May 12th, 2010

[yyy] karen o o o

David Cameron and Nick Clegg lead coalition into power

1.00am: That's it. Britain has got its first coalition government for more than 60 years. And Nick Clegg will be sitting in cabinet alongside Liam Fox and William Hague. Will it work? Who knows. But it is a bold project, and it will be certainly be interesting. We'll get our first good look at it tomorrow (rather, later today) when the Cameron cabinet is expected to meet for the first time. And we've also got a new (interim) Labour leader. And the Labour leadership contest will soon begin in earnest.

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Mods: Don't think we've had a post clarifying the Cabinet members as well as a full rundown of the policies that both parties have agreed on. Probably worth a read. But now I'm going to go cry myself to sleep.

UPDATE: Updated list of Cabinet posts.

Darren/People Photoshoot

Ethnic Studies teaches minorities to "hate white people".

Arizona gov. signs bill targeting ethnic studies

PHOENIX -Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill targeting a school district's ethnic studies program on Tuesday, hours after a report by United Nations human rights experts condemned the measure.

State schools chief Tom Horne, who has pushed the measure for years, said a Tucson school district program promotes "ethnic chauvinism" and racial resentment toward whites while segregating students by race.

"It's just like the old South, and it's long past time that we prohibited it," Horne said.

The measure prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group. It also prohibits classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.

The Tucson Unified School District program offers specialized courses in African-American, Mexican-American and Native-American studies that focus on history and literature and include information about the influence of a particular ethnic group.

For example, in the Mexican-American Studies program, an American history course explores the role of Hispanics in the Vietnam War, and a literature course emphasizes Latino authors.

Horne said he believes the Mexican-American studies program teaches Latino students that they are oppressed by white people. Public schools should not be encouraging students to resent a particular race, he said.

Brewer's signature on the bill comes less than a month after she signed the nation's toughest crackdown on illegal immigration — a move that ignited international backlash amid charges the measure would encourage racial profiling of Hispanics.

A Republican running for attorney general, Horne has been trying to restrict the program ever since he learned that Hispanic civil rights activist Dolores Huerta in 2006 told students that "Republicans hate Latinos."

District officials said the program doesn't promote resentment, and they believe it would comply with the new law.

About 1,500 students at six high schools in the district are enrolled in the program. Elementary and middle school students also are exposed to the ethnic studies curriculum. The district is 56 percent Hispanic, with nearly 31,000 Latino students.

Sean Arce, director of the district's Mexican-American Studies program, said last month that students perform better in school if they see in the curriculum people who look like them.

"It's a highly engaging program that we have, and it's unfortunate that the state Legislature would go so far as to censor these classes," he said.

Six UN human rights experts released a statement earlier Tuesday expressing concern about the measure. All people have the right to learn about their own cultural and linguistic heritage, they said.

Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman didn't directly address the UN criticism, but said Brewer supports the bill's goal.

"The governor believes ... public school students should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people," Senseman said.

The law doesn't prohibit classes that teach about the history of a particular ethnic group, as long as the course is open to all students and doesn't promote ethnic solidarity or resentment.

Arce could not immediately be reached after Brewer signed the bill late Tuesday.


....I can't even...
izzard stole countries

(no subject)

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As an undergraduate at Princeton, Elena Kagan wrote a senior thesis titled “To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933.” In the “Acknowledgments” section of her work, she specifically thanked her brother Marc, “whose involvement in radical causes led me to explore the history of American radicalism in the hope of clarifying my own political ideas.” In the body of the thesis,
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    white rabbits
mus | like a bird in a cage

Police brutality anyone?

We got wrong man: chief

Susan Clairmont and Nicole O'Reilly
The Hamilton Spectator
(May 7, 2010)

Hamilton's police chief admits they got the wrong apartment and the wrong man when officers burst into the home of an unsuspecting refugee from Myanmar who was left terrified and bloodied.

Heavily armed officers were looking for an alleged cocaine dealer who lives in a different unit in the same apartment building as 58-year-old Po La Hay and his two adult children.

Hay was home around 9 p.m. Tuesday readying things for work the next day at a garden centre when he claims police broke down his door and aimed guns at his head.

"I didn't even have a chance to say any words," he said through interpreter Lerwah Lobo.

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As a former Hamiltonian who went to school with the deputy police chief's kid, I'd like to apologise on behalf of my city. o.O
Me in Hawaii.

German Web users are forced to secure WLAN by law

BERLIN (AP) - Germany's top criminal court says Internet users need to secure their private wireless connections by password to prevent unauthorized people from using their Web access to illegally download data.

The court in Karlsruhe ruled Wednesday that Internet users can be fined up to €100 ($126) if a third party takes advantage of their unprotected WLAN connection to illegally download music or other files.

But the court stopped short of holding the users responsible for the illegal content the third party downloads themselves.


Posted via


Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network has a new project called Stories from the Frontlines: Letters to President Barack Obama, a campaign they launched "to underscore the urgent need for congressional action and presidential leadership at this critical point in the fight to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Each entry in the series is a letter from a soldier or former soldier whose life and career has been affected by DADT, from the Navy Petty Officer Third Class who saw the US Navy as the family he never had, but was tormented and brutally hazed by superiors who suspected he was gay to the former Army Captain from a military family who served alongside a woman who was known to be gay, but who was never turned in because her colleagues respected her abilities and didn't want to lose her.

A story was posted on Monday that just about broke my heart. Former Sergeant Tracy Cooper-Harris served in the US Army for twelve years. Shortly after she joined the service, several male colleagues discovered that she was a lesbian and blackmailed her, demanding sexual favors in return for their silence. Cooper-Harris submitted, and was able to keep serving, but at a terrible cost.

"I had a choice," she writes. "Report these men for 'sexual harassment/cohesion' and end my military career or submit to their demands."

Despite the military's "zero tolerance" policy on sexual harassment, it doesn't apply to those forced in the closet under DADT. I was sexually blackmailed and just a teenager.

At that time, as well as other times during my military service, I had seen friends discharged under DADT who were in similar situations. My friends were discharged, while their perpetrators were given a slap on the wrist.

The signal from command was clear: being gay was a far more serious offense in the military than sexually harassing a fellow service member. I ultimately chose what I believed was the best decision for me at the time. I let these men have their way with me in exchange for their silence.

I am not proud of what I did, but I loved my job too much to let it destroy my career before it had even started.

Cooper-Harris eventually left the military, not because she was outed and discharged, but because of the trauma she experienced trying to keep her identity a secret. Sixteen years later, she's undergoing psychological treatment to try to heal.

It makes me furious that our government fails to protect the men and women who risk their lives to defend it. It makes me angrier still that the policies currently in place make harassment, assault and blackmail possible and probably. No American, no human being, deserves the kind of treatment Cooper-Harris endured. The fact that she endured it in the name of serving her country, despite that the military's use of such a policy, is a testament to how lucky we are to have people like her fighting for us.

Go read the rest of Cooper-Harris' story. In fact, go read the whole series. And then write to your congressional representative, or sign SLDN's petition, or write your own letter to the President urging him to support the repeal of DADT.

Feministing and Bilerico.

Rep. Steve King On ENDA: Gays Shouldn't "Flaunt It" If They Don't Want To Suffer From Discrimination

Speaking on the Family Research Council's radio show, yesterday Rep. Steve King (R-IO) warned FRC execudouche Tony Perkins that gays were going to commit "sting operations" against their employers by showing up at work in a dress and then suing for discrimination. According to King, gays wouldn't suffer so much discrimination if they just wouldn't be so damn GAY.


10 Factz about immigration to boggle your racist family and coworkers.

ETA: It appears this may be a very old article that has been passed around the internets fora few years now. Thank you to nieceytee  tracking down better sources to the information posted in this article.

Quote nieceytee  :

I'm having this very same debate on another board. I researched the links in the provided document about immigration reform, and almost all of them have moved or are no longer easily available. The following two links are links to some of the unlikable documents provided in the OP's post:

For myths 1-9, use this link:

For myth 10, use this link:

Top 10 myths about immigration
Source:  Leo Anchondo of Justice for Immigrants

1. Immigrants don't pay taxes.
Immigrants pay taxes, in the form of income, property, sales, and taxes at the federal and state level. As far as income tax payments go, sources vary in their accounts, but a range of studies find that immigrants pay between $90 and $140 billion a year in federal, state, and local taxes. Undocumented immigrants pay income taxes as well, as evidenced by the Social Security Administration's "suspense file" (taxes that cannot be matched to workers' names and social security numbers), which grew by $20 billion between 1990 and 1998.


2. Immigrants come here to take welfare.
Immigrants come to work and reunite with family members. Immigrant labor force participation is consistently higher than native-born, and immigrant workers make up a larger share of the U.S. labor force (12.4%) than they do the U.S. population (11.5%). Moreover, the ratio between immigrant use of public benefits and the amount of taxes they pay is consistently favorable to the U.S. In one estimate, immigrants earn about $240 billion a year, pay about $90 billion a year in taxes, and use about $5 billion in public benefits. In another cut of the data, immigrant tax payments total $20 to $30 billion more than the amount of government services they use.

(Source: "Questioning Immigration Policy - Can We Afford to Open Our Arms?", Friends Committee on National Legislation Document #G-606-DOM, January 25, 1996.

3. Immigrants send all their money back to their home countries.
In addition to the consumer spending of immigrant households, immigrants and their businesses contribute $162 billion in tax revenue to U.S. federal, state, and local governments. While it is true that immigrants remit billions of dollars a year to their home countries, this is one of the most targeted and effective forms of direct foreign investment.


4. Immigrants take jobs and opportunity away from Americans.
The largest wave of immigration to the U.S. since the early 1900s coincided with our lowest national unemployment rate and fastest economic growth. Immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs for U.S. and foreign workers, and foreign-born students allow many U.S. graduate programs to keep their doors open. While there has been no comprehensive study done of immigrant-owned businesses, we have countless examples: in Silicon Valley, companies begun by Chinese and Indian immigrants generated more than $19.5 billion in sales and nearly 73,000 jobs in 2000.

(Source: Richard Vedder, Lowell Gallaway, and Stephen Moore, Immigration and Unemployment: New Evidence, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, Arlington, VA (Mar. 1994), p. 13.)
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Elena Kagan's Not Gay, Friends And Allies Say

The issue of Elena Kagan's sexuality continues to receive a great deal of under-the-radar attention, so much so that some of her friends who know her relationship history have decided to speak publicly.

Kagan's law school roommate and close friend Sarah Walzer told Politico's Ben Smith, "I've known her for most of her adult life and I know she's straight. She dated men when we were in law school, we talked about men -- who in our class was cute, who she would like to date, all of those things. She definitely dated when she was in D.C. after law school, when she was in Chicago - and she just didn't find the right person."
Another friend, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, a member of Kagan's social circle at Princeton University, wanted to make the same point as Walzer. "I did not go out with her, but other guys did," he said in an email Tuesday night. "I don't think it is my place to say more."
Likewise, in a post on Monday, Jamison Foser of the progressive group Media Matters for American challenged writers who had criticized the White House for not being more forthright about Kagan's sexuality.

"This is all quite ridiculous," Foser wrote. "The White House simply and clearly said the report was false and that Kagan is not gay." He also took issue with the claim that, by denying the rumors, the White House was somehow treating homosexuality as a "smear."
These complaints of "unseemly" denials are reminiscent of hand-wringing during the 2008 presidential campaign about whether it was appropriate to refer to the false claims that Barack Obama is Muslim as "smears." There is nothing wrong with being Muslim -- but of course those were smears. For one thing, they were false. For another, they falsely portrayed Obama as a liar. That's enough to qualify as a "smear" right there. But you also have to consider the intent, and likely effect, of the claims. Those alleging Obama to be Muslim certainly meant to harm him, and it isn't hard to imagine that they did so. Calling that a smear, then seems perfectly reasonable -- indeed, the claims smeared Muslims, too, as they implied that being Muslim is bad.

Likewise, you don't have to think there's anything bad about being gay in order to think that Elena Kagan is being smeared. Noting that "People who know Kagan very well say she is not gay," The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder explained last month that the subjects of baseless gay rumors are "victims, not because being gay labeled ... falsely or otherwise, is shameful, but because the intention behind the labeling is often nefarious and stereotypical." And, contra Triplett, it is clear that many conservatives are spreading rumors about Kagan for nefarious purposes. In doing so, they are smearing her -- as well as people who are gay.


Okay, this kind of ticks me off on a personal level (I'm a single 40 year old woman, for the record).  Why, exactly, is it that anyone who gets to a certain age without being married, and doesn't look like a magazine cover model, is automatically thought of as being gay?  At 50 years old, she's an extraordinarily accomplished and highly educated woman.....aside from obviously being pretty married to her work already, I can understand how difficult it would be to find a guy that she would really click with.  There have been a number of recent articles talking about how difficult it is for successful and intelligent women to find a compatible significant other.....and I imagine that might apply whether one was straight or gay, for that matter!

Personally, I don't care about her sexual preferences since I think it is irrelevant.  And I think it's sad that we still use such an accusation as a smear strategy for someone who has accomplished as much as she has in her lifetime.  But even more annoying is that people automatically think there's something "wrong" with a woman in her 30's or older who just doesn't happen to be married.  Ever think that maybe it's because we have, you know, standards??

'Error' Blamed for Racist Term in Google Tourism Ad

The Northern Territory's main tourism body has blamed an 'error' for causing its advertisements to appear with Google paid search results for a racially offensive term.

Google users who searched on the word "abo" have been presented with a sponsored link, with the same offensive term in the headline, to "An experience you'll never forget. Experience Aboriginal culture in NT".

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just no / sheldon

Obama on war in Afghanistan

President Obama: War in Afghanistan Necessary Because of Attempted Attacks in US

At his joint appearance with Afghan President Hamid Karzai today, President Obama said US military action in Afghanistan and the surrounding region “is in our national security interests” because of recent terrorist plots in the U.S. that have ties to the region.

“As we've seen in recent plots here in the United States, Al Qaida and its extremist allies continue to plot in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” President Obama said. “A growing Taliban insurgency could mean an even larger safe haven for Al Qaida and its affiliates.”

A senior administration official tells ABC News that the president was referring to specific cases such as attempted Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, terrorist plotter Najibullah Zazi Mumbai attacks plotter David Headley, as well as other would-be terrorists whose cases have not been reported.

This is not the first time the president has tied the region to post-9/11 attempted attacks on the U.S.

In his West Point speech when he described his strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the president described the region as “the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror.”

Al Franken Fighting For Homeowners' Advocate

Sen. Al Franken wants somebody to be looking out for homeowners as they navigate the Obama administration's Home Affordable Modification Program. The Minnesota Democrat has introduced an amendment to create an Office of the Homeowner Advocate within the Treasury department.

"The government created this HAMP program that people have accessed, and sometimes they end up talking to the servicer of their loan and sometimes the servicers make mistakes and don't really have their back," said Franken in an interview with HuffPost on Tuesday. "It's resulted in people losing their homes when they didn't need to. This is an office that people can call and get government folks who do have their back and can stop someone from going into foreclosure if they shouldn't be."

The Obama administration, when it announced its $75 billion modification program in February 2009, said HAMP would help three to four million struggling homeowners modify their mortgages. But a year into the program, fewer than 230,000 homeowners have received "permanent" five-year modifications as complaints and even lawsuits against servicers mount.

Banks foreclosed on 2.8 million homes in 2009, and the first quarter has already seen 932,000 filings -- a 16 percent increase from the foreclosure pace at the beginning of last year.

Franken's amendment would give homeowners someone to call when they're having trouble with the bank servicing their mortgage. The homeowner advocate would be modeled on the well-regarded taxpayer's advocate office within the IRS.

"What happens is that one of the problems is that the servicers or representatives who talk to people on the phone don't seem to be expert as they might be. That's sort of the problem that this is addressing," he said. "Or they're told you're too late, or this form didn't come in, or that, or we didn't get this thing. Of course the person did send that thing. So there's just a lot of people reporting kind of frustrating interactions with the servicers' representatives."

Franken said he's heard too many stories of avoidable foreclosures. "That's a disaster. That's a tragedy. Someone's home is their home. Each one of these foreclosures is a tragedy."

The amendment has nine cosponsors -- including Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe -- and the support of the Obama administration. "By getting servicers to work with borrowers to modify the repayment schedule, modifications help keep families in their homes," wrote White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer in a blog post showcasing the administration's 10 favorite amendments. "To improve the program's effectiveness, we support creating a homeowner advocate at the Treasury Department."

"I'm feeling very good about it partly because of the White House calling it one of the ten 'good guys' and partly because of Sen. Snowe and all the other cosponsors," Franken said.

Here's a summary of the bill from Franken's office:

When homeowners think that their mortgage servicer is breaking HAMP's rules, has lost their paperwork, or has otherwise done something wrong, it's very hard to figure out where to turn. They can call their servicer--but that often is a dead end. They can call the official hotline for homeowners at risk of foreclosure--but that only gets them to housing counselors who are working on a government contract and have no real authority to fix the problem or withhold servicer incentives. Homeowners who use their own lawyers or housing counselors to help them navigate HAMP often fare no better--lawyers report stories of contacting regulators about problems with the HAMP program, only to be told, "If the servicer says this is correct, it must be correct."


This amendment would address this problem, creating an Office of the Homeowner Advocate (OHA) modeled after the successful Office of the Taxpayer Advocate at IRS. OHA would be funded from money that is available for the costs of administering the HAMP program, but is not otherwise committed. OHA would:

* Have three primary functions:
o To assist homeowners, housing counselors, and housing lawyers in resolving problems with the HAMP program
o To identify areas (both individual and systemic) where homeowners, housing counselors, and housing lawyers are having problems in dealing with the HAMP program
o To identify possible administrative and legislative changes to HAMP

* Have an independent director, appointed by the Secretary of Treasury in consultation with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. This director would have a background as an advocate for homeowners and have experience dealing with mortgage servicers. The director cannot have worked for a servicer or for the Treasury Department within the past four years.

* The Director of OHA will be available to testify in front of the Senate Banking Committee and House Committee on Financial Services at least four times a year, or at any time at the request of the Chairs of either committee, and will issue a formal report to Congress once a year.

* Staff designated by the Director would have the authority, on a case-by-case basis, to withhold incentives from servicers or require repayment of previously paid incentives.

* While a person is appealing their case through OHA, homes may not go to foreclosure sale until the OHA process is finished or 60 days have passed, whichever is shorter.


I think this is an outstanding idea.
Shirley Animated

STOKING FIRE: Examining Adoption’s Pitfalls

Ryan Scott Bomberger thanks his lucky stars that Henry and Andrea Bomberger, a Christian couple from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, adopted him in 1971, when he was six weeks old. Then, after taking Ryan, who is biracial, into their home, the Caucasian couple adopted nine more kids—of all races and hues—and reared them alongside their three biological children. According to Ryan, he and his siblings had a near-idyllic upbringing. “Our parents exemplified compassion, wisdom, and unconditional love,” he wrote in an email. “They weren’t out to save the world, just love kids that needed to be loved.”

Sounds lovely.

By all accounts, Ryan did well in school and, accepting his parents’ faith, he spent his undergraduate years at Messiah College. He later attended Pat Robertson’s Regent University where he earned a Master’s in Communications.

Now, more than a decade after completing his studies, Bomberger is a man on an anti-abortion mission and he makes no bones about wanting to broadcast his message. As the creator of the “black genocide” billboards that went up in Atlanta earlier this year, his impassioned advocacy of adoption is deeply intertwined with anti-choice rhetoric.

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Source: RH Reality Check

This is an important discussion to have, I think. Pro-lifers, in my experience, act like adoption is a magical fix-all, but it really is more difficult on women than people realize. Also, since this comm reacted so strongly to those anti-choice "endangered species" billboards, I figured this was a good follow-up.
Chibis- ChibiMermaidRachel has no idea

Apparently Republicans skipped Kindergarten; given detention and made to stay after class.

Republicans left a message at King Middle School in Portland

By Randy Billings
May 11, 2010 11:50 am

PORTLAND — Students in King Middle School's "Four Freedoms" learning expedition are getting a first-hand education in free speech after last weekend's state Republican convention.

While the convention was held at the Portland Expo, GOP organizations from Maine's 16 counties were each given private meeting spaces in King classrooms.

One of those classrooms is run by Paul Clifford, an eighth-grade social studies teacher, who said he was surprised when he returned to the room on Monday to find that a poster celebrating the labor movement had been removed and replaced with a Republican sticker.

The poster had the following quote from union leader Eugine Debs: "Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation."

"In it's place was a large sticker that said 'Workers Vote Republican,'" Clifford said. "I thought it was cute until I realized the poster was gone. We can't find it and it hasn't been returned."

The amusement further diminished when Clifford found a note on his desk.

"(It) said 'A Republican was here," Clifford said. "And then it said, 'What gives you the right to propagandize impressionable kids. A Republician.'"

The note was an apparent reaction to several student-made collages in the classroom, Clifford said – personal expressions related to a specific expedition.

Clifford said the classroom was used by the Knox County Republicans, the group largely credited with convincing the state party to adopt a platform calling for abolition of the Federal Reserve and Department of Education, and closing the nation's borders.

Clifford said he was further surprised when some Knox County Republicans called the school to complain about the collages and copies of the U.S. Constitution in his classroom. The documents were donated by the American Civil Liberties Union, and contained a special section on Miranda Rights. They were stored in a closed box on the floor.

"We allowed someone to use our building. They came in and searched our stuff. Stole a poster. Left our building trashed. And then called us to complain about what they found when they searched our house," Clifford said.

Sue Ward, the assistant to the school superintendent, said it is not uncommon for political parties to use public schools for their conventions. Groups are typically charged for staff time associated with operating a school building on an off day, but Ward said the Republicans were not charged, since they only used the building for a few hours on Friday.

Clifford said other teachers also reported problems following the convention. Complaints about litter and stray fliers were reported throughout the school, he said.

Neither Principal Mike McCarthy nor Maine Republican Party Executive Director Christie-Lee McNally could not be reached for comment.

Clifford said he is using the incident as a teachable moment for students. Sometimes people believe in their own ideas so strongly, he said, that they forget that others have a right to their own point of view.

"This is not an opportunity to trash somebody," he said. "We know this is not something that would be condoned by the Republican Party. This type of stuff happens on both sides of the party line."

The Liberal Democrat surrender

Nick Clegg makes the Liberal Democrats' Leader...

Image via Wikipedia

Did anyone see TweedleCam and TweedleClegg on the doorstep of Downing Street? I'm glad I didn't have breakfast this morning. Otherwise, I think I'd have been sick by now. (Will their private secretaries, by the way, be able to tell them apart?)

Nick Clegg - the former aide to Tory Eurocrat Leon Brittan and former member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association - is now the Deputy Prime Minister of the UK. David Laws - the former investment banker and Orange Book supporter of an insurance-backed health service who was once suspected by Paddy Ashdown of being a Conservative mole and was once invited by George Osborne to join the Tory Shadow Cabinet - is the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Osborne's number two. Vince Cable - another former Orange Booker and one-time supporter of "light-touch regulation" who, as I noted in a critical NS profile of him in September 2009, first touted the possibility of a Tory-Lib Dem alliance back in 2005 - is the Business Secretary. It will be interesting to document Cable's verbal and intellectual contortions in the coming days, as he defends the impending Tory "austerity" measures - like Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling, he spent much of the election campaign condemning Cameron and Osborne's economic illiteracy and, in particular, their Hooverite enthusiasm for spending cuts this year (opposed, incidentally, by the IMF, the OECD and 67 leading economists in a letter to the Financial Times). So here comes the double-dip recession - courtesy of Cameron and Clegg, Osborne and Cable (oh, and those self-destructive Labour tribalists, on left and right, who preferred to luxuriate in opposition than contemplate a power-sharing deal with the Lib Dems).

The truth is that in countless seats seats across the land, thousands of people voted Lib Dem in order to keep Cameron out of Downing Street. They did not want, or expect, the Liberal Democrats to become Tory enablers in a hung parliament. In an interview with me on the eve of the election, the arch-tribalist Ed Balls called on Labour voters to back the Lib Dem candidate (and sitting MP) Norman Lamb in the Tory-Lib Dem seat of Norfolk North, in order to keep the Conservatives out. The result? The third-placed Labour vote fell 3 per cent and Lib Dem Lamb held onto his seat with an increased majority over the second-placed Conservatives. In my view, Lamb now owes those tactical Labour voters in his constituency an apology. So do all those Lib Dem MPs who were elected in three-way marginals.

Clegg has betrayed progressives across the length and breadth of Britain. He had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to repair the century-old rift on the centre-left and forge a radical and progressive alliance in favour of electoral and constitutional reform. I suspect Labour will now sit on its hands in any future referendum and the Lib Dems might be on their own campaiging for a "yes" vote. Their new partners in government have already stated their plans to oppose any change to our dysfunctional first-past-the-post system.

Clegg has also betrayed the longer-term strategic interests of his party, for crude and short-term tactical gains. Thanks to his bravura performance in the first TV debate, we had seemed to be on the verge of breaking our stale duopoly and introducing genuine three-party politics to the UK for the first time. But the next general election, whether it is sooner or later (and the bookies have 50:50 odds on another election within the year!), will see the Lib Dems horribly squeezed by the two main parties. It will be a straight Conservative-Labour battle once more. And what, after all, would be the point of voting Lib Dem? In fact, I'm sure the Labour pamphlets have already been printed: "Vote Clegg, Get Cameron". It has a ring to it. It also has the virtue of being true.

Clegg's decision to join hands with Cameron's Conservatives is, in the words of Alastair Campbell on Newsnight yesterday, "a strategic error of gigantic and historic proportions". Reports have already emerged of the Labour Party website crashing under the pressure of new membership applications. One Cabinet minister expects hundreds of defections from the Lib Dems to Labour in his own constituency. "I even know the names of one or two Lib Dem councillors thinking of jumping ship. They are distraught," he tells me.

Labour now remains the only truly progressive, centre-left, anti-Conservative mainstream party in this country. Bring on the next election. The Liberal Democrats will be punished. Clegg and co will regret their foolish betrayal.

Update: Oh, and the biggest policy betrayal by the Lib Dems was Clegg's decision to swap his effective amnesty for illegal immigrants for (what he once called) the Tories' "arbitary cap" on immigration. How can Lib Dems like Simon Hughes and Charles Kennedy vote for such an immoral and unworkable proposal?

Source: Mehdi Hasan @ New Statesman
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BP caves to pressure, releases first video of oil gushing into Gulf


Earlier today we reported on how BP was coming under heavy pressure from the media, Washington politicians and the general public to release underwater video footage of the oil spewing into the Gulf so that a better assessment of its potential damage could be made. ABC even asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs if the Obama Administration could pressure the company.  BP held firm.

But now, the beleaguered energy company has released a 30-second clip to YouTube, and publicized the move on Twitter.

Experts and media companies believe that footage like this could help them establish exactly how much oil has spilled out into the Gulf of Mexico.


franklin sherman

Kagan: Speech is free if government decides it has more value than 'societal costs'

Freedom of speech, religion and other First Amendment issues are likely to be among the most visible during the coming Senate confirmation hearings on President Obama's nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the U.S. Supreme Court.

As an illustration why, consider this quote dug up by the First Amendment Center's David L. Hudson, who found it in a government brief signed by Kagan in United States v Stevens: “Whether a given category of speech enjoys First Amendment protection depends upon a categorical balancing of the value of the speech against its societal costs.”

The case concerned a statute that made it criminally unlawful to depict animal cruelty. The Court rejected Kagan's reasoning, but had the justices accepted her assertion, it would have effectively repealed the First Amendment's protection of speech and replaced it by granting government the authority to decide what speech should be permitted.

You can read the entirety of Kagan's brief here, and additional analysis by Hudson of Kagan's record on First Amendment issues here.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:
The Thick of It; Malcolm Tucker

Labour leadership: David Miliband enters contest

David Miliband has said he will stand for the Labour leadership, arguing the party needs to "rebuild" itself as a reforming force in British politics.

The former foreign secretary is the first contender to declare their interest in succeeding Gordon Brown, who quit as leader and PM on Tuesday. Earlier Home Secretary Alan Johnson ruled himself out of the contest and gave his backing to Mr Miliband.

The party hopes to have a new leader in place by the end of July.

Deputy leader Harriet Harman has taken over as acting leader in the meantime.

Announcing his candidacy outside the House of Commons, Mr Miliband paid tribute to Gordon Brown as a "towering figure" and wished the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government well.

He said he was standing because he believed he could help Labour "rebuild" itself as a force for "social and economic change" in the country while in opposition.

"We have achieved a great deal in government but this is a new era with new dangers, opportunities and possibilities," he told journalists.

He described the Conservative-Lib Dem alliance as a "momentous moment in British politics".

"It puts an enormous responsibility on the Labour Party to be a great unifying force for all shades of centre and centre-left opinion in this country," he added.

Mr Miliband said he hoped the contest would attract a wide range of candidates.

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Whistleblower Claims That BP Was Aware Of Cheating On Blowout Preventer Tests

As the federal and congressional probes continue into the causes of the Gulf oil rig explosion, new information is coming to light about the failure of a key device, the blowout preventer, to shut off the gushing well, which could have prevented the growing catastrophe.

And new questions are being raised about the testing of the preventers. At today's hearing before a House subcommittee, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., revealed that the blowout preventer had a leak in a crucial hydraulic system and had failed a negative pressure test just hours before the April 20 explosion. And at a hearing in Louisiana on Tuesday, the government engineer who gave oil giant BP the final approval to drill admitted that he never asked for proof that the preventer worked.

In addition, an oil industry whistleblower told Huffington Post that BP had been aware for years that tests of blowout prevention devices were being falsified in Alaska. The devices are different from the ones involved in the Deepwater Horizon explosion but are also intended to prevent dangerous blowouts at drilling operations.

Mike Mason, who worked on oil rigs in Alaska for 18 years, says that he observed cheating on blowout preventer tests at least 100 times, including on many wells owned by BP.

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Source thinks Oil companies seem to operate a lot like the mob.

OK Senate sends abortion reporting bill to Gov.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Senate has approved a bill requiring women seeking an abortion to complete a lengthy questionnaire that includes questions about their race, relationships, and reasons for getting an abortion.

The Senate on Tuesday passed the bill 32-11. It now heads to Democratic Gov. Brad Henry, who already has vetoed two abortion bills this session. Both vetoes were overridden by the Republican-controlled legislature.

The Statistical Abortion Report Act requires the survey that asks, among other things, about a woman's race, education, and pregnancy history. It also requires doctors to report on the methods used and any complications that develop.

The Health Department would compile the information into a statistical report and post it on its website.

Me in Hawaii.

Governator jokes about getting deported from Arizona b/c of his accent

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has already expressed his opposition to Arizona's controversial new immigration law, and in a commencement address he gave Monday in Atlanta, he couldn't help but take a crack at the law.

"I was also going to give a graduation speech in Arizona this weekend. But with my accent, I was afraid they would try to deport me," the Republican governor joked in his speech at Emory University.

Arizona's new law, slated to go into effect in July, requires immigrants to carry documents verifying their immigration status. It also requires police officers to question a person about his or her immigration status after a "lawful stop" if there is "reasonable suspicion" that person may be illegally in the country.

The law has prompted protests nationwide, and a number of local lawmakers in California are moving to cut off their economic ties with Arizona.

On NBC's "Tonight Show" last month, Schwarzenegger called the law "a mess."

"I would never do that in California. No way," he said.

The entertainer-turned-politician's Austrian accent is often parodied, and Schwarzenegger has said in the past it is important for immigrants to learn English.


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Opinion Piece: Olympic Dreams, Immigration Hopes

Hello, fellow members of ontd_political! I bring you greetings from ontd_extreme, your go-to place for news on all things related to extreme and alternative sports such as surfing, speed skating and snowboarding!

On behalf of ontd_extreme, I’d like to introduce you to an incredibly righteous and relevant dude named Simon Cho. In the midst of all the rage-inducing news revolving around the immigration debate in the U.S., Simon has proven to be an awesome ray of sunshine for those who support improving the American immigration system to the benefit of everyone.

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Simon Cho was born in South Korea. His father moved to the United States to work and planned to bring his family into the country shortly afterward. However, the wait for green cards was seven years long at the time, and he missed his wife and children. So, when Simon was four years old, he, his little sister and mother crossed the border from Vancouver into the United States through a muddy field in the middle of the night. He, his mother and sister were undocumented immigrants until 2004. This past February, he was part of the short track U.S. Short Track relay team that took home bronze. You can read more about his incredible story here:

Since the Olympics, Simon has been incredibly active in raising awareness about the human aspect of the immigration debate. He’s spoken about his experience in front of members of Congress on behalf of NAKASEC (The National Korean American Service and Education Consortium), and behind the cut is an opinion piece he wrote for the Baltimore Sun that was posted online today. Not too bad for an eighteen-year old, eh?

Long story short: Simon Cho has become a bit of a hero and inspiration to us at ontd_extreme, and I’d like to share him with you.

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The Choverlord thanks you for your time.

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Tonya Craft found not guilty of child molestation, dedicated to fixing a broken system

NEW YORK (CBS) Tonya Craft, the Georgia kindergarten teacher found not guilty of molesting three preschool girls, says that she is a victim of personal grudges and a broken legal system. But now that her two-year ordeal is over, she says she will dedicate herself to seeing that what happened to her doesn't happen to anyone else. "It's not about my story, it's about the kids' stories and what they go through in this," Craft told reporters at a press conference Tuesday in Catoosa County, Ga. She said that now her focus will be "other people who are falsely accused. And I'll do anything I can to help protect them and to help protect the children of the falsely accused."

Craft emphasized that her three accusers were as much victims of the past two years as she was, just not in the way that some people thought. Craft and her lawyers say the children, including her own daughter, were manipulated into making the allegations against Craft by mothers with whom she had had a falling out, according to an interview with "The Today Show" on Wednesday.

Craft says that the trouble began when two little girls were caught touching each other. Craft said that their outraged mothers punished the girls and demanded to know how they learned about touching each other. Under questioning, during which Craft says the mothers suggested her name to the girls, the girls eventually told the story about being touched by Craft at several slumber parties at her house, located in the northwest corner of the state, between Aug. 2005 and May 2007, according to the morning program.


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I don't think there has been a post about this case at all here. My local news has basically lived and breathed the case for months. I had to include the interview with the juror because the praying bit flabbergasted me so much. Tbh, part of me feels like this case was tried in the media and not in court, but it may have just been the incessant local news stories about it.

Local News Coverage after the acquittal.
Today Show coverage of Craft taking the stand.
misc. | Black Superwoman

ONTD_Political's PotD: May 12, 2010.

Living Amid the Fires -- In Bokapahari, India, thousands of people live over an inferno of raging coal fires, earning roughly $2 a day selling coal they pilfered from a government mine. The government has spent millions to build them new apartments, but so far the residents are staying put. See related story
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Sanjit Das | Panos for The Wall Street Journal