Blogs

Reason 4,321 To Hate Wal-Mart

| Fri Dec. 14, 2007 10:50 AM EST

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Panties found by a reader of Feministing.com in a North Carolina Wal-Mart—in the section that caters to 12-year-old girls.

After Feministing posted the photo and it made its way through the blogosphere, Fox News reported on Wednesday that outraged parents had prompted Wal-Mart to pull the $2.96 panties off the shelves.

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Will Jeopardy Host's Heart Attack Make Him Stop Frontin'?

| Fri Dec. 14, 2007 9:35 AM EST

Jeopardy host Alex Trebek had a minor heart attack this week and is recovering at a LA hospital. Given that recovery, I might as well admit that I dislike Trebek. Intensely. I'm sure he's a great guy. So why do I always want to smack him on sight?

Who does he think he is peering over those little half-glasses at the contestants, sniffing out the answers as if from his own brain and not those little index cards that underpaid liberal arts majors labored over for sub-union wages? No one else in Hollywood wears glasses in public; you know he's had laser correction and just wears those to fake being brainy. And that smarty-pants, high falutin' attitude when delivering the answers - what a poseur! This is America, you Canuck: the ability to read someone else's work aloud isn't much of an accomplishment. If they ever spin-off a medical Jeopardy, I guess he'll be fronting in couture scrubs with a stethoscope dangling from his neck. Imagine the hours he'd put in learning to pompously pronounce all those complicated words so he could pretend to be as smart as the contestants. Or his own staffers. Not even this killer X files cameo can make him bearable.

I've never understood the allure of TV game/quiz shows, and Jeopardy even less since you have to endure Trebek's smug fakery to get to the questions.

But, dude, get well soon.

Wikileaks vs. Gitmo Security Phreaks

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 10:06 PM EST

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This is my new favorite story. It seems that the folks at Wikileaks"an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis"—have busted the "mass communications specialists" at Guantanamo for, wait for it,

"conducting covert propaganda attacks on the internet. The attacks include deleting detainee ID numbers from Wikipedia last month, the systematic posting of unattributed "self praise" comments on news organization web sites in response to negative press, boosting pro-Guantanamo stories on the internet news site Digg and even modifying Fidel Castro's encyclopedia article to describe the Cuban president as "an admitted transexual" [sic]."

Following the trail of IP addresses and "traceroutes," Wikileaks states that most of these changes were made by Guantanamo "mass communications specialist" Richard M. Wolff, who also goes by usnavymc1 on Digg.

Wikileaks has quite a bit of fun at Wolff's expense, including posting his query to a muscle fitness group at Yahoo:

Hi all! I am new to the group and in need of some help. I am in the military, did 9 years active-duty, then for the past 5 years I've been in the reserve. When I left AD, I got a little lazy and gained a few pounds, ok more than a few... lol. Anyhow, I've lost most of the fat I gained before, but I also lost a lot of muscle. I've tried combinations of weight gain and intense workouts, even some ripped
fuel, I do a good amount of cardio as well. Does the cardio hurt me from gaining muscle max? Would I be better off just lifting?
I've been in this routine of getting back in shape for about a year now and I'm looking much better than I did, but I feel I'll never get back into that really ripped form I used to have. I am 5'6", 165lbs, 34 years old. Of course my age might have something to do with it since my metabolism might not be as good as it used to be, but I try to eat healthy and things that digest easily. Should I be eating more red meat? I don't at the moment at all, but I do take a multivitamin everyday so I do get all my vitamins.
Any advice would be great! Also, if anyone knows if I should take something besides ripped fuel to help me gain mass more please let me know. Also, what more can I do (like in the other post) to get rid of the little layer of fat over my abs? They're defines pretty good but can't be seen through that damn little layer of flub. Thanks! Rich

We've all been there Rich. Anyway, if you want to geek out on how Wikileaks tracked Wolff to his meatless, sweaty lair, enjoy. And while you're at it read up on the project, which "was founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and startup company technologists....Our primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations."

Mission accomplished.

Update: Dave had a great post that lists some of Wikileaks' other greatest hits.

New Jersey Cans the Death Penalty; Lawmakers Go Against the Masses

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 8:29 PM EST

New Jersey joined 13 other states and most of the world's industrialized democratic countries when it banned the death penalty today. It's general assembly voted 44 to 36 in favor of a law that will end the practice, and Governor Jon Corzine is expected to sign it next week. Eight men are currently on New Jersey's death row; their sentences will now be changed to life without the possibility of parole.

Lawmakers were swayed in large part by a report drafted by the Constitution Project's national Death Penalty Committee. The committee, comprised of death penalty proponents and opponents alike, came to one unanimous and startling conclusion:

"Around the country, procedural safeguards and other assurances of fundamental fairness in the administration of capital punishment have been revealed to be deeply flawed."

Funny thing is, most New Jerseyans support capital punishment. A recent poll found that 53 percent oppose ending the death penalty and a whopping 78 percent want to see child molesters and serial killers executed. This is a rare case of our political leaders taking a bold and decisive action because it's morally right, not because it will please the masses.

—Celia Perry

Reality Check From Bali

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 7:44 PM EST

This Washington Post article conveys in short and sweet style how serious the U.S.'s refusal in Bali to accept emissions caps is.

Europe: frustrated, vowing to boycott Bush's distracter tactic, the "major economies" meetings he's hosting on global warming. Brazil—home to the world's largest intact forest—threatening not to comply with rules that only apply to developing countries.

Most disturbing of all, Americans support carbon emissions caps because they're the only way of fending off catastrophic climate change.

As Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's minister for climate and energy, put it, the targets don't come from "figures taken at random," she said. Rather, the 25 percent by 2020 "reports very specifically back to what the IPCC tells us."

Compare the sanity of that remark—we're doing what the best scientists tell us we have to—to the childish churlishness of this one, made by James L. Connaughton, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, explaining why the U.S. refuses to do the right thing and accept the caps: "We will lead. The U.S. will lead. But leadership also requires others to fall in line and follow."

Despite Americans' political will, our government is standing in the way of the best documented solution for the greatest problem the world has ever faced.

All I Want for Christmas, Part 1: Jeff Koons Beach Towel

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 5:56 PM EST

mojo-photo-koonstowel.jpgFrom the description at Target.com:

"Bring art into your home with this 60x70" cotton towel designed by acclaimed artist Jeff Koons ... Koons captivates and inspires audiences with artwork that brings the mundane into high culture ...This lively towel features a happy inflatable toy monkey against an abstract, pool blue background."

The price? Only $50, so it's in your budget, Riff readers and secret Santas. And that monkey is totally so happy!

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Golden Globe Nominations Clear Up Confusion About Best Stuff

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 5:35 PM EST

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With all the year-end countdowns and best-of lists flying around these days, one could easily get overwhelmed with trying to sort out what was worth your time this year. Thankfully, there's an elite group of like 17 random foreign journalists who put on a little awards show every year called the Golden Globes, perhaps you've heard of them? Well, they announced the nominations this morning, and hey, they decided to include seven movies in the "Best Motion Picture – Drama" category. Boy are you pissed if you were choice #8, huh:

Edwards the Broken Record: Corporations, Corporations, Corporations

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 5:02 PM EST

john-edwards-campaigning.jpg Edwards has a well-known hatred of corporations and powerful interests because of their corrupting power in Washington.

But that hatred has come dangerously close to becoming an obsession. Don't believe me? Check the transcript of today's debate in Iowa (DC's analysis here). The man can literally speak of nothing else. Here's the number of times each candidate used the words "corporations," "corporate," or "companies":

John Edwards: 19
Barack Obama: 5
Bill Richardson: 3
Hillary Clinton: 2
Chris Dodd: 1
Joe Biden: 0

I respect Edwards' willingness to speak truth to power, and it's admirable that he can stay on message so well. And I think he's totally correct on this stuff. But there is a very real chance that Edwards is defining himself more and more narrowly in the eyes of Iowa voters as they get ready to caucus. He runs the risk of becoming a one-dimensional candidate who has lacks a well-rounded vision for America.

He can cut his focus on corporation in half and still be the leading candidate on this subject.

Update: More fun debate counting. In the last debate for the Dems, they mentioned Iraq 10 times. In the last debate for the GOP, they mentioned Iraq once.

Clinton Campaign Offical Quitting After Speculating About Obama's Drug Past

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 4:34 PM EST

Billy Shaheen is quitting the Clinton campaign after wondering out loud if Obama sold drugs as a young man.

His statement, sent by the campaign to reporters via email:

"I would like to reiterate that I deeply regret my comments yesterday and say again that they were in no way authorized by Senator Clinton or the Clinton campaign. Senator Clinton has been running a positive campaign focused on the issues that matter to America's families. She is the best qualified to be the next President of the United States because she can lead starting on day one."

Update: Clinton has apologized personally to Obama. I'm sure this is a story both candidates want to go away. Clinton probably hates that her campaign is associated with these dirty tactics, and Obama probably hates that his drug use is back in the news cycle.

Democratic Debate: We Watch So You Don't Have To (and There Was Nothing To See)

| Thu Dec. 13, 2007 3:52 PM EST

This afternoon, the Democratic presidential candidates gathered in Des Moines for their final debate prior to the Iowa cacuses on January 3. For undecided voters, there was no new material

Here's a brief recap of an utterly uneventful affair. From the horse race perspective, no one flopped, fumbled or drooled. And no one attacked anyone. There were no moments you will see replayed and dissected excessively on cable news shows. There were, essentially no highlights--except perhaps for a moment when Barack Obama was asked how his foreign policy as president would be a break from the past given that he has several ex-Clintonites advising him. Before he could answer, Hillary Clinton said, "I want to hear that." As the crowd laughed, Obama shot back, "I'm looking forward to you advising me as well." That was as spicy as it got.

And for anyone obsessed with policy matters, there was not much there either. (Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were not invited to attend because the host, the Des Moines Register, determined that neither have a functioning campaign office in Iowa.) Bill Richardson called for a constitutional amendment for a balanced budget and for awarding line-item veto authority to the president--positions most of the other candidates do not back. He also called for scrapping the no Child Left Behind law; the other candidates talked of fixing it. Each declared their intention to end the war in Iraq; there was no detailed discussion about that. But Richardson declared he would leave no residual troops in Iraq. (Iran did not come up.) After Richardson called China a "strategic competitor," Chris Dodd maintained the United States has an "adversarial relationship" with China.

There were no clashes of policy or proposals. Clinton, Obama and Edwards did not revive their past disagreements over Social Security and health care. And while Obama decried "special interests" in Washington, John Edwards repeatedly--and I do mean repeatedly--cited the necessity of crushing "corporate power" and "corporate greed" in Washington, claiming he was the only candidate with the guts and spine to do so.

As soon as the debate ended, it was as if it had never occurred.