Liberal Politics are just the Start

We haven’t updated the site as often as we would of liked but we have some big plans in the future. Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011 by sean |
Category: Weird

Darwin Award Winners – 2008

Live, from Houma, Louisiana


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The early voting for the 2008 Darwin Awards goes to these guys, partying in advance of Hurricane Gustav’s arrival in Houma, Louisiana.

Monday update: The live cam is down this morning (for obvious reasons). I’ll leave this post up and we’ll see if it comes back. Reports are coming in that Gustav weakened overnight, is coming in west of New Orleans, and hopefully will be no more than a windy (and wet) inconvenience to gulf coast residents.

Sunday, August 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Bruce Ivins Update: Stranger and Stranger

This morning, the saga of Bruce E. Ivins continues with revelations that any pending indictments were still weeks away, and that evidence presented to a grand jury to date was circumstantial. Still, apparently the feds are rushing to close the case. And Jean Carol Duley? She has a few legal problems of her own…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

I suppose I should just link straight to Glenn Greenwald this morning – he’s been doing some very heavy lifting on the entire Bruce Ivins story. But I thought that I’d chime in with a couple of quick observations, in addition to my previous discussion of the issue.

Apparently, the breathless legacy media stories that Ivins committed suicide just as he was about to be indicted in the 2001 anthrax attacks were, ehhhh, a bit premature. According to reports this morning, a vast majority of the evidence presented to date was circumstantial, at best. It was expected that the grand jury presentations would continue at least another couple of weeks, prior to a decision to indict (or not). As I previously mentioned, grand juries operate in secrecy for a variety of reasons, so it’s not clear how (or why) this information was leaked. In other words, the stated reasons for Bruce Ivins to kill himself in a very painful and protracted manner aren’t holding a lot of water at the moment.

It’s also unclear whether or not Ivins still had his security clearance, but it appears as if he was still cleared for the Ft. Detrick bioweapons lab as recently as mid-July. Clearly, that’s a pretty strange thing, particularly for someone that was so close to potential indictment on WMD homicide related activity charges.

And the “psychologist” being so liberally quoted in the legacy media, in an attempt to establish Ivins as a true loonball with homicidal tendencies? She’s not. Jean Carol Duley is a social worker, who has her own significant legal history (whereas Bruce Ivins never had as much as a parking ticket).

As this story was breaking last week, I opined that several key components of the case just didn’t add up. At the beginning of a new week, I’m even less convinced.

Also see: here and here (particularly for comments from some of Ivins’ colleagues).

Monday, August 4th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Terrorism,Weird

Anthrax Suspect Kills Self – How Conveeeeeeeenient…

Bruce Ivins, a bioweapons scientist at Ft. Detrick, Md. reportedly killed himself via overdose earlier this week. He was about to be indicted in connection with the 2001 anthrax attacks (remember those?). But there are pieces of this story that simply don’t add up at this moment…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Most of the time, I bypass stories that just don’t pass the smell test, even if they’re ultimately found to be correct. This one is just too strange to pass up.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11/01, while America was still extremely jittery about terrorism on U.S. soil, people started dying from weaponized anthrax spores that were placed in the mail. By historic standards, 5 deaths and 17 sicknesses were not all that significant, but it was the fear of the unknown – combined with 9/11 itself – that sent the country into another panic, and gave the talking newsheads on TV fodder for ratings for a couple of months.

A long time passed before any suspect was identified, even though it was clear early on that the anthrax originated from within the U.S., rather than being imported from one of Saddam’s alleged (though non-existent) mobile WMD labs. As the investigation progressed, the FBI identified a scientist who worked at the bioweapons lab at Ft. Detrick, Md. as a “person of interest”. Turns out the guy ultimately had nothing to do with the attacks, but that didn’t stop the government from leaking info and essentially destroying the guy’s career. He recently settled with the government for nearly $6 million in compensation.

In subsequent years, the entire investigation seems to have slipped down the memory hole, but in reality it just proceeded apace outside of the window of media interest. It was old news. Still, every now and then, someone would ask: “Hey, what about the anthrax attacks in 2001? Whatever happened with that? Why did BushCo lose interest?”

The short answer: because the attacks were domestic terrorism, and likely originated from inside one of the U.S. government’s own labs.

Today, it was reported that Bruce E. Ivins, another scientist from Ft. Detrick, was about to be indicted by a grand jury on charges stemming from the attacks. And conveniently enough, Ivins committed suicide earlier this week by taking an overdose of what was originally reported as Tylenol w/codine. It’s likely that the investigation will now be closed.

Several things don’t ring quite right with this story:

  • The timing is certainly curious. If Ivins offed himself several days ago, why is the report just coming to light?
  • Reports indicate that Ivins had been informed of his pending indictment. I’m not sure how that happened, as federal grand juries operate in secret, most importantly so indicted suspects don’t hit the road before they can be detained.
  • The method of his reported suicide simply doesn’t square with how men kill themselves. Men put guns to their head or jump off a bridge; they generally don’t pill themselves to death. Plus, I’d hazard a guess that someone would have to take a whole lot of Tylenol III’s (a controlled substance) and get no medical attention in order for death to result.
  • The first question that any amateur CSI sleuth asks is, “What’s the motivation?” According to earlier reports, Ivins was loosing the deadly spores into the wild in order to field test a vaccine that he’d been involved in developing. Is that a normal government protocol for testing bioweapons? (Just kidding. Maybe.)

My internal BS detector is fairly reliable when incidents like this hit the media. There’s more to this story than meets the eye. Stay tuned…

Update, from the comments: Apparently, Bruce Ivins was a strong opponent of the Jack Kevorkian school of suicide. And Ivins has also written some interesting letters to the editor over the years. Link here. Also, for someone so vehemently opposed to creeping christo-social fascism, it’s strange that he would target Democratic Party congressional representatives (no Republicans received anthrax letters) if Ivins was indeed the person behind the attacks.

Update II: Most of the reports I’ve been hearing and reading today have focused on the quirks in Ivins’ personality. It’s clear that the intent is to develop a public portrait of him as an unstable individual; a loner driven to do heinous acts at the behest of his interplanetary masters. (Magic bullet, anyone?).

Ok, so the guy had more missing screws than a Chinese-made ValuPak box of drywall fasteners at Home Depot. I’m not sure I know any scientists or PhD-level researchers who don’t have some “beautiful mind” type of quirks (except for maybe our good friend and former ASZ colleague Oolius).

………..yet Bruce Ivins had the clearance to work at a U.S. military bioweapons facility for over 30 years? By all accounts, he was a published, well-respected researcher in the field, and had written a peer-reviewed science journal article as recently as two months ago.

This is like an itch that I can’t scratch. There’s something terribly amiss in this whole situation.

Friday, August 1st, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Terrorism,Weird

Gitmo Prosecutor: Flight 93 Was Shot Down on 9/11?

Even after 7 years, questions persist about what actually happened to Flight 93 over Pennsylvania on 9/11/01. Yesterday, a Gitmo tribunal prosecutor added fuel to the conspiracy fires…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Wow.

I haven’t been paying much attention to the first Gitmo-based military tribunal of Salim Hamdan, but this caught my eye yesterday evening (via Atrios):

But prosecutor Timothy Stone, in an attempt to draw a link between Hamdan and the al Qaeda leadership in the first Guantanamo war crimes trial, told the six-member jury of U.S. military officers who will decide Hamdan’s guilt or innocence that Hamdan had inside knowledge of the 2001 attacks on the United States because he overheard a conversation between bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

If they hadn’t shot down the fourth plane it would’ve hit the dome,” Stone, a Navy officer, said in his opening remarks…

Either a poor choice of words, or a slip of the truth. Which is it?

Thursday, July 24th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Terrorism,Weird

Reality? Or Photoshop? Check the Kerning. You decide.

A story making the rounds today about a supposed “goodie bag” design for the upcoming Democratic Party convention in Denver is creating some ripples in the blogosphere. But is it true? Or is it Photoshop? After the FISA vote, I wouldn’t put it past the DNC, but still…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

One of the big stories to hit the blogosphere over the past 24 hours has been the revelation of the design for “goodie bags” supposedly being given to delegates at the Democratic Party convention in Denver, Co. DemConWatch was first with the story; Glenn Greenwald jumped on board almost immediately. And my reaction when digesting the report?

WTF?

I don’t suppose it’s any surprise that most any large convention requires corporate sponsorship to defray some of the costs. It’s just the way that things work these days. However, when stories start to filter out about the DNC giving away tote bags that prominently display the AT&T corporate logo, I have to wonder about the veracity of the claims.

Check these links to see the front and back design of the tote bags. Then come back here. We’ll wait.

(Cue Jeopardy! theme song…dumdeedumdeedeedumdeedum…)

Ok. What do you think? Outrageous or outrageous bullshit? There’s been no response from either the DNC or AT&T at this point. However, if this story were in fact true, it would certainly explain the Democratic Party support for the recent FISA vote in both the House and the Senate. Still, I just can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that even the DNC and Obama campaigns would be so absolutely tone deaf as to present such an obvious affront to the progressive wing of the party.

Was Glenn Greenwald punked? I gotta tell you, after viewing the images in a photo editor, it’s pretty damn clear that these are not pictures of an actual convention tote bag, but rather, a black tote bag that’s been “photoshopped”. Now, maybe this was an initial design that was given to the DNC, and somehow leaked out to DemConWatch. But I suspect that the story isn’t quite accurate. This is a case where there’s no sourcing, and no one to back up the claim of authenticity of the design. So take it with a gain of salt. I mean, I could do a better design on Cafe Press.

But if it were true, and I actually saw a picture from the Dem convention of these bags (as shown), then I would go ballistic (for obvious FISA related reasons). Actually, beyond ballistic.

What do you think? Reality, or photoshop? Let us know…

Sunday, July 20th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Weird

Fundiewear

In the fickle world of fashion, timing is everything. Is it time to hop on board the Mormon fashion express?

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Who says you can’t make lemonade out of lemons? It doesn’t matter how egregious the situation, with the proper marketing, there’s money to be made.

A couple of months back, the legacy media (and the blogosphere) was all a-twitter about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Texas, and their predilection toward marrying off their youngun’s at an early age. Perpetuating the cult, as it were. The authorities intervened, and hundreds of children were taken into state custody to protect them from their cult leaders.

Since then, the Texas courts have ruled that the state had no business taking the children from their parents, in the absence of hard evidence of abuse. Now, reasonable people can argue that marrying off a 13 year old girl to a forty year old man would constitute pedophilia writ large. And it’s hard to contest that argument. The problem is: no evidence was ever presented that this was actually happening, or that the alleged pregnant teenager that kicked off this whole bruhaha (again, allegedly married to an older man in the cult) was a true story.

It’s not that something wasn’t weird here. There’s certainly room for questioning the motivations of the cult, particularly with any child below the age of legal consent. Still, as of last week, the children taken from the FLDS compound were being returned (rightfully) to their parents.

And now, the marketing opportunities emerge. My guess is that the FLDS has already inked a deal with some production company to create a television documentary (or movie) of the situation in Texas. It only makes sense. The prurient interest alone would draw high ratings on HBO or in a movie theater near you. Perhaps HBO could market the “expose” of FLDS in conjunction with the next season of Big Love. But, FLDS is not waiting for the glacial speed of Hollywood production.

They’ve got a new website up to market traditional LDS clothing! I am really sensing a developing fashion trend here.

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Weird

Does It Get Any Worse? 57,000 Lbs. of Chicken Stolen from Food Bank

I’ve heard of hot TV’s “falling off of the back of trucks”, but never frozen chickens. Over this past weekend, someone stole 57,000 lbs of frozen chicken (and two tractor trailer rigs) from the Food Bank of Delaware. Does it get any lower than that?

Commentary By: Richard Blair

In one of my previous life incarnations, I managed the logistics operations at an inner city food bank. I’ve written about hunger issues on ASZ many, many times, and yes, it’s personal to me. So when this story came to my attention (from a former associate), it bothered me on a whole lot of levels, because I frequently dealt with the food bank that’s involved in the story…

(more…)

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

A Novel Idea for Gun Control? Vasectomies for a Permit.

There’s an old axiom which posits that the number of guns a man owns is inversely proportional to his shortcomings in, eh, other areas. Apparently, several lawless regions in India have decided to put the axiom to the test, and offer issuance of gun licenses only after a guy has had a vasectomy.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

The Supreme Court has taken up the issue of a restrictive gun control ordinance in Washington, D.C., and is hearing the case today. It goes without saying that uncontrolled handgun proliferation, particularly in urban areas, has become anathema to law enforcement agencies across the country, but don’t look for SCOTUS to uphold the D.C. ordinance.

Perhaps there are other ways, more voluntary in nature, to control the permitting, licensing, and distribution of handguns? Hmmmmmm….

A bandit-infested region of India is trying to persuade men to undergo sterilisation by offering to fast-track their gun licence applications, an official said on Tuesday.

Officials in central Madhya Pradesh state’s Shivpuri district decided to adopt the policy – already tried out by some neighbouring states – to increase the low vascectomy rate.

“I came to know that it had to do with their perceived notion of manliness,” said Manish Shrivastav, administrative chief of Shivpuri district, part of the Indian Chambal region, which is famed for its lawlessness and bandits.

“I then decided to match it with a bigger symbol of manliness – a gun licence,” he said. “And the ploy worked.” …

Apparently, vasectomy rates have skyrocketed since the “expedited licensing” process was put into place.

Go figure. No word on whether the NRA would support such legislation in the U.S. (as if…)

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Jack Kevorkian Running for Congress

Hook me up to the machine, please. Just hook me up and let the good times roll…

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Just what this country needs – someone to put it out of its misery:

Assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian is planning to run for Congress in Michigan. Kevorkian is on parole since being released from prison last year.

He tells The Oakland Press newspaper that he plans to run without party affiliation for the congressional sea now held by Republican Joe Knollenberg…

Hunter S. Thompson is famously quoted as saying, “When the going gets weird, the weird go pro.” I seriously didn’t think that this election year could get any stranger.

Once again, I am humbled by my own lack of foresight.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
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