Homes in flood-hit Grantham moving to higher ground

The Queensland Government says a master plan will be finalised this weekend to rebuild the Lockyer Valley town of Grantham in the state’s southern region. Premier Anna Bligh says it was one of towns worst affected by flooding this summer.

Ms Bligh has told Parliament that Grantham will be the first to be declared a special area under the Queensland Reconstruction Authority legislation, speeding up planning and building processes.

She says a few residents want to leave the area, others want to rebuild where they are, but many want to move to a different part of town. “About half of those affected have indicated they want to relocate to higher ground in Grantham,” she said…

Ms Bligh says there will be no forced relocations when Grantham is rebuilt.

“These powers will be used to accelerate voluntary relocations and voluntary land swaps, so that those who want to relocate to higher ground can do so,” she said…

Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones says most residents want to build on higher ground, but the plan will cater for everyone…

“… we’re intending to offer an option to people who wish to move to higher land and re-establish and that’s a very big part of the master plan.”

A wee bit faster than Katrina, eh?

Republicans hate choosy women, birth control, the right to have a union and now – they would get rid of public schools!

Three potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates expressed hostility toward the public school system at a home schooling rally on Wednesday in the early presidential caucus state of Iowa.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul told the crowd government wants “absolute control” of the “indoctrination” of children. Paul spoke along with Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Georgia businessman Herman Cain.

“The public school system now is a propaganda machine,” Paul said, prompting applause from the crowd of hundreds of home schooling families. “They start with our kids even in kindergarten, teaching them about family values, sexual education, gun rights, environmentalism – and they condition them to believe in so much which is totally un-American.”

Bachmann said home schooling is the “essence” of freedom and liberty. “It’s about knowing our children better than the state knows our children,” she said.

“It is not up to a bureaucrat to decide what is best for your children,” Bachmann said, drawing cheers from the crowd. “I am so tired of the establishment telling us that they know best. We know best…”

Cain, former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza and another prospective Republican candidate, denounced government involvement in education at all levels.

“That’s all we want is for government to get out of the way so we can educate ourselves and our children the old-fashioned way,” Cain said.

Justin LaVan of the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators said it was encouraging to see potential presidential candidates talking about the home-schooling movement.

“More importantly, talking about our Creator – our rights that came from our Creator, acknowledging that and giving him the glory, folks,” said LaVan, who served as master of ceremonies at the rally.

Hallelujah – have a snake!

I should say “seriously – something or other” right now; but, these retrograde demagogues can’t be taken seriously except as a threat to the Bill of Rights and the American Constitution.

We are a nation that has grown on the ethic of individual freedoms. Something these jokers include in every speech – while they advocate government control to prevent choice, government control to halt negotiated contracts between workers and employers, government control to monitor individuals who feel they have the freedom to choose family planning over mindless procreation – and if the government won’t step in and mandate allegiance to whichever religion is in favor this week among bible-thumping Republicans – well, then, they advocate crushing what opportunity there is in this land to provide free public education.

By the way, our rights came from the struggles of ordinary people who fought against reactionaries like this for decades to achieve what we have. Not from Charlton Heston marching down a movie mountainside. Even the freedom to be a religious nutcase came from political battles against oppressors ranging from Kings to Klan members.

Disclaimer: it makes me a bit sad even to call these fools Republicans. I grew up with traditional North American conservatives. People who cared for the dignity of those they disagreed with as strongly as their arguments. People who cared for the land and nature and the freedom of the ocean and prairie – as much as their pride in invention.

These people calling themselves Republicans, today, are less Republican than George Wallace, David Duke, Father Coughlin and all the bigots who tried previously to take over that once-principled party.

Taco Rage in Texas

SAN ANTONIO, TX — A Taco Bell drive-through customer who became enraged because of a price increase on Beefy Crunch Burritos fired a BB gun through the window at a manager on Sunday, police said.

No one was hurt from the shots fired by the man, who also waved a pistol and an assault rifle in the parking lot, Police Sergeant Chris Benavides said.

As the restaurant’s employees and customers hit the floor, the manager called police, and when officers arrived, the angry patron fired several shots at the police cars, Benavides said.

The man then barricaded himself inside a nearby motel room, sparking a standoff that lasted until police lobbed tear gas inside and the man surrendered.

Benavides said the burritos had been sold for 99 cents each as a promotion, but the man was apparently angry that the promotion had ended, and the price had gone up to $1.49.

Like, if you get this much of a reaction over the end of a special on burritos, how about something truly important like – say – the Dallas Cowboys moving to Los Angeles?

China is banning smoking in public places

A smoking ban at all indoor public venues on the Chinese mainland will take effect on May 1, the Ministry of Health said, though specific penalties or responsibilities for enforcement have not been set.

In a document released on Tuesday, the ministry for the first time included detailed anti-smoking rules: no-smoking signs must be displayed, outdoor smoking areas should not affect pedestrian traffic, and no vending machines will sell cigarettes. Notably, it suggested that public venue operators should educate customers about the health hazards of smoking and passive smoking and try to stop those who smoke.

China has more than 300 million smokers on the mainland, statistics from the World Health Organization show, and nearly 1.2 million Chinese people die from smoking-related diseases each year – making up one-fifth of the world total…

Previously, the ministry had ordered all hospitals on the mainland to ban smoking indoors.

Apart from hospitals, the latest rules apply to places such as hotels, restaurants, bars and public transportation, according to Jiang Yuan, deputy director of the National Office of Tobacco Control.

“However, workplaces are not covered,” she said.

Step by step – the longest march – can be won.

Many stones can form an arch, Singly none, singly none.

US soldier admits killing unarmed Afghans for sport – WTF?

An American soldier has pleaded guilty to being part of a “kill team” who deliberately murdered Afghan civilians for sport last year.

Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, 23, told a military court he had helped to kill three unarmed Afghans. “The plan was to kill people, sir,” he told an army judge in Fort Lea, near Seattle, after his plea.

The case has caused outraged headlines around the world. In a series of videotaped confessions to investigators, some of which have been broadcast on American television, Morlock detailed how he and other members of his Stryker brigade set up and faked combat situations so that they could kill civilians who posed no threat to them. Four other soldiers are still to come to trial over the incidents.

The case is a PR disaster for America’s military and has been compared to the notorious incidents of torture that emerged from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. This week the German magazine Der Spiegel published three pictures that showed American soldiers, including Morlock, posing with the corpse of a young Afghan boy as if it were a hunting trophy.

Some soldiers apparently kept body parts of their victims, including a skull, as souvenirs. In a statement issued in response to the publication of the photos the US army apologised to the families of the dead. “[The photos are] repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States army,” the statement said.

Violent criminal behavior is repugnant to civilized people the world over. Taking murder to the level of sport is not only reprehensible – you have to wonder, to question, the “values” that this thug learned in his young years.

And where they came from?

130 illegals arrested – with a history of illegal activity

In a three-day law enforcement sweep in Northern Virginia, immigration authorities arrested 130 foreign nationals with criminal records, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced Wednesday.

“If you’re committing crimes here in our communities and you’re here unlawfully, it’s time for you to go home,” said the agency’s director, John Morton. He said 76 of the 130 arrested had multiple criminal convictions and 10 of them had previously been deported and returned illegally to the United States.

The majority of those arrested in the latest edition of what the agency calls Operation Cross Check are illegal immigrants, Morton said. But some were here legally, he said, although he could not provide a specific number. Morton indicated their legal status could be in jeopardy depending on the seriousness of their crimes.

A news release issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement said at least four legal residents were among those arrested, and it listed past convictions for such crimes as sexual assault, grand larceny and abuse and neglect of children.

According to agency officials, the people caught in the sweep, which ended Tuesday, have past convictions for rape, assault, burglary, drug possession and other crimes. Eight fugitives also were arrested during the roundup, as well as 21 people who do not have criminal convictions but are in the United States illegally…

The director said his agency is paying serious attention to DUI offenses but focuses its resources on the most serious offenders, such as alleged murderers and rapists. “But we’re all about trying to identify and remove everyone who is committing crime and here unlawfully,” Morton said.

Of course if you live in a town like Santa Fe, you’re breaking the law by attempting to catch lawbreakers who also happen to be illegal immigrants.

Yup. Local ordnance is muy simpatico to undocumentados. Maybe more so than they are to local coppers who get the flak when someone ends up back on the streets who is wanted for crimes more serious that which prompted arrest in Santa Fe.