January 31st, 2010

Magneto puppet
  • drbat

Trooper's partner may not get benefits

Kelly Glossip, seated, and Dennis Engelhard pose for a portrait together. Engelhard, who worked as a Missouri State Highway Patrolman, was killed in the line of duty.

ROBERTSVILLE — When Highway Patrol Cpl. Dennis Engelhard was killed in a Christmas Day traffic accident near Eureka, the agency described him as single with no children.

Gov. Jay Nixon called on Missourians to pray for Engelhard's family, who "lost a beloved son and brother."

Neither statement tells the whole story.

Engelhard, hit by a car that lost control in the snow, was gay. He left behind a partner of nearly 15 years who was not mentioned in his obituary or official information released by the Highway Patrol, although members of the agency knew about his sexual orientation.

If Engelhard had been married, his spouse would be entitled to lifetime survivor's benefits from the state pension system — more than $28,000 a year.

But neither the state Highway Patrol pension system nor Missouri law recognizes domestic partners.

A fraternal organization that provides benefits to the families of troopers killed in the line of duty is also unsure if it will help Engelhard's partner.

Gay marriage activists say the death of Engelhard — hailed by the governor for making the "ultimate sacrifice in fulfilling his duty" — provides a poignant example of the need for greater rights for same-sex couples.

Others say that domestic partners should not receive any more recognition than unmarried partners of heterosexual troopers, who would not be eligible for survivor pension benefits either.

Either way, while Engelhard's partner is eligible for other benefits — possibly including a significant payment from the U.S. Justice Department — he is unlikely to receive any from the state of Missouri, which in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment recognizing marriage as between a man and a woman.

"The partner, plain and simple, is out of luck," said state Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, one of a few openly gay Missouri state legislators. "I'm outraged that that's the situation, but it's the status of the law."

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Pride & Prejudice

Ed Miliband declares war on climate change sceptics

The climate secretary, Ed Miliband, last night warned of the danger of a public backlash against the science of global warming in the face of continuing claims that experts have manipulated data.

In an exclusive interview with the Observer, Miliband spoke out for the first time about last month's revelations that climate scientists had withheld and covered up information and the apology made by the influential UN climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which admitted it had exaggerated claims about the melting of Himalayan glaciers.

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Party of NO Divided on Purity, Suffers Tea Identity Crisis and Demands to Marry their Dog

G.O.P. Hits Its Stride, but Faces Rifts Over Ideology

Republican leaders burst into applause here the other day as their luncheon speaker, Gov. Linda Lingle of Hawaii, shared the latest analysis by a Washington Congressional handicapper: The way things are heading, she read, “you can count on the Democratic majority in the House being toast this fall.”

But as the Republican National Committee ended its winter meeting here on Saturday, party leaders, if jubilant over a string of election victories and declining support for President Obama, were also questioning whether they could take full advantage of the opening Democrats had handed them.

At a moment of what appears to be great if unexpected opportunity, the Republican Party continues to struggle with disputes over ideology and tactics, as well as what party leaders say is an absence of strong figures to lead it back to power, from the party chairman to prospective presidential candidates.

From a sunny perch 5,000 miles from chilly Washington, the party leaders watched Republican members of Congress try to keep their balance as Mr. Obama sought to reclaim the mantle of reasonable bipartisanship in his State of the Union address on Wednesday night and his remarkable public debate in Baltimore with House members on Friday.

At stake, they knew, was the heart of the strategy they had pursued for the last year and had intended to carry into the midterm elections: remaining unified to block the White House at every turn, rallying the conservative base but leaving Republicans vulnerable to being portrayed as the obstructionist party of no.

“We have the wind at our back,” said Katon Dawson, the former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. “We just have to find our momentum.”
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Pride & Prejudice

IFJ Report Lists China’s Secret Bans on Media Reporting

A new report by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on press freedom in China highlights the battle by local censors to control media commentary on a wide range of topics throughout in 2009. Banned topics range from events associated with social unrest and public protests against authorities, to reports of photos of an actress topless on a Caribbean beach.

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The report itself can be found here.

What's wrong with YOU???

Why are you so terribly disappointing?

What the hell is wrong with you? Are you really going to wear that? Why aren't you right now cooking me a nice meal and wearing those hot boy shorts you know I love and saying those words you know I want to hear at exactly the moment I like to hear them, to make me feel better about everything, even though I probably won't?
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  • Current Mood
Lucy  - Durnk n Pitsy

Students failing English because of Twitter, Facebook

Toronto — Little or no grammar teaching, cellphone texting, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, all are being blamed for an increasingly unacceptable number of post-secondary students who can't write properly.

For years there's been a flood of anecdotal complaints from professors about what they say is the wretched state of English grammar coming from some of their students.

Now there seems to be some solid evidence.

Ontario's Waterloo University is one of the few post-secondary institutions in Canada to require the students they accept to pass an exam testing their English language skills.

Almost a third of those students are failing.

"Thirty per cent of students who are admitted are not able to pass at a minimum level," says Ann Barrett, managing director of the English language proficiency exam at Waterloo University.

"We would certainly like it to be a lot lower."

Barrett says the failure rate has jumped five percentage points in the past few years, up to 30 per cent from 25 per cent.

"What has happened in high school that they cannot pass our simple test of written English, at a minimum?" she asks.

Even those with good marks out of Grade 12, so-called elite students, "still can't pass our simple test," she says.

Poor grammar is the major reason students fail, says Barrett.

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I don't think the Internet is to blame for poor language skills, but I do appreciate this article for its good n put.
Pride & Prejudice

Terry Pratchett ready to be test case for suicide law

Sir Terry Pratchett has said he's ready to be a test case for assisted suicide "tribunals" which could give people legal permission to end their lives.

The author, who has Alzheimer's, says he wants a tribunal set up to help those with incurable diseases end their lives with help from doctors.

A poll for BBC One's Panorama suggests most people support assisted suicide for someone who is terminally ill.

Sir Terry is due to set out his ideas in Monday's Richard Dimbleby lecture. In the keynote lecture, Shaking Hands With Death, the best-selling author will say that the "time is really coming" for assisted death to be legalised.

God's waiting room

His comments follow the acquittal last week of Kay Gilderdale, who was cleared of attempted murder after helping her daughter, Lynn, to commit suicide.

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I like the fact that he's including measures to ensure that the person ending their life isn't under pressure to do so- that's one of my only worries about a system in which euthanasia is legalised, and safeguards against it are rarely mentioned. What do you guys think of the plan?
  • preeho

(no subject)

January 30, 2010

Amazon Removes Macmillan Books

Amazon.com has pulled books from Macmillan, one of the largest publishers in the United States, in a dispute over the pricing on e-books on the site.
The publisher’s books can be purchased only from third parties on Amazon.com.
A person in the industry with knowledge of the dispute, which has been brewing for a year, said Amazon was expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books. The person did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter.
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Amazon, Macmillan: an outsider's guide to the fight

(Apologies for the formatting; I'm typing this on a netbook with a tiny keyboard.)
Last Friday, Amazon.com unilaterally pulled most or all of Macmillan's books (edit: including all paper editions, not just electronic) from their online store. (You can still find them via afilliates or second-hand stores, but Amazon themselves won't sell them to you. Note that this only affects me via my Merchant Princes books — published by Tor, a Macmillan subsidiary — in the US Amazon store. My Ace titles are safe ... for now.)

This whole mess is basically about duelling supply chain models.'Publishing is made out of pipes. Traditionally the supply chain ran: author -> publisher -> wholesaler -> bookstore -> consumer.

Then the internet came along, a communications medium the main effect of which is to disintermediate indirect relationships, for example by collapsing supply chains with lots of middle-men.

From the point of view of the public, to whom they sell, Amazon is a bookstore.

From the point of view of the publishers, from whom they buy, Amazon is a wholesaler.

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Mods: I know this isn't politics per say, but Amazon is becoming increasingly terrifying in their want to monopolize the written word. It's pretty big news with regards to how much power a retailer should have over its suppliers (in this case: Book Publishers). They effectively want to control every aspect of the chain.

I think that Amazon is creating bad habits w/ regards to e-books. Just as much work goes into e-book creation as print editions, and so they should be priced on a scale, for sure. Most books are unprofitable as it is, you throw this into the mix, everybody loses. I know we all like cheap, but content is expensive to create and publish. And I can tell you first hand that the expenses are not going to the people working on the books.

Also, that picture of Jeff Bezos is heavily photoshopped.

  • Current Mood

13 students shot dead in Mexican border city

Submitted this and then realized I forgot the source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35170527/ns/world_news-americas/

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Armed men stormed a party in this violent Mexican border city, killing 13 high school and college students in what witnesses said they thought was an attack prompted by false information.

About two dozen teens and young adults were hospitalized after the late Saturday assault in Ciudad Juarez, a drug cartel-plagued city which is one of the deadliest in the world.

Grieving witnesses and family members told The Associated Press on Sunday they thought the victims, mostly residents of the housing complex where the attack occurred, had no ties to drug traffickers.

"It must have been a huge mistake," said Martha Lujan, who lives at the housing complex.

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Pride & Prejudice

Film shows children 'radicalised'

Counter-terrorism police say their discovery of a film of children being encouraged to hold guns is evidence of attempts to radicalise youngsters.

The Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) in North West England revealed they found the film during a raid in Manchester.

Officers say it shows two children, aged about three and six, playing with a pistol and a Kalashnikov rifle.

Material seized separately included the advice: "No child is ever too young to be started off on Jihad training."

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Source has clips from the video- no kidding, it's terrifying.


Help! Hitler Nazi Stalin Hussein Obama is Killing White People!!! Wake Up America!!!

Ailes Defends Beck’s Incendiary Rhetoric: ‘He’s Talking About Hitler And Stalin’ Killing People, So It’s ‘Accurate’

Shortly after President Obama’s inauguration, Fox News anchors and media personalities began attacking his administration and its policies. The White House fired back, calling Fox the “communications arm of the Republican Party.” Today on ABC’s This Week, host Barbera Walters asked Fox News CEO Roger Ailes if the White House and his network have “kissed and made up.” “We’re fine,” he said but added one caveat. “Well I’ll pick a fight if you want. I’d be happy to get into one.”

Arianna Huffington then called out Ailes, particularly because of Fox News host Glenn Beck’s radical rhetoric, talking about people “being slaughtered.” But Ailes dismissed the criticism, saying Beck was “probably accurate”:

HUFFINGTON: But Roger it’s not a question of picking a fight and aren’t you concerned about the language that Glenn Beck is using which is after all, inciting the American people. Three’s a lot of suffering out there as you know and when he talks about people being slaughtered, about who is going to be on the next killing spree.

AILES: He’s talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people so I think he was probably accurate.

HUFFINGTON: No he was talking about this administration.

Watch it:

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Krauthammer On Abdulmutallab: ‘The Guy Is Nigerian,’ So You ‘Have To Assume’ He Wasn’t ‘Acting Alone’

Today’s Fox News Sunday panel looked at Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to hold terrorist trials in federal courts rather than military commissions. The discussion quickly shifted to Holder himself, and whether he should be fired. NPR’s Juan Williams argued that Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer were lobbing “unjustified” attacks on Holder since the Bush administration repeatedly tried terrorists in civilian courts.

Krauthammer then cited the case of the failed Christmas Day bombing by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, saying that the Obama administration should have assumed that he “has people who are working with him” because he’s Nigerian:

KRAUTHAMMER: You arrest a guy who’s got a bomb in his underpants. You know, it’s likely he didn’t do it at home in his kitchen. … The guy is Nigerian. You’ve got to assume — you have to assume that he has people who are working with him.

WILLIAMS: Because he’s a Nigerian?

KRAUTHAMMER: Why do you assume otherwise? It makes no sense at all. You capture a terrorist and in almost all of our plots there are groups of terrorists. [...]

WILLIAMS: We have made such progress in terms of breaking down al Qaeda and getting them in terms of the structure to malfunction that there are now more lone wolves now and it’s tougher to capture and know the extent of knowledge they have at any one moment. There was no evidence, on the face of it on that day, had come from an al Qaeda training camp.

When Williams asked whether Holder should be held “accountable for all intelligence failures, including intelligence failures by the British and everybody else who didn’t understand what Abdulmutallab was up to,” Kristol smirked and shrugged his shoulders. Watch it:

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Golden Sacks to The Homeless, Poor, Unemployed, and Destitute: "I Got Mine, Bitch!"

Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs 'expecting $100 million bonus'

Goldman Sachs, the world’s richest investment bank, could be about to pay its chief executive a bumper bonus of up to $100 million in defiance of moves by President Obama to take action against such payouts.

Bankers in Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) told The Times yesterday they understood that Lloyd Blankfein and other top Goldman bankers outside Britain were set to receive some of the bank’s biggest-ever payouts. “This is Lloyd thumbing his nose at Obama,” said a banker at one of Goldman’s rivals.

Goldman Sachs is becoming the focus of an increasingly acrimonious political and financial showdown over the payment of multimillion-pound bonuses.Last week the US President described bonuses paid out by some banks as “the height of irresponsibility” and “shameful”.

“The American people understand that we have a big hole to dig ourselves out of, but they do not like the idea that people are digging a bigger hole, even as they are being asked to fill it up,” he said last week.
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Super Mario

All is not (completely) lost: Scott Brown says he is pro-choice

Senator-Elect Scott Brown to "This Week": Women have the right to choose, "more moderate" on social issues

WASHINGTON --Republican Sen.-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts says he opposes federal funding for abortions, but thinks women should have the right to choose whether to have one.

Brown tells ABC's "This Week" that he disagrees with his party's position that the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion should be overturned.

Brown says the abortion question is one that's best handled by a woman, her family and her doctor. He also says more effort needs to go into reducing the number of abortions in the U.S.

Brown has said the GOP shouldn't take his vote for granted on every issue. He says he's fiscally conservative but more moderate on social issues.

Brown recently won the Senate seat long held by liberal Democrat Edward M. Kennedy, who died last summer.


I'm kind of at a loss for words.

Also: this is very short and appears to be snippets from an interview but no direct quotes. Apparently it's paraphrased from an interview to be released here soon. I'm a bit skeptical, but that's because I was so gobsmacked by this development in the first place.
Sufjan Smile

War spending surges in President Obama's budget

President Barack Obama’s new budget, to be released Monday, forecasts two consecutive years of near $160 billion in war funding, far more than he hoped when elected and only modestly less than the last years of the Bush Administration.

In 2011 alone, the revised numbers are triple what the president included in his spending plan a year ago. And the strain shows itself in new deficit projections, already hobbled by lagging revenues due to the weak economy.

The administration appears to be projecting a deficit of near $1.6 trillion for the current year and $1.3 trillion in 2011. That is even more pessimistic than Congressional Budget Office estimates last week, and it’s only in 2012 that the projections drop to the range of $800 billion to $700 billion.

By the end of the decade, the gap again widens, and as a percentage of GDP, the average appears above the 3% target viewed as sustainable.

Obama has responded with a three-year domestic spending freeze impacting about $447 billion in annual appropriations. This leaves him less money to sustain the very rapid growth seen last year in clean water programs or the Great Lakes restoration initiative. The Environmental Protection Agency budget would be cut modestly, and to stretch his dollars, Obama wants to dramatically ramp up the Energy Department’s credit budget, a low-cost way to extend tens of billions in loan guarantees to the nuclear power industry.

But on balance, the president’s plan seems less restrictive in many areas than lawmakers had anticipated. With the Senate having just passed a $1.9 trillion debt ceiling increase last week, fiscal moderates in his own party may insist on even tighter limits.

Obama’s 2010 starting point for the freeze has a built-in cushion since billions in Census spending won’t have to be repeated in 2011. He appears to count expanded Pell Grant funding for low-income college students as a mandatory cost outside the Education Department’s discretionary budget. And both Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, two of the fastest areas of recent spending, are exempted from the freeze.
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Source : Politico

The good news?:
  • More money to Education
  • More money to Veteran's Affairs
  • More money to the Energy Department
  • Gates is taking a hard line against absurdly expensive military future-tech wank.

    The bad news?
  • Defense is still prohibitively expensive
  • Budget cuts to the EPA