December 18th, 2009

So cool.

NY Times Op-Ed for your head.

Op-Ed Contributor
A Fish Oil Story

By PAUL GREENBERG
Published: December 15, 2009

“WHAT’S the deal with fish oil?”

Food is an important idiom, but in today's day and age, so is sustainability.

Fish-oil...you know it you love 'em! Omega-3 Fatty Acids!

And where do an alarming portion of the nation's come from?

The Atlantic ecosystem dependent, foundation of the structure, algae eating...Menhaden.

Mr. Greenberg goes on to a point where legislation would have to be put into effect- as something should be done to protect the nurseries for a fish all our favorite homegrown fishes depend on for their omega-3 payload...

Part of the battle is in a few allowed to continue plunder in federal waters and unsustainable business practice (in meeting the demand). More long-term sources are listed in the article, such as the rather popular supplement "flax seed oil."

Still, I want to know how this effects my bowl of noodles, and if I should be adjusting my dietary habits/consumer choice to be more in line with my personal principles (and also perhaps my political beliefs).

But, don't mind me, Mr. Greenberg says it best:

For fish guys like me, this egregious privatization of what is essentially a public resource is shocking. But even if you are not interested in fish, there is an important reason for concern about menhaden’s decline.

Quite simply, menhaden keep the water clean. The muddy brown color of the Long Island Sound and the growing dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay are the direct result of inadequate water filtration — a job that was once carried out by menhaden. An adult menhaden can rid four to six gallons of water of algae in a minute. Imagine then the water-cleaning capacity of the half-billion menhaden we “reduce” into oil every year.


This conclusion of Mr. Greenberg's Op-Ed is what reinvigorates in me a naturalist sense of liberalism. As "The Law" (after Bastiat) should exist to prevent plunder and federal waters, pur nation's valuable natural resource should be protected by our government. THAT is the business of a nation. To ensure the survival of its people and its resources so that it may have its wealth maintained for future generations. (Real wealth, not creative number moving).

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/opinion/16greenberg.html
  • Current Mood
    discontent

Trans Activist Calls for Boycott of Avatar

Source: The Advocate

A Website attempting to stop the release of James Cameron’s Avatar argues that the film is offensive because in the future, human beings will evolve and transition to transgenderism.

“Heterosexual arrogance, assumptions or exclusions of alternative sexualities in movies is no longer acceptable,” reads the site StopAvatarMovie.Blogspot.com. “Diversity and tolerance are human rights.”

The website is sprinkled with arguments suggesting that given the current course of evolution, it would be far more likely for the film’s hero, Jake, to be gay, bi, or trans than it would for him to be straight.

“The film also makes a gross assumption that the old hetrosexual ways on Earth would somehow be occurring with another race of being on a totally different world with its own unique culture.”

The boycott calls on people to sand outside theatres with pamphlets upon Avatar’s release on Friday. It also suggests people buy tickets in bulk to see the film but not attend, because “an empty theatre sends a message.”

Comments on the site suggest most people find the argument in support of protesting Avatar to be weak.

“This is the dumbest thing I've ever read,” one commenter writes. “I'm all about being equal and breaking down the lines between the straight & LGBT community but seriously? You mean to tell me that you actually wanna start going after EVERY SINGLE MOVIE in hollywood from here on out that doesn't have some sort of LGBT relationship in it for that sole reason alone?”

The site's creator, who is described on the blog as a young transgender person living in the Bay Area, counters by saying going after Avatar will send a message to Hollywood because it is likely to be the top grossing film of the year.

Interestingly, the language of the Na’vi, the fictional race of people portrayed in Avatar, was created by University of Southern California linguistics professor Paul Frommer, who himself is gay.

Avatar opens Friday and is reportedly the most expensive movie ever made. It is Cameron’s first film as director since Titanic.


-------------------------

I'm a straight supporter of equal rights for all sexual identities, however, I'm finding this extremely ridiculous. I feel sorry for James Cameron, who spent 14 years writing, and after $500 million dollars has been sunk into this project, thinks everything is okay. He wakes up one morning, thinks its go time, is all right and nervous yet happy...

and then sees after all the blood sweat and tears, someone is calling to boycott because he dared make the main characters hetero.

Poor man.

Does anyone agree with the blogger? I'd like to hear more thoughts.
blur

Twitter Hacked, Defaced By “Iranian Cyber Army” (Developing)

Twitter is back up! Hope the withdrawl wasn't too bad for you guys ;)

We’ve received multiple tips right around 10 pm that Twitter was hacked and defaced with the message below. The site is currently offline. We’re looking into this and waiting on a response from Twitter.

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I saw this on ONTD and thought you should all know. I know a lot of you were tweeting during the Iranian elections. It may just be a huge hoax. Who knows? Better to be safe.

source: mothership and http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/17/twitter-reportedly-hacked-by-iranian-cyber-army/?utm_source=feedburner
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    Blur - End of the Century
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Predator drones use less encryption than your TV, DVDs

What three-letter Internet acronym best fits the bizarre news out of Iraq and Afghanistan that militants there have been intercepting US Predator drone video feeds using laptops and a $30 piece of Russian software: LOL, WTF, or OMG?

Actually, all three are appropriate for something this farcical, horrible, and brain-numbing. The reason that the transmissions could be picked up easily by a cheap satellite recording program? They were broadcast in the clear between the drone and ground control. That's right—no encryption was used.

Perhaps, you might be thinking to yourself in a mental bid to make the military seem competent here, no one could have suspected this would happen. But they did suspect it, because it had been happening for a decade already. The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, included this tidbit in its report: "The potential drone vulnerability lies in an unencrypted downlink between the unmanned craft and ground control. The US government has known about the flaw since the US campaign in Bosnia in the 1990s, current and former officials said. But the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it, the officials said."

After finding various laptops containing hours of recorded drone footage, the military has at last moved to encrypt the downlink between the drone and ground control, but there are problems. Not with encryption technology, which is robust, but with the fact the military 1) did not use encryption at the beginning and retrofitting is hard, and 2) the Predator's maker uses some proprietary communications gear, so off-the-shelf encryption tools don't all work.

The sad but inevitable comparison has to be drawn here with consumer electronics. Blu-ray discs, which use the AACS control scheme, feature a new DRM scheme of bewildering complexity in an attempt to thwart pirates.


Operating system vendors have built entire "protected path" setups to guard audio and video all the way through the device chain. TVs and monitors now routinely use HDCP copy protection to secure their links over HDMI cables. Game consoles are packed with encryption schemes to prevent copied games from playing. Microsoft even goes out of its way to add encryption when Windows Media Center records unencrypted over-the-air TV content. Even the humble DVD, with its long-since-breached CSS encryption, offers more in the way of encryption.

But US drones, which spy on militants and rain down death from a distance, have none. The mind boggles, as it seems like the situation should be totally reversed: no encryption on legally-purchased content, more encryption on devices designed to watch and kill human beings.


Source: Ars Technica


ETA: Not just drones... (via Wired)
Mail Mail

Online posting of women's abortion information challenged in Oklahoma

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(CNN) -- A judge could determine Friday whether to allow an Oklahoma law to go forward that will post information online about women who get abortions in the state -- an act critics say would be harassment and an invasion of privacy.

"We don't feel that the government should be able to run a grand inquisition into women's private lives," says Jennifer Mondino, an attorney challenging the law on behalf of the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

State Sen. Todd Lamb helped draft the abortion legislation and describes it as "a common sense measure with bipartisan support." He says the left has tried to skew the law's intent through a campaign of misinformation.
"We're not trying to embarrass anybody, hurt anybody or make anybody's identities known. That's not the purpose of the legislation," the Republican lawmaker says.

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This is a clear violation of these womens right to privacy. There is no reason for them to do this.
franklin sherman

Libertarian loudmouth returns to ontd_political with huge "I TOLD YOU SO"

Health-care bill wouldn't bring real reform

By Howard Dean
Thursday, December 17, 2009; A33

If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health-care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers' monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/16/AR2009121601906_pf.html?

Olbermann's Special comment:

http://www.dailykostv.com/w/002219/index.html

http://rawstory.com/2009/12/olbermann-not-health-care-reform/

Of course, being correct isnt as important as feeling good about it, or your team winning. Amirite?
' jules
  • schmiss

Known White House apologist/DINO urges passing imperfect health care bill

Pass the Bill

A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy. Declare that you’re disappointed in and/or disgusted with President Obama. Demand a change in Senate rules that, combined with the Republican strategy of total obstructionism, are in the process of making America ungovernable.

But meanwhile, pass the health care bill.

Yes, the filibuster-imposed need to get votes from “centrist” senators has led to a bill that falls a long way short of ideal. Worse, some of those senators seem motivated largely by a desire to protect the interests of insurance companies — with the possible exception of Mr. Lieberman, who seems motivated by sheer spite.

But let’s all take a deep breath, and consider just how much good this bill would do, if passed — and how much better it would be than anything that seemed possible just a few years ago. With all its flaws, the Senate health bill would be the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare, greatly improving the lives of millions. Getting this bill would be much, much better than watching health care reform fail.

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obviously he's doing this because he's a total Obama shill am I right???
Citadel

Spanish lawmakers vote to legalize abortion, instate parental notification

Spain's lower house voted Thursday to lift legal restrictions on abortion up to 14 weeks. The measure is expected to pass the Senate.

From the Associated Press:

Under the current law, which dates back to 1985, Spanish women could in theory go to jail for getting an abortion outside certain strict limits -- up to week 12 in case of rape and week 22 if the fetus is malformed.

Exceptions currently exist in cases of rape, fetal abnormalities, or threats to the woman's physical or mental health. The mental health exception is widely used, and about 100,000 abortions are performed annually in Spain with very little legal prosecution. However, doctors have been brought to court, clinics have been closed, and women have been investigated after seeking abortions.

Access to abortion up to 14 weeks would no longer be limited for most women in Spain under the new law, and the threat of imprisonment would be removed. Again from the AP:

The new bill, besides allowing unrestricted abortion up to 14 weeks, would permit it up to 22 weeks if two doctors certify there is a serious threat to the health of the mother, or fetal malformation.

Beyond 22 weeks, it would be allowed only doctors certify fetal malformation deemed incompatible with life or the fetus were diagnosed with an extremely serious or incurable disease.


The news isn't all good, though. The new law would require parental notification (though not parental consent) for 16- and 17-year-old women. Parental consent and notification laws create barriers to abortion for young women who cannot safely inform their parents for a number of reasons such as strong anti-choice beliefs and incest. While a bypass to notification exists in the legislation, these sorts of processes are difficult to navigate, especially for a young person trying to access the procedure without her family's knowledge, and can delay the abortion, which can make the procedure more expensive and increase the chances of complications.

And of course Catholic church officials had to weigh in:

The Spanish Bishops' Conference warned last month that legislators who voted in favor of the bill would be sinning and no longer eligible to receive Communion.

Somebody please make them stop.

Source.
  • mzflux

Knocking on wood.



White House Will Try to Pull Health Care Bill Closer to House's Version

Huffington Post, 12-18-09 10:41 AM

The White House will play an active role in moving health care legislation closer to the House's version once a bill passes the Senate and goes to conference committee between the two chambers, administration officials said on Thursday. But while much of the progressive community is hoping for a renewed push to expand the government's role in providing insurance, the president will likely focus on other priorities.

White House health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle told a conference call of progressive bloggers that there "are some things I'd like to improve" in the Senate's health care bill once legislators merge it with the House's legislation. The primary objective for the administration is to adopt the House's language on making insurance more affordable (which is more generous than the Senate's), she explained.

"I'd like to make some more changes there and move a little bit more towards the House bill," DeParle said. "So we'll see, I don't know what we'll be able to do there. But I know we talk daily to our friends and colleagues in the House who are just as anxious to get this done."

The White House also has its eyes on legislative language in the Senate bill that -- in the near term -- limits the amount of money private insurance companies can pay on medical coverage annually.

"Where we are right now is, we are still working with CBO to see if we can do something before the [state health care] exchanges starts," DeParle said. "But if not, it is going to be just no annual limits after the exchange starts which is where the House is."

The specificity of DeParle's remarks suggests that the administration will indeed amplify the role it's playing in the health care debate as lawmakers enter the final stage for revisions. After the Senate passes health care legislation, the two congressional chambers will send negotiators to a conference committee, where their respective bills will be fused together and sent back for a vote.

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via phoenixdown
LOLitics | From Her Mama

Shenanigans Friday: December 18, 2009.

"Poetry is about the grief. LOLitics is about the grievance."--LOLbert Frost
Please exploit these resources:
  • macro blanks: browse by ALBUMS
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by conanincharge
hpyy

Yes, we fail

Barack Obama's speech disappoints and fuels frustration at Copenhagen
US president offers no further commitment on reducing emissions or on finance to poor countries

Barack Obama stepped into the chaotic final hours of the Copenhagen summit today saying he was convinced the world could act "boldly and decisively" on climate change.

But his speech offered no indication America was ready to embrace bold measures, after world leaders had been working desperately against the clock to try to paper over an agreement to prevent two years of wasted effort — and a 10-day meeting — from ending in total collapse.


Obama, who had been skittish about coming to Copenhagen at all unless it could be cast as a foreign policy success, looked visibly frustrated as he appeared before world leaders.

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SOURCE

Obama, Wen offer no new emissions cuts at summit

COPENHAGEN — President Barack Obama and other world leaders took stalled climate talks into their own hands Friday, holding an emergency meeting to come up with a political agreement to salvage a conference marked by deep divisions between rich and poor countries.

But neither Obama nor Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao offered any new commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions as they addressedthe U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen. And Wen skipped the high-level meeting, sending an envoy instead.

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SOURCE

Reactions to Obama's speech on climate

COPENHAGEN, Dec 18 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama urged a climate deal in Copenhagen on Friday, but offered no new targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by the world's second biggest carbon emitter.

Some 193 countries and more than 120 world leaders met in the Danish capital on the final day of Dec. 7-18 talks to try and agree a global climate deal. Following are responses to Obama's speech.

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SOURCE


I hope somebody comes up with a more complete post about COP15 and the deals per se today. I just thought people here would be interested now that Obama is there.


PS/ETA: I thought the cut might fail, I'm really, really sorry you guys. Why is LJ such a pain with rich text lately?
franklin sherman

Extending an olive branch to the community: Lefties Call for Alliance with Paulies Against War

Citing Dr. Ron Paul's clear and unambiguous "non-interventionist" platform which condemns US troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, anti-war speakers at a rally headlined "No You Can't" called for an alliance between anti-war left and anti-war right on war and peace issues. Organized by the newly-formed anti-war coalition End US Wars, the rally was held in Lafayette Park in front of the White House last Saturday. The coalition announced a new alliance of national and grass-roots antiwar organizations and more than 100 leading peace activists. It featured a joint appearance of four former presidential candidates, former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, and Ralph Nader.



(dont agree with him on healthcare, as the reason they are able to afford the war machine are the same mechanics they would use to afford national healthcare, but everything else he says is solid gold)

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/12/16/815000/-Lefties-Call-for-Alliance-with-Paulies-Against-War

http://www.enduswars.org/
*betty draper reading

Life begins at conception and ends at birth

The Abortion Holdout

Ben Nelson doesn’t come in for as much scorn as some of his Senate colleagues since he’s never pretend to be anything other than an unusually conservative Democrat and since Nebraska has been a consistently reactionary state for many, many, many decades.

That said, it really is worth lingering on the extent to which his threat to hold health reform hostage to an abortion dispute reflects the old saw about people who believe that life begins at conception and ends at birth. Right now, most Americans under the age of 65 receive insurance from their employers. But that system is slowly but surely unraveling. Americans who don’t get insurance from their employers often find it difficult to afford any insurance at all. That is, among other things, a significant problem for pregnant women and their newborn children. What’s more, those who don’t get insurance from their employers generally find that plans offered on the individual market don’t cover maternity services. This health care bill would change that. In the short-term, it would be a boon for those currently uninsured or buying insurance on the individual market. In the long-term, that’s going to be a larger and larger share of the population, so this is important. And the bill would not provide for federally subsidized abortions.

Providing prenatal services to pregnant women is a pro-life gesture by any stretch of the imagination. As is providing health insurance to young children. As we saw the other day, uninsured children are over three times more likely to die from their trauma-related injuries than are commercially insured children, even after adjustment for other factors such as age, gender, race, injury severity and injury type.

But Nelson won’t let those lives be saved unless the bill is modified in an insulting and discriminatory way. And part of the insanity of it is that the actual impact on the number of abortions in America is going to be tiny. Middle-class women will be able to pay for abortions out of pocket, and the “Hyde Amendment” status quo already screws poor women. But it’s a nice symbolic dig at pro-choice America, and a further means of stigmatizing reproductive health services as somehow not real health care. And Nelson, Bart Stupack, and various bishops love the idea of holding the whole package hostage to this point, since I guess the dead kids with trauma injuries will go to heaven anyway or something.

source

Republican cries about Democrat doing something they did themselves, this has never happened before!

Flashback: McCain Refused To Grant 30 Seconds Of Time During Iraq War Debate

mack

Yesterday, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), acting on the orders of the Senate leadership, refused to grant Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) “an additional moment” to continue speaking on the Senate floor after his 10 minutes expired. Franken’s objection caused Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to groan about how Franken’s move was unprofessional, unprecedented, and disrespectful:

McCAIN: I’ve been around here 20-some years. First time I’ve ever seen a member denied an extra minute or two to finish his remarks. … I just haven’t seen it before myself. And I don’t like it. And I think it harms the comity of the Senate not to allow one of our members at least a minute. I’m sure that time is urgent here, but I doubt that it would be that urgent.
Unfortunately, McCain’s memory is suffering. In fact, McCain has engaged in the very same behavior that he was criticizing Franken for yesterday.
 
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Sauce

Good to see someone picking up Jon Stewart's slack while he's on break.
thnx atariprincess_x

Rahm: Don't Worry About The Left

Turn off MSNBC. Tune out Howard Dean and Keith Olbermann. The White House has its liberal wing in hand on health care, says White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. “There are no liberals left to get” in the Senate, Emanuel said in an interview, shrugging off some noise from the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) that a few liberals might bolt over the compromises made with conservative Democrats. As the White House leans on conservative Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska for the 60th health care vote, Emanuel has made the case that this generation of liberal political figures will not make the mistake of their predecessors. The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s greatest regret was not cutting a deal with Richard Nixon on universal health care. Former President Bill Clinton has forever rued the day he did not take moderate Republican Sen. John Chafee up on a compromise that could have secured a health care bill early in his presidency. Liberal senators nearly scuttled the creation of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program -– S-CHIP –- because Clinton compromised with Republicans and agreed to take the program out of Medicaid and involve private insurers. “Every time they’ve gotten close to the deal, they’ve passed up the opportunity and chosen to walk away from a particular where they’ve lost the forest for the trees,” Emanuel said. The comments may not endear the powerful White House chief of staff to liberal activists, furious that Senate Democratic leaders, at Emanuel’s urging, cut a deal with Sen. Joe Lieberman to drop a federally run insurance policy option, then eliminate a Medicare buy-in proposal. “I don’t think the White House recognizes how much trouble they’re in,” said one former Democratic official this morning. “I think they’re miscalaculating what’s happening with progressives and the left. They feel like they’re being taken for granted.”

But Emanuel pointed to a New York Times column by economist Paul Krugman and another coming from National Journal writer Ronald Brownstein pressing for passage of the Senate health bill. “What you’re seeing is the progressive backlash against the progressive backlash,” he said. source

dave + martin = OTP

MSF Urges European Governments to Respect Life, Dignity and Healthcare of Migrants and Asylum Seeker

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Brussels, December 16, 2009 - Asylum seekers and undocumented migrants are bearing the brunt of increasingly restrictive policies which take a toll on their physical and mental health. Escaping conflict, deprivation or widespread violations of human rights, they endure long and dangerous journeys to Europe. Yet when they finally reach Europe, many face prolonged detention, appalling living conditions and a lack of access to healthcare. Others remain trapped outside Europe or are intercepted and sent back to countries where their health and lives may be at risk. Ahead of International Migrants Day, the international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urges policy makers across Europe to respect the life and dignity of migrants and asylum seekers and improve their access to basic services, including shelter and health care.

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Police: Auschwitz 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign stolen

Police: Auschwitz 'Arbeit Macht Frei' sign stolen

WARSAW, Poland – The infamous iron sign bearing the Nazis' cynical slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" that spanned the main entrance to the former Auschwitz death camp was stolen before dawn Friday, Polish police said.

The sign — with the German words for "Work Sets You Free" — is believed to have been stolen from the gates of the Auschwitz memorial between 3:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., when museum guards noticed it was missing and alerted authorities, police spokeswoman Katarzyna Padlo said.

The wide iron sign — across a gate at the main entrance to the former Nazi death camp in southern Poland where more than 1 million people died during World War II — was removed by being unscrewed on one side and pulled off on the other, Padlo said.

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I...just...WHAT?!

No, seriously. WHAT?! I can'T form anything any more coherent than that right now.
Dancing Sumdac

Iran troops 'seize Iraq oil well'

Iranian troops have entered southern Iraqi territory and taken control of an oil well, reports say.

An Iraqi official played down the incident, saying the area was abandoned and right on a disputed border section.

Iranian soldiers crossed the border and raised an Iranian flag over the Fakkah oil field
, a US military spokesman told the AFP news agency.

But an Iranian oil company spokesman denied the accusation, saying no troops had taken control of any oil well.

"The company denies Iranian soldiers taking control of any oil well inside Iraqi territory," the National Iranian Oil Company spokesman was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

Confirmation

Iraq's Deputy Interior Minister confirmed the Iranians stayed in Iraq and were in control of the well.

We are awaiting orders from our leader
Ahmed Ali al-Khafaji
Deputy Interior Minister

Earlier it was reported that they had withdrawn back across the border.

Deputy Interior Minister Ahmed Ali al-Khafaji initially told the Reuters news agency the reports of the Iranian incursion were not true.

But Mr Khafaji later confirmed the incursion had taken place, and said 11 Iranians had dug-in at the oil well and had not left.

"At 3:30 this afternoon, 11 Iranian soldiers infiltrated the Iran-Iraq border and took control of the oil well. They raised the Iranian flag, and they are still there until this moment," he told the Reuters news agency.

He said there had been no military response from Iraqi forces.


"We are awaiting orders from our leader," he said.

The incursion is one of several that have occurred in the last few days, he said.

The well is about 500m from an Iranian border fort and about 1km from an Iraqi fort, US Colonel Peter Newell told AFP.

Source

Edited to bold some stuff.
soap&skin 2012
  • automat

At Japanese Cliffs, a Campaign to Combat Suicide

Yukio Shige, a 65-year-old former policeman, has spent his retirement on a mission to stop those who go to the cliffs of Tojimbo from jumping.

SAKAI, Japan — The towering cliffs of Tojimbo, with their sheer drops into the raging, green Sea of Japan, are a top tourist destination, but Yukio Shige had no interest in the rugged scenery. Instead, he walked along the rocky crags searching for something else: a lone human figure, usually sitting hunched at the edge of the precipice.

That is one of the telltale signs in people drawn here by Tojimbo’s other, less glorious, distinction as one of the best known places to kill oneself in Japan, one of the world’s most suicide-prone nations. Mr. Shige, a 65-year-old former policeman, has spent his five years since retirement on a mission to stop those who come here from jumping.

His efforts have helped draw attention to the grim fact that Japan’s suicide rate is again on the rise. Police figures show that the number of suicides this year could approach the country’s record high of 34,427, reached in 2003, almost 95 suicides a day. The World Health Organization says that people in Japan are now almost three times as likely to kill themselves as are Americans.

Mr. Shige and a group of volunteers he put together have saved 222 people so far, a tally that has made Mr. Shige a national figure in a country that often seems apathetic about its high rate of self-destruction.
But he has also met with criticism from a conformist society that can look dimly on people who draw attention by engaging in activism, even of the most humanitarian kind.

“In Japan, we say the nail that sticks up gets hammered down,” said Mr. Shige, who says he started the patrols after he grew angry at inaction by local authorities. “But I’ll keep sticking up. I tell them, hit me if you can!”

In part, public health experts blame Japan’s romanticized image of suicide as an honorable escape, going back to ritual self-disembowelment by medieval samurai, for the high suicide rate. But the main cause, they say, is the nation’s long economic decline
. Suicides first surged to their recent high levels in 1998, when traditional lifetime employment guarantees began to vanish, and they have remained high as salaries and job security continued to erode.

The situation has worsened during the recent global financial crisis, which is driving this year’s increase, experts say.
While Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, in his first policy speech in October, referred to Japan’s suicide rate in calling for “mutual support” among Japanese, experts say the government’s limited steps to deal with suicide have made little difference.

While preventing suicides is a universally difficult task, it is particularly challenging in Japan. Depression remains a taboo topic here, making it hard for those most at risk to seek the help of family and friends. Many Japanese view suicide as an issue of private choice rather than public health, and there are few efforts to highlight the problem. Collapse )

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Rage Against the Machine - the perfect Christmas No 1 for our times

In the Obama era, there really should be no contest in the battle between RATM and X Factor's Joe
News: Even Paul McCartney wants RATM to win

The Joe McElderry v Rage Against the Machine battle for the final Christmas No 1 of the noughties is surely the most hotly discussed, media-fuelled pop duel since Blur v Oasis in 1995. You're either in Simon Cowell's shiny, sentimental pop camp, pledging your allegiance to a nice Geordie lad – (played by Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry). Or you're one of those mean-spirited weirdos using democratic means to make a mockery of Cowell and Cheryl Cole's current monopoly. 

It's pop v rock, to put it in simple, old-fashioned terms, and the gloves are off. But let's break it down to the one thing apoplectic bloggers have overlooked: the music. On the one hand, we have a public-approved pop pin-up moulded in the Larry Parnes tradition, recycling a Disney-endorsed Miley Cyrus song. On the other, an anti-authoritarian song written by multi-ethnic group of firebrands who've been tear-gassed, arrested and tracked by the CIA in the name of free speech.

Killing in the Name was written during George Bush Sr's presidency. The fallout from the first Iraq conflict was being felt and unemployment was the highest it had been in a decade, with 14% of Americans living in poverty. Yet Bush was told by his economic advisors to stop dealing with the economy as, thanks to Iraq, his re-election was assured.

Alluding to a close correlation between the police force and the Ku Klux Klan – "Some of those that work forces / Are the same that burn crosses" – by the time the song was released, Los Angeles had witnessed the riots that followed the acquittal of the LAPD during the Rodney King trial.

Considered in context, it's as potent a protest song now as it was then. "The core of all rebellion is the denying of repressive authority," RATM guitarist Tom Morello told me in 2005. "And I think we summed up very succinctly in 'Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me …'"

The idea of it being No 1, of course, is both absurd and hilarious – and humour is something that has been lost in all this – while the drive behind this resurgence is a classic act of absurdist situationist troublemaking totally befitting the song
. "I remember when our A&R guy suggested that this be our first single and I was, like, 'Are you kidding?," said Morello. "To the band's credit, we were always fearless in our business decisions and to choose the most profanity-laced song as the debut salvo – possibly the most profane single there has been – was something we were very proud of. To this day, I don't think there's a Rage song that really resonates in the way this does."

Even the band can't possibly have expected the song to resonate quite like this. But then since its 1992 release, the landscape has changed irrevocably and it is conceivable that the drive behind Killing in the Name could be a knock-on result of the Obama effect. Bear with me on this: if Obama were a rock star he wouldn't be Will.i.bloody.am, he'd be the Paul Robeson-quoting Tom Morello. The similarities are startling: both were born mixed race in the early 60s to a Kenyan parent. Both are Harvard-educated liberals with strong ties to Chicago, who have been awarded for their human rights work. Both have worked in the senate, one more successfully than the other. It almost seems fitting for a song such as this to see in the first Christmas of a black man running the planet.

Source: The Guardian
Also, what the hell is going on with LJ at the moment? Where'd all the linebreaks go? D: