May 10th, 2010

Reporting

Millions queue to vote in Philippines elections

Voting in national and local elections in the Philippines has been extended by one hour due to long queues of voters.

Filipinos will elect a new president and vice-president, as well as more than 17,000 other positions.

The queues have been linked to problems with new automated vote-counting machines, some of which had failed to operate properly in pre-poll testing.

Six people were killed as voters cast their ballots, amid reports of continuing violence in the south.

Benigno Aquino, the son of the popular former president, Cory Aquino, has been leading the polls but former president Joseph Estrada is also in the running.

Outgoing President Gloria Arroyo, whose term expires in June, is running for a seat in parliament.
 

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franklin sherman

Obama administration seeks to limit Miranda rights of American citizens suspected of terrorism.

WASHINGTON — In the wake of the Times Square bombing plot, the Obama administration said on Sunday it wants to work with Congress on possible limitations of the constitutional rights afforded terrorism suspects — even for American citizens.

Attorney General Eric Holder said changes may be needed to allow law enforcement more time to question suspected terrorists before they are told about their Miranda rights to a lawyer and to remain silent under interrogation.

As the nation debates how to proceed against terrorist attacks, particularly as they have become the work of individuals who are difficult to detect in advance, the administration has been heavily criticized for reading Miranda rights to suspects in the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a plane heading for Detroit and the May 1 Times Square plot.

Terrorism has presented all sides in the debate with a delicate balancing act, protecting the rights of the individuals accused of terrorism while also attending to public safety.

Holder said the White House wanted to work with Congress to examine the 1966 Supreme Court Miranda ruling to ensure that law enforcement agents have "necessary flexibility" to gather information from suspects in terror cases.

The Miranda warning — a bedrock guarantee of a suspect's constitutional rights — has come under more intense study because accused Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad is a U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin. The administration declared on Sunday that he was working under the direction of the Pakistani Taliban.
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Tom

What's in a name?

And the most popular baby names are...

Move over, Emma. There's a new queen in town.

Isabella dethroned Emma as the top name for girls born last year, according to the Social Security Administration's annual list of most popular baby names, released Saturday.

Jacob, on the other hand, held on as the most popular boy's name for the 11th year in a row.
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Social Security Baby Names website, where you can check out the lists of most popular names and search your own name to see how popular it's been over time :D
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Afghanistan's last Jew vows to stay put



Zablon Simintov is always guaranteed the best seat in his local synagogue here, but the privilege comes with a downside: he's the last Jew in Afghanistan.

The country's 800-year-old Jewish community -- an estimated 40,000 strong at its peak -- is now a party of one.

But Simintov, for his part, isn't going anywhere soon. For more than a decade, he has refused to join his wife and two teenage daughters in Israel.

"My family call me all the time and say, 'Come here, you're the last Jew in Afghanistan, what are you doing there?' " he says.

Simintov, a former carpet dealer, refuses to answer that question. "I don't know why I'm still living here," he says. "It's God's will."

He hasn't seen his daughters -- now ages 14 and 16 -- since his one trip to Israel 12 years ago.

But the bald and bespectacled Simintov says he is content guarding a cupboard full of dusty prayer books -- one is 400 years old, he says -- spending holidays with visitors from Europe and the U.S. and surviving off donations from Jews around the world.

Historical evidence suggests a sizable Jewish community in Afghanistan since the Middle Ages, according to the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, a nonprofit group.

Afghanistan's Jewish population reached 40,000 in the mid-19th century, the group says, and began declining around 1870 with the passage of anti-Jewish measures.

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Why Politicians Need Theologians

If the Tories get up in the UK general election, Tony Abbott [leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, which is the centre-right party] ought to take this as a sign that he should be running toward - not away from - his Catholicism.

Since taking over the Liberal leadership in December last year, Abbott has given to treating his Catholicism as a political liability, something to be quarantined from the serious work of policy development and public engagement.

In so doing, not only has he allowed his liberal demons to drown out the better angels of his conservative nature, but he is also neglecting perhaps the one truly radical weapon the Coalition [Liberal Party of Australia and National Party of Australia] has in its political arsenal: the Catholic vision of civil society founded on mutualism and an economics of gratuity.

Abbott would do well to take a leaf out of Tory leader David Cameron's book. For what few people outside Britain realise, and might be surprised to learn, is that the political manifesto of the Conservative Party has been shaped to a large extent by a theologian.

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Sufjan Smile

Obama administration blocked efforts to stop BP oil drilling before explosion

In 2009, the Obama administration intervened to support the reversal of a court order that would have halted offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has long had close ties to the industry, specifically cited BP’s Deepwater Horizon operation as one that should be allowed to go forward, according to a group involved in the court case.

A Washington DC Appeals Court ruled in April 2009 that the Bush administration’s five-year plan for offshore oil and gas drilling (covering 2007 to 2012) was not based on a proper review of the environmental impact of the drilling. Only days before the ruling, the Obama administration had granted BP a “categorical exclusion,” exempting it from an environmental impact study for the Deepwater Horizon project.

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry trade group, intervened to reverse the court order, and was backed by the administration.

Kierán Suckling, executive director and founder the Center for Biological Diversity, which was involved in the original lawsuit, told the World Socialist Web Site that Salazar “filed a special motion asking the court to lift the injunction, and he cited the BP drilling several times by name in the request.”

In July 2009, the court ruled that drilling in both the Gulf and off the coast of Alaska could continue, on the condition that the administration conduct a study of the potential environmental risks. This study has yet to be completed.

Salazar praised the decision at the time, saying it allowed the administration to go forward with “a comprehensive energy plan,” including the BP project and a sale of leases for drilling in the Gulf.

Even since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon less than three weeks ago, the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Services (MMS) has continued to grant “categorical exclusions” to oil and gas companies, allowing them to bypass environmental studies.

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Source: World Socialist Web Site

The exclusions granted were from NEPA, which the EPA describes as:

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values into their decision making processes by considering the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and reasonable alternatives to those actions.

To meet NEPA requirements federal agencies prepare a detailed statement known as an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). EPA reviews and comments on EISs prepared by other federal agencies, maintains a national filing system for all EISs, and assures that its own actions comply with NEPA.

I'd also like to drop a back-up source from Washington Post noting the same as the article above, just in case anybody has any problems with a website run by the Fourth International.
Pride & Prejudice

'There is no cure for anorexia, but now I want to get better.'

Zoe Smith has no idea what caused the “voices in my head”, but by the age of 14 she was mesmerised by them. They told her repeatedly that if she wanted to be loved and happy, she must be slimmer. Four years later, as she was starting dance college, Zoe was in the grip of anorexia.

“My ballet teacher warned me I’d lost so much weight my muscles were wasting away,” she says. She went from one treatment to another – including one-to-one counselling and family therapy. “I didn’t want to get better,” Zoe admits.

It wasn’t until December 2007 that Zoe, then 19, faced up to her illness and agreed, on the recommendation of her doctor, to spend four months at a new long-stay addiction rehabilitation clinic, Montrose Place in Cape Town. Founded by South African businessman and former alcohol and cocaine addict Johnny Graaf, it offers a new approach to the management of eating disorders.

Zoe, now 22, and a choreographer living in north London, is one of 100 patients from the UK who have been successfully treated for anorexia at Montrose in the past three years. The clinic boasts a 70 per cent success rate, based on follow-ups after one year for those who completed its 90-day programme. Now, it is about to open a centre in London to prepare patients for treatment in South Africa or to help them afterwards.

Some experts are holding up the Montrose method as a model for the future, elements of which should be adopted by the NHS. Consultant psychiatrist Alessia Ciani, a senior lecturer in eating disorders at Imperial College, London, who also practises at the Priory Hospital, has sent patients to Montrose. ''The clinical team is very good,” she says. “There is nothing comparable on the NHS. Funding in the UK does not allow residential treatment for anyone unless they are extremely ill with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of below 13 (20-25 is the healthy range). All other treatment is conducted via outpatients.’’

So what makes Montrose different? The centre rejects many of the traditional “boot camp” methods of treatment such as behaviour modification therapies, in which patients are “punished” for not eating. Instead, they are encouraged to explore their freedom. Therapy classes may occupy their weekday timetable, but at weekends they climb Table Mountain, try shark-diving, or do community work in the townships.

Equine-assisted psychotherapy is a cornerstone of therapy. “Being around horses requires patience, compassion and respect – all qualities which anorexics lose sight of,” says psychiatrist Dr Greg McCarthy, Montrose’s chief medical adviser. “Seeing horses respond to their behaviour helps the patients become more self-aware.”

Anorexia, which largely affects those between the age of 12-20, is a severe mental illness affecting 1 per cent of young women. About 10 per cent of sufferers are men, according to the charity Beating Eating Disorders.

Anorexics typically weigh less than 86 per cent of their expected healthy weight, with a BMI of 18 or under. They are terrified of gaining weight, and in denial about the long-term consequences of their behaviour such as osteoporosis, gastrointestinal complications and dental problems. The condition has one of the highest mortality rates and suicide rates of any psychiatric disorder.

It is tricky to treat because it often co-exists with other illnesses and addictions. Drug therapy, with anti-depressants for example, may not work, partly because the body needs a certain number of calories before it can start to metabolise the drugs. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or other “talking” cures may fail because many anorexics are often above average intelligence and can reason their way out of counselling,’’ says Dr McCarthy.

Yet while early detection and treatment are vital, and residential treatment programmes considered the gold standard by many clinicians, they are available to very few patients. Montrose, for example, costs £10,000 a month. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) continues to recommend that sufferers are treated as NHS outpatients unless at high risk of death, but perhaps it is time reconsider treatment strategy in the light of progress being made elsewhere.

Certainly, Janet Treasure, director of the Eating Disorder Unit and professor of psychiatry at Guys, Kings & St Thomas Medical School, believes there is room for improvement in the way the NHS manages such patients. However, she is not convinced that residential treatment holds all the answers. Some younger patients may become even more isolated, she says.

The therapeutic approach at Guys, she adds, has much in common with Montrose. “We use motivational techniques and lashings of affirmations to improve [patients’] self-esteem. We try especially to help the patients become less rigid in their thinking.”

Zoe says she still has bad days but that overall her life has changed. She believes that the in-patient programme was crucial to her recovery. “It gave me time to learn to trust the team,” she says. “There’s no final cure and the illness will always be there, but now I’ve got friends and get on well with my family. My quality of life has improved so much.”

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palin-quitter

WHEREIN SARAH PALIN WRITES HER OWN GOD FANFIC


Sarah Palin: American Law Should Be 'Based On The God Of The Bible And The Ten Commandments'

Sarah Palin joined Fox News's Bill O'Reilly recently to condemn the critics of the National Day of Prayer, saying that the Judeo-Christian belief was the basis for American law and should continue to be used as a guiding force for creating future legislation.

According to Palin, the recent backlash against the National Day of Prayer is proof that some people are trying to enact a "fundamental transformation of America" and to "revisit and rewrite history" in order to shift the Christian nation away from its spiritual roots.

Palins's advice: "Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant -- they're quite clear -- that we would create law based on the God of the bible and the ten commandments.

"What in hell scares people about talking about America's foundation of faith?" Palin continued. "It is that world view that involves some people being afraid of being able to discuss our foundation, being able to discuss God in the public square, that's the only thing I can attribute it to."

Palin also criticized the decision to dis-invite the Rev. Franklin Graham from a Pentagon prayer service over concerns about his past inflammatory rhetoric about Islam, saying it was driven by a desire to be overly politically correct.

WATCH the interview:


Source's head just exploded from teh dumb.

"Palins's advice: "Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant -- they're quite clear -- that we would create law based on the God of the bible and the ten commandments."

Um......WAT.   I'm now quite certain that Sarah Palin has probably never even READ the U.S. Constitution, let alone could she be considered an authority on anything in it.   The Constitution not only doesn't mention using God, the Bible, or the Ten Commandments as something to be considered in the making of laws, the First Amendment expressly prohibits it. 

First Admendment:  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
 

Would someone please point out where in that sentence it somehow invisibly includes the words, God, The Bible, or the Ten Commandments? 

ETA:  I realize now that I should have actually given this a different title.  I should have called it: WHEREIN SARAH PALIN WRITES HER OWN GOD/FOUNDING FATHERS SLASHFIC.

That is all.
WW-kickedbygirl

Top Strategist Advises GOP To Prolong SCOTUS Fight To Block Obama Agenda


Liberals have been warning President Obama for weeks that Republicans and conservative activists would fight and seek to delay confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee no matter whom he picked. Turns out they were right.

In an April 22 conference call with RNC members, which was recorded and passed my way by a source, activist Curt Levey, director of the conservative Committee for Justice, offered Republican operatives candid strategic advice, pressing them to put up a fight against even the most moderate of judges, and providing a glimpse of the GOP's playbook for obstructing Obama nominees.

The crux of the GOP's strategy is to use Obama's nominee to wedge vulnerable Democratic senators away from the party, and drag the confirmation fight out until the August congressional recess, to eat up precious time Democrats need to round out their agenda.
 

"[I]t wouldn't take much GOP resistance to push a final vote into early August," Levey advised. "And, look, the closer we could get it to the election, frankly, the better. It would be great if we could push it past the August recess because that forces the red and purple state Democrats to have to go home and face their constituents."

Levey acknowledged that a filibuster likely won't last--that Obama's nominee, now known to be Solicitor General Elana Kagan, will almost certainly be confirmed. But he hammered home the point to Republicans that there's value in mischaracterizing any nominee, and dragging the fight out as long as possible, whether or not Obama's choice is particularly liberal.

"We wouldn't have a lot to object to if it was [Interior Secretary Ken] Salazar. He's quite moderate as Democrats come," Levey admitted. "We're not necessarily going to say that if he's nominated, but I think that's the truth." Emphasis mine. This advice was met with laughter by one of the listeners on the call. (Salazar was cited in early reports as a long-shot candidate on Obama's short list.)

"Even if it's a nominee that we can't seriously stop, we can accomplish several things, and so a hard fight is worthwhile," Levey implored. "Certainly it can be to the political advantage of Republicans.... There's everything to be gained from making the Supreme Court vacancy a campaign issue in 2010."

"There's broader goals such as just distracting Obama from other items on his agenda," Levey added. "The tougher the fight the less capital and time and resources and floor time in the Senate there is to spend on immigration and climate change, etc."

It's likely, though, that some Republicans, particularly moderates, will ultimately want to support Obama's choice. Levey urged those senators to go along with the delay.

"For those people who do want to support the nominee, and do want to get points for bipartisanship or for supporting the first Hispanic or first gay nominee or whatever it might turn out to be you'll get just as much credit if you support the nominee in August, as if you support them now," Levey said "I urge everyone not to say that the confirmation of the nominee is inevitable, even if we think it is."

So what can you expect the main points of contention--real, or manufactured--to be as the fight drags on? Levey offered a sneak peak.

"When [Kagan] was Dean of Harvard Law School she kicked the military off campus because she felt that the don't ask don't tell policy was discriminatory to gay folks," Levey instructed. That episode will likely become the central focus of Republican opposition to Kagan

"I also think one issue that's going to be closely connected this summer to the Supreme Court vacancy is the Constitutionality of Obamacare, specifically the individual mandate," Levey predicted. "Senators are going to ask about it. The media's going to speculate about how the nominee would vote on it. I certainly plan to raise it."

Don't be surprised, either, if Republicans figure out new and inventive ways to use Kagan to highlight what they view as Obama's political vulnerabilities. For instance, Levey recommended that if Obama's nominee is not a military veteran, Republicans should cite that fact as evidence that Obama is weak on national security.

You can listen to the audio of the call below. Levey did not return a request for comment before press time. An RNC spokesman declined to comment, referring me instead to Chairman Michael Steele's official statement: "you can expect Senate Republicans to respectfully raise serious and tough questions to ensure the American people can thoroughly and thoughtfully examine Kagan's qualifications and legal philosophy before she is confirmed to a lifetime appointment."


Source is surprised to hear what is probably the most honest commentary from someone in the GOP in a very long time.

Australian TV show teaches Aboriginal language

An Australian TV channel is broadcasting the first lessons in an Aboriginal language aimed at young children, in a bid to stem an alarming decline that has wiped out hundreds of native dialects.

"Waabiny Time", for three to six-year-olds, teaches "yes", "no" and other basic terms in the Noongar language, which is spoken in the southwestern region around Perth.

The show, broadcast daily and repeated on Saturdays, started last month with 13 half-hour episodes and proved so popular the entire series is now being screened again.

"I realized while working with Aboriginal communities that kids weren't talking with their grandparents in their language," producer Cath Trimboli, told AFP.

 

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South Africa AIDS orphans: Gift's birth mother confronts his foster parents

Soweto, South Africa – Nobody told Celina Seloma that being a foster mother would be easy.

What they did tell her, nearly four years ago, was that a little boy whose mother had neglected her children in her tin-shack house needed a new home. They told her that the mother was an alcoholic and unhealthy, hadn’t been seen for weeks, and was presumed to be well into the advanced stages of AIDS, if not already dead. Celina – whose own adult son had recently been killed in a shooting – opened her heart and took in a sickly 4-year-old boy named Gift.

 

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serious actor type

Gordon Brown 'stepping down as Labour leader'

Gordon Brown has said he is stepping down as Labour Party leader.

Mr Brown, prime minister since 2007, said he wanted a successor to be in place by the time of the party's conference in September.

Mr Brown announced his intention to quit in a statement in Downing St in which he also said his party was to start formal talks with the Lib Dems.

The Conservatives won the most seats and most votes in the election and have been in talks with the Lib Dems.

Mr Brown said no party had won an overall majority in the UK general election and, as Labour leader, he had to accept his part in that.

He said he had no desire to stay in his position longer than was needed to form a stable government, and that he would ask the Labour Party to set in form the process of a leadership contest.

He said it could be in the interests of the country to form a "progressive" government - possibly in coalition with the Lib Dems - the UK's third largest party.

It emerged earlier that the Lib Dem negotiating team, who have held days of talks with the Conservatives, had also met senior Labour figures in private.

The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said one of the stumbling blocks to any Lib Dem-Labour deal had been Mr Brown himself.

Source

In spite of myself, I'm sad to see him go. He's handled himself with a lot of dignity over the last week or so. But I think he can go happily knowing that he's made Cameron's life one hell of a lot harder.

CLAIM: TEACHER LET BULLIED GIRL BLEED BECAUSE HER MOMS ARE GAY



The lesbian parents of an 11-year-old girl in New Mexico say the girl's teacher neglected her after a bullying incident on the school playground in which she was pushed and scraped her face. Jenna Bissell's parents say the teacher let her bleed instead because she doesn't like the fact that she has lesbian moms, KRQE reports:

"The Bissell-Peterson family said they’ve had constant conflict with Jenna’s fifth grade teacher. The day of the accident Shannon said she called the teacher when she found out about Jenna’s injuries. 'I said, 'I'm not sure what it is here, why you don't like her, if it's because she has two moms.' She interrupted me and said ‘Yes it is and take [your] children to another school,' [and] then hung up,' Bissell-Peterson said. Rio Rancho Public Schools said there are no facts that back up these allegations. 'We take it very seriously and we take issues of this sort very seriously and we look into them thoroughly. But in this case the allegations have not been substantiated,' Rio Rancho Public Schools Communications Officer Kimberley Vesely said. The family filed a tort claim against the school district."

Source

Reporting

Shining a Light Under the Veil

By Marianne Schnall
The author, whose interviews have been widely published, talks to playwright Mary Apick about the stories of women who spend their public lives shielded from our view.

From a Western perspective, it can be hard to know what to make of the outrage that some Muslim women voiced as France and Belgium moved closer in recent weeks to becoming the first countries in Europe to ban the face coverings worn by many observant Muslim women. Lawmakers in both countries are considering a ban in all public places on burqas, the full head-to-toe Islamic veil, or the niqab, which only leaves the eyes visible. Said French President Nicolas Sarkozy, “It is not a religious symbol… It’s a sign of enslavement. … It will not be welcome in the French republic.”  

If these resolutions become law, any women wearing the facial coverings could be subject to a fine or jail. While lawmakers in both countries say that their motivation is driven in part to protect women’s rights and freedoms, many observant Muslim women view it as the opposite—an affront to their right to practice and express their religious beliefs—and vow to defy the ban.

While the news stories play out on the world stage, Beneath the Veil by Iranian American actress and writer Mary Apick was recently performed at Lincoln Center. In her acclaimed play, Apick goes beyond the stereotypes and tells the true stories of ten women of various ages who have lived very different lives in the Middle East but are connected by one common thread—the veil. Apick says in the show, which she also directed and stars in, the veil is “only metaphorical. It’s an issue of human rights and legal rights in Iran and the neighboring countries that represent the same type of church and state together.”
 

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JFK Jr '88

Alistair Campbell vs Sky News. FIGHT!!!!

Boulton and Campbell in live TV clash

He may have been a guest at his wedding but that didn't stop Sky News' political editor Adam Boulton from launching a very public tirade against former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell this afternoon.

The two political heavyweights looked close to ditching words altogether in favour of fists as they argued over Gordon Brown's resignation statement live on air.

Independent




This is hilarious! I thought Adam Boulton was gonna hit him!... I know people don't generally like Alistair Campbell- but he's never bothered me really, and after this I think I have new found respect- he wound the other guy up beautifully.
x&c: besos

Young soldiers attempt suicide

Young soldiers attempt suicide


Thomas Hansen was sent to Afghanistan three times and brought back harsh memories. A little girl with burns still visits his dreams. Last year he tried to take his own life. - Foto: ADRIAN JOACHIM

Nine young Afghan veterans have tried to commit suicide.

The past twelve months have seen nine attempted suicides among returning young Afghan veterans in Denmark, according to an as yet unpublished report from the enlisted men’s union HKKF.
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I thought this was a very interesting article, particularly because it deals with a very debated subject. I don't know if it'll have any interest to any of you, but it definitely had to me and I think that this statistic just proves further that there needs to be more extensive therapy offered to soldiers.

Hope I tagged this right btw, had some trouble with it!

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