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December 14, 2008

Jon Ronson -- The Legend of Ruby Ridge

The Legend of Ruby Ridge

Zoo life kills elephants

Critical Report on Health of Zoo Elephants Is Debated - NYTimes.com
Living in a zoo drastically shortens the lives of Asian and African elephants, possibly because of the effects of stress and obesity, researchers are reporting. But their work provoked a sharp response from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The researchers, who studied data from European zoos, are not recommending that zoos abandon elephants, said Georgia J. Mason, a leader of the work and an expert on animal behavior at the University of Guelph, in Ontario. But she said their findings suggested that imports of elephants should be limited to zoos that can identify and treat their problems, that transfers between zoos be minimized and that breeding efforts be limited to zoos with a record of success.

Sold as 'non-lethal,' Tasers killed 400 since 2001

The Raw Story | Sold as 'non-lethal,' Tasers killed 400 since 2001
Tasers have killed more than 400 people since 2001, according to a new study commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Police departments across Canada began banning use of Tasers by their officers after the report found that Tasers deliver more power than the manufacturer says is possible.... The study includes a medical analysis that concluded someone shot with a Taser could face as high as a 50 percent chance of cardiac arrest. The Taser company, however, still says its weapons can't kill.

December 10, 2008

Mrs. Blogo: "hold up that fucking Cubs shit ... fuck 'em'"

via ** Jack ** | blah3 | I'm tellin' ya, there's a sitcom in this!
Boy, the juicy details coming out about the Blagojevich arrest really are comically over the top. Got to love this one via TPM, regarding a taped call where Blago is discussing ways to financial squeeze his critics at the Chicago Trib:
During the call, Rod Blagojevich's wife can be heard in the background telling Rod Blagojevich to tell Deputy Governor A 'to hold up that fucking Cubs shit ... fuck them'"
Makes you wonder about what heartwarming scenes unfolded at the family's Thanksgiving table: "Pass the turkey." "I've got the turkey. You think I'm giving this fucking turkey away for nothing?" "Fuck you. I've got the green beans, the potatoes and the goddamn stuffing." "Green beans? Who cares about the damn beans? Okay, I'll give you a slice for...hey, where's the gravy? Grandma, you got the gravy?" "Eat your turkey dry and choke. This gravy is my parachute, it's gold...." Just think, such a show could fill the void left since we're no longer able to peek into the family dynamics of Tony and Carmela Soprano....

December 02, 2008

Was Lashkar-e-Taiba responsible for the attack on Mumbai?

Lashkar-e-Taiba: Think Tank: Online Only: The New Yorker

Lashkar-e-Taiba is sort of the Pakistani version of Hezbollah, in that it's a secondary government that has arisen because the actual state government is frayed and bad at providing basic services to some areas. "Shadow government" is a phrase that keeps getting tossed around.

One question that will certainly arise as the Mumbai investigations proceed is what the United States should insist the government of Pakistan do about Jamat and Lashkar. Even for a relative hawk on the subject of Pakistan’s support for Islamist militias, it’s a difficult question—comparable to the difficult question of managing Hezbollah’s place in the fragile Lebanese political system. To some extent, Pakistan’s policy of banning Lashkar and tolerating Jamat has helpfully reinforced Lashkar’s tendency toward nonviolent social work and proseltyzing. In the long run, this work is a threat to the secular character of Pakistan, but it is certainly preferable to revolutionary violence and upheaval right now. On the other hand, there is little doubt that the Army and I.S.I. continue to use Jamat’s legitimate front as a vehicle for prosecution of a long-running “double game” with the United States, in which Pakistan pledges fealty to American counterterrorism goals while at the same time facilitating guerrilla violence against India, particularly over the strategic territory of Kashmir, which Pakistan regards as vital to its national interests.

Lashkar is a big organization with multiple arms and priorities and its leadership is undoubtedly divided over how much risk to take in pursuit of violent operations in India, particularly given the comfort and even wealth the group’s leaders enjoy from their unmolested activities inside Pakistan. If the boys in Mumbai had support from Lashkar, did the group’s leader, Hafez Saeed, who runs Jamat, know of the plan? If so, that would be a radical act that would likely mean the end of his charity’s tenuous legitimacy.