December 10th, 2009

Politics: No one is Illegal

Concerns deepen over local refugees (follow up post)

Photo Caption: Resettled refugees Retaj, 7 (from left), Baker, 5, and Farah, 10, came here from Iraq with their parents, who did not want to give their last name. The family lives at Hunters Glen Apartments, and they have no heat.

Want to help? To donate money, goods or time to help refugees, contact:
* The Guilford Congregational Assistance Network: Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Attn: Rev. Virginia Herring, 607 N. Greene St., Greensboro, NC 27401. 272-6149, Ext. 220.
* Islamic Center of the Triad: Attn: Refugee Committee, 4930 Mary St., Greensboro, NC 27409-2810. 856-2870.
GREENSBORO — Guilford County’s resettlement agencies are taking in too many refugees without enough resources to support them, faith leaders said this week.

Recent concern has focused on the plight of newly settled Iraqis at the Hunters Glen Apartments, along with the story of a homeless Burmese refugee who arrived at Greensboro Urban Ministry’s shelter in November.

A key minister in the Refugee Information Network of Guilford said there has been growing unease since last winter, when a wave of African and Burmese refugees arrived and were nearly destitute within three months.

“I’m distressed. We as a community have let this thing go on too long,” said the Rev. Virginia Herring, assistant to the rector at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, who helped form the volunteer network. “This is tragic. It has to be fixed.”

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Obama: Pointing

Human rights report exposes US abuse of immigrant detainees

Human Rights Watch released a report Wednesday detailing how US authorities are indiscriminately transferring thousands of detained immigrants away from their attorneys and family members in order to prevent them from fighting deportation.

The report, “Locked Up Far Away: The Transfer of Immigrants to Remote Detention Centers in the United States” presents previously unreleased data that the human rights organization obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The organization also interviewed detainees, family members and immigration attorneys.

Since 2003, ICE—which was established under the aegis of the US Department of Homeland Security following the 9/11 attacks—has detained 1.7 million individuals in some 350 facilities, including for-profit prisons and state and local jails it contracts. This year, ICE officials say 442,000 immigrants will be detained, more than double its first year of operations.

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Akuma River

Nobel Peace Prize LIVE!

Cspan is covering it live cspan 2.


President Obama is accepting the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. The Nobel committee said that they chose the President of the United States because of his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

Uh, this happened at 6:36am central time. The event is over. Video of it can be found on cspan and video and text of the speech here

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South Carolina democrat

Jim DeMint wants some new friends

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) sees himself as something of a kingmaker in the Republican Party, and is actively supporting very conservative candidates running against the party-establishment picks.

"The problem here in the Republican Party is not that our base has gone to the right," he said. "The problem in the Republican Party is that the leadership has gone to the left and the tea parties and the Republicans out across the country are right there where American principles have always been and I'm trying to pull the party back to the mainstream of where America really is."

SOURCE has video proof of the wackiness

Giant iceberg heading for Australia

Climate change, what Climate change??


A giant iceberg is drifting towards Western Australia, impressing scientists with its capacity to travel so far north while still largely intact.

Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young says the iceberg, named B17B, is 1700km south-south-west of the West Australian coast and moving north with the ocean current and prevailing wind.

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Happy Holidays just has a ring to it...

War Over Christmas Comes to Congress

The annual cultural debate over Christmas has come to Congress.

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These people need more Christmas specials. Don't they know that the point of Christmas is to love everyone and have a fantastic holiday season? And not forget your child at home/New York City, lest they make friends with lonely old people?

Have a wank-tastic holiday season, ONTD_P
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Uganda to Drop Death Penalty, Life in Jail for Gays

Uganda will drop the death penalty and life imprisonment for gays in a refined version of an anti- gay bill expected to be ready for presentation to Parliament in two weeks, James Nsaba Buturo, the minister of ethics and integrity, said.

The draft bill, which is under consideration by a parliamentary committee, will drop the two punishments to attract the support of religious leaders who are opposed to these penalties, Buturo said today in a phone interview from the capital, Kampala.

Ugandan lawmaker David Bahati presented a private member’s bill on Oct. 14 which sought the death penalty and life imprisonment for gay people in the country. </b>The Ugandan government supports the bill because homosexuality and lesbianism are “repugnant to the Ugandan culture,” Buturo said.</b> Still, it favors a more refined set of punishments, he said.

In addition to formulating punishments for the gay people, the bill will also promote counseling to help “attract errant people to acceptable sexual orientation,” said Buturo.

The proposed legislation has attracted criticism from gay rights activists, both locally and internationally, who argue that the law would promote discrimination and hatred toward the gay community.


3 Lies Anti-Choicers Tell About Planned Parenthood

Undercover anti-abortion activist Lila Rose has struck again, this time with a video supposedly exposing Planned Parenthood's malfeasance. What it actually exposes: the anti-choice movement's smear tactics.

The undercover video, organized by the group Live Action, of which Lila Rose is president, and posted on Michelle Malkin's blog, purports to catch Planned Parenthood employees in a variety of lies. Below, we break down some of Live Action's claims.

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John Milbank: "Feminism Undermines The Family. We Need A New Feminism Which Respects Men." *Groan*

I've been keeping up with what happens at the theology department at my old university and today John Milbank the creator of Radical Orthodoxy (a form of post-modernism that says that modern life is nihilistic and the solution is to start thinking like St. Augustine) decided to contribute to the Guardian. The little subtitle for his article is: "We need a radical feminism that ends women's enslavement and allows them to be neither subordinate nor men writ large". While sometimes these subtitles can be misleading, in this particular case it is quoted word for word from the penultimate paragraph. Yes, the article is as awful as that suggests...

For my personal critique of the article, you can click here. I reckoned that actually you guys would probably have much more interesting things to say. I've put the LJ cut on the centre of the article because I think the last few paragraphs are perhaps the best for snarking. John Milbank appears to be responding to the following article by Deborah Orr where, unlike Milbank, she actually talks a lot of sense.

For Feminism and Family
John Milbank
Monday 7 December 2009

Today, the defence of the family is seen as a rightwing cause. Conversely, liberal feminism is seen as a leftwing cause. But these associations are questionable.
In both cases, a liberal left unconcerned with notions of intrinsic good "conservatively" sanctifies existing tendencies. Thus

Deborah Orr cites the fact that women, like men, were once made wage-slaves as if this were a good thing. She also cites the fact that today middle class women tend to have babies late as if this were a sign of the rise of freedom. Meanwhile she contends against David Cameron that "the days of the typical family are numbered".

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The downside of this hybrid female subjectivity is the continued enslavement of women in both workplace and home and the loss of a male code of honour as to the assistance of women and children, which has had devastating consequences for the working class. All this combines with an increased state and market control of reproduction which amounts to a new general rule of men over women.

Instead of this we need a true radical feminism more focused on the question of what constitutes good relations between women and men. This needs to include mutual equity concerning procreation and above all equal rights to the combining of work and child nurture without economic loss. In cultural terms we need women to play a public role neither as subordinate, nor as men writ large.

Such a feminism would promote the family as the first school of association and of resistance to the depravations of both market and state.
IJA: Alice Paul

Franken Challenges Napolitano on Imprisonment of Asylum Seekers

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this morning why it is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is imprisoning people coming to the United States seeking asylum from persecution abroad.

“A 2005 congressionally authorized bipartisan commission found that it wasn’t appropriate to detain asylum seekers in prisons,” said Franken. “That was four years ago. Now they’re still being detained in prison, put in jumpsuits and shackles. They’re even put in solitary confinement,” he said. “They aren’t criminals.”

Napolitano responded that part of the agency’s detention reform process, still being implemented, is “to really do a risk analysis for every individual who comes into our system.”

Franken persisted. “There’s a credible fear interview. Very often they continue to be detained even after it’s been determined that they have a credible fear if they go back.”

Napolitano did not deny the problem. “We’re working with officers to increase the speed by which they are paroled into the country if there has been a determination of credible fear.”

According to a recent report on the detention of asylum seekers by Human Rights First, the U.S. detention system for asylum seekers “is inconsistent with international refugee protection and human rights standards.”


That cretin is writing for The Guardian now... joy.

Boycott Copenhagen
Any deal at the Copenhagen climate summit will be more about politics than science. President Obama should stay away
by Sarah Palin (no, really)

With the publication of damaging emails from a climate research center in Britain, the radical environmental movement appears to face a tipping point. The revelation of appalling actions by so-called climate change experts allows the American public to finally understand the concerns so many of us have articulated on this issue.

"Climate-gate," as the emails and other documents from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia have become known, exposes a highly politicised scientific circle – the same circle whose work underlies efforts at the Copenhagen climate change conference. The agenda-driven policies being pushed in Copenhagen won't change the weather, but they would change our economy for the worse.

The emails reveal that leading climate "experts" deliberately destroyed records, manipulated data to "hide the decline" in global temperatures, and tried to silence their critics by preventing them from publishing in peer-reviewed journals. What's more, the documents show that there was no real consensus even within the CRU crowd. Some scientists had strong doubts about the accuracy of estimates of temperatures from centuries ago, estimates used to back claims that more recent temperatures are rising at an alarming rate.

This scandal obviously calls into question the proposals being pushed in Copenhagen. I've always believed that policy should be based on sound science, not politics. As governor of Alaska, I took a stand against politicised science when I sued the federal government over its decision to list the polar bear as an endangered species despite the fact that the polar bear population had more than doubled. I got clobbered for my actions by radical environmentalists nationwide, but I stood by my view that adding a healthy species to the endangered list under the guise of "climate change impacts" was an abuse of the US Endangered Species Act. This would have irreversibly hurt both Alaska's economy and the nation's, while also reducing opportunities for responsible development.

Our representatives in Copenhagen should remember that good environmental policymaking is about weighing real-world costs and benefits – not pursuing a political agenda. That's not to say I deny the reality of some changes in climate – far from it. I saw the impact of changing weather patterns firsthand while serving as governor of our only Arctic state. I was one of the first governors to create a subcabinet to deal specifically with the issue and to recommend common-sense policies to respond to the coastal erosion, thawing permafrost and retreating sea ice that affect Alaska's communities and infrastructure.

But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can't say with assurance that man's activities cause weather changes. We can say, however, that any potential benefits of proposed emissions reduction policies are far outweighed by their economic costs. And those costs are real. Unlike the proposals China and India offered prior to Copenhagen – which actually allow them to increase their emissions – President Obama's proposal calls for serious cuts in our own long-term carbon emissions. Meeting such targets would require Congress to pass its cap-and-tax plans, which will result in job losses and higher energy costs (as Obama admitted during the campaign). That's not exactly what most Americans are hoping for these days. And as public opposition continues to stall Congress's cap-and-tax legislation, Environmental Protection Agency bureaucrats plan to regulate carbon emissions themselves, doing an end run around the American people.

In fact, we're not the only nation whose people are questioning climate change schemes. In the European Union, energy prices skyrocketed after it began a cap-and-tax programme. Meanwhile, Australia's parliament recently defeated a cap-and-tax bill. Surely other nations will follow suit, particularly as the climate email scandal continues to unfold.

In his inaugural address, President Obama declared his intention to "restore science to its rightful place." But instead of staying home from Copenhagen and sending a message that the US will not be a party to fraudulent scientific practices, the president has upped the ante. He plans to fly in at the climax of the conference in hopes of sealing a "deal." Whatever deal he gets, it will be no deal for the American people. What Obama really hopes to bring home from Copenhagen is more pressure to pass the Democrats' cap-and-tax proposal. This is a political move. The last thing America needs is misguided legislation that will raise taxes and cost jobs – particularly when the push for such legislation rests on agenda-driven science.

Without trustworthy science and with so much at stake, Americans should be wary about what comes out of this politicised conference. The president should boycott Copenhagen.

Source: an otherwise not-batshit newspaper
Granny Tyrell


PC minister backs Pinkstinks campaign telling parents not to buy girls pink gifts

A campaign backed by a Government minister which urges parents not to buy girls pink Christmas gifts was branded "pointless" yesterday.

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(no subject)

Image and video hosting by TinyPicBUCHAREST, Romania - Romania's main opposition party claimed Monday that President Traian Basescu narrowly won re-election through a fraudulent vote.

The Social Democrats said left-leaning former Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana actually won Sunday's run-off, an election seen as crucial to addressing a government crisis and the country's painful recession.

Senior Social Democratic official Liviu Dragnea said there were too many voided ballots - a total of 138,000 - more than enough to make up the difference between the two candidates, a slim margin of about 70,000 votes.

He claimed that some polling stations altered final documentation, possibly forging ballots, sent to central election authorities. He also cited "massive electoral tourism," referring to the 617,000 voters who cast ballots at special voting centres, many of whom he claimed had already voted elsewhere.

"We contest the election. It is a democratic duty toward the 5 million Romanians" who are about to be cheated out of their votes, he said, referring to Geoana's voters.

"Romanians voted for Mircea Geoana, but Basescu's state apparatus is trying to make him the presidential winner through fraud," he said.

Basescu ally Radu Berceanu denied fraud allegations and Geoana's Social Democrats did not know how to lose graciously. He mocked Geoana's victory speech after exit polls indicated that he had won Sunday night.

Basescu said if there was a re-count, "I fear I'll be three points the lead."

He said he knew two hours before the polls closed that he had won the race, and accused the Social Democratic party of manipulating the exit polls. He said the fact the Social Democrats were contesting the elections was "embarrassing."

The interior ministry said 200 irregularities were reported and two people were detained for attempting to offer incentives in exchange for a vote.

Representatives of four parties supporting Geoana outside Romania refused to sign off on the vote count, alleging multiple voting, and claiming bribes were offered to people for their votes in Spain, Italy and Moldova.

Electoral judge Mircea Moldovan said Basescu won over 78 per cent to Geoana's 21 per cent from Romanians voting abroad.

With 99.95 per cent of the vote counted, election authorities said centrist Basescu polled 50.33 per cent of the vote, while Geoana received 49.66 per cent following a campaign characterized by allegations of corruption on both sides.

There has been no word from Basescu since exit polls released late Sunday put Geoana slightly ahead - leaving the election results uncertain overnight. Basescu said at the time that the exit polls were deceptive.

Adriean Videanu, a senior member of the Democratic Liberals who supported Basescu, on Monday called Basescu "the new president of Romania. He won with his ally, the Romanian citizen. They defeated the greatest ever alliance against them" since communism was overthrown.

Former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, who ran for president against Basescu in 2004, also said he believed there may have been cheating. Former President Ion Iliescu called the results "suspect" and said there were "many reports" of irregularities.

The country faces skyrocketing unemployment and a limping government since the ruling coalition fell apart two months ago amid party squabbling.

Romania is seeking to unlock a C1.5 billion ($2 billion) International Monetary Fund bailout loan to pull it out of its deep recession but is unlikely to get one this year due to its political instability.

Basescu, 58, had seen his popularity drop this year due to the economic downturn and political feuding, but still enjoys support, especially in rural areas and among the working class. He is a formidable fighter, feuding bitterly with all the political parties in recent years except for the Liberal Democrats he used to lead.

He argues that he will modernize and reform Romania, saying much of the economy is under the control of corrupt oligarchs and media moguls with whom he links Geoana, a charge that has resonated with voters amid Romania's economic woes.

Geoana, 51, who served as Romania's ambassador to the United States and then as foreign minister, heads the Social Democratic Party, the successor to the Communist Party that ruled for more than 40 years until the 1989 anti-communist revolt.

He styles himself as a modern Social Democrat, with former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair his political role models. He lacks Basescu's popular appeal but is seen as a clever negotiator.


Associated Press Writer Alina Wolfe Murray in Bucharest contributed to this report.


note: I don't know if anyone is interested in this, but I had to post it and I didn't see it posted anywhere. I tried to find a more in-depth written article, but I couldn't find Canadian newspapers which are analyzing this issue at any length. For those of you thinking the Socialist Democratic party is for real what they name themselves, a crash course: many of them are the same people who were around before the revolution of 1989. They are NOT Socialist, they merely use Socialist ideas to campaign and generally do not implement many socialist reforms.

Is Lady Gaga a Feminist?

Almost immediately after she deposited herself in a corner booth at L'Espalier, the restaurant at Boston's Mandarin Oriental Hotel on the December afternoon after the first American date of her Monster Ball tour, Lady Gaga made a confounding statement.

"I don't see myself as ever being like anybody else," said the 23-year-old known to her mom (eating lunch nearby) as Stefani Germanotta. "I don't see myself as an heir."

Yet there she was, in a blond Hollywood bob and black tuxedo-bra combo much like the costumes Madonna wore 20 years ago, discussing a show that conjures the spirits of Michael Jackson, David Bowie and the punk-rock drag queens of downtown New York and promoting music -- the newly expanded edition of her 2008 debut album, "The Fame," greatly enriched by eight new songs and repackaged as "The Fame Monster" -- that pays blatant homage to ABBA, Queen, Eurodisco and Marilyn Manson.

Gaga doesn't care. She wants you to trace her references. " John Lennon talked about how with every song he wrote, he was thinking of another artist," she said, making a less expected connection to a pop deity.

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(no subject)

Toronto woman charged with witchcraft

TORONTO, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- A Toronto woman is in custody facing the old and rare charge of practicing witchcraft, along with fraud charges, police said.

The charge of practicing witchcraft in Canada's Criminal Code dates back to 1892 and was filed against 36-year-old Vishwantee Persaud in late November, the Toronto Star reported.

The woman allegedly gained the confidence of long-time criminal lawyer Noel Daley, who told the Law Times he gave the woman nearly $150,000 in salary as a legal assistant, for business ventures that never materialized and cancer treatments.

Persaud also faces two fraud charges in connection with some of those ventures, but the witchcraft charge stemmed from an incident in which she allegedly read Tarot cards for Daley and told him she was the embodiment of his dead sister, the report said.

Law Professor Alan Young at York University's Osgoode Hall law school, told the Star the witchcraft charge doesn't so much target witches, but those who fake mystical powers and prey on vulnerable people.

Persaud is to make her next court appearance Dec. 24, police said.

- Source

IDEK. i read this and said out loud, "Wait, what?"
  • de_wood

New York Times raises eyebrows with gift guide for people 'of color'

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A new addition to the New York Times annual Holiday Gift Guide has sparked a minor uproar after a blog devoted to critiquing the paper termed it "racist." Included in this year's guide, which was published in November, is a page titled "Of Color/Stylish Gifts." This first-time feature is described by the paper as "gifts created for and by people of color." After going virtually unnoticed by critics for a month, the guide's been widely slammed in the past week as a collection of "backhanded insults" which are "bordering on offensive" and "out of touch."

The "Of Color" section was compiled by African American reporter Simone S. Oliver and can be found inside the "Style & Travel" section of the 2009 Gift Guide. Its contents include:

- "The Mocha Guide to Military Life," a book for African American women with family members serving in the military.

- A "Wise Latina" t-shirt, an obvious play on a controversial statement made by Sonia Sotomayor that became an issue during her Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

- "Hair Rules," a product for people of color with "problem hair."

- "Baby Jamz," which was created by Beyonce Knowles' father and sister, is "an interactive hip-hop and rhythm-based toy line."

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New York Times: Stylish Gifts for People of Color


An ITN film crew covering a story about a photographer who was stopped while taking innocent photos in central London were themselves quizzed while filming.

London Tonight reporter Marcus Powell was stopped by police in the City who told him that filming was not allowed.

The incident, yesterday morning, occurred while the crew were attempting to film a piece about Grant Smith who was searched by police after taking pictures for a project on churches 24 hours earlier.

The crew were allowed to continue, but only after Powell showed the police officer his press card.

The drama took place shortly before the ITN crew crossed the river to interview AP's news editor for an item broadcast on More4 News last night.

Watch the More4 News report HERE

Watch the London Tonight report HERE

Source: Amateur Photographer
Pride &amp; Prejudice: Reading

Report analyzes importance of highly skilled immigrants to U.S. economy

A new report released Tuesday by the Center for American Progress highlights the importance of highly skilled immigrants to the U.S. economy, but argues that "arbitrary restrictions" keep companies from fully utilizing this talent pool.

"Reforming our high-skilled immigration system will stimulate innovation, enhance competitiveness, and help cultivate a flexible, highly-skilled U.S. workforce while protecting U.S. workers from globalization's destabilizing effects," the report said. Among the reforms the report recommends include establishing a market-based mechanism for setting the annual levels of H-1B visas available for skilled foreign workers, raising the green card cap and streamlining the process for obtaining a green card.

The current cap on H-1B visas is set at 65,000 annually with an additional 20,000 available for foreigners who graduate from U.S. schools with master's or doctoral degrees. Unlike past years, the 65,000 cap was not reached this year soon after the fresh batch of visas became available at the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. As of early December, 61,100 of the 65,000 H-1B visas have been applied for, though the cap for the 20,000 supplemental visas has been met, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Industry officials who favor a market-based system for allocating H-1B visas say this year's figures indicate that such a system will work because with the economic downturn, companies have shown less of a need to hire foreign workers. "This report accurately highlights the positive benefits of high skilled immigration to America's economy," Information Technology Industry Council President Dean Garfield said in a statement.

The report, however, also addresses a key concern of those who oppose allowing more skilled foreign workers into the United States: bringing in foreign workers, no matter how skilled they are, depresses domestic wages and may hurt Americans' ability to obtain such jobs. "Current enforcement mechanisms are too weak to adequately prevent fraud and gaming of the system," according to the report, which calls for greater focus on targeting employer fraud and abuse, strengthening requirements for companies to seek out U.S. workers before hiring a foreigner and other protections.


I wish they had something like this when I was in school

Nailing a trade at Rosie the Riveter High

Long Beach charter school seeks to put young women in nontraditional jobs such as welding and carpentry.

Students are welding the old to the new at Rosie the Riveter High School.

The Long Beach charter school was created in 2007 to help prepare teenage girls for careers as welders, plumbers, carpenters, electricians and other trades.

Today, its 50-member student body includes girls and boys, but its organizers still attempt to break down barriers for women seeking careers in what largely remains a man's world.

"It's about trying to change the way society looks at women," said Lynn Shaw, who helped create Rosie the Riveter High. "We just feel that women should have an equal opportunity."
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Ani: Amazon Warrior

Dozens rally outside detention center for immigration rights

In the blustery, bone-chilling cold Thursday afternoon, about 50 people gathered in front of the Elizabeth Detention Center, where some 300 foreign nationals are held on immigration violations, to call for the immigration system to be reformed.

The people at the rally, which marked the conclusion of a march that had begun more than six miles away, by the federal building that houses immigration offices in Newark, called on Congress to pass an immigration measure that would give some of the nation’s 12 million illegal immigrants a chance to legalize their status.

They held posters that said “No Human Being Is Illegal,” and “Support Humane Immigration Reform.”

Greg Sullivan of Wyckoff, one of the demonstrators, said he hoped the march and demonstration would help “raise awareness, give people knowledge about the injustices that exist” in the immigration system. Sullivan is director of the Interfaith Refugee Action Team - Elizabeth, which includes a program in which volunteers visit people held in immigrant detention facilities and have no friends or relatives in the area

The event was one of many similar ones held around the country to mark International Human Rights Day, said Chia-Chia Wang, civil participation coordinator for the Newark-based American Friends Service Committee, a coordinator of the demonstration.

“Today’s walk and rally will hopefully demonstrate the different communities’ commitment to immigration reform,” said Wang, who led the chanting group south on Broad Street, toward Elizabeth, just after noon. “Immigration reform is important because there are currently about 12 million immigrants in the United States who have no way to legalize their status. And there are many people who want to come to the United States to join their families and must wait a very long time because of delays.”

President Obama promised during his campaign that he would push for legislation that would tighten enforcement along the borders as well as provide a pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria, including no criminal record, efforts to learn English and willingness to pay a fine for being here illegally.

But efforts to get congressional support for other legislation dealing with health care reform and stimulating the economy have put immigration reform on the back burner, frustrating advocates on both sides of the immigration issue.

“Immigration reform is just as important as health care and the economy,” said Wang. “Immigration reform should not be put aside, it should be a priority with the other issues.”

Groups that favor strict immigration enforcement object to legislation that would give illegal immigrants a way to legalize; these groups say the move amounts to an amnesty that rewards lawbreakers.

“Immigration overall – legal and illegal -- has to be reformed,” said Northvale resident Ed Durfee, a member of the United Patriots of America, which supports strict immigration policies. “We’re overloading our country with people who don’t speak English, we’re losing our identity and our culture. If we can’t control our borders, we can’t control our future.”

David Toleda of Clifton has another view. Toleda said he'd walked in the bitter cold from Newark to Elizabeth to show support for the day laborers of Passaic.

“It is not right that people who want to legalize are afraid, are living in hiding, and many of them have children who are American-born,” he said. “They're doing low-level, physically demanding work that I still don't see Americans clamoring to do."

Groups such as American Friends Service Committee say that the nation will never be able to deport the millions of illegal immigrants already here, and that it should provide a way to let some of them legalize their status. They argue that legalizing them would bring them out of the shadows, which they say is crucial to national security, and improve the economy by adding more people to the tax rolls.

An estimated half million illegal immigrants live in New Jersey.

thelma - 2

North Koreans beginning to speak out...

Give North Koreans a Chance
For them to curse their government in public takes a lot of courage

While climate delegates are quarreling in Copenhagen, and President Barack Obama is collecting his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, an important story is unfolding in relative obscurity, in North Korea. Furious over a confiscatory currency "reform," citizens of the world's most repressive state have begun publicly criticizing their government.

It is hard to overstate just how bold a move that is. North Korea's military "is on alert for a possible civil uprising," according to a major South Korean newspaper, the Chosun Ilbo. Reports have been filtering out of North Korea that the country's markets have become arenas of protest, with traders--many of them women in their 40s and 50s--publicly cursing the North Korean authorities.

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I want to believe that this is the beginning of the end for the current North Korean regime, but I don't want to get my hopes up.
creepy but cute

Israel’s evictions in Jerusalem violate international law

Woman evicted from her house in Jerusalem (Oct 2009) - Most days, Sharihan Hannoun and her family sit along the sidewalk on dusty white plastic chairs watching the East Jerusalem home from which they were forcibly evicted, watching as the strangers who took it over come and go. "Today we stay in the street 65 days," said Hannoun, on October 8. "The first few nights, we slept here," recalled the 20-year-old who was a psychology student at Birzeit University in Jerusalem. That was before August 2 early morning police raids left 37 members of her extended family homeless.

More evictions in Jerusalem (Nov 2009) - Jewish settlers forced their way into a disputed house in east Jerusalem on Tuesday, using hired guards to evict an elderly Palestinian woman and tossing the other residents' belongings into the rain-swept yard.

From UN News Center

10 December 2009 – The forced evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem by Israel are in contravention of international law, the head of the United Nations agency tasked with assisting millions of Palestinian refugees said today.
Karen AbuZayd, the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), visited the home of one of the Palestinian families who are being forced out of the neighbourhood, where four families – comprising dozens of people –have already lost their homes.

Currently, eight families, totalling 120 people, have been served with orders to vacate their homes.

Israeli settlers, with the active protection and assistance of Israeli authorities, have taken over the vacated homes.

“But these numbers don’t speak to the human suffering and trauma that has been the unfortunate hallmark of these forced evictions,” Ms. AbuZayd said on her last official visit to Jerusalem, coinciding with Human Rights Day.

In Sheikh Jarrah, she noted that the “failure of the international community to fulfil the promise of the Universal Declaration [of Human Rights] is so acutely felt and where the pain and the ugliness of dispossession and occupation are so tragically in evidence.”

The UN, she said, rejects Israel’s claims that these cases are a private matter to be dealt with by municipal authorities and domestic courts.

“Such acts are in violations of Israel’s obligations under international law,” the Commissioner General underscored.
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the stone
  • gmth

Redding woman's Christmas carol initiative picks up allies

Merry Hyatt has found allies in her quest to put an initiative on the ballot next year requiring public schools to play Christmas carols.

Hyatt, who moved to Redding four months ago, said she joined the Redding Tea Party Patriots and recruited several members to help her collect the 433,971 signatures needed by March 29.

Hyatt said she has partnered with a couple of churches in Redding and one in Wildomar in Southern California to collect signatures. All the signature pages must be turned in together to the Shasta County registrar, she said.

The initiative would require schools to provide children the opportunity to listen to or perform Christmas carols, and would subject the schools to litigation if the rule isn't followed.

Schools currently are allowed to offer Christmas music as long as it is used for academic purposes rather than devotional purposes and isn't used to promote a particular religious belief, according to an analysis by the California Legislative Analyst's Office.

"Bottom line is Christmas is about Christmas," said Erin Ryan, president of the Redding Tea Party Patriots. "That's why we have it. It's not about winter solstice or Kwanzaa. It's like, 'wow you guys, it's called Christmas for a reason.' "

Ryan said Hyatt's initiative falls under the umbrella of causes the group supports, which concern limited government, following the constitution and fiscal responsibility.

But some groups say the initiative represents quite the opposite.

"I have two words to say about Ms. Hyatt's proposal: blatantly unconstitutional," said Rob Boston, senior policy analyst for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which is based in Washington, D.C., and has a local chapter in Sacramento.

Boston said he heard about the initiative in the news, which isn't surprising considering national newspapers such as The New York Times have published articles on Hyatt's efforts.

"In the unlikely event she got enough signatures to put it on the ballot and the even more unlikely event California passed it, it would be struck down by the courts," Boston said. "The courts have been very clear that public schools aren't supposed to be in the business of promoting or advocating religion."

Boston said he thinks Hyatt's initiative represents a larger issue of religious conservatives being unhappy with the changes resulting from American society becoming more diverse.

"The frustration some religious conservatives have is they want a mythological religious America that probably never existed," he said.

Hyatt, a substitute teacher who moved to Redding from Riverside, said her motivation for the initiative was to help restore children's moral compasses by inviting Jesus to school Christmas parties.

"He's the prince of peace; he's the only one who can get these kids to stop being so violent," she said in November.

Hyatt said she believes it is Americans' First Amendment right to worship.

"It's our right to have freedom to worship," she said. "That's why we came to this country. They came to be Christians and they're trying to take that away. They're out of line; we're not."

Boston said he believes proponents of Hyatt's initiative have unrealistic expectations.

"They're looking to the public schools system or the government to provide them a religious experience at Christmas," he said. "If you want a full-throttle religious Christmas experience, it's at church ... there's no shortage of those."


Nothing says smaller government and respect for the Constitution than forcing schools to play Christmas carols! Also, freedom OF religion also means freedom FROM religion, lady.
jose g heart

Sensationalist title? Maybe... "Obama's Big Sellout"

Barack Obama ran for president as a man of the people, standing up to Wall Street as the global economy melted down in that fateful fall of 2008. He pushed a tax plan to soak the rich, ripped NAFTA for hurting the middle class and tore into John McCain for supporting a bankruptcy bill that sided with wealthy bankers "at the expense of hardworking Americans." Obama may not have run to the left of Samuel Gompers or Cesar Chavez, but it's not like you saw him on the campaign trail flanked by bankers from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. What inspired supporters who pushed him to his historic win was the sense that a genuine outsider was finally breaking into an exclusive club, that walls were being torn down, that things were, for lack of a better or more specific term, changing.

Then he got elected.

What's taken place in the year since Obama won the presidency has turned out to be one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history. Elected in the midst of a crushing economic crisis brought on by a decade of orgiastic deregulation and unchecked greed, Obama had a clear mandate to rein in Wall Street and remake the entire structure of the American economy. What he did instead was ship even his most marginally progressive campaign advisers off to various bureaucratic Siberias, while packing the key economic positions in his White House with the very people who caused the crisis in the first place. This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.

How could Obama let this happen? Is he just a rookie in the political big leagues, hoodwinked by Beltway old-timers? Or is the vacillating, ineffectual servant of banking interests we've been seeing on TV this fall who Obama really is?

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I don't know about you all but after reading this & the articles on the public option being dead, I'm back to the level of cynicism I was at before the 08 campaign/election. It's like the connections and corruption never ended reading this.

NYC police: Officer kills Times Square scammer

NEW YORK – A plainclothes cop chased a scam artist through sidewalks crowded with holiday shoppers and tourists Thursday in the heart of Times Square, killing the suspect near a landmark Broadway hotel after a gunfight that shattered box office and gift shop windows, police said.

No one else was injured.

The 25-year-old suspect, Raymond Martinez of the Bronx, and his brother were trying to dupe tourists into buying CDs near Broadway and 44th Street just before noon when he was recognized by a sergeant who runs a task force that monitors aggressive panhandling, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

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I ran into a bunch of guys trying this a couple of years ago (loled and walked away when they asked me to pay for that bullshit), so I can't help but wonder if it was the same people. Of course I don't want peddlers to get hurt, but they definitely are a harrassment by using deception. Also fuck you Donna Anderson: this isn't Law & Order, you privileged twat.
creepy but cute

2009: A year in human rights

An interview with Carroll Bogart, the associate director of Human Rights Watch (HRW):

With a new US president, international crises from Gaza to Sri Lanka, and continued political impediments to international justice, 2009 has been a busy year for those working in the field of human rights.

On Human Rights Day (December 10), Carroll Bogart, the associate director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), shares her views on some of the key moments of the past year and looks ahead to what 2010 might hold.

Al Jazeera: At the end of 2008, there was a tremendous amount of hope being invested in Barack Obama, the US president. But then there was the reality of Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and the human rights issues that went along with that. What was HRW's take on what happened in Gaza, and on the silence from the president-elect?

Carroll Bogart: I'm not sure that realistically we would have expected anything different from any US administration, since they certainly have a policy of avoiding any discussion of justice where Israel and the Middle East are concerned.

So that was not new, and I wouldn't say we were surprised. At the same time, of course we were disappointed, because we think the only way to have a genuine peace process is [to have] one that is based on justice and recognition of crimes committed by both sides in Operation Cast Lead.

We were really disappointed that the rhetoric on the Goldstone Report was so sharp. They slammed the door on Goldstone. They could have done that differently, and I think it was a mistake.

What would you have liked to have seen done differently?

For the US administration to say it is extremely important that both sides investigate and punish the perpetrators of any war crimes or other serious violations of human rights in the context of the Gaza War. That's not so hard to do.

This was the best opportunity not only to hold the Israel Defence Forces to account for what happened in Gaza, but also to hold Hamas accountable for what happened in Gaza.

That needn't be seen, and shouldn't be seen, as a threat to US objectives in the Middle East.

The year 2009 also saw the International Criminal Court (ICC) issue an arrest warrant for Omar Bashir, the Sudanese president. As soon as the warrant was issued, he responded by expelling aid agencies from Darfur. What's more important; that international law is respected or that conditions on the ground are improved?

We don't see those two things in opposition. There has been a false dichotomy between justice and peace in a case like Sudan, where if we go ahead and indict Bashir, then that's going to be unhelpful to the actual realisation of human rights.

I don't accept that. In other instances where heads of state indicted by the ICC or by other international bodies, like the [late Serbian president Slobodan] Milosevic case, or the Charles Taylor case, indictments were a way of stigmatising and putting a nail in the coffin of dictators. It's been very effective in other cases.

You should read the rest here/source

Note from OP: Hai ONTDP... what was the most compelling human right issue this year? What organization do you think was the most powerful in defending human rights? what is *one* issue you would like to see resolved in the next decade (and are you personally willing to commit to it)?

OPs own response--
Compelling: Human rights violations in Iran
Most powerful: One Million Signatures Campaign in Iran
Resolved in the next decade: Ditto. And yes.

DeMint Finds GOP To Be Too Libural For His Taste.

Jim DeMint: 'I Need Some New Republicans' (VIDEO)

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) sees himself as something of a kingmaker in the Republican Party, and is actively supporting very conservative candidates running against the party-establishment picks. Some party leaders are not pleased with his approach.

Now, in an interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, DeMint defends his strategy, saying that to get anything done in the senate he need some "new Republicans."

"I need some new Republicans, people who believe in constitutional government, a balanced budget and liberty and so I'm out across the country recruiting new Republicans who I think if they get here will not only challenge the institutions of government but be willing to even challenge the Republican Party and our leadership if they feel like we're going in the wrong direction," he said. "I think just a handful of new Republicans in the Senate could help change the direction."
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