October 17th, 2009


Vancouver unveils untraditional medals for 2010 Winter Olympics

The medals that will be awarded at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics were unveiled today, with organizers touting the awards' connections to Canada, utter uniqueness and hefty weight. What they didn't mention is that they look like microwaved frisbees:

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You can say it was inspired by all the grand things in the world: they're still bleh to me.  Though I guess good on them for commisioning from a native Canadian artist.

O'Brien, NJ mayor turn facetious feud into comedy

Conan O'Brien and Newark Mayor Cory Booker turned their frivolous feud about the gritty city into comedy on NBC's "Tonight Show" on Friday.

The chatty 40-somethings worked off one another like a comic duo. But the jokes eventually gave way to a plug for Booker's efforts to fashion a national blueprint for urban transformation in Newark, long an icon for urban decay, and a $100,000 donation to his Newark Now charity from O'Brien and NBC.

Booker's appearance on O'Brien's show culminated a facetious feud that began Sept. 23 with O'Brien joking that Booker's new health care program consisted of a bus ticket out of Newark, which is just west of New York City and is often scarred by violence. The mayor responded with a humorous video on YouTube in which he banned O'Brien from Newark Liberty International Airport.


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Not just villainy, SUPERVILLAINY

Secret Trafigura report said ‘likely cause’ of illness was release of toxic gas from dumped waste

A suppressed report which details how an oil company dumped toxic waste in Africa that may cause serious burns has been released following a parliamentary row over freedom of speech.

The study commissioned just weeks after the incident in West Africa concluded that the dumping would have been illegal under European pollution laws and suggests that the “likely cause” of the illness reported by locals was the “significant release” of potentially lethal gas.

The report had been kept secret after Trafigura, one of the world’s largest independent oil trading firms, obtained a "super injunction" that threatened the centuries-old privilege of newspapers to report what MPs can say freely in the Commons.

On Friday night, as the High Court gagging order was lifted, senior figures at Trafigura admitted their approach may have been “heavy-handed” and insisted it had not been their intention to try to gag Parliament.

The firm also maintained that the damning report was only an unfinished draft study, while its author insisted that it was written “without reference to the underlying specific evidence”.

Trafigura denies anyone died as a result of the waste dumping and says they only suffered “inconveniences” such as “flu-like symptoms”.

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Obama poster artist admits error

Obama poster artist admits error

NEW YORK – Artist Shepard Fairey, who designed the famous Obama "HOPE" poster, admitted Friday that he used a different Associated Press photo than what he had alleged to create his work and instead used a picture the news organization has claimed was his source.

Fairey, 39, said in a statement that he was wrong which photo he used and that he tried to hide his error.

"In an attempt to conceal my mistake, I submitted false images and deleted other images," said Fairey, who has been involved in countersuits with the AP, which has alleged copyright infringement.

"I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment and I take full responsibility for my actions which were mine alone. I am taking every step to correct the information and I regret I did not come forward sooner."

Fairey had claimed he based his "HOPE" drawing on a photo of then-Sen. Barack Obama, seated next to actor George Clooney. The photo was taken in April 2006 by Mannie Garcia, on assignment for the AP, at the National Press Club in Washington.

Fairey now says he started with a solo photograph of Obama — taken at the same event, by the same photographer — a picture seemingly closer to the iconic red, white and blue image of Obama, underlined with the caption HOPE. The AP has long maintained that Fairey used the solo shot.

Attorneys for Fairey have withdrawn and, in papers filed Friday in federal court in Manhattan, stated that he misled them. They also amended the original court documents, reflecting that Fairey used a different picture.

"Mr. Fairey was apparently mistaken about the photograph he used when his original complaint for declaratory relief was filed on February 9, 2009," the papers say.

"After the original complaint was filed, Mr. Fairey realized his mistake. Instead of acknowledging that mistake, Mr. Fairey attempted to delete the electronic files he had used in creating the illustration at issue. He also created, and delivered to his counsel for production, new documents to make it appear as though he had used the Clooney photograph as his reference."

Fairey sued the not-for-profit news cooperative in February, arguing that he didn't violate copyright law because he dramatically changed the image. The AP countersued in March, saying the uncredited, uncompensated use of an AP photo violated copyright laws and signaled a threat to journalism.

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(no subject)

'I thought I died': Gay man Jack Price, beaten in Queens, talks about attack

The gay Queens man whose brutal beating was caught on tape spoke out for the first time Friday, saying he didn't expect to survive the attack.

"I thought I died," Jack Price, 49, told the Daily News from his bed at New York Hospital Queens. "I was bleeding all over the place."

With tubes running into his chest and nose, the resilient Price insisted he wouldn't want anyone else to face a similar fate.

"Better it was me," Price said in a pained voice, the stitches along his broken jaw clearly visible. "Someone else may not have survived it."

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Gangs shoot down Brazil police chopper, 2 dead

RIO DE JANEIRO – A police helicopter flying over a clash between drug gangs was hit by gunfire and crashed Saturday, police said. Two officers were killed.

Bullets from the Morro dos Macacos slum in northern Rio de Janeiro hit the helicopter pilot in the leg, causing him to lose control and crash in a nearby football field, a police spokesman said.

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You've won your bid Rio, now get your shit right over the next 7 years.

Maldives government dives for climate change

GIRIFUSHI, Maldives – Members of the Maldives' Cabinet donned scuba gear and used hand signals Saturday at an underwater meeting staged to highlight the threat of global warming to the lowest-lying nation on earth.

President Mohammed Nasheed and 13 other government officials submerged and took their seats at a table on the sea floor — 20 feet (6 meters) below the surface of a lagoon off Girifushi, an island usually used for military training.

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Baroness Warsi's Attack On Secularism! - The National Secular Society Misses The Point.

(Please go easy on me. This is my first post here.)

So what's wrong with "state multiculturalism"? That's my main question today.

I pointed out earlier that so far I had been very confused. However, after a little more research, a little discussion and sleeping on it, it's now making a lot more sense.

To help everyone catch up: The BHA recently criticised comments by two prominent political figures: Tony Blair (for whom I feel no explanation is required) and Baroness Warsi (whose comments can be found here). Baroness Warsi is a Muslim politician in the Conservative party. In her speech she begins by noting the need to continue to support Bosnia, she follows this up by highlighting the extremism from Anjem Chowdhury, who heads a group called Al-Muhajiroun which protested against British troops, and the extremism from the English Defence League, who recently demonstrated against the building of a mosque and have support from the British Nationalist Party. So far so laudable. It is here however, where it starts to go downhill

The turning point is where Baroness Warsi makes the following three comments. (The following is not a summary of her comments. It is originally presented in a list exactly as you see below.):

1. Labour’s reliance on multiculturalism has failed Britain

2. The state’s continued suspicion of faith is wrong

3. And the threat of terrorism is no excuse for demonising a whole community.

By "community", it seems that Baroness Warsi means the "Muslim community" and we can come back to that issue later. I can state fairly comforably that I entirely disagree with both of the first two statements. While my main concern is with the first statement, I think I ought to begin by looking at the second.

The National Secular Society wrote their own response to Baroness Warsi's comments and while I have some problems with their response, their reaction to the second statement is absolutely right:
"...then the Baroness goes on to fall for the “religion is being persecuted” line. She trots out all the supposed cases of “persecution” against Christians that the Christian Institute likes to keep repeating"
So what are these "supposed cases" then?

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I'm not sure that these two images fit together and that's what makes this whole thing feel weird....

NOTE: In the above post, all quotes in bold (asides from the last one, from Margaret Thatcher, which is also in italics) are from Baroness Warsi. Any other quotes are in italics.
aaliyah » doin' it for the fame
  • abiding

Charges heading towards the Heenes

Sheriff: Charges to be filed in balloon saga
Victim advocate enters home; earlier, dad denies any hoax

FORT COLLINS. Colo. - A Colorado sheriff said late Saturday that criminal charges are expected to be filed in the flight of a saucer-like helium balloon that led to a frantic search for a 6-year-old boy believed to be on board —and then to questions about whether the drama had been a hoax.

Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden said significant progress had been made in the investigation and that at least Class 3 misdemeanor charges were likely.
Alderden said he was consulting with the Federal Aviation Administration and other federal agencies on whether other chargers were warranted.

The day's drama included voluntary trips by the boy's parents to the sheriff's office. The sheriff said Richard and Mayumi Heene were not under arrest.

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Shiny source~

Taxpayer foots bill for BNP minder

NICK GRIFFIN, the BNP leader, has put his personal bodyguard on the European Union payroll as his party becomes the latest to exploit the political expenses system.

A dozen senior figures from the party make up a BNP entourage of publicly funded assistants. As MEPs, Griffin and Andrew Brons are entitled to claim a combined £382,000 a year to pay for their colleagues’ salaries.

Martin Reynolds, a 20-stone bodybuilder who is head of security and Griffin’s bodyguard, said he “honestly didn’t know” why he was justified in being paid by the taxpayer.

He said of his job: “I just do the security side of it and personal assistant stuff and generally looking after him and making sure things are done for him.”

Griffin and Brons are also channelling payments to other “assistants” including Simon Darby, the BNP’s deputy leader, Eddy Butler, its national organiser, Emma Colgate, its national administration officer, and a number of regional organisers and councillors. Some have not been openly declared as working for either MEP and others have unsavoury backgrounds.

Martin Wingfield, former editor of the BNP’s monthly newspaper, Voice of Freedom, is being paid as an assistant by both Griffin and Brons. He served a three-month prison sentence in the 1980s for failing to pay a fine following convictions on two counts of inciting racial hatred with election literature.

Adam Walker, head of Solidarity, the BNP’s supposed trade union, is being paid through Brons’s funds. Walker had to resign his teaching post in 2007 after being accused of posting anti-Muslim comments on the web using a school laptop.

All the BNP hierarchy’s new salaries, which go up to £25,000 a year, are allocated out of a personal £191,000 a year “assistants’ allowance” to which every MEP is entitled.

EU rules state that assistants must justify their taxpayer-funded salaries by doing work which is “directly linked to the exercise of a member’s parliamentary mandate”.

John Walker, the party’s deputy press spokesman, confirmed that he was being paid £18,000 a year in taxpayers’ money. He also receives £6,000 a year from the party.

“I am expected to do two days a week for Andrew and two days a week for Nick. And then the other day . . . is for the party,” he said.

Walker added that the BNP was “sensitive” to the fact that the rules emphasise all work must relate to the MEP’s role and not the party.

When Reynolds was asked what “specifically” he does for his EU salary, he said: “I honestly don’t know.”

He added: “I never got paid before, all our security was done for no payment whatsoever. I was an electrician.” He declined to say what his pay is now.

He said he was not sure if he also received a salary from the party: “I don’t know the ins and outs of my finances, my wife sorts all that out.”

John Thompson, the BNP’s accountant, said the party’s MEPs were using about half their full allowances and explained that the level of salary varied. “The top level might be £25,000 and the lowest £8,000,” he said.

Walker said: “I suppose we are going to publish the breakdown [of taxpayer-funded salaries] but whether they will go as far as individual remunerations I don't know.”

Source: The Times

All-male college cracks down on cross-dressing

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN)
 -- An all-male college in Atlanta, Georgia, has banned the wearing of women's clothes, makeup, high heels and purses as part of a new crackdown on what the institution calls inappropriate attire.

No dress-wearing is part of a larger dress code launched this week that Morehouse College is calling its "Appropriate Attire Policy."


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