June 13th, 2009

Sobering -- a construction worker in Texas dies every 2 1/2 days.

Dying to Build - Why Texas is the deadliest state for construction workers.

On Oct. 23, 2006, 19-year-old Omar Puerto was painting trim and preparing to install rain gutters on a three-story apartment building in South Austin. It was his third day on the job. So far, the main challenge had been moving the heavy 40-foot aluminum ladder; he and a fellow worker had struggled with it all three days.

Behind the men was a spider’s web of electrical wires leading from the apartment building to a 7,200-volt transformer. Federal law requires that workers be trained before working around live wires. The law also says that any exposed wiring must be clearly marked. These wires weren’t. And Puerto, according to his family, had gotten no training.

Now it was time to coax the 40-foot ladder toward the next section of wall. As Puerto and his partner yanked and pulled, the ladder hit an exposed wire connected to the transformer. The guy on the other end of the ladder took off running. Puerto had so much voltage running through his body that he couldn’t release his grip. He died right there.

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Long article is long (but it's definitely worth reading) -- much more at the source.

So horrifying. Lost in all the anti-union rhetoric is the fact that labor gets no rights unless the state forces employers to give them. No one should ever die at their job because their employers are negligent. And, most unfortunately, even existing labor laws are often ignored, especially for low-income people. A lot of employers bet that someone who's making ten bucks an hour can't afford to fight back, and that's usually a safe bet.
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Updates on Iranian Elections

Lots more on Youtube.

Leading Iranian opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi was due to give a press conference at 2pm Saturday Tehran time (8 1/2 hours ahead of EST), sources said. The anticipated address comes after a tense night in Iran in which state organs proclaimed that incumbent hardline Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was winning the historic election by a two-to-one margin, a statistic that defied the belief of many analysts.

"I don't think anyone anticipated this level of fraudulence," Reuters cited the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Karim Sadjadpour. "This was a selection, not an election. At least authoritarian regimes like Syria and Egypt have no democratic pretences. In retrospect it appears this entire campaign was a show: (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah (Ali) Khamenei wasn't ever going to let Ahmadinejad lose."
"I'm in disbelief that this could be the case," Reuters cited Trita Parsi. "It's one thing if Ahmadinejad had won the first round with 51 or 55 per cent. But this number ... just sounds tremendously strange in a way that doesn't add up ... It is difficult to feel comfortable that this occurred without any cheating."

The scale of the suspected fraud was such that fears of a possible police crackdown on opposition leaders and their supporters have been heightened.

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Murasaki Shikibu

Ousted AmeriCorps watchdog defends waste probe

Ousted AmeriCorps watchdog defends waste probe

WASHINGTON – An inspector general fired by President Barack Obama said Friday he acted "with the highest integrity" in investigating AmeriCorps and other government-funded national service programs. Gerald Walpin said in an interview with The Associated Press that he reported facts and conclusions "in an honest and full way" while serving as inspector general at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

In a letter to Congress on Thursday, Obama said he had lost confidence in Walpin and was removing him from the position.

Walpin defended his work on Friday. "I know that I and my office acted with the highest integrity as an independent inspector general should act," he said.

Obama's move follows an investigation by Walpin finding misuse of federal grants by a nonprofit education group led by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is an Obama supporter and former NBA basketball star. Johnson and a nonprofit education academy he founded ultimately agree to repay half of $847,000 in grants it had received from AmeriCorps.

Walpin was criticized by the acting U.S. attorney in Sacramento for the way he handled the investigation of Johnson and St. HOPE Academy.

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panda bear

(no subject)

Protesters Chant "Death To The Dictator, Death To Ahmadinejad", Mousavi: "I Won't Surrender"

Riot police battled with protesters Saturday as officials announced that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won a landslide election victory. His opponent denounced the results as "treason."

The violence broke out as Iran's interior minister said that Ahmadinejad had gained 62.6 percent of the vote.

NBC News reported "violent clashes" between rock-throwing protesters and police in the center of Tehran.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered after a statement posted online by pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi urged his supporters to resist a "governance of lie and dictatorship."

NBC News reported that some of the protesters shouted "Death to the dictator, death to Ahmadinejad" and "We want our votes back".

Several injuries were reported after police officers hit protesters with batons. Witnesses said some demonstrators appeared to have been arrested.

Black-clad police also gathered around key government buildings and mobile phone text messaging was blocked in an apparent attempt to stifle one of the main communication tools by Mousavi's movement.

Earlier, outside the Interior Ministry, which directed Friday's voting, security forces set up a cordon. The results had flowed quickly after polls closed showing the hard-line president with a comfortable lead — defying expectations of a nail-biter showdown following a month of fierce campaigning and bringing immediate charges of vote rigging by Mousavi.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday that the United States hopes the outcome of Iran's election reflects the "genuine will and desire" of its people.

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Mousavi has been placed under house arrest.

The National Iranian American Council says that Mousavi is now under house arrest. Also:

Mohsen Mirdamadi, the head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front has been arrested.

About 200 police forces have surrounded the newspaper offices of Etemademelli and Green Word, holding at least 30 journalist inside. The fate of the journalists is not known.

Timeline of events can be seen HERE!
Murasaki Shikibu

Gay marriage: a tipping point?

Gay marriage: a tipping point?

Fancy statistical analysis can indeed lead to better understanding.

Jeff Lax and Justin Phillips used the method of multilevel regression and poststratification to estimate attitudes toward gay rights in the states. They put together a dataset using national opinion polls from 1994 through 2009 and analyzed several different opinion questions on gay rights.

Policy on gay rights in the U.S. is mostly set at the state level, and Lax and Phillips's main substantive finding is that state policies are strongly responsive to public opinion. However, in some areas, policies are lagging behind opinion somewhat.

A fascinating trend

Here I'll focus on the coolest thing Lax and Phillips found, which is a graph of state-by-state trends in public support for gay marriage. In the past fifteen years, gay marriage has increased in popularity in all fifty states. No news there, but what was a surprise to me is where the largest changes have occurred. The popularity of gay marriage has increased fastest in the states where gay rights were already relatively popular in the 1990s.

In 1995, support for gay marriage exceeded 30% in only six states: New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California, and Vermont. In these states, support for gay marriage has increased by an average of almost 20 percentage points. In contrast, support has increased by less than 10 percentage points in the six states that in 1995 were most anti-gay-marriage--Utah, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Idaho.


This isn't the whole article; click on the source link for the whole thing and all the graphs.
K-Box cartoon

Congress becomes a soap opera - no, literally

Body Politic: The Senate's New Soap Opera

What with senators switching parties, one caught in an airport bathroom scandal, and another admitting affection for hookers, the chamber sometimes has a soap-opera feel. But now, if the CW buys it, the Senate will be the subject of a real TV soap opera called Body Politic. Actress Gabrielle Union tells Whispers that she and a cast that includes Tim Matheson of Animal House have completed a pilot that's winning rave reviews in Hollywood. She plays a snubbed Democratic aide who switches to work for Matheson, a top GOP senator. "It's a soap opera in the best way possible," she gushes. The pilot was shot in Richmond at the state capital. "We had full access. It was a great place to film," she says.

I'll probably try to catch this, regardless of its actual quality, because Gabrielle Union is pretty much a Universal Good:

That being said, LOL at the fact that Tim Matheson is STILL identified as "of Animal House," when he's been playing distinguished elder statesmen for at LEAST the past DECADE.
Obama has a crush on me

Mousavi's letter to the Iranian people in English

Translated from Farsi

In the Name of God

Honorable people of Iran

The reported results of the 10th Iranians residential Election are appalling. The people who witnessed the mixture of votes in long lineups know who they have voted for and observe the wizardry of I.R.I.B (State run TV and Radio) and election officials. Now more than ever before they want to know how and by which officials this game plan has been designed. I object fully to the current procedures and obvious and abundant deviations from law on the day of election and alert people to not surrender to this dangerous plot. Dishonesty and corruption of officials as we have seen will only result in weakening the pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran and empowers lies and dictatorships.

I am obliged, due to my religious and national duties, to expose this dangerous plot and to explain its devastating effects on the future of Iran. I am concerned that the continuation of the current situation will transform all key members of this regime into fabulists in confrontation with the nation and seriously jeopardize them in this world and the next.

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cookie monster

from the brilliant Urbaniak

 How a Peripheral Right-Wing Blogger's Flight of Fancy Became Conservative Gospel

"Worst Late Show joke ever!"

(Cross-posted on Twitter with feedback from Jim Treacher.)

June 8: David Letterman jokes about Palin daughter getting "knocked up" at ball game. Audience laughs at obvious Bristol reference.

June 9: Blogger/crank Jim Treacher posts logic-defying claim that Letterman's Bristol joke was actually about Willow's statutory rape.

Treacher's thesis: the imaginary events of the Bristol joke could never have happened because she was not actually at the ball game.

Treacher's post is linked on the popular political weblog Memeorandum and spreadslike wildfire through the right-wing blogosphere. 

In less than 24 hours, a peripheral blogger's loopy post is THE conservative talking point of the day.

The next day Letterman says the "knocked up" joke was about the daughter who was knocked up. Palin supporters react to this logic with fury.

June 12: Sarah Palin insists to Matt Lauer that Letterman was absolutely making a joke about the statutory rape of Willow Palin. 

NY Republican assemblyman calls for CBS to fire Letterman. Team Palin has made the Treacher Thesis a key element of her political recovery.

Out-of-State Minutemen causing trouble on the border

9-year-old Brisenia Flores

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What Happened When:

--May 30 -- Three people entered a home in Arivaca and opened fire, killing Raul Flores,29, and his daughter Brisenia, 9. Flores’ wife was wounded but managed to shoot one of the suspects.
--June 11 -- Jason Eugene Bush was arrested in a Kingman hospital.
--June 12 -- Shawna Forde was arrested near Sierra Vista, and Albert Gaxiola was arrested in Tucson.

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School Mourns Brisenia.
Trouble finds Shawna Forde --interesting read from her local paper
Mother Shot Back
Daily Kos
Activist Shawna Forde charged in double slaying

[edited for organization]

SC GOP Activist: First Lady's an "Ancestor" to Escaped Gorilla

A couple of days ago, one of the gorillas at the Riverbanks Zoo here in Columbia, SC, managed to use a bamboo plant to escape from his enclosure for all of five minutes. Made for lots of excitement, interesting articles on how strong bamboo is, etc.

Someone working for Henry McMaster, our lovable and smut-hating Attorney General, made a comment about it on their Facebook, and Rusty DePass posted a comment stating, "I'm sure it's just one of Michelle's ancestors - probably harmless."

SOURCE has an image of the posting. The comments will make you want to commit mass murder.

Disabled Law Student Banished to Abercrombie Back Room

A disabled law student is suing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch for discrimination, claiming it made her work in a stockroom because her prosthetic arm didn't fit its public image.

Riam Dean, 22, was just days into a part-time job at the U.S. firm's flagship London store when she says she was asked to leave the shop floor.

She claims she was told she broke the company's 'Look Policy', which dictates how members of staff are meant to present themselves.
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' jules

(no subject)

US rejects victory claim by Iran's Ahmadinejad

The U.S. on Saturday refused to accept hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim of a landslide re-election victory in Iran and said it was looking into allegations of election fraud.

Any hopes by the Obama administration of gaining a result similar to Lebanon's recent election, won by a Western-backed moderate coalition, appeared to be in jeopardy.

"We are monitoring the situation as it unfolds in Iran, but we, like the rest of the world, are waiting and watching to see what the Iranian people decide," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at a news conference with Canada's foreign affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon.

Minutes after Clinton spoke, the White House released a two-sentence statement praising "the vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians," but expressing concern about "reports of irregularities."

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Also from Fox News (o_0):

"White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the Obama administration was "impressed by the vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians."

But U.S. officials are skeptical of the outcome, in which the government declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner Saturday.

U.S. analysts find it "not credible" that challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi would have lost the balloting in his hometown or that a third candidate, Mehdi Karoubi, would have received less than 1 percent of the total vote, a senior U.S. officials told FOX News.

Despite a reportedly record turnout of 85 percent, the senior official said given the "not credible" counts for Mousavi and Karoubi, the turnout clearly was questionable."

Protests for Iran Around U.S. & Canada tomorrow

Tomorrow, Sunday June 14th, the Californian Iranians are having a protest against the election results and in support for the people risking their lives in Iran for freedom by the Federal Building on Wilsher.

I know a lot of people wanted to do something to help, well if you live in California this is it. Protests are going to be happening all over the United States and Canada, however. I know for sure Toronto and Vancouver are having one tomorrow. So if you wish, go participate. It would be nice to show the Iranians in Iran that we support all their efforts.

From a fellow Canadian-Iranian, I thank you all for your great support and understandment of the current crisis, even awareness helps. We appreciate it a lot.


Vancouver Protest:
Toronto Protest:
Edmonton Protest:

Los Angeles Protest:
San Francisco Protest:
New York Protest:
Washington D.C. Protest:
Houston Protest:

London Protest:

London - 3pm
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Washington DC - 11am
Interests Section of the I.R.Iran
Los Angeles - 11am
Federal Building
New York - 2pm
East 47 st between 1st and 2nd Avenue

Anymore let me know.
purty tardis


Incredibly, my attempt at a mylaptopisevil-style capslock title is less fail than the subject of this article.

Anti-Abortion Blogger's Miracle Baby Was, In Fact, A Doll
By Sadie, 4:00 PM on Fri Jun 12 2009


"I have that exact doll in my house," said Elizabeth Russell, a dollmaker from Buffalo who had been following the blog. "As soon as I saw that picture, I knew it was a scam."'

"April's Mom," a single mother whose blog chronicled her pregnancy with a child, terminally ill with Trisomy 13 and HPE, whom she was carrying to term, attracted the attention and support of abortion opponents across the country. Every day, thousands of people read about her commitment to keeping the baby, her struggles, her pain - all set to a Christian rock soundtrack and interspersed with Bible verses and anti-abortion links.

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For those lucky enough to have never seen the creepy BBC documentary, this is what Reborn dolls look like:

The people who collect these things are so effing creepy.