May 26th, 2010

Teh Bowie.

Why charges against Bryant were dropped

Charges against former attorney general dropped in court on Tuesday

Published On Tue May 25 2010

Peter Small and Betsy Powell
Court Reporters

After charges against him were dropped on Tuesday, former attorney general Michael Bryant admitted he has been humbled by the experience of being a lowly defendant after his highly publicized altercation on Bloor St. with a bicycle courier who died last summer.

“As for the justice system, I now have a unique perspective from its highest pedestal as attorney general to its pillory, a defendant cuffed in the back of a squad car accused of two very serious offences involving the tragic death of a man,” Bryant told reporters Tuesday.

“The whole experience has been incredibly humbling and rightly so.”

He stressed that the police and prosecutors working on the case did their job as independently and meticulously as possible to avoid the appearance and the fact of impropriety.


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Source @ Toronto Star

I'd love to hear opinions on this. Bryant's reaction seems kind of... extreme, but I can't say that I wouldn't panic and do the same, given some of the reports of the courier's past altercations with other drivers. This whole saga has been a little weird.


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Controversial "Gringo Mask" Pulled Off Website.

WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- It's called the "Gringo Mask" and its creator says its blonde hair and light skin, "Communicates that looking this way will keep you above suspicion of being an illegal immigrant in Arizona."

The paper masks were free to download on

The creators at Miami-based Zubi Advertising say they created the male and female masks as "a comical tool to convey a message and raise awareness about an issue that is important to all Americans."

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Source is crafty
[smith] ever afters
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Ireland Cracks Down on Net Piracy

The Irish Republic has begun a piracy crackdown which could see customers cut off from the net for a year. The country's biggest net firm Eircom has begun sending letters to those identified as illegal file-sharers. It is the first nation to implement such a system. France is also planning to introduce a similar policy.

UK watchdog Ofcom is due to publish its code of conduct for how UK ISPs should deal with net pirates later this week.

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franklin sherman

Alan Grayson is actually superman - introduces The War Makes You Poor Act.

Rep. Alan Grayson Introduces the "War Is Making You Poor" Act
The bill would cut the DoD's budget and use that money to make the first $35,000 each American earns tax-free.

Last week, as Congress prepared to pass yet another “emergency” spending bill to cover America’s costly operations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- to the tune of $159 billion this time around -- Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, introduced a bill that would force the Pentagon to pick up the tab out of its ample regular budget.

The War Is Making You Poor Act is elegant in its simplicity. Instead of financing these longstanding conflicts outside of the regular budgeting process, where they’re not factored into deficit projections, Grayson’s bill would make the DoD work within its means, and the money would instead be used for an across-the-board tax cut that would make the first $35,000 each American earns tax-free. (You can go here to tell Congress that you support the War Is Making You Poor Act.)

“The purpose of this bill,” wrote Grayson last week, “is to connect the dots, and to show people in a real and concrete way the cost of these endless wars.” It’s not just the costs of active shooting wars; with hundreds of bases overseas, as far as the defense budget is concerned Americans have been on a permanent wartime footing, to varying degrees, since Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. “War is a permanent feature of our societal landscape,” wrote Grayson, “so much so that no one notices it anymore.”

The bill already has several co-sponsors, including at least two Republicans (albeit maverick GOPers Ron Paul of Texas and Walter Jones of North Carolina). But since the Pentagon would have to take money out of its regular budget -- largely from the budget for newfangled hardware -- the DoD and influential defense contractors will no doubt fight it tooth-and-nail.

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Teachers Paid by Taxpayers for Union Work

Pennsylvania Bucks County teachers are allowed up to 35 days a year off from actual teaching to instead work for their union, according to the contract negotiated between the Pennsbury school district and the Pennsbury Education Association, the local teachers union.


These types of contracts are commonplace across the state, said Simon Campbell, president of StopTeacherStrikes, Inc., and board director of the Pennsbury school district. “I’ve read a lot of union contracts. From the contracts I’ve reviewed this is very commonplace, unfortunately. There seems to be a mindset among those who like the status quo that it is acceptable to pay teachers for time when they are working for the union when they should be teaching our students.”

In the Download file Pennsbury contract it states “A total of thirty-five (35) teacher days upon request with advance notice will be granted for Association business,” which Mr. Campbell says is separate from vacation days or other paid-time off. The contract was originally for 2005-2009 but was renewed through June 2010.

“When it comes to the 35 days off, the request must be accompanied with a note of the reason for the leave.  From the list of reasons I have seen at Pennsbury, local teacher union officials deserting the students in their classrooms to attend the state union’s (PSEA) semi-annual “Hall of Delegates” is a popular reason.”

When a teacher take this time off, the school pays for a substitute in addition to paying the teacher’s normal salary, even while they are not in the classroom.

Paying for work not related to educating students is not limited just to staff teachers but also extends to the president of the local union, said Mr. Campbell.  In a board meeting recorded on February 18 Andy Raffle, chair of Better Pennsbury and a local taxpayer, asked whether the George Miller, president of the union was allowed to take one of the school’s four teaching periods for union business, with no impact on his salary of more than $90,000. The board confirmed that Mr. Miller was allowed to teach for 75 percent of that time and work for the union the other 25 percent, paid for by taxpayers. (Recording of board meeting)

“It is an egregious misuse of public money,” said Mr. Campbell, but “too many school boards and administrators take the view that it’s just been going on so long that they don’t really care.”

The Pennsylvania State Education Association (PStEA) teachers union did not return calls for comment, but the Pennsylvania Department of Education said practices like this were handled by individual school districts.

“That would all be decided locally because the state has no role in that. That would all be stipulated in the local bargaining agreements,” said Michael Reyes, spokesperson for the department.

Mr. Campbell confirmed no there are no laws in Pennsylvania currently prohibiting these stipulations, but a bill in Utah addressing the same issue just passed the local Senate and there may soon be such legislation before Pennsylvania’s General Assembly.


Sufjan Smile

Secret order prepares new US wars in Middle East and Central Asia

A front-page article in Tuesday’s New York Times reveals the existence of a secret directive signed by Gen. David Petraeus, chief of the US Central Command, ordering the expansion of covert military operations throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa. The seven-page document, entitled “Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order,” essentially provides the US military with a blank check to carry out aggressive acts against virtually any country.

Issued in September 2009, the order calls for the creation of a network of covert task forces and intelligence-gathering units which will “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” any target within any country designated by the US military. These forces will carry out clandestine operations which “cannot or will not be accomplished” through other military means.

Once inside the targeted country, US forces will also “prepare the environment” for full-scale military assaults. In addition to military personnel, the Times reports, Petraeus’s order enlists “foreign businesspeople, academics or others” in “persistent situational awareness” efforts—in other words, in spying.
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Source: WSWS

Not really surprising, considering that every single Administration since WWII has engaged in clandestine warfare to promote US hegemony, resulting often in the deaths of civilians (Even you, Carter! I SEE YOU, YOU CAN'T HIDE IN IRRELEVANCE). Just a good thing to get out there.

brb loling forever

Libertarians may run Ky. Senate candidate

Party leader says Rand Paul is suffering from 'identity crisis'

Associated Press Writer

FRANKFORT, Ky. - The Libertarian Party is considering running a candidate in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, saying GOP nominee Rand Paul — the son of a former Libertarian presidential candidate — has betrayed the party's values.

Party Vice Chairman Joshua Koch said Wednesday that Paul has been a black eye for Libertarians because of stands he's taken on issues, including his criticism of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Koch said Paul is not a Libertarian. He called Paul and his Democratic opponent, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, "faces of the same bad coin."

Rand Paul's father was the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1988. He is currently a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

Koch had strong criticism for Paul, who won the Republican Senate nomination last week by trouncing the GOP establishment candidate, Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

"He had gone from being an outsider candidate to a tea party candidate to an establishment candidate in the past nine months," Koch said. "It's a complete identity crisis. I've never seen anything like it."

The Libertarian Party doesn't have a strong presence in Kentucky. But the race is being closely watched and Democrats seek to reclaim a seat that is being vacated by retiring Sen. Jim Bunning, a 78-year-old former major league pitcher who opted not to seek a third term.

University of Louisville political scientist Laurie Rhodebeck said if the Senate race were to be close, a Libertarian candidate could potentially take enough votes from Paul to affect the outcome.

"A lot of the Libertarian candidates are people with little or no political experience," she said. "They don't speak well in public. They're underfunded. But it would make a point."

Koch did not say who the Libertarian Party might put up to run in the race. Neither the Paul nor the Conway campaigns would comment immediately on the matter.

Delicious, delicious sauce.

Party in South America

Argentina celebrates 200 years since revolution

BUENOS AIRES — Two million people and eight heads of state from across South America took to the streets of the Argentine capital late into the night Tuesday in celebration of 200 years since its revolution.

The leaders -- including Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Ecuador's Rafael Correa -- accompanied their counterpart Cristina Kirchner at the parade in central Buenos Aires to mark the May 25, 1810 revolution, which six years later brought independence from Spain.

Gathered outside the Cabildo building, the former seat of Argentine government, the leaders celebrated the bicentennial along with revellers at the Plaza de Mayo following a show involving some 2,000 dancers and singers.

Earlier in the day lavish parades were held throughout Buenos Aires.

The capital's famous Teatro Colon concert hall was also opened after a four-year refurbishment project for a special ceremony, which included ballet and extracts from famous operas beamed via projectors onto walls outside.

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Sorry about the "poor" source, couldn't find anything else. CONGRATULATIONS, my dear neighbors!!! You deserve better than this post, I know. And Colón is back, YAY!
Aubrey Beardsley

Steve Pearlstein to Industy: quit your whining.

Time for industry to end its war on regulation
By Steven Pearlstein
Wednesday, May 26, 2010; A13

The biggest oil spill ever. The biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression. The deadliest mine disaster in 25 years. One recall after another of toys from China, of vehicles from Toyota, of hamburgers from roach-infested processing plants. The whole Vioxx fiasco. And let's not forget the biggest climate threat since the Ice Age.

Even if you're not into conspiracy theories, it's hard to ignore the common thread running through these recent crises: the glaring failure of government regulators to protect the public. Regulators who were cowed by industry or intimidated by politicians. Regulators who were compromised by favors or prospects of industry employment. Regulators who were better at calculating the costs of oversight than the benefits. And regulators who were blinded by their ideological bias against government interference and their faith that industries could police themselves.

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Bloody Sunday: Saville report to be published at last

The Bloody Sunday memorial in Rossville Street...

Image via Wikipedia

After a 12-year wait the British government today confirmed that the Saville report into the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings will be published on 15 June.

Thirteen people died when paratroopers opened fire during a civil rights march in Derry on 30 January 1972.

Some relatives have been critical of delays in releasing the findings of the inquiry.

Final preparations are being made to let the families of victims read the report before it is made public.

On the morning of publication the Guildhall in Derry will be given over to the relatives and their legal teams to study the report before it is handed over in Westminster.

The inquiry by Lord Saville opened at the Guildhall in 1998 and heard evidence from more than 900 people.

The inquiry finished hearing evidence in 2004, with the report initially due for publication the following year.

The Northern Ireland secretary, Owen Paterson, named the release date in parliament today.

"I know that publication of this report has been long awaited by many people, and I am determined to ensure that the arrangements for publication are fair to all those involved … the prime minister will make a statement to this house at the time when the report is published.

"I will allow an opportunity for members of the families of those who died or were injured on the day, and for the soldiers most directly involved, to see the report privately and be briefed by their lawyers on it, some hours before the report is published.

"Some members of this house will similarly have an opportunity to see the report in advance of publication, to enable them to respond to the statement made to this house at the time of publication. In addition there will be a full day's debate on the report of the inquiry in the autumn."

Northern Ireland deputy first minister Martin McGuinness,who was an IRA commander in Derry at the time of Bloody Sunday, was among the 2,000 or more witness testimonies taken by the tribunal. The Sinn Fein Mid Ulster MP welcomed the announcement. "The families of those murdered on Bloody Sunday have fought a long and difficult campaign for the truth about the events in Derry 38 years ago," he said. "I welcome the fact that the British Government have now announced that the Saville Report will be given to the families and published on June 15.

"The lies of Widgery [tribunal] need to be exposed and buried and the truth of what happened when the British Parachute Regiment came to Derry and murdered 14 people on our streets needs to be told."

The Saville Report will be the longest in British legal history and is likely to cost almost £200m, making it the costliest tribunal as well.

Source: The Guardian
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The idiocy of Labour’s immigration populism

Current logo of the Labour Party

Image via Wikipedia

The idea that the masses need to be placated by punishing outsiders shows how out of touch Labour has become.

One deeply worrisome aspect of the Labour leadership battle, for those hoping it will revitalise left-wing politics, is the frequency with which the candidates mention immigration. Ed Balls suggests the party suffered electorally because people didn't know about its tough points system for migrants ; David Miliband says "we were seen to be late to the game" on immigration ; while Andy Burnham sounds like a BNP leaflet: "People aren't racist, but they say it has increased tension, stopped them getting access to housing and lowered their wages."

It's true that many people have legitimate grievances about their lives -- over access to housing, to healthcare, to good schools, to secure jobs -- for which immigration (if politically manipulated) can become a touchstone. It's also true that all those insecurities have been compounded by New Labour and its obeisance to the market, which failed to provide public housing, polarized access to hospitals and schools under the rubric of 'choice', and made call centres and job agencies the first port of call for working class people trying to actually work.

In large part as a result of the marketisation of society, as well as the bailout of the financial elite, what we have now is a rapidly shrinking pool of public resources and an increasingly desperate struggle among poor people for access to them. The cheap labour of some of those people, immigrants, was a key element of New Labour's 'economic miracle', yet the state never acknowledged the role they played -- so when times went bad, nobody remembered what they had done to make them good. Instead, Miliband, Balls, Burnham etc seem intent on scapegoating immigrants to distract us from the real causes of hardship.

Not only is this morally contemptible; it's also a lie. The lie of such 'populism' is that it's not what ordinary people want. The one clear vote in the election (52% of voters) was against Tory austerity and punishment of the poor. The idea that the cretinous masses need to be placated by punishing outsiders shows how out of touch as well as morally tarnished New Labour has become.

People in the real world are far more savvy. My play 'A Day at the Racists', about a disillusioned white worker drawn to the BNP, constantly generates a stream of comments from black, white, brown, working and middle class audiences about how they won't fall for divide and rule and immigrant-bashing, how they know who the real villains are (unfortunately for the politicians, the answer seems to be... the politicians). For young people especially, who in urban areas now live in a cultural and social melange of mixed heritages, races and accents, the clumsy polarities the Labour candidates are appealing to are something of the past -- exactly the wrong direction for a party that is crying out for new ideas.

There is now, I believe, a majority of people in Britain wanting a more tolerant, sophisticated and progressive politics than any party is willing to offer them. A Labour Party with an ounce of political nous would grab hold of those people, simply out of political expediency if nothing else. For Labour instead to shove them back into a divisive, deceptive, anti-immigrant populism is tragic for the welfare of migrants and ordinary people alike -- and remarkably stupid politics.

Source: New Statesman
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'Airbender' & 'Prince' were 'whitewashed'

'Airbender' & 'Prince' were 'whitewashed'
NEW YORK - The hopes of many are resting on the shoulders of 12-year-old Aang.

Ever since he first came out of a block of ice in the Nickelodeon cartoon series "Avatar: The Last Airbender," the other tribes in his fictional, Asian-inspired world saw Aang and his power over the elements as their last chance for peace after a century of conflict.

Now Paramount Pictures and director M. Night Shyamalan also have high hopes for Aang: that he will attract audiences to see their big-screen — and big budget — version of "The Last Airbender," opening July 2.

Yet fans of the original TV series say whatever hopes they had for the live-action movie have been dashed by what is known as "whitewashing" — the selection of white actors to fill the main hero roles instead of the people of color they say the source material requires.

"To take this incredibly loved children's series, and really distort not only the ethnicity of the individual characters but the message of acceptance and cultural diversity that the original series advocated, is a huge blow," said Michael Le of , a fan site calling for a boycott of the martial-arts fantasy.

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Virginia Public Schools: Reading, Riting, and Rifles

Gov. Bob McDonnell Brings The NRA Into Virginia Elementary School Classrooms

The right-wing Virginia government led by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has steadily been pushing the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) agenda, recently passing a law allowing “concealed carry permit holders to bring loaded guns” into bars. Now, McDonnell is bringing the NRA into elementary school classrooms to tell children to be careful around this proliferation of guns.

Earlier this year, the Virginia legislature passed a bill allowing public schools to “offer gun-safety education to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.” Included in the legislation was a provision directing these gun safety programs to use materials from the National Crime Prevention Center as well as the NRA:

The curriculum guidelines shall incorporate, among other principles of firearm safety, accident prevention and the rules upon which the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program offered by the National Rifle Association or the program of the National Crime Prevention Center is based.

There is no National Crime Prevention Center. However, there is a National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) — the group behind McGruff the Crime Dog. But when McDonnell signed the legislation, he didn’t insert the NCPC’s name. Instead he offered this change:

Strike or the program of the National Crime Prevention Center.

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So, if sex education will make kids will run right out and have sex, won't gun education made kids run out and start shooting people?
Murasaki Shikibu

Is US a melting pot? Interracial marriage slows

Is US a melting pot? Interracial marriage slows

Melting pot or racial divide? The growth of interracial marriages is slowing among U.S.-born Hispanics and Asians. Still, blacks are substantially more likely than before to marry whites.

The number of interracial marriages in the U.S. has risen 20 percent since 2000 to about 4.5 million, according to the latest census figures. While still growing, that number is a marked drop-off from the 65 percent increase between 1990 and 2000.

About 8 percent of U.S. marriages are mixed-race, up from 7 percent in 2000.

The latest trend belies notions of the U.S. as a post-racial, assimilated society. Demographers cite a steady flow of recent immigration that has given Hispanics and Asians more ethnically similar partners to choose from while creating some social distance from whites due to cultural and language differences.

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It's kind of interesting to see how the levels increase of interracial marriages are slowing. I'm not really surprised, given the way the US has seemed to be backsliding lately on race issues. And speaking of "interracial," why does it always have to be about who is marrying white people? This article doesn't touch at all on minorities marrying other minorities. :/

Also, learn from my pain: DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS AT THE SOURCE.
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This is a Canadian Post: We're "deeply split" over the Monarchy

anadians are divided about whether they want a monarch as head of state, a new poll suggests.

A survey conducted by Angus Reid in advance of next month’s visit by the Queen suggests that 33 per cent of Canadians are happy to have a king or queen while 36 per cent would like an elected head of state. One in five respondents said they don’t care one way or the other.


Collapse )So, are you for or against the monarchy? Or do you not care either way?
Stock - Pink Sakura


Not content with its first round of favorable press after its plus size lingerie ad was rebuffed by networks, Lane Bryant made a web video comparing Victoria's Secret models to skeletons, which is making the rounds today.

The ad isn't officially claimed by Lane Bryant but has some pretty high production values.
(Plus, if Perez says it's true...). It "advertises" a bra "specifically designed to air on Fox and ABC" that isn't "for chubbies."

Sure, the Victoria's Secret ads are absurdly mockable, and Lane Bryant had a point when it observed that their ads go in places where their Cacique ads were considered inappropriate. But this gambit loses me — it smacks too much of the "eat a sandwich" school of body criticism.


Britain's nuclear arsenal is 225 warheads, reveals William Hague

The radiation warning symbol (trefoil).

Image via Wikipedia

William Hague, the foreign secretary, today announced a review into the circumstances when the government might use nuclear weapons as he disclosed the maximum number of warheads in Britain's arsenal.

Describing what he called a "more open" policy, Hague said Britain's total number of nuclear warheads would not exceed 225, including the maximum 160 already declared as "operationally available".

He also signalled that the coalition government is likely to downgrade the importance of nuclear weapons in military strategy reflecting decisions announced last month by the US.

The British review is expected to conclude that the UK would rule out using nuclear weapons in retaliation against attacks involving biological or chemical, or conventional non-nuclear weapons.

However, it is expected to make an exception, as the Obama administration did, for Iran arguing that Tehran is covertly developing nuclear weapons.

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Source: The Guardian
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New proposal would require identification to buy prepaid cellphones

A bipartisan pair of Senate leaders have introduced a first-of-its-kind bill aimed at stopping terrorist suspects such as the would-be Times Square bomber from hiding their identities by using prepaid cellphones to plot their attacks.

The legislation sponsored by Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) would require buyers to present identification when purchasing a prepaid cellphone and require phone companies to keep the information on file, as they do with users of landline phones and subscription-based cellphones. The proposal would require the carriers to retain the data for 18 months after the phone's deactivation.

"This proposal is overdue because for years, terrorists, drug kingpins and gang members have stayed one step ahead of the law by using prepaid phones that are hard to trace," Schumer said.

Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old suspect in the Times Square plot, allegedly used a prepaid cellphone to arrange the purchase of a Nissan Pathfinder that he attempted to turn into a car bomb, the senators noted. He also used the phone to make a series of calls to Pakistan before the bomb attempt. Federal authorities caught a break when a number listed in the phone's call log matched one provided to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials months earlier, when Shahzad reentered the United States from Pakistan.

"But for that stroke of luck, authorities might never have been able to match the phone number" provided by the Pathfinder's seller, the lawmakers said in a news release.

There is no companion bill in the House. Schumer has spoken to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and believes the legislation has a good chance of winning administration support, according to a spokesman for the senator.

Civil liberties advocates have concerns about the proposal, saying there must be a role for anonymous communications in a free society. "They remain important for whistleblowers, battered spouses, reporters' sources," said James X. Dempsey, policy director for the Center for Democracy and Technology. And yet, he said, the space for such anonymous or pseudonymous communications has been narrowed. Pay phones, for example, have largely disappeared.

Privacy advocates worry that prepaid cellphone registration might be a step toward something even more worrisome in their view: identity registration to access the Internet. "I think everybody would admit in a free society there is a need for some ability to communicate without creating a full digital paper trail," Dempsey said. "We're just saying this proposal has to be considered in a broader context."

Countries such as Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Norway, Switzerland, Thailand and South Africa require prepaid cellphone registration in an effort to prevent terrorism.

And in the United States, similar laws have been proposed in several states, including Texas, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.


NYC Woman's Ad Crusade: Say No To Islam

Pamela Geller Has Had Enough With 'Violent Ideology' Of The Religion, Launches Bus Ad Campaign; ADL Concerned

They're controversial bus ads some say are flagrantly anti-Muslim.

An activist Manhattan woman is paying for the campaign detractors believe is bent on encouraging Muslims to abandon their religion.

CBS 2 HD took a look at the woman behind the controversy and the backlash it's generating.

"It's about the violent ideology of Islam. Yes, yes!" Pamela Geller said.

Geller is a woman on a mission.

With websites, blogs, and now bus ads she is campaigning against what she calls the poisonous ideology of one of the world's three monotheistic religions. On Tuesday night she was speaking out against the proposed lower Manhattan mosque near ground zero. On Wednesday she is defending the ad campaign offering help to Muslims who want to leave the Islamic faith.

Is it offensive? Is it intolerant? She says no.

"It's just a place for apostates and people leaving Islam to go. It's not meant to offend anyone. It's an issue of religious freedom," Geller said.

CBS 2 HD: "Would it be offensive if it were leaving Judaism or leaving Christianity?"

Geller: "No. Is Jews for Jesus offensive? I'm Jewish and I don't find that offensive. It's really all about religious freedom. I have nothing against Muslims. There's a problem with the violent ideology of Islam. Lou, there is."

Geller raised $8,000 through her websites for 30 of the leaving Islam bus ads -- a minuscule campaign in a city the size of New York, but certainly large enough, given the subject matter, to get some reaction.  "This is a combination of bigotry, hatred and an individual using the current climate we're in to advance their own cause," said Faiza Ali of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

And it isn't just Islamic groups who are worried about the ad campaign and the online anti-Muslim vitriol. The folks over at the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith also think they see a disturbing pattern. "This kind of language, this kind of characterization has no place in our society. It muddies the waters rather than really allow us to move forward," said ADL regional director Ron Meier.

The ADL has not taken a position on the presence of a mosque in lower Manhattan, but it does reject any part of the debate that focuses on prejudice and generalities.

Geller said she will continue her campaign against the mosque and her ad campaign as funds become available.


Five questions for Obama on the oil spill

By Karen Tumulty

As his administration comes under increasing criticism for its handling of the spreading environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama will hold a White House news conference Thursday, his first since February, in an attempt to retake command of the message. He'll do so as the crisis reaches yet another moment of high risk, both in the Gulf and in Washington.

At the scene of the oil spill, the oil firm BP -- attempting the latest of inventive but thus far ineffective maneuvers to stop the gusher that has been spewing from the gulf floor for five weeks -- has begun to pour 50,000 barrels of dense mud into the well. The exercise, known as a "top kill," has effectively stopped other spills in the past but has never been tried at the mile-down depth of this one.

Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is scheduled to deliver the results of a review demanded by Obama that gives an accounting of the federal government's policies with regard to energy exploration on the outer continental shelf, including whether there are adequate safeguards with respect to regulations and inspections. Obama is expected to announce a series of new policies in response.

The news conference will also come on the day before the president travels to the gulf to inspect the scene and also to send a message of engagement. With reporters having their first opportunity to put a full range of questions to Obama about the spill and his administration's handling of it, here are five that should be asked:

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if you could ask obama a question or two, what would you ask?