April 11th, 2009

barack eye

(no subject)

Ethical questions over harvesting dead son's sperm

DALLAS (AP) — Nikolas Colton Evans had talked about how much he wanted to have a child, but the 21-year-old died after he was punched and hit his head on the ground in a fight. That would have been the end of it, if it weren't for his determined mother, a court order and a urologist.

Missy Evans has harvested her dead son's sperm and hopes to find a surrogate and one day raise her son's child. It's a decision that ethicists say raises troubling questions; one called the potential offspring a "replacement child."

Evans isn't concerned about what others might think. She says she is only doing what her son would have wanted.

"He would love me so much for doing this," she said.

Austin police say Nikolas Evans was punched during a fight on an Austin street early March 27 and then fell to the ground, striking his head. He died April 5. Police are still trying to identify the person who hit him.

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movies | Impish Fräulein2

Biden says Cheney's "dead wrong"; Rove calls Biden "blowhard/liar".

Karl Rove called Joe Biden a "blowhard" and a "liar" in response to some of the vice president’s comments about the Bush administration.

"He’s a serial exaggerator. If I was being unkind I would say he’s a liar, but it’s a habit he ought to drop," Rove said on Fox News. "You should not exaggerate and lie like this when you are the vice president of the United States.

Rove's comments are the harshest and most pointed yet in an ongoing feud between Biden and Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney.

The former Bush adviser was referring to Biden’s comments earlier this week on CNN that he and President George W. Bush once had an exchange in the Oval Office, where Bush said, "Well, Joe ... I'm a leader," and Biden responded: "Mr. President, turn around and look behind you. No one is following."

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  1. I noticed Rove attempted to argue Biden couldn't have had "hours" worth of access to the president, as he was just some random senator at the time.

    He conveniently failed to mention that Biden was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee from 2001-2001, and 2007. That'll open up access to the president, and even to certain intel briefings relevant to national security, if necessary. Maybe Rove just 'forgot'.

  2. Seriously...pot says WHAT to the kettle?!

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Update on Scott Peterson

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Sitting in a 4-by-9-foot cell on San Quentin's Death Row, Scott Peterson doesn't have a lot of choices in life, but he can decide how to decorate his wall.

While many cons plaster their cells with pictorial collages, Peterson has only one photo hanging across from his bunk: a smiling shot of he and his wife, Laci.

It's a much different pose from his most recent mug shot – taken in June of 2007 – where his dark hair was clipped short by fellow cons in the exercise yard. Under his half-smiling face is a placard with his inmate number and the word: "Condemned."

Peterson, 36, was sentenced to death by lethal injection in March of 2005 after being convicted of murdering Laci and their unborn son, Conner, and tossing them in the San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve day of 2002. His case is on appeal, which means he isn't likely to face execution for two decades.

In the four years he has called San Quentin home, not much has changed except the view: eight months ago Peterson moved from a fifth tier cell on East Block with a slivered view of the bay to being "on the yard side," says Samuel Robinson, a lieutenant with the California Department of Corrections who has been at San Quentin since before Peterson arrived.

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I was kinda obsessed with the case.

Financial Rescue Nears GDP as Pledges Top $12.8 Trillion

The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or committed $12.8 trillion, an amount that approaches the value of everything produced in the country last year, to stem the longest recession since the 1930s.

New pledges from the Fed, the Treasury Department and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. include $1 trillion for the Public-Private Investment Program, designed to help investors buy distressed loans and other assets from U.S. banks. The money works out to $42,105 for every man, woman and child in the U.S. and 14 times the $899.8 billion of currency in circulation. The nation’s gross domestic product was $14.2 trillion in 2008.


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Quebec says 'non' to English-only video games

Quebec says 'non' to English-only video games

The French Canadian government of Quebec is saying non to English-only video games if French versions are available.

French language rules on video games come into force on April 1, prohibiting the sale of new English-only video games in Quebec if a French version is available.

Is this a smart move to get more video games into the hands of French speakers? Or, is it misguided, xenophobic protectionism? I'm going with the latter.
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David Schultz, DC Reporter, Harassed By Veteran Affairs Official

David Schultz, DC Reporter, Harassed By Veteran Affairs Official

The AP is reporting that the Veterans Affairs Department has agreed, following protests from various journalism groups, to return the recording equipment it seized from reporter David Schultz:

In a written statement to The Associated Press, VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts said the department "regrets this incident occurred" and as a result would hand back the flash drive that it took from WAMU reporter David Schultz at the VA Medical Center in Washington. WAMU is a National Public Radio affiliate in the capital.

"After reviewing all the facts surrounding the incident of April 7th and actions since, VA has arranged the return of the flash drive to WAMU," Roberts said. "We make every effort to protect the privacy of our patients and to ensure that they are able to make informed decisions about what information they release or discuss with the public while in a VA facility."

"The Department of Veterans Affairs regrets this incident occurred as we appreciate the interest of the press in covering veterans' issues," she added.
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Republican Bitch apologices for being racist

Texas Rep. Betty Brown Apologizes For Saying Asians Should Simplify Their Names

A Texas lawmaker under fire for saying that Asian-American voters should adopt names that are "easier for Americans" has apologized for her remarks.

State Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell, issued an apology Thursday for the comments made during a House Elections Committee hearing on April 7.

Brown said the remark came during a conversation on the difficulty of translating names and that she was referring to transliteration issues when she asked a representative of the Organization of Chinese Americans whether Asian-Americans could adopt names that "we could deal with more readily here."

Ramey Ko, the representative, had testified that people of Asian descent have problems voting because they sometimes list legal names that had been transliterated in addition to common English names on their driver's licenses or other identification.

Brown said she was not asking Ko to change his name.

New York City Councilman John C. Liu, who along with the Texas Democratic party had called on Brown to apologize, said in a statement that the apology was "a fair first step," but didn't go far enough. Liu said Brown's comments during the exchange with Ko went beyond the concept of transliteration.

Brown said in her apology that she understands the "diversity of Texas" and the "enrichment" that Asian-Americans have brought to the state.

Her spokesman, Jordan Berry, told The Associated Press on Saturday that Brown's comment was being used by opponents of voter identification to obscure the real issues involved.

"Ninety percent of Texans, Republicans and Democrats, want the voter ID legislation," he said, referring to a bill recently passed by the state Senate that would require photo identification to vote. "Let's move forward."

Warren waver on Prop 8 stuns leaders

Warren waver on Prop 8 stuns leaders

Evangelical leaders say they are bewildered and stunned by the Rev. Rick Warren's apparent turnaround on gay marriage after the famous California pastor said earlier this week that he was not a proponent of California's Proposition 8.

Mr. Warren told CNN's Larry King on Monday that he "never once even gave an endorsement" of the proposition, which said marriage in the state could only involve one man and one woman. The measure won at the polls last November by a close margin, in effect negating an earlier California Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriages.

Proponents of the proposition had gathered from earlier comments that Mr. Warren stood with them on the issue, and they reacted vigorously to his CNN interview.
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US Warships Block Help For Pirates Holding US Captain Hostage

US Warships Block Help For Pirates Holding US Captain Hostage

Cheering and guarded by Navy Seals, the crew of an American ship reached a Kenyan port Saturday evening without their captain, still held hostage by Somali pirates in a lifeboat hundreds of miles from shore.

Capt. Richard Phillips, 53, of Underhill, Vermont, was seized Wednesday when he thwarted the takeover of the 17,000-ton U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama, which was carrying food aid for hungry people in Somalia, Rwanda and Uganda. He told his crew to lock themselves in a cabin and surrendered himself to safeguard his men, crew members told stateside relatives.

"He saved our lives!" second mate Ken Quinn, of Bradenton, Florida, declared after he walked off the ship in the resort and port city of Mombasa. "He's a hero!"

The crew later overpowered some of the pirates but the Somalis fled with the captain to an enclosed lifeboat, the relatives said.

Quinn told reporters the experience was "terrifying and exciting at the same time."
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guardian.co.uk: New digital library to display world on a website

New digital library to display world on a website

Multimillion-dollar project will carry thousands of cultural treasures

Lizzy Davies in Paris - Thursday 9 April 2009

World Digital Library: Huexotzinco Codex, 1531

Huexotzinco Codex, 1531, documenting in pictographic language part of the testimony in a legal case against representatives of the colonial government in Mexico, ten years after the Spanish conquest in 1521. Photograph: Library of Congress

It is not every library that displays ancient Chinese manuscripts alongside postcards of Sarah Bernhardt, crumbling Iraqi newspapers near maps of the New World, and Rabelais originals next to the voice recording of a 101-year-old former slave named Fountain Hughes.

But then the World Digital Library (WDL) is not every library. Hailed as an online "intellectual cathedral", it is an unprecedented coming together of some of the world's finest treasures.

When it is launched at Unesco's headquarters in Paris this month, the website will be a digital looking-glass through which internet users can view and study tens of thousands of cultural gems from countries as diverse as Sweden, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

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Culture online

The World Digital Library is the latest project to digitise culture. The EU launched Europeana in November last year, digitising millions of books, artworks, manuscripts, maps, films and audio and video content from national libraries and galleries in Europe. It was so popular on the day it launched that the website crashed and was taken offline, but it is running again. It has artefacts from approximately 1,000 institutions and is expected to showcase 10m items by 2010. In January the Prado digitised 14 popular paintings and displayed them online at resolutions 1,400 times higher than a normal digital photo. Recently the British Library digitised more than 1,000 pieces of classical music and made them available online.

Lauren Goodchild (source)

This is a bit late, but this made me very happy reading and I didn't see it posted here. Yes! Sharing world culture/history!btw, I have no idea how to tag this..
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    modest mouse - gravity rides everything
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Michelle can't even garden in peace: pesticide lobbyists complain about organic White House garden.

Organic White House Garden Puts Some Conventional Panties in a Twist
by: Jill Richardson

In the aftermath of breaking ground on the new, 1100 square foot White House garden, Michelle Obama named chef Sam Kass to head the White House Food Initiative. And we know how Kass feels about food... he agrees with us!

All of this positive PR for organics feels very threatening to Big Ag. So one group, the Mid America CropLife Association, has sent an email defending chemical ag to Mrs. Obama. See the letter reprinted below.

After sending the letter, MACA [Mid America CropLife Association] forwarded it around to others, with the following message:

    Did you hear the news?  The White House is planning to have an "organic" garden on the grounds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the Obama's and their guests.  While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder.  As a result, we sent a letter encouraging them to consider using crop protection products and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy.  Read below for the entire letter.

Except one person on the forward list didn't shudder at the idea of an organic garden - and that's how the letter reached me.

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No 10 apology over 'slur' e-mails

Downing Street has apologised for e-mails sent by one of Gordon Brown's senior officials which reportedly discussed smearing top Conservatives.

The Daily Telegraph says the e-mails found their way to Paul Staines, writer of the Guido Fawkes blog, who described them as "obscene".

The offending e-mails were sent by Damian McBride, the prime minister's ex-political press officer.

A Number 10 spokesman said the messages were "juvenile and inappropriate".

The Tories said it was "absurd" that advisers were "plotting smear campaigns rather than focusing on how to help people affected by the downturn".

Their author was thought to have sent them to former government spin doctor Derek Draper, who runs a pro-Labour blog.

He branded the idea of an orchestrated Downing Street campaign as "ridiculous".

Mr Draper said he had been sent the comments after canvassing Labour supporters about the prospect of setting up another blog to combat "right wing tittle-tattle" posted on the web.

However, former home secretary Charles Clarke said Mr McBride's actions had brought "shame" to the Labour party and that he should be sacked.

The Daily Telegraph said the e-mails included unfounded allegations about Conservative leader David Cameron and shadow chancellor George Osborne.

"The e-mails are intended to be anonymous smears, they are obscene in cases, and would impossible for a newspaper to publish. They're libellous and they're untrue," Mr Staines told the BBC.

"In the e-mails, Damian McBride admits to using 'poetic licence'. He's a civil servant, he's exempt from the restrictions on being impartial and political, he's not exempt from telling the truth."

"The author of these emails has apologised for their juvenile and inappropriate nature and for the embarrassment caused.

"All staff will be reminded of the appropriate use of Number 10 resources."

Sauce: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7994408.stm

Interesting blog on the Grauniad's website: www.guardian.co.uk/global/blog/2009/apr/11/damian-mcbride-apology-leaked-emails-smear-campaign

What do people think about this? If rumours are to be believed, and the emails are bound to be leaked eventually, the "smears" transcend petty party politics and stray into personal allegations about the families of MPs. It all looks a little bit bad for the government: even if Damian McBride is the only head that rolls over this, his office is right next to the PM's in Number 10 and he has in the past proved himself to be one of Brown's closest and most loyal political allies. It may be hard for more senior members of the government to distance themselves from this one.

UPDATE: Damian Bride has resigned.


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Wokette: Is ACORN Seeking To Sabotage Teabagging Day?

Is ACORN Seeking To Sabotage Teabagging Day?

It is only five days until the National Tax Day Tea Party, when the Teabaggers will be cold GOIN’ GALT on this country’s ass! (Although that is illegal in Oregon.) They will not pay their taxes and will go to debtors’ prison because Obama is Stalin Whoops! And according to a secret e-mail forwarded from inside the Teabagger HQ, in Texas, we learn that the ACORNs will be reporting on “dissention” — directly to President Obama.
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Black Adam LOL
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Pictured: Shocking moment polar bear attacks woman who climbed into zoo enclosure

This is the terrifying moment a woman was attacked by a polar bear after jumping into its zoo enclosure.

The 32-year-old leapt over bars at Berlin Zoo during the bears' feeding time yesterday.

Despite six zookeepers' efforts to distract the four predators kept in the enclosure, the woman was bitten several times on her arms and legs.

Shocking attack: A woman was mauled by a bear after jumping into a enclosure at Berlin Zoo yesterday

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You can watch a video of the attack

ASU Renaming Scholarship Program After Obama

ASU Renaming Scholarship Program After Obama


After a day of withering criticism over its decision not to award President Barack Obama an honorary degree, Arizona State University announced on Saturday that it would expand a scholarship program in the president's name.

In a press release sent out by ASU spokeswoman Sharon Keeler, the university "apologized" for the "confusion" over the past few days. Its president Michael Crow, meanwhile, framed the "President Barack Obama Scholars" program as a higher honor than the honorary degree, one that would "affect the lives of thousands of students" and be "an honor befitting, not only the president's exceptional achievements, but also his values as an individual."

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Dennis Ross's Iran Plan

Well, here's a scary thought:

When Dennis Ross, a hawkish, pro-Israel adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, was elevated in February to the post of special adviser on "the Gulf and Southwest Asia"--i.e., Iran--Ross's critics hoped that his influence would be marginal. After all, unlike special envoys George Mitchell (Israel-Palestine) and Richard Holbrooke (Afghanistan-Pakistan), whose appointments were announced with fanfare, Ross's appointment was long delayed and then announced quietly, at night, in a press release.

But diplomats and Middle East watchers hoping Ross would be sidelined are wrong. He is building an empire at the State Department: hiring staff and, with his legendary flair for bureaucratic wrangling, cementing liaisons with a wide range of US officials. The Iran portfolio is his, says an insider. "Everything we've seen indicates that Ross has completely taken over the issue," says a key Iran specialist. "He's acting as if he's the guy. Wherever you go at State, they tell you, 'You've gotta go through Dennis.'" It's paradoxical that Obama, who made opening a dialogue with Iran into a crucial plank in his campaign, would hand the Iran file to Ross. Since taking office, Obama has taken a number of important steps to open lines to Iran, including a remarkable holiday greeting by video in which the president spoke directly to "the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran," adding, "We seek engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect." He invited Iran to attend an international conference on Afghanistan, where a top Iranian diplomat shook hands with Holbrooke; he's allowing American diplomats to engage their Iranian counterparts; and he's reportedly planning to dispatch a letter directly to Iran's leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Yet Ross, like his neoconservative co-thinkers, is explicitly skeptical about the usefulness of diplomacy with Iran.

Widely viewed as a cog in the machine of Israel's Washington lobby, Ross was not likely to be welcomed in Tehran--and he wasn't. Iran's state radio described his appointment as "an apparent contradiction" with Obama's "announced policy to bring change in United States foreign policy." Kazem Jalali, a hardline member of the Iranian parliament's national security committee, joked that it "would have been so much better to pick Ariel Sharon or Ehud Olmert as special envoy to Iran." More seriously, a former White House official says that Ross has told colleagues that he believes the United States will ultimately have no choice but to attack Iran in response to its nuclear program.
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source: the nation


haven't seen this posted...

Senate Chimes In On Performance Royalties
March 31, 2009

Now that a House resolution known as the Local Radio Freedom Act has been signed by 158 lawmakers, Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and John Barrasso (R-WY) have introduced the Local Radio Freedom Act into the Senate. The resolution, which opposes the introduction of "any new performance fee, tax, royalty, or other charge" on local radio stations, comes as roughly 500 local broadcasters gather in Washington, D.C. for the annual NAB State Leadership Conference. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has also voiced her support for the Local Radio Freedom Act by signing on as an original co-sponsor. The resolution counters the Performance Rights Act, which would force radio stations to pay royalties to artists for playing their music.

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This is an extremely important issue. There may be naysayers out there who like to proclaim that "radio sucks" or think that only large conglomerates own radio now. That is absolutely not true. My boyfriend works for a very small company, that only owns 11 radio and 5 TV stations NATIONWIDE. If they have to pay these "fees" (which really, are taxes on free promotion for artists) then companies like this would most likely have severe layoffs, or go out of business entirely. They are the only thing to combat the giant conglomerations that have ruined radio as we knew it. We play music here at my cluster of public radio stations, and I KNOW we can't afford these fees either.

You can find more info here: http://www.noperformancetax.org/issue.asp Radio stations can't serve in the public interest, which is what they are supposed to do (or at least, what they were designed to do when the FCC was founded) if they are paying these ridiculous fees.
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Obama Gets Gun-Shy on Automatic Weapons Ban.

Obama Gets Gun-Shy
Despite a recent spate of killings, the president and fellow Democrats choose not to wage war on assault weapons.

Michael Isikoff and Suzanne Smalley

On the morning of April 4, Richard Poplawski had a quarrel with his mother. It was over a dog urinating on a carpet. Mom called the police to have her 22-year-old son evicted from her house, a brick ranch with a dirty aluminum awning in the Stanton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Two officers responded to the call, figuring it was a typical domestic dispute. Margaret Poplawski greeted them by saying, "Come and take his ass." But the younger Poplawski, who had been laid off from his job in a glass factory recently, had other plans. He went to a private arms cache in the house, retrieved his guns and strapped on a Kevlar bulletproof vest.

Poplawski shot officer Paul J. Sciullo II, 37, inside the house and hit 29-year-old Stephen Mayhle on the stoop. Both men fell dead. Poplawski calmly stood in the doorway and fired two or three more bullets into Mayhle's body, according to a police affidavit from a witness. Then he retreated into the house and fired hundreds of rounds, using an AK-47 assault rifle and other weapons to fend off a police SWAT team for four hours. He killed one other cop, 41-year-old Eric Kelly, and wounded yet another.

It was the deadliest day in the history of the Steel City's police department. When police finally apprehended and questioned Poplawski, he was without remorse. "He said he wishes he could have killed more Pittsburgh police officers," says a cop who was on the scene but asked not to be identified talking about an ongoing case. (Poplawski's lawyer did not respond to multiple requests for comment last week.)

There was a time when a creep like Poplawski would have become a potent symbol in the debate over gun control. He wasn't your run-of-the-mill malcontent. A white supremacist, he frequented the chat rooms of racist Web sites, where he posted screeds about a "Zionist occupation" bringing the country to economic ruin. But Keith Savage, manager of the Braverman Arms Co., where Poplawski got many of his guns (but not the AK-47, Savage claims), says nothing seemed amiss when he filled out Form 4473—the standard questionnaire for federally required background checks. The gun-shop staff had no way of knowing, for instance, about Poplawski's January 2005 discharge from the Marines for what Lt. Josh Diddams, a U.S. Marine Corps spokesman, tells NEWSWEEK was a "psychological disorder" (he had assaulted his drill sergeant during basic training, says Poplawski's mother). They probably also didn't know that Poplawski's former girlfriend had gotten a restraining order against him, later in 2005, after he grabbed her by the hair and threatened to kill her.

In the past, national political leaders might have raised troubling questions about how such an unstable character could obtain easy access to high-powered weapons. They might have been even more motivated given that Poplawski's cop-killing spree was part of a near epidemic of mass homicides that have left 58 people dead over the past month. Or given that Mexico's insanely violent drug cartels are arming themselves with high-powered assault weapons purchased at U.S. gun stores and later smuggled south of the border. Yet many past champions of stricter gun-control measures are silent. These include top Obama White House officials who have squelched any talk within the administration about pushing further gun-control measures."It's weird," says Peter Hamm, the communications director for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "When you see people like [Attorney General] Eric Holder or Hillary Clinton or [White House chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel become muted on this issue, you feel like you want to call up a friend and say, 'What's up?' "

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Thoughts?  Are the Dems playing politics to pick up more seats so they can have a true majority?  Is this blowback from the 'clinging to guns and religion' comment?  Or are Dems simply wussing out on a very serious issue?
queen siggy

first puppy!

The First Puppy Makes a Big Splash

The identity of the first puppy--the one that the Washington press corps has been yelping about for months, the one President Obama has seemed to delight in dropping hints about--leaked out yesterday. This despite White House efforts to delay the news until the big debut planned for Tuesday afternoon.

The little guy is a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog given to the Obama girls as a gift by that Portuguese water dog-lovin' senator himself, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The girls named it Bo--and let it be noted that you learned that here first. Malia and Sasha chose the name, because their cousins have a cat named Bo and because first lady Michelle Obama's father was nicknamed Diddley, a source said. (Get it? Bo... Diddley?)

Bo's a handsome little guy. Well suited for formal occasions at the White House, he's got tuxedo-black fur, with a white chest, white paws and a rakish white goatee.

Clearly, the identity of the dog was information too big to contain. A mysterious Web site called firstdogcharlie.com published a picture of a Portie yesterday morning, complete with a Q and A with the dog, which it said was originally named Charlie. The celebrity gossip Web site TMZ.com linked to the picture. So much for the big White House unveiling.

n a statement, the Kennedys said: "We couldn't be happier to see the joy that Bo is bringing to Malia and Sasha. We love our Portuguese Water Dogs and know that the girls-- and their parents --will love theirs too.

The choice of a Portie raised one complication. The Obamas have long said they wanted a rescue dog. But the carefully bred PWDs almost never end up in shelters. Bo had been living with another family, but it wasn't a good fit, so the Kennedys acquired him for the Obamas.

As for the rescue pledge, the Obamas came up with a solution intended to lend a serious symbolic note: They're going to make a donation to the D.C. Humane Society.


I think they made a responsible decision and it's sweet that they're making a donation to the Humane Society. :]

There's more background story at the source, but be warned, the dog puns are ridiculous.