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Photographer Todd Heisler of Colorado's Rocky Mountain news won First Place for this picture in the Missouri School of Journalism's annual Pictures of the Year International competition. When 2nd Lt. James Cathey's body arrived at the Reno Airport, Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac. During the arrival of another Marine's casket last year at Denver International Airport, Major Steve Beck described the scene as one of the most powerful in the process: "See the people in the windows? They'll sit right there in the plane, watching those Marines. You gotta wonder what's going through their minds, knowing that they're on the plane that brought him home," he said. "They're going to remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They're going to remember bringing that Marine home. And they should."


Weekend Bloggerback
Best of Blogs Round-Up: April 8-9, 2006

"The Cato Institute has warned that the Massachusetts [health] plan would start us on the "slippery slope" toward National Health Insurance. Slippery slopes are perhaps the worst slopes you can imagine. For example, gay marriage (which Massachusetts is also pioneering) would lead us on the slippery slope to people marrying their pets and livestock. Another example of a dangerous slippery slope is marijuana use, which invariably leads to heroin addiction, which we know because studies have shown that most junkies started out by smoking marijuana. The Massachusetts Plan, in a sense, would be a gateway drug that would result in people craving more and more health care. And who would ultimately be the beneficiaries of more health care? Trial lawyers, of course, because more health care will naturally result in more malpractice suits.”



Featured Blog, I: Doomsday Reaction
The Eric Pianka Affair

All last week the right-wing echo chamber promised that as soon as transcripts were available of ecologist Eric Pianka's speech to the Texas Academy of Science, we'd have all the proof we needed of the charges against him.

Charges leveled by creationist Forrest Mims [and others] that Pianka was plotting to exterminate 90 percent of the human race with a variant of the Ebola virus weren't, as the reality based community suspected from the very beginning, the ravings of the lunatic right. Oh, on the contrary, they were as solid as the scientific evidence for, well, intelligent design.

The charges, which would have set the bullshit meter in a six-year-old ringing like a Las Vegas slot machine, prompted intelligent design theorist William Dembski to call to the Department of Homeland Security and report Pianka as a dangerous eco-terrorist.

Well, now transcripts of Pianka's speech are available. Pianka's colleagues -- those who actually heard and applauded his speech -- are rallying to his side with a petition condemning Mims dishonest mischaracterized of it. The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise, the credulous newspaper that first picked up the ludicrous charges, which Mims happens to write for, has pulled the story from its website. And, Discovery Institute's Evolution News and Views and Dembski's Uncommon Descent have suddenly lost interest in the story. Saving the human race from from a mad scientist, suddenly, isn't the pressing issue it once was.

But, let's take a moment to ponder the real world fallout for Dr. Pianka from this little contretemps.

Not long ago, Walter Soehnge, a retired Texas schoolteacher, who had rung up a few too many charges on his JCPenney Platinum MasterCard did the right thing. He and his wife sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522.

After sending the payment, they checked online to see if their account had been duly credited. They learned that the check had arrived, but the amount available for credit on their account hadn't changed.

So they called in to find out why. Eventually, they were told that the amount they had sent in was much larger than their normal monthly payment and the Department of Homeland Security had to be notified. Their credit limit wouldn't change until the threat alert was lifted.

Dembski has reported Pianka to Homeland Security as a threat. Although no one can be really sure how the FBI operates -- a large number of agents, reportedly, are still without e-mail --we suspect we're not entirely out of line surmising that a charge of eco-terrorism will rank higher on the FBI's threat-o-meter than a credit card payment. The FBI has announced it will question Pianka about the charges, but what other effect will Dembski's ludicrous, second-hand, accusation have on Dr. Pianka?

Will he -- like so many activist who have protested the war -- have trouble when he tries to board an airplane? Will he now be singled out for additional screening when he passes through security? Will his credit card and bank records be examined? It's all a very real possibility. Read the rest at Red State Rabble...

Featured Blog, II: Vile Wasteland
TV News Is Fucking Shit (Everywhere)

I know this is hardly breaking news but I watched their 5.30 bulletin yesterday and was compelled to write about it. Having a bit of background in journalism myself (I have a wealth of experience in many areas, dontcha know) it is almost like watching some kind of broadcasting diploma class get their own TV station for a week. That's what their news would look like except it probably wouldn't be as bad.

They reported on the bus crash in Offaly yesterday in which a 15 year old boy was killed and lots of others injured. A serious thing. A tragic thing for the family of the boy in question as he was an only child. The reporter, Jerome Hughes I think his name was, finished one section of his report as such:

The impact on the roof of the bus was terrible but not as terrible as the impact that losing a life will be on this community.

Now there's a time and place for word play and even a time and place for corny segues into the next part of a report but this line was delivered deadpan with a shot of the crumpled bus lying on its roof with the back wheels 10 yards away. My toes curled. Fucking hell.

Then they cut away to one of the hospitals where the injured were taken and showed us one of the young lads on the bus break down in tears. Cretinous, tabloid journalism at its worst. We know they're upset, you shitehawks. They've seen a schoolmate die and others get injured and they've been involved in a traumatic incident, you don't need to show us the poor bloke crying. Have a bit of fucking common sense and decency.

Then, because they obviously hadn't got enough stories about no-mark celebrities or kittens stuck in trees, they went back to Jerome Hughes live and he was interviewing an ambulance officer. This is the question he asked them - "So how important is it that you guys keep your cool in situations like this?"

Fuck me. How the guy resisted the urge to say "Well, it's hard but we find running around screaming "OH JESUS LOOK AT HIS LEG! IT'S FUCKED. AND OH, THAT BLOKE'S GUTS ARE COMING OUT OF HIS ARSE. HE'S GOT NO CHANCE OF SURVIVAL. I THINK I'M GOING TO VOMIT RIGHT AFTER I SHIT MYSELF. WHAT THE FUCK DO WE DO??!!!" tends to unsettle the accident victims", I will never know.

It's like asking a pilot "So how important is it that you don't fly your plane into the side of a mountain?"

Moronic and shameless and just horribly amateurish. I know they operate out of portacabins on an industrial estate but still, surely they can think of a better question to ask than that.

Leaving that particular report aside there's the vapid Lorraine Keane and her entertainment fluff which is about as insightful as Stevie Wonder with his head up Ray Charles's arse, the weird and scary Ursula Hannigan with her bizarre intonation, the ever increasing waistline of 'weatherman' Martin King who does the weather then reads out requests like a 1980s pirate radio DJ and they're as bad as Sky News for their interactive poles polls which if I ever find the time I will shove up their fucking holes, the cunts.

TV3 news can fuck off until they stop being shit. So that's forever then....


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