May 1st, 2009

Putin blink

Medvedev's LJ saves the day

30 April 2009 By Anna Malpas / The Moscow TimesWhen President Dmitry Medvedev opened his blog on LiveJournal nine days ago, Ryazan region advertising executive Andrei Zubarev immediately posted a complaint about the conditions at a local children's hospital.

What surprised him was that the Kremlin responded -- and quickly. Two days after his post, he learned that Medvedev was looking into the matter. Then Ryazan's governor called a news conference.

"To be honest, I didn't expect anything because there were a lot of comments" on the blog, Zubarev said Wednesday. "We were very pleased because the situation really is terrible."

Medvedev's blog has attracted more than 8,000 comments since April 21, many complaining of dire living conditions and others openly critical of the government's decisions. Some comments are written by people who say they have bought apartments in fraudulent property developments or have spent a lifetime in crowded communal apartments. Others name and shame corrupt bureaucrats, such as one who writes that he saw two Lexus cars parked outside the house of Novosibirsk's mayor.

The LiveJournal community allows people to post comments without registering -- unlike Medvedev's parallel video blog on -- and it is earning Medvedev praise from across the blogosphere.
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Raging Anti-Feminist

Thank [insert your choice of deity]!

Young Saudi girl's marriage ended

Media reports say an arranged marriage between a Saudi girl aged eight and a man in his 50s has been annulled, in a case attracting worldwide criticism.

The Saudi Gazette says the divorce was agreed in an out-of-court settlement after a judge rejected two attempts to grant the girl a divorce.

The case prompted Saudi officials to say it would start regulating the marriages of young girls.

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tv | kosem sultan sends her regards.

Despite new law, no church 'I do' for Swedish gays

STOCKHOLM (AFP) — Sweden's homosexuals are allowed to wed in religious or civil ceremonies under a new law that takes effect Friday, but those who want a church wedding will have to wait until later this year.

Sweden's parliament in April approved by a wide majority a new marriage law that puts gays on an equal footing with heterosexuals.

But the Lutheran Church, which was the state church until 2000, has said that while it supports the new law, its synod will only formally decide in October whether to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

"The new law implies a change in the marriage ceremony, and the Church has to be given a chance to take a stand on that," the church's interim secretary general, Anders Lindberg, told AFP on Thursday.

"The marriage act reflects a certain view of marriage, and the liturgy needs to be altered to reflect that change," he added.

However, Lindberg said there had been no rush to the altar for same-sex couples.

"No, we've seen no indication of huge demand. We believe the message has gotten through to the public that same-sex couples can't get married in the Lutheran Church yet," he said.

Prior to the new law, homosexuals were only allowed to register their "partnerships" in a civil ceremony, whereas heterosexuals could choose to marry in either a civil or religious ceremony.

Civil unions granting gays and lesbians the same legal status as married couples have been allowed under Swedish law since 1995.

Since 2007, the Lutheran Church, which counts around 74 percent of Swedes as members, has offered gays a religious blessing of their union.

A number of homosexual couples, including some who have already registered their "partnership," have indicated that they plan to hold civil marriage ceremonies on May 1.

Sweden, already a pioneer in giving same-sex couples the right to adopt children, would become one of the first countries in the world to allow gays to marry in a major Church.

Sweden legalized same-sex marriages last month, and they go into effect today, May 1. I kind of like the fact that despite still having a monarch, half of Europe's remaining monarchies allow full same-sex marriage and three others have civil unions.

Four for you, Sweden Coco, you go Sweden Coco.

Pakistan IS NOT a failed state


Pakistan Crisis and Social Statistics

Readers have written me asking what I think of the rash of almost apocalyptic pronouncements on the security situation in Pakistan issuing from the New York Times, The Telegraph, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in recent days.

And Stephen Walt also is asking why there are such varying assessments of Pakistan's security prospects. He suggests that one problem is the difficulty of predicting a revolutionary situation. But Pakistan just had a revolution against the military dictatorship! The polling, the behavior in the voting booth, the history of political geography, aren't these data relevant to the issue? Why does no one instance them?

As I have said before, although the rise of the Pakistani Taliban in the Pushtun areas and in some districts of Punjab is worrisome, the cosmic level of concern being expressed makes no sense to me. Some 55 percent of Pakistanis are Punjabi, and with the exception of some northern hardscrabble areas, I can't see any evidence that the vast majority of them has the slightest interest in Talibanism. Most are religious traditionalists, Sufis, Shiites, Sufi-Shiites, or urban modernists. At the federal level, they mainly voted in February 2008 for the Pakistan People's Party or the Muslim League, neither of them fundamentalist. The issue that excercised them most powerfully recently was the need to reinstate the civilian Supreme Court justices dismissed by a military dictatorship, who preside over a largely secular legal system.

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"Advice to Obama: Pakistan is being configured for you in ways that benefit some narrow sectional interests. Caveat emptor."
misc - microphone

(no subject)

Police: Dutch royals targeted in deadly crash
Car plows into spectators, monument during parade honoring Dutch queen

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

APELDOORN, Netherlands - A Dutch driver careened through police barriers and plowed into a crowd of merrymakers cheering their popular queen Thursday, in a premeditated assault on the royal family that killed five bystanders and injured 12 others, authorities said.

The speeding car, already dented apparently from catapulting bystanders into the air, passed within a few meters of the open-topped bus carrying Queen Beatrix and her family down a parade route, then smashed into a stone monument.

"I think that it has become clear that this happened with premeditation," Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said.

Prosecutors said the driver, badly injured and still in his crumpled car, acknowledged targeting the queen and her family.

"The man said that his action was aimed at the royal family," said prosecutor Ludo Goossens.

The driver, whose name was not released, "is formally suspected of ... an attack on members of the royal house and manslaughter or murder," Goossens said, and he could face life in prison.
The motive for the attack was unclear. Dutch media, citing neighbors, said the assailant recently was fired from his job and was to be evicted from his home. Police identified him as a 38-year-old Dutch man with no history of mental illness or police record, but they would not release his name.
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Tea Party set for this Friday: 'Joe the Plumber' amongst expected crowd

Tea Party set for this Friday: 'Joe the Plumber' amongst expected crowd

Emmet County’s chapter of Taxed Enough Already is hoping to draw up to 1,000 people to its latest demonstration at 6 p.m. Friday, May 1, in Petoskey’s Pennsylvania Park.

Harbor Springs resident Tom VanHaaren last attended a Tax Day Tea Party in Troy, and is hoping to bring together anyone who is “outraged that Washington has spent us into oblivion.” With an emphasis on being an action-group, VanHaaren’s goal is to help others get involved on their own through phone calls, letter writing and even forming their own committees.

“People don’t need to feel helpless,” he said.
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Workers celebrate May Day across the globe

MAY 1 - "the real Labor Day" - ironically began in Chicago, USA, during the fight for the 8 hour day in 1886. It went on to become the national state holiday in places like the USSR, Cuba, and has been unofficially celebrated in capitalist European countries.

The US govt., afraid of May Day, officially calls MAY 1 "Law Day." Not even kidding. LoL.

Workers march in May Day rallies

Labour unions in dozens of countries around the world are using traditional May Day marches to protest over the handling of the global economic crisis.

Some 300 rallies are planned across France, which has already seen strikes from university academics, hospital staff and fishermen among others.

Germany is braced for further violence after youths in Berlin clashed with riot police in the early hours.

Marches have been held in several Asian nations, including Cambodia and Japan.

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Pension kickbacks national problem, NY's Cuomo says

Pension kickbacks national problem, NY's Cuomo says

New York state's criminal probe of kickbacks paid by companies eager to manage its $122 billion state pension fund has exposed "a national network of actors" whose schemes are ongoing, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said on Thursday.

"This is all across the nation, and it's continuing today," the Democratic attorney general said on a conference call.

The probe, which began two years ago, has fixed the spotlight on the use of placement agents hired by investment firms to open the doors of the New York State Common Retirement Fund. For more details, please see: [ID:nN15509853]. Cuomo said he is also is scrutinizing lawyers and lobbyists.

The investigation is another effort to stamp out graft and the practice of "pay to play," which involves giving gifts or campaign donations to win public contracts. So far the probe has looked into the web of relationships and business contracts involving money managers, politicians and pension officials spanning the country from New York City and the state capital, Albany, to Texas, New Mexico and California.
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Kabul's new elite live high on West's largesse

Kabul's new elite live high on West's largesse

'Gilded cage' lifestyle reveals the ugly truth about foreign aid in Afghanistan

Vast sums of money are being lavished by Western aid agencies on their own officials in Afghanistan at a time when extreme poverty is driving young Afghans to fight for the Taliban.
The going rate paid by the Taliban for an attack on a police checkpoint in the west of the country is $4, but foreign consultants in Kabul, who are paid out of overseas aids budgets, can command salaries of $250,000 to $500,000 a year.

The high expenditure on paying, protecting and accommodating Western aid officials in palatial style helps to explain why Afghanistan ranks 174th out of 178th on a UN ranking of countries' wealth. This is despite a vigorous international aid effort with the US alone spending $31bn since 2002 up to the end of last year.

The high degree of wastage of aid money in Afghanistan has long been an open secret. In 2006, Jean Mazurelle, the then country director of the World Bank, calculated that between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of aid was "badly spent". "The wastage of aid is sky-high," he said. "There is real looting going on, mainly by private enterprises. It is a scandal."

The dysfunctional reputation of the US aid effort in Afghanistan is politically crucial because Barack Obama, with strong support from Gordon Brown, has promised that a "civilian surge" of non-military experts will be sent to Afghanistan to strengthen its government and turn the tide against the Taliban. These would number up to 600, including agronomists, economists and legal experts, though Washington admitted this week that it was having difficulty recruiting enough people of the right calibre.

Whole districts of Kabul have already been taken over or rebuilt to accommodate Westerners working for aid agencies or embassies. "I have just rented out this building for $30,000 a month to an aid organisation," said Torialai Bahadery, the director of Property Consulting Afghanistan, which specialises in renting to foreigners. "It was so expensive because it has 24 rooms with en-suite bathrooms as well as armoured doors and bullet-proof windows," he explained, pointing to a picture of a cavernous mansion.

Though 77 per cent of Afghans lack access to clean water, Mr Bahadery said that aid agencies and the foreign contractors who work for them insist that every bedroom should have an en-suite bathroom and this often doubles the cost of accommodation.
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AIPAC wants war.. with Iran?

The Lobby Wants War

by Justin Raimondo, May 01, 2009

The Israel lobby has been running into a few problems lately, but it’s nothing they don’t think they can handle: a charge of treason, a strong suspicion of obstructing justice, and a gathering storm of criticism from a few dissident intellectuals and policy types. Nothing to get too exercised about. Having felled Charles "Chas" Freeman, smitten Gen. Zinni, and sidelined those in the Obama administration who question the nature and utility of America’s "special relationship" with Israel, the Lobby’s flagship organization, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is primed to hold their national conference in Washington next week, with Jane "This Conversation Doesn’t Exist" Harman slated to address the gathering.
The focus of the conference, and the legislative centerpiece of the event, will be passage of the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act, which would ban US companies from providing Iran with refined petroleum products, and seeks to punish European companies — particularly the Swiss, who come in for two specific mentions in the text of the bill — for doing so.

To begin with, the name affixed to this piece of legislative legerdemain is a prime example of congressional doublethink: will it really enhance diplomatic relations with Iran to impose draconian sanctions, the equivalent of an economic chokehold and a prelude to a military blockade? Hardly, and that is very far from its clear intent.

This bill is all about provoking the Iranians, effectively sabotaging efforts to engage in a mutual dialogue with Tehran. Why the egregious packaging? Well, it seems the American people are sick and tired of war, and preparations for war, and so it is far less incriminating if a member of Congress can say he (or she) voted for "the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act" than it is to admit they supported isolating Iran economically.

Reflecting the new hysteria that’s been injected into the Jewish state’s relations with the rest of the world, Israel recalled its ambassador to Switzerland in protest. Even talking to the Iranians, in any context, is considered by the Israelis to be an "existential" threat to the Jewish state, and anyone who engages in such conversation is considered an enemy — thus the clauses of the bill that target the Swiss. The message this is sending is clear: if you cross the Israelis, you cross the Americans, too — yes, even under the Obama administration.

Speaking of Obama, this campaign to isolate Iran is aimed at him just as much as it is at the Iranians, and the Swiss — it is a shot across the bow, a flexing of legislative muscle on the part of the Lobby that shows the newly-elected American president even he can’t stand up to the Lobby’s power. If he tries to reach out to the Iranians, and short-circuit the march to war, he’ll be subverted, opposed, and reined in by the American Congress, which is, as Pat Buchanan famously — and accurately — observed, "Israeli-occupied territory."
The main "argument" in favor of this bill, which enjoys wide bipartisan support, is that it will supposedly be an aid to the diplomatic initiative promised by President Obama, and it quotes the President during the campaign when he said: "Iran right now imports gasoline… if we can prevent them from importing the gasoline that they need… that starts changing their cost-benefit analysis. That starts putting the squeeze on them."

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Is there anything we can do to convince them otherwise?

"Appeasing child killers"

We were not supposed to see Shlomo Nativ's name in the newspapers. At least, we weren't supposed to know who he was for several years. He was just a 13-year-old boy. He was loved by his family and friends. He had brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents. His life was not our business. And, to a certain extent, now that it is over, it still shouldn't concern us.

What should concern us is his death. Nativ was murdered last Thursday at the hands of a Palestinian ax murderer just a few meters from his home in Bat Ayin. And his death should interest us for what it teaches us, first of all about the nature of the Middle East and Israel's place in it.

The mainstream media in Europe and the US and even here maintain that Nativ's death tells us little we didn't already "know" if we are right-thinking people. By this view of things, the cold-blooded terrorist murder of civilians - even of children - is to be expected when the victims in question are Israeli Jews who live beyond the 1949 armistice lines. It isn't nice. It isn't pleasant to say. But as far as the right-thinking people of the Western media are concerned, Israeli Jews like Nativ, who live in Gush Etzion in Judea, are simply asking to be murdered.

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Does anyone know how much, if any, of this garbage is true?

AP's Curley Has Fightin' Words For Google

AP's Curley Has Fightin' Words For Google
Associated Press Chief Tom Curley threatens a news blackout. Will Google flinch?

If Associated Press Chief Executive Tom Curley's remarks this week about Google reflect the tenor of the talks between the two, discussions can't be going well.

The AP and Google ( GOOG - news - people ) have been debating content and compensation issues for months. In an interview with Forbes on Wednesday, Curley warned that if Google doesn't strike the right deal with the AP soon, "They will not get our copy going forward."

The threat follows Rupert Murdoch's accusation earlier this month that Google is committing copyright thievery when it borrows material from news stories to assemble search rankings. A few days later, the AP weighed in with a similar charge--though it did not mention Google--announcing a content protection initiative and threatening legal and legislative action against news aggregators.
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Every morning I roll out of bed and scan the papers on the net. Today, like most days, I find something distressing about Pakistan. As part of my new routine I call my younger brother in Lahore. The exchange is familiar to both of us: No, he wasn't near the suicide bombing/ commando attack/ mammoth demonstration/ drone fired missile. Yes, he will be careful and will not visit fancy restaurants where he may be targeted in an attack against "Western" establishments, and yes, he agreed, he will not go to pray at mosques either, which perplexingly also seem to be a favored target of the radical Islamic extremists who send the suicide bombers.

It is a devastating failure of state for any country when its citizens have to think twice before going to their place of worship.
But the biggest failure of all is the utter inability of the leadership of Pakistan, both civilian and military, to unite the Pakistani people against this grave and imminent threat, and to explain to them what is going on, who is attacking the very core of the republic and what needs to be done to defeat this threat.

In the absence of national leadership or even basic coherence at the top, rumors and ideological punditry masquerade as reason. A television anchor insists that all the attacks are the handiwork of Indian intelligence agents. A talking head on another channel claims that the Taliban are misunderstood - all they want to do is to bring swift justice to the country. Another strategic expert assures viewers that everything happening in Pakistan is the U.S.'s fault. Drone attacks are creating anti-Americanism, and its only natural that those attacked will retaliate wherever they can. If the US were to simply stop the drone attacks on Pakistan, everything would be just fine. The fact that Pakistan was spinning out of control well before anyone had heard the term drone hamla, is left out of the conversation.

Some though, have a more sinister explanation for Pakistan's rapid descent into chaos. They whisper that the Pakistani army is orchestrating the bombings and ceding territory in Swat to ensure continued US attention and funding. How else can you explain the total capitulation of the vaunted 500,000 strong Pak army, which can't seem to battle a rag-tag force of a few thousand militants? But a counter theory gaining currency is that it's actually the United States that is simultaneously supporting extremists on the one hand, and launching drone attacks with the other. The purpose of such dastardly duplicity? Well duh, to break up Pakistan into pieces so that the US can take over its precious nuclear weapons.

The net result of this mass confusion is that the people of Pakistan can't seem to diagnose what is apparent to any objective observer:
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In Their Own Words: Why Dem Senators Screwed Homeowners

In Their Own Words: Why Dem Senators Screwed Homeowners

Only 45 Senate Democrats voted Thursday to oppose the banking industry and pass legislation aimed at stemming foreclosures. The bill would have allowed bankruptcy judges to allow homeowners who met strict conditions to renegotiate mortgages -- a process known as cramdown. It would have only applied to mortgages entered into before 2009.

Earlier in the week, the measure's lead proponent, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), concluded that banks "frankly own the place."

Of course, the 11 Democrats who voted "no" have a more charitable view of their own motivations. So we asked them what their reasoning was. In their own words, here is how (those we could find) explained their vote:

Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.): "A number of things. I thought the 31 percent is an arbitrary number. I think there are a whole lot of folks, are likely folks, out there who have little debt outside their home who could -- I just thought it was an arbitrary number and I didn't like the way it was constructed."

Dorgan is referring to the percentage of a person's income that a judge could determine should be dedicated to paying the monthly mortgage. The figure is roughly in line with what financial analysts agree is appropriate.
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Obama's Supreme Court Pick: Battle Lines Already Forming; Let the smear beging...

Obama's Supreme Court Pick: Battle Lines Already Forming

Not 12 hours since news broke that Justice David Souter would retire from the Supreme Court at term's end and already the battle lines over his replacement are being drawn.

A memo being sent around by conservatives, obtained by Ben Smith, targets three of the likely Obama picks for the Court, both for their judicial philosophies and professional experience.

Meanwhile, Republicans are eagerly pointing out that Barack Obama, while in the Senate, voted to filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito to the court.

Pointing to the president's own past procedural maneuvers would seem like a sufficient justification for the Republican Party to return the favor this go around. But there are two potential problems if the GOP goes down this road. For starters, they lack the votes to stop the nomination in the Senate -- although there may be fine-print that allows them to hold up an appointment in the Judiciary Committee.

Additionally, many of the Republicans who could play an obstructionist role are on the record decrying the use of the filibuster on judicial nominees. As collected by Media Matters Action Network, here are a few of those choice quotes that seem likely to be mentioned when (rather, if) a feisty Supreme Court fight emerges in the weeks or months ahead.

Orrin Hatch (R-UT -- and Judiciary Committee member)
"All we are asking is the 214-year tradition of the Senate that judicial nominees not be filibustered be followed. That has been the tradition of the Senate up until President Bush became President. All we are asking is that every one of these qualified nominees who have reached the floor receive an up-or-down vote. That is all we are asking." [Senate Floor Speech, 4/27/05]

Chuck Grassley (R-IA -- and Judiciary Committee member)
"History has proven the wisdom of having the President place judges with the support of the majority of the Senate. That process ensures balance on the court between judges placed by Republican Presidents and those placed by Democrat Presidents. The current obstruction led by Senate Democratic leaders threatens that balance. It's time to make sure all judges receive a fair vote on the Senate floor." [, "Talking Judges to Death," 5/8/05]

John Cornyn (R-TX -- and Judiciary Committee member)
"I believe, about the process of reestablishing the precedent of majority rule that had prevailed for 214 years in the Senate, that would say any President's nominees, whether they be Republican or Democrat, if they have the support of a majority of the Senate, will get an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Senators who believe these nominees should be confirmed can vote for them and those who believe they should not be confirmed can vote against them." [Senate Floor Speech, 5/24/05]

Mitch McConnell (R-KY -- Senate Minority Leader)
"Because of the unprecedented obstruction of our Democratic colleagues, the Republican conference intends to restore the principle that, regardless of party, any President's judicial nominees, after full debate, deserve a simple up-or-down vote. I know that some of our colleagues wish that restoration of this principle were not required. But it is a measured step that my friends on the other side of the aisle have unfortunately made necessary. For the first time in 214 years, they have changed the Senate's 'advise and consent' responsibilities to 'advise and obstruct.' [...]Given those results, many of us had hoped that the politics of obstruction would have been dumped in the dustbin of history. Regretfully, that did not happen." [Senate Floor Speech, 5/19/05]

Jeff Sessions (R-AL -- and Judiciary Committee member)
"Since the founding of the Republic, we have understood that there was a two-thirds supermajority for ratification and advice and consent on treaties and a majority vote for judges. That is what we have done. That is what we have always done. But there was a conscious decision on behalf of the leadership, unfortunately, of the Democratic Party in the last Congress to systematically filibuster some of the best nominees ever submitted to the Senate. It has been very painful." [Senate Floor Speech, 5/23/05]

Wokette: Secessionist Mule-Raping Georgia Governor Candidate Would Also Kill Own Son, For Liberty

Secessionist Mule-Raping Georgia Governor Candidate Would Also Kill Own Son, For Liberty

Georgia gubernatorial candidate Neal Horsley, a.k.a. “The One,” wants to secede from America because of the liberals. This charming fellow made headlines a few years ago when he got into an argument with Alan Colmes, who simply couldn’t understand why Horsley would fuck the shit out of mules. (”Welcome to domestic life on the farm… If it’s warm and it’s damp and it vibrates, you might in fact have sex with it.”) And now, in an interview with Raw Story, Horsley says he would kill his son in a secessionist rebellion, because hey, WAR IS HELL (and also he almost killed him once before in a dumb argument, ha).

Asked if he was ready to sacrifice his own son in a national insurrection, Horsley recounts a fight with his son where he almost killed him.

“I was one foot from killing my own son, or hurting him really, really bad,” Horsley told Krider. “If he would have attacked me again, I would have stuck him. Or cut him or sliced him or done something to stop him. That’s the point, you hypothetical has literally already been worked out with me, and that’s what makes me different from the other candidates for Governor. They understand I’m not like no politician they have looked at, ever. I am prepared to do a John Brown. I’m not prepared to do an Abe Lincoln and talk out both sides of my mouth and try to get a majority together. I’m looking for the people who are prepared to go with me and take over the foundry, then set up shop and prepare to fight to the death. I’ll do it.”

And once his son is dead, well… the body’s still warm for about 15 minutes, eh? EH? (PSST: LIKE IF HE WANTED TO HAVE SEX WITH IT.)

Asked again if he was willing to sacrifice his son, he was even more explicit, telling the interview to read the Bible’s Matthew 10.

“Your own family are going to be your greatest enemy because unless you love me more than you love your father, your son, your wife, your daughter, you’re not fit to be my disciple,” Horsley said. “That’s why there’s a real rift of estrangement in my family,” he says….

Oh, that’s why?

Candidate for Georgia governorship says he’d kill his own son to secede

The Obama's release 300 new photos just in time for Friday Shenanigans!

The White House sent out an amazing collection of photos on Wednesday to mark the first 100 days of its newest resident. They also included some great photos of some other important residents, namely first family members Sasha, Malia and Michelle Obama.

Check out the photos of the Obama family at play... see the entire 300 photo slideshow underneath the images of the family.

Souces:  and

I went though the whole set and picked out my favorites. Enjoy!

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Steele Agrees Obama "Is The Magic Negro"... WTF???!

Steele Agrees Obama "Is The Magic Negro"

While hosting Bill Bennett's radio show Friday morning, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele appeared to agree with a caller that President Obama is "the magic Negro."

CALLER: It's just like the LA Times said last year, or two years ago -- he is the magic Negro.

STEELE: Yeah he is -- [laughter]. You read that too, huh?

CALLER: Oh yeah. I read that too. And even when things go wrong, he still manages to come out smelling like a rose.

STEELE: Well, yeah. And it's because he's getting unprecedented coverage -- cover -- by the media.

Steele's amused reaction is somewhat surprising. When former RNC chairman Chip Saltsman released a CD including a parody song "Barack The Magic Negro" in January -- inspired by the same LA Times article -- Steele said it "doesn't help at all ... it reinforces a negative stereotype of the party." Saltsman withdrew from the race to remain chairman in the wake of the scandal.
  • bispo

Rep. Steve King calls Black and Hispanic Congressional Caucuses ‘separatist groups.’

Yesterday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) took to the House floor for an hour-long speech consisting of tired denunciations of Obama shaking hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and more hysterical complaints about how new hate crime legislation protects gays. During his tirade, King decided to direct part of his vitriol at the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, calling both organizations "separatist groups." Watch it:

The term "separatist" is an inference for anti-American or terrorist activities. Given King's history of racially charged statements, it is no wonder he chose to attack the two major minority caucuses as too exclusive, rather than, for example, the evangelical Congressional Prayer Caucus.


Entitled princesses are entitled?!? GTFO!!!!

A Prom With All the Glitz, but Every Dollar Squeezed

FOR four years, Lindsay Rescott has been planning for the moment when she gathers with her fellow seniors at Northport Village Park on Long Island to pose for their prom photos in the June twilight. Lindsay, a 17-year-old horse lover who plans to study animal science in the fall, has carefully chosen her beaded and swirled zebra print gown, decided on the side ponytail she will ask her hairdresser to shape for the event and received enthusiastic approval from her grandmother to dip into her jewelry box for earrings and her closet for an evening bag.

“I always knew it was a big thing for Northport,” she said. “It’s the one really big thing we have.”

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It's prom not your fucking wedding dimwits!

Jake G -  Moving beauty

Obama Press Briefing Visit: Talks Souter, Supreme Court Pick

With his chief counsel and chief of staff by his side, Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the press briefing room on Friday, addressing the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter and laying our what kind of appointment he would make in his place.

With no advanced warning, even for Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, the President took to the podium to read a brief set of prepared remarks. He had just gotten off the phone with Souter, he announced, and wanted to say a few words about the conversation.

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May Day protests intensify in Europe

(See THIS ontd_political post for the history of May 1 and why the US government calls it "Law Day.")

May Day protests intensify in Europe

By Peggy Hollinger and Esther Bintliff in Paris and Chris Bryant in Berlin

Published: May 1 2009 11:46 | Last updated: May 1 2009 19:34

Traditional May Day demonstrations turned violent in several countries on Friday as workers took to the streets around Europe to voice their anger over the failure of governments to halt rising unemployment and other hardships due to the global economic crisis.

Police clashed with demonstrators in Turkey, Greece and Germany, using tear gas to repel protestors throwing rocks through shop windows and in some cases molotov cocktails. However, the violence in these countries appears to have been sparked by fringe elements hijacking otherwise peaceful protests.

Source for above:

Europeans rally on May Day amid economic worries

By JENNY BARCHFIELD – 4 hours ago

PARIS (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of European workers feeling the pinch of the economic crisis rallied at May Day protests Friday from Moscow to Berlin to Istanbul.

Violence and clashes between police and angry protesters disrupted some events, including in Greece, Germany and Turkey. [...] In Paris, fractious French labor unions came together for the first time in decades to stage a joint march that ended at the Place de la Bastille.


Also: "European Riot Police Work Overtime as Unions, Anarchists link arms for May Day." (Times UK)

More May Day 2009 articles HERE.
panda bear

(no subject)

Fidel Castro: US wants Cuba to become slaves again

Fidel Castro again bristled at the Obama administration's steps toward improving relations with Cuba, writing in a May Day message that the U.S. would like to see Cubans "return to the fold of slaves."

The former president's column was published in official newspapers as Cuba celebrated international worker's day with a traditional march by hundreds of thousands of people across the sprawling Plaza of the Revolution.

Castro said he found "some new elements" in the Obama administration, which has eased restriction on travel and money transfers by Americans with family in Cuba.

"We are carefully studying and observing each of its steps," he wrote.

But Castro complained that Washington "is ready to forgive us if we resign ourselves to returning to the fold of slaves who, after tasting liberty, again accept the whip and the yoke."

"The adversary should not have any illusion that Cuba will give up," he wrote.

Those were the kind of words Castro once would have shouted during an hours-long speech before the start of the May Day procession. But illness has kept him from public view since July 2006 and officials ensured this year's parade moved along in a businesslike style, ending it after barely two hours.

Raul Castro, who succeeded the ailing, 82-year-old Fidel as president last year, presided over the march in a straw hat and white Guayabera dress shirt instead of his usual army fatigues. He chanted along with the crowd and grinned and waved from a high seating area, but did not give a speech.

Many Cubans sang and danced - others sweated and simply trudged along - as they followed the carefully controlled parade route through the concrete square where Raul Castro has his office.

They waved Cuban flags, pictures of the Castro brothers and of revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara, and they hoisted cardboard signs promoting socialism and decrying Washington's 47-year-old trade embargo against the island.

Most of the placards thrust skyward repeated decades-old slogans like "Long Live Free Cuba," and "Socialism or Death," but some blamed "neo-liberalism" and free-market policies for the global economic crisis and recession.

Salvador Valdes Mesa, secretary-general of the Cuban Workers Confederation, urged Cubans to be more productive and efficient despite state salaries worth only about $20 per month.

In addition to allowing unlimited travel and money transfers for Cuban-Americans, the Obama White House has reduced restrictions on telecommunications between the U.S. and Cuba.

But top U.S. officials say they would like to see some Cuban political and social reforms before exploring normalizing diplomatic relations. Fidel Castro insists that Cuba should make no concessions in return for better U.S. ties.

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Colombia soldiers charged in civilians' killings

Colombian authorities have arrested a retired lieutenant colonel and seven other soldiers in the killings of two civilians who they allegedly presented as guerrillas slain in combat to inflate rebel body counts.

Prosecutors say five active soldiers and three retired officers were detained, including former Lt. Col. Wilson Castro and two others of lower rank.

Prosecutors said in a statement Friday that the soldiers were charged with crimes including homicide and forced disappearance.

They appeared in court Thursday in the state of Santander to testify about the deaths of the two men - Daniel Pesca and Eduardo Garzon - who were last seen in March 2008 in Bogota. Authorities say their bodies appeared days later in rural Santander and were reported by the army as rebels slain in combat.

The former officers were part of a purge of more than two dozen soldiers last year - including various high-ranking officers - amid a scandal over scores of extrajudicial killings of civilians.

The commander of the army, Gen. Mario Montoya, also resigned in November when the scandal erupted over the killings of civilians, allegedly spurred by officers seeking to inflate rebel body counts. His resignation followed criticism of an army policy he allegedly encouraged of promoting officers whose units killed the most rebels.

The eight soldiers and former officers are also under investigation in other deaths reported as slain rebels. The scandal erupted after relatives of the victims spoke out about their disappearance.

Colombian prosecutors are investigating the killings of more than 1,600 people in the past five years who are suspected of being the victims of extrajudicial killings by security forces.

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Swine flu virus starting to look less threatening

The swine flu virus that has frightened the world is beginning to look a little less ominous. New York City officials reported Friday that the swine flu still has not spread beyond a few schools. In Mexico, very few relatives of flu victims seem to have caught the virus.

One flu expert says there's no reason to believe the new virus is a more serious strain than seasonal flu. And a federal health official said the new flu virus doesn't appear to have genes that made the 1918 pandemic flu strain so deadly.

It's too soon to draw any definitive conclusions about what this variation of the H1N1 virus will do. Experts say the only wise course is to prepare for the worst. But in a world that's been rattled by the specter of a global pandemic, glimmers of hope are welcome.

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Swine Flu confirmed in Florida

Gov. Charlie Crist confirmed Friday that two people, one in Broward County and one in Lee County, have tested positive for swine flu.

The Broward case, an 18-year-old female student at Hallandale High, recently traveled to Mexico with her family. The teen's illness prompted the closure of Hallandale High Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. She was last at the school on April 23.

In addition to the Broward case, a boy in Lee County also has the swine flu, according to Gov. Charlie Crist.

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Source 1 & Source 2
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Kenya women stage 'sex strike'

Women's groups in Kenya have started a week-long "sex strike", in an attempt to press the country's leaders to resolve rifts and work together.

Ten non-governmental organisations urged women across the nation to boycott sex with their husbands and partners along with a statement calling for reforms in government and action on promoting women's rights.

Rukia Subow, chairwoman of the Women's Development Organisation, said the group believed the boycott would persuade men to press the government to make peace.

"This is a national boycott to show that the women of this country have resolved to push for reforms," she said. "We want an urgent solution to the political problems facing this country."

The group would pay prostitutes so they would participate in the strike, Subow said.

'Not punishment'

Ida Odinga, the wife of the prime minister, Raila Odinga, said on Thursday that she would join the strike to protest against divisions between her husband and the country's president.

"This should not be seen as a punishment to men, it is a measure that is aimed at drawing their attention to the real issues," she said.

It was not clear whether the wife of Mwai Kibaki, the president, would join the strike.

The east African country has been in political turmoil since a presidential election in December 2007 which Odinga accused Kibaki of stealing.

Protests led to violence that killed more than 1,000 people and left more than 600,000 homeless.

The two rivals were pressed into a power-sharing deal by the international community but disputes have crippled the coalition government and fuelled wide popular discontent.

Redheads do it best.

Miss California Stays Classy - And smart!

Last night, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, called into Greta Van Susteren's show on Fox and proved that she may not be the best spokesperson against gay marriage, as she knows almost nothing about the issue.

In the clip above, Prejean stumbles through an interview with Van Susteren, who seems to have made it her mission to profile (and defend) controversial right-wing female beauty queens. Earlier in the day, Prejean gave a press conference on behalf of the National Organization for Marriage and unveiled her new ad for NOW, which will be airing in several states. Currently, the only way to watch online is to head to the organization's website, as gossip blogger Perez Hilton has forced the ad to be removed from YouTube.

Prejean said she was calling in to promote traditional marriage, but when Van Susteren asked her about civil unions she said, as transcribed by U.S. News and World Report:

You know what, Greta? I don't have the answers to everything. I'm not running for political office. I don't have the answers to everything, you know, in the world out there.

But I think that there should be rights for people, you know, especially in California. I think that people that are homosexual should have some rights, you know, hospital rights, and things like that.

Rights for hospitals and things like that - generous! Then, when Van Susteren proceeded to ask Prejean about gay adoption, the beauty queen seemed to think the anchor was trying trick her and scolded:

Greta, I am focusing on marriage right now, not adoption, not civil unions, just traditional marriage, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to promote that.

At the press conference earlier in the day Prejean didn't fare much better. She explained that she is passionate about her cause because "marriage is good" and "unless we bring men and women together children will not have mothers and fathers." Then, during the question and answer segment of her press conference, following a reporter's question as to whether Prejean will be going into politics she laughed and said, "I think that is a silly question." AT this point, we're just relieved that Prejean finds the idea of her starting a political career is as silly as we do.

Edit: OOPS. Source
¤ darren aronofsky don't give a fuck

Keyser Soze, Anakin Skywalker, and Tobias Fünke in...

Two Thumbs Up! Kevin Spacey To Play Abramoff in Casino Jack

Get ready for Jack Abramoff: The Movie.

The well-sourced Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke reported Friday that Kevin Spacey and director George Hickenlooper were visiting the disgraced former lobbyist in prison -- as part of their research for Casino Jack, which will start filming next month, with the man who once played Keyser Soze in the lead role.= (Variety had reported last August on plans for the project, then known as Bagman.)
The story is described to me as a modern day GoodFellas set in Washington DC that plays like a thriller involving Karl Rove and others in former President George W. Bush's inner circle. Cameras will roll later next month.

Finke also has the scoop on the supporting cast:

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Casino Jack Casting Call

"If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing." ~Jack Abramoff, March 2006

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I'm a huge geek for movies as well as politics, and I think TPM's fantasy casting is spot-on. I would even accept Matthew Fox in this movie. As for the actual casting, you can't go wrong with David Cross (unless it's Alvin and the Chipmunks).