Monday, May 31, 2004

The Fat Police

The Agitator is hosting a discussion on "Fat Police". The discussion is about a rather one sided discusion on a Time Magazine feature. The discussion is sorta funny, because I remember so clearly several years ago during the middle of the "states vs Big Tobbacco" law suits, when Rush Limbaugh predicted that "as silly as it sounds" the Leftist will go after us about fatty foods. Big goverment is going to far when they decide to regulate what we should shove into our mouths. After all, High Fat is bad for us, unless you listen to the Atkins followers, eggs are good for us, or are they bad for us this week. Remember when Whole milk was good for us? Fast food is bad for us, but remember the Subway guy that lost all that weight? Lumberjack commented;

Abortion = Precious individual right that the government has no right to infringe on, let alone question.

Eating = Activity deemed so risk laden that it must be regulated by the State.

If you need me, I'll be in a strait jacket trying to reconcile this...


Me too.

Just Kidding..

Off the Kuff: Today Philly, tomorrow Houston?:So now that Phoenix has passed (or is on the brink of passing) Philadekphia to become America's fifth-most populous city, how long until they catch up to Houston for #4?
...

Realistically, Atlanta may offer Houston a more immediate challenge in the growth game than Phoenix. Metropolitan Atlanta grew by 1.2 million people, or "Realistically, Atlanta may offer Houston a more immediate challenge in the growth game than Phoenix. Metropolitan Atlanta grew by 1.2 million people, or nearly 40 percent, in the 1990s, partly because several more counties were added to its metro area. However, such redefining reflects genuine suburban growth.

Murdock said Houston and Atlanta are "basically the same cities for all intents and purposes. Both have been growing very rapidly, both are in strong growth areas, and I'd hate to make the call as to which is likely to be greater in 20 years."

Obviously, we'll have to start annexing faster if we want to stay ahead of Atlanta. Hey, Galveston, you guys don't really need to be a separate city, do you?


Oh No .. Don't give those expansionistic idiots any more dumb ideas. The Houston Port Authority already is digging in, The Harris county Toll Road Authority wants to build a toll bridge to replace our free ferry. There are some screwey people here that believe this is progress.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Christians are targets- Not Oil

A Market Flash report is disturbing, and maybe not completely understood by Westerners. The attacks were not about overthrowing the Saudi Government. It is not an attack on Arab oil. It was an attack on Christians. It's not an attack on Born Agains its not an attack on Roman Catholics, nor is it an attack on the very religious worshipers. These attacks are targeted against those who identify with the Christian faith. To get a Visa in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one has to state their Religion. Actually they want to kill any one who doesn't proclaim to be Moslem. This isn't just about hate. The Arab peninsula is considered holy ground. The presence of non-Moslems is concidered a desecration.

The terrorist strike in al-Khobar appears to be more ominous than recent similar strikes in Saudi Arabia. It resembles the May 1 attack on western oil workers in Yanbu, but was more elaborate and more deadly.

The attackers were organized and they seem to have prepared extensively. They wore uniforms of the Saudi National Guard, which is responsible for security at residential compounds of foreign workers, and they drove vehicles with military markings. They successfully struck multiple targets and managed to fight off security forces for a considerable period of time. They took hostages, rigged their location with explosives, and all but one gunman reportedly escaped a siege by Saudi commandos on the sixth floor of a high-rise building.

Based on a statement attributed to its planners, the primary aim was to lash out at westerners who work in the Saudi oil industry and drive them out of the Arabian Penninsula. This motivation is corroborated by the attackers' behavior. For example, this is the second recent incident in which a foreign worker's body was reportedly tied to a vehicle and dragged through the streets by militants, a tactic clearly meant to terrorize and strike fear into the hearts of foreigners living in the kingdom.

According to eyewitnesses, the attackers meticulously avoided harming Arabs and Muslims as they mistakenly had in previous attacks. This time, they questioned the residents they encountered who were not obviously westerners in order to ascertain their identity. This time, Arab nationals and even an American Muslim were spared by the discriminating attackers.

There are fewer Westerners in Saudi than there used to be. They are told to leave, and most will. It looks like the extremist have one this time.

No Treason!

Seattle Pravda Sampler I read lots of Blog posts, and everyone has their own axe to grind including yours truly. I like this article because he reports a couple of intresting storys, and he addresses a couple of disparate issues, and there is no ranting emotionalism which I read much to often.

The Hoffa mystery

The Jimmy Hoffa Story unravels
The 29-year-old mystery surrounding the death of Jimmy Hoffa is coming unraveled, thanks to the Fox News Channel.

Probing the Hoffa case, a team of investigators recruited by FNC's Eric Shawn discovered traces of blood on the floorboards of a Detroit home where Hoffa had been taken for a rendezvous with mobsters in 1975.

Instead, Hoffa was shot to death by Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran, a trusted friend, reported Fox. Sheeran, who died last December, was a longtime suspect in the case.

"I believe Frank Sheeran picked up Jimmy Hoffa at the Andiamo Restaurant, which was the Macus Red Fox at the time," Shawn told ABC Radio Network's John Batchelor on Friday.

"They drove to the [Detroit] house and walked in. When Hoffa realized no one was in there he tried to leave, but he got shot in the head."

Shawn said Hoffa's body was later cremated.

Sheeran had told Fox News last year that he was Hoffa's killer, but he refused to make the confession on camera.

Sheeran's lawyer Charles Brandt told Fox that his client indeed had "pulled the trigger." Brandt details Sheeran's involvement in Hoffa's murder in a new book due out next month, "I Heard You Paint Houses."

After Shawn interviewed Detroit-area prosecutor David Gorcyca last week about the blood find, Gorcyca dispatched his own forensic team to rip up the floorboards in the house and run DNA tests.
Although Fox in the pursuit of a scoop ran some Luminal test and found some blood under the floorboards, but in the process they very well might have destroyed some of the genetic material

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Minn. Cracks Down on Underpriced Gasoline

The Peoples Republic of Seabrook found this one Minn. Cracks Down on Underpriced Gasoline It seems as though they are crying about the price of gas being to cheap in Minnisotta and are fining those guys that aren't charging enough. I wish it weren't so, but the authorities are prosecuting under a law passed under Jesse Venture's regime.

Friday, May 28, 2004

California Senate votes to restrict Google's Gmail - May. 27, 2004

California Senate votes to restrict Google's Gmail

I have to admit I am surprised this thing passed. I don't know what juridiction they have over an a world wide internet service. I don't understand who they are trying to protect from Gmail. People that don't want it don't have to sign up. I also don't understand why gmail is more privacy invasion than any other service. Anyone who runs an email service can see their users account and activities. The Bill was passed by a 28-3 Margin. I assume it will have to get approved by a House vote. I also assume that a bill passing the Senate by a 3 to one margin should be able to get through the rest of the legilative process. If it ever goes to court though, this bill should be made history. It's California. Anything can happen.

The bill by Democratic state Sen. Liz Figueroa would require Gmail to work only in real-time and would bar the service from producing records.

The bill also would bar Gmail form collecting personal information from e-mails and giving any information to third parties.

In the end I don't think the bill will effect the Google will run Gmail, because as I understand their claims, Google has promised to run Gmail pretty much just the way the bill specifies. Its not clear though that Calfornia has any right to regulate them.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Yahoo! News - Report: 1 of Every 75 U.S. Men in Prison

Yahoo! News - Report: 1 of Every 75 U.S. Men in Prison Are we jailing to many people? Or are there that many bad guys?

There were 715 inmates for every 100,000 U.S. residents at midyear in 2003, up from 703 a year earlier, the report found.


The nation's incarceration rate tops the world, according to The Sentencing Project, another group that promotes alternatives to prison. That compares with a rate of 169 per 100,000 residents in Mexico, 116 in Canada and 143 for England and Wales.


Russia's prison population, which once rivaled the United States', has dropped to 584 per 100,000 because of prisoner amnesties in recent years, the group said.


What bothers me most is that money and good lawyers will keep most crimminals out of jail while the poor don't stand a chance with our system of public defenders.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

A Brief Note On The Terror War

No Treason!Posts:
If you think the greatest danger to your life is from Islamic radicals, then try this thought experiment:

Go burn a Koran on your front lawn. Then, go sit on your front lawn holding your shiny, new, unregistered machinegun.

Question: Who will come after you first, the jihadists, or your local police?

Libertarians in;, Green, Reform out

Libertarians in;, Green, Reform out
Texas party awaits petition validation
By JOHN WILLIAMS
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle Political Writer

Texas Libertarian Party officials said they gathered enough petition signatures by Monday's deadline to earn a spot on this year's ballot, but other alternative parties said they came up short.

Libertarians presented about 75,000 signatures Monday to the Secretary of State's office in Austin. Election officials must validate 45,540 signatures for the Libertarians to make the November ballot. The signatures must be from registered voters who did not vote in this year's Democratic or Republican primaries.

A spokeswoman for the secretary of state said the office hopes to make the determination by early July.

The two other parties that mounted petition drives -- the Green and Reform parties -- were unable to gather enough signatures.

All three parties have complained that the high hurdles Texas sets for ballot access made their petition drives difficult.

They also said voters are wary of placing additional candidates on the ballot who could serve as spoilers in close races.

Many Democrats believe that Ralph Nader's Green Party presidential candidacy in 2000 took enough votes from Al Gore to give the presidency to George W. Bush in that year's close race.

Although President Bush is expected to carry Texas easily in November, some petition prospects balked because of the lingering concern about the effects of third-party candidacies, petition-gatherers said.

"It seems like they blame the third parties for Gore losing four years ago," said Wes Benedict, ballot access chairman for the Texas Libertarian Party. "They don't want to sign petitions because they don't want Bush to win."

Also Monday, supporters of Nader -- running this year as an independent -- turned in 80,107 signatures even though they were due two weeks ago. Nader fell about 10,000 short of the 64,076 signatures he needed to win a place on the ballot.

Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said the campaign turned in the petitions as part of its court challenge to the state ballot access law, which sets stricter requirements for independents than political parties.

Jennifer Waisath, spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office, said the state will keep the Nader petitions until told otherwise by the courts.

Independent candidates have a 60-day window to gather petitions with signatures equal to 1 percent of the number of Texans who voted in the last presidential election. Nader's deadline this year was May 10.

Political parties have two weeks longer to gather signatures equal to 1 percent of the vote in the last state governor's race. This year, that meant Nader had to gather 20,000 more signatures than the parties had to.

To get on the ballot without a petition drive, a party must receive at least 2 percent of the vote in the preceding governor's race or 5 percent in another statewide race.

Green and Libertarian candidates made the 2002 ballot because at least one statewide candidate of each party drew more than 2 percent in the 2000 election. None did in 2002, so the parties had to launch petition drives this year.

If the secretary of state's office validates the Libertarian Party's signatures, it will be the eighth time since 1980 that the party's candidates have been on the statewide ballot.

Libertarians -- who espouse individual rights, free market economy and limited government -- have fielded candidates for 31 of the state's 32 congressional districts. The lone exception is the 14th District held by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Clute, who was the Libertarian nominee for president in 1988.

If the Libertarian petitions are validated, Texas will become the 29th state where the party's presidential candidate will be on the ballot.

The Green Party got on the state ballot by petition in 2000, when Nader was the party's presidential candidate and helped coordinate its petition drive.

This year's was the second unsuccessful petition effort by the Reform Party.

Although Ross Perot ran as the party's presidential candidate in 1992, he got on the Texas ballot that year as an independent.


Benedict of the Libertarian Party said the party could not have gotten its signatures this year without spending $150,000 to hire professionals to help with the petition drive. That included $45,000 from the national party, he said.

Benedict said petition collectors were told they could not gather signatures at many public places, such as libraries or college campuses.



Galveston Parks Board under fire

Galveston County Daily News Reports
Standing at the podium in the park board conference room, Chuck Coburn was admittedly upset.

He was unhappy with his nine bosses: each trustee appointed by city council to oversee the $15 million organization.

And he’s not alone. Many of the 70 or so other park board employees say they agree with Coburn.

At the crux of the problem is an upcoming search for a next board executive director and the loss earlier this month of the former board head — Charles “Gil” Langley — who resigned after just 11 months on the job.

“The board has made a bunch of mistakes,” Coburn said during the public comment period at Tuesday’s park board meeting. “We are paying all these presidents or directors a large amount of money and now we are looking at hiring another one. I don’t think it needs to happen.”

Lets see if I understand this correct. They have 9 trustees, that are appointed political hacks, and tend to make expencive mistakes. They aren't accountable to anyone, the city council is afraid to overide them. They believe that they are not accountable to what the voter wants. Should we be surprised that things are screwed up? but wait it gets even better:
Trustees faced a barrage of criticism Tuesday — from employees and the general public. Some community members said it was time for a change in the board’s makeup, others suggested disbanding the government body altogether.

Now we come to the obvious, lets just get rid of the board. a board that doesn't care a wit what the people want, and let the city take responcibility. The Parks board as it stands now is unneeded, unwanted, and too expencive.
All this comes as the board is deciding if, when and how to begin a search for a new executive director. A three-trustee committee on Tuesday recommended choosing a final candidate by mid-August — preferably from the Texas or Gulf Coast markets.


Is this because they feel that no one in Galveston is qualified? This explains their attitude about seawall parking. They don't have a very high opinion of the people in their city.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Draft Fear

Snopes presents a logical discussion on conscripting men and women into our armed forces. It's not going to happen. The Army doesn't want it. The draftable doesn't want it, and their parents don't want it. The most meager threat of a draft is likely to cause a revolt and complete lack of support for the Iraqi war.

So why does the issue keep popping up? Its a scare tactic used by the Democrats to garner support for them and their anti-war platform.

FBI apologizes to Mayfield

FBI apologizes to Mayfield: "The FBI apologized to Brandon Mayfield on Monday, saying it had erroneously identified his fingerprint on a bag of detonators found near the site of the deadly March 11 terror attack in Madrid, Spain. "

The story confirms our fears. The "Patriot Act" gives the government the right to abuse the innocent. One has to ask themselves, who do we have reason to fear the most, Terrorist or our own Government? As I see it we have more to fear from our own government and the taxing authorities than we have to fear from the Moslem terrorist. It should make everyone feel good that we are showing Iraq how to do it.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Unitarian ruling reversed

reports that Strayhorn's earlier rulling in which a Unitarian church was denied tax-exempt status. The Star Telegram Reports:
Reversing an earlier decision, state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn announced Monday that a Unitarian church in Denison would get its tax-exempt status after all.

The decision came after the Star-Telegram reported on May 18 that the comptroller's office had ruled the Red River Unitarian Universalist Church was not a religious organization for tax purposes.

Damned if you do and, well, damned if you do....

From The Peoples Republic of Seabrook Got this story from Channel 13 in Toledo Ohio

The school-sponsored event asked students to pay 50-cents to pie their favorite or least favorite teacher or principal in the face!

A student's parents are outraged now that administrators have suspended him from Ottawa County's Danbury high school. It's all over a fundraiser held during school hours. What's puzzling is school administrators encouraged the students to participate in the pie-in-the-face contest. The targets were the teachers and the principal. Now one student's education is on the line.

Tina and Don Molnar say a pie-in-the-face contest held by Danbury high school got their son expelled for 80 days. The school posted flyers asking students to pay 50-cents to pie their favorite or least favorite teacher or principal in the face! The students could enter as many times as they wanted. The Molnars' son was selected to throw a pie in the principal's face. After the contest she filed a complaint with the police. Now her former student could face charges.



This was a school sponcered event he paid his 50 cents and won the right to throw the pie. 80 days suspencion and facing crimminal charges is real severe.

Saudi's increase oil production

The New York Times reports Saudi Arabia has promised to increase production has caused a rift among OPEC members.
Individual members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have begun to speak out against raising output, in response to a statement from the Saudis on Friday that they were willing to produce an additional 500,000 barrels of oil a day to help curtail prices, which have been above $40 a barrel. The Saudis, who are under intense pressure to add supplies, said that OPEC should increase production by more than two million barrels a day.


Interestingly enough Opec doesn't blame production levels, but rather world stability, high taxes, and worldwide speculation in the futures market are to blame. Perhaps the prices at the pumps have peaked.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

A Revamp

The new Blogger gave me an excuse to redo the blog. Doing so I was able to the new blogger through its paces. It is real easy to start a blog now, and the new templates are real easy to edit. I modified the Banner a little bit to make it more personal and with a Galvestonian flavor, and added the links and credits.

Some of the newer features. I can now see some of the articles people are reading. This helps me decide what type of things I might post about. There is a Profiles in case anyone is intrested in what kind of nut is producing this blog. Comments are available.

I added a couple more links. I am pretty stingy about who I link to. I like topical blogs, that aren't just rant havens. I am also partial to local blogs. I decided to link to Chronically Biased even though I have been pretty critical about them. They have decided to open their comments although they will moderate them. This is a good thing. A busy high profile board can get overun with comments that don't add to discussion. They also have an editors email address, which I coudn't find before. "editor@chronicallybiased.com" I am still concerned that they tend to rant, and not focus on the editorializing of the Houston Chronical and other media in the hardnews section. Nevertheless, They are and will continue to be an important source. They seem to make no bobes they they are an extention of KSEV, and inten to be proffessional and hopefully (their hope not particularly mine) proffitable part of their bussiness. Maybe some day they will choose to reccognize the rest of the blogging community and link to the rest of us poor shlumps who do this as a hobby.

Pinkie

The Texas City Sun reports on a flamingo out by the Texas City Dike. No one knows how long it will be there, nor where it came from.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Portland Lawyer Released

The People's Republic of Seabrook Reports on an news item
A Portland lawyer arrested in connection with the Madrid terror attacks was set free Thursday after evidence pointed to another suspect.

The thing is that there was very little solid evidence to hold him in the first place. Not only hadn't he left the country for more than 10 years, he hadn't left the state of Oregon in 10 years. Apparently he was guilts only of being a Moslem convert. It wasn't untill the Spanish authorities found the fingerprint pointing to an Algerian living in Spain. Mayfield was arrested on a material witness warrant, under a statute that allows the government to hold a potential suspect without formally charging them. The statute carries a high-level of secrecy.

Gmail in demand

MSNBC - Search is on for Gmail names
Years after the rush to snatch up prime "dot-com" addresses, the latest Internet land-grab is on. This one started in April, when Google surprised the Web-connected world by announcing it is getting into the free e-mail business, with a service it calls Gmail.

For something that will eventually cost nothing -- Google has not announced when the service will be available to the public -- people are willing to trade all sorts of things for the right to snag a choice e-mail identity. At one Web site that connects the Gmail haves with the have-nots, a man is offering to lend his car for a week to anyone who can connect him with an account. On eBay, that trusty barometer for what things are really worth at any moment, accounts have topped $70

People will pay for anything. I recieved 3 accounts. Gave 1 to Equality, and one to somebody at Blogger Forum. No regrets.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Judge sticks Babs with Legal bill

Judge Socks Streisand With $177,000 Legal Bill
Putting an end to Barbra Streisand's stalling tactics, a California judge has ordered the singer to cough up $177,000 to cover the legal fees of her victorious opponent in a recent privacy invasion lawsuit. Last May, Streisand sued when a California coastal preservation group posted on its web site an aerial photo (seen at right) showing the singer's oceanfront Malibu estate. But her complaint was later dismissed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Allan J. Goodman, who awarded legal fees to the California Coastal Records Project and the group's founder Kenneth Adelman. Streisand, though, balked at paying and filed motions challenging the $220,000 being sought by her legal vanquishers. In the below ruling, Goodman just ordered Babs to fork over exactly $177,107.54. This appears to end the Malibu saga--unless the 62-year-old singer has an appeal in mind.

Seeing as though Barbra likes having her digs published on the web, we thouht it should be posted here.

Lap dancers For Kerry.

Off the Kuff: I'll take 'em where I can get 'em is about a Salt Lake Tribune report on voter registration drives at strip joints, the idea is that might be where to gather anti-Bush sentiment. Maybe the Democrats in Texas can gather support against Perry. They might even turn the $5.00 a head that Perry wants to tax these establishments into Donations for the opposing candidate.
Strip club owners are putting a little bada-bing in the presidential campaign by asking patrons to turn their eyes away from the stage for a moment to fill out a voter registration form -- and then vote against President Bush.
"It's not to say our industry loves John Kerry or anything like that," said Dave Manack, associate publisher of E.D. Publications, which publishes Exotic Dancer magazine. "But George Bush, if he's re-elected, it could be very damaging to our industry."

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Golden Rat

A little humor:

KGB: The Golden Rat :
Man walks into a store, sees a golden rat, thinks it's cool. The tag says $12. 'Is this really $12?' he asks the owner.
'Yes, $12 for the statue, but $500 for the story.'
The man sees the sales ploy, ignores it, and says 'No story, I just want the rat.' So he buys it and leaves the store.
Soon, he hears noises behind him, and he turns around to see a rat following him. Soon, more rats begin following him. He speeds up, so do the rats. More rats come out of the drains, the sewers, the alleys... from everywhere.
The man freaks out and starts to run. Every rat in town is behind him. He runs as fast as he can until he reaches the shoreline, runs out on a pier, and hurls the Golden Rat as far out to sea as he can. Every single rat leaps into the water after the statue and drowns.
So he goes back to the store. The owner smiles at him and nods knowingly. 'Ah, now you want the story, don't you?'
'No,' the man replies. 'I want a Golden Republican.'



Boy mistreated to get dad to talk

Yahoo! News - GI: Boy mistreated to get dad to talk
Is a report that tells how a young teenager is is driven around naked in the back of a truck all night. They drive through the muck and he sure must have looked pretty pathetic and exhausted. The present the boy to his father, no outright threats are made, but the unco-operative father suddenly gets real talkative. We aren't privy just how important this information is, or whether American Solders were made a little safer with this information.


Atrios thinks We Are Scum Pretty strong words.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Chronically Biased - Re: Cuba's standard-of-living

I recently wrote about Dan Patrick and Company's new blog. I was pretty excited about it, and looked forward to them taking The Houston Chronicle and other media to task. They initially complained that althought the Chonicle was in its rights to editorialize any way they chose. They objected to the the waqy the Chronicle twited and editorialized in reportining news. Reading the Chronically Biased blog though it becomes obvious, that they are spending a lot of effort complianing about the Chronicles Editorial pages, and ranting about the issues of the day. There is nothing wrong with a site that rants, but this is not what we were led to believe that Chronically Biased was all about. Instead of being a site where the chronicle and other news media are taken to task for biased reporting. It seems to be a forum for KSEV's agenda.

The article Re: Cuba's standard-of-living and Thoughts from the Midnight Writer bothered me. They write about how bad Cuba's Castro is, but who denies that? Not the Chonicle, nor most main streem media. Why don't they address the issue of China being a most favored trade partner, and the embargo with Cuba? Why are the two nations being treated so differently? Could it be that the Chronicle and Chronically biased are are on the same page? Hasent the Chronicle written favovorablly about life in China? Aren't most conservatives under the leadership of George W. Bush supporting free trade with China? Don't bother emailing Dan Patrick, an autoresponce will reply that he is way to busy to answer email, but he might read it. They also killed the comments section, so much for any dialog.

Unitarian group denied tax status

Unitarian group denied tax status Thanks to Kuff for spotting this.

Unitarian Universalists have for decades presided over births, marriages and memorials. The church operates in every state, with more than 5,000 members in Texas alone.

But according to the office of Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a Denison Unitarian church isn't really a religious organization -- at least for tax purposes. Its reasoning: the organization "does not have one system of belief."

Never before -- not in this state or any other -- has a government agency denied Unitarians tax-exempt status because of the group's religious philosophy, church officials say. Strayhorn's ruling clearly infringes upon religious liberties, said Dan Althoff, board president for the Denison congregation that was rejected for tax exemption by the comptroller's office.

"I was surprised -- surprised and shocked -- because the Unitarian church in the United States has a very long history," said Althoff, who notes that father-and-son presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams were both Unitarians.

...

What constitutes religion? When and how should government make that determination? Questions that for years have vexed the world's great philosophers have now become the province of the state comptroller's office.

Questions about the issue were referred to Jesse Ancira, the comptroller's top lawyer, who said Strayhorn has applied a consistent standard -- and then stuck to it. For any organization to qualify as a religion, members must have "simply a belief in God, or gods, or a higher power," he said.

"We have got to apply a test, and use some objective standards," Ancira said. "We're not using the test to deny the exemptions for a particular group because we like them or don't like them."

Traditional faiths

Since Strayhorn took over in January 1999, the comptroller's office has denied religious tax-exempt status to 17 groups and granted them to more than 1,000, according to records obtained by the Star-Telegram. Although there are exceptions, the lion's share of approvals have gone to groups that appear to have relatively traditional faiths, records show.

But of the denials, at least a fourth include less traditional groups, the records show. In addition to the Denison Unitarian church, the rejected groups include a Carrollton group of atheists and agnostics, a New Age group in Bastrop, and the Whispering Star Clan/Temple of Ancient Wisdom, an organization of witches in Copperas Cove.

Some of the denials occurred because of missing paperwork or other problems, according to the comptroller's office. A few, like the denial for the New Age group and the witches group, were decided because their services were closed to the public, according to documents.

But the denials of the Red River Unitarian Universalist Church in Denison and the North Texas Church of Freethought in Carrollton, as well as an earlier denial by Sharp for the Ethical Culture Fellowship of Austin, were ordered because the organizations did not mandate belief in a supreme being.

The disputed tax dollars don't amount to much, but the comptroller has taken a stand on principle, Ancira said.

"The issue as a whole is, do you want to open up a system where there can be abuse or fraud, or where any group can proclaim itself to be a religious organization and take advantage of the exception?" he said.

Those who oppose the comptroller's "God, gods or supreme being" test say that it can discriminate against legitimate faiths. For example, applying that standard could disqualify Buddhism because it does not mandate belief in a supreme being, critics say.

Opponents note that the federal government applies less stringent rules for federal tax exemptions, yet manages to discourage fraud and abuse. They also question whether the comptroller's office has formulated excuses to discriminate against nontraditional groups, such as those that include witches and pagans.

But Ancira says it's up to the comptroller's office to interpret state law, which he describes as rather vague. He insists the comptroller never favors one religion over another.

"This comptroller, in particular, wants everybody on a level playing field," he said.

'Creedless' religions

The comptroller's office has not always barred "creedless" religions from tax exemption, said Douglas Laycock, a University of Texas law professor who specializes in religious liberty issues.

...

Strayhorn vows to continue the legal fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. "Otherwise, any wannabe cult who dresses up and parades down Sixth Street on Halloween will be applying for an exemption," she said in a April 23 news release.

The Red River Unitarian Universalist Church, the 50-member congregation whose tax application was rejected by Strayhorn's office, has held services in Denison for the seven years. Althoff said his group includes "hard-core atheists" as well as "New Agey-type people."

But the lack of a single creed is a hallmark of Unitarianism, Althoff said. Instead, Unitarian Universalists have seven guiding principles, including "respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part," according to the Unitarian Universalist Web site.

The group also draws from various religious and philosophical traditions, including Jewish, Christian, humanist and Earth-centered teachings, but promotes individual freedom of belief, according to the Web site. It notes that Unitarians and Universalists have operated in the United States for at least 200 years, although the two groups did not merge until 1961.

It now includes about 40 congregations in Texas, and more than 1,000 in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Despite its lack of a specific creed, Unitarian Universalism is as much a religion as any other, Althoff said. From his perspective, religion is not just about the answers to life's big questions, but also calls on people to evaluate the questions themselves.

"It seems to me that any [group] that is specifically organized to address and explore the issues of what constitutes the good life, both here and perhaps in the afterworld, would qualify" as a religion, Althoff said.

The Rev. Anthony David, lead pastor of Pathways Church in Southlake, said he is disturbed by the comptroller's decisions because it ignores Unitarian Universalists' belief that spiritual fulfillment can emerge in "different ways at different levels."

"It reflects an incredible misunderstanding of what a church needs to look like," David said.

Pathways teaches that God is a term that describes the source of ultimate meaning and purpose, but the church does not advocate a one-size-fits-all theology, David said.

"Creedlessness doesn't mean no belief or anything goes," he said.

Craig Roshaven of Fort Worth's First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church said he has followed the comptroller's decisions with growing dismay.

His group has tax-exempt status, but he wonders what's to prevent Strayhorn from revoking it.

"The comptroller's logic could be applied to any of us," he said.

Ancira said the comptroller's office has no plans for such reversals. But then again, said Ancira, "There's nothing preventing us from doing so."


I son't know whats going on with Strayhorn, but it sounds like she has some issues in her life that she needs to address. Vindictiveness has no place in proffessional politics. Why hasn't the tradional media picked up on this story?

Monday, May 17, 2004

HoustonChronicle.com - A new mayor, vote glitch and recount talk

HoustonChronicle.com - A new mayor, vote glitch and recount talkDespite equipment breakdowns and a temporalily lost ballot box, the results are in.

Lyda Ann Thomas beat Johnny Smecca by a 2 to 1 margin. They also voted to allow votting on the issue of paying for parking on the seawall by a 2 to 1 Margin. Smecca who was opposed to letting the voters have a say in the parking proposal seems to have outspent Thomas, and received rath of the voting citizens. Presumably for his arrogent stance.

A proposal to to modify the city charter to allow local control of city pensions was passed by only 2 votes! A recount is sure to happen. It only goes to prove that every vote does indeed count.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Hezbollah's Passion Play

Nalpalm News blogged this story from BBC NEWS : "Hezbollah's Passion Play" Hezbollah-backed TV channel, Al Manar, in Lebanon, has adapted the trailer for the film "The Passion of the Christ" into a station ident reflecting the channel's anger over events in Iraq.

Cell phone block eyed

Plans to block cell phone usage are underway in Los Angeles as an anti-terrorism countermeasure. Cell phone jamming is already used widely in foreign countries and to protect President Bush. The plan is to block cell phones in case of suspected attacks. The plan is taking on an urgency since the bombings in Spain where cell Phones were used to fire the detonators.

Many people carry their cell phones primarily for emergency situations. We wonder if people will be endangered by the act of blocking cell phones. There is the tendency of false alarms, and overeacting to some threats. Cell phones are relied on by people for safety, and for many people it is thier only phone service. What about Digital Pagers, and land based phones? These devices can also be excellent bomb detonators. During 911 the cell phones was not only where victems said their last last goodbyes, it was also an important means of emergency communication. New Yorks Emergency radio Channels were fully loaded, and Cell phones were used by Emergency personel to communicate other non-traditional support people that weren't linked into the radio network. A cell phone can be a lifeline for many people during an emergency.

Galveston Election

Galveston votes are in but not all counted. With 23% of the votes in Lyda Ann Thomas leads Johnny Smecca by 2 to 1, The vote to allow voting on the Seawall Parking fees was passed. As apparently did all the other propositions.

The Galveston Daily News supported Smecca who was opposed to giving voters a say on the contriversial Seawall paid parking. Although the newspaper did support giving the citizens a vote. Smecca also apeared to have a better financed campain than Ms. Thomas.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Vegas at the Balanese

Last night Equality and I went to the Vegas Nite at the Balanese. Hosted by the Kiwanis Club. It was a lot of fun. We purchasd $5000.00 worth of funny money, and gambled it up to $50,000. Traded the funny money for chances on some really neat prizes. We walked out empty handed but had a great time. Even Elvis showed up! The Balanese is was a hot spot of illegal gambling, and the hottest entertainment, until the polititians, dogooders, and the Texas Rangers decided we were having to much fun in Galveston and cleaned up the city.
The hilite of the evening was when we took a little break, and watched the dolphins play. They were jumping completely out of the water and putting on a grand show.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Free Giant Shrimp Day!

Making Light: Free Giant Shrimp Day! Free Shrimp at long John Silvers, but you need to get there before 5. This is a real deal.

Chronically Biased

Slightly Rough reports on a new group blog.
http://www.chronicallybiased.com Founded by Dan Patrick, Its a fine group effort that takes on the Bias's of the Houston Chronicle. Rob has written some real good post in it, and the Blog makes for good reading. There are Atom and a couple of varieties of RSS feeds in there too.

What leaves me wondering though, is whether they will aggressively report on Jon Matthews' indecency trial. The Chronicle, has not reported much about it, and I suspect that Dan Patrick isn't going to be aggressive about reporting on it, Jon Mathews was as much of a celebrity/Public figure in Houston as anyone. Yet we haven't heard his side of the story, or anything surrounding the circumstances of his charges.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Kuff's Texas Political Bloggers

Kuff has put together the ultimate list of Texas Political Blogs. Check out his Bloglines Newsfeeds also, it's a massive list that is accurate and well organized. My BlogLines is a lot smaller, but is growing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

WorldNetDaily: Boston Globe publishes bogus GI rape pictures

WorldNetDaily: Boston Globe publishes bogus GI rape pictures: "Boston residents got more than they bargained for this morning when their copy of the Globe came complete with graphic photos depicting U.S. troops gang-raping Iraqi women.
Problem is the photos are fake. They were taken from pornographic websites and disseminated by anti-American propagandists, as first reported by WND a week ago. "

The bastion of liberal propaganda still hasn't printed a correction, retraction or apology.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

It's a Wonderful World.

MCI WorldCom Emerges from Bankruptcy, existing shareholders will not benefit as shares trading under symbols WCOEQ and MCWEQ are deemed worthless. The stock is now listed for 1 penny. "While MCI executives are cheering the Company's recent successes, it is inexcusable that they have all but forgotten their thousands of shareholders and employees who were victims of the largest fraud in American history,'' commented Jerrold S. Parker, Esq., of Parker & Waichman, and no one is going to jail. The banks got all the stock and control of a large company with a pretty good future, The stockholders get screwed. I have some of that wallpaper.

This morning I hear, "Its a Wonderful World" a song by Louis Armstrong, I love to hear Louis sing this, visions of flowers and sky, reminding me just how sweet our lives on this earth can be. Louis Armstrong's distictive voice belongs to this song. But, it wasn't Louis' voice I was hearing. First it was K.D. Lanes, and then it was Tony Bennett. They didn't do a bad job on it, It just wasn't Louis. They were singing in a commercial for MCI (AKA Worldcom). I guess for those that ripped off the stock holder it is a wonderful world. I'm just glad its not Louis' voice. I still love that song when he sings it.

Monday, May 10, 2004

The Election Is Kerry's To Lose

John Zogby peports that he predicts that Kerry will win in November. Zogby is pollster that I respect a lot, he if he tells us Bush is gona lose, then thats where I would put my money. Kerry might blow it it but it won't be easy.

Have you recovered from the shock? Is this guy nuts? Kerry's performance of late has hardly been inspiring and polls show that most Americans have no sense of where he really stands on the key issues that matter most to them. Regardless, I still think that he will win. And if he doesn't, it will be because he blew it. There are four major reasons for my assertion: ...


Sunday, May 09, 2004

New Blogger

Blogger Made some changes, most are user interface and cosmetic changes, others are more subtle (Yeah, Blockquotes) We now have comments, I am a little concerned about spam and such but I am going to turn it on, for now, I may restrict the comments option at latter time.

FCC Swamped With Oprah Indecency Complaints - May 4, 2004

FCC Swamped With Oprah Indecency Complaints The complaints center around a show about teenage sexuality. The FCC has yet to explain why Howard Stern and Jimmy Kimmel shows are indecent yet Oprah is not. Perhaps because Michael Powell (son of Collin) Doesn't believe that a show aimed at woman cannot possibly be indecent.
MAY 4--In the wake of an Oprah Winfrey show that included explicit talk about teen sexuality (and addressed topics such as rainbows and getting one's salad tossed), the Federal Communications Commission received more than 1600 letters complaining about the racy March 18 broadcast and demanding that the talk show host be cited for indecency. And since most FCC correspondents were prodded to write by the agency's Public Enemy Number One, Howard Stern, and ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel, the Oprah complaints are particularly entertaining and vituperative in their decrying of a double standard employed by the fine-happy FCC brass. Below you'll find a sampling of the Oprah complaints, a small chunk of the stack we received via a Freedom of Information Act request. Since the commission redacts the names of letter writers, there is no way to actually confirm the true identity of letter writers like the "parent" who, having returned home from "Bible day camp" with their three-year-old twins, had to endure Oprah's "disgusting rhetoric." Or the "teacher" who worried about his third grade students "viewing these vulgar conversations about sex." Despite the complaints, it is unlikely that stations broadcasting Winfrey's March show--which originally aired, to little apparent notice, in October 2003--will be sanctioned. (14 pages)

Friday, May 07, 2004

Lieberman really pisses off the Leftist.

Eschaton reports "Lieberman's statement today was truly vile. Unbelievably vile." I got curious and and checked google for anything that Lieberman might have said. Apparently what has some of the more liberal bloggers so upset, is that Lieberman doesn't want to go after Ashcrofts head. It is pretty wierd that anyone can feel so much hatred and vile because they express moderation. I thought it was supposed to be the rightwing thats the party of hate and vile. Election year politics gotta love it!

The end of the Internet

The end of the line.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Facility at heart of Fertitta-Moody duel opens

The Frettita Convention Center opens today. It is pretty, and was built pretty quick. Frettita beat out the charitable Organization Headed up by the Galveston based Moody Foundation. Fretitta, a Houston resident, won the contract even though the Moody's already a convention center. Some residents apparently are taken with Frettita's success in Galveston and have taken to calling it Frettitaville. Tillman Frettita has either bought up or built most of the main resteraunts, and valuable Seawall properties.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Golden tan could lead to silver cuffs

Mach Meter Online Newspaper a Cannaon Air Force base publication warns of the use of certain tanning lotions made from hemp or canabis products.
As the warmer months approach and summer vacation plans begin forming, many Cannon members begin the process of getting that perfect tan.

While the actual medical consequences of tanning are a different topic altogether, I want to discuss the potential legal consequences of obtaining that perfect color.

Recently, the tanning market has been flooded with new and improved moisturizers and accelerators containing hemp seed oil, hemp oil, Tetra Hydro Cannabinol-9 (THC) or marijuana byproducts.

Some of the local tanning establishments in the Clovis and Portales area are selling these products right off the shelf.

While all military members are aware that ingestion and wrongful use of marijuana is prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, some may not be aware that military members are also prohibited from ingesting any product containing hemp seed or hemp oil.

Air Force Instruction 44-121, 3.5.5 states that laboratory studies have shown that products made with hemp seed and hemp oil may contain varying levels of THC, an active ingredient in marijuana, which is detectable under the Air Force drug testing program.

The instruction continues by stating that to ensure military readiness, the ingestion of products containing or products derived from hemp seed or hemp seed oils is prohibited. Failure to comply with this regulation is a violation of Article 92 of the UCMJ.

Clearly, nobody would ingest lotion or tanning oil, as it says in the AFI, but the lotion or oil will, by the simple nature of its use, come into contact with your skin.

There can be a chance of absorption under certain circumstances.

Forensic pathologists at Brooks City Base Lab, San Antonio, Texas, caution that if the lotion or oil was to come into contact with openings in the skin, such as cuts or scrapes, a person's body could absorb some portion of the chemicals and possibly cause a military member to "pop positive."

The possibility is simply not worth the risk.

According to Dr. Laura Haley, Forensics Toxicologist at the Brooks Lab, besides poppy seeds and hemp products, some herbal teas and children's medicines contain substances that can make a military member pop positive.

"There are even stimulants in power drinks," she said.

Dr. Haley is consulted about 50 times a year and testifies 25 times a year on drug cases. She said she hears hundreds of excuses as to how drugs got into a person's system.

"I hear 'It was slipped into my drink' or 'It was in the food' all of which are highly unlikely," Dr. Haley said.

Even though the chance of "popping positive" for THC after using tanning products is statistically small, there are other consequences everyone should be aware of.

Every time a military member or spouse drive on the base, they are implying consent to have their vehicles searched.

The 27th Security Forces Squadron often uses military working dogs to help with those random searches.

The K-9's are trained to detect odors, including residual odors, of several different drugs, including; marijuana, THC and hemp seed oil. If someone were to innocently use a lotion or oil containing these products, then were searched while entering the base, there is no doubt that a military working dog could detect the odor of the oil or lotion on the body or within the car.

"When a military dog alerts, there are several steps SFS members take," said Staff Sgt. James Pitts, 27th SFS kennel master. "That includes searching the vehicle, the person, their pockets and personal possessions. In some cases, members are asked to perform a urine test."

While the lotion was not used with intent to break any laws and is not illegal, the fact that a military working dog alerts on your car or your person creates a perception that nobody wants.

The base prosecutors, the unit commander, first sergeant and members of the investigative agencies on base are briefed after a K-9 alerts on a car.

Again, it's not the kind of attention any Airman desires and can be avoided, in this case, simply by using one of the other products on the market that do not contain THC, hemp seed or hemp seed oil.

While many of us want that golden tan this summer, think carefully before you make the purchase that can create consequences that could last much longer than the tan.

The war on drugs has such strange sideaffects.

Monday, May 03, 2004

The Abu Ghraib scandal

The New Yorker: Gives a good report on what happened at Abu Ghraib. The photos we saw were horific, and no one is in the mood for excuses, but it is important to understand what happenened, how serious it was to the victims, and be able to prevent it from happening again. Although the blame is spread all over the place. This abuse happenened because, The officers weren't paying close enough attention, The ones directly involved weren't given enough supervision, and those who weren't involved didn't know who to complain to.

The blame has already been assigned, now what needs to be done is to figure out how to prevent something like this from happening again. Questions need to be asked.

  • Where were the officers? It seems like the officers weren't aware of what was going on. or not even in existance

  • Where was the SOP? The what type of interigation is allowed? and what isn't. Should be very clearly spelled out. What are the allowed conditions, for questioning, and who has the authority? Are these decisions made by an Enlisted Man or a Commisioned Officer?

  • How does an MI officers and the CIA fit into into this what is the protocal? Should they be aproaching an NCO without an officer in the NCO's chain of command?

Sunday, May 02, 2004

State of the Blog

Some time in Sept. I started this Web Log. I'm not exactly sure why, other than for the technical challenge. Its been a lot of fun, and its been a great means of expression. I can't recommend Blogger strongly enough to those who might want to jump in and get their feet wet. Its very easy to get started and they will even provide the webspace if you need it. There is lots of help available and many features and most are free. Some of the tools I use now are.

  • Blogger.Com of course>

  • A stolen template which really deserves to get credit if I can find the authors name.

  • Lumberjack to gather my access logs.

  • Webalizer to help me make sense of these logs

  • Freefind Search does a good job of digging through the archives to find particular articles.


The common denominator with these feature is they are free and nonobtrusive. I approach my Blog Links in the same way, I have listed very few links so far, and although I intend to increase the size of the list, it will not be huge. I include a link only if I am going to actually follow the Blog closely. Blogs that I find interesting, aren't always the ones that agree with me politically or philosophically, but those who express themselves in an interesting way. I do not insist that those that I link reciprocate.

I got the Atom feed running this weekend, in order to test it, I needed to get a news reader. I never understood what all the fuss was about with news aggregaters, RSS and Atom feeds. The readers will allow me to follow more news sources and Blogs. I am currently using Bottom Feeder, its free and seems to do a good job, It is one of several available free news readers. I provide a full feed, for now. Please let me know if you find the atom feed useful.