July 12th, 2009


GOP Racist Tradition is safe! New Day for Young Republicans

Young GOP Chooses Hate

Audra Shay, the Young Republican leader accused of endorsing racism on Facebook, was elected head of the group for GOP members under 40 this afternoon.

Audra Shay, the Young Republican leader who became the subject of a national controversy after The Daily Beast uncovered racist comments she wrote on Facebook and other social networking sites, won the race to become head of the Young Republicans by approximately 50 votes (out of about 950 voting delegates) at their national convention this afternoon in Indianapolis.
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Murasaki Shikibu

Little Brother is scanning you

Chips in official IDs raise privacy fears

Climbing into his Volvo, outfitted with a Matrics antenna and a Motorola reader he'd bought on eBay for $190, Chris Paget cruised the streets of San Francisco with this objective: To read the identity cards of strangers, wirelessly, without ever leaving his car.

It took him 20 minutes to strike hacker's gold.

Zipping past Fisherman's Wharf, his scanner detected, then downloaded to his laptop, the unique serial numbers of two pedestrians' electronic U.S. passport cards embedded with radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags. Within an hour, he'd "skimmed" the identifiers of four more of the new, microchipped PASS cards from a distance of 20 feet.

Embedding identity documents — passports, drivers licenses, and the like — with RFID chips is a no-brainer to government officials. Increasingly, they are promoting it as a 21st century application of technology that will help speed border crossings, safeguard credentials against counterfeiters, and keep terrorists from sneaking into the country.

But Paget's February experiment demonstrated something privacy advocates had feared for years: That RFID, coupled with other technologies, could make people trackable without their knowledge or consent.

He filmed his drive-by heist, and soon his video went viral on the Web, intensifying a debate over a push by government, federal and state, to put tracking technologies in identity documents and over their potential to erode privacy.

Putting a traceable RFID in every pocket has the potential to make everybody a blip on someone's radar screen, critics say, and to redefine Orwellian government snooping for the digital age.

"Little Brother," some are already calling it — even though elements of the global surveillance web they warn against exist only on drawing boards, neither available nor approved for use.

But with advances in tracking technologies coming at an ever-faster rate, critics say, it won't be long before governments could be able to identify and track anyone in real time, 24-7, from a cafe in Paris to the shores of California.

The key to getting such a system to work, these opponents say, is making sure everyone carries an RFID tag linked to a biometric data file.

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Ronaldo 7

Who Knew Airlines Had Sexism and Sizism All Wrapped Up In One!

ATLANTA (AP) -- The union that represents flight attendants who worked for Northwest Airlines before it was bought by Delta Air Lines is crying foul over Delta's failure to offer bigger sizes for its signature red dress uniform designed by Richard Tyler.

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Some of the comments in this post are just amazing. When did size of clothing start being equal with someone's weight/wideness?
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♪ the greatest

I love the token PFitz reference :3

Independent’s Day
Obama doesn't want to look back, but Attorney General Eric Holder may probe Bush-era torture anyway.

It's the morning after Independence Day, and Eric Holder Jr. is feeling the weight of history. The night before, he'd stood on the roof of the White House alongside the president of the United States, leaning over a railing to watch fireworks burst over the Mall, the monuments to Lincoln and Washington aglow at either end. "I was so struck by the fact that for the first time in history an African-American was presiding over this celebration of what our nation is all about," he says. Now, sitting at his kitchen table in jeans and a gray polo shirt, as his 11-year-old son, Buddy, dashes in and out of the room, Holder is reflecting on his own role. He doesn't dwell on the fact that he's the country's first black attorney general. He is focused instead on the tension that the best of his predecessors have confronted: how does one faithfully serve both the law and the president?

Alone among cabinet officers, attorneys general are partisan appointees expected to rise above partisanship. All struggle to find a happy medium between loyalty and independence. Few succeed. At one extreme looms Alberto Gonzales, who allowed the Justice Department to be run like Tammany Hall. At the other is Janet Reno, whose righteousness and folksy eccentricities marginalized her within the Clinton administration. Lean too far one way and you corrupt the office, too far the other way and you render yourself impotent. Mindful of history, Holder is trying to get the balance right. "You have the responsibility of enforcing the nation's laws, and you have to be seen as neutral, detached, and nonpartisan in that effort," Holder says. "But the reality of being A.G. is that I'm also part of the president's team. I want the president to succeed; I campaigned for him. I share his world view and values."

These are not just the philosophical musings of a new attorney general. Holder, 58, may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision."

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I was kind of down on Holder after the whle AWB 2009 thing, but this article made me appreciate him a whole lot more. It also made me think his wife would make a WAY kickass AG. :P

Other takes on this article:

Glenn Greenwald, The Daily Beast, Emptywheel

Texas fail or unfortunate reality?

Gail Lowe: Perry Picks Creationist To Run State Education Board

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has chosen Gail Lowe, an
outspoken creationist, to run the state's Board of Education.

It was actually the less controversial choice.
Cynthia Dunbar, reportedly under consideration for the post, believed government should be guided by a "biblical litmus test" and thought public education was a "subtly deceptive tool of perversion." (She home-schooled her own children.) She has also endorsed conspiracy theories suggesting President Obama is not a natural-born citizen.

Lowe, on the other hand,
thinks evolution should be taught and "kids ought to be able to hold religious beliefs and still study science without any conflict." But in 2008, she took the position that "biology textbooks which do not teach both the scientific strengths and weaknesses of the theory of evolution must be rejected by the board." She has voted against new textbooks that do not contain those "weaknesses." She is a newspaper editor, not a teacher.

Lowe will replace Don McLeroy, another self-described creationist and dentist whose reappointment was blocked by Democrats. He had been chairman of the board since 2007 and will remain a member.

When your choice is the lesser of two evils...


The Hidden Cost of Bargains...

IKEA is as bad as Wal-Mart
Everyone loves a bargain, but a new book illuminates the dangers of cheap stuff

My mother still owns, and uses, the same vacuum cleaner she bought early in her marriage, just after World War II. She still lives in the house my father -- not a carpenter by trade, but an electrician -- built in the early 1950s with the help of his brothers, a small but sturdy Cape Cod-style dwelling with hardwood floors and solid wood doors that close with a hearty, satisfying clunk (as opposed to the echoey click of hollow-core doors). Today the idea of anything -- a household appliance, a piece of furniture, a house -- being built to last is almost laughable. When your vacuum cleaner stops sucking, you most likely haul it out to the curb and trek to Target or a big-box home-goods store to replace it. Even if you could readily find someone to repair it, the trouble and the cost would be prohibitive. If you need a bookcase, there's always IKEA: Sure, you'd prefer to buy a sturdily built hardwood version that doesn't buckle under the weight of actual books, but who has extra dough to spend on stuff like that? The IKEA bookcase is good enough, for now if not forever.

That cycle of consumption seems harmless enough, particularly since we live in a country where there are plenty of cheap goods to go around. But in her lively and terrifying book "Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture," Ellen Ruppel Shell pulls back the shimmery, seductive curtain of low-priced goods to reveal their insidious hidden costs. Those all-you-can-eat Red Lobster shrimps may very well have come from massive shrimp-farming spreads in Thailand, where they've been plumped up with antibiotics and possibly tended by maltreated migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam. The made-in-China toy train you bought your kid a few Christmases ago may have been sprayed with lead paint -- and the spraying itself may have been done by a child laborer, without the benefit of a protective mask.

"Cheap" is hardly a finger-waggling book. This isn't a screed designed to make us feel guilty for unknowingly benefiting from the hardships of workers in other parts of the world. And Shell -- who writes regularly for the Atlantic -- isn't talking about the shallowness of consumerism here; she makes it clear that she, like most of us, enjoys the hunt for a good deal. "Cheap" really is about us, meaning not just Americans, but citizens of the world, and about what we stand to lose in a global economic environment that threatens the very nature of meaningful work, work we can take pride in and build a career on -- or even at which we can just make a living.

Discount chains pretend to be the most democratic of enterprises, willing and able to fill our every need at a price we can afford: Ingenious slogans like "Design for All" (Target) and "Save money. Live Better" (Wal-Mart) make that point pretty well. Shell asserts that an excess of cheap goods -- and the drive to make and sell them ever more cheaply -- is putting a deadly squeeze on workers worldwide. Most liberal-leaning citizens are aware of the profit-making schemes of Wal-Mart and, even if we actually shop there, find them distasteful (although Shell notes that among economists, the chain has its defenders).

But Shell asserts that even outlet malls and seemingly benign, friendly, progressive stores like IKEA are part of the problem; along with more obvious bad guys like Wal-Mart, they perpetuate a cycle that, far from nurturing creativity and innovation in the marketplace, ultimately benefits a relative few at the very top of the economic chain. Shell notes that before retiring in February 2009, "Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott Jr. took home in his biweekly paycheck what his average employee earned in a lifetime." You might say that, for Scott, the good news is that everybody can afford to shop at Wal-Mart; the better news is that he himself doesn't have to.
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Fargo vs Fargo: When rationality is gone from the relationship.

Al Lewis: Wells Fargo Bank Sues Itself

You can't expect a bank that is dumb enough to sue itself to know why it is suing itself.

Yet I could not resist asking Wells Fargo Bank NA why it filed a civil complaint against itself in a mortgage foreclosure case in Hillsborough County, Fla.

"Due to state foreclosure laws, lenders are obligated to name and notify subordinate lien holders," said Wells Fargo spokesman Kevin Waetke.

Being a taxpayer-subsidized, too-big-to-fail institution, it's possible that one of the few ways for Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) to know what it is doing is to notify itself with a court filing.
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Akuma River

July 12, 2009 Iran Update

iran protests

iran protests

This is a poster, I believe it is informing people that Ayatollah Rafsanjani (sp) will be, for the first time since the election, conducting Friday morning prayers. There is also a report that Mousavi and Khatami will be there as well. They are calling for rally on that day. But we are not too sure of this since it says on the FB that more details will come on Thursday.

Found a translation:
The poster is clear:
1. Another upheavel (HamAse) is on its way.
2. Our Rande-vous Fri 26 Tir 1388 (17 July 2009).
A. Rafsanjani leading coming week's Friday prayer at Tehran university
3. Green wave ARISE, the promised day is coming.
4. With S Mohamad Khatami & Mir H Mousavi in attendance.
5. Attentions all friends awaiting demonstration and gathering of miliions.
Analysis: This gathering can only happen as a counter-coup! If millions arise the Khamenei-AhmadiNejad coup cannot stop this from happening. Unless this is a not-so-funny joke?!

Until then, it seems pretty quiet. Couldn't find much articles on the usual places so I hit google news and picked up some things. Green Briefs has most of the info on what is going on in Iran.

July 12, 2009 post | July 11, 2009 post | July 10, 2009 post | July 9, 2009 posts | July 8, 2009 post | July 7, 2009 post | July 6, 2009 post | July 5, 2009 post | July 4, 2009 post

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Military health experts propose ban on tobacco use by soldiers

The Pentagon is considering a ban on the sale and use of tobacco in the military.

A new study commissioned by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs recommends a complete ban on tobacco, which would end tobacco sales on military bases and prohibit smoking by anyone in uniform, not even combat troops in the thick of battle.

According to the study, tobacco use impairs military readiness in the short term. Over the long term, it can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. The study also says smokeless tobacco use can lead to oral and pancreatic cancer.

The Defense Department's top health officials are studying the report's suggestions and will make recommendations to the Pentagon's policy team and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

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I can't resist a source in uniform.

Got cho ass motherfucker.

Cops Catch One UES Serial Gay Basher


The NYPD has arrested a 19 year-old man who has admitted taking part in the recent spree of gay bashings in Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Driton Nicaj, 19, is accused of two alleged attacks on gay men - and allegedly admitted to police he was on the scene when a third man was assaulted. He was charged with robbery and aggravated harassment, both as hate crimes, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Cops said Nicaj, an Albanian immigrant, was part of a roving pack of thugs who beat and robbed gay men over the last few weeks. "The investigation is going forward," Kelly said. "We're looking for other people involved in these assaults."

The first attack happened May 31 in Carl Schurz Park near Gracie Mansion when at least four other men surrounded two gay men and robbed them. The gang struck again June 27, accosting Boston resident Joseph Holladay at E. 81st St. just after 4 a.m. The 36-year-old victim was pistol-whipped and robbed of his wallet, glasses and a Movado watch, said NYPD chief spokesman Paul Browne. Nicaj admitted to witnessing Holladay's attack but claims he didn't participate, police said. The next day, Michael Doane, 40, was pummeled on Second Ave. near 84th St. A witness walking his dog saw two men kicking Doane in the head, Browne said. Doane, who lives on the Upper East Side, suffered two skull fractures and a broken nose and his iPod was stolen, Browne said. Nicaj, who was captured on security cameras, confessed to beating and robbing Doane, police said.
Nicaj has prior drunk driving and drug arrests in Pennsylvania. Police continue to seek his accomplices.


Palin Says She's Not Leaving Politics

WASHINGTON – Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she's not only staying involved in national politics, but she plans to jump back into the national scrum when she leaves office at the end of the month. The former Republican vice presidential nominee said she plans to write a book, campaign for political candidates from coast to coast — even Democrats who share her views on limited government, national defense and energy independence — and build a right-of-center coalition.
"I will go around the country on behalf of candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation," she said during an interview published Sunday in The Washington Times.
Palin shocked critics and allies alike when she announced on July 3 that she would leave the governor's office while in the middle of her first term. The governor chose not to seek re-election and suggested it was unfair to hold onto the office as a lame duck. Instead, she will step down July 26 and pursue a national profile. She has not said whether she is building toward a presidential campaign for 2012.

Republican Women Federated of Simi Valley announced Palin was scheduled to speak to the group's private gala on Aug. 8 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. The event — reporters will not be allowed to attend — will take place in an airplane hangar that houses a retired presidential aircraft Air Force One and will stir more questions about he curious resignation.

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Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090712/ap_on_re_us/us_palin



Kids recant abuse claims after dad jailed 20 years

Kids recant abuse claims after dad jailed 20 years

Former Vancouver police officer Clyde Ray Spencer spent nearly 20 years in prison after he was convicted of sexually molesting his son and daughter. Now, the children say it never happened.

Matthew Spencer and Kathryn Tetz, who live in Sacramento, Calif., each took the stand Friday in Clark County Superior Court to clear their father's name, The Columbian newspaper reported.

Matthew, now 33, was 9 years old at the time. He told a judge he made the allegation after months of insistent questioning by now-retired Clark County sheriff's detective Sharon Krause just so she would leave him alone.

Tetz, 30, said she doesn't remember what she told Krause back in 1985, but she remembers Krause buying her ice cream. She said that when she finally read the police reports she was "absolutely sure" the abuse never happened.

"I would have remembered something that graphic, that violent," Tetz said.
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Rules of Acquisition #94: Females and finances don't mix. (So I am Star Trek Geek, sue me)

Fixing the Economy? It's Women's Work.

While the pinstripe crowd fixates on troubled assets, a stalled stimulus and mortgage remedies, it turns out that a more sure-fire financial fix is within our grasp -- and has been for years. New research says a healthy dose of estrogen may be the key not only to our fiscal recovery, but also to economic strength worldwide.

The sexy new discussion in policy circles around the world, thanks to the recession, is whether a significant shift of power from men to women is underway -- or whether it should be. Accounting giant Ernst & Young pulled out charts and graphs at a recent power lunch in Washington with female lawmakers to argue a provocative bottom line: Companies with more women in senior management roles make more money. The latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine sweepingly predicts the "death of macho." Economists at Davos this year speculated that the presence of more women on Wall Street might have averted the downturn. Adding to this debate is the fact that the laid-off victims of this recession are overwhelmingly men.

All those right-brain skills disparaged as soft in the roaring '90s are suddenly 21st-century-hot, while cocky is experiencing a slow fizzle.
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' jules

Take a load off, Jenny, and you put the load right on me

Why tide against Sanford ebbed
Governor’s wife, political realities helped put calls for resignation to rest

The shock had subsided.

Then Gov. Mark Sanford set the scandal ablaze again, saying he considered his Argentine lover his “soul mate” and saw her more often than he originally had said.

A wave of lawmakers and others jumped off the fence, calling on Sanford to “do the right thing” — resign. Attorney General Henry McMaster asked for an inquiry to determine whether Sanford used any public money to visit the woman.

Behind the scenes, political camps tried to influence, in the direction of their own interests, the decisions of Sanford and others. Meanwhile, polls showed more than 60 percent of those asked thought Sanford should resign.

It seemed as if Sanford was hanging on by a thread. Still, Sanford would not resign, telling one top Republican that he would have to be kicked out of office.

Three factors combined to allow Sanford to cling to his office:
His wife, Jenny, stepped to his defense for the first time.

• State law enforcement officials found Sanford broke no laws. Absent that, state law makes it difficult to remove a governor.

• South Carolina’s Republican leadership refused to ask Sanford. Meanwhile, lawmakers — in part because of wrangling over the 2010 governor’s race — could not coordinate a push to force Sanford to resign.
And, observers say, unless something new emerges — either in the media or through a legislative investigation — Sanford will survive.

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Obama orders probe of alleged mass grave

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has ordered his national security team to investigate reports that U.S. allies were responsible for the deaths of as many as 2,000 Taliban prisoners of war during the opening days of the war in Afghanistan.

Obama told CNN in an interview that aired Sunday that he doesn't know how the U.S.-allied Northern Alliance behaved in November 2001, but he wants a full accounting before deciding how to move forward.

"I think that, you know, there are responsibilities that all nations have even in war," Obama said during an interview at the end of a six-day trip to Russia, Italy and Ghana.

"And if it appears that our conduct in some way supported violations of the laws of war, then I think that, you know, we have to know about that."

Were they killed by U.S.-backed forces?
The president's comments seem to reverse officials' statements from Friday, when they said they had no grounds to investigate the 2001 deaths of Taliban prisoners of war who human rights groups allege were killed by U.S.-backed forces.

Reacting to the interview, Physicians for Human Rights hailed Obama's decision.

"President Obama is right to say that U.S. and Afghan violations of the laws of war must be investigated," said Nathaniel Raymond, a Physicians for Human Rights researcher. "If the Obama administration finds that criminal wrongdoing occurred in this case, those responsible — whether American or Afghan officials — must be prosecuted."

Collapse )Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31879223/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/
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TX Board of Education strikes again

AUSTIN — Biographies of Washington, Lincoln, Stephen F. Austin? Not fit reading material for children in the early grades.

Cesar Chavez? Not worthy of his role-model status.

Christianity? Emphasize its importance.

Such suggestions are part of efforts to rewrite history books for the state's schoolchildren, producing some expert recommendations that are sure to inflame Texans, no matter their political leanings.

The State Board of Education expects to start discussing new social studies curriculum standards this week, with members of the public getting their first opportunity to speak this fall and a final board vote next spring.

The process is a long one with lasting impact: reshaping the social studies curriculum, including history, for 4.7 million Texas public school children.

“This is something that every parent would want to be paying attention to. This will determine whether or not the kids get the education needed to succeed in college and jobs in the future,” said Dan Quinn of the Austin-based Texas Freedom Network. “If we are going to politicize our kids' education, that will put our kids behind other kids when they're competing for college and good-paying jobs on down the road.”

Curriculum standards are updated about every 10 years; the last social studies update came in 1997.

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