March 16th, 2010

normal

Dubai Continues Crack Down on Acts of Sexual Depravity! The Horror!

Sexual Acts of Depravity Shocks Capitalist Paradise: Perverted Non-believer Depraved Sex Offenders To Be Executed Sent to Jail. Dubai Still Recovering From Last Traumatic Experience.

Tourist Couple Jailed For Kissing In Dubai

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A British couple is appealing a jail sentence after being accused of sharing a passionate kiss in a Dubai restaurant.

Cosmopolitan Dubai has the most lenient social codes in the Gulf, but authorities can still crack down on people charged with pushing the limits.

Ayman Najifi, a Briton working in Dubai, and a female tourist were arrested in November after a complaint about public kissing. They were convicted of inappropriate behavior and other charges – bringing a month in jail.

The couple says it was just a "peck on the cheek." A court Sunday set the appeal for April 4.

In 2008, two Britons were sentenced to three months in jail for what authorities described as sex on the beach. The sentences were suspended.
The Gang

The world's shortest man, He Pingping, dies aged 22

The world's shortest man, He Pingping, who was just 74.6cm (2ft 5in) tall, has died in Rome.

He was born in 1988 in Wulanchabu, China, with a form of primordial dwarfism, and was officially recognised as the world's shortest man in 2008.

He was admitted to hospital two weeks ago after suffering a chest complaint and died on Saturday, but his death has only just been announced.

Guinness World Records said he had made a "huge impact around the world".

"From the moment I laid on eyes on him I knew he was someone special - he had such a cheeky smile and mischievous personality, you couldn't help but be charmed by him," said Craig Glenday, Guinness World Records editor-in-chief.

"For such a small man, he made a huge impact around the world," he added.

Mr He was in the Italian capital to take part in the filming of a television programme called The Record Show.

According to the TV production company Europroduzione, he had already filmed two episodes of the programme when he complained of feeling unwell.

"He started to feel slightly ill and we decided to take him to hospital. He entered hospital two weeks ago and had all kinds of tests, being a very special person he had to go though all sorts of tests. He went into intensive care three days after he was admitted," said Marco Fernandez de Araoz, communications director for Europroduzione.

He said that Mr He died on Saturday afternoon and, at the request of his family, his body would be returned to China to be buried.

Video at Source

Chibis- Good Omens MSNBC style

BRAVE TANNED INDIVIDUAL EXPLAINS GAY MARRIAGE EQUALS HORSE MARRIAGE COMMENT...to Rachel Maddow

Last night, J.D. Hayworth, the republican/teaparty challenger to McCain's senate seat went on Rachel Maddow to discuss his use of Jack Abramoff and his attempts to link Massachusetts' allowance of gay marriage to the marriage of men and horses.

Apparently, J.D. Hayworth believes facts have a liberal bias....


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy





Also, the link to the original Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling, so you can play along at home: http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/conlaw/goodridge111803opn.pdf

Bonus drinking game: drink each time he says Rachel. Or interrupts. Or pretends that facts don't matter. Or suggests she doesn't ever do research. Chug when he ends his own interview.
panda bear

(no subject)

Iran Bans Reform Party



President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hard-line government said Monday it has banned Iran's largest pro-reform political party in a new strike against an opposition movement that has largely been swept from the streets since last year's postelection turmoil.

Keeping the pressure on elsewhere, dozens of government-supporters descended on the home of Mahdi Karroubi, one of the main opposition leaders, on Sunday night, shouting slogans against him and vandalizing his property.

Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in June ignited Iran's opposition, first in challenging the legitimacy of the official vote results and then in confronting the entire ruling system for supporting him and killing protesters. Besides the crackdown in the streets, authorities responded with a mass trial of pro-reform leaders and activists, restrictions on journalists and a campaign to choke off hundreds of opposition Web sites.

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Six Protesters To Be Put To Death

Six people arrested in December protests will be put to death, Iranian authorities announced Monday, in what appeared to be strong warning to the opposition ahead of a traditional annual celebration.

The tradition, the Feast of Fire, goes back thousands of years to Zoroastrian times and has been banned in Iran in recent decades because of its non-Islamic roots. The opposition had called for its celebration this year as a sign of protest.

The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a decree saying the feast “has no religious basis and is harmful and must be avoided,” the government Web site reported.

The celebration includes jumping over fires in the evening, followed by the Iranian version of trick-or-treating, when young people cover themselves head to toe in chadors and bang spoons on pots as they knock on neighbors’ doors for candy. Two men who had also received death sentences for their part in the December protests were executed last month, just ahead of another holiday, the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

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franklin sherman

Federal agencies haven't lived up to President Barack Obama's promise of a more open government,

PROMISES, PROMISES: Is gov't more open with Obama?

WASHINGTON – Federal agencies haven't lived up to President Barack Obama's promise of a more open government, increasing their use of legal exemptions to keep records secret during his first year in office.

An Associated Press review of Freedom of Information Act reports filed by 17 major agencies found that the use of nearly every one of the law's nine exemptions to withhold information from the public rose in fiscal year 2009, which ended last October.

Among the most frequently used exemptions: one that lets the government hide records that detail its internal decision-making. Obama specifically directed agencies to stop using that exemption so frequently, but that directive appears to have been widely ignored.

Major agencies cited that exemption at least 70,779 times during the 2009 budget year, up from 47,395 times during President George W. Bush's final full budget year, according to annual FOIA reports filed by federal agencies. Obama was president for nine months in the 2009 period.

Departments used the exemption more even though Obama's Justice Department told agencies to that disclosing such records was "fully consistent with the purpose of the FOIA," a law intended to keep government accountable to the public.

For example, the Federal Aviation Administration cited the exemption in refusing the AP's FOIA request for internal memos on its decisions about a database showing incidents in which airplanes and birds collided. The FAA initially tried to withhold the bird-strike database from the public, but later released it under pressure.

The FAA claimed the same exemption to hold back nearly all records on its approval of an Air Force One flyover of New York City for publicity shots — a flight that prompted fears in the city of a Sept. 11-style attack. It also withheld internal communications during the aftermath of the public relations gaffe.

In all, major agencies cited that or other FOIA exemptions to refuse information at least 466,872 times in budget year 2009, compared with 312,683 times the previous year, the review found. Agencies often cite more than one exemption when withholding part or all of the material sought in an open-records request.

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Eli

Eric Massa Causes Conflicted Emotions

The day ‘frak’ entered our political discourse




A Euler diagram from Ana Marie Cox's post on the subject.




Former Democratic Rep. Eric Massa’s bizarre explanations for his departure from Congress have been an endless source of entertainment this week. Any conspiracy involving health care reform, nude Rahm Emanuel, tickle fights, and Navy rituals likened to Caligula is just too good to be true. But what I love most is that because Massa first claimed the extent of his inappropriate behavior was grabbing a male staffer and saying “What I really ought to be doing is frakking you,” the sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica’s fictional profanity is now being used on the nightly news.


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I know this is slightly old, but I couldn't find it posted before.
Citadel

TAMPONS, ROSE, TAMPONS TAMPONS TAMPONS

A COMMERCIAL for U by Kotex, a new line from the 90-year-old feminine care brand, opens with an actress in her early 20s who says, “How do I feel about my period? I love it.”

She continues, “Sometimes I just want to run on a beach,” as footage shows a woman running along the shore. “Usually, by the third day, I really just want to dance,” she says, to footage of women dancing ecstatically. As blue liquid is poured on a pad in another clip, she concludes, “The ads on TV are really helpful because they use that blue liquid, and I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s what’s supposed to happen.’ ”

The spot, by the New York office of JWT, which is a part of WPP, closes with the text, “Why are tampon ads so ridiculous?” along with the campaign tagline, “Break the cycle,” before finally showing the new line of tampons, pads and liners. The commercial was scheduled to appear on television for the first time Monday.

The clips mocked in the spot are actually from Kotex commercials, some shown within the last year in the United States or Europe.

“We are guilty, so it’s not that Kotex is any different,” said Andrew Meurer, vice president for North American feminine, adult and senior care for Kotex’s parent company, Kimberly-Clark. “We’re turning the light on ourselves, and we’re not saying, look at what other people do. We’re saying look at what we’ve done in the past, which typifies everyone in the category.”

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Source.
Rainbow

The FBI "likes this"

I thought it was an interesting article in regards to private/public internet investigations.  The headline is misleading because the article seems to imply --but doesn't directly state-- that the FBI can peek in on any Facebook, Myspace or LinkedIN account without  a warrant.  I suspect it's not so much if you break the law but if you're suspected of breaking the law- that teh FBI will "friend" You. But something seems ... fishy to me. The article says The FBI etc is creating false identities, thus implying that the suspect would have to add them and it's not total invasion of privacy -  but why do I doubt that's how it happens?  It's noteworthy that Twitter is the only company that demands a warrant (but most people set their Twitter to public and can't deleted Tweets be found anyway?)

Break the law and your new 'friend' may be the FBI

Source Yahoooooooooo RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The Feds are on Facebook. And MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, too.

U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that offers a tantalizing glimpse of issues related to privacy and crime-fighting.

Think you know who's behind that "friend" request? Think again. Your new "friend" just might be the FBI.

The document, obtained in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, makes clear that U.S. agents are already logging on surreptitiously to exchange messages with suspects, identify a target's friends or relatives and browse private information such as postings, personal photographs and video clips.

Among other purposes: Investigators can check suspects' alibis by comparing stories told to police with tweets sent at the same time about their whereabouts. Online photos from a suspicious spending spree — people posing with jewelry, guns or fancy cars — can link suspects or their friends to robberies or burglaries.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, obtained the Justice Department document when it sued the agency and five others in federal court. The 33-page document underscores the importance of social networking sites to U.S. authorities. The foundation said it would publish the document on its Web site on Tuesday.
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bg-fieldtrip

Wow.....Looks like the big guns are continuing to weigh in on DADT

David Petraeus On DADT: 'The Time Has Come'

CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus came to the meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee preparing to deliver an "eight-minute statement" expressing his personal feelings about the repeal of the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. Unfortunately, Senator Carl Levin, who chaired the committee, put the kibosh on those plans, citing time constraints. Instead Petraeus simply told the committee that "the time has come" to give a repeal some due consideration. Petraeus endorsed the ongoing review of the matter that commenced at the direction of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

PETRAEUS: I believe the time has come to consider a change to Don't Ask, Don't Tell. But I think it should be done in a thoughtful and deliberative matter that should include the conduct of the review that Secretary Gates has directed that would consider the views in the force on the change of policy. It would include an assessment of the likely effects on recruiting, retention, morale and cohesion and would include an identification of what policies might be needed in the event of a change and recommend those polices as well.

 
Of Levin's decision to disallow Petraeus's longer statement, The Hill's Roxana Tiron reports:

Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) did not allow Petraeus to deliver his statement after ranking member Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked the general whether he believed thorough review was necessary before "Don't ask, don't tell" was repealed. Levin's reason: the committee rule on Tuesday was only a six-minute round of questions and answers for each senator.

Petraeus averred that repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is "not a sound-bite issue," so it's unfortunate that this is where we're left today.

Back on February 21 of this year, Petraeus took up the matter with David Gregory on "Meet The Press":

GREGORY: Do you think soldiers on the ground in the field care one way or the other if their comrade in arms are gay or lesbian?

PETRAEUS: I'm not sure that they do. ... You heard Gen. Powell who was the chairman when the policy was implemented, had a big hand in that, who said that yes, indeed, the earth has revolved around the sun a number of times since that period 15 months ago. You have heard a variety of anecdotal input. We have experienced certainly in the CIA and the FBI -- I know, I served, in fact, in combat with individuals who were gay and who were lesbian in combat situations. Frankly, you know, over time you said, hey, how's this guy shooting or how is her analysis or what have you?

In previous hearings, Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral Mike Mullen took a very firm stance against "Don't Ask Don't Tell", calling for its repeal and telling the Armed Services Committee that it was an issue that "came down to integrity."


Source
The Gang

Thai red-shirts splash blood in anti-government protest

Thailand's red-shirt demonstrators have splashed blood under the gates of Government House in a protest against a leadership they say is illegitimate.

Earlier the protesters lined up to donate their blood, as the anti-government rallies entered a third day.

So far the protests have remained peaceful and both sides say they want to avoid violence.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Monday rejected a demand from protesters to quit and call elections.

The stand-off is the latest in a deep political schism in the country linked to the 2006 military coup which deposed former leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

Tens of thousands of security forces remain on standby and army leaders say they plan to be flexible and gentle with the demonstrators as their protests continue.

In Bangkok, red-shirt leader Veera Musikapong was the first to donate blood for the protest.

"This blood is a sacrificial offering. To show our love for the nation, to show our sincerity," he said.

"If Abhisit is still stubborn, even though he does not have blood on his hands, his feet will be bloodied with our curses," another leader, Nattawut Saikur, said.

As night fell, protesters converged on Government House. Police allowed a group of them to approach the gates and splash the blood, a gesture shown on national television.

Not all of the blood has been used. Red-shirt leaders said more would be poured at other sites if their demands were not met.

Health officials, the Red Cross and even the protesters' figurehead, Mr Thaksin, expressed concern about how hygienic the mass blood donation was.

But the protesters, including several monks, brushed off the concerns.

"We have three tents for blood donations. All people who conduct the blood drawing will be doctors, nurses or other qualified people who came here voluntarily," said senior red shirt leader, Dr Weng Tojilakarn, who normally runs his own medical practice.

Somsak Janprasert, a retired railway official from Bangkok, told AFP news agency that he was donating blood because he wanted a democracy.

"This is a very symbolic way to express that our blood, the people's blood, is power," he said.

For its part, the government remains quiet on the sidelines.

A cabinet meeting scheduled for Tuesday appears to have been cancelled, and calls from members of Mr Abhisit's coalition for a parliamentary hearing have been ignored.

Mr Abhisit, meanwhile, said the government was making every effort to avoid confrontation.

"I want to insist that there was an attempt to create conflict and the government has proved that it will not use violent means against the protesters," he said.

"The symbolic event they are talking about is bloodshed, but that is not correct. It is not as if the government is trying to use violence to create bloodshed, it's not the case at all."

The protest, led by red-shirted supporters of Mr Thaksin has been one of the largest in recent years, although the BBC's Rachel Harvey, at the scene, says the numbers appear to be dwindling.

The protesters say the present government was installed illegally after Mr Thaksin was ousted in a military coup in 2006, and two subsequent allied governments were deposed by court action.

On Sunday they held a mass rally in central Bangkok.

Local newspapers have reported that protests were also being held in several northern provinces to coincide with the Bangkok actions.

Warning: Video at Source contains graphic images

Why our kids won't go to kindergarten By Andrew O'Hehir

Like many home-schooling families, we saw an educational system plagued by tests, drills, busywork and flawed ideas

About a year ago, a friend of my wife's was touring the kindergarten classroom at her local school, in a middle-class, racially mixed New York neighborhood. She noticed the lack of blocks, craft supplies, sand or water tables, a puppet theater -- things she remembered from her own year in kindergarten, long ago. The teacher shook his head firmly. "They played with that stuff in pre-K," he said. "In kindergarten, they're here to work."

I have no doubt that the teacher thought that was the right answer, and for some parents it might have been. Our friend ended up deciding to home-school her son, which is how Leslie, my wife, met her in the first place. But that isn't the moral of the story. One isolated anecdote has no larger social relevance, and, believe it or not, I don't mean to use it as an evangelical tool.

As I began to document last fall, Leslie is currently home-schooling our twins -- Nini and Desmond, who are now almost 6 -- through kindergarten, and probably into first grade. (Beyond that, it's anybody's guess.) It seems clear from a variety of statistical and anecdotal evidence that home schooling has grown rapidly in recent years, and that includes what I call secular home schooling, meaning home schooling not primarily motivated by religious or moral concerns.

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Mods: I deleted the one I had posted before and resubmitted it. This font should work better. TIA!
[AC] O RLY?

Hipsters gotta eat too



Hipsters on food stamps
They're young, they're broke, and they pay for organic salmon with government subsidies. Got a problem with that?



In the John Waters-esque sector of northwest Baltimore -- equal parts kitschy, sketchy, artsy and weird -- Gerry Mak and Sarah Magida sauntered through a small ethnic market stocked with Japanese eggplant, mint chutney and fresh turmeric. After gathering ingredients for that evening's dinner, they walked to the cash register and awaited their moments of truth.

"I have $80 bucks left!" Magida said. "I'm so happy!"

"I have $12," Mak said with a frown.

The two friends weren't tabulating the cash in their wallets but what remained of the monthly allotment on their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program debit cards, the official new term for what are still known colloquially as food stamps.

Magida, a 30-year-old art school graduate, had been installing museum exhibits for a living until the recession caused arts funding -- and her usual gigs -- to dry up. She applied for food stamps last summer, and since then she's used her $150 in monthly benefits for things like fresh produce, raw honey and fresh-squeezed juices from markets near her house in the neighborhood of Hampden, and soy meat alternatives and gourmet ice cream from a Whole Foods a few miles away.

"I'm eating better than I ever have before," she told me. "Even with food stamps, it's not like I'm living large, but it helps."

Mak, 31, grew up in Westchester, graduated from the University of Chicago and toiled in publishing in New York during his 20s before moving to Baltimore last year with a meager part-time blogging job and prospects for little else. About half of his friends in Baltimore have been getting food stamps since the economy toppled, so he decided to give it a try; to his delight, he qualified for $200 a month.

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Brave Douchebag Endorses Elimination of Socialist Programs

Its Time for Poor Seniors Welfare Queens To Dust Off Their Bootstraps! Old Man Get a Jub!

Joe Scarborough endorses repealing parts of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. (Updated)

Today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, during a discussion on the health care bill currently being considered in Congress, host Joe Scarborough accused progressive contributor Lawrence O’Donnell of being an “avowed socialist, a eurosocialist.” O’Donnell sardonically reminded Scaborough that there is “not a single Republican socialist in the Congress who wants to repeal one sentence of our existing socialist program, in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.” To O’Donnell’s surprise, Scarborough quickly retorted, “Oh, I do“:

O’DONNELL: There’s not a single Republican socialist in the Congress who wants to repeal one sentence of our existing socialist program, in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

SCARBOROUGH: Oh, I do.

O’DONNELL: Oh, would you? Oh, OK.

Watch it:



Last fall, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) offered an amendment on the floor of the House of Representatives that would’ve eliminated Medicare. Not a single House Republican voted to repeal the program that their party has fought since its inception, despite the fact that it is, indeed, a single-payer, not-for-profit, “socialist” universal health care system for the elderly.

Update In a tweet, Scarborough writes, "@thinkprogress I do not support the repeal of SS, Medicare or Medicaid. Read my book 'The Last Best Hope' to see my views on entitlements." Scarborough emphasizes his support for repealing Bush's prescription drug program "until DC figures out how to pay the $7 Trillion bill."
 
Update In his book, Scarborough writes, "[L]et's face it. Any plan that saves Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will have to raise taxes, cut benefits, and conserve health care for Americans who are under 55." (p. 224)
covered-in-bees

That'll give you um......bees.


Bring On the Bees

New York City’s board of health voted Tuesday to lift a ban against beekeeping, legalizing the hives of hundreds of residents who have tended bees in defiance of the law.

The unanimous vote amends the health code to allow residents to keep hives of Apis mellifera, the common, nonaggressive honeybee. Beekeepers will be required to register with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and to adhere to appropriate practices. That means they must be able to control bee swarms and ensure that the hives do not interfere with pedestrians or neighbors.

“Can we dance here?” Jim Fischer, a beekeeper who attended the meeting, asked after the vote. He and other members of beekeeping groups like the Gotham City Honey Cooperative and the New York City Beekeeping Meetup, with a combined membership of more than 600 people, said they were overjoyed and predicted their ranks would expand now that their pursuit was legal.

“We’re elated,” said Ruby Chen, another beekeeper. “It’s nice to focus on bees and not have to worry about politics.”

Source


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David Harris takes leave to join Obama administration

By Susan Kelley

Deputy Provost David Harris has announced he will take an extended leave of absence to join the Obama administration. His last day on campus will be March 19.

Harris confirmed March 15 that he will assume the position of deputy assistant secretary for human services policy in the Department of Health and Human Services. (For more information on the post, see http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp.)

"This is a tremendous opportunity for David, and it is well deserved," said Provost Kent Fuchs. "While we're sorry to see him temporarily leave Cornell, we're proud of his accomplishment, and we're confident he'll provide a great service to the country."

Harris, who also serves as vice provost for social sciences, has focused his academic research on race and ethnicity, stratification and public policy. Specific research projects have investigated race, ethnicity and higher education; mixed-race identity and interracial relationships; residential mobility; and persistent poverty. He is the co-editor of the 2008 book "The Colors of Poverty: Why Racial and Ethnic Disparities Persist."

He also has held several high-level administrative posts at Cornell. During fall 2008, he served as interim provost. From 2004 to 2007, he was the founding director of the Institute for the Social Sciences. He has also been active in the Center for the Study of Inequality and as a leader of the University Diversity Council.

"When I came to Cornell almost seven years ago as a sociology faculty member, I expected to spend my time teaching and conducting research. Instead, I have been presented with a series of opportunities to play leadership roles across campus, in such areas as the social sciences, admissions and financial aid, diversity and academic planning," Harris said. "The challenges have been great; the colleagues have been wonderful. The opportunity to work on poverty policy in the Obama administration is a dream job for me. I look forward to making a contribution nationally, and then coming back to Cornell to rejoin our vibrant community."

source
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Worst Tea Party Ever: They Had No Tea!

Tea Shortage Causes Panic At Nation's Capitol

DNC mocks tea party numbers

Tea Partiers planned to "flood the halls of Congress" to protest health care legislation, a plan that prompted Democratic leaders to instruct their members to respond with politeness and Twinkies.

The 10 a.m. Washignton, D.C. rally, though, wasn't quite on the scale of some earlier events. The communications director for the Democratic National Committee, Brad Woodhouse, emails that his count is 300 attendees.


"I've been to birthday parties that drew more people," he emails. "More people attended my wedding than went to the tea party kill the bill rally on the hill.

An organizer, Jennifer Hulsey, pegged the number at closer to 2,000, though some had come late, and said the group considered the morning rally a success. There are other rallies on the same theme around the country and at members' offices.

The more important test will come in visits to the offices of key members of Congress. If you're there, send me a picture.


Tea Party Protest Signs: RNC Blacks Out Its Involvement (PHOTOS)

Last week, The Daily Caller's Alex Pappas reported that the Republican National Committee was "paying for signs and political buttons used by Tea Party groups" for today's "Code Red" protests against health care reform.

The items, paid for by the RNC, were on full display at a Friday press conference of Tea Party activists in Washington. At the afternoon event at the Capitol Hill Suites, activists in town for the "Take the Town Halls to Washington" project passed out the red-white-and-blue buttons and signs emblazoned with the words "Listen to Me!"

As Pappas pointed out, the RNC's involvement here was a bit of a thorny issue, given that the Tea Partiers haven't been quick to allow themselves to be subsumed within the greater Republican establishment. But if you see the signs today, you might end up missing the connection to the RNC entirely. That's because the RNC took the unusual step of covering up its involvement. David Weigel of the Washington Independent reports that a black sticker has been placed over the RNC's label at the bottom center of the signs. Apparently, this is a cunning enough stratagem to keep protesters from discovering the RNC's involvement.

BEFORE:



AFTER:

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Jim Bunning Wont Surrender Until Canada Accepts Our Demands!

Jim Bunning Continues To Make Usuper's Nominees a Living Hell. Give No Quarter!

Jim Bunning's Back: Blocking Nominees Over Canadian Smoking Law

Jim Bunning, far from being cowed by the national exposure of his recent effort to hold up unemployment benefits for millions of laid-off workers, is back at it in the Senate.

The Kentucky Republican battled Democrats on the Senate floor Tuesday to block two nominations to relatively backbench positions -- because he is opposed to a tobacco-related law passed by the Canadian Parliament (that's right, the Canadian Parliament). The use of such delaying tactics is not unprecedented in Senate history, but holding up such minor business stretches the purpose of the Senate's open debate rules to the breaking point.

"This is a perversion of the filibuster and a perversion of the role of the Senate. It used to be that the filibuster was reserved for matters of great principle," said Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) from the well of the Senate. "Some of my colleagues seem more interested in using every procedural method possible to keep the Senate from doing anything than they are in creating jobs or helping Americans struggling in a difficult economy."

Bunning, who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, is blocking the nominations of Michael Punke and Islam Siddiqui. Punke was nominated to be the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and was unanimously recommended by the Senate Finance Committee three months ago.

Siddiqui has been tapped to be the Chief Agriculture Negotiator. With the position unfilled, the U.S. is at a trade disadvantage with other countries. A coalition of 42 food and agriculture groups wrote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in January to urge his confirmation.

The Senate is backed up with 88 unconfirmed nominees, 83 more than the Bush administration faced at this point in its tenure.

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  • brecho

women's history month with brecho: day sixteen

Polish women encouraged to come to UK for 'free abortions' on NHS



Posters and flyers picture a woman in her underwear with the words "My Choice" scrawled across her stomach in English. Around her is the information "plane ticket to England: special offer 300 zloty", and "abortion in a public clinic: 0 zloty".

At the foot of the poster is the slogan: "For everything you pay less than an underground abortion in Poland".
SROM, a feminist organisation, hopes the campaign will draw attention to so-called "abortion tourism", a practice that pro-choice groups claim has flourished since Poland introduced some of the most stringent laws governing abortion in Europe 17 years ago. With the UK now possessing a huge Polish population that can provide a support network the country is now seen as a prime destination for pregnant women seeking a termination.
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I feel like I know her
  • maclyn

Judge will not jail rapist of four year old boy. Because his PARENTS took £18000 of blood money.

Paedophile paid family hush money

A charity has condemned the parents of a four-year-old boy who accepted money from a man who sexually abused him instead of reporting him to the police.

Gerard Raffell, 42, a teacher who lived in Daventry, Northamptonshire, agreed to pay £18,000 to the boy's parents.

He was eventually arrested when the boy told of the attacks four years later.

Peter Saunders, of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood (Napac), said: "We are flabbergasted - it goes beyond belief."

Raffell was sentenced to a three-year community sentence at Northampton Crown Court after pleading guilty to causing the boy to engage in sexual activity and seven counts of possessing indecent images of children.
 

He was also placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years and banned from ever working with children.

Mr Saunders told BBC Radio 5 Live's Gabby Logan show: "This judge has let a man walk free who has sexually abused a child on many occasions - other children will still be at risk from this man.

"Those parents should have been brought before the court for something because it is outrageous - they discovered their child was being abused and did nothing about it.

"How bizarre - go away, give us some money and go off and abuse children elsewhere.

"The consequences of abuse are profound, they are long standing, they are deeply deeply damaging to the individual.

"I don't know of any parent who would put a sum of money before bringing the abuser of their child to justice. It's incomprehensible."

A spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "Gerard Raffell was initially charged with three counts of attempted rape and four counts of causing or inciting a boy under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

"At a plea and case management hearing, the defence indicated the defendant would be prepared to plead guilty to four counts of causing or inciting a boy under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

"In accepting this plea this young victim was spared the ordeal of giving evidence in court.

"This was explained to and accepted by the family."

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said it could not comment on the case in detail.

He added: "We can confirm that the council acted swiftly as soon as this issue came to us as a result of the police investigation to identify the needs of the child involved and respond appropriately."

Source

As someone who was abused in childhood, this whole debacle sickens me. The BBC article doesn't make it obvious, but from stuff I've read elsewhere it does seem that the reduced sentence (I mean wtf, he wasn't charged with rape?!) was in part due to the judge feeling he had been 'punished' by paying the parents the money. And as for the parents in question, they are vile. This is an unbelievable betrayal, and a wound that will never heal. These parents are going to reap a whirlwind when their son is older, and have made his recovery all that much harder, because now he really does know that at the end of the day his parents didn't care, and used his abuse for financial gain. And not that it would ever make him feel better, but will the boy EVER see any of that £18,000?

 

[AC] O RLY?

Why Making Healthful Foods Cheaper Isn't Enough


Why Making Healthful Foods Cheaper Isn't Enough
by ALLISON AUBREY

Bucks for broccoli or cash for carrots? Financial incentives aimed at encouraging healthier choices are catching on from New Zealand to the Philippines. Workplaces in the United States have been offering incentives for weight loss. In a London-based study, dieters got paid when they dropped pounds. Now researchers are interested in understanding how food price manipulations may influence what ends up in mothers' grocery carts. Does increasing the cost of sugary items mean fewer people buy them? Would more people buy veggies if they were more affordable?

To create successful incentives, says Yale behavioral economist Dean Karlan, a policy needs to specifically target the people whose behavior its trying to change. "So in the case of broccoli you'd want to find out who's not eating broccoli and then pay them to eat it," he says. You don't want to necessarily make broccoli cheaper for those who are already buying plenty of it, you want to target those who don't buy enough fruits or vegetables. It could be very tricky to structure such an incentive.

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SOURCE

I'm on a bit of a food kick obviously. I really like this article because it highlights an area of economics I am beyond interested in, behavioural economics is a relatively new field that really needs to be explored more.
normal

O RLY Continues To Defy Corrupt System. Conspiracy To Silence Her Continues!

Activist Judge Now Extorting O RLY To Pay $20,000!! Sir, Freedom Haz No Price!

Appeals court upholds sanctions against 'birther' attorney Taitz
Birther movement attorney has insisted she won’t pay sanctions levied by Judge Land

California attorney and “birther” proponent Orly Taitz must pay $20,000 in sanctions, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

In the two-page decision, the appeals court states that after considering Taitz’ arguments, “we find them unpersuasive and therefore affirm the district court’s sanctions judgment.”

Taitz’ appeal stems from a suit filed on behalf of Capt. Connie Rhodes, who argued in September that Barack Obama’s presidency wasn’t legitimate and that she shouldn’t be deployed. U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land dismissed that suit Sept. 16, telling Taitz that she could face sanctions if she ever again filed a “frivolous” suit in his court. Taitz then filed a motion for emergency stay, and Land gave her two weeks to explain why he shouldn’t sanction her $10,000.

On the deadline, Taitz, who no longer represented the captain, responded with a motion to recuse Land from the case and a request to extend her deadline. Land denied the motions and sanctioned her $20,000. He later ordered the U.S. Attorney’s Office to collect.


Taitz appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. She has said that she has no intention of paying.

Rhodes’ complaint was the second filed in federal court in Columbus by Taitz. The first was that of Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, who in July also argued that Obama isn’t a natural-born citizen and can’t serve as commander in chief. Land dismissed the suit on July 16, saying the Judicial Branch of government shouldn’t “inject itself into purely ‘political disputes’ and that it should not entangle itself in hypothetical debates which had not ripened to an actual legal dispute.”

Maj. Rebecca Ausprung, who represented the government in the case, claimed Cook’s suit was “moot” because the Army had already told Cook he didn’t have to deploy, so the relief he sought was granted.


Cook appealed in September to the appeals court based in Atlanta.

The appeals court dismissed the appeal on Nov. 17, citing Cook’s failure to file a brief and record excerpts.


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Rainbow

Queer Prom-not so uncommon? Website aims to boost visibility.



Coming out is a political act
. So this qualifies as a political post, IMO. I give you a website devoted to posting lesbian (and gay) prom picts. This is awesome. Oh my how times have changed. I shudder to think of  all my closeted friends in high-school and how my best friend- the most picked on butchy girl- ended up dropping out and screwing random boys and getting involved with drugs because all she ever  wanted in life was "to fit in."  I shudder to think what I felt compelled to wear to my prom... (some teal black laced frilly satin disaster) with my gay boyriend date and how my Grama cried because I didn't want to wear make up.  In light of what
Constance McMillen went through I thought this is a nice response. Color me naive, but I think the world is changing for the better.

Hey Lesbians, Did You Take a Girl to the Dance/Prom?


A Mississippi school would rather shut down prom than invite a cute lesbian couple. Well, that’s nonsense! Let’s get visible, lesbian/bisexuals/queers/etc. Autostraddle wants your cute same-sex prom/fancypants/homecoming photos. You could even win a prize!
So this girl Constance McMillen wanted to take a girl to prom, and wear a tux, and the principal was like hell to the no, and then the ACLU got involved, and then the school just decided it would be better to cancel prom altogether. Why are they so afraid of how cute girls look in menswear? No but srsly.
We have a feeling, even though we are old, that some girls are bringing girls to homecoming/prom/fancy-wear day dances these days. Amirite? Are you one of those girls/boys? Well let’s celebrate those photos everyone is so f*cking afraid of! VISIBILITY, LADIES!
[instructions at  the website with images

............ ...................
(OMG lots more queer cuteness at the link)
dah

Broadband plan for high speed internet sent to Congress

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8571240.stm

A plan to help the US lead the world in providing its citizens with super-fast internet has been officially released.

The Federal Communications Commission, FCC, aims to ensure every American in the country has broadband connections by 2020.

It claims a third of all US households - 100 million Americans - do not have a broadband connection.

Congress will now consider whether to introduce legislation to enact some parts of the 360-page plan.

Some of the 200 recommendations will be decided on by other government agencies such at the Federal Trades Commission and Homeland Security department.

The FCC's five commissioners did not vote to approve the document because not all agree on its recommendations.

Instead they gave their backing to a statement of support for some of the plan's goals. These include ensuring every American has access to affordable high-speed internet and shifting airwaves to mobile services.

"We finally have a clear objective and a considered strategy aimed at ensuring that everyone in this country has equal opportunities in this new Digital Age, no matter who they are, where they live, or the particular circumstances of their individual lives," said Michael Copps, a Democratic FCC commissioner.

'Critical question'

The broadband plan comes at a time when the internet is playing an increasing role in the lives of individuals, businesses and government.

The FCC has called this the "greatest infrastructure challenge of the 21st century" and said it represents a "foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life".

The plan aims to increase internet speeds from the average 4 mbps (megabits per second) to 100mbps.

One thorny issue will be the cost of implementing the plan which has been estimated at $350bn (£231bn). Who will pay and how much will undoubtedly be fiercely debated.

"It is an important question, but I think the critical question we have to ask is what is the cost of doing nothing?" said Dean Garfield, the chief executive officer of the Information Technology Industry Council.

"We have to ask where do we want to be globally? The internet, and broadband by extension, can lay the foundation for the growth of a brand new economy and the public sector can't do this alone. The private sector, and really the country in general, needs to be a part of this," Mr Garfield told BBC News.

'Opportunity'

Another issue that is likely to result in a major fight is how the FCC will wrest spectrum from TV companies to wireless carriers.

Mobile companies like AT&T and Verizon have said they will need more spectrum in future to provide super-fast, reliable internet connections to every customer. The problem is that most of the spectrum is occupied by someone else.

Republican FCC commissioner Robert McDowell has called for the commission to encourage broadcasters to lease their spectrum to broadband providers rather than using "coercive" action.

The Centre for Democracy and Technology, CDT, is also gearing itself up for a tough time ahead to ensure that strong privacy rules are weaved into everything the plan enacts.

"We have a real opportunity here because so far we have had this patchwork of privacy rules and regulations that don't work as well as we need them to," said Leslie Harris of CDT.

"WE don't have the comprehensive privacy framework you see in Europe. We have old rules that apply to government and how government uses information and laws that have been outstripped by technological advances.

"The more people are connected to the network the greater the potential for data being collected and misused," Ms Harris told the BBC.