April 16th, 2010

misc - microphone

I <3 Libraries

Book on text messaging teens prompts most book challenges of 2009

“ttyl” series tops ALA's 2009 Top Ten list of most frequently challenged books

CHICAGO –Lauren Myracle’s best-selling young adult novel series "ttyl," the first-ever novels written entirely in the style of instant messaging, tops the American Library Association’s (ALA) Top Ten list of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009.

Two books are new to the list: Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer and “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult.


Both Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” and Robert Cormier’s “The Chocolate War” return after being dropped from the list in 2008.

“Even though not every book will be right for every reader, the ability to read, speak, think and express ourselves freely are core American values,” said Barbara Jones, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “Protecting one of our most fundamental rights – the freedom to read – means respecting each other’s differences and the right of all people to choose for themselves what they and their families read.”

For nearly 20 years, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has collected reports on book challenges. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school, requesting that materials be removed or restricted because of content or appropriateness. In 2009, OIF received 460 reports on efforts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves.

Though OIF receives reports of challenges in public libraries, schools, and school libraries from a variety of sources, a majority of challenges go unreported. OIF estimates that its statistics reflect only 20-25% of the challenges that actually occur.

The ALA’s Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009 reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

1. ttyl, ttfn, l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs

2. “And Tango Makes Three” by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: Homosexuality

3. “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide

4. “To Kill A Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

6. “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

7. “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence

8. “The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things,” by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

9. “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

10. “The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

Seven titles were dropped from the list, including: His Dark Materials Trilogy (Series) by Philip Pullman (Political Viewpoint, Religious Viewpoint, Violence); Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz (Occult/Satanism, Religious Viewpoint, Violence); Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (Occult/Satanism, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Sexually Explicit, Violence); Gossip Girl (Series) by Cecily von Ziegesar (Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group); Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen (Homosexuality, Unsuited to Age Group); The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Offensive Language, Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group); and Flashcards of My Life by Charise Mericle Harper (Sexually Explicit, Unsuited to Age Group).

Also new this year is an updated list of the top 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of the Decade (2000 – 2009). Topping the list is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, frequently challenged for various issues including occult/Satanism and anti-family themes. A complete listing can be found at http://tinyurl.com/top100fcb.

For more information on book challenges and censorship, please visit the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom’s Banned Books Week Web site at www.ala.org/bbooks.

The Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries.

source

Hey, ontd_p! What are your favorite and least favorite banned/challenged books? I cannot stand Catcher in the Rye, but I'm really glad to see The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things on the top ten. That book was one of my favorites and helped me get through high school. And of course I love Harry Potter.
normal

Good News Komrade! The People's Soviet Republic Still Lives!!!

Serekt Mooslim Usurper Haz Secret Deal With Soviet Union Communist Masters

Missouri Congressman Mistakenly Refers To 'Soviet Union' In Anti-Obama Space Policy Press Release

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) who is the ranking member of the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee, lashed out at the Obama administration today for its decision to cancel NASA's Constellation program.

In a statement the Missouri Republican said the move would leave the United States "reliant upon the Soviet Union" for future low-earth orbit access.

Yes, you read that right. The statement included a reference to "the Soviet Union" -- which ceased to exist in 1991.

Here is the full statement, with the bit of Cold War nostalgia in bold:

America's accomplishments in space exploration have long been a source of pride and inspiration. It is an endeavor that has spanned every administration since President Eisenhower's. As a result of the necessity of building new technology as well as maintaining our nations leading role in exploration and launch capability, NASA's manned flight mission has traditionally received broad bipartisan support.

"The decision by the Obama administration to gut NASA's manned flight program does more than jeopardize the long term goals of solar system exploration, the cancellation of the space shuttles replacement will effectively leave the United States reliant upon the Soviet Union to grant us access to low earth orbit. As a member of the Armed Services Committee I am very concerned with that possibility, and as an American I am disappointed by the prospect.

Criticisms like Akin's have compelled President Obama to take a more forceful and supportive stance on all things NASA. Obama defended his decision to cancel the Constellation program on Thursday, saying the mission was outdated and over budget.

But he reaffirmed his commitment to space exploration during a speech at the Kennedy Space Center, saying "the bottom line is, nobody is more committed to manned space flight, to human exploration of space, than I am." The president also called on NASA to ramp up research on a new heavy-lift rocket for manned flights, putting out a 2015 target date for a finalized rocket design.

burn them all
  • iconnu

The Nation: Tea Party Common Ground On Tax Day

April 15, 2010

We'll be hearing a lot about the tea party movement on tax day. They will be angry, and some of that anger at the tax system will be justified.

Like all social movements, the tea party wave is not monolithic. There are hard-core libertarians, white supremacists and partisan Republicans that are not interested in dialogue. But in my conversations with rank-and-file tea party activists, there are important points of common ground.

Many participants have seen their personal economic security devastated by the economic meltdown. They are worried about their tax bills, national debt and the economy their children will inherit. They feel isolated and the tea party is a community.

Here are a few conversation points I've found useful in talking with the open-minded participants at tea party activities:

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I like what this author has to say, but I'm wondering if (a) he's being too optimistic or (b) he has run into a far more rational class of teabaggers than I have. I would love to try to have this kind of discussion with my boyfriend's parents, for example, but his father would cut me off and call me a brainwashed moonbat within the first 30 seconds. How do you think a conversation would play out with some of the folks you know/have met?
  • Current Music
    Ingrid Michaelson - Be Ok

Take Politics Out of Border Protection

Australia recently became the first developed country in the world to suspend processing asylum-seeker application claims from Afghans and Sri Lankans "in light of changing circumstances in both Afghanistan and Sri Lanka". This opinion piece was written by Malcolm Fraser who was Prime Minister from 1975-83.

THE political debate over asylum seekers demeans Australia and severely damages our reputation as a compassionate and humane country. Both political parties are at fault. The opposition has unashamedly continued to play a race card as it did over Tampa. It has said time and again that the government has lost control of Australia's border protection knowing that that charge is false.

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Martha

Tea Party's Contract From America

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1. Protect the Constitution: Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (82.03%)

2. Reject Cap & Trade: Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures. (72.20%)

3. Demand a Balanced Budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike. (69.69%)

4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal
revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words—the length of the original Constitution. (64.90%)

5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington: Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities, or ripe for wholesale reform or elimination due to our efforts to restore limited government consistent with the US Constitution’s meaning. (63.37%)

6. End Runaway Government Spending: Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%)

7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care: Defund, repeal and replace the recently passed government-run health care with a system that actually makes health care and insurance more affordable by enabling a competitive, open, and transparent free-market health care and health insurance system that isn’t restricted by state boundaries. (56.39%)

8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy: Authorize the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation, lowering prices and creating competition and jobs. (55.51%)

9. Stop the Pork: Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark. (55.47%)

10. Stop the Tax Hikes: Permanently repeal all tax hikes, including those to the income, capital gains, and death taxes, currently scheduled to begin in 2011. (53.38%)

SOURCE

Overall, it sounds reasonable, but it's actually not. It had a lot more LOLbertarian points than I expected. It's not even original because I've seen the same policies drawn up in previous Contract With America imitators.

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&#39; ending with diamond eyes

Shenanigans Friday: April 16, 2010.

"This isn't a man who is leaving with his head between his legs."-Dan QuayLOL
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by girlthatyoufear

ONTD_P BATSIGNAL: Vote here for Marshall & Alicia to win longtime ONTD_P'er lone_concertina a sweet wedding! Today is the last day to vote!

Green launch 'fair is worth fighting for' manifesto

Green Party of England and Wales

Image via Wikipedia

Note to [info]bluetooth16 - Having a manifesto doesn't mean they're communists (the source is communist though). ;)

The Green Party has vowed "fair is worth fighting for" as it launched its general election manifesto.

Unveiling the party's policies in Brighton - its chief target seat - party leader Caroline Lucas said: "In our manifesto we've put the economy and the environment foremost at the very heart and our overall aim is to set out how to make Britain a greener and much fairer society."

The party is hoping to capitalise on voter dissatisfaction with the main political parties and win its first seat in Parliament next month.

Ms Lucas, who is standing for Brighton Pavilion, told those assembled at the Hotel Metropole that the two main issues the party would focus on tackling were the climate and economic crisis.

"But the good news is that there are ways of tackling both of these things at the same time," she said.

 

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Source: Morning Star

Yet more to make me wish they had a candidate here. ;-;

Ever thought The Sun read like an alcoholic rant? Well...

The 13 March 1986 edition of The Sun, with the...

Image via Wikipedia

Following the publication of this column, only two national newspapers will have declined to cover David Yelland's confession that he edited The Sun in the grip of uncontrolled alcoholism - The Sun and The Times.

Yelland recently admitted that he edited the Sun between 1998 and 2003 while drinking up to four bottles of Chardonnay a day. "How did I do that if I was so drunk?" he said. "The answer is I did it because I was so drunk - the two habits went hand in hand."

Yelland says that a mean-spirited, hypocritical drunk was just the man for the job. He wrote in The Observer that "The Sun was a dangerous place for me to be, because my addictive traits were big box office. I was actually paid to rush to judgement, paid to lash out and attack - it was perfect territory for the drunk."

His confession was honest and pointed. While he was making everyone else's life a misery, he did not have it easy himself. Along with his alcoholism, Yelland's his wife left him, then died, leaving him to bring up their son.

Yelland apologised in The Mail and The Observer for some of the personal attacks - on Lenny Henry, Ian Botham and Sophie Rhys-Jones. He could fill a book with the apologies he still owes. I started going through copies of The Sun that Yelland edited. The celebrities he attacked over "booze" alone would fill this column for weeks.

Disgustingly, his paper attacked the army for treating alcoholic soldiers. Under the headline "Army boozers are treated at Priory clinics," Yelland's Sun raged in August 2001 "that SOLDIERS with drink problems are being treated at exclusive Priory clinics - with taxpayers picking up the bill," calling this a "scandal" with soldiers treated like "VIPs." In 2003, Yelland himself was secretly ushered out of The Sun editor's office into a private clinic.

Under Yelland's drunken stewardship The Sun didn't just sniff out alcoholic soldiers and celebrities. As he himself says, "my job was to pick out people the country could judge to make us all feel better. One day it would be a paedophile, another a fallen politician."

And under Yelland The Sun specialised in attacking the left. You might have thought that when the Sun cried: "Yet again the left was proved WRONG" over the "triumph" of the Afghan war, these were just the ramblings of a wine-soaked hack. They were. The war was such a triumph that we have been able to fight it again and again for nine more years.

If you read Yelland's "Sun Says," which call war opponents "the handmaidens of Osama bin Laden," guilty of "nothing short of treachery," you might have thought this was drunken drivel. It was.
You might have suspected that Yelland's attack on "ageing, wandering, whingeing foreign correspondent John Pilger" for being "sickening, unpatriotic and WRONG" was entirely fuelled by booze, or that his rant at the "old hack Paul Foot" for his "bilious outpouring" on the war was the ideological equivalent of vomiting in the gents. It was.

His most worrying point is that, drunk as he was, he "had 320 people on staff who were paid to agree with me. I had the prime minister on the phone agreeing with me."

Yelland's accomplices were Rebekah Wade (now a News International executive), Trevor Kavanagh (still a Sun columnist), Andy Coulson (now the Tories' communications director) and Richard Littlejohn (now on the Mail).

They all went along with Yelland's drunken rubbish and made no complaint. If any other institution - a school, say, or a hospital, or a minor government department - were found to have been run by a drunk there would be an inquiry. Why did none of the deputy staff step in? What harm was done?

Rupert Murdoch's paper simply carries on regardless, intoxicated by its own hate.



Source: Morning Star
 
Citadel

Out magazine finds only nine gay women powerful



Out magazine's "Power 50," just like their Out 100, is always male-heavy, but this year, there are even less women than usual on the list. From last year's 12, we've gone down to nine, and most of the ones on the list have dropped in placement, as well. And it also appears that Out has a small list of women that are allowed on the list that they will continue to shuffle around every year.

Ellen Degeneres is at number one this year, where she was two years ago before dropping to number two last year.

Also returning: Rachel Maddow (#4), lesbian House Representative Tammy Baldwin (#9), Wanda Sykes (#36), Suze Orman (#27), New York City council speaker Christine Quinn, Time Inc. group editor Martha Nelson (#39), Urvashi Vaid (#50) and Jodie Foster (#41) who they refer to as "the highest paid openly lesbian actor working in the industry today."

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Source.
Murasaki Shikibu

E-mail: Ex-CIA chief agreed with tape destruction

E-mail: Ex-CIA chief agreed with tape destruction

Former CIA Director Porter Goss agreed with a 2005 decision to destroy interrogation videos showing waterboarding, but nobody told White House counsel Harriet Miers, who was "livid" to find out afterward, newly released CIA documents show.

The documents show that, despite Goss' agreement, officials almost immediately began worrying they'd done something improper,
foreshadowing a controversy that has lingered for years and remains under FBI investigation.

The videos showed CIA interrogators using waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique, on terrorism suspect Abu Zubaydah. The videos showed that interrogators did not follow the waterboarding procedures authorized by President George W. Bush's administration, the documents show.

Jose Rodriguez, the agency's top clandestine officer, worried the tapes would be "devastating" to the CIA if they ever surfaced, the documents show.


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--

Someone seriously needs to be accountable for all of this, from the destruction of the tapes to the very orders to waterboard. This whole thing has been a black eye on America and has meant the US has no moral ground to stand on and in so many ways.

Also, FU Goss, this was in no way a laughing matter.
Bill Nye the Science Guy

An Analysis of Obama's Space Policy

Some cogent analysis of Obama's revised space policy by Phil Plait:

You may remember that his last revamping caused quite a stir, with people screaming that it would doom NASA. I disagree. Canceling Constellation still strikes me as the right thing to do, because it was becoming an albatross around NASA’s neck. Mind you, this was also the recommendation of the blue ribbon Augustine panel. You may also note that NASA astronauts are split over all this, with Buzz Aldrin, for example, supporting Obama, and Neil Armstrong and many others disagreeing.

It’s a mess, and hard to disentangle what everyone’s saying. There’s been a huge amount of misinformation about it (with — shocking — Fox news leading the way; they spout so much disingenuousness, nonsense, self-contradiction, and outright stupidity that it makes me want to fly to their studios just to slap them). But Obama’s plan seems pretty clear...

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Source is reaching for the stars.

Phil worked on Hubble for over a decade, so he's got a lot of insight into NASA and its surrounding politics. Initially I was very OBAMA I AM DISAPPOINT but now I'm starting to see the merits of his new space policy...if, as Phil says, the administration and congress follow up on it.

Crossposted to ontd_science
Knight

Obama Administration Orders LBGT Hospital Visitation Rights!

There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean -- a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them.

Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides -- whether in a sudden medical emergency or a prolonged hospital stay. Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives -- unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.


The memorandum instructs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to draft rules requiring hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid to grant all patients the right to designate visitors and consultants.

Official memorandum at whitehouse.gov

Huffpo coverage.

NGL, this is one of my biggest fears, that one day I'll be denied the right to be with my partner while he's dying in the hospital. And we have the powers of attorney set up, too. I am grateful that the Obama administration is trying to help prevent this.
&#39; jules

The Gay Agenda: coming to a court near you?

White House complains about CBS News blog post saying that possible Supreme Court nominee is gay



The White House ripped CBS News on Thursday for publishing an online column by a blogger who made assertions about the sexual orientation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan, widely viewed as a leading candidate for the Supreme Court.

Ben Domenech, a former Bush administration aide and Republican Senate staffer, wrote that President Obama would "please" much of his base by picking the "first openly gay justice." An administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing personal matters, said Kagan is not a lesbian.

CBS initially refused to pull the posting, prompting Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director who is working with the administration on the high court vacancy, to say: "The fact that they've chosen to become enablers of people posting lies on their site tells us where the journalistic standards of CBS are in 2010." She said the network was giving a platform to a blogger "with a history of plagiarism" who was "applying old stereotypes to single women with successful careers."

The network deleted the posting Thursday night after Domenech said he was merely repeating a rumor. The flare-up underscores how quickly the battle over a Supreme Court nominee -- or even a potential nominee -- can turn searingly personal. Most major news organizations have policies against "outing" gays or reporting on the sex lives of public officials unless they are related to their public duties.

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A lot of Democrats & gay activists are on the WH's side, stating that one, it is ridiculous for CBS to hire some as discredited as Domenech, and two, the statement that she is "openly gay" is based on nothing more than a rumor vaguely attributed to Harvard social circles. However Glenn Greenwald has stated on Twitter that the administration's defenders saying discussion about one's sexual orientation = discussion of "sex life" is offensive, and hypocritical considering the public speculation at former Justice David Souter's hearing. He also said the contention that women are more subject to gossip is untrue, pointing to Lindsey Graham, David Dreier et al. you be the judge, ONTD_P!
Warm tone butterfly (by fruitpunch_it)

Gary Barlow comes out for the Tories: Celebrity endorsement of politics?





 The band's frontman was greeted by screaming schoolchildren as he arrived with the Tory leader at Brine Leas High School, in Nantwich, Cheshire.

His arrival came as the Tories said they would launch a national ''School Stars'' competition to encourage musical achievement among young people.

 

Backed by senior figures from the music industry, it is aimed at giving young people a chance to shine.

Barlow confirmed he would be supporting the Tories at the election.

"I would not be here if I was not," the singer said.

But he stressed he did not want to go into detail as today's event was about music, not politics.

Mr Barlow said he missed the debate last night as he was at a Music Week dinner, but was "looking forward to watching it tonight".

Source

What do you think of celebrities involving themselves in Politics?

Drug laws based on politics not science? Surely you jest...

A ban on the drug mephedrone brought in by the Government this month was a rushed decision that further exemplifies how politics is “contaminating” science and the work of government advisers, according to a leading medical journal.

An editorial in The Lancet strongly criticises the way ministers moved to ban mephedrone and pressured its advisory body to produce the necessary evidence to act.

The former “legal high” drug was given Class B status and banned after reportedly being linked to 25 deaths. Yet the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs report that recommended the ban acknowledged that there was no scientific evidence of a causal link between the deaths and the drug.

The editorial describes the decision as motivated more by “political and media pressure” and draws parallels with the ACMD’s troubled recent history.


In October 2009 the council’s former chairman, Professor David Nutt, was sacked for criticising government policy on cannabis and ecstasy. His dismissal triggered the protest resignation of five other members.

Commenting on the latest decision, led by its new interim chairman, Professor Les Iverson, The Lancet notes: “Alarmingly, the report, which was only a draft, was still being discussed by the ACMD when Iverson rushed out of the meeting to brief Home Secretary Alan Johnson of their recommendation in time for a press briefing.”

The editorial also observes that a report on tackling alcohol and tobacco abuse by young people was “conveniently buried” by the furore over mephedrone.


A former ACMD member, Eric Carlin, who resigned over the mephedrone decision, wrote on his blog: “We were unduly pressured by media and politicians to make a quick, tough decision to classify.

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Source: The Times

Iraq Vet Denounces War Crimes: "We Fired on Buses Full of Civilians"

Seven years on after the second US invasion of Iraq, the Americans continue slaughtering civilians, now in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Recently, the video of the massacre of 12-15 Iraqis by an US helicopter gunship in 2007 began making the rounds thanks to WikiLeaks.org. Episodes like what is shown in that video have been denounced by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) for years now.

On March 20, thousands of people marched on the streets of Los Angeles to denounce the criminal US wars around the world. Among the protesters, many Iraq military vets with IVAW came out to tell their stories of the carnage of US wars.

Marine Cpl. Cameron Wood, from Minnesota, was part of a tank unit in the invasion in 2003 and in the siege of Fallujah in 2004. He talked about how US Army officers gave orders to fire on any Iraqi, opposing the invasion or not. "As part of the invasion there would be a lot of times when they would have what they called a free-fire zone when we were told to shoot at anybody that we saw, whether they were shooting at us or not, they were supposed to be considered enemies because apparently they had been told to go inside," Wood said.

Wood explained how the so-called rules of engagement came about. "On my second deployment, because a lot of incidents had happened and they were trying to keep things under wraps they were trying to implement what they called rules of engagement, where if you see someone firing at you or what you think is a gun then we engaged them," Wood said.

Corporal Wood told about firing at buses and cars at checkpoints. He also spoke of the nightmares soldiers have to live with after shooting on Iraqi civilians. "What I experienced was seeing civilians who had been fired upon in vehicles, setting up checkpoints and you see vehicles approaching, and vehicles don't stop and so we'd fire on vehicles, we fired on buses, buses full of civilians ... part of the reason that happened is because you're sending teenagers to go fight in a war, they're scared and they indiscriminately fired their weapons ... so seeing the aftermath of that ... those are the kind of images you carry with you and haunt you, it's those situations that cause post traumatic stress."

Iraqi casualties of war are not officially counted by the Pentagon. According to British NGO Iraq Body Count there have been over 104,000 documented war-related Iraqi deaths. Since 2003, over 4,300 soldiers have died in the US war in Iraq.


Source: truthout

Akuma River

Goodwin Liu and why you should know about him and his Senate confirmation hearings

My first submission got denied so here's the second. Goodwin Liu is Obama's pick for Justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. This position puts him just below the Supreme Court and it will help determine who gets the nomination for Supreme Court Justice Stevens' seat.

Photobucket
Senate Republicans had strong words for Goodwin Liu, a University of California, Berkeley law school professor nominated for the federal bench by President Obama.
Jim Block/AP/UC Berkeley School of Law

Obama Bench Nominee Draws Heated GOP Resistance
by Deborah Tedford
April 16, 2010

A Senate hearing on the federal appeals court nomination of law professor Goodwin Liu took a deeply partisan tone Friday, with Republicans assailing the nominee for his criticisms of conservative justices, lack of judicial experience and liberal writings.

Liu, an associate dean and professor at University of California, Berkeley's law school, has been nominated by the Obama administration to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He has endorsed liberal positions on affirmative action and gay marriage, but he has also supported conservative stances on school vouchers and charter schools.

During contentious questioning Friday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Liu was repeatedly taken to task for his written opposition to the nominations of Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts.
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So, what do you guys think? Did you know about him and his confirmation hearings? Is this going to turn out as racially charged as Justice Sotomayor's confirmation hearings? Do you think the GOP will sink to new levels? Will any of you watch?
Akuma River

You too can own a piece of blockbuster ticket sales

Regulators Approve Movie Box Office Futures Market
RYAN NAKASHIMA | 04/16/10 05:34 PM |

LOS ANGELES — U.S. regulators have approved the creation of a market for movie industry participants and speculators to trade on predicted box office receipts, despite its denouncement by Hollywood studios as "legalized gambling."

But the decision announced Friday by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission doesn't mean people can start trading right away on the Trend Exchange. The commission is still reviewing the kinds of contracts – essentially presales of a share of future box office receipts – that could be traded there.

It is also reviewing a proposal to create a second market called Cantor Exchange. That one would have lower investment requirements than Trend Exchange, making it more likely for movie fans and other amateurs to participate.

A ruling on the Cantor proposal, backed by Cantor Fitzgerald LP, is expected next week, while the commission has until June 7 to decide on the specific contracts for the Trend Exchange, which is backed by venture capitalist Veriana Ventures.
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WTF?!
hyppy

Not cool, China.

China tries to sterilise 10,000 parents over one-child rule


Family planning authorities have detained hundreds of people against their will in a campaign to sterilise 10,000 men and women suspected of trying to violate China’s strict birth control policies.

About 1,300 people were being held in cramped and poor conditions in offices throughout the small town of Puning in southern Guangdong Province and are forced to listen to “lectures” on state rules limiting the size of families, the Nanfang Countryside Daily said.

In the years after China launched its strict “one couple, one child” family planning policy in the late 1970s, abuses such as forced later-term abortions, sterilisations and even the killing of newborn babies were widely reported.
But such practices have fallen sharply in recent years as the policy has become quite widely accepted and exceptions have been introduced.

However, officials in Puning launched a 20-day campaign on April 7 since so many couples have left the area in search of factory jobs and have found it easier to have children outside the government-set quotas.

The county intends to sterilise 9,559 women or their husbands who are suspected of planning to have a second or third child. So far about half that number have agreed to comply, the newspaper said.

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Source

State judge overturns Ark. adoption ban law

 

By CHUCK BARTELS (AP) – 50 minutes ago

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A state judge on Friday struck down an Arkansas law approved by voters that banned gay couples and other unmarried people living together from serving as adoptive or foster parents.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza said in a two-page ruling that people in "non-marital relationships" are forced to choose between becoming an adoptive parent and sustaining that relationship.

"Due process and equal protection are not hollow words without substance," Piazza said. "They are rights enumerated in our constitution that must not be construed in such a way as to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people."

A group of families, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued in 2008 to overturn the ban. They argued that there are too few families willing to adopt or foster in Arkansas, which has an average of 1,600 children on waiting lists, and that good homes were being arbitrarily cut from the list.

The law effectively banned gays and lesbians from adopting or fostering children because they are unable to legally marry in Arkansas.
 

 

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Murasaki Shikibu

Aftermath of an Ugly Comment

Aftermath of an Ugly Comment

Being called “black bitches” wasn’t quite the response two Cornell University graduate students thought they’d get from a professor after arriving at a conference on black intellectuals that he’d invited them to attend.

The students -- both African-American women in Cornell’s Africana Studies and Research Center who have asked that their identities not be made public -- got to the event, at the University of Rochester, late. But they still didn’t expect that after their professor, Grant Farred, thanked them for making the unfamiliar two-hour drive, he’d briefly pause and then add, “When you came in, I thought, ‘Who are these black bitches?’ ”

Yet, that was the response they say they got from Farred, a professor of Africana studies and English. And, in the more than two months since the alleged incident on Friday, Feb. 5, the students and others contend, the Africana center and the university more broadly have failed to foster a public dialogue on the incident and to address deeper tensions involving the center and its role on campus.


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...WHAT?! Just...yeah, what?
blue dress

U.S. Approves Targeted Killing of American Cleric

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.

Mr. Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and spent years in the United States as an imam, is in hiding in Yemen. He has been the focus of intense scrutiny since he was linked to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., in November, and then to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25.

American counterterrorism officials say Mr. Awlaki is an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate of the terror network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They say they believe that he has become a recruiter for the terrorist network, feeding prospects into plots aimed at the United States and at Americans abroad, the officials said.

It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said. A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president.

But the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told a House hearing in February that such a step was possible. “We take direct actions against terrorists in the intelligence community,” he said. “If we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that.” He did not name Mr. Awlaki as a target.

The step taken against Mr. Awlaki, which occurred earlier this year, is a vivid illustration of his rise to prominence in the constellation of terrorist leaders. But his popularity as a cleric, whose lectures on Islamic scripture have a large following among English-speaking Muslims, means any action against him could rebound against the United States in the larger ideological campaign against Al Qaeda.

The possibility that Mr. Awlaki might be added to the target list was reported by The Los Angeles Times in January, and Reuters reported on Tuesday that he was approved for capture or killing.

“The danger Awlaki poses to this country is no longer confined to words,” said an American official, who like other current and former officials interviewed for this article spoke of the classified counterterrorism measures on the condition of anonymity. “He’s gotten involved in plots.”

The official added: “The United States works, exactly as the American people expect, to overcome threats to their security, and this individual — through his own actions — has become one. Awlaki knows what he’s done, and he knows he won’t be met with handshakes and flowers. None of this should surprise anyone.”

As a general principle, international law permits the use of lethal force against individuals and groups that pose an imminent threat to a country, and officials said that was the standard used in adding names to the list of targets. In addition, Congress approved the use of military force against Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. People on the target list are considered to be military enemies of the United States and therefore not subject to the ban on political assassination first approved by President Gerald R. Ford.

Both the C.I.A. and the military maintain lists of terrorists linked to Al Qaeda and its affiliates who are approved for capture or killing, former officials said. But because Mr. Awlaki is an American, his inclusion on those lists had to be approved by the National Security Council, the officials said.

At a panel discussion in Washington on Tuesday, Representative Jane Harman, Democrat of California and chairwoman of a House subcommittee on homeland security, called Mr. Awlaki “probably the person, the terrorist, who would be terrorist No. 1 in terms of threat against us.”

(NYT)

couldn't find anything in the past few days or through keyword searches on the profile page on this. kind of a big deal, imo.
normal

HOLY SH#T! HOLLYWOOD WAS RIGHT!

Black President Causes Cosmic Disaster. Universe Ready for Blockbuster of the Century!

NASA's New Asteroid Mission Could Save the Planet

President Barack Obama set a lofty next goal this week for Americans in space: Visiting an asteroid by 2025. But reaching a space rock in a mere 15 years is a daunting mission, and one that might also carry the ultimate safety of the planet on its shoulders.


"It is probably the hardest thing we can do because the asteroid is not coming on a schedule," NASA chief Charles Bolden told reporters late Thursday after Obama announced his space vision.

And when a specific asteroid is eventually selected, the window to launch a spaceship toward it will be much less forgiving than the windows for NASA space shuttles bound for the International Space Station, Bolden said.

"The space station gives us five minutes," he explained. "I'm not sure what an asteroid gives us, but then it doesn't come again for a lifetime."

And there's another compelling reason for touching an asteroid: Saving the planet.
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