April 14th, 2010

Red Alert
  • mhael

Even Yet Still More Terra Upheaval

Earthquake In China Kills 400, Thousands Injured

A strong earthquake and a series of aftershocks in the mountains of China's southwestern Tibetan Plateau killed at least 400 people and injured some 10,000 others Wednesday. Authorities said they feared the death toll would rise because many people were trapped in collapsed houses and buildings.
The largest earthquake, recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey as magnitude 6.9, struck at 7:49 a.m. local time and was centered about 28 miles northwest of Yushu in China's sparsely populated Qinghai province. Panicked people, many bleeding from their wounds, flooded the streets as houses made of mud and wood crumbled.

"We've been hearing that 85 percent of the buildings collapsed in Yushu town," NPR correspondent Louisa Lim reported from Shanghai. "We've also been hearing that the wall of a reservoir near the town has cracked and workers are racing to try to let out water to release the pressure on the dam."

Lim said the local Red Cross said at least 70 percent of the schools collapsed, and students reportedly were buried inside several of them — including at least one primary school and a four-story teachers' college with 30 to 40 students inside.
Paramilitary police used shovels to dig through the rubble in the town, footage on state television showed. But a military official told state broadcaster CCTV that rescuers don't have enough excavators and that many are removing rubble with their bare hands in a desperate attempt to reach buried survivors.
Damage to roads leading from the airport were also hampering rescue efforts, and one report from Yushu said authorities were evacuating residents to a festival ground outside the town.
"Nearly all the houses made of mud and wood collapsed. There was so much dust in the air, we couldn't see anything," said Ren Yu, general manager of Yushu Hotel in Jiegu. "There was a lot of panic. People were crying on the streets."

The quake also triggered landslides, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China's Vice Premier Hui Liangyu has been sent to the region to oversee rescue efforts. But the hard-to-reach area sits 12,000 feet above sea level, and poor weather — including forecasts of sleet and strong winds — will likely hamper rescue efforts. Downed power lines and shaky communications systems were also complicating the process.
More than 5,000 soldiers, medical workers and other rescuers were mobilized, joining 700 soldiers already on the ground, Xinhua reported.
Qinghai provincial government said it was rushing 5,000 tents and 100,000 coats and blankets to the mountainous region, where the average daily temperatures were around 43 degrees Fahrenheit. Night time temperatures plunge below freezing.

The USGS recorded six temblors in less than three hours, all but one registering 5.0 or higher. The China Earthquake Networks Center measured the largest quake's magnitude at 7.1. Qinghai averages more than five earthquakes a year of at least magnitude 5.0, according to Xinhua. They normally do not cause much damage in the sparsely populated province.



I remember, doing the time warp...

Mississippi school district ordered to end racial segregation

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered a Mississippi school district to halt local policies that had allowed some of the district’s schools and classes to become racially segregated.

US District Judge Tom Lee gave the Walthall County School District 30 days to amend its student transfer policy and ordered an immediate halt to the alleged "clustering" of white students into certain classes in Tylertown, Miss., elementary schools.

"The district shall cease using race in the assignment of students to classrooms in a manner that results in the racial segregation of students," Judge Lee said in his eight-page order.
"The district shall randomly assign students to classrooms at the Tylertown Elementary Schools through the use of a student management software program," the judge said.

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Actually, I bet this happens in many schools across the country...
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    marvin gaye - lets get it on

Nebraska Challenges Roe V. Wade With Bogus "Fetal Pain" Law

On the heels of a law requiring a variety of screenings before women can get an abortion, Nebraska has now challenged Roe v. Wade by banning abortions after 20 weeks, on the grounds that that's when fetuses feel pain.

The law, signed by Nebraska's governor yesterday, is the first in any state to use fetal pain as the standard for restricting abortion rights. And since Roe v. Wade designates fetal viability — which occurs no earlier than 22 weeks — at the point when states can restrict abortion, Nebraska may be headed for a Supreme Court fight. Newsweek's Sarah Kliff doesn't think they'll win. She writes,

Will the courts turn on almost 40 years of precedent, and trade in the viability standard for one that considers the possibility of fetal pain a more "compelling" point? It's doubtful: the court has, on numerous occasions, reaffirmed its commitment to the viability standard. Moreover, I think it's important to note here that research suggests fetuses cannot feel pain at 20 weeks, undermining this particular bill's scientific credibility.

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WTELF??? The U.S. Army says that combat injury is all in your head! No, really! Cuz we said so!

When the Army Uses "Enhanced Interrogation" on an American Soldier

I had been covering veterans' issues for several years and thought I'd developed a thick skin. But the pain on the other end of the telephone line was difficult to stomach. Sergeant Chuck Luther, now back from Iraq, was describing his journey to hell and back. The worst part, he said, wasn't battling insurgents or even the mortar blast that tossed him to the ground and slammed his head against the concrete — it was the way he was treated by the U.S. Army when he went to the aid station and sought medical help.

In gruesome detail, Luther described what happened to him at Camp Taji's aid station. He thought he would receive medical care. Instead he was confined to an isolation chamber and held there for over a month, under enforced sleep deprivation, until he agreed to sign papers saying that he was ill before coming to Iraq and thus not eligible for disability and medical benefits. "They wanted me to say I had a 'personality disorder,'" Luther told me.


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This.....I don't even.......just.......RAAAAAAAAGE!  This fuckery needs to stop right fuckin' NOW.

ETA:  You know, this is becoming eerily like Vietnam where our government basically treated our returning vets like shit.  These soldiers get injured, and we boot them out so we could SAVE A FUCKING BUCK???  I don't care what part of the political spectrum you hail from, I think this can universally be seen as total and utter FUCKERY.

Continuara. Ahora mismo.

Venezuelan website lampoons Latin American leaders

CARACAS (Reuters) - A Venezuelan website that has poked fun at leftist President Hugo Chavez for two years has become a roaring success on the Internet, where its authors set up their satirical blog to avoid censorship.

Juan Andres Ravell and Oswaldo Graziani, former television scriptwriters, say the main aim of their blog, The Bipolar Capybara (http://www.elchiguirebipolar.com/), is to make people laugh and lighten the polarized political environment.

Their latest creation is "Presidential Island," an animated series on the blog that broadens the satire to other Latin American leaders. The series is a takeoff of the U.S. television drama "Lost" featuring Latin American leaders who are shipwrecked with Chavez on a deserted island.

Chavez and Bolivia's President Evo Morales, the United States' main critics in South America, feast on an American bald eagle, while the king of Spain roasts Chilean leader Michelle Bachelet on a spit.

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YouTube Channel

They sure have material to go on for centuries with this. And poor Bachelet!

Teabagging At 30,000 Feet

Submitted for your approval: two angry teabaggers got drunk and harassed Representative Barney Frank on a flight from Los Angeles to Boston:

Flying back to Boston from LA yesterday, the congressman was assailed by a pair of ophthalmologists upset about the health care reform bill. An argument ensued that prompted some passengers to wonder if the plane might be forced to land.

"No one was calming things down and people were standing up shouting," said Brooke Sexton, who was seated seven rows behind Barney.

Accustomed as he is to being conservatives's favorite bad guy, Frank mostly ignored the doctors's taunts, Sexton said, but the congressman's partner, Jim Ready, did not.

The problem started soon after the ophthalmologists - two sisters on their way to a conference in Boston - boarded the Virgin flight. When they discovered that Frank was sitting nearby, the women loudly dissed the landmark health care bill as an "Obamanation." (Frank was returning from LA, where he'd received an award from the Greenlining Institute, an economic development group for minorities, and appeared on Jay Leno's show.)

"They wanted to talk to me, but I apologized and said I like to read and watch on planes," Frank told us today. "They began to talk louder and that's when Jimmy (Ready) said, 'If you're trying to be bitchy, you're doing a good job."

Needless to say, the women didn't appreciate the remark, and things got heated. (Attempts to locate or ID the women were unsuccessful.) Sexton, who's an HR director for the UK-based retailer All Saints Spitalfields, said flight attendants weren't working hard enough to defuse the situation, so she got involved.

"The women had been drinking, and they were crying and shouting," Sexton said. "They were clearly the antagonizers, and Mr. Frank was kind of minding his own business." (She said Ready also upset another passenger, calling him "Santa Claus.") Finally, the parties calmed down and remained quiet for the rest of the flight. (Sexton was offered some complementary wine for her trouble.)

Source has just crossed over into....The Teabagger Zone.

Better watch out for them angry ophthalmologists, lol.

Emergency News: Hippie Nucular Disarmament is a Mooslim Conspiracy To Take Our Nukes!!

Once again, conservatives see Muslim conspiracy in an administration logo.

Earlier this year, conservatives developed a conspiracy theory in which the Obama administration manipulated the redesign of the Missile Defense Agency to incorporate the Islamic crescent as part of a “submission to Shariah by President Obama and his team.” In fact, as Richard Lehner of the Missile Defense Agency told Fox News, the logo “was used prior to the 2008 election.” Now, the right-wing has worked itself into a fit over another Obama administration logo, this time claiming that the logo for Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit has the “kind of crescent moon you see on the flags of Muslim countries,” in the words of the New York Post’s Michael Goodwin. Goodwin’s argument has been echoed in the conservative blogosphere and, not surprisingly, was picked up by Fox News. Watch it:

franklin sherman

Election 2012: Barack Obama 42%, Ron Paul 41%

Pit maverick Republican Congressman Ron Paul against President Obama in a hypothetical 2012 election match-up, and the race is – virtually dead even.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of likely voters finds Obama with 42% support and Paul with 41% of the vote. Eleven percent (11%) prefer some other candidate, and six percent (6%) are undecided.

Ask the Political Class, though, and it’s a blowout. While 58% of Mainstream voters favor Paul, 95% of the Political Class vote for Obama.

But Republican voters also have decidedly mixed feelings about Paul, who has been an outspoken critic of the party establishment.

Obama earns 79% support from Democrats, but Paul gets just 66% of GOP votes. Voters not affiliated with either major party give Paul a 47% to 28% edge over the president.

Paul, a anti-big government libertarian who engenders unusually strong feelings among his supporters, was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. But he continues to have a solid following, especially in the growing Tea Party movement.

Twenty-four percent (24%) of voters now consider themselves a part of the Tea Party movement, an eight-point increase from a month ago. Another 10% say they are not a part of the movement but have close friends or family members who are.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of all voters have a favorable opinion of Paul, while 30% view him unfavorably. This includes 10% with a very favorable opinion and 12% with a very unfavorable one. But nearly one-out-of-three voters (32%) are not sure what they think of Paul.

Perhaps tellingly, just 42% of Republican voters have a favorable view of him, including eight percent (8%) with a very favorable opinion. By comparison, 42% of unaffiliated voters regard him favorably, with 15% very favorable toward him.

Twenty-six percent (26%) of GOP voters think Paul shares the values of most Republican voters throughout the nation, but 25% disagree. Forty-nine percent (49%) are not sure.

Similarly, 27% of Republicans see Paul as a divisive force in the party, while 30% view him as a new direction for the GOP. Forty-two percent (42%) aren’t sure.

Among all voters, 19% say Paul shares the values of most Republican voters, and 27% disagree. Fifty-four percent (54%) are undecided.

Twenty-one percent (21%) of voters nationwide regard Paul as a divisive force in the GOP. Thirty-four percent (34%) say he is representative of a new direction for the party. Forty-five percent (45%) are not sure.

But it’s important to note than 75% of Republicans voters believe Republicans in Congress have lost touch with GOP voters throughout the nation over the past several years.

Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2008, is another Republican who has been bucking the party’s traditional leadership and was the keynote speaker at the recent Tea Party convention in Nashville. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Republican voters say Palin shares the values of most GOP voters throughout the nation. Just 18% of Republicans see Palin as a divisive force within the GOP.

Rasmussen Reports released survey findings yesterday that take a closer look at the political views of those who say they’re part of the Tea Party movement. Among other things, 96% of those in the movement think America is overtaxed, and 94% trust the judgment of the American people more than that of America’s political leaders.

When it comes to major issues confronting the nation, 48% of voters now say the average Tea Party member is closer to their views than Obama is. Forty-four percent (44%) hold the opposite view and believe the president’s views are closer to their own.

Fifty-two percent (52%) believe the average member of the Tea Party movement has a better understanding of the issues facing America today than the average member of Congress. Thirty-five percent (35%) of voters now think Republicans and Democrats are so much alike that an entirely new political party is needed to represent the American people. Nearly half (47%) of voters disagree and say a new party is not needed

If the Tea Party was organized as a political party, 34% of voters would prefer a Democrat in a three-way congressional race. In that hypothetical match-up, the Republican gets 27% of the vote with the Tea Party hopeful in third at 21%. However, if only the Democrat or Republican had a real chance to win, most of the Tea Party supporters would vote for the Republican.


I am pleased as punch... but I dont think the GOP would -ever- give Paul the nomination.. (especially after the immoral tricks the GOP pulled on the campaign during the 2008 election)

Shocking News: WaMu Was Run By Lavish Rappers! CEO of WaMu, MC Hammer, Haz No Comments

WaMu To Sell Their Golden Toilet Seats

WaMu Employees Rapped, 'I Like Big Bucks And I Cannot Lie' Before Bank Failed

Testifying before a Senate subcommittee yesterday, former Washington Mutual chief executive Kerry Killinger suggested that WaMu was "allowed" to collapse in 2008 mainly because it was unfairly excluded from the clique of executives who had access to regulators.

"For those that were part of the inner circle and were 'too clubby to fail,' the benefits were obvious," Killinger complained. "For those outside the club, the penalty was severe."

But according to evidence introduced at yesterday's hearings, Washington Mutual had a clannish culture of its own. Within 600-plus pages of exhibits, Politico found an account of a 2006 employee retreat the firm held in Hawaii, where mortgage lenders rewrote the lyrics to the 1992 hip-hop tune "Baby Got Back" and presented it in a choreographed performance for attendees in what appears to have been an icky attempt at boosting morale.

Instead of "I like big butts and I can not lie/You other brothers can't deny," the WaMu employees sang, "I like big bucks and I cannot lie/You mortgage brothers can't deny." While the employees "rapped," they threw fake money in the air while cheerleaders danced around.

The singalong, which occurred shortly before the firm became the largest bank in U.S. history to fail, finished with these lyrics, provided by Politico:
"I like big bucks and I cannot lie/You mortgage brothers can't deny

"That when the dough roles in like you're printin' your own cash/

And you gotta make a splash/

You just spends/

Like it never ends/

Cuz you gotta have that big new Benz...

Vote for choice.

David Cameron has this week expressed the intention to slash the time limit on legal termination of pregnancy from 24 to '22 or 20' weeks should he be elected Prime Minister. We were all expecting this. In fact, Cameron and tubthumping anti-choice MP Nadine Dorries - the self-styled 'Bridget Jones of Westminster' - all but adopted mysterious Austrian robot accents when they swore to be back with the issue under a Tory government, which is just one more reason for us all to refer to Ms Dorries as The Terminator from henceforth.

The anti-choice ideological assaults of 2008 might seem like a long time ago, but for those who weren't around during the big cross-party feminist victory over the forces of bad science, bigotry and state control, here's a precis: many Tories, including the Terminator herself, filed anti-choice amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, their first aim being to reduce the time limit on legal abortion to 20 weeks. The Terminator also launched a propaganda campaign in the Daily Mail, which was contested by this blog in conjunction with many other progressive activists and campaign groups. Pro-choice MPs, with support and encouragement from reproductive freedom campaigners and scientific focus groups who had the hard data on why reducing the time limit is arrant bollocks, responded with their own pro-choice amendments, including one on the extention of abortion rights to Northern Ireland. In the end, a free vote was held, amidst a huge demonstrations in Westminster and beyond. The 24-week time limit was upheld by 304 votes to 233 in the first vote on the issue in parliament for 18 years.

Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg voted to uphold the 24-week time limit; anti-choice apologist David Cameron voted to lower the limit to 22 weeks, in a clear statement that he prioritises moral posturing and misogyny over treating his female constituents like human beings who can make their own choices. A large proportion of the 233 votes for reducing the time limit were Tory votes. And now Cameron has had the gall to ask us to elect him on a platform of forced birth and bigotry. If one has any feminist compass at all, one should not be voting Conservative. Period.

However, on this issue as with so many others, it's not a simple case of Red good, Blue bad. In 2008, The amendment to extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland was quashed after some government filibustering, in which the DUP's nine votes on the 42 day detention-without-trial period for suspected terrorists were traded directly for a guarantee that Northern Irish women would continue to be denied basic medical care and be forced to carry pregnancies to term or travel to England to access pregnancy termination services. And yes, setting that statement down in black and white still makes me feel nauseous. When the DUP walked through the Commons to cast their votes for 42 days, MPs who supported human rights screamed 'what were you paid?'. This is what they were paid. The bodily autonomy of Northern Irish women sold over their heads for a statement vote trading our essential freedoms for an airy notion of national security.

I suspect that New Labour expects us to forget about things like this. I won't be forgetting. Not ever. Not about the welfare reform fiasco, not about 42 days, not about the surveillance state, not about the Iraq war, not about the Digital Economy Bill, and not about the cold way in which Brown sold out Northern Irish women. I'm not under the illusion that any of this would have been anything but crashingly worse under the Tories, but I can't blithely give my vote to Labour after this litany of betrayal and disappointment.

In short: on this, as on so many other issues, there is no obvious choice between parties. The only thing that feminists, scientists and anyone who objects to the idea of forcing women to give birth against their will can do is be sure to vote for the heroes of the pro-choice movement, those MPs of all parties who can be relied upon to defend women against the brutal forced-birth agenda that's coming around the corner.

Pro-choice heroes:

-Diane Abbott in Hackney (Labour, sitting)
-Evan Harris in Oxford and Abingdon (Lib Dem, sitting)
-Emily Thornberry in Islington (Labour, sitting)
-Stella Creasy in Waltham Forest (Labour, PPC)
-Lynne Featherstone in Haringey (Lib Dem, sitting)

You can find out how your MP voted on the issue here, at Liberal Conspiracy (via Public Whip).

Source: Penny Red

Also, have a bonus article on the same subject with video, courtesy of Bloggerheads

Note to mods: seeing as I've had trouble with this source in the past, just pointing out that although it's a personal blog the author is a journalist and the content gets syndicated at Liberal Conspiracy (a prominent UK left wing news site) so it's not as ropey a source as the blogspot.com in the URL makes it out to be. Thanks! :)
other - resin

Update on Great Barrier Reef oil spill

Oil spill 'minimal' on reef island

Fish swim above a broken plate of coral on a reef at Douglas Shoal (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority)

Authorities say the amount of oil washed onto a central Queensland island from a damaged Chinese coal carrier appears to be minimal.

The clean-up on North West Island on the Great Barrier Reef began this morning, about 10 nautical miles from where the Shen Neng 1was damaged when it aground nearly a fortnight ago.

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So it's not as bad as it could have been, but the stuff about the birds is worrying. Also, first post to ontd_political!
franklin sherman

The Gadget Hound Nearly 800,000 U.S. TV households 'cut the cord,' report says

Make no mistake: The big cable, satellite, and telco carriers are still sitting pretty with more than 100 million TV subscribers. Nevertheless, a new report claims that more and more viewers are "cutting the cord" in favor of watching their favorite shows via over-the-air antennas (remember those?), Netflix, or the Web.

TechCrunch has the scoop on a new report from the Toronto-based Convergence Consulting Group, and though the figures may not be a "serious threat" to the big cable and satellite carriers yet, the trend might eventually spell trouble for the like of Cablevision, Comcast, DirecTV, and Time Warner Cable.

To wit: Nearly 800,000 households in the U.S. have "cut the cord," dumping their cable, satellite, or telco TV providers (such as AT&T U-verse or Verizon FiOS) and turning instead to Web-based videos (like Hulu), downloadable shows (iTunes), by-mail subscription services (Netflix), or even good ol' over-the-air antennas for their favorite shows, according to the report.

Now, as TechCrunch points out, the estimated 800,000 cord cutters represent less than 1 percent of the 100 million U.S. households (give or take) currently subscribing to a cable/satellite/telco TV carrier, so it's not like we're talking a mass exodus here. But by the end of 2011, the report guesstimates, the number of cord-cutting households in the U.S. will double to about 1.6 million, and if the trend continues, well...

Even more trouble for the big carriers is the report's assertion that U.S. TV watchers are getting a taste for online video, with an estimated 17 percent of the U.S. TV audience watching at least one or two shows online in a given week last year, up from just 12 percent in 2008, and set to rise to 21 percent this year.

Personally, I find the temptation to cut the cord pretty enticing, especially whenever I get a load of my monthly $130 cable bill (which includes unlimited broadband and HD but no premium channels). Why am I paying so much for all the hundreds of channels that I rarely ever watch, anyway? Wouldn't it be easier — not to mention a lot cheaper — just to ditch my DVR and watch my favorite shows on iTunes and Hulu, catch up on the news via CNN.com, and be done with it?

There's one important factor that's keeping me from pulling my scissors out: live sports, and particularly ESPN, my 24-hour sports companion. Sure, as a football fan, I could keep up with the Jets and the Giants via over-the-air TV (although I'm not sure my landlord would be all that ecstatic about my installing a TV antenna on the roof of our Brooklyn brownstone), but without cable, I'd be left high and dry when it comes to Monday Night Football.

What about you? Anyone out there count themselves as one of the 800,000-plus cord-cutting households in the U.S.? If not, would you ever consider it, or are you too attached to basic cable?

Correction: This post originally said that 800,000 U.S. TV households "cut the cord" in 2009. They didn't all cut the cord in 2009; the number reflects how many had cut the cord by the end of 2009 — a somewhat important distinction. Apologies for the goof.


I dont have cable, just netflix, dvds, and internet streaming. You guys?
old 97s

Health Reform is a BFD

I know this isn't a typical ontd_political post, but I thought this was funny and wanted to share with you guys.

From barackobama.com:

We asked you to choose your favorite commerative health reform t-shirt, and after thousands of votes, one thing was clear -- OFA supporters think that passing health reform is a BFD.

But we still need to rein in Wall Street abuses, set America on a path to energy independence, and put more Americans back to work. So we've got to keep organizing, keep building, and come back twice as strong for the next fight.

Please donate today to help. If you give $25 or more now, we'll send you a limited edition "Health Reform is a BFD" T-shirt.

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Men Trafficked from Africa to Scotland for ... Sex?

Human trafficking service organizations in Scotland recently reported identifying two new male victims. But they weren't working in factories, farming fields, or constructing buildings like many other male trafficking victims. They were being forced into prostitution. Are these two cases unusual outliers or the beginning of a new trend of trafficking men into prostitution?

The two men in question were trafficked from Africa (countries not specified) into Scotland separately. One was forced to make pornography and the other was sold into traditional street prostitution. Both men, however, thought they were accepting non-sexual jobs in Scotland, only to be forced to have sex once they arrived. Male prostitution is not a new phenomenon in Scotland, with about 400 male escorts listed on the web. But most of those have been Scottish men who chose to go into the industry. There have been some cases of homelessness or drug addiction forcing men to sell sex acts, but those cases have thus far been relatively rare.

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draco gif.

Abortion insurance ban bill advances

A Louisiana House committee advanced Wednesday morning legislation that would prohibit insurance companies from covering the cost of abortions.

The House Insurance Committee voted 8-1 to report the House Bill 1247 favorably for full debate by the House of Representatives.
State Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, said the measure takes advantage of a provision in the newly enacted federal health care overhaul that lets states decide on their own whether to forbid insurance coverage for abortions.

State Rep. Juan LaFonta, D-New Orleans, said he opposed the legislation because it goes much further than the federal legislation by forcing the mothers of non-viable fetuses to give birth.

Source is not surprised.

The new targets

The prospect of a Conservative Government could be something that fills our kneejerking friends in the tabloids with equal amounts of delight and revulsion. Sure, these are the people they've been telling us to vote for, for the past few years, who will cut through the red tape, demolish the PC Brigade, end yuman rites, get rid of elfnsafety, and generally make Britain into a much more marvellous place.

Except. What then? No-one's going to go for a ride on the ghost train if there's nothing to be scared about. Well fear not - or rather, keep on fearing as much as possible. Because there's already a new target in the crosshairs for when New Labour get kicked out of office - the bloated and evil public sector, draining our money while we hardworking Brits are struggling along.

As with MPs' expenses, it is of course a bit rich for journalists of all people to be bleating about a venal expenses culture, but that's beside the point. What's important is where this is going: the same old demonising is going on - not just with the immigrant single mother tribunal winner who won Daily Mail Outrage Bingo on yesterday's front page, but with the civil servants who are going to be labelled as bloated, outrageous, expensive and worth getting rid of.

Don't fret. It's not as if our papers are going to run out of things to be worried about, or to try and make us worried about, even if their chosen candidate Samantha Cameron does become Prime Minister. The public sector is going to take a hell of a pasting, with many more tales like this stoking up the anger in order to make a cull of jobs seem all the more palatable, whether or not the eventual victims are the 'fat cats' at the top or not.

The diversity Nazis, health and safety Gestapo, political correctness Stasi and human rights KGB will still be around too, as well as the disgusting pinko BBC. When Labour have been in power, it's been assumed that it's all been a big plot led from the top; when (and if) SamCam takes charge, it will be portrayed as an unlanceable boil constantly frustrating Honest Cameron's attempts to put loads of people on the dole get rid of red tape, put loads of people on the dole streamline public services and put loads of people on the dole make Government smaller.

If Cameron does win - and it looks like he will, despite the fact he's doing his best to scuttle the ship - and doesn't do exactly what the tabloids want in terms of turning back the clock to the 1950s, he'll be cut some slack at first. New Labour's legacy will be blamed. These things take time. It's those pesky liberals who are infecting the bloated state who are at fault. There are other bogeymen to be shone a torch on and made to look scary first. Eventually, of course, Cameron may be turned upon by his cheerleaders, but that's a long time away. Don't think for a moment that a Conservative Government will stop the fearmongering - in a lot of ways, it's just beginning.

Source: Enemies of Reason
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    Mindless Self Indulgence - You'll Rebel to Anything (as Long as It's Not Challenging) | Powered by L
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JPMorgan To Homeless Ex-Homeowners: "Bring It On, Biatches!"

Chief Executive of JPMorgan Now The Fastest Runner in Wall Street! Breaks New World Record in Backpedaling.

JPMorgan Executive Mobbed By Borrowers After Inviting Them To Bring Him Their Complaints

David Lowman, chief executive for JPMorgan Chase's home mortgage division, may have gotten a little ahead of himself at yesterday's House Financial Services hearing yesterday. When Representative Barney Frank asked Lowman whom homeowners should turn to to address concerns and to get some resolution on unanswered questions, Lowman offered, "Come to me." About 50 people in audience took him up on the offer after the meeting adjourned. So, Lowman, fled right the hell out of there!
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hyacinth bucket

oh noes for Sarah

Discovery Channel Insider: Sarah Palin's Show Is "a New All Time Low for Discovery"

Last night on The Young Turks we broke the story of reaction to Sarah Palin's new show inside Discovery. We have an inside source at Discovery Communications and we've been leaked information on Sarah Palin's show for Discovery's TLC network.

Last week Discovery had its annual sales conference for ad buyers for all of its 13 networks. The presentation showcases all of their new shows across the different networks. That night the presentation was on Sarah Palin's Alaska.

Our source says "the whole thing [was] comical." Apparently the ad buyers were not impressed. This Discovery insider said, "When the promo was over, people (employees and buyers) were rolling their eyes, snickering, and even laughing. People were laughing and it's not even a comedy. No one took it seriously."

This person was concerned that given the lack of interest from ad buyers that Discovery would have to dump the show to "a crappy time slot" to cut its losses. They added, "Bottom line everyone thought it was a new all time low for Discovery. My guess is the show is going to tank big time."

Remember Discovery is paying Sarah Palin $250,000 an episode for this series. There are eight episodes, so she will be clearing $2 million for this possible disaster (TLC will be spending between $800,000 to $1.2 million per episode for the whole production). The ratings for her new show on Fox News Channel were already low (she couldn't even hold on to Greta Van Susteren's audience). Imagine how much worse she'll do on TLC where the audience presumably wants to learn something, i.e. the exact opposite of what Sarah Palin is known for. What's next for TLC, George Bush's Ranch?

When are people going to finally realize that just attaching a "big name" to a project doesn't mean it's going to work? The person hosting the show has to have some credibility in the field. I'm not sure Sarah Palin has credibility in any field.

Many people would argue that Palin did great ecological damage to Alaska and would like to do more by drilling all over it. So, getting her to host a show about the natural beauty of Alaska is a bit like getting Jeffrey Dahmer to host a cooking show for the Food Network. Yes, there's a big name attached, but is that the name you really want associated with your brand?


lol I don't think it'll tank but thats a bad sign

(no subject)

Tea Party Rally "Press Conference" to Stop Unnecessary and Wasteful Government Spending Declared a Success! Tea Party to Use Taxpayers Hard Earned Moneys Fairy Magic Dust To Pay Expenses!

Tea Party rally cost taxpayers nearly $14k
Several ethics attorneys and experts said that the spending on the Washington event likely fell within congressional rules.

Rep. Michele Bachmann solidified her place in the national spotlight in November when she gathered thousands of Tea Party activists in front of the U.S. Capitol for a "House Call on Washington," to stop the Democrats' health care bill.

Months later, official expense reports show that the boisterous, 10,000-person rally to rein in big government and stop runaway spending cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $14,000.

Bachmann and three other lawmakers split the cost for a private company to arrange staging and a sound system, using their official congressional member allowances. Joining her were Reps. Tom Price of Georgia, Todd Akin of Missouri and Steve King of Iowa.

Spending tax dollars on partisan events is practiced on both sides of the aisle. Democrats spent more than $9,000 in public money the week before the "House Call" rally to unveil the health care bill at an event outside the Capitol building attended by several hundred.

An ethics group has raised questions about Bachmann's use of her congressional website to promote the Tea Party rally. But several Washington ethics attorneys and experts say that paying for the event's $13,600 bill with official funds likely fell within congressional rules, so long as it was not campaign-related.

"Unless it's billed as a campaign event, or campaign donations are solicited, or there's a concerted program of endorsements for candidates based on party affiliation, I don't think that they ran into any issues," said Stan Brand, a former general counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Learning that taxpayer funds were used did strike a note of discomfort with Twin Cities Tea Party co-founder Deanna Boss, who arranged for more than 100 Minnesotans to attend the rally. Boss said she would have preferred that private donors had financed the event, given her and other activists' criticism of excessive government spending.

"I mean, we're broke," she said, referring to the national debt. "Every penny counts here."
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aurora // once upon a time

[Canadian] Troops gave ‘innocent’ men to notorious Afghan spies, translator says

In explosive testimony, military employee known as ‘Pasha’ also tells MPs Canadian soldier shot unarmed man in back of head.


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Deleted some stuff relating to Canadian politics (all in the original article at the source. I'm curious as to how much attention the Afghan Detainee Abuse scandal is generating outside Canada.

John Barrowman- gay off!

So much for Teh Ghey destroying the military, then...

This is a just over a fortnight old, but I'm sure I haven't seen it posted here.

A very modern military partnership
Only 10 years ago, the Army was expelling soldiers for homosexuality. Now gay weddings get the regimental blessing. Terri Judd reports

David Sandison

One groom wore ceremonial uniform with his Iraq medal, the other morning dress with an orchid. Surrounded by silverware and paintings commemorating great battles, Lance Corporal James Wharton, 23, and his new husband enjoyed their first dance to Tina Turner in the warrant officers' mess of the most prestigious regiment in the land.

The Household Cavalry, famed for escorting the Queen during state occasions and the fact that it counts both her grandsons among its officers, celebrated its first gay wedding in style. L/Cpl Wharton was joined in a civil partnership with his boyfriend, the Virgin air steward Thom McCaffrey, 21, surrounded by members of L/Cpl Wharton's regiment, the Blues and Royals.

"The entire regiment has been really supportive," he said. "When I went to ask the Squadron Leader, Major Nana Twumasi-Ankrah, for permission to get married, he just said 'This is fantastic, congratulations'."

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Seriously, I love this piece like I love cake, and I thought people would get a real kick of out non-rage-inducing gay rights news for once. It's just so sweet! I'm really seeing a lot of OMG GAY CONTROVERSY DESTROYING THE ARMY going on here, aren't you?

Sauce is sweet as hell and has more, bigger pictures!
Senator 2

How many chumps do you take?

So, uh, the Tea Party Express rolled into Boston today. Sarah Palin spoke, but I was too late to catch that. Predictably, lots of middle-aged white people who love flags showed up to rally against perceived threats of socialism in a public park. Of course, it wouldn't be Boston without a sizable number of creative counter-protests.

Without further adieu, picspam.

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Poll Finds Tea Party Anger Rooted in Issues of Class

Tea party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, tend to be Republican, white, male, and married, and their strong opposition to the Obama administration is more rooted in political ideology than anxiety about their personal economic situation, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters look like Republicans in many ways, but they hold more conservative views on a range of issues and tend to be older than Republicans generally. They are also more likely than Republicans as a whole to describe themselves as “very conservative” and President Obama as “very liberal.”

And while most Republicans say they are “dissatisfied” with Washington, Tea Party supporters are more likely to classify themselves as “angry.”Collapse )


David Miliband welcomes former Tories who have quit party over gay rights

At a Labour party event today, Foreign Secretary David Miliband was joined by two former Conservative party activists who quit the party over its treatment of gay rights and the apparent support by Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling for bed and breakfast owners to ban gay couples. David Miliband said: "The Tory head and the Tory heart are at odds. The head tells them that the world has changed, that they have been rejected at three elections because they were seen as the nasty party. The heart tells them something different."

Anastasia Beaumont-Bott who helped set-up the Conservative's gay wing, LGBTory said: "The voice of the gay people of this country will not go away.

"Mr Cameron! Change we can believe in? We shouldn't have to believe in your party changing, because actions should speak louder than words and we should just be able to look at your party and know whether you've changed or not.

"As a now ex-conservative politician, needless to say, I wasn't convinced. And with your recent manifesto launch, I am still not convinced.

"There is not one mention of new gay rights in that document.

"Mr Cameron, you have not only lost my vote. You have lost my respect.

"And I know, I'm not the only one out there who is asking themselves "have the Conservatives really changed?"

"The answer, is no.

"On 6 May, I will be voting for Labour. Because I shouldn't have to believe in change, I should see change and I want to be part of achieving it."

David Cameron writing for PinkNews.co.uk at the weekend announced a policy to erase the criminal records of all those convicted of gay sex offences that are no longer illegal and adopt a "zero tolerance" approach to homophobic bullying in schools. But neither policies were included in the Conservative manifesto, Peter Tatchell branded the policies as an "after thought."

Beaumont-Bott, 20, who was a Conservative party member for three years and headed the party's lesbian and gay group for two years, said that as a teenage victim of homophobic bullying she wasn't prepared to be pushed around again.

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Source: Pink News

I feel like I know her
  • maclyn

Can't afford a Lear 60 jet? NO PALIN FOR YOU!

From the Guardian:

Sarah Palin contract demands 'Lear 60 jet' and 'bendable straws'

Sarah Palin

High flyer … the discovery of a speaking contract thought to be for Sarah Palin included extraordinary stipulations, including nothing less than a private Lear 60 jet. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

For a woman who until last July was a fairly unknown governor of one of the most obscure states in America, existing on an official income of $125,000 (£80,734) a year, Sarah Palin has acquired some pretty impressive trappings of celebrity and influence. She now commands fees of up to $100,000 for just one speech, and her engagements are controlled by her minders in minute detail.

Those details include demands that she have two bottles of still water and bendable straws placed near the lectern from which she delivers her speeches; that she be flown from her home in Alaska to wherever the event takes place on first-class commercial tickets or in a private jet of at least the size of a Lear 60; and that she be driven from the airport to the venue in professionally licensed SUVs or, failing that, in black town cars.

Her hotel room must be booked under an alias, for security reasons, and must include a one-bedroom suite and two single rooms. There must be a laptop computer and printer fully charged with paper in the room. And the hotel must be rated as deluxe.

We now know such arcane details of the life of Sarah Palin in her new incarnation as megastar courtesy of two intrepid college students at Stanislaus, a branch of California State University in Turlock, California.

Palin has been booked through her agency, the Washington Speakers Bureau, to front a fundraiser for the college's foundation on 25 June.

The students, Alicia Lewis and Ashli Briggs, claim to have been tipped off last week to strange movements in the campus administration building.

Officials of the administration had been under pressure from Democratic politicians and others to reveal the precise terms on which Palin's services were being secured, and the rumour was that administrators were busily shredding documents to avoid disclosure.

Lewis and Briggs decided to investigate. Finding the administration building locked, they claim to have seen bags full of complete and shredded documents being carried out and dumped in a bin.

When the coast was clear, they rifled through the bags and say they found the final six pages of a nine-page Washington Speakers Bureau contract.

It does not mention Palin by name, but refers to the speaker's "high profile" and need for security "of the highest order".It stipulates in exhaustive detail every aspect of the engagement. If a private jet is used it "MUST BE a Lear 60 or larger for West Coast Events; or, a Hawker 800 or larger for East Coast Events and both are subject to the Speaker's approval".

The bendable straws are a requirement that goes unexplained.

On the back of the discovery of the document, the attorney general of California, Jerry Brown, has announced an investigation into the way the Stanislaus Foundation is conducting its affairs with Palin after suggestions that it is paying her up to $75,000 for the event.

There has been no confirmation or denial from the Washington Speakers Bureau or the foundation whether the contract is genuine. The foundation has countered that as all its $20m assets came from private donations it was not required to make the same public disclosures as the university to which it is attached.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/14/sarah-palin

You can read some of the contract here
. All I have to add is LOL, and what a waste of money.

  • luomo

Why Atheist Outreach is So Important

There are many reasons it’s so important to have ever-expanding atheist outreach. One of the biggest is that it encourages people to come out of the closet.

Reader Melissa sent me this email that I wanted to share:

First, I came out to the evangelicals who came to my door last Easter. It was actually so scary and liberating to tell the obviously Christian strangers that I was an atheist that I had to call my husband at work and my mother and tell them that I had done it. Then I found I was telling all kinds of strangers that I was an atheist whenever it came it up conversation…

But the most important “coming out” happened to me just before Easter this year. I’m in rehearsals for a play and we were rehearsing on Good Friday. We are an eclectic bunch. And we were talking about Good Friday. What is Good Friday? Why is it called “Good Friday”? About religion in general. Making jokes about the Last Supper. And one of my castmates, a very religious Catholic gentleman about my mother’s age, asked me what religion I was. Now coming out to people you know and see regularly is a lot harder than the person in line at the grocery store so I started gently.

“I’m a nontheist.”

I know this term is confusing and I was being confusing on purpose. Because it’s hard to be alone in that and I was afraid of a possible conversion lecture. And he said, “Well, what were you raised as?” And I just said it. “I’m an atheist.” and he asked me, “You don’t believe in god, Becca?” and I simply said no.

But then the funniest thing happened. Another actor — a 78-year-old gentleman, doctor, and a man who wears a Star of David around his neck all the time — chimed in, “That’s about where I am.” An ultra conservative anti-environmental corporate lawyer in his 50s said that he didn’t like the term “atheist” but didn’t believe in a personal god. The other actress, a woman in her 50s, said she only went to church to sing in the choir and didn’t believe in god. And the director, a man in his 70s to whose house I had been to for Seder, also said he had no god beliefs. We were all atheists. Well, all except our friend. But it took one of us to say it out loud. To say it without equivocation.

That’s why blogs like yours are so important. That’s why the billboards are so important. That’s why the alliances and meetings and coalitions are all so important. Because I needed to be able to tell people who I was without feeling like I was alone. And when other people see someone able to come out they feel more able themselves and less alone.

That’s a big reason why we encourage people to come out. Not just for the liberating feeling you get, but because it encourages so many other people to follow suit.

If you haven’t come out yet, it’s not too late. Start small. Work your way up. Eventually, you can tell Facebook :)

from friendly atheist.
Akuma River

The Library of Congress is going to Archive every single fucking public tweet on Twitter

I shit you not. This is the genuine truth. The LOC is going to archive every public tweet that Twitter has going all the way back to it's birth in 2006.

Library of Congress to permanently archive Twitter posts
2 hrs 50 mins ago
Ever wish you could have something you wrote in the Library of Congress?

Well, if you've ever sent a Twitter message, you can: The Library of Congress announced Wednesday on its Twitter account that it will acquire the full history of Twitter messages dating back to March 2006. Additional details are available on the library's blog and on Twitter's blog.

Observers are asking what the Library and its users might do with the information, which is already publicly accessible but has never been properly collected into a single, usable database (particularly one with an academic bent).

The creation of a Twitter archive is really good news — not just for those in the future who need to look up what party P. Diddy was attending on Feb. 23 but also for academics doing serious research about how news is broken, how quickly information spreads during major world events, and how public sentiment on various topics changes over time.

Some big questions remain. ReadWriteWeb asks whether the Library of Congress will offer an advanced search engine for finer-grained insight into Twitter's archives than current Twitter search utilities offer. But whether or not you and I have in-depth access to the Twitterbase, it's academic research that will probably benefit most from this archive. As the Library of Congress' blogger says, "I'm no Ph.D., but it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data. And I'm certain we'll learn things that none of us now can even possibly conceive."

Thoughts? Cool for the academic reasons? Or bad for the govt being able to snoop messages better?
yeah so no

Gears of War 3: Adding a Female Character?

Gears of War 3: Adding a Female Character? (originally via Kotaku, but don't read the comments there unless you want to start curbstomping people--which is why I went for the original blog post rather than the Kotaku article.)

Gears of War 3 hasn't been announced -- although the game's teaser debuts a week from today, and the game itself will be out in April 2011 or later. So, why am I thinking about Gears right now? Well, the recent "Girls & Games" PAX panel and its accompanied discussion about female characters made me think about how difficult it is to portray women in a male-centric story without making it seem like the entire gender has been forgotten and/or passed over.

Gears of War, one of my favorite franchises, is a story of hyper-violent meatheads packed with brawn and lacking in brains ... and it's almost completely female-free. The Gears series is a celebration of masculinity, almost to the point of parody: the men in this game look like they eat steroids instead of Wheaties for breakfast.

The female panelists at the PAX panel cited the Gears guys as examples of "idealized" men in an attempt to defend the bajillions of idealized, over-sexualized female characters in, oh, every game ever -- but these men aren't idealized sexually. They're idealized for their masculinity: they are physically fit to the point of absurdity, and they can even be emotional without seeming like sissies.

Gears' lack of romance and female influence actually makes the game seem ... well, kinda gay. (Think Achilles and Patroclus, not Boy From Oz.) I am not the only person who has picked up on this. Even though Dom has a wife, Maria is a MacGuffin, not a character, and she only has a couple of throwaway lines in a flashback.

The only female character, Anya Stroud, is a lieutenant -- but you'd never know it, since the petite blond spends the game getting in and out of helicopters, narrowly escaping danger (off-screen, of course), and staying out of the real action while advising male soldiers over her headset. She must have been a heavily armored COG at some point, in order to move through the ranks -- but if that's the case, where are all of the other female COGs?

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...Seriously, the only role the creators of Gears of War see for women in the future is baby makers? And the only way not to be relegated to 'incubator' is to incapable of bearing children? Really? Really?

This reminds me of the game devs who wrote off creating female characters in favor of realistic wall damage. :/
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Murasaki Shikibu

US government finally admits most piracy estimates are bogus

US government finally admits most piracy estimates are bogus

We've all seen the studies trumpeting massive losses to the US economy from piracy. One famous figure, used literally for decades by rightsholders and the government, said that 750,000 jobs and up to $250 billion a year could be lost in the US economy thanks to IP infringement. A couple years ago, we thoroughly debunked that figure. For years, Business Software Alliance reports on software piracy assumed that each illicit copy was a lost sale. And the MPAA's own commissioned study on movie piracy turned out to overstate collegiate downloading by a factor of three.

Can we trust any of these claims about piracy?

The US doesn't think so.
In a new report out yesterday, the government's own internal watchdog took a close look at "efforts to quantify the economic effects of counterfeit and pirated goods." After examining all the data and consulting with numerous experts inside and outside of government, the Government Accountability Office concluded (PDF) that it is "difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the economy-wide impacts."

More specific studies that focus only on single industries don't fare much better because "the illicit nature of counterfeiting and piracy makes estimating the economic impact of IP infringements extremely difficult." And when it comes time to choose a substitution rate (how much of the infringing activity should be counted as a lost sale), we're left only with "assumptions... which can have enormous impacts on the resulting estimates."

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old 97s

'Birther' Lt. Col. Terry Lakin to be court-martialed for refusing order to deploy to Afghanistan

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

An Army doc who refuses to go to Afghanistan until President Obama produces a birth certificate will face court-martial.

Lt. Col. Terry Lakin, a decorated military man who has become a part of the fringe "birther" movement - which believes President Obama was not born in the United States - could face a dishonorable discharge for failing to obey orders, MSNBC reported on Tuesday.

The 18-year veteran came out in support of the largely discredited conspiracy theorists at the end of March, proclaiming he would "disobey" his "illegal" orders to deploy.

"I believe all servicemen and women, and the American people, deserve the truth about President Obama's constitutional eligibility to the office of the presidency and the commander in chief," he said in a video statement posted on YouTube on March 30.

The Bronze Star Medal recipient refuses to go to Afghanistan for a second tour until Obama releases his birth certificate showing he was, in fact, born in the U.S.

"Seeking out public office, especially the highest in our land, means you must uphold the Constitution, Mr. President, and confirm your eligibility," Lakin said in the video.

The Army doctor was informed of his court-martial by his brigade commander, and his Pentagon building pass and laptop have been seized, MSNBC reported.

Several lawsuits have been filed - and dismissed - in the last two years by "birthers" who continue to believe that Obama was not born here, but instead in Kenya or possibly Indonesia.

In an effort to confront the conspiracy, Obama officials posted a copy of a certification of live birth online in 2008. Newspaper notices from August 4, 1961 have also been found in Hawaiian newspapers announcing his birth, and officials have confirmed his birth certificate exists and shows he was born in Honolulu.

A birth certificate claiming Obama was born in Kenya, which surfaced last year, later proved to be fake.

The claims of Obama's ineligibility to hold office because he wasn't a natural-born citizen began during his campaign for President.

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Cameron's Erotic Vegan Poetry


Here's one of those curveballs that party leaders sometimes get chucked at them in an election campaign.

The Tory leader visited Kingston Hospital's highly-rated maternity unit this weekend. (He heaped praise on it, virtually guaranteeing it will not be axed in any NHS reorganisation, but that's another story).

Cameron dipped into a very cosy chat with the hospital radio presenter Julie Mullen. But just as the short session ended, he was presented by Ms Mullen with a special gift to take away.

Cam said that he would of course have to put it in the register of MPs' interests. To which Ms Mullen warned "Er, you may not want to...."

She then handed over her very own book: Erotic Poetry for Vegans and Vegetarians.

Cameron handles it well, joking that "I will look at my vegetable vegetable patch in a new way..You get lots of things in a campaign, but no one has ever given me Erotic Poetry for Vegans"


Lazy people skip to 2:08

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Yummy sauce

Because two wars is not enough...

After hearing Pentagon and military officials say that Iran is at least one year away from enriching enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon - and 3 to 5 years away from actually producing weapons - Johnny "Ringo" McCain said, and I paraphrase:

"Pilgrim, mah trigger finger is gittin' mighty itchy."
I feel like I know her
  • maclyn

New IVF technique could eliminate mitochondrial diseases.

Scientists reveal gene-swapping technique to thwart inherited diseases

Transfer of healthy material from fertilised to donated eggs could stop women passing on incurable illnesses


Fertility treatment in action. Photograph: Zephyr/SPL/Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF

Scientists today offered new hope for women at risk of passing on certain inherited diseases to their children, in the form of a pioneering technique to move healthy genetic material from fertilised eggs into donated ones.

Researchers from Newcastle University say their breakthrough will help women whose children are at risk of a range of mitochondrial diseases. These disorders can be mild or very severe, and can cause muscle weakness, blindness, heart and liver failure, diabetes and learning disabilities. They affect one child in every 6,500.

The diseases are caused by mutations in the small amount of genetic material in the mitochondria, which provide the cell with energy. Mitochondrial DNA is separate from the nucleus in a fertilised egg, and is passed on solely by the mother.

The disorders their children suffer are untreatable. Women normally discover they are carriers after relatives have had babies with mitochondrial diseases. If they decide to be tested, they must then opt to remain childless or take the chance of passing on the disease to their child.

The Newcastle University researchers write in the journal Nature that they have successfully transplanted the healthy DNA in human eggs from women with mitochondrial disease into the eggs of women donors who are unaffected.

"What we have done is like changing the battery on a laptop," said Professor Doug Turnbull, one of the study leaders. "The energy supply now works properly but none of the information on the hard drive has been changed.

"A child born using this method would have correctly functioning mitochondria but in every other respect would get all their genetic information from their father and mother."

So far, the work has not gone beyond the lab, because there are significant legal and ethical hurdles to surmount. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates all work on embryos, will have to decide on the ethical propriety, for instance, of discarding the fertilised nuclear material from the donated egg. Both eggs must be fertilised, and at the same stage of development, the scientists say. The donated egg would be fertilised with unidentified donor sperm in the laboratory.

But the scientists have succeeded in making the DNA switch and in growing the resulting embryo for six to eight days, to blastocyst stage, where it is a collection of around 100 dividing cells; they have applied to the HFEA for permission to go further.

Members of the Newcastle team used a DNA-transfer technique similar to that employed in cloning.

A newly fertilised egg normally contains two "pronuclei", containing genetic material from the egg and sperm as well as mitochondrial DNA. Soon after fertilisation, the pronuclei fuse to form a single nucleus.

The scientists extracted the pronuclei from fertilised eggs in the laboratory, leaving behind the mitochondria. They then implanted the pronuclei into fertilised donor eggs whose own pronuclei had been removed. The eggs were left with the transferred pronuclei plus working mitochondria from the women who donated them.

A total of 80 embryos were created using the technique. Under the HFEA research licence granted for the experiments, they then had to be destroyed.

In some cases, a very small amount of mitochondrial DNA was carried over to the new egg. However, the scientists believe it would not be enough to affect a child's health.

Prof Turnbull said: "This is a very exciting development with immense potential to help families at risk from mitochondrial diseases.

"We have no way of curing these diseases at the moment, but this technique could allow us to prevent the diseases occurring in the first place. It is important that we do all we can to help these families and give them the chance to have healthy children, something most of us take for granted."

The Muscular Dystrophy Association, which helps some of the families whose children have a condition called mitochondrial myopathies, has been part-funding the research for the last 10 years. Its chief executive, Philip Butcher, said: "These findings will be a ray of hope for people affected by mitochondrial diseases, who can often be left with the heartbreaking decision of whether to have children who may be born with a serious illness.

"In the future, this technique may give parents the choice to have a healthy child and end the tragic cycle that some families go through, passing on these conditions from generation to generation.

"I would urge the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority to permit fertility treatment using these techniques as soon as the method is proved to be effective and safe in humans."

The other funders were the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, chief executive of the MRC, said: "This fantastic piece of research just goes to show how first-class research can yield real results, unveiling new hope that a range of incurable diseases might be preventable in the future.

"Research such as this can only flourish where there is a robust regulatory framework, and we are delighted to see UK researchers at the cutting edge of this developing field."

Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "This is exciting research that could lead to the major clinical advance of preventing devastating mitochondrial diseases by curing the disease in fertilised eggs."

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/apr/14/scientists-gene-swap-technique-disease/

What say you, ontd_p? Obviously it's young research, but it's exciting. However, I've already heard people (Radio 4 News) saying that "Critics say..." that it's unethical as the child would have "three parents". For some reason, that's...bad?

Sufjan Smile

Keeping a finger on the nuclear trigger

THE OBAMA administration is out to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal and pressure world leaders into imposing sanctions against countries--like Iran--that allegedly harbor ambitions to develop nukes of their own.

That's the agenda behind the Washington summit on nuclear security, which followed the announcement of a supposedly less belligerent U.S. nuclear strategy and the signing in Prague of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia.

The START treaty was billed as a first step towards fulfilling President Barack Obama's call a year ago to rid the world of nuclear weapons. In fact, START would leave the U.S. and Russia with the means to blow up the world many times over.

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Source: Socialist Worker

The tl;dr, the nitty gritty:
  • The US is using weasel definitions to get out of how much they need to reduce their stockpile. For example, they are defining a bomber AND its arsenal as 1 bomb, when they have the capacity for ~20 typically.
  • The US is modernizing its nuclear weapon stockpiles anyways -- production has stopped, but development has not.
  • The US is actively threatening Iran, while applying a double standard and ignoring Israel's undeclared nuclear weapons, and helping India with their nuclear program

    Essentially, the issue here that I'm drawing criticism from is that for all of the heralding from the media and progressive blogs about how neat it is to have a anti-nuke treaty, it effectively accomplishes nothing besides a token show for peace without real meaning. It's rhetoric. One could argue the 'intent' of Obama and whether he's going to do more as a form of apologism, the 'first step' argument, but if he was, why work around the definitions of numbers of bombs or actively work towards modernizing our stock of nukes?

    Nuclear disarmament is a noble goal. But it needs to be real, effective policy that will do more than pay lip service, and it needs to be applied evenly across the board. We cannot just defend nuclear power when it is in the hands of our allies -- we need Israel to sign these treaties and declare their nuclear intentions as much as we need to closely observe and steward over Iran's efforts as part of the UN. If the US doesn't want to keep Israel or India's nuclear aspirations in check, or wants to ignore the nuclear influence of Pakistan, or if it continues to modernize its stockpiles and do what it can to maintain its nuclear strength, we can't expect other countries to play fair against our hypocrisy. We are only undermining our own position. Real action, not just repackaging.
  • Croatian girl wakes up from a coma speaking fluent German

    Source: NY Daily News

    Although a Croatian teen had only just started studying German at school, the 13-year-old has been able to communicate fluently in German since waking up from a 24-hour coma, The Telegraph reports.

    The girl’s parents said that she had been reading German books and watching German television to improve her language skills, but was far from fluent, according to The Telegraph. After waking from her coma, the girl was unable to speak Croatian but instead expressed herself in German.

    Doctors at the hospital where the girl is being treated are calling on various experts to examine her in an attempt to understand what triggered such an unusual change.

    Dr. Mijo Milas, a psychiatric expert, is hesitant to call this a miracle.

    “There are references to cases where people who have been seriously ill and perhaps in a coma have woke up being able to speak other languages.… At the moment, though, any speculation would remain just that – speculation - so it’s better to continue tests until we actually know something,” Milas told The Telegraph
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    Me in Hawaii.

    Dead man wins mayor's race in small Tennessee town

    TRACY CITY, Tenn. (AP) - A dead man has been elected mayor of Tracy City, Tenn.

    Carl Robin Geary died suddenly a few weeks ago. But he received 268 votes anyway in Tuesday's nonpartisan election, beating out incumbent Barbara Brock with 85 votes in the two-candidate race.

    An election administrator, Donna Basham, said Wednesday she wouldn't speculate on why Geary won posthumously but noted his death had been widely reported at the time in this corner of southeastern Tennessee.

    She says the city council will now have to appoint a mayor to the four-year term.

    Brock had been appointed mayor 16 months ago when the previous mayor died. She says she thought she had done a good job but added voters wanted a return to the past.


    Posted via LiveJournal.app.

    Beaten College Student John McKenna Will Sue Police, Lawyer Says

    Source: ABC News

    The University of Maryland student whose beating was caught on video plans to sue the police officers he has accused of assaulting him, his lawyer said today.

    John McKenna's attorney wants to make sure officers are held accountable.
    John McKenna, 21, is still recovering from the physical injuries he received last month when he got caught up in a celebration of his school basketball team's win over Duke. Newly released video shows three Prince George's County police officers in riot gear ramming the student and then beating him with batons.

    Left unconscious in the street, McKenna suffered a concussion and defensive-type bruises on his arms. He needed eight staples in his skull to close his head wound, his lawyer, Chris Griffiths, told "Good Morning America."

    "He's a young man ... and he's recovering from the physical injuries," he said, "but obviously there was quite a bit of emotional distress he suffered in the incident."

    (Video at Source, having issues embedding it)

    One officer has been suspended and authorities have promised a thorough investigation into the incident on a College Park, Md., street, which was documented in a police report that Griffiths called a "cover-up." But Griffiths said he and his client want to make sure the officers involved are held accountable in civil court.

    Griffiths said today that the police abuse continued even out of sight of the video camera. In the ambulance, he charged, McKenna was told not to make a fuss about his injuries. Griffiths said that was because injuries as severe as what the officers allegedly inflicted on the college student would have required more paperwork that would have contradicted the police report.

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    Mustache advocacy group seeks tax break

    ST. LOUIS (AP) - It's time that mustached Americans got in on the stimulus money. At least that's the proposal being pushed by tax policy professor John Yeutter and the St. Louis-based American Mustache Institute. The tongue-in-cheek group dubs itself "the world's only facial hair advocacy and research organization."

    On the eve of the deadline to file income tax returns, the professor and the AMI are pushing for a $250 annual tax incentive for people with mustaches. The funds would be used for mustache grooming supplies.

    The AMI said the current system "provides a disincentive for the clean-shaven to enjoy the mustached American lifestyle."

    The AMI said the stimulus money could be used not only for trimming instruments but for wax, combs and mirrors.


    Posted via LiveJournal.app.