Archive for February, 2008

Kevin Hansen, who dined at the steakhouse with friends and family Saturday, said he ordered a 16-ounce ribeye cooked medium rare, with a warm, red center, according to the criminal complaint filed against cook Ryan Kropp.

Hansen declined an offer of a new steak, but Liberatore persisted and offered a new steak he could take home, the complaint said.

Hansen went to police Sunday to complain of hair in the second steak. A police officer observed “several strands of what appeared to be hair coming out of the middle of the steak,” the complaint said.

Gross, gross, gross, right? It gets worst.

Censored by myself due to “what was I thinking.” If you want to see it, click the link.

I’ll admit, I got bad service at a restaurant last week and left a sub-standard tip and a note explaining why. My friends asked me why I wrote the note and I said I didn’t want the server to think I was a bad tipper. My friend’s response: “So now they think you’re an asshole.” I guess I screwed up. In any case, I may never complain again.

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Many whites hate the phrase “politically correct” because they see a double standard. Why is it that Don Imus gets in trouble for calling women hos when Snoopy Doggy Dog can get away with it?

In this post, I’m not prepared to either defend or castigate Snoop or Don Imus for the above, because what I’m most interested in is why some people feel okay crossing a boundary sometimes but not others. What races can we make fun of, what ones do hesitate before doing so? Is it okay to make fun of your own race? Can you earn the right to make fun of another?

In Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, Michael Rappaport used the n word in front of Damon Wayans saying he’s earned the right to use it since he’s married to a black woman. I think this scene shows Rappaport’s character for what a fool he is. There is no magical wand that will make what he says not have bite.

Here’s an article about major college campus newspapers deriding Asian Americans:

For instance, in October of 2006, Jed Levine published a “modest proposal for an immodest proposition” for the UCLA Daily Bruin. Speaking as a white male, he identified as an “underrepresented minority” and pointed to Asian Americans as the real problem who took away admissions slots from Black and Latino students and proposed a solution to the “Asian invasion” as funneling “young Maos and Kim Jongs” into a new UC campus “UC Merced Pandas.” In January 2007, the Daily Princetonian published its annual “joke issue” that included a satire of “Lian Ji”, a twist on Jian Li, the Chinese American student at Yale, who filed a complaint with the U.S. Education Department for Civil Rights claiming his rejection from Princeton was due to his ethnicity. The joke article, from “Lian’s” point of view was written in broken English, complaining that Princeton did not accept “I the super smart Asian,” and touting the stereotypical nerdy Asian American credentials of winning record science fair awards, memorizing endless digits of pi, and playing multiple orchestral instruments simultaneously for the New Jersey youth orchestra. Ultimately, “Lian” accepts his fate at Yale saying, “I mean, I love Yale. Lots of bulldogs here for me to eat.”

Most recently, Inside Higher Ed reported on yet another satire in the University of Colorado at Boulder paper, The Campus Press, which resulted in controversy and a statement by the chancellor. In the satire, Max Karson, noticed the tensions that Asian American students exhibited towards whites. While pointing out the racial tensions on both sides, Karson deduces that Asians just hate whites, and it was “time for war.” Such efforts included steps to find all Asian Americans on campus (easily identifiable by areas of campus they frequent and by their ability to do a calculus problem in their heads), forcing them to eat bad sushi with forks; and a test for them to display emotions beyond a normal deadpan (read: inscrutable) face. At the end, Asian homes will be redecorated “American” style, replacing rice cookers with George Forman Grills and the like.

What made these writers feel comfortable saying what they did? Is the perceived successfulness of Asian Americans the thing that makes it seem okay to make fun of them?

Thank you Marcella for sending me this.

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Since starting my own blog, I’ve had less time to comment on other blogs I read. The Stranger has for a long time been one of my guilty pleasures, but I can never seem to get any satisfaction from any of the threads. No matter how hard I try, my comments are always taken in a bad way and I get this bitchy vitriol directed back at me. That is if my comment is even noticed.

Take for instance, this very compelling topic posted by Dan Savage. He posts a quote from the Washington Post on a half white, half Asian actor playing Barack Obama.

Debate over that question has been pinging around the Internet since [Fred] Armisen, a veteran cast member, donned darker makeup to portray the Democratic candidate for the first time Saturday. Armisen played Obama opposite Amy Poehler’s Hillary Clinton in a sketch satirizing the supposedly cushy treatment his candidacy has received from the media.

Then he completes his post with:

Have we reached a point where someone that isn’t black can play a black character, or impersonate a black politician, without stooping to crude racist caricature? I think we have.

I’ve been aware of this topic since the controversy over Jonathan Price playing a Vietnamese Pimp in Miss Saigon. If memory serves, Actors Equity was quite upset that an English transport was going to play this part instead of an American, and a white one at that.

I put this comment on The Stranger in answer to Dan’s question. I wasn’t referring to Saturday Night Live and I haven’t even seen the skit.

I frown on it, just because they are plenty of ethnic and mixed-race actors out there that aren’t being used because their parts are being stolen by white actors. Charleton Heston in A Touch of Evil, Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart, Ashley Judd in Frida. You can’t tell me there are no other actors that could have taken these parts.

The onslaught begins:

@1 there’s no actors that could have done it as well? couldn’t have drawn an audience for the price the studio paid to finance the movie? who gives a fuck?

Fred Armistan is a mixed-race actor, D. But not the right mix, it seems, for some.

For every non-“ethnic” actor who plays an “ethnic” part, there are fifty “ethnic” actors playing Hamlet or Macbeth or Henry V, somewhere in the country. “Stolen” my hairy Hungarian ass.

For every one black movie star of today, I can probably name 6-8 white stars.” Given that blacks are 12% of the total population, this seems reasonable. Is there some reason that you feel that blacks should be overrepresented in the entertainment industry?

I stand by my comment. There are very few times when a non-white actor plays a character that isn’t specifically non-white and I suppose as a person of mixed-race who has gotten rejected for Southern women roles, English roles, etc. it seems unfair that someone can don makeup to play an ethnic role.

I would like to say it’s getting better though. Famously, no lines were changed when Morgan Freedman took on the Irish role of Red in The Shawshank Redemption. Even as Asian characters become modern and very American in movies, like Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, their race is very much a part of their character. Like many Asian Americans, I just want to be me. I don’t live every second thinking about my race, so I don’t see why I would have to portray that in film.

The film Double Happiness with Sandra Oh really captures this. If only they had better clips on YouTube. Like where Sandra Oh is playing Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire in her bedroom. Another scene, she goes to an audition and the first thing the auditors ask is can she do an accent. She launches in to a French accent and the auditors are visibly confused. The next scene we see is her playing a waitress with a thick Chinese accent. Here’s a good scene nonetheless. Rent the movie.

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Any frequent pedestrian knows what it’s like to dodge cars. It’s a humbling experience imagining your body and a steel beast colliding. Time and time again, bad drivers are given a slap on the wrist if they kill people. Unless of course, they are drunk and then they are punished severely. It doesn’t make much sense to those who have lost love ones.

A West Seattle rabbi was sentenced to 500 hours of community service, ordered not to drive for two years and fined $500 Thursday for hitting former Seattle City Council aide Mathew “Tatsuo” Nakata with his car and killing him.

Schwartz has had multiple traffic violations in the past four years. In May 2005, about 18 months before he hit Nakata, Schwartz hit a woman riding a bike, injuring her. He hit Nakata in November 2006.

About two months later, Schwartz was cited for running a red light. He argued that the road was icy, and the ticket was reduced to $69.

How many more lives have to be taken before this man is stopped? You can kill 10 people in this country and receive no punishment.

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Animal rights activists have gotten a lot of flack over the years for spray painting fur coats, throwing bricks through McDonald’s etc. But it appears they are the only ones effectively lobbying on our behalf to prevent mad cow disease:

The Humane Society of the United States has filed a suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture to close a dangerous loophole in the agency’s regulations that permitted potentially sick cows into the nation’s food supply

It was the humane society’s investigation that documented extreme cruelty to non-ambulatory or “downer” cattle at a slaughterhouse in Chino, Calif. This led to the largest beef recall in history of 144 million pounds of beef–much of which was fed to school children in at least 40 states.

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I have been under the impression since my high school U.S. History class, that if you are born on a military base to American parents who are serving their country then you are in fact eligible to be president of the United States. Apparently, it’s not so cut and dry.

The subject of John McCain’s place of birth—he was born on a military base in the Panama Canal Zone, where his parents were stationed in 1936—is back on the table now that he’s got the GOP nomination locked down.

This could be a problem for me since I was born abroad when my father was in the military. My future presidency depends on it.

Or, this recent interest could be an excuse to make it so the governator to run for president.

Ever since he was elected governor of California, supporters have pushed for a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for president. Petitions have circulated. Even former President George H.W. Bush said with respect to the governor’s presidential hopes, “don’t bet against Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Republicans could use the relatively simple issue of McCain’s eligibility to nudge discussion toward a larger overhaul, which could one day clear the way for Schwarzenegger.

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Eggs to be Pasteurized

America, the land where we add fluoride to everyone’s water supply to prevent tooth decay in children, where we circumcise 60% of boys most of whom have no religious need to do so, and where we encourage people to take drugs to combat the normal hassles in what we call life.

It seems now we are going to destroy allergens in eggs in what seems to be a similar process to pasteurization.

The U.S. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry will be publishing a study next month that describes a new process to greatly reduce allergens in eggs, reports Linda Rano at Food Navagator.com. The process could greatly benefit food manufacturers, allowing for the production of safer and more specialized food products for egg allergy sufferers.

The food newsletter says that in the study, chemists from Germany and Switzerland describe how during “a nine-step process” they exposed raw eggs to a combination of high heat and enzymes to break down their main allergens. The researchers then tested the reduced-allergen egg against blood serum collected from people with an egg allergy.

I just hate how processed our food has become. There’s no doubt that when our food is provided via an intensive agricultural system things like pasteurization can have a positive effect, but I would rather that the initial problem be addressed. Why are the eggs we produce unsafe? It’s like the argument to irradiate meat to prevent ecoli. Perhaps we should ask why our meat literally has shit in it instead?

I occasionally drink raw milk and make cheese from raw milk and I’ve never had a problem. The producers of these products are very careful to keep standards high enough that the product is safe. If the company were to not be so careful, then yes I believe pasteurization would be required to make the milk safe.

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I love trout. Trout and butter and almonds, trout grilled on the barbecue with herbs inside. After I read this nausea inducing article on maggots being the answer to the trout farm, I swore off farmed trout:

University of Idaho and Idaho State University scientists are working on a new maggot-based feed capable of fattening rainbows for the dinner table while simultaneously helping slash growing mounds of manure and fish entrails that come from the state’s hundreds of thousands of cows and millions of farm-raised fish.

Idaho is America’s largest commercial producer of trout, with the industry bringing in more than $35 million annually. And with 500,000 cows, it’s surpassed Pennsylvania as the nation’s fourth-biggest dairy state, which got Sophie St. Hilaire, an aquatic-species veterinarian at ISU in Pocatello, thinking: Why couldn’t dairies use a slurry of cow dung and trout intestines, removed during processing, to grow maggots rich in the fatty acids that make fish so healthful for humans?

Now I may have to swear off wild trout:

You may turn up your nose at farmed Atlantic salmon or shrimp raised in ponds in China if you’re searching for wholesome, safe foods. But do you eschew fish pulled from a remote lake in a U.S. national park?

Maybe so if you’re concerned about eating elevated levels of mercury and chemical flame retardants.

Some trout from secluded lakes in Olympic and Mount Rainier national parks were so polluted they reached unsafe levels for routine human consumption, according to a study out Tuesday.

“We’re looking at some of the most pristine areas left in North America that are under the protection of the national parks, and we’re finding some alarming results,” said Dixon Landers, a senior scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory.

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Can’t say that there is much in the news to blog about, but I noticed not too many people have looked at my post on Caparezza. So I’m going to give it another go.
Do you like rap, yodeling, computerized singing, or Italian? If you answered yes to any of these, then you may like Caparezza’s Jodellavitanonhocapitouncazzo.


I haven’t a clue what he’s saying and judging by the animation it could be dirty, but it’s mesmerizing nonetheless. You will get the song in your head.

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Ocasionally I have the need to explain certain aspects of American pop culture to my husband who did not grow up here. I loved The Greatest American Hero, but for the life of me I can’t remember how he got his magical powers. The intro seems to suggest that he finds a suit, but I thought he was an alien of some sort. I’m sure someone out there will correct me.

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Apparently in the future we will be thanking God for George Bush, because if George says it then it must be true.

As for his own legacy, Bush said: “I believe 50 years from now, people will look back at this period of time, and say, thank God the United States of America did not lose its faith in the transformative power of liberty to bring the peace we want for our children and our grandchildren.”

It doesn’t take anyone much smarter than Bush to know that his administration will not be viewed favorably by history. Yet, it seems that after his job as Commander In Chief ends, Bush will be spending his (Rove’s) time and resources trying to alter the recording of history. I don’t think it will work, but it’s galling that he’s even attempting it.

From ThinkProgress:

With Southern Methodist University in Dallas set to house the George W. Bush Presidential Library, the school’s faculty are now criticizing an institute that will be attached to the library. The institute, which will sponsor programs designed to “promote the vision of the president” and “celebrate” Bush’s presidency, will be independent of SMU’s academic governance.

Compounding fears that the institute will trade academic scholarship for partisan praise of Bush, Mark Langdale, president of the Bush library foundation said recently that former Bush senior advisor Karl Rove is advising the project in “an informal capacity.” Langdale called Rove a “critical resource about what happened in the administration.

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I think Americablog really says it all right here:

Tubbs Jones is saying this in order to accomplish several Republican messaging goals:

1. Suggest that Obama is un-American (he’s from “over there,” and a very black over there to boot).
2. Remind people that Obama is black.
3. Reinforce the hate emails alleging, falsely, that Obama is Mulsim.
4. Remind people that Obama is from a country that viciously killed American troops in the 1990s.

This is the sixth time, at least, I believe, that the Clinton’s and their surrogates have launched racist attacks on Obama. It’s not just abominable on its face, it’s absolutely astounding that the Clinton campaign is now using Republican hate-emails to create their talking points about Obama. The Clinton campaign simply doesn’t care if they permanently damage Obama for the general election by feeding the GOP Swift Boat attacks on the man who is very likely going to be our nominee.

My husband says that since this is a dose of what the Republicans will bring after the nomination, it’s best to see if Obama can stand up to it up front. I’m not sure I feel the same way. I’m trying hard not to be influenced enough to vote against Hillary should she be our nominee. I know how high the stakes are.

Interestingly enough, my sister has said if Hillary is the nominee she would vote for Nader. It would be an interesting poll to see how many votes Nader would take from the Democrats if the nominee were Obama or Hillary.

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Does it seem like those in the media don’t really live in the same world as you? Here’s a completely ridiculous article on CNN about delaying travel if you’re feeling ill.

The death of a passenger last week aboard an American Airlines flight underscores the importance of taking precautions before flying, an expert said Monday.

Jill Drake, a marketing representative for MedAire, Inc., said its physicians last year advised 74 airlines on how to handle more than 17,000 in-flight medical events.

Her advice to anyone not feeling 100 percent: “Do not travel.”

And anyone with a medical condition who travels should pack any critical medications in a carry-on bag, she said.

Though flight attendants are trained to handle on-board emergencies, “they are not medically trained,” she said. “To think that they are going to be able to assist your every need, that’s quite a high expectation.”

Hydration and moderation are key, and passengers should carry water and a snack, she said. Vacationers often return home from tropical locales sunburned and, in some cases, drunk.

“Altitude amplifies the buzz,” Drake said. “You have a couple of cocktails in Denver, you feel it a little bit more than in Omaha.”

Denver’s altitude is 5,280 feet; Omaha’s is 1,040 feet.

Flying in a fresh cast can also prove dangerous. “Your arm could expand and it could cut off your circulation,” she said, noting that the risk is reduced with older casts, which have typically already expanded to accommodate any swelling.

Yeah, thanks Jill. But do you ever travel yourself? Have you ever tried to cancel a flight because you broke your wrist or because you have an unbelievably bad contagious cold? The airlines will not let you cancel or move a flight without a pretty steep penalty and it doesn’t matter if you’re about to die from Avian Flu.

I know this from experience, because my sister who had the worst flu of her life with laryngitis was unable to convince the airline that she was unfit to travel across the Atlantic. Had she traveled she likely would have given her flu to all the passengers around her. They wanted to charge a $250 penalty to move the flight.

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Just read this on the Oscar Blog at CNN.

Finally, a comment from “There Will Be Blood” cinematographer Robert Elswit that should give us all pause. Asked what the film used to create its “oil,” Elswit said it’s something most of us have imbibed at one time or another: “It was industrial material used by McDonald’s to thicken their milkshakes, and I’m not kidding. That’s actually true.”

Mmmm, McDonald’s milkshake sludge.

To view the line from the movie, check out my earlier post.

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From wired.comThe BBC does a good job explaining exactly how this seed vault will work.

The vault is intended to act as insurance so that food production can be restarted anywhere on Earth after a regional or global catastrophe.

Built deep inside a mountain, the structure will eventually house a vast collection of seeds; safeguarding world crops against possible future disasters including nuclear wars and dangerous climate change.

It does say a lot about our species that we can rationalize so well our problems that we create a doomsday deus ex machina to save our ability to make food at the same time as we destroy our food.

In Jared Diamond’s Collapse, one of his students poses this question in regard to the Easter Island inhabitants who used all of their trees to create statues when their food supply was dependent on trees:

“What went through the mind of the person who cut down that last tree?”

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I don’t support him, but there’s nothing to say that you can’t have three candidates running for president. I’m sure the Republicans would feel similarly if Michael Bloomberg were to enter the race, but I don’t oppose that either. But the one thing that does trouble me is a question I’ve been reading on the blogs. Maybe someone out there can answer it for me. What has Nader been doing for the last seven years to help the American people? Is running for president the only way you can make change? Nader, who became famous as an advocate outside of politics surely would have more credibility if he didn’t quite his day job.

I also am troubled by this statement from him:

Nader vociferously disputes the spoiler claim, saying only Democrats are to blame for losing the race to George W. Bush. He said Sunday there could be no chance of him tipping the election to Republicans because the electorate will not vote for a “pro-war John McCain.”

“If the Democrats can’t landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, emerge in a different form,” Nader said.

To be honest, I’ve thought the same thing myself. If the Democrats can’t win this election maybe we should just give up. But coming from Nader it seems bitter. This man, whether he likes it or not, did impact the 2000 race.

Having said all that, he’ll have no more affect on the upcoming race anymore than he did in 2004. Democrats know the stakes. They won’t fall for it. So if the Republicans are counting on Nader again, they’ll be sorely disappointed.

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Over the past seven years, I have been comforted by the fact that there never will be another George W. Bush. At least not for a while.

We humans tend to like things we consider original and shun things that are a knock-off. Once a trend becomes ubiquitous, we no longer want to be associated with it.

For those few people out there who still like George W., anyone who professes to be just like George is going to be met with suspicion along the lines of “he’s not really like George he’s just trying to be.”

And so I believe the Patriotism bandwagon has already taken its last ride. The days where you merely had to question your opponent’s patriotism are long since past. The Republicans haven’t caught up to that fact.

Sen. Barack Obama’s refusal to wear an American flag lapel pin along with a photo of him not putting his hand over his heart during the National Anthem led conservatives on Internet and in the media to question his patriotism.

And who wears those American flag pins anyway. They’re so passe.

Now Obama’s wife, Michelle, has drawn their ire, too, for saying recently that she’s really proud of her country for the first time in her adult life.

Conservative consultants say that combined, the cases could be an issue for Obama in the general election if he wins the nomination, especially as he runs against Vietnam War hero John McCain.

I doubt it. If anything the bungling of this war shows how much trouble Patriotism can get you in. We’ve lost our standing as an invincible country.

I suppose it’s also a comfort to see these conservatives get it so wrong. Keep going down that road guys even as it leads to your defeat.

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Apparently, and who would have thunk, security is pretty bad for a lot of political events. So ignore my earlier post. For details, see AMERICAblog.

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I’m always fascinated by kleptomaniacs or pathological liars, because they often have fairly stable jobs and would seemingly have little reason to deceive.

On a drizzly day last February, a young, athletic man in hospital scrubs walked into a triathlon-supply store in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood and said he wanted to buy a very expensive bicycle, and right away.

The man said he was an oncologist, and he looked and talked the part. So the staff at Speedy Reedy Multisport set him up with a $6,800 road bike and a helmet, and he sped off for a test ride on the Burke-Gilman Trail, leaving just his name, which he said was Tony.

He also left behind a Tully’s coffee cup — with “Jake” written on it.

When neither the bike nor the man returned, the store called Seattle police. They took that coffee cup and tested it for DNA, which traced back to an unlikely suspect: Jacob J. Bos, a respected 35-year-old podiatrist from Longview.

And he was such a “normal” guy.

“He was an incredibly detail-oriented person,” Kirkpatrick said. “He had professional satisfaction, solid income, a great girlfriend, a very satisfying professional-level hobby. Why would anybody do that?”

Update: I found this article fascinating which is why I posted it and I have posted before about bicycle topics. I just read now that this man took his own life, and I feel a little guilty that his mental illness was used as entertainment by me.

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Normally, I’m not one to believe in conspiracies. But this seems wrong.

Security details at Barack Obama’s rally Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the front gates more than an hour before the Democratic presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion Arena.

The order to put down the metal detectors and stop checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to several Dallas police officers who said they believed it was a lapse in security.

Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the Police Department’s homeland security and special operations divisions, said the order — apparently made by the U.S. Secret Service — was meant to speed up the long lines outside and fill the arena’s vacant seats before Obama came on.

I think the first question we need to ask is why the Secret Service has the power to do this? Why did the Dallas police go along with it? Second, the very fact that it was the Secret Service is quite frightening. When pressed, will the fascists give up power so easily?

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In this article from the Associated Press, there is this innocent yet misguided quote from a zoo goer:

“They are such beautiful animals,” marveled zoo member Breanne King, who brought her two daughters to see the animals.

King said her eldest, 10-year-old Kristina, still has questions about the tiger attack.

“Why did Tatiana kill somebody?” the girl asked. “She didn’t mean to,” her mother replied.

I understand the need for a mom to protect her child from the grim truth, but the fact of the matter is a tiger is a wild animal and yes, Tatiana’s intent was to kill. In an earlier post I quoted the following:

An autopsy conducted by a zoo veterinarian on the Siberian tiger after police shot it to death showed that the animal had been “very determined to get out,” Matthews said. Its claws were broken and splintered by clambering up the concrete moat wall, Matthews quoted the veterinarian as saying.

Tatiana was being a tiger and doing what tiger’s do. A zoo may be a place for children, but the animals are dangerous and deserve respect.

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I think she won the debate, but it doesn’t affect my vote for Barack Obama. Oddly enough, Hillary was the more eloquent speaker considering Obama gets so much flack for the same. I thought she effectively argued her experience point — only it had the eery effect of the fear-mongering Republicans:

I’ve served on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I have worked as one of the leaders in the Congress on behalf of homeland security and the very difficult challenges we face. You know, just this week — it’s a good example — we had elections in Pakistan; we had a change in government in Cuba or at least the leadership; we’ve had the elections that, you know, should have happened, that haven’t happened, and just change the leader the way they do in Cuba; we’ve had Kosovo declaring independence; and we have had our embassy set on fire in Serbia.

So we have serious problems that pose a real question about presidential leadership, and also some great opportunities. You know, we now have opportunities, perhaps, with Cuba, I hope with President Musharraf for him to do the right thing. I’ve supported the independence of Kosovo because I think it is imperative that in the heart of Europe we continue to promote independence and democracy.

And I would be moving very aggressively to hold the Serbian government responsible with their security forces to protect our embassy. Under international law they should be doing that.

So when you think about everything that is going to happen, what we can predict and what we cannot predict, I believe that I am prepared and ready on day one to be commander in chief, to be the president, to turn our economy around, and to begin making a lot of these very difficult decisions that we will inherit from George Bush. And that is what I am putting forth to the voters. (Cheers, applause.)

In other words, if you don’t vote for me something very bad will happen and it will be Obama’s fault. It’s the same crap as what we heard after 9/11, I’m so glad Bush is president instead of Gore blah blah blah. What idiots. Bush has made us less safe, not more. We’ve seen this before and it’s time for something new.

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The TUC has called for a boycott of Lonely Planet guidebooks until the Burma edition is withdrawn from sale.The trade union umbrella organisation says travel to Burma is unethical and helps prop up the military government.

The pros and cons of travel to Burma are set out at the front of its guidebook:

It’s reasons not to go include:

* Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi opposes tourism
* The military government uses forced labour
* International tourism seen as ‘stamp of approval’
* Money from tourism goes to the military government

Reasons to go are:

* Tourism one of few areas to which locals have access
* Carefully targeted spending reaches individuals in need
* Locals have told travel guide authors they are in favour
* Abuses less likely in areas frequented by foreigners

Since this is from the BBC, I am unsure of the importance of this labor union; however, I have often wondered why some tourists must keep pushing the envelope to go further and further off the tourist track. Some tourists consider it more pure to go to a country that they believe has not been modernized or suffered the effects of capitalism. Personally, I think it is a bit of self-denial since those are the exact qualities of the home country that give tourists the freedom to travel.

So-called Ecotourism has been criticized for damaging the precious environments that are visited all in a quest to see the last unsullied spots on earth. It’s a vicious circle. I have a friend who works for a tour ship that goes to Antarctic and the Galapagos Islands. How long until that becomes as commonplace as your typical whale watching boat in the Puget Sound?

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I think not!

I give you American hero Buzz Aldrin.

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First they blow up a satellite, then we blow up a satellite.

They’re going to put a man on the moon, so we are going to put a man on the moon — again.

Let’s hope this Communist outpost in space is science fiction. It’s written by the illustrious “staff writers” at http://www.space-travel.com.

Chinese taikonauts (astronauts) may start a branch of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in space, said the country’s first taikonaut Yang Liwei. China now has a 14-strong astronaut team. The team members, including Yang himself, are all CPC members. “If China has its own space station, the taikonauts on mission will carry out the regular activities of a CPC branch in space in the way we do on earth, such as learning the Party’s policies and exchanging opinions on the Party’s decisions,” said Yang, a delegate to the on-going CPC national congress in Beijing.

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