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June 30, 2004

South Africa - Femicide Rate Highest In The World

South Africa: Dying At the Hands of Their Lovers

    By this time next week there will have been 28 funerals of women killed by their partners, husbands or boyfriends. One woman is killed every six hours - a figure researchers believe to be conservative but which is the highest recorded figure in the world. And a legal gun is used in every fifth murder

    South Africa's femicide rate is the highest in the world.

    A recent study found that one South African woman is killed every six hours by a man she had chosen to spend her life with. In 50% of all solved murders of women in the country, it was found that the perpetrator was an intimate partner.


Posted on June 30, 2004 at 08:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bush Administration Seeks To Cancel or Postpone Elections

Update July 12, 2004: This post is generating a lot of hits. To see my post about the Newsweek article on this subject which came out today, please go here. I include the article in that post. Please note that the newly created U. S. Election Assistance Commission is underfunded and chairman DeForest Soaries had threatened to quit but instead chose to stay on. As I said in my updated post, I hope that Commission wasn't created for the sole purpose of giving Bush an opportunity to hold the Presidential election hostage if he and his administration fear that Kerry has a good chance of booting all of them out of office. If he is able to do that against the will of the American people, it will mean that we definitely no longer live in a democracy. However, I am not willing to go that far in nailing a tinfoil hat on my head. Not yet, anyway.

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My husband had mentioned something like this many months ago. If the Bush administration is successful at cancelling or postponing the Presidential elections, it means that we no longer live in a democracy. Just the fact that the Bush administration is even considering it is troubling, although it's not surprising.

WASHINGTON The government needs to establish guidelines for canceling or rescheduling elections if terrorists strike the United States again, says the chairman of a new federal voting commission.

Such guidelines do not currently exist, said DeForest B. Soaries, head of the voting panel.

Soaries was appointed to the federal Election Assistance Commission last year by President Bush. Soaries said he wrote to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in April to raise the concerns.

Posted on June 30, 2004 at 08:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (52)

June 29, 2004

The Bluto Factor

The Bad News: Atrios - "If the preznit can't even protect our beer on a holiday weekend, then what good is he?"

The Good News: Researchers at Tulane University in New Orleans gave "55 young participants" (read: college party animals) either a placebo or the extract from the skin of the prickly pear fruit, and found that the extract significantly reduced some of the most notorious symptoms of hangover, specifically nausea, dry mouth, and loss of appetite. The test subjects were given the placebo or extract, later were fed dinner (typical college fare of cheeseburger, fries, and soda), and later their choice of vodka, gin, rum, bourbon, scotch, or tequila.

How come my college never had fun studies like that?


Posted on June 29, 2004 at 02:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

The Bush Administration and Cursing - Cheney and "Go Fuck Yourself"

Why is everyone getting all googly over Dick Cheney saying "fuck?" It's not like that kind of language is new from the Bush administration.

In keeping with the astounding level of discourse displayed by Dick Cheney when he told Senator Patrick Leahy to "fuck yourself," I thought I'd repost (with some new links) my old post about how the Bush administration jumped all over John Kerry for saying the very same word.

In response to a question about anti-war candidate Howard Dean's success, Kerry responded: "When I voted for the war, I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, `I'm against everything?' Sure. Did I expect George Bush to fuck it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did."

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card's reaction: "I'm very disappointed that he would use that kind of language. I'm hoping that he's apologizing."

Bush's "kind of language" -- "major league asshole" - with a ringing endorsement from Dick Cheney

Sept. 4, 2000 - At a Labor Day event in Naperville, Ill., Monday morning, apparently oblivious of the microphone just inches from his mouth, Gov. George W. Bush made a crude offhand remark about a reporter that those in the campaign of his rival, Vice President Al Gore, hope will take some of the shine off Bush's warm and sunny veneer.

Waving and smiling to the crowds, Bush and his running mate, former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, seemed to be enjoying the generous reception offered by the Republican enclave in the Chicago suburbs.

Then Bush spotted New York Times reporter Adam Clymer, who has been with the paper since 1977, serving as national political correspondent during the 1980 presidential race, as polling editor from 1983 to 1990 and as political editor during the successful presidential campaign of Bush's father in 1988.

There's Adam Clymer -- major league asshole -- from the New York Times," Bush said.

"Yeah, big time," returned Cheney.

Bush's "kind of language" -- "Fuck Saddam. We're taking him out." - (What's worse, that he used the "F" word or that he outed his intention of invading Iraq one year before doing so??)

Robert Parry, THE CONSORTIUM: "As he marched the nation to war, Bush presented himself as a Christian man of peace who saw war only as a last resort. But in a remarkable though little noted disclosure, Time magazine reported that in March 2002 – a full year before the invasion – Bush outlined his real thinking to three U.S. senators, 'Fuck Saddam,' Bush said. 'We’re taking him out.'"

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Mar. 31, 2003

First Stop, Iraq

How did the U.S. end up taking on Saddam? The inside story of how Iraq jumped to the top of Bush's agenda — and why the outcome there may foreshadow a different world order.
By MICHAEL ELLIOTT AND JAMES CARNEY

F___ Saddam. we're taking him out." Those were the words of President George W. Bush, who had poked his head into the office of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. It was March 2002, and Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators, discussing how to deal with Iraq through the United Nations, or perhaps in a coalition with America's Middle East allies. Bush wasn't interested. He waved his hand dismissively, recalls a participant, and neatly summed up his Iraq policy in that short phrase. The Senators laughed uncomfortably; Rice flashed a knowing smile. The President left the room.

Bush's "kind of language" -- "pussy."

At the Republican National Convention in 1988, he was asked by a Hartford Courant reporter about what he and his father talked about when they weren't talking about politics. 

"PUSSY," Bush replied.

Bush's "kind of language" -- "You no-good fucking son of a bitch, I will never fucking forget what you wrote." - (More important: WSJ editor Hunt reported that Bush was well "lubricated" - i.e., drunk. This was in 1987, when Bush declared that he had stopped drinking.")

In 1987, one year after he had given up drinking he ran into Al Hunt, a Wall Street Journal editor who was minding his own business sitting at a restaurant with his wife and 4-year-old daughter.    Bush lit into him, saying, among other things, You no-good fucking son of a bitch, I will never fucking forget what you wrote."

Posted on June 29, 2004 at 01:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Just Goes To Show You Don't Know ANYONE Online

A blogger pulled a nasty hoax on her fans. Or should I say, his fans.

"Plain Layne" attracted thousands of daily visitors towards the end of the days of "her poignant and brutally honest diary of her life." One day, her blog went *poof,* and her fans wondered what had happened to her.

They were understandably floored when they learned that "Layne" was really Odin Soli, "a 35-year old male entrepreneur and writer, married with two children" who created Layne as "an experiment in 'interactive fiction.' "

"Layne's" fans are left feeling angry, confused, and in some cases respectful of a well-engineered con. Some want to give "Layne" a piece of their mind. "Layne" revealed very personal details, including a rape that "led her to re-examine her sexual identity and become a lesbian." Soli kept readers and commenters in the dark for three and a half years. His deception was "more sophisticated because it exploited the social aspects of Web logs, which allow readers to interact with authors by posting comments directly onto their diary entries."

There are even pictures of "Layne." Soli won't identify the woman, but says she was fully aware of what he was doing.

It just goes to show you that you never really know who is at the other end of that blog you like to read so much. I assure my readers that my name really is Trish Wilson and that I am a woman, but you really don't know me, do you? evil_smiley.gif

So, bloggers, the joke's on you.

Posted on June 29, 2004 at 09:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Children, Violence, and Contested Custody Cases

This article, "Extracting Intelligence from Children," was written by the Rev. Anne Grant. It originally appeared in the Providence Journal (Rhode Island) on June 21, 2004. It is about how children are used and not believed in contested custody cases. This is an excerpt. I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

MANY AMERICANS have been shocked to discover how torture is used to extract information when conducting a war. This has unsettling parallels to what happens when children are abused to extract intelligence in contested custody and visitation cases.

I have focused on those cases where one parent had a history of domestic violence, and the other parent was trying to keep children safe. Abusers with enough money, power, and obsession have learned to use Family Court to their advantage by treating children like prisoners of war.

Children tell of an abusive parent requiring them to gather intelligence for court. They are rewarded or punished according to the usefulness of the information they deliver on the other parent. Some learn to fabricate evidence: Lying becomes a way of life that torments them for years to come.

Well-intentioned judges try to get children to tell them the truth in chambers. It rarely works. Children who have been sexually humiliated are too ashamed to talk about it. If children speak candidly to the judge in front of warring attorneys, they are punished severely afterward. So-called "expert witnesses" favor the parent who pays.

Children distrust some judges' air of self-importance. In one Rhode Island transcript, a judge tells a 13-year-old: "Maybe if your dad and mother had come in here in the first place we might have helped them stay together."

The judge never knew that, eight years earlier, the boy had watched his step-father shoot his mother in the head with a 38- caliber pistol. After four misfires, one shot struck home. She recovered and eventually won a divorce. But her volunteer lawyer told her not to complicate matters with the history of domestic violence.

The boy's court-ordered visits with his stepfather grew increasingly disruptive until he finally suffered a breakdown and told his mother that he had seen her shot. By then it was too late. Within months, he committed suicide, shooting himself in the head.

We must remove cases of contested custody and visitation from the routine terror that accompanies domestic violence. Children in intractable cases should be represented by an advocate who is independent of the courts and works solely in the child's interest, dedicated to discerning the truth as quickly as possible.

Posted on June 29, 2004 at 08:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 28, 2004

Updated My Blog Roll

I just updated my blog rolls. I added a new Law Blogs category. My old American Blog Association blog roll, which is a group blog for legal blogs, is in there now. I also moved Talk Left there because it was a better fit than my main blog roll.

I've added two new blogs to this new blog roll, LawPundit and Irritant #4.

I've also added Emerging Women Writers and XX Blog to the appropriate categories. XX is a group blog for women, and I'm one of the writers.

Posted on June 28, 2004 at 05:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 27, 2004

Ray Bradbury Angry At Michael Moore Over Play of "Fahrenheit 451" Title

I've been a fan of Ray Bradbury since I was a kid. I even met him at a horror convention. So, I was surprised to learn that he was angry that Michael Moore played off his famous classic novel "Fahrenheit 451" for the title of his movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11."

I would hope that most people already know who wrote "Fahrenheit 451" and what it was about. The book is required reading on some middle and high school summer reading lists. It was immediately obvious to me that Moore was doing a bit of double-entendre with the title of his documentary. There are so many parallels to the Bush administration in the play of Bradbury's title. "Fahreinheit 451" was about a future totalitarian regime where books were confiscated and burned to prevent people from thinking independently. Paper burns at 451 degrees fahreinheit. Moore meant for his title to symbolize the "temperature" at which freedom burns.

I haven't yet seen the documentary. It might have been in better form for him to have explained to Bradbury what he had planned to do. Since he was referring to an acknowledged work he should have contacted Bradbury beforehand, and then acknowledge Bradbury's influence in his acknowledgements. According to Canada's National Post, Moore "feels horrible" that Bradbury is angry.

    Bradbury is demanding an apology for not being asked permission to lift his book title and wants the film property renamed, something that is not likely to happen at this late stage.

    "He suddenly realized he's let too much time go by," the author said.

    "It has broken my heart," says Moore. "I've called to try and apologize and work it out and he's just ... oh, jeez I don't know what to say."

    Moore says he tried to explain to the 83-year-old writer that the film could bring more young readers to his book but apparently no dice. He says if he had called the film The Diary of Michael Moore, surely people wouldn't confuse it with The Diary of Anne Frank.

    "There's no confusion here, you know?"

I see his point, and I agree with him, but he should have contacted Bradbury first.

Posted on June 27, 2004 at 04:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

The New Iraq Stifles Teenaged Girls

There has already been criticism that the new regime proposed for Iraq lacks adequate representation for women. The New York Times article, "For Iraqi Girls, Changing Land Narrows Lives," shows a New Iraq that is stifling for teenaged girls.

    "In an air-conditioned bedroom with pink everything on the walls, Yosor Ali al-Qatan, 15, stares longingly at a hip-hugging pair of pink pinstriped pants. The new Iraq, her mother warns her, is far too dangerous for a 15-year-old girl to be seen in such pants.

    Across town, at the end of an alley leaking sewage, Sali Ismail, 16, spends her days staring blankly at the television. A spate of kidnappings, combined with her working class Shiite family's ever-deepening poverty, has prompted her to drop out of high school.

    In a hair salon where Baghdad's ladies of leisure come to put blond streaks in their hair, Beatrice Sirkis, 14, quietly sweeps the floor. Her father, a retired soldier who has fallen on hard times, had to choose between sending her, or her older brother, to school. Beatrice was chosen to work.

    The perils and pressures bearing on the lives of teenage girls here offer a snapshot of the changes bedeviling Iraq. In the past several months, the new access to satellite dishes, Internet cafes and cellphones has given these young women a new window on the outside world. But creeping religious conservatism, lawlessness and economic uncertainty have also been conspiring against them in peculiar ways.

    Parents are so rattled by reports of rapes and kidnappings that they keep their girls under closer watch than ever. Girls accustomed to pool outings and piano lessons during the crushingly hot summer vacation months are instead locked up at home. They quarrel with their mothers; they sleep too much; they grow cranky and dejected from mind-numbing boredom."

The U. S. is due to hand over Iraq to the Iraqi interim government in three days, and women remain under-represented in the transition. The Bush administration has ignored demands from Iraqi women's groups and from Sunni statesman Adnan Pachachi to support a mandatory number of female-held seats in the future National Assembly because such an action would run counter to Bush's anti-affirmative action agenda here in the U. S. Recently, clerics representing new religious groups have taken to criticizing women and girls who do not follow a very restrictive way of living. These clerics have taken to showing up at schools and ordering girls to cover their heads or to wear long-sleeved shirts in the sweltering heat. Is this the kind of new government rule that will be thrust upon Iraqi women and girls?

Reporters for Common Dreams wondered, Where are the Women in the New Iraq?

    "Excluding women from governance condemns Iraq to the fate suffered by its Arab neighbors: autocracy, economic stagnation, and social malaise caused by wasting the talents of the majority of the population. Ultimately, greater political participation by women could provide Iraq with a stabilizing force needed to stave off the disastrous division of the country into ethnic states. This is not to say that Iraqi women are in any way monolithic; neither are Kurdish women, or Sunni women, or Shi'ite women. Women, however, in conflicts around the world demonstrate a shared stake in their economic and social development that often drives them to transcend regional, ethnic, and religious divides. "I detect a great spirit of unity among Iraqi women," Charlotte Ponticelli, senior coordinator of the US State Department's Office of International Women's Issues, told us recently."

The attention to the clothing the girls choose to wear caught my attention. It has long been assumed in the U. S. that women who wear revealing clothing who are raped have only themselves to blame. It's as if rapists cannot control their sexual urges, so it isn't their fault that a girl or woman who wears tight or flashy clothing is "asking for it." The attention to clothing in Iraq shows me something that I have already known, but I was shown in a different context - that it is definitely not the clothing that causes the problems. It is an attitude from girls and women who feel comfortable in their own bodies that some people do not like. A man who rapes a woman and blames it on her clothing seeks to put her back "in her place" - like placing a young, vibrant girl like Beatrice Sirkis who has dreams of becoming a teacher "in her place" sweeping floors at a hair salon and zoning off in front of the television because it is too dangerous for her to go outside.

Without adequate representation for girls and women in the New Iraq, the families of girls like Sirkis will fall farther into poverty and see no way to deal with it other than to remove their female children from school and make them take jobs to put food on the table. The Bush administration has furthered this problem by not seeing to it that the voices of more than half of Iraq's population are heard when it comes to how the government shall be run.

Posted on June 27, 2004 at 08:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

June 26, 2004

Sex Scandal Drives Ryan From Senate Race

I just read a few moments ago that Jack Ryan has removed himself from the Senate Race.

Posted on June 26, 2004 at 09:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)