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May 1st, 2010
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China said Friday that a Chinese diplomat in the U.S. was beaten and injured by Houston police and urged an investigation to ensure diplomatic practices are not violated.
The U.S. State Department was taking the matter very seriously and findings of the investigation would be shared with China "as soon as appropriate," said Susan Stevenson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
She referred further questions to Houston police, which did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday morning.
The statement from China's Foreign Ministry said police harassed and beat a deputy consul-general while he was driving to the Chinese Consulate in Houston. The statement said a family member also was involved, but did not say if that person was injured.
According to a CBS News report, Houston police last Saturday tried to stop a car which was missing a license plate. When the car didn't stop, they pursued it into a garage without realizing the garage belonged to the Chinese Consulate. Police handcuffed and arrested the driver, injuring him, the CBS report said.
Under international practice, the premises of foreign embassies and consulates are outside the jurisdiction of local law enforcement, and diplomats have legal immunity.
The CBS News report identified the official as Ben Ren Yu. The Houston consulate website lists a deputy consul-general, Yu Boren.
"China urges the U.S. ... to quickly investigate the details of this incident and to look into the persons responsible to ensure that the Chinese diplomatic and consulate personnel and premises are not violated," said the statement attributed to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu. "The Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Chinese Embassy and the Houston consulate have already made solemn exchanges with the U.S. side."
U.S.-China relations only recently emerged from a tense period aggravated by spats over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, trade and Chinese currency policy. Comments on at least two major Internet portals had apparently been deleted, an indication the case was considered sensitive, perhaps because of its impact on U.S.-China ties.
Whoopsies, cops beat the wrong POC...
So, which will win, the Team Thin Blue Line or Team Avoid a Diplomatic Incident?
HONOLULU — Whether same-sex civil unions become legal in Hawaii is now up to Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, whose office was flooded Friday with phone calls and e-mails from gay rights and religious groups after the bill won approval in the waning moments of the legislative session.
Lingle has long avoided saying whether she would veto the measure or allow it to become law. She has until July 6 to make a decision.
The governor was unavailable for comment Friday as she was scheduled to return from a trip to California, but her office reported a high volume of calls pouring in from both opponents and supporters of the legislation.
The bill was unexpectedly revived and cleared the Legislature on Thursday, the last day of this year's session.
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“HEY, you’re a dork,” said the girl to the boy with a smile. “Just wanted you to know.”
“Thanks!” said the boy.
“Just kidding,” said the girl with another smile. “You’re only slightly dorky, but other than that, you’re pretty normal — sometimes.”
They both laughed.
“See you tomorrow,” said the boy.
“O.K., see you,” said the girl.
It was a pretty typical pre-teen exchange, one familiar through the generations. Except this one had a distinctly 2010 twist. It was conducted on Facebook. The smiles were colons with brackets. The laughs were typed ha ha’s. “O.K.” was just “K” and “See you” was rendered as “c ya.”
Children used to actually talk to their friends. Those hours spent on the family princess phone or hanging out with pals in the neighborhood after school vanished long ago. But now, even chatting on cellphones or via e-mail (through which you can at least converse in paragraphs) is passé. For today’s teenagers and preteens, the give and take of friendship seems to be conducted increasingly in the abbreviated snatches of cellphone texts and instant messages, or through the very public forum of Facebook walls and MySpace bulletins. (Andy Wilson, the 11-year-old boy involved in the banter above, has 418 Facebook friends.)
Last week, the Pew Research Center found that half of American teenagers — defined in the study as ages 12 through 17 — send 50 or more text messages a day and that one third send more than 100 a day. Two thirds of the texters surveyed by the center’s Internet and American Life Project said they were more likely to use their cellphones to text friends than to call them. Fifty-four percent said they text their friends once a day, but only 33 percent said they talk to their friends face-to-face on a daily basis. The findings came just a few months after the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that Americans between the ages of 8 and 18 spend on average 7 1/2 hours a day using some sort of electronic device, from smart phones to MP3 players to computers — a number that startled many adults, even those who keep their BlackBerrys within arm’s reach during most waking hours.
To date, much of the concern over all this use of technology has been focused on the implications for kids’ intellectual development. Worry about the social repercussions has centered on the darker side of online interactions, like cyber-bullying or texting sexually explicit messages. But psychologists and other experts are starting to take a look at a less-sensational but potentially more profound phenomenon: whether technology may be changing the very nature of kids’ friendships.
“In general, the worries over cyber-bullying and sexting have overshadowed a look into the really nuanced things about the way technology is affecting the closeness properties of friendship,” said Jeffrey G. Parker, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Alabama, who has been studying children’s friendships since the 1980s. “We’re only beginning to look at those subtle changes.”
The question on researchers’ minds is whether all that texting, instant messaging and online social networking allows children to become more connected and supportive of their friends — or whether the quality of their interactions is being diminished without the intimacy and emotional give and take of regular, extended face-to-face time.
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Courtesy of 102bb at ontd_feminism
E.T.A If your reaction to this is "everyone is racist" then you need to read the article again.
Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed a follow-on bill approved by Arizona legislators that make revisions to the state's sweeping law against illegal immigration — changes she says should quell concerns that the measure will lead to racial profiling.
The law requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally, and makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.
The follow-on bill signed by Brewer makes a number of changes that she said should lay to rest concerns of opponents.
"These new statements make it crystal clear and undeniable that racial profiling is illegal, and will not be tolerated in Arizona," she said in a statement.
The changes include one strengthening restrictions against using race or ethnicity as the basis for questioning by police and inserts those same restrictions in other parts of the law.
Another change states that immigration-status questions would follow a law enforcement officer's stopping, detaining or arresting a person while enforcing another law. The earlier law had referred to a "contact" with police.
Another change specifies that possible violations of local civil ordinances can trigger questioning on immigration status.
Stephen Montoya, a Phoenix lawyer representing a police officer whose lawsuit was one of three filed Thursday to challenge the law, said the changes wouldn't derail the lawsuit because the state is still unconstitutionally trying to regulate immigration, a federal responsibility.
Montoya said the strengthened restriction on factoring race and ethnicity makes enforcement "potentially less discriminatory" but that the local-law provision is troubling because it broadens when the law could be used.
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Yeah, I'm still skeptical. These revisions feel like a fig leaf.
Image via Poverty (a moving gallery)
The findings support a neurobiological hypothesis for why impoverished children consistently fare worse than their middle-class counterparts in school, and eventually in life.
"Chronically elevated physiological stress is a plausible model for how poverty could get into the brain and eventually interfere with achievement," wrote Cornell University child-development researchers Gary Evans and Michelle Schamberg in a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
For decades, education researchers have documented the disproportionately low academic performance of poor children and teenagers living in poverty. Called the achievement gap, its proposed sociological explanations are many. Compared to well-off kids, poor children tend to go to ill-equipped and ill-taught schools, have fewer educational resources at home, eat low-nutrition food, and have less access to health care.
At the same time, scientists have studied the cognitive abilities of poor children, and the neurobiological effects of stress on laboratory animals. They’ve found that, on average, socioeconomic status predicts a battery of key mental abilities, with deficits showing up in kindergarten and continuing through middle school. Scientists also found that hormones produced in response to stress literally wear down the brains of animals.
"A plausible contributor to the income-achievement gap is working-memory impairment in lower-income adults caused by stress-related damage to the brain during childhood," they wrote.
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The state House of Representatives passed the bill by a 31-20 vote late Thursday. Gov. Linda Lingle has until early July to decide whether to sign the bill into law, CNN's Hawaii affiliates reported.
Civil union supporters cheered in the Capitol rotunda when the bill passed, CNN affiliate KGMB-TV in Honolulu said.
"I was always positive even when people were saying it was dead. I stayed positive and worked with a lot of different people that made this happen today," Tambry Young of Equality Hawaii told the TV station.
Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona said lawmakers shouldn't have approved the measure.
"The state House's last-minute political maneuvering is unfortunate for the people of Hawaii who have voiced their support for traditional marriage," he said in a statement. "If the Legislature wanted to establish the equivalent of same-sex marriage, they should have put it on the ballot for the people to decide."
House Bill 444 provides state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples. Voting came as a surprise on the last day of the legislative session, affiliates reported.
In January, House members voted to shelve the bill after Speaker Calvin Say said lawmakers didn't have a veto-proof majority of votes, affiliate KITV-TV in Honolulu reported. House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro, however, called for the measure to be discussed Thursday afternoon, KITV said.
Larry Silva, Catholic bishop of Honolulu, urged people Friday to ask the governor to veto the legislation.
"We need you to mount a campaign to flood the governor's office with requests to veto the bill," Silva wrote on the Diocese of Honolulu's website. "Should the governor veto the bill, they will need 34 votes to override. This is where you come in!"
Supporters such as Equality Hawaii said they hadn't expected a vote Thursday but were pleased with the outcome. Say, the House speaker, said he was proud of having passed the bill.
"I'm happy that it's finally done," supporter Vincent Rosa told KGMB. "The vote was taken and democracy was at work at this capital."
Civil unions advocate Alan Spector told KHON-TV, "I did not know all day this was going to happen. This was a surprise. I'm very happy."
Five U.S. states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Hawaii would join New Jersey in allowing civil unions.
Three states -- Rhode Island, New York, and Maryland -- recognize same-sex marriages from other states, according to the conference.
California recognizes same-sex marriages performed during six months in 2008 after its Supreme Court granted same-sex couples the right to marry and before the passage of Proposition 8, which overturned the court's decision.
SHOVE IT UP YOUR YINYANG, AIONA! The majority was in favor of the bill, so STFU.
I was one of the ones who thought the bill was dead, and seeing the religious protesters bawling and praying in happiness when the bill was thought to be shelved made me want to puke. It's not even your precious "marriage" FFS, asswipes.
Lingle better sign this--she flops around so much, I really don't know if she will or wont. :\
ETA: Please send a letter to Lingle: https://secure3.convio.net/hrc/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=797
As a state with a tourism-driven economy, I think letters from outside of Hawaii would make a big difference.
MADISON, Wis. — A federal judge in Wisconsin ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional Thursday, saying the day amounts to a call for religious action.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote that the government can no more enact laws supporting a day of prayer than it can encourage citizens to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue or practice magic.
"In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual's decision whether and when to pray," Crabb wrote.
Congress established the day in 1952 and in 1988 set the first Thursday in May as the day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison-based group of atheists and agnostics, filed a lawsuit against the federal government in 2008 arguing the day violated the separation of church and state.
President Barack Obama's administration has countered that the statute simply acknowledges the role of religion in the United States. Obama issued a proclamation last year but did not hold public events with religious leaders as former President George W. Bush had done.
Crabb wrote that her ruling shouldn't be considered a bar to any prayer days until all appeals are exhausted. U.S. Justice Department attorneys who represented the federal government in the case were reviewing the ruling Thursday afternoon, agency spokesman Charles Miller said. He declined further comment.
Obama spokesman Matt Lehrich said in an e-mail to The Associated Press the president still plans to issue a proclamation for the next prayer day.
"As he did last year, President Obama intends to recognize a National Day of Prayer," Lehrich said.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which filed a friend of the court brief supporting the government on behalf of 31 members of Congress, called Crabb's ruling flawed and promised to back an appeal if one is filed.
"It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it," ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said in a statement.
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I never knew about E pluribus unum. Speaking of set-backs...
Lawyers flock to Gulf Coast for oil spill lawsuits
Teams of lawyers from around the nation are mobilizing for a gargantuan legal battle over the massive Gulf Coast oil spill, filing multiple lawsuits in recent days that together could dwarf the half-billion dollars awarded in the Exxon Valdez disaster two decades ago.
If the oil slick fouls popular beaches, ruins fisheries and disrupts traffic on the Mississippi River, attorneys say there could be hundreds of thousands of plaintiffs from Texas to Florida seeking monetary damages from oil producer BP PLC and other companies that ran the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.
At least 26 federal lawsuits have been filed since the spill by commercial fishermen, charter boat captains, resort management companies and individual property owners in Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. Many of the suits claim the disaster was caused when workers for oil services contractor Halliburton Inc. improperly capped a well — a process known as cementing. Halliburton denied that. Investigators are still looking into the cause.
Capt. Mike "Sandbar" Salley, who runs Sure Shot Charters out of Orange Beach, Ala., is one of many fishermen watching helplessly as customers cancel fishing excursions at the start of a busy summer season, in which he makes 80 percent of his income. Salley, 51, is a plaintiff in one of the potential class-action lawsuits seeking to recover damages from the operators of the sunken oil rig.
"It's somebody's fault and somebody needs to answer for it," said Salley, who added that his phone and those of other boat captains have been ringing nonstop with lawyers seeking oil-spill clients. "This is going to shut down the entire coast."
Toxic residues remain to this day after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound, studies have shown. Thousands of fishermen, cannery workers, landowners and Native Americans were initially awarded $5 billion in punitive damages. That was reduced on appeal to $2.5 billion and then, in 2008, cut down to $507.5 million by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Even though the Supreme Court reduced the size of damages, attorneys said the Gulf Coast cases have the potential to be much bigger considering the large coastal population and diverse economy that includes tourism, fishing and shipping industries.
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LA Times Photo Gallery
Expert: Surface area of gulf oil spill has tripled
By Cain Burdeau and Holbrook Mohr
Associated Press Writers / May 1, 2010
VENICE, La.—The surface area of a catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill quickly tripled in size amid growing fears among experts that the slick could become vastly more devastating than it seemed just two days ago.
The newly named federal point man for the oil spill said it was impossible to pinpoint how much oil is leaking from a ruptured underwater well. Commandant Adm. Thad Allen, head of the U.S. Coast Guard, told a conference call Saturday that "any exact estimation of what's flowing out of those pipes down there is impossible" because the site is about a mile underwater.
Frustrated fishermen eager to help contain the spill had to keep their boats idle as another day of rough seas kept crews away from the slick, and President Barack Obama planned a Sunday trip to the Gulf Coast.
Documents also emerged showing BP PLC downplayed the possibility of a catastrophic accident at the offshore rig that exploded. BP operated the rig, which was owned by Transocean Ltd.
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Red Carpet (and presumably the entire shebang) streaming here. Watch B-listers and senators strut on in!
The ceremony will be featuring... um, Jay Leno. :/
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — President Obama on Saturday directly confronted the sharpening political rancor in Washington, on the airwaves and on the Internet, telling the graduating class at the University of Michigan that the country needs a “basic level of civility in our public discourse.”
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Too bad the people who need to hear this will never listen.
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As the United Nation's Human Rights Council embarks on a review of the United States, some advocates say high black joblessness is a mark against America. By Jarrett Murphy
High unemployment among black Americans means the United States has failed to live up to commitments it made under United Nations human rights agreements, a coalition of advocacy groups charges.
In a filing to the UN's Human Rights Council last week, a group that includes New York's Urban Justice Center and National Employment Law Project, as well as the Atlanta Labor Council and D.C. Professional Taxicab Drivers Association, casts "the over-representation of women and racial and ethnic minorities in unemployment, underemployment, and poverty" as a human rights issue and calls on Washington "to take specific steps to create employment opportunities for these groups."
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I like it. Let's go.
By Julian Walker
May 1, 2010
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli apparently isn't fond of wardrobe malfunctions, even when Virginia's state seal is involved.
The seal depicts the Roman goddess Virtus, or virtue, wearing a blue tunic draped over one shoulder, her left breast exposed. But on the new lapel pins Cuccinelli recently handed out to his staff, Virtus' bosom is covered by an armored breastplate.
When the new design came up at a staff meeting, workers in attendance said Cuccinelli joked that it converts a risqué image into a PG one.
The joke might be on him, said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.
"When you ask to be ridiculed, it usually happens. And it will happen here, nationally," he said. "This is classical art, for goodness' sake."
His spokesman, Brian Gottstein, said the pin was paid for by Cuccinelli's political action committee, not with taxpayer funds. He acknowledged that the attorney general has pointed out Virtus' "more modest attire," adding that the rendition chosen by his boss "harkens back to an older version of the seal."
The Great Seal of the Commonwealth is a two-sided image that dates to 1776.
The side depicted on the state flag features Virtus standing victoriously over Tyranny, a male figure prone on the ground in defeat, his crown fallen from his head. Beneath him is the motto Sic Semper Tyrannis: Thus Always to Tyrants.
Three Roman goddesses – Libertas, Aeternitas and Ceres – grace the reverse side of the seal. Cuccinelli isn't the first to have less-revealing garments placed on Virtus.
Multiple varieties of the seal have been used over the years, said State Capitol historian Mark Greenough. The modern version is based on language added to the state code in 1930, which specifies that Virtus is "dressed as an Amazon" while clutching a spear in one hand and a sword in the other.
The secretary of the commonwealth, Janet Polarek, is charged by law with being the keeper of the seal. Asked for an assessment of Cuccinelli's interpretation, she declined to offer an opinion. When Virtus was fighting Tyranny, Polarek said, "a dress code was probably not her first concern."
EDIT: His spokesman may have been being too cute by half about it being an "older version of the seal," except by "older" you can sub in "Civil War-era" -- that version dates back at least to when Virginia had seceded from the union and was using it on its regimental flags:
I'll keep looking to see if this (quite possibly) pre-dates the ~War of Northern Aggression~ but, still, so much headdesking, so little time...
Aww isn’t that sweet? Another White earth mother finding fulfillment raising a brown baby. Thanks goodness she has Louis to help her get over her cheating husband. Isn’t it wonderful that she has an Oscar and a brand spanking new Black baby to commerate her role in “The Blindside”?
Yep, she kept him a secret for his own good, cause a three month old baby would have been affected by the negative press. Give me a fucking break. It couldn’t possibly be about the close relationship to the character she played and the race of her son some black woman’s child could it? Then of course, when it was revealed that she had been married to a man with dubious (note: the word dubious is a generous choice of words) views on race, out comes the news of this wonderful Black baby that she is soooo in love with.
Yeah, I am full of snark on this one. As I said in an earlier piece, it says something about her that she married Jessie James in the first place. Don’t tell me that the man just lost his mind when he saw McGee, one does not just fall into bed with an admitted White supremacist without having racist views. But poor innocent, sweet Sandy just missed all of this. Think about the fact that this is the same man that she had initially thought to raise a Black child with. I suppose when massa daddy said something racist, Bullock planned to be right there to teach little Louis not to be sensitive -- after all, it’s a wonderful world right?
Really I wish Sandra would just go back into hiding. The world has seen enough White celebrities toting around their Black/Brown babies. Granted, at least she didn’t steal the child the way that Madonna did, but still, enough is enough. She could have used her influence and her wealth to help struggling Black mothers, and she could have advocated for change in the adoption system, but instead she decided to become an earth mother as her next staring role. This is about Sandy and not little Louis. Kiss his little feet and dry his tears, but what are you going to say when the child gets called nigger -- cause I guarantee it will happen, and it might even be done by someone who looks like his dearest White momma.
Louis will now have all of the privileges and rights that come with being the latest pet of a White woman, so it really is too bad that he won’t be able to catch a cab when he grows up. But hey, he has the honour of becoming someone’s living breathing liberal credential.
Police officials said they received a report about 6:30 p.m. of smoke coming from a Nissan Pathfinder parked on 45th Street just west of Seventh Avenue. The authorities found a smoking package in the vehicle and now believe it was a bomb. A bomb squad was sent to the scene.
The package did not explode, and officials said they did not know whether it was related to terrorism.
Broadway was closed between at least 43rd and 46th Streets, and the police also appeared to be closing off part of Eighth Avenue.
Onlookers crowded against the metal barricades encircling the area, taking pictures with cellphones and video cameras, although only a swarm of flashing fire trucks and police cars was visible.
Many people stayed to watch after being shut out of Broadway shows or prevented from getting back to their hotels, trading rumors about what was happening.
The Toys “R” Us, between 44th and 45th Streets, was empty.
Gabrielle Zecha and Taj Heniser, visiting from Seattle, had tickets to see “Next to Normal” at the Booth Theater on 45th Street but could not get into the 8 p.m. show because the area was blocked off. But they made the best of the spectacle. “It’s a whole different kind of show,” Ms. Heniser said, adding, “It’s almost the equivalent of a $150 show.”
In December, the police closed Times Square for nearly two hours as they investigated a suspiciously parked van, delaying the rehearsal of the New Year’s ball drop. However, the van turned out to contain nothing but clothing.
"Marc Thiessen knows, in ways that few others do, just how effective, heroic, and morally justified were the interrogators who kept this nation safe after 9/11. If you want to know what really happened behind the scenes at the CIA interrogation sites or at Guantanamo Bay, you simply must read this book." —Dick Cheney
Here's a different viewpoint from a letter in this week's New Yorker magazine:
Torture is wrong under any circumstances. As General David H. Petraeus recently remarked (specifically referring to Abu Ghraib and to Guantánamo), such abusive techniques are “nonbiodegradable. . . . The enemy continues to beat you with them like a stick.” He’s right—the pictures from Abu Ghraib and the publicity surrounding Guantánamo, waterboarding, and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” have created far more terrorists than most people understand.
For a country that professes to stand for the rule of law and individual rights, we look like the worst kind of hypocrites. Consider a war we fought in the past against a brutal enemy that tortured and killed prisoners, executed civilians, and engaged in a number of atrocities. Several American leaders argued that the only way to prevail was to engage in the same kind of tactics, because that was the only thing that the enemy understood or respected (sound familiar?). But other leaders believed that it was not enough to win; they also had to do it in a way that was consistent with the values of their society and the principles of their cause.
That conflict was the Revolutionary War, and the leaders included George Washington and John Adams. If we mean what we say—if we really believe that we’re the good guys, and I hope we do—then this is the time to stand by those principles which our Founding Fathers professed and lived by. That’s what, I hope, makes us the leaders of the free world.
Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan
Dean of the Academic Board
The United States Military Academy at West Point
West Point, N.Y.