Thursday, January 20, 2005

TODAY'S TOP FIVE: I Hereby Declare This An Inauguration-Free Zone.

Good News? For the first time ever, heart disease is no longer the number one killer of Americans: the number one killer of Americans is now circus accidents. No, just kidding, it's cancer. Although death rates from both diseases have been falling, the death rate from heart disease has plummeted, and actually cancer has been the number one killer since 2002 (there's evidently some kind of lag about making the announcement). If you'll study the chart, you'll see that the leading causes of death are almost all diseases, except for "injuries" and "suicide." Good morning.

How Low Can It Go? By "it," I mean the U.S. dollar. Warren Buffet, investor/businessman/evil capitalist extraordinaire, says there's no way to avoid a further devaluation of U.S. currency, barring a major change in trade policy. That's not going to make the Chinese central bank, which is currently keeping our debt-ridden economy afloat, any happier. Buffet, whose net worth is about $41 billion, also says he's having a hard trouble lately finding any stocks to invest in, "if that says anything about the state of the economy." It does, brah.

It's Time for the Cheap Shot of the Day In the wake of what they see as their major triumph, getting George W. Bush into the White House without a judicial coup, conservative Christian group Focus on the Family has a new agenda: fag-bashing a cartoon. That's right. The group is objecting to a video being distributed to elementary schools to encourage diversity, because the video features Spongebob Squarepants, who is apparently a "gay icon."

Jolly Bad Show Proving that it's not just Americans who are capable of bizarre, homoerotic torture of Iraqi civilians, the Brits are currently embroiled in an Abu Ghraib scandal of their own. The country that brought you the concentration camp is now facing military reports that the abuse of civilians was "widespread" under an operation code-named "Ali Baba."

War With East Asia Completed, Big Brother Looks to War With Eurasia Here's a great interview with Sy Hersh on what we're going to be in for in the next four years: war with Iran. As Hersh points out, one of the most interesting aspects of his big scoop was that the CIA has essentially been taken out of the intelligence-gathering process: All this stuff is being run out of the Pentagon now. The tentative plan, according to Hersh, is this: to coincide with the Sharon government's pullout from Gaza in the summer, the U.S. is going to strike three or four strategic targets in Iran and hope that this action foments a popular uprising against the government. So the good news is that the hawks don't foresee regime change by overwhelming force; the bad news is that these are the people who said the Iraqis would welcome our troops with flowers and candy.

-Consider Arms, Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You If the Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Your Country Itself