March 31, 2005
This is what amounts to progress in Nebraska. "Gov. Dave Heineman's promise to take the state "boldly" into the future picked up steam Wednesday as he made Marlon A. Polk the first African-American judge to sit on a Nebraska district court."
Very bold, Lt. Gov. Heineman.
An old friend of mine used to work at a car dealership here in Lincoln and he would constantly get asked if he was a football player just because he was black. Nevermind he was 5'6" and about 150 lbs. If you were a young black man in Nebraska, you were either a football player or a criminal.
The captain of the Nebraska football team in the early 1890's was a black man. George Flippin was a 6'2" 200 lb. halfback pretty damn close to the size of a college halfback now. Missourah once had to forfeit a game because they refused to play Nebraska when they had a black man on the field. Sort of bizarre that it took baseball another 50 years, huh?
Anyway, I suppose I should congratulate the Guv for making such a bold move, a move that a large number of governors including many Democrats could have made since 1867. If this state didn't have football...well, I don't know what could compare. I'm just pretty damned embarrassed it took this long to get a black judge in this state.
March 30, 2005
Never Again: Again and Again
In her 2001 article "Bystanders to Genocide," Pulitzer Prize winning author Samantha Power recounts how President Clinton was shocked and outraged by an article written by Philip Gourevitch recounting the horrors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, prompting him to send the article to his national security advisor Sandy Berger with a note scrawled in the margin reading "Is what he's saying true? How did this happen?"
After taking office, President Bush reportedly read Power's article on the Clinton administration's failure to intervene during the genocide. He too scrawled a message in the margin - "NOT ON MY WATCH."
Yet we are now faced with another African genocide, this time in Darfur, and the United States and the rest of the world are responding exactly as they did during Rwanda - with paralyzed inaction.
Though there are many key differences between what is taking place in Darfur and what occurred in Rwanda a decade ago, there are also many similarities.
In 1993, the world watched "Schindler's List" and wondered how such horrors could unfold and why they were not stopped. In 2004, it watched "Hotel Rwanda" and asked the same questions. In each case, those questions went unanswered.
Just as in Rwanda, the international military force on the ground in Darfur is far too small, poorly equipped and operating under an extremely limited mandate that does not allow them to protect civilians at risk.
Just as in Rwanda, the genocide is taking place against a backdrop of "civil war," leading the international community to focus more on establishing a cease-fire than protecting those being killed.
Just as in Rwanda, the death toll is nearly impossible to determine.
Just as in Rwanda, the United Nations is more or less paralyzed as individual nations seek to protect their own national interests rather than helpless men, women and children.
Just as in Rwanda, media coverage is almost nonexistent, Congress is all but silent, and the human rights community is having difficulty get the nation to pay attention to a genocide in progress.
Just as in Rwanda, a genocide is unfolding - but this time it is happening on our watch.
We ask you to join the Coalition for Darfur as we attempt to raise awareness of the genocide in Darfur and raise money for the live saving work Save the Children is doing there.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 08:06 PM
Back in the Game
Maybe not the back in the regular blogging game, but back in the law school game. Even if I immediately regretted signing up for the 2L moot court competish, even if I didn't chicken out like half of the entrants, even if I hated writing the brief on what one of the judges said was the worst moot court issue she'd seen in 20+ years, I think the process of getting up and taking rapid fire questions from some pretty active panels kick-started my brain enough to make it through until the end of the semester. Whether it was worth the hassle remains to be seen.
March 26, 2005
South Dakota Roundup
Since 2003 I've been watching with interest the radid development of the South Dakota blogosphere. It's kind of interesting how intense the politics is up there all the time when south of Valentine, Sioux City and the Missouri River things quiet down quite a bit in off years.
Anyway, our neighbors to the north have what one might called a fairly developed blogosphere. The intense contest between Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and Republican wunderkind John Thune in 2004 no doubt played a significant role in the rapid maturation of this medium among South Dakota’s political observers. Daschle’s defeat left a number of talented political professionals with time on their hands, some of who started their own political weblogs.
As an avid election watcher, I found myself traversing the South Dakota weblogs with some frequency as the 2004 elections approached. After November, the frequency of my visits decreased, but I made it a point to follow the various accounts of South Dakota’s politics, if only to learn something from their authors’ experience.
There have been some noteworthy developments of late. First, there is the interesting relationship between Sen. John Thune, his paid bloggers, and Jeff Gannon / James Guckert.
Shortly after the election, one of Thune’s paid bloggers (Jason Van Beek) left his weblog "South Dakota Politics" to Thune’s other paid blogger Jon Lauck of Daschle v. Thune) in order to begin working for Sen. Thune in his DC office. It has now been revealed that Prof. Lauck is leaving his position as a professor at South Dakota State University to take a position as a staffer to Sen. Thune. Regardless of your ultimate conclusions on the appropriateness of paying bloggers for "research" and "debate prep," we can all thank Lauck and Van Beek for bringing the issue of FEC regulation of political speech on the Internetsto the fore in a very tangible way.
But South Dakota’s blog-o-sphere has recently had to wrestle with another common problem that permeates the gray area between advocacy and journalism on the web: anonymity.
Several weeks ago, a new weblog entitled "ArgusVThune" (AVT) emerged ostensibly to counter the proliferation of anti-Thune or Thune watchdog websites. According to its own masthead, it was “dedicated to coverage of Murdo's favorite son and his perpetual opponent” —the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.*
*After reading South Dakota political weblogs for more than a few minutes you will understand that it is an item of faith among South Dakota’s conservatives that the Argus Leader is hopelessly biased in favor of liberal interests and institutions and cannot be trusted to objectively cover South Dakota’s political culture. This of course brings us back to Jeff Gannon, Jon Lauck, Jason Van Beek, and the Daschle / Thune race, but I digress.
AVT is an anonymous "group" weblog with a single poster who goes by the pseudonym "Steven Raider," "Stevenraiders," or Raider] for short. The name, it appears, is designed to suggest a connection to Rapid City, South Dakota, where the mascot for Stevens High School is the Raiders. Unfortunately, due to events described below, most of the posts to which I will be referring are no longer available at AVT. I have lifted most of what follows from Google's cache.
Shortly after its birth, sometime in early March, AVT began posting on South Dakota’s lone House Member, Stephanie Herseth’s handling of the 2005 Transportation bill. The posts came at a frantic pace. Headlines boasted "BREAKING NEWS - HERSETH IN MELTDOWN," "SD Highway Funding - 1953 levels - Herseth Legacy," and "Super-Sleuth Mercer Reports Herseth Highway Fumble." AVT offered tantalizing material with behind-the-scenes details on the inner workings of the Herseth office so vivid that they had to be true. Excerpts:
Sources at the SD Association of General Contractors are furious with the circus show Herseth is turning in on the Highway Bill.
With Herseth leaving for Europe during the height of the debate - SD AGC reps were left to deal with her staff. My source says they fail to see why she cannot get the baseline of $50 Million and on top of it rumors are swirling that Herseth needs a new definition of what a Highway is.
AP Breaking news - AVT sources accurate - Herseth loses $28 million in funding over European vacation.
As AVT reported on Monday - Herseth's European trip during highway funding negotiations had South Dakota funding reduced from $63 million to an inflation adjusted RECORD LOW of $35 million.
Despite billions more in the 2005 Highway Bill than the Thune 1997 Highway Bill - Herseth failed to even hit Thune's $50 million.
Pierre Transportation Officials and sources at SD Contractors say Herseth staff has given them 4 different funding levels for the Highway Bill passed last Friday.
After negotiating South Dakota share of Highway funding increases down to 46th in the Nation, Herseth staff still has no answers.
Pierre officials have made decision to bypass dealing with Herseth office and have turned to a paid lobbyist for South Dakota to get them the information they need.
Skeptical readers like me took these posts with a grain of salt. As someone who doesn’t really know how House members negotiate a transportation bill, however, I’ll admit AVT’s accounts sounded pretty believable. Even with TO a member of the House Transportation Committee, I’ll admit to having paid little attention to the twists and turns of funding for bridges and roads across Nebraska. But then I recalled Rep. O sborne’s Congressional delegation trip to Europe last month. Wasn’t Rep. Herseth on that trip? Is this trip the one that AVT now refers to as a "European Vacation?" Don’t delegation trips occur during district work periods when Congress is out of session? I wondered how Herseth’s participation in a Congressional trade mission with at least one member of the Transportation Committee could have resulted in “fumbling” highway funding in such a dramatic fashion. I was skeptical alright. But I had only hit the tip of the iceberg.
Shortly thereafter, AVT begin posting stories of Herseth’s sabotage of the Daschle database in the weeks prior to the election. According to AVT, "sources" told the fantastic story of Herseth conspiring with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee operative Peter Cari to load a virus into the Daschle database in order to trick his field staff into turning out Thune/Herseth voters. As I noted the other day in the comments section of the Nebraska Democratic Party blog Nebraska Democratic Party, South Dakota’s Clean Cut Kid was downright incredulous. Apparently he had run the Daschle database and easily debunked the unsubstantiated reports from AVT. The pseudonymous "Raider" was undeterred, however, and continued to press the story, finding some interest in the rumor among South Dakota’s right wing bloggers. AVT’s reporting was convincing enough that one of South Dakota’s more prolific liberal bloggers thought it best for Herseth to get out in front of the story, lest it spread.
Then the Clean Cut Kid dropped the bomb.
An enormous post captioned "The 21 Lie Salute and the South Dakota Truth" exposed AVT from top to bottom. The post debunked every piece of innuendo, exaggeration, mischaracterization and downright falsehood produced over AVT’s brief existence. It set the record straight about Herseth’s handling of the Transportation bill with actual evidence. It debunks the preposterous Peter Cari computer virus allegations. But most interestingly, it appears to identify the pseudonymous Raider. I don’t know shit from shinola about who is who in the world of South Dakota politics with the exception of national officeholders and their opponents, but it appears that AVT was authored by one or two of South Dakota’s better known Republican operatives. The Clean Cut Kid was able to correspond via email with "Raider" and found his IP address was that of a JD Byrider affiliate with deep ties to the South Dakota Republican party. The firm’s owners are under indictment for consumer fraud in Iowa (and presumably in South Dakota too).
AVT quickly responded by sarcastically conceding each point raised by the Clean Cut Kid, and then the South Dakota political blog-o-sphere got very quiet. There were posts on basketball, a water crisis, South Dakota’s air force base, top Democratic and Republican political operatives, state Supreme Court arguments, but very little on what appeared to be the 800 pound gorilla in the virtual room. Things must have been a little hot to handle in what I would guess is a rather small world of political activists.
Then yesterday, AVT had a sudden emergency and went black. We are informed that:
AVT team is working furiously with www.blogger.com team to find out why all postings and archives wiped out.
Will hope to be back up shortly
We will see. As someone who has some experience with weblog software, I question the blackout. I also question the ability to work “furiously” with the blogger team when one must regularly wait several hours—if not days—to receive any response from the help desk. Or is this more hyperbole from the pseudonymous Raider? Only time will tell. Maybe this is AVT’s way to gracefully climb out of the hole it dug for itself. Maybe there is an effort to scrub the archives of potentially libelous statements (I will try to offer a quick primer on Internet libel shortly). Maybe there really was a blogger bug that attacked only the AVT website shortly after the identity of the authors appears to have been revealed. Who knows? As AVT’s Raider would say:
In any event, the present activity in the South Dakota blog-o-sphere provides some great infotainment. Until the emergence of an anonymous anti-Nelson weblog gives me something to do, I’ll keep watching our friends in the Rushmore State as they push the limits of legal and ethical online behavior. You figure, something’s got to give.
Charles Delay's quiet death and lawsuit
A family tragedy unfolding in a Texas hospital during the fall of 1988 was a private ordeal -- without judges, emergency sessions of Congress or the raging debate outside Terri Schiavo's Florida hospice.
The patient then was a 65-year-old drilling contractor, badly injured in a freak accident at his home. Among the family standing vigil at Brooke Army Medical Center was a grieving junior congressman -- U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas.
"There was no point to even really talking about it," Maxine DeLay, the congressman's 81-year-old mother, recalled in an interview last week. "There was no way he (Charles) wanted to live like that. Tom knew, we all knew, his father wouldn't have wanted to live that way."
Doctors advised that he would "basically be a vegetable," said the congressman's aunt, JoAnne DeLay.
The case thrust Congressman DeLay into decidedly unfamiliar territory -- the list of plaintiffs on the front page of a civil complaint. He is an outspoken defender of business against what he calls the crippling effects of "predatory, self-serving litigation."
The DeLay family litigation sought unspecified compensation for, among other things, the dead father's "physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and trauma," and the mother's grief, sorrow and loss of companionship.
Their lawsuit also alleged violations of the Texas product liability law.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 10:29 PM
Culture of Life
Jennifer Johnson, barefoot and in her pajamas, ran to her grandfather's bedside once a hospice worker said his death was moments away. She got there — one minute too late. Johnson said the chaos outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo is dying kept her from saying goodbye.
"To have to maneuver through all of this and have a hostile environment outside when all they want is peace and quiet and to enjoy those few days they have left with a loved one is a horror," said Dr. Morton Getz, executive director of Douglas Gardens Hospice in Miami.
Getz said many people with a family member in a hospice have to make the same excruciating decision that courts have made for Schiavo.
"It's causing a lot of grief and questions in their own mind on whether they did the right thing," he said. "It's unconscionable to have a family member to be near the end stages of life and to get there, you have to walk through signs that say, 'Murderer.'"
Johnson, 24, said her 73-year-old grandfather, Thomas Bone, was restricted from moving freely around the hospice grounds during his final days. He died just hours after Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed and protests intensified.
"They've taken away hospice's greatest quality, that it is peaceful and serene and quiet and calming — and it's not fair," Johnson said.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 08:12 PM
Freedom is on the March
Iraqi students discover the deadly Catch-22 of being a sovereign nation occupied by foreign armies.
After escaping with two students, Ali reached a police station and asked for help. "What do you expect me to do about it?" a uniformed officer asked.
Ali went to the British military base at al-Maakal and pleaded with the duty officer at the gate. "You’re a sovereign country now. We can’t help. You have to go to the Iraqi authorities," the soldier replied.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 03:42 PM
Senator Nelson on Darfur
A couple of weeks ago my sister-in-law had a LTE in the local paper calling for action on the genocide in Sudan. She called for readers to contact Sens. Nelson and Hagel.
Either Senator Nelson got a raft of phone calls or he or his staff noticed the letter because the Senator wrote a LTE to the Journal-Star in response.
I previously co-sponsored Senate Bill 495, the Darfur Accountability Act, which reconfirms that genocide is occurring in Darfur and calls for several steps aimed at stopping it.
These steps include calling for a new U.N. Security Council resolution with sanctions, concerted diplomacy to achieve an effective Security Council resolution, an extension of the arms embargo to cover the government of Sudan and the freezing of assets and denial of visas to those responsible for genocide.
This bill further calls for accelerated assistance to the African Union mission in Darfur, a military nonfly zone and a presidential envoy for Sudan.
I share Katie's concern for the victims in Darfur. I co-sponsored this bill with the hope that renewed focus could effect change in Darfur.
[Sorry for the Lexis links but the Journal-Star's archival search, even when working, rarely returns what you're looking for and it doesn't appear to find LTE's at all.]
Posted by Half-Cocked at 03:15 PM
Spring Break, part II
It's not my spring break again. It's Sarah's. I've always thought it would make sense for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Lincoln Public Schools to coordinate their spring breaks since there are a lot of families in the city who have people in both. It never works out that way though. The two breaks are usually off by a week. This year it's two weeks.
Sarah's gone to visit D.C. friends again. The last time she took a vacation without me I renovated the bedroom by pulling up the carpet and cleaning up the hardwood underneath, painting the walls and trim, and putting up crown moulding. I told her not to expect any household transformations this time around.
There are some things I could do, though. It's about time to get the lettuce and greens planted and start herbs in my indoor boxes. I could also clean out the strawberry patch and cut back the mint, sage, curry, tarragon and all the other perennials that are starting to come back.
I probably won't though. At least not until moot court is finished and my mass communications paper is started.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 02:54 PM
March 25, 2005
The first professor blawg at my school
I've been waiting for this. The professor I always expected to start a blawg because I came across a few of his comments on other blawgs in the past year or so has done so.It's as wingnutty as I expected.
The funny thing is, I didn't find out about it until Mass Communications Law today when MassCommProf (MCP) passed out a screenprint of the blog. We were talking about false light invasion of privacy and MCP asked us if he had a cause of action for false light IOP because the blog post made it look like he was an extreme right-winger when he is the exact opposite.
No comments on Prof. Duncan's blog. That's the way most of the right-wing blogs operate.
March 24, 2005
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate law school?
Maybe it's just the late 2L blahs or something. It just sucks. The classes are boring. I can barely drag myself up 48th St. everyday. Moot court competition is looming next week. I have about a 50% chance of making the national team for next year but I can't stand even thinking about putting together oral arguments.
Torts, contracts, civ pro and property sound so fun and quaint to me right now.
March 23, 2005
One thing Congress hopefully learned from the last three days, aside from the fact that de novo doesn't mean a whole new trial, is that federal judges going all the way back to John Marshall don't like it when bug killers and cell phone salesmen in suits piss in their territory.
Janjaweed militia declares that it will begin targeting foreigners and U.N. humanitarian convoys
Last week, the United Nations was forced to withdraw its staff from parts of western Sudan after the Janjaweed militia declared that it would begin targeting foreigners and U.N. humanitarian convoys.
Yesterday, a 26 year-old USAID worker was shot in the face when the clearly-marked humanitarian convoy she was traveling in was ambushed in broad daylight.
It is still unknown just who carried out this ambush, but Sudan expert Eric Reeves reported yesterday that he had "received from multiple, highly authoritative sources intelligence indicating that Khartoum has ambitious plans for accelerating the obstruction of humanitarian access by means of orchestrated violence and insecurity, including the use of targeted violence against humanitarian aid workers."
If such a plan is truly in the works, it will have dire consequences for the people of Darfur. Last year, Jan Egeland, the UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, warned that as many as 100,000 people could die in Darfur every month if those providing humanitarian assistance were forced to withdraw due to insecurity.
Save the Children has already lost 4 of its aid workers in the last year, yet they continue to provide medical care, food, water, shelter, and protection to more than 200,000 children and families in Darfur each month.
The members of the Coalition for Darfur are working together to raise money for Save the Children and if each coalition partner can raise a mere $10 dollars a week, together we can generate $2,000 a month to support Save the Children's life saving work.
We hope that you might consider making a small donation.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 02:51 PM
March 16, 2005
Is parody finally dead?
It's been limping along overweight on a club foot with high cholesterol, type II diabetes and Lou Gehrig's disease for awhile now. Are any of the Onion's articles about the government or religion funny anymore except in that knowing I-thought-of-that-two-weeks-ago kind of way? Is it possible to tell George Bush's "peeance freeance secure Iraq" statements from SNL or Al Franken satires of the same?
Thanks to Falwell, Dobson et al. we don't even know which cartoon characters are promoting a hidden gay agenda. Last Christmas Marshall Field's in Chicago had a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves theme. An executive with the department store chain just recently told the Chicago Tribune they received complaints that the theme was promoting a gay agenda.
Seven short men living together. That's like five Lucky Pierres.
Since Fitz-Hume was so happy to answer my question about his favorite pants I thought I'd mention my current preferred trousers. Well, my favorite pants I wear. Any pants on a monkey are my true favorite, but anyway...
My favorite pants until just recently were a pair of Wrangler jeans. Not the ass-tight, boot-cut ones with the little faux leather patch on the butt, but jeans that were sorta normal looking I had worn for several years and were soft and supple and comfy. I wore them so often a little hole appeared just to the right of the left pocket. Then the little hole became a big rip and it became rather offensive for me to wear the jeans in public.
Now my favorite pants are some black cords I bought at Target; Merona is the brand I believe. They're soft and just a little too big which is good because the cold I've had off and on for the last two months has made it hard to go to the gym. Also, they don't make that whish-whish sound when I walk like the cords I wore when I was ten years old.
Fitz-Hume also answers a question from The Hot Librarian (actually a 43 year old dude named Herman) about his favorite Saturday morning cartoon and I have to agree with him 100%. When I was in 4th grade 90 minutes of Looney Tunes came on at 8:30 am and I always made sure to be done with the paper route in time to catch the "On with the show this is it!" theme song.
Since I haven't turned on my TV on a Saturday morning in years unless there was an early football game, I don't know what is on but I get the impression that Saturday morning cartoons on the big networks are fairly scarce save for a few 30 minute toy adverts. It's sad, really. I have a photo of my cousin and I sitting on our beanbag chairs eating toast and jam and watching cartoons when I was four years old that says 1000 words about how awesome cartoons used to be.
Thank you Cartoon Network for Boomerang (but please kill Scooby Doo).
If you've tried to email me at the address to the right in the last couple of weeks, I haven't gotten it. My laptop died again (thanks to Best Buy's tech doods being absolute clods) and all the account info is on it.
If you really want to email me send it to Johncocktosen@gmail.com
Drill It, Baby!
The Senate is where all the action is these days and today, by a 51-49 margin, it allowed an amendment piggybacked onto the Senate budget bill that opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.
The thing about ANWR is, we don't know how much, if any, oil is there. We know it'll cost a helluva a lot to extract what oil might be there, and if the oil companies find oil there, it'll be at least 10 years before any of that oil winds up in your gas tank if you have a gas tank in 2015.
The money spent on drilling in ANWR could probably be better used on improving public transportation in places like Los Angeles, working on George Bush's hydrogen car (an idea stolen from Al Gore, btw), and otherwise improving education in conservation. Oh, but the oil companies wouldn't be able to make any money that way. Too bad.
Personally, I hope ANWR winds up being a dry hole just to fuck the oil companies and their pals in the Senate. I'm riding the bus downtown when I'm working full-time this summer and the buses here run on soybeans.
More on the Senate later. Jimmy Stewart's legacy is on the line.
March 15, 2005
In keeping with the Spring Break theme
|Which drunk are you?|
You're drunk like me
You're suave, sensual, can play the guitar like a mother effing right even after 40 oz of rum, you epitomise what drunkenness should be...
|Click Here to Take This Quiz|
Brought to you by YouThink.com quizzes and personality tests.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:33 PM
In Soviet Russia Spring Breaks You
Had a whole buncha stuff I was gonna post. Some of it I forgot, some of it I'm just too lazy to write at the moment.
Instead, here are the results of an important test I just took:
| My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender: |
|Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid|
Posted by Half-Cocked at 12:01 PM
March 10, 2005
Last fall I expressed some doubts about the usefulness of Gilette's M3 Power, the vibrating Mach 3 razor. I was wrong.
I finally used the coupon issued forth from the magic Osco coupon machine which entitled me to a free M3 Power and I've now shaved with it twice. I earlier dismissed the M3 Power as an electric razor in disguise and as something that should probably be banned in Alabama.
I still think the M3 Power is likely to corrupt our youth, break down the family structure and lead to a much more clean shaven society, but I also know that I've never had a shave as close or as easy.
With my face, the best way to tell the quality of shave is to run your hand underneath my jaw. There are a couple of places there that are never smooth no matter how hard I've tried. Until now.
Couple the M3 Power with The Body Shop's Shave Cream pour homme. You won't even be able to feel yourself shaving. Well, except for the odd feeling that you're shaving with a sex toy.
March 09, 2005
Coalition for Darfur
[Written by the fine folks who started the Coalition for Darfur. I'll be posting my own thoughts on some issues pertaining to Sudan and the civil war a little later]
In May 2004, Roger Winter, the Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development's Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, told a House committee that it was inevitable that "more than 100,000 people will die no matter what" in Darfur, Sudan by the end of the year. Winter went on to warn that, in a worst-case scenario, the number could reach as high as 350,000.
One year later, the estimated death toll stands at more than 300,000. The actual number of deaths is nearly impossible to determine given that the government of Sudan, fearing the truth, refuses to grant access to the World Health Organization so that it can conduct a mortality survey. Nonetheless, knowledgeable observers agree that thousands have died at the hands of the Sudanese government and their proxy militia, the Janjaweed (a term meaning "Devils on Horseback") and tens of thousands more have died of disease and starvation after having their villages destroyed in government-led attacks. More than 2 million Darfurians have been internally displaced, the agricultural economy has been decimated and an estimated 3-4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Nearly two years ago, the Muslim government in Khartoum was in the process of finalizing a peace accord that would end a twenty year civil war between the government in the North and the Sudan People's Liberation Army in the South that had taken some 2 million lives. Fearful that the Western region of Darfur was going to continue to be ignored in the new coalition government that was being formed, African rebels launched a series of raids against government facilities. Rather than negotiate with the rebel forces in the West, the government of Sudan enlisted Arab militias in a campaign to wipe out the rebels and anyone suspected of supporting them. In the process, hundreds of villages have been destroyed, tens of thousands have been raped and killed, and millions have been displaced.
The international community has responded in a haphazard fashion. The African Union secured the deployment of some 4,000 troops to the region, though its mandate was limited to monitoring a cease-fire that neither side honored. Less than 2,000 AU soldiers have arrived and they have limited logistical capabilities for covering this area roughly the size of Texas, nor do they have a mandate that allows them to protect civilians. The United Nations has been plagued by inaction, with China and Russia using their veto power to water down Security Council resolutions seeking sanctions or demanding accountability. A recent UN investigation detailed massive war crimes and crimes against humanity but stopped short of calling the campaign a genocide, a declaration the United States made last September. For now, much of the debate is focused on where any cases arising from this situation will be tried: the International Criminal Court or some Africa-based tribunal.
Angered by the lackluster response to what is widely acknowledged as the "world's worst humanitarian crisis," a group of bloggers have formed a Coalition for Darfur to do what little they can. We seek to raise awareness of the crisis in Darfur, but also to raise money for the vital work that Save the Children is doing by providing food, water, shelter, and protection to over 200,000 children and families in Darfur each month.
Together, and with your support, we hope to make a small but meaningful contribution to alleviating the massive suffering that continues to plague the region. Please consider making a donation via our Coalition for Darfur blog.
Posted by Half-Cocked at 09:32 PM
March 08, 2005
And you expect me to know what this means?
Pertinent MS Word ™ stats for the federal mail fraud statute 18 U.S.C. § 1341:
Passive Sentences: 0%
Flesch Reading Ease: 0.0
Posted by Half-Cocked at 05:36 PM
"You wanna see helicoptahs?"
Henry Hill is running an Italian restaurant in North Platte, NE.
Is it just me, or does Henry look a little too much like Jack Klompus.
The World-Herald article stole the "egg noodles and ketchup" line in its article which focuses more on the food aspect. No word though, on whether you can get "the ziti with the meat gravy" or whether the restaurant has "beautiful cutlets that were cut just right" that he fries up before dinner "just as an appetizer."
I'll probably have to make the trip down I-80 at some point as long as he stays out of prison. The Journal-Star article reports that he was charged with felony counts of cocaine and meth possession on Jan. 4.
March 05, 2005
Toilets are the real key
The most recent missive from Bobo's World touched on the family destroying evil of separate bank accounts in a marriage. Brooks is aghast at the number of financial books that suggest separate bank accounts and the number of married couples that actually have them. Of course, in the ideal Bobo's World, each household only has one income so the difference between a joint account and separate accounts is nil.
Too many bloggers for me to link have touched on the issue, and except for Heidi I don't think any of them have actually been married or have had to approach the issue from a practical perspective. When Sarah and I first began living in sin we each had separate accounts and one person would write all the checks and the other would write a check for half to the other. It was kind of a pain in the ass and led to little disputes over how much each owed the other. Later we figured out that rent came to about half and the rest of the stuff, utilities, groceries, etc. made up the other half, so we did it that way.
Eventually, that caused some strife because the utility bills and grocery bills can fluctuate more than one expects over time. Finally, when we got married we opened a joint account in the same bank in which we both already had accounts. Since then, aside from some minor glitches, we've each transferred half of the total monthly expenses (mortgage, water, gas, electric, cable, garbage, food, and a little extra for going out) from our separate accounts to the joint account.
Bobo is more worried about spouses keeping deep dark monetary secrets from each other than he is about the marital discord than can come from separate accounts
For one thing, separate accounts can easily turn into secret accounts. A person's status and resources inside the home shouldn't be based on how much he or she is making outside it. A union based on love can easily turn into a merger based on self-interest, where the main criterion for continuing becomes: Am I getting a good return on my investment, psychic or otherwise?
Of course, Bobo, in dreaming of his perfect exurban world, ignores the fact that worries about investment returns from marriage existed long before there were two-household incomes and separate bank accounts. Isn't that what 19th Century English Literature was about? Besides, I don't think financial calculations figure into most successful marriages anyway.
Will brings up an issue about marital sharing that I think might be just as important in the long run, separate bathrooms. When I look at my parents or other couples who've been married for 30+ years, one thing is consistent. They all have separate bathrooms. Even if there isn't a clear demarcation, there's one that the man uses to shave, shit and shower, and another that has a bunch of makeup and lady stuff sitting around. Right now Sarah and I only have one bathroom. It can become rather unsightly at times, we both leave it a mess and we often want to use it at the same time.
The first thing we're doing when I get out of school is putting a second bathroom in the basement and Sarah has already talked about doing it before I'm done with school. It's not that sharing a bathroom is causing much conflict right now, but it would be one less reason for conflict. Plus, having a basement bathroom will ease the tremendouse inconvenience of having to walk all the way up the stairs to use it while watching TV or working in my office.
March 01, 2005
Call Me the Benator, Bitch!
My ostensibly Democratic senator appeared on the Daily Show last night and he was actually kind of funny even though he told stories I'd already heard and danced around Stewart's questioning of why he was such a punk. He talked about Nebraska food (he said Nebraska beef instead of the Runza which was quite refreshing since the Runza is the one Nebraska food you see on the Food Network and hear about Nebraskans in DC or LA having flown in for special gatherings) and the College World Series and football. His lead anecdote, about how he got Bush to change his nickname from "Nelly" to "The Benator" was funny but how that came to be isn't so funny. On second thought, yes, it is.
I heard Ben Nelson talk about this on the Al Franken show almost immediately after it happened. When Bush was in Omaha last month to talk about destroying social security, praising a single mother who worked three jobs as "uniquely American" in the process, the Benator rode with Bush to the airport after the show. Rather than talk about Social Security, Bush wanted to talk about Nelson's nickname.
The nickname is a very important part of Bush's worldview. The internets version of New York Metro has a guide to some of the more prominent ones but they don't list "Butter Queen" which is his nickname for CNN reporter Candi Crowley, which has always been my favorite. Well, except for "Turd Blossom" for Karl Rove. What does that mean? Does Karl have a problem with flatulence?
Posted by Half-Cocked at 03:54 PM
Go Ahead, Ur, say it with your parallelogram mouth."
Blow your mind. Totally work safe except for Hamburgers and Frankfurters and Jelly Donuts who may be overcome with ecstasy.