December 15th, 2009

movies | Pooh Bear

Obamas attend 'Christmas In Washington' TV special; chill with "Elves".

On Sunday, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle attended 'Christmas in Washington' at the National Building Museum in Washington. The event takes place every year and is a holiday musical celebration to benefit the National Children’s Medical Center. TNT will telecast 'Christmas in Washington' on Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. ET. Among the bevy of celebrities in attendance were teen sensation, Justin Bieber, singer Mary J. Blige, comedian George Lopez, and the group Sugarland. At one point the president shed a tear while singing a song with the first lady.

Watch the Obamas unwittingly demonstrate how awesome it would be if they had moar babbys.

video link

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Article source |
Photo source | OMG!Yahoo, HuffPo, JustJaredJr


Consider this your Unicorn Chaser™ Post in light of the influx of depressing entries.
  • iweep4u


A monument to the marshmallow opens

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) - It's almost Christmas, but one company wants its fans thinking about chicks and bunnies year-round.

Just Born, maker of the chick- and bunny-shaped marshmallow Easter favorites called Peeps, is officially opening the first store devoted to them on Thursday. The shop, in a mall near Washington, D.C., sells 850 different Peeps products, including plush toys, china and even a hand-blown glass Peep.

"Our fans have asked us for years, 'What about a store?'" said Kathy Bassininski, who oversaw the creation of Peeps & Company stores for Just Born, based in Bethlehem, Pa.
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I have to say, I hate Peeps, but I love Peeps jousting. Also if you click the source link, there's an image gallery showing off some of the store's wares.
garf tired


Drug money saved banks in global crisis, claims UN advisor

Drugs and crime chief says $352bn in criminal proceeds was effectively laundered by financial institutions

Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations' drugs and crime tsar has told the Observer.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.

This will raise questions about crime's influence on the economic system at times of crisis. It will also prompt further examination of the banking sector as world leaders, including Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, call for new International Monetary Fund regulations. Speaking from his office in Vienna, Costa said evidence that illegal money was being absorbed into the financial system was first drawn to his attention by intelligence agencies and prosecutors around 18 months ago. "In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor," he said.

Some of the evidence put before his office indicated that gang money was used to save some banks from collapse when lending seized up, he said.
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US feminists championing botox are betraying the cause

I know very little about feminism in the United States or the US health care debate, but I found this opinion piece interesting. Also, 'The Beauty Myth' is a must read.

Every time I use the ''f'' word in public I get walloped. Feminism is a funny thing. Just when you think you've got the old dear worked out, she throws off the knee rug, leaps up from the rocker and pulls your hair. Nasty. It's usually the result of some profound disagreement. And if we've learnt nothing else during feminism's third wave, we've certainly learnt that hell hath no fury like a feminist scorned. So I tread with trepidation.

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GOP to Ask Tea Party for Cash and Votes. IOUs to Be Mailed Next Week.

Conservatives grab for tea party cash

Conservative leaders are eager to turn Tea Party anger into election-year cash – and to do that, they’re launching a flurry of new political action committees aimed at collecting small-dollar donations from newly engaged anti-tax, anti-spending activists.

The latest entrant: Take Back America PAC, to be launched this week by FreedomWorks, the conservative group and Tea Party leader run by former House Republican leader Dick Armey.

Armey said the goal of the new PAC is “to show that if Republicans pick their candidates with a message of restraint of big government and respect for individual liberty, it will translate into electoral success. If they don’t do that, they will probably get what I will call ‘gentle reminders’ from all of the grassroots activists in their districts that they need to be a lot more like Reagan Republicans or they can expect that they might lose their own primary.”
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Are Anti-Gay Policies Hurting the Salvation Army's Coffers?

f you've done any shopping this holiday season, you've likely seen (and heard) a few bellringers for the Salvation Army. Standing outside the local Sears or JC Penney, oodles and oodles of winter-coat wearing bell ringers are hanging out next to red kettles hoping to net donations for the Christian relief organization. For years, gay rights activists have continued to point out that while the Salvation Army preaches charity work with one ring of the bell, they also happen to be selling a dose of homophobia with the other ring. The Salvation Army considers homosexuality immoral, and has an official policy statement that says "Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex."

That statement is pretty tame compared to other blasts against LGBT people that have popped up on Salvation Army Web sites around the globe. A few years back, the Salvation Army in Australia went so far as to say that homosexuality was akin to rebellion against God. Nothing says charity, perhaps, like some good old-fashioned homophobia.

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NYC- credit eternity_grphx

Hitchens slamming Palin makes for a good morning indeed.

Christopher Hitchens followed up his long Slate column detailing the dangers of Sarah Palin's brand of populism with more harsh criticism on MSNBC's Morning Joe today.

Appearing with the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson, who has an op-ed in today's Post about Palin's shifting stance on climate change, Hitchens denounced Palin as a "disgraceful opportunist and a real moral coward." However, he cautioned that we should not be too hard on her for her climate-change denying op-ed because "she didn't write that piece and she probably hasn't read it."

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In before all the comments saying he's a smug douchebag asshole. I know, it is common knowledge that he is (and a great author, I loved God is not Great). But he's never held back what he thinks and I give him props for telling it like it is. And yes, I absolutely agree with him. Between him and what Arnold said, it's been a great morning.

80 percent of Democrats Wants Droopy Dog To Be Taken to The Farm.

81% Of Dems Want Lieberman Punished For Health Care Filibuster

More than 80 percent of Democrats say they believe Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) should be stripped of his powerful chairmanship in the Senate if he ends up supporting a Republican filibuster of health care reform, according to a new poll.

The liberal action groups Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America commissioned a survey several days ago, in which they asked more than 800 voters whether Lieberman's position on health care should affect his status as head of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Eighty-one percent of Democrats said they would like to see the senator's chairmanship -- which he was allowed to keep despite campaigning for Sen. John McCain in 2008 -- taken away should he sustain a filibuster. Only 10 percent of Democrats said there should be no punishment. Even fewer (nine percent) said they had yet to make up their minds, underscoring just how divisive Lieberman is within the party.
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Al Franken Haz More Balls Than All Democrats Combined

Al Franken: Spars With GOP Leadership On Senate Floor, Accuses Thune Of Not Reading Health Bill (VIDEO)

Al Franken (D-Minn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) were off the charts on Monday, at least by the Senate's typical debate standards.

In response to a speech by Thune, fourth in the Republican leadership, the freshman legislator honed in on claims made about benefits in the proposed health reform package.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts," said Franken. "Benefits kick in right away, and if you're going to hold up a chart that says when taxes kick in and when benefits kick in, you say '1,800 days,' you better include the benefits that do kick in right away."

Thune asked Franken to yield for a question, which led to a terse exchange.

"We gave the other side 30 minutes," chimed in Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). "Senator Thune wants to sort of monopolize our 30 minutes."

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts," Franken repeated after the back-and-forth. "The fact is benefits kick in on day one, and the large majority of benefits kick in on day one. And we shouldn't be standing up here with charts that say the exact opposite."

Later, while riffing with Brown, Franken added, "Senator Thune did say that none of the benefits started next year. He just, I guess, hasn't read the bill."

NYC- credit eternity_grphx

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Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


You go Keith!

BTW- I knew O'Reilly said some crap about Dr. Tiller but I didn't know it got that bad. After reading that piece some time ago about the couple who went to Dr. Tiller and reading that he prayed with them, was kind with them and even did footprints of their daughter, that footage made O'Reilly look even that much more of a jackass. If he wants to go look for devils, he should look in the mirror first.

Women: Yes You Can Hold Out For Your Own Obama

Oprah's Christmas-themed chat last night with the Obamas managed to include an interesting conversation on marriage and compromise. Watching the First Couple together, I had an epiphany: everyone deserves a relationship like the Obamas'.

Now, I know a mini-cottage industry has sprung up for the sole purpose of analyzing the Obama's marriage. And Kate Harding touched on much of it when she analyzed the NY Times Magazine cover story about the First Marriage and the dynamics of power inherent in a relationship when one person is the President. She noted:

Despite my focus on the First Lady's sacrifices and the inequality of the marriage here (I am a humorless feminist, after all), Kantor's portrait of the Obama's marriage is really quite sweet, warts and all. They joke. They flirt. They go on dates and ignore the conservatives who flip out about our tax dollars going toward dinner and a show. That's just not the whole picture, and Michelle herself believes revealing the warts has a higher purpose.

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EDIT: Edited to add some links from the original article.
→music → mariah → unicef2016

Military Abortion Ban: Female Soldiers Not Protected by Constitution They Defend

Military Abortion Ban: Female Soldiers Not Protected by Constitution They Defend
By Kathryn Joyce
December 15, 2009

Unable to get an abortion during a tour of duty in Iraq a soldier is left with no option but to do it herself—a humiliating but not uncommon dilemma. Women in the military are forced to obtain a leave to get the care they need; but if they’re honest about why, they put their military career in jeopardy. If they’re not, they put their career in jeopardy.

“You hear these legends of coat hanger abortions,” a 26-year-old former Marine sergeant told me recently, “but there are no coat hangers in Iraq. I looked.” Amy (who prefers not to use her real name) was stationed in Fallujah as a military journalist two years ago when she discovered she was pregnant. As a female Marine, a distinct minority in the branch, Amy was fearful of going to her chain of command to explain her situation.

For military women, who lack all rights to medical privacy, facing an unplanned pregnancy is a daunting obstacle. Thanks to anti-abortion forces in Congress, military hospitals are banned from providing abortion services, except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest (and for the latter two, only if the patient pays for the service herself). Amy says her options were “like being given a choice between swimming in a pond full of crocodiles or piranhas.”

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  • Current Mood

The Return of Glass-Steagall? Wall Street Ready to Kill It.

An Odd Post-Crash Couple
Spurning Obama, McCain and Cantwell propose resurrecting Glass-Steagall to break up Wall Street.

John McCain lost the 2008 presidential election because of the financial crisis—at least that's what his chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, suggested. "We were three points ahead on Sept. 15 when the stock market crashed. And then the election was over," Schmidt said in a postmortem earlier this year. McCain was tarred with the regulatory failures of the Bush years, and it didn't help that he had been a longtime acolyte of the Senate's dean of deregulation, Phil Gramm, who once derided Americans as "a nation of whiners." McCain also seemed to have few new ideas of his own about how to address the financial panic.

More than a year after the election, the Arizona Republican is looking to repair that reputation by joining up with Democratic firebrand Maria Cantwell to propose something that will be anathema to both Wall Street and the Obama administration. According to two congressional sources, the two maverick senators want to reinstate Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law that forced the separation of regular commercial banking from Wall Street investment banking. The senators' proposal echoes a failed amendment introduced in the House last week by Rep. Maurice Hinchey of New York.

The Senate prospects for the success of the McCain-Cantwell bill—which the two plan to announce together on Wednesday morning—seem bleak at best. But McCain and Cantwell join a still small but not insignificant insurgency of chronic doubters, including former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, who say not nearly enough is being done to change Wall Street and, in particular, to address the "too big to fail" problem. The issue is one of the few in Washington that can unite the left and right sides of the political spectrum. Democrats like Cantwell deplore Wall Street's outsize role in the real economy and its lobbying influence, and conservatives such as McCain are appalled at the way the market system has been undermined—some would say rigged—by the power of the big banks.

Bankers and regulators, Volcker said earlier this month, "have not come anywhere close to responding with necessary vigor" to the crisis. He wants to ban federally guaranteed commercial banks from risky trading in derivatives and other arcane instruments that could precipitate another huge bailout some day. That too is a proposal no one who currently controls the levers of power in Washington is considering. But among those who now support Volcker is Arthur Levitt Jr., the former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. "I tend to be in the Volcker camp in saying banks should either be investment banks or take deposits and make loans," Levitt told me in an interview this week.
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Travelers face chaos as BA crews vote to strike

British Airways passengers face the prospect of holiday season chaos after cabin crew voted to strike for almost two weeks over Christmas and New Year in protest over cost-cutting measures introduced by the airline.

More than 12,500 BA employees, balloted by trade union Unite in November, voted by a 92.5 percent majority to walk out from December 22 for 12 days, Unite Deputy General Secretary Len McCluskey announced Monday.

In a statement to customers on its Web site, BA said it was reworking its flight schedules for the strike period and would announce them as quickly as possible. It said it would inform affected customers by e-mail or text message.

The strike ballot came after the airline introduced cost-cutting measures including a two-year pay freeze and reducing the numbers of cabin crew members on long-haul flights.

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comics, hug

Marvel Announces Comics For Girls By Girls

Officially ignoring recent allegations of sexism, Marvel Comics is nonetheless making 2010 their Year of Women with new Marvel Women branding and — announced today — a special series untouched by male hands, called Girl Comics. Yay?

We're torn about Girl Comics; on the one hand, a series written, drawn, lettered, colored, edited and all production work (proofreading, design, etc.) by women seems very... gimmicky, for want of a better way of putting it, and not unlike a token move that "proves" that women can work for Marvel too. But on the other, whatever cynicism we have is quickly dispelled by the quality of creators involved in the three issue series (many making their Marvel debut): Kathryn Immonen, Ann Nocenti, Trina Robbins, Louise Simonson, G. Willow Wilson, Amanda Conner, Jill Thompson, Colleen Coover, Molly Crabapple and Carla Speed McNeil all contribute, and io9 favorite Devin Grayson makes a long overdue return to comics in the series as well. Editor Jeanine Schaefer talked to Publisher's Weekly's The Beat blog about the project:

Although some creators have gravitated towards their favorite female super hero, it's not specifically focused on our female characters, and I'm not trying to generate content that I think will appeal to more women... I think the characters and the stories will draw in just as many men in as women, and will get people thinking that good comics aren't about the gender of the writer or artist, it's about where what you like to read intersects with what they like to create.

The series debuts in March, to coincide with Women's History Month (and She-Hulk's 30th anniversary).



Lieberman: Liberal Enthusiasm Convinced Me To Oppose Medicare Buy-In

In an interview with the New York Times, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) revealed Tuesday that he decided to oppose a Medicare buy-in in part because liberals like Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) liked it too much.
[I]n the interview, Mr. Lieberman said that he grew apprehensive when a formal proposal began to take shape. [...]

And he said he was particularly troubled by the overly enthusiastic reaction to the proposal by some liberals, including Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, who champions a fully government-run health care system.

"Congressman Weiner made a comment that Medicare-buy in is better than a public option, it's the beginning of a road to single-payer," Mr. Lieberman said. "Jacob Hacker, who's a Yale professor who is actually the man who created the public option, said, 'This is a dream. This is better than a public option. This is a giant step.'"
Lieberman's comments go a long way toward validating the prevalent theory in progressive blogger circles -- that he, as the Washington Post's Ezra Klein put it, "seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals."
Washington Monthly blogger Steve Benen speculated just on Monday about what would have happened if liberals had expressed disappointment with the Medicare buy-in, rather than enthusiasm. "Would Lieberman -- who not only ran on a Medicare buy-in platform in 2000, but also signaled some preliminary support for the idea last week -- be willing to kill reform over the idea now?"
Lieberman had supported a Medicare buy-in as recently as three months ago.
Meanwhile, the fickle senator said he's closer to supporting reform, but still not there yet.
fuck the mcu

Aussie scientists find coconut-carrying octopus

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SYDNEY – Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelter — unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal.

The scientists filmed the veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selecting halved coconut shells from the sea floor, emptying them out, carrying them under their bodies up to 65 feet (20 meters), and assembling two shells together to make a spherical hiding spot.

Julian Finn and Mark Norman of Museum Victoria in Melbourne observed the odd activity in four of the creatures during a series of dive trips to North Sulawesi and Bali in Indonesia between 1998 and 2008. Their findings were published Tuesday in the journal Current Biology.

"I was gobsmacked," said Finn, a research biologist at the museum who specializes in cephalopods. "I mean, I've seen a lot of octopuses hiding in shells, but I've never seen one that grabs it up and jogs across the sea floor. I was trying hard not to laugh."

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ETA: 2 videos @ source (can't embed):

D.C. council votes to legalize same-sex marriage

The Washington City Council voted Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage in the nation's capital. The bill will be given to Mayor Adrian Fenty, who has expressed his support and vowed to sign the bill.

If the mayor signs it, Congress will have 30 days to intervene before it would take effect. It is considered unlikely that the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill will block the bill

Tuesday's second vote was needed to send the measure to Fenty. The council passed the bill in an 11-2 vote December 1.
If the measure becomes law, Washington will join Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa in allowing legal same-sex marriages. A law legalizing gay marriage in New Hampshire takes affect January 1.

Lawmakers in Maine approved legalized same-sex marriages this year, but voters in the state last month passed a referendum to overturn the new law.

Last week, New York's state Senate defeated a bill that would legalize gay marriages. A similar bill stalled last week in New Jersey's state Senate.


Howard Dean: “Kill The Senate Bill”

In a blow to the bill grinding through the Senate, Howard Dean bluntly called for the bill to be killed in a pre-recorded interview set to air later this afternoon, denouncing it as “the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate,” the reporter who conducted the interview tells me.

Dean said the removal of the Medicare buy-in made the bill not worth supporting, and urged Dem leaders to start over with the process of reconciliation in the interview, which is set to air at 5:50 PM today on Vermont Public Radio, political reporter Bob Kinzel confirms to me.
The gauntlet from Dean — whose voice on health care is well respsected among liberals — will energize those on the left who are mobilizing against the bill, and make it tougher for liberals to embrace the emerging proposal. In an excerpt Kinzel gave me, Dean says:
“This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate. Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill.”
Kinzel added that Dean essentially said that if Democratic leaders cave into Joe Lieberman right now they’ll be left with a bill that’s not worth supporting.
Dean had previously endorsed the Medicare buy-in compromise without a public option, saying that the key question should be whether the bill contains enough “real reform” to be worthy of progressives’ support. Dean has apparently concluded that the “real reform” has been removed at Lieberman’s behest — which won’t make it easier for liberals to swallow the emerging compromise.
Akuma River

Durbin: We're still in this fight

Durbin: Medicare Buy-In Is Out, Progressives Won't Defect

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters on Tuesday that he believes health care reform has the votes to pass the Senate before Christmas after Democrats removed a provision to expand Medicare coverage.

"It is my understanding that, at this point it is going to be changed and removed," Durbin said the proposal to allow people between 55 and 64 to buy Medicare. "I think we are very close. We are still working with a few senators who have not made a commitment and until those commitments and votes are made we are going to keep working... Ultimately, we will pass it before Christmas."
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Akuma River

Rep. Rosa DeLauro to Lieberman: GET THE FUCK OUT!!!

Connecticut Democrat calls for Joe Lieberman recall

A House Democrat from Connecticut said Tuesday that Sen. Joe Lieberman should be recalled from office over his opposition to the Senate health care bill.

"No individual should hold health care hostage, including Joe Lieberman, and I'll say it flat out, I think he ought to be recalled," Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told POLITICO.
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Christian Bale

Fetus found in gift box, Texas couple charged

SAN JUAN, Texas — A south Texas couple put an aborted 7-month-old fetus in a gift box under a Christmas tree after they were unable to flush the remains down a toilet, authorities alleged Monday.

Ruby Lee Medina, 31, and Javier Gonzalez, 37, of Mission, have been charged with abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Bond was set Monday at $20,000 each.

A woman who answered the telephone at the San Juan city jail Monday night said she could not say whether Medina or Gonzalez had retained an attorney.

San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez said police found the fetus inside the woman's trailer home Thursday after getting an anonymous tip.

Autopsy results are pending, but Gonzalez said police believe the woman used pills to induce an abortion Thursday, then called an ambulance after she began bleeding and told doctors she didn't know where the fetus was.

The police chief said the couple tried to flush the fetus down the toilet, but that didn't work.

"Apparently they cleaned up the fetus and they placed it inside a gift box under the Christmas tree," the police chief said.

Source: AP & YouTube

NOM responds to DC Marriage Equality

Dear Friend of Marriage,

Earlier this afternoon, the DC City Council voted 11 to 2 in favor of same-sex marriage, sending the bill to Mayor Adrian Fenty who has promised to sign it.

The media would have you believe this fight is over.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As I told the press a few minutes ago:

"The people of D.C. have a right, guaranteed by the charter, which is D.C.'s constitution, to vote to protect marriage. Politicians on the city council are acting as if they have the right through legislation to deprive citizens of D.C. of their core civil right to vote, but we will not let them get away with it."

"We have one message for David Catania and the rest of these politicians today: this fight is not over. We will go to Congress, we will go to the courts, we will fight for the people’s right to vote and we will win!"

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Settlers Beat Up Female Police Officer.

Israeli Police Officer Beaten, Seriously Injured By Settlers

Angry settlers beat and seriously injured a female Israeli police officer Tuesday, police said, as she tried to enforce a government ban on new housing construction in Jewish West Bank settlements.

It was the most serious clash between settlers and authorities since the building restrictions were imposed last month. Settlers have vowed to defy the orders and have confronted government inspectors, scuffling with them.

Tuesday's incident went beyond the usual pushing and shoving.
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Noisy sex woman admits Asbo breach

A woman who was given an anti-social behaviour order banning her from making loud noises during sex has admitted breaching the order.

Caroline and Steve Cartwright's love-making was described as "murder" and "unnatural" at Newcastle Crown Court.

Neighbours, the local postman and a woman taking her child to school complained about the noise.

Cartwright, 48, from Washington on Wearside, pleaded guilty to three counts of breaching the Asbo.

She will be sentenced on 18 January.

At an earlier hearing, next door neighbour Rachel O'Connor told the court she was frequently late for work because she overslept having been awake most of the night because of the noise.

She said: "The noise sounds like they are both in considerable pain. I cannot describe the noise. I have never ever heard anything like it."

In November, Cartwright appealed against a noise abatement notice imposed in 2007, as well as the subsequent Asbo, which banned the couple from "shouting, screaming or vocalisation at such a level as to be a statutory nuisance".

Her bid was rejected by Recorder Jeremy Freedman, who said: "It certainly was intrusive and constituted a statutory nuisance.

"It was clearly of a very disturbing nature and it was also compounded by the duration - this was not a one-off, it went on for hours at a time.

"It is further compounded by the frequency of the episode, virtually every night."

Sunderland City Council told the court they had recorded noise levels of up to 47 decibels using equipment installed at Cartwright's neighbour's house.

World Health Organisation guidelines state that 30 decibels is enough to cause sleep disturbance.

Source: BBC
Thank you Beeb for putting the thought of those two going at it in my head. While you're on can I please have something sharp to take out my mind's eye?
misc - microphone

(no subject)

2nd-grader sent home for crucifix drawing
Dad says teacher became upset when boy drew himself on a cross

TAUNTON, Mass. - An 8-year-old boy was sent home from school and ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation after he was asked to make a Christmas drawing and came up with what appeared to be a stick figure of Jesus on a cross, the child's father said Tuesday.

Chester Johnson told WBZ-TV that his son made the drawing on Dec. 2 after his second-grade teacher asked children to sketch something that reminded them of the holiday.

Johnson said the teacher became upset when his son said he drew himself on the cross. Johnson, who is black, told WBZ he suspects racism is involved. He said he thinks the school overreacted and wants an apology.

Johnson told the Taunton Daily Gazette, which first reported the story on Tuesday, that his son gets specialized reading and speech instruction and has never been violent in school.

An educational consultant working with the Johnson family said the teacher was also alarmed when the boy drew Xs for Jesus' eyes.

A call to Johnson was not immediately returned.
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video at the source.

OK, WTF. I really don't know what to make of this story. I think the teacher overreacted, but I'm not sure what exactly she was overreacting to: violence, Christianity, race, the fact that Christmas is about Jesus's birth not death (that's Easter, sweetie).... I dunno. Also, last paragraph: unrelated story is unrelated.

Yuuko - The Witch of Dimensions

Winnipeg police delayed arrest, saved newborn baby from drowning

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Heather Richard, 32, had suffered three miscarriages, and was told by the doctors that she couldn't have children.

So on Sunday, December 13th, the birth of a five pounds baby boy caught her by surprise, she was in pain and in the bathroom when; “It just fell out. I thought it was my intestines, so I’m freaking out,” adding that she thought she was going to die, “But then it’s a little boy.”

The baby was in the toilet but Heather was still in shock, and her teenage cousin who was there didn't know what to do. Fortunately, the two street crime unit officers who had just arrived on scene to arrest Richard for her alleged involvement in a pair of thief, came to their aid. Darrin Richard, 20, said a female officer, assisted by a male officer, pulled the boy out of the toilet, put him on the counter, cleaned off his face and began CPR.

In spite of a skull fracture (likely from when his head struck the toilet), the baby was in stable condition, and along with the mother (who was joined by her boyfriend at the hospital), would be released in a few days. Richard said the warrants had been taken care of, Police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said that they were delaying her arrest in light of her having given birth, and that Richard was not considered a flight risk. The officer who had given CPR had also received a course of medications in case of bodily fluids contamination.

The family expressed gratitude to the police, the paramedics, and the hospital. Heather Richard said her baby would have died without the police officer's help; “Thank you, you saved my baby’s life."

Sources: Dec 15th: Cops save drowning toilet bowl baby - Canoe News, and Mom of baby rescued from toilet wanted for theft - CBC.

Edited to change all Richards to Richard
  • Current Music
    3 Doors Down - "Kryptonite"
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G.R.O.S.S. ~ Stars
  • mzflux

Yes, it's still worth it.

Is the Senate health-care reform bill still worth passing?

Ezra Klein , Washington Post
December 15, 2009; 10:15 AM ET

"Insurance companies win," Markos Moulitsas tweeted last night. "Time to kill this monstrosity coming out of the Senate."

This was, for progressives, a frustrating vote. But the flip side of it being morally unconscionable for Joe Lieberman to put the bill at risk over something as small as Medicare buy-in for 3-or-so million people is that the absence of Medicare buy-in -- and of the weak public plan -- is not reason enough to oppose the bill, either.

The core of this legislation is as it always was: $900 billion, give or take, so people who can't afford health-care insurance suddenly can. Insurance regulations paired with the individual mandate, so insurers can't discriminate against the sick and the healthy can't make insurance unaffordable by hanging back until the moment they need medical care. The construction of health insurance exchanges so the people currently left out of the employer-based market are better served, and the many who will join them as the employer system continues to erode will have somewhere to go.

That's all policy. And as I spent yesterday arguing, it has a tendency to overshadow the lives in the balance. You can choose your estimate. The Institute of Medicine's methodology says 22,000 people died in 2006 because they didn't have health-care coverage. A recent Harvard study found the number nearer to 45,000. Since we talk about the costs of health-care reform over a 10-year period, may as well talk about the lives saved that way, too. And we're looking, easily, at more than a hundred thousand lives, to say nothing of the people who will be spared bankruptcy, chronic pain, unnecessary impairment, unnecessary caretaking, bereavement, loss of wages, painful surgeries, and so on.

A lot of progressives woke up this morning feeling like they lost. They didn't. The public option and its compromised iterations were a battle that came to seem like a war. But they weren't the war. The bill itself was. When liberals talked about the dream of universal health-care insurance 10, 20 and 30 years ago, they talked about the plight of the uninsured, not the necessity of a limited public option in competition with private insurers.

"This is a good bill," Sen. Sherrod Brown said on Countdown last night. "Not a great bill, but a good bill." That's about right. But the other piece to remember is that more than it's a good bill, it's a good start. With $900 billion in subsidies already in place, it's easier to add another hundred billion later, if we need it, than it would be to pass $1 trillion in subsidies in 2011. With the exchanges built and private insurers unable to hold down costs, it's easier to argue for adding a strong public option to the market than it was before we'd tried regulation and a new competitive structure. With 95 percent of the country covered, it's easier to go the final 5 percent. And with a health-care reform bill actually passed, it's easier to convince legislators that passing such bills is possible.

On its own terms, the bill is the most important social policy achievement since the Great Society. It will save a lot of lives and prevent a lot of suffering. But moving forward, it also makes future improvements and expansions easier. A lot of the hard work of health-care reform -- in particular, the money for subsidies -- will finish this year. If reformers want to come back for the public option or more subsidies in a future year, they won't be doing it atop a $900 billion price tag that's being battered by tea parties and industry and everyone else. This bill doesn't have all the good stuff it should have, but reformers can stand atop what good stuff it does have and focus their energies on what good stuff is left to achieve.


PERSONAL NOTE: If the Senate bill were to pass as is, and no changes were made to it in the conference committee, it would still guarantee that my best friend's family, who have already seen hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills over the course of their lifetime, not be cut from their health insurance plan once their bills exceed $1 million, a point that is quickly approaching.

Progressives To Launch Anti-Lieberman Ads. Time for Forgiveness is Over. Is On!

MoveOn Launches Fundraising Drive For Anti-Lieberman Ad Campaign

The progressive community is moving swiftly against Sen. Joseph Lieberman for killing the public option for insurance coverage and the provision to expand Medicare.

On Tuesday, put out a fundraising plea asking its five million members to donate to a huge ad campaign that they plan to launch against the Connecticut independent. The group says it will also use the funds to oppose him in the next election.

Sen. Lieberman has been one of the biggest obstacles to real health care reform with a public option all year. But over the past two weeks, he's taken it to a dangerous new level.

First, he demanded that the public option be removed from the bill. Then, last night, he killed an expansion of Medicare--an idea that he himself championed just three months ago and that was added to the bill specifically to satisfy him.

He's shown that he can't be reasoned with. Most of all, Joe Lieberman can't be allowed to stay in the U.S. Senate.

The group's goal is to raise $400,000 in the next 24 hours, which would be a tremendous showing of financial and political support against Lieberman's continued presence, both in Congress and in the Democratic caucus. As the fundraising appeal reads:

First, Joe Lieberman helped President Bush invade Iraq, and the Democrats in Washington forgave him. Then, he endorsed John McCain, and they forgave him again. Then, he personally attacked Barack Obama at the Republican National Convention, and still the Democrats forgave him.

Now, Joe Lieberman is single-handedly gutting health care reform. The time for forgiveness is over. It's time to hold Senator Lieberman accountable.
Akuma River

JFC The IRS is giving Citigroup a $38 BILLLION Taxbreak

U.S. gave up billions in tax money in deal for Citigroup's bailout repayment

Deal made to recover bailout Firms exempted from rule when U.S. sells its stake
By Binyamin Appelbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The federal government quietly agreed to forgo billions of dollars in potential tax payments from Citigroup as part of the deal announced this week to wean the company from the massive taxpayer bailout that helped it survive the financial crisis.

The Internal Revenue Service on Friday issued an exception to long-standing tax rules for the benefit of Citigroup and a few other companies partially owned by the government. As a result, Citigroup will be allowed to retain billions of dollars worth of tax breaks that otherwise would decline in value when the government sells its stake to private investors.

While the Obama administration has said taxpayers are likely to profit from the sale of the Citigroup shares, accounting experts said the lost tax revenue could easily outstrip those profits.

The IRS, an arm of the Treasury Department, has changed a number of rules during the financial crisis to reduce the tax burden on financial firms. The rule changed Friday also was altered last fall by the Bush administration to encourage mergers, letting Wells Fargo cut billions of dollars from its tax bill by buying the ailing Wachovia.
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Chuck Norris Says Obama Wants Mary to Abort Jesus

It's a well-known fact that Chuck Norris could kick the shit out of the Council of Ephesus, so when he has something to say about the Blessed Virgin Mary, I, for one, listen:

Lastly, as we near the eve of another Christmas, I wonder: What would have happened if Mother Mary had been covered by Obamacare? What if that young, poor and uninsured teenage woman had been provided the federal funds (via Obamacare) and facilities (via Planned Parenthood, etc.) to avoid the ridicule, ostracizing, persecution and possible stoning because of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy? Imagine all the great souls who could have been erased from history and the influence of mankind if their parents had been as progressive as Washington's wise men and women! Will Obamacare morph into Herodcare for the unborn?
He makes a powerful case, especially the last part, where health insurance reform leads to the Massacre of the Innocents. I'd get to the threat of Obama repeating the excesses of Herod the Great by pointing out they both like occupying the Middle East, but I understand Chuck's logic, too. Teach a man to fish and you've fed him for a lifetime. Subsidize his co-pay; he will commit genocide.

Here's where I get off board, and where Chuck Norris has made a potentially serious mistake. It's not that his slippery slope argument is sub-moronic. And it's not that he doesn't understand the moral difference between providing access to something -- lets say safe, legal abortion -- and ordering it. (If making something available was the same as doing it yourself, then arms makers would be responsible for gun homicides, and we know that's not true.)

My problem is with his misunderstanding of Mary, Stella Maris, Queen of Heaven, mother of mercy, sweetness and hope, bearer of light, mediator and co-redeemer. He seems to think of her as kind of a clueless, sloppy slut.

You know how women are. Don't get Chuck started.

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Akuma River

Barefoot Harris - Fly Colton Fly

America's Most Wanted Teenage Bandit

Visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the bald eagles on Camano Island in Washington State's Puget Sound are more likely to see a different bird in the sky: a police chopper skimming the cedar forests in search of an outlaw. Colton Harris-Moore, a gangly 18-year-old with furtive eyes and a dimpled chin, has been on police blotters since he was accused of stealing a bike at the age of 8. Since then, he is suspected of having committed nearly 100 burglaries in Washington, Idaho and Canada. Police allege that he graduated from bikes to cars, then to speedboats. Lately, he is suspected of stealing three small aircraft — all the more impressive given that he has never taken a single flying lesson.
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PnP - Lydia Shock

Teacher Cuts Off Girl's Braid In Front Of Class

Police Issue Teacher $175 Ticket For Disorderly Conduct

A Milwaukee teacher is charged with disorderly conduct after punishing a first-grader by cutting her hair.

Lamya Cammon is angry, confused, and scared by the incident last week in which the apparently frustrated teacher cut one of her braids off after she wouldn't stop playing with them in class.

Cammon, 7, sports a few dozen braids, but one is conspicuously absent.

"She told me to stop playing with it. Then cut it off and sent me back to my desk," Cammon said.

Cammon's a first-grader at Congress Elementary and said her teacher used a pair of classroom scissors to cut off one of the braids after she absent-mindedly kept playing with them.

"Tell me how you play with your hair. Show me what that means," 12 News reporter Nick Bohr said to Cammon.

"I wasn't playing with it that loud," Cammon said.

She said the teacher called her to the front of the room and cut it in front of the whole class.

"What did you do?" Bohr asked.

"I went to my desk and cried. And they was laughing," Cammon said. "She threw it away, and she said, 'Now what you gonna go home and say to your momma? ' And I said, 'That you cut off my hair,'" Cammon said.

Cammon's mother is furious. She went to the school and confronted the teacher.

"I said, 'Well, you know, you cut a lot of her hair off.' And she was like, 'Well, I do apologize.' She said, 'But I was frustrated,'" Cammon's mother, Helen Cunningham, said.

The Milwaukee Public Schools District said it is going through the disciplinary process with the teacher, who remains in class, although Cammon has been moved to a different classroom by the principal.

"The main thing is, from the heart of the principal, and me speaking for the district, we're very sorry that this happened," MPS spokeswoman Roseann St. Aubin said.

Cammon's mother said she appreciates the apology but said the district should seriously question whether the teacher should keep her job.

"Why would we want someone like that teaching our kids? We trust our kids once they go to school to be safe," Cunningham said.

Milwaukee police investigated the case and referred it to the district attorney for possible physical or mental abuse of a child charges.

When the district attorney's office decided not to file criminal charges, police this week issued the teacher a $175 ticket for disorderly conduct.

The Milwaukee Teachers Education Association can't talk about the incident, but said stress is not unusual.

"As budget constraints get tighter every year, the stress level and frustrations do increase," said the MTEA's Sid Hatch.

12 News called the teacher Friday night and went to her home for comment, but someone came to the door and said she did not want to talk.


Their/her defence? Stress. Seriously. STRESS.

Newsflash: 7 year old children are annoying. They play with their hair. They fiddle with pencils. They stare out the window half the day. They swing their feet. They tip on their chairs. THEY'RE SEVEN. THEY ARE ANNOYING. If you can't handle that, you have no business becoming a teacher.

NYC Children Face Paying to Ride to School

The cash-strapped agency that runs New York City subways and buses is considering a proposal to end the more than 60-year-old practice of giving free rides for schoolchildren, a move that could cost half a million students nearly $1,000 per year in transportation fees.

The proposal before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board to end free rides for schoolchildren has parents wondering how to get their children to school.

"This is a crisis," said Kevin McCall, a neighborhood activist who led a protest against the proposal in front of a Brooklyn high school on Tuesday. "This is totally insane. It would make parents have to choose between food and any other necessity or a Metrocard for their child."

Adam Ufret, a concierge at a Manhattan apartment building whose three daughters use student passes, said, "I would cut my home phone and just use my cell phone, or instead of steak we'd have corned beef."

The MTA board, facing a $383 million budget shortfall, will vote Wednesday on a proposed 2010 budget that would eliminate several bus and subway lines and scale back services for the disabled, as well as phasing out student Metrocards.
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Would this affect any of you?