Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Michigan Messenger:: Crucifixes Sold in U.S. Are Made in Chinese Sweatshops, Rights Group Says: "Crucifixes marketed in the United States by a Christian retail group are made in a Chinese sweatshop with working conditions that are appalling even by Chinese legal standards, according to a report by a U.S. human rights organization."

This is Ed Brayton's article out of the Michigan Messenger. You can go to the source report here.

The sweatshop made lots of things besides Christian trinkets but Ed is quite rightly putting the Association for Christian Retail in the lead.

It's more than a little ironic that yuppies in line at Starbucks will demand fair trade coffee while American Christians are decorating their living rooms with tchotchkes made in sweatshops by child labor.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dobby... please... nobody believes you

BBC NEWS | Europe | Putin says US behind poll boycott: "Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of pushing Western observers into boycotting Russian elections."


"The OSCE's election monitoring unit announced earlier this month that it would not attend Russia's election, saying Moscow had refused to provide visas to its staff."

You cannot simultaneously deny visas to election observers and complain about not having election observers. What upsets you is that you can't get election observers you can control.

Putin's latest antics out of WaPo:

"MOSCOW, Nov. 25 -- Russian riot police detained the leaders of an opposition party Sunday and violently dispersed what officials described as an illegal rally and march in St. Petersburg."

Some helpful vocabulary from the folks at Merriam Webster:

Kleptocracy: government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed; also : a particular government of this kind.

Jeffersonian democracy is not for everybody, but a kleptocracy isn't for anybody.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Knucklehead from Falwell funeral sentenced

Times Community Newspapers - Police briefs: "Liberty student sentenced for bomb possession Mark David Uhl, of Amissville, was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday for possession of an unregistered explosive device, according to The Lynchburg News and Advance. He also received three years of probation and is required to meet with a mental-health counselor."

This is the Liberty University student who manufactured and intended to employ five IEDs in order to prevent a disturbance at Jerry Falwell's funeral by Fred Phelps and his band of merry men.

Maybe someday he'll write a book and explain how homemade Napalm would be used to prevent a disturbance. The kid's got issues, that's for sure.

It's a pretty light sentence considering the seriousness of the act.

Blogged about previously here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

America's war returnees: many troubles but more help |

America's war returnees: many troubles but more help | "Many have trouble transitioning from combat dangers to a normal routine at home. But sometimes just identifying the problem is the issue.

The Army has improved its process by adding a second mental-health assessment three to six months after its initial screening, which is completed as soon as a soldier returns from war. This second screening has allowed the Army to unmask troubling trends among its soldiers: a fourfold increase in relationship problems compared with those reported in the first assessment, a surge of major depression among many, and increased alcohol abuse. [emphasis mine]"

This article lacks the insight I'm used to in Christian Science Monitor articles.

I have not read the Journal of the American Medical Association article that spawned this.

The results don't sound that remarkable. Battle stressed troops will maintain duty performance above all else. By the time a battle stressed troop has problems that show up at work their entire private life is in shambles.

I don't believe these problems are suddenly manifesting themselves at 120 days post deployment. I believe it's taking 120 days for things to get so bad that the warriors can't hide it anymore.

In case you haven't heard anybody else say this before, I will: the Army is screwing up an entire generation of warriors.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The NOVA documentary on Kitzmiller

I watched the NOVA documentary on the Kitzmiller case. The interviews with the defendants brought a new perspective. I still don't agree with them, but it was interesting to hear their side. Otherwise it was the high-quality well-researched fare we're used to from the NOVA folks.

I actually think Ed Brayton's talk on Kitzmiller was more informative.

I would also recommend Ken Miller's talk.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's day

Today I made a point of meeting up with a vet buddy. I don't know if the distinction will make sense to you but we're not really friends... we're buddies. We are bound by our common experiences in the service of our country.

This guy is a Vietnam era vet. He did in-country time in Vietnam and a career's worth of running all over the globe until his retirement. Like most vets I know, he went were he was needed and he did what needed to be done without regard for his health. Not surprisingly, his health is not the greatest.

In a typical meeting I start the conversation with something from current events and we end up swapping war stories. Eventually the conversation will turn to my buddy's health. My buddy is in his final few years and he knows it. Furthermore, as his physical health slips away his emotional health is also declining and he's aware of that too.

He's not asking for pity, he really just wants a listener. I think my buddy is one of those guys that thinks out loud. He's trying wrap his mind around the fact that he is dying a little bit at a time. The pills that stop the pain cloud his mind so he divides his time between living and existing. He goes out in the morning and socializes until he can't take the pain and then he goes home and takes his pills.

It is not how any vet, any man or woman of action, would imagine their end.

A gibbon?

Saturday, November 3, 2007