January 1st, 2009

' jules
  • schmiss

Quit yer bitchin'.

Chief justice pleads for higher judicial salaries

Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts renewed his call for higher judicial pay on Wednesday, warning of long-term damage to the fabric of the courts.

In his annual year-end report, Roberts noted judges' salaries have declined over the past two decades when measured against inflation, causing many judges to leave the bench for more lucrative jobs in the private sector.

Roberts, 53, and other judges have said a crisis in the administration of justice could result if the bench cannot attract "judges who are the best of the best."

"I must renew the judiciary's modest petition: Simply provide cost-of-living increases that have been unfairly denied," wrote Roberts. "We have done our part -- it is long past time for Congress to do its."

The last time judges received a substantial pay increase was 1991, but they have received periodic increases designed to keep pace with inflation.

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Current salary for the Chief Justice: $217,400/yr
Current salary for federal court judges: $175,100/yr
Current salary for district court judges: $165,200/yr
Median income for an American worker: $26,036/yr

Well ok then.

"The dumbest people I know are those who know it all." -- Malcome Forbes

AIDS skeptic Christine Maggiore dies in LA at 56


LOS ANGELES - Christine Maggiore, an activist who vehemently denied that HIV causes AIDS, declined to take anti-AIDS drugs and sued Los Angeles County for stating that her 3-year-old daughter succumbed to AIDS-related pneumonia, has died. She was 52.

Maggiore died at her Van Nuys home on Saturday. She had been treated for pneumonia in the past six months, but her official cause of death was pending, county coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter said Tuesday.

He said it was unclear whether her death was AIDS-related. She was diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus in 1992.

A call to her home seeking comment from her husband, Robert Scovill, was not answered.

For a year after her diagnosis, Maggiore was a volunteer at AIDS shelters and spoke about the risks of the virus at health fairs and schools. She began to change her views in 1993 when she had more HIV tests that gave contradictory results, some negative and some positive.


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(Graphic made by yours truly!)

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Spiegel.de's 2008 - The Year In Photos

January 11, 2008

Smoking rage: A man attends a memorial in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, for assassinated Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

January 22, 2008 David meets Goliath: An inflatable boat owned by Greenpeace maneuvers between a ship belonging to the Japanese whaling fleet (right) and a supply ship in an attempt to disrupt a refuelling.

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Check out all the 42 photos at the source

  • bispo

Fox News allows ‘magic negro’ New Year’s message to be broadcast

Throughout last night’s New Year’s eve broadcast, Fox News Channel allowed viewers to send in New Year’s greetings and wishes via text message. The messages were then scrolled across the bottom of the screen, replacing Fox’s normal crawling news headlines. While most messages were cordial, Fox allowed at least one racist message directed toward President-elect Obama to be broadcast. The message referenced Rush Limbaugh’s “Barack the Magic Negro” song:
Watch it (watch text at bottom):
(HT: Qazster)

Mumbai finds its resiliency

Three weeks after the terrorist attacks, life in this sprawling city is getting back to normal, or close to it.

THE flight into Mumbai was late, and it was nearly 2 a.m. when we stumbled into the car our hotel had sent to pick us up. Walking out of the airport, my girlfriend and I were bathed in klieg-like lights shining down on what appeared to be an endless sea of people crowded behind a police barrier - families waiting for relatives; drivers searching for passengers; vendors and beggars, policemen and businessmen; and every other form of Mumbaikar humanity. Or so it seemed to us.

That's your first impression of this sprawling city of 16 million - the feeling that there are people just everywhere, spilling into streets, crowded into tiny storefronts, filling up giant slums, even milling about international airports at 2 in the morning. Shanghai and Beijing may have more inhabitants, but they don't feel like this.

We arrived there three weeks after the Mumbai terrorist attacks, a horrifying three-day ordeal in which more than 170 were killed and some of old Bombay's most notable landmarks, including the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower and the Oberoi hotel, were left looking like they had been through a war. Which, of course, they had been. After beginning their murderous spree at the famous Victoria rail station, which is now called the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the terrorists had moved through the fashionable streets of the Colaba district, finally holing up in the two hotels, where they killed guests and staff indiscriminately, and then settled in for a 60-hour siege.

I have been trying to remember what New York was like three weeks after 9/11. Had the mood brightened visibly? Were we starting to get our bearings back? Were we telling jokes again? My memory is that the return to normalcy was still in its early stages - that we were still traumatized, still looking back on the events of that awful day almost obsessively. It was impossible to walk down a street in New York City and not see photographs of missing people or wreaths and memorials at fire stations.

But three weeks after these attacks, Mumbai wasn't like that, at least not on the surface. Although the newspapers had already labeled the attacks 26/11 (Nov. 26), you didn't hear the phrase very often in polite conversation. Nor did you see the kinds of instant memorials - the candles and wreaths and signs - that have become so common in the West when disaster strikes. Life was already back to normal, or close to it. "For you, 9/11 was a once in a lifetime event," one businessman told me. "We have bombings once a month."

The primary way you felt the events of 26/11 was in the heightened security: the dogs sniffing your bags as you entered the new Four Seasons hotel; the pat-down as you went through the metal detector at the hotel entrance; the soldiers, everywhere, behind embankments, their high-powered rifles at the ready. Some of these measures had been around for a long time, but others were new, a reaction to the attacks. I had lunch one afternoon at the Taj Lands End, a high-end hotel under the umbrella of the Tata Group, which also includes the Taj Palace & Tower. It was like a ghost town. "Before the attacks, this lobby would have had a lot of people in it," said my lunch companion, Jerry Rao, a well-known Indian entrepreneur. "Now ..." His voice trailed off sadly.

On my first day, when I asked my driver how the city was feeling about the attacks, he shrugged. "That's over," he said. And yet, later in the morning, seeing that I had a free hour to kill, he decided to give an impromptu tour. He drove me past the majestic, damaged Taj - beloved by Indians because it was built by the great Indian industrialist, Jamshedji Tata, 105 years ago, as the first luxury hotel in the city that booked Indian as well as white guests. It looked desolate and sad, its lights off, inaccessible behind the police tape. We drove past the already reopened Leopold Café and Bar, where several people had been killed. "Look down there," said my driver. "See that white building?" I craned my neck. That was the Nariman House, where a rabbi from Brooklyn, Gavriel Holtzberg, and his wife, Rivka, were killed.
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  • bispo

Joe Klein Says, Welcome to Yoda's World

Eight years ago, at the brackish dawn of the second Bush era, TIME offered a list of potential national-security wise men. One was Brent Scowcroft. "Yoda of Dad's foreign policy team, will consult unseen in son's White House," we predicted, inaccurately. Instead, Scowcroft proved a demure scold. He opposed the Iraq invasion, publicly, in the Wall Street Journal. He scorned the neoconservatives and hard-power nationalists who controlled George W. Bush's foreign policy. In return, Scowcroft's brand of low-key "realism" was derided as milquetoasty by the neocons. The nickname stuck, however, among his associates at the Scowcroft Group: Yoda, he was. A fount of common sense, he remains. And so a not-so-bold prediction: "Yoda of Bush the Elder's foreign policy team will consult unseen in Barack Obama's White House."

Actually, Scowcroft already has consulted by phone with the President-elect. And Obama's national-security team easily could have been selected by Yoda himself. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was Scowcroft's deputy in the first Bush White House. The incoming National Security Adviser, General James Jones, has been "close to" Scowcroft for years, according to an associate. Jones was Scowcroft's choice to lead the Atlantic Council, a redoubt of the foreign policy priesthood meant to encourage the American alliance with Europe (and therefore the very sort of institution disdained by the latter Bush's team). Gates, Jones and Scowcroft share not only a philosophy but also a style that suits the President-elect perfectly: they are "no drama" practitioners.

There were two signal moments during Scowcroft's tour as Bush the Elder's National Security Adviser that seem relevant to the job ahead for Obama. One was the patient construction of a vast international alliance to oppose Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait--the alliance Bush the Younger was unable to construct when he invaded Iraq. The other moment, perhaps more significant in retrospect, occurred when Scowcroft and his boss agreed that it wouldn't be prudent for the President to go to Berlin to celebrate the fall of the wall in 1989. Didn't want them to feel "we were sticking our thumb in their eye," Bush the Elder allegedly said of the Russians, a strategy that proved essential to the quiet reunification of Germany, another Bush Administration success. (Yoda might have advised against Obama's splashy trip to Berlin last summer.) This sort of nuanced, civilized foreign policy was eschewed during the latter Bush's reign, an Oedipal idiocy. It is likely to return now. Nuance, negotiation, alliances, diplomacy--and the use of force only in concert with others or when U.S. interests are directly threatened--are back.

Scowcroft gave a typically succinct summation of his philosophy in a recent book, America and the World, which is a series of conversations between Yoda and Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, presided over by David Ignatius of the Washington Post. "The United States ought to be on the side of trying to achieve maybe a little more than it can. But not too much," Scowcroft says. "When we say we are going to make the world democratic, that's too much. And in the attempt, as we are seeing right now, we risk creating more harm than good."

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  • sfdsock

Alabama Soldier Charged with Sexually Assaulting Another Male Soldier

"What started as a fun Friday night out in Columbus for a group of off-duty Fort Benning soldiers, allegedly turned violent for one. Police say the group of friends came back to a home on 20th Street in Phenix City. In the early morning hours on Saturday, one male soldier tells Phenix City investigators he woke up to another male soldier sexually assaulting him. Police have arrested and charged 24-year-old Christopher Whitfield with sexual abuse in the first degree." [WVTM]
  • sfdsock

Unsafe sex among Asian Pacific Islander men.

Gay Racism and unsafe sex among Asian Pacific Islander men.
Although reported cases of HIV/AIDS among gay Asian Pacific Islander (API) American men and API men who have sex with men (MSM) are still relatively low, current research findings indicate that incidences of unsafe sexual activity may be higher for this group than for any other group. Among the explanations offered to explain the levels of increasing unsafe sex among gay API men have been sexual norms found in Asian cultures, the lack of culturally relevant and/or linguistically appropriate intervention material, lack of integration into the mainstream gay community, and internalized homophobia. What are often ignored in these analyses are the contextual norms in which sexual behavior for gay API men occur. In this article, I develop the argument that racism within the gay community leads to socially and contextually prescribed sexual roles for gay API men that may also contribute to the practice of unsafe sex among this group.

Source is locked.

Alternative article by the same author: Chopsticks Don't Make it Culturally Competent: Explaining Unsafe Sex Among Gay Asian Men


Daylight for Caroline

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who last week sharply questioned whether Caroline Kennedy should be appointed to the US Senate, said yesterday he's rethinking his views because he believes Gov. Paterson may soon pick her.

"I have determined there's a good possibility she will be the appointee of the governor," Silver, the state's second most powerful Democrat, told The Post.

"If she is the appointee of the governor, I will certainly be supportive of her. I will work for her and will work strenuously for her election."

Last week, Silver said Kennedy seemed more loyal to Mayor Bloomberg, who has twice defeated Democratic opponents, than she was to Paterson.

He also said he was unhappy with Kennedy's less than 100 percent commitment to support the Democratic candidate who'll run against Bloomberg, who was twice elected as a Republican, this year.

Asked if he was now more favorably inclined toward Kennedy then he was last week, Silver responded, "Yes, it's true."

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Slow Mo Guys - Gavin

4 arrested in N. California gang rape of lesbian

4 arrested in N. California gang rape of lesbian

Thu Jan 1, 6:12 pm ET

RICHMOND, Calif. – Two men and two teens have been arrested on suspicion of gang-raping a woman last month in the San Francisco Bay area while allegedly taunting her for being a lesbian, police said Thursday.

Officers arrested Humberto Hernandez Salvador at his Richmond home Wednesday night, Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan said. The 31-year-old is being held without bail on gang rape, kidnapping and carjacking charges.

Police on Wednesday also arrested a 15-year-old Richmond boy and a 16-year-old Hercules boy, who were being held at a juvenile detention center on similar charges. Their names were not released.

Josue Gonzalez, 21, turned himself in Thursday after police announced they were searching for him. He was wanted on a $1 million arrest warrant on charges of gang rape, kidnapping and carjacking.

Gagan said Gonzalez asked for an attorney when he turned himself in but said nothing about his alleged role in the attack.

Police would not detail each person's alleged involvement in the attack but said tips from local residents led to the arrests.

Detectives say the 28-year-old victim was attacked on Dec. 13 after she got out of her car, which bore a rainbow gay pride sticker. The alleged attackers made comments indicating they knew she was a lesbian, police said.

Authorities have characterized the case as a hate crime. Police said the victim lives openly with a female partner.

The 45-minute attack started when one of the men approached the woman in the street, struck her with a blunt object, ordered her to disrobe and sexually assaulted her with the help of the others, according to detectives.

When the group saw another person approaching, they forced the victim back into her car and took her to a burned-out apartment building. She was raped again inside and outside the vehicle and left naked outside the building while the alleged assailants took her wallet and drove off in her car, police said.


All the hate crime lately is just depressing.

The Evil Behind the Smiles

The Evil Behind the Smiles
By Nicholas D. Kristof

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia

Western men who visit red-light districts in poor countries often find themselves surrounded by coquettish teenage girls laughingly tugging them toward the brothels. The men assume that the girls are there voluntarily, and in some cases they are right.

But anyone inclined to take the girls’ smiles at face value should talk to Sina Vann, who was once one of those smiling girls.

Sina is Vietnamese but was kidnapped at the age of 13 and taken to Cambodia, where she was drugged. She said she woke up naked and bloody on a bed with a white man — she doesn’t know his nationality — who had purchased her virginity.

After that, she was locked on the upper floors of a nice hotel and offered to Western men and wealthy Cambodians. She said she was beaten ferociously to force her to smile and act seductive.
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