April 19th, 2010

Akuma River

Gordon Brown using SEC fraud charge against Goldman Sachs to try to win election

Goldman Sachs Bonuses: Bank Paying Staff Over $5 Billion For Just Three Months Work
GREGORY KATZ and GEIR MOULSON | 04/18/10 08:21 PM |

LONDON — Goldman Sachs is facing a potential backlash in Europe over the fraud case brought against it in the United States, with Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling for authorities there to investigate and accusing the investment bank of "moral bankruptcy."

Germany also said it would ask for detailed information about the case.


Both governments had to bail out banks that lost hundreds of millions of dollars on investments marketed by Goldman, according to the fraud suit brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, in Britain's case Royal Bank of Scotland through its acquisition of parts of ABN Amro.
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This is starting to turn into an international investigation into Goldman Sachs. It's not just the U.S. levying charges but also the U.K. and Germany. How many more nations will join in? Do think this will help pave the way for financial regulation reform?

Did anyone else catch President Clinton's interview on This Week? It was very interesting when he was talking about derivatives.
P.S. mods, why isn't there financial reform tag?
Citadel

The Roots of Stalin in the Tea Party Movement

(This is indeed posted for the lulz)

The Tea Party movement's dirty little secret is that its chief financial backers owe their family fortune to the granddaddy of all their hatred: Stalin's godless empire of the USSR. The secretive oil billionaires of the Koch family, the main supporters of the right-wing groups that orchestrated the Tea Party movement, would not have the means to bankroll their favorite causes had it not been for the pile of money the family made working for the Bolsheviks in the late 1920s and early 1930s, building refineries, training Communist engineers and laying down the foundation of Soviet oil infrastructure.

The comrades were good to the Kochs. Today Koch Industries has grown into the second-largest private company in America. With an annual revenue of $100 billion, the company was just $6.3 billion shy of first place in 2008. Ownership is kept strictly in the family, with the company being split roughly between brothers Charles and David Koch, who are worth about $20 billion apiece and are infamous as the largest sponsors of right-wing causes. They bankroll scores of free-market and libertarian think tanks, institutes and advocacy groups. Greenpeace estimates that the Koch family shelled out $25 million from 2005 to 2008 funding the "climate denial machine," which means they outspent Exxon Mobile three to one.

I first learned about the Kochs in February 2009, when my colleague Mark Ames and I were looking into the strange origins of the then-nascent Tea Party movement. Our investigation led us again and again to a handful of right-wing advocacy groups directly tied to the Kochs. We were the first to connect the dots and debunk the Tea Party movement's "grassroots" front, exposing it as billionaire-backed astroturf campaign run by free-market advocacy groups FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity, both of which are closely linked to the Koch brothers.

But the Tea Party movement -- and the Koch family's obscene wealth -- go back more than half a century, all the way to grandpa Fredrick C. Koch, one of the founding members of the far-right John Birch Society which was convinced that socialism was taking over America through unions, colored people, Jews, homosexuals, the Kennedys and even Dwight D. Eisenhower.

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Source.
Sufjan Smile

Confederate (Distortion of) History Month

SARAH PALIN, Haley Barbour, John Boehner, Newt Gingrich--add Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to the list. The upper echelon of Republican Party politicians is stuffed full of ugly bigots who never miss an opportunity to do or say something repellant.

Last week, McDonnell--a graduate of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network School of Law (this is not a joke; it's now known as Regent University), but whose 2009 campaign for governor intentionally downplayed his right-wing views--grabbed the spotlight when he declared April to be "Confederate History Month."

The commemoration of Confederate History Month had fallen out of favor until 1997, when it was revived by then-Gov. George Allen, another Republican. After Allen left office, the commemoration again dropped away for eight years--until McDonnell issued his announcement.

McDonnell's proclamation caused shock waves by simultaneously glorifying the Confederate South, but making no mention of slavery, slaves or people of African descent in any form--a whitewashing of sickening proportions.

In McDonnell's version of history, the Civil War is redefined as a "war between the states for independence," where Confederate armed forces innocently "fought for their homes and communities"--rather than a bloody conflict in which 1.2 million people died and where Confederate forces fought to preserve the unspeakably cruel system of slavery.

McDonnell's depiction of the North's victory--which, in reality, smashed the Southern slaveocracy and liberated millions from bondage--is laced with wistfulness and regret: The Confederacy was "ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable resources of the Union army," the proclamation says.

McDonnell portrayed Confederate generals and soldiers as noble heroes, who after their defeat "returned to their homes and families to rebuild their communities in peace"--a "peace" that included the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan and decades of Jim Crow barbarism that followed in Virginia.

These parts of history should be "studied, understood and remembered," McDonnell says. The idea that the state will promote and encourage this version of history is criminal. As the Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass wrote in 1878: "There was a right side and a wrong side in the late war, which no sentiment ought to cause us to forget."
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Source: Socialist Worker

Usually I post some fairly controversial articles, but here's one we can all agree on! Hooray!

Australian Human Rights Act Canned as Election Looms

THE federal government is preparing to announce that it will not create a human rights act for Australia despite the recommendations of a report it commissioned last year.

The Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, is planning to outline the government's response to the report, by a human rights consultation committee headed by the Jesuit lawyer Father Frank Brennan, in a National Press Club speech on Wednesday.

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Source
obama-berlin-ani

World's Opinion Of U.S. Has 'Improved Sharply' Under Obama, Says BBC Poll



Since Barack Obama entered office, the world's view of the United States has 'improved sharply,' according to a poll carried out by the BBC World Service.

Nearly 30,000 people in 28 countries were asked to rate countries on their positive impact upon the world. This year 46% of the respondents rated the US's influence as positive - the first time since 2005 that the survey returned more positive votes than negative for America.

"After a year, it appears the 'Obama effect' is real" said Steven Kull director Program on International Policy Attitudes (Pipa) at the University of Maryland, who helped conduct the poll.

"Its influence on people's views worldwide, though, is to soften the negative aspects of the United States' image, while positive aspects are not yet coming into strong focus."

In Germany, positive ratings for the United States jumped from 18% in 2009 to 39% this year. Jumps like this and others helped the US overtake China in the rankings, where positive ratings dropped to 41%

The only two countries to have seen a drop in positive views of the US are Turkey and India.

Despite this, the US still trails behind other countries with higher ratings. Germany is the most favorably viewed nation (an average of 59% positive), followed by Japan (53%), the United Kingdom (52%), Canada (51%), and France (49%).

At the other end of the list, Iran is the least favorably viewed nation (15%), followed by Pakistan (16%), North Korea (17%), Israel (19%), and Russia (30%).
 
Read detailed poll findings here


Source
Murasaki Shikibu

Granting suffrage to those foreigners will destroy Japan!

Foreigner suffrage opponents rally
Conservative politicians express outrage at DPJ plan

Conservative intellectuals and key executives from five political parties were among the thousands who gathered in Tokyo on Saturday to rally against granting foreign residents voting rights for local elections.

On hand were financial services minister Shizuka Kamei, who heads Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party), Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Tadamori Oshima, former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma, who recently launched his own political party, Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan), and Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe.

Jin Matsubara, a Lower House member from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, also attended.

According to the organizer, a total of 10,257 people attended the convention at the Nippon Budokan arena in Chiyoda Ward, including representatives of prefectural assemblies and citizens from across the nation.

Oshima, the LDP's No. 2, promised that "in the name of protecting the nation's sovereignty" the largest opposition party would do everything in its power to prevent such a bill from being enacted.

Your Party chief Watanabe accused the DPJ of using the suffrage issue to lure New Komeito, which supports foreigners' local election rights, before the upcoming Upper House election. "This is nothing but an election ploy by the DPJ," he claimed.


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--

I saw a news clip of this, and, I'm not even gonna like, I literally yelled, "Asshole!" at the screen.

Oh, AND LIKE US FOREIGNERS DON'T PAY TAXES, TOO. Or into the pension scheme, or ANY of that. By Sassa's own logic, anyone who lives in Japan and pays taxes should be able to vote.

The killer is the small number of permanent residents in Japan--less than one million. This xenophobia than anything else. Especially since the special permanent residents have been in Japan since before WWII--it's the people who lost Japanese citizenship after the war, but who had been living in Japan (some of whom were born in Japan and only spoke Japanese), and their descendants--so some of the people they're denying suffrage for have been in Japan their entire lives.
franklin sherman

Police Raid Newsroom - JMU Newsroom RAID - Police Seize Riot Photographs

Following a widespread campus riot last weekend, James Madison University's newspaper, The Breeze, became the subject of intense police scrutiny.

Why? The newspaper is the only news outlet that has photographic evidence of the melee.

Police pressured the twice-weekly paper for copies of the photographs for several days, saying they needed pictures to identify those responsible for the riot; the Breeze refused. The paper's editor, Katie Thisdell, told the Roanoke Times that she didn't think it was the paper's responsibility to aid the police in their investigation.

But Friday morning, the police took action, obtaining a search warrant to seize the photographs from the Breeze's office. According to Thisdell, she tried to resist handing over the photos, but police "appeared prepared to take all of the newspaper's equipment." The police took more than 900 photos from newsroom computers.

The Breeze is receiving legal representation from the Student Press Law Center.

According to the center's executive director, Frank LoMonte, the newsroom raid was wholly unlawful.

[LoMonte] said in a statement that the search was likely a violation of the Privacy Protection Act, a "federal anti-newsroom search law" that generally makes it illegal for government officials to search news organizations without a subpoena.


"To intimidate student journalists with a massive show of force and with no time to consult legal counsel is grossly improper," he said.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/19/jmu-newsroom-raid-police_n_542707.html

and the law the police broke: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/42/2000aa.html
tv | Some girls | Rocky

Royal Navy to rescue stranded Britons

Three Royal Navy ships are being drafted to help bring stranded Britons home as UK airspace remains restricted.

The UK's emergency committee Cobra discussed options to address the travel chaos caused by a volcanic ash cloud and will hold another meeting later.

The three ships are heading for Spain and unspecified Channel ports.

Air traffic control service Nats has extended flight restrictions to 0100 BST Tuesday, but ministers are hopeful airspace may reopen later that day.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said Met Office reports of a "dramatic reduction in volcanic activity on Monday morning" meant it might be possible to open airspace on Tuesday if the reduction was sustained.

"If it's possible to start opening airports tomorrow, contingency plans are being put in place to get as many people through those airports as fast as possible," he told BBC News.

Planes were first grounded in the UK at midday on Thursday amid fears particles in the ash cloud from Eyjafjallajoekull could cause engines to shut down.

The Met Office has advised that the volcano is now less active than previously, although weather patterns continue to blow volcanic ash towards the UK.

Brian Golding, head of forecasting at the Met Office, said there were "promising signs" the wind will be blowing in a different direction by the end of the weekend.

Travel agents' association Abta said its "rough estimate" was that 150,000 Britons are currently stranded abroad, and rail and ferry services have been stretched to the limit by passengers seeking other means to return.

Following the Cobra meeting, the prime minister outlined discussions he had held with Spanish premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero about the use of airports in Spain, which retain a limited service as they are at the edge of the ash cloud.

"I talked to Prime Minister Zapatero and he has offered in principle the use of Spanish airports as a hub to bring people back to Britain," he said.

"We are now looking (at) transport arrangements that we will support as a government - coach, ferry and train - to get people either from Madrid or another Spanish airport back to Britain."

He added that HMS Ark Royal, HMS Ocean and HMS Albion would soon be deployed towards Channel ports for the effort.

"I believe this is one of the most serious transport disruptions we have faced," Mr Brown said.

"It's got financial consequences as well as human consequences and we will do everything in our power to make sure all the arrangements are in place to help people where possible to get back home."

HMS Albion was deployed to Spain to return 220 members of the 3 Rifles battalion to the UK, as they remain stranded on their way back from Afghanistan.

On Sunday, 300 of the 3 Rifles battalion returned to the UK via coach and ferry.

HMS Albion is due to arrive in Santander, in northern Spain, on Tuesday morning and may also carry civilians on its return.
Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers said: "It is good news for Britons trying to get home that the government are now looking to make use of the Royal Navy. People stranded abroad need to know all that can be done to help them is being done and this is a first step."
Shadow tourism minister Tobias Ellwood accused the government of "dithering" in its duty to help Britons stranded abroad.

Mr Ellwood, a former pilot, suggested allocating emergency drop-off points for all UK-bound flights in Bordeaux, Marseille, Madrid and Barcelona and bringing passengers back into the UK on planes flying at a low altitude.

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker said the length of time British passengers faced being stranded for needed to be "urgently assessed".
In other developments:
Source.

I was reading earlier about a toddler whose in critical condition because a donor transplant she was due to have is delayed in Canada because of the travel disruptions. It puts things into perspective for someone like me who was worried about losing money from my holiday.
VS Isn't Down With That

Crazy Fundie tries to get restraining order against police...so he can attack abortion clinic

Earlier this month, Erlyndon Joseph Lo, a 27-year-old graduate of Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, walked into a federal courthouse in Plano, TX, to seek a restraining order against the police. Why? Because he planned to go to a Dallas abortion provider and "use deadly force to defend the innocent life of another human being." Lo didn't want the police spoiling his murderous rage.

In the motion he filed, Lo stated that "I will try to stop an abortion using oral words, and if words are not enough. I will use physical force if necessary, and if anyone tries to physically stop me, I will overcome that force, and if I must use deadly force to defend the innocent life of another human being, I will.” You see, Lo is Catholic (a decision he came to after researching on "Wikipedia and the Internet") and feels that that belief entitles him to use deadly force when he sees fit. Funny, my Catholic grandmother never mentioned that aspect of her faith.

Fortunately, the FBI was notified of Lo's intentions. He was arrested and charged with two crimes: "using interstate commerce to communicate a threat to injure, and threatening force to intimidate and interfere with clients and employees of a reproductive health service in order to intimidate that facility's clients and employees from obtaining and providing reproductive health services."

This, by the way, is not the first example of Lo acting irrationally in the name of his anti-choice beliefs. On March 18 of this year he filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping to make abortion illegal. In the suit, he asks for $999 trillion dollars and damages and $1000/hr in attorney's fees (although there is actually no evidence that he has passed any state bar examination). Oh, and he once challenged President Barack Obama to a debate on reproductive choice, which Lo feels he then won, since the President never responded. I can't imagine why not.

Anti-choicers, in general, do not scare me. While I may passionately disagree with their ideology and often their tactics, they are more irritating than anything else. Lo, however, scares me. He scares me because he believes, much like Scott Roeder (the murderer of Dr. Tiller), that his opinion justifies violence. He believes he has the moral authority to kill those who stand in opposition to him. Yet, for all the vile he spews and specificity of his threats, Lo faces a maximum sentence of six years. That should scare all of us.

Source

Also:
Link to the FBI Case and The Lo's Website
Cheers

Iranian cleric: Promiscuous women cause quakes

BEIRUT — A senior Iranian cleric says women who wear immodest clothing and behave promiscuously are to blame for earthquakes.

Iran is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and the cleric's unusual explanation for why the earth shakes follows a prediction by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that a quake is certain to hit Tehran and that many of its 12 million inhabitants should relocate.

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes," Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran's acting Friday prayer leader.

Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe, but many, especially the young, ignore some of the more strict codes and wear tight coats and scarves pulled back that show much of the hair.

"What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?" Sedighi asked during a prayer sermon Friday. "There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes."

Seismologists have warned for at least two decades that it is likely the sprawling capital will be struck by a catastrophic quake in the near future.

Some experts have even suggested Iran should move its capital to a less seismically active location. Tehran straddles scores of fault lines, including one more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) long, though it has not suffered a major quake since 1830.

In 2003, a powerful earthquake hit the southern city of Bam, killing 31,000 people — about a quarter of that city's population — and destroying its ancient mud-built citadel.

"A divine authority told me to tell the people to make a general repentance. Why? Because calamities threaten us," Sedighi said.

Referring to the violence that followed last June's disputed presidential election, he said, "The political earthquake that occurred was a reaction to some of the actions (that took place). And now, if a natural earthquake hits Tehran, no one will be able to confront such a calamity but God's power, only God's power. ... So let's not disappoint God."

The Iranian government and its security forces have been locked in a bloody battle with a large opposition movement that accuses Ahmadinejad of winning last year's vote by fraud.

Ahmadinejad made his quake prediction two weeks ago but said he could not give an exact date. He acknowledged that he could not order all of Tehran's 12 million people to evacuate. "But provisions have to be made. ... At least 5 million should leave Tehran so it is less crowded," the president said.

Minister of Welfare and Social Security Sadeq Mahsooli said prayers and pleas for forgiveness were the best "formulas to repel earthquakes."

"We cannot invent a system that prevents earthquakes, but God has created this system and that is to avoid sins, to pray, to seek forgiveness, pay alms and self-sacrifice," Mahsooli said.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Source
zayn

orly Elie Wiesel?

Elie Wisel wrote and open letter to President Obama about Jerusalem/Israel/Palestine.

"For Jerusalem

It was inevitable: Jerusalem once again is at the center of political debates and international storms. New and old tensions surface at a disturbing pace. Seventeen times destroyed and seventeen times rebuilt, it is still in the middle of diplomatic confrontations that could lead to armed conflict. Neither Athens nor Rome has aroused that many passions."

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The worst typo ever?

Cropped and flipped by myself from GFDL image ...

Image via Wikipedia

Publisher destroys 7,000 copies of The Pasta Bible after 'silly mistake' causes outrage

A recipe for tagliatelle with sardines and prosciutto has proved a little too spicy for Penguin Australia, after a misprint suggesting that the dish required "salt and freshly ground black people" has left the publisher reaching for the pulping machine, rather than the pepper grinder.

It's a one-word slip that only came to light after a member of the public got in touch, and which has sent all 7,000 copies of The Pasta Bible at Penguin's warehouse to be destroyed, an exercise which head of publishing, Robert Sessions, told the Sydney Morning Herald would cost $ 20,000.

There are, as yet, no plans to recall copies that have made it into stores, which according to Sessions would be "extremely hard". He was "mortified that this has become an issue of any kind", adding that "why anyone would be offended, we don't know".

Sessions defended proofreaders for letting through a misprint that he suggested came from a spell-check program, explaining that since almost every recipe in the book calls for black pepper at a on each page it was an error he considered "quite forgivable". He went on to attack those who might complain about what he called a "silly mistake" as "small minded".

Meanwhile, the clean-up operation continues, with the publisher releasing a rather more emollient statement on its website offering sincere apologies "for any offence this error may have caused readers", and suggesting that proofreaders "would have been concentrating on checking quantities, a common source of error in cookbooks". Penguin also offered to "willingly replace a copy of The Pasta Bible owned by anyone who feels uncomfortable about having a copy of the book in their possession".

Speaking to the Guardian this afternoon, Sessions was unwilling to add to his earlier remarks, explaining that he had "nothing further to say", and referring to the Penguin website.

Source: The Grauniad (I'll leave their typos in, I think)

edit: gah... how do you remove tags? I wasn't concentrating and united kingdom ended up there by mistake. ^^;
editedit: ty, tag fairies. :D
franklin sherman

Security Brief: Radical Islamic Web site takes on 'South Park'

The radical Islamic Web site Revolutionmuslim.com is going after the creators of the TV cartoon series "South Park" after an episode last week included an image of the Prophet Mohammed in disguise.

Revolutionmuslim.com, based in New York, was the subject of a CNN investigation last year for its radical rhetoric supporting “jihad” against the West and praising al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Its organizers insist they act within the law and seek to protect Islam.

On Sunday, Revolutionmuslim.com posted an entry that included a warning to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that they risk violent retribution – after the 200th episode last week included a satirical discussion about whether an image of the prophet could be shown. In the end, he is portrayed disguised in a bear suit.



YouTube: Watch Trey Parker and Matt Stone talk about the decision


The posting on Revolutionmuslim.com says: “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”

Theo van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered by an Islamic extremist in 2004 after making a short documentary on violence against women in some Islamic societies. The posting on Revolutionmuslim.com features a graphic photograph of Van Gogh with his throat cut and a dagger in his chest.

The entry on Revolutionmuslim.com goes on to advise readers:

“You can contact them [the makers of South Park], or pay Comedy Central or their own company a visit at these addresses …” before listing Comedy Central’s New York address, and the Los Angeles, California, address of Parker and Sloane’s production company.

Contacted by CNN, the author of the post, Abu Talhah al Amrikee, said that providing the addresses was not intended as a threat to the creators of South Park but to give people the opportunity to protest.

Over still photographs of Parker, Stone, van Gogh and others, the Web site runs audio of a sermon by the radical U.S.-born preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who is now in hiding in Yemen. The sermon, recorded some time ago, talks about assassinating those who have “defamed” the Prophet Mohammed – citing one religious authority as saying “Harming Allah and his messenger is a reason to encourage Muslims to kill whoever does that.” U.S. officials say al-Awlaki is on a list of al Qaeda leaders targeted for capture or assassination.

The clip ends with a warning on a graphic directed at Parker and Stone, saying “The Dust Will Never Settle Down.”

Al Amrikee said the purpose of including the al-Awlaki sermon in his posting was to remind Muslims that insulting the prophet is a severe offense for which the punishment in Islam is death. He said RevolutionMuslim may hold protests about the show.

Calls to Comedy Central were not returned.

http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2010/04/19/security-brief-radical-islamic-web-site-takes-on-south-park/?hpt=T2


for those unfamiliar with 'islamic rage boy' meme
http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/islamic-rage-boy

Torry Hansen & the Adoption Disruption Narrative; Getting Better, Still Needs Work By Thea Lim

By now you have probably heard about Torry Hansen, a Tennessee woman who put her adopted son Artyom Savelyev alone on a plane back to Russia with only a letter saying that he was violent and that she no longer wished to parent him.  Late last week Russian authorities froze adoptions until a new agreement that better protects Russian children can be negotiated.

Savelyev’s story is particularly excruciating, but adoption disruption stories in general create discomfort and confusion, because they contend that adoption (like monogamous life partnership or parenting or college or working life or many other life milestones that are supposed to be wholly good) is not the simple story it’s painted to be, where a magnanimous middle class Westerner scoops up an orphan caught in the jaws of global poverty, and they all live happily ever after.

Obviously the dialogue forced by adoption disruption is good, insofar as it complicates and makes more sane our sanitised notion of adoption.  But when it elevates and highlights the needs and feelings of the parents over the children, it becomes clear just how much we need to cleanse our understanding of adoption.

 

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miiiiiiiiine

Someone page Peter Pan

The Unschooling Movement: School's Out ... Forever

by Tom Henderson  Apr 19th 2010 3:42PM

If she is lucky -- very lucky -- Michele Darr-Babson can get from one end of a sentence to the other uninterrupted.

Mornings in her Salem, Ore., home are slightly, shall we say, chaotic.

"We're able to give our children ... Louis! Don't stand on that!" she tells ParentDish (and Louis).

What Darr-Babson is trying to say is that unschooling -- a movement where children get no education and basically teach themselves what they need to know -- gives kids more choices. Apparently, the choice for Louis to stand on whatever "that" is, is not one of them.

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I've never heard of this and it's making me wtf.  I know for certain that if my parents let me get away with this shit, I would've just played video games.

Forever.
Reporting

Cuba's Cardinal Jamie Ortega says country is in crisis

The head of the Catholic Church in Cuba says it is in one of its worst crises in recent times and people are openly criticising the socialist system.

Cardinal Jamie Ortega told a local Catholic newsletter that there was a national consensus that the government make the necessary changes "quickly".

He also urged the Communist authorities to free all political prisoners.

Cuba is suffering its worst economic hardship since the slump that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The global economic crisis, the continued US trade embargo, and recent hurricanes have all had an impact on the state-run economy.

'Stalinist-style bureaucracy'

The BBC's Michael Voss in Havana says this is not the first time that Cardinal Ortega has spoken out on current events in Cuba, but his interview with Palabra Nueva (New Word) was more outspoken than most.

The 73-year-old prelate said that people were openly talking about the deficiencies in Cuba's socialist system, calling it a Stalinist-style bureaucracy producing apathetic workers and low productivity.

"Our country is in a very difficult situation," he warned. "Certainly the most difficult we have lived in this 21st Century."

President Raul Castro has put through some small-scale economic reforms, but warned that further changes will take time, our correspondent says.

Cardinal Ortega said that people differed over how to solve Cuba's woes, but that everyone agreed that "the necessary changes are made quickly".

"I think this feeling has become a form of national consensus, and its delay is producing impatience and unease among the people."

He also referred to the recent death of a dissident hunger-striker in jail and the growing harassment of the "Ladies in White" - the wives and mothers of political prisoners - actions he called "distressing".

He also criticised US President Barack Obama for failing to restart a genuine dialogue with Cuba, and following his predecessors' policy of demanding reforms as a prerequisite to end the trade embargo.

Source

Magneto puppet

Advocates carry handguns, rifles at Va. rally


Don Syfrett of Dallas, Ga., makes a phone call while demonstrating for first and second amendment rights at a 'Restore the Constitution' rally at Gravelly Point Park in Arlington, Va., Monday, April 19, 2010.

ARLINGTON, Va. – Carrying loaded pistols and unloaded rifles, dozens of gun-rights activists got as close as they could Monday to the nation's capital while still bearing arms and delivered what they said was a simple message: Don't tread on me.

Hundreds of like-minded but unarmed counterparts carried out a separate rally in the nation's capital.

The gun-carrying protesters in Virginia rallied on national park land, which is legal thanks to a new law signed by President Barack Obama that allows guns in national parks. Organizers said it's the first armed rally in a national park since the law passed.

The District of Columbia's strict gun laws, however, generally make it illegal to carry a handgun, so rally participants there were unarmed.

Daniel Almond, who organized the "Restore the Constitution" rally in Virginia, said he wanted to convene in a place where "we can exercise our rights." He pointed in the direction of Washington and said, "Over there, the Constitution is being violated in that we cannot bear arms."

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Source.

There's also a video at the source.

EDIT: Reuploaded the image to Bayimg because Tinypic took it down. ???
Akuma River

December hack into Google hit the pw system

Photobucket

Cyberattack on Google Said to Hit Password System
Ever since Google disclosed in January that Internet intruders had stolen information from its computers, the exact nature and extent of the theft has been a closely guarded company secret. But a person with direct knowledge of the investigation now says that the losses included one of Google’s crown jewels, a password system that controls access by millions of users worldwide to almost all of the company’s Web services, including e-mail and business applications.

The program, code named Gaia for the Greek goddess of the earth, was attacked in a lightning raid taking less than two days last December, the person said. Described publicly only once at a technical conference four years ago, the software is intended to enable users and employees to sign in with their password just once to operate a range of services.
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Branded 'coward' fights for PTSD sufferers





By PAULINE ARRILLAGA, AP National Writer Pauline Arrillaga, Ap National Writer
Mon Apr 19, 12:00 am ET

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – They call him the angry guy now. Even his friends. And at this moment, on a snowy evening when he should be home, putting his son to bed, Andrew Pogany is, in fact, ticked off.

He sits with a soldier in a law office. The man has brought with him a pile of medical files, and another desperate story: Sent off to war to fight for his country. Diagnosed, now, with post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet the Army, the soldier tells Pogany, is drawing up papers to discharge him in a way that could mean no medical benefits.

The soldier confides he thinks about killing himself. All the time, he says.

Pogany makes sure he has his cell number. Then he copies the medical records, and recommends a book by a Vietnam veteran turned Zen monk. The man once helped Pogany through his own tough times. Maybe the monk's words will help this guy hang on.

Two hours behind closed doors, then a handshake and the soldier leaves. Pogany seethes.

"Disgusting," he fumes. "This is so disgusting."

Yes, Andrew Pogany is angry again. But he shrugs off such labels. Better to be called angry than to be branded a coward by the very military he signed up to serve, as the Army did to him back in 2003.

When the military tried to prosecute him, anger motivated Pogany to fight. When he began thinking about taking his own life, anger helped quiet the despair and kept him from getting a gun. When service members like this one started coming to him for help, anger drove him to fight on, for them.

He likes to say that the "anger monkey" saved him. He'll need that anger to have a shot at saving this soldier, too.

___

 

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(source)
misc. | Black Superwoman

ONTD_Political's PotD: April 19, 2010.


What would make a man send his head through a flaming brick? The end of another maddening winter and the promise of spring. This annual event in Belarus, held this year in Minsk on Feb. 28, features elite soldiers engaged in oddball competitions to mark the changing seasons.

Viktor Drachev | AFP/Getty Images
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Related article: "A Springtime Ritual: Fire, Bricks and Pain"