December 19th, 2009


Feds defy order to provide same-sex benefits

The Obama administration refused Friday to follow a federal judge's order to provide insurance benefits to the wife of a lesbian court employee in San Francisco and said its hands were tied by a discriminatory law.

"This issue shows exactly why Congress needs to repeal" the law, which prohibits federal benefits to same-sex couples, government lawyer Elaine Kaplan said in a message to attorneys for court employee Karen Golinski. One of Golinski's lawyers, Jenny Pizer of the gay-rights group Lambda Legal, said Kaplan's response was "something we might have expected from the Bush or Reagan administration, and not from a 'fierce advocate' of LBGT rights," as President Obama has described himself.

The case is one of two in which the Office of Personnel Management has balked at orders by judges on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to provide coverage to the same-sex spouses of federal employees. more
palin pissed


Backlash boots Palin from hospital fundraising
Last Updated: 18th December 2009, 3:40pm

HAMILTON, Ont. - Sarah Palin has been given the boot as a celebrity fundraiser for hospitals in Hamilton, Ont., but she will come to town raise money for a local children’s charity instead.

Palin has brought the American health care debate to Canada and it is causing a storm of controversy as concerned hospital supporters have protested her appearance to raise money for two local institutions in April.

The former vice-presidential candidate was supposed to speak at a fund-raising event for the Juravinski Cancer Centre and St. Peter’s Hospital in Hamilton. But a backlash of negative publicity cancelled those plans.

The Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation received about 60 angry calls and e-mails from residents since the event was announced last week. About 10 people said they would not be donating to any event in which Palin has a role.

Palin is an out-spoken conservative critic of new public health care plans in the U.S. and is scornful of Canada’s universal health care system.

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it's more likely that support for her was gonna be so strong it would embarass the liberal national health care interests of Canada imo


Drama at Copenhagen

U.S. President Barack Obama walking uninvited into a meeting of Prime Ministers of China and India and Presidents of Brazil and South Africa proved to be a key moment for striking of a political deal to salvage the Copenhagen Climate Summit.

With hopes fading of a summit draft, in fact, it was a dramatic turn of events last night, which led to a breakthrough when all seemed lost.

Several key world leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had to turn back from the airport to huddle straight into a meeting at the Bella Centre in what was the last ditch effort by Mr. Obama to hammer a deal.
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LOL, this story, more here. Rumors are the Chinese were pissed Obama just walked in. I think the deal is lame. No legally binding treaty, just basically what everybody was agreeing on before. As Lula said on Thursday, I'm laughing not to cry. Now let's go to Mexico!!!
' jules
  • schmiss

It's the climb~

Sen. Ben Nelson to announce support for health-care bill

Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), the final Democratic holdout on health care, was prepared to announce to his caucus Saturday morning that he would support the Senate reform bill, clearing the way for final passage by Christmas.

"We're there," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), as he headed into a special meeting to announce the deal.

Democratic leaders spent days trying to hammer out a deal with Nelson, and worked late Friday night with Nelson on abortion coverage language that had proved the major stumbling block. But Nelson also secured other favors for his home state.

Asked if he was prepared to support the bill, Nelson said, "Yeah."

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You're seriously going to kiss up to *Dwight*?

I've never posted before, but I spotted this in the Scranton paper today and figured you guys might get a kick out of it. (Please forgive me if I screw anything up too badly.)

Mayor Chris Doherty fires back on McCain 'tweet'
By Roger DuPuis II (Staff Writer)
Published: December 19, 2009

Mayor Chris Doherty wants Sen. John McCain to visit Scranton so he can see how federal funding is used to promote job creation and livability in the Electric City.

And no, Mr. Doherty did not "tweet" his invitation to the Arizona Republican.

"The federal funding we receive has helped put our city back on track," Mr. Doherty wrote in a letter to Mr. McCain on Friday, responding to a Dec. 12 post on the Twitter social networking site, in which the senator cited "$292,200 (for) elimination of slum & blight in Scranton, PA" as among "a few outrageous projects."

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I just have this mental image of McCain going, "Why does Scranton need money to fix blight? It looks so pretty on 'The Office'!"
movies | Impish Fräulein2

Photojournalism: "Through the Eyes of Charles Ommanney".

Charles Ommanney has been a contract Photographer for Newsweek magazine from 1997 to the present, and has been represented by Getty Images since 2006. His awards include: World Press – portraiture, White House News Photographers Eyes of History (2005 - 2008), 2008 Political Photo of the Year, POY International (2004,2006,2008), PDN and Communication Arts annuals (2002-2008), and the 1999 Alfred Eisenstadt award.

In this gallery we present some of Charles Ommanney's award winning works along with a Q& A session about his work. Collapse )

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Charles Ommanney is one of my fave contemporary photojournalists. Just sharing the love.
dave + martin = OTP

Neo-Nazis suspected of raid on Auschwitz ‘to rewrite history’

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The slickly organised theft of one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust sent a wave of outrage around the world yesterday.

The sign that hung over the gates of Auschwitz extermination camp, where more than a million people died during the Second World War, was stolen in minutes. Polish police suspect that the culprits were either neo-Nazis or acting on behalf of collectors or a group of individuals.

The slogan wrought in iron, Arbeit Macht Frei (“Work sets you free”), was the cynical welcome to those entering the camp in the 1940s. One million of the 1.1 million people who died at Auschwitz were Jewish.

The theft in the early hours of yesterday was seen as an attempt by right-wing extremists to muddy the narrative of the Holocaust.

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Akuma River

Teddy would vote for it

The moment Ted Kennedy would not want to lose

By Victoria Reggie Kennedy
Sunday, December 20, 2009

My late husband, Ted Kennedy, was passionate about health-care reform. It was the cause of his life. He believed that health care for all our citizens was a fundamental right, not a privilege, and that this year the stars -- and competing interests -- were finally aligned to allow our nation to move forward with fundamental reform. He believed that health-care reform was essential to the financial stability of our nation's working families and of our economy as a whole.

Still, Ted knew that accomplishing reform would be difficult. If it were easy, he told me, it would have been done a long time ago. He predicted that as the Senate got closer to a vote, compromises would be necessary, coalitions would falter and many ardent supporters of reform would want to walk away. He hoped that they wouldn't do so. He knew from experience, he told me, that this kind of opportunity to enact health-care reform wouldn't arise again for a generation.
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Ani: Amazon Warrior

Police Officer Brandishes Gun at Snowball Fight in DC: Eye-Witness Report

As you can see in the video, the 14th and U Streets NW snowball fight was some good-natured wintery mayhem. So why did Metropolitan Police Department officers feel the need to bust it up -- and to draw a gun when they did?

Early on, MPD officers tolerated the chaos. Around 150 snowballers lined up on the east and west sides of 14th Street NW just north of U Street, idling politely as passing cars sludged through the intersection before rushing out to meet one another on the icy field of combat. A few activist-types carried riot shields featuring the anarchy symbol and unfurled a giant banner reading "No War but Snow War." One snowballer carried an IKEA bag full of snowballs, as good a visual metaphor for a snowball fight at that intersection as you could hope to find. Good times.

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also - some photos here


Child services fail, Mother under supervision kills her 4 daughters believing them to be demons.

Woman Who Killed Her 4 Daughters Is Given 120 Years

WASHINGTON — A woman convicted of killing her four daughters and living for months with their decomposing bodies was sentenced Friday to 120 years in prison.

2 Years After 4 Deaths, D.C. Welfare System Remains Under Scrutiny (October 22, 2009) The woman, Banita M. Jacks, 35, was found living with the corpses of her daughters, ages 5 to 16, when deputy federal marshals served an eviction notice at her home in southeast Washington on Jan. 9, 2008. Autopsies later indicated that the girls had been dead for at least seven months.

The deaths plunged the local child welfare agency into turmoil amid accusations that more should have been done to prevent them. The agency has been under federal court oversight for two decades.

This case “will probably haunt me for the rest of my life,” Judge Frederick H. Weisberg of the District of Columbia Superior Court said as he handed down the mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years for the murder of each child. He rejected a request from Ms. Jacks’s lawyer that the sentences run concurrently.

!!!! Warning for triggering and all sorts of heartbreaking tragedy !!!!

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General defends court martial for pregnant soldiers

A US Army general in northern Iraq has defended his decision to add pregnancy to the list of reasons a soldier under his command could face court martial.

It is current army policy to send pregnant soldiers home, but Maj Gen Anthony Cucolo told the BBC he was losing people with critical skills. That was why the added deterrent of a possible court martial was needed, he said.

The new policy applies both to female and male soldiers, even if married. It is the first time the US Army has made pregnancy a punishable offence.

Gen Cucolo told the BBC it was a "black and white" issue for him. He said married soldiers in combat zones should either put their love lives on hold - or take precautions.

"I've got a mission to do, I'm given a finite number of soldiers with which to do it and I need every one of them." "So I'm going to take every measure I can to keep them all strong, fit and with me for the twelve months we are in the combat zone," he said.
a touch of life

American Harvard student petitions for her Chinese fiancé in Beijing

Pictured: Julie Harms [朱莉] and Liu Shiliang [劉士亮], had originally planned to be married in May of last year. (Photo gekked from Ming Pao, who found it online)

American citizen and graduate of Harvard University, Julie Harms, 30, to-date continued to petition to the officials of Beijing, the case of her Chinese fiancé, who was sentenced to 11 months of jail time for a conviction of trespassing.

Julie Harms had met Liu Shiliang at a post office, a decade ago, while she was traveling in China and majoring in East Asian studies. They became engaged in 2007, but their wedding was delayed by legal troubles later that year.

Liu's family had been in conflict with one of their neighbours in his home village within the Anhui [安徽] province. On May 14th, 2007, the neighbour had beaten Liu's niece so that her whole body was covered with blood. According to Ming Pao, Liu had rushed home to join the the December of the same year, the neighbour was sentenced to five years and a half of prison time. Then in March of 2007, the Mainland police placed a warrant for Liu online, for the crime of trespassing, and after surrendering, Liu was sentenced in November a prison term of ten months.

The Associated Press article wrote that Liu was home to visit family, and his family wondered if Liu's arrival was mistaken as an attempt at revenge. Note that the charge was only trespassing, and the head of the Licai village, Liu Jiali (not related), said, from Anhuin by phone, that Liu did not trespass. The neighbour had a cousin in the local police.

Harms contested the charge of trespassing, she said that before the trial, she had been told by the officials that the outcome had already been arranged. At first she thought the resolution would be simple, but in the many times she's been at the police station or the court of Wuhe County [五河縣(trad) 五河县(simp)], she found that the leadership was very inaccessible. "領導們通常都『在開會』,沒人願意告訴我他們的去向" ("They were always 'in meetings', and no one was willing to tell me their whereabouts") (- 劉洪慶, Ming Pao)

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Crossposted at DW.