Allegations of US Secret Detention Centers

A recent story has popped up on CNN covering Amnesty International’s claim that two Yemeni men were held in secret US detention centers.

Two Yemeni men say they were held in solitary confinement in secret, underground U.S. detention facilities in an unknown country and interrogated by masked men for more than 18 months without being charged or allowed any contact with the outside world, Amnesty International said Wednesday.

Many of the war apologists say that such tactics are justified because the “War on Terror” is a special circumstance and that they, they being the terrorists, don’t fight fair. Since when do two wrongs make a right?

This is the biggest problem I have with the “War on Terror” and those who support it. They feel that the PATRIOT Act, illegal invasion of Iraq, secret detentions, indefinite detentions without access to any legal proceedings, etc. are tools for winning this war of ideologies. But, when you lower yourself to your cheating opponents level are you any better than they are? The President preaches about “advancing freedom” and, at the same time, keeps prisoners detained indefinitely without access to legal counsel in secret. We hear it all the time about how Saddam had secret prisons where people were tortured and how Saddam used vast intelligence networks to turn people against each other and keep them in line. How is the PATRIOT Act, which allows the FBI to monitor your reading habits, different?

“Land of the Free” my ass. Look in the mirror and say it with me, “I’m a hypocrite.”

Who designed the intelligent designer?

I’ve been sort-of following the recent push to introduce intelligent design as an alternative theory to evolution. I’m totally against this for two reasons.

  1. Intelligent design smacks of religious overtones. The Supreme Court has, time and time again, ruled that religion has no place in public schools. If you’re so intent on having your kids learn intelligent design then send them to a private religious school.
  2. The huge hole in this theory is the question of who created this “intelligent designer”? Where did they come from? Where they in turn designed by another intelligent designer; one even more intelligent than our own designer? Or, oh the irony, did they evolve from some lesser designers?

My main complaint with the whole thing is that the market should fill this void. If there is a demand from parents wanting their children “taught” this “theory” then that demand should be met by private schools who have teachers on staff that are well versed in this theory. The courts all agree it’s illegal to teach it in public schools so why not save us all the headache and send your kid to private school where they’ll be taught all about this amazing new “theory”? Top Headlines Review

Two of’s top headlines right now are “Boy loses leg after shark attack” and “Soldiers land roles in ‘War of the Worlds'”. These are the top headlines that appear “above the fold” on one of the most popular news sites on the web. Yup, you read that right; some kid losing his leg and a bunch of soldiers getting parts as extras in some movie have been designated important enough to be prominently displayed above the fold on

I believe there have been two shark attacks this year in Florida. Two. Did you hear me? Two. In fact, there have only been 38 deaths from shark attacks in the US since 1580. 1580! Someone please tell me how some kid being attacked by a shark is worthy of national attention.

And then we have Spc. Kenneth Wright. He had the following to say about his part as an extra in a Tom Cruise movie.

It’s been a whirlwind to be part of it. My mom didn’t believe me at first when I told her I met Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg and Dakota Fanning. Now she’s stoked about it. Everybody in my family is going to go see me … I mean the movie.

Now, I’m not taking anything away from this soldier’s experience. I’d have been more than happy to help blow up martian airships in a movie with Tom Cruise as well, but is this really national news? Besides, just look at the picture. The pure look of utter “gosh shucks” on this guys face tells you that you’re showering way to much attention on his 15 minutes seconds.

These are just two perfect examples of how crappy the media outlets in this country are. You are sorely under-informed or, worse yet, misinformed if you are still watching your local news channel to find today’s stories. The cable channels aren’t much better either.

Actually, I’m not sure we aren’t seeing a chicken/egg problem with the public demanding such “news” and the various news outlets sensationalizing such “stories”.

Ignorance is bliss I guess.

Food workers with AIDS

This post is going to make me sound like a complete asshole, but I’m OK with that. I was reading a story about a man with AIDS suing McDonald’s over wrongful termination. The man says he was forced to resign from his corporate management position when McD’s found out about him having AIDS. However, I was struck by the last few paragraphs at the end of the article.

Ann Fisher, the executive director of the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, estimates that there are 100,000 U.S. food service workers with the illness.

“If everybody with HIV who works in the food service industry didn’t show up for work tomorrow, America would starve,” she said.

You ready for me to sound like an ass? I don’t want anyone with a terminal disease that is contagious through the sharing of bodily fluids to be preparing my food. There, I said it. However, I feel justified in saying this because AIDS is spread through bodily fluids, usually blood via sexual contact. Anyone else reading this ever prepare food? If you have then you know that sharp objects are plentiful in any resturant.

Before you post a comment about how big of an ass I am ask yourself this: Would you allow an HIV infected doctor to operate on you? A dentist?

  1. AIDS myths and urban legends
  2. AIDS and HIV information.

Cingular Doesn't want Cell Phones on Planes

It appears I’m not the only one that thinks cell phones on airplanes is a bad idea. What struck me in this article is the FAA‘s stance on cell phones.

An FAA spokesman told the paper that when it comes to calls on planes, the agency is looking at issues involving aircraft safety, not the social interaction of passengers.

They best worry about the “social interaction” of passengers if they let the various loud mouthed ass clowns make cell phone calls on flights I’m on. That is if “social interaction” involves me punching some asshat in the face for talking loudly on his cell phone in the seat next to me. Looks like it’s time to pony up the money for some noise canceling headphones.

War on Terrorism at Work

This is a lawsuit that everyone in the United States should be paying attentiong to. The ACLU, PETA, Greenpeace, American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee and United for Peace and Justice are suing the FBI over an ignored FOI regarding problems they have had being subjected task forces created to combat terrorism. PETA? Give me a break. All those granola eating tree hugging hippies ever did was spray paint a few fur coats and break into a few animal testing labs. Not even in the same galaxy as Bin Laden (hey, where is that guy anyways?).

This is exactly the problem I have with the PATRIOT Act, in that it will inevitably be used by the whoever is the current administration to monitor groups and people they don’t like. If the Democrats where in power they’d use this horrific piece of legislation to monitor right leaning groups, while the Republicans will use it to monitor left leaning groups.

A few of the above mentioned groups could, I suppose, be considered “radical”, but “terrorists”? Hardly. In fact, I’d say the ACLU has done more to protect the average American’s individual rights than any other group, including our own government, in the last 100 years.

At any rate, this is something to keep your eye on. If the FBI is forced to comply, which may not happen if they invoke “National Security”, and we find out they were monitoring such benign groups it could be another huge mess for the FBI.

Watch your identity in Ohio

Apprently, it’s perfectly legal for cops to steal your identity in Ohio as long as they’re using it in an investigation. The worst part? If I look up your job history based on your SSN then the “under cover” jobs will show up. It happened to a woman in Ohio who is now, according to her job history, a former stripper.

[…] Ohio liquor-control agents took her identity and gave it to a
22-year-old college student who they had recruited to work undercover as
a nude dancer.

As part of an investigation that resulted in nothing more than
misdemeanor charges, police paid University of Dayton criminal-justice
student Michelle Szuhay $100 a night to take it all off in early 2003 –
as liquor-control officers drank beer and watched in the audience for
three months, court papers show.

Wow. That’s all I can really say. At least the ACLU is looking into it.

Prius demand high

It looks like Toyota’s Prius is so popular used ones are selling for more than new ones. Lauren and I would have loved to have bought one of these, but we couldn’t for a variety of reasons. From the article …

The survey said that 8 percent of the consumers considered hybrid vehicles in March, twice as much as 4 percent in February. It also said if gas prices reach $3 per gallon 77 percent of car shoppers will seriously consider a more fuel efficient vehicle.

That’s awesome that 77% of people would at least consider a hybrid. Of course, those looking to lower their gas costs might be surprised to find out that states are considering taxing drivers based on the miles they drive instead of adding a tax on each gallon of gas they purchase.

Considering that taxes on each gallon of gas you purchase is at least 42.25 cents per gallon (circa 1998) you can understand why states want to tax based on mileage and not on the amount of gas consumed. But does this mean you pay more, less or the same for transportation? Let’s look at the facts shall we?

  Prius Camry Hummer H2
MPG 55 28.5* 13
Gas Tank Size 12 18.5 32
miles / tank 660 527.25 416
$ / tank** $27.48 $42.37 $73.28
taxes / tank*** $5.88 $9.07 $15.68

* Average of city/highway mileage
** Based on national $2.29 average
*** Based on 0.49 / 2.29 * $ per tank

Needless to say the government would love it if we all drove Hummer H2’s. Let’s say that the a new tax was put in place of the “tax per gallon”, which taxed us on how many miles we drove. If we take the highest tax rate from above (the Hummer H2 gets taxed $15.68 on 416 miles, which is 3.7 cents per mile) we would get the following new data.

  Prius Camry Hummer H2
miles / tank 660 527.25 416
$ / tank $21.60 $33.30 $57.60
taxes / tank $24.42 $19.51 $15.39
total / tank $46.02 $52.80 $72.99

So the Prius would still be much cheaper to drive than a Hummer H2 or even the Camery. Of course, I would hope the tax per mile rate would be lower than 3.7 cents per mile. Personally, I think people who drive hybrids should get MORE tax breaks and not less.

One of the other problems I have is that you know that if the government changes how taxes are applied gas wouldn’t drop 49 cents a gallon. Instead, the gas companies would simply drop prices a little and then pad their bottom line from the price per gallon vacated by the government. Smoke and mirros in other words.