February 23rd, 2010

nobody / travis

Architecture geeks unite!

Aqua Named 2009 Skyscraper of the Year

One of Chicago's newest skyscrapers has been named the best of 2009 by a German company that specializes in collecting and publishing data about buildings around the globe.

Aqua, an 82-story residential and commercial building in the 200 block of North Columbus Drive, was named by Emporis as the best new skyscraper for design and functionality.

"Members of the jury praised Aqua for its fascinating shape, whose appearance changes dramatically depending on the perspective. It was also cited as a brilliant technical achievement for the precision of its construction, and lauded as an application of green design innovations to an extremely large building project," Emporis said in a news release.

It's the 10th year the Emporis Skyscraper Award has been given out by the company, and only the third time the highest honor has gone to a building in the United States. The Sofitel New York Hotel won the inaugural award, followed by Hearst Tower seven years later.

Aqua was designed by Jeanne Gang, the founder of Studio Gang Architects. It was her first skyscraper project and the largest ever awarded to an American firm headed by a woman.

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what are your favorite buildings, ontd_p?
Tar Telperien

(no subject)

Terrorism: the most meaningless and manipulated word

Yesterday, Joseph Stack deliberately flew an airplane into a building housing IRS offices in Austin, Texas, in order to advance the political grievances he outlined in a perfectly cogent suicide-manifesto.  Stack's worldview contained elements of the tea party's anti-government anger along with substantial populist complaints generally associated with "the Left" (rage over bailouts, the suffering of America's poor, and the pilfering of the middle class by a corrupt economic elite and their government-servants).  All of that was accompanied by an argument as to why violence was justified (indeed necessary) to protest those injustices:
I remember reading about the stock market crash before the "great" depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn't it ironic how far we've come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn't have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it's "business-as-usual" . . . . Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. 
Despite all that, The New York Times' Brian Stelter documents the deep reluctance of cable news chatterers and government officials to label the incident an act of "terrorism," even though -- as Dave Neiwert ably documents -- it perfectly fits, indeed is a classic illustration of, every official definition of that term.  The issue isn't whether Stack's grievances are real or his responses just; it is that the act unquestionably comports with the official definition.  But as NBC's Pete Williams said of the official insistence that this was not an act of Terrorism:  there are "a couple of reasons to say that . . . One is he’s an American citizen."  Fox News' Megan Kelley asked Catherine Herridge about these denials:  "I take it that they mean terrorism in the larger sense that most of us are used to?," to which Herridge replied: "they mean terrorism in that capital T way."

All of this underscores, yet again, that Terrorism is simultaneously the single most meaningless and most manipulated word in the American political lexicon.  The term now has virtually nothing to do with the act itself and everything to do with the identity of the actor, especially his or her religious identity. Collapse )


Michelle talks

Is Harvard Prof Advocating Palestinian Genocide?

M.J. Rosenberg

Is this genocide that Prof. Martin Kramer of Harvard, the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, and president of Israel's Shalem Center is advocating here? I think it may be as the international genocide treaty specifically bans "imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group."

[The 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, created in the wake of the holocaust, defines genocide to include measures "intended to prevent births within" a specific "national, ethnic, racial or religious group."]

But here, Kramer argues that a good way to stifle Palestinian radicalism is by preventing Palestinian males from growing up by stopping either their conception or their survival. The way to do that is to cut off international aid that engenders procreation. He also suggests that the Israeli blockade is having that effect.

Here is part of what Kramer says.

"Aging populations reject radical agenda and the Middle East is no different. Now eventually, this will happen among the Palestinians, too. But it will happen faster if the West stops providing pro-natal subsidies for Palestinians with refugee status. Those subsidies are one reason why in the ten years, from 1997 to 2007, Gaza's population grew by an astonishing 40%. At that rate, Gaza's population will double by 2030 to three million. Israel's present sanctions on Gaza have a political aim, undermine the Hamas regime, but they also break Gaza's runaway population growth and there is some evidence that they have. That may begin to crack the culture of martyrdom, which demands a constant supply of superfluous young men."

Here is Kramer's rebuttal to my charge*. In my opinion, his rebuttal is worse than his original speech. Incredible.

Note: Kramer is on the faculty of the neocon Shalem Center in Jerusalem and has been named president of its new 4 year college. It is funded by the union busting Bush-Cheney supporting casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

[Quotes from the post: "didn't propose that Israel take a single additional measure beyond the sanctions it now imposes with the political aim of undermining Hamas. And I didn't call on the West to "deliberately curb the births of Palestinians." I called on it to desist from deliberately encouraging births through pro-natal subsidies for Palestinian "refugees," which guarantee that Gazans will remain both radicalized and dependent."]

um wow.

This dude needs to be fired from any intellectual institution that values human rights and integrity...

new car bomb in northern ireland

Police say it is a "miracle" no-one was killed or injured by a car bomb near a courthouse in Newry, County Down.

Officers were evacuating the area when the bomb went off at about 2230 GMT on Monday.

Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward condemned the attack and paid tribute to the officers' bravery.

BBC Ireland correspondent Mark Simpson said it was the latest attack by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process.

'Substantial blast'

Chief Inspector Sam Cordnor said: "It is only by sheer miracle that nobody was killed or injured.

"Our investigations and examination of the area will be full and extensive, and I would appeal to anyone with information, no matter how small, to contact detectives at Newry."

The explosion damaged the gates of the courthouse.

Mr Woodward, who is in the US, said he was pleased nobody had been hurt and described those behind the attack as "people who wanted to destabilise the political process".

He said: "This is an appalling attack by a very small group of people who refuse to accept that peace is working in Northern Ireland."

SDLP Newry and Armagh assembly member Dominic Bradley condemned those who were responsible for the bomb.

"This was a substantial blast which sounded loud where I live - the best part of two miles away," he said.

"I was on the scene shortly afterwards and I can say that local people were absolutely disgusted.

"As far as I could make out, there was only a five-minute warning and police were in the process of evacuating people from New Street/Canal Street when the bomb went off.

"We could easily have been looking at serious casualties or worse this evening and it is no credit at all to the bombers that as far as is known there were no injuries.

"People are saying that they got enough of this sort of thing during the Provo campaign, it was wrong and senseless then and it is wrong now."

'Swift actions'

DUP Newry and Armagh assembly member William Irwin said the bomb was "a cowardly action by those who want to drag Northern Ireland back to the past".

He said it "must be condemned across the community by all those who believe in democracy and oppose terrorism".

"The swift actions of police in ensuring that the area was evacuated must be praised and once again serve of a reminder of the threat which our police officers face daily," he said.

Local Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy said: "The fact that we're in the process of devolving policing and justice powers and there's an attack on a courthouse will not be lost on people.

"These people are trying to drag us backwards and ensure we have the British army back on the streets."

Local Ulster Unionist assembly member Danny Kennedy said the bomb was "proof of a deteriorating security situation in Northern Ireland".

NI Secretary Shaun Woodward: "This is an appalling attack"

"There have been a number of very serious incidents - this is by far probably the most serious recently," he said.

"It represents a clear attack on security services and government institutions.

"It shows a very worrying level of capability that these dissidents now have."

It comes days after a mortar bomb was abandoned near a police station in the village of Keady, about 20 miles away.

Last October, Newry courthouse was the scene of a major security alert after an Army bomb disposal team was sent to examine a suspicious vehicle abandoned nearby.

It was later declared to be an elaborate hoax.

Hearings scheduled for Newry courthouse on Tuesday have been moved to Armagh.

sauce has a video http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/8529541.stm

World Nuts Daily Exclusive: Glenn Beck Replaced with Counterpart from Mirror Universe!

Evil Hippie Glenn Beck Promises To Turn America into an Environmentally Friendly Hell

Meet kinder, gentler Glenn Beck: New 'global warming' believer?
Finds common ground with George Clooney, his publicist is Democratic Party power player

While polls show more people drifting away from acceptance of "global warming," the newest superstar among conservatives – Glenn Beck – is embracing it, according to an interview story in a leading national Sunday newspaper magazine.

"You'd be an idiot not to notice the temperature change," he says.

He also thinks it could be caused partly by man's activity.

At home, he's going green by using energy-saving products.

"I'm willing to do anything but use the CFLs," he says of compact fluorescent light bulbs. "I put them in once and couldn't stand the way they lit up the room."

The kinder, gentler, greener and warmer side of Beck, known as a firebrand conservative,
came to light in an interview in USA Weekend, which is distributed through more than 600 newspapers.

Let them know what you really think. Get "Global Warming Is A Hoax" Magnetic/Easy-Off Adhesive Bumper Sticker

Beck also has lots of friends on the other side of the political spectrum, he reveals. He calls George Clooney "a good, honest man." Beck says the two of them had an extended conversation about the genocide in Darfur.

"We came to an immediate, completely wholehearted agreement about the situation," Beck says. "That is, to put aside the politics and give troops what they need to protect people over there. He's a good, honest man who believes passionately about doing something about it."
Beck's personal publicist, Matt Hiltzik, is a Democratic power player who helped get Hillary Rodham Clinton elected to the U.S. Senate, says the magazine report.

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Michael "Da Man" Steele and His Meagerly Republican Lifestyle

Steele's Difficulties on Living a Civilized Life in The Republican Wilderness

Michael Steele's spending spree angers donors

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele is spending twice as much as his recent predecessors on private planes and paying more for limousines, catering and flowers – expenses that are infuriating the party's major donors who say Republicans need every penny they can get for the fight to win back Congress.

Most recently, donors grumbled when Steele hired renowned chef Wolfgang Puck's local crew to cater the RNC's Christmas party inside the trendy Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, and then moved its annual winter meeting from Washington to Hawaii.

For some major GOP donors, both decisions were symbolic of the kind of wasteful spending habits they claim has become endemic to his tenure at the RNC. When Ken Mehlman served as the committee chairman during the critical 2006 midterm elections, the holiday party was held in a headquarters conference room and Chic-fil-A was the caterer.

A POLITICO analysis of expenses found that compared with 2005, the last comparable year preceding a midterm election, the committee’s payments for charter flights doubled; the number of sedan contractors tripled, and meal expenses jumped from $306,000 to $599,000.

“Michael Steele is an imperial chairman,” said one longtime Republican fundraiser. “He flies in private aircraft. He drives in private cars. He has private consultants that are paid ridiculous retainers. He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people’s money.”

Louis M. Pope, who chairs the RNC’s Budget Committee, defends Steele’s expenses, arguing that a bump in costs is unavoidable for a party that lacks control of any of the levers of government. “Michael Steele does travel more, but he’s in far more demand. He’s a huge part of the fundraising apparatus,” said Pope. “Nobody is living it up at the RNC. There are a number of upscale events, but those are all profitable.”

But disclosure reports document the exodus of prominent donors who have decided to shift their giving to other party committees. In 2005, the RNC raised $46 million from donors who gave more than $250 and $55 million from small donors. In 2009, Steele’s RNC brought in just $24 million — nearly half as much — from big donors and $58 million from small donors.

When Steele took over the chairmanship last winter, he inherited a $23 million surplus. Since then, the former Maryland lieutenant governor has raised $10 million less than the party collected in 2005 and has spent $10 million more. By the end of 2009, the committee’s surplus had shrunk to $8.4 million, according to campaign finance reports.

Just last week, RNC officials touted a January fundraising haul of more than $10 million. But after hosting the sun-filled winter meeting in Hawaii, paying for the holiday party and taking care of other bills, the committee spent almost all of it. Consequently, the RNC added only $1 million to the committee’s $8.4 million in cash, the reports show.
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TDS Takes on Wingnut-apalooza....er, I mean CPAC

Stewart To Glenn Beck: "You're A Communist!"

Fresh from the week off, Jon Stewart jumped right in Monday night and took on one of his favorite targets, Glenn Beck, who used his appearance at CPAC as a chance to alert the crowd of the dangers of Progressivism.

At the conference, Beck compared Progressivism to Communism, and cited previous progressives such as Woodrow Wilson and FDR, who pushed for the income tax and universal health care, respectively. Despite the former being used by elected officials to create things for the common good, Beck stressed that these were the first steps on the road to ruin.

Upon hearing Glenn Beck announce that he learned this by reading books at the library, Stewart had some choice words for the Fox News host:

"Glenn, the library isn't free! It's paid for with tax money. Free public libraries are the result of the Progressive movement to communally share books. The first public library was the Boston public library in 1854. It's statement of purpose: every citizen has the right to access community owned resources. Community owned? That sounds just like communist. You're a communist!"

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I just have to say, weeks when TDS is off are just so much less shiny and fun.  I'm soooooo glad they're back on.  :)
franklin sherman

Fox News reaction to Ron Paul winning the CPAC poll

(Comment stolen from other blog)

What do you do, as a party, when you are down in the polls, are supported mainly by an older, whiter demographic that is quickly shrinking, and are viewed by a large portion of America as obstructionist nattering nabobs of negativity?

AND THEN… you have a guy who can raise money like a mother fucker, is genuinely respected by people on the left while being universally considered an uber-conservative, is broadly supported by the military and young people, and has demonstrated a willingness and ability to work with such politically polar opposites as Alan Grayson… What do you do?

Why… you smear him with shit and swallow him whole, not unlike a hungry guppy that just birthed a fry of offspring. Good job, CPAC… The GOP, once again making the case that modern conservatism is just the elaborate dream of a young, retarded kid.

soap&skin 2012
  • automat

A Murder Suspect’s Worth to Science

A Murder Suspect’s Worth to Science

Amy Bishop, neuroscientist, inventor, murder suspect, has become bigger than life, a symbol for those who think that genius is close to madness, or that women cannot get ahead in science, or that tenure systems in universities are brutalizing — or even that progress against fatal diseases is so important that someone like Dr. Bishop should be set free to pursue cures.

At least that is what emerges from hundreds of comments on the Internet about Dr. Bishop, the assistant professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville charged with shooting six colleagues — three of them fatally — at a faculty meeting on Feb. 12.

“Perhaps the saying ‘There’s a fine line between genius and insanity’ has a lot of truth to it,” George from Pennsylvania wrote at nytimes.com.

Many posted comments like this: “I do not approve of what Dr. Bishop did, but I understand her frustration.” Being denied tenure “in spite of her contributions past and future,” the writer added, “is sufficient to provoke a murderous rage against the chairman and the university.”

Another popular sentiment: “I can’t help but observe that this was a woman in a male-dominated institution in a male-dominated field in a conservative part of the country.”

And on a forum devoted to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a person wrote: “I hope they turn her loose again. Sounds like she knew what she was doing in A.L.S. That’s more than we have now.”

In fact, scientists who have looked at Dr. Bishop’s résumé said they saw no evidence of genius, no evidence of a cure for diseases like A.L.S., no evidence that she even could have gotten tenure at a major university.
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Boehner: Obama's Health Care Proposal Is Too Short

A spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner today ridiculed President Obama's health care proposal because it's too short.

"The White House's 'plan' consists of an 11-page outline, which has not been scored by the Congressional Budget Office or posted online as legislative text. So they want to reorganize one-sixth of the United States' economy with a document shorter than a comic book, and they're complaining that they can't find our plan on their own website? C'mon," said the spokesman, Michael Steel, in an email to reporters.

Boehner and other Republicans have attacked the Democrats' health care bills in both the House and the Senate for being too long.

"The best way to get a sense of what Speaker Pelosi's takeover of health care looks like is to actually look at it. Just shy of 2,000 pages, it runs more than 620 pages longer than the government-run plan Hillary Clinton proposed in 1993," Boehner said in the weekly Republican address in October. He also said the bill is "1,990 pages of bureaucracy."

Boehner and others have carried around copies of the bill to rallies and TV interviews to show how long it is.

After releasing Obama's proposal yesterday, the White House has attacked Republicans for not posting their proposals online. Republicans have hit back, saying their ideas have been online -- and are even linked from the White House web site.

On Thursday, the two sides will meet in a bipartisan health care summit at the White House.


ETA:  Rachel Maddow discussed something relevant to this issue on the size of the White House Health Care proposal last night as well.  Starts around the 3:15 mark or shortly thereafter:
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WTELF???  All I can say is:

*GETS POPCORN*....and Go!

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Bristol Palin Lands TV Gig!

Teen mom Bristol Palin is headed to the small screen.

She will play herself on an upcoming episode of ABC Family's The Secret Life of the American Teenager, it was announced Tuesday. She will appear as one of Amy's (Shailene Woodley) friends at a music program for teen mothers. She shoots the show in Los Angeles and it will air in the summer.

"I am thrilled to be on this show and to be a part of a program that educates teens and young adults about the consequences of teen pregnancy," Palin, 19, tells UsMagazine.com in a statement.

Adds executive producer Brenda Hampton: "Bristol Palin is the most famous teenage mother in America. We're thrilled to have her join us, and I think she will bring additional attention to the issues facing teen parents that we've been exploring for a couple of seasons now."

Palin is currently engaged in a custody battle with Levi Johnston over their 1-year-old son Tripp.


Could someone please explain to me why this is a story?

Jeremy Paxman apologises for swearing on Newsnight

Broadcaster Jeremy Paxman apologised during Newsnight on Monday night after he used a swearword in the programme.

The presenter read quotes from Andrew Rawnsley's book, The End of the Party, which has controversially accused Prime Minister Gordon Brown of bullying.

Seconds after reading the passage, Paxman said his editor had told him to apologise for using the swear word.

A BBC spokesman said the offensive language was used after the watershed and Paxman "apologised immediately".

In a full statement, the BBC said: "During a post watershed interview with Andrew Rawnsley Jeremy read a direct quote from his book which contained an expletive.

"He apologised immediately to anyone that may have found it offensive."

During the live programme, Paxman said: "Apparently I'm told by our editor I have to apologise for quoting what you said the Prime Minister said, so honour satisfied now."

On Sunday, it was claimed that several people in Mr Brown's office had contacted an anti-bullying charity.

The Prime Minister is "very upset" by the allegations, according to Schools Secretary Ed Balls.

BBC Sauce

The video in question.

I don't understand why this is a story. He swore in context, quoting someone else, at least an hour and a half after the watershed (9pm barrier before which adult/explicit content cannot be aired) started. Seems like a storm in a teacup, though at least he didn't properly apologise. I don't think he should even have had to apologise - there was nothing to say sorry for.

(no subject)

Could "tiger farms" -- where the animals would be bred in captivity then culled for their body parts -- help save the critically endangered animal in the wild?

"Regulated tiger farms could provide enough tiger products to reduce the pressure on wild tigers from poaching," said Terry Anderson, executive director of the Property and Environment Research Center, a non-governmental organization that looks at market-based approaches to conservation.

The idea has been put forward by owners of China's tiger breeding centers that have remained open as entertainment parks since China banned the international trade in tiger parts in 1993.

Anderson says that the focus on the issue of killing the animals means many animal rights activists lose sight of the potential of what he calls a "conservation-commodity solution."

"Tiger farms will help reduce the demand for wild tigers if the market is well-regulated. It would be wrong to say that by eliminating the market we eliminate the demand for tigers," said Anderson in reference to the continuation of the illegal trade in tiger parts, which are are prized for having healing and aphrodisiac qualities and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine.

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Charlie Crist to Travel Around Florida in The Hindenburg. Staffers Cancel Fly at The Last Minute

As Crist poll numbers slide, staffers leave campaign

In the latest sign of turbulence for Charlie Crist's wounded U.S. Senate bid, key staffers are starting to leave the campaign.

Political director Pablo Diaz, one of the first two staff members hired for the Senate campaign, is departing at the end of the month for "a new opportunity." Sean Doughtie, a well-regarded new media consultant who had worked with Crist for years, stopped working for the campaign at the end of January.

"The campaign was going in a different direction," said Doughtie.
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Big Love

LPJ does not want to have to keep explaining this stuff to you!

Facts no longer mean what they once did



I got an email the other day that depressed me.

It concerned a piece I recently did that mentioned Henry Johnson, who was awarded the French Croix de Guerre in World War I for singlehandedly fighting off a company of Germans (some accounts say there were 14, some say almost 30, the ones I find most authoritative say there were about two dozen) who threatened to overrun his post. Johnson managed this despite the fact that he was only 5'4'' and 130 pounds, despite the fact that his gun had jammed, despite the fact that he was wounded 21 times.

My mention of Johnson's heroics drew a rebuke from a fellow named Ken Thompson, which I quote verbatim and in its entirety:

``Hate to tell you that blacks were not allowed into combat intell 1947, that fact. World War II ended in 1945. So all that feel good, one black man killing two dozen Nazi, is just that, PC bull.''

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Tell 'em.


How the media helps the BNP

There was a brilliant column by Johann Hari a few years ago about his experience of appearing on a Sky News programme hosted by newspaper columnist Richard Littlejohn. Having admitted he didn't know how much an asylum seeker got in benefits, Littlejohn screeched at Hari: "It's people like you who help the BNP!"

Now, you could be forgiven for thinking that the election of two MEPs would bring the BNP under closer scrutiny since last year. Surely the media glare would expose its nasty underbelly? The party's deputy leader, Simon Darby, doesn't seem to think so:
"Dealing with the press on a daily basis it is hard not to develop a healthy disrespect for the people who quite rightly can be blamed for the state this country is in today. However, certainly over the last year I am not the only one here at BNP Towers that has noticed a distinct thaw in the attitude towards us from some aspects of the media."
The problem here is that while newspaper columnists and reporters keep stating they hate the BNP and all it stands for, they nevertheless keep promoting narratives that harden BNP support. Here is a short list I prepared earlier.
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Source: The Guardian

Can Overweight Women Trust Their Doctors?

Being a doctor these days is hard. But so is being a patient, especially if you happen to be female and overweight.

A study last year found that more than 40% of doctors feel "frustrated" by obese patients. But feelings among doctors are not the only problem. Recent studies have found that a woman who is as little as 13 pounds overweight may receive less than optimal medical care. Women who are over 20 pounds on the wrong side of the scale are more prone to inaccurate diagnoses, have more trouble finding a fertility doctor for help with getting pregnant, and are less likely to receive early diagnosis and effective treatment for cancer.

The research matches up quite accurately with my clinical experience. Over the years I have known many overweight women who have been misdiagnosed by their physicians. And though I realize that anyone can be misdiagnosed, the striking numbers of overweight women whose doctors have missed serious illness reinforces the belief that doctors think differently about those carrying extra pounds.

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*Update* Two months have passed and FINALLY a judge orders an arrest warrent for Lisa Miller

RUTLAND, VT. — A Vermont judge has ordered the arrest of a woman who has refused to turn over her 7-year-old daughter to her former lesbian partner.

Family Court Judge William Cohen found Lisa Miller of Forest, Va., in contempt of court during a hearing Tuesday and issued the arrest warrant.

Miller was ordered to surrender custody of her daughter on Jan. 1 but failed to do so and has since disappeared. Their daughter is now considered a missing person.

Miller and Jenkins got a civil union in Vermont in 2000, had the baby two years later and broke up in 2003. Miller moved to Virginia, where she renounced homosexuality and became an evangelical Christian.

For a quick refresher on the case Click Here This is just ridiculous that this has taken so long especially since they have been missing for a while. Hopefully they'll find her and she'll be alright.
Dragon Age Inquisition

(no subject)

Show's racial slur prompts hold on UCSD student media

Student leaders say racist content crossed line

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2010 AT 12:02 A.M.

Funding for 33 student media outlets across the University of California San Diego has been suspended while the university wrestles with race relations and free speech after last week’s broadcast of a TV show ridiculing campus outrage over a party mocking Black History Month.

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While I don't like knowing that the fees I pay fund outlets like the Koala, I think there are better ways to deal with this than freeze funding for all media outlets. This just reeks of worse things down the line. This isn't what I agreed to when I chose you, UCSD.
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Teabaggers Trying to Rewrite the Constitution

Sarah Palin stood before an audience of 600 at the first Tea Party convention and in her twinkly homespun rhetoric, she declared we don't need a professor of law but a commander-in-chief. As expected, she received roaring applause. And, as expected, she was wrong.

After Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, aided by a compliant Congress and a nation largely afraid to stand up for its rights, had abused the Constitution for almost eight years, what the United States needs is a leader who understands constitutional law and who is unafraid of making sure all Americans understand that the fabric that became America should not be torn apart for political convenience.


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Kansas lawmaker compares rape to auto theft.

Kansas lawmakers are currently considering a law that would bar insurance providers from covering elective abortions — unless a woman pays extra for a special plan. The problem with such coverage, however, is that it forces women to “plan for a completely unexpected event.” The bill “wouldn’t apply to abortions performed to save the life of a woman, or to pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.” However, in the latter case, women would first be forced to file a police report:

The bill would require a police report to be filed if the woman wants an abortion to be covered by her insurance under the incest or rape exemptions. [...]

“You’d have to have a report that someone stole your car,” said Rep. Steve Brunk, a Bel Aire Republican. “This is kind of the same thing.”

“Rape is a deeply traumatic event,” Sandy Barnett, director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, explained. “Often (victims) are afraid of law enforcement and the criminal justice system itself.” Requiring women to purchase a special abortion “rider” is discriminatory, since there is no comparable extra coverage that men need to purchase. As Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has asked, would men who support an abortion rider also support a rider for Viagra?


Kenya Poised to Trample Women's Reproductive Rights

If western media is your sole news source, you're likely to view the African women's rights struggle as a one-issue affair: female genital mutilation.

But the larger battle over reproductive rights in Africa is just as fraught -- enmeshed in issues that appear far thornier than the question of Super Bowl TV ads that recently caught the attention of Americans on both sides of the abortion debate.

Take Kenya. For 20 years, Kenyans have been working fitfully to revise their constitution and are now mere weeks away from possibly finalizing the document. But this milestone in the nation's slow move towards real democracy may be marred by another human rights calamity. If the constitution is approved in its current form by the Kenyan Parliament sometime this year, Kenya will join the inglorious ranks of three nations -- Northern Mariana Islands, Uganda, and Zambia -- that have prohibited abortion within their constitution.

The most recent draft of the constitution had solid human rights protections for women. However, a review by a parliamentary commission resulted in the evisceration of many of the core democratic constitutional provisions. This included amending Article 25, which in its original language guaranteed that "Every individual has the right to life" (emphasis added).

The wording choice for Article 25 is hardly revolutionary. In fact, it reflects the values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is consistent with the majority of national constitutions in the world. But conservative religious groups are not partial to international legal precedence and many lobbied Kenyan parliamentarians to amend Article 25. Which they did, and then some.

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

"These are Haitian babies. You cannot take them."

Orphanage director: Haiti holds 6 US-bound kids

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Six U.S.-bound orphans seized by Haitian police despite having their papers in order remained in a government-run nursery more than two days later, the orphanage director said.

The seizure of the orphans and the brief detention of their escorts Saturday came amid fears that foreigners are exploiting post-earthquake chaos to illegally take children from the country — a perception fueled by an ongoing case involving 10 U.S. Baptist missionaries.

"The youngest has developed diarrhea and is very dehydrated," said Jan Bonnema of Prinsburg, Minnesota, founder and director with her husband, Bud, of the Children of The Promise orphanage, where the six children originated.

Bonnema, whose orphanage is located in the northern city of Cap-Haitien, said late Monday that the children had been bound for the United States via Miami, where their adoptive parents were waiting for them.

Police detained the children and the four women escorting them, including the orphanage's Irish field director and one American adoptive mother, Sarah Thacker of Ferbus Falls, Minnesota, as they were about to depart this earthquake-shattered country from Port-au-Prince airport on Saturday, according to Bonnema.

"They were just inside the terminal. They hadn't gone through immigration," she said in a telephone interview from Minnesota, because they were waiting for U.S. Embassy staff to come with adoption papers signed by Haiti's prime minister.

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It sounds like they really were legit, but are suffering the blowback from those Baptists best-of-intentions!traffickers. Honestly, I don't blame the Haitian police at all--I have no doubt people are forging documents now--but it's a damn shame if everything was actually in order.

Colorado Discovers Magical Water to Be Used as New Source of Fuel!

Magical Water Christened as "New Holy Water" After Burning Many Local Unbelievers!

Colorado Drilling Operations Causing Water To Burst Into Flames (VIDEO)

The controversial oil and gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has come under congressional scrutiny lately after concerns that the mysterious fluids used in the process may contaminate drinking water and harm the environment. While Congress and the EPA in states like Texas--where high rates of leukemia in certain areas have led some to suggest a link to drilling-- are launching investigations into fracking, no such study has been required in Colorado, where local news station KDVR recently caught some shocking footage.

In Weld County, where drilling is a major industry, natural gas contamination is causing water from faucets to literally burst into flames. The state agencies responsible for regulating oil and gas pollution say they are satisfied with the current level of regulation, and downplayed the risk that natural gas contamination could lead to the type of water pollution that may have caused cancer in Texas.

Wall E

Israel's immigrant Children fight deportation

Noah Mae plays with friends
Noah Mae (second from left) dreams in Hebrew, but does not know the Philippine language Tagalog

By Katya Adler
BBC News, Jerusalem

Five little girls giggle and scream with delight as they chase each other round the playground, their pigtails flying as they run.

The girls' parents come from the Philippines, Thailand and Sudan but they sing, shout and chat together in Hebrew.

Like her friends, bright-eyed, eight-year-old Noah Mae was born in Israel. This is her home, she says.

I've come to meet her at a community centre run by the Israeli Scouts movement in southern Tel Aviv.

She proudly shows me her schoolbook, where she got top marks for her Hebrew writing and spelling.

Here parents might come from the Philippines but she feels truly Israeli. Hebrew is the language she dreams in, she tells me.


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franklin sherman

Update: School using laptops to spy on students disciplined kid for eating Mike n' Ikes

In an update to the story, it turns out that the kid was disciplined for eating Mike and Ikes... which makes the whole thing even crazier.

Laptop surveillance kid was disciplined when spying authorities mistook candies for pills

By Cory Doctorow at 1:13 PM February 22, 2010

According to the lawyer for the family of the boy whose school spied on him at home through a covert webcam application on his laptop, the boy was disciplined for eating candies that bear a passing resemblance to pills.

The Lower Merion School District has admitted that the laptops it distributed to students were configured so that administrators could activate their webcams without alerting the user, but insists that the spying capability was only used to help find stolen laptops.

However, the lawyer for the Robbins family says that their son was called into the vice-principal's office and confronted with a photo secretly snapped by his laptop's webcam while he was eating Mike & Ike's candy, and he was accused of taking drugs.

The boy was charged with an undisclosed infraction based on an image the school picked up from his webcam. District superintendent Christopher W. McGinley, in an orotund statement, defends the program while canceling it. And just to make clear that we're still in high school, Master Robbins appears to have gotten in trouble when he was photographed eating Mike and Ikes.


video here: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/tech/WebcamGate_Family_s_Attorney___Who_Has_Access__Philadelphia.html the lawyer makes the funniest faces.

lawsuit + child pornography charges on the way?: http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2010/02/18/main_line_times/news/doc4b7d7d9ce9a28395335138.txt

Update: “As the laptops at issue were routinely used by the students, their friends and family members while at home, it is believed and therefore averred that many of the webcam images captured and/or intercepted consist of minors and/or their parents in compromising or embarrassing positions, including but not limited to, in various stages of dress or undress,” the suit claims.

im an editing, updating fool. watch me work (aclu involved): http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_laptops_spying_on_students
garf tired

'Avatar' : The Prequel

'Avatar' : The Prequel

The anticipation may be building, but we'll all have to wait for the 82nd Academy Awards on March 7 to find out just how many Oscars the global box-office smash Avatar will receive. That 3-D sci-fi spectacle, directed by James Cameron, has garnered nine nominations, including ones for Best Picture and Best Director, and it's already overtaken Titanic, another Cameron global blockbuster, as the top money-maker in movie history. But there's an even bigger question absorbing Avatar's millions of fans: What will Cameron, who has already indicated that he's planning to write a novel based on Avatar, do for a screen encore? As it happens, I have a suggestion: skip the sequels on faraway Pandora's sister worlds, and do the prequel.

Admittedly, the movie I have in mind (set in a world that Avatar hints at) would lack the blue-skinned Na'vi people, but it would still feature Jake Scully, this time in his real body, on the most intriguing planet of all: Earth. And given a global audience that can't get enough of Cameron's work, how many wouldn't pay big bucks for a chance to take a Pandora-style, sensory-expanding guided tour of our own planet? It would be part of a harrowing tale of environmental degradation, resource scarcity, and perennial conflict in the twilight years of humanity's decline. Think of it as Avatar: Earth's Last Stand.

Cameron offers many indications in Avatar that this is the logical direction for him to take. At a poignant moment before the climactic battle between the Na'vi and the remorseless humans begins, for instance, Scully, the renegade Marine turned native rebel, pleads for help from Eywa, the goddess who rules over Pandora: "See, the world we come from--there's no green there--they killed their mother." At another point, Colonel Quaritch, the homicidal Marine commander played with gusto by Stephen Lang, refers to Scully's previous service with the First Marine Reconnaissance unit on Earth, highlighting his three combat tours in Venezuela. "That was some mean bush," he says. Then, speaking of his own combat record, Quaritch alludes to fierce fighting in Nigeria. For anyone familiar with the present competition for global energy resources, Venezuela and Nigeria stand out as major oil producers with a history of civil strife.

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Blackwater Welcomes Their New CEO: Eric Cartman


Blackwater Took Hundreds Of US Weapons From Military, Afghan Police Using 'South Park' Alias

A Senate investigation accuses the Army of turning a blind eye when a Blackwater subsidiary hired violent drug users to help train the Afghan army and declared "sidearms for everyone" even though employees weren't authorized to carry weapons.

The inquiry by the Senate Armed Services Committee found that contractors for Paravant, the Blackwater subsidiary under investigation, also took hundreds of weapons intended for the Afghan National Police. On at least one occassion, someone signing for a weapons shipment used the name "Eric Cartman." The Washington Independent reports:

Blackwater personnel appear to have gone to exceptional lengths to obtain weapons from U.S. military weapons storehouses intended for use by the Afghan police. According to the committee, at the behest of the company's Afghanistan country manager, Ricky Chambers, Blackwater on at least two occasions acquired hundreds of rifles and pistols from a U.S. military facility near Kabul called 22 Bunkers by the military and Pol-e Charki by the Afghans. Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of all U.S. military forces in the Middle East and South Asia, wrote to the committee to explain that "there is no current or past written policy, order, directive, or instruction that allows U.S. Military contractors or subcontractors in Afghanistan to use weapons stored at 22 Bunkers."

On one of those occasions, in September 2008, Chief Warrant Officer Greg Sailer, who worked at 22 Bunkers and is a friend of a Blackwater officer working in Afghanistan, signed over more than 200 AK-47s to an individual identified as "Eric Cartman" or possibly "Carjman" from Blackwater's Counter Narcotics Training Unit.
A Blackwater lawyer told committee staff that no one by those names has ever been employed by the company. Eric Cartman is the name of an obnoxious character from Comedy Central's popular "South Park" cartoon.

The findings by Democratic staff on the Senate Armed Services Committee paint a disturbing picture of lawlessness that contributed to the May 2009 shooting deaths of two Afghan civilians and fed anti-Western sentiment in the region.

"Blackwater operated in Afghanistan without sufficient oversight or supervision and with almost no consideration of the rules it was legally obligated to follow," said Sen. Carl Levin, the committee's chairman.

"Even one irresponsible act by contractor personnel can hurt the mission and put our troops in harm's way," Levin said.

Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the company, which is now known as Xe Services, said management was taking steps to address shortcomings in the program when the shootings occurred.
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  • xerox78

Carrie Prejean and Uganda have a fan

Carrie Prejean isn't the only beauty queen open to expressing her objection to same-sex marriage.

Miss Beverly Hills 2010 Lauren Ashley is also speaking out in support of traditional nuptials.

"The Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman. In Leviticus it says, 'If man lies with mankind as he would lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death and their blood shall be upon them.' The Bible is pretty black and white," Ashley told Pop Tarts.

"I feel like God himself created mankind and he loves everyone, and he has the best for everyone. If he says that having sex with someone of your same gender is going to bring death upon you, that's a pretty stern warning, and he knows more than we do about life."

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