April 18th, 2010


Welfare Queen Widow Sues Coal Overlords For Free Moneys!

Emergency News: Welfare Queen Threatens CEOs Americans' Way of Life. Coal is Not Free, Lady!

Corporate Front Group Funded By Coal Industry Scorns Widow Of Mine Disaster: ‘Everyone Wants Free Money’

Yesterday, the AP reported that Marlene Griffith, a widow of William Griffith, one of the 29 men killed in last week’s explosion at a coal mine in West Virginia, is suing Massey Energy, the owner of the mine. Griffith filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Raleigh County Circuit Court, arguing that Massey’s handling of work conditions at the mine plus its history of safety violations amounted to aggravated conduct that rises above the level of ordinary negligence. Marlene and here husband were to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary weeks after the deadly blast on April 5.

Indeed, as the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has reported, the mine where William Griffith worked had been cited for over 3,000 safety violations. Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who has mocked safety regulators as being “as silly as global warming,” had gummed up the safety regulations process by filing endless appeals instead of paying fines and fixing safety problems.

Responding to the lawsuit, Nathan Coffey, the Public Affairs Coordinator of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), took to Twitter yesterday to mock Marlene Griffith. Coffey posted a link to the AP story about Marlene Griffith, sarcastically commenting that “Everyone wants free money!” View a screen shot of the comment below:
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movies | Impish Fräulein2

ONTD_Political's PotD: April 18, 2010.

[On Thursday April 15, 2010], British civil aviation authorities ordered the country's airspace closed as of noon, due to a cloud of ash drifting from the erupting Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. The volcano has erupted for the second time in less than a month, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwaters. The volcanic ash has forced the cancellation of many flights and disrupted air traffic across northern Europe, stranding thousands of passengers. Collected here are photos of the most recent eruption, and of last month's eruptions, which were from the same volcano, just several miles further east.
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Full gallaries:

New Evidence Vindicates Tea Party: We are Not Racist, Liburals Are!!

Glorious Victory! Real American Unmasks Racist Nazi Leftwing Libural Provocateur Agent! Shame on Your Liburals!

Delirious Right Wing Bloggers Claim ‘Proud Racist’ Tea Party Attendee Was A ‘Leftist Plant’

At Thursday’s tea party rally in St. Louis, conservative blogger-activist Adam Sharp confronted a racist, Nazi-sympathizer who attended the event. Sharp approached the unidentified racist who was wearing a black shirt with a swastika on the back of it, and told him that shirt “doesn’t represent tea party values” and asked him to leave. The white racist man responded, “I’m with the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan. We are a white unit.”

After Sharp accused the unidentified man of not belonging to the tea party, the racist responded, “Do you belong to the Council of Conservative Citizens? … I do.” Sharp continued to hound the man, asking him to leave and demanding to know whether he was a racist. “I’m not a Nazi, I’m a proud racist. I’m white,” the man said.

Sharp then loudly declared, “He’s here representing –” but then cut himself off. He’s “trying to pretend that we’re racist,” Sharp clarified. “No, I’m not,” the racist said, later telling Sharp more people need to stand up for their “white rights.” “Race has nothing to do with this, sir,” Sharp answered. “We’re here protesting policy, sir, I don’t care what race anybody is.” Eventually, Sharp’s persistent hounding of the racist man caused him to leave the rally. Watch Sharp’s report:
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franklin sherman

SEC under fire - Does this explain why the SEC suddenly went after Goldman Sachs?

As we noted yesterday, the SEC appears to have acted in an unusual way on Friday morning when it filed fraud charges against Goldman Sachs. Specifically, it appears to have caught Goldman by surprise, announcing the fraud charges without giving Goldman a heads-up.

Normally, the SEC's attorneys are in close communication with the attorneys of its targets. If the agency intends to file charges, it is customary to tell the target in advance, so the accused party isn't blindsided. (The same is true in many white-collar criminal proceedings: If an executive is going to be indicted, the executive's attorneys are usually notified in advance.)

The exception is when prosecutors think the target is a flight risk (which obviously doesn't apply here), or when the prosecutors want to maximize the headline value of the charges.

Yesterday, for more than an hour after the SEC filed its charges, the SEC had the headlines to itself. A short Goldman denial appeared around noon, and a longer, more compelling one appeared at the end of the day, when most people had already started checking out for the weekend. Thus, the SEC's fraud story dominated the headlines all day long.

Now, there are many reasons why the SEC might have chosen to act this way, all of which were understandable:

* It looks tougher (everyone hates Wall Street these days, and the SEC has looked wimpy)
* It looks pro-active (for once, the SEC is ahead of the game)
* It does more damage (by the time people have time to examine the allegations in detail, most people have made up their minds about the accused's guilt).

And then there's another factor that might have affected the timing of the SEC's release.

The timing of big announcements is often chosen with the aim of maximizing coverage (or minimizing it, in the case of bad news), or with the aim of pushing other stories out of the headlines.

What other stories might the SEC have wanted pushed out of the headlines yesterday?

Perhaps another one about the agency's past incompetence and, possibly, corruption.

Yesterday, amid the Goldman fraud outrage, the results of another investigation into the SEC's failure to spot Allen Stanford's
ponzi scheme were published. They were devastating:

Michael Crittenden and Kara Scannell, WSJ:

The Securities and Exchange Commission suspected Texas financier R. Allen Stanford of running a Ponzi scheme as early as 1997 but took more than a decade to pursue him seriously, according to a report further tarring the agency that missed Bernard Madoff's huge fraud.

The report by the SEC's inspector general says SEC examiners concluded four times between 1997 and 2004 that Mr. Stanford's businesses were fraudulent, but each time decided not to go further.
It singles out the former head of the SEC's enforcement office in Fort Worth, Texas, accusing him of repeatedly quashing Stanford probes and then trying to represent Mr. Stanford as a lawyer in private practice.

The former SEC official, Spencer Barasch, is now a partner at law firm
Andrews Kurth LLP. He couldn't be reached for comment, but Andrews Kurth managing partner Bob Jewell said the firm believes Mr. Barasch acted properly. The inspector general referred Mr. Barasch for possible disbarment from practicing law.

That sounds bad. Very bad. If the SEC hadn't charged Goldman with fraud yesterday morning, THAT story would have dominated the day's headlines. As it is, the story got nary a mention.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-blodget-wow-is-this-why-the-sec-announced-the-goldman-fraud-charges-friday-morning-2010-4#ixzz0lSO8aqwH

Let's play David Cameron's "Last week I met..."

It's the DC anecdote generator!

As one observer noted barely 40 minutes into Thursday's leaders' debate:
This is actually a new ITV game show. At the end you have 1 minute to remember all the people Cameron has "met this week".
And as Channel 4 FactCheck has subsequently discovered, not all Cameron encounters check out.
Inevitably, we now have the Who has David Cameron been talking to? automatic anecdote-generator. Some more highlights below:

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Source: New Statesman

Cameron, Brown and Clegg all talk the language of limits

If St George were alive today, this non-EU citizen wouldn't score very highly on any points system.

This Friday, England will celebrate the life of a third-century Palestinian who was executed by the Emperor Diocletian for refusing to renounce his Christian faith.

The festivities may be a little muted for, as patron saint of England, St George, and his cross, have been much misused by nationalists with a narrow idea of what "Englishness" should mean; which is at least partly why so many English people of more refined sensibilities feel reluctant to mark the day with enthusiasm comparable to that displayed by the Irish diaspora on St Patrick's Day every 17 March.

The trio of party leaders who took part in ITV's debate last week are, however, likely at least to acknowledge St George's Day on Friday. And this made me wonder how comfortably our patron saint's Levantine roots sit with the rhetoric of all three when the subject of immigration arose during the debate.

Cameron, Brown and Clegg all talked the language of limits.

The Liberal Democrat leader warned against "unreasonable strain on housing and public services". The Leader of the Opposition said it had "got out of control and does need to be brought back under control", while the Prime Minister responded in a manner that tried to make it sound as though Labour was already being tough: "I do not like these words," he said, "because we are bringing it under control."

I am not a regular reader of Socialist Worker, but I do find myself in agreement with this comment in the paper:

The consensus was perhaps most annoying on immigration. Cameron has been to places where poor people live and has even met "a black man" who was against immigration. "I want us to bring immigration down so it's in the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands," said Cameron looking to the ceiling so to further look down his nose at the rest of us. Brown boasted that immigration had been falling since he moved into 10 Downing Street. Clegg said immigrants had to be lined up with jobs in a region before being allowed in. Clegg did manage to remember to say that there were some nice immigrants.

In the past there was much grumbling about the fact that immigration was a toxic subject - you could not bring it up without being accused of racism - and that Labour's failure, in particular, to address white working class concerns was fuelling the rise of the BNP. (Not that the Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has ever given the impression of being even vaguely liberal in the policies he's advocated. Indeed, he has been attacked by the Archbishop of York over his "unmerciful" stance.)

In principle I don't think there's anything you shouldn't be able to discuss in a democracy, so of course I believe it is perfectly legitimate to bring it up. It is somewhat disappointing, however, to find that now we have decided that we can talk about immigration, the leaders of the three main political parties all agree. It is, from the start, something to be worried about. They all, to a greater or lesser degree, paint it as an issue to watch, not benignly, but as something with the potential to cause havoc.

And you don't have to go very far down that path to be back with words like "swamping" or, these days, "Eurabia".


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Source: New Statesman

Hurt Locker Won Because "Jim Didn't Have Breasts" Says Sigourney

Sigourney Weaver: James Cameron lost out on Oscar because he 'didn't have breasts'
The Avatar actor Sigourney Weaver accused Oscar voters of sexism earlier this week, suggesting the film's director, James Cameron, lost out on major awards because of his gender.

In an interview with a Brazilian news website, Weaver said the Academy's choice of best director was motivated by the fact that a woman had never won the prize.

"Jim didn't have breasts, and I think that was the reason," Weaver told Folha Online. "He should have taken home that Oscar," she said.

Cameron was beaten by his former wife, Kathryn Bigelow, the first female winner of the best director prize, and only the fourth woman to be nominated for it in the Oscars' 82-year history.
So, um, yeah. The most common outcome in the Oscars is for men to win the best director Oscar, but this year the only reason a man didn't win was sexism? WTF?!?
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yeah so no

God hates the US health care passage, so a volcano erupts in Iceland!

Limbaugh: Volcanic eruption in Iceland is God’s reaction to health care’s passage.

Yesterday, hate radio host Rush Limbaugh talked about the volcanic eruption that’s affecting air travel over much of Europe, saying it was “God speaking” in response to the passage of health care:

You know, a couple of days after the health care bill had been signed into law Obama ran around all over the country saying, “Hey, you know, I’m looking around. The earth hadn’t opened up. There’s no Armageddon out there. The birds are still chirping.” I think the earth has opened up. God may have replied. This volcano in Iceland has grounded more airplanes — airspace has more affected — than even after 9/11 because of this plume, because of this ash cloud over Northern and Western Europe. At the Paris airport they’re telling people to head to the train station to catch trains out of France, and when people get to the train station they’re telling people, “There aren’t any seats until at least April 22nd,” basically a week from now. It’s got everybody in a shutdown. Earth has opened up. I don’t know whether it’s a rebirth or Armageddon. Hopefully it’s a rebirth, God speaking.

Actually, you won't find female empowerment halfway up a pole

Pole Dancing in Lagoon

Image by lululemon athletica via Flickr

Cambridge Union Society's pole-dancing jape is just plain daft. The media treatment of the leaders' wives and women parliamentary candidates is just plain pernicious

When I first heard someone say: "No publicity is bad publicity", my instant response was: "Yeah, I bet that's right!" It sounded so clever and cynical. "Life's all about grabbing people's attention and keeping it," I thought. The squeaky hinge gets the oil, the country that threatens nuclear proliferation gets the aid, the most-papped glamour model gets the book deal.

It's an old saw that seems horrible enough to be true and whoever's running the Cambridge Union Society clearly subscribes to it. Last week, the debating society announced that it was offering pole dancing lessons to female students. They're to be held in the Blue Room, which, I assume, someone thinks is humorously apt – unless it was chosen over the "Boobs Library" or "Legs Akimbo Lounge and Conference Suite".

A spokeswoman said: "We are of the opinion that classes like these are a way of empowering women… if an intelligent, independent woman wishes to learn a particular form of dance in respectable surroundings –" I'd be very surprised? No: "…we see nothing degrading in that." And I suppose if some stupid or impressionable women want to join in, that's fine as well.

So far, so undergraduate. They've correctly identified that received wisdoms, such as the view that pole dancing is degrading, shouldn't be taken as read. But they've confused being contrarian with forming a reasoned opinion. Having stumbled upon the word "empowering", which can be deployed under so many circumstances – I use it about charging my phone – they've let it trick them into thinking that they've framed an argument.

I expect they're feeling a bit smug that it made the papers. When I was a student, I made up a story about a cat crapping on the script of a play I was trying to publicise. This duly appeared in the gossip column of the student newspaper and was subsequently picked up by the Times diary. I thought this basically made me Max Clifford. And more people would be aware of the show, I reasoned. True. And they'd associate it with cat shit. If it made anyone buy a ticket, I don't want to meet them. But I'm sure that Juan de Francisco, the union entertainments officer who's organising the classes, thinks he's done himself and the society good by getting this mischievous idea some coverage.


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Source: The ever-wonderful David Mitchell in his column in The Observer
anime, technology

Major Revisions to Psychiatric Definitions Stir Debate

The way psychiatrists describe childhood mood swings, gender identity, autism and dozens of mental health disorders could soon change drastically.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is in the midst of massive revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, better known as the DSM. This tome is the repository of diagnostic criteria for everything from schizophrenia to insomnia.

The implications are far-reaching, from how a disorder is named and so how it's viewed by the public to whether treatment for the disorder gets covered by health insurance. For instance, the controversy over the naming and inclusion of gender-identity issues could mean insurance companies won't pay for sex reassignment surgery or hormones for adults. And naming a disorder can be the best thing for those suffering symptoms and not knowing what they have.

The revisions for the 5th edition are sparking debate among patients, psychiatrists and the public at large. In fact, the history of psychiatry is littered with controversial psychiatric disorders.

Everyone we know in our community, we're asking them to respond to the DSM-5," said Dania Jekel, the executive director of the Asperger's Association of New England, an organization which disapproves of the DSM-5's proposed deletion of the Asperger's diagnosis. "We're trying to be as loud and active as we possibly can."

Asperger's syndrome is considered an autism spectrum disorder and affects a child's ability to socialize and communicate effectively.)

Jekel is one of many hoping to be heard in the discussion over what will be in the final DSM-5. The proposed changes are now available on the APA's Web site, where individuals can submit comments in a once-in-a-decade chance to be heard by the architects of the psychiatrists' bible.

While past versions used Roman numerals, future revisions will be labeled DSM-5, DSM-6, and so on.)

Overhauling the DSM

The DSM is hugely important to psychiatry. Insurance companies use it to determine what disorders get coverage, and inclusion can also affect research money. Overhauling it, which happens every seven to 16 years or so, is always controversial. This round is no exception.

Advocacy groups of all kinds have called for their members to contact the APA.

The Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation sent out a statement lauding the proposed creation of temper dysregulation with dysphoria, which describes chronically irritable children who have frequent and extreme temper tantrums. But the statement also urged parents to contact the APA and ask them to change the name to something that wouldn't conjure up images of "inept mothers" and "bratty kids."

The International Foundation for Gender Education, meanwhile, put up an online petition lobbying for the removal of transvestic disorder, which they argue stigmatizes cross-dressing and pathologizes variant gender expression.

Other proposed modifications include:

Name change from "mental retardation" to "intellectual ability;"
Introduction of "behavioral addictions," such as gambling;
Creation of several new diagnoses, such as hypersexual disorder and binge eating disorder.
The changes would add "risk syndromes" in some categories to try to catch disorders before they become full-blown mental illnesses.

From identity disorder to incongruence

All of these revisions have supporters and detractors, but perhaps the most controversial edits have to do with sex. Gender identity disorder, in which people feel that their physical gender doesn't match their psychological gender, may become gender incongruence. The change is a positive step toward a less-stigmatizing name, said Oakland psychologist Diane Ehrensaft, who was not part of the DSM revision committee.

But even the inclusion of gender incongruence is fraught with controversy. Proponents, including Kenneth Zucker, a University of Toronto psychologist and head of the DSM Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group, say that without a diagnosis, insurance companies won't pay for sex reassignment surgery or hormones for adults.

Opponents, like Ehrensaft, counter that insurance companies shouldn't dictate psychiatric diagnosis and argue that the disorder has to go. Many gender-fluid people live happily without ever seeing a psychologist, Ehrensaft said.

"Our job is to support children, adolescents and adults to be able to carve their own path," she said.

"Suddenly everything made sense"

Sometimes, having a name for the problem is the first step in getting well. That's what worries Jekel, the Asperger's advocate, about the proposal to drop the Asperger's label and re-categorize people with the disorder as having high-functioning autism.

"Before the DSM-IV came out, there were so many people who were struggling," Jekel said. When that edition introduced Asperger's, she said, "It just gave people something, a name, a label for what they had."

The APA proposals state that there is too much diagnostic overlap between autism and Aperger's to justify keeping them separate. But that doesn't make sense to Jekel. Her own son has Asperger's, and when he was originally diagnosed as autistic, the symptoms didn't match.

"There were so many things that didn't fit," she wrote in a statement she intends to send to the APA. When she finally read about Asperger's, "Suddenly everything made sense...I felt like I was reading a manual on my child."

Without the diagnosis, Jekel worries that people with Asperger's will fall through the cracks. One person with the disorder e-mailed her to say that without the Asperger's label, she would have committed suicide.

It remains to be seen what changes will make it into the DSM-5. Even as comments like Jekel's pour in on the APA Web site, the organization is gearing up for field tests of their proposals. After another period of public comment and research, the APA expects to publish the DSM-5 in May 2013. It's a long process, but those with something to say should get cracking: The current public comment session closes April 20.

Not directly related to politics perhaps, but I think the politicization of science, especially psychiatric medicine both interesting and a bit discerning; science (especially medicine) needs to be carried out without a political agent imo.

The Food Network vs. Mike Huckabee on Gay Adoption

Last week Mike Huckabee told some students at the College of New Jersey that same-sex marriage was just like incest and polygamy, and that gays and lesbians should be banned from adopting children. Let 'em have puppies, Huckabee argued, but not kids.

How to respond? Well, you could create a Facebook group (Puppies Against Huckabee!). You could be like Whoopi Goldberg, and take Huckabee to task for not understanding that so long as children are raised by loving parents, it doesn't matter whether those parents are gay or straight.


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Pride & Prejudice

David Cameron: I haz black man on side! Black man: ORLY?

David Cameron's '40-year-old black man' hits out at inaccuracies in story

Businessman Neal Forde, 51, says Conservative leader got details about him wrong while discussing immigration in televised election debate.

The "40-year-old black man" famously referred to by David Cameron in this week's televised election debate has hit out at the conservative leader for getting the story wrong.

Neal Forde was quoted by Cameron as being ashamed of Britain's "out-of-control" immigration system, but the Tory leader got the 51-year-old businessman's age wrong by 11 years. He also told the audience of 9 million viewers that Forde had served in the Royal Navy for 30 years, when in fact he served for six.

Cameron referred to Forde, who runs a business supplying kitchen worktops, while speaking about immigration during the ITV debate on Thursday.

The Conservative leader said: "I was in Plymouth recently and a 40-year-old black man ... said, 'I came here when I was six, I've served in the Royal Navy for 30 years, I'm incredibly proud of my country. But I'm so ashamed that we've had this out-of-control system with people abusing it so badly'."

But Forde said the Conservatives did not have the answers to Britain's problems on immigration and, like Labour, had "forgotten the British people".

He said he had been teased by his friends and colleagues because of the inaccuracies in Cameron's anecdote.

"He said I spent 30 years in the navy when I was actually in for six years as a marine engineer," said Forde. "But at least he took 11 years off my age."

Forde, who has not yet decided who to vote for, was involved in the Icelandic "cod wars" in the late 1970s and left the service in 1980.

He said: "Britain needs immigrants. It's a rich and diverse country with a heritage to be proud of, but what I find unacceptable is that the politicians seem to care more about everybody else and forget the British people.

"What I want the politicians to tell me is what they are going to do to safeguard the British people from the immigrants who come here and commit serious crimes."

A 40-year-old doing 30 years' Navy service sounded a bit off to begin with- this is just icing on the cake. Woo Cameron!fail!
Shirley Animated


I am very, very happy to announce that we have reached 10,000 members here at ontd_political. I remember creating this comm back in fall 2007 and hoping we'd end up with a thousand, maybe. I am so glad to see how much we've grown and how many ~memories~ we've made. Maybe one day we'll be as big as the mothership!

So! This is a party post! Feel free to post gifs, macros, etc, go wildly off-topic. Thanks for being such an awesome comm. ♥
Pride & Prejudice

Melilla: Europe's dirty secret

African migrants will do anything to get into the Spanish enclave of Melilla. And the authorities will do anything to keep them out.

Back in the autumn of 1998, a teacher from Melilla called Jose Palazon noticed something strange was happening each night to the dustbin in front of his house. He kept an eye out and discovered that, under cover of darkness, a young boy was removing the rubbish from the bin so that he could sleep in it. Collapse )
Colombia: Big Flag

Despite billions in U.S. aid, Colombia struggles to reduce poverty

ALGARROBO, COLOMBIA -- Eight years after President Alvaro Uribe took office and began harnessing billions in U.S. aid to pummel Marxist guerrillas, Colombia is safer for this country's 45 million people and for the foreign investors who have flocked here.

But stubbornly high levels of poverty expose a harsh reality: Despite better security and strong economic growth, Colombia has been unable to significantly alleviate the misery that helps fuel a 46-year-old conflict and the drug trafficking behind it.

What social scientists here call lackluster results in fighting poverty have become a campaign issue ahead of May elections, in which Colombian voters will elect a president to succeed Uribe, Washington's closest ally on the continent. Unless a 43 percent poverty rate can be steadily reduced, experts on the conflict contend, Colombia could regress even as the United States continues to provide military assistance.

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I kind of feel like this is unfair. All that money went towards the military, not a system for lifting the country out of poverty. Sure it's a step in the right direction but the money needs to go directly to the small farmers. *sigh*
movies | Impish Fräulein2

ONTD_Political's PotD: April 18, 2010.

Shop Drop | No, the images aren’t photoshopped or greenscreened. French photog Denis Darzacq brings the acrobats of dancers into the local supermarket, or as the French say, hypermarché. The subjects are young, anonymous, and suspended in mid air; a stark contrast to the neatly arranged products selling on the shelves behind them. Darzacq’s images are symbolic of an economy in free fall, and the struggles of success in a material world.
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Denis Darzacq | Multimedia Muse + TMG Gallaries