Observations and inanities by a second-shift assistant supervisor in the Puppy-Grinding division of the Evil Atheist Conspiracy® (our motto: "Sure it's cruel, but think of the jobs!"), your host, Brent Rasmussen.
Look, not to be too explicit about this, but the use of full body scanners won't make a damned bit of difference to someone who wants to smuggle a bomb or bomb components onto a plane (or anywhere else.) Because there are these things called body cavities, where people have actually been known to insert and hide stuff.
The Dutch have already announced that henceforth all passengers heading to the US will have to go through such scanners. Yesterday on All Things Considered I listened to professional fear-monger and former Bush Administration Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff claim that full body scanners are the solution, but that the evil ACLU had thwarted their use:
the makers of Depends:
In the wake of the terrorism attempt Friday on a Northwest Airlines flight, federal officials on Saturday imposed new restrictions on travelers that could lengthen lines at airports and limit the ability of international passengers to move about an airplane.
The government was vague about the steps it was taking, saying that it wanted the security experience to be “unpredictable” and that passengers would not find the same measures at every airport — a prospect that may upset airlines and travelers alike.
But several airlines released detailed information about the restrictions, saying that passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps. It was not clear how often the rule would affect domestic flights.
When you get in trouble and you don't know right from wrong,
give a little whistle!
Taking the old song lyrics to heart, if inverting the intent a bit, police in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park have come up with a cunning plan to thwart crime:
Jump in burglaries and robberies prompts giveaway
Thousands of Oak Park residents are being equipped with a simple device to help fight crime in the village.
Police are passing out whistles that they are urging citizens to blow if they are victims of or witnesses to a crime.
Officers distributed hundreds of the shiny whistles at two stations along the CTA's Green Line in Oak Park on Friday and will be passing out more Wednesday along the Blue Line. Giveaways elsewhere are expected to take place in the weeks ahead.
"We think they are going to go quick," said Oak Park Police Cmdr. Keenan Williams.
The village conducted a similar program in the 1980s, and Police Chief Rick Tanksley earlier this year suggested bringing it back after statistics showed that burglaries and robberies were on the rise.
Another victory in the War On Christmas!!!
A secular display celebrating the winter solstice and "freethinkers" such as Albert Einstein and Bill Gates can be placed at the Arkansas Capitol alongside a traditional Christian nativity scene, a federal judge said Monday.
The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers sued last week after Secretary of State Charlie Daniels rejected its proposal, saying it wasn't consistent with the Capitol's other decorations and displays. The group asked for a quick hearing before the winter solstice, which is Dec. 21.
U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright granted an injunction Monday allowing the display to go up.
Quick, someone tell Bill O'Reilly! Maybe we'll get his head to actually assplode!
18 months ago, prompted in part by a couple of incidents in my neck of the woods, I wrote the following:
The police use of Tasers is just simply out of control in this country. Seriously. My dad was a cop, and a lot of my family's friends growing up were cops. They've got a tough job. I know that the use of Tasers have protected the lives of officers. But this is insane. It is no longer just the odd asshole who happens to make the Greatest Hits of Police Abuse on YouTube. It has now become commonplace for the police to grab their Taser anytime someone doesn't immediately do what they're told. Time to get rid of the things, nationwide.
Well, one of the incidents has now been settled:
City pays off man injured in Taser use
The man injured after falling 15 feet from a highway overpass when police shocked him with two Tasers has reached a cash settlement with the city of Columbia.
OK, I never really had a 'moment of enlightenment', when it came to religion. I grew up in the Catholic church, but somewhere around the time of puberty I started thinking about what they told me to believe and it just didn't really make any sense. That grew into a questioning of all kinds of religious nonsense over time, rejecting all of it and trying to be rational and realistic about the world. For me, it was just a process, not an event.
So I must admit to being somewhat interested to see what it is that causes some people to just break away from their religion - what is the "final straw", so to speak. Like this one:
Over the past few days, a remarkable letter was published in four parts at the blog of Marty Rathbun, a former high-level Scientology official who has left the church and now criticizes Scientology's leader, David Miscavige.
* * *
Good lord. I'd heard about this, as an "attempted assassination", but I hadn't heard the details:
On the evening of Aug. 28, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister — and the man in charge of the kingdom’s counterterrorism efforts — was receiving members of the public in connection with the celebration of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. As part of the Ramadan celebration, it is customary for members of the Saudi royal family to hold public gatherings where citizens can seek to settle disputes or offer Ramadan greetings.
One of the highlights of the Friday gathering was supposed to be the prince’s meeting with Abdullah Hassan Taleh al-Asiri, a Saudi man who was a wanted militant from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Asiri had allegedly renounced terrorism and had requested to meet the prince in order to repent and then be accepted into the kingdom’s amnesty program.
* * *
Following up to this post, a news item:
MINNEAPOLIS – Continental Express Flight 2816 smelled like diapers. It had no food and a full toilet. Its 47 passengers had been stranded on a tarmac in southern Minnesota since after midnight.
"They are getting really upset — you know, with the plane," the captain told her dispatcher just before 3 a.m. on Aug. 8.
Recordings released Friday of conversations among the captain, dispatcher and staff for another airline at the Rochester, Minn., airport expose a breakdown that kept the plane sitting on the tarmac for almost six hours — for no clear reason — and triggered a Department of Transportation investigation.
I hadn't heard that the DoT was involved. Good for them. Anyway, here's some more from the news article:
the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s."
Seems like some Christians could stand to re-read their bible:
Two Florida school administrators face contempt charges and possible prison time for saying a prayer at a school luncheon.
Frank Lay, principal of Pace High School, and Athletic Director Robert Freeman are accused of violating a consent decree banning employees of Santa Rosa County schools from endorsing religion.
They face a non-jury trial September 17 before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers. The statute under which they are charged carries a maximum penalty of up to six months in prison, subject to sentencing guidelines.
Of course, the folks at Liberty U, who are backing the accused, say that this is an infringement of their 1st Amendment rights:
. . . why when I travel to Pittsburgh in a month, I'm willing to drive the 12 hours rather than fly:
Security and rules kept passengers confined all night in a small plane at Rochester due to thunderstorms.
When Link Christin boarded a Continental Airlines flight from Houston to the Twin Cities on Friday night, he expected to be on the ground in about three hours and ready for a comfy bed.
Instead, he was among 47 passengers who spent the night trapped inside a small airplane, parked at the Rochester airport, complete with crying babies and the aroma of over-used toilets.
* * *
The airline crew on the plane reached their maximum work hours in the air, so another crew had to be flown in. The alternative of chartering a bus didn't work out. And letting the passengers into the Rochester airport was not possible because they would have to go through security screening again, and the screeners had gone home for the day.
OK, I'm having a hard time believing this, good skeptic that I am:
Government wants more CCTV cameras in homes
Latest Home Office initiative wants to watch 20,000 problem families 24/7
The UK Government's Children's Secretary Ed Balls has announced a controversial new CCTV monitoring scheme, in which thousands of problem families are to be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Balls claims that the £400 million "sin bin" scheme will put up to 20,000 problem families under 24-hour surveillance in their own homes, to ensure children go to bed and school on time and eat proper meals.
"Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction," reads a report in the Sunday Express.
The other sources I find also link to the Express article, which can be seen here. Here's a bit from Wired:
Following up to the March revelation that the Bush Administration had concluded that it had the legal authority to effectively suspend civil liberties, comes a piece in the New York Times about how they almost used that authority in 2002:
Bush Weighed Using Military in Arrests
WASHINGTON — Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials.
Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects, who came to be known as the Lackawanna Six, and declare them enemy combatants.
Ah, nothing like a good ol' "ban & burn them EVIL books" news item to get the blood flowing in the morning. From CNN:
(CNN) -- A fight over books depicting sex and homosexuality has riled up a small Wisconsin city, cost some library board members their positions and prompted a call for a public book burning.
The battle has stirred much of West Bend, a city of roughly 30,000 people about 35 miles north of Milwaukee. Residents have sparred for months on blogs, airwaves and at meetings, including one where a man told the city's library director he should be tarred and feathered.
"English only" moron Pat Buchanan talks with Peter Brimelow, bigot-in-chief of VDare.com under their new banner. I can only imagine what the two of them might be discussing. What I can tell you is that it is most likely something that is dangerous to America, morally repugnant, or both. Probably something along the lines of:
"We don't need no stinkin', uppity mesicans on our Supreme Court, by God! That job is reserved for white men!"
Did I mention that Pat Buchanan makes me want to vomit? Simply by existing? No?
Well, now you know.
(Tip of the ballcap to Think Progress.)
If you only follow the mainstream news outlets, there's a fair chance that you have missed what is likely the biggest story this year - the current mass protests in Iran over the fraud of their recent election. From what I have seen and heard, it is being covered only in passing, and with absurd efforts to connect it to our own narrow political squabbles. But if you want to get a sense of what is really going on, I suggest poking around a bit - Andrew Sullivan is probably the best place to start. Though be warned, a lot of the material he is posting is pretty raw - meaning that it is bloody and violent, and much of it of indeterminate accuracy.
But given Iran's history (both recent and over the long scope of human civilization) and critical position in a volatile part of the world, what is happening there now is incredibly important. And in many ways, it shows both the best and the worst of humanity - the twin aspects of a quest for freedom and a dedicated hold on power no matter the cost.
(Cross posted to my blog.)
Damn, this is funny:
The first “anti-stab” knife is to go on sale in Britain, designed to work as normal in the kitchen but to be ineffective as a weapon.
The knife has a rounded edge instead of a point and will snag on clothing and skin to make it more difficult to stab someone.
It was invented by industrial designer John Cornock, who was inspired by a documentary in which doctors advocated banning traditional knives.
No, seriously, this is not a joke. Here's a bit from the company's website:
Dogs are great. I love dogs. Most of my life I've had at least one.
So, I don't blame the dog.
For what? This:
Not just any dog. A wonder dog helped convict all three men: a German shepherd named Harass II, who wowed juries with his amazing ability to place suspects at the scenes of crimes.
Harass could supposedly do things no other dog could: tracking scents months later and even across water, according to his handler, John Preston.
If it sounds hard to believe, there's a good reason.
After providing prosecutors with testimony for years, Preston was finally discredited by a judge who had the sense to do what others had not: test the dog for himself.
That is to say, the three men referenced were convicted of crimes largely on the testimony provided by the dog's handler. And together they served over 50 years in prison, just recently having been released due to actual DNA evidence showing that they couldn't have committed the crimes for which they were convicted.
I try and keep an open mind about things, avoiding falling into the trap of allowing others to define my reality as much as possible. Because sometimes if you define things for yourself you can turn what is ostensibly a limitation into an advantage.
And so it is that I find the following approach towards air travel to be . . . ingenious.
Only the first fifteen minutes or so are necessary to understand his approach, and for those who want just the gist of the matter here's a summation from his website:
- Abstract -
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Late-term abortion doctor George Tiller, a prominent advocate for abortion rights wounded by a protester more than a decade ago, was shot and killed Sunday at a church in Wichita where he was serving as an usher and his wife was in the choir, his attorney said.
Tiller was shot during morning services at Reformation Lutheran Church, attorney Dan Monnat said. Police said a manhunt was under way for the shooter, who fled in a car registered to a Kansas City suburb nearly 200 miles away.
National anti-abortion groups had long focused on Tiller, whose Women's Health Care Services clinic is one of just three in the nation where abortions are performed after the 21st week of pregnancy.
Someone has been arrested. Who wants to bet that they did it "in the name of Jesus!"? To "save the little babies!"? To "stop the holocaust!"?
You've probably heard about the 'Mancow Torture Video' by now - in which the talk show host has himself subjected to a little waterboarding experiment. It was covered on most of the political blogs I check, and even NPR did a piece on it Saturday. It struck me as mostly a publicity stunt (but then, I'm a cynical bastard), but it was at least noteworthy for the fact that Mancow, who had previously supported the use of waterboarding and considered it little more than splashing water on someone's face, was forced to admit that he considered it "absolute torture".
Anyway, here's an excerpt from a message sent to Andrew Sullivan, which he posted on his blog yesterday: