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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Headlines That Caught My Eye

Here is some of what I have been reading today:

St. Patrick's Day feted worldwide with parades, parties and politics
DUBLIN (AFP) - Saint Patrick's Day, the feast day of Ireland's patron saint, brought out a dash of green and dozens of Irish politicians from Dublin to Tokyo, providing a little-needed excuse for parties, parades and some politics, too.

Up to half a million people were expected for the flagship parade through the Irish capital, while hundreds of thousands more across the country were to stage similar celebrations on their national holiday.
I think I could use a drink... too bad I am working late tonight.

Wolfowitz Picked for World Bank
President Bush said yesterday that he has chosen Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq war, as the U.S. nominee to head the World Bank.

The announcement was an aggressive move to put the administration's stamp on the World Bank, the largest source of aid to developing countries, by installing at the bank's helm a leading advocate of the U.S. campaign to spur democracy in the Middle East. But it risked a new rift with countries critical of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, especially since it came so soon after Bush's nomination of John R. Bolton, another prominent hawk, as ambassador to the United Nations.
Ever notice how the press labels any action by the President as being agressive, controversial, and warlike?

51-49 Senate Vote Backs Arctic Oil Drilling
A closely divided Senate yesterday voted in favor of opening Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, bringing a long-sought goal of the Bush administration within striking distance of being realized.

The action marks the first time the Senate has signaled its support for drilling in the ecologically sensitive area since President Bush took office. And while hurdles remain, drilling advocates said they are close to achieving their decades-long drive to tap billions of barrels of oil beneath the 1.5 million-acre coastal plain.
Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge... A.K.A. that barren wasteland chock full of oil and practically devoid of any life whatsoever. Have you ever seen photo's of where they plan to dig? Moonscapes appear more lush and vibrant.

GOP boards up the 'town hall'
A nice little article for those who only read the headlines. Sheesh.

Recruiting Goals Are in Harm's Way
WASHINGTON — The Army is unlikely to meet its 2005 recruiting goals for the National Guard and Reserves, with the prospect of lengthy deployments in Iraq scaring away potential recruits for the Army's active and reserve ranks, senior Defense officials said Wednesday.

The Pentagon is struggling for the second straight year to bolster the ranks of its troops once known as "weekend warriors" who now make up more than 40% of the 145,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq.
No mention of a draft, though. I keep telling people there isn't going to be a draft, but they are still stuck on campaign rhetoric. Besides, the year is far from over and statements that recruiting goals will fall short are pure speculation.

And lastly...
Debate on violent video games
Following a debate that ranged from the sweep of the 1st Amendment to whether children's psyches could be warped by blowing up imaginary space aliens, the Illinois House Wednesday voted to ban the sale of violent video games to minors.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's showcase initiative for the legislative session moved to the Senate on a 91-19 vote, but not before lawmakers raised questions that any parent nagged into letting their children buy a copy of "Halo" could relate to.

Under the bill, retailers would be forbidden from selling or renting to teenagers video games that are sexually explicit or that depict images of human-on-human violence. Does that mean games that merely blast space creatures are OK? asked Rep. Robert Molaro (D-Chicago).

"Killing an alien wouldn't fall under the bill," said Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora), the sponsor.

Would that apply to all aliens or only those who "just look like humans?" Molaro then asked.

"If it's an alien that looks like a human, which is an alien, yes," Chapa LaVia responded.

Later, she refined her interpretation this way: "If it was an alien that pretended to be a human, I guess then it's human. Then it would fall under this bill because it's human against human. ... How would we know he was an alien?"

Separating extraterrestrial, albeit digital, life forms from humankind wasn't the only conundrum vexing lawmakers.

Some wondered aloud whether a game based on something seemingly as innocent as a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, with more sedate mayhem practiced by witches and ogres and other odd beings, would run afoul of the new rules.

One lawmaker pondered whether a James Bond video could no longer be sold to minors if it portrayed 007's suave and sophisticated approach to rubbing out villains.

Even many who voted for Blagojevich's measure suggested it might not pass constitutional muster. Some acknowledged the political realities of feeling obliged to back a bill they felt uncomfortable with because to oppose it would leave them open to charges that they favored gore and mayhem.

Among those voting for the bill was Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who said he was doing so because "these are disgusting, violent and horrible games."

Yet, Lang said, "The truth of the matter is [the bill] is unconstitutional as drafted."


"Ladies and gentlemen of the House, where do you stop? If you go down this road, where do you stop?" Black implored, arguing that it should be up to parents and not the state to decide whether children can buy violent videos.
Amen, Brother!

The measure, the primary anti-violence initiative pushed by Blagojevich this year, would make sale to minors of violent or sexually explicit video games a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Stores still could sell such popular but bloody titles as "Grand Theft Auto San Andreas" and "Doom" to adults.

Seriously, though, I thought this was a free country...

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