April 4th, 2010

stock | Classroom

ONTD_Political's PotD: April 3, 2010.

A Capirote is a pointy hat of conical form that is used in Spain. Historically, the capirote was a cardboard cone that flagellants in Spain would use. It was also used during capital punishment in Spain, and also during the inquisition, where the condemned person would be forced to wear one and be put under public humiliation. It is also the uniform of some brotherhoods during Easter - in this instance, the outer fabric descends past the shoulders, covering the face and the neck while leaving only a pair of holes for the eyes, and is often seen during Holy Week celebrations in Spain.

"Capirote" |  Wikipedia
See also: "Holy Week in Spain" | Wikipedia
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Hope you dont another Holy Week-themed post? I collected so many of these intriguing photos over the last 2 weeks, and was afraid they'd "swagger-jack" the other photos if included in the previous holy week post, hah. 

I also hope these don't freak you out [...too much], as far as the fact that they resemble the "regalia" of the N. American Klu Klux Klan. Totally not the same groups. Collapse )


But I thought we were tight?

Afghan President Rebukes West and U.N.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, delivered extraordinarily harsh criticism on Thursday of the Western governments fighting in his country, the United Nations, and the British and American news media, accusing them of perpetrating the fraud that denied him an outright victory in last summer’s presidential elections.

Just days after meeting with President Obama, Mr. Karzai, who has increasingly tried to distance himself from his American backers, said the coalition troops risked being seen as invaders rather than saviors of the country.

The speech, later broadcast on local television, seemed a measure of Mr. Karzai’s mood in the wake of Mr. Obama’s visit, in which Mr. Obama rebuked the Afghan president for his failure to reform election rules and crack down on corruption. At points in the speech, Mr. Karzai used inflammatory language about the West.

“There is no doubt that the fraud was very widespread, but this fraud was not committed by Afghans, it was committed by foreigners,” Mr. Karzai said. “This fraud was committed by Galbraith, this fraud was committed by Morillon and this fraud was committed by embassies.” Mr. Karzai was referring to Peter W. Galbraith, the deputy United Nations special representative to Afghanistan at the time of the election and the person who helped reveal the fraud, and Philippe Morillon, the chief election observer for the European Union.

Later in the speech he accused the Western coalition fighting against the Taliban of being on the verge of becoming invaders — a term usually used by insurgents to refer to American, British and other NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan.

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Karzai has since called Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to clarify what he considers a misunderstanding. A rather angrily jingoistic NYT editorial sees this as the start of a power struggle between Washington and Karzai.
Magneto puppet
  • drbat

S.F. crime lab's new woes - army of feral cats

Naomi Conroy, a volunteer who socializes animals at San Francisco's shelter, holds one of the feral cats from the crime lab.

San Francisco's police crime lab, already plagued by a drug-skimming scandal, is quietly dealing with another pesky problem - cats.

A multiplying army of feral felines has moved into a lab hangar at the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard where the Police Department stores evidence from old crimes. The cats have been sleeping, eating rodents and going to the bathroom around evidence items and police files, some of them boxed up, some out in the open.

One piece of evidence in the area of Building 606 where the cats have been living, police say, is the suit that Mayor George Moscone was wearing Nov. 27, 1978, when former Supervisor Dan White shot him to death in his City Hall office. The suit was not in a box, police say, but was tied up in a paper bundle and was not damaged by the cats.

Newly promoted Assistant Chief Jeff Godown, whom Chief George Gascón put in charge of the crime lab last month, got a look at the problem a few days ago when he toured the Hunters Point property. He ordered the mess handled. And, he said, the cats have to go.

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Murasaki Shikibu

Update to the story of the seven-year-old sold by her sister--5 arrested

5 charged in gang rape of girl, 7, in NJ apartment

Two adults and three juveniles have been charged with gang-raping a 7-year-old girl who was sold by her 15-year-old stepsister during a party at a crime-ridden apartment building, police said Saturday. Details on the arrests were announced at a Saturday night news conference at police headquarters in Trenton, the state's capital city.

The arrested people include a 20-year-old man who already had been charged Friday with having sex with the 15-year-old. The other four are a 19-year-old Trenton man and boys ages 13, 14 and 17. Each was charged with aggravated sexual assault and child endangerment.

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Oh my god. That poor little girl went because she was worried about her sister, and her sister turned around and did that?! And the ages of some of the boys--13?! I hope they find the other two men or boys who did this. Just...oh my god.
Hot and bothered Gaga

Women march topless in Portland, ME, in an effort to break down the double standard in gender norms!

PORTLAND – About two dozen women marched topless from Longfellow Square to Tommy's Park this afternoon in an effort to erase what they see as a double standard on male and female nudity.

Many onlookers in the Old Port were happy to have their camera phones on hand yesterday as some brave ladies of Portland walked topless through the streets. Curious as to where the police were during this march? They were there, making sure everyone was safe during this outrageous yet legal demonstration. That's right, legal. Nudity is illegal in Maine only if genitals are displayed.

Ty McDowell, who organized the march, said she was "enraged" by the turnout of men attracted to the demonstration. The purpose, she said, was for society to have the same reaction to a woman walking around topless as it does to men without shirts on.

In time, people should become desensitized to topless women in public, but considering this isn't exactly normal for the town of Portland, the "ogling" should be expected. What do you think?

Check out the local news coverage on this story below:

Two aides sacked in failed coup to oust BNP leader

BBC Protest

Image by Mike_fleming via Flickr

The racist BNP is in turmoil after losing three senior officials in a bitter internal feud.

Leader Nick Griffin was forced to fire two aides and a third stood down after allegedly plotting a “palace coup” against him – leaving the far-right party’s election campaign in tatters.

BNP propaganda printer Mark Collett – twice exposed in TV ­documentaries as a racist who admired Hitler – was publicly dumped after he was named as the chief conspirator.

The party’s crucial national election ­organiser Eddy Butler was also sacked from his paid role and staff manager Emma Colgate has quit.

The turmoil, less than five weeks before polling day, is a huge blow to ­Griffin’s hope of winning the ­Westminster seat of Dagenham, ­currently held by ­Labour’s ­Margaret Hodge.

Griffin was already under pressure after his disastrous ­Question Time ­appearance last year and damaging ­allegations that he had cashed in on the European Union ­expenses “gravy train” since becoming a Euro-MP.

He has now been summoned to a crisis meeting of the party’s influential National Advisory Council.

A spokesman for Searchlight, the anti-fascist organisation, said: ­“Griffin is really on the ropes.

“His Question Time ­appearance was an ­embarrassment and BNP ­members have been asking the same questions as everyone else about his EU expenses. He is struggling to hang on to control of his own party.”

Details of the “plot” emerged this week when high-­ranking BNP ­organisers received an unsigned open ­letter outlining the details of an ­investigation by the party’s internal security team.

It claimed evidence had been uncovered of “financial irregularities” relating to the printing of election leaflets and the party’s bile-filled Identity magazine.

It said BNP printer Collett, 29, had been “relieved from all positions within the party” and accused him of plotting with “a small clique” to oust ­Griffin.

The party released a statement on Friday saying Emma Colgate had “decided to step down” to concentrate on her bid to win a Westminster seat.

BNP insiders told the ­Sunday Mirror Butler – who was ­central to the party’s national election ­campaign – has been replaced by North-West ­organiser Clive Jefferson.

The damaging feud follows months of discontent about Griffin after his disastrous Question Time appearance.

Ordinary members have been ­infuriated by recent revelations that a handful of Griffin’s party favourites are being paid generous salaries with EU money.

They are understood to be angry that Griffin insists on ­attending to ­“important business” in Brussels – where MEPs get £260 a day ­expenses just for turning up – ­instead of ­concentrating on the election.

A source said: “This could blow the party apart.”

BNP spokesman John Walker said yesterday: “We have no comment to make.”

Source: The Mirror

britney qt smile

Can't wait to see who'd be casted

When former John Edwards aide and tell-all 'The Politician' author Andrew Young signed with agent Ari Emanuel, it seemed inevitable a movie was in the works.

Now the New York Daily News hears that 'West Wing' scribe Aaron Sorkin may be interested.

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We hear Sorkin is among those talking with William Morris Endeavor uberagent Ari Emanuel about optioning "The Politician," the best-selling memoir by former Edwards aide Andrew Young. Reps for Sorkin and Emanuel didn't get back to us.
Other recently-penned Sorkin adaptations listed on imdb include 'Social Network,' aka the Facebook movie, and Brad Pitt's plagued 'Moneyball.'


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anyone watch Real Time with Bill Maher? I can't get over the joke he made where he was like "The video featured Edwards performing oral sex on a pregnant Hunter. I don't know why everyone's surprised--politicians love to kiss babies"

Teen Suspended Over Revealing Prom Dress

(April 3) -- Erica DeRamus ended up all dressed up with nowhere to go -- on her prom night.

The Oxford, Ala., high school student found her perfect prom dress online -- a seafoam green cocktail frock with a jeweled bodice and a tutu-style skirt. Unfortunately for DeRamus, the dress got her kicked out of her prom and suspended for three days for violating her school's dress code.

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Too Short Source

ETA: Here's a a link to the school's exact dresscode.

Shirts and blouses should have modest and appropriate necklines, arm openings, and closures; such as crew neck, jewel neck, or boat neck. Bare midriff tops, open backed tops, halters, cleavage revealing tops, and transparent garments should not be worn. Cut-off garments are not permitted, and undergarments must be worn. Male students cannot wear sleeveless garments. Female shirt straps must be no less than a credit card in width.

They don't even allow untucked shirts, so... yeah. Um. I wouldn't have lasted a day over there.
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    The Smiths- Ask

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Houston Mayor Adds Transgender Protections

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has signed an executive order that adds gender identity to the city's 12-year-old non-discrimination policy, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The two orders signed by Parker protect transgender individuals who work for the city from discrimination in the areas of employment and accommodations.

“The mayor wanted to put in writing what has already been the city's practice, which is that we do not discriminate,” Janice Evans, Parker's spokeswoman, told the paper.

Gay rights advocates cheered the move.

“This is essential” Kris Banks, president of the Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Political Caucus, said. “A non-discrimination provision that protects sexual orientation but doesn't protect gender identity is toothless. … It's quite a thing, having a mayor that really understands all these issues.”

Parker, 53, became Houston's 61st mayor in January after a long campaign that included personal attacks against Parker because she is openly gay.

Dave Wilson, an outspoken gay rights opponent who campaigned to make Parker's sexuality an issue during the mayoral campaign, said he was “sad this is happening in our city.”

The new protections allow transgender individuals employed by the city to use restroom facilities in city-owned buildings for the gender with which they identify. Previously, the city decided the issue on a case-by-case basis.

Opponents say such measures allow men to legally enter women's restrooms, putting women and children at risk. Proponents counter that such behavior would be criminal.


Stranded ship threatens Great Barrier Reef

Australia alert over oil leak on Great Barrier Reef

A Chinese ship has run aground off north-eastern Australia, sparking an alert of an oil leak into the Great Barrier Reef. The Shen Neng I, carrying 950 tonnes of oil, ran aground 70km (43 miles) off the east coast of Great Keppel Island.

Oil patches have been seen and officials said there were real concerns the ship may break apart, causing a greater spillage.
Conservationists say they fear for a major accident in the future.

The Shen Neng I, with a crew of 23, was carrying about 65,000 tonnes of coal to China from the Australian port of Gladstone. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the ship was in danger of breaking up.
"We are now very worried we might see further oil discharged from this ship," she said.

Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Patrick Quirk said: "
It is in danger of actually breaking a number of its main structures and breaking into a number of parts.

Capricorn Conservation Council spokesman Ian Herbert told the Australian Associated Press he feared the latest incident was "a sign of things to come".
"We are outraged that no marine pilot is required on ships between Gladstone and Cairns," he said.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest reef system and extends for more than 2,500km.


The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps. This reef supports a wide diversity of life, and was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981. ~


It pains me to see this article. Last time something like this happened they even blew up parts of the reef. It should really be mandatory to have marine pilots aboard guiding ships through the area.
human, please!

Top Tory: 'Let B&Bs Turn Away Gay Couples'

Bed and breakfasts run by Christians should be allowed to turn away gay couples on religious grounds, a leading Conservative has said.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said hotels should not be allowed to discriminate against homosexuals.
But, in a secret recording, he suggested individuals should have the right to decide who stays in their home. The comments, made at a meeting of the Centre for Policy Studies thinktank, have sparked anger among gay rights activists.

After his remarks were published in The Observer, Mr Grayling said he was not opposed to gay rights and would not be pressing for a change in the law.

The row comes after the owner of the Swiss B&B in Cookham, Berkshire, was reported to the police for refusing to take in a gay couple on the grounds it was against her Christian principles.

The recording of the meeting on Wednesday shows Mr Grayling said: "I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences. I took the view that if it's a question of somebody who's doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn't come into their own home."

The couple who were refused a room by the Swiss B&B told Sky News Mr Grayling's comments were "nearly as bad as being turned away from the B&B in the first place".

"You don't expect that sort of attitude from a public figure. You expect it from some anonymous bigot, maybe, but not from someone in his position," Michael Black said, sitting next to his partner John Morgan.

Business Secretary Peter Mandelson told Sky News the row said a "great deal" about the Conservatives.

"I think what it shows is that the Tories haven't really changed. When the camera is on they say one thing, when the camera is off they say another," he said.

"The law is the law and we should live within it," he added.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights group Stonewall, said the comments would be "very alarming to a lot of gay people who may have been thinking of voting Conservative". He said allowing B&B owners to turn away gay couples would be contrary to sex equality legislation brought in in 2007 - which Mr Grayling backed.

"The legal position is perfectly clear," Mr Summerskill told The Observer. "If you are going to offer the public a commercial service - and B&Bs are a commercial service - then people cannot be refused that service on the grounds of sexuality." He added: "I don't think anyone, including the Tories, wants to go back to the days where there is a sign outside saying: 'No gays, no blacks, no Irish'."

Mr Grayling said: "Any suggestion that I am against gay rights is wholly wrong. It is a matter of record that I voted for civil partnerships. I also voted in favour of the legislation that prohibited bed and breakfast owners from discriminating against gay people. However, this is a difficult area and on Wednesday I made comments which reflected my view that we must be sensitive to the genuinely held principles of faith groups in this country."

Listen to sekrit recording here.
Loved the Stars

Hank Johnson (D-Ga) worries loading too many people onto Guam could capsize the island

First, before you watch this short but remarkable video, a little background on Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson.

He's from Georgia's Fourth District. A Washington, D.C. native, he's the fellow who took office in 2007 after knocking off former five-term Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney. A former county judge, the 55-year-old is an attorney, a standard liberal Democrat, receiving 100 ratings from the ADA and ACLU.

In this House Armed Services Committee hearing last Friday (no, it wasn't April Fool's Day), Johnson was questioning Admiral Robert Willard, head of the U.S. Pacific fleet, about the stationing of 5,000 additional U.S. Marines and their families on the western Pacific island of Guam, a 212-square-mile American territory that is 30 miles long and from four to 12 miles wide.

President Obama will visit there this summer.

Of course, since Johnson is one of 535 members of the United States Congress, everything he says is important. But pay particular attention to the congressman's comments starting at the 1:16 mark and the pregnant pause after his stated concern and hand gestures.

Followed by the admiral's admirably measured military response.

Also, remember you are paying Congressman Johnson's salary this year -- $174,000.

True Sauce

As tempted as I was to omit "Democrat" from the title it was all over the article, and I'm not Fox News in any case. I suppose the Universe just cried out for a stupid Democrat to balance all the Republicans talking about global warming.

The six stages of Teabaggery

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross entered social science history and obtained fame when she conclusively identified the five stages of experiencing a slow death. Old new lefty has gone through his own slow death experience lately by attempting to make contact with Teabaggers, and is here to report on the five stages that educated progressives go through in dealing with the 'baggers.  For one thing, trying to communicate with them doesn't make you any younger, and many of the 'baggers are in their golden years, so they're near slow death themselves.
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Taking Up the Dr. Seuss School of Catholicism By Tim Padgett

Taking Up the Dr. Seuss School of Catholicism


Any Sunday school kid knows that the best piece of Christian theology was written not by St. Augustine or Reinhold Niebuhr but by Dr. Seuss. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! — the story of how the Whos joyfully celebrate Jesus' birth even after a spiteful wretch robs all their holiday stuff — portrays faith more meaningfully than any church father or Yale philosopher ever did. Published for Christmas 1957, the book's obvious target was Yuletide commercialization. But its deeper message — don't confuse the accessories of religion with religion itself — seems especially relevant for Roman Catholics like me on Easter 2010. 


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2 million young adults are eager to get on parents' health care plans

CHICAGO -- Congress voted to overhaul the health care system on a Sunday. On Monday, Patti Lawson e-mailed her employer's human resources office to ask how soon she could get her 22-year-old daughter back on her health insurance.

In about six months, the new law will allow at least 2 million young adults to be covered under their parents' policies. These are the "millennials," those who came of age in the new century and now are struggling to get on their feet during the worst slump since the Depression.

Many can't find jobs, and many who are employed don't have health coverage from their employers.

The law will allow young adults to stay on or return to their parents' insurance until age 26. To qualify, young people must be "dependents" of their parents. They don't necessarily have to live under the same roof.

Lawson, a Gettysburg College administrator in Pennsylvania, said she is hoping to get her daughter back on her health plan because she is tired of playing "a roulette game." Her daughter has just a temporary job that doesn't provide insurance.

"You're banking on your child staying well," said Lawson, who has been a single parent since her husband died of cancer three years ago.

Regulations still have to be written, but here are some of the crucial specifics of the new law, based on a reading of the measure and interpretation by various experts:

--It applies to young adults up to their 26th birthday who don't have access to insurance through their employer.

--There is no dispute the measure applies to young people away at college. It is widely assumed the law also covers other young people living on their own.

--It will include married children but not their spouses or their kids.

--It is unclear whether parents must wait until their health plan's next open enrollment period to sign up their uninsured older children.

--Young adults who live in a different state from their parents should check to see if their parents' health plan covers medical services where they live.

This is the first time the federal government has forced insurance companies to let young adults stay on their parents' policies. More than half the states already have laws that extend the age of dependent coverage. New York and New Jersey push it all the way to age 30 and 31 and would be allowed to keep those provisions.

The new federal law "provides a minimum, not a maximum," said law professor Timothy Jost of Washington and Lee University. Also, while many state laws do not apply to coverage from self-insured employer plans, the federal law will, experts say.

Much will depend on regulations to be written by federal health officials.

Among other things, Health and Human Services will have to decide what constitutes "dependent," and the definition will not necessarily be the same one used by the Internal Revenue Service for tax purposes. Also, HHS will have to clear up the issue of whether young people who live far from home can stay on their parents' plans.

Young adults in their 20s are the most likely age group to be uninsured, and nearly 30 percent of them lacked insurance in 2008.

"Given the downturn in the economy and the unemployment rate among young adults, it's a really important provision in the bill," said Sara Collins of the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund.

Since 2003, the group has written a report titled "Rite of Passage?" about uninsured young adults and how they often lose health coverage at age 19 or upon high school or college graduation.

"It's a problem that spans the income spectrum," Collins said.

Before the law takes effect, some young adults who are graduating from college or otherwise becoming ineligible to stay on their parents' plans may want to buy insurance through COBRA to bridge any gap in coverage. But that can be expensive; there are also short-term plans that can be found through Web sites like www.ehealthinsurance.com.

The law will help Portland, Ore., mother Jessie Edwards sleep better at night. The nurse practitioner will be able to get both her young adult children covered as dependents on her insurance. Her 23-year-old son is losing his insurance this month, and her 25-year-old daughter has been uninsured for two years.

What frightens Edwards most is the possibility of one of them getting into an accident, she said. "What would we do? How would we cover that?"

Pat and John Curry of Augusta, Ga., have two daughters, ages 23 and 21. Without the new law, the older daughter would lose coverage on the family health plan at her next birthday.

"It would be a tremendous relief to us if we could keep them on our insurance," Pat Curry said. "This is something that would give them just a little more time to get their feet under them with the economy the way it is."

Lawson bought her college graduate daughter, Katie Byrne, catastrophic coverage on the independent market, so she wouldn't be completely uninsured while she searches for a job with benefits. But the $100-a-month plan does not include doctor visits. Meanwhile, Lawson's 19-year-old son is still covered.

"My son can go to a doctor if he twists his knee playing soccer and it's a $15 copay," Lawson said. "Then I have a daughter who does not have the same benefits. It illustrates for me what a lot of Americans face."

Under Pennsylvania law, Lawson's employer could choose to offer coverage for dependents up to age 30, but her employer has decided not to do so.

In the meantime, Lawson plans to fill an Easter basket with dental floss, medications and other health items for her daughter.

She is encouraging her daughter to stay healthy while they wait to get her back on Lawson's plan.


I recall that a couple of people were asking about this very topic, so I thought it might be relevant to their interests.  :)

Murasaki Shikibu

There are always vultures...

Critics Say Firm Weakens Safety Net as It Fights Jobless Claims

With a client list that reads like a roster of Fortune 500 firms, a little-known company with an odd name, the Talx Corporation, has come to dominate a thriving industry: helping employers process — and fight — unemployment claims.

Talx, which emerged from obscurity over the last eight years, says it handles more than 30 percent of the nation’s requests for jobless benefits. Pledging to save employers money in part by contesting claims, Talx helps them decide which applications to resist and how to mount effective appeals.

The work has made Talx a boom business in a bust economy, but critics say the company has undermined a crucial safety net. Officials in a number of states have called Talx a chronic source of error and delay. Advocates for the unemployed say the company seeks to keep jobless workers from collecting benefits.

“Talx often files appeals regardless of merits,” said Jonathan P. Baird, a lawyer at New Hampshire Legal Assistance. “It’s sort of a war of attrition. If you appeal a certain percentage of cases, there are going to be those workers who give up.”

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