December 14th, 2009

Dragon with script

Oh home town, knock off the racism, will ya?

Racism clouding opposition to proposed Sikh temple

December 10, 2009

Scott Tracey
Jury of One

Residents opposed to a proposed Sikh temple on Clair Road on the grounds that it will lead to traffic and noise issues should tell some of their neighbours to shut their racist mouths.

I don’t doubt the vast majority of residents expressing concern about the proposal at 410 Clair Rd. are doing so for what might be legitimate neighbourhood reasons.

But their arguments are being severely undermined by racist comments included in a couple of letters to city hall and, far more commonly, the anonymous world of online blogs.

Consider that Coun. Ian Findlay, by far the most prolific blogger among the 12 councillors, posted an item about the proposal on his blog last week and has collected more than 80 comments. Most of the comments have focused on concerns surrounding parking, increased traffic, noise, the size of the building and incompatibility with the neighbourhood.

Fair enough. Those people deserve to have their concerns heard and addressed.

But a disturbing number of the comments seem based on little more than the religion of the applicants.

Given the plans for the temple, a commenter named Layla wrote, “it seems the Sikh community is seeking to expand their community in Guelph, which is what concerns residents as this can create numerous problems since Guelph is used to being the ‘conservative,’ ‘predominantly white’ community.”

Seriously, she wrote that.

When another commenter called “Layla” a bigot, she denied it and went on to explain that many simply feel Guelph “is more ‘royal’ than other cities in Ontario” and problems arise “when someone of (another) race/religion wants to establish themselves in the city.” defines bigot as “one who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.”

If the name fits, Layla.

Sadly, she was not alone in her narrow-mindedness.

Another commenter, using the handle Ex-Bramptonian, actually wrote that he “(has) to run to my car because every day I smell like curry that oozes into the neighbourhood.

“I do not mean to sound racist,” Ex-Bramptonian lied, “but I am not afraid to speak frankly and share MY opinion.”

Congratulations, Mr. Bramptonian. Or can I just call you Ex?

Then again, why would you be afraid to share your racist views in an anonymous forum?

These incredible comments, and others like them, only serve to infuriate the vast majority of us who do not share your extreme views, and do nothing at all to further your opposition to the proposed temple.

As I’ve been thinking about it over the last few days, I have compared it to the opposition to the Hanlon Creek Business Park. I know there are many who oppose the business park for what they believe are legitimate environmental reasons, and some have made that point.

Unfortunately, that message was largely lost during the on-site protest at the city’s groundbreaking ceremony, which primarily involved swearing, threats and vulgar gestures.

If right-thinking opponents of the Sikh temple hope to gain traction with their arguments, they need to identify Layla, Ex-Bramptonian and the other hate-mongers who are clouding the issue and make them stop. I’m guessing they’ll be identifiable by their red necks.

Scott Tracey is a Mercury staff writer. His Jury of One column appears Fridays. He can be reached at

Source has no comments. The blog post it refers to however, does. And it's grown from the original 80...

When I was home for the weekend I saw a couple articles (including this opinion piece) about a recently proposed Sikh temple and thought the population of ONTD_p would be interested in the story. (Also, first post! yay!) Unfortunately, The Guelph Mercury which ran the story requires you buy the article, so I'm stuck just providing you with the opinion piece (also from the Guelph Mercury) based on it.

Guelph is about an hour from Toronto, and has a population of about 200,000. Currently the nearest Sikh temple is basically in Toronto, so all the Sikhs I knew when I lived in Guelph had to go all the way there (which can be a horrible drive) for worship. There are alot of Christian churches in Guelph, many which are in residential areas, so it's not like this kind of zoning is unheard of in the city.

Does the Vatican Really Oppose Murdering Gay People?

As more and more folks come out of the woodwork to condemn Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, one surprising player offered their thoughts on the worldwide criminalization of homosexuality: the Holy See.

At a UN panel last week to discuss rights abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Holy See had a statement that was five parts refreshing and at least one part historic, in that it's likely to be the first time the Vatican has weighed in on the issue of human rights for LGBT people under Pope Benedict XVI.

"[The Holy See] opposes all forms of violence and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons, including discriminatory penal legislation which undermines the inherent dignity of the human person," read their statement. "[T]he murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State."
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Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics,than therapy...

New federally financed drug research reveals a stark disparity: children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows.

Children and Antipsychotic Drugs Those findings, by a team from Rutgers and Columbia, are almost certain to add fuel to a long-running debate. Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them — but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children?

The questions go beyond the psychological impact on Medicaid children, serious as that may be. Antipsychotic drugs can also have severe physical side effects, causing drastic weight gain and metabolic changes resulting in lifelong physical problems.

- If you are on medicaid then you are 4 times more likely to get the meds as opposed to other forms or treatment.

- 3 year olds are now being diagnosed as "Bi-Polar" and medicated.

U.S. Warns Latin America About "Flirting" With Iran

Monroe Doctrine, Hillary’s Style?

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late last week urged Latin American countries to “think twice” about establishing links with Iran, which she said is the world’s leading promoter and exporter of terrorism.

Clinton also expressed concern about democratically-elected leaders in Latin America who later move to undermine democratic institutions.

Clinton's remarks warning about Iran came at a State Department public policy forum on Latin America and were some of the strongest by an Obama administration official to date about increasing Iranian activity in the region.
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IDK how I feel. On one hand, it's Iran and Iran sucks, but on the other, it's the US dictating to LA what they can and cannot do, which isn't cool either because LA can and should do whatever the fuck it wants. Interesting article nonetheless.

Disgust and Political Views

Source: USA Weekend

Are you easily disgusted?
A surprising look at how your political views might be affected
By Vi-An Nguyen

An emotional reaction to impurity might inform conservative values.

Imagine taking a sip from your drink, only to realize that it belongs to a stranger. Grossed out? If so, then you may be a conservative thinker.

High "disgust sensitivity," or a tendency to react strongly to things you think are gross, can predict political conservatism, researchers say. Less turned off? That could indicate more liberal views.

Two recent studies link disgust sensitivity with conservative attitudes on gay marriage and abortion. In one, 181 participants were tested for how they'd react to unpleasant situations, such as finding an unflushed toilet in a public restroom. Then they were asked about their political leanings. Researchers found a correlation between being easily disgusted and politically conservative.

"The more sensitive to disgust you are, the more you might react intuitively negative to sexual or other bodily behaviors that might be seen as unusual or immoral," says Yoel Inbar of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Because disgust is a reaction to perceived impurity, he says, it might inform conservative values such as opposing homosexuality, gay marriage and abortion.


Just a short and quick blurb I found interesting. To me, it seems like one of the things that need to be pointed out, but once it is, it should have been obvious.

What do you think?
grrm sux

Silvio Berlusconi left with severe headache after Milan attack

Silvio Berlusconi spent the night in hospital suffering from a severe headache after a man smashed him in the face with a statuette at a political rally in Milan.

After waking up following the attack on Sunday the Italian prime minister asked to see the newspapers and a press digest prepared for him by his office in Rome, according to his spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti.

Just hours before he was attacked, the prime minister had discussed the "climate of violence and hate" towards him which was being fostered by some of his opponents, Mr Bonaiuti said.

Mr Berlusconi, 73, spent the night in San Raffaele hospital in Milan after being left bloodied and shocked when a man suddenly lunged at him with a statuette of the city's famous Duomo cathedral.

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WASHINGTON - Television viewers jarred by abrupt spikes in volume during commercial breaks may someday be able to give their mute buttons a rest.

"I not only dive for the mute button, but I end up having to close my windows so that the blast doesn't affect by neighbors," says Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. "I live on a cul-de-sac, and so the sound resonates."

Irritated with loud commercials, the California Democrat found it was also a common complaint with the Federal Communications Commission . So she drafted a bill aimed at preventing TV ads from playing noticeably louder than the programs they sponsor.

The House is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the bill. An identical measure has been introduced in the Senate. Even if they become law, will viewers notice much difference? Maybe, maybe not, some experts say.

Eshoo's bill originally prescribed that television advertisements could be no louder than the average maximum loudness of the programs they accompany. She changed her bill to instead adopt guidelines developed by the TV industry, which she said will accomplish the same goal.

"I didn't go with the industry," she said. "I prodded the industry to come up with the technology and the standards. And they did."
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Freedom of Thought

Comprehensive Immigration Reform, A.S.A.P.

By Rep. Luis Gutierrez

Tomorrow, December 15, I will join the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and my colleagues in the House of Representatives in introducing a progressive, compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Every single day in America, families are being divided. Over the past year, I've traveled across the country with my colleagues conducting something called the United Families ("Familias Unidas") tour. In twenty-four cities across the country, we heard from families who were being ripped apart by the current system. We've heard stories from a father dying from cancer whose wife faced deportation. We've heard from American citizen children who are faced with choosing between their parents and a college education.

This is a crisis. It's a crisis of human and civil rights, it's a crisis of our economy and our workforce, and it's a crisis of national security. This is why we cannot wait any longer. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity (CIR ASAP) Act of 2009 is a solution that we, as a nation of immigrants, can be proud of.

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Ani: Amazon Warrior

'America's Toughest Sheriff' Unapologetic About Tactics, Inmate Treatment

'America's Toughest Sheriff' Unapologetic About Tactics, Inmate Treatment
Sheriff Joe Arpaio Continues Illegal Immigrant Crackdowns Despite Government Investigation

Dec. 14, 2009—

Joe Arpaio, the man who calls himself "America's Toughest Sheriff" has made a name through his merciless crackdown on illegal immigrants in Arizona's Maricopa County.

The 77-year-old's tough stance on immigration and controversial tactics, which include using traffic violations as a means to check the vehicles for anyone he thinks may be an illegal immigrant, has helped him win five consecutive terms as sheriff and catapulted him into the national spotlight.

Since he began his efforts in 2005, Arpaio claims he's arrested around 30,000 illegal immigrants. But America's ultimate law enforcer hasn't been without his share of controversy. Protesters frequently gather outside Arpaio's office.
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Ani: Amazon Warrior

Supreme Court to rule on deportation issue

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether immigrants convicted of repeat, minor drug possession crimes should be subject to deportation.The justices said Monday they will hear an appeal from Jose Angel Carachuri-Rosendo, who was deported to his native Mexico after pleading no contest to possessing one tablet of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax without a prescription. A year earlier, Carachuri-Rosendo pleaded guilty to possessing less than two ounces of marijuana.

Both crimes are misdemeanors in Texas, where Carachuri-Rosendo lived. He was a legal U.S. resident who had been in the country more than 20 years, with a fiancee and four children who all are U.S. citizens.

The U.S. government undertook deportation proceedings against Carachuri-Rosendo based on the second conviction, noting that it could have been treated as a serious crime under federal law.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld rulings allowing for the deportation, but other appeals courts have ruled for the immigrants in such situations.

The Obama administration backed Carachuri-Rosendo's request for high court review because of the split among appeals courts, but called for the 5th Circuit ruling to be upheld.

DC: Metro

Colombia dismantles drug camp near Venezuelan border

Colombia's National Police says it dismantled a camp near the Venezuelan border that was used by drug gang 'Los Rastrojos'.

Nine members of the drug gang, all demobilized members of paramilitary organization AUC, were arrested in the raid.

According to a report by Bogota radio station Santa Fe, the "mother camp" was found in the Norte de Santander department in the north of the country.

A local police commander told the radio station that the authorities had been preparing the raid for three months and had used a spy plane to monitor the area.

Los Rastrojos is one of Colombia's leading drug gangs and an off-spring of the infamous Norte del Valle Cartel. The organization is primarily active in the south-west of Colombia.


Marijuana Mom and the Cannabis Kid

The crop has been harvested, and Diane Irwin's secret technique paid off.

"Every morning I would go out and talk to my girls," she said, "pray over them and ask them to provide good medicine."

Her "girls" are marijuana plants destined for her son Jason's medical marijuana dispensary in Denver. At 48, she has just wrapped up her first season as a pot farmer. Her 62 plants yielded 13 pounds.

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that must hurt you poor thing

(no subject)

Why it's time to lighten up about "weird" Japan

A book called Crazy Wacky Theme Restaurants: Japan landed in my mailbox a couple of months ago. It's a beautifully-designed volume full of photos and essays chronicling author La Carmina's journey into the world of fetish restaurants in Japan. Carmina, who is from Vancouver, has a Gothic-Lolita Japanese fashion blog, and when she goes out, she wears Japanese street style-inspired attire. She writes about Japan because she is "fascinated" by the culture. "I can't pinpoint exactly what it is," she tells me over the phone from her book tour. "There's something very fresh and westernized about Japanese design. It's a certain sensibility."

Carmina's not the only one who feels this way — obsession with Japanese culture is everywhere. I didn't realize just how big it was until I became an intern at Wired four years ago. On my first day there, an editor asked me to write textbook graffiti in kanji for the September issue's Japanese School Girl Watch section.

The simple fact that I'm Japanese quickly became one of my greatest advantages as an aspiring writer. I started paying attention to my motherland as a repository of story ideas. I looked at things differently when I went back home, honed my story-finding skills, and launched my own blog, TokyoMango. I got major Japan-related assignments from magazines, consulting gigs from print and radio outlets, and a book deal. It was really strange for me, because all I thought I was doing was telling people about the place I came from. One thing was clear: Weird Japan sells. It's an almost guaranteed success for book publishers and major traffic bait for blogs.

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mods, if this is off topic, feel free to delete.

I'll admit, I'm not as knowledgeable about Japanese culture as I would like to be, but I try not to make huge assumptions like "Japan is fucking crazy" all the time.

' jules
  • schmiss


White House to Harry Reid: Cut deal with Joe Lieberman

The White House is encouraging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), which would mean eliminating the proposed Medicare expansion in the health reform bill, according to an official close to the negotiations.

But Reid is described as so frustrated with Lieberman that he is not ready to sacrifice a key element of the health care bill, and first wants to see the Congressional Budget Office cost analysis of the Medicare buy-in. The analysis is expected early this week.

"There is a weariness and a lot of frustration that one person is holding up the will of 59 others," the official said. “There is still too much anger and confusion at one particular senator’s reversal.”

The White House denied that it was pressuring Reid to cut a deal with Lieberman and said there was no difference of opinion about how to move forward on reform.

“The report is inaccurate,” said White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer in a statement. “The White House is not pushing Senator Reid in any direction. We are working hand-in-hand with the Senate leadership to work through the various issues and pass health reform as soon as possible.”

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Story has been denied by the White House but independently confirmed by TPM and Daily Kos. Not that it matters but here's a video of Lieberman endorsing a Medicare buy in, as well. Meanwhile, John McCain has an opinion.

Officials That Rejected Stinky Dirty Stimulus Money Now Faces Angry Mob.

When officials reject stimulus funds, sparks fly
Communities split over attempts to forgo Recovery Act money

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was supposed to create jobs by the millions, but Debra Morgan of North Platte, Neb., says it got her fired.

Morgan, a 17-year employee and former executive director of North Platte’s housing authority, contends she’s a victim of small-town politics. She says that against her advice the authority’s commissioners rejected $588,000 in stimulus funds because of their anti-government principles, then threw her under the bus when they got caught in the glare of national publicity.

Calling the commissioners “recklessly indifferent to the truth” and claiming permanent mental anguish from an improper and illegal dismissal, she sued in federal court.

Morgan’s case is an example of the bad feelings and high emotions that have resulted when state and local officials rejected Recovery Act funds — something that has happened at least a dozen times since Congress approved the $787 billion economic stimulus legislation in February.

Some refuseniks use terms like “Obama’s filthy, stinking stimulus,” and some have ambitions for higher office, but they insist their actions to reject the money are motivated by a sense of fiscal responsibility, not partisan politics.

To opponents, however, their acts are political grandstanding and have hurt their constituents.
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Sen. Jim DeMint's War on Gay Rights

Sen. Jim DeMint, darling of the teabagger crowd, has never been a big fan of gay rights. There was his stump speech in 2004 where he suggested that the state of South Carolina should ban openly LGBT teachers from working in public schools, not to mention his tireless support for a federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. And now, over the weekend, he talks shop with Albert Hunt at Bloomberg News, and lets the world know that he thinks homosexuality is destructive to society, and that the thought of an openly gay or lesbian president is enough to make him want to vomit.

Congratulations, Sen. Jim DeMint. You've just become the Jesse Helms of this decade. While you might waffle on what color to dye your hair, clearly you've staked out a firm and medieval position on advancing equal rights.
It was a rapid fire blasting of homophobic soundbytes from Sen. DeMint this weekend. First up? Whether homosexuality can ever be moral.

"It would be bothersome to me just personally because I consider it immoral," Sen. DeMint said.

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Guyz Its a Joke! Its Funnee! Hur Hur!

North Dakota GOP Posts Birther Joke On Homepage

The North Dakota Republican Party has a humorous new image on its front page today: A "Joke of the day" that just so happens to involve President Obama's birth certificate.

The picture shows the photo of President Obama shaking hands with state dinner party-crasher Michaele Salahi. Obama is given a speech balloon in which he asks to see Salahi's invitation. She answers: "If I can see your birth certificate!"

I asked Adam Jones, political director for the North Dakota GOP, whether it was appropriate to have a joke involving the president allegedly not being born in this country. "You said the keyword, Eric," he replied. "It's a joke."

I asked again whether he thinks this is a proper thing to put on a state party's homepage. "I think it is a joke, and that would be my only comment for you," he said.

Veterans Group Calls On Soldiers to Refuse Orders to Deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq

In response to President Barack Obama's announcement on December 1 to deploy 30,000 additional troops to the occupation of Afghanistan, the organization March Forward!, comprising both veterans and active-duty members of the US military, has called on all soldiers to refuse their orders to deploy.

"March Forward! calls on all service members to refuse orders to deploy to Afghanistan and Iraq," reads a press release from the group from December 3. "We offer our unconditional support and solidarity. Join us in the fight to ensure that no more soldiers or civilians lose their lives in these criminal wars."

Michael Prysner, a former corporal in the Army who served from 2001-2005 and a veteran of the occupation of Iraq, co-founded the group with another Iraq war veteran, James Circello.

Truthout asked Prysner how he responds to those who believe a soldier should always follow orders, no matter what.

"In my experience the majority of people joining the military today join out of necessity, like money, jobs, help for their family, etc., so most don't join for ideological or patriotic reasons. Most are driven into the military by economic conditions. We see this playing out now, as people are joining in droves because of the economy."

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Bush Birth Policies (Abstinence Please) Helped to Pump Lots of Babies in Africa. Poverty to Follow

Bush birth control policies helped fuel Africa's baby boom

At age 45, after giving birth to 13 children in her village of thatch roofs and bare feet, Beatrice Adongo made a discovery that startled her: birth control.

"I delivered all these children because I didn't know there was another way," said Adongo, who started on a free quarterly contraceptive injection last year. Surrounded by her weary-faced brood, her 21-month-old boy clutching at her faded blue dress, she added glumly: "I fear we are already too many in this family."

On a continent where fewer than one in five married women use modern contraception, an explosion of unplanned pregnancies is threatening to bury Adongo's family and a generation of Africans under a mountain of poverty.

Promoting birth control in Africa faces a host of obstacles — patriarchal customs, religious taboos, ill-equipped public health systems — but experts also blame a powerful, more distant force: the U.S. government.

Under President George W. Bush, the United States withdrew from its decades-long role as a global leader in supporting family planning, driven by a conservative ideology that favored abstinence and shied away from providing contraceptive devices in developing countries, even to married women.

Bush's mammoth global anti-AIDS initiative, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, poured billions of dollars into Africa but prohibited groups from spending any of it on family planning services or counseling programs, whose budgets flat-lined.

The restrictions flew in the face of research by international aid agencies, the U.N. World Health Organization and the U.S. government's own experts, all of whom touted contraception as a crucial method of preventing births of babies being infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The Bush program is widely hailed as a success, having supplied lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs to more than 2 million HIV patients worldwide.

However, researchers, Africa experts and veteran U.S. health officials now think that PEPFAR also contributed to Africa's epidemic population growth by undermining efforts to help women in some of the world's poorest countries exercise greater control over their fertility.
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Tar Telperien

Rwandan Courts Jail Journalist for Genocide

Rwanda jails journalist Valerie Bemeriki for genocide

Skulls of victims at the Genocide Memorial Site church of Ntarama, Rwanda
Some 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda's genocide

A Rwandan journalist who encouraged Hutus to slaughter Tutsis during the 1994 genocide has been jailed for life.
During her trial Valerie Bemeriki admitted to inciting violence.
In one broadcast attributed to her she told her listeners: "Do not kill those cockroaches with a bullet - cut them to pieces with a machete."
She was one of the most prominent voices of Radio Mille Collines - a station which became notorious for its encouragement of the slaughter.
The station was launched in 1993, backed by relatives of Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana - whose death in a plane crash helped to trigger the genocide.
Two senior executives of Radio Milles Collines have previously been sentenced to long jail terms by the UN's Rwanda tribunal, based in Arusha, Tanzania.
About 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in 100 days in Rwanda.

A local court convicted Bemeriki of planning genocide, inciting Hutus, and complicity in several murders.


This story is even more horrifying when you line it up with this Pultizer Prize winning article on her 2004.

Paying workers less is clearly better for them!

Fox News: cutting minimum wage 'better for workers'


Fox News: cutting minimum wage ‘better for workers’

By Sahil Kapur
Monday, December 14th, 2009 -- 2:26 pm

As the recession continues to weigh heavily on the livelihoods of millions, the Fox News Channel effectively made a case on Monday for lowering the minimum wage, suggesting it could be "better for workers."

"The minimum wage is kind of like a sacred cow in Washington, with many, many lawmakers thinking it's a win-win for low-skilled workers," said Fox anchor Juliet Huddy. "But what if those good intentions backfired?"

"One school of thought says lowering the minimum wage will actually create more jobs," she continued, without mentioning any counterargument.

Laws enacted by Congress following the Democratic takeover in 2007 have increased the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour as of this July. Prior to that, the minimum wage hadn't been raised since 1997.

Inviting Fox News correspondent James Rosen to discuss the issue, Huddy first asked him: "Why don't we often hear about lowering the minimum wage?"
Story continues below...

Rosen said the recent minimum wage hike has set off "a furious debate" over its efficacy, and cited a 2008 paper called "Minimum Wages" by David Neumark and William Wascher that argued against the minimum wage. He called it a "landmark study."

To bolster his case, Rosen quoted Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane as recently saying that cutting the minimum wage "would create some jobs for those who need them most."

Rosen said it's unlikely to happen because of Democratic lawmakers who oppose it for reasons of "social justice." Republicans who favor it, he said, do so because of "macroeconomics."

Fox then played a clip of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) dubbing the minimum wage "a minimum level of justice," along with one of Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) saying it will "artificially raise the cost of hiring people."

At no point in the segment did either Huddy nor Rosen make an academic case against raising the minimum wage -- they merely reduced that side of the argument to the nebulous concept of "social justice."

There are, however, accredited economic cases in favor of a strong minimum wage.

One famous study by David Card and Alan B. Krueger called "Minimum Wages and Employment" illustrated various ways by which increasing the minimum wage could decrease unemployment. Its research methods and conclusions have been endorsed by Nobel Laureates Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz.

Another is a 2004 research paper by the Economic Policy Institute called "No Longer Getting By," which finds, among other things, that a robust minimum wage helps mitigate poverty and strengthens consumer purchasing power through periods of inflation.

Although the economy has picked up, job growth remains meek and unemployment is at 10 percent. Americans are anxious for solutions that would create jobs and mitigate their financial woes. According to Fox News, cutting the minimum wage is one answer to their problems.

Linked source above has VIDEO...that I can't figure out how to grab and embed here
Christian Bale

Schools criticised for replacing baby Jesus with sheep in nativity plays

School nativity plays that relegate baby Jesus to a supporting role, instead focusing on angels or even sheep, have been criticised by the church.

A growing number of schools have scrapped the traditional Mary and Joseph performances in favour of secular alternatives such as Snow White or Scrooge.

Others have removed explicitly religious messages from their re-enactments of the birth of Christ for fear of upsetting pupils of other faiths.

Now vicars have spoken out against this watering down of the nativity, complaining that children are not being taught the spiritual message of Christmas.

"I have seen performances where the central character has not been Jesus. Instead he is replaced by an angel or a sheep, and I think that's a shame," said Rev Roger Widdecombe, vicar of St Paul's in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

"I'm a big fan of keeping the nativity as a nativity, although I realise the performance has to engage youngsters and there aren't that many well-written nativities out there."

Recent Christmas plays put on by schools near Rev Widdecombe's parish include Jack and the Beanstalk, Whoops a Daisy Angel and The Grumpy Sheep.

The latter tells the story of a lazy, cantankerous sheep who develops a more cheerful personality after travelling to meet Jesus in the Bethlehem stable.

Last week retailers reported that parents are ditching homemade nativity play costumes and spending up to £150 on "manger chic" designer outfits.

Obama: Pointing

The History and Significance of the Cabinet

The President has stated on many occasions that one of his proudest accomplishments has been assembling a Cabinet of such high caliber. As the Cabinet Secretary in the White House, I have the privilege of interacting with this amazing group every day, and can attest first-hand that his pride is more than merited. Every day, the President calls on the Cabinet to provide him with advice on pressing national and international issues. He also values their work in running the federal departments and agencies, ensuring that the government always works on behalf of the American people.

Since the country's founding, Presidents have been meeting behind closed doors with their Cabinets. That's to be expected, since it's important for the President to be able to speak candidly with his most trusted advisors. Indeed, a Cabinet meeting is so critical to the functioning of our government that it's one of the rare occasions that the entire Cabinet is allowed by Secret Service to be in the same place at the same time.

However, in keeping with President Obama's commitment to openness and transparency, we wanted to give the public a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how a Cabinet meeting comes together:

Christian Bale

Hipsters, Hasidic Jews Fight Over Bike Lanes In Williamsburg

The war over Williamsburg has taken yet another turn.

In response to last week's removal of bike lanes in the traditionally Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn, a group of local bike riders took it upon themselves to repaint the lane lines running down Bedford Avenue.

The Hasids had asked the city to remove the bike lanes from the neighborhood, claiming the influx of bikers posed a "safety and religious hazard."

In an interesting twist, the group of guerrilla line painters reportedly included members of the Hasidic community who are not opposed to the lanes.

Last year the religious group complained to the community board that many of the young, female cyclists who rode through the neighborhood were "hotties," who "ride in shorts and skirts," both of which are against their dress code.

According to the New York Post, "a source close to Mayor Bloomberg said removing the lanes was an effort to appease the Hasidic community just before last month's election."


Christian Bale

Nevada Brothel To Be First To Offer Male Prostitutes

LAS VEGAS — The owner of a brothel more than two hours' drive from Las Vegas said she hopes to hire Nevada's first legal male prostitutes within a month, now that state health officials have approved a method to test men for infectious diseases.

The world is ready for women, or even other men, to legally buy sex, said Shady Lady Ranch owner Bobbi Davis. Plus, being the first to offer male service could boost business in tough economic times, she said.

"With so many other male revues going on in Vegas, we thought it was time to give this a try," Davis told The Associated Press.

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Source: AP

Senator Boxer's opponents capitalize on 'ma'am' exchange

WASHINGTON – The widely played video clip of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer reprimanding a general for calling her "ma'am" is the gift that keeps on giving for the two Republicans hoping to challenge her next year.

Republicans Carly Fiorina and Chuck DeVore are trying to capitalize on the exchange by making it a key ingredient of their fundraising efforts and attempts to recruit grassroots support. Both campaigns say the video revs up a GOP base that already has long-standing animosity toward Boxer, among the most liberal members of the Senate.

Whether it will have currency beyond next June's Republican primary, when the winner will have to appeal to a much larger and more diverse audience, is an open question.

During a hearing last June, Boxer interrupted Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh of the Army Corps of Engineers in mid-sentence: "Do me a favor?" she said. "Could you say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am?' It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title, so I'd appreciate it. Yes, thank you."

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This is so shallow of Fiorina and DeVore. It's not like she snapped at him the first time he said it; she has a title preference and if she were a man no one would have made a peep about him asking to be called "Senator" rather than "Sir". One time I had a waitress that kept calling me "Dear" everytime she addressed me, so I know firsthand how your annoyance can build up everytime someone repeats a title you don't want to be called.

This Is Easy to Do, Right? Like Losing a Sock in the Dryer!

22 Million Missing Bush White House E-mails Found

WASHINGTON – Computer technicians have found 22 million missing White House e-mails from the administration of President George W. Bush and the Obama administration is searching for dozens more days' worth of potentially lost e-mail from the Bush years, according to two groups that filed suit over the failure by the Bush White House to install an electronic record keeping system.

The two private groups — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the National Security Archive — said Monday they were settling the lawsuits they filed against the Executive Office of the President in 2007.

It will be years before the public sees any of the recovered e-mails because they will now go through the National Archives' process for releasing presidential and agency records. Presidential records of the Bush administration won't be available until 2014 at the earliest.

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Goddammit, East Bay >:(

Girl, 12, allegedly raped at El Cerrito school

(12-14) 18:43 PST EL CERRITO -- A 14-year-old boy was charged Monday with raping a 12-year-old girl in the stairwell of an El Cerrito middle school, and the principal and vice principal have been placed on administrative leave while police and school officials investigate the alleged crime.

El Cerrito police will focus their investigation on the alleged sexual assault, while West Contra Costa Unified School District officials look into how such a crime could have occurred on the Portola Middle School campus during the school day, officials said.

The boy allegedly raped the girl about 2:40 p.m. Thursday in a stairwell at the school at 1021 Navellier St., police Cmdr. Michael Regan said.

The stairwell was empty because class was in session, he said. The two students, who apparently know each other, had passes or reasons not to be in class, he said. He declined to discuss other details of the alleged assault.

Another student who entered the stairwell and witnessed the incident reported it to a school resources officer, Regan said.

Police arrested the suspect at his home in Richmond about 8 p.m. Thursday. He was booked into juvenile hall in Martinez and charged Monday with rape and false imprisonment.

Marin Trujillo, a spokesman for the school district, said principal Denise VanHook and assistant principal Matthew Burnham had been placed on paid administrative leave, in keeping with a district policy adopted after the recent gang rape outside Richmond High School's homecoming dance.

"The purpose is to allow an investigation to take place," Trujillo said.

Investigators will look into why the students were not in class, what plans existed to supervise them, and why those plans were not followed.

"We're shocked that this could have happened during school hours," Trujillo said.

Van Hook, reached at home Monday night, said she could not comment, and that she had not been apprised of the investigation's findings or progress.

"I'm in the dark as much as you are," she said.

Read more:

For those non NoCal folks, Richmond and El Cerrito pratically border each other. With that awful rape case that happened in Richmond about a month and a half ago and now this? Dear God, Bay Area, get your shit together.
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Teen gets 30 years in West Palm Beach gang rape

WEST PALM BEACH -- A teen who pleaded guilty and testified against co-defendants in the brutal gang rape of a woman and the beating of her young son was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison.

Avion Lawson, 17, had faced up to 11 life sentences, plus 50 years.

Three others in the case -- Jakaris Taylor, 17, Nathan Walker, 18, and Tommy Poindexter, 20 -- were sentenced in October to life in prison.

Lawson pleaded guilty in August and testified against the others in the 2007 attack.

``Through your testimony, you sealed the case against your co-defendants,'' Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Krista Marx told Lawson as she sentenced him.

Authorities say the four defendants, who were all teenagers at the time of the attack, barged into a then-35-year-old woman's apartment in a West Palm Beach public housing complex and raped her repeatedly, then beat her then-12-year-old son and forced her to perform oral sex on him. Police say they then doused the two in chemicals to clean the crime scene and fled after discussing lighting the pair on fire.

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source: AP

Private Health Care Costs Driving Force Behind Debt Burden

While there is much talk of intergenerational debt among DC political insiders, few people have an understanding of the debt figures discussed in current policy debates. A new study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) shows that the $62 trillion figure most often discussed is actually due almost entirely to spiraling private-sector health care costs. "It would be dishonest to portray projected debt levels as an issue of intergenerational equity," said Dean Baker, an author of the report and Co- Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "The problem is a broken healthcare system."

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Ani: Amazon Warrior

US Congress extends Andean Trade Preference Act

The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday approved a one-year extension of a preferential trade deal with Colombia.

The House of Representatives has approved a renewal of the Andean Trade Preference Act, which gives duty-free access to U.S. markets for a range of exports from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The act was due to expire at the end of this year.

The American Chamber of Commerce said that U.S. imports from the three Andean countries in the act have risen from US$5 billion in 1991 to US$28.5 billion in 2008 and provide around two million jobs in the region.

The act was passed in 1991 and was intended to help Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru to eradicate their cocaine industries by providing them with an economic alternative to drug production. Bolivia was removed from the deal earlier this year for failing to co-operate fully with counter-narcotic efforts.

The extension is now awaiting the approval of the U.S. Senate.

Pride & Prejudice: Puffs

President Obama rips White House party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi on '60 Minutes'

WASHINGTON - President Obama was seriously irked about the celebrity-hound couple who crashed the White House last month, and promises the "screwup" won't happen again.

"What I know is what everybody knows," Obama said in a "60 Minutes" interview aired Sunday night. "These people should not have gotten through the gate."

Tareq and Michaele Salahi breached security and strolled into a Nov. 24 state dinner for the Indian prime minister.

The Secret Service took the rap and the White House circled the wagons around social secretary Desiree Rogers, a longtime member of the Obamas' Chicago circle of friends.

Traditionally, a member of the social office is stationed at all security checkpoints to assist the Secret Service, but that didn't happen at the first state dinner of the Obama administration.

"I was unhappy with everybody who was involved in the process," Obama said. "It was a screwup."

Asked if he was angry when he found out about the security gaffe, Obama said, "Yes. That's why it won't happen again."


I watched him on the Oprah special and he was saying he doesn't yell but, "when I lose my temper, I don't yell, but I start talking really crisply, my voice gets terse and there's an edge in it, you can tell." *terrified*
Art: Colored Pencils

Arizona sheriff ups the ante against his foes

Joe Arpaio has escalated his tactics, not only defying the federal government on immigration but launching repeated investigations of those who criticize him.

The day after the federal government told Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio that he could no longer use his deputies to round up suspected illegal immigrants on the street, the combative Arizona sheriff did just that.

He launched one of his notorious "sweeps," in which his officers descend on heavily Latino neighborhoods, arrest hundreds of people for violations as minor as a busted headlight and ask them whether they are in the country legally.

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I know I posted an article about him earlier - but this one has some different info about him which I've bolded. He's in the news a lot today because he was stripped of his 287(g) powers yesterday.

Peer calls Jewish activists ‘Hitler Youth’

Former Conservative peer Lord Monckton, launched a tirade against young climate change activists, comparing them to Hitler Youth even when told he was talking to a Jewish activist.

A part of the exchange went like this:

Mr. Wessel: First of all my name is Ben.

Lord Monckton: No, I’m not going to shake the hand of Hitler Youth. I’m sorry.

Mr. Wessel: Sir, as a Jew I’m not really sure how I should take that.

Lord Monckton: I’ll tell you how you should take it. You should take it… as it is meant.

Mr. Wessel: My grandparents escaped the Nazis growing up in Germany.

Lord Monckton: Because of the biofuel scam, world food prices have doubled. That is because of the global warming scare, which you won’t look at the science of. And as a result of that, millions are dying in third world countries because food prices have doubled because of the biofuel scam, because of the global warming scare. Not because there’s been any global warming.

And you people don’t care. And until you start caring, I will call you Hitler Youth if you ever again interrupt any meeting at which I am present, where we are trying to have a private conversation.

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Source: Liberal Conspiracy
Trying again because although it was rejected earlier due to the source apparently being bad I've posted many articles from this site in the past. Also there's a video, which negates any claims against its veracity.