March 26th, 2010

giggle

Stealing from a room full of police? Fail.

A dozy thief has been dubbed a 'numbskull' after stealing a handbag from a police officer - in a bar full of police officers.

Mark Jimenez eyed up laptops and bags, even while uniformed constables were arriving at the leaving do for Insp Penny Mills.

The 46-year-old still went ahead and pinched a handbag during a speech before being rugby tackled and surrounded by 40 officers.

The incident happened at the Elk bar, just doors away from Fulham police station in west London.

Jimenez was a ‘numbskull’, said cllr Greg Smith, member for crime on Hammersmith and Fulham Council, adding: ‘I can’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to try and pinch a detective’s bag from a room full of officers.’

A police source said of the January incident: ‘It was fairly obvious they were all police. I mean, there were speeches going on praising Penny’s work and a few uniformed officers even popped in to say goodbye.’

Insp Mills said: ‘He put his hands up and said “fair cop”, which is something, I suppose.’

Jobless Jimenez, of Fulham, was given an 18-month commun­ity order and banned from Fulham Broadway pubs at West London Magistrates’ Court last week.

Source
For the lulz, mods?
Daleks Quarterly

Military-industrial complex hypes foreign hacker threat, scares politicians, makes money.

The headline's nothing new, but this article at Tenable tells us the amusing story:

The Chinese Government publicly discloses that they have arranged with all the major wireless telephone companies in China to collect citizen's traffic, particularly targeting citizens that call outside of the country. The Chinese Government publicly passes laws requiring that major email service providers be able to hand over to the secret police, at any time, information about who sent email to whom, as well as contents. And, last but not least, public hearings are held in which Chinese cyberwar experts brag on television about how they could crash the entire Internet in 30 minutes. Finally, the Chinese have a massive industry surrounding finding exploitable flaws in commercial software, including a lively market in which such information is developed and sold to the highest bidder. The government sponsors annual conferences at which these attack-tool generators exchange tips and techniques. A massive training institution, of which the Chinese Government is a major customer, teaches the next generation of cyberwarriors how to "pen test" target networks, how malware works, and how to evade intrusion detection systems.

Got all that? Of course I'm not talking about China. I'm talking about the U.S. It's the U.S. Government that made deals under the table to get access to its citizens' phone call data, then rewrote the laws to indemnify the companies and agencies involved. It's the U.S. Government that requires ISPs to maintain email logs and turn them over with a flimsy warrant presented in a secret court.


More at the source, but really ... just another day for the scaremongering war profiteers.
South Carolina democrat

Andre Bauer wants a convention to overturn health care

“The founding fathers, in their wisdom, gave the people — through their state legislatures — the ultimate constitutional authority in the event Congress ever overstepped its intended authority. That is, of course, exactly what has happened with the new federal law requiring every person to participate in government-run health care.” - Bauer

Estimates say that the plan will provide health benefits for 480,000 South Carolina residents who currently don’t have insurance. It is also estimated to cost in excess of an extra $100 million per year for South Carolina.

...I think we know which he's more worried about...

SOURCE wonders if we can show up in costume for this convention
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idon'tactuallysmoke

Love, sex and the male brain (aka biological determinism at its most offensive)

Love, sex and the male brain

By Louann Brizendine, Special to CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Louann Brizendine: Male and female brains mostly alike, but some profound differences exist
  • Men's sexual pursuit area 2.5 times larger than the one in the female brain, she writes
  • She says testosterone drives the "Man Trance"-- or a glazed-eye stare at breasts
  • Brizendine: A wife's pheromones cause "Daddy Brain." Later, "Lovable Grandpa" or "Grumpy Old Man"?

Editor's note: Dr. Louann Brizendine is a member of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the National Board of Medical Examiners, and a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. She is founder and director of the Women's Mood and Hormone Clinic. She wrote "The Female Brain" and, just released, "The Male Brain." Brizendine will appear on HLN's "The Joy Behar Show" Friday at 9.

(CNN) -- Although women the world over have been doing it for centuries, we can't really blame a guy for being a guy. And this is especially true now that we know that the male and female brains have some profound differences.

Our brains are mostly alike. We are the same species, after all. But the differences can sometimes make it seem like we are worlds apart.

The "defend your turf" area -- dorsal premammillary nucleus -- is larger in the male brain and contains special circuits to detect territorial challenges by other males. And his amygdala, the alarm system for threats, fear and danger is also larger in men. These brain differences make men more alert than women to potential turf threats.

Meanwhile, the "I feel what you feel" part of the brain -- mirror-neuron system -- is larger and more active in the female brain. So women can naturally get in sync with others' emotions by reading facial expressions, interpreting tone of voice and other nonverbal emotional cues.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the male and female brain is that men have a sexual pursuit area that is 2.5 times larger than the one in the female brain. Not only that, but beginning in their teens, they produce 20 to 25-fold more testosterone than they did during pre-adolescence.

If testosterone were beer, a 9-year-old boy would be getting the equivalent of a cup a day. But a 15-year-old would be getting the equivalent of nearly two gallons a day. This fuels their sexual engines and makes it impossible for them to stop thinking about female body parts and sex.

 

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My sister sent me this bullshit article. SMH, how did this thinly disguised manifesto for male privilege make it on CNN?!

Even more offensive (to me) than her discussion of the male sex drive is how she constantly depicts men as logical and analytical and women as emotional and weak.
♪ beautiful dirty rich

Shenanigans Friday: March 26, 2010.

"No man could be equipped for the presLOLdency if he has never been tempted by one of the seven cardinal sins"-Eugene McCarthy
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by aujourlejour
Sufjan Smile

Obama signs anti-abortion executive order

Barack Obama signed an executive order on Wednesday that upholds severe restrictions on the legal right to abortion. The event sealed a deal reached by the president and House Democratic leaders with a group of anti-abortion Democrats who had threatened to vote against the Obama health care plan.

The signing ceremony, closed to the news media, was the culmination of a series of concessions to these anti-abortion forces throughout the year-long congressional debate on the health care overhaul. In attendance to witness the event was Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, the leader of the anti-abortion group, along with 12 of his similarly minded colleagues.

The signing of the order and its reactionary content demonstrate not only the shameless pandering of the White House to this right-wing anti-abortion bloc, but also the regressive character of the health care plan as a whole. The legislation—hailed as a landmark social reform—will have the effect of denying large numbers of working class and poor women access to abortion.
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Source: WSWS

I'm gonna keep saying it -- this bill is inadequate, it's not reform. Millions will be left uninsured, working class women take a big hit on being able to afford abortions that are already denied en masse to those who need them the most, union workers are dicked by it.

Forcing people to buy high-cost, low coverage private insurance plans isn't a solution, and it's nice that in the process to get those wonderful subsidies for private industry, we decided to strike an economic blow to reproductive rights.

Here's another article, just as a rider, to the effect that this healthcare bill is worse than nothing. It pours millions of dollars of subsidy into private health insurance companies, places half of the healthcare burden on the already woefully underfunded medicaid system (which states are slashing and doctors are refusing patients with medicaid coverage), and for insuring the uninsured? Those 30 million, it'll take 10 years to get to that number (what happened to 'healthcare reform can't wait!'?), and 20 million will remain uninsured still.
It's a bloated mess of ick that's regressively taxed, takes away economic rights, and subsidizes the broken system.

I'm just waiting to see how long it takes people to realize they've been sold a lemon, while the Democrats congratulate themselves like used car salesmen that just made a fat commission. Maybe, then we can get enough agitation to get some actual reform passed.
David

Congress Gives College Aid A Boost


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WASHINGTON -- More needy college students will have access to bigger Pell Grants, and future borrowers of government loans will have an easier time repaying them, under a vast overhaul of higher education aid that Congress passed Thursday and sent to President Barack Obama.

The legislation, an Obama domestic priority overshadowed by his health care victory, represents the most sweeping rewrite of college assistance programs in four decades. It strips banks of their role as middlemen in federal student loans and puts the government in charge.

The House passed the measure 220-207 as part of an expedited bill that also fixed provisions in the new health care law. Earlier Thursday, the Senate passed the bill 56-43.

The switch to direct government loans will result in savings to boost Pell Grants and make it easier for some workers to repay their student loans. In addition, some borrowers could see lower interest rates and higher approval rates on student loans.
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(no subject)

Already Insured? Get Ready to Pay More




(CBS) For most Americans insured through work, health care coverage is expected to stay the same -- or improve. No lifetime caps. No denial of benefits if people get sick. And continued coverage if you lose or change jobs.

But premiums will continue to rise. How much? No one's certain. To pay for this sweeping reform, here's what will change: Those tax-free flexible spending accounts will be cut in half. They reimburse some medical bills not covered by insurance. The new cap: $2,500.

CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports if you make more, you'll pay more. Starting in 2013, individuals earning more than $200,000 a year - and families earning more than $250,000 - will pay almost one percent more on their Medicare payroll tax. For a family earning $500,000 it means an extra $2,250 a year.

Those same high-earners will face an extra 3.8 percent Medicare tax on their net investment income.

Complete Health Care Reform Coverage

Rick Swartz buys his family health plan through work. He's the fleet manager at DH Griffin, America's second-leading demolition company. His health premiums have almost doubled in five years, to more than $9,500 a year.

With this health reform Swartz and his wife Teresa expect their premiums to keep jumping.

"Somebody will have to pay for it - for the uninsured to be insured," Teresa said. "I just don't want it to be the middle class."

David Griffin knows he'll pay more. His family built DH Griffin. But his higher income faces higher taxes.

"We've been successful and we don't feel like we should be penalized the more successful we are," Griffin said. "It's not the American way."

This company's in the business of change -- of tearing down and starting over. But no one here is sure this health care reform is change for the better.

Source
panda bear

(no subject)

Obama To Order Lenders To Cut Mortgage Payments For Unemployed



After months of criticism that it hasn't done enough to prevent foreclosures, the Obama administration announced on Friday a plan to reduce the amount some troubled borrowers owe on their home loans.

The multifaceted effort will allow people who owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth to get new loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, a government agency that insures home loans against default.

That would be funded by $14 billion from the administration's existing $75 billion foreclosure-prevention program. It could spark criticism that the government is shouldering too much risk by taking on bad loans made during the housing boom.

The plan would also enable the borrowers' existing mortgage companies to receive incentives to lower their principal balances.

To be eligible for the FHA refinancing program, borrowers who owe more than the value of their homes, known as being "under water," must not have fallen behind on their existing mortgage payments.

Separately, the program also would reduce monthly payments for unemployed homeowners for up to six months.

The administration cautioned that the plan isn't intended to stop all foreclosures or assist all troubled homeowners.

"There's no intention here of tackling what may be 10 to 12 million foreclosures over the course of the next three years," said Diana Farrell, a White House economic adviser.

Instead, officials said, the goal is to make it more likely the administration will meet its original target, announced last year, of assisting 3 million to 4 million struggling homeowners.

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normal

Activist Judge Sets Fire To RNC's Money Tree!!

Judge Also Cut Into Pieces Their Unlimited Expending Platinum Member Credit Card, "Mammon Express"

RNC Loses Bid To Raise Unlimited Money


A federal court Friday denied a Republican Party bid to raise soft money, the unlimited donations from corporations and individuals banned by a 2002 campaign finance law. In a separate ruling, judges said a conservative group can raise unlimited sums for independent election ads but must regularly disclose its donors.

In a case brought by the Republican National Committee, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Washington said it lacks the authority to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that upheld the ban on soft money fundraising by national party committees. That ban is a cornerstone of the so-called McCain-Feingold law and one of the few major parts of the law to survive court challenges.

The RNC had argued that it should be able to raise soft money for state elections, congressional redistricting, legal costs and other activities that it said had nothing to do with federal elections. The Federal Election Commission contended the soft money ban should be upheld.

Joining the RNC in the lawsuit were the California Republican Party, San Diego County Republican Party and RNC Chairman Michael Steele. The court also rejected their arguments that the law's soft money ban shouldn't apply to their fundraising for various activities.

The RNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling, including whether it will appeal to the Supreme Court.
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Will Utah Welcome Their New Tea Party Overlords?

Republicans Have Created a Monster: "What Have We Done?"

Political Tide Could Wash Away Utah Senator

SALT LAKE CITY — Senator Robert F. Bennett parked his white Acura, walked through the doors of Bryant Middle School and stood alone as he began the obstacle course that will determine his political fate.

“Do you need my ID?” Mr. Bennett asked, reaching for his wallet as he approached the registration table at his neighborhood Republican caucus, the first step in his effort to secure his party’s nomination to a fourth term. No, a volunteer said with a smile. In Utah, of course, he is well known. And he recalls a time he was well liked.

The dissatisfaction with Washington sweeping through politics is not only threatening the Democratic majority in Congress, it is also roiling Republican primaries.
The Tea Party movement and advocacy groups on the right are demanding that candidates hew strictly to their ideological standards, and are moving aggressively to cast out those they deem to have strayed, even if only by participating in the compromises of legislating.

There is no bigger quarry in the eyes of many conservative activists than Mr. Bennett, who has drawn seven challengers and will not know for six weeks whether he will even qualify for the ballot. His fate is being watched not only by grass-roots conservatives testing their ability to shape the party, but also by many elected Republicans in Washington who are wondering, If Bob Bennett is not conservative enough, who is?

“If the anti-incumbent tide is as strong as some people think it is, I will be swept out, despite all my efforts,” Mr. Bennett said in an interview. “If the anti-incumbent tide is a lot of conversation, but has no center of gravity as a true political movement, then I’ll be just fine. There’s no way to know.”

For all the anger directed at President Obama and his party from the right, especially after the passage of health care legislation, the first opportunities for Tea Party members and the groups seeking to channel their antigovernment energy into electoral politics are in Republican primaries. Mr. Bennett is especially exposed to the grass-roots anger. The quirky nominating system in Utah means that 3,500 delegates must give Mr. Bennett their blessing before he can face the primary electorate in June.
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Maddow takes full-page ad in Boston to say she's still not running



People in Massachusetts picking up their morning papers today may spot an open letter from Rachel Maddow. The full-page ad explains that she's not running against Republican Sen. Scott Brown in 2012. Brown sent a fundraising letter suggesting that he'd be facing the "liberal MSNBC anchor" and needed donations to fend her off. "I'm sure she's a nice person -- I just don't think America can afford her liberal politics," he wrote.

Today in the Boston Globe, Maddow writes:

Do you remember when Mitt Romney ran for President after being our Governor and he went around the country insulting Massachusetts, talking about what an awful state we are? To have our new Senator raising money around the country by saying how terrible one of his Massachusetts constituents is, kind of feels the same way to me.

She adds that Brown still refuses to appear on her show and writes: "Maybe he'll change his mind -- I hope he does."

Full text of the ad, after the jump. On the show last night: "Rachel Maddow, not running or not running?"

 

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(source, and the full jpg or pdf of the ad).)
normal

Kaiser Premanente Declares That Welfare Queen Should Retroactively Not Get Into an Accident!

Kaiser Permanente Just Trying to Make an Honest Buck From Sick Welfare Queens

Heather Galeotti: Kaiser Permanente Pulled Plug On Woman's Insurance While She Was In A Coma


By Danielle Ivory
Huffington Post Investigative Fund

With her heart set on a career as a chef, Heather Galeotti enrolled in a San Francisco culinary school. One winter night, her life took a near-fatal turn when she was hit by a car. The 22-year-old lay in a coma for nearly six months.

Galeotti's shaken family told the hospital that she was covered by her father's health care plan with Kaiser Permanente. The hospital confirmed her status with Kaiser and proceeded to treat her. Medical bills piled up to more than $4 million.

Then in July 2007, five months into Galeotti's treatment, Kaiser stunned the family with a letter. The Galeottis would have to find another way to pay the bills. Based on information received from her father's employer, Kaiser said that the young woman's coverage had not been in effect when she was hit.

"We were just blindsided," said her mother, Maureen Galeotti. "There was no way we could afford it." The case was shifted to Medicaid, where Galeotti's bills would have to be covered by taxpayers.

Ten months later, California insurance regulators ordered Kaiser to cover Galeotti's care, saying that Kaiser had no basis for denying payment "other than to achieve a significant financial windfall" at the expense of her family, the hospital and the state's Medicaid program.

Like many insurance disputes, the Galeotti case has its share of miscommunication, bureaucratic wrangling and missing documents. But it remains a stark example of a murky practice by some insurance companies and employers - cutting off coverage retroactively for some patients with expensive medical claims.

The new health care reform bill bans retroactive decisions by insurers in policies sold to individuals, except in cases of fraud. However, as it stands the ban would not apply to group policies, such as the one held by the Galeotti family, which cover some 150 million Americans.
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pen

Aussie sitcom caught up with child sex abuse allegations

One of the child stars of an 'wholesome' Aussie sitcom from the late 80s (which I really loved as a kid), has come forward with allegations that the guy who played her father in the series abused her, another actress in the series has come forward to confirm this, and all these other women have come forward with stories as well.

She was only six years old when she started on the show.

It's all caught up with scandal because the producers knew about it at the time and pretty much did nothing and forced her to stay silent.

----
One of the co-stars of hit TV comedy Hey Dad! says she was told she'd never work in Australia again if she spoke up about allegations of inappropriate behaviour by the show's star.

Simone Buchanan says she was aware fellow actor Robert Hughes was allegedly touching and exposing himself to child star Sarah Monahan on the set of the show, which ran on the Seven Network from 1987 to 1994.


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Wife of Frum: Put Down Your Pitchforks, People

As the old saying goes, if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. Perhaps that's why the Frum household now has three.

I've been married to David Frum for nearly 22 years -- or just under half my lifetime -- and have lived through numerous controversies that have resulted from his speaking out for the ideas he believes in, regardless of the personal consequences to himself. Right after we met, when he was a budding journalist in Toronto, I watched him challenge Canada's then-ruling Liberal establishment on the issue of Free Trade. It was a huge and hysterical issue back then -- as big as health care is here today -- but at that time the hysteria was entirely on the left. Nerdy girl that I was (and am), my head was quite turned by this young man who quite literally waded into throngs of hostile crowds and patiently debated with them as to why the North American Free Trade Act would be good for Canada. And at the end of these debates, even those who remained unpersuaded (and of course there were many), expressed grudging respect for David's willingness to engage them in a discussion, and not a shout fest.

So fast forward to this week, when conservative hell erupted over David's now infamous "Waterloo" column on the GOP health care defeat. For days I've been sitting here in the bunker beside him (and our three dogs), watching the whizzbangs land all around. What is distressing is not the predictable hate mail he has been receiving -- and thanks to the internet, he's been receiving it in hundredfold; we've both seen that before. What is distressing (to me, anyway) are the dishonest slurs on his character and integrity by people who know him, and in some cases have known him for many years -- truly ugly suggestions that David is motivated by cynicism or sycophancy, or both. (If he were, maybe he'd still be employed...)

We have both been part of the conservative movement for, as mentioned, the better part of half of our lives. And I can categorically state I've never seen such a hostile environment towards free thought and debate -- once the hallmarks of Reaganism, the politics with which we grew up -- prevail in our movement as it does today. The thuggish demagoguery of the Limbaughs and Becks is a trait we once derided in the old socialist Left. Well boys, take a look in the mirror. It is us now.

David of course doesn't need my defense -- and a defense coming from his wife probably isn't worth much (although I can categorically state this has been posted without his authorization, approval or even, um, knowledge -- he's flying somewhere over the country right now). My role right now is to pass him the flask in the trench.

But to return to Washington and dogs: Along with the bile, there has been an equally considerable outpouring of support and defense, from friends and foes alike, who -- whether they agree with David or not -- are horrified by the guillotine that is being set up in the public square of democratic debate. They understand that nothing good can come of this, for anyone of any political stripe.

For this support, we are both very grateful. And while I wouldn't have thought it possible to admire David more than I do, I have to say he is still turning this old girl's head.

Source.

 

"David of course doesn't need my defense -- and a defense coming from his wife probably isn't worth much (although I can categorically state this has been posted without his authorization, approval or even, um, knowledge -- he's flying somewhere over the country right now). My role right now is to pass him the flask in the trench."
Anyone else find that statement crazy sexist? Or maybe a dig at the sexism of the right?

 

Obama-chill

New US-Russia Nuclear Pact: Obama, Medvedev Sign Off On 'Landmark' Arms Accord



WASHINGTON — Climaxing months of hard negotiations, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed on Friday to sharp cuts in the nuclear arsenals of both nations in the most comprehensive arms control treaty in two decades. "We have turned words into action," Obama declared.

Obama said the pact, to be signed April 8 in Prague, was part of his effort to "reset" relations with Russia and a step toward "the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons
."

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dappersquid

Saudi female poet whose verse inflames and inspires

Hissa Hilal
Hissa Hilal: strong words, softly spoken

From beneath a veil, a Saudi woman is setting her conservative Arab homeland alight.

Hissa Hilal is already challenging convention by being at once a journalist and a wife and mother of four children. But it is her blistering poetry - recited while dressed in a traditional head-to-toe abaya cloak and broadcast on traditional Arabic television - that is really defiant. Using a traditional verse form native to the Arab Peninsula's nomadic tribes, she writes critically about the country's hard-line Muslim clerics, calling them: "vicious in voice, barbaric, angry and blind". Condemning the violence that she says lies beneath their religious messages, her poems speak of some of the clerics "wearing death as a robe cinched with a belt" - an apparent reference to suicide bombers' explosives belt. Her poems rail against what she sees as a dangerous and excessively conservative shift in Arab society and mores, from within a country where women cannot travel without a male guardian and are forbidden from driving.

"What made me so angry is seeing the Arab society becoming more and more kept to itself, not like before - loving and caring and sharing and open and welcoming everyone," she told the BBC's World Service. "Now, even if you want to be simple and nice with others, people are asking themselves whether it is haram [forbidden] to say hello to strangers," she said, adding: "I blame those who have led the people, and directed them this way."

Hissa Hilal's words are delivered from beneath a spotlight and televised across the Arab world from the capital of UAE, Abu Dhabi, on a reality television programme called The Million Poets, where contestants compete to be the best poet. If she wins, she will take home a prize of $1.3m (£870,000) in cash.

She describes the experience of reaching the competition's final - due to be aired next week - as "amazing", but her poetry has also sparked death threats on Arab websites, with some outraged commentators saying she is acting shamefully.

Her voice grows quiet when she describes how some have posted messages asking for her home address - with the underlying threat that they would track her down and kill her. But, she says, many more have expressed support for her poems. She told the BBC that women especially have said they are rooting for her. "Even old ladies, young ladies, they all said: 'You are our hope'. Most of the people loved what I said, from their hearts. They think I am very brave to say so, and that I said what they feel in their hearts."

She explains the apparent contradiction in the fact that she advocates women's rights while wearing the full veil - which some suggest is a symbol of female oppression: "Covering my face is not because I am afraid of people. We live in a tribal society and otherwise my husband, my brother will be criticised by other men."

While her poetry is intended for a wide audience, the act of covering herself, she says, is out of understanding for her male relatives. "I know they love me and they support me. It's a big sacrifice for them in such a society to let me go to the TV and talk to the media. I am hoping my daughters won't have to cover their faces and they'll live a better life," she said.

A published poet, Mrs Hilal - who is reported not to have studied at university - held the position of poetry editor for the Arab daily newspaper, al-Hayat.

A fan of Victorian writer Charles Dickens and US author Ernest Hemingway, Mrs Hilal says her fundamental message is one of peace and understanding: "I know the world is a small village. From my heart I wish peace and love for everybody."

SOURCE: news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8587185.stm

ETA: Hey, folks! In looking around the internet to see if I could find anything more about her, I've found an article that goes much more in depth than this one. It also features one of her poems, complete, and translated into English. If you want a deeper look into the Arab world's analysis of this woman, check it out:

http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100319/NATIONAL/703189836/1040
 

Iceland Bans Strip Clubs

The Guardian posts an interesting statement this morning: Iceland may be the most feminist country in the world. This accolade comes on the heels of a new law in Iceland banning strip clubs, topless bars, and the like—it would ban any business from profiting from the nudity of its employees. Iceland is a tiny country with a population of roughly 320,000—smaller than any US State—and, while it stands to reason that they may not have that many strip clubs to begin with, the number has risen in the past decade.

What makes this interesting is that Iceland isn’t banning strip clubs for any sort of religious reasons; instead, the law was passed for feminist reasons. The Guardian reports that Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, the politician who first proposed the ban, firmly told the national press on Wednesday: "It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold." It is unclear if the law provides any resources for women who will find themselves laid off.

This presents an interesting debate: is stripping or sex work inherently un-feminist? Is it ethical to ban it when this is how some women may make a living? What’s your take?

source

Students Protest School's Decision To Allow Gay Teen To Bring Male Prom Date



This is pretty awful. Rather than standing behind gay teen Derrick Martin, whose parents kicked him out of the house following his school's decision to allow him to bring his boyfriend (Richard Goodman, pictured below) to prom, a group of students at the school is protesting its decision:

"Bleckley school system officials last week granted senior Derrick Martin permission to take another boy to prom. The decision marked the first decision in the county’s history about a same-sex couple attending the prom there. 'We knew Derrick was gay,' said Keith Bowman Jr., a high school senior who showed up at the rally. 'They don’t want (Cochran) to be known as a pro gay town.' Most of the dozen attending the rally said they weren’t bothered by Martin being gay or being allowed to attend prom with his partner. But they said the school system’s decision has brought too much attention to their small town. The rally’s organizer, Amber Duskin, sent text messages to high school students Wednesday asking them to show up. The senior said she asked her high school to return her prom ticket money and does not plan to attend because of Martin.' I don’t believe in going up there and dancing with gay guys like that,' she said. 'It’s also not just him bringing a boy. It was bringing all this attention to it.'"

There has been much support for Martin elsewhere, though, Project Q Atlanta reports:

"The gay Georgia teen who gained attention this week for pushing to bring his boyfriend to the prom only to be kicked out by his parents will be a guest at Friday’s concert by the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus. Derrick Martin (photo left), an 18-year-old honor student at Bleckley County High School in Cochran, is expected to attend AGMC’s 'Georgia on My Mind' concert tonight at Virginia Highland Church, according to chorus Executive Director Keith Fenton. He may even return for one of the Saturday performances, too, Fenton says."

Martin has also reportedly been invited by Ellen DeGeneres to appear on her show.

Martin gave an interview to the Georgia Voice:

"Martin said being kicked out of his home by his parents on Tuesday because of the media attention this story has garnered hasn't dissuaded from being who he is. 'I know they had the right because it's their house. Now I just want to get an apartment and then go to college,' he said. Martin has a scholarship to Georgia Southern where he will be major in pre-law. Martin said Tuesday was an average day. He went to school and then to his job with a state tutoring program for at-risk third, fourth, fifth grade students and middle schools students to help them pass the CRCT. When he got home that evening his mother told him to pack his bags and leave. 'So I packed my stuff and left,' he said. 'She said it was disrespectful of me' to interview with a local TV station."

Source and Source
Murasaki Shikibu

...Do y'all learn?

Senate Republican holds up jobless benefits

As Congress raced to leave Washington for its Easter recess, a Republican senator blocked a stopgap bill to extend jobless benefits, saying its $9 billion cost should not be added to the national debt.

As a result, some people who have been out of work for more than six months will at least temporarily lose benefits. Newly jobless people won't be eligible to sign up for generous health insurance subsidies.

At the center of the battle is Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who's insisting that the measure be "paid for" so as not to add to the nation's $12.7 trillion debt.


"What we are doing is stealing future opportunity from our children," Coburn said Thursday.

Republicans offered legislation to finance the monthlong extension of jobless benefits by rescinding unspent money from last year's economic stimulus bill. The effort was killed on a party-line vote.

Democrats repeatedly sought speedy Senate approval of a House-passed measure that would extend jobless benefits through May 5, but Coburn objected. Republicans said Senate negotiations produced a compromise that didn't pass muster in the House.

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate would attempt to retroactively bestow the jobless benefits when it returns from its spring recess April 12.

The practical effect of the lapse in benefits would be limited if they are awarded retroactively. But labor advocates say it produces bureacratic nightmares for state labor departments and that trying to restore the lapsed benefits is easier said than done.

Reid had the option of keeping the Senate in session to force a vote to try to break through the GOP blocking tactics but instead will revisit the issue in 2 1/2 weeks.

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...if it didn't work for you a month ago, what makes you think it will work now?

Also, Reid, grow a damn spine and give up part of your vacation. That two and a half weeks is two and a half weeks of people being without unemployment benefits.
panda bear

(no subject)

Sarah Palin: "We're the party of HELL NO!"

John McCain helped Sarah Palin launch her national political career two years ago. Now, she's trying to help McCain save his. The former running mates campaigned together Friday for the first time since losing the presidential race in 2008.

Palin was a first-term governor of Alaska when McCain plucked her from relative obscurity to be his running mate. She went on to become a conservative rock star and a key Republican critic of President Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress.

At the rally on Friday, Palin proclaimed that the Republican Party isn't the party of no -- "we're the party of hell no!"

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source
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Newt Gingrich Demands Democrats to Apologize For The Rise of Rightwing Extremism

Newt Gingrich to Dems: "Is your Damn Fault, Dammit!"

Gingrich Says Democrats ‘Have To Take Some Moral Responsibility’ For Far-Right Death Threats

Since Congress’s health care debate, lawmakers have recieved countless death threats, had their buildings vandalized, have had white powder mailed to their offices, and have had to get police protection. One tea party blogger has even warned that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) life is in danger and that there may be a “thousand little Waco’s.”

Yesterday, former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) spoke alongside Gov. Sonny Perdue (R-GA) at a press conference in Atlanta organized to air Republican opposition to the health care bill that just passed. At one point, Gingrich was asked about the death threats and vandalism lawmakers who supported the bill have been recieving. After stressing that “there is no place for this viciousness” and condemning the various threats and violent acts, Gingrich went on to explain that the Democratic leadership “has to take some moral responsibility” for encouraging death threats and terrorism because of the way they conducted the health care debate:
GINGRICH: Just as there was no place for the kind of viciousness against Bush and Cheney, there’s no place for viciousness against Democrats. I would condemn any kind of activity that involves that kind of personal threat. But look, I think there’s something very disingenuous about the Democratic leaders who attacked the tea party movement, who refused to hold town hall meetings, who refused to go back home, who kept the Congress locked up in Washington, and are now shocked that people are angry. I think the Democratic leadership has to take some moral responsibility for having behaved with such arrogance, in such a hostile way, that the American people are deeply upset. So let’s be honest with this. This is a game that they’re playing. People should not engage in personal threats. I’m happy to condemn any effort to engage in personal threats. But I think the Democratic leadership has to take some real responsibility for having run a machine that used corrupt tactics, that bought votes, that bullied people, and as a result has enraged much of the American people. And I think it’d be nice for President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid to take some responsibility over what their actions have done to this country.
Listen to it:
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Blue Cross Shield To Teach Stroller-Mini-Welfare Queen The Meaning of Baby-Bootstraps: Get a Jub!

Texas Once Again Proves That Fetuses are More Important Than New Born Babies. "Out of The Womb? Out on Your Own!"

Crowley newborn with heart defect is denied insurance coverage

By JAN JARVIS

jjarvis@star-telegram.com

JAN JARVIS, 817-390-7664

At birth, Houston Tracy let out a single loud cry before his father cut the cord and handed him to a nurse.

Instantly, Doug Tracy knew something was wrong with his son.

"He wasn't turning pink fast enough," Tracy said. "When they listened to his chest, they realized he had an issue."

That turned out to be d-transposition of the great arteries, a defect in which the two major vessels that carry blood away from the heart are reversed. The condition causes babies to turn blue.

Surgery would correct it, but within days of Houston's birth March 15, Tracy learned that his application for health insurance to cover his son had been denied. The reason: a pre-existing condition.

"How can he have a pre-existing condition if the baby didn't exist until now?" Tracy asked.

New federal legislation that will prevent insurance companies from denying children coverage based on a pre-existing condition comes too late for the Tracys. The legislation, passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama this week, won't go into effect until September.

But Houston, who is hospitalized at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, needs coverage now.


Without surgery, babies with this condition often die soon after birth
, although some may live as long as a year, said Dr. Steve Muyskens, a pediatric cardiologist.

"In his case, we had to intervene in the first days of life," Muyskens said.
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disney || almost there

women's history month with brecho: day twenty-six

Read all of it.

Forum strongly supports further empowerment of African women


NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Although women comprise more than 50 percent of the entire population in Africa, their faces and voices in shaping the destiny of the continent are neither seen nor heard.

The United Nations Development Program says women contribute approximately 75 percent of the agricultural work, and produce 60- 80 percent of the food, yet they earn only 10 percent of African incomes and own just 1 percent of the continent’s assets.

However, their participation especially in areas such as the financial sector is minimal.
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Reporting

Collaborators in the War against the Jews: Judith Butler

Professor Judith Butler from Berkeley’s Department of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature is not just your ordinary deconstructionist feminist anti-Semite.  A self-proclaimed leading scholar in the pseudo-discipline of “Queer Studies,” she is also one of the leading academic defenders of anti-Semitism, which she insists is not anti-Semitic at all.  She has devoted much of her academic career to the struggle to see Israel eliminated.  While often posturing as a free speech absolutist, she is also absolutely opposed to Israelis having any academic freedom and is a leader in the attempt to impose a world boycott against Israeli universities.  Naturally, she has never come out in favor of an academic boycott of Syria, Libya, Iran, Cuba, or the Hamas. Hamas and Hezbollah may seek the extermination of every Jew on the planet and not just of Israel, but Butler still likes to wave her “Jewish roots” when she serves as an apologist for them.

Butler is perhaps best remembered as one of the most strident attackers against Lawrence Summers, the ex-President of Harvard. She was horrified when Summers proclaimed: “Profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent (September 17, 2002).”   Butler venomously denounced Summers for telling the truth, arguing that telling the truth threatens academic freedom: “Summers has struck a blow against academic freedom, in effect, if not in intent.”

Edward Alexander, who is also a professor of comparative literature, explains that Butler’s hysterical attacks on Summers stemmed from something more than her girlish enthusiasm:

“Butler had herself signed the divestment (against Israel) petition at its place of origin, Berkeley, where it had circulated in February 2001.  She therefore found Summers’ remarks not only wrong but personally ‘hurtful’ since they implicated Judith Butler herself in the newly resurgent campus anti-Semitism.  Butler could hardly have failed to notice that the Berkeley divestment petition had supplied the impetus and inspiration for anti-Israel mob violence on her own campus on 24 April 2001, a few weeks after it had been circulated, and for more explicitly anti-Jewish mobs at San Francisco State University in May of the following year.”

Summers insists that people who oppose Israel’s very existence are anti-Semitic.  The fact that a second Jewish Holocaust would result from Israel’s annihilation does not seem to matter to his attackers like Butler.  She writes, “A challenge to the right of Israel to exist can be construed as a challenge to the existence of the Jewish people only if one believes that Israel alone keeps the Jewish people alive or that all Jews invest their sense of perpetuity in the state of Israel in its current or traditional forms.”   The fact that the very people calling for Israel to be annihilated are not calling for the elimination of any other country, not even a single one of the 22 fascist Arab states, cannot possibly have anything to do with anti-Semitism, she insists.
 

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stock | Got My Drink On

"Obama Social Secretary Ran Into Sharp Elbows".

By PETER BAKER | Published: March 11, 2010

WASHINGTON — Long before the State Dinner party crashers and the tension with her White House colleagues and the strain in her relationship with the first lady, Desirée Rogers began to understand she was in trouble when David Axelrod summoned her to his office last spring to scold her.

Ms. Rogers had appeared in another glossy magazine, posing in a White House garden in a borrowed $3,495 silk pleated dress and $110,000 diamond earrings. But if the image was jarring in a time of recession, Mr. Axelrod was as bothered by the words and her discussion of “the Obama brand” and her role in promoting it, according to people informed about the conversation.

“The president is a person, not a product,” he was said to tell her. “We shouldn’t be referring to him as a brand.”

The confrontation that day between Ms. Rogers, the White House social secretary, and Mr. Axelrod, the senior adviser to President Obama, put at odds two longtime Chicago friends of the first family. And it foreshadowed a deeper, wrenching conflict that would eventually cost Ms. Rogers her job and tear at the fabric of the close-knit inner circle around Mr. Obama.

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Accompanying slideshow:
The Rise and Fall of Desiree Rogers.



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_____
Had to post this. It provides background on White House tensions that accompanied this WSJ article (also posted on ONTD_P). Rogers' dismissal looks to be increasingly scandelous affair. In spite of everything, I feel rather bad for her.
*points*

Grayson. Chutzpah.

Dear Kathlene, that's me!

Pledge to Alan Graysons Money BombYou know me. You know that I tell it like it is. Day in and day out, a few friends in the House join me to take the battle to the Republic Party, a party that is a “wholly-owned” subsidiary of the insurance industry.

This week, we won. And, now it’s time to stand with those who made that victory possible – the “Congressmen With Guts” who gave our party the strength we need to win the tough battles.

One Congressman – who was, incidentally, born in New York! – has stood with me time and time again. Now he needs our help. You probably know him. His name is Alan Grayson. He’s in a tough re-election fight, and he needs our help. He isn’t owned by the lobbyists and the insurance companies. They want him gone – because, like me, he’s a Congressman who stands up for ordinary people.

I’m supporting Rep. Grayson by contributing what I can to his online “money bomb” scheduled for this Saturday, March 27th. I’m asking you to contribute as well.

Will you join me by supporting a Congressman with Guts, with a contribution of $35, $50 or more to this critical March 27th money bomb?

Alan Grayson is a progressive hero. He called the Republicans out for their stubborn knownothingism. He laid bare the “Republican health care plan” last August, saying that their plan was for Americans not to get sick, and, if you do, then die quickly. That sums it up. He’s also leading the fight to audit the Fed, and pass crucial pieces of legislation to fix the disastrous Citizens United decision that will let corporations buy our elections. He’s keeping the public option alive, by introducing the Medicare You Can Buy Into Act. He already has 80 cosponsors for that in the House and 50,000 citizen co-sponsors online.

Alan Grayson is the first Democrat to represent Orlando in 34 years. He’s in the crosshairs of the insurance and Wall Street lobbyists. Please join me in supporting his March 27th money bomb. Pledge $35, $50 or more now at CongressmanWithGuts.com

Thanks,

Anthony

source
mods: I figured people who aren't on Weiner's mailing list might like to contribute to Grayson's re-election fund.
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O'Keefe Soon To Become Someone's White Biatch!

Greatest American Hero Receives Unfair Demotion: From Pimp To Prison Biatch

James O'Keefe, Co-Defendants Expected To Plead Guilty To Lesser Charges In Landrieu Break-In


Federal prosecutors filed reduced charges Friday against conservative activist James O'Keefe and three others who were accused of trying to tamper with the phones in Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office.


The new charges are contained in a bill of information, which can only be filed with a defendant's consent and typically signals a plea deal. The new filing charges the four with entering a federal building under false pretenses, a misdemeanor. They had been arrested Jan. 25 on felony charges.

O'Keefe, a videographer famous for wearing a pimp costume in a stunt that embarrassed the ACORN community organizing group, has said the group was trying to investigate complaints that constituents calling Landrieu's office couldn't get through to criticize her support of a health care reform bill.

J. Garrison Jordan, a lawyer for another defendant, Robert Flanagan, said his client has "an agreement worked out with the government" but wouldn't elaborate or confirm that the others also have reached a deal with prosecutors.

"I think it's a fair resolution to the charges, and I'm happy with the agreement we've worked out," he said.

Lawyers for the other three defendants didn't immediately return calls. A spokesman for Landrieu said he couldn't immediately comment, and a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in New Orleans would not comment on a possible plea deal.

Federal authorities initially accused the four of trying to tamper with Landrieu's phones, but the new filing merely says they planned to pretend to test the phone system.


The FBI said O'Keefe, 25, of New Jersey, used his cell phone to try to capture video of two other men who posed as telephone repairmen and asked to see the phones at Landrieu's office. The fourth allegedly waited outside in a car with a listening device.

The two suspects who posed as repairmen – Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, both 24 – wore white hard hats, tool belts and fluorescent vests. One of them had a camera hidden in his helmet.

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Pride & Prejudice

Council in Baby P scandal ‘loses’ 29 asylum children at risk from traffickers

Twenty-nine children seeking asylum in Britain have gone missing from the council at the centre of the Baby P scandal in the past three years, it emerged today.

Haringey council staff have “lost” the children since 2007. Although the whereabouts of most of the youngsters are known, two Romanian teenagers who were in social care have never been traced.

Child protection experts said that many of the vulnerable children are at risk of falling into the hands of child traffickers. The 29 children who went missing are 18 boys and 11 girls from Bulgaria, Eritrea, Albania, Iraq, Romania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

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Source
Oh dear Lord. Why is my borough's child services department made of so much fail? I know they're strained- they've got one hell of a job to do- but twenty-nine children...

Pupils 'left traumatised' by fake school shooting

Source: The Times (UK)

Schoolchildren suffered panic attacks and were left crying after a role-play event in which one of their teachers was “shot dead” in the playground.

The children, aged 10 to 13, were traumatised by the stunt, which was part of a science lesson, and were not told that it was a stunt for ten minutes.

The exercise at Blackminster Middle School in Evesham, Worcestershire, began when pupils heard that there was a gun in the school. Five minutes later the alarm bell sounded and more than 300 were sent outside and saw three teachers running across the field.

They saw a “gunman” in the distance and heard what sounded like gunfire before seeing Mr Kent, a religious education teacher, fall to the ground. Colleagues appeared to attempt to resuscitate him.

Parents claimed that the children were sent back to their classrooms and called into the assembly hall ten minutes later to see that Mr Kent was alive and uninjured. Some said that their children were so shaken by the exercise on Tuesday afternoon that they were sick in the toilets, suffered panic attacks and were still frightened when they got home.

One parent, who has an 11-year-old daughter at the school, said: “They thought their teacher had been shot. And all this time you have kids crying in fear. It’s ten minutes later that they told the children that it was all a joke. I think it’s absolutely disgusting.”

Another parent said that the exercise was particularly insensitive because the father of one of the pupils had died in a shooting a few years ago. “Their wording, their timing, everything was out of order,” the parent said.

Terry Holland, the head teacher, said: “The role-play was part of a science lesson. The problem with a small minority of the pupils was that there was a slight delay in getting them into the hall to explain what had just happened. Most of them already knew it was a spoof but a couple were upset and we have since spoken to them and their parents and apologised. It was one of the more popular teachers who played the victim. I don’t think there would have been as much concern if it was one or two of the others.”

In a letter to parents, Mr Holland said: “We now feel that the time delay was too long and pupils should have been reassured instantly. Any role-play activities in the future will be based on themes that are less controversial and non-violent."