May 9th, 2009

creepy but cute

Up to 100 civilians killed in series of US airstrikes on two villages

Up to 100 civilians, including women and children, are reported to have been killed in Afghanistan in potentially the single deadliest US airstrike since 2001. The news overshadowed a crucial first summit between the Afghan President and Barack Obama in Washington yesterday.

President Obama, after White House meetings with President Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani President, pledged “every effort to avoid civilian casualties” in the war against the extremists.
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Karzai urges US to stop strikes

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called on the US to halt air strikes in his country, following an attack that reportedly killed scores of civilians.

Mr Karzai, who is in Washington, told CNN air strikes were "not acceptable".

Afghan officials say more than 100 civilians died when US jets attacked targets in the western Farah province.

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Taliban blamed for 'air strike' deaths

US officials have claimed Taliban militants killed scores of Afghan civilians with hand grenades to mimic the impact of US air strikes during fierce fighting in the west of Afghanistan.

Villagers look for the bodies of victims of airstrikes under the rubble in the village of Garni in the western Farah state, Afghanistan Photo: AFP

The claim, based on the account of US special forces involved in the fighting, comes the day after the Red Cross and Afghan officials blamed American warplanes for killing more than 100 people in Bala Balak, a Taliban-held district in Farah province.

The top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, expressed doubt about whether the civilians were killed by American air strikes.

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OP: I can't even fathom how something like this happens. Yesterday from Sri Lanka, today from Afghanistan... straight from hell. "Man has no right to kill his brother. It is no excuse that he does so in uniform: he only adds the infamy of servitude to the crime of murder." ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, from 'A Declaration of Rights'


President Obama's budget cuts funding for abstinence-only sex education programs
BY Michael Mcauliff

WASHINGTON - The White House wants to get out of the business of telling youngsters "Just Say No to Sex."

President Obama is putting his own ideological stamp on federal spending in his proposed 2010 budget by cutting cash for abstinence-only sex ed programs.

He's taken a scalpel to a pair of $100 million George W. Bush-era programs that exclusively preached abstinence. Obama is replacing them with $110 million for comprehensive teen pregnancy prevention.

"It's about time that evidence-based management - and sanity - return to family planning programs," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan).

Dumping the say-no-to-sex programs were a tiny fraction of the $17 billion Team Obama trimmed from its $3.4 trillion funding budget request.Overall, New Yorkers say Obama's budget helps the city - but raised several red flags.

One is Obama's plan to cut $600 million from the federal terrorism insurance program.

"This is a real mistake," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, saying he'd fight to keep the money.

The administration deems the program, which helps cover builders against terror attacks, an "excessive federal subsidy." It hopes the cuts encourage them to "mitigate terrorism risk" by "building safer buildings."

"It's a definite setback for rebuilding Ground Zero," said Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.). "It's the No. 1 terrorist target in the world. We need that federal backstop."

Lawmakers were pleased, though, that Obama is stepping up with $70 million to aid ill 9/11 responders.

In another area that sparked alarm, King panned Obama's move to end a program that paid the NYPD $18 million last year for help battling illegal immigration.

Lawmakers were also upset Obama scrapped plans to build a new presidential helicopter fleet in upstate Owego - $3.6 billion has already been spent.

and there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth

About damn time.



Governor Henry vetoes school deregulation bill, says it would weaken state school standards
By Associated Press
5:21 PM CDT, May 8, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Gov. Brad Henry has vetoed legislation that would allow public schools to operate as charter schools free of many state school mandates.

Henry vetoed the Republican-supported bill Friday, saying it would turn back the clock on decades of education reforms.

The bill was supported by some school administrators and school boards who claimed it would have given them more local control. It was opposed by the Oklahoma Education Association, which said it could eliminate school librarians and counselors.

Henry says local school administrators could ignore rigorous state standards and create their own academic benchmarks and rules under the bill.

The Democratic governor says it would be a disastrous step backward to approve legislation that weakens state standards, abolishes historic reforms and reduces rights and benefits provided to teachers.


Witness halts fleeing driver after two Mishawaka girls struck

Tribune Staff Writer

Sisters, ages 4 and 6, are listed in critical condition after car hits them.

MISHAWAKA — Two young girls, sisters, were in critical condition late Thursday after being run down earlier in the evening while crossing the street arm-in-arm after playing with friends.

The driver reportedly attempted to flee, but was stopped at gunpoint by a man who witnessed the accident.

According to witnesses, the two girls, ages 4 and 6, were crossing 11th Street at Dodge Street about 7:18 p.m. when a man traveling west on 11th in a blue Chevrolet Lumina struck both of them at about 40 mph.

No sooner had they crossed the street than I heard tires lock up and, 'Boom! Boom!,'" said Alan Knepp, who was standing just up the street when the girls were hit.

Knepp said the younger girl passed quickly beneath the vehicle, but her older sister rode the hood for several seconds before falling beneath the front end and then under both driver's side tires.

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ETA: The four-year-old died. No mention of what will happen to the driver. :(

Obama: Send me credit card legislation this month

from The Associated Press

Send me a bill that stops credit card companies from taking advantage of consumers, and do it by month's end, President Barack Obama is demanding of Congress.

But there's no guarantee lawmakers will deliver by Memorial Day, and the banking industry is fighting back.

"Americans know that they have a responsibility to live within their means and pay what they owe," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday. "But they also have a right to not get ripped off by the sudden rate hikes, unfair penalties and hidden fees that have become all too common."

Legislation known as the Credit Card Holders' Bill of Rights has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate, possibly in the coming week.

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Huckabee: The GOP Could Become As Irrelevant As The Whigs

Days after national Republicans launched a new campaign to broaden the party's outreach, former upstart presidential candidate Mike Huckabee says the GOP is at risk of becoming "irrelevant as the Whigs."

In an interview with the California newspaper The Visalia Times-Delta, Huckabee said the GOP would only further decline in influence should it alienate social conservatives — largely considered the most energetic and loyal faction of the party.

"Throw the social conservatives the pro-life, pro-family people overboard and the Republican party will be as irrelevant as the Whigs," he said in reference to the American political party that largely disbanded in the mid 1800s.

"They'll basically be a party of gray-haired old men sitting around the country club puffing cigars, sipping brandy and wondering whatever happened to the country. That will be the end of the party," he said in the interview published Thursday.

Huckabee's comments come the same day former Vice President Dick Cheney warned his party's leaders not to moderate their views as they launch an effort to regain control in the nation's Capitol.

"The idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy," Cheney also said. "I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most of us aren’t," he told conservative talk-radio host Scott Hennen.

The comments come after longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter formally left the GOP, igniting a fierce debate among Republicans over what type of candidates the party should embrace going forward.

On Saturday, three prominent GOP leaders — Rep. Eric Cantor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — kicked off a campaign to reshape their party's image, gathering at a restaurant in northern Virginia for the first of a series of town hall meetings. The goal of the initiative, called the National Council for a New America, is to connect Republican leaders with voters across the country to help get the party's electoral fortunes back on track.


If we're becoming the Whigs, who would be our spiritual leader?

Justice Ginsburg discusses being the lone female on the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg: US Supreme Court needs another woman

By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY
May 5, 2009

WASHINGTON — Three years after Justice Sandra Day O'Connor left the Supreme Court, the impact of having only one woman on the nation's highest bench has become particularly clear to that woman — Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Her status as the court's lone woman was especially poignant during a recent case involving a 13-year-old girl who had been strip-searched by Arizona school officials looking for drugs. During oral arguments, some other justices minimized the girl's lasting humiliation, but Ginsburg stood out in her concern for the teenager.

"They have never been a 13-year-old girl," she told USA TODAY later when asked about her colleagues' comments during the arguments. "It's a very sensitive age for a girl. I didn't think that my colleagues, some of them, quite understood."

As Justice David Souter prepares to retire at the end of the term this summer, the significance of Ginsburg's position as the nine-member court's only woman has become a point of broad discussion. President Obama is under pressure from groups such as the National Women's Law Center to nominate another woman.

In interviews with USA TODAY before Souter's retirement announcement Friday, Ginsburg said the court needs another woman. "Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. I don't say (the split) should be 50-50," Ginsburg said. "It could be 60% men, 40% women, or the other way around. It shouldn't be that women are the exception."

Since O'Connor's departure in 2006, oral arguments and the justices' behind-the-scenes discussions on how disputes should be resolved have had a different tone. In the strip-search case and others this term, Ginsburg has revealed a woman's point of view that was strikingly at odds with those of many of her colleagues.

Ginsburg dominated oral arguments in an important case involving alleged discrimination related to pregnancy leaves. She was openly frustrated that some of her male colleagues, in her view, might not have understood the discrimination women face on the job.

She said the arguments in that dispute echoed those of a 2007 case involving Lilly Ledbetter, a 19-year worker at a Goodyear tire factory in Alabama who alleged that her pay dropped over time compared with men who had equal or less seniority. In that case, the court — with Ginsburg vigorously dissenting — narrowly ruled that women could not sue for pay inequities resulting from sex discrimination that had occurred years earlier.

Oral arguments in the pregnancy case were "just, for me, Ledbetter repeated," Ginsburg told USA TODAY, adding that her colleagues showed "a certain lack of understanding" of the bias a woman can face on the job

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A Adam Flying RIR

Follow-up to Texas Shooting

Just a quick follow up to This Story:

A 7-year-old boy who was allegedly shot in the head by a couple who thought he and three other people were trespassing on their property died Saturday, authorities said.

Donald Coffey Jr. died Saturday morning at a Houston hospital, less than two days after the boy was struck in the head by shotgun pellets, Sheriff's Cpl. Hugh Bishop said.

Sheila Muhs and her husband, Gayle Muhs, both 45, were charged with second-degree felony counts of aggravated assault in the shootings Thursday. They were being held at Liberty County Jail with bail set at $25,000 each and had not yet retained an attorney, Bishop said.

Bishop said the district attorney could upgrade the charges to murder on Monday, but investigators were "still trying to get the circumstances behind the incident."

Source and Rest of Story