March 12th, 2010
Consumer Reports says seven infants have died suffocated in baby slings in the last 11 years, but the CPSC cautions the number may actually be higher.
Don Mays, of Consumer Reports, explains that the potential hazards of putting small babies -- especially newborns -- into bag-style slings arise because, "A very young infant's head will be folded forward. That cuts off the airway, and they essentially suffocate. Another problem could be if the baby's head could be nestled up against the carrier's body."
Between 2006 and 2008, sales for soft infant carriers rose 43 percent, to more than $21 million, reports CBS News Correspondent Elaine Quijano, but there are no federal safety standards covering sling-type carriers.
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The night before the parade, the postman brought a certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages that contained neither the dreaded ''M'' nor its equally despised cousin, ''F''.
Instead, it said ''sex not specified'', making the 48-year-old Sydneysider, who identifies as neuter and uses only a first name, the first in the state to be neither man nor woman in the eyes of the NSW government.
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Apparently, tax dollars helped fund Virginia’s budget-fixing move with overtime for the state troopers being paid via a federal grant.
Of the 7,016 traffic tickets, 3,536 were speeding tickets. Most troopers issued 717 citations for reckless driving, “judgment call” ticket that can be handed out for speeding as little as 10 or 15 mph over the speed limit. The ticket comes with a eye-popping fine of as much as $2,500.
Speaking about the two day ticketing spree, Colonel W. Steven Flaherty of Virginia State Police said that “it is discouraging to see so many motorists on our interstates putting themselves and others at risk by failing to comply with speed limits, to buckle up, and to drive sober.”
On a side note, Virginia’s road fatalities are down 20 percent this year alone.
"I'm the taxman and you are working for no one but me. If you drive a car I'll tax the street."
Meet these members of the Coffee Party Movement, an organically grown, freshly brewed push that's marking its official kickoff Saturday. Across the country, even around the globe, they and other Americans in at least several hundred communities are expected to gather in coffeehouses to raise their mugs of java to something new.
They're professionals, musicians and housewives. They're frustrated liberal activists, disheartened conservatives and political newborns. They're young and old, rich and poor, black, white and all shades of other.
,b>Born on Facebook just six weeks ago, the group boasts more than 110,000 fans, as of Friday morning. The Coffee Party is billed by many as an answer to the Tea Party (more than 1,000 fewer fans), a year-old protest movement that's steeped in fiscal conservatism and boiling-hot, anti-tax rhetoric.</b>
This new group calls for civility, objects to obstructionism and demands that politicians be held accountable to the people who put them in office.
"The government has become so broken that the will of the people has been lost in the political game," said Stacey Hopkins, 46, coordinator of the Atlanta, Georgia, chapter. "And the only voices you're hearing are the ones of those who are screaming the loudest. They have a right to their views, but they don't have the right to speak for all Americans."
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Also, my favorite comment from the source page: 'IT TOOK HOW LONG TO GET A FAIR STORY ABOUT THE TEA PARTY????? THESE MORONS GET FRONT PAGE AFTER MEETING A FEW TIMES IN JUST 6 WEEKS...CNN YOU ARE FOOLING NOONE...THIS LAME ATTEMPT AT DIMINISHING THE TEA PARTY BEFORE THEY HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THEIR GOALS IS FRANKLY JUVENILE...YOU ARE SLOWLY CATCHING MSNBC AS THE WORST NEWS ORG OUT THERE...KEEP DRINKING THE KOOL AID..'
;___; It's obviously these officers are struggling. I hope they start a readjustment program ASAP because until then these officers are a danger to themselves and to others in their current mental states :(.
x-posted to psych_article
Poodle, Glenn Beck at center of Facebook fight
You don't hear the words "poodle," "tinfoil hat," and First Amendment in the same sentence often, but they are indeed linked in a classic Facebook melodrama.
Dale Blank runs a Facebook page devoted to accumulating as many fans as possible for a farcical picture of a beloved poodle named Bitsy sporting a tin hat -- perhaps a bit like the one you might mentally draw on someone who was espousing tiresome conspiracy theories.
Blank's intentionally clumsy Photoshop job, and his quest for fans, has a specific target -- Fox News broadcaster Glenn Beck. On Feb. 8, Blank created the page with the stated intention of proving that his tin-hatted poodle could accumulate more Facebook fans than Beck, a favorite among conservative talk-show fans.
Within a week, thanks to several bumps from the blogosphere, the poodle was well on his way, claiming nearly 300,000 fans -- and enjoying logarithmic growth. Beck's page stands at about 500,000.
(Full disclosure: both easily dwarf the Bob Sullivan fan page, which sits at a modest 3,400. Take from that what you will).
But on Feb. 18, the Facebook police arrived and broke up the party. Blank's page wasn't removed, but it was "publish-blocked." He could no longer post updates or solicit fans in other Facebook ways. The fan-base growth ground to a halt.
That put the tin-hatted poodle at the center of a dispute over First Amendment free speech rights and censorship. There were virtual howls that Facebook was actively siding with Glen Beck over the Poodle, that perhaps someone at Facebook was siding with the conservatives, or at least had developed a hatred for left-wing sarcasm.
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In a letter to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens) criticized the NYPD's policy of saving personal information of people who are stopped and questioned but not charged with any wrongdoing.
Compiling such information in a database "raises significant privacy-right concerns and suggests that these innocent people are more likely to be targeted in future criminal investigations," they wrote.
Quinn and Vallone, who is chairman of the Council's Public Safety Committee and whose father is former Speaker Peter Vallone, asked Kelly to explain when cops are allowed to search the database. They also asked for specific examples of when information from the database was helpful in cracking a case.
"They make some interesting points that Commissioner Kelly is considering," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said in an e-mail.
Browne said the database is not made public and is used by detectives for investigations.
The NYPD announced last month that it stopped and questioned more people last year - 575,304 - than in any year since a 2001 law forced it to report the data.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2010/03/11/2010-03-11_nypd_stopfrisk_policy_feels_council_heat.html
This week, the Rev. Jim Wallis, a liberal evangelical leader in Washington, D.C., called on Christians to leave Glenn Beck.
“What he has said attacks the very heart of our Christian faith, and Christians should no longer watch his show,” Mr. Wallis, who heads the antipoverty group Sojourners, wrote on his “God’s Politics” blog. “His show should now be in the same category as Howard Stern.”
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SF mayor Newsom to run for CA lieutenant governor
By JASON DEAREN, Associated Press Writer
(03-12) 11:53 PST San Francisco (AP) --
After dropping out of the gubernatorial race last year, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he is running for lieutenant governor.
Newsom's announcement wasn't a surprise — he filed papers Feb. 17 with the secretary of state, a necessary step to run again for a statewide office. But he had refused to confirm his candidacy until Friday's deadline.
"Like many, I've openly questioned whether the office of LG is the right place to lead a reform movement that has the power to shake up Sacramento," he said in a statement Friday.
"But, as I've opened my mind ... I'm more convinced than ever that the broad, informal portfolio of the office allows our Lieutenant Governor the freedom and platform to engage on any issue, from the ground up, without being distracted or deterred by the usual Sacramento power plays or bureaucratic turf battles."
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He better stay in this race this time.
Italians fed up with the political parties on offer have begun their own pressure group, the Purple People Movement.
Supporters, who wear purple, say Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has brought shame on the country with a series of scandals, while the official opposition is doing little to tackle the problem.
Duncan Kennedy reports from Rome.
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By David Leonhardt
I put this together on Tuesday, with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It shows the price of different foods and beverages over the last three decades. The price of each food or beverage is set equal to 1 in January 1978, and the chart then shows how the price has changed since then.
It’s a fairly striking pattern. Unhealthful foods, with the exceptions of cookies (the blue line), have gotten a lot cheaper. Relative to the price of everything else in the economy, sodas (the orange line) are 33 percent cheaper than they were in 1978. Butter (dark brown) is 29 percent cheaper. Beer (gray) is 15 percent cheaper.
Fish (the yellow line), by contrast, is 2 percent more expensive. Vegetables (purple) are 41 percent more expensive. Fruits (green) are 46 percent more expensive.
The price of oranges, to take one extreme example (not shown in the chart), has more than doubled, relative to everything else. So if in 1978, a bag of oranges cost the same as one big bottle of soda, today that bag costs the same as three big bottles of soda.
In my column this morning, I mention that the average 18-year-old today is 15 pounds heavier than the average 18 year-old in the late 1970s. Adults have put on even more weight during that period. The average woman in her 60s is 20 pounds heavier than the average 60-something woman in the late 1970s. The average man in his 60s is 25 pounds heavier. When you look at the chart, you start to understand why.
It’s Official: Women of Color Feel Impact of Racial Wealth Gap The Worst
It always helps to have research to confirm what you already know about racial inequity in America. But occasionally, even when the news is not new, the findings turn out to be appallingly dire, shocking even to the sensibilities of cynical people who find it hard to be surprised anymore. (That would be this blogger.)
Such is the case with the latest report on women of color and the racial wealth gap from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, released yesterday, on International Women’s Day.
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Texas Board of Education cuts Thomas Jefferson out of its textbooks.
The Texas Board of Education has been meeting this week to revise its social studies curriculum. During the past three days, “the board’s far-right faction wielded their power to shape lessons on the civil rights movement, the U.S. free enterprise system and hundreds of other topics”:
– To avoid exposing students to “transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else,” the Board struck the curriculum’s reference to “sex and gender as social constructs.”As the nation’s second-largest textbook market, Texas has enormous leverage over publishers, who often “craft their standard textbooks based on the specs of the biggest buyers.” Indeed, as The Washington Monthly has reported, “when it comes to textbooks, what happens in Texas rarely stays in Texas.”
– The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”
– The Board refused to require that “students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others.”
– The Board struck the word “democratic” from the description of the U.S. government, instead terming it a “constitutional republic.”
Pardons pushed for Kentuckians convicted of helping slaves escape
FRANKFORT — The Rev. Calvin Fairbank spent 17 years in a Kentucky prison — suffering beatings and brutal labor — for committing the felony of helping slaves escape to freedom. Released in 1864, a broken man, he kissed the dirt of Ohio upon reaching that free state.
"Out of the jaws of Hell!" Fairbank cried, according to his autobiography.
In the 19th century, Kentucky convicted at least 58 people for "seducing or enticing slaves to leave their lawful owners." Defendants faced 20 years in the Kentucky State Penitentiary, where some died. One, David C. McDonald, was forgotten and languished in prison until 1870, five years after slavery was abolished.
Now, several men are working to clear the names of those — men and women, black and white — whose "crimes" today would be recognized as among mankind's finest acts.
They want Gov. Steve Beshear to issue pardons for the slave rescuers, albeit posthumously.
"I want to resurrect their names and deeds and give them their proper place in history," said James Prichard, 56, a retired state archivist who spent much of his career studying slavery in Kentucky.
Prichard is working with public defender Rodney Barnes and Barnes' intern Jared Schultze, both of whom are volunteering their time.
It was Barnes who first got the idea for pardons a few months ago after seeing a display at Frankfort's Capital City Museum that mentioned the crime of slave stealing. The Kentucky State Penitentiary, where most slave rescuers served their time, was in Frankfort, under the current State Office Building, until it was razed early in the 20th century.
Curious, Barnes contacted Prichard for his historical knowledge. With Schultze, poring over yellowed records, they have tried to assemble as much information as they can about the convicts — names, and if possible, ages, addresses and occupations.
Prichard said he dropped anyone from his list who seemed to have absconded with slaves not to take them to freedom but to resell them into bondage elsewhere. It happened, he said.
"I'm looking for people with pure intentions," said Prichard, who is writing a history of Frankfort during the Civil War for Frankfort Heritage Press.
There are hurdles. Everyone for whom they're seeking a pardon is dead, and no living descendants have announced themselves, so the usual application process to the governor's office must be amended, Barnes said.
Currently, convicted felons must apply to the governor for a pardon. But the Kentucky Constitution doesn't require that people ask for their own pardon. As long as somebody files an application, the governor has the power to grant it.
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The agency put in an order this month for 27 new short-barreled shotguns to replace some of its aging arsenal.
You didn't know that the Education Department had an arsenal?
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By John Blake, CNN
March 12, 2010 5:27 p.m. EST
(CNN) -- An evangelical leader is calling for a boycott of Glenn Beck's television show and challenging the Fox News personality to a public debate after Beck vilified churches that preach economic and social justice.
The Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a network of progressive Christians, says Beck perverted Jesus' message when he urged Christians last week to leave churches that preach social and economic justice.
Wallis says Beck compared those churches to Communists and Nazis.
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AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas State Board of Education agreed to new social studies standards on Friday after the far-right faction wielded its power to shape the lessons that will be taught to millions of students on American history, the U.S. free enterprise system, religion and other topics.
In a vote of 10-5, the board preliminarily adopted the new curriculum after days of charged debate marked by race and politics. In dozens of smaller votes passed over the three days, the ultra-conservatives who dominate the board nixed all but a few efforts to recognize the diversity of race and religion in Texas.
Decisions by the board — long led by the social conservatives who have advocated ideas such as teaching more about the weaknesses of evolutionary theory — affects textbook content nationwide because Texas is one of publishers' biggest clients.
As part of the new curriculum, the elected board — made up of lawyers, a dentist and a weekly newspaper publisher among others — rejected an attempt to ensure that children learn why the U.S. was founded on the principle of religious freedom.
But, it agreed to strengthen nods to Christianity by adding references to "laws of nature and nature's God" to a section in U.S. history that requires students to explain major political ideas.
They also agreed to strike the word "democratic" in references to the form of U.S. government, opting instead to call it a "constitutional republic."
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As he prepared to plead guilty in a criminal case, a Bronx man with family ties to two pols faces a civil suit over alleged abuse at a charter school he ran.
Richard Izquierdo Arroyo, grandson of an assemblywoman and a councilwoman's nephew, is accused of failing to protect a student allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted by a teacher.
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More @ NY Post:
Bronx teacher accused of forcing child to tell crush he is gay
A Bronx charter school is under fire from parents who say a teacher bullied kids -- and even forced one child to tell his crush, a girl, that he was gay.
According to court papers filed this week, the teacher, Jared Alessandroni, 29, threatened to "out" a straight 9-year-old boy, James Pastrana, to his class at the South Bronx Charter School for International Cultures and the Arts, unless James told his crush he was gay.
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In Africa, a step backward on human rights
By Desmond Tutu
Friday, March 12, 2010
Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity -- or because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care on any of these grounds. In my country of South Africa, we struggled for years against the evil system of apartheid that divided human beings, children of the same God, by racial classification and then denied many of them fundamental human rights. We knew this was wrong. Thankfully, the world supported us in our struggle for freedom and dignity.
It is time to stand up against another wrong.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God's family. And of course they are part of the African family. But a wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely charged and imprisoned in Senegal, and health services for these men and their community have suffered. In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships with other men. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic there for providing counseling services to all members of that community, because the clerics wanted gay men excluded.
Uganda's parliament is debating legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi.
These are terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.
Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear.
And they are living in hiding -- away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said "Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones." Gay people, too, are made in my God's image. I would never worship a homophobic God.
"But they are sinners," I can hear the preachers and politicians say. "They are choosing a life of sin for which they must be punished." My scientist and medical friends have shared with me a reality that so many gay people have confirmed, I now know it in my heart to be true. No one chooses to be gay. Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn't it amazing that we are all made in God's image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?
The wave of hate must stop. Politicians who profit from exploiting this hate, from fanning it, must not be tempted by this easy way to profit from fear and misunderstanding. And my fellow clerics, of all faiths, must stand up for the principles of universal dignity and fellowship. Exclusion is never the way forward on our shared paths to freedom and justice.
The writer is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.
Jim DeMint's bid to embrace tea party irks Senate GOP colleagues
Sen. Jim DeMint is making a bid to be the tea party movement’s best friend in Washington. It’s hardly a coincidence that the South Carolina Republican finds himself with few friends in his own workplace.
DeMint — ideological warrior, cable TV regular, possible 2012 presidential candidate — is trying to channel the anti-establishment passions roiling the conservative movement while serving in the U.S. Senate, which even in a more raffish age of politics still counts as the most establishmentarian institution in American life.
Examples of his senatorial poor form keep growing. DeMint has refused to endorse some of his fellow Republican senators facing intraparty challenges from the right. He openly backs some candidates opposed by his party’s Senate leadership. And he is unabashed in announcing that the best way to win influence in the Senate is not by making friends and patiently massaging the legislative process but by exerting public pressure from activists and the media to bear on his colleagues.
Not surprisingly, his colleagues don’t especially like it. Many GOP senators privately scoff at DeMint as a showboating opportunist and a pain in certain parts of the anatomy. Even in on-the-record interviews, some Republican senators said that DeMint does not appreciate the need for a successful party to widen its ideological and geographic base beyond the deeply conservative Southern state he represents.
DeMint said he is unapologetic about rocking the boat.
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WASHINGTON — The vaccine additive thimerosal is not to blame for autism, a special federal court ruled Friday in a long-running battle by parents convinced there is a connection.
While expressing sympathy for the parents involved in the emotionally charged cases, the court concluded they had failed to show a connection between the mercury-containing preservative and autism.
"Such families must cope every day with tremendous challenges in caring for their autistic children, and all are deserving of sympathy and admiration," special master George Hastings Jr. wrote.
But, he added, Congress designed the victim compensation program only for families whose injuries or deaths can be shown to be linked to a vaccine and that has not been done in this case.
The ruling came in the so-called vaccine court, a special branch of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims established to handle claims of injury from vaccines. It can be appealed in federal court.
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This of course won't sway the anti-vaccine movement and I fully expect them to try again but it's a set back.
The UK ranks 26th in the world for mothers' deaths in childbirth, with the US coming in at 41st.
The death rate of women giving birth in the US is worse than in 40 other countries, including nearly all the industrialised countries, Amnesty International said today in a report that describes the country's approach to maternity care as "disgraceful and scandalous".
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the likelihood of a woman dying in childbirth in the US is five times greater than in Greece.
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By Adar Primor
In exclusive interview, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva tells Haaretz it's time for more serious Israel-Palestinian talks.
SAO PAULO, Brazil - President Lula of Brazil, who in October (make it December) will conclude his second term in office (and his last permitted by the state's constitution), is the most popular head of state in the country's history. His popularity rating stands at about 80 percent, and the universal consensus is that it's simply impossible not to like him. Even Brazilians who did not vote for him find him likable.
The reason becomes clear when Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - his full name, which no one uses - enters the room. He smiles in all directions. In addition to the two Israeli journalists present, the third guest is a reporter for ANBA news agency, run by the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce. Impartiality is the name of the game. Lula, as he is universally known, has to be loved by all. His visit to the Middle East next week will begin in Israel but will also take him to the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. And now he has a problem: Who will get to ask the first question? He decides to solve this by having us shoot for evens or odds. Amusing himself, he does this four times; only after the result is overwhelmingly clear does he declare the winner: Haaretz.
Lula was one of the first leaders to host President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after Iran's blood-stained election of June 2009. Brazil was also one of only five countries to abstain from an International Atomic Energy Agency vote last November on a condemnation of Iran.
He is set to visit the Islamic Republic in May, where his hosts will repay him in kind for the red carpet he laid out for them in Brasilia last November. When asked how he'll be able to win over the Israelis, whose vantage point is related to the trauma of the Holocaust, Lula replies: "I spoke with the president of Iran and made it clear to him that he cannot go on saying that he wants Israel's liquidation, just as it is untenable for him to deny the Holocaust, which is a legacy of all humanity. I added that the fact that he has differences with Israel does not allow him to deny or ignore history."
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Whoever wrote this doesn't know much about Brazil but I'm posting it basically because Lula's position on Iran has been
Students at Natomas Middle School in Sacramento are well aware that an Internet Web site known as Power School is helping parents keep tabs on them.
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