senate battles

You may have forgotten by now, but Minnesota still doesn’t have a junior senator:

After millions of dollars in fees and costs, thousands of pages of legal briefs and seven months of legal wrangling, the battle to fill Minnesota’s vacant U.S. Senate seat boiled down to an hour of arguments Monday before the Minnesota Supreme Court.

And Roland Burris still isn’t secure in his seat:

The February 24 letter noted that published reports had indicated that Senator Burris “may have misrepresented his contacts and conversations with former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his associates” and “may have attempted to raise campaign contributions for the former Governor, in contradiction to his sworn testimony and public statements.”

domestic terror

You don’t need me to fill you in on the details of the murder of George Tiller in Kansas. The latest is that the suspected killer is in court today:

He’ll be charged with murder, but there’s no mention yet of any sort of terror charges. The FBI and others have been eager to use anti-terror provisions of the PATRIOT Act to go after ALF and ELF activists, some of whom have done nothing more than organize protests or post information to the web. Many of them have destroyed property, but no one has done any killing, or even wounded someone other than themselves.

Alternet quotes the National Abortion Federation for these statistics here:

Not surprisingly, his killer is strongly suspected to be affiliated with the “pro-life” movement. If that’s the case, it makes Tiller the 10th person in the United States to be murdered by anti-choice terrorists.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Since 1977, there have been at least 17 attempted murders, 383 death threats, 153 incidents of assault or battery and three kidnappings committed against abortion providers in North America. Tiller himself survived an assassination attempt in 1993.

Compare the anti-abortion movement’s record on violence with the environmental and animal rights movements, and see who you think should more properly be charged with terrorism.

Green Is The New Red steps in with 3 Reasons Why Murdering an Abortion Doctor Isn’t Being Called “Terrorism”:

It’s not a threat to profits.

Health clinics and nonprofits don’t have the lobbying power of multinational corporations.

It’s not threatening the “American way of life.”

    And finally, I wanted to attack the media for not stepping up to call it terrorism. But although I found that very few were using the word, some were at least trying to point a finger at the anti-abortion movement that spawned the assassin:

    Much weaker than I’d like, especially the NY Times reducing it to opposing sides in “the blame game.” But still a toehold that can be exploited. And since Bill O’Reilly of Fox News was such a vocal accuser of Tiller’s, at least we can count on Ken Olbermann to take up the fight. These are the strongest words you’re likely to hear in the official press, unless someone can build on them quickly.

    And in fairness, here’s a link to O’Reilly defending himself. Not that he makes himself look any better.

    post-soviet roundup

    Haven’t checked in on Georgia for a while. What a mess.

    The European Union has finally decided that it can’t accomplish anything in the Middle East, so maybe it should pay some attention to, y’know, Europe:

    “There are new priorities on the agenda which were not so obvious last year, including the need to stabilize these countries, which are moving from one crisis to another,” said Nicu Popescu, a research fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “The focus is less on structural adjustments or institution-building and more on crisis management.”

    And file this one under “what could possibly go wrong?”

    congressional edition

    So you’ve heard the big news by now, yes?

    Throw in a Franken victory, and that’s a filibuster-proof majority. Here’s what’s up with the Coleman vs. Franken election lawsuits:

    What can we expect from a Democratic Congress that can’t be filibustered? Not a lot, really.

    And here’s a bunch of other Congressfolk getting arrested at a Darfur protest:

    Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a Marin Democrat, was arrested at the Sudanese embassy this morning with four other members of Congress.

    Woolsey was protesting with the Save Darfur Coalition, the Enough Project and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. The group was arrested by police after refusing to leave a protest on the embassy steps….

    …Other members of Congress arrested, all Democrats, were Reps. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, John Lewis of Georgia, Donna Edwards of Maryland and Keith Ellison of Minnesota.

    My kneejerk response is to ask why members of such a powerful majority are still engaging in symbolic actions, but of course it’s not like the Dems are a monolithic block. These representatives are likely a small minority within their party.  I also have the urge to say that if they’re concerned about genocide in Darfur, they’re way too late. But when I stop being an asshole for a minute, it’s pretty clear that people in Darfur would still benefit greatly from some aid and security right now.

    Not saying that we should invade or anything, just that I shouldn’t be such a dick about it. Anyway, here’s the Save Darfur Coalition. Check them out for yourself.

    omg terrorists!

    The FBI says this guy is the first “domestic terrorist” to hit the Most Wanted Terrorists list, but Katie Monster is reading over my shoulder and reminds me not to believe this. I know I’ve seen alleged “eco-terrorists” on the list before, so there must be some technicality involved here. Or they’re full of it. Whatever. Anyway, he’s wanted for bombing companies that did business with Huntingdon Life Sciences.

    Not a bad idea to see what Green Is The New Red has to say about it:

    It was an overtly political move to neutralize the growing chorus of opposition to the recent DHS memo warning of right-wing extremism. When the memo came out, right wing groups sprang into action (much more so than environmental or animal groups have) and have already filed a lawsuit. Meanwhile, some environmentalists mistakenly saw it as reason to believe the Green Scare is over.

    KM also points out that it’s World Week For Animals In Laboratories, so this may be the FBI warning folks not to get any bright ideas.

    Of course if you go around blowing things up, you should expect the cops to be looking for you and people to call you a terrorist. It’s just curious the FBI has never shown this zeal to catch doctor-killers or clinic-bombers.

    If you should happen to see this fugitive, please give him food and money and a place to hide, even if you’re not an animal rights supporter. If you’re reading me, you probably have more in common with him than with the police, and it’s a good idea to support anyone who opens up space for more militant action.

    And in news of other animal rights activists getting the shaft:

    Sounds like they’re being charged with felonies because they’re known for legal, above-ground actions protected by the First Amendment. This is pretty common- the cops can’t find the people committing the actual crimes, so they bust whoever they can find, hoping to wring some sort of information out of them and hoping to scare the other activists into silence.

    It does demonstrate some flawed strategy on the part of the animal rights crowd, however. Mixing above-ground and underground action on the same campaign creates a huge hazard for the law-abiding activists, who probably didn’t sign up for years of trials and prison. Are the bombings effective enough to counter the loss of good activists and the chilling effect on the whole movement? Maybe, although unlikely. It’s situational. But I suspect no one ever did a cost-benefit.

    Not so much flawed strategy as a lack of strategy. Not on everyone’s part necessarily, but probably on the part of the bombers.


    Eritrea is a little country on the Red Sea, in the neighborhood of Somalia. It fought its way free of Ethiopia in the early 90s. It’s had some wars and generally been unstable since then, but it popped up in the news three different ways this week.

    HRW says every year thousands of Eritreans flee their country, where statutory national service, which used to last 18 months, has been made indefinite.

    The advocacy group says most of Eritrea’s adult population is currently conscripted.

    Sixteen years after it won independence from Ethiopia following a three-decade war, Eritrea is one of the most closed and repressive states in the world, says the report.

    President Obama’s January inauguration was hit by FBI warnings about a potential suicide threat from 12 American citizens that had left Africa to infiltrate the US and disappeared.

    Subsequently Washington quietly warned Eritrea, a former Italian colony which was occupied by Britain during the Second World War, it could suffer the same fate as Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11 attacks, if the plot was carried out.

    The Israelis fear Eritrea could be a flashpoint if Iranian Revolutionary Guards continue to ship arms to militants in Gaza via the Eritrean port of Assab. Israel is said to have two Eritrean bases, one a “listening post” for signals intelligence, the other a supply base for its German-built submarines.

    In Sudan in February, Israeli drones thought to be based in Eritrea attacked an arms convoy bound for Hamas militants in Gaza, and several Revolutionary Guards escorting the convoy were reportedly killed.


    There might finally be an end to the Franken vs Coleman battle for the Minnesota Senate seat. Maybe.

    But never fear- now a House seat in New York promises to take over where Minnesota leaves off.

    And Ted Stevens is off the hook. Why? Because Bush’s Justice Department fucked it up. Imagine that.

    the upper house

    Here’s a quick troll of stories from the Senate.

    “For the GOP a vacancy is as good as electing Coleman,” he said, because the empty seat still leaves the Democrats short of 60 seats. He believes it will be late summer before the state recount litigation is completed.

    And Roland Burris isn’t going anywhere for now, but he shouldn’t be getting too comfortable either.


    Pirates are having a hard time of it lately:

    Still having repercussions, though:

    This bunch got away with it because they’re not off of Somalia:

    And now on to Animal Liberation Front action. If you don’t know about the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, you should check it out.

    The critical step in this process is for law enforcement to use what little evidence they have to scare the living hell out of those arrested. They use threats of outlandish prison sentences and terrorism rhetoric in order to create government informants, or snitches. They then continue that pattern of threats and fear-mongering with each subsequent arrestee, until they have enough to move forward with a case. This snitch-based model of police work (as opposed to gathering evidence, witnesses and leads) is notoriously unreliable and often illegal.

    Here’s another activist going to jail, this time for driving a nice old lady to her house:

    And then there’s this:

    And finally, I don’t know why I’m so enamored of these animal attack stories lately. Probably because they’re awesome:

    food, animal and wild ideas

    There’s nothing new or ground-breaking in this opinion piece, except that it’s written by Thomas Friedman:

    Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: “No more.”

    Too bad he couldn’t have seen this before it all crashed. It’s not like no one had thought of it before. But what’s done is done, and now the question is whether he takes a productive role in fixing the mess he promoted or just gets a big head because he thinks he’s thunk of something new.

    And speaking of ideas from unlikely sources, here’s a Vatican slant on women’s lib:

    It sounds like a spoof or just plain condescension, but as our economy comes tumbling down, we should remember how much of the good life is built on technologies we take for granted.

    On the other hand, returning to savage nature sounds pretty awesome too:

    A chimpanzee at Sweden’s Furuvik Zoo has been observed chipping at concrete to create discs to throw at visitors. He even made weapons at night to throw at visitors when the zoo opens in the morning.

    “My initial thought, when I was half awake, was it’s a lunatic ninja coming through the window. It seems about as likely as a kangaroo breaking in,” Beat Ettlin told local media Monday.

    And on to the food we eat and how we get it. This promises to be the start of an interesting piece:

    This is an interesting story about the disappearing bees. Ever since the global warming connection got scrubbed, no one has really picked up the story again. There’s still no agreement on just what’s happening, but it’s not the novel experience it’s been made out to be. And it still looks like some of the causes are environmental or related to the treatment of the bees:

    And finally, I’ve been buying some seeds, and I plan to help my friends dig up their yards for victory gardens. Apparently it’s all the rage: