The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Saturday, April 26, 2003

JOHANNESBURG, April 25 — Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of Nelson Mandela, was sentenced today to four years in prison on dozens of counts of theft and fraud.

On Thursday, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela, one of the most powerful leaders in the fight against apartheid, was convicted for her part in a scheme to steal more than $100,000 from false bank loans and funeral policies.

Many of the loans had been granted to poor people, who would not have qualified without signed letters from Ms. Madikizela-Mandela. In sentencing today, however, the judge, Peet Johnson, made clear that she also profited from the deals.

Addy Moolman, a broker and business associate, was sentenced to seven years in prison, with two years suspended. He and Ms. Madikizela-Mandela said they would appeal.

The judge said Ms. Madikizela-Mandela could be released on parole after eight months in prison and be required to perform community service for the remainder of her term. His long explanatory statement revealed the weight of the judgment on the court and the country. (full story)
I opposed apartheid as an elementary and middle schooler, Ms M-M, but I must reaffirm the fact that two wrongs don't make a right.

But beyond that, as a semi-casual international observer of this particular news story, I wonder, is there a greater implication from Winnie's corruption, regarding the country as a whole? After the fall of outright institutionalized hate and racisim 9 years ago, South Africa was supposed to be Africa's great beacon of hope, and a place friendly to foreign investment. Is it fair to include Winnie's conviction, at least symbolically, as part of the "what went wrong" narrative? Will Marissa edit her thesis? (hehehe) My answer is, I'm not sure.(on all counts, though I'm sure Marissa will be revising something in there, hehe)

Anyway, I don't have anymore time for commentary right now, as I am heading up to Pauley Canyon for the show.

First of all, I'm blogging to you from sunny San Luis Obispo, where I will be rocking the hills above Cal Poly in a couple of hours. Laurie called me during soundcheck earlier today, aww! Hope you are having a lovely weekend. Anyway...

The adminstration says it's skeptical of North Korea's claims that it has nuclear weapons.
WASHINGTON, April 25 (Reuters) - The United States does not necessarily accept North Korea's claims about possessing nuclear weapons and beginning to reprocess nuclear fuel and will need to do more analysis before deciding how to proceed with the communist state, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

He made his comments after North Korean negotiators told U.S. officials in Beijing on Thursday that their country has nuclear weapons, a fact Washington has suspected but Pyongyang has not previously confirmed.

"The point is, first we have to look at what went on. We're not listing any options (for next steps) at this point. We've got to figure out what happened and what it means, what it is we're dealing with," the U.S. official told Reuters.

He said the United States was skeptical about North Korean claims. "They are a bunch of liars. We've dealt with the North Koreans enough to know bluster and lying are a part of the way they negotiate."
Hmm, lying about weapons of mass destruction. Gee whizzzzz, where have I heard that before?

Bluster and lying are part of how the Bush regime attempted to justify war in Iraq.

(uh oh, moral equivalency!!! run, children!!!)

To play a concert inside a geodesic dome for a bunch of architecture majors in San Luis Obispo!

Back either late tonight, or tomorrow.

Have a yummy day!

Friday, April 25, 2003


Hey everybody! Get your penises out of your pets! Senator Rick Santorum (R-bigot) is answering your email!
Dear Sen. Santorum, R-Pa.:I'm a proud straight football-loving beer-drinkin' male who loves his SUVs big and his baseball hats backward. Lately I've found that I really enjoy anal stimulation during sex with my girlfriend. Increasingly, my fantasies involve this totally mega-bitchin' hot act. Does this mean I'm gay? --Homo in my Michelob, Florida

Dear Homo: Yes, it most certainly does. And while I have nothing against you as a person per se, I must say I do very much loathe and despise and consider a desperate threat to the very fabric of humanity as a whole those disgusting unspeakable things you are doing. You are a vile unhealthy abominable AIDS-latent family-destroying sinner, and I'm deeply terrified of everything you do and stand for and insert into your perverted little body.

But, that said, I fully accept you. Go, Jets!


Dear Sen. Santorum, R-Pa.: My girlfriend really loves her Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator and uses it almost every day, along with a variety of other sleek insertable toys. We still have lots of good sex, but I'm a little intimidated. Is her love for these gadgets a threat to my manhood? Am I not enough for her? --A Manly Vibe, Oklahoma City

Dear Manly: I'm afraid I have no clue as to what the heck you are talking about. Hitachi? Like the TV sets? What you describe certainly sounds debauched and illegal and quite possibly homosexual and a true abomination against God. And, like I always say, if it sounds icky and wrong, it probably is.

Then again, if you are speaking of fine foreign-made appliances, I am terribly fond of my spinning shoe buffer machine from Sharper Image, which I like to sit on sideways and crank to full volume and moan softly. As for gadgets, I simply love to send flirty little text messages to myself on my PalmPilot and then giggle like a schoolgirl when I receive them later during my daily leeching.
Heh. Communicating with the man by mail is best. Cuz you know, if he was around my family's house, I'd keep the poodle where I can see her...

...and that means it's "sneak out the bad news" day for the Bush administration. This week's morsel? The resignation of Army Secretary Thomas "Enron" White.

Of course, it took AP ten grafs to get to Enron, but hey.

Uggabugga presents, Bush Regime Playing Cards!
LIARS . . . DAMN LIARS . . .

There are little to no words for this jawdropper.
To build its case for war with Iraq, the Bush administration argued that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but some officials now privately acknowledge the White House had another reason for war — a global show of American power and democracy.
Well, we knew that, right?

But to hear them actually say it only makes it that much slimier. For this next snippet, haz-mat suits on...
Officials inside government and advisers outside told ABCNEWS the administration emphasized the danger of Saddam's weapons to gain the legal justification for war from the United Nations and to stress the danger at home to Americans.

"We were not lying," said one official. "But it was just a matter of emphasis."
As Somerby is fond of saying, try and believe you read that.

More than two thousand Iraqi civilians were killed by American/British bombs and guns, not to mention countless thousands of Iraqi conscripts who had no other choice, as well as 150 coalition troops. For each and every one of them, under "cause of death", we should see the phrase: "a matter of emphasis". Boy, we sure emphasized the hell outta that place.

Other than that, I'm more or less speechless and in shock (and yes, awe) over this. Thankfully, the Horse has some very poignant commentary on the issue, namely focused around one unifying idea: why didn't the Bushies tell the truth to the American people? Not to mention the rest of the world?

I need a drink, or a nap, or something.

UPDATE: Kos weighs in:
So [Colin] Powell told the world that Iraq had thousands of tons of chemical weapons. The administration now admits that they won't find that much, and may not find any at all. And it's not a lie???? It's a "matter of emphasis"?
It's unclear whether Powell was party to this strategy, or whether he was simply duped.

And might I add,

I had been trying to think of something cute to say about how Tariq Aziz was captured by American forces.

But over at Pandagon, Jesse just had to make a Lord Tariq/Peter Gunz reference.

(Q: where was Aziz captured? A: uptown, baby)

Anyway, memo to whoever: I don't give a tenth of a shit what card Aziz was in the "Iraq's most wanted" deck.

Thursday, April 24, 2003


The Bushies' whipping of Iraq was supposed to intimidate other rogue nations, er, "axis of evil" nations into falling in line or not being a menace or whatever.

Good to see that line of thinking is working on DPRK. Well, not really.
WASHINGTON - North Korea's lead official at nuclear weapons talks in China told a U.S. envoy that his country has nuclear weapons and may test, export or use them depending on U.S. actions, a senior American official said Thursday.

The comment was made by North Korean delegate Ri Gun to Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly during a social gathering Wednesday following formal discussions on the North's nuclear weapons program, said the senior U.S. official, speaking only on condition of anonymity.

Kelly did not respond to Ri's comment, said the official.

According to the official, Ri said during the plenary session earlier that North Korea has reprocessed all 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods in its possession.

If true, that would put North Korea much closer to building six to eight additional weapons beyond the one or two it is believed to have at present.
Hmm. And all this while the search for WMD's in Iraq goes on without bearing fruit. Hey, we found something! Oh wait, it's one of our unexploded cluster bombs. Don't touch it!
(at least I hope not)

Feast your eyes, all you horny un-Americans!

The most revealing body part involved with this photo shoot is the spine. Between John Kerry, Robbins/Sarandon and this, there's been a nice trend of standing up for freedom of speech and dissent lately. All Fox News could do about this was put on some random fellow, claiming to be some sort of pop culture in-the-know type, and have him say something to the effect of "this isn't something that the Dixie Chicks would normally do, this is the sort of thing that Courtney Love or Christina Aguilera would". Haha, boohoo, nice try. Looking at the words painted on their bodies, nowhere do I see "drugged-out abusive whore" or "over-done burlesque harlot".

Ok those aren't fair. How about "Kurt and Billy Corgan wrote all my songs" and "Yes, I really did those things with Fred Durst and Carson Daly". There, that's better.

Anyway, go Chicks!

Just about all of their first segment (Headlines) was spent going after lil' Ricky Santorum's anti-gay comments ("If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."). Or, posits correspondent Rob Courdry, were they just pro sexual deviance?
"Jon, the GOP has long claimed to have a big tent. Well, Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania just wants to add an area behind the tent where people can go fuck a horse"
hehehehe. Unfortunately, Santorum's "clarification" of his remarks, as reported by Jon Stewart, seems to suggest otherwise:
"I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts"
Ohh! Thank you Senator, I'm glad you cleared th . . . hey, wait a second...

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

LAURIE IN AFRICA (and a column! hehe)

My wonderful blogmate Laurie (whose contributions will increase in the summer) finds her way into Marissa Mika's weekly Back from the Bush column for The Daily Cal.
My last adventure in the township of Ghamalakhe had involved a lot of cooking and cleaning in an attempt to prove my Zulu womanhood, with the visit to the local gospel choir, community center, Kentucky Fried Chicken and beach pushed to the back burner. This time around, I was with a friend from Berkeley who was studying in Durban, and I wanted to give her a taste of the "grassroots" approach to community development, not a taste of preparing pap (which is a cornmeal staple).

HIV/AIDS was the theme of our 48 hours together. We visited Love Life community centers where free condoms, fast internet, bright colors and basketball hoops lured young men and women away from the smoky shebeens (bars) and dark pool houses. We sat down at the local Spur, a kitschy steak house decorated in the worst elements of American Southwestern style to talk about President Thabo Mbeki, antiretroviral drugs, poverty and support from the United States.
(Laurie is the friend from Berkeley)


(note: the DC's website is experiencing technical difficulties, so it's a crap shoot as to whether you'll be able to find her article)

You can tell when people are afraid. Republicans, in this case, who are launching a pre-emptive damage control strike at the prospect of Bush's job ratings hitting the crapper in coming weeks/months as the focus shifts from the war to domestic issues such as the economy.

By the way, as to the comparisons to prior campaigns in Racicot's memo, I'd note that Kerry, Dean and Clark each constitute much stronger presidential candidates than either Mondale or Dukakis.

Ahh, that plucky human spirit. You set a goal for yourself, you work hard and you reach it.

Thank you, Will Ferrell, for the inspiration you've given me.
Will Ferrell, known for his antics on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," ran the Boston Marathon with his wife and achieved two goals: He finished in under four hours, and he beat the guy dressed as Elvis.

After saying at the start that he just wanted to finish, Ferrell did better than that with a time of 3 hours, 56 minutes, 12 seconds. The guy dressed as Elvis Presley - actually, a friend of Ferrell's named Bob Babbitt - came in at 4:28:33.

"It's truly an amazing event. Along with the history and everything, it's a bit of a blur," Ferrell said of Monday's race. "Heartbreak Hill felt like a lovely summer day ... and then you get hit over the head with a hammer."
We have come a long way as a species, especially when a mid-level celebrity beating a guy in a jumpsuit in a marathon is worthy of the Associated Press.

Can I get a "son of a bitch!!!"? Amen!

While I was on Easter assignment, Rick Santorum completed quite the trifecta for himself:

1) pine for sexual big-brotherism
2) blame the victims of sexual abuse by priests, and
3) refuse to apologize for it

This is pretty, uh, clear:
"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.


"The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire."
Squelching intolerance among Republicans seems like a game of whack-a-mole to me sometimes.

Much of the news coverage has been aimed at the anti-gay connotations of Santorum's comments. He doesn't come right out and single out the homosexual community, but in my judgement, that's a lot of the implication here. (he has a history of such ideas)

Show of hands: How many people think that the Republicans, by virtue of bumping Trent Lott down to Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, have effectively cleaned out their intolerance closet?
US Customs officials confiscated a large painting that a Boston Herald reporter, Jules Crittenden, brought back as a souvenir from the war in Iraq, but the artwork is not valuable enough to merit prosecution, a law enforcement official said yesterday.

Crittenden, who was embedded with the US Army's Third Infantry Division to cover the war, arrived from Kuwait on Saturday at Logan International Airport. He declared several souvenirs to Customs officials, and was searched, according to a statement released by the newspaper.

Of interest to Customs agents was a 5-foot painting that was rolled up in a tube, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Ornamental kitchen items were also confiscated. Crittenden told the agents he got the painting from a building on the grounds of one of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces. (full story)
TFM has unearthed a picture of the art looter in question:

("Duh, essentially, we all enter into a contract whereby the last surviving participant becomes the sole possessor of all them purty pictures.")

I love it when the Simpsons imitates life, though no word yet as to whether this fellow planned to enter into a tontine with his fellow embedded reporters.

The best part of it? He tries to pass it off as some sort of peer pressure!
''He didn't think it was a big deal,'' the official said of Crittenden. ''He said all the embedded reporters were doing it.''
Hmm, so it appears that the high-school mentality of journalists -- most evident in, say, White House correspondents in their whoring for popularity and access -- presists even in Baghdad. Mind you, I'm not surprised. (link via romanesko, ailes)

UPDATE: Atrios points to a story that Mr Crittenden may have some company in the Hellfish 2003.

(link via hesiod, but i'm sure i heard about this elsewhere)
April 22, 2003 | HAMBURG, N.Y. (AP) -- A national animal rights group has offered Hamburg officials $15,000 to change the town's name to Veggieburg.

"The town's name conjures up visions of unhealthy patties of ground-up dead cows," said Joe Haptas, spokesman of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, in a letter faxed Monday to Hamburg Supervisor Patrick Hoak.

PETA offered to supply area schools with $15,000 worth of non-meat patties for the name change.

"Our offer is serious as a heart attack," Haptas said. (full story)
First off, I'm a vegetarian, not that that entitles me to have greater say or anything.

PETA has done good work. Getting McD's and BK to make those deals (particularly getting the latter to market a veggie burger in America, nice job) impressed me. But this concerns me. Are historical etymological quirks appropriate as prime targets for animal advocacy groups? As long as we're at it, perhaps PETA should stop by the JFK Library and mention that he called himself a jelly donut in full view of thousands of Germans.

Another part of me, though, knows that language is terribly important in political discourse. Ask those deep in the trenches of the abortion debate, the estate/inheritance/"death" tax debate, and elsewhere. In that respect, it's worthy to argue that if we move away from carnivorous language, we can inch away from being a carnivorous culture.

Nevertheless, of the many things on which PETA focuses, this is one of the more superficial.

Dixie Chicks remain at #1, despite the best efforts of the McCarthyites.

"I needn't argue about that" -john lennon

UPDATE: or perhaps people aren't buying tickets to their shows? guess again...
NASHVILLE (Billboard Bulletin) - Despite some backlash at radio and retail for negative comments about President Bush, the Dixie Chicks are flying high in preparation for their upcoming arena tour, according to Rob Light, the act's agent.

"To be brutally honest, there has been no effect, other than the odd phone call to a building inquiring about a refund. There's a lot more noise than action," says Light, head of the music division at Creative Artists Agency.

"Actually, the buildings are getting more callers asking, if there are refunds, can they buy the tickets." Light says there are no refunds.

He says that of 59 shows, only six have seats left, and those are all 85%-90% sold out and expected to go clean.
That's a lot of "ashamed" people, hahaha!

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Well I'm back, though I will be easing back into blogging over the course of the week, things could be hectic...