February 28th, 2010

mr schadenfreude

Assassination & Israel's role in passport fraud

I wasn't sure if this has received any coverage outside of the affected (effected?) countries but it looks like there might be a little explaining in order since this mess has come to light;

The implication is clear: Australia has apparently become a convenient passport factory for Israeli agents.

AUSTRALIAN passports are basically very safe, according to Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard. And so they are, if ''very safe'' is measured by head counts. Most people can leave the country and return to it without risk of their passports being used to create fake identities for members of assassination squads dispatched by foreign intelligence agencies. As the world now knows, however, three Victorians living in Israel, Joshua Bruce, Adam Korman and Nicole McCabe, were among 26 people from several countries whose passport details appear to have been stolen and used in precisely that way. Although Israel has maintained its usual practice of neither confirming nor denying involvement in what it calls ''targeted killings'', the assassination in Dubai last month of a Hamas operative, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, is generally believed to have been the work of the Israeli secret service, Mossad, whose agents are said to have used stolen identities to enter and leave the Gulf state.

The governments of Australia and the other nations whose citizens' identities were used - Britain, Ireland, France and Germany - have all issued strong diplomatic protests at the misappropriation, though without directly accusing Israel of responsibility for it. The diplomatic niceties were preserved in Foreign Minister Stephen Smith's judiciously phrased statement that ''If the results of that investigation [by ASIO and the Australian Federal Police] cause us to come to the conclusion that the abuse of Australian passports was sponsored or condoned by Israeli officials, then Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend''.
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I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty freaked out if my passport, and therefore my identity, was used in a political assassination because god only knows who might want to pay a little visit for some payback.
It's a little bit like The Rainbow Warrior all over again, except instead of France it's Israel.
Can you imagine the ruckus if this had been a group of Iranian operatives using US passports instead?

*Links are highlighted- these all come from The Age, Melbourne, Australia.
Bolding/underlining mine.*
Akuma River

WARNING: All previously printed Puerto Rican birth certificates will be NULL & VOID as of July 1st

Shock over voided Puerto Rican birth certificates
By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writer Suzanne Gamboa, Associated Press Writer – Sat Feb 27, 10:46 am ET
WASHINGTON – Native Puerto Ricans living outside the island territory are reacting with surprise and confusion after learning their birth certificates will become no good this summer.

A law enacted by Puerto Rico in December mainly to combat identity theft invalidates as of July 1 all previously issued Puerto Rican birth certificates. That means more than a third of the 4.1 million people of Puerto Rican descent living in the 50 states must arrange to get new certificates.

The change catches many unaware.
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No one else posted about this and I KNOW we have Puerto Ricans in the com so here you go. You guys have 4 Months to get your new birth certificates.

Oldest Man In Zimbabwe Celebrates a Happy Birthday! Receives a Golden Cake From Our Chinese Masters!

Beloved Leader Tells Hungry Crowd To Eat Cake.. and Chicken... and Beef... and Rice... pretty much any food...

Mugabe Gets $300K Birthday Party In Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's supporters say they spent $300,000 to celebrate his 86th birthday in this impoverished country.

Delma Lupepe, a leading member of Mugabe's party, said Saturday he helped raise the money from donors.

The Chinese Embassy gave a cake the size of a large TV, which Mugabe's wife Grace helped cut Saturday in the southern city of Bulawayo.

Lupepe says: "We have to celebrate our leader, who's now 86. How many people reach that age?"

The U.N. says the average life expectancy is about 44 in Zimbabwe, which is beset by hunger and AIDS.

Some 25,000 Mugabe supporters were invited to celebrations a week after his birthday. A concert on Friday night was followed by a meal of beef, chicken and rice on Saturday.

Real Americans to Kill All Elitist Fake-Americans. People Clamors for New Civil War! Awesome!

Republicans to Lend a Hand in Fighting The System and The Mooslim Black Usurper Man!

The Axis of the Obsessed and Deranged

No one knows what history will make of the present — least of all journalists, who can at best write history’s sloppy first draft. But if I were to place an incautious bet on which political event will prove the most significant of February 2010, I wouldn’t choose the kabuki health care summit that generated all the ink and 24/7 cable chatter in Washington. I’d put my money instead on the murder-suicide of Andrew Joseph Stack III, the tax protester who flew a plane into an office building housing Internal Revenue Service employees in Austin, Tex., on Feb. 18. It was a flare with the dark afterlife of an omen.

What made that kamikaze mission eventful was less the deranged act itself than the curious reaction of politicians on the right who gave it a pass — or, worse, flirted with condoning it.
Stack was a lone madman, and it would be both glib and inaccurate to call him a card-carrying Tea Partier or a “Tea Party terrorist.” But he did leave behind a manifesto whose frothing anti-government, anti-tax rage overlaps with some of those marching under the Tea Party banner. That rant inspired like-minded Americans to create instant Facebook shrines to his martyrdom. Soon enough, some cowed politicians, including the newly minted Tea Party hero Scott Brown, were publicly empathizing with Stack’s credo — rather than risk crossing the most unforgiving brigade in their base.

Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, even rationalized Stack’s crime. “It’s sad the incident in Texas happened,” he said, “but by the same token, it’s an agency that is unnecessary. And when the day comes when that is over and we abolish the I.R.S., it’s going to be a happy day for America.” No one in King’s caucus condemned these remarks. Then again, what King euphemized as “the incident” took out just 1 of the 200 workers in the Austin building: Vernon Hunter, a 68-year-old Vietnam veteran nearing his I.R.S. retirement. Had Stack the devastating weaponry and timing to match the death toll of 168 inflicted by Timothy McVeigh on a federal building in Oklahoma in 1995, maybe a few of the congressman’s peers would have cried foul.
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D.C. hospital fires 11 nurses and 5 staffers for missing work during snowstorms

The District's largest private hospital has fired 11 nurses and five support staff members who failed to make it to work during the back-to-back snowstorms that paralyzed the region earlier this month.

Dozens of staff members at Washington Hospital Center face internal investigations, union representatives say, and it is unclear how many employees will lose their jobs. On Friday, the nurses union, Nurses United of the National Capital Region, filed a class-action grievance with the hospital.

"I see it as so unfair and uncaring," said Shirley Ricks, a 57-year-old nurse who has spent her entire career at the hospital. "That's it. You call in one day in the biggest snowstorm in history and you're out. No ifs, ands or buts about it. . . . You go from getting a salary every two weeks to nothing. It's scary."

In a letter sent to the staff on Friday, hospital President Harry J. Rider sought to quell rumors that hundreds of people had been fired. He said he expects fewer than 20 people will be dismissed.

"Sadly, we did experience some issue with associates who did not show the same commitment as most of their co-workers to the community, our patients and their fellow associates. They are the few who turned away from their scheduled shifts and who tried -- and are still trying -- to turn the focus on themselves rather than the thousands of Washington Hospital Center workers who fulfilled their commitment to their patients and colleagues, and made it to work," he wrote.

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WM3 48 Hours Follow Up, and Question about Obama and Taxes

A few days ago I posted about the episode about the West Memphis 3 that 48 Hours Mystery was going to airing. Here's the episode, for anyone wanted to see it but didn't:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

What do you guys think? I'm just now watching it, I haven't seen the end yet.

Also, I have a question about Obama and people's 2009 tax returns. I've had several people claim to me that there returns are smaller this year, and that this is Obama's fault, but I've had a lot of trouble finding factual information to back up these claims/rebut them. Can someone help me understand what effect, if any, Obama's policies had on tax returns this year?

More news from Chile... :(

Rescuers Dig for Chile Quake Survivors as Looting Erupts

CONCEPCION, Chile (Reuters) - Chilean rescuers used shovels and sledgehammers on Sunday to find survivors of a huge earthquake in Chile that unleashed a Pacific tsunami and triggered looting by desperate and hungry residents.

Saturday's quake, one of the most powerful in a century, killed more than 300 people and devastated homes and highways, dealing a heavy blow to infrastructure in the world's No. 1 copper producer and one of Latin America's most stable economies.

In the hard-hit city of Concepcion, about 100 people were feared trapped in a ruined apartment building and police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a crowd of looters carrying off food and electrical appliances from a supermarket.

Two million people in Chile were affected by the 8.8-magnitude temblor, said President Michelle Bachelet, who added that it would take officials several days to evaluate the "enormous quantity of damage."

Crushed cars, fallen power lines and rubble from wrecked buildings littered the streets of Concepcion, which has 670,000 inhabitants and lies 70 miles southwest of the quake's epicenter.

A string of strong aftershocks have rocked the country and strong one shook buildings in the capital, Santiago, early on Sunday. Thousands of Concepcion residents camped out in tents or makeshift shelters, fearing fresh tremors.

Firefighters used drills and shovels to search for signs of life in the rubble and battled to free dozens of people believed trapped in a collapsed apartment building.

"We spent the whole night working, smashing through walls to find survivors. The biggest problem is fuel, we need fuel for our machinery and water for our people," Commander Marcelo Plaza said.
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This is getting really Katrina-esque, especially since I've been hearing reports about a) the army/government not helping people fast enough and b) the newspapers only focusing on the looting, rather than on other more important things.

Also, here are some really moving photos from the earthquake

try and stop us

Ayn Rand inspires Right-Wing leaders and loved a serial killer

Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer
Today her works treated as gospel by right-wing powerhouses like Alan Greenspan and Clarence Thomas, but Ayn Rand found early inspiration in 1920's murderer William Hickman.

February 26, 2010

There's something deeply unsettling about living in a country where millions of people froth at the mouth at the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don't have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing bedrock social programs like Social Security or Medicare. It might not be as hard to stomach if other Western countries also had a large, vocal chunk of the population who thought like this, but the US is seemingly the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor. Where do they find their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude?

It turns out, you can trace much of this thinking back to Ayn Rand, a popular cult-philosopher who exerts a huge influence over much of the right-wing and libertarian crowd, but whose influence is only starting to spread out of the US.
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No, I didn't bold. It's an interesting read. What say you ONTD_P?

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le petit prince

Noose found at UCSD triggers probe and protest

For those of you keeping up with the story that's been developing at UCSD during the past week or two:

On a campus already facing racial tensions, UC San Diego police said Friday that they were investigating the discovery of a noose hanging from a library bookcase and questioning a student who may be responsible.

The probe will look into whether the noose -- which was seen by some as a symbol of lynching meant to intimidate African Americans on the campus -- was connected to recent racially charged incidents and subsequent protests at UCSD.

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Hundreds march in support of gay men attacked downtown

Trailing a banner that read "Austin March Against Hate," hundreds of people walked from a downtown gay bar to City Hall on Saturday to retrace the path of two gay men who were attacked last weekend.

"Ignorance is not the way. Fear is not the answer. Love will conquer hate," one of the victims, Emmanuel Winston, told the crowd. "Hate will not be tolerated, and we will not be silenced."

Winston and Matthew Morgan said they were walking to a City Hall parking garage from Oilcan Harry's on Feb. 20 when four men followed and assaulted them.

Winston and Morgan said they were wearing jerseys from the "Shady Ladies," a gay softball league, and that the attackers used slurs about their sexual orientation.

Police Chief Art Acevedo attended the rally Saturday and said police were still investigating the attack and that it will be up to prosecutors to decide whether there is enough evidence to charge the suspects with a hate crime.

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Obama signs one-year extension of Patriot Act

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has signed a one-year extension of several provisions in the nation's main counterterrorism law, the Patriot Act.

Provisions in the measure would have expired on Sunday without Obama's signature Saturday.

The act, which was adopted in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, expands the government's ability to monitor Americans in the name of national security.

Three sections of the Patriot Act that stay in force will:

_Authorize court-approved roving wiretaps that permit surveillance on multiple phones.

_Allow court-approved seizure of records and property in anti-terrorism operations.

_Permit surveillance against a so-called lone wolf, a non-U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.

Obama's signature comes after the House voted 315 to 97 Thursday to extend the measure.

The Senate also approved the measure, with privacy protections cast aside when Senate Democrats lacked the necessary 60-vote supermajority to pass them. Thrown away were restrictions and greater scrutiny on the government's authority to spy on Americans and seize their records.


"Espresso shots! Not gun shots!"

At Starbucks, Gun Owners Push Right To Bear Arms

Dale Welch recently walked into a Starbucks in Virginia, handgun strapped to his waist, and ordered a banana Frappuccino with a cinnamon bun. He says the firearm drew a double-take from at least one customer, but not a peep from the baristas.

Welch's foray into the coffeehouse was part of an effort by some gun owners to exercise and advertise their rights in states that allow people to openly carry firearms.

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Yeah. So. That happened. I'm just upset that I'm not allowed to surgically remove grizzly bears' arms, graft them onto my body, and claim protection under the 2nd Amendment.

(Via NPR. National Public Radio.)
stalin animated 2

Police enter Jerusalem holy site

Israeli police have clashed with Palestinian protesters at the Jerusalem compound housing one of the Islam's holiest sites, the al-Aqsa mosque.

Stonethrowers in the Old City
There were also clashes elsewhere in the Old City area of Jerusalem

Police say they went into the compound to disperse some 20 masked protesters throwing stones at foreign tourists.

The Islamic body which oversees administration of the area disputes the police account of events.

This is the latest in a series of clashes amid high tensions over religious sites in the past week.

The Jerusalem compound also contains the Western Wall, a sacred site for Jews.

Clashes broke out in the West Bank town of Hebron on Friday over Israel's decision to list two disputed shrines as heritage sites.

Contested site

A Palestinian official said a group of youths had spent the night in the al-Aqsa mosque to prevent what they believed to be Jewish extremists from praying at the sensitive site.

Palestinians and Israelis were injured and several Palestinians were arrested in the brief confrontation on Sunday, police say.

An Israeli police spokesman said calm had been restored to the compound and visits resumed.

The spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said Muslim men under the age of 50 had been barred from the site, while older men, women of all ages and children had been permitted to enter.

The Jerusalem complex, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, has long been contested.

Clashes erupted at the site last September after Muslims threw stones at people they believed to be Jewish extremists trying to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque.

A visit to the compound in 2000 by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon, later prime minister, led to clashes that escalated into years of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The compound containing the mosque lies in Jerusalem's Old City, which has been controlled by Israel since they captured it in the 1967 war.

Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven from the spot in the complex marked by the Dome of the Rock.

The site is holy to Jews because it is where the First and Second Temples were built according to the Old Testament, with the Western Wall still remaining.


Significantly less exciting than raining men.

Source: http://www.news.com.au/national/its-raining-fish-in-the-northern-territory-report/story-e6frfkvr-1225835295781

It's raining fish in the Northern Territory - report
WHILE the Top End and Central Australia have been battered by torrential rains, a Territory town has reportedly had fish falling from the sky.

The freak phenomena happened not once, but twice, on Thursday and Friday afternoon about 6pm at Lajamanu, about 550km southwest of Katherine, The Northern Territory News reports.

Christine Balmer, who took the photos of the fish on the ground and in a bucket, said she had to pinch herself when she was told "hundreds and hundreds" of small white fish had fallen from the sky.

"It rained fish in Lajamanu on Thursday and Friday night," she said,

"They fell from the sky everywhere.

"Locals were picking them up off the footy oval and on the ground everywhere.

"These fish were alive when they hit the ground."

Mrs Balmer, the aged care co-ordinator at the Lajamanu Aged Care Centre, said her family interstate thought she had lost the plot when she told them about the event.

"I haven't lost my marbles," she said, reassuring herself.

"Thank God it didn't rain crocodiles."

Lajamanu sits on the edge of the Tanami Desert, hundreds of kilometres from Lake Argyle and Lake Elliott and even further from the coast. But it's not the first time the remote community has been bombarded by fins from above.

In 2004, locals reported fish falling from the sky, and in 1974, a similar incident captured international headlines.

The small white fish are believed to be spangled perch, which are very common through much of northern Australia.

Weather bureau senior forecaster Ashley Patterson said the geological conditions were perfect on Friday for a tornado in the Douglas Daly region.

He said it would have been an ideal weather situation to allow the phenomena to occur - but no tornados have been reported to the authority.

"It's a very unusual event," he said.

"With an updraft, (fish and water picked up) could get up high - up to 60,000 or 70,000 feet.

"Or possibly from a tornado over a large water body - but we haven't had any reports," he said.

fishnet_hamster says: I remember reading about things like this in "weird and wacky" fact books when I was a kid. Isn't there a scientific explanation for this? All I'm finding are hypotheses.
yes i do

President's doc: 'excellent' health, cut the cholesterol

President Obama got a checkup Sunday, and his doctor liked what he found.

"The president is in excellent health and 'fit for duty,'" Dr. Jeff Kuhlman, a Navy captain and physician to the president wrote in his report. "All clinical data indicate that he will remain so for the duration of his presidency."

The doctor did recommend Obama change his eating habits a bit. "Recommend dietary modification to reduce LDL cholesterol below 130," Kuhlman wrote. The report lists Obama's LDL level at 138. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, is what's known as "bad" cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association.

Kuhlman noted that the 48-year-old president should keep up his efforts to stop smoking. Obama's medications include nicotine replacement therapy.

The 6-foot-1-inch president weighed in at 179.9 pounds with his shoes and workout attire on.

His body mass index (BMI) is 23.7. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that's in the upper end of the "normal" weight range. "Overweight" begins at 25.0.

The White House said Obama's doctor recommended his next physical take place in August of next year, when the president turns 50.

Source: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/02/28/presidents-doc-excellent-health-cut-the-cholesterol/?fbid=20XIVNyjIF0#more-92313