May 27th, 2010

Bakersfield icon 1

Raleigh best, Bakersfield worst metropolitan areas in U.S. according to Portfolio That's the Life
by G. Scott Thomas May 24 2010

Step aside New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. When it comes to living the good life, Raleigh has it all: from high-tech jobs to good education and economic stability.

Raleigh can’t match the cultural splendors of New York, the financial clout of Chicago, or the ethnic diversity of Los Angeles. But it does have plenty of attractive qualities of its own.

Such as its high-tech industries, which have established Raleigh as an anchor of the famed Research Triangle. Then there are its high-profile universities, led by North Carolina State, which have cemented its reputation as an educational center. And its status as a state capital, which has brought political prominence and economic stability.
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My adopted city of Detroit managed to stay out of the bottom 10, at 57th place. My original hometown of Los Angeles wasn't so lucky.  It fell into the Bottom 10 at  61st.  I'm living in the most livable city I've ever lived in, and it's Detroit.  Imagine that!

I can't resist one last dig. I've lived in Bakersfield, and I've lived in Detroit. I'll take Detroit.

Gay Troops Are Nothing To Fear by Michael A. Jones

There's that classic Franklin Delano Roosevelt line about how the "only thing we have to fear is fear itself." That might deserve an update for 2010, and if the advice of a bunch of international military officials is heeded, it might be rewritten to say, "There's nothing to fear about openly gay and lesbian soldiers, except fear itself."


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[AC] :D

Obama to Suspend Arctic Drilling

President Obama will announce on Thursday a suspension of all applications for offshore oil drilling in the Arctic through the remainder of the year, an Alaska senator said late Wednesday.

The decision essentially extends an informal moratorium that Mr. Obama had set shortly after the BP accident on April 20 that led to the spewing of millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The new restrictions would suspend new offshore drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico and off the North Slope Alaska until the cause of the accident is determined and stricter safety and environmental safeguards are imposed.
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[TWW] C.J.

Scalia Says He’s Glad Kagan Isn’t a Judge

All nine of the current justices on the U.S. Supreme court were federal judges before their elevation, but the nominee to replace Justice John Paul Stevens has no such experience. And that’s a good thing, according to Justice Antonin Scalia.

In a speech sponsored by Catholic University's Columbus School of Law, Scalia said being a judge was not a requirement in the past. And he’s glad that nominee Elena Kagan has a different background. ABC News and the Washington Post reported on his remarks.

“When I first came to the Supreme Court [in 1986], three of my colleagues had never been a federal judge,” Scalia said. “William Rehnquist came to the bench from the Office of Legal Counsel. Byron White was deputy attorney general. And Lewis Powell … was a private lawyer in Richmond and had been president of the American Bar Association.”

“I am happy to see that this latest nominee is not a federal judge—and not a judge at all,” Scalia said.


Haiti and the Hypocrisy of Christian Theology

We know what caused the catastrophe in Haiti. It was the bumping and grinding of the Caribbean Plate rubbing up against the North American Plate: a force of nature, sin-free and indifferent to sin, un-premeditated, unmotivated, supremely unconcerned with human affairs or human misery.

The religious mind, however, restlessly seeks human meaning in the blind happenings of nature. As with the Indonesian tsunami, which was blamed on loose sexual morals in tourist bars; as with Hurricane Katrina, which was attributed to divine revenge on the entire city of New Orleans for harboring a lesbian comedian, and as with other disasters going back to the famous Lisbon earthquake and beyond, so Haiti's tragedy must be payback for human sin. The Rev. Pat Robertson sees the hand of God in the earthquake, wreaking terrible retribution for a pact that the long-dead ancestors of today's Haitians made with the devil, to help rid them of their French masters.

Needless to say, milder-mannered faith-heads are falling over themselves to disown Pat Robertson, just as they disowned those other pastors, evangelists, missionaries and mullahs at the time of the earlier disasters.

What hypocrisy.

Loathsome as Robertson's views undoubtedly are, he is the Christian who stands squarely in the Christian tradition. The agonized theodiceans who see suffering as an intractable 'mystery', or who 'see God' in the help, money and goodwill that is now flooding into Haiti , or (most nauseating of all) who claim to see God 'suffering on the cross' in the ruins of Port-au-Prince, those faux-anguished hypocrites are denying the centrepiece of their own theology. It is the obnoxious Pat Robertson who is the true Christian here.

Where was God in Noah's flood? He was systematically drowning the entire world, animal as well as human, as punishment for 'sin'. Where was God when Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed with fire and brimstone? He was deliberately barbecuing the citizenry, lock stock and barrel, as punishment for 'sin'. Dear modern, enlightened, theologically sophisticated Christian, your entire religion is founded on an obsession with 'sin', with punishment and with atonement. Where do you find the effrontery to condemn Pat Robertson, you who have signed up to the obnoxious doctrine that the central purpose of Jesus' incarnation was to have himself tortured as a scapegoat for the 'sins' of all mankind, past, present and future, beginning with the 'sin' of Adam, who (as any modern theologian well knows) never even existed? To quote the President of one theological seminary, writing in these very pages:

"The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point on the globe."

You nice, middle-of-the-road theologians and clergymen, be-frocked and bleating in your pulpits, you disclaim Pat Robertson's suggestion that the Haitians are paying for a pact with the devil. But you worship a god-man who - as you tell your congregations even if you don't believe it yourself - 'cast out devils'. You even believe (or you don't disabuse your flock when they believe) that Jesus cured a madman by causing the 'devils' in him to fly into a herd of pigs and stampede them over a cliff. Charming story, well calculated to uplift and inspire the Sunday School and the Infant Bible Class. Pat Robertson may spout evil nonsense, but he is a mere amateur at that game. Just read your own Bible. Pat Robertson is true to it. But you?

Educated apologist, how dare you weep Christian tears, when your entire theology is one long celebration of suffering: suffering as payback for 'sin' - or suffering as 'atonement' for it? You may weep for Haiti where Pat Robertson does not, but at least, in his hick, sub-Palinesque ignorance, he holds up an honest mirror to the ugliness of Christian theology. You are nothing but a whited sepulchre.


This really rubs me the wrong way. Why?
  • kitbug

Internet thinktubes replace traditional thinktanks and it ends like you think it will

Republicans' new Web site not exactly what they hoped it would be

Wednesday, May 26, 2010  

Republicans want to take over the House in the fall, but there's a problem: They don't have an agenda.

So on Tuesday, they set out to resolve that shortcoming. They announced that they would solicit suggestions on the Internet, then have members of the public give the ideas a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. Call it the "Dancing With the Stars" model of public policy.
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New Breed of Specialist Steps In for Family Doctor


PHILADELPHIA — By the time Djigui Keita left the hospital for home, his follow-up appointment had been scheduled. Emergency health insurance was arranged until he could apply for public assistance. He knew about changes in his medication — his doctor had found less expensive brands at local pharmacy chains. And Mr. Keita, 35, who had passed out from dehydration, was cautioned to carry spare water bottles in the taxi he drove for a living.

The hourlong briefing the home-bound patient received here at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania was orchestrated by a hospitalist, a member of America’s fastest-growing medical specialty. Over a decade, this breed of physician-administrator has increasingly taken over the care of the hospitalized patient from overburdened family doctors with less and less time to make hospital rounds — or, as in Mr. Keita’s case, when there is no family doctor at all.

Because hospitalists are on top of everything that happens to a patient — from entry through treatment and discharge — they are largely credited with reducing the length of hospital stays by anywhere from 17 to 30 percent, and reducing costs by 13 to 20 percent, according to studies in The Journal of the American Medical Association. As their numbers have grown, from 800 in the 1990s to 30,000 today, medical experts have come to see hospitalists as potential leaders in the transition to the Obama administration’s health care reforms, to be phased in by 2014.

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Barack Obama orders Guard to Mexican border

In a move to quell growing public anger and mounting fear over illegal immigration along the Southwest border, President Barack Obama is ordering up to 1,200 additional National Guard troops to the border area and requesting an additional $500 million from Congress to slow the flow of migrants.

In addition to the troops, the funding will be used to increase Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security activities at the border with Mexico “to include increased agents, investigators, and prosecutors, as part of a multi-layered effort to target illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons, and money,” an administration official said Tuesday.

The announcement seemed designed to blunt an amendment in the Senate by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to provide $250 million for deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to the border. And the White House move was quickly denounced by Republicans, who criticized it as insufficient, and by immigration reform advocates, who accused the White House of engaging in “political theater.”

“It’s simply not enough. We need 6,000,” complained McCain, who is opposed by immigration foe J.D. Hayworth in a GOP primary.

“The guard troops have had a very salutary effect. That’s why we need 6,000 of them,” McCain said in a speech on the Senate floor. He said such troops were needed to head off violent incidents such as one in March where an Arizona rancher was allegedly killed by someone crossing the border illegally.

Just before word of the border aid package emerged Tuesday afternoon, McCain squared off with the president over the issue during the closed-door session at the Capitol. “We need to secure the borders first,” McCain said afterward. “He didn’t agree."

Later Tuesday, the White House released a toughly worded letter directly criticizing McCain’s proposal to dispatch 6,000 troops to the border.

“There is no modern precedent for Congress to direct the president to deploy troops in the manner sought by the Amendment,” National Security Adviser James Jones and Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan wrote to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

“It represents unwarranted interference with the Commander-in-Chief’s responsibilities to direct the employment of our Armed Forces and thus infringes on the President’s role in the management of the Total Force," they wrote.

Immigrants’ rights advocates, who have been grumbling for months about lackluster support from the White House for immigration reform legislation, said Obama’s decision to send 1,200 troops amounted to pandering that wouldn’t do much to solve the border area’s problems.

“Deploying additional National Guard without a clear strategy to end arms or drug smuggling is a response to tired talking points,” said Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum. “Without true immigration reform, the political theater will continue and billions will continue to be wasted on misguided border security measures.”

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Rifqa Bary (Christian Convert From Muslim Family) Has Cancer - Pamela Geller Blames The Parents!

Okay, the Rifqa Bary situation is a long story. Here's a quick summary:

She's a girl from a Muslim family who was indoctrinated by an evangelical Christian group who helped her run away with them. She now seems insistent that her parents want to kill her, but the courts have found much of what she has said has been false. Her claim that her blood is halal sounds more like something told to her by the evangelical Christians than language that Muslims in favour of honour killings might genuinely use. In initial interviews at that stage she was generally seen clinging to the evangelical group leader and surrounded by people with "Islam Is Of The Devil" t-shirts.

It turns out that her parents are actually from a fairly moderate Islamic group, not least since they do not originate from a country where Islam is the dominant religion. (They are from Sri Lanka.) Images of her cheerleading in the typical revealing outfit were displayed in the lounge while it's clear that the brother drinks alcohol - neither of which would be consistent with an overly strict Muslim upbringing. Accusations have been made that her  parents' are actually illegal immigrants. She is now back in Ohio, but away from the evangelical group living with foster parents.

I have posts on this here and here, but below I've included some good official sources for people to quickly get themselves up to speed.
(Source 1 - The facts on the Rifqa Bary case)
(Source 2 - Video of news interview with Rifqa Bary's parents)
(Source 3 - Typical video news report showing Rifqa Bary clinging to the evangelical preacher who 'saved' her.)

So here's the latest news. She has uterine cancer.

So what, yeah? I mean seriously what relevance does that have to anything? It's not like you could blame cancer on anyone..... oh wait a minute. Here's an article from Pamela Geller where she pretty much blames Rifqa Bary's medical condition on the parents. Wtf?
While this is a tragedy, how Rifqa is being victimized by her lawyers and her parents is nothing less than an atrocity. Her lawyers kept her in the dark about her condition -- despite the seriousness of her cancer -- for well over a week while they conferred with her parents and their CAIR-appointed lawyers about her treatment. While most cases like this result in a hysterectomy, Rifqa is only having the advanced malignancy removed. From what I understand, the survival rate in cases like these is only five percent.

Was she allowed to get a second opinion? No.

While she was lying ill, her lawyers brought her parents to her hospital bed. She was awaiting treatment and when she saw them, whereupon she became very agitated and upset. Her parents had to be removed.
The article later descends into conspiracy theories:
Will authorities then deport her?

There is no way of knowing for sure, but CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood reportedly have infiltrated senior levels at the State Department so deeply that it is a distinct possibility.


BTW Pamela Geller was recently in another ontd_p post about a group offering to rescue Muslims from fundamentalist families. Some people were a little concerned about this and I suspect your initial gut feelings will be vindicated by this.

(Via Right Wing Watch)

Gaza flotilla refuses to help Schalit

Activists refuse quid pro quo: Visits to soldier for docking rights.

The Schalit family on Thursday asked for assistance from international left-wing activists due to arrive in the Gaza Strip later in the day.

If the left-wing activists pressure Hamas to allow international organizations to bring letters and food packages to Gilad Schalit, the kidnapped soldier's family has agreed to support the international expedition's attempt to dock, Army Radio reported Thursday.

Lawyer Nick Kaufman presented the offer to the organization "Free Gaza," one of the organizers of the flotilla headed for Gaza, which promptly refused the offer.

"We are disappointed that the organizers of the flotilla have refused to also provide basic humanitarian assistance to our son, who has been held in Gaza four years in contradiction of international law," said the Schalit family.

The IDF announced Wednesday evening that it was planning to stop the international convoy of nine ships currently on its way to Gaza carrying hundreds of activists and thousands of tons of supplies.

“If they decide to continue sailing and do not listen to the instructions, then they will be stopped, brought to Israel and dealt with by the Interior Ministry, which will return them to the countries they came from,” an IDF statement said.

According to the statement, the IDF will unload the supplies and transfer the shipment to the Gaza Strip, after inspecting it for weaponry.

The Navy has held a number of drills in recent weeks to prepare for the arrival of the small fleet, which is expected to try breaking the Israel-imposed sea blockade on Gaza and dock at its newly expanded port.

The scenarios drilled included the commandeering of the ships, which could, military sources said Wednesday, include violent clashes – depending on the response by the passengers on the vessels.

“We will do everything to ensure that the operation runs smoothly, but are prepared for every possible scenario,” one defense official explained.

Meanwhile Wednesday, the IDF continued its media blitz against the flotilla and released data showing that all of the supplies the ships are carrying were already being transferred by Israel to Gaza via land crossings on a regular basis.

“This flotilla is a provocation that is not needed considering the humanitarian situation in Gaza, which is stable and good,” said Col. Moshe Levi, commander of the IDF’s Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration. Levi said that 100 trucks, loaded with supplies, enter Gaza on a daily basis, and that in the past two months over 1,200 tons of medical supplies were transferred to the Strip.


If the flotilla does reach the shores of Gaza I highly recommend the crew visiting the newly open restaurant Roots Club - just minutes from Gaza's key attractions, shopping facilities, and business center. It is only 200 meters away from the white sand Gaza beach.

So... bad move, Murdoch?

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07:  In this photo il...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Most of those that consume news online would be unwilling to pay for content regardless of the supplier.

Nine out of ten people would be unwilling to pay the £1-per-day or £2-per-week fee to access the new websites of The Times and The Sunday Times, a survey has found.

Most of those that consume news online would be unwilling to pay for content regardless of the supplier, said the study examining digital entertainment activity, as 71 per cent believed there was sufficient free news content available across the web.

The Digital Entertainment Survey asked respondents whether they would be willing to pay the £1/£2 fee to access each of a dozen UK news websites.

The BBC website was the site most were willing to pay for; however, 90 per cent still said they were unwilling to pay for access to this site.

The websites people were most unwilling to pay for were The Independent and The Sun, where 93 per cent said they were not willing to pay for access.

News International intends to introduce its £1-per-day or £2-per-week fee to access The Times and The Sunday Times from next month, currently they are free to access to registered users.

The study suggested that 91 per cent of people would be unwilling to pay to access The Times, while 92 per cent wouldn't pay to access online content from its sister Sunday title.

The research tallies with the assessment made by John Witherow, editor of The Sunday Times, who last week suggested that "the vast majority of readers" - perhaps more than 90 per cent - would be lost once paywalls are introduced.

The survey found that across a range of prices (from 50p to £10) for a week's unlimited access to a news site, payment of £1 per week was considered the most reasonable.

However, 48 per cent of respondent still believed that it was unreasonable to charge £1 for a week's access to online news.

Some 28 per cent said they would be interested in work-related news, but only if their employers would pay for access.

Nine per cent of respondents claimed they would pay to see news content if it provided them with personal advice with the same number claiming they would pay for news content if it provided expert opinion.

The 2010 Digital Entertainment Survey was conducted by Entertainment Media Research polling 1,592 UK consumers online on behalf of the media law firm Wiggins.

Source: New Stateman
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Buffy Sycthe

Senator John McCain Has Totally Lost It.

There might not be a legislator in the country who wants to keep "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on the books more than Sen. John McCain. Sure, a few years ago, back when he was a maverick, Sen. McCain said that he'd support lifting "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" once military leadership said it was time for the policy to go.

Yet, now that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense think "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should go, Sen. McCain is backtracking like there's no tomorrow. In fact, Sen. John McCain is so dead set against a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," he's threatening to filibuster any attempt to pass legislation that would start to repeal the military's ban on gays and lesbians. That includes the "compromise" legislation that emerged this week, that would attach a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to the defense authorization bill coming up for a vote this week, maybe even tomorrow, in the U.S. House and in the Senate's Armed Service Committee. To hear Sen. McCain say it, he'd walk in front of a speeding train if it meant preventing gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military.

"I’ll do everything in my power," McCain said, to avoid a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." That includes helping organize a filibuster on the entire defense authorization bill.

McCain was joined by Mississippi Sen. Robert Wicker, who added that if repeal language is adopted and worked into the defense authorization bill, "I will not sign the conference report, and there will be an attempt to filibuster the bill on the floor. It's a major mistake."

Funny, I always assumed a "major mistake" meant tarnishing the U.S. military's reputation, making America less safe, and preventing well qualified soldiers from entering the ranks of the military. Which is exactly what "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" does.

That's why people are imploring the Senate Armed Services Committee to get behind a repeal for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Sign on here if you haven't yet.

In good news, at least when it comes to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," two Senators announced today that they're down with compromise legislation to repeal this bad law. The first was Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who actually became the first Republican Senator since "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" became law to call for its elimination. That's huge, though not entirely a surprise, given that Sen. Collins was widely expected to be down with repeal.

Perhaps more surprising was the news that Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, who as recently as this past Monday was indicating that he'd be against repeal legislation, decided today that the "compromise" legislation moving forward was good enough to earn his vote. Sen. Nelson could be the vote that carries this "compromise" legislation forward, though by no means is anything in the clear just yet. All the more reason to continue to stir the Senate Armed Service Committee's pot by supporting a repeal.

Opponents of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" are definitely desperate at this point. The American Family Association is comparing gay troops to Hitler. The Family Research Council is saying that gay troops would turn our military into one giant gay pride festival. And now, Sen. John McCain is threatening to filibuster an entire defense spending bill.

If only Sen. John McCain was doing everything in his power to make our country safer, instead of fueling the fire of anti-gay voices in this country.


Heavy girls likelier to have sex early

South Carolina researchers found that obese girls were almost three times as likely as others to have had sex before age 13 and 30 percent more likely to have had sex with more than three partners during their teen years, according to the study presented this month at the annual meeting of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Girls who were simply overweight had a lower, but still significant, risk of starting sex early. Compared to normal weight teens, they were 60 percent more likely to begin sex before age 13 and 30 percent were likely to have had sex with more than three partners.

The study found that 6 percent of normal weight teens had sex before age 13, as compared with 11 percent of overweight teens and 15 percent of obese teens. And 39 percent of normal weight teens reported having sex with more than three partners as compared with 45 percent of overweight teens and 47 percent of obese teens.

Making matters worse, obese and overweight girls were also less likely to use condoms and other birth control. The study found that girls with weight issues were almost 20 percent less likely use condoms than thinner girls, and more than 30 percent less likely to use other methods of contraception.

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Gay Alert

Senate panel passes measure that could end 'don't ask, don't tell'

By Perry Bacon Jr. and Ed O'Keefe
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 27, 2010; 6:57 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Thursday to end "don't ask, don't tell," the controversial policy barring openly gay men and lesbians from serving in the military.

The measure, which passed 16 to 12, includes a provision ensuring that no change would take effect until after the Pentagon completes a study about its impact on troops, due to Congress Dec. 1.

The House was scheduled to vote late Thursday or Friday on an identical measure. Lawmakers there expect it to be approved, and the full Senate would vote on it next month.

The provision, which lawmakers are attaching to a $726 billion defense funding bill, would take effect only if the Defense Department study determines that changing the policy would not affect the military's ability to fight wars or recruit soldiers.

The legislation is a compromise between the administration and gay rights activists, who have long opposed "don't ask, don't tell" as effectively allowing one of America's most powerful institutions to discriminate. Activists pushed President Obama and congressional Democrats on this issue, leading Obama to endorse this approach rather than wait for the Pentagon to finish its study.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have endorsed this approach while emphasizing the importance of the study. Mullen has said he supports repeal, calling it "the right thing to do" in testimony before Congress in February.

But many Republicans on Capitol Hill oppose changing the policy, arguing that Congress should wait until the Pentagon completes its study before acting. The heads of the four uniformed services have also said Congress should wait for the completion of the Pentagon study.

"I remain convinced that it is critically important to get a better understanding of where our Soldiers and Families are on this issue, and what the impacts on readiness and unit cohesion might be, so that I can provide informed military advice to the President and the Congress," Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army's chief of staff, wrote in a letter. "I also believe that repealing the law before the completion of the review will be seen by the men and women of the Army as a reversal of our commitment to hear their views before moving forward."

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) said he worried that the change would "negatively impact our readiness."

Two major veterans service organizations also oppose the Democratic effort.

"We believe changing a major social policy in the middle of two wars would be a mistake and distraction," said American Legion National Commander Clarence E. Hill.

Duane J. Miskulin, national commander of AMVETS, said Congress should wait to act until after the Pentagon completes its study of how to implement a repeal. "We can't simply overturn 'don't ask, don't tell' and deal with any unintended consequences after the fact while trying to fight two wars," Miskulin said.

But supporters anticipate that 20 to 30 percent of service members discharged under the ban may reenlist. Mike Almy, a former Air Force officer who was discharged in 2006, said he's still medically and physically qualified to serve.

"I come from a military family. This is all I want to do. I dedicated my whole life to being an officer," said Almy, who has worked as a defense contractor since his discharge and is also active with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group pushing for repeal.

The group reminded members this week that the gay ban remains in place until after the Pentagon completes its study. "Lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members remain vulnerable to being discharged on the basis of their sexual orientation," read an e-mail sent to SLDN's 80,000 members. "While Congress is taking steps to enact a roadmap for full repeal and the implementation of open service, it is not safe to come out or serve openly until the process of repeal is complete."

The push from Democrats comes as public opinion has changed dramatically on the issue. In 1993, 44 percent of Americans supported allowing people who are openly gay to serve in the military. Today, 75 percent of Americans support that idea, according to a recent Washington Post poll.

Any change is unlikely to happen until next year at the earliest. After the completion of the study, Pentagon officials have said it could take several months until they are prepared to fully integrate gays into the armed forces as they consider such issues as whether gay and straight troops could be forced to share housing and whether the military would be required to extend benefits to same-sex partners.

Staff writer Craig Whitlock, researcher Alice Crites and polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.


Where’s Libdem outrage on Clegg’s Gary McKinnon u-turn?

LONDON - SEPTEMBER 02:  Lucy Clarke, girlfrien...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The Deputy Prime Minister, in his own words, on Gary McKinnon.

Writing in the Daily Mail, 4th August 2009
Expert lawyers assure me that, even at this 11th hour, the Government could prosecute him for those crimes here at home, instead of in the U.S.

It is imperative that it does so
. Quite simply, the rest of Mr McKinnon’s life is on the line. It appals me that, so far at least, no one in government seems prepared to lift a finger to help him

You can be sure that if the situation was reversed, American politicians would be moving hell and high water to protect one of their citizens from such a gross injustice.

It is an affront to British justice that no one in the Labour Party has the courage to do the same… It is time for Gordon Brown and his Attorney General, Baroness Scotland, to step in and do the decent thing.
At a protest outside the Home Office, on 15th December 2009
Gary McKinnon’s extradition to the USA must be stopped. The Government can change this. We say to them: ‘You can do this if you have the courage of your convictions to do the right thing’.
Speaking to the Daily Mail on 17th October 2009
The Home Secretary has sat on his hands for too long, even in the face of legal advice from leading advocates that contradicts the Home Office’s position.

This new psychiatric report into Gary McKinnon’s condition must persuade him that it is no longer acceptable to shrug his shoulders and claim that nothing can be done.

Alan Johnson should do the decent thing and intervene to ensure that Gary is tried in Britain, where he committed his crime and confessed to it.
Gary McKinnon’s mother five days ago.
I know I can count on Nick. I totally believe in him. He has been one of Gary’s most passionate supporters and David Cameron has publicly condemned the extradition. I am sure they are trying to do something behind the scenes.
What I haven’t got power to do, neither has the Home Secretary neither has even the Prime Minister, is to completely reverse and undo certain legal aspects of this.

That of course you wouldn’t want politicians to do. That’s what we are looking at at the moment. It’s legally very complex.

Gary McKinnon, you’ve been Clegged.

Source: Liberal Conspiracy
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rabbit heart (raise it up)

Flirting Dutch prime minister taken to task

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has apologised for an allegedly sexist remark he made to a female interviewer during a televised public debate in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

The remark had been criticised by the editor of Dutch feminist magazine Opzij, who said an apology was in order. The criticism was shared by Labour MP Mariëtte Hamer and Green Left leader Femke Halsema. She said that the prime minister "should have been kneed in the groin" for his what he said.

Sweet look
When faced with a difficult question, the prime minister refused to answer and resorted to a certain amount of circumlocution to avoid answering. Mr Balkenende refused to say which coalition he thought best suited to handle the economy after the 9 June general elections. When the interviewer, Mariëlle Tweebeke insisted on an answer and tried to stare him out, the prime minister blurted out "You've got such a sweet look on your face". (See at 1:30 in the Dutch-language video below.) He was booed by the audience.

The editor of Opzij, Margriet van der Linden told reporters that Ms Tweebeke was simply doing her work, "and then for god's sake it's the prime minister making a remark like that. It's not funny, it's inappropriate and not fit for a modern society which is always talking about respecting norms and values". The feminist editor claims that Mr Balkenende was trying to throw his interviewer off balance.

Source: Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

I watched the debate live on tv yesterday and cringed so hard when he said that. Ms Tweebeeke gave him the best "if looks could kill" stare, though. I'm glad he apologised, but I wish he had done so in a more general way, like "Sorry I made a sexist remark, that was inappropriate, especially for someone in my position". Now all he really said was "If Ms Tweebeeke feels treated disrespectfully, I will gladly apologise". (I only have a Dutch source for the last part, Google translate at your own risk. ;)

L.A. County sheriff can't be sued for releasing illegal immigrant accused of killing football star,

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit by the parents of a high school football star who had sued the Sheriff’s Department for releasing from jail an illegal immigrant suspected of killing their son.

'The parents of Jamiel Shaw II, a running back who was recruited by Stanford and Rutgers universities before he was gunned down in 2008, had accused the sheriff of negligence, wrongful death and civil rights violations for letting Pedro Espinoza out onto the streets instead of turning him over to immigration authorities.

Espinoza, a 21-year-old who prosecutors say was a member of the 18th Street gang in the United States illegally, had been released from jail a day before the shooting after serving time for an earlier offense. His criminal case, in which he faces the death penalty, remains pending.

Shaw’s family alleged in their suit that because of an agreement allowing local agencies to enforce federal immigration law, the Sheriff’s Department was liable for Shaw’s death.

At the time of the suit’s filing, immigration law experts said the argument that a sheriff or warden could be held liable for releasing an illegal immigrant who goes on to commit a crime was unprecedented.

In dismissing the suit Wednesday, Judge Charles F. Palmer found that the federal-local partnership did not mean the sheriff had a “mandatory duty” to transfer illegal immigrants after they completed their sentences.


Murasaki Shikibu

People are not guinea pigs, y'all.

Pfizer Rapamune Lawsuit: Pharma Giant's Subsidiary Accused Of Targeting 'High-Risk' Black Patients For Unapproved Use Of Drug

In a stunning whistleblower lawsuit, the world's largest pharmaceutical company is being sued over the dangerous practice of illegally promoting a kidney transplant drug for unapproved uses -- and targeting African-Americans, even though they are at high risk of complications.

Two former hospital sales representatives, Marlene Sandler and Scott Paris, originally filed their suit in 2005 but the case was recently unsealed. The amended complaint against Pfizer and Wyeth was filed this week, as reported by the Pharmalot blog.

Sandler and Paris claim that Wyeth, which is now owned by Pfizer, promoted the "off-label" use of Rapamune, a kidney transplant drug which generated $376 million in sales in 2008, encouraging its sales force to promote the drug for heart, lung, liver, and pancreas transplants even though Rapamune was never approved for those procedures. The Food and Drug Administration warned against such off-label use of Rapamune in 2004 and 2007.

The suit claims:

"Wyeth trained and encouraged its sales representatives to market Rapamune for uses outside those listed on the FDA-approved label and to misrepresent and withhold clinical information regarding the safety and efficacy of Rapamune. As a result of Wyeth's wrongdoing, patients were put at risk of serious physical and financial harm, including: the disruption or discontinuation of stable treatment regimens; increased costs associated with treating side effects caused or exacerbated by Rapamune; life-threatening side effects such as anemia, bone marrow suppression, inhibited wound-healing, proteinuria, blood clots, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, liver failure, pulmonary dehiscence; and death."

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