Monday, June 14, 2004

News, Damn It! And none of them about Iraq!

I'm a very angry goddess today, for reasons unrelated to this blog. Let's see if I can hold my viper tongue.

Anyway, re my previous post: American women who have undergone breast augmentation and other cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic may have brought home more than a prettier-looking body, including a few nasty bugs:

The CDC said that it has yet to establish the source of the infection but that previous outbreaks in other places have been attributed to contaminated surgical equipment.

Elsewhere, the Supremos are singing a different song. Remember all that 'state rights' emphasis we have been hearing in recent recordings? Well, the state has rights, but not about taxes:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that federal courts can hear constitutional challenges to state taxes, a decision that could leave tax credits in nearly every state vulnerable to federal court challenges.
Justices said such lawsuits are permitted despite a 1937 law that says federal courts may not interfere with the "assessment, levy or collection" of state taxes. The 5-4 decision was a defeat for Arizona and its tax break that helps fund private religious schools.
The case arose from income tax credits given to Arizona residents for donating money for private school education. Those contributions fund grants and scholarships and are part of a state effort to give parents more choices in educating their children.
A group of Arizona taxpayers sued the state in federal court, arguing that the tax credits are an unconstitutional promotion of religion.

I like this decision, of course. But I wonder why the change now? Of course, it's probably just a last hurrah by the waning liberal wing of the judges, the ones that will be put out to pasture come November. Anyway, as expected, our boys in brown (Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas) were all strongly opposed to this decision.

And now to something serious: international trafficking in humans. Our beloved Colin Powell has spoken out against this issue. It takes a lot of courage in a politician to speak against trafficking, of course, but never mind. He does have a point:

Khan was 11-years old when she was kidnapped from her home in the hill country of Laos.
She was taken to an embroidery factory in Thailand. She and dozens of other children were made to work 14 hours a day for food and clothing. They received no wages.
"It's called slavery," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday in recounting Khan's fate as he released the State Department's annual report on human trafficking. He said the practice affects 600,000 to 800,000 persons each year.
"We're talking about women and girls as young as 6 years old trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation, men trafficked into forced labor, children trafficked as child soldiers," Powell said

The current cure for this problem seems to be to punish the violating countries by using economic incentives. I wonder if that extends to punishing those rich countries which are also the recipients of many of those trafficked, you know, the U.S., the Western European countries and so on? Let's check:

On this year's list of offenders are Bangladesh, Burma, Cuba, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, North Korea, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Venezuela.

Hmm. No.

Finally, and in a more light-hearted mode, the official portrait of president Clinton was unveiled in the White House today. And George Bush gave a speech which expressed his great admiration of the Clintons. No, I'm not making this up:

With old political grudges left unmentioned, former President Clinton returned to the White House for the first time Monday and listened with delight as President Bush praised him for his knowledge, compassion and "the forward-looking spirit that Americans like in a president."
The occasion was the unveiling of the official portraits of Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Hundreds of former Clinton administration officials, from Cabinet secretaries to low-ranking aides, filled the East Room and applauded Bush's warm testimonials. His remarks were a sharp contrast with his promise four years ago "to restore honor and dignity" to the White House after Clinton and the sex scandal that led to his impeachment.
Facing re-election and trying to reach across party lines for support, Bush went out of his way to be gracious to both the former president and his wife, a favorite target of conservatives who fear she will run for president. Bush even offered a plug for Clinton's biography, being published next week. Pausing in his description of Clinton, Bush said, "I can tell you more of the story, but it's coming out in fine bookstores all over America."
Terry McAuliffe, the highly partisan chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told reporters, "Today is a bipartisan day here at the White House. Everyone loves everyone equally here today."

Gag me with a spoon.