October 30th, 2009

Tina C.

What the Obamas' Taste in Art Says About Them

It must be nice to be the president. In addition to having helicopters, jumbo jets, and motorcades, you get to rifle through the cellars of the National Gallery and the Hirschhorn for artistic masterpieces to adorn your home for the next four to eight years.

As with all of our recent presidents, the artistic choices made by Barack Obama and his wife (since first ladies traditionally play a big role in decorating the White House) say a lot about the first couple and what they want to say about themselves. It is evident, for example, that the Obamas (with their selection of Degas sculptures and Morandi still-lifes) are far more Europhile than either the Clintons or the Bushes (father or son), and one is struck by their willingness to live with art that is not only avant-garde, but also on occasion downright radical.

Selecting these works is somewhat more complicated than you might suppose. The first couple can borrow almost anything for their private quarters, but as regards their selections for the public parts of the White House, a complex vetting process takes place. Among other considerations, because a presidential acquisition invariably sends prices soaring, an artist must be dead at least 25 years before being admitted into the permanent collection of the White House.

So what do the Obamas' choices say about them? They may well be the first couple in the White House to prefer abstraction to representational art. And while it is always possible that they simply liked the works in question, one is well-advised to interpret each selection as a message sent.

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I've lurked here more than actually participating, and I vaguely recall discussion of The New Republic as a not-really-legitimate source (but Google yielded nothing tangible in ontd_p's archives, which I was way too lazy to search through). I mean, art is subjective and I'll be the first to admit that I practically know nothing about how to critically examine it. So, artsy ontd_p members, what do you think? I'm posting it more for discussion than anything else, really, as some of the article's wording bothers me. So, yeah, thoughts?

franklin sherman

President Signs Law Giving Defense Department Authority To Exempt Photos From Freedom Of Information


ACLU Renews Call For Secretary Gates Not To Block Release Of Torture Photos

WASHINGTON – President Obama today signed into law a Homeland Security appropriations bill that grants the Department of Defense (DOD) the authority to continue suppressing photos of prisoner abuse. The amendment, which would allow the DOD to exempt photos from the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), is aimed at photos ordered released by a federal appeals court as part of an American Civil Liberties Union FOIA lawsuit for photos and other records related to detainee abuse in U.S. custody overseas, although it would apply to other photos in government custody as well. Earlier this month, the ACLU sent a letter to Secretary Robert Gates urging him not to exercise the authority to suppress the photos in their case, stating that the photos "are of critical relevance to an ongoing national debate about accountability."

"We are disappointed that the president has signed a law giving the Defense Department the authority to hide evidence of its own misconduct, and we hope the defense secretary will not take advantage of that authority by suppressing photos related to the abuse of prisoners," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project. "Secretary Gates should be guided by the importance of transparency to the democratic process, the extraordinary importance of these photos to the ongoing debate about the treatment of prisoners and the likelihood that the suppression of these photos would ultimately be far more damaging to national security than their disclosure. The last administration's decision to endorse torture undermined the United States' moral authority and compromised its security. A failure to fully confront the abuses of the last administration will only compound these harms."

Another provision contained in the new law allows the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay to the U.S. for prosecution.

"This law allows the administration to transfer prisoners to the U.S. for criminal trials in the federal courts, and the administration should now do exactly that," said Jaffer. "The military commissions at Guantánamo are not just unlawful but unnecessary. The federal courts are fully capable of prosecuting terrorism suspects while protecting both national security interests and fundamental due process. It's time to shut down Guantánamo, transfer the military commissions trials to federal courts that uphold the rule of law, and transfer prisoners whom the administration does not intend to charge to countries where they won't be in danger of being tortured. Indefinite detention without charge or trial undermines the most basic values of justice and fairness."

The full text of the ACLU's letter to Secretary of Defense Gates is below and available online at: www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/41309res20091020.html

Fox News: "Bush Destroyed Economy... Wait WAT? You Lie!" Coming Soon Pope is Wet!

Fox News Poll: Most Blame Bush for Economy

Here’s a somewhat surprising result from the new Fox News poll. Asked which president is “more responsible for the current state of the economy,” only 18 percent say President Obama. Fifty-eight percent say former President George W. Bush. Nine percent blame both of them. Republicans are the only subgroup of voters who blame Obama, and only by a six-point margin of 35 percent to 29 percent.

What’s striking about this is that the numbers have only marginally gotten worse for President Obama in the three months since Fox News last asked this question. In July, it was 16 percent who blamed Obama and 61 percent who blamed Bush. That is, needless to say, not what Fox News viewers hear when they tune into the network. But it’s essential to understanding why the president remains popular and why Republicans are failing to really capitalize on economic gloom.

Batman chainsaw
  • doop

Librarians fired over Alan Moore comic

Two Kentucky librarians have claimed that they were fired after refusing to lend an 11-year-old an Alan Moore graphic novel.

Sharon Cook and Beth Bovaire of Nicholasville, Jessamine county removed The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen from the girl's hold list after deeming it unsuitable, according to local TV stations.

Cook described the book as "pornography" in her interviews.

"Residents in Jessamine county do not realise that these books that are so graphic are available in the library let alone to their children," added Bovaire.

The Jessamine County Library Director said that it was against policy to discuss terminations and that it was the responsibility of a child's parents to monitor what they are reading.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series does display scenes of sex and violence.

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Texas law on children seeing porn being challenged

Texas law on children seeing porn being challenged

DALLAS – A 1970s-era Texas law that allows parents to show "harmful material" to their children has come under fire after a prosecutor said he couldn't file charges against a man accused of forcing his 8- and 9-year-old daughters to watch hardcore online pornography.

Randall County District Attorney James Farren has asked the Texas attorney general's office to review his decision not to pursue charges in the case, which has prompted at least one lawmaker to vow to change the state's public indecency law.

"Our hands are tied. It's not our fault. I have to follow the law," Farren said Thursday. "The mother of the victims in this case was less than happy with this decision, which I understand. We were less than happy with the statute."

The law apparently was meant to protect the privacy of parents who wanted to teach children about sex education, but it states clearly that parents can't be prosecuted for showing "harmful material" to their children.

Farren said police reported the incident to his office after one of the girls told a counselor in June that her father made them watch adults having group sex and various other acts at his home in Amarillo. The parents of the girls, and their 7-year-old sister, are divorced and share custody.

The girls' mother, Crystal Buckner, wants her ex-husband to be jailed. She said she was stunned to hear from prosecutors and police that nothing can be done.

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I'm very, very glad the father does not have custody and no longer has unsupervised visitation rights. D:

The Obamas' Marriage

The Obamas' Marriage

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Another Washington dusk, another motorcade, another intimate evening played out in public view. On Oct. 3, just a day after their failed Olympics bid in Copenhagen, Barack and Michelle Obama slipped into a Georgetown restaurant for one of their now-familiar date nights: this time, to toast their 17th wedding anniversary. As with their previous outings, even the dark photographs taken by passers-by and posted on the Web looked glamorous: the president tieless, in a suit; the first lady in a backless sheath.

The Obama date-night tradition stretches back to the days when the president spent half his time in Springfield, Ill., reuniting at week’s close with his wife, who kept a regular Friday manicure and hair appointment for the occasion. But five days before he ventured out for his anniversary dinner, the president lamented what has happened to his nights out with his wife.

“I would say the one time during our stay here in the White House so far that has. . . .” He paused so long in choosing his words that Michelle Obama, sitting alongside him, prompted him. “Has what?”

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Did President Clinton meet N. Korea's Kim Jong-il or his look-alike?

Seoul, South Korea – Will the real Kim Jong-il please stand up?

A number of analysts here are convinced that not all the photos being released of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, are really photos of Kim Jong-il.

Instead, they say, a look-alike has been standing in for him on some of the 122 trips he's reportedly made this year to the countryside, factories, cultural events, military units, and all sorts of other venues.

Some observers say the North Korean leader is too ill to make all these appearances. One Japanese analyst claims President Clinton didn't meet with Kim Jong-il in August – he met with a Mr. Kim double.

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Akuma River

The Daily Show is under fire for having Pro-Palestinians on discussing PEACE!

Daily Show under fire for covering Israeli-Palestinian conflict (October 29, 2009 - The Raw Story - Daniel Tencer)

Jon Stewart's comedy news show The Daily Show is reportedly under fire from pro-Israeli groups for giving airtime to two pro-Palestinian figures on Wednesday night.

Stewart hosted Palestinian democracy activist Mustafa Barghouti and human rights activist Anna Baltzer, author of A Witness in Palestine, who explained the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of the Palestinian side.
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music | sleigh anne.

Obama lifts ban on persons with HIV/AIDS from entering country

President Obama said today his administration is lifting an immigration ban on persons who have HIV/AIDS virus.

"It's a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it's a step that will keep families together, and it's a step that will save lives," Obama said, noting that the process of reversing the rule began during the George W. Bush presidency.

The United States initiated the ban on visitors with HIV/AIDS 22 years ago, "a decision rooted in fear rather than fact," Obama said. Now only a dozen nations continue the practice. "If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it," the president said.

Obama made the announcement as he signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, which provides help to more than half a million Americans.

White was the 13-year-old from Kokomo, Ind., who in 1984 contracted AIDS after a blood transfusion, and became internationally known by fighting for his right to attend school.

White died in 1990, but his legacy lives on. Obama said he not only taught Americans that AIDS cannot be spread through casual contact, but persuaded people to "take take action to fight it."

White's mother, Jeanne, attended the White House signing ceremony.


the twitter trending topics about this make me want to punch a baby idek...
franklin sherman

Remember that Drug Advisor who told the truth? He was fired for it.


Cannabis row drugs adviser sacked

The UK's chief drugs adviser has been sacked by Home Secretary Alan Johnson, after criticising government policies.

Professor David Nutt, head of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, criticised the decision to reclassify cannabis to Class B from C.

He accused ministers of devaluing and distorting evidence and said drugs classification was being politicised.

The home secretary said he had "lost confidence" in his advice and asked him to step down.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) is the UK's official drugs advisory body.

Following his sacking, Prof Nutt told the BBC he stood by his claim that cannabis should not be a Class B drug, based on its effects.

He described his sacking as a "serious challenge to the value of science in relation to the government".

And he denied that he had been trying to undermine the government's policies on drugs.

"I am disappointed because, to be honest, all I was trying to do was help. I wasn't challenging the government," said the former adviser.

"We can help them. We can give them very good advice, and it would be much more simpler if they took that advice rather than getting tangled up in other sorts of messages which frankly really do confuse the public."

Prof Nutt said he was not prepared to "mislead" the public about the effects of drugs in order to convey a moral "message" on the government's behalf.

Earlier this week Prof Nutt used a lecture at King's College, London, to attack what he called the "artificial" separation of alcohol and tobacco from illegal drugs.

The professor said smoking cannabis created only a "relatively small risk" of psychotic illness.

Public concern over the links between high-strength cannabis, known as skunk, and mental illness led the government to reclassify cannabis to Class C last year.

In the past, Prof Nutt has also claimed that taking ecstasy is no more dangerous than riding a horse.

In a letter, the home secretary wrote: "I cannot have public confusion between scientific advice and policy and have therefore lost confidence in your ability to advise me as chair of the ACMD.

"I would therefore ask you to step down from the Council with immediate effect."

In his reply, Prof Nutt said he was "disappointed" by the sentiments expressed by Mr Johnson.

He added: "Whilst I accept that there is a distinction between scientific advice and government policy there is clearly a degree of overlap.

"If scientists are not allowed to engage in the debate at this interface then you devalue their contribution to policy making and undermine a major source of carefully considered and evidence-based advice."

'Disgraceful' decision

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said the sacking had been "an inevitable decision" after Prof Nutt's "latest ill-judged contribution to the debate".

But Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said the decision to sack the adviser had been "disgraceful".

"What is the point of having independent scientific advice if as soon as you get some advice that you don't like, you sack the person who has given it to you?" he said.

Mr Huhne said if the government did not want to take expert scientific advice, it might as well have "a committee of tabloid newspaper editors to advise on drugs policy".

Cannabis reclassification

Similarly, Claudia Rubin from Release - a national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law - said the expert should not have been penalised.

"It's a real shame and a real indictment of the government's refusal to take any proper advice on this subject," she said.

In 2004, then Home Secretary David Blunkett had approved the reclassification of cannabis from Class B - which it had been since 1971 - to Class C.

But in 2008, Jacqui Smith announced that she would reverse the 2004 decision and put cannabis back into category B.

The decision was taken despite official advisers recommending against the change.

Ministers said they wanted to make the move as a precautionary measure.
California Über Alles

Oh thank God - Gavin Newsom drops out of Governor's race

Fresh off the presses:  Gavin Newsom drops out of race. 

Newsom's out. Here is the official press release.
It is with great regret I announce today that I am withdrawing from the race for governor of California. With a young family and responsibilities at city hall, I have found it impossible to commit the time required to complete this effort the way it needs to — and should be — done.
This is not an easy decision. But it is one made with the best intentions for my wife, my daughter, the residents of the city and county of San Francisco, and California Democrats.

When I embarked on this campaign in April, my goal was to engage thousands and thousands of Californians dedicated to reforming our broken system and bringing change to Sacramento.

I would like to thank those supporters, volunteers, and donors who have worked so hard on my behalf. I have been humbled by their support and am indebted to their efforts. They represent the spirit of change and determination essential to putting California back on the right track.

I will continue to fight for change and the causes and issues for which I care deeply — universal health care, a cleaner environment, and a green economy for our families, better education for our children, and, of course, equal rights under the law for all citizens.
Also, we think the fact that Jerry Brown was annihilating him in the polls and in fund raising had something with his decision to withdraw from the race, in addition to the new little blessing in his life.

The best part about sfist.com is that it looks like "S Fist"... lol, juvenile I know.
There's not a snowball's chance in hell that Newsom could win, so I'm happy he's out.  I have no idea who will run, but the incredible nastiness the Newsom family would have to endure would be so evil, and also non-productive. 
Tim with stick

I probably would have voted for him, too.

Gavin Newsom quits race for California governor

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has been seen as a leading contender to be the next governor of California, announced today that he is quitting the race.

Newsom is withdrawing from the Democratic primary amid lackluster poll numbers and meager fund-raising receipts. His withdrawal leaves state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, who is expected to run even though he has not officially entered the race, with little opposition in the Democratic primary.

“It is with great regret I announce today that I am withdrawing from the race for governor of California,” Newsom said in a statement. “With a young family and responsibilities at City Hall, I have found it impossible to commit the time required to complete this effort the way it needs to — and should be — done. This is not an easy decision. But it is one made with the best intentions for my wife, my daughter, the residents of the city and county of San Francisco, and California Democrats.”

Although Newsom had been effectively running for more than a year, his campaign never gained much traction. Even in his hometown, which Newsom touted as a model of cutting-edge policies, his candidacy was widely derided among civic insiders.

Perhaps most telling was the absence of support from the major San Francisco donors who helped underwrite Newsom’s successful campaigns in the city. He also drew relatively few endorsements from the ranks of his fellow elected officials.

Newsom had repeatedly told those close to him that he did not want to embarrass himself in the governor's race.

Akuma River

... I guess honor killings go both ways, now? Or is it something else?

Rabia Sarwar Tried To Slit Husband Sheikh Naseem's Throat For Making Her Eat Pork, Wear Short Skirts (October 30, 2009 - HuffPo - COLLEEN LONG)

NEW YORK — A devout Muslim woman told police she slashed her husband's neck with a kitchen knife as he slept because he forced her to eat pork, wear short skirts and drink alcohol in violation of her religious beliefs.

Rabia Sarwar, 37, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and was freed on $25,000 bail. She told police in a written statement that she was emotionally abused by her husband, Seikh Naseem.
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I'm kinda all wtf-ery right now.
sailor kiss

Obama Adminstration Defends DOMA, recognises it as discriminatory

States that allow gay marriage can't force the federal government to provide benefits to those couples, the Obama administration argued Friday in court papers in a lawsuit by Massachusetts.

The Justice Department is at odds with Massachusetts — the first state to allow gay marriage — over a 1996 federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Massachusetts sued in July, saying that law is discriminatory and deprives gay couples in the state of some federal spousal benefits.

The Obama administration agrees the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is discriminatory and wants it repealed, but says it has an obligation to defend laws enacted by Congress while they are on the books and can be reasonably defended.

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Orly Taitz Officially Declared Insane. Plans To Protest Fox News and O'Reilly!

Orly Taitz Protest Against Bill O'Reilly, Fox News Planned

Birther movement leader Orly Taitz is planning a protest in New York City this weekend against a television personality who refuses to air her insane conspiracy theories -- Fox News' Bill O'Reilly.

The protest is set to take place on Veterans Day, November 11th outside FOX headquarters in Midtown.

O'Reilly dismissed the birthers in July, saying he had investigated and settled the issue.
"That theory has been around for a while. The Factor investigated, found out it's bogus. But Mr. Dobbs is still engaged...

Again, we found out that President Obama was born in Hawaii.. we were sent the documents. And what are you gonna do? I don't know why it's still around..."

The host later called the birthers "stupid."

"Keep in mind, what OReilly did, is more dangerous, more harmful then what some idiots like Rachel Maddow or Keith Obertmann [sic] did, since people believe O'Reilly to be fair and balanced," Taitz wrote on her website.

Spineless Backstabbing Bastard To Support Republicans For 2010 Election

Lieberman: I'll Probably Back Some Republicans In 2010 (VIDEO)

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told ABC News on Friday that he would probably support some Republicans in the next election.

"I expect I will support some Republican candidates for Congress or Senate in the elections in 2010. I'm going to call them as I see them," Lieberman told the network.

Distancing himself from "partisan, passionate, ideological" politicians on either side, he added, "Sometimes the better choice is somebody who's not a Democrat."


Kucinich Wants To Do Something Awesome, Can It Work?...

Kucinich Wants His Amendment Back

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) was none too happy when House leaders stripped his single-payer provision from their $894 billion health reform proposal. Today, he’s urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to reinstate it.

“Like many other important reforms included in the underlying bill, the Kucinich amendment is the object of attack by the insurance industry,” Kucinich wrote in a letter. “Unlike other reform measures, Leadership has chosen to strip the Kucinich amendment of the protection it deserves.”

Kucinich’s provision, which would allow states to set up single-payer health care systems modeled after Medicare, passed the House Education and Labor Committee in July, but was stripped out by Democratic leaders as they pieced together their final bill from the various committee proposals. Kucinich concedes that the provision represents “incremental reform.” “But,” he adds, “it allows the country to move incrementally in the direction that is needed.”

If Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) is right about there being no floor amendments, this plea could be Kucinich’s last shot.

Update (4:46 p.m.): Democratic Reps John Conyers (Mich.), Eric Massa (N.Y.), Neil Abercrombie (Hawaii), Janice Schakowsky (Ill.), Lynn Woolsey (Calif.) and Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) have also signed the letter.


Chamber of Commerce Declares War On Obama And Adding New Enemies in Multiple Fronts.

No Deal: Chamber Chief Battles Obama

With President Barack Obama bidding to overhaul the health-care system, tighten bank oversight and make industries pay for their greenhouse-gas emissions, some trade-association chiefs have decided to compromise with the party in power.

Not Thomas Donohue. On many of Mr. Obama's priorities, the president and chief executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is working to defeat the administration—delighting some members, causing some to quit and sparking a furious reaction from the White House and left-wing activists. In the process, he has made the Chamber one of Mr. Obama's most visible opponents.

On climate change, Mr. Donohue's group says warmer temperatures could help by reducing deaths related to cold weather.

On health care, a Chamber ad says Democrats' approach will kill jobs and slow growth.

On financial regulation, one ad says the administration's plan will hurt small businesses, "even the small butcher"—a line that prompted Mr. Obama to denounce the Chamber from the presidential podium this month.

Now, Mr. Donohue aims to spend $20 million annually for several years advocating free-market policies such as open trade and less regulation, taking aim at much of the Democrats' agenda. The public-relations campaign is the biggest undertaking in the Chamber's 100-year history.

A question hanging over all this is whether Mr. Donohue's aggressive stance will work better than compromise. The Chamber, which says it has 300,000 dues-paying members, has become a political target in Washington's partisan atmosphere. Though Mr. Donohue has strong supporters, a vocal minority of companies, including Apple Inc. and Nike Inc., have recently quit the Chamber or its board.

"They've put Main Street businesses in a precarious place by taking a position that's not credible and doesn't allow them to shape legislation to their members' benefit," said James Rogers, chief executive of Duke Energy Corp.
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