It would seem that everybody in the Western hemisphere is at a protest today. Everybody, that is, except me, since I wouldn't be caught dead at any protest that was not in some way related to my right to drink beer.
We are disheartened by the violence which was perpetrated today by the police. Hundreds of people were arrested for doing nothing more than expressing their political beliefs using legal, nonviolent forms of protest and civil disobedience. Protesters and onlookers were shoved, beaten, and pepper sprayed by the police, who seemed determined to prove their "control" of the situation by hurting innocent people.
This would be sadly true, were it not for the penchant of protesters to "express their political beliefs" by breaking windows. Vandalism is not guaranteed by the Constitution, you freak.
We cannot let our freedom to dissent be taken away, and we will not stop speaking out until we live in a world where everyone is free from exploitation and oppression, a world where one's survival and access to human needs aren't determined by one's economic means.
Former Vice President Al Gore yesterday made his second attack this week on President Bush's war on terrorism, accusing the administration of ignoring signs that al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden planned to attack the United States on September 11.
"The warnings were there" before the attacks, Mr. Gore said.
Presumably, the attacks would not have occurred, were Mr. Gore in the White House.
Speaking at a Democratic fund-raising breakfast in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Gore accused the administration of failing to heed intelligence signals that the FBI and the CIA had picked up in the months before the September 11 attacks.
"What's going on nationally, with the attack on civil liberties, with American citizens in some cases just disappearing without right to counsel, without access to a lawyer — I think that is disgraceful," Mr. Gore said.
People are "just disappearing"?!?!?
"I think we need to stand up for our principles in this country and stand up for what this nation represents, even as we face the terrible dangers that we have to confront in the world today," he said.
What principles, Al? Free speech? The right to not "disappear"? The right to lie our asses off? What does this nation "represent"? The likes of unscrupulous politicians like yourself who are willing to cheat in order to win an election? Your daddy taught you well.
I really miss the Grizzly Adams days of Al Gore when he was in hiding. I liked him like that.
Manuel Wackenheim began his fight in 1995 after the French ban meant he could no longer earn a living being thrown around discotheques and nightclubs by burly men.
But on Friday, Wackenheim -- who measures 1.14 metres (3 feet 10 inches) -- lost his case when the U.N. human rights body ruled the need to protect human dignity was paramount.
So, once again, we have a body of semi-socialist bureaucrats deciding that they know know better what's best for YOU. I don't know too much about dwarf-tossing or the level of risk involved to the tossee, but from what I've read, their participation is by consent, with some of them actually making a fair amount of money. U.N. - leave the little people alone!
Just look: There is no one of any significant voice in Congress, no top Bush adviser, no vociferous Independent, no major media outlet or celebrity pundit or influential foreign leader anywhere -- put your hand down, Gerhard -- speaking for the huge contingent who are right this minute scream-sighing: Wait wait wait, are we insane? What the hell are we doing? What is wrong with you people?
Really, Mark? You wouldn't call Daschle and Kennedy "significant voices in Congress"? No major media outlet? Then what is it you think you're doing on the pages of the Chron? Does Barbara Streisand count as a "celebrity pundit"? Since when did Jacques Chirac and the rest of Europe get behind the U.S. on this one? So far, I've only counted Tony Blair. But I guess things like "facts" are beside the point. The point is that you're a suffering journalist, whose dissent is being oppressed by war hawks in the executive branch. Come on, get a new line already. This one's starting to smell.
Protesters chained themselves together, broke windows and harassed police with false 911 calls Friday in a loosely knit effort to shut down the nation's capital as financial ministers from around the world began a weekend meeting.
At one downtown intersection, protesters chained themselves together, and police had to cut the chains to arrest them. Fire trucks were called to put out a few tires set ablaze on the outskirts of town. Protesters broke windows at a Citibank office and tossed smoke bombs during a clash with police at another intersection.
"This is not a police state, we have a right to demonstrate," dozens of mostly young people chanted. Some wore bandanas over their faces.
What can I say? If I were up to this sort of thing, I’d be ashamed to show my face in public, too.
YACCS made me "update my code" for the comments section, and it's turned things all wacky and ugly around here. Some of the links are screwy, too. I apologize, and am trying to get this straightened out. I've written a letter that I'm planning on sending to the support team that goes something like this:
Dear Programming Geeks,
Listen up, dickheads. You forced me to update this stuff and when I followed your directions and did everything you told me to do, you wound up fucking up my entire website. Yeah, I know I get to use your services for free, but this doesn't mean that I'm not entitled to complain and nag as much as I want until I get my way. This is one of the privileges that I get to enjoy as a woman. Now, if you would kindly correct any errors that your second-rate coding has created, I'd really appreciate it. I don't like hurting people, but I will if it becomes necessary.
It was an elaborate plot that police say was designed to cause chaos with explosions and an anthrax scare.
Using homemade bombs encased in white powder, the participants figured they would create so much public hysteria that police officials would release a suspected white supremacist from prison to help put an end to the turmoil.
What a bunch of pricks. The good news:
In the end, however, an antiterrorism team broke up the scheme, kept the prisoner behind bars and arrested a 20-year-old Torrance man they say built two bombs at home.
[Friday's] protests are a prelude to even larger demonstrations planned for the weekend during meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
So this is what rich and unemployed weirdos do with their spare time. Haven't you people ever heard of golf?
The Anti-Capitalist Convergence, a group that wants to abolish the global financial institutions, said Wednesday that they would hold several nonviolent demonstrations during Friday morning's rush hour. The events include a mass bike ride to protest the Bush administration's environmental policies...
Ride a bike! That'll teach 'em!
...and a march opposing "corporate greed" that will target the headquarters of various companies.
One hundred bucks says McDonald's is one of them.
So, in protest of these protests, tomorrow I'm going to have a Big Mac for lunch, wear clothing made by under-paid children in Indonesian sweat shops, buy a coffee at Starbucks, and invest in Microsoft. Who's with me? Come on folks, together we can make a difference!
Northern Ireland's biggest and most violent loyalist organisation, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), expelled its most notorious figure, Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair, yesterday.
"He's stupid and mean and he doesn't let us play with his toys sometimes," said a UDA spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The other day he crushed the spokes on Ricky's bike and tried to take his lunch money." *
A number of senior loyalists immediately left their homes for secret locations, believing that the move would inevitably lead to serious conflict on the streets of Belfast and elsewhere.
The development was seen as the formal declaration of another deadly loyalist feud of the kind that has claimed many lives in recent years.
"As long as they only kill each other, I don't give a shit", one local resident commented.*
Feuds involving Adair tend to cost many lives, and tend to be settled violently rather than through diplomacy.
I know. I was just as shocked as you to learn this.
While he remains as west Belfast "Brigadier", the commanders of the UDA's other five districts have now disowned him. Unless Adair's west Belfast members also turn against him, battle-lines have been drawn between his area and the rest of the UDA.
Commence peeing on bushes and fire hydrants to mark your territory, fellas.
Mr Kennedy heralded the death of the Conservative party as a political force, calling it "backward", "jaded" , "faded" and declaring that for the first time in 100 years British politics was "up for grabs".
Thus said the leader of the massive political force known as the Liberal Democrats (yes, I know, America. Many of you are asking "the who?" Just think of Charles Kennedy as Ralph Nader on crack).
This marked the explicit, if unstated, theme of this week in Brighton - to take on and beat the Conservatives at this general election and the next, to become the second party of British politics.
Now I will pause to give you all a moment to pull yourselves together. Stop laughing. I mean it. I think the guy is serious.
He told delegates: "There is no law which says when the Conservative party is down it must come up again. And there's no law which says the Liberal Democrats need forever remain third amongst Britain's parties."
And until there's a law forbidding stupidity...
Overshadowed by the situation in Iraq - and even by the media's coverage of an irrelevant vote on pornography - the Lib Dems' new policy is its most radical since its merger with the SDP.
At'll win the votes, Chuck. Make party policy MORE radical.
It commits the party to local income tax to pay for public services, an "NHS tax" in the form of hypothecated national insurance contributions and provision of services at an autonomous regional level.
In other words, they promise to raise taxes and toss them at inefficient government bureaucracies. Good call, boys.
This concept of freedom and the break from centralised state power, along with the traditional social liberalism of the party, is designed to attract disaffected "one nation" Tories.
The only Tories "disaffected" enough to leave their party for the Lib Dems are the ones that have taken serious blows to the head and couldn't get a bed in a hospital in time enough to effect treatment.
He received his loudest cheer of the speech(all nine people in the audience jumped to their feet!) for insisting that the Lib Dems would not support military action without UN backing.
This means what? Nothing? What are you going to do if Tony's cronies vote thumbs up? Use the weight of all 53 of your members of the House of Commons to throw pencils at front benchers?
But he also found time to expand an attack on the government's heavy-handed silencing of dissent - and reliance on spin - to reaffirm the Lib Dem's environmental credentials.
Et tu, Tony? Here I was thinking that only the Bush regime was employing the "heavy-handed silencing of dissent". Now I know our British brethren are suffering the same as us. Democracy is ill...
After nearly a decade of spoiled records, lost money and three Cabinet secretaries cited for contempt of court, lawmakers are saying the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the Department of Interior has lost its credibility with Native Americans.
Question: how do you lose something you never had?
It seems that I've let my membership in the North American Anti-Idiotarians Against Matthew Engel slip lately, and this has left a few of the leaders a tad displeased with me. Therefore, I bring you Mr. Engel's latest masterpiece, which can be synopsized so: "Puritanical U.S. newspapers who do not like their columnists fucking children are the same as the Taliban. America is a nation of tight-lipped prudes under the thumb of a police state which seeks to control all".
During the 2000 election campaign, there was a splendid moment when George Bush was sitting alongside Dick Cheney, pointed out a New York Times reporter, Adam Clymer, and remarked that he was "a major-league asshole". Unfortunately, the microphone was live at the time.
What do you mean, "unfortunately"? For goodness' sake, that was a perfectly lovely moment.
But the most enjoyable part was the response of the media. The TV networks and many papers, like Clymer's own and the Chicago Tribune, refused to say what it was Bush had called him, declining even to use those coy asterisks and resorting instead to words like "expletive" and "obscenity", leaving open the possibility that he had said something far worse. Everyone was of course, shocked, SHOCKED !
Well, maybe a few of us expected the President to choose his words more carefully in public, especially if there was a chance that he might be overheard, but shocked? Not really. At any rate, certainly not "SHOCKED!"
Since ass is itself a euphemism for arse...
Not in America, pal. It's not even a word here. Just like "whilst".
....this is what you might call double-censorship.
In a perfect world, metropolitan newspapers would not restrain themselves from using words like "asshole", and regularly lace their columns with expletives. For instance, an ideal commentary might include the phrase "Everybody knows that shithead Saddam Hussein's hiding some big fucking artillery from us. Jesus H. Christ, the stupid cunt might even have nuclear capabilities", but well, newspaper editors seem to want their publications to show a little something called class. If only Miles Standish hadn't gotten to their heads, they could be as great a news source as The Sun.
But the American media are prone to fits of self-important moralising.
Whereas, the Guardian is not.
There was another bout this week in Chicago when Bob Greene, a well-known Tribune columnist, was forced to resign after having sex with a schoolgirl.
This was a curious story, partly because the Tribune was too shy to explain coherently what Greene had done. Eventually, it emerged that the girl had gone to interview him for a high school project, that she was 17 and thus of age for the purpose, the sex was consensual, that it happened more than 10 years ago, and that there was a hint of blackmail to explain its sudden emergence into the light now.
Seventeen years is not "of age" here. Sure, it's only a few months away from "of age", but still a total no-no for adults, perverts, and pornographers alike. Frankly, I don't think the guy should have lost his job, but I'm not the Tribune, so I guess that doesn't count for much.
This coupling was hardly an honourable moment on Greene's part, but the idea that there are firm ethical standards for columnists has provoked lively debate among other practitioners of the dark art, who have been writing for years without even a sniff of semi-licit sex as a result. "I thought we'd got rid of the Taliban," said one friend. "Turns out they're here."
Well, there should be ethical standards for columnists, but these ethics don't necessarily need involve what they do in their own homes when the curtains are closed...unless it's with children. The "Taliban" reference is just hysterical.
Now, here's where it starts to get scary, because I...actually....agree with...him:
The "Noble Experiment" of prohibition represented the apogee of censoriousness.
Seriously. Prohibition sucked. I'm glad I missed it. But reports from the likes of those who didn't, like my grandfather, indicate that hardly anyone actually stopped drinking alcohol. They just had to hide the fact that they did, and either pay a little extra for it, or do like ol' grandpa, and start mixing spirits in the bathtub.
Maybe this is a new golden age. Most British visitors are fooled because they watch minority cable TV programmes like South Park or The Sopranos or go to licentious enclaves like New York or San Francisco and imagine these somehow constitute America.
Anyone who would assume as much is an idiot. That's like me thinking all British innkeepers are like Basil Fawlty.
If I have tried to say anything in a year of writing from here, it is that there is a vast hinterland where life is very different.
Of course it is. It's comprised of unsophisticated rubes who think that people who use the word "leg" are going to burn in hell. It's been many a beating at the hands of my Uncle Cletus before I learned me the lesson to shut the outhouse door 'cause the pigguns might spy them some girl parts. Wesuns believe that sin and lust are root of all evil, and that there's no reason why people shouldn't have their desire for fun satisfied with anything more than the local tractor pull and bingo at the church (never on Sundays, though!).
Give me a break, Engel. You have been nothing except a rude elitist since you began writing your columns. Week after week, you've dispatched stories making fun of our customs, belittling our people and history, and thumbing your nose at the people you encounter, many of whom have welcomed you graciously. So far, the most you've said is "HOLY CRAP! YOU GUYS WILL NOT BELIEVE HOW MUCH THIS PLACE SUCKS! EVERYBODY THAT LIVES HERE IS STUPID! AND THEY BUY A LOT OF MILK AND THINK GOING TO THE OLIVE GARDEN IS JUST LIKE EATING IN VENICE!"
Since he seems to think our prudish ways inhibit our ability to use the naughty words when the time is right, let me conclude by telling one Matthew Engel to kindly go eat dog shit and fuck off, you stupid fucking asshole, or excuse me, for the sake of euphemisms...arsehole. When you finally leave, I hope you never fucking come back, you twat bastard.
They complain that a sign this big may fit in amid the advertising glitz of Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, but it certainly does not belong hovering over the little shops and stores along Inglewood midway between Rosecrans Avenue and El Segundo Boulevard. They worry it will carry ads for alcohol or cigarettes that will be extra visible to children.
By "shops and stores along Inglewood", what they really mean is "liquor stores, bars, and trailer parks". This is my neighborhood they're talking about here. It's as filthy as a landfill, billboards or no billboards.
Presumably, the billboards have left the locals so distressed that they’ve no choice but to hurl their empty malt liquor bottles through the post office windows and vomit and urinate on public streets. Abetted by The Man, these oversized advertisements have driven the young men in the neighborhood to channel their would-be productivity skills into useless activities like loitering in front of booze retailers and sucking down Strawberry Hill camouflaged in brown paper bags.
In a community plagued by crime, litter, grafitti, gang warfare, and drug abuse, you'd think people could find something better to complain about.
A motion, formulated by Mr Trimble with the backing of party hardliners, was passed that stipulated that unless the IRA announced its disbandment by Jan 18 the Unionists would pull out of the Northern Ireland executive.
In related news, it was recently learned that the Provisional's Army Council in response has voted unanimously to "send some boys to go dig up the Semtex we buried out near the lough."*