May 9th, 2010

movies | Pooh Bear

ONTD_Political's PotD: May 8, 2010.


The Northern Hemisphere once more begins its tilt towards the Sun, awakening flowers, ushering in new life, and coaxing people outdoors once again. The changing of the season is easily observed in gardens, parks, zoos, farms, festivals and more. Collected here are a handful of photographs showing signs of Spring, 2010, as the final remnants of last winter start to melt away.
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Full Galleries:
franklin sherman

Since spill, feds have given 27 waivers to oil companies in gulf

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/05/07/93761/despite-spill-feds-still-giving.html

WASHINGTON — Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico.

The waivers were granted despite President Barack Obama’s vow that his administration would launch a “relentless response effort” to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the gulf. One of them was dated Friday — the day after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he was temporarily halting offshore drilling

The exemptions, known as “categorical exclusions,” were granted by the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) and included waiving detailed environmental studies for a BP exploration plan to be conducted at a depth of more than 4,000 feet and an Anadarko Petroleum Corp. exploration plan at more 9,000 feet.

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Me in Hawaii.

Mercury high in Japanese town that hunts dolphins

TAIJI, Japan (AP) - Residents of the dolphin-hunting village depicted in Oscar documentary "The Cove" have dangerously high mercury levels, likely because of their fondness for dolphin and whale meat, a government lab said Sunday.

The levels of mercury detected in Taiji residents were above the national average, but follow-up tests have found no ill effects, according to the National Institute for Minamata Disease. The tests were done on hair samples from 1,137 volunteers of the town's roughly 3,500 residents.

"The results suggest there is a connection between hair mercury levels and eating cetaceans," Director Koji Okamoto told reporters at town hall.

Mercury accumulates up the food chain, so large predators such as dolphins, tuna and swordfish tend to have the highest levels. The latest studies published by the Japanese government show that meat from bottlenose dolphins had about 1,000 times the mercury content of that from sardines.

Fetuses and small children are particularly vulnerable to mercury, which affects the development of the nervous system. The Health Ministry recommends that pregnant women eat at most 2.8 ounces (80 grams) of bottlenose dolphin per two months.

Environmentalists have long protested Taiji's dolphin slaughter and Japan's whaling activities, and have adopted the mercury issue as part of their cause.

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Posted via LiveJournal.app.

Election Night 2010: The Best and the Worst

Five high points and five low points from election night.

The best:

1. The fact that we don't have a majority (Neo)Conservative government, and the truly frightening prospect of fanatical neocon warmonger Dr Liam Fox as Defence Secretary may still be avoided.

2. The likelihood that we'll get a move to a more democratic voting system, which will lead to the break-up of our traditional parties and reinvigorate our political system, as I argued here.

3.The re-election of the solidly anti-war John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn and some other genuinely leftist Labour MPs.

4. The conduct of Gordon Brown. As regular readers will know, I'm no fan of Brown's neoliberal policies, but I must admit to admiring the way he has conducted himself over the last 48 hours. His speech outside Number 10 yesterday was very measured, and politically, very astute. (on the subject of Brown, here is a very interesting piece on the Blairite plot to replace him with David Miliband in the event of a Lab/Lib coalition).

5. Er, that's it.

The worst:

1. The defeat of George Galloway in Poplar. The neocon warmongers, who are itching to either attack Iran or destroy the country through the imposition of swingeing new sanctions, will be gloating that their strongest critic in the UK won't be in the next Parliament.

2. The way that the cult of celebrity has infected election night television coverage. Did you want to hear the views of Bruce Forsyth, David Baddiel and 'property guru' Kirsty Allsop on a hung parliament? No, me neither.

The BBC spent £30,000 of OUR money on a freebie junket for millionaire celebs and hangers-on, all of whom were perfectly capable of paying for their own wine and champagne. All at a time when we're told that the state must drastically curb its spending. It's beyond parody.

3. The contestant from 'The Apprentice'- I didn't catch her name- who seemed to imply that public sector workers should be disenfranchised because they don't vote the way she wants them to.

4. The way that working-class voices are nowadays almost totally excluded from election night, and indeed during the election campaign. Solidly upper middle-class presenters, introduce solidly upper middle-class analysts and then interview solidly upper middle-class politicos. If you're working class you can sod off- unless your name is Mrs Gillian Duffy, make comments about Eastern Europeans 'flocking' here, and have a spat with Gordon Brown.

It hasn't always been like this. I recently re-watched the BBC's coverage of the 1979 election night, the last election before the neo-liberal era. There were regular interviews with Trade Union leaders, and interviews with workers and ordinary people (including a cleaning lady), about how the result would affect them. Today all the talk is about how 'the markets' will respond, and what 'The City' thinks of the result. And what's the end result in this most upper middle-class of elections?: two upper-middle class public school Oxbridge-educated politicians from elite backgrounds discuss how they're going to form the next government. Welcome to the 'classless' Britain of 2010.

5. The election of the solidly middle-class Blairite carpet-bagger Luciana Berger, (a candidate who didn't even know who Bill Shankly was) , in the solidly working-class seat of Liverpool Wavertree. If only Ricky Tomlinson had stood against her. Let's hope he does in October.

Anyway, that's my 'best and worst'. How about yours?

Source: New Statesman

OP's best and worst moments:

Best:

Caroline Lucas getting elected.
Jacqui Smith and Peter Robinson being kicked out.
The anti-BNP kerfuffle in Glasgow.
That guy dressed like an Elite Beat Agent behind Gordon Brown.
Scotland not losing any more ground to the Tories.

Worst:
The Tories getting so many seats
Hazel Blears and Nadine Dorries not being kicked out.
Jimmy Carr.
Being very confused by the discrepancy between the ITV and BBC counts.
Jimmy Carr again.
hwel

Pants-dropping superhero Antanas Mockus for Colombia's next president

A Maverick Upends Colombian Politics

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BOGOTÁ, Colombia - Given the staid nature of the political establishment in Colombia, Washington’s top ally in the region, and the broad popularity of President Álvaro Uribe, it seemed a foregone conclusion to many here that his heir apparent would clinch the presidency in the coming elections without too much of a struggle.

So imagine the surprise when Juan Manuel Santos, a former defense minister and the architect of some of Mr. Uribe’s crushing blows against leftist guerrillas, found himself trailing in recent national polls to a quirky, unpredictable mathematician who murmurs in French about arcane philosophical concepts and wears a chinstrap beard with the air of a latter-day Thoreau.

The surge of this candidate, Antanas Mockus, who served two very colorful terms as Bogotá’s mayor, has made for one of Latin America’s most exceptional presidential races in recent memory, pitting an insurgent intellectual against an establishment that suddenly finds itself on the defensive.

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Personally, I'm hoping for another green revolution. The campaign is crazy inspiring. Also, Colombia is long overdue a president with a sense of humour.
Reporting

Al Mahaba Radio Speaks to Iraqi Women

Bushra Jamil, co-founder of Radio Al Mahaba, the first and only independent women’s radio station in the Middle East, has questions.  Lots of them.

“Why on earth would America come in and get rid of a brutal dictator and then bring in more dictators and extremists?” she asks, speaking by cell phone from downtown Bagdad.  “Why has the Bush Administration never supported secular Iraqi leaders?  Why are women who are covered from head to toe put in the front, while people like us are totally ignored? Why don’t they get rid of the extremists,” she asks, “whether Sunni or Shiite, and help bring the right people to power to run the country?”

To have a platform—six hours a day—in which to raise these questions, Jamil helped to launch Radio Al Mahaba (“Love” in Arabic) on April 1, 2005.

A former high school science teacher, Jamil had left Bagdad not long after Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party forced all teachers either to join the party or lose their jobs. Immigrating to Canada, she worked as a program coordinator with a nongovernmental organization serving immigrants.  But when the now-famous images of the dictator’s statue crashing to the ground reverberated on nightly newscasts around the globe, Jamil knew it was time to go home.  Having facilitated educational and multicultural programs that helped to educate women on their rights during her ten years away, she had found her calling.

“I wanted to transfer to Iraqi women all the knowledge that I had gained in Canada,” she says. “I wanted to show them that the world outside is very different. And that we can change our lives together.”

Partnering with other Iraqi American expatriates who had recently returned home, the co-founders of Al Mahaba decided that the best way to reach women—particularly those in isolated areas—was through politically independent radio programming offered on such subjects as health care and social and family issues.  Al Mahaba offered talk in three languages: Kurdish, Arabic, and English. (Jamil says the station hopes to add Farsi in order to reach Iranian listeners.)

The response, she says, has been overwhelming, as women callers throughout the country have flocked to the station to share personal stories about domestic violence, forced marriages, and difficulties in trying to obtain an education. Among the most beautiful moments, says Jamil, is when callers respond to other callers, and in doing so, create an actual “movement.”

To keep this burgeoning movement alive, Jamil works a day job in public relations in order to pay the bills and fundraises whenever and however she can.  The ride has not been easy.

Six months after the station’s launch, a car bomb intended for the nearby Palestine Hotel with its many American guests, exploded, destroying a transmitter in the process.

Last year, Jamil visited the United States on an educational and fundraising tour, where she made stops at NPR and CNN, and spoke passionately about the need for an independent Iraqi women’s station. In a fiery speech on Capitol Hill, she pointed out to congressional leaders that “out of all the millions that went to Iraq to support democracy and freedom, we did not get a penny.”

But even Jamil, who was honored last month at the Women’s eNews annual Gala Benefit Dinner, realizes the difficulty in generating sympathy for her cause. “How can I ask Americans to donate money to a place where young people are still being killed everyday?”

The instability in the country makes growth impossible. Al Mahaba’s programming, which had worked its way up to 16 hours a day, was recently sliced in half again due to security and curfew restrictions making it difficult for staff to operate.  “We’ve found some young men willing to stay overnight though, and we’re planning to go back to 16 hours soon,” says Jamil.

“We don’t let fear get into our hearts.”

Source

Obama and Hillary love

German ONTD_Pers, come out of the woodworks?

German coalition 'suffers key regional poll loss'

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party and its coalition allies have been defeated in regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, exit polls suggest. If confirmed, this would see Mrs Merkel's national coalition lose its majority in the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat.

+++ CDU: 34.3%; SPD: 34.7; Greens: 12.4% (WIN!); FDP: 6.5% (so much FAIL!); LINKE: 5.6%; others:  6.5% (incl. Pirates) +++

 

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 Edited for source and html corrections :)

OMG.GUYS. HAPPY.
MLP Rainbow Dash nahnah

Allies Join Russians in Victory Day Celebration





Allies Join Russians in Victory Day Celebration
By CLIFFORD J. LEVY

MOSCOW — As they always do, Russia’s finest infantrymen and sailors and airmen strode across Red Square on Sunday for the annual Victory Day parade, accompanied by a customary display of intimidating weaponry. Tanks rumbled by, planes zoomed overhead and missiles as long as subway cars were towed across the historic cobblestones.

But this year, tradition was upended.

There, in the shadow of the Kremlin, on ground that has long symbolized Russian might, marched a young soldier from New York City, Spc. Tyler Smith, and his fellow Americans, along with troops from other NATO countries — proud Poles, British guards in distinctive bearskin hats, French airmen, and soldiers decked out in the elaborate dress uniforms of former Soviet republics from Ukraine to Turkmenistan.


Specialist Smith, 21, was in awe at playing a part in a momentous event: the inclusion, for the first time, of all the Allied troops in Victory Day, Russia’s most important secular holiday, which commemorates the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Specialist Smith and several dozen others from the 170 Infantry Brigade Combat Team made their way across the square, their American flag waving against the backdrop of the onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral.

“This is a world-changing event,” said Sgt. Mark Kupiec, 23, of Detroit. “In years to come, they are going to be reading about this in the social studies books.”

Among the foreign leaders who attended the parade were Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Hu Jintao of China.

President Barack Obama was invited but did not come. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, citing the crisis surrounding the euro currency, stayed home. But foreigners who were on Red Square seemed thrilled to be there.

In recent years, Victory Day has been something a barometer of Russia’s relations with the West. When tensions have risen, Vladimir V. Putin, the prime minister and former president, has used his speeches here to take aim at the United States.

This year, ties have warmed, as underscored by the invitations to troops from the countries known here as the anti-Hitler coalition, and the playing of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy -- a European Union anthem -- by a military band.

“In 1945, not only a military but also a great moral victory was achieved,” Mr. Putin’s protégé, President Dmitri A. Medvedev, said at the parade.

“It was a common victory,” he said. “All peoples of the former U.S.S.R. struggled for it. Our allies advanced it. And today, soldiers of Russia, the former Soviet countries and the anti-Hitler coalition states march together triumphantly. A single rank is evidence of our common readiness to defend peace.”

Still, not everyone was pleased that the boots of NATO soldiers would be tromping on Red Square for the 65th anniversary celebration. Communists and nationalists have held protests, saying that the presence of these foreigners was an insult.

If World War II is a distant memory in many countries, here in Russia, it is an intensely memorialized and discussed trauma, as if it occurred only recently. Roughly 25 million people in the Soviet Union died in the war, historians say, and Russians believe that they sacrificed immensely to save the world from Nazism.


That is why war veterans are venerated, and why most Russians do not feel any discomfort about their government prominently displaying Soviet symbols, including the hammer and sickle, over Red Square for the Victory Day parade.

While some Russians grumbled about the Western troops, it was hard to find a critical word among the veterans who were in the grandstands.

“This parade unites all those who participated in the war,” said Iosif Efron, 85, whose Soviet division met American forces on the banks of the Elbe River in Germany at the end of World War II in Europe. “The invitation was absolutely proper. We fought together, and they helped us.”

“Of course, without Russia, no one would have defeated Germany,” he added.

The parade this year had a poignant aspect, as the Russian leadership seemed to acknowledge that the number of war veterans still living was dwindling.

“Time has great power,” Mr. Medvedev said. “But it is not as powerful as human memory — our memory. We shall never forget the soldiers who fought on the front, the women who replaced men in factories, the children who underwent suffering unthinkable for their ages."

Source

I admit that I don't know nearly enough about WWII and the different countries' roles, but this is just such a huge huge day in Russia. Every single Russian I know still knows someone touched (or even killed) by the war. The fact that all the allied troops are being represented and celebrated on this day is more than a little fantastic.
GrayMan

Two Rekers Stories

Second Gay Escort Claims Sexual Encounter With George Rekers
Source

A second man, a former male prostitute, came forward earlier today with details of his sexual encounter with rent-boy hiring Christian anti-gay leader George Rekers. We gave him a call to get his full story.

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Florida Taxpayers Paid Reker's $120,000, Twice What Was Initially Reported
Source

Did Bill McCollum's office hide the truth about payments?

Attorney General Bill McCollum has scrambled to distance himself from the "star" witness he paid to defend Florida's anti-gay adoption ban after George Rekers was caught in the Miami Airport with a male prostitute.

But did McCollum mislead the public and reporters when asked about the huge sums the Attorney General's office directed to Rekers and his co-hort Walter Schumm?

First of all, it turns out the number is much, much larger than originally reported. An online search of Florida vendors shows Rekers was paid roughly $120,000 and his co-hort Walter Schumm recieved an additional $36,000 in taxpayer money.

McCollum's office also tried to downplay their relationship with Rekers, insisting that DCF paid him, ignoring the fact that the Attorney General's office prosecuted the case, defined the strategy and selected its witnesses. But was McCollum's attempt to shift focus to DCF more than a political sleight of hand? Was it simply a lie?

The same records that show that Rekers was paid double what was originally reported, also show the agency responsible for the funds as "Office of Attorney General - Finance & Accounting."

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Laura Bush Zings Pelosi, Nudges Cheney, Ignores Rumsfeld

If anyone can grow up to be President of the United States, anyone can be First Lady, too.

Still, neither George W. Bush nor Laura Welch had much inkling of what they were getting into when they married. Laura was a school librarian and George lived in a world of sterile apartments, alcohol and dead-end jobs. They wanted to jump-start their lives, but unlike the ambitious Clintons, they were hardly aiming for the White House.

In her memoir, “Spoken From the Heart,” Laura Bush writes as vividly of her upbringing in the bleak and unforgiving oil- patch towns of West Texas as Buzz Bissinger did in his classic “Friday Night Lights.” As her life becomes more public in the later chapters, her observations become less keen -- or perhaps she just becomes unwilling to share them. Dick Who, Rumsfeld What and that round bald guy said to be Bush’s Brain, Karl Rove -- who he?

 

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I'm reading it right now, and even if you hated Bush, this book does gives you a small look into being on the other side of things,especially when 9-11 happened.
movies | Impish Fräulein2

Dr. Dorothy Height: Civil and Gender Rights Matriarch.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dorothy I. Height, 98, a founding matriarch of the American civil rights movement whose crusade for racial justice and gender equality spanned more than six decades, died Tuesday at Howard University Hospital. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Ms. Height was among the coalition of African American leaders who pushed civil rights to the center of the American political stage after World War II, and she was a key figure in the struggles for school desegregation, voting rights, employment opportunities and public accommodations in the 1950s and 1960s.

As president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, Ms. Height was arguably the most influential woman at the top levels of civil rights leadership.

Although she never drew the media attention that conferred celebrity and instant recognition on some of the other civil rights leaders of her time, Ms. Height was often described as the "glue" that held the family of black civil rights leaders together. She did much of her work out of the public spotlight, in quiet meetings and conversations, and she was widely connected at the top levels of power and influence in government and business.

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I dont think we had any articles in tribute to Dr. Height, so being Mother's Day, it seems fitting to have something about a badass matriarch for U.S. civil rights and gender equality of the 20th century.
i like CHOcolate milk.

PoC move to the 'burbs; White Flight back to city (o my)

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White flight? Suburbs lose young whites to cities
By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer Hope Yen, Associated Press Writer Sun May 9, 12:52 am ET

WASHINGTON – White flight? In a reversal, America's suburbs are now more likely to be home to minorities, the poor and a rapidly growing older population as many younger, educated whites move to cities for jobs and shorter commutes.

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&#39; jules

Glenn Greenwald be not proud

Obama to name Kagan for high court



President Barack Obama will nominate U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan to serve as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, NBC News’ Pete Williams reported late Sunday night.

Kagan, 50, served as the Dean of Harvard Law School from 2003 to 2009. Obama nominated her to serve in her current post as solicitor general early in 2009, and she won Senate confirmation by a vote of 61-31. She is the first woman to serve as solicitor general of the United States.

She was widely viewed as a front-runner when Obama was considering candidates for a Supreme Court opening last year, but the president ultimately chose Sonia Sotomayor for the job.

Some liberal critics have said that Kagan's views on executive power and the treatment of terrorist detainees are too conservative.

If confirmed, Kagan will fill the vacancy left by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Stevens, 90, announced his decision to retire on April 9 after nearly 35 years of service on the high court.

Source

awww here it goes.
Detroit

Mother's Day news from the University of Michigan




University of Michigan: Most Americans live surprisingly close to their mothers

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Most Americans live within 25 miles of their mothers, according to a report issued by the University of Michigan Retirement Research Center.

The study calls into question a widespread belief that when children grow up, they're likely to move far away and not be on hand to help out when their mothers get older.

The analysis is based on a nationally representative sample of married and single adults age 25 and over from the National Survey of Family Health and on data from the U.S. Census.

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Australian Internet Filter on Backburner but Remains Part of the Agenda

IT was ironic that Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced the postponement of his internet filtering legislation via an adviser last week. Advice was not something he was fond of taking. Sensing a voter backlash on the legislation, which was supposed to be introduced into the parliament before the federal election, Rudd and Conroy are banking on removing it as an election issue. But will they?

If Conroy had introduced the legislation before the election, he might have risked the ire of the Greens and Electronic Frontiers Australia, but at least it would have been done and dusted. It would then be up to other political parties to say that they would try to overturn it, a much more difficult task. Now the election could be turned in part into a referendum on the issue.

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