June 1st, 2010

Mandela, Tutu & other Nobel winners criticise Flotilla deaths

The Elders group of past and present world leaders, including former South African president Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu today condemned as “completely inexcusable” the deadly Israeli attack on a flotilla carrying aid for Gaza.

“The Elders have condemned the reported killing by Israeli forces of more than a dozen people who were attempting to deliver relief supplies to the Gaza Strip by sea,” the 12—member group said in a statement issued in Johannesburg, where it met over the weekend.

The group, which was launched by Mr. Mandela on his birthday in 2007 to try to solve some of the world’s most intractable conflicts, called for a “full investigation” of the incident and urged the UN Security Council “to debate the situation with a view to mandating action to end the closure of the Gaza Strip.”

“This tragic incident should draw the world’s attention to the terrible suffering of Gaza’s 1.5 million people, half of whom are children under the age of 18,” the group said.

Israel’s three—year blockade of Gaza was not only “one of the world’s greatest human rights violations” and “illegal” under international law, it was also “counterproductive” because it empowered extremists in the Palestinian territory, they said.

The Elders includes six Nobel peace prize winners — former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, former US president Jimmy Carter, detained Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Mr. Mandela and Tutu.

Norway’s first female Prime Minister Gro Brundtland; former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso; former Irish president and ex—UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson; Mozambican social activist Graca Machel; Indian women’s rights activist Ela Bhatt; and Algerian veteran UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi are the other members.

Source: Liberal Conspiracy

Guatamala Sinkhole Photo

The office of Guatemala's president handed out this aerial view of a crater that opened up after Agatha hit.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this pic on the CNN site. It doesn't even look real and something from that shitty 2012 movie!

How can a tropical storm cause that much damage?  These pics seem totally unrelated somehow.
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Something NOT about Israel. :O

China bans evidence from torture

Evidence obtained under torture cannot be used in China's courts, the government has said, weeks after a convicted murderer was set free because his victim turned out to be alive.

Laws banning torture are already in place, but analysts say they are widely disregarded.

Officials were embarrassed by the case of Zhao Zuohai, who spent 11 years in jail for a murder that never happened.

He says he was beaten by police until he confessed.

He was eventually given $96,000 (£67,000) in compensation and two policemen accused of beating him were arrested.

Correspondents say convictions in the Chinese court system are strongly dependent on confessions, motivating police to use force.

'Big progress'

The government issued two new sets of procedures - the first covers evidence in cases subject to the death penalty, and the second rules on evidence obtained under duress in all criminal cases.

For people appealing against the death penalty, testimony given under duress and evidence from unnamed sources is now to be excluded.

Death-penalty defendants have also been given the right to ask for an investigation into whether their testimony was obtained illegally.

The regulations banned any evidence of unclear origin, confessions obtained through torture, or testimony obtained through violence and intimidation.

Legal expert Zhao Bingzhi told the state-run China Daily that it was the first time a "systematic and clear regulation" had been given on the issue.

"Previously we could only infer from abstract laws that illegal evidence is not allowed. But in reality, in many cases, such evidence was considered valid," he said.

"This is big progress, both for the legal system and for better protection of human rights. It will help reduce the number of executions."

Source: BBC

Bill Clinton rips left in Arkansas race

Former President Bill Clinton returned to his home state Friday to help a beleaguered ally and delivered a broadside against some of the most powerful interests in the Democratic Party.

Using unusually vivid language to describe the threat against Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Clinton urged the voters who nurtured his career to resist outside forces bent on making an example out of the two-term Democratic incumbent.

He pounded the podium with Lincoln at his side, warning that national liberal and labor groups wanted to make her a “poster child” in the June 8 Senate run-off to send a message about what happens to Democrats who don’t toe the party line.

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Janet: I'm better than you

SCOTUS: Suspects must say they want to be silent

The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 1, 2010; 10:16 AM

WASHINGTON --The Supreme Court says suspects must explicitly tell police they want to be silent to invoke their Miranda protection during interrogations.

A right to remain silent and a right to a lawyer are the first of the Miranda rights warnings, which police recite to suspects during arrests and interrogations. But the justices said Tuesday suspects must tell police they are going to remain silent to stop an interrogation, just as they must tell police that they want a lawyer.

The ruling comes in a case where a suspect remained mostly silent for a three-hour police interrogation before implicating himself in a murder. He appealed his conviction, saying that he invoked his Miranda right to remain silent by remaining silent.


De Menezes family condemn Ian Blair peerage

Shrine to Jean Charles de Menezes, Stockwell t...

Image via Wikipedia

A spokesperson for the J4J (Justice For Jean) campaign last week condemned the decision to give former Met Police chief Ian Blair a peerage as an “insult”.

This seems like a final flourish of a discredited Parliamentary system handing out tawdry awards to political allies and cronies. Actions like this only reinforce the impression that politicians remain detached from the views of ordinary British people.

Jean Charles De Menezes was shot by Met Police officers in 2005. An investigation later showed the Met Police repeatedly tried to block the inquiry into his death.

Vivian Figuereda, cousin of Jean Charles de Menezes, who lived with him at the time of his death said:

We are disgusted at this decision. As Commissioner, we believe Ian Blair was ultimately accountable for the death of Jean, for the lies told and the cover up. He even tried to stop the IPCC investigating our cousin’s death. This is a final slap in the face for our family.

Blogger Kevin Blowe added:

Quite how someone, who deliberately delayed an investigation into a hugely controversial death and whose force was found to have made nineteen catastrophic errors that endangered the lives of Londoners, could ever been viewed as fit to serve in the House of Lords, or provide the benefits of his ’specialist knowledge’, is quite beyond me. Once again, it rather makes the case for the abolition of the Lords so that such blatant acts of patronage are no longer possible.


Source: Liberal Conspiracy
Also: Some background, for those unfamiliar with the de Menezes fiasco
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Gulf oil spill threatens tribe's livelihood in Louisiana


POINTE-AUX-CHENES, La. -- There is an ages-old expression among the people of southern Louisiana's Indian bayous. "Pas tout là,'' they say with smiles.

"Not all there,'' it means.

As in, "not right in the head.''

This is how the Native Americans of Pointe-Aux-Chenes have come to describe one of the guilty parties of the worst oil spill in American history. "Pas tout là,'' they say with a grin when asked about BP.

The Indians here have borne the consequences of the work of oil and gas companies for nearly 100 years, but the oil that is now only a short boat ride away has the potential to slam a death nail into this fishing village and the cultural identity of Indians who have populated it for centuries.

They are angry, yet they speak of BP with a smile. The oil is coming, but still they smile and work and party down on the bayou.

"People here are just laid back and we enjoy life,'' said Lora Ann Chaisson, a tribal councilwoman of the United Houma Nation, a state-recognized tribe whose 17,000 members live in a six-parish area. "We know the oil is there, but we're still going to enjoy life.''

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Sufjan Smile

"The evil scourge of terrorism": Reality, construction, remedy

Noam Chomsky
Text of lecture delivered at the International Erich Fromm Society, Stuttgart, Germany, March 23, 2010

The president could not have been more justified when he condemned "the evil scourge of terrorism." I am quoting Ronald Reagan, who came into office in 1981 declaring that a focus of his foreign policy would be state-directed international terrorism, "the plague of the modern age" and "a return to barbarism in our time," to sample some of the rhetoric of his administration. When George W. Bush declared a "war on terror" 20 years later, he was redeclaring the war, an important fact that is worth exhuming from Orwell's memory hole if we hope to understand the nature of the evil scourge of terrorism, or more importantly, if we hope to understand ourselves. We do not need the famous Delphi inscription to recognize that there can be no more important task. Just as a personal aside, that critical necessity was forcefully brought home to me almost 70 years ago in my first encounter with Erich Fromm's work, in his classic essay on the escape to freedom in the modern world, and the grim paths that the modern free individual was tempted to choose in the effort to escape the loneliness and anguish that accompanied the newly-discovered freedom -- matters all too pertinent today, unfortunately.

The reasons why Reagan's war on terror has been dispatched to the repository of unwelcome facts are understandable and informative -- about ourselves. Instantly, Reagan's war on terror became a savage terrorist war, leaving hundreds of thousands of tortured and mutilated corpses in the wreckage of Central America, tens of thousands more in the Middle East, and an estimated 1.5 million killed by South African terror that was strongly supported by the Reagan administration in violation of congressional sanctions. All of these murderous exercises of course had pretexts. The resort to violence always does. In the Middle East, Reagan's decisive support for Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which killed some 15-20,000 people and destroyed much of southern Lebanon and Beirut, was based on the pretense that it was in selfdefense against PLO rocketing of the Galilee, a brazen fabrication: Israel recognized at once that the threat was PLO diplomacy, which might have undermined Israel's illegal takeover of the occupied territories. In Africa, support for the marauding of the apartheid state was officially justified within the framework of the war on terror: it was necessary to protect white South Africa from one of the world's "more notorious terrorist groups," Nelson Mandela's African National Congress, so Washington determined in 1988. The pretexts in the other cases were no more impressive.
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Source: Chomsky.info

In reflection of the recent escalation in Afghanistan, the actions of Israel, and all of this hullabaloo about terrorist states, I'd like to present you with a lecture by Noam Chomsky from March of this year, in which he reflects upon the history of state terror as enacted and sponsored by the United States.

I haven't bolded it, because it's a very factual summary. There's not a lot of buzz phrases and gripping items, but a very consise and exact breakdown of the various actions in which we have taken since the 1980's in the name of fighting terrorism, and the terrorist actions supported by the state as far back as to the aftermath of World War II and the Cuban revolution.

The tl;dr for all you sticklers though, in bullet points!:
  • How Reagan at once both condemned terrorism and enacted terroristic foreign policy which resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands.
  • How this is not exceptional, because the Kennedy administration was a total asshole too, starting with clandestine warfare in Cuba, and then just ending up hiring ex-Batistites to carry out bombing operations and sabotage. Also how this wasn't in defense of "democracy" but of US hegemony according to the Monroe Doctrine.
  • Also the media was complicit in all of this.
  • How we totally fucked over Chile and hell, Latin America as a whole.
  • Why Afghanistan is totally not the "right" war to fight, or a "good" war, and the lies and failures in the leadup to it that make it wrong.
  • How to address terrorism: Using the IRA as an example!
  • And a brief bit on the "war on drugs" and the duplicity of stated goals.

    If any of that interests you, please, dive on in! You won't regret it.
  • American journalist shot at Flotilla protest

    As Palestinians gathered at Israel's Qalandiya checkpoint on Monday 31 May, to voice shock and anger over the death of at least ten anti-siege activists on the Freedom Flotilla, shot by Israeli combat soldiers who boarded the boats in international waters on Monday, solders dispersed the protest with tear-gas and rubber-coated bullets.

    Twenty-one year old American journalist Emily Henochowicz was hit in the left eye with a tear-gas canister, reportedly fired directly at her by soldiers. She was taken to a Ramallah hospital and transferred to Israel's Hadassa Hospital, where medics said surgeons were preparing to remove her eye.

    Israeli officials did not return Ma'an phone calls seeking comment.

    Photos show Henochowicz being hit by the high-velocity canisters, and Palestinian women tending to her before the arrival of medics.

    More pictures at source.

    UPDATE: Emily is recovering at Hadassah Hospital after two surgeries Monday night. She lost her left eye, three metal plates were inserted into her head/face, and her jaw is wired shut. The bone surrounding her eye socket, cheekbone and jawbone are all fractured. Emily was standing peacefully during a demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint Monday when Border Police fired a large number of tear gas canisters directly at the heads of Emily and another ISM activist.

    More information here
    palin glasses

    Stand With Israel! Palin Reacts to Flotilla Incident

    Israeli Flotilla: Don't Take Mainstream Media Coverage at Face Value

    The media, as usual, seems to be reporting only one side of the Israeli Flotilla incident. Don't trust the mainstream media to give you both sides of a story fairly... you must seek out fair reporting to ensure you have all the information.

    As far too many in the media, and in various governments, rush to condemn Israel, we must put the recent events off Israel’s coast into the right perspective. This “relief” convoy was not about humanitarian aid, as the liberal mainstream media keeps reporting. The whole operation was designed to provoke Israel, not to provide supplies to Palestinians held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Anyone who sees the video of Israeli commandos being attacked as they land on that ship knows the people aboard were vicious thugs, not “peace activists.” The media insults our intelligence with their outright mischaracterization of who these enemies are.

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    Great peice speaking truth without the MSM filter.

    Health Care Repeal Losing Steam

    WASHINGTON — Toss it or fix it? Anxious backers of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law are starting to see a flicker of hope.

    While polls show Americans remain sharply divided over the Democrats' landmark legislation, they aren't clamoring for its repeal.

    Instead, the public seems willing to listen to candidates who would give the overhaul a chance and fix or improve it as needed. That's the signal from some surveys and a congressional race in a bellwether Pennsylvania district.

    It's a pragmatic, somewhat counterintuitive outlook.

    That could be a break for Democrats in the fall elections, since Republicans are campaigning hard for repeal of the health care law.

    "Though most Americans still do not favor the law, they tend to be leaning toward candidates who would give it a chance and make some changes, rather than those who would repeal it and start over again," said Robert Blendon, a Harvard public health school professor who follows opinion trends on health care.
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    UN urges inquiry into Israel convoy raid

    The UN Security Council has issued a statement calling for an impartial inquiry into Israel's raid on a flotilla of Gaza-bound aid ships.

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    The statement said the investigation should be "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent".

    It also condemned the "acts" which led to the deaths of at least 10 civilian activists during the operation.

    The raid sparked strong international condemnation and calls for Israel to lift its three-year blockade of Gaza.
    The UN statement was reached after hours of discussion as the council deliberated through the night.

    In Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel's raid a "bloody massacre" as he addressed parliament.

    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has ordered the border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip to be opened.

    The Egyptian state news agency said it was to allow humanitarian aid through. It is not clear how long the crossing at Rafah will be kept open.

    The UN statement was the result of a compromise between Turkey and the United States, with Turkey reluctant to water down its trenchant criticism of Israel while the United States, Israel's closest ally, wanted to temper the language used, says the BBC's UN correspondent Barbara Plett in New York.

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    Christian Bale

    The Onion Gives Semi-Literate Gold Prospector His Own Cable News Show (VIDEO)

    The Onion News Network has entered the cable news world, giving semi-literate former gold prospector Joad Cressbeckler his own news commentary show. And he's certainly qualified. Cressbeckler burst on the scene when he threatened to steal support from John McCain in the 2008 election. And don't even question his experience. The guy's been around. He's a "decorated veteran who survived yellow fever only to lose his left leg in the Spanish American War." Obviously Cressbeckler knows pain - so we know he's not gonna just break down and cry on camera. Unlike some other outlandish hosts we know.



    Al-Qaida: No. 3 official killed with family

    Al-Qaida announced Monday that its No. 3 official, Mustafa al-Yazid, had been killed along with members of his family — perhaps one of the most severe blows to the terror movement since the U.S. campaign against al-Qaida began. A U.S. official said al-Yazid was believed to have died in a U.S. missile strike.

    A statement posted on an al-Qaida Website said al-Yazid, which it described as the organization's top commander in Afghanistan, was killed along with his wife, three daughters, a grandchild and other men, women and children but did not say how or where.

    The statement did not give an exact date for al-Yazid's death, but it was dated by the Islamic calendar month of "Jemadi al-Akhar," which falls in May.

    A U.S. official in Washington said word was "spreading in extremist circles" of his death in Pakistan's tribal areas in the past two weeks.

    His death would be a major blow to al-Qaida, which in December "lost both its internal and external operations chiefs," the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

    The Egyptian-born al-Yazid, also known as Sheik Saeed al-Masri, was a founding member of al-Qaida and the group's prime conduit to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri. He was key to day-to-day control, with a hand in everything from finances to operational planning, the U.S. official said.

    Al-Yazid has been reported killed before, in 2008, but this is the first time his death has been acknowledged by the militant group on the Internet.

    Two Pakistani intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, said al-Yazid died in a U.S. missile strike on May 21 in the North Waziristan tribal area.


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    Women in Italy to be offered €4,500 to not have abortions

    In a policy welcomed by anti-abortion campaigners but dismissed by critics as propaganda, women in northern Italy who cannot afford to have their babies are to be offered €4,500 (£3,700) not to have an abortion.

    Roberto Formigoni, the centre-right governor of the Lombardy region, said that the offer was to fulfil his pledge in regional elections in March that no woman should have to have an abortion because of economic difficulties.

    During the regional poll the ruling centre-right coalition, led by Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, made a pitch for the Catholic vote by supporting Vatican policies on issues such as abortion and birth control.

    Mr Formigoni said that, despite cuts in the budget, $5 million had been set aside to allow women in economic difficulty to be given €250 a month for 18 months.

    If a woman told doctors she wanted an abortion for economic reasons she would be referred to a new centre for helping life for evaluation.

    Augusto Colombo, a gynaecologist in Milan, said that there had been an increase in demands for abortion, which was attributable to the economy. “Whoever has trouble making ends meet often decides not to have a child,” he said.

    Cinzia Sasso, a feminist writer in Milan, said that the move was propaganda, and the sum set aside was risible because it would allow only just over 1,000 women to avoid abortions. “In any case it is not clear how these women are supposed to manage when the anti-abortion bonus runs out after 18 months.”

    In the regional poll centre-right candidates also vowed to ban the RU486 abortion pill days after it was made available. The pill, which gives a chemically induced abortion in the first seven weeks of pregnancy, was attacked by leaders of the Northern League. Abortion in the first three months of pregnancy has been available on demand in Italy for health, economic or social reasons since 1978. In the second 90 days it is restricted to serious malformations or when the woman’s life is at risk. A proposal to repeal the law was rejected overwhelminglyin a 1981 referendum.

    In April a 22-week-old boy was found breathing a day after being aborted in the town of Rossano, after scans showed a cleft lip and palate. He died a day later.

    Italian police have launched an investigation to establish whether the death amounted to infanticide.

    I feel like I know her
    • maclyn

    Anxious wait for aid ship families

    Families of Scots on board a flotilla which was attacked as it attempted to deliver aid to Gaza have spoken of their anxious wait to hear from loved ones.

    The boats, which were carrying 10,000 tonnes of supplies to Gaza, were in international waters when Israeli commandos boarded early on Monday.

    Israeli officials said the death toll from the incident was nine, but some reports put it as high as 19.

    Israel insisted its forces retaliated against an attack by people on board the aid flotilla, who it said were armed with weapons including knives and guns. However, activists have said the commandos were shooting as they boarded.

    The Foreign Office said several British nationals had been detained by Israeli authorities following the incident. It is believed that as many as 28 people from the UK were taking part in the aid effort when it came under fire - with several people from Scotland on board boats in the flotilla.

    Dr Khalid El-Awaisi said he was worried that his brother Ali, from Dundee, may have been injured.

    He has heard "nothing at all" from his brother. He said: "We're still waiting and very anxious about what is happening. We're just worried he might have been injured somehow."

    Winnie Chambers is also waiting for contact from her sister, Theresa McDermott, from Edinburgh. She too said she had heard "nothing" following the attack on the flotilla.

    "The normal thing that happens is all communications are jammed and any communication devices are removed from the passengers," Ms Chambers said. "We just cross our fingers and hope, speak to as many influential people as possible, MPs and MSPs, the Foreign Office, and desperately ask for help."

    Ms McDermott, 43, a postal worker, was on board one of the ships in the flotilla as part of her work with Free Gaza Scotland, a group she helped set up last year with fellow activist Carl Abernethy. Campaigners in the Edinburgh-based organisation had collected items to be sent to Gaza, such as medical supplies and crutches, as well as sports equipment, crayons and paint for children.

    © Press Association 2010

    Source: http://breakingnews.heraldscotland.com/breaking-news/?mode=article&site=hs&id=N0030941275383030805A

    As well as Ali and Theresa, families are still awaiting word from documentary maker and journalist Hassan Ghani, 24, and Hasan Nowarah. They are both from Glasgow. I hope all four of them are ok.

    PS. Crayons and paint?! TERRORISTS!
    I feel like I know her
    • maclyn

    Israeli sabotage of Freedom Flotilla suspected.

    Gaza aid flotilla: Israeli sabotage suspected

    Israel's military may have sabotaged two boats carrying Free Gaza activists after both malfunctioned at the same time in the same way prior to the raid

    Israel's raid on the Free Gaza flotilla has sparked protests around the world Israel's raid on the Free Gaza flotilla has sparked protests around the world. Two passenger boats may also have been sabotaged prior to the raid.

    Israel gave strong indications yesterday that its forces had secretly sabotaged some of the boats sailing to the Gaza coast as part of the freedom flotilla.
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    Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/01/israel-gaza-flotilla-sabotage-suspected/

    James Cameron to the Rescue? For realz?

    James Cameron Working On Gulf Oil Spill Cleanup

    WASHINGTON — "Top kill" didn't stop the Gulf oil spill. How about something "titanic"?

    Federal officials are hoping film director James Cameron can help them come up with ideas on how to stop the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

    The "Avatar" and "Titanic" director was among a group of scientists and other experts who met Tuesday with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies for a brainstorming session on stopping the massive oil leak.

    The Canadian-born Cameron is considered an expert on underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies. "Avatar" and "Titanic" are the two highest-grossing films of all time.


    James Cameron Heads to D.C. in Hopes of Terminating Oil Spill

    Read more: http://www.eonline.com/uberblog/b183705_james_cameron_heads_dc_in_hopes_of.html#ixzz0peK4H97O

    Who better than the King of the World to tackle the mother of all oil disasters.

    James Cameron, who has perfected deep-sea camera work while filming The AbyssTitanic and a host of underwater documentaries, has heeded the call of hapless government bureaucrats asking for his help in halting the worst spill in U.S. history.

    Cameron and business partner, Phil Nuytten, a diving expert who has helped build  submersibles for the Oscar winner, met this morning with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, oil industry scientists and engineers for brainstorming sessions today in Washington, D.C.

    The goal?

    How to cap BP's amok oil well off the coast of Louisiana, which has been dumping millions of barrels of oil into the waters since an April 20 explosion destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig.

    Virgina Cowell, a spokeswoman for Vancouver-based Nuytco Research, of which Nuyton is the head, confirmed the meeting took place but did not have further information.

    It's belived, however, that Nuyton and the Avatar helmer talked about ways in which deepwater technology, including remote vehicles, could possibly do what BP's "top kill" procedure couldn't—stop the torrent of oil from spoiling the Gulf Coast and adjoining wetlands.

    "I know Phil is a total out of the box thinker so we'll see what comes of it," Cowell said.

    A rep for Cameron was unavailable for comment. But it was just last month the director's name surfaced along with Kevin Costner and Robert Redford among the celebrities trying to lend a hand to stem the flood of oil.


    I'm sure some people will mock this, but I have to say it is actually one of the best ideas they've come up with.  James Cameron has spent more time having to create new "out of the box" solutions for shooting underwater than pretty much anyone.  Also, it's rather apt that his first big foray into it was over 20 years ago for The Abyss, which was actually about a deep-sea submersible oil drilling platform.   He also shot huge portions of Titanic underwater at the actual wreck, which required a lot of work with remote control robot submersibles, amongst other things. 

    Seriously, these folks are the ones who aren't going to be tied to old or traditional ways of doing things the way the oil companies are......they LIVE outside of the box, which means they are much more likely to come up with a new solution to what is really an ongoing problem.  Hell, I'd even have to give Kevin Costner some props for having had the experience of shooting Waterworld....the movie might have sucked, but he certainly had to put in a lot of time out on the open ocean as well as underwater filming to make it happen. 

    I approve of this plan.....but if George Lucas comes in and tries to turn it into a video game with action figure merchandising, I'll be way pissed.  ;p

    • the grid


    Mark Kirk Gay Rumor Reignited By Blogger Who Outed Larry Craig

    Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk has had a dramatic few days, and now a popular gay blogger known for outing politicians claims to have sources confirming that Kirk is a closeted gay man.

    Before the February Illinois primary, Kirk, a Republican vying for President Obama's former senate seat, faced attacks from birther Andy Martin claiming that Kirk was gay. Kirk denied the claims, but now faces an attempted outing from the other side--the gay community.

    Activist blogger Mike Rogers tends to target politicians with antigay voting records, and "outed" Sen. Larry Craig and Rep. Mark Foley. He was also featured in the film "Outrage" where he discussed closeted politicians who work against the gay community. In a Tuesday post on Rogers' BlogActive, he explained why he decided to bring up Kirk's sexuality now:
    Until now, Mark Kirk elected not to play the typical Washington game. Instead of supporting his party's dismal record on gay rights, Kirk received Human Rights Campaign ratings of 67% in 2002, 88% in 2004, 76% in 2006 and 85% in 2008. That's more impressive than a lot of Democrats. I even let Kirk slide by when he didn't co-sponsor earlier legislation relating to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. My thoughts then were that he wasn't THAT bad on gay stuff and that the bill was going nowhere anyway.
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    I didn't believe and defended Kirk against these rumors when they were being pushed by that PUMA birther, but ooh boy... Mike Rogers don't play

    also lol @ Kirk's game. "oh well". play on playa.

    Israeli aircraft to be delivered on time, Turkish minister says

    The Turkish defense minister said Tuesday that the current crisis with Israel would not pose any problems for the delivery of four unmanned aerial vehicles known as "Herons."

    "We expect the remaining Herons to be delivered in June or July," Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül told reporters in Parliament.

    In January, Turkish officials said Israel would send four Herons to Turkey in March. The remaining six Herons are set to arrive in Turkey by the end of 2010, according to Turkish officials.

    Turkey awarded the aircraft-building contract in 2005, ordering 10 drones from Israeli manufacturers Israel Aerospace Industries, or IAI, and Elbit.

    The Heron UAV System is an operational fourth-generation, long-endurance, medium-altitude system based on leading-edge technology with new fully automatic take-off and landing features and can provide deep-penetration, wide-area and real-time intelligence either by day or at night. The Heron can climb to an altitude of nearly 10,000 meters, has a range of 350 kilometers and can fly continuously for at least 24 hours. It can carry out strategic reconnaissance and surveillance on six targets at once.


    The show for the masses is over. Let's get back to business.
    purty tardis

    Fake BP Oil Spill Tweets as Billboards

    This isn't exactly news per-se, but it is topical and brings a bit of lightness to an otherwise tragic and bleak situation.

    6.01.10 - 3:00PM - by Jay Hathaway

    Fake BP Oil Spill Tweets as Billboards

    Now that BP's attempt to fix the Gulf Coast oil spill with a "top kill" procedure has failed, the cuttingly funny fake BP Twitter account is more relevant than ever. A blog called I Ride The Harlem Line has designed some of the best tweets from @BPGlobalPR in billboard form. Oh, how I wish these were real billboards in Gulf cities.

    Humor for humor's sake is great -- and you know we love the lulz here at Urlesque -- but this oil leak is a serious crisis and we have to hand it to the writer (or writers?) behind @BPGlobalPR for using comedy to draw attention to it.

    I've gathered up a handful of the best BP tweet billboards after the jump and Harlem Line says they'll continue to post new ones on their site. Since the latest reports are saying that the leak might not be plugged until August, there should be plenty more fake tweets to work with.

    How Convenient!

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    Eyewitnesses recount Israel flotilla raid

    U.S. activist, Huwaida Arraf replies questions about what went on in her ship (not the Mavi Marmara). She says she saw the IDF attacking Mavi Marmara and heard some shots. Later the soldiers boarded her ship and roughed up the passengers. The passengers told the soldiers that they were unarmed and tried to prevent the soldiers from going on board, but the soldiers handcuffed them and put bags over their heads. They also took all their stuff. The Interviewer asks her if they are in any way affiliated with Hamas, and she replies "Not at all."

    CNN's article

    Some of the first accounts emerged Tuesday from eyewitnesses who were aboard several boats stormed by Israeli forces as they approached Gaza the day before.
    Hanin Zoabi, a member of the Israeli parliament, was on board the Miva Marmara, the ship that was the scene of a confrontation between activists and Israeli soldiers. That clash left at least nine people dead.
    The Israeli Navy fired on the ships five minutes before commandos descended from ropes that dangled from helicopters, Zoabi said during a press conference in Nazareth, Israel. She said passengers on board the ship were unarmed.
    Israel has said its forces found several weapons among the passengers on the Miva Marmara. Israel also has said that its forces started shooting after passengers on the Miva Marmara assaulted them.
    Zoabi said the military operation lasted about an hour and that she saw five dead bodies in that time.
    She urged Israeli authorities to investigate and to let the news media interview passengers who have been detained.
    Zoabi said she believes Israel has video footage of how the ten passengers were killed, and she called on Israeli authorities to release that footage.
    Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said that of the six ships in the flotilla, the people prepared an ambush on one, a reference to the Turkish ship. But on the other five, "the people got off without a scratch."
    Huwaida Arraf, one of the Free Gaza Movement organizers, told CNN Israeli troops roughed her up when they responded aggressively to her ship, a smaller one in the flotilla that was near the Turkish vessel where the casualties occurred.
    "They started coming after our ship," she told CNN, "so we took off and they charged us also. Eventually, they overtook our ship and they used concussion grenades, sound bombs and pellets."
    She said the people on her ship tried to keep them off. She said they were told the vessel was American and the people aboard were unarmed.
    But, she said "they started beating people. My head was smashed against the ground and they stepped on my head. They later cuffed me and put a bag over my head. They did that to everybody."
    Her account could not be independently verified.

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    soap&skin 2012

    Iowa Catholic school fires teacher after Facebook survey indicates she doesn't believe in God

    A Catholic-school teacher from Fort Dodge has been fired because of a Facebook survey in which she said she did not believe in God.

    Abby Nurre, 27, was hired last summer as an eighth- grade math teacher at St. Edmond Catholic School. In August, she responded to a Facebook members' poll in which she was asked whether she believed in God, miracles or heaven.

    In response, Nurre answered, "No." Her answers then became part of her Facebook autobiography page, which was accessible only to her designated "friends."

    In November, Nurre posted a comment to an online discussion forum, Atheist Nexus. In her post, she provided a link to a New York Times article that, as she described it, indicated the government had spent $2.3 million on prayer research in the past 10 years.

    Five weeks later, she was called to the office of Monsignor Kevin McCoy and handed a letter informing her that she was suspended for making "atheist statements in a public forum."

    McCoy barred Nurre from school grounds. A few days later, without discussing the matter with Nurre, the school's board of directors fired her for violating a policy that prohibits employees from advocating "principles contrary to the dogmatic and moral teaching of the church."

    Nurre appeared at a January board meeting to plead her case. In a written statement, she told the board that her forum posting was not an endorsement of atheism and was devoid of any opinions or advocacy.

    "It never occurred to me that teachers were limited in their professional and personal education to only church-approved sources of information," she told the board.

    "It's unfortunate that the school fires teachers for getting information from nonchurch sources, then showing that information on another Web site without comment or opinion. ... Teachers are taxpaying citizens and are entitled to think, be informed and take action."

    The board voted a second time to fire her. The school and Iowa Catholic Conference then challenged Nurre's request for unemployment benefits.

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