May 16th, 2010

movies | HBIC

The 2010 WHNPA "Eyes of History" contest in Photography.

Since 1921, the White House News Photographers Association has helped facilitate press coverage of political events that traditionally had been restricted. It aims to ensure access and to bring local and international news to a wide audience. In 1941, the WHNPA started an annual contest to showcase the best work in photojournalism.

Here's a selection of still photography winners from its 2010 WHNPA "Eyes of History" contest.
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Sacked and fined £1,000 for a joke about an airport? You cannot be serious

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

We live in serious times. Humanity is facing terrifying threats to its future, as usual. Most of them are self-induced, as usual. Britain feels itself to be on a precipice, about to plunge into a new canyon of mediocrity and self-chastisement, as usual. There are serious fears about disruption to people's holiday plans over the half-term break, as usual.

What is unusual is that this seriousness is being compounded by an intensifying national determination to behave terribly seriously about it. No one's buying frivolity or flippancy stocks at the moment. Piss-taking is falling on all markets and everyone's pouring their rhetorical investments into beard-stroking bonds, head-shaking futures and survivor's gilts.

Paul Chambers knows this to his cost. During the January snows, his hopes of a blind date with a woman he'd chatted up on Twitter were jeopardised by the closure of his local airport. He tweeted from his mobile to his 600 followers: "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!" He was subsequently arrested, interrogated by detectives for seven hours and fired from his accountancy job. Last week he was found guilty of sending a menacing electronic message and fined £1,000.

In the heady days of the boom, perhaps I'd have been inclined to laugh at this unfortunate idiot, pictured in the paper looking dazed and unshaven, tie at half-mast, still clutching his treacherous iPhone. He's executed a perfect and extravagant online pratfall – he's like a cyber-Frank Spencer – but, in the spirit of this serious age, I just feel terribly sorry for him. I'm not amused, I'm annoyed.

That's an attitude I suspect I share with the off-duty airport manager who spotted the tweet and informed security. He or she might have thought: "That's not funny. I work at an airport – what's funny about blowing it up? I'm going to take this further." But maybe it was more like: "I appreciate the dark humour of this frustrated remark but am duty-bound, under current security protocols, to pass this on to my superiors who, this being a sane world, will presumably ignore it."

What I can't believe is that anyone thought the message was a genuine expression of violent intent. I don't know much about al-Qaeda's MO but I imagine giving a week's warning of an attack, in the guise of an irritable and amorous accountant, would amount to a significant change in tactics.

Certainly, the threat – and I suppose it is theoretically a threat, in the same way that an aspirin is a food and George Osborne a successor to Gladstone – was classified as "not credible" by the airport. I don't know if that means they thought it was funny. Maybe these people sit in front of Morecambe and Wise, sides splitting, tears streaming down their faces, yelling "Not credible!" as Eric picks up André Previn by the lapels.

However, despite Chambers's manifest lack of credibility, the security people were apparently obliged to inform South Yorkshire police, who arrested him a week later. They were obviously convinced he was a man of his word in terms of the week-and-a-bit timescale. With many plausible terrorist threats, they might have rushed straight round there. Or maybe they're not morons and knew perfectly well that he had no intention of blowing up an airport but had decided to make an example of him.

It's vindictive and it's humourless. Could they not just have had a quiet word? Was bringing him to trial really in the public interest? Is a large fine, unemployment and a criminal record proportionate punishment for an irritated quip, albeit one made within the earshot of others? He didn't actually send the message to the airport, written in letters cut out from a newspaper, wrapped round a raw liver and a holy text (Christian, Muslim or SMS).

Or did some people resent his levity? While not deemed a threat, was his tweet considered "inappropriate" by those who had the means to elevate inappropriateness to a criminal offence? "In a world where people do try to blow up airports, such a remark can never be funny," they think. They've got it backwards: it's funny because such terrorists exist. If they didn't, it would just be wacky, like saying: "They've got a week and a bit or I'll cover the runway with jelly!" (not Napalm).

This aversion to levity certainly infused the election campaign. But there was a funny bit and most of us missed it. When Gordon Brown got in his car and called that woman a bigot, it was hilarious. It was a properly comical human moment, made funnier by the uncomfortable truths it hit upon, in terms of both the former PM's flawed personality and the jealous xenophobia that lurks behind many discussions of immigration.

But we forgot to laugh, because some of us have come to prefer the sensation of judging: judging Brown for the gaffe, judging the media for its reporting of it, poring po-facedly over the subsequent pantomime of apology. It was the equivalent of his accidentally showing his arse and yet all we could do was carp: "Has he been concealing from the public quite how fat his arse really is?" or: "Why, at this moment of crisis, are our media focusing on arses rather than policies?" No one said: "Ha ha! I can see his arse!"

Instead of finding genuine humour, we're expected to stomach the ersatz jokes that the leaders prepared for the debates, like Brown's "They remind me of my two young boys squabbling at bath time!" line – official moments of respectful jocularity, the humorous equivalents of a maiden aunt's one cream sherry every Christmas. And this in a country that used to like getting pissed.

We already live in a world where, when asked whether we've packed our own bags, we know that saying: "Yes, I put all the bombs in myself!" will not be taken in good humour; where a conversation with a US immigration official must be treated with all the piety of an audience with the pope. We have accepted that facetiousness, like smoking, while not officially illegal, is absolutely not for public places.

Well, I don't remember agreeing to it and I'm sick of it. It's boring, I don't believe it saves a single life and it could do incalculable damage to freedom of speech. I'm serious.

Source: David Mitchell @ The Observer
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Christian Bale

Weatherman: The Military is Spraying Our Skies

The video below features a weatherman talking about the military using aircraft to spray "chaff". The video has been getting cheers from those of us who look up and notice the spraying of our skies, but it is less likely a rogue weatherman uncovering the big chemtrail mystery and is more likely a script to pacify the masses.

At approx. 1 min into the video, the weather man points out "a bit of an unusual situation" and he describes "bands of very distinct cloud cover" in the region. He reveals those bands are not rain or snow on the radar, but offers a simple explanation; its military aircraft (Oh!) "dropping chaff - small bits of aluminum, sometimes its made of plastic or even metalized paper products." He goes on to stay that its used for "anti-radar" and that the military is "up there practicing" and although they would not confirm that- HE knows because he was in the Marine Corps for many years, and "that's what it is".

All in All it is good that the media is being forced to respond to the many of us pointing people towards the skies, however, the script will pacify some...setting their minds at ease, they are not spraying the skies to poison you...its to protect you.... sit back, relax, Letterman is on next.



Detained French student Clotilde Reiss released from Iran

A French student who was held for ten months in Tehran on spying charges flew home to a heroine’s welcome from President Sarkozy today, as Paris denied that it had struck any deal for her release.

Clotilde Reiss, 25, was allowed to leave Tehran after she was convicted and given a £210,000 fine for taking part in a supposed Western plot to undermine the Iranian State. She was arrested last July after attending anti-government demonstrations at Isfahan, where she had spent the year as an assistant university teacher.

After six weeks in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, Ms Reiss, a scholar of Iranian history and language, was tried and confined to the French Embassy pending a verdict. Her case was complicated by Mr Sarkozy’s hard line towards Iran over its development of nuclear technology.

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Honestly, I'm just posting because it showed up on my Brazil alert and I thought I remembered seeing the case here the story has been here already. Wish her the best.
DDL pissed

How dare they

Noam Chomsky denied entry into Israel

Left-wing American linguist, who was scheduled to speak at Bir Zeit University, given no reason by Israeli inspectors at Allenby Bridge.

by Amira Hass

Left-wing American linguist Professor Noam Chomsky was denied entry into Israel on Sunday, for reasons that were not immediately clear.

Chomsky, who was scheduled to deliver a lecture at Bir Zeit University near Jerusalem, told the Right to Enter activist group by telephone that inspectors had stamped the words "denied entry" onto his passport when he tried to cross from Jordan over Allenby Bridge.

When he asked an Israeli inspector why he had not received permission, he was told that an explanation would be sent in writing to the American embassy. Chomsky arrived at the Allenby Bridge at around 1:30 in the afternoon and was taken for questioning, before being released back to Amman at 4:30 P.M.
Chomsky is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is considered among the foremost academics in the world. He identifies with the radical left and is often critical of both Israeli and American policies.


Not really into the way Ha'aretz presents Chomsky as a radical commie

Some light, happy news

California woman earns college diploma at age 94

By TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press Writer

Saturday, May 15, 2010

(05-15) 19:13 PDT Oakland, Calif. (AP) --

It's never too late to earn your college degree. Just ask 94-year-old Hazel Soares.

The San Leandro woman was one of about 500 students to pick up diplomas Saturday during a commencement ceremony at Mills College, an Oakland liberal arts college for women that also offers coed graduate programs.

"It's taken me quite a long time because I've had a busy life," said Soares. "I'm finally achieving it, and it makes me feel really good."

Soares, who has six children and 40 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, is believed to be the world's second oldest person to graduate from college.

Nola Ochs (OAKS) of Kansas became the oldest when she graduated from Fort Hays State University three years ago at age 95, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Ochs, now 98, topped that academic feat Saturday, when she received her master's degree in liberal studies from Fort Hays.

The nonagenarians are earning their degrees as the Obama administration pushes to once again make the United States the world leader in college attainment by 2020.

Born in Richmond, Calif. in 1915, Soares said she had wanted to attend college right after she graduated from Roosevelt High School in Oakland in 1932, but that was during the Great Depression.

"Unless you had some help, it would have been impossible to go to college," Soares said. "However I never lost the desire to go."

Soares married twice, raised six children and worked as a nurse and event organizer before she retired and decided to return to pursue her dream of obtaining a college education.

She spent six years taking courses at Chabot College in Hayward before earning her associate's degree when she was 85. Then she enrolled at Mills College in 2007.

"We are really amazed and very proud of my mom," said Regina Hungerford, Soares' youngest child. "The biggest thing that we can all learn is that we're never too old."

At Saturday's commencement, she was congratulated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who delivered the keynote speech. She was cheered by her classmates and more than 40 family members.

"She's really an incredible inspiration," said Sandeep Brar, who also graduated Saturday.

Soares doesn't plan to relax now that she finally has her degree. The art history major hopes to work as a docent at a San Francisco Bay area museum.

Soares said she doesn't know the source of her longevity — no one in her family has lived as long as she has — but she believes it has something to do with eating lots of fresh vegetables.

She still drives, and she visits her doctor only once every three years to make sure she's OK. She said she doesn't take any prescription medications.

She hopes others realize that it's never too late to get a college education.

"There's no reason why you could not go back," Soares said. "Some people do give up the idea or postpone the idea. It's too late. It's too much work. They may not realize that once you try it it's exciting to go to school."


Edited to add photo
misc - cake - strawberry cake

Msgr. Ouellet reminds us again that the Quiet Revolution didn't go far enough.

L'avortement injustifié même en cas de viol, selon le cardinal Ouellet
16 may, 2010

Guest of honour of Campagne Québec-Vie on the occasion of International Family day, Cardinal Marc Ouellet upheld yesterday that nothing, not even rape, justifies abortion, which should be "morally" considered a crime, he stated.

Why push a woman victim of a crime to commit one herself, the Cardinal asked the auditorium of about 200 people, gathered at the hotel Château Laurier for the convention of Campagne Québec-Vie, which had for its theme Une lutte pour l'âme du Québec: deux visions du mariage et de la famille. (A battle for the soul of Québec: two visions of marriage and the family.)

"I understand very well that a woman who has been raped is living a crisis and she must be helped. But she must be [helped] by the creature she has [in herself.] She is not responsable for what has happened. It is the aggressor that is responsable. But there is already a victim. Must there be another?" added Marc Ouellet during a press conference after his presentation.

Does this mean we must place abortion and murder on the same level? "Taking the life of someone else, it is always a crime, morally," said the Cardinal, "and it is a human being that is in the mother's body."

Asked many times to express if he was in favour of criminalizing abortion, the Cardinal is of the opinion that "we must reopen this question [debate] very seriously." Canada is one of the "rare areas of the world" where the "child within the womb" has no protection, continued Ouellet.

"It is not universal, legalised abortion." The Cardinal added that he does not want to throw the stone at women who have abortions, because many of them are "under pressures." He continued by insisting that it is necessary to separate from what he calls "a culture of death" where abortion and euthanasia occupy too much space in our spirits.

[Le primat] of the Catholic church has congratulated once again the Harper government for its decision not to finance health programmes for women in the third world, for which funds might be used to favourise abortion.


Journalist Michel Lizotte, author of L'homosexualité: les mythes et les faits (Homosexuality: the myths and the facts,) denounced the predominance of "atheists without faith nor law" who, contrary to the "friends of Jesus," do not tend to respect divine law. He says that he regrets the fact that these days, it is more and more risky to leave our children to go out alone to the parc where there could be pedophiles. "With friends of Jesus, we would not have this problem," he stated, adding that it is important to "create Chrisitan places and according institutions."

Source, translated by yours truly.
This motherfucker, that is all I can say. This motherfucker. And OH MAN, the last paragraph? Shit, it's like he's conveniently forgetting the wonderful "friends of Jesus" that MOLESTED CHILDREN. But that's how it is, it seems. At all costs, protect the fetus, but once you turn 7, protect the priest.
creepy but cute

FIFA: Iran's football girls back in Youth Olympics

Update on earlier post:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The Iranian girls football team can compete at the Youth Olympics as long as its players swap their traditional head scarves for a cap that covers their hair, FIFA said Monday.

The compromise comes after FIFA initially barred the team from participating last month over its insistence on wearing head scarves. FIFA barred hijab scarves — which protect the modesty of Islamic girls and women — in 2007 for safety reasons and to prevent political or religious statements on the field.

"This decision was taken after both the Iran Football Federation as well as the Iran National Olympic Committee confirmed in writing that they will accept a solution whereby the players will not wear their Islamic Hijab during the matches of the competition," FIFA said in a statement. "Instead, the players can wear a cap that covers their heads to the hairline, but does not extend below the ears to cover the neck."

Farideh Shojaei, deputy head of Iran's football federation, said the under-15 players were thrilled with the ruling.

"We are very happy. We are hopeful to have a good presence in the coming competitions ," Shojaei said. "The decision has increased the inspiration of our team. They are determined to practice more and more."

The state-run Tehran Times reported that Iranian authorities had consented to allowing the players to wear hats and the team would play at the Youth Olympics. "We sent FIFA a sample of our new Islamic dress and fortunately they accepted it," said Abbas Torabian, director of the International Relations Committee of Iran Football Federation said. "They announced that there was no objection if the players covered their hair with hats."

Iran will compete in a six-nation tournament for girls at the games being held Aug. 12-25 in Singapore. Around 3,600 athletes aged 14-18 will compete in 26 sports at the inaugural Youth Summer Games.


I am half amused, half WTF at these stories. It's still ridiculous. Does covering the neck pose a health hazard? or is it a political statement? How's a cap not a political statement then? Can they wear a skin colored neck liner? Would that be a political statement? How about a wig? is that a religious statement?

These are what they call bullshit sports laws, there is no rational reason behind other than tradition (which stems from the traditions of certain countries and is exclusive of others) AND 'because we say so'.
Combreaker Mask

Obama's First Military Commission Trial: A Child Soldier‎

Latest updates on US military tribunal for child soldier...

Media outlets fight for access to Khadr hearings

MIAMI — Two Canadian and one U.S. media outlet have made good on plans to fight a Pentagon decision to ban their reporters from hearings involving Omar Khadr. The Miami Herald is reporting on its website that the Toronto Star, Canwest and the Herald have appealed the decision to the Pentagon.

They contend it was illegal and unconstitutional. Earlier this month reporters from those three media outlets and the Globe and Mail were told they could no longer attend pre-trial hearings at Guantanamo Bay involving Khadr. They were told they breached a ban identifying a witness, even though the man's identity was widely known.

Khadr is accused of throwing a grenade in Afghanistan in 2002 that killed a U.S. soldier. The Pentagon order bans the four reporters who broke the ban from covering the hearings, but it says the media outlets could continue to cover the hearings using other reporters.


A Robert Fisk column, fierce and quirky as ever...

Robert Fisk: Silenced for speaking the truth about Guantanamo

I began my column last week with the words "We know all about Guantanamo". I was wrong. Courtesy of the Toronto press – until a few days ago, when half of them were censored out of the drumhead courts martial that pass for "justice" in this execrable place – I have been learning a lot more.

Omar Khadr was 15 when he allegedly – the word "'allegedly" is going to have to be used for ever, since this is not a fair trial – shot and killed a US Special Forces soldier in eastern Afghanistan in July 2002. Last week, a former US serviceman called Damien Corsetti, nicknamed "The Monster" at the Bagram jailhouse where torture and murder were widespread, agreed via a video link to the Guantanamo "court" that Khadr was trussed up in a cage "in one of the worst places on earth". "We could do basically anything to scare the prisoners," Corsetti announced.

Beating was forbidden, "The Monster" acknowledged, but prisoners could be threatened with "nightmarish scenarios" like rendition to Egypt or Israel where, according to Canada's Globe and Mail, "they would disappear". Which tells you a lot about Israel. Or what the Americans think of Israel. Quite a lot about Egypt, too, come to think of it.

I should add that Mr Khadr, who is now 23, was gravely wounded when he was brought to Bagram. As Mr Corsetti said, "He was a 15-year old kid with three holes in his body, a bunch of shrapnel in his face." The lads at Bagram – the guards and interrogators, that is – dubbed him "Buckshot Bob". Clever, huh?

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GOP's Utah and Maine conventions show a party coming unglued


Future historians tracing the crackup of the Republican Party may well look to May 8, 2010, as an inflection point.

That was the day, as is now well known, that Sen. Robert Bennett, who took the conservative position 84 percent of the time over his career, was deemed not conservative enough by fellow Utah Republicans and booted out of the primary.

Less well known, but equally ominous, is what happened that same day, 2,500 miles east in Maine. There, the state Republican Party chucked its platform -- a sensible New England mix of free-market economics and conservation -- and adopted a manifesto of insanity: abolishing the Federal Reserve, calling global warming a "myth," sealing the border, and, as a final plank, fighting "efforts to create a one world government."

One world government? Do our friends Down East fear an invasion from the Canadian maritime provinces? A Viking flotilla coming from Iceland under cover of volcanic ash?

I was pondering this mystery while on the elliptical machine this week and watching Glenn Beck (I find he increases my heart rate), when I heard him inform his viewers that "they" -- President Obama and friends -- "are creating a global governance structure."

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Rejecting the UN Treaty on Rights of the Child? Eliminating the Department of Education? IS THIS REAL LIFE?
movies | HBIC

ONTD_Political's PotD: May 16, 2010.

For Russians, an Old Victory Lives On

At first glance, some of the Russian veterans of World War II appear too small and frail to bear the weight of all those medals arrayed over their chests. But a closer look at their faces reveals the fortitude and fire — long banked — that must have sustained them in the battle for their homeland; a battle that ended in victory 65 years ago. Collapse )

James Hill | The New York Times
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+ Bonus Gallery:

Go directly to the source link to view.
The simple audio/visual presentation will make your heart swell. Seriously.