March 29th, 2009


And also in Obama's ancestral Irish village . . .

Hey, it's not just Brooklyn that's slapping our new prez up on their storefronts. Looks like they're selling pizza, burgers, and fries.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Moneygall, Ireland: A village of Obama family-tree huggers
The president's great-great-great-grandfather emigrated from the speck on the Irish map, and residents couldn't be prouder.
By Henry Chu

March 13, 2009

Reporting from Moneygall, Ireland — Until recently, Moneygall's most famous son wasn't even human. It was a horse, Papillon, who streaked to the title as a long shot in a nail-biter at Britain's prestigious Grand National race in 2000.

But for months now, the modest sign marking Papillon's achievement has been muscled aside by pictures celebrating the new hero in this tiny pit stop on the Dublin-to-Limerick road: President Obama -- or, as they like to call him here, Barack O'Bama.

An out-of-the-blue call from the United States, some yellowing church records and an iPhone-toting priest have earned bragging rights for Moneygall as the "ancestral home" -- one of them, anyway -- of the leader of the free world.

How the family connection came about is the quintessential story of America as a nation of immigrants and Ireland as a land that supplied them, including Obama's great-great-great-granddaddy on his mother's side, a cobbler from Moneygall. How the tie was unearthed more than 100 years later and how news of it spread across the globe is a testament to 21st century instant communication, Obama's star power in Europe and the natural gregariousness of the Irish.

Since the discovery of its link to Obama a little less than two years ago, Moneygall (population 298) has been catapulted out of its sleepy backwater and into the international spotlight.
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Krugman on his own appearance on Newsweek's cover

March 28, 2009, 4:43 pm

The magazine cover effect
Paul Krugman | "Conscience of a Liberal" blog

I’ve long been a believer in the magazine cover indicator: when you see a corporate chieftain on the cover of a glossy magazine, short the stock. Or as I once put it (I’d actually forgotten I’d said that), “Whom the Gods would destroy, they first put on the cover of Business Week.”

There’s even empirical evidence supporting the proposition that celebrity ruins the performance of previously good chief executives.

Presumably the same effect applies to, say, economists.

You have been warned.

ad | tobias

Gonzales probably never to visit Europe again, ever

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A top Spanish court has moved toward starting a probe of six former Bush administration officials including ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in connection with alleged torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, The New York Times said on Saturday.

The criminal investigation would focus on whether they violated international law by providing a legalistic justification for torture at the U.S. detention camp in Cuba, the Times said.

The paper said the National Court in Madrid had assigned the case to judge Baltasar Garzon, known for ordering the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Garzon has accepted the case and sent it to the prosecutor's office for review, the newspaper said, citing an official close to the case.

The complaint, prepared by Spanish lawyers with the help of U.S. and European legal experts, also names John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who wrote secret legal opinions saying the president had the authority to circumvent the Geneva Conventions, and Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense for policy.

Spain can claim jurisdiction in the case because five Spanish citizens or residents who were prisoners at Guantanamo Bay say they were tortured there.

The other Americans named are William Haynes II, former general counsel for the Department of Defense; Jay Bybee, Yoo's former boss at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel; and David Addington, chief of staff and legal adviser to ex-Vice President Dick Cheney.

Yoo, already the subject of a Justice Department ethics investigation, declined to comment to the Times. The others either could not be reached or did not immediately respond to requests for comment, the Times said.

Gonzalo Boye, a Madrid lawyer who filed the complaint, said the six Americans had well-documented roles in approving illegal interrogation techniques, redefining torture and abandoning the definition set by the 1984 Torture Convention, the newspaper said.


An official said in the NYT that it was "highly probable that it could lead to arrest warrants".
Shirley Animated

Controlling the Means of Reproduction: An Interview w/ Michelle Goldberg

On January 20th the first self-identified feminist was named President of the United States of America. Just two days after taking office, Barack Obama performed his first presidential act of solidarity with women around the world by repealing the Global Gag Rule. Established in 1984 by President Reagan, the Global Gag Rule denies aid to international groups "which perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning." The Global Gag Rule has come to be seen as a litmus test of the current US President's stance on women's rights, though it is just one aspect of the complicated story of the impact of American reproductive rights policy in countries around the globe.

After witnessing the impact of President Bush's reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, Michelle Goldberg, journalist, author, and long-time critic of the Bush Administration's policies on sexual and reproductive health, decided that a book about the global battle for reproductive justice was long overdue. So she wrote The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World. The cover art depicting a woman holding the Earth on her shoulders is more than appropriate for this deeply-researched, historically-informed examination: fifty years worth of research about four continents has convinced Goldberg that women's oppression is at the crux of many of the world's most intractable challenges. She illustrates how US policies act as a catalyst for or an impediment to women's rights worldwide, and puts forth a convincing argument that women's liberation worldwide is key to solving some of our most daunting problems. "Underlying diverse conflicts - demography, natural resources, human rights, and religious mores - is the question of who controls the means of reproduction," she writes. "Women's intimate lives have become inextricably tied to global forces."

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Shirley Animated

New York City Bill Would Protect Clinic Patients from Harassment

It's hard enough for patients to access health care these days. Thanks to the recession, more and more men, women and families are losing their health insurance or simply can't afford their co-pays at the doctor.

The last thing anyone needs is yet another barrier standing in the way of health care, especially when that barrier takes the form of threats, intimidation, and physical barriers to clinics. Yet for patients visiting any one of the numerous reproductive health care clinics across New York City, that's exactly what they may run into. Luckily, thanks to the courageous leadership of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the New York City Council is reviewing legislation that will protect both patients and clinics from the vicious harassment that yes, still goes on in our city every day. It's called the Clinic Access Bill, and will among other things protect clinic patients and staff from malicious harassment. Now, more than ever, is the time to pass this legislation. Because we're not just talking about rights and policy: the health of women and their families is at stake.

It's no secret that we're in a recession. The national unemployment rate is the highest it's been since 1983, and New York's unemployment funds have been exhausted, leaving our state to rely on federal aid to help the growing ranks of jobless New Yorkers. Anecdotally, our clinic is hearing stories of women who are putting off visiting their own doctors so they can afford to take their child to the pediatrician, or can pay their rent and groceries that month.

Ironically, reproductive health care is all too often women's primary health care. It's where they get their checkups, where they go for cancer screenings, and often the one doctor women go to before all others. Many reproductive health care clinics are safety net providers, and make quality medical care available for free or for a sliding scale cost.

So that's why I find it so worrying when I see zealous protestors outside of the clinic I work at, and outside of our partner clinics across the city. That's why it's a problem when protestors block the access to clinic doors, or grab patients on their way into an appointment, or as happened at one clinic in the Bronx, knock the clinic staff down on their way to work.
The worst part about it is that these protestors represent a small minority, Most New Yorkers are pro-choice, and support keeping clinics and patients safe from harassment.

To be sure, everyone has a right to his or her opinion, and to make that opinion known. But there's a difference between freedom of speech and harassment. Intimidation has never been a constitutionally protected right.

So thank you, Christine Quinn and the New York City Council, for helping to make sure this important legislation passes. Because in these troubled times we should be making sure there are as few barriers as possible to people seeking care. Our health and lives depend on it.


NYC should enact something like the Bubble Law that we have in Colorado.

Connecticut School Bans Physical Contact

Connecticut School Bans Physical Contact

East Shore M.S. Outlaws "High-Fives," "Hugging" And Horseplay Of Any Kind; Violators May Face Expulsion

Connecticut middle school principal has laid down the law: You put your hands on someone -- anyone -- in any way, you're going to pay.

A violent incident that put one student in the hospital has officials at the Milford school implementing a "no touching" policy, according to a letter written by the school's principal.

East Shore Middle School parents said the change came after a student was sent to the hospital after being struck in the groin.
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Tax havens eye uncertain future after concessions

Tax havens eye uncertain future after concessions

"Who pays?" asks a neon artwork in wealthy Liechtenstein's elegant black granite cube of a museum.

That question is of more than artistic interest to the family that rules the tiny principality and their 35,000 subjects. Prince Alois agreed earlier this month to start following the rules set down by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Europe aimed at curbing tax havens — like his scenic patch of mountain valley between Switzerland and Austria, which owes much of its prosperity to its role as a place to put money.

Liechtenstein is hardly alone.
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'Italian Fritzl' and son held in incest case

Police in Italy say they have arrested a grandfather and his son for allegedly sexually abusing the elder man's daughter for more than a 25 years, in a case likened to Austria's Josef Fritzl.

The area of Turin where the family at the center of Italy's incest case lives.

The area of Turin where the family at the center of Italy's incest case lives.

The 41-year-old son, identified by police only by the pseudonym Giovanni, was arrested February 16; his 64-year-old father was arrested March 16, Turin Police Inspector Iolanda Seri told CNN Saturday.

Both men were imprisoned, and were charged with sexual abuse of their daughter and sister, who is now 34 and has been identified by the pseudonym Laura. Both men have denied wrongdoing.

Giovanni is also charged with sexually abusing the eldest of his own four daughters, who are aged 21, 20, 11 and 6, Seri said.

Though only the eldest of his daughters has accused Giovanni of attempting to molest her, police -- basing their accusations on phone intercepts -- have also accused him of molesting his 11-year-old in front of the 6-year-old girl.

Laura and Giovanni have another sister and seven other brothers, police said.

The case began to emerge last October, when Laura ran away from her father's house to seek shelter at her brother's house, Seri said.

Seri said police missed a chance to intervene 15 years ago, when Laura was 19. That was when she first ran away from home and complained to police that her father had made sexual advances, Seri said.

But the Turin prosecutor and the psychiatrist who investigated in 1994 did not believe her assertions that she had been sexually molested since age 9, Seri said.


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 Columbia rocketed by father-daughter incest case

A Colombian man accused of sexually abusing his daughter from a young age and fathering eight children with her has been arrested, causing an outcry over the lack of child protection in the Andean nation.


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Shirley Animated

In troubled times, vasectomies snip and prosper

Dr. J. Stephen Jones had seven vasectomies to perform in a day.

The schedule for Jones, a Cleveland, Ohio, urologist, has become more crowded during a recent boom in vasectomies.

"My staff came to me and said, what's happening?" said Jones, the chairman of the Department of Regional Urology of Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. "Why are we suddenly having an explosion in guys asking for vasectomies?"

They looked at their statistics and realized the uptick started around November as the economic crisis deepened. October went down in the history books as one of Wall Street's worst months.

Since then, the Cleveland Clinic has seen a 50 percent increase in vasectomies, an outpatient surgery that is the cheapest form of permanent birth control. Vasectomies are less invasive and cheaper than tubal ligation, which involves blocking, tieing or cutting a woman's fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy.

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Honestly, it's a good idea.

Obama's Bailout

Obama's Bailout
The Nobel Prize-winning economist says there's only one problem with the president's $787 billion stimulus plan: It isn't big enough.

By Paul Krugman


If these were normal times, it would be ludicrous to issue a report card on the Obama administration's economic policies. Only a few weeks have passed since the new president was sworn in, and many important economic positions have yet to be filled. As some wags put it, we're still at the stage when officials are trying to find their way to the bathroom.

But these aren't normal times. Barack Obama took office in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a crisis requiring immediate action. Indeed, some people, myself included, had hoped that the outgoing Bush administration would work with the incoming team, allowing Obama to take action before moving into the White House. But it soon became clear that as Obama tries to deal with the crisis, he will get no help from Republican leaders. Instead, he'll face obstruction and lies.

So our new president is on his own, scrambling to meet a crisis that is far worse now than it was when he won the 2008 election. How's he doing?

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I know that Obama has to be extremely careful with his economic recovery plan (seeing as if he fucks up, the country will systematically follow him), but I wish he would take a strong stand on something and stop being so cautious. Thoughts, ontd_p?

I'm getting really pissed off.

Defense Secretary Gates: Military Gay Ban Repeal 'Down the Road'


On FOX News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates about White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' statement earlier this year that "yes," Obama planned to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Said Gates: "[DADT] continues to be the law, and any change in the policy would require a change in the law. We will follow the law whatever it is. That dialogue, though, has really not progressed very far at this point in the administration. I think the president and I feel like we've got a lot on our plates right now and let's push that one down the road a little bit."


I'm so sick of these excuses about tabling gay rights.  "Well we have a lot on our plate" "BUT THE ECONOMY!!111"

UHM, it's not going to take much time and effort to fucking repeal this law.  And you're losing more and more capable troops as we speak.  We were lead to believe that DADT was going to be one of the first things Obama dealt with when he got into office.  And now who knows if he'll even do anything in this term.
[baseball] sweet lou

Since it is quite a news day for gay issues....

Dean urges passage of same-sex marriage bill

BURLINGTON -- A boisterous crowd cheered former Gov. Howard Dean's support of Freedom to Marry legislation and health care reform Saturday at a Vermont Democratic Party reception at the Hilton Burlington.

Dean's emotional endorsement of both issues headlined his acceptance of the 10 annual David W. Curtis Award.

The event celebrated Dean's tenure as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee -- and his 50-state strategy that is credited for helping return the party to power in Congress, and for President Barack Obama's victory.

Dean urged Vermont party members to press forward in this year's legislative drive to grant marriage rights to all Vermonters, regardless of gender.

"Vote your conscience, not your district," he advised legislators.

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MISC - moustache

Guardian investigation uncovers evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza

The Guardian has compiled detailed evidence of alleged war crimes committed by Israel during the 23-day offensive in the Gaza Strip earlier this year, involving the use of Palestinian children as human shields and the targeting of medics and hospitals.

A month-long investigation also obtained evidence of civilians being hit by fire from unmanned drone aircraft said to be so accurate that their operators can tell the colour of the clothes worn by a target.

The testimonies form the basis of three Guardian films which add weight to calls this week for a full inquiry into the events surrounding Operation Cast Lead, which was aimed at Hamas but left about 1,400 Palestinians dead, including more than 300 children.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) refused to respond directly to the allegations made against its troops, but issued statements denying the charges and insisted international law had been observed.

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Documentaries on the, in one piece on Youtube


And Michael Steele continues to make no fucking sense...

Steele: "I'm Done" Reaching Out To Obama (VIDEO)


RNC Chairman Michael Steele said he is "done" reaching out to the president, having apparently been rebuffed in his previous attempts to start a dialogue. In an interview with CNN that aired over the weekend, the Maryland Republican said he could detect no bipartisanship coming from the White House, stating that Barack Obama "has got a little thing about me that I haven't quite figured out."

The remarks were a new installment in yet another bizarre interview given by the Republican National Committee chair. As aired earlier, Steele told CNN that he would contemplate a presidential run if God told him the time was right. He also claimed to have strategically planned his squabble with Rush Limbaugh, in which he called the radio talk show host's work incendiary and ugly.

In the clips that aired on CNN this weekend, Steele delved once more into the interpersonal psychoses of politics, quickly dismissing questions over whether he was jealous of Obama's ascension to the White House.

"What would I be jealous of?," he said. "I'm chairman of the RNC, so, what's your point? We both have leadership responsibilities and roles. I'm not equating the two. My point is: you are on your track. I'm on my track. You do your thing. I do my thing."


Steele, the President has more important things to do than talk to you.
Also: President of the United States >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Token Chairman of the RNC.

fleur de lis

Geithner-Krugman Feud Comes To A Head On Sunday Shows

by Rachel Weiner, Huffington Post

The high-profile policy duel between Tim Geithner and Paul Krugman came to a head on Sunday. Following the Treasury Secretary's appearance on ABC's "This Week (read/watch that interview here), Krugman participated in the panel session and made clear that he hadn't yet been convinced.

"It's a plan to rearrange the deck chairs and hope that that keeps us from hitting the iceberg," the Nobel Prize-winning economist said of Geithner's bank plan. "They've done some things very fast, but they've been very small things ... There's no way this could be enough."

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lol! Meghan McCain and Salman Rushdie Attend Perez Hilton's B'Day Party

Perez had his 34th birthday party at the Viper Room on Saturday night and a bunch of celebrities showed up to kiss ass wish him a happy birthday.

I can't find a picture of Salman (maybe he didn't walk the red carpet?) but according to Perez's site he was there as well.

The guests were Amanda Bynes, Ashley Tisdale, Aubrey O'Day, Brittany Snow, Brittney Gastineau, Christina Aguilera, Cisco Adler, Dean and Dan Caten, Doug Reinhardt, Dr. Luke, Emmy Rossum, Ferras, Heidi Montag, Jamie King, Jeppe, Jessica Stroup, Jonas Brothers, Kim Kardashian, Lacey Schwimmer, Meghan McCain, Meiko, Paris Hilton, Pia Glenn, Ross Mathews, Salman Rushdie, Schwayze, Spencer Pratt, Steve-O and Tara Reid.

That's right, gerl.  Bring that Republican party into the 21st century.

There's a picture of her at WireImage of her entering the club with some guy but I can't find a big enough picture anywhere to make out who he is (if he's even famous).

SourceSource + Source