May 30th, 2010

bamf

60 Minutes: "Blowout: The Deepwater Horizon Disaster"

"The gusher unleashed in the Gulf of Mexico continues to spew crude oil. There are no reliable estimates of how much oil is pouring into the gulf. But it comes to many millions of gallons since the catastrophic blowout. Eleven men were killed in the explosions that sank one of the most sophisticated drilling rigs in the world, the "Deepwater Horizon."

This week Congress continues its investigation, but Capitol Hill has not heard from the man "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley met: Mike Williams, one of the last crewmembers to escape the inferno.
Collapse )
Source is not just grumpy ranting by that old guy
Originally broadcast May 16, I don't recall seeing anyone post it. Apologies if I missed it.

Graduates’ First Job: Marketing Themselves

by PHYLLIS KORKKI

THIS spring, college seniors are entering a better job market than the class of 2009 faced. Unfortunately, that is not saying much because 2009 was one of the worst years in the history of hiring.
Still, hiring of this year’s crop of graduates is up 5 percent over the previous year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

To employers the most desirable majors include accounting, engineering, computing and mathematics, according to Edwin Koc, research director of the association. Companies are also seeking evidence of communication and writing skills, analytical ability and teamwork, Mr. Koc said.

Whatever your strengths and weaknesses, you will need to “bring your A game” to this job market, said Katharine Brooks, director of liberal arts career services at the University of Texas at Austin and author of a career guide called “You Majored in What?”

Collapse )

source

Nothing new but, as someone who'll graduate in '12, I hope the trend continues upward. :>
misc - microphone

(no subject)

Are Lazy Reporters Responsible for More Americans Identifying as “Pro-Life”?

At about this time last year, the folks at Gallup informed us that more Americans identified themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice” for the first time (at least since they began tracking the question in 1995).

If you can frame the terms of a debate, you’ve gone a long way towards winning it, even if your position is weak. And I, at age 40, distinctly remember a time when the mainstream, “objective” media refused to call people who want the state to compel women to bear children against their will “pro-life.” They were referred to, accurately and neutrally, as “anti-abortion activists.” I’m not sure when the change occurred — I believe it was gradual — but I now see the term “pro-life” used frequently in mainstream reporting.

It’s obviously not an accurate description. Among the 51 percent who claimed to be pro-life, some large but unknown number favor the death penalty and support “wars of choice.” Some of them — a minority, to be sure — also oppose abortion in cases when the life of the mother would be endangered by carrying a fetus to term. To call people who obviously place very little value on the lives of women (post-birth anyway) “pro-life” is a perversion of the language. It’s pure spin.

Collapse )

source

So, what do you all think? Any of the older ontd_p members see this switch in terminology?
Reporting

Colombians go to the polls to appoint Uribe successor

Colombians are going to the polls to vote for a new president in a contest that is expected to be close.

The popular incumbent, Alvaro Uribe, is standing down after two terms.

Former Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos, who is supported by Mr Uribe, has a slight lead in opinion polls.

However he faces a strong challenge from former Bogota Mayor Antanas Mockus of the Green Party. A run-off between the two candidates is expected on 20 June.

The other main candidates are Noemi Sanin, of the Conservative Party, Gustavo Petro of the Polo Democratico, German Vargas Lleras of the Radical Change party and Rafael Pardo of the Liberal party.

Quality of life

Mr Uribe still has approval ratings of 60% after almost eight years in power.

Analysts say this is largely due to his hard-line, US-backed security policies that have curbed guerrilla activities and reduced drugs crime.

Although this has given Mr Santos the edge, the reduction in violence in Bogota has also boosted Mr Mockus.

He is seen as having improved the quality of life for citizens in the capital, with public works projects.

His supporters point to his economic record, while his critics say he is too inexperienced to run the country, in particular in maintaining the pressure on the left-wing rebels.

Mr Santos's supporters point to the successful tough line he took against the rebels.

The BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Colombia says that given the closeness of the opinion polls, it seems Colombians favour both change and continuity.

He says Mr Santos comes from unrivalled political stock and has a long and exceptional record in public office.

But Mr Mockus has promised to break with past political corruption and that idea is intoxicating for many Colombians tired of scandals.

Source

Bill Maher wants Obama to be more black, show off his guns


I thought when we elected a black president, we were going to get a black president. You know, this [BP oil spill] is where I want a real black president. I want him in a meeting with the BP CEOs, you know, where he lifts up his shirt where you can see the gun in his pants. That's — (in black man voice) 'we've got a motherfu**ing problem here?' Shoot somebody in the foot.

Haw haw, all black people have guns. Huh? The most offensive thing about this is that we can think of at least a half-dozen black stereotypes that would be much funnier as premises for this hacky joke. [Gawker]

God damn you Bill Maher for making me like you for 10 seconds after Religulous. I should've seen through all your bullshit.
Reporting

'Some things were better under apartheid'

When apartheid was dismantled in South Africa, many expected the lives of its black population would improve but promises of land distribution and new homes have not been fulfilled, as Hugh Sykes discovered.

In a community of shacks on a hillside near Johannesburg, a man complained to me:

"We didn't like apartheid, but some things were better under apartheid than they are now."

In a community of shacks on a hillside near Durban, a man complained to me:

"Life here under apartheid was bad, but now it is more bad."

I felt slightly unsettled hearing this.

It seemed like questioning a sacred belief - that apartheid was an unmitigated, 100% evil system.

But there is less idolatry here now, as it dawns on most people that the new South Africa is still scarred by extreme poverty and high unemployment.

No paradise

Of course, Nelson Mandela continues to be lauded as the hero of the liberation of black South Africans from the oppressions of apartheid.

But he is also being criticised for changing the direction of the South African economy from active state intervention to neo-liberal, free-market economics.

During his presidency, the government switched from RDP - the interventionist Reconstruction and Development Programme - to Gear, which stands for Growth, Employment And Redistribution.

RDP promised paradise - clean water, mains drainage, land redistribution and a million homes - all in five years.

But paradise did not come. The economy of South Africa simply could not bear the cost.

So the finance system switched to Gear.

Part of the thinking was that it would help to develop a substantial black middle class, whose taxes would then trickle down to the poor.

The middle class did develop, but the problem with trickle-down is that it is just that - a trickle.

Collapse )
Source


Need a South Africa tag!
Me

End of the Euro near?

This is quite a shocking development.  British economists are advising Greece to drop the Euro and go back to the Drachma.  Spain may be forced follow suit and this could mean that the European Single Currency ceases to exist before long.

THE Greek government has been advised by British economists to leave the euro and default on its €300 billion (£255 billion) debt to save its economy.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), a London-based consultancy, has warned Greek ministers they will be unable to escape their debt trap without devaluing their own currency to boost exports. The only way this can happen is if Greece returns to its own currency.

business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article7140270.ece

“Could this be the last weekend of the single currency? Quite possibly, yes.” says Doug McWilliams, chief executive of the CEBR.

With Angela Merkel's comments causing the Euro to crash, one would be forgiven for thinking that there is a plan in place to kill the Euro.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article7130448.ece
Reporting

Brain gain: African migrants returning home

Africa may still be suffering from a chronic brain drain but some of the continent's elite are turning their backs on the West and taking their talents back home according to film-maker Andy Jones.

The story is as old as the hills. Man leaves village to seek riches in the big city.

In recent years, the village has been the continent of Africa, the city represented by the bright lights of Europe and America.

Any number of Africans seek to cross the ocean and make their fortunes, never to be seen again.

But when our team travelled around Africa recently to film a new TV documentary series, we found a different story. Many of the Africans I met had worked or been educated in the West and come back.

Across nine African countries and a journey of 7,000 miles from Mali to South Africa, from Ghana to Ethiopia, the story was often the same. Africans were returning from working or studying abroad either for patriotic reasons or because of the growing opportunities back home.

Fashion industry

These were educated Africans like Kofi Ansah, a Ghanaian fashion designer. Born into an artistic family, he studied fashion at Chelsea School of Art before graduating with first class honours in 1977. He spent 20 years living and working in Europe before returning to Ghana in 1992.

Mr Ansah still travels the world, and could live anywhere, but his business is growing, his family are settled and he feels like he's making a difference in Accra. "I came to help try to develop the clothing textile industry. And I thought, if we could do it right, it could help our employment situation."

Mr Ansah now creates jobs for tailors and designers, models and marketers.

At one of his fashion shows, we met make-up artist Nana Amu Fleisher-Djoleto who grew up in London. Her view is that not only are more people returning, but they are coming home sooner.

"I'm finding now that younger people want to go away maybe to university, but then come back after gaining some experience. They're not working for years and coming back when they're decrepit."


Collapse )
Source

 

Amy and Rory and the Doctor

In Camouflage or Veil, a Fragile Bond

By ELISABETH BUMILLER
Published: May 29, 2010

ABDUL GHAYAS, Afghanistan — Two young female Marines trudged along with an infantry patrol in the 102-degree heat, soaked through their camouflage uniforms under 60 pounds of gear. But only when they reached this speck of a village in the Taliban heartland on a recent afternoon did their hard work begin.

For two hours inside a mud-walled compound, the Marines, Cpl. Diana Amaya, 23, and Cpl. Lisa Gardner, 28, set aside their rifles and body armor and tried to connect with four nervous Afghan women wearing veils. Over multiple cups of tea, the Americans made small talk through a military interpreter or in their own beginner’s Pashtu. Then they encouraged the Afghans, who by now had shyly uncovered their faces, to sew handicrafts that could be sold at a local bazaar.

“We just need a couple of strong women,” Corporal Amaya said, in hopes of enlisting them to bring a measure of local commerce to the perilous world outside their door.

Corporal Amaya’s words could also describe her own daunting mission, part of a program intended to help improve the prospects for the United States in Afghanistan — and also, perhaps, to redefine gender roles in combat.

Three months ago, Corporal Amaya was one of 40 female Marines training at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in an edgy experiment: sending full-time “female engagement teams” to accompany all-male foot patrols in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan to win over the Afghan women who are culturally off limits to American men. Enthusiasm reigned. “We know we can make a difference,” Capt. Emily Naslund, 27, the team’s executive officer, said then in an interview.

Now, just weeks into a seven-month deployment that has sent them in twos and threes to 16 outposts across Helmand, including Marja and other spots where fighting continues, the women have met with inevitable hurdles — not only posed by Afghan women but also by some male Marines and American commanders skeptical about the teams’ purpose.

The women are taking it in stride. “If it were easy, it wouldn’t be interesting,” Captain Naslund said.

 

Collapse )

 

--

Source

The veil: a modesty slip for misogyny

Muslim woman in Yemen.

Image via Wikipedia

Slip away the modesty cloth of faux-feminist posturing over the veil and you'll find an ugly skin of nationalism, male intolerance and misogyny.

In his article Thinly Veiled Threat, Mehdi Hasan impressively fails to assume that the debate over the niqab and burqa - recently outlawed in Belgium, with similar laws tabled across Europe - is all about him. This sets him apart from nearly every man writing, legislating and proclaiming about this most symbolically loaded piece of clothing.

Hasan's piece is learned and thorough, but it misses perhaps the most fundamental question about the veil debate. The question is not to what extent the veil can be considered oppressive, but whether it is ever justifiable for men to mandate how women should look, dress and behave in the name of cultural preservation.

Male culture has always chosen to define itself by how it permits its women to dress and behave. Footage recorded in 2008 shows a young member of the British National Party expounding upon the right of the average working man in Leeds to "look at women wearing low-cut tops in the street". The speaker declares the practice is "part of British history - and more important than human rights", and laments that "they" - variously, Muslims, foreigners and feminists - want to "take it away from us".

Never mind the right of the women in question to wear what they want or, for that matter, to walk down that Leeds street without fear of the entitled harassment made extremely explicit in this speech. This is not about women. This is about men, and how men define themselves against other men.

In the dialect of male-coded cultural violence, whether it takes place on a street in Leeds, in a Middle Eastern valley, or in the minds of a generation raised on sectarian squabbling and distrust, women are valuable only and always as a cultural symbol.

Some years ago I spent a summer in an eating disorders ward, where I struck up a friendship with a fellow patient called Sara, a Saudi Muslim who wore hijab and smoked Italian cigarettes. When we were well enough to walk in the hospital gardens, Sara and I would spend long hours talking about how other people always seemed to want to control how we looked. She shared with me the privations of compulsory Islamic dress, and I explained the pressure to constantly appear feminine and sexy that I experienced as a British teenager raised by atheists.

As an experiment, we decided to swap clothes for a fortnight. Sara wore skintight tracksuits and her short, spiky hair uncovered; I wore an Abaya with full headscarf which she taught me to fold and tuck.

What was striking was that when we took trips to the shops in our new gladrags, both of us felt immensely liberated: our bodies were finally our own, hers to show off as she pleased, mine to cover if I wanted. For the first time since puberty, I felt that people might be seeing the real me, rather than looking at my body.

This flavour of freedom, which for some women is central to self-respect, is just as valid and important a choice as the freedom to go bare-legged and low-cut. A truly progressive Western culture would respect both. But what European governments seem not to have grasped is that the freedom to wear whatever little dress we like is not every woman's idea of the zenith of personal emancipation.

There are hundreds of points of action that feminists across Europe would prioritize above banning the burqa, were anyone to actually ask us. What about increasing public provision of refuges and counseling for the hundreds of thousands of European victims of sexual abuse, forced marriage and domestic violence, rather than focusing state efforts on the fashion choices of a minority of women who wear the full Islamic veil? After all, it's safe to say that any woman who is forced to wear a burqa against her will has problems that will not be solved by simply forbidding the garment.

It is patriarchy rather than religion that oppresses women across the world, whether it wears the face of an Imam, an abusive partner or a government minister. The truth is that the way women choose to present themselves is still desperately political, in Islamic culture and wider society.

The Islamic veil is definitively a threat to Western values, and will continue to be so as long as the West continues to define its notion of freedom as a measure of exposed and monetised female flesh.

In seeking to restrict the free choice of women to dress as they please, whether in a burqa, a bolero or a binbag, European governments are not protecting women but mounting a paranoid defense of their own right to determine feminine behavior.


Source: Laurie Penny @ New Statesman
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Europe pressures Westminster on votes for prisoners

The government faces being hauled before the European court of human rights unless it gives prisoners the right to vote as a matter of urgency.

The revelation comes as several law firms seek to launch claims on behalf of thousands of UK prisoners who are demanding compensation – estimated to be as much as £750 each – on the grounds they were illegally denied the right to vote at the last general election.

The contentious issue threatens to become another test of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition. The Lib Dems were strongly critical of the previous government's refusal to enfranchise the prison population while the Conservatives have consistently avoided addressing the issue.

In March 2004, the ECHR ruled in Hirst v UK that the government's blanket ban barring sentenced prisoners from voting was unlawful. But despite the ruling, the previous government continued to consult on the issue and failed to make it law.

The committee of ministers, the body that oversees European member states' compliance with ECHR judgments, is to meet this week to discuss the UK's failure to enfranchise prisoners following the ruling.

The committee will then issue a stark public reminder to the government that it must comply with the ruling immediately. If it refuses, the committee has the power to refer the question of whether the government has failed in its obligations to the ECHR, a move that would put Westminster on a collision course with the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe.

The clash would represent the culmination of months of mounting frustration on the part of the committee. In March it warned the UK must "rapidly adopt measures, of even an interim nature, to ensure the execution of the court's judgment before the forthcoming general election", otherwise the nationwide vote would be illegal.

The Prison Reform Trust, which campaigns for prisoners to be given the vote, said the government now has no choice but to introduce measures that will enfranchise inmates. "We understand from their statements that the committee of ministers at the Council of Europe takes this matter of protracted non-compliance very seriously indeed and we hope that the new coalition government will seek to put matters right without further delay," said Juliet Lyon, director of the trust.

Penal reformers say giving prisoners the vote is about restoring a fundamental human right that will confer a sense of responsibility and aid their rehabilitation.

They point out that the UK is out of step with many other countries. Eighteen European countries have no restrictions on prisoners voting while in France and Germany a decision to disenfranchise a prisoner is left to the courts.

In Australia and New Zealand the length of a prisoner's sentence determines their right to vote. Other countries where prisoners have the right to vote include South Africa, Poland, and Canada.

But any move that recognises the ECHR ruling on prisoner voting is likely to spark an angry reaction from Eurosceptics. In the House of Lords last year Lord Tebbit attacked the measure as a form of "judicial imperialism" effectively foisted on the UK by a foreign court.

Enfranchising prisoners is supported by the Prison Governors Association and Lord Hurd, the former Conservative home secretary, has claimed that "if prisoners had the vote then the MPs would take a good deal more interest in conditions in prisons".However, the previous government, aware that some sections of the media and the public are opposed to allowing prisoners the vote, claimed there were problems with implementing the legislation. The concerns have been assuaged by the Electoral Commission which has established a mechanism by which prisoners can be enfranchised though a system of postal or proxy voting.

The government also said it was unclear which categories of prisoner should be allowed to vote. In April in the case of Frodl v Austria, the ECHR ruled that it is unlawful to disenfranchise all prisoners serving a sentence of more than one year in jail.

The court emphasised that a decision to deny a prisoner the vote should instead "be taken by a judge, taking into account the particular circumstances".

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: "The government is considering the best way forward on the issue of prisoner voting rights. Until the approach is settled, it would not be appropriate to make further comments."

Source: The Guardian

Number 1,000 has a name.

The latest Department of Defense identifications of casualties:
• Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht, 24, of College Station, Texas, died May 27 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
• Army Maj. Ronald W. Culver Jr., 44, of Shreveport, La., died May 24 in Numaniyah, Iraq, when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive.
• Army Pfc. Christopher R. Barton, 22, of Concord, N.C., was killed by enemy small arms May 24 in Khowst province, Afghanistan.

More names:
http://www.kansascity.com/2010/05/29/1980032/military-deaths.html

---

News agencies today have pointed out the first name, Jacob Leicht, was the 1,000th serviceman to die in Afghanistan. A number only marks a 'milestone' - A name marks a life. It's the first thing we receive in life, and when we hear the name of a friend or family member, it is associated with a face, a personality, and memories. On Memorial Day we pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, but since it's done collectively we lose a personal connection.

Please comment, and give the NAME (first name only if you have privacy concerns) of someone who lost their life in service to their country. It doesn't matter which war. It can be a family member, an ancestor, the friend of a friend, or even someone you read about.

It's not going to be engraved on any monument, and this post will soon disappear - but you will have remembered someone's name.


I REMEMBER:

LTJG ROBERT WHITESIDE, UNITED STATES NAVY, 1944-1969, my friend.
Reporting

Yemeni Software Developer Awarded TED Fellowship for anti-Censorship Activism

A Yemeni software developer and activist was among this year’s batch of new TED fellows, according to a press statement by TED. Walid al-Saqaf, the founder of Yemen Portal (https://yemenportal.net) and alkasir circumvention software (https://alkasir.com), along with 22 other persons from several countries around the world have been selected from over 800 candidates to take part in the renowned TEDGlobal 2010, TED’s annual conference to be held in Oxford, UK during July 12-16, 2010. Al-Saqaf is the only Arab selected this year and is the first Yemeni and among a handful of Arabs to have ever been awarded this prestigious fellowship since its inception.

Al-Saqaf developed alkasir (Arabic for ‘the circumventor’), a software solution that allows users around the world to circumvent website or URL filtering through ’split-tunneling’, which diverts traffic to a secure tunnel only if the accessed website is found to be among those verified to be blocked by the specific user’s Internet Service Provider. If a website is not blocked, alkasir allows traffic to flow directly and without tunneling. This mechanism makes circumvention more efficient and less resource-hungry. It also creates the possibility of dynamically tracking and studying filtering patterns around the world. Al-Saqaf is currently using alkasir as a research tool in a study about Internet censorship for his PhD degree in media and communication at Orebro University in Sweden.

Al-Saqaf said he considered the TED fellowship an honor and a recognition of “the talents and abilities of Yemenis and Arabs, of whom many had contributed various inventions and innovations which are not less important.” Al-Saqaf said he would like to dedicate this fellowship to “those yearning and acting for freedom, particularly Yemeni and Arab journalists and activists, who risk their lives every day for the pursuit of justice and to end of tyranny committed against the people in their respective countries.”

Furthermore, and to mark the first anniversary of the public release of alkasir, al-Saqaf announced the soon-to-be-released alkasir version 1.2.0, which includes a built-in browser with a dual Arabic/English interface. He noted that users currently using the old version will soon need to upgrade to the new one, which will be available soon. However, al-Saqaf also added that the new version will remain under development after its release and users’ feedback will be helpful to improve it further. “Members of Yemen Portal and alkasir websites will be informed immediately when and how they could get the new version, which has a host of new and exciting features,” he said.

Al-Saqaf also thanked MidEast Youth, a network of young activists dedicated to enhancing democracy and freedom in the Middle East, for supporting alkasir’s project from its outset and expressed hope that other Arab organizations would follow its example, particularly in its ability to use technology in new and innovative ways.

The fellowship comes on the heels of the Democracy Prize 2010 that was awarded to al-Saqaf by Orebro University in Sweden for his contribution to the advancement of democracy through Yemen Portal and alkasir. It also comes after an official invitation was sent to him to take part in the upcoming High Level Democracy Meeting to be held in Krakow, Poland in early July 2010. Al-Saqaf will be a panelist in a session on New Technologies for Democracy in the three-day event, which will be attended by foreign ministers from across the world to mark the 10th anniversary of the Community of Democracies.

Source

Darren/People Photoshoot

FDA considers dropping ban on gay men from donating blood.

Federal ban on gay men's blood donation to be reconsidered
By Madison Park, CNN
May 26, 2010 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)

(CNN) -- When Mark Shields started his job at the American Red Cross in Madison, Wisconsin, he rolled up his sleeve to give blood. It made sense. Part of his job was encouraging the public to donate and supporting the organization's lifesaving mission.

Before he could give, he was told that his blood could never be accepted. Because he's gay.

"I was 23 at the time. I was just coming out," he said. "I was trying to be part of our organization's mission and feeling like I can't do this. ... I certainly felt put on the spot. It was a bad feeling for a lot of reasons."

Under Food and Drug Administration rules, men who have had sex -- even once -- with another man since 1977 are not permitted to give blood. The rule was implemented in 1983, sparked by concerns that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, was tainting the blood supply. Screening tests to identify HIV-positive blood had not been developed. The policy was seen as a safety measure.

But today, with the availability of more accurate testing, activists, blood organizations and several U.S. senators say the lifetime ban is "medically and scientifically unwarranted" and are calling for change.

The Federal Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability will consider the issue in meetings June 10 and 11 in Rockville, Maryland. The committee makes recommendations to the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA.

Medical opinions vary; some experts say that lifting the ban could pose health risks to blood recipients.

The Human Rights Campaign, the American Red Cross, America's Blood Centers and AABB, formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks, support easing the lifetime ban to allow gay blood donors. In a joint statement, the blood organizations said that safety was the first priority and that potential donors should be screened more fairly, regardless of sexual orientation.

About three months ago, Sen. John Kerry and 17 other senators signed a letter to the FDA blasting its "outdated" policy.

Gay men, including those who are in monogamous relationships, are forbidden from contributing blood for the rest of their lives, while "a heterosexual who has had sex with a prostitute need only wait a year [before giving blood]. That does not strike me as a sound scientific conclusion," Kerry wrote in a March 9 letter.

The FDA defended its current policy in an e-mailed statement to CNN.com: The policy, it said, is "based on scientific data that show that certain medical, behavioral and geographical factors are associated with increased risk of transfusion transmitted diseases."

The agency has been "taking into account the current body of scientific information, and we are considering the possibility of pursuing alternative strategies that maintain blood safety," the statement said.

The FDA retained the ban on gay blood donors after reviewing the issue in 2000 and 2006.

Health statistics show that men who have sex with men have a higher rate of diseases including HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B. Gay men who would be likely to donate have an HIV prevalence that is over 15 times higher than that of the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I do not see this being a gay rights issue," said Dr. Jay Brooks, professor of pathology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, adding that he favors gay marriage and gays serving in the military.

The issue of blood donation has "nothing to do with someone being gay. Any group that's epidemiologically at risk of making blood unsafe, it's unfortunate. ... It's a matter of epidemiology."

The different standards between gay and straight people exists because the risk of HIV is much lower in heterosexuals, he said.

"The interest of the recipient is greater than any donor," Brooks said. "I'd hate to tell the one person who got HIV through a blood transfusion, 'Sorry, we changed the regulation.' "

These days, blood screenings are so effective in detecting diseases that the risk of such infection is very small, said Dr. Norbert Gilmore, a professor and clinician at the McGill University Health Center in Canada.

The blood donations go through HIV antigen screening (to detect antibodies produced by the body in response to the virus) and nucleic acid testing. However, there is a "window period" for about two weeks after an individual becomes infected with HIV when these tests cannot detect the virus.

But that risk of this infection is "so small, we should look at the day-to-day realities rather than those infinitesimal risks," said Gilmore, whose research published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal criticized the ban in Canada and the U.S. as unscientific.

The most important issue in this debate should be the safety of the patients, said Mark Skinner, president of the World Federation of Hemophilia.

"This isn't an issue just about HIV. It isn't a gay issue," he said. "This is an issue that relates to safety in the blood supply. Those decisions should be made on science, not based on societal concerns. We readily recognize the MSM [men who have sex with men] ban is discriminatory, but it's discriminatory for a reason.

"What we're looking for is a thoughtful review. We're not opposed to the change. We want to understand what additional risks patients might be asked to accept," he said.

Shawn Decker, a hemophiliac who contracted HIV through contaminated blood products, said he supports allowing gay men to donate blood.

Potential donors should be screened based on risky behaviors such as unprotected sex or intravenous drug use, not sexual orientation, he said.

Decker said he was looking forward to a time when "those very allies and friends" in the gay community "are allowed to pony up and give the blood that is used to create my treatments for hemophilia."

Source

Even though there are some problematic/annoying statements in favor of the ban in this article, it's cool to see that the FDA is considering dropping the ban.

Anti-drugs campaigner Barbara Harris brings crusade to sterilise addicts to UK

In California, Barbara Harris's Project Prevention has been accused of back-door eugenics. Now she's touring British cities

To many people, Barbara Harris is a dangerous woman. A maverick "do-gooder" from California, she has been accused of effectively promoting eugenics via the back door by paying for drug addicts to be sterilised.

Despite being lambasted in the media and condemned by health experts in the UK, Harris is visiting cities around Britain looking to launch pilot projects that will help her achieve her goal of reducing "the number of substance-exposed births to zero".

While Harris may have been subjected to savage criticism from the authorities, a significant portion of the public are warming to her views.

The website of Harris's charity, Project Prevention, boasts scores of emails from Britons supportive of her aims, many of whom have pledged donations while expressing anger that the government will not introduce a similar scheme of its own. Typical comments read: "I had to deal with this issue as a teacher and it enraged me. I hope you are successful in the UK and not defeated by the liberal urban elite who seem to dominate our country with their wishy-washy half-hearted solutions to our deep social problems. I have made a donation."

Another, from a child protection solicitor for a county council, adds: "All I want to say to you is thank god for project prevention! Congratulations on coming to the UK. I get tired of hearing about drug addicts' rights while children suffer… I hope to see the success of this project in my everyday work."

Harris has talked up her growing UK support base on Twitter, although backing for her ideals is by no means uniform. Many of the comments on the site and other social networking online platforms are hostile. Some experts are reluctant to condemn Harris outright.

"The problem that Ms Harris is trying to address is a real one," concedes Julian Sheather, the British Medical Association's ethics manager, writing in a personal capacity on the British Medical Journal's blog.

"A small number of drug-addicted women give birth to a succession of drug-dependent children who are taken into foster care. It is by any standards an appalling start in life.

"There is a certain red-necked 'it does what it says on the can' appeal to Ms Harris's response. Her championing the rights of the unborn over the rights of addict mothers also has a certain populist appeal."

However, Sheather warns, Harris's actions raise serious ethical issues. "Even Project Prevention admits the money will almost always go to feed the addict's habit," he notes.

"Would the addiction render consent invalid? Is the payment a coercive means of getting people to agree to a sterilisation they would otherwise not contemplate?"

Since it was founded in 1994, Project Prevention has paid 3,388 people in the US to be sterilised or to take long-term contraception measures. Of these, 1,059 have chosen Depo-Provera, a long-term injectable contraceptive; 1,260 chose tubal ligation – sterilisation – while the remainder have opted for coils or implants. Just under 50 men have had vasectomies.

In the US, addicts are offered up to $300 (£200) for sterilisation. The charity states its objective is "to reduce the burden of this social problem on taxpayers, trim down social worker caseloads, and alleviate from our clients the burden of having children that will potentially be taken away."

Collapse )

Source: The Observer
misc. | Tiny Pissed-off Owl

ONTD_Political's PotD: May 28, 2010.


An untested procedure to plug the blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico seemed to be working, officials said Thursday, but new estimates from scientists showed the spill has already surpassed the Exxon Valdez as the worst in U.S. history. A team of scientists trying to determine how much oil has been flowing since the offshore rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and sank two days later found the rate was more than twice and possibly up to five times as high as previously thought. The fallout from the spill has stretched all the way to Washington, where the head of the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling resigned under pressure Thursday. Even using the most conservative estimate, the new numbers mean the leak has grown to nearly 19 million gallons over the past five weeks, surpassing the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, which at about 11 million gallons had been the nation's worst spill. Under the highest Gulf spill estimate, nearly 39 million gallons may have leaked, enough to fill 30 school gymnasiums.
Collapse )


Full galleries:

There are No Gay Actors, Only Gay Parts by Maia Spotts

Heath Ledger, Sean Penn, Al Pacino, Hillary Swank, Charlize Theron, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Javier Bardim, Felicity Huffman, William Hurt, Salma Hayek. What do all these great actors have in common? No, they're not all secretly gay. But they have all been nominated for or won an Academy Award for playing gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered characters.

In the past decade and a half or so, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of gay characters to portray. Gay roles likely appeal to actors because they allow them to portray some of the most compelling characters around, not to mention the fact that the Academy thinks they're swell. They are often outsiders wanting to be accepted, with a history of societal disregard, harboring secrets, struggling to inhabit the truest version of themselves despite so many forces acting against them. Gay love stories are immensely intimate, but rife with fear and inherent danger. These characters offer actors a chance to embody strength and vulnerability, self-discovery and repression, joy, self-hatred — an actor's dream.

And if gay characters are this deep, this emotional, this complex, just imagine what real live gays must be like. So actors who are gay must have, by definition, an especially deep well of emotions which they can tap into in order to portray whatever character.

What if these actors, as complex beings, simply bring more depth to characters than some of their straight counterparts? With all the continuing brouhaha, rigmarole and general hubbub surrounding Ramin Setoodeh's Newsweek article, I thought, what if what Ramin interpreted as some sort of lurking gayness is simply complexity of performance?

 

Collapse )

 

interlac k

Israel attacks Gaza aid flotilla

Reports: Israeli Ships Attack Aid Flotilla, 2 Dead

Reports: Israeli navy attacks Pro-Palestinian aid flotilla heading for Gaza, 2 killed

By TIA GOLDENBERG
The Associated Press
HAIFA, Israel

Israeli warships attacked at least one of the six ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and aid for blockaded Gaza, killing at least two and wounding an unknown number of people on board, an Arabic satellite service and a Turkish TV network reported early Monday.

The Israeli military refused to comment on the report.

The al-Jazeera satellite channel reported by telephone from the Turkish ship leading the flotilla that Israeli navy forces fired at the ship and boarded it, wounding the captain. The Turkish NTV network also reported an Israeli takeover with gunfire, and at least two people were killed.

The al-Jazeera broadcast ended with a voice shouting in Hebrew, "Everybody shut up!"

The reports came just after daybreak, with the flotilla still well away from the Gaza shore. Israel had declared it would not allow the ships to reach Gaza.

The head of the Gaza Hamas government, Ismail Haniyeh, condemned the "brutal" Israeli attack.

"We call on the Secretary-General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon, to shoulder his responsibilities to protect the safety of the solidarity groups who were on board these ships and to secure their way to Gaza," Haniyeh told The Associated Press.
Collapse )

Source

update: haaretz reporting 'at least 10' dead

update 2: al jazeera says 16 dead
music | Cindy Mayweather

ONTD_Political's PotD: May 29, 2010.


A robot balances on one leg during a show titled "better living with robots" at the Japanese pavilion at the site of the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai on May 18, 2010. Organisers expected 70 million visitors -- most of them Chinese -- to attend the biggest-ever World's Fair, with an average of 380,000 people expected to visit the site daily.

PHILIPPE LOPEZ | AFP/Getty Images
Collapse )