February 13th, 2010

Me in Hawaii.

Cocaine found hidden among Valentine roses



AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A week before Valentine's Day, a consignment of cocaine was found hidden among 20,000 roses from Latin America at Amsterdam airport, Dutch authorities said Wednesday.

The roses, a popular February 14 Valentine's Day gift, arrived last Sunday on a flight from Bogota, Colombia, which stopped over in Puerto Rico, the public prosecutors' office said in a statement. The drug was found in cellophane packets hidden in boxes containing the roses.

Three people in the Netherlands were arrested and police found a total of 9 kg (20 lb) of cocaine in their possession, including the seized shipment, with a street value of about 1.3 million euros.

The Netherlands is a major flower trading hub, home to the world's biggest flower auction house and is the source of 60 percent of the world's flower exports.

sauce

Year of the tiger? No, year of the hamster.

By Laurent Belsie

The Asian calendar says that we enter the year of the tiger on Saturday. But it doesn't feel like the year of the tiger.

Except for a few Chinese entrepreneurs and some Wall Street hotshots, is anyone feeling particularly tiger-like? Are you pouncing on new business deals? Buying a flashy sports car?

Even that big cat of a golfing powerhouse has gone into retreat (for now).

Instead, 2010 feels much more like the year of the hamster.

Consumers in much of the world are burrowing down, cutting up credit cards and trimming back spending. Governments in Greece and elsewhere face the prospect of having to do the same. For leaders, that's the political equivalent of a squeak, not a roar.

No wonder that the hamster is popping up as a cultural icon:

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By all means, celebrate the year of the tiger. But root for the hamster.

Murasaki Shikibu

3 dead, 3 hurt in Alabama campus shooting

3 dead, 3 hurt in Alabama campus shooting



HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A woman opened fire during a biology faculty meeting at the University of Alabama's Huntsville campus Friday, killing three faculty members and injuring two other faculty members and a staff member.

The shooter was in custody, but university spokesman Ray Garner said he could not identify her or the victims. Local television stations reported she is a faculty member.

No students were hurt.

Huntsville Hospital spokesman Burr Ingram said two of the injured were in critical condition and the third was in stable condition.

Sophomore Erin Johnson told The Huntsville Times a biology faculty meeting was under way when she heard screams coming from the room.

The shooting happened in the university's Shelby Center, a science building. University police secured the building and students were cleared from it.

The Huntsville campus has about 7,500 students in northern Alabama, not far from the Tennessee line. The city is home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

The university posted a message on its Web site Friday afternoon telling students the campus was closed Friday night and all students were encouraged to go home. Counselors were available to speak with students.

Garner said the campus was closed while police gathered evidence. He said at a news conference that the shooting was not unlike one the area experienced a week ago, when a 14-year-old student was shot to death in a middle school hallway, allegedly by a fellow student.

"This town is unaccustomed to shootings and multiple deaths," he said.

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Oh, jeez.

And this is the first school shooting I've heard of that a woman did.
nobody / travis

Saudi officials put the squeeze on Valentine's Day

Saudi Arabia's religious police have banned anything related to the lovers holiday and warned store owners not to sell such merchandise. But many know how to circumvent the ban.



It isn't often that cynical singles and religious police find themselves on the same side, but in Saudi Arabia they are standing united against a common threat: Valentine's Day.

Saudi Arabia's religious enforcers, backed by the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, are doing their annual purge of anything Valentine-related: flowers, gifts, candy -- even the color red.

The broader region, however, is not so sure. And Saudis themselves are far from unanimous.

Valentine's Day as a commercial phenomenon has gone global, and the Arab world is no exception.

From Damascus to Casablanca, restaurants, retailers, and hotels eagerly promote holiday deals. Pop stars charge hundreds of dollars for special performances. Doily hearts and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are nearly inescapable.

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Akuma River

Texas election Politics

State sales tax takes a hit for eighth month
Declines are a big concern for budget writers
By PEGGY FIKAC
AUSTIN BUREAU
Feb. 13, 2010, 7:19AM

AUSTIN — In more grim news for Texas' budget, state Comptroller Susan Combs said Friday that monthly sales tax collections are down again, the eighth straight month of double-digit declines.

Collections for January — the period that reflects December holiday shopping — were down by 14.2 percent compared with a year ago.

The state has seen sales tax declines, compared with the same month the previous year, since February 2009, including double-digit decreases since last June.
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MEDINA!!! Explain how you want to get rid of the property tax again. Explain how we are supposed to support our government by only the State Sales Tax? How is that supposed to work again?
Kay get your ass back to congress and get the federal stimulus through.


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home || arwen_elvenfair

Should Men Work Outside the Home?

This is an older post (now found in slightly edited format in the author's book, Depletion and Abundance) but every time the Mommy Wars pop up in this community, I think of this, so I thought I would share it.

Sharon Astyk believes that by asking the question of whether women should stay home or go out to work, the "Mommy Wars" are missing some very important points.

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Source is long, but worthwhile
florence

...I have no words

Orphaned in Argentina's dirty war, man is torn between two families

BUENOS AIRES -- Alejandro Rei refused to accept the truth, even after the man he thought was his father pulled the car over one night and told him he had been adopted.

"You are the son of the disappeared," Victor Rei told him, his eyes tearing up.

Alejandro did not know it then, but Victor would have had intimate knowledge: He had been a military intelligence officer, a cog in a ferocious military machine that in the 1970s smashed two rebel groups in Argentina by kidnapping and torturing suspected guerrillas and dissidents. The victims were shot and buried in unmarked graves, or sedated and hurled alive from airplanes over the south Atlantic.

In the mournful lexicon of Latin American dictatorship, they were the "disappeared." And on that night in 2004, Alejandro was hearing that his real parents had been victims of the military junta during the "dirty war."

For nearly five years, though, Alejandro would be torn between recognizing the fate of his real parents and his loyalty to the people who raised him.

Victor's revelation was the beginning of a long, tortuous process that would include police raids, DNA tests, a trial that put the father Alejandro had known behind bars and, finally, a rocky reunion with the biological family that had wanted him back since 1977.

"When all this happened, I began to carry a weight called guilt, and I blamed myself for all of this," said Alejandro, now 32. "It was not until 2009 that I realized I was not guilty for all that had happened."

With 400 children still unaccounted for,
Argentina is accelerating a search to clear up one of the great mysteries of South America's most brutal military dictatorship: What happened to the stolen babies? What is known is that, like Alejandro, children were snatched from doomed mothers in clandestine detention centers, mostly from 1976 to 1978, then raised by military families or their accomplices.

Those spearheading the search belong to a group of grandmothers dedicated to finding their lost grandchildren. They have allies in President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's government and the help of a powerful tool: a law approved in November to quicken the identification process by forcing young adults thought to be children of the disappeared to provide DNA samples.

Driving the effort is an urgent reality: The grandmothers are dying off.

"We do not have time to keep waiting, because we are all very old," said Estela Barnes de Carlotto, 82, who is president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and is searching for her daughter's son. "There are grandmothers who are 90 or older who have not yet found their grandchildren."

So far, 100 stolen babies -- most now in their early 30s -- have been found.


But if Alejandro's experience serves as a road map, the effort to find the rest is sure to be marked with doubt and wrenching pain. Like him, many will come to two awful realizations: that the parents they have known raised them illegitimately and that, in some cases, their adoptive parents participated in the deaths of their biological parents.

Some, like Evelyn Vazquez, have done everything to thwart investigators, believing they must protect the parents who raised them. Others, like Manuel Goncalves, said recouping their lost identity has meant everything. "When I learned I would never know my parents, it was very hard, but I also learned the truth," said Goncalves, 33.

Truth vs. the right to privacy is at the heart of a heated debate in a country that is still grappling with how to deliver justice a quarter-century after its last dictatorship ended.

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All of the Dirty War was completely horrifying, but the baby stealing has to get to me the most. What the fuck kind of people do this? And the fact that it was on an institutionalized level (i.e. not just some random officer stealing a baby one day) makes it all the worse.

Infamous Anti-Gay Nutcase Paul Cameron: Gay Soldiers Will Rape You!

"Dr." Paul Cameron, the infamous douchebag who has been booted from every professional psychological association, went on Midweek Politics Radio to claim that gay soldiers already rape at a rate of "4 to 7 times more" than straight soldiers do, therefore allowing openly gay soldiers to serve will result in a non-stop homo rape-a-rama. The radio host does a pretty good job with him.

Aubrey Beardsley

Obama signs ‘pay as you go’ legislation into law

US President Barack Obama called Saturday for new spending cuts, warning the country must bring its ballooning deficit under control in order to be able to move forward.

"Even as we make critical investments to create jobs today and lay a foundation for growth tomorrow -- by cutting taxes for small businesses, investing in education, promoting clean energy, and modernizing our roads and railways -- we have to continue to go through the budget line by line, looking for ways to save," Obama said in his weekly radio address.

"We have to cut where we can, to afford what we need," he added.

The Obama administration acknowledged earlier this month that the budget deficit will swell to a record 1.556 trillion dollars.

Accumulating deficits beyond this year -- although expected to decline -- would double federal debt held by the public to 15.686 trillion dollars in seven years and push it even higher to 18.573 trillion dollars in 2020.

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This entire video is very... diplomatically-worded, shall we say?
K-Box cartoon

Shocking news: Entitled straight white douchebag gets CALLED OUT on his racism AND his homophobia!

Don't worry, though; his misogyny is still considered okay.

As soon as I saw Joel McHale devote an ENTIRE EPISODE of The Soup last night to quoting John Mayer's interview with Playboy, I KNEW the dude had just Kramered his career.

FOXNews.com - Has John Mayer's 'Hood Pass' Been Revoked?

Will the blues guitarist ever be able to recover from his use of the N-word?

John Mayer shocked fans this week in a controversial interview with Playboy magazine in which he used the N-word and likened his sexual desires to that of a white supremacist. But despite a quick apology and explanation via Twitter, followed by an onstage breakdown during a Nashville concert, it appears his self-proclaimed “hood pass” may have expired.

“Whenever you use the N-word, there are going to be serious consequences,” an A-list Hollywood record executive told Pop Tarts. “People come back all the time from inappropriate comments, but this is a serious problem that could possibly hurt record sales and his public perception if it keeps blowing up. Mayer should do some sensitivity training, which might be a good start in bouncing back from this.”

Prior to the incident, which coincides with Black History Month, Mayer was often penned as a crossover artist. Over the course of his career, he had worked with a range of black music moguls including Jay-Z, B.B King, Herbie Hancock, Nelly, NaS and was even one of the few artists featured in last year’s Michael Jackson Memorial Concert. But experts speculate that he may have quite a bit of crawling to do to get back in the industry’s good graces after using such degrading language.

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When a white male celebrity behaves like such a blatantly racist douchebag that even FOX NEWS can't spin their coverage in his favor, you KNOW it's not going to go well for him.

John Mayer's 'Playboy' interview: Why does no one care that he also uses a gay slur? | EW.com

John Mayer’s crazy controversial Playboy interview has already sparked outrage for his use of the N word and his comparison of Jessica Simpson to “sexual napalm.” But in the interview Mayer also uses the gay slur “f–s,” which seems to be yielding much less outrage. While discussing kissing Perez Hilton one night at a club, Mayer says, “I grabbed him and gave him the dirtiest, tongue-iest kiss I have ever put on anybody—almost as if I hated f–s.” Um, why has this not merited a twitter-pology? A spokesperson for Mayer told EW, “On Wednesday, JM apologized for his remarks via Twitter and again in public that night. His remorse is genuine and he has expressed sincere regret for all of his word choices.” Clearly this interview was meant to offend pretty much everyone, but I would still like an apology from Mayer on behalf of gays everywhere.

Source:
When ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY is one of the lone voices that's enlightened enough to point out the patently obvious homophobia in such remarks, I feel like I've stepped into Bizarro World.

Oh, and former John Mayer friend Holly Robinson Peete is not accepting his apology.
dah

Burma frees NLD leader Tin Oo

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8514159.stm

Burma has freed the vice-chairman of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).

Tin Oo, 82, has been in prison or under house arrest for more than a decade.

The release comes as Burma's ruling military junta prepares to hold national elections in 2010, though no date has yet been set.

Rumours inside Burma say Ms Suu Kyi could also be freed, probably after the elections, and once her period of house arrest expires in November.

Speaking after officials entered his house and announced his release, Tin Oo said he would continue to work for democracy.

He said he was "very hopeful" Ms Suu Kyi would soon be released, AP reported.

Decorated general

Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN's special envoy to Myanmar, is due in the country on Monday to assess its progress on human rights issues.

Analysts say Tin Oo could have a key role in deciding whether or not the NLD participates in the forthcoming elections.

Tin Oo, who spent three years in prison after helping to found the NLD in 1988, has been either in prison or under house arrest since he was detained along with Ms Suu Kyi in 2003.

The former defence minister, a highly decorated general, was forced into retirement in 1976. He was later sentenced to hard labour for treason.

In January, Burma's home minister reportedly said Ms Suu Kyi would be freed when her current period of house arrest expires.
dah

Saudi call for boycott against men selling lingerie

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8514201.stm

Campaigners in Saudi Arabia have urged women there to begin a two-week boycott of lingerie shops with male staff.

They say it is a contradiction that in such a conservative, Islamic country, women have to give their underwear sizes to men they do not know.

Reem Asaad, an economics professor from Jeddah, organised the boycott through her Facebook page, as public protests are illegal in Saudi Arabia.

Islamic scholars have given their backing to the campaign.

"I am calling for salesmen to be replaced with saleswomen", Ms Asaad was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

"I just hope that many respond and boycott," she said.

Ms Asaad has been calling on officials to allow saleswomen in shops open to both male and female clients since 2008.

Religious police in the country have said they are not against women working in shops as long as they are in women-only malls.

Saudi Arabia's Labour Ministry has previously said it would require that women were employed in lingerie shops, but the law has not been enforced.

Ms Asaad says the law is deliberately ambiguous and allows religious clerics to effectively uphold a ban on saleswomen.

The Wahhabi strain of Islam, which dominates the country, requires absolute separation of unrelated members of the opposite sex.

Parts of Saudi society are still very traditional and do not like the idea of women working - even if they are just selling underwear to each other.

Because of the strict segregation laws barring physical contact between the sexes, women also cannot be properly measured for their underwear.

The boycott campaign comes days before a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will hold a town hall meeting at Ms Asaad's Dar al-Hekma College.
Magneto puppet

Same-Sex Couple Stir Fears in Malawi of a ‘Gay Agenda’ Promoted by the West



BLANTYRE, Malawi — Tiwonge Chimbalanga looked like a man but said he was a woman. He helped with the cooking and dressed in feminine wraparound skirts. Steven Monjeza was a quiet, sullen man often intoxicated on sorghum beer. He said he had never been happy until he finally met the right companion.

The two celebrated their engagement — their chinkhoswe, in the Chichewa language — with a party at a lodge here in Malawi’s commercial capital. It began cheerfully enough. But later, gawkers pushed their way inside, some shouting taunts, others just staring through despising eyes. Then the electricity failed. The band stopped playing, and the bride collapsed in tears.

Someone had tipped off a newspaper, The Nation, for this betrothal was extraordinary in a conservative African nation. The resulting front-page story began with the phrase “gay lovebirds,” adding that the chinkhoswe was “the first recorded public activity for homosexuals in the country.” Readers were reminded that homosexuality carried a sentence of 5 to 14 years in prison.

Two days later, on Dec. 28, the couple was arrested on charges of unnatural acts and gross indecency, and they have been in jail since, denied bail ostensibly to keep them safe.

Much of Malawi is riveted by the case. This is not just a matter of the state versus a same-sex couple; many here believe it is a matter of Malawi against the developed world. How else, they ask, could “gayism” have crept into a place where it never before existed?

“These immoral acts are not in our culture; they are coming from outside,” said Leckford Thotho, the minister of information and civic affairs. “Otherwise, why is there all this interest from around the world? Why is money being sent?”

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