January 2nd, 2010


Irish atheists challenge blasphemy law

An atheist group in the Irish Republic has defied a new blasphemy law by publishing a series of anti-religious quotations on its website.

Atheist Ireland says it will fight any action taken against it in court.

The quotations include the words of writers such as Mark Twain and Salman Rushdie, but also Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammad and Pope Benedict XVI.

The new law makes blasphemy a crime punishable by a fine of up to €25,000 (£22,000; $35,000).

The government says it is needed because the republic's 1937 constitution only gives Christians legal protection of their beliefs.

The new law was passed in July 2009 but came into force on 1 January.

Atheist Ireland responded by publishing 25 quotes it considers anti-religious on its website.

The group said its aim is to have the law repealed and to attain a secular Irish constitution.

Chairman Michael Nugent said it would challenge the blasphemy law through the courts if it were charged, the London-based Guardian newspaper reported.

"This new law is both silly and dangerous," he said. "It is silly because medieval religious laws have no place in a modern secular republic, where the criminal law should protect people and not ideas."

Atheist Ireland says it will hold a series of public meetings around the country to launch its campaign.

Quotes in question
writer face
  • ameonna

appropriate icon is appropriate?

My question is, was the cop Horde, too? Or Alliance?

The virtual world of online gaming seems like the perfect place to hide. There is plenty of anonymity, and it’s almost impossible for someone to trace activity back to its source, right? Wrong.

Two weeks ago, Howard County Sheriff’s Department deputy Matt Roberson tracked down a wanted fugitive through one of the most popular games on the Internet — World of Warcraft. And he got his man.

“You hear stories about you can’t get someone through the Internet,” said Roberson. “Guess what? You can. I just did. Here you are, playing World of Warcraft, and you never know who you’re playing with.”

In this case, online gamers were playing alongside Alfred Hightower, a man wanted on charges of dealing in a schedule III controlled substance and dealing in a schedule IV controlled substance, and two charges of dealing in marijuana. A warrant was issued for his arrest in 2007.

The sheriff’s department enlisted the aid of the U.S. Marshals this summer to track down a number of fugitives as part of Operation: Falcon, and Hightower was among those targeted. Unfortunately, authorities were unable to locate him. Roberson soon found out why. The suspect had skipped the country.

“I received information from a childhood friend, who tells me the guy is in Canada,” said Roberson. “I held onto the information in the back of my head. I spoke to the marshals and asked if we could confirm the guy’s location, would they help us get him? They indicated that they would.”

With the help of sheriff’s major Steve Rogers, Roberson began gathering information on Hightower through a number of sources. That is how they discovered that their suspect was a World of Warcraft fan.

“We received information that this guy was a regular player of an online game, which was referred to as ‘some warlock and witches’ game,” said Roberson. “None of that information was sound enough to pursue on its own, but putting everything we had together gave me enough evidence to send a subpoena to Blizzard Entertainment. I knew exactly what he was playing — World of Warcraft. I used to play it. It’s one of the largest online games in the world.”

Indeed, World of Warcraft is among the most popular online pastimes today, boasting more than 14 million players in dozens of countries — including Canada. But this is the Internet, and Blizzard is in California. Roberson’s subpoena was nothing more than a politely worded request, considering the limits of his law enforcement jurisdiction and the ambiguity of the online world.

“They don’t have to respond to us, and I was under the assumption that they wouldn’t,” said Roberson. “It had been three or four months since I had sent the subpoena. I just put it in the back of my mind and went on to do other things. Then I finally got a response from them. They sent me a package of information. They were very cooperative. It was nice that they were that willing to provide information.”

Blizzard did more than cooperate. It gave Roberson everything he needed to track down Hightower, including his IP address, his account information and history, his billing address, and even his online screen name and preferred server. From there it was a simple matter to zero in on the suspect’s location.

“I did a search off the IP address to locate him,” said Roberson. “I got a longitude and latitude. Then I went to Google Earth. It works wonders. It uses longitude and latitude. Boom! I had an address. I was not able to go streetside at the location, but I had him.”

Roberson and Rogers contacted the U.S. Marshals, who immediately notified the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Border Services Agency. According to Rogers, Canadian authorities located Hightower in Ottawa, Ontario, and arranged to have him deported. The marshals picked up the suspect in Minneapolis, and Howard County has until Jan. 5 to bring him back here to face charges.

“Roberson did some great work on this deal,” said sheriff Marty Talbert. “This is the first time in my seven years as sheriff that a fugitive was located in Canada. Rogers and Roberson did an outstanding job coordinating this.”

Talbert explained that this online manhunt isn’t the first time his department has ventured onto the Internet to track down a suspect. Earlier this year, sheriff’s deputies used a phone number look-up Web site to find a man in North Carolina who was wanted on charges in Howard County. In that case, authorities found their suspect through an online classified ad on Craig’s List.

“Suspects cannot be allowed to escape facing criminal charges by simply moving and relocating,” said Talbert.

Source critically strikes for 9001 damage.
Penny Arcade's Burn strikes Rastlynn for 1337 damage.
  • Current Mood
franklin sherman

FDA/USDA Fail - Saftey of Beef Products Questioned - Ammonia in your burgers

or "Someone at the new york times finally saw 'food inc'"

Eight years ago, federal officials were struggling to remove potentially deadly E. coli from hamburgers when an entrepreneurial company from South Dakota came up with a novel idea: injecting beef with ammonia.

The company, Beef Products Inc., had been looking to expand into the hamburger business with a product made from beef that included fatty trimmings the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil. The trimmings were particularly susceptible to contamination, but a study commissioned by the company showed that the ammonia process would kill E. coli as well as salmonella.

Officials at the United States Department of Agriculture endorsed the company’s ammonia treatment, and have said it destroys E. coli “to an undetectable level.” They decided it was so effective that in 2007, when the department began routine testing of meat used in hamburger sold to the general public, they exempted Beef Products.

With the U.S.D.A.’s stamp of approval, the company’s processed beef has become a mainstay in America’s hamburgers. McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast-food giants use it as a component in ground beef, as do grocery chains. The federal school lunch program used an estimated 5.5 million pounds of the processed beef last year alone.

But government and industry records obtained by The New York Times show that in testing for the school lunch program, E. coli and salmonella pathogens have been found dozens of times in Beef Products meat, challenging claims by the company and the U.S.D.A. about the effectiveness of the treatment. Since 2005, E. coli has been found 3 times and salmonella 48 times, including back-to-back incidents in August in which two 27,000-pound batches were found to be contaminated. The meat was caught before reaching lunch-rooms trays.

In July, school lunch officials temporarily banned their hamburger makers from using meat from a Beef Products facility in Kansas because of salmonella — the third suspension in three years, records show. Yet the facility remained approved by the U.S.D.A. for other customers.

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Magneto puppet
  • drbat

Tripp Palin custody battle to be heard in public, judge rules

The custody battle over Sarah Palin's grandson will play out in public, a judge has ruled, rejecting a plea by Palin's daughter to keep the proceedings closed to shield her son from potential embarrassment when he is older.

Bristol Palin, 19-year-old daughter of the 2008 US vice-presidential candidate, last month filed for sole custody of her son Tripp, telling a judge that her former boyfriend Levi Johnston was too immature to care for a child. She and her family were already caring for the child, she said, and asked that the court case be sealed to keep it from the media.

"In this day and age of the internet, media stories remain available for years, even decades, after they are first published, and anything printed in the media (whether it is true or not) will be available to Tripp when he is old enough to read," Bristol wrote in an affidavit. She also said Johnston, 19, wants to keep the case public to promote himself.

Johnston, a former high school ice hockey star, wants joint custody of the child, and argued in court that both youngsters were fit to be parents. He argued that the case should remain public, saying the media attention would curb Sarah Palin's influence in the case.

"I do not feel protected against Sarah Palin in a closed proceeding," Johnston said in an affidavit. "I hope that if it is open she will stay out of it."

An Alaska judge ruled last week that Bristol Palin had provided no evidence that the child would be harmed by the publicity and ordered all records open.

The couple, who met in high school, announced Palin's pregnancy and their engagement during last year's presidential campaign. The child was born last December but the couple split up in March.


Maybe she was poisoned!

(no subject)

Teen found after meeting his 42-year-old online 'soulmate'
[Source: Globe and Mail (Toronto)] LINK HAS PICS

On Tuesday evening, 16-year-old Andrew Kane nonchalantly asked his mother and father if they would drive him from their Barrie, Ont., home to a hotel in nearby Midland, where he planned to meet a 42-year-old woman with whom he had been having a secret relationship over the Internet.

His stunned parents refused and the teen calmly returned to the computer, telling them he would let the woman know he wasn't coming. At 2 a.m., Marlene Kane heard her front door open, and found her son gone, leaving behind a troubling trail of web chats that led to Houston, Tex., and the World of Warcraft.
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Woah. Woahhhhhhh. And this is happening quiet often, too. :-/
judges you / joan

Polygamy for all

They say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. But it does: the roaring rage of injured male pride. This was amply demonstrated in Egypt when a female Saudi journalist had the audacity to apply logic and consistency to challenge an area of traditional male privilege.

In an article provocatively entitled "My Four Husbands and I", Nadine al-Bedair quite sensibly posed the logical question: if Muslim men are entitled to marry up to four wives, why can't women, in the spirit of equality between believers, have four husbands?

"I have long questioned why it is men have a monopoly on this right. No one has been able to explain to me convincingly why it is I'm deprived of the right to polyandry," she complains.

The outspoken Saudi then goes on to deconstruct and question the traditional justifications for polygamy, including that, in a traditional patriarchal society, it is a shelter for widows, divorcees and women who can't find a spouse; that men have greater sexual appetites than women and get easily bored; that women can't handle more than one man; and that, if women could have multiple husbands, determining paternity would not be possible (an excuse made obsolete by modern science).

"They tell me that I, as a woman, can't handle more than one man physically. I say that women who cheat on their husbands and the 'sellers of love' [ie prostitutes] do much more," she counters.

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Related: Nadine al-Bedair to be summoned for questioning in Egypt

Obama appoints transgender political activist as advisor

President Obama has appointed Amanda Simpson to the position of Senior Technical Advisor to the Department of Commerce. Ms. Simpson is likely to be the first transgender appointee of the Obama administration. In a press release, Ms. Simpson is quoted as saying,:

''I'm truly honored to have received this appointment and am eager and excited about this opportunity that is before me. And at the same time, as one of the first transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, I hope that I will soon be one of hundreds, and that this appointment opens future opportunities for many others.''

Ms. Simpson has thirty years experience in the aerospace and defense industry. She most recently served as Deputy Director in Advanced Technology Development at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona. According to the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance, Ms. Simpson has an activist political background as well.:

"She has also been very active in political and community groups. She has served on the Board of Directors of two national organizations: Out & Equal and NCTE. In Arizona, she has been on the board of Wingspan, the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance, the Southern Arizona ACLU and the Arizona Human Rights Fund (now Equality Arizona)."