August 15th, 2009

Akuma River

Some good news from Iran

I dug up some good news from Iran and felt this should be given its own post. A college student who was imprisoned in Iran has been returned to her family in Los Angeles.

Cal State Northridge student imprisoned in Iran returns to L.A.
Esha Momeni, who was in Iran working on her master's thesis on women's rights, was held for 25 days and then forbidden to leave the country for nine months.
August 15, 2009 - Raja Abdulrahim

A Cal State Northridge graduate student who was briefly imprisoned in Iran while working on her master's thesis on women's rights and then prohibited from leaving the country for nine months returned this week to Los Angeles, school officials said Thursday.

Esha Momeni, 29, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday and was greeted by friends and family.

"It is wonderful news," Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester said in a prepared statement. "All of us in the CSU Northridge community have been looking forward to this day. I have met briefly with Esha, and she appears to be in fine spirits."

Momeni, who has dual citizenship in Iran and the United States, was arrested Oct. 15 for allegedly speeding along a Tehran highway and escorted to her family's home, where police confiscated her computer and video-taped interviews she had conducted for her thesis, her family said at the time.

Los Angeles-born Momeni was in Tehran conducting research on the country's women's rights movement. She is a member of Change for Equality, a nonprofit organization which trains women in nonviolent political activism and civil disobedience.

Momeni was held in the political ward of Iran's infamous Evin Prison for 25 days before she was released on $200,000 bail, paid with the deed to her parent's home, according to a news release on a website dedicated to her release.

After Momeni's release, Iranian officials said she was free to leave the country until her trial. But her father, Reza Momeni, told The Times in November that authorities were holding her travel documents.

On Tuesday, she was finally allowed to board a flight to Frankfurt, Germany, before traveling to Los Angeles.

GOP: Sanctity of Life Means Protecting Vegetables and Fetuses, it doesnt apply to the poor or sick

GOPers Decrying Obama "Death Panels" Supported Intervention For Schiavo

On a conference call with reporters this week, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas.) repeated what has become the most popular conservative canard about President Obama's health care agenda. The government, Cornyn ominously warned, would end up deciding the "cost and the value of one's life, rather than leaving those decisions in the hands of the family." A "firewall" needed to be put in place to prevent this from happening.

Four and a half years ago, the Texas Republican wasn't heeding any firewalls. He was one of the lead sponsors of unprecedented government intervention to keep the permanently brain-damaged Terri Schiavo alive.

"Congress has a right and a responsibility to investigate this case and explore possible means to protect the defenseless such as Terri Schiavo and others, including those in Texas who are in similar situations," Cornyn said at the time.

The Schiavo case became an embarrassment for the Republican Party and a crucial turning point in the 2006 election. Conservative lawmakers later acknowledged mistakes in their handling of the entire episode, but at the time they defended their actions by framing them as a desire to protect both life and due process.

Some of the same conservative figures taking potshots at Democrats for wanting to fund voluntary discussions about end-of-life decisions between doctors and their patients were leading the charge four years ago to contravene the decision by Schiavo's husband and guardian to remove the feeding tubes from his wife after she had spent 15 years in a vegetative state.
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Katie Couric: "Fear" And "Ignorance"

Katie Couric Denounces "Fear" And "Ignorance" Driving People To Town-Hall Forums On Health Care Reform

Katie Couric denounced the "fear and frankly ignorance" that is driving people to town-hall forums on health care in her "Notebook" segment.

She expressed alarm that the debate has stirred up a hornet's nest and has "uncovered disturbing attitudes and emotions that have nothing to do with policy. Are we really still debating health care when a man brings a handgun to a church where the President is speaking?"


Read the transcript:

At a town meeting hosted by Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania resident stood up to say that the health care debate has "awakened the sleeping giant."

Not exactly.

What's it's done, it seems, is stirred a hornets nest, and uncovered disturbing attitudes and emotions that have nothing to do with policy.
Story continues below

Are we really still debating health care when a man brings a handgun to a church where the President is speaking?

How does a swastika spray-painted on a Congressman's office further a discussion about Medicare?

These are tough and challenging times and lots of people are scared about their jobs and the economy. But we can't let fear and frankly ignorance - drown out the serious debate that needs to take place - about an issue that affects the lives of millions of people.

It's time for everyone to take a deep breath and to focus on the task at hand before this sideshow drowns out the main event.

That's a page from my notebook.

Law Firm Cant Take The Heat, Dick Armey Leaves Firm to Be a Full Time Protester

Armey leaves firm amid health care flap

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) is resigning from DLA Piper law firm amid a wave of negative attention his grassroots organization, Freedom Works, has drawn for helping to organize protesters at health care town hall meetings with members of Congress.

In an interview with POLITCO Armey said that he was concerned about the media scrutiny the health care protests were drawing to the firm he has been associated with since retiring from Congress.

“The firm is busy with its business, and shouldn’t be asked to take time out from their work, to defend themselves of spurious allegations,” Armey said. “No client of this firm is going to be free to mind its own business without harassment as long as I’m associated with it.”

In a statement, DLA Piper Chairman Frank Burch said the parting was mutual.

“We understand and respect” Armey’s decision, Burch said.
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Sweet Merciful Crap

Wife of Vince McMahon, Linda McMahon, Considering Senate run in 2010

-- In a statement issued on its corporate website Friday, WWE confirmed that CEO Linda McMahon is contemplating a run for the United States Senate. She would challenge incumbent democrat Chris Dodd in the 2010 race.

"Linda McMahon, CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, is considering a run for the United States Senate representing the state of Connecticut. Should she decide to run, Linda would step down as CEO, and Vince McMahon would assume the duties of CEO in addition to his current position as WWE Chairman," read the statement.

Smackdown on the Sauce

As much as I like wrestling, I CANNOT picture Linda as a Senator.

Ministers and medics rush to defend NHS

Britain's political and medical establishment have launched a concerted defence of the National Health Service in response to the attacks on the system in the US triggered by Barack Obama's plans for American healthcare reform.

After largely keeping out of the internal US debate, British political figures responded to the torrent of criticism the NHS has faced in the US by appealing directly to American voters and urging them to recognise its merits.

Labour also sought to embarrass David Cameron by challenging him to disown the comments made by the Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, a known critic of the NHS, who this week appeared on American television saying that he "would not wish it on anybody" and that the cost of maintaining it had brought Britain close to Zimbabwean-style collapse.

Cameron said that Hannan was an "eccentric" who did not represent the views of the Conservative party on health. But Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, John Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, and Andy Burnham, the health secretary, all took to the airwaves to argue that Hannan's words exposed the shallowness of the Conservatives' commitment to the NHS.

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Source: The Guardian
Akuma River

The Candidate: American Idol meets Politics in Afghanistan

In a time of a corrupt politics and an election that is turning out to be a joke, Afghanis are choosing their new future leaders through a reality tv program. I'm starting to think I should be watching their reality tv shows. Seems to be loads better than ours.

Young Candidates Spar in Mock Afghan Election
August 15, 2009 - Anand Gopal

KABUL -- Slipping by his rivals with a platform of security and reconstruction that resonated with war-weary voters, a new president of Afghanistan was elected this week: the baby-faced, 20-year-old Munir Farahmand.


That, at least, is how things unfolded on "The Candidate," a reality TV show that pits young Afghans against each other in a mock election.

Fans of the show watched over the last two and a half months as the young, make-believe candidates developed policies and campaigned. Viewers placed votes by sending text messages from their cell phones.

Afghanistan's real elections, scheduled to be held on Aug. 20, have been marred by insurgent violence, privilege-peddling and questions over candidates' associations with warlords.

Leading candidates, including incumbent Hamid Karzai, have avoided developing detailed platforms. They instead rely on patronage and tribal and political networks to win support.

But viewers of "The Candidate" have been treated to an entirely different experience. Young contestants have carefully cultivated policy proposals to curry favor with viewers. The winner got a laptop and office supplies to encourage him to set up a campaign office and get involved in politics in the real world.
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Rose Greenman

Putin bites thumb at US, sir

Putin thumbs nose at West over Georgia

Philip Pan, Moscow
August 14, 2009

RUSSIAN Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has travelled to the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia and pledged to strengthen Russia's military presence there, defying US and European objections.

Speaking on the anniversary of his nation's victory over Georgia in a five-day war last year, Mr Putin said the Kremlin planned to spend nearly $A560 million to build a base in the separatist enclave and reinforce its de facto border with Georgia.

''It won't be a Maginot line,'' Mr Putin said, referring to the fortifications France built against Germany before World War II.

His visit underscored Russia's growing foothold in what once was Georgian territory and highlighted the sharp differences that remain between Moscow and Washington despite the Obama Administration's efforts to ''reset'' bilateral relations.

US and European officials have called on Russia to comply with the cease-fire agreement that ended the war and withdraw its troops to pre-war positions and levels. But Russia says it is no longer bound by those promises because it recognised Abkhazia and another breakaway region, South Ossetia, as independent states after the war.

It is unclear how many Russian soldiers remain in the disputed territories. But the military said in June that plans to double its pre-war presence to nearly 7500 troops had been scaled back. Instead, officials said more Russian border guards would be deployed.

Russian forces are stationed at two bases, one in the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali and the other in Gudauta, a town on the Black Sea coast in western Abkhazia. The Gudauta base was built during the Soviet era and is considered a strategic asset because it boasts one of the largest military airfields in the Caucasus.

Some Abkhaz are said to be wary of growing too dependent on Russia, but the authorities greeted Mr Putin warmly as he arrived by helicopter in the local capital, Sukhumi.

In an interview with Abkhaz reporters broadcast in Russia, Mr Putin chastised the West for condemning Russia's invasion of Georgia. ''That's not even double standards, not even triple standards. It's a complete lack of any standards,'' he said, accusing the US of pressuring countries to continue to back Georgia's claim to the territories.

Asked about the possibility of another war, Mr Putin replied: ''Given the Georgian leadership today, nothing can be ruled out, but it will be much harder for them to do it.''

The Obama Administration has repeatedly endorsed Georgia's territorial integrity and only Nicaragua has joined Russia in recognising the sovereignty of the separatist regions.


In Georgia, Australian Source Reads You!(from Washington Post)
Alternative British Source

I guess the Eurovision entry just made him too angry to give up those areas.

Sorry if this has already been posted - I have been following the comm and I checked but I may have missed it...
mariska laughs

What's Behind Birthers' Obama Belief

Research done by Harvard's Mahzarin Banaji and San Diego State's Thierry Devos into what's called "implicit social cognition" reveals that white Americans inherently regard white Europeans as somehow more "American" than Asian- or African-Americans, which may help explain why so many people find it easy to believe that President Obama is not really a citizen. Steve Mirsky reports.

[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]

The so-called birthers can’t accept that President Obama is really a natural-born American citizen. Part of what’s behind this seemingly irrational belief may lie in what’s called implicit social cognition—the deep-rooted assumptions we all carry around, and may act on without realizing it.

Harvard’s Mahzarin Banaji studies such implicit cognition. Last fall she talked to journalists at the annual conference of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing about research into bias against Asian-Americans. “So we thought, what if we picked Asians who are very well known to be American. What about Connie Chung? Are they going to be seen as less American than, let’s say, Hugh Grant? And so we thought this was a bizarre study to do but we did it anyway.”

Amazingly, white Americans did see a white European like Hugh Grant as being somehow more American than the Asian-American Connie Chung. And similar research in 2008 found that whites thought of ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair as somehow more American than Obama. So the mental framework to believe that Obama is foreign probably was, to use a health care term, a preexisting condition.

—Steve Mirsky

You can download the entire podcast here.


It's basically what we all knew all along. It's basically the longer way of saying, '"Racism."

Whole Foods C.E.O. infuriates liberal customers by condemning universal health care

In a Wall Street Journal editorial titled, "The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare," John Mackey, the founder and C.E.O. of Whole Foods—one of the world's biggest retailers of "natural" and organic foods—stirred up furor among his left-leaning customer base by denouncing Obama's health care plan as likely to "move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system." In the editorial he gives eight reform strategies—one based on his own policies at Whole Foods—for an alternative system with "less government control and more individual empowerment," and suggests that we use reform to get to the real roots of the health care crisis: obesity and unhealthy eating habits.

And while these concepts alone may not seem enough to incite a riot (though starting off with this Margaret Thatcher quote wasn't likely to endear him to many of his liberal customers—"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money") according to the hundreds of angry comments already being posted in response to the Op-Ed, it appears to be this sentiment that spurred on boycotters:
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(no subject)

Trans Woman Asked For Photos Of Her Genitals As Requirement For Work


Pennsylvania transwoman Kate Lynn Blatt says her employer demanded a letter from a surgeon and a photograph of her genitals as a requirement of returning to work after she used the women's locker room. Philadelphia Gay News:
At the time of the October 2007 incident, Blatt was employed by Manpower Inc., a global staffing-services agency with a branch office in Pottsville. Manpower placed Blatt at Sapa Industrial Extrusions, a manufacturer of aluminum products in Cressona, where she earned about $10 an hour as a temporary factory worker. Blatt worked at Sapa for about a month, before allegedly being told by a supervisor that she wasn’t physically well enough to work at the job and was no longer needed at Sapa, she said. After being discharged from Sapa, Blatt said she personally visited Manpower’s branch office in Pottsville, in an attempt to return to work. Irene Kudziela, branch manager of Manpower’s Pottsville office, allegedly told Blatt that a letter from her surgeon documenting her gender-reassignment surgery — along with a photograph of her genital area — would be necessary before she could return to Sapa. Blatt, 28, said she found the request “repugnant” and “disgusting,” and declined to comply. She viewed the request as a form of sexual harassment, she added.
Blatt says she's like to return to work at Sapa as a diversity trainer.


Navy Veteran Discusses Anti-Gay Abuse within the Military


Navy veteran Joseph Christopher Rocha talks to Youth Radio about resigning from the military after experiencing hazing and harassment at the hands of his fellow soldiers. Rocha's harassment became the subject of an investigation, he says, which was dropped with no explanation.

Says Rocha: "My Navy peers often harassed me, insisting the extra training I did with Marines was a search for sex partners. Once, I was hog tied to a chair, rolled across the base, and left in a dog kennel with feces. I was forced to simulate sex acts, on camera, to armed service members with trained attack dogs in the room. Men with hoses sprayed me down in full uniform."


' jules
  • schmiss

A reminder that there are Republicans named Chuck who are not idiots

Hagel Climbing the Ladder in Obama White House

Former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel (R), a senior administration official-in-waiting either later this term or in President Obama's second term (if there is one), is taking another step into Obama's national security team. We're hearing Hagel is in line to co-chair the important President's Intelligence Advisory Board (formerly known as the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board).

Hagel, who is a longtime pal of Vice President Biden and who toured Iraq and Afghanistan with Obama during the campaign, already has been named to replace former House speaker Newt Gingrich on the Defense Policy Board, run by former deputy secretary of Defense John Hamre. The 16 members of the nonpartisan intelligence board, all unpaid, resigned during the transition so a new board could be appointed by Obama.

The board, which usually acts in secrecy, is given access to key intelligence information and is charged with giving the president an objective analysis of the quality of that information. Prior chairmen have been folks such as former Bush I national security advisor Brent Scowcroft, former New Hampshire senator Warren Rudman, former House speaker Tom Foley, Gen. Maxwell Taylor and former Johnson administration secretary of defense Clark Clifford.


Magneto & Xavier.
  • doop

Gay marriage fight, `kiss-ins' smack Mormon image

SALT LAKE CITY – The Mormon church's vigorous, well-heeled support for Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California last year, has turned the Utah-based faith into a lightning rod for gay rights activism, including a nationwide "kiss-in" Saturday.

The event comes after gay couples here and in San Antonio and El Paso, Texas, were arrested, cited for trespassing or harassed by police for publicly kissing. In Utah, the July 9 trespassing incident occurred after a couple were observed by security guards on a downtown park-like plaza owned by the 13 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The court case was dismissed, but the kiss sparked a community backlash and criticism of the church.

"I don't think that kiss would have turned out to be the kiss heard round the world if it were not for Proposition 8," said Ash Johnsdottir, organizer of the Salt Lake City Kiss-In.

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Please! Someone Think of The Ultra Rich!!!

Rich Americans Scrambling Over Tax Dodge Crackdown

A deal with Switzerland settling U.S. demands for the names of suspected tax dodgers from a Swiss bank has a lot of wealthy Americans with offshore accounts nervously running to their tax advisers -- and the Internal Revenue Service.

"They are very frightened,"
said Richard Boggs, chief executive of Nationwide Tax Relief, a Los-Angeles-based tax firm that specializes in clients with tax debts exceeding $100,000. "You have the super rich who are not used to being pushed around and they are finding themselves in unfamiliar territory."

The U.S. and Swiss governments announced a court settlement last week in efforts by the IRS to force Zurich-based UBS AG to turn over the names of some 52,000 Americans believed to be hiding nearly $15 billion in assets in secret accounts.

Justice Department and UBS lawyers told a federal judge in Miami in a brief conference call Wednesday they had initialed a final deal. But they did not disclose any details, such as how many of the 52,000 names sought by the IRS will be revealed.
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Akuma River

The IRI is in its deaththroes

Iran is self-destructing
13-19 August 2009 - Hagop Kevorkian

The point of no return has been passed: Iran's violent theocratic tyranny is now facing the people, and it will lose, writes Hamid Dabashi*

Ma bi-shomarim / We are countless
- Slogan of the Green Movement in Iran

Within minutes of the picture of a frail and fragile Mohammad Ali Abtahi appearing on the Internet, the blogosphere was flooded with split images of him before and after his predicament. Having lost some 20 kilos since his incarceration in late June, his handsome, always smiling and endearing, face thinned beyond recognition, disrobed of his clerical habit, his turban lost, and clad in unseemly prison pajamas, the former vice president under President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), a leading reformist, and particularly popular with bloggers because of his own weblog, Abtahi's case was particularly heart-wrenching to his young admirers.

The belligerent custodians of the Islamic Republic had forced him to confess to crimes that would make a dead chicken laugh, as we say in Persian, and as an oppositional figure quickly pointed out.
This is a velvet revolution, he was made to say, plotted by the reformists, supported by the "Enemy," and there was nothing wrong with Ahmadinejad's landslide victory. Instead of sadness and disappointment, the blogosphere was abuzz with love and admiration for Abtahi. He was instantly declared a national hero. "For the first time," said one blogger, "I learned to love a cleric -- and then I looked again; he had no clerical robe anymore." Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the leading Iranian filmmaker now active in support of the Green Movement, delivered the most memorable punch line in support of Abtahi and dismissing his forced confessions. "If Khamenei were to be treated like Abtahi in jail, the Supreme Guide would come to national television belly dancing!"
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soap&skin 2012
  • automat

Believers Invest in the Gospel of Getting Rich

FORT WORTH — Onstage before thousands of believers weighed down by debt and economic insecurity, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and their all-star lineup of “prosperity gospel” preachers delighted the crowd with anecdotes about the luxurious lives they had attained by following the Word of God.

Private airplanes and boats. A motorcycle sent by an anonymous supporter. Vacations in Hawaii and cruises in Alaska. Designer handbags. A ring of emeralds and diamonds.

“God knows where the money is, and he knows how to get the money to you,” preached Mrs. Copeland, dressed in a crisp pants ensemble like those worn by C.E.O.’s.

Even in an economic downturn, preachers in the “prosperity gospel” movement are drawing sizable, adoring audiences. Their message — that if you have sufficient faith in God and the Bible and donate generously, God will multiply your offerings a hundredfold — is reassuring to many in hard times.

The preachers barely acknowledged the recession, though they did say it was no excuse to curtail giving. “Fear will make you stingy,” Mr. Copeland said.

But the offering buckets came up emptier than in some previous years, said those who have attended before.
Many in this flock do not trust banks, the news media or Washington, where the Senate Finance Committee is investigating whether the Copelands and other prosperity evangelists used donations to enrich themselves and abused their tax-exempt status. But they trust the Copelands, the movement’s current patriarch and matriarch, who seem to embody prosperity with their robust health and abundance of children and grandchildren who have followed them into the ministry.

“If God did it for them, he will do it for us,” said Edwige Ndoudi, who traveled with her husband and three children from Canada for the Southwest Believers’ Convention this month, where the Copelands and three of their friends took turns preaching for five days, 10 hours a day at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

The crowd of more than 9,000 was multiracial, from 48 states and 27 countries. There was no fee to attend. There were bikers in leather vests, pastors, blue-collar workers, professionals and plenty of families with children.

A large contingent came in wheelchairs, hoping for miraculous healings. The audience sat with Bibles open, flipping to passages cited by the preachers, taking notes on pads and laptop computers.

“The folks who are coming aren’t poor,” said Jonathan L. Walton, a professor of religion at the University of California, Riverside, who has written about the movement and was there doing research. “They reside in that nebulous category between the working and the middle class.”

Sitting in Section 316, eight rows up, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a Bible at lunch time, was a family who could explain the enduring loyalty the prosperity preachers inspire.

Stephen Biellier, a long-distance trucker from Mount Vernon, Mo., said he and his wife, Millie, came to the convention praying that this would be “the overcoming year.” They are $102,000 in debt, and the bank has cut off their credit line, Mrs. Biellier said.

They say the Copelands rescued them from financial failure 23 years ago, when they bought their first truck at 22 percent interest and had to rebuild the engine twice in a year.

Around that time, Mrs. Biellier first saw Mr. Copeland on television and began sending him 50 cents a week.

Others who bought trucks from the same dealer in Joplin that year went under, the Bielliers said, but they did not.
“We would have failed if Copeland hadn’t been praying for us every day,” Mrs. Biellier said.

The Bielliers are now among 386,000 people worldwide whom the Copelands call their “partners,” most of whom send regular contributions and merit special prayers from the Copelands.

A call center at the ministry’s 481-employee headquarters in Newark, Tex., takes in 60,000 prayer requests a month, a publicist said.

The Copelands’ broadcast reaches 134 countries, and the ministry’s income is about $100 million annually.

The Bielliers were at the convention a few years ago when a supporter made a pitch for people to join an “Elite CX Team” to raise money to buy the ministry a Citation X airplane. (Mr. Copeland is an airplane aficionado who got his start in ministry as a pilot for Oral Roberts.) At that moment, Mrs. Biellier said she heard the voice of the Holy Spirit telling her, “You were born to support this man.”

She gave $2,000 for the plane, and recently sent $1,800 for the team’s latest project: buying high-definition television equipment to upgrade the ministry’s international broadcasts.
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At that, hundreds streamed down the aisles to the stage, laying envelopes, cash and coins on the carpeted steps.


you could cut ties with all the lies

Fox uses falsehood, cropped video to hype unsolicited email claims

Fox uses falsehood, cropped video to hype unsolicited email claims

Even while asserting that he wasn't suggesting anything "nefarious" on the part of the White House, Fox News' Major Garrett did just that while recounting an exchange he had with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, in which Garrett relayed complaints from people who, according to Garrett, said they received an unsolicited email from the White House. Garrett based his report in part on the false claim that it was Gibbs who first used the word "list" in reference to people receiving the email, when in fact it was Garrett himself who introduced the notion of a targeted "list" of recipients -- as well as the actual word -- into the exchange.

Garrett falsely claims, "I never said 'list' until Robert Gibbs said 'list.' He said it first"

From the August 14 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
GARRETT: I have three times now told Robert Gibbs I have emails to present to him or anyone else he assigns at the White House to look into this, provided I receive substantive answers back as to how these people's names ended up on a White House list. And remember, I never said "list" until Robert Gibbs said "list." He said it first, then I repeated the word "list," so apparently there is one. I don't say that; he said it.

Fox airs deceptively edited video to support Garrett's false claim

Leading in to Garrett's August 14 appearance, Happening Now showed an edited version of Garrett's August 13 exchange with Gibbs that falsely suggested that Gibbs was the first to reference "the list." Here's what Fox aired:Collapse )

In America, Crazy Is a Preexisting Condition. America's History of Madness...

In America, Crazy Is a Preexisting Condition
Birthers, Town Hall Hecklers and the Return of Right-Wing Rage

In Pennsylvania last week, a citizen, burly, crew-cut and trembling with rage, went nose to nose with his baffled senator: "One day God's going to stand before you, and he's going to judge you and the rest of your damned cronies up on the Hill. And then you will get your just deserts." He was accusing Arlen Specter of being too kind to President Obama's proposals to make it easier for people to get health insurance.
This Story

In Michigan, meanwhile, the indelible image was of the father who wheeled his handicapped adult son up to Rep. John Dingell and bellowed that "under the Obama health-care plan, which you support, this man would be given no care whatsoever." He pressed his case further on Fox News.

In New Hampshire, outside a building where Obama spoke, cameras trained on the pistol strapped to the leg of libertarian William Kostric. He then explained on CNN why the "tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of tyrants and patriots."

It was interesting to hear a BBC reporter on the radio trying to make sense of it all. He quoted a spokesman for the conservative Americans for Tax Reform: "Either this is a genuine grass-roots response, or there's some secret evil conspirator living in a mountain somewhere orchestrating all this that I've never met." The spokesman was arguing, of course, that it was spontaneous, yet he also proudly owned up to how his group has helped the orchestration, through sample letters to the editor and "a little bit of an ability to put one-pagers together."

The BBC also quoted liberal Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin's explanation: "They want to get a little clip on YouTube of an effort to disrupt a town meeting and to send the congressman running for his car. This is an organized effort . . . you can trace it back to the health insurance industry."

So the birthers, the anti-tax tea-partiers, the town hall hecklers -- these are "either" the genuine grass roots or evil conspirators staging scenes for YouTube? The quiver on the lips of the man pushing the wheelchair, the crazed risk of carrying a pistol around a president -- too heartfelt to be an act. The lockstep strangeness of the mad lies on the protesters' signs -- too uniform to be spontaneous. They are both. If you don't understand that any moment of genuine political change always produces both, you can't understand America, where the crazy tree blooms in every moment of liberal ascendancy, and where elites exploit the crazy for their own narrow interests.

In the early 1950s, Republicans referred to the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman as "20 years of treason" and accused the men who led the fight against fascism of deliberately surrendering the free world to communism. Mainline Protestants published a new translation of the Bible in the 1950s that properly rendered the Greek as connoting a more ambiguous theological status for the Virgin Mary; right-wingers attributed that to, yes, the hand of Soviet agents. And Vice President Richard Nixon claimed that the new Republicans arriving in the White House "found in the files a blueprint for socializing America."

When John F. Kennedy entered the White House, his proposals to anchor America's nuclear defense in intercontinental ballistic missiles -- instead of long-range bombers -- and form closer ties with Eastern Bloc outliers such as Yugoslavia were taken as evidence that the young president was secretly disarming the United States. Thousands of delegates from 90 cities packed a National Indignation Convention in Dallas, a 1961 version of today's tea parties; a keynote speaker turned to the master of ceremonies after his introduction and remarked as the audience roared: "Tom Anderson here has turned moderate! All he wants to do is impeach [Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl] Warren. I'm for hanging him!"
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Bollywood star held at US airport

An Indian actor has complained that he was singled out for interrogation at a US airport because of his Muslim name.

Shah Rukh Khan, known as the "King of Bollywood" was travelling to Chicago to attend a parade to mark India's independence day when he was detained for two hours at Newark airport in New Jersey.

"I was really hassled perhaps because of my name being Khan. These guys just wouldn't let me through," he said in a text message sent to reporters on Saturday.

"Absolutely uncalled for, I think. I felt angry and humiliated."

Khan was reportedly released after the Indian consul intervened on his behalf.

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Source: Al Jazeera
' jules
  • schmiss


FL-Sen, FL-21: Crist Hoping to Lure Rubio into Diaz-Balart's Seat?

With the news that Charlie Crist has asked GOP Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart to submit his application for the state's Senate vacancy created by outgoing Sen. Mel Martinez, there has been a lot of debate over just how seriously we should be taking this news. Roll Call finds a pretty major (and clever) wrinkle in the situation -- namely, that Charlie Crist may be hoping to create a House vacancy that would be too tempting to pass down for his primary opponent, Marco Rubio:
Some GOP insiders speculated that appointing Lincoln Diaz-Balart would create a House vacancy and special election that might be a tempting proposition for former state Speaker Marco Rubio (R), who is challenging Crist in the Senate primary. Rubio has repeatedly said he is in the Senate race to stay, but his former House district overlaps with Lincoln Diaz-Balart's 21st district.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said late Friday that his boss's efforts remain focused on only one race. "Marco Rubio is a candidate for the U.S. Senate. It's not only Washington or bust for him, it's also U.S. Senate or bust," Burgos said in an e-mailed statement.
I have to hand it to Crist -- if his intention is to lure Rubio into another race entirely, then he certainly knows how to play chess, not checkers. And if I were Rubio, I don't think I could pass up an opportunity to have what would probably be a clear shot at a seat in Congress over an extremely tough Senate primary.


looooooool. I hope he doesn't cause I need my BFF to continue his never-to-be-fufilled quest to the Senate.
bitch please
  • slurp

Woman duped by middle-age man who acted like a child

Janet Schulte believed the man when he told her by phone that his 40-something, disabled brother needed a caregiver who could bottle-feed him and change his diapers.

What the Melbourne woman can't believe is that he committed no crime, now that she said she has found out the situation was a charade: that the man and his brother were same person.

And that he didn't have the disabilities he claimed to have.

"I feel violated," Schulte said, sharing her story because she said the man has deceived other women and will try again. "I feel disgusted."

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(no subject)

A limp response to women's erotica

When images of women as sex objects fill newsagents, why has a magazine featuring semi-naked men faced so many hurdles?

Filament, a magazine for women featuring semi-naked men, launched earlier this year to widespread media coverage. Issue 1 featured three photo sets of men, none of whom removed their trousers. While some questioned whether women would even buy visual erotica, Filament's readers soon put them straight. Not only were women buying it, they were asking for more explicit pictures.


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MISC - moustache

Report: Doyle won't seek a third term

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, the first Democrat in a generation to be re-elected to the state’s highest office, will not seek a third term, the Web site reported Saturday.

Doyle spokesman Lee Sensenbrenner did not deny the report, saying Doyle would make an announcement about his future Monday at an event expected to be held in Madison.

The Politico story, which doesn’t identify a source, says people familiar with the governor’s decision say Doyle “recognized the difficulties he may have faced next year and didn’t want to go through another campaign after a long political career.”

A decision not to run would set up a wide-open Democratic gubernatorial primary and give Republicans a chance to make gains after last year’s defeats across the state.

“This should be one of (the) three or four (most competitive) races in the country,” said UW-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin. “It’s hard to say it’s the top one, but it certainly ought to be on the top of everybody’s list.”

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