Archive for May, 2002

Justice Dept. To Investigate Florida Vote

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2002

from the delayed-reaction dept.

Justice Department officials told a Senate committee yesterday that they intend to file lawsuits in three Florida counties. The suits charge the counties with voting rights violations in the 2000 presidential election, and are intended to correct the irregularities in time for the 2002 midterm elections. Nice response time, eh?

IWC Meeting Commences in Japan

Monday, May 20th, 2002

from the people-eating-tasty-animals dept.

The annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission has gotten underway in Japan, and the Miami Herald has an interesting article on the early results. IWC meetings have always been a colossal lie-fest, and this year’s is shaping up nicely in that regard, with much of the fun centering on Japan’s (so far failed) efforts to get the organization’s ban on commercial whaling overturned. (Not that that stops anyone from engaging in commercial whaling; it just requires that the offending country claim the killing is for aboriginal subsistence or for scientific research, as is done by Russia and Japan, respectively.) I like Japan’s denial that they are using promises of foreign aid to get poor countries to join the IWC and vote as part of the pro-whaling bloc; the latest countries to jump on that particular bandwagon are Benin, Gabon, Palau and Mongolia, traditionally uninterested nations that have all joined the IWC in the last few months and are voting in lockstep with Japan.

Carter Exposes Bush Administration Lie on Cuba

Sunday, May 19th, 2002

from the last-honest-President dept.

Geov Parrish, writing for the Working for Change web site, has a nice piece on the contradictions between what dubya’s undersecretary of state for arms control, John Bolton, said in a recent speech to the Heritage Foundation, and what ex-President Jimmy Carter said he’d been told by the Administration in briefings prior to his Cuba visit. Specifically, Bolton said “the United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological-warfare, research-and-development effort,” and that Cuba was selling biological weapons to Iran, among others. Carter, on the other hand, said he had been told by dubya’s terrorism experts in the State Department and the White House that there was no evidence Cuba was exporting terrorism. The piece goes on to put the flap in the larger context of the U.S. government’s history of lies on Latin America.

Kermode: Why I Hate Cannes

Saturday, May 18th, 2002

from the Hell-looks-a-lot-like-the-south-of-France dept.

From BBC film critic Mark Kermode comes this cool piece on why he doesn’t do Cannes.

Kaiser Gave Bonuses for Denying Care

Saturday, May 18th, 2002

from the take-two-aspirin-and-don’t-call-us-in-the-morning dept.

Here’s one that should resonate with anyone who’s ever had to deal with a big, uncaring HMO: Kaiser Permanente, California’s largest health maintenance organization, has acknowledged that it paid bonuses to call-center employees who kept their calls with patients short and managed to talk the patients out of scheduling doctor visits. Note that these call center employees were high-school graduates with little or no medical training. Slick. With the money the company saved it was able to run lots of TV ads showing caring “doctors” handing teddy bears to cute little girl “patients,” and still had a tidy profit left over for the shareholders. Cha-ching!

The Barbie Pill

Friday, May 17th, 2002

from the miracles-of-medical-science dept.

From Wired, via Hiro, comes news of Melanotan, a drug that tans your skin, suppresses your appetite, and increases your sexual arousal. Move over Viagra; baby’s got a brand new drug. So, are we officially living in a dystopian sci-fi future yet?

Abraham: Yucca Mountain Inadequate

Friday, May 17th, 2002

from the glow-in-the-dark-desert dept.

In addition to offering no practical solution for the long-term storage problem represented by our radioactive garbage, the Administration-backed Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste storage facility will be too small to hold more than a fraction of our projected nuke waste, according to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. Abraham was being grilled by pissed-off Nevada Senators at a hearing yesterday. In more upbeat news, ymatt pointed me to this cool photo of Yucca Mountain: The Ride, a theme-park-style attraction designed to offset operating costs at the facility by taking visitors on guided tours, complete with animatronic tourguides and faux “accidents,” with flashing lights and alarms. Take the whole family!

Schroeder Wins Hair-Dye Case

Friday, May 17th, 2002

from the methinks-he-doth-protest-too-much dept.

Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has won his battle against German news agency DDP, with a Hamburg state court issuing an order that the news agency stop running stories alleging that Schroeder dyes his hair. I’m sure we’ll all sleep better now.

Dubya Goes On Defensive Over 9/11 Foreknowledge

Friday, May 17th, 2002

from the blood-in-the-water dept.

Lordy, what a mess. Like sharks that smell blood in the water, Democrats, the media, and yes, even some Republicans are getting uppity with dubya over his revelation that he was warned of possible al Queda hijackings prior to 9/11. What did he know, when did he know it, yadda, yadda. The L.A. Times: Bush Team on Defensive in Threat Inquiry. Washington Post: An Image of Invincibility Is Shaken by Disclosures. Guardian Unlimited: First Lady Defends President Bush. Finally, ABC News: It’s a Guaranteed Four-Day Story. Whew.

Jesus of the Week

Thursday, May 16th, 2002

from the hooping-it-up-with-Christ dept.

From the ever-helpful ymatt comes a pointer to Jesus of the Week, including the current Jesus, a $19.95 figurine from that depicts the Messiah pulling down a rebound over a couple of undersized white kids.

Juked: Life In The Navy

Thursday, May 16th, 2002

from the anchors-away dept.

From Juked, courtesy of Janus, comes a sordid-enough-to-be-true account of life aboard a fighting ship in the U.S. Navy. Yo ho, yo ho, and all that.

The Stench That Is Attack of the Clones

Thursday, May 16th, 2002

from the overhyped-cinema dept.

As a fan of the original three Star Wars movies, and a vicious enemy of the putrid heap of dung that was Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, I am very much keeping away from the latest installment, which opened in a galaxy insufficiently far away from you sometime shortly after midnight. But if you’d like to read about it, here are a few choice Lucaslinks: a transcript of Ebert and Roeper, Salon’s Stephanie Sacharek with a really delicious negative review, and, somehow missed by me last November when it first ran, another Salon piece on the Phantom Edit, in which a disgruntled fanboy improved Attack of the Clones by exactly 15%, that being the fraction of its footage he removed.

The Nightmare Project

Wednesday, May 15th, 2002

from the ooh,-scary dept.

More fun from Janus: The Nightmare Project, where you can share your darkest dreams with several million strangers.

John Malkovich Wants to Shoot Scottish Politician

Wednesday, May 15th, 2002

from the just-testy-’cause-his-recent-movies-suck dept.

The BBC has the story of actor John Malkovich’s recent comment that Glasgow Kelvin MP George Galloway is one of two people he would most like to shoot, apparently because of the latter’s criticisms of Israel and of the West’s sanctions against Iraq.

ABC Gives ‘Millionaire’ the Old Heave-Ho

Wednesday, May 15th, 2002

from the thank-God dept.

ABC, reeling from a 23% drop in its ratings over the past year, has instituted a major shakeup in its just-announced fall schedule, including cancelling “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,” the Regis Philbin-hosted primetime game show whose precipitous ratings plunge was a big part of the network’s overall drop.

Not-Quite-Kournikova Photographer Tearfully Apologizes

Wednesday, May 15th, 2002

from the who-says-I-don’t-cover-sports? dept.

Frank Ramaesiri, a St. Louis jewelry salesman who likes to bring his camcorder to the beach and stroll around in Bermuda shorts and dress socks taping all the young flesh, testified in the New York lawsuit against Penthouse magazine yesterday. Dabbing his eyes, he acknowledged that, upon further review, he was mistaken in believing that the topless blond whose images he sold to Penthouse was tennis star Anna Kournikova. A key issue in the trial is whether Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione was as confused as Ramaesiri, or whether he knew the photos weren’t of Kournikova, but chose to run them anyway in a shameless ploy to boost readership. In his own testimony, Guccione claimed he had spent “nearly a week” repeatedly examining the images before concluding that they really were of the tennis star. “I wanted to satisfy myself,” he explained. Hey, tell us something we don’t know.

Christians for Cannabis

Wednesday, May 15th, 2002

from the strange-bedfellows dept.

How did I go so long without hearing about Christians for Cannabis?

Condensed Baseball

Tuesday, May 14th, 2002

from the watching-grass-grow…-faster dept.

ZDNet has a story on Condensed Baseball, a pay-per-view net service that lets you watch selected major league baseball games on your computer, but with a difference: every pitch that doesn’t result in a play has been edited out. Which sounds weird to me. Is that really watching baseball? Anyway, good buddy Bundar says there isn’t enough sports on, so here you go.

Burden of Innocense

Tuesday, May 14th, 2002

from the user-confessions dept.

a_stupid_box writes “I’m considering dating a friend of mine, and in so doing, talk with her quite often about rather revealing subjects. One of the thingers that keeps coming up is honesty. Now I’m a VERY honest person — in fact, as far as I know, I’m the most honest person I know. I make an EFFORT not to lie, even about small things, and have been doing so since I was 16. I can honestly say I don’t lie. When I told my friend this, she seemed a little reluctant to believe it (though she does now), and I was totally floored. Has lying become so commonplace in our society? I used to lie like a damned rug, and I expected it of others. Is the only reason I’m suprised by her doubt because I’ve STOPPED lying myself? Scary to think of all the B.S. people could be telling me on a daily basis, and the only reason I believe them is because I expect them to believe me because I actually tell the truth…”

Japanese Finance Minister Makes $499,950,000,000 Mistake

Tuesday, May 14th, 2002

from the billion,-schmillion,-whatever dept.

Speaking to the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in Shanghai on Saturday, Japanese finance minister Masajuro Shiokawa caused hearts to race when he announced that Japan would be making a $500 billion contribution to a regional poverty fund. Except that when the prepared text of the speech was distributed, the actual number turned out to be $50 million. Oh, well.