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Current Topic: Current Events

Network Hosting Attorney Scandal E-Mails Also Hosted Ohio's 2004 Election Results
Topic: Current Events 3:56 pm EDT, Apr 24, 2007

Did the most powerful Republicans in America have the computer capacity, software skills and electronic infrastructure in place on Election Night 2004 to tamper with the Ohio results to ensure George W. Bush's re-election?

The answer appears to be yes. There is more than ample documentation to show that on Election Night 2004, Ohio's "official" Secretary of State website -- which gave the world the presidential election results -- was redirected from an Ohio government server to a group of servers that contain scores of Republican web sites, including the secret White House e-mail accounts that have emerged in the scandal surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's firing of eight federal prosecutors.

This is troubling. Comments on Slashdot are informative. Its not really clear there is a problem here beyond the fact that Ohio (like many states) has a partisan appointee running their elections commission and they picked the same outsourcing partner. I think elections in the US should be operated by the federal government. Basically, the propriety of Ohio's elections impacts who my President is, and so I ought to have a say in how they operate their election.

Network Hosting Attorney Scandal E-Mails Also Hosted Ohio's 2004 Election Results

Topic: Current Events 2:33 am EDT, Apr 20, 2007

This is what I don't get... I go to CNN the other day and they have a picture of the VT killer pointing a gun at the camera.... On their main page above the fold, pointing a gun at me. And I have to look at that. And that's "journalism." That's "my right to know." But at the same time, in his rant, he says things like fuck, and motherfucker, and I can't see that. I don't get to hear that. The media has protected me from that. And thats supposed to make sense. Its supposed to be natural for the media to want to protect my innocent ears from hearing the word fuck, but it is their obliglation to show me a shocking photograph of a murderer pointing a hand gun at a camera. On their front page.

Do you think normal people are sane?

Here is another thing I don't get. We used to be a free country. It used to be the case that if the President felt that you should be arrested that you would receive a fair trial with assistance of counsel before a jury of your peers. But thats gone. Today, the President can detain you for any reason indefinately, without trial. There is no bill of rights anymore. Its impossible in such circumstances, because checks and balances, which no longer exist, are the keystone of freedom.

But we have an individual who masterminded a plot to blow up an airplane containing 73 innocent people. And he is free, in this country, because, it was in our interests. In my mind, the murder of 73 innocent people is never... moral..... But he is free... In this country, and the tools that exist to detain people without trial are not being used against him. Perhaps the death of those 73 innocent people reduced my tax burden. Perhaps many in this country support this. It doesn't make any sense to me. I don't get it.

I don't think we are what we think we are.

Gunman in massacre contacted NBC News
Topic: Current Events 8:33 pm EDT, Apr 18, 2007

Sometime after he killed two people in a Virginia university dormitory but before he slaughtered 30 more in a classroom building, Cho Seung-Hui mailed NBC News a large package including photographs and videos Monday morning, boasting, “When the time came, I did it. I had to.”

The package included an 1,800-word manifesto-like statement diatribe in which Cho expresses rage, resentment and a desire to get even.

The material does not include any images of the shootings Monday, but it does contain vague references. And it mentions “martyrs like Eric and Dylan” — apparently a reference to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold...

The material is deeply angry, crying out against unspecified wrongs done to him in a diatribe laced with profanity.

“I didn’t have to do this. I could have left. I could have fled. But no, I will no longer run. It’s not for me. For my children, for my brothers and sisters that you f---, I did it for them,” Cho says on one of the videos.


Gunman in massacre contacted NBC News

Bombings Kill at Least 146 Iraqis in Baghdad - New York Times
Topic: Current Events 3:59 pm EDT, Apr 18, 2007

In the deadliest day in Baghdad since the latest American-led security plan for the city took effect two months ago, at least 146 people were killed today in a series of bombings that tore through predominantly Shiite crowds gathered at a bus depot, on a shopping street and near a police checkpoint, the authorities said.

Click through for a fairly horrific photograph.
Ken Olbermann asks:

It is an unspeakable and overwhelming tragedy, up to 30 young Americans killed violently, pointlessly, and the rest of us left with an urgent and almost helpless feeling that somebody could have done something to prevent it, and that everybody must do something to protect the next potential victims.

And yet, the same number of young Americans of approximately the same age have died in Iraq in the last 10 days.

It seems fair to ask the question: If the violent deaths in Virginia send a nation into shock and expressions of concern and anxiety, why isn't a continuous flow of American blood in Iraq generating a similar reaction?

It does seem fair to ask the question. However, I think that by leaving the question hanging Olbermann intends to score a political point instead of really thinking about it. He goes on to talk about how preventable the violence in Iraq is. I'm not so sure. If we hadn't gone in to begin with, we wouldn't have the problems we have now, but that decision has already been made. Does Olbermann have a peace plan, or merely a plan to pull out and let the people there consume each other in civil war?

We've grown accustomed to the violence in Iraq. Certainly we don't expect a college campus to face similar horrors. Bombings in Iraq aren't a shock. The soldiers there are connected to us, but they weren't drafted and they understand the risks they are taking. The people who live there, however, didn't ask for the hell they are living in. I do think that people have a tendency to view foreign people dying on their television screens with a great deal of detactment... Like they aren't real people, but characters in some mini-series. For at least a certain percentage of the population there is an element of self superiority, either ethnic or national or religious, in play. But for most I simply think they have conceptual trouble deeply comprehending the reality of places that they have never travelled to. They know intellectually that Iraq is real, but emotionally they don't get it on the same level as places they have touched.

Were we to be more emotionally involved, would it impact the outcome? I think perhaps it might. I'm interested in what others think.

Bombings Kill at Least 146 Iraqis in Baghdad - New York Times

Time stands still for Hempfield teen in lockup - Tribune-Review
Topic: Current Events 12:30 pm EDT, Apr 17, 2007

A Hempfield Area High School sophomore spent 12 days in juvenile detention after authorities in Westmoreland County mistakenly charged him with making a March 11 bomb threat, in part because the district had not changed its clocks to reflect daylight-saving time.

County juvenile detention officials wanted to keep Webb in custody, Andrews said. "They wanted him to have a mental health evaluation because he wouldn't admit to making the call."

"Legally, we were OK. We didn't step on this kid's rights," said Mike Sturnick, supervisor for the juvenile probation office.

You imprisoned someone for 12 days and accused them of being insane because you can't count. You should be apologizing and not making excuses.

Time stands still for Hempfield teen in lockup - Tribune-Review

Virginia Tech Newsrolls
Topic: Current Events 6:39 pm EDT, Apr 16, 2007

I'm sure you're all aware that this has been a pretty terrible day. This link goes to a newsroll at a Virginia Tech Newspaper. There is another here. Posted because I'm good at finding the best sources for information, but unless you've got a reason I don't recommend looking at these. There is no sense to be made of this.

Virginia Tech Newsrolls

Lawyers Protest Pakistan Judge's Removal | World Latest | Guardian Unlimited
Topic: Current Events 1:56 am EDT, Mar 22, 2007

Angry lawyers scuffled with police as protests erupted across Pakistan Wednesday over the removal of nation's top judge, intensifying a crisis that threatens President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's grip on power.

Lawyers, in suits, in the street, with rocks, "scuffling" with police. Seriously. They should have had a section about that in the book of revelations. YouTube link.

Lawyers Protest Pakistan Judge's Removal | World Latest | Guardian Unlimited

RE: Whose Bong Would Jesus Hit?
Topic: Current Events 4:04 am EDT, Mar 21, 2007

finethen wrote:
Will a funnier case ever go before the Supreme Court than Morse v. Frederick? If you don't know the story already, a witty (and apparently litigious) high school student unrolled a large banner stating, simply: "Bong Hits for Jesus" in front of his school.

,,,with a few words changed it could have been a political or religous expression.

Do those few words make a difference?

All in all, I think speech rights are fairly safe for now.

Why did they grant cert? The appeals court ruled for the student. Wouldn't freedom of speech be safter if they decided the circuit was so obviously corrent that it wasn't worth reviewing? Why did they decide to review it? Is the student really interested in money? How much was he awarded?

RE: Whose Bong Would Jesus Hit?

Boing Boing: RIP: philosopher Jean Baudrillard, 1929-2007
Topic: Current Events 5:02 pm EST, Mar  8, 2007

Jean Baudrillard, the French philosopher who described America as the world's "only remaining primitive society," died this week at age 77.

BoingBoing's link is probably the best for this event, as they pull together news stories, and excellent wikipedia article, and an entertaining YouTube video in which someone dubbed Baudrillard's commentary over scenes from Grand Theft Auto. Baudrillards' response to 9/11 was discussed on MemeStreams a few years ago (well, by Jello and I anyway, but the observations are good.)

Boing Boing: RIP: philosopher Jean Baudrillard, 1929-2007

RE: Texas Requires Cancer Vaccine for Girls
Topic: Current Events 3:51 pm EST, Feb  5, 2007

Hijexx wrote:

Decius wrote:
That is exactly correct. You don't have an inalienable right to be vulnerable to communicable diseases. This question was resolved in the 1800s.

Please provide a citation. I would like to research this.

If you insist: JACOBSON v. COM. OF MASSACHUSETTS, 197 U.S. 11 (1905)

The defendant insists that his liberty is invaded when the state subjects him to fine or imprisonment for neglecting or refusing to submit to vaccination; that a compulsory vaccination law is unreasonable, arbitrary, and oppressive, and, therefore, hostile to the inherent right of every freeman to care for his own body and health in such way as to him seems best; and that the execution of such a law against one who objects to vaccination, no matter for what reason, is nothing short of an assault upon his person....

It seems to the court that an affirmative answer to these questions would practically strip the legislative department of its function to care for the public health and the public safety when endangered by epidemics of disease. Such an answer would mean that compulsory vaccination could not, in any conceivable case, be legally enforced in a community, even at the command of the legislature, however widespread the epidemic of smallpox, and however deep and universal was the belief of the community and of its medical advisers that a system of general vaccination was vital to the safety of all.

We are not prepared to hold that a minority, residing or remaining in any city or town where smallpox is prevalent, and enjoying the general protection afforded by an organized local government, may thus defy the will of its constituted authorities, acting in good faith for all, under the legislative sanction of the state. If such be the privilege of a minority, then a like privilege would belong to each individual of the community, and the spectacle would be presented of the welfare and safety of an entire population being subordinated to the notions of a single individual who chooses to remain a part of that population. We are unwilling to hold it to be an element in the liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States that one person, or a minority of persons, residing in any community and enjoying the benefits of its local government, should have the power thus to dominate the majority when supported in their action by the authority of the state.

RE: Texas Requires Cancer Vaccine for Girls

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