no access to information such as TV, radio or newspapers and 140 million children, the majority of them girls, had never been to school.

Poverty was not confined to developing countries, the report said, as the proportion of children living in low-income households in 11 of 15 industrialized nations rose in the past decade.

More than 10 million child deaths were recorded in 2003, with an estimated 29,158 children under 5 dying from mostly preventable causes everyday.

Unicef reported that conflict round the world has seriously injured or permanently disabled millions of children, while millions more endure sexual violence, trauma, hunger and disease caused by wars.

Nearly half of the 3.6 million people killed in conflict during the 1990s were children and around 20 million children were forced from their homes and communities by fighting.

Unicef said almost half a million children under 15 died of AIDS in 2003, while another 630,000 children are infected with HIV.

By 2003 some 2.1 million children under 15 were living with HIV/AIDS, most of whom were infected during pregnancy, birth or through breast-feeding.

You will be missed

Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett close their careers with a 5-0 victory over Mexico.


The Austin Chapter of Drinking Liberally is promoting democracy one pint at a time.

When: Every Thursday, 6:30 onward
Where: Cedar Door, 201 Brazos Street

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Yesterday we took a look at the Contraception Museum. Today we will tour the Museum of Menstruation.

Bu$hCo. vs. Native Americans has a story entitled "Fraud in New Mexico".
(via Spindentist at All Spin Zone)

An investigation by has found that officials in the Bush administration had detailed knowledge of fraudulent practices that allowed energy companies to cheat impoverished Native American Indians out of vast sums over dozens of years. These officials were aware that employees of the federal government were helping oil and gas companies underpay to operate on Indian lands in the state of New Mexico — and did nothing to stop it. This is the first in a two-part series.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

People vs. Empire

Arundhati Roy on countering repressive states

In India, the word public is now a Hindi word. It means people. In Hindi, we have sarkar and public, the government and the people. Inherent in this use is the underlying assumption that the government is quite separate from “the people.” However, as you make your way up India’s complex social ladder, the distinction between sarkar and public gets blurred. The Indian elite, like the elite anywhere in the world, finds it hard to separate itself from the state.

In the United States, on the other hand, the blurring of this distinction between sarkar and public has penetrated far deeper into society. This could be a sign of robust democracy, but unfortunately it’s a little more complicated and less pretty than that. Among other things, it has to do with the elaborate web of paranoia generated by the U.S. sarkar and spun out by the corporate media and Hollywood. Ordinary people in the United States have been manipulated into imagining they are a people under siege whose sole refuge and protector is their government. If it isn’t the Communists, it’s al Qaeda. If it isn’t Cuba, it’s Nicaragua. As a result, the most powerful nation in the world is peopled by a terrified citizenry jumping at shadows. A people bonded to the state not by social services, or public health care, or employment guarantees, but by fear.


We must question then: Is “democracy” still democratic? Are democratic governments accountable to the people who elected them? And, critically, is the public in democratic countries responsible for the actions of its sarkar?

If you think about it, the logic that underlies the war on terror and the logic that underlies terrorism are exactly the same. Both make ordinary citizens pay for the actions of their government. Al Qaeda made the people of the United States pay with their lives for the actions of their government in Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. government has made the people of Afghanistan pay in the thousands for the actions of the Taliban and the people of Iraq pay in the hundreds of thousands for the actions of Saddam Hussein. Whose God decides which is a “just war” and which isn’t? George Bush senior once said: “I will never apologize for the United States. I don’t care what the facts are.” When the president of the most powerful country in the world doesn’t need to care what the facts are, then we can be sure we have entered the Age of Empire.


The disturbing thing nowadays is that resistance as spectacle has cut loose from its origins in genuine civil disobedience and is becoming more symbolic than real. Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are fun and vital, but alone they are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe.

If we want to reclaim the space for civil disobedience, we must liberate ourselves from the tyranny of crisis reportage and its fear of the mundane. We must use our experience, our imagination and our art to interrogate those instruments of state that ensure “normality” remains what it is: cruel, unjust, unacceptable. We must expose the policies and processes that make ordinary things—food, water, shelter and dignity—such a distant dream for ordinary people. The real preemptive strike is to understand that wars are the end result of a flawed and unjust peace.

For mass resistance movements, no amount of media coverage can make up for strength on the ground. There is no alternative, really, to old-fashioned, back-breaking political mobilization.


In the United States, you have the USA PATRIOT Act, which has become a blueprint for antiterrorism laws passed by governments around the world. Freedoms are being curbed in the name of protecting freedom. And once we surrender our freedoms, to win them back will take a revolution.

One does not endorse the violence of militant groups. Neither morally nor strategically. But to condemn it without first denouncing the much greater violence perpetrated by the state would be to deny the people of these regions not just their basic human rights, but even the right to a fair hearing. People who have lived in situations of conflict know that militancy and armed struggle provokes a massive escalation of violence from the state. But living as they do, in situations of unbearable injustice, can they remain silent forever?

No discussion taking place in the world today is more crucial than the debate about strategies of resistance. And the choice of strategy is not entirely in the hands of the public. It is also in the hands of sarkar.


Terrorism is vicious, ugly and dehumanizing for its perpetrators as well as its victims. But so is war. You could say that terrorism is the privatization of war. Terrorists are the free marketers of war. They are people who don’t believe that the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.

Of course, there is an alternative to terrorism. It’s called justice. It’s time to recognize that no amount of nuclear weapons, or full-spectrum dominance, or “daisy cutters” or spurious governing councils and loya girgas can buy peace at the cost of justice.

The urge for hegemony and preponderance by some will be matched with greater intensity by the longing for dignity and justice by others. Exactly what form that battle takes, whether it’s beautiful or bloodthirsty, depends on us.

From In These Times

Florida vote-rigging

In sworn affidavit, programmer says he devloped vote-rigging prototype for Florida congressman; Congressman's office silent. Read it in the blue lemur.

In the vote fraud prototype that I created things are not what they seem. Hidden on the screen are invisible buttons. A person with knowledge of the locations of those invisible buttons can then use them to alter the votes of everyone before them. By clicking the correct order of invisible buttons the candidate selected by the user is compared to other candidates within that same race. If the candidate they selected is leading the race nothing happens. If the other candidate is leading the race the vote totals are altered so that the selected candidate is now leading the race with 51% of the vote. The other candidates then share the remaining 49% in exact proportion to the totals they had previously. In the prototype supplied to Feeney the vote totals show on the screen. In an actual application the user would receive no visible clues to the fraud that had just occurred. Since the vote is applied by race, any single race or multiple races can be altered. The supervisors or any other voter would never notice this fraud since no visible sign would appear. Additionally, the procedure could be repeated as many times as was necessary to achieve the desired results. No amount of testing or simulations would expose the fraud as its activation and process is completely invisible to everyone except the person programming the vote fraud routine.

The same procedure could be automated to activate without any user intervention whenever the machine detects a certain pattern of voting. The algorithm could also be altered from hidden keys or triggers that would allow the fraudulent user to manipulate both the margins and percentages of any particular race. In most national elections it is not necessary to win every area.

Contraception Museum

Case Western Reserve University's Contaceptive Collection.

The Dittrick Medical History Center learned in August that it would receive the Percy Skuy Collection on the History of Contraception. Mr. Skuy, past President of Ortho Pharmaceutical (Canada), assembled the world's most comprehensive collection of historical contraceptive devices, numbering over 650 artifacts. Dittrick Chief Curator Jim Edmonson first saw the collection in 1998, when Janssen-Ortho hosted the Medical Museum Association meeting at their headquarters in Toronto. He found the collection fascinating, but never imagined that it would one day reside at the Dittrick.

Percy Skuy's collecting began in 1965 and encompassed all manner of contraceptive devices, from a broad variety of cultures and time periods, and eventually developed into a "History of Contraception Museum". This Museum traveled the globe in the 1990s, having been displayed at medical meetings from Singapore to Switzerland. In 2000 Mr. Skuy initiated the search for a new permanent home for this collection, where it might be studied, exhibited, and enjoyed by a broader public.

via Boing Boing.

Finland does not need school vouchers

Finland once again came out top in the OECD’s latest PISA study of learning skills among 15-year-olds, with high performances in mathematics and science matching those of top-ranking Asian school systems in Hong Kong-China, Japan and Korea. But some low-performing countries showed only small improvements or actually did less well, widening the gap between the best and poorest performers.

Hong Kong-China
United States (25th)

United States (12th)

Hong Kong-China
United States (20th)

Problem Solving
Hong Kong-China
New Zealand
United States (26th)

Full report here. Learn more about Finland's education system here and here.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Happy Birthday

Tucson Roller Derby is one year old today.

Molly Ivins on

Texas Liberal Humor

The mere thought of liberal humor in Texas will remind many of that photo that ran for years in Esquire magazine, of Richard Nixon laughing hysterically, over the caption, “Why Is This Man Laughing?” Well hell, as that great philosopher Jimmy Buffett observes, if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane. Besides, crying and throwing up are bad for you.

Next to cops and doctors, Texas liberals have the darkest sense of humor I’ve ever come across. But like everything else in the beloved state, it comes with a twist. Like normal Texans, Texas liberals love good stories and love language with flavor and bite to it, like a good chili.


Liberals in the Lege have gone under various sobriquets over time: the Gas House Gang, the Shit House Liberals (from their habit of hiding in the Men’s Room during tough votes), the Dirty Thirty, the Gang of Four. To this good day, the advice given to every incoming member is, “Vote conservative, party liberal.” Quite simply, we are always much more fun than the other guys. From Eckhardt and Maury Maverick to Malcolm MacGregor of El Paso and Whiskey Bob Wheeler from Tilden. From Carl Parker (“If you took all the fools out of the Legislature, it would no longer be a representative body”) and Neil Caldwell (founder of the Old Forts, a group of liberal former members who can’t spell real well) to Senfronia Thompson, (who christened the tort defendants’ corner of the gallery “the Owners’ Box”).

Among the Lege’s more blissfully comic moments are its biennial efforts to proceed with more dignity. Speaker Pete Laney (the one who never got indicted) actually made some progress in this regard, but I am pleased to report the House has since lapsed into an awesome degree of asininity. Among other results, this caused the Bolt to Ardmore in the summer of ought-three. The Observer was embedded with the troops in Ardmore and can assure you that it is not a destination-vacation spot. Many in the current Legislature remind us of William Brann’s great line, “The trouble with our Texas Baptists is that we do not hold them under water long enough.”

The Observer has been watching Texas politics for 50 years now and as the sorority girls say, we’re, like, “You think you can top this?” Bring it on. We know pols in other states do foolish things and get caught in hilariously compromising situations. For 40 years, I have been involved in political storytellin’ contests with other political writers in bars all over this country. I can get a close run for my money in Louisiana, New Jersey, Illinois, and (unexpected entry) New Mexico. (Former N.M. Gov. Bruce King, a Texan at heart, was once accused of breaking a promise: “A promise,” said he with dignity, “is not a commitment.”) Hey, Preston Smith could top that any Tuesday, and Bill Clements twice a week. I have never lost a political storytellin’ contest in any category: crooked pols, dumb pols, out-goddamned-rageous pols. We win—and we never have to make up anything. How can I lose with material like the time Rep. Mike Martin paid his Cousin Eddie to shoot him in the arm with a shotgun, and then claimed it had been done by a Satanic and communistic cult.

You think I can find stuff this weird anywhere else? This is why I’m still in Texas.

Colonial Warfare

I'm hooked on Steve Gilliard's Colonial Warfare posts.
He is now covering the Algerian War.

Keeping Algeria French
The "Phony War"
The Open War
The Question of Torture
The Legacy of Torture
The War of the Algerians
Conduct of the War
The Wars within the War

Press Routinely Undercounts U.S. Casualties in Iraq

NEW YORK As the toll of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq in November approaches record levels for one month in this war, is the press only telling part of the story?

The Pentagon's latest official count, provided on Wednesday, listed 1,230 American military killed in Iraq and another 9,300 U.S. troops wounded in action. How seriously? More than 5,000 of the wounded were too badly injured to return to duty. More than 850 troops were reported to have been wounded in action in Falluja so far.

But this only scratches the surface of the total toll.

Earlier this week, CBS’s "60 Minutes" revealed that it had received a letter from the Pentagon declaring: "More than 15,000 troops with so-called 'non-battle' injuries and diseases have been evacuated from Iraq."

These include serious injuries that arise from accidents (vehicular and otherwise), trauma, and severe psychiatric problems. The number is in line with estimates offered earlier this year by United Press International, based on arrivals at the main treatment center in Landstuhl, Germany.

More from Raed in the Middle

Friday, December 03, 2004

say hello to

the Windy City Rollers on their new Message Board.

ACME Benefit

The Austin Coalition for Marriage Equality will hold a fundraiser party Saturday, December 4th.

For a donation of only $5 you will get to:

**DRINK BEER! all the beer you could ever dream of!
** be around really cool attractive people and even talk to them
** see The TunaHelpers perform in an intimate setting(oh my)
**dance and feel sexy under the trance of The Pegasus DJ and The Notorious Brea (no they WILL NOT play trance music)
** romp around in a lovely house all night long

Location: 1414 E. 37th Street, Austin, TX 78722
Time: 9:00pm onward
Date: Saturday, December 4th
Cover: $5.00

The Austin Coalition for Marriage Equality (ACME) was founded on March 8, 2004 by a group of Austinites who all wanted the same thing – marriage equality. Since then, ACME has organized various events aimed at raising awareness of the myriad disadvantages faced by families because of the inability of same-sex couples to marry, including rallies, marches, a press conference, and the Weddings for Marriage Equality.

More recently, ACME has switched gears: our new goal is to gain domestic partnership benefits in Austin, Texas. We have been working closely with city council members and their aides to draft a resolution that will offer tangible benefits to same-sex couples.

ACME recently had an organizational meeting with various GLBT and GLBT-ally organizations from around Texas to involve them in our work on domestic partnership benefits.

If you would like to help or be involved, please contact Marti Bier at: marti AT austinmarriageequality DOT org

GOP Family Values

Hustler outs Congressman David Dreier and has some fun with Jenna and NotJenna.

the South will roll again

The Dirty South Derby Girls recruitment drive is on. Skate with them Sundays from 2pm - 5pm at Sparkles Roller Rink. 4800 Davidson Rd. Marietta, GA.

The girls are also looking bands, referees, announcers, sponsors, merchandise sellers...
contact: dirtysouthderbygirls AT gmail DOT com

support your local rollergirl

My Dream

Shades of Dr. Mengele

Molly Ivins on the International Red Cross report on torture at Guantanamo.

U.S. Can Use Evidence Gained by Torture

Evidence gained by torture can be used by the U.S. military in deciding whether to imprison a foreigner indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as an enemy combatant, the government concedes.

Statements produced under torture have been inadmissible in U.S. courts for about 70 years. But the U.S. military panels reviewing the detention of 550 foreigners as enemy combatants at the U.S. naval base in Cuba are allowed to use such evidence, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle acknowledged at a U.S. District Court hearing Thursday.

Some of the prisoners have filed lawsuits challenging their detention without charges for up to three years so far. At the hearing, Boyle urged District Judge Richard J. Leon to throw their cases out.

Attorneys for the prisoners argued that some were held solely on evidence gained by torture, which they said violated fundamental fairness and U.S. due process standards. But Boyle argued in a similar hearing Wednesday that the detainees "have no constitutional rights enforceable in this court."

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Closet Case

Tristan Taormino:

A producer from a cable music channel recently called me to see if I'd be interested in being a talking head on one of those pop culture decade-in-review-type shows. He said it was about queer people's memories of high school (the working title had the phrase "closet case" in it), and the rest of the conversation went something like this.

"The show is almost complete, and this piece is great, but we're missing, um, is 'lipstick lesbian' the correct term? Basically, we're missing the hot lesbian."

Now, I know they already had several lesbians on the show, so I assume they're butch, un-girlified, or not L Word–standard chic. But I am sure some of them are attractive, even hot; they're just not hot by this straight guy's standards or the idiotic executives he answers to. I should have hung up on him right then and there, but I didn't. I thought maybe I had something to contribute, so I played along.


I am not denying that there are certain gay and lesbian archetypes: We acknowledge them, celebrate them, poke fun at them. After all, I'm the daughter of a gay man who loved Judy Garland, musical theater, and shopping. Shared experiences—the oh-my-god-you-were-obsessed-with-that-too? factor—are part of what binds us together as a community. But it's dangerous to distill us all down to just one narrative of nelly guys and tomboy girls. What's missing is not only a diversity of experiences, but a range of gender expressions, like butch gay men who played high school football, femme dyke homecoming queens, punk-rock kids, and so on.

Mr. Producer's dismissal of my story because it didn't line up with the others was exclusionary, frustrating, and offensive. I know he wasn't working on a PBS documentary on being gay in high school, but a silly package of soundbites and video clips. Maybe my experience is not ideal for TV—it's not archetypal, stereotypical, or simple. It's not easily distilled into a few images, some chirpy words, and a cool, retro graphic treatment. But it's still fucking valid. I know, I know, it's just empty, fill-the-time-slot TV. But shows like his contribute to telling the same story over and over, one in which there is never room for other experiences, identities, and people whose stories are nuanced, complex, or real.

There are plenty of potential lesbians in high school right now who are not on the field hockey team, don't want their hair to look like Johnny Depp's circa 21 Jump Street, and aren't being called bull dykes behind their backs. For these girls, I think it's important to show how different we queers can be. There is not one typical high school narrative or one coming-out story that they must identify with in order to join the club. They just have to dig girls.

Gay Girl

gay girl

You Do It Like a Gay Girl

Even if you're not a girl's girl, you act like one.
You tend to form deep, long lasting loves…
And after you've gazed into one another's souls
The battery operated sex follows!


Mrs. Tarquin Buscuitbarrel has transcribed Lynne Cheney's "Sisters".
UPDATE: Link no longer works. Hmmmm...

Republican Alabama lawmaker proposes banning gay books from public libraries

An Alabama lawmaker who sought to ban gay marriages now wants to ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries.

A bill by Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Cottondale, would prohibit the use of public funds for “the purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.” Allen said he filed the bill to protect children from the “homosexual agenda.”

“Our culture, how we know it today, is under attack from every angle,” Allen said in a press conference Tuesday.

Allen said that if his bill passes, novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural would have to be removed from library shelves and destroyed.

“I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them,” he said.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Social Security Athletic Wagering Commission

WASHINGTON, DC—President Bush signed an ambitious Social Security plan into law Monday that will allow citizens to bet a third of their payroll taxes on their favorite sports teams.

"It's time we gave the American people the chance to make some real money for retirement," Bush said, speaking from the new Office of Social Security and Pari-mutuel Wagering Building. "Some naysayers think the average citizen doesn't know how to handle his own money. When spring training starts next year, it's up to you to prove them wrong."

"It's your money," Bush added. "You earned it. You should be able to bet it on whatever team you want."

Under the new plan, participating citizens will be asked to list their favorite teams on their W-2 forms. At the start of each major sports season, program participants will visit their local Social Security booking offices to review point spreads and sample playoff trees. Citizens' team selections will be subject to approval by their employers, who contribute a percentage of wages to the employee Social Security Earned Benefits Fund, or "pot," under the new system.

"For too long, Social Security has been managed by an elite group of government accountants and economists," said U.S. Sen. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a longtime advocate of Social Security reform and athletics-based gambling. "Why let your retirement money sit around in an account when you could double or triple it in a single year? Under the new plan, anyone with access to a sports page can control his financial destiny."

Read the rest of the story in the Onion

Guinea Pig Kids

Jacklyn Hoerger's job was to treat children with HIV at a New York children's home.

But nobody had told her that the drugs she was administering were experimental and highly toxic.

"We were told that if they were vomiting, if they lost their ability to walk, if they were having diarrhoea, if they were dying, then all of this was because of their HIV infection."

In fact it was the drugs that were making the children ill and the children had been enrolled on the secret trials without their relatives' or guardians' knowledge.


Over 23,000 of the city's children are either in foster care or independent homes run mostly by religious organisations on behalf of the local authorities and almost 99% are black or hispanic.

Some of these kids come from "crack" mothers and have been infected with the HIV virus. For over a decade, this became the target group for experimentation involving cocktails of toxic drugs.

Central to this story is the city's child welfare department, the Administration for Children's Services (ACS).

The ACS, as it is known, was granted far-reaching powers in the 1990s by then-Republican Mayor Rudi Giuliani, after a particularly horrific child killing.

Within the shortest of periods, literally thousands of children were being rounded up and placed in foster care.

"They're essentially out of control," said family lawyer David Lansner. "I've had many ACS case workers tell me: 'We're ACS, we can do whatever we want' and they usually get away with it."

Having taken children into care, the ACS was now, effectively, their parent and could do just about anything it wished with them.

From BBC News

LA Derby Dolls at Wumpskate


Tuesday, November 30, 2004

CCR files war crimes complaint

The Center for Constitutional Rights and four Iraqis who were tortured in U.S. custody have filed a complaint with the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office against high ranking United States civilian and military commanders over the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere in Iraq.

We are asking the German prosecutor to launch an investigation: since the U.S. government is unwilling to open an independent investigation into the responsibility of these officials for war crimes, and since the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court, CCR and the Iraqi victims have brought this complaint in Germany as a court of last resort. Several of the defendants are stationed in Germany.

Defendants include Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, former CIA Director George Tenet, Lt. General Ricardo S. Sanchez, Major-General Walter Wojdakowski, Brig.-General Janis Karpinski, Lt.-Colonel Jerry L. Phillabaum, Colonel Thomas M. Pappas, Lt.-Colonel Stephen L. Jordan, Major-General Geoffrey Miller, and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone.

German law allows German courts to prosecute for killing, torture, cruel and inhumane treatment, forcible transfers and sexual coercion such as occurred at Abu Ghraib. The world has seen the photographs and read the leaked “torture memos” – we are doing what is necessary when other systems of justice have failed and seeking to hold officials up the chain of command responsible for the shameful abuses that occurred.

Please join our effort! The German Prosecutor has discretion to decide whether to initiate an investigation. It is critical that he hear from you so he knows that people around the world support this effort.

Deadline: December 31, 2004