April 23rd, 2010

Dr. Who: 11th Doctor Sonic Screwdriver

Bishop Mixa resigns [or: One down, but loads more to go]

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Embattled Bishop Walter Mixa tendered his resignation Wednesday in a letter to Pope Benedict, bowing to pressure over accusations that he beat children at a Catholic orphanage in the 1970s and 1980s.

Following weeks of claims of child beatings at the Schrobenhausen children’s home – and further suggestions he may have misused Church funds – Bishop Mixa, 68, sent a resignation letter to the Vatican to avoid further damage to the Church’s reputation, Mixa's office confirmed Thursday morning.

“I am taking this step in the unshakeable faith in God’s mercy and confidently hope that the Father in heaven will lead the Church of Augsburg to a good future,” he wrote, according to daily Augsburger Allgemeine.

His resignation would apply to his positions as Bishop of Augsburg and Catholic Military Bishop for the German Bundeswehr.

The resignation follows earlier remarks by the head of the German Bishops’ Conference, Robert Zollitsch, which appeared to distance the Church from Bishop Mixa by publicly asking him to take a break from his duties.

Zollitsch said he had asked Mixa to take a “period of spiritual reflection and physical distance” from the Augsburg diocese – a move widely seen as unique in the Church’s recent history that had been coordinated with the Vatican.

Pope Benedict must still accept Bishop Mixa’s resignation before it is final. It would represent an extraordinary blow to the Church in the midst of a turbulent period in which it has been battered by allegations of child sex abuse in Germany and around the world.

Mixa, who is bishop in the Bavarian city of Augsburg, has faced weeks of mounting claims that he hit and beat children while he was a teacher at Schrobenhausen children’s home during the 1970s and 1980s. Eight people who lived at the home have come forward with claims that he beat them with his fists, a stick and even a carpet beater.

After weeks of flat denials, Mixa recently admitted he could “not rule out a cuff or two around the ear 20 years ago” and added that “I very much regret that today.”

An investigation by lawyer Sebastian Knott has also found that Mixa, as head of the board of trustees of the Catholic Orphanage Foundation, may have spent the institution's money on art, wine and jewellery.


Note: This is not a sexual abuse case; rather, the allegations of beatings came up in the wake of all the other scandals that have been surfacing during the last months. It is kind of ironic and perhaps even telling that the only high-profile resignation is over something that is not sexual abuse. Mixa's main problem seems to be that he very strongly denied the accusations at first until they could no longer be denied, which was something that forced the Church to put him under pressure, especially as the recent case of the head of the Protestant church resigning very quickly over a serious misdemeanour showed quite a contrast.

According to a cursory research I just did, hitting children in schools was illegal in Western Germany after 1973, but in Bavaria (where Mixa worked), it was forbidden only in 1980. This means that in some of the instances, what he did could have been legal, but anything that happened "in the 1980s" probably wasn't. FYI, corporal punishment of children was completely banned in Germany in 2000 - this includes any corporal punishment by parents.



White House staff brings kids to work

WASHINGTON – Michelle Obama told a group of curious kids visiting the White House Thursday about her daughter Malia's most frequent question about Dad's job: What's he doing to help tigers?

Asked about her family's favorite animal, the first lady said they talk about tigers at least once a week, because Malia, 11, is concerned about what President Barack Obama is doing to save the endangered animals.

"He tells her he's working on it and there are a lot of people who are thinking about it," she said. "But I think, the Obama household, we're trying to save the tigers."

Mrs. Obama spent about an hour taking queries from children of executive office employees who visited the White House for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

The children asked Mrs. Obama about life in the White House, her campaign against childhood obesity, the White House garden - and whether she could make school recesses longer. She dodged that last one.

One detail she shared: The playlist on her iPod includes songs by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Rihanna, Beyonce, Usher and Sting.

The kids cheered an appearance by the first family's dog, Bo, and leapt out of their seats to pet him.

The employees' children were scheduled for a tour of the White House that included seeing a demonstration by the Secret Service, making a healthy snack with the pastry chef, visiting the White House athletic center and learning about beekeeping and composting at the first lady's garden.

I didn't know it's now "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day". That's pretty groovy.
Belgium ♥ Obama

Belgian government on brink of collapse

Belgium was once again plunged into political chaos today (22 April) as the ruling government coalition collapsed, raising the potentially embarrassing possibility of a general election just weeks ahead of the Belgian EU Presidency, which begins on 1 July.

Flemish liberal party Open VLD decided to withdraw from the country's ruling coalition today, reigniting a nationwide crisis that has been dividing the French and Dutch-speaking parts of the country since national elections were held three years ago. (EurActiv 03/12/07)

Open VLD said it had lost confidence in the government over its handling of a dispute between French- and Dutch-speaking parties over electoral boundaries around Brussels.

"We have not agreed on a negotiated solution and therefore Open VLD no longer has confidence in the government," said Alexander De Croo, the party's chairman.

Prime Minister Yves Leterme left his cabinet at around 13:00 local time to hand in his resignation to King Albert II.

The king still has the opportunity to refuse his resignation, but it would be hard for Leterme to govern without the support of Open VLD, as the ruling coalition would hold just 76 of the 150 seats in the lower house of parliament.

Open VLD sources told EurActiv that the country is most likely heading for early elections.

This new crisis is an embarrassment for Belgium as the country prepares to take on the EU's rotating presidency for six months on 1 July.

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[Euractiv source / similar article over at BBC News]

(no subject)

AFA Calls Real Americans to Get Their Guns and Kill The Government Before They Kill Us All! Oklahoma Bombing Was Justifiable Self Defense!

American Family Association: Government is more dangerous than al Qaeda, Tim McVeigh’s terrorism.

The American Family Association, a powerful Christian hate group known for its homophobia and grassroots lobbying campaigns, used the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing on Monday to declare that “government” is “a larger, more insidious threat to America” than terrorists like Timothy McVeigh or al Qaeda:

If a radical homegrown terrorist group attacked the United States, following after the example of Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City, it would be horrible, outrageous. If Al Qaeda managed to attack us again, killing thousands of people, the nation would be devastated, saddened and enraged. However neither of these terrible events would affect the existence of America. Big government, on the other hand, is set on destroying the individual on which America is built. [...] Radical anti-government groups are not taxing Americans into oblivion, running $1 trillion deficits as far as the eye can see, or forcing others to acquiesce to their whims on healthcare; however, big government is guilty of all of the above.

Last month, AFA bloggers wrote that federal employees “can be shot” for passing health reform, which they termed a “MussoliniCare bill.” While the views of the AFA are certainly fringe, the influence AFA enjoys within the Republican Party is widespread. During the health reform debate, Republican lawmakers joined with AFA representatives for a “Prayercast” to kill the bill. Top Republican legislators, from both the House and Senate, often appear on AFA affiliated radio to attack President Obama and concoct conspiracies about his agenda.

RNC Running Out of Free Moneys!! Please Send More!

Republicans To Rescue RNC's Finances The Same Way They Saved America's Economy!

Internal RNC probe finds financial controls in disarray

Barely 6 1/2 months before the midterm elections, an internal investigation by the Republican National Committee has revealed that the organization is beset with questionable financial management and oversight and is spending more money courting top-dollar donors than it raises.

The investigation found that the Republican Party's national governing body is losing money on its major-donors' fundraising program -- spending $1.09 for each $1.00 raised, according to RNC members privy to the investigation's findings. It typically costs about 40 cents for every dollar raised from donors who give more than $1,000.

The investigation also found that the RNC has allowed employees to forge Finance Director Rob Bickhart's initials on expense-reimbursement request approvals, according to an RNC member who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. The RNC's top elected and appointed management have united in defense of the committee's practices. RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele can withhold or increase RNC contributions to a state party.

The Washington Times obtained a copy of a report on the investigation -- prepared by RNC Treasurer Randy Pullen -- that he sent to the 28-member RNC Executive Committee before a conference call hastily scheduled for Wednesday afternoon by Mr. Steele's office. It includes some of the findings.

RNC communications director Doug Heye disputed the fundraising figures when reached for comment about the report. He said year-to-date the RNC has received $2,649,586 from major donors at a cost of $1,832,642, netting the organization more than $800,000.
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Janeway - Side

So you can all go D: with me like I did this morning

Deadly airborne fungus in Oregon set to spread
The new, rare strain has killed 1 in 4 infected, researchers say
By Charles Q. Choi
updated 6:12 p.m. ET, Thurs., April 22, 2010

A deadly, airborne new strain of fungus has emerged in Oregon. It has killed nearly one out of four known affected people so far and might also attack animals ranging from dogs to dolphins. And it is likely to spread, researchers now warn.

The new strain known as VGIIc of the fungus Cryptococcus gattii not only targets humans but has also proven capable of infecting dogs, cats, alpacas, sheep and elk. Other strains have even infected porpoises.

Although it can spread to mammals, it does not jump from animal to animal. Instead, people and other animals get it from inhaling spores released by samples of the fungus that infect trees.

"It's in the environment, and we're exposed to the environment," researcher Edmond Byrnes III of Duke University Medical Center told LiveScience. "And the environmental range of this has been expanding."

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Fungal Source

I used to work on anti-fungals back in my earlier research days.  The hypochondriac in me right now is all D:

Edited to fix fail from trying to type HTML in the rich text editor.  Dur.
Pride & Prejudice

Mr. Speaker's wife says no to Conservatives. Mr. Speaker is a Conservative. Hmm...

Sally Bercow, the wife of the Commons’ Speaker, has angered her husband’s Conservative colleagues by encouraging voters to sabotage their election campaigns.

Mrs Bercow, who is standing as a Labour candidate in the local council elections, said voters should keep Conservative candidates hanging around on the doorstep for as long as possible to reduce the number of constituencies they are able to reach.

Writing an election blog, entitled What to do when the Tories come knocking, Mrs Bercow said: “Far and away the most effective way to deal with a Tory canvasser is to sabotage their plan of zipping quickly and efficiently from door-to-door.”

She suggests keeping the canvasser talking by engaging them in conversations about issues she claims they will have strong opinions about.

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Ani: Amazon Warrior

Obama slams Arizona immigration bill

President Obama criticized a controversial new immigration bill in Arizona on Friday, calling it "misguided."

"Our failure to act responsible at the federal level will only open the door to irresponsibility by others. That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe," the president said at a naturalization ceremony for members of the military.

"In fact, I've instructed members of my administration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation. But if we continue to fail to act at the federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country."

He added, "As a nation, as a people, we can choose a different future - a future that keeps faith with our history, with our heritage, and with the hope that America has always inspired in the hearts of people all over the world."

Ani: Amazon Warrior

WaPo reports that Majority Leader Reid has given Schumer 3 weeks to work out bipartisan

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid is also pushing for action on immigration on Capitol Hill. Reid vaulted the issue to the top of Congress's spring agenda, saying at a leadership meeting this week that the Senate could take up the measure before it considers an energy bill.

And, having concluded that talks to advance a bipartisan immigration overhaul are stalled and party lines in the Senate are hardening, Reid (D-Nev.) has told Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) to strike a deal in three weeks or Democrats will bring their own bill forward, aides and lobbyists said Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed to hold a vote before congressional elections in November if the Senate passes a bill, aides said.

The developments underscore election-year realities and appear to reflect in part a political calculation by some Democrats: even if their bill fails, a debate could rally their base and mobilize Hispanic voters against GOP lawmakers in some districts.

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mods: please note I didn't post the first 3 paragraphs of the article b/c they were in my other post
Sufjan Smile

Obama reassures Wall Street on bank regulation bill

President Barack Obama went to lower Manhattan Thursday to deliver a message to Wall Street: Your profits and bonuses will not be disturbed by the regulatory overhaul making its way through Congress.

In a deferential speech pitched to top bankers in the Cooper Union audience, Obama urged what he called the “titans of industry” to call off their lobbyists and “join us” in passing his so-called reform. The subtext was that the White House and congressional Democrats had already removed most of the provisions to which the bankers objected, and were prepared to go even further in accommodating them.

The speech came less than a week after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) indicted Goldman Sachs, the most profitable Wall Street bank, for defrauding its clients in order to cash in on—and encourage—the collapse of the subprime housing market in 2007. Obama did not mention the indictment. Nor did he suggest that what he called a “failure of responsibility” on Wall Street included criminal activities.

Among those in the audience to whom Obama appealed was Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman, who attended the event to underscore his contempt and defiance of the SEC.

It was also a week in which the top five banks reported combined profits of more than $15 billion for the first three months of 2010—a huge increase over the previous year.

As the Goldman indictment makes clear, these profits are bound up with rampant fraud that helped crash the financial system--driving millions in the US and around the world into unemployment and poverty—followed by trillions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts and virtually free credit from the Federal Reserve.
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Source: WSWS

Anybody who's surprised by this needs to rethink their perspective on the big two.
' chased erased and thrown away

Shenanigans Friday: April 23, 2010.

"To err is human. To blame someone else is LOLitics."-Hubert LOLmphrey
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by perfectisafault
the raven

(no subject)

Did Porn Cause the Financial Crisis?

The above headline might seem like a joke. It isn't. Senior staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission were surfing Internet pornography when they should have been policing the financial system. A deeply disturbing SEC memo to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) exposing this problem was reported Thursday night by ABC News. Here are some highlights via the Associated Press:

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(no subject)

A Message from Jon Stewart to Revolution Muslim, *ahem* "Go Fuck Yourself"

Jon Stewart Stands Up For 'South Park,' Sings Another Round of 'Go F--k Yourselves' (VIDEO)

Last night Jon Stewart came to the aid of his Comedy Central family, defending "South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone for their controversial (and censored) episode in which they portrayed Muhammad.

The censorship by Comedy Central was meant to protect Parker and Stone, following death threats from radical, NY-based Revolution Muslim. Yeah, NY based, which according to Stewart means that while they praise Osama Bin Laden and celebrate 9/11, they have access to our theater district, Jewish delis, and parks.

"These numbnuts get to enjoy it. All because of how much we, in this country, value and protect even their freedom of expression. "

Stewart himself is no stranger to mocking religions. After acknowledging how well each faith has handled the show's ridicule, he presented an epic reel of the show's religion jokes over the years.

And keeping consistent with the theme of the week, Stewart had one last thing to say to Revolution Muslim: "Go F--k Yourselves." And again, he did it through song. Nice way to close out a strong week for the "Daily Show."


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Leaders' debate: more than 100 complaints to watchdog

Nick Clegg makes the Liberal Democrats' Leader...

Image via Wikipedia

Some viewers angered by Sky News host Adam Boulton's 'heckling' of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg

Media watchdog Ofcom is understood to have received more than 100 complaints about last night's second leaders' debate, with many of the complainants thought to be upset at host Adam Boulton's treatment of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

Many of the complaints to Ofcom following last night's debate are said to have been generated from Twitter and Facebook groups set up in anger at Boulton, the Sky News host.

Complainants believed Boulton unfairly "heckled" Clegg about yesterday's Daily Telegraph front page article about money being paid into his private bank account in 2006 by three businessmen to fund part of the salary of a staff member. Clegg declared the payments to the parliamentary authorities.

The complainants argued that Boulton's treatment of Clegg broke rule 63 of the rules of the debate agreed between Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.

Rule 63 states that "It is not the moderator's role to criticise or comment on the leaders' answers". The campaigners believe that Boulton breached rule 63 by "heckling" Clegg.

The debate, which was hosted by Sky News but was simulcast on BBC News Channel and Sky3, drew a live audience of 4.1 million viewers.

Last Thursday's first leaders' debate on ITV1 attracted more than double the live audience – 9.4 million – and about 40 complaints to Ofcom, mostly from Scottish National party supporters who believe their leader should have been included.

Ofcom, which does not regulate the rules agreed by the broadcasters and the parties, confirmed that it had received complaints about last night's broadcast, but declined to reveal how many. Ofcom will assess the complaints to see if there has been any breach in the broadcasting code.

Separately, Ofcom is investigating an official complaint from both the SNP and Plaid Cymru about being excluded from the first debate on ITV1.

Ofcom has set up a special election committee, made up of five members of its content board and non-executive directors, to investigate the complaints. It is expected to publish its decision next week.

The Guardian

Labour and Tory posters spoof Little Britain

Here's the poster Labour released midway through last night's debate to accompany Gordon Brown's claim that David Cameron favours "a big society at home, but Little Britain abroad".

Brown's soundbite may have been obviously rehearsed but it was still one of the most effective lines of the night. Most voters won't have watched the full debate last night, so the soundbites that got picked up by the news bulletins mattered more than usual.

Brown's line has the added virtue of being true. Cameron's Europhobia and his High Tory scepticism of America have left Tory foreign policy without any obvious anchor.

But I'm not sure about this poster. ConservativeHome has ludicrously claimed that it mocks the disabled (have they seen Little Britain?) but it's actually just not very good.

As you can see, the Tories' rapid-reaction unit released their own Little Britain poster in response.

It continues Cameron's assault on Labour's misleading leaflets. But to echo the Tory leader's attack on Nick Clegg last night, Cameron shouldn't put himself on a pedestal.

It was his party that produced this gory (and inaccurate) leaflet on violent crime and that published the most misleading poster of the campaign on Labour's "death tax".

In other words, Dave should put his own house in order first.

Source: New Statesman
Ani: Amazon Warrior

Ariz. governor signs immigration enforcement bill

PHOENIX -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law the nation's toughest legislation against illegal immigration Friday, a sweeping measure that supporters said would take handcuffs off police but which President Barack Obama said could violate people's civil rights.

The bill, sent to the Republican governor by the GOP-led Legislature, would make it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. It would also require local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants.

Brewer, who faces a tough election battle and growing anger in the state over illegal immigrants, said the law "protects every Arizona citizen."

"We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act," Brewer said after signing the law. "But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation."

Obama said in Washington that he's instructed the Justice Department to examine the Arizona bill to see if it's legal, and said the federal government must enact immigration reform at the national level - or leave the door open to "irresponsibility by others."

"That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe," Obama said.

Brewer was under intense pressure from anti-illegal immigration groups and lawmakers in her own party to sign the bill, but had given no indication what she will do.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the State Capitol complex Friday calling on Brewer to veto the legislation.

Demonstrators have been camped outside the Capitol since the measure passed out of the Legislature on Monday. Their numbers have grown steadily throughout the week, with buses bringing protesters from as far away as Los Angeles.

About a dozen supporters of the measure also gathered.


omg. wtf. bbq. *BRAIN HURTS IN SO MANY WAYS*  there goes my trip to the grand canyon.

I tried to do a live post of the press conference but it was accepted in time so let me just point out a few quotes from the governor of AZ:

1) "I do not know what an illegal immigrant looks like" >> LULZZZ

2) ""we must enforce evenly ... without regard to skin, color, accent or social status..." >> Um right sooo then just when someone is speaking Spanish?

3) ""While protecting our citizens is paramount, it cannot come at the expense of diversity that has made Arizona so great" >> right because you care so much about diversity you are punishing all diverse Arizonians!  what!

4) "I hope we meet again under better circumstances" >> YOU CREATED THESE CIRCUMSTANCES YOU STUPID IDIOT!!

Death of a 'Caveman' ends an era in Idaho


Known as the "Salmon River Caveman," Richard Zimmerman lived an essentially 19th century lifestyle, a digital-age anachronism who never owned a telephone or a television and lived almost entirely off the land.

"He was in his home at the caves at the end, and it was his wish to die there," said Connie Fitte, who lived across the river. "He was the epitome of the free spirit."

Richard Zimmerman had been in declining health when he died Wednesday.

Few knew him by his given name. To friends and visitors to his jumble of cave-like homes scrabbled from a rocky shoulder of the Salmon River, he was Dugout Dick.

He was the last of Idaho's river-canyon loners that date back to Territorial days. They are a unique group that until the 1980s included canyon contemporaries with names like Beaver Dick, Cougar Dave and Wheelbarrow Annie, "Buckskin Bill" (real name Sylvan Hart) and "Free Press Frances" Wisner. Fiercely independent loners, they lived eccentric lives on their own terms and made the state more interesting just by being here.

Most, like Zimmerman, came from someplace else. Drawn by Idaho's remoteness and wild places removed from social pressures, they came and spent their lives here, leaving only in death.

Some became reluctant celebrities, interviewed about their unusual lifestyles and courted by media heavyweights. Zimmerman was featured in National Geographic magazine and spurned repeated invitations to appear on the "Tonight Show."

"I ride Greyhounds, not airplanes," he said in a 1993 Statesman interview. "Besides, the show isn't in California. The show is here."

Cort Conley, who included Zimmerman in his 1994 book "Idaho Loners", said that "like Thoreau, he often must have smiled at how much he didn't need. É What gave him uncommon grace and dignity for me were his spiritual life, his musical artistry, his unperturbed acceptance of life as it is, and being a WWII veteran who had served his country and harbored no expectations in return."

His metamorphisis to Dugout Dick began when he crossed a wooden bridge over the Salmon River in 1947 and built a makeshift home on the side of a hill. He spent the rest of his life there, fashioning one cavelike dwelling after another, furnishing them with castoff doors, car windows, old tires and other leavings.

"I have everything here," he said. "I got lots of rocks and rubber tires. I have plenty of straw and fruit and vegetables, my dog and my cats and my guitars. I make wine to cook with. There's nothing I really need."

Some of his caves were 60 feet deep. Though he "never meant to build an apartment house," he earned spending money by renting them for $2 a night. Some renters spent one night; others chose the $25 monthly rate and stayed for months or years.

He lived in a cave by choice. Moved by a friend to a care center in Salmon at age 93 because he was in failing health, he walked out and hitchhiked home.

Bruce Long, who rented one of his caves and looked after him, said the care center "had bingo and TV, but things like that held no interest for him. He just wanted to live in his cave.

"People said he was the only person they'd ever known who was absolutely self-sufficient. He didn't work for anybody. He worked for himself."

Born in Indiana in 1916, Zimmerman grew up on farms in Indiana and Michigan, the son of a moonshiner with a mean streak. He rebelled against his domineering father and ran away at a young age, riding the rails west and learning the hobo songs he later would play on a battered guitar for guests at his caves.

He punched cows and worked as a farmhand, settling in Idaho's Lemhi Valley in 1937 and making ends meet by cutting firewood and herding sheep. In 1942, he joined the Army and served as a truck driver in the Pacific during World War II. When his service ended, he returned to Idaho and never left.

He raised goats and chickens, tended a bountiful vegetable garden and orchard and stored what he couldn't eat or sell in a root cellar. A lifelong victim of a quarrelsome stomach, he survived largely on what he could grow or make. Homemade yogurt ranked among his proudest achievements.

He was married once, briefly, to a pen-pal bride from Mexico. The other woman in his life, Bonnie Trositt, tired of life in a cave, left him for a job as a potato sorter and was murdered by her roommate. He claimed to see her spirit in the flickering light of a kerosene lamp on the cave walls.

He rarely went to church, but read and quoted continually from the Bible.

Services are pending. A brother, Raymond Zimmerman, has requested that his remains be sent to Illinois.

A fascinating story, isn't it? However, could someone help me out with the phrase "He punched cows"? I know that HAS to mean something more than the literal sense.
The Gang

French police fine Muslim driver for wearing veil

A French Muslim woman has been fined for wearing a full-face veil while driving a car.

Police in the western city of Nantes said the veil - which showed only her eyes - restricted her vision and could have caused an accident.

The woman's lawyer says they will appeal against the decision, which he described as a breach of human rights.

The incident follows months of intense debate in France about whether the veils should be banned.

Earlier this week, President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered parliament to debate a law banning women from wearing full-face Islamic veils in public.

'Safety risk'

After stopping the 31-year-old woman - who has not been named - police asked her to raise her veil to confirm her identity, which she did.

They then fined her 22 euros ($29; £19), saying her clothing posed a "safety risk".

"This fine is not justified on road safety grounds and constitutes a breach of human and women's rights," her lawyer, Jean-Michel Pollono, told AFP news agency.

He said the woman's field of vision was not obstructed and added that a veil was no different from a motorcycle helmet in terms of hindrance to vision.

He said he had formally complained to the state prosecutor.

"The ball is clearly in the authorities' court," he said. "Currently no law forbids the wearing of the niqab."

The incident happened earlier this month, Mr Pollono said.

The woman, who is a French citizen, told French media that her field of vision had been sufficient.

The BBC's David Chazan, in Paris, says that although the fine is small, the case has taken on huge symbolic importance.

President Sarkozy said last year that full-face veils oppressed women and were not welcome in France.

Plans to ban them by law have provoked intense debate about religious freedom in a secular society, as well as the position of Muslims in France.

France has Europe's largest Muslim minority population, estimated at about five million. The French interior ministry estimates that only about 1,900 women wear full veils in the country.

There are several types of headscarves and veils for Muslim women - those that cover the face being the niqab and the burka. In France, the niqab is the version most commonly worn.



(no subject)

Revolution Muslim Declares Jihad Against Triscuits: "They Are an Affront Against Allah... and They Taste Awful!"

Islamic Extremists Lash Out At Media, Americans, And Snacks

Younus Abdullah Mohammed, of the web-hacked and rightly go-fuck-yourselfed collective known as Revolutionary Islam, has directed a torrent of whinging at Gawker's Ravi Somaiya. He confirms that his group's website has been forcibly redirected, but isn't concerned because all of the attention due to his threats at Comedy Central drove enough traffic to his website to bring it down anyway, and "Islam will take over the world," so whatever.

What follows is a litany of cliched complaint. He's mad at the media for their "senseless" coverage of their death threats and the way they "never cover any of the other crimes against Islam we write about." He also rages at "dumbed down, stupid and pathetic" Americans who are "worried more about missing their favourite TV show" than they are about "the world," which is a terrific pretext for calling for people's deaths.

But then there's this:
"It is American oppression," he said. But, he added, we probably wouldn't understand such issues as we are "Darwinist faggots who are as despicable as the rest, walking around eating your Triscuits."
Seriously? They're bringing Triscuits into this? This guy truly is a joke.

New Arizona Law Sparks The Beginning of Hunting Season!

Arizona militia recruiting veterans with ‘kill records’ to patrol border.

According to KOLD Channel 5 News in Arizona, local militiaman Bill Davis is recruiting “combat veterans, with kill records, to camp out and patrol” along the U.S.-Mexico border. “If it comes to when shots are fired in the general direction of these guys, they have my authorization to return fire, if they’re in defense of their life or their buddy next to them, return fire, stop it as fast as it starts, and they’re capable of it,” Davis told reporters. Despite a warning from Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada that the militia’s plan is “very dangerous” and “very risky,” Davis is pressing forward:

“If we think they’re carrying drugs, weapons, contraband, we’ll get out in front of ‘em and stop ‘em,” says Davis. “They won’t get past us. You can write into that what you want, short of shooting them.”
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...seriously, guys?

The UK Independence Party have issued a leaflet in Lancaster which compares immigration in the UK to the plight of Native Americans, an indigenous people removed from their land in the early nineteenth century – and in many cases subjected to acts of genocide.

The leaflet, uploaded on The Straight Choice – the election leaflet project, depicts a Native American in full head dress with the caption: “He used to ignore immigration … now he lives on a reservation”.

David Cesarani, an English historian who specialises in Jewish history, states in Holocaust: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies: “in terms of the sheer numbers killed, the Native American Genocide exceeds that of the Holocaust”.

Tonight, the Freesteel blog writes that:

“Some quick checking on-line searching traces this particular idea to the right wing Northern League in Italy in their 2008 elections. (link) Even though they don’t have a StraightChoice.org, their posters are available on their website. The funny thing is I always thought that italians were better dressed than that baggy green sweater guy.”

Source: Left Foot Forward

Climate Change Summit for 'the people'

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia, April 23 (UPI) -- Bolivian President Evo Morales, closing an international conference of grassroots climate groups, announced plans for a world people's referendum on climate change.

In a Los Angeles Times editorial Friday, Morales noted that at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen last December developing nations "were effectively being left in the cold while a tiny group dominated by a few rich governments met in private to produce an unacceptable compromise."

Morales said that's why he organized the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which convened last Tuesday-Thursday at the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba, noting that "it is time for the people to decide."

More than 31,000 people from more than 140 countries attended with official representation from 48 governments, Morales said, noting that he had expected just 10,000 people in Cochabamba for the first conference of its kind.


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The Gang

Size six: The Western women's harem

Fatema Mernissi was born in a harem, but her female counterparts in the West suffer an even harsher fate. An eye-opening new perspective on gender roles and the male-domination of the multi-billion dollar fashion industry.

Fatema Mernissi
| August 2003 issue

‘I was born in a harem.’ That sentence marked the beginning of Fatema Mernissi’s first book. In the West, it provokes a smile, but Mernissi herself finds it hard to appreciate this reaction. The Western image of a harem differs from the Eastern reality. A harem is not a magical place with beautiful women, but a prison in which women are repressed, and men confronted with rebellious lovers aiming to spoil their sexual romps. In real harems fear reigns among the women while doubts plague the men. It is anything but paradise.

In her fourth book, ‘Le Harem et l’Occident’, Mernissi, a Moroccan sociologist, examines the Western smile at the word ‘harem’. She writes about the suppression of women, sex objects, shame, sexual desires and cultural and religious concepts. Mernissi concludes that Western women are not much better off than their veiled sisters in the East.

It was during my unsuccessful attempt to buy a cotton skirt in an American department store that I was told my hips were too large to fit into a size six. That day I stumbled onto one of the keys to the enigma of passive beauty in Western harem fantasies. ‘In this entire store, there is no skirt for me?’ I said. ‘You are joking.’ I was very suspicious and thought that the saleslady just might be too tired to help me. At least I could understand that. But the lady added a condescending judgment, which sounded to me like an Imam’s fatwa. It left no room for discussion: ‘You are too big!’ she said.

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Christian Bale

(no subject)

Report: Health overhaul will increase tab

Health and Human Services experts say plan falls short of controlling costs

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law will increase the nation's health care tab instead of bringing costs down, government economic forecasters concluded Thursday in a sobering assessment of the sweeping legislation.

A report by economic experts at the Health and Human Services Department said the health care remake will achieve Obama's aim of expanding health insurance — adding 34 million Americans to the coverage rolls.

But the analysis also found that the law falls short of the president's twin goal of controlling runaway costs. It also warned that Medicare cuts may be unrealistic and unsustainable, driving about 15 percent of hospitals into the red and "possibly jeopardizing access" to care for seniors.

The mixed verdict for Obama's signature issue is the first comprehensive look by neutral experts.

Could be trouble for Democrats
In particular, the warnings about Medicare could become a major political liability for Democratic lawmakers in the midterm elections. Seniors are more likely to vote than younger people and polls show they are already deeply skeptical of the law.

The report from Medicare's Office of the Actuary carried a disclaimer saying it does not represent the official position of the Obama administration. White House officials have repeatedly complained that such analyses have been too pessimistic and lowball the law's potential to achieve savings.

The report acknowledged that some of the cost-control measures in the bill — Medicare cuts, a tax on high-cost insurance and a commission to seek ongoing Medicare savings — could help reduce the rate of cost increases beyond 2020. But it held out little hope for progress in the first decade.

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The Gang

A Gentleman’s – and Lady’s – Game for Ruffians

As if female athletes didn’t have to battle hard enough already for validation. First off, take the media’s coverage of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship where the University of Connecticut Women’s basketball team was torn apart for a less than perfect game, despite the fact of finishing a second perfect season in a row and achieving few things any college basketball teams have ever done, men’s or women’s. Add to the mix a giant dose of homophobia plus the media’s double-standard of women athletes and it’s no wonder why women’s sports don’t receive the recognition they deserve.

Today, Salon.com reported on the long history of homophobia in women’s collegiate basketball – and the scare tactics used by some coaches to eliminate out lesbian athletes from their programs. It is no secret that gay women are known to be athletic and play sports – but in no different a way that some straight women play sports and some do not. The 2009 documentary, Training Rules, follows the story of Jen Harris, who was kicked off the Penn State women’s basketball team by notoriously homophobic coach, Rene Portland, despite being the leading scorer and not actually being gay. The film shows us that even the notion of women not conforming to so called gender norms leads to media and public outcry. The double-standard of female athletes’ images and behavior has led to this deep-seeded homophobia in women’s sports.

Throughout the 2009-2010 basketball season, the UConn women’s unprecedented winning streak was actually deemed bad for women’s college basketball – because it somehow meant that the competition was lopsided and therefore not competitive at all. Furthermore, women’s sports in general are constantly criticized for not being as thrilling and competitive as men’s sports, which leads to less coverage, less fan support, and ultimately less funding.  However, when a female athlete does show an aggressive, win-at-all-costs attitude, she is slaughtered by the media. Remember in November when University of New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert hit headlines? A video of Lambert pulling down a Brigham Young University player by the hair during a game went viral on the internet and lead to media and public outrage — leaving Lambert with an indefinite suspension and forcing apologizes from the NCAA, the Mountain West conference, the University of New Mexico soccer program and Lambert herself. But would the reaction have been the same if it were a male soccer player? Let’s think about how often we hear of pro male athletes acting “unsportsmanlike” both on and off the field. Not only are they applauded for their aggressive game play, but when they are arrested for domestic violence, drug charges, rape, sexual assault – the teams they play for, the sponsors that back them, and sometimes even the athletes themselves, never become unpopular, are never forced to apologize and are allowed right back onto the field no questions asked.

And while the machismo image of the superhero male athlete lives on – women athletes struggle with translating their strong, independent,
aggressive selves into the non-threatening, “I-can-still-be-a-wife-and-mom,” sex symbols that the media and the public want to see. Maybe we’re actually causing this so called “lack of competitive women’s sports” by not only making female athletes apologize for their actions on the field, but also forcing them to hide who they are.

Rest assured there is no shortage of female athletes in this country who want to play rough, full-contact sports that are thrilling for all spectators to watch. The Associated Press reported this week that women are the fastest growing population of rugby players in the US. Thanks to the decision to include rugby in the 2016 Olympics, and media exposure like Academy Award nominated Invictus and increasing coverage on ESPN and ABC, rugby is becoming more and more popular at all levels – and women are seizing the opportunity to play. “Long denied the chance to compete in contact sports, women are now joining rugby clubs in record numbers and relishing the hard-nosed nature of what has been called a gentleman’s game for ruffians.”

Taking advantage of all the hype is the US Women’s Rugby National Team who are headed to the Women’s Rugby World Cup in London this summer. To cultivate supporters, funding, and help further lay a foundation for the women’s game, they’ve created a campaign to spread their message. We WaNT Rugby aims to popularize women’s rugby in the US, build a national following to support the team at the World Cup and empower young women to learn the game and completely obliterate the stereotypes and criticism that have been holding women back.

So, if you still can’t find enough evidence to validate women’s sports based on the accomplishments of female athletes already in 2010 alone, and even further, you still can’t see how imperative it is that the images of female athletes realistically portray who they are — consider this: even the Obama administration is getting in on the action by reinforcing the original interpretation of Title IX that prohibits gender discrimination in federal funded school programs. According to Vice President Joe Biden, “What we’re doing here today will better ensure equal opportunity in athletics, and allow women to realize their potential – so this nation can realize its potential.”


misc > mew! \m/

Five great tastes, just one president!

The Tea Party's Toxic Take on History

Ignore it at your peril.

by Ron Rosenbaum

I am a great believer in used-bookstore serendipity. Sometimes when you're thinking about how to express something, you find a perfect exemplification of it just by chance in the musty stacks of such an emporium. Here's a remarkable example. I'd been trying to find a way to write about Tea Party ideology, and in particular about the fraudulent history and distorted language it indulges in. Listen to Tea Partiers on cable news—or read the signs they hoist or their Internet comments—and you frequently encounter the flagrant abuse, the historically ignorant misuse, of words such as tyranny, communist, Marxist, fascist, and socialist.

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more news from da 'sip

Slain Miss. white supremacist was stabbed, beaten

A white supremacist lawyer known for riding his bicycle around his quiet, rural neighborhood was stabbed and beaten to death by a black neighbor who had done yard work for him, police said Friday.

A preliminary autopsy showed Richard Barrett, 67, was stabbed multiple times in the neck and bashed in the head, Rankin County Sheriff Ronnie Pennington said. He had burns over 35 percent of his body, though investigators believe he was killed Wednesday night and his house set on fire Thursday to cover up his death.

Pennington did not disclose a motive but said neighbor Vincent McGee, 22, was charged with murder Thursday and deputies charged three other people in the case Friday. Albert Lewis, McGee's stepfather, was charged with being an accessory after the fact, while Vicky and Michael Dent, who live nearby, are charged with being accessories after the fact and arson.

Pennington did not describe their involvement but said all three were being held at the county jail. He did not know if they had attorneys.

Barrett traveled the country to promote anti-black and anti-immigrant views and founded a supremacist group called the Nationalist Movement. He had a knack for publicity but little real influence, one expert said.

"Richard Barrett was a guy who ran around the country essentially pulling off publicity stunts," said Mark Potok, who monitors hate groups for the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center. "He really never amounted to any kind of leader in the white supremacist movement."

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the comments. wow. i can't say i'm surprised. gotta love this state!
Candace demands an explanation for this
  • sora50

Yay, I guess?: Oklahoma Governor Vetoes 2 Abortion Bills

Oklahoma Governor Vetoes 2 Abortion Bills

by The Associated Press

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry vetoed two abortion bills Friday that he said are an unconstitutional attempt by the Legislature to insert government into the private lives and decisions of citizens.

One measure would have required women to undergo an intrusive ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before getting abortions. Henry said that legislation is flawed because it does not allow rape and incest victims to be exempted.

Lawmakers who supported the vetoed measures promised an override vote in the House and Senate as early as next week. A national abortion rights group has said the ultrasound bill would have been among the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country if it had been signed into law.

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Ani: Amazon Warrior

Rights Leaders Condemn Arizona's New Racial Profiling Law

From the Tucson Citizen:

Community leaders across Arizona condemn Governor Jan Brewer’s signing of SB1070, the farthest-reaching anti-immigrant bill ever passed by a state. The law became a lightning rod nationally due to its mandate to law enforcement to use racial profiling and to give the state a backdoor entry to enforcing federal immigration law.

“Even though we’re not surprised by the Governor’s action, we are still outraged,” said Carlos Garcia, of PUENTE, a Phoenix-based community group. “Governor Brewer has prioritized gathering votes for her election over her responsibilities as governor to uphold the basic civil rights, our constitution, and the well-being of our state.”

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