June 4th, 2010

Murasaki Shikibu

A whole lotta articles on the flotilla affair and its unfolding aftermath

American, 19, Among Gaza Flotilla Dead - Furkan Dogan Was Shot Five Times, Including Four Times in Head

A U.S. citizen who lived in Turkey is among the nine people killed when Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish aid ship heading for the Gaza Strip, officials said today. The victim was identified as Furkan Dogan, 19, a Turkish-American. A forensic report said he was shot at close range, with four bullets in his head and one in his chest, according to the Anatolian news agency.

Dogan was a high school student studying social sciences in the town of Kayseri in central Turkey. He was born in the United States and moved to Turkey at the age of 2. He will be buried in his hometown tomorrow.

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Israel REJECTS International Prove Of Deadly Raid; Obama Administration Says It Urged Restraint

Israel on Thursday rejected calls from the United Nations and others for an international investigation of its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla but left the door open to foreign involvement.

Also on Thursday, the U.S. State Department said that Obama administration officials had warned Israel to use caution and restraint when dealing with the activists as their ships were heading toward Gaza.

"We communicated with Israel through multiple channels many times regarding the flotilla," P.J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said in a statement to the Washington Post. "We emphasized caution and restraint given the anticipated presence of civilians, including American citizens."

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New Israeli Tack Needed on Gaza, U.S. Officials Say

The Obama administration considers Israel’s blockade of Gaza to be untenable and plans to press for another approach to ensure Israel’s security while allowing more supplies into the impoverished Palestinian area, senior American officials said Wednesday.

The officials say that Israel’s deadly attack on a flotilla trying to break the siege and the resulting international condemnation create a new opportunity to push for increased engagement with the Palestinian Authority and a less harsh policy toward Gaza.

“There is no question that we need a new approach to Gaza,” said one official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the policy shift is still in the early stages. He was reflecting a broadly held view in the upper reaches of the administration.

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Three articles at once, sorry, but I figured better one long post than a bunch of short ones.
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Family Values in Effect: Church Covers Up 15-Year-Old's Rape

Woman: I was afraid to tell of rape
She was silenced in earlier case, she says

While being kept in seclusion at her pastor's Concord home in 1997, Tina Anderson, then 15, was too afraid of the reaction from members of her church to tell the police she had been raped and impregnated by another parishioner, she said in an interview with the Monitor.

Anderson, now 28 and living in Arizona, said Trinity Baptist Church members had told her not to report an earlier case in which she had been molested by a convicted sex offender who was also a member of the congregation, so she expected them to do the same if she told them she had been raped.

"They told me that to be a good Christian, I need to forgive, forget and move on in my life," she said. "And they told me that a good Christian doesn't press charges on another good Christian."

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Israel stays classy

JERUSALEM (BNO NEWS) -- The Israeli Government Press Office on Friday apologized to journalists after it inadvertently sent out a YouTube link to a video parody about the Flotilla incident last Monday.

Israeli naval forces on Monday seized the MV Mavi Marmara that was part of an aid convoy called the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla". The ships were en-route to the Gaza Strip.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who boarded the ship were met with heavy resistance from the passengers, who beat them with sticks, metal bars, and other items. The Israeli soldiers opened fire, killing nine passengers and wounding dozens more. Israel says the soldiers - who wanted to search the vessel for weapons - acted in self-defense.

The incident prompted widespread international reaction, including the United Nations Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council who condemned the acts.

On Friday, the Israeli Government Press Office accidentally e-mailed a YouTube video link to journalists, including journalists from BNO News. The video, created by Latma TV, used music from the 1985-song "We Are the World," which was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.

"There comes a time, when we need to make a show, for the world, the Web and CNN," a man - dressed as the captain of a ship - sings as the song begins. "There's no people dying, so the best that we can do is create the greatest bluff of all," the song continues, apparently referring to the people on board the MV Mavi Marmara.

The song goes on, saying they must go on day by day to pretend that there is crisis, hunger and plague in Gaza. "Cause the billion bucks in aid won't buy their basic needs, like some cheese and missiles for the kids."

It took the Israeli Government Press Office almost three hours to retract the e-mail. "[The Israeli Government Press Office] would like to recall the message, "CAroline Glick and the Flotilla Band"," a brief e-mail to journalists said.

About 20 minutes later, Efraim Roseman of the Israeli Government Press Office released a statement with more details. "Earlier today, we inadvertently released a video link that we had received, which was intended for our perusal, not for general release," Roseman wrote. "The contents of the video in no way reflect the official policy of the State of Israel, the Government Press Office or any other government body."

The blunder happened as international pressure on Israel over its handling of the Gaza crisis is increasing.

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Black Women See Fewer Black Men at the Altar

It is a familiar lament of single African-American women: where are the “good” black men to marry?

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A new study shows that more and more black men are marrying women of other races. In fact, more than 1 in 5 black men who wed (22 percent) married a nonblack woman in 2008. This compares with about 9 percent of black women, and represents a significant increase for black men — from 15.7 percent in 2000 and 7.9 percent in 1980.

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New York Times

How to Date an Indian

A Jewish friend of mine remarked once, only half joking, that he believed Indians are the true Chosen People. With no offense to Moses, I had to agree. I lived in India for about three years and my husband (currently known as my husPad, thanks to his appropriating the iPad he "gave me," -- but that is another column) is from New Delhi, which, in addition to providing me with lots of Indian friends and in-laws, have given me a pretty good perspective on the desirability of the people from the world's largest democracy -- and how to woo them.

Before getting to "how," let's start with "why." There are obvious reasons one would want to date an Indian, such as how successful and professionally desirable they are. Indians dominate as engineers, doctors, lawyers, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. They make up a large proportion of our graduate students -- just walk around the campuses of Harvard, Columbia or Stanford or and you will see these incredibly attractive brown people all over the place. Which leads to point number two. Indian people tend to be really good looking. According to Wikipedia*, "India holds the highest number of Miss World winners, only to be tied with Venezuela." (*That feels a little like citing The National Enquirer but I am going to go with it.)

Most Indians are innately gracious, social creatures; they highly value friends and family and have a calendar filled with various holidays and occasions to celebrate, which they typically do with gusto. Those endless jubilant dance numbers in Bollywood movies pretty much channel the Indian soul. Moreover, Indian men love to dance. If for no other reason other than you want someone to dance with you (or without you for that matter), date an Indian.

Ok, now that the stock for single Indians is up, you need to be on your game if you want to date one. If you are Indian, you can skip the rest of this post and spend the next four minutes savoring your desirability. If you are not Indian, keep reading to learn seven things that should ingratiate you with them. The first five have to do with Bollywood. Indians take Bollywood and their celebrities very seriously.

1. SRK. Two things you need to know about these initials. One, SRK is short hand for Shahrukh Khan, one of India's premiere Bollywood celebrities. Two, you must have an opinion about him. He is a polarizing figure. Indians either love him or hate him.

2. Favorite actor. If you are pinched for time, you can simply claim SRK is your favorite and move on. But, if you want to take some initiative, I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with some Bollywood actors and choose a favorite. Some safe, attractive possibilities: Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Amitabh Bachchan. Kal Penn does not count.

3. Favorite actress. See above. You need to have a favorite. You could claim that it is Aishwarya Rai, who is familiar to most Americans, although you will then be suspect as Aishwarya, while extremely beautiful and successful, is a pain in the neck. She has a reputation for being a major diva. Better options: Rani Mukherjee or Kareena Kapoor.

4. Favorite Hindi movie. It should be obvious by now that you need to have a favorite Hindi movie. If you bust out something like, "Yea, I loved Kuch Kuch Hota Hai," you are very likely to get a second date. If not something straight out of the Kama Sutra. One strong recommendation: "3 Idiots". It's a newish film with crossover appeal. Major bonus points if you suggest seeing a Hindi movie together. Most major cities have theaters that screen Bollywood films otherwise you can easily stream one through Netflix, etc.

5. Bhangra. Bhangra is the percussion-heavy music that is featured in most Bollywood films. It has an irresistible beat that will motivate even the most dance-phobic types to hit the floor. Showing an appreciation for Bhangra will score you points. Finding a place that plays Bhangra music and going there together is sure to get you something straight from the Kama Sutra, especially if you exhibit the right dance moves, i.e. patting an imaginary dog while screwing in an imaginary light bulb.

6. Food. Indians love their food. Probably more than they love dancing. Unless you are willing to take some serious initiative in the kitchen, plan to go out for an Indian meal. Although this can be tricky. Many Indians would agree that it is often tough to find a good Indian restaurant, even in major cities. If you want to be adventurous and score some points, I suggest you try cooking him/her a few Indian dishes. You can get the basic spices in most grocery stores. I'm happy to share a dal recipe that is unbelievably tasty. (Really, it is called "Mrs. B's Magic Dal.")

7. Language. Indians love when you speak their language. (Note: there are hundreds of languages spoken in India. Aside from English, Hindi is the most prevalent but not all Indians speak Hindi so you might have to determine his/her native tongue.) Before we got together, Sanjay was greatly amused by my reciting various things in Hindi to him. I got a tourist book and told him among other things, that I was missing my green socks. Now there are several iPhone apps that will give you translations. I suggest you pick up a few and break them out at an appropriate time, probably somewhere well into the second date. You don't want your date to think that if things go south, you will resort to stalking.

Good luck and let me know how these suggestions work out. I hope Laxmi, Goddess of Prosperity, smiles on you as you endeavor to date one of her people.

Oh yea, I almost forgot to mention: one more big bonus when it comes to dating an Indian: communication with cabbies. Think I'm kidding? New Yorkers: Just imagine if you could stop a taxi during the 4pm transition time and your date could say, in Hindi, "Hey brother, will you please take us to Spring and 6th?" You'd find Laxmi did indeed smile upon you.


Yay fetishizing and exotifying an ethnicity. Yay treating us all like one big monolith! Ain't benign racism grand? Oh, but she was writing something complimentary! Of course. I'm surprised this woman didn't start prattling on about the bloody Kama Sutra.
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Michelle, ma belle. These are words that go together well.


The former Beatle accepted the third Gershwin Prize For Popular Song from the President at the event and played a show. He serenaded the first lady by playing The Beatles' song 'Michelle', directing the lyrics at her, reports The Guardian.

The Jonas Brothers, Faith Hill, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Jack White and Dave Grohl were among the other performers at the tribute event for McCartney.

Barack Obama said that the singer and bassist had "helped to lay the soundtrack for an entire generation".

McCartney added: "I don't think there could be anything more special than to play here."

Video of the event:

Jakey Knotts "raghead" comments are even worse than first reported

It sounds like South Carolina State. Sen. Jake Knotts' "raghead" comments last night are even worse than first reported.

Not only did he refer to Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley as a "raghead" during an internet political radio show taped in a bar -- Knotts called her a "f---ing raghead," according to a report from the Free-Times.

"She's a f---ing raghead," Knotts reportedly said.

This report comes on the heels of an earlier account from the co-host of the internet political talk show Pub Politics, the forum for Knotts' comments. Knotts -- who supports Haley opponent Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer in the state's Republican gubernatorial primary -- did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment this morning.

The state senator also reportedly seemed to suggest that Haley was some kind of Sikh Manchurian candidate.

Knotts says he believed Haley has been set up by a network of Sikhs and was programmed to run for governor of South Carolina by outside influences in foreign countries. He claims she is hiding her religion and he wants the voters to know about it.

"We got a raghead in Washington; we don't need one in South Carolina," Knotts said more than once. "She's a raghead that's ashamed of her religion trying to hide it behind being Methodist for political reasons."

Haley is of Sikh descent, and is now a Christian.

Knotts also reportedly suggested that Haley's father is sending letters to India bragging about Haley's candidacy. Knotts: "We're at war over there."

"We need a good Christian to be our governor," he said. "She's hiding her religion. She ought to be proud of it. I'm proud of my god."

Knotts says he believes Haley's father has been sending letters to India saying that Haley is the first Sikh running for high office in America. He says her father walks around Lexington wearing a turban.

"We're at war over there," Knotts said.

Asked to clarify, he said he did not mean the United States was at war with India, but was at war with "foreign countries."

Read the whole Free-Times report here.

Knotts has apologized for his comments, explaining them as part of a "freewheeling, anything-goes Internet radio show that is broadcast from a pub."

If it had been recorded, the public would be able to hear firsthand that my 'raghead' comments about Obama and Haley were intended in jest. Bear in mind that this is a freewheeling, anything-goes Internet radio show that is broadcast from a pub. It's like local political version of Saturday Night Live, which is actually where the joke came from.

He continued: "I still believe Ms. Haley is pretending to be someone she is not, much as Obama did, but I do apologize to both for an unintended slur."


I'm all for Republican in-fighting, but all of this is just fucking disgusting.
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Jews' Genetics Make Them A Distinct Population

A comprehensive study of Jews from around the world has revealed that Jewish people are genetically different from other people.

The study, conducted by scientists from Yeshiva University and New York University, used genetic analysis to study and compare 237 Jews and 418 non-Jews.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

The study, which was conducted primarily to further medical knowledge of genetic diseases, rejected a highly controversial idea that Ashkenazi Jews are descended from Khazars in Eastern Europe who converted to Judaism -- an idea that has recently been used in an attempt to discredit the idea that Jews belong in Israel because it is their historic homeland.

The study shows that there is "clearly a shared genetic common ancestry among geographically diverse populations consistent with oral tradition and culture ...and that traces back to the Middle East," said geneticist Sarah A. Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the study. "Jews have assimilated to some extent, but they clearly retain their common ancestry."

The study also found that Ashkenazi Jews, who hail from Europe, are "all as closely related as fourth or fifth cousins would be."

The study appeared Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics.


First YouTube now Google being banned in Turkey

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The Telecommunication and communication Ministry (TIB), a government body that can control Internet accessibility in Turkey are attempting to block certain IP’s (Internet Protocol Addresses) belonging to Google due to “legal reason”.
Some ADSL company’s and Internet services providers have sent their customers E-mail’s and letters informing them of inaccessibility or the slow use of certain Google services.

Turkey have already received criticism for Internet censorship after video sharing giant YouTube have already been banned along with certain other websites.

TIB has also tried to block Facebook several times.

The Google accessibility problems started Thursday night where several Internet users in Turkey were unable to access Google.com.tr or suffered serious delays in the pages and services being uploaded.

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Israel and Palestine insist violence can solve everything, actually

Israel and Palestine have today renewed their statement to the world’s children insisting that they are a perfect example of how violence can be used to solve pretty much everything.

With many of the world’s impressionable young people being taught that violence should never be used to resolve their differences, Israel and Palestine are keen to show the easily-influenced youth that this is actually not the case.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said, “We are told as kids that fighting resolves nothing, well we would like to go on record as saying that it absolutely does, and I’m sure our Israeli neighbours would agree.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres agreed, telling reporters, “Sure, this place can be a nightmare to live in, but can you imagine how bad it would be if we hadn’t been incessantly bombing the shit out of each other for the last 50 years?”

“All that violence has been instrumental in creating the welcoming environment that you see around you today.”

“If anything, we are both prime examples of just what can be achieved when you focus on trying to kill your neighbours to the detriment of just about everything else in your life.”


Representatives of both sides are pushing for ‘dispute resolution’ to be added to academic syllabuses around the world, with the Israeli/Palestinian model at the forefront.

Abbas continued, “Sure, you can try ‘talking’ and ‘negotiating’ for a short time, but we would look to teach the best ways to escalate towards trying to kill the person who doesn’t agree with you.”

Peres added, “And we are keen to teach the best ways of killing people who don’t agree with you under the thin disguise of ’self defence’.”

“We have a lot to teach about the benefits of violence, and we see ourselves as the perfect case study for teaching children the world over on how to use a violent conflict to further your agenda.”

“Funnily enough, using violence to resolve our differences is just about the only thing we agree on.”


MV Rachel Corrie heads for Israel coast

A ship carrying aid to Gaza is still heading for the blockaded settlement, despite Israel insisting it will not be allowed to dock.

The MV Rachel Corrie, which was part of the original Freedom Flotilla intercepted by the Israeli military, leaving nine Turkish activists dead, is due to arrive in Gaza at 8am on Saturday, organisers said today.

Turkey today warned that it would reduce its ties with Israel to a minimum, and the Hamas leader said at Friday prayers in Gaza City that humanitarian aid alone would not be enough to aid the Palestinian cause.

The MV Rachel Corrie fell behind the original fleet after suffering mechanical problems, but has been sailing towards the Israeli coast since yesterday. There were earlier reports that the ship had turned back, but a spokesman confirmed this morning that it was still bound for Israel.

Martin O'Quigley, from the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which is working with the Free Gaza Movement, said he spoke to two people on board this morning.

"They're 150 miles from Gaza, and they should be approaching the exclusion zone at 8am tomorrow," O'Quiqley said. "They're about 80 miles from the previous interception point."

O'Quigley said he had spoken to Máiread Maguire, the Nobel peace prize laureate, and Jenny Graham, from the Free Gaza Movement, two of 11 passengers on the ship.

The Corrie is attempting to defy the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who said yesterday that the ship would not be allowed to reach the blockaded area.

"We shall not allow the ships to reach Gaza. Not now and not later on," the Israeli news website ynet reporting him as saying. "We intend to direct the Rachel Corrie ship to the Ashdod port and transfer its civilian goods to Gaza following a security check."

In addition to six British and Irish citizens on the ship there are five Malaysians, including an MP and three journalists, organisers said. Ram Karthigasu, a spokesman for the Malaysian travellers, said he had spoken to them today and confirmed the Rachel Corrie was 150 miles from Gaza.

The ship is carrying school supplies, printing paper, children's shoes, wheelchairs, sports equipment and fire extinguishers, organisers said. Israel bars cement and other building materials from entering Gaza, saying they are often used for building tunnels to smuggle in weapons and explosives.

The Corrie is attempting to reach Gaza four days after the Freedom Flotilla was intercepted, leaving eight Turkish nationals and one Turk with a US passport dead.

Speaking at Friday prayers in Gaza City, the de facto Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, told crowds of worshippers that Israel's blockade of Gaza was in its final stages. "Now not only Gazans speak of the blockade, but also the [UN] security council and the international community. Everyone is demanding the siege be lifted."

As a result of its assault on the aid flotilla, Israel was facing worldwide condemnation, he said. But humanitarian aid was not enough, Haniyeh added. "We have had warm words about the pain of Gaza but now we want these words to turn into action. Today we are in a new era of victory."

He paid tribute to those killed and injured in Monday's operation, saying: "It is not only the Palestinian people who are martyred by the Israeli enemy."

Turkey's deputy prime minister said today the country would reduce its relations with Israel "to a minimum", as services took place in Istanbul to remember the dead. Bulent Arinc told the NTV broadcaster that Turkey had made many military and economic agreements with Israel, and these were now up for discussion.

"We are serious about this subject," he said. "We may plan to reduce our relations with Israel to a minimum, but to assume everything involving another country is stopped in an instant, to say we have crossed you out of our address book, is not the custom of our state."

Barack Obama called for the flotilla incident to be used to advance peace efforts, describing the deaths as a "tragic situation". "I think what's important right now is that we break out of the current impasse, use this tragedy as an opportunity," he said in an interview with Larry King yesterday.

Source: The Guardian 
UPDATE: Just saw this posted on Twitter - they appear to have lost contact. Israeli sabotage suspected.

North Korea has something great to show us, just come across that border and take a look...

N Korea hails development of new 'super drink'

North Korea has developed a "super drink" that, it says, can multiply brain cells and stop skin ageing.

The secretive state's official news agency, KCNA, says the drink contains 60 kinds of "microelements" extracted from more than 30 species of plants.

It attracted "much interest from Chinese, German and other businessmen" at a trade fair in Pyongyang last month, the agency reports.

It was developed by a joint venture fruit juice company.

'No side-effect'

KCNA says: "It, with effects of both preventive and curative treatment, helps improve mental and retentive faculties by multiplying brain cells.

"It also protects skin from wrinkles and black spots and prevents such geriatric diseases as cerebral haemorrhage, myocardium and brain infarction by removing acid effete matters in time.

"It, much higher than quality cosmetics in anti-oxidation capacity, is efficacious for different skin diseases, including allergic dermatitis. It also makes skin fair.

"The drink has no side-effect."

The agency quotes a company manager, Jong Song Ho, as saying the drink has "proved efficacious among workers of such industrial establishments as thermal power station and smeltery and at medical institutions".


Also they know a Nigerian prince who needs our help.

Obama issues LGBT Pride Month Proclamation

As Americans, it is our birthright that all people are created equal and deserve the same rights, privileges, and opportunities. Since our earliest days of independence, our Nation has striven to fulfill that promise. An important chapter in our great, unfinished story is the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists.

LGBT Americans have enriched and strengthened the fabric of our national life. From business leaders and professors to athletes and first responders, LGBT individuals have achieved success and prominence in every discipline. They are our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters, and our friends and neighbors. Across my Administration, openly LGBT employees are serving at every level. Thanks to those who came before us the brave men and women who marched, stood up to injustice, and brought change through acts of compassion or defiance we have made enormous progress and continue to strive for a more perfect union.

My Administration has advanced our journey by signing into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which strengthens Federal protections against crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation. We renewed the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides life saving medical services and support to Americans living with HIV/AIDS, and finally eliminated the HIV entry ban. I also signed a Presidential Memorandum directing hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to give LGBT patients the compassion and security they deserve in their time of need, including the ability to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions.

In other areas, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a series of proposals to ensure core housing programs are open to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. HUD also announced the first ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services has created a National Resource Center for LGBT Elders.

Much work remains to fulfill our Nation's promise of equal justice under law for LGBT Americans. That is why we must give committed gay couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. We must protect the rights of LGBT families by securing their adoption rights, ending employment discrimination against LGBT Americans, and ensuring Federal employees receive equal benefits. We must create safer schools so all our children may learn in a supportive environment. I am also committed to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" so patriotic LGBT Americans can serve openly in our military, and I am working with the Congress and our military leadership to accomplish that goal.

As we honor the LGBT Americans who have given so much to our Nation, let us remember that if one of us is unable to realize full equality, we all fall short of our founding principles. Our Nation draws its strength from our diversity, with each of us contributing to the greater whole. By affirming these rights and values, each American benefits from the further advancement of liberty and justice for all.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2010 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.


Source is probably bugging the crap out of Focus on the Family.

So who's got plans for Pride this year? We have a pretty big festival here in Denver. This year I'm thinking about inviting my co-workers to come watch the parade with my partner and I.
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National Spelling Bee draws protesters calling for phonetic spelling

A tiny group of activists for phonetic spelling gathered again Friday outside the Scripps National Spelling Bee at the downtown Grand Hyatt.

The protesters believe English spelling is mired by too many spellings for identical sounds and too many sounds for identical spellings. If they got their way, "you" would become "yoo," "believe" would become "beleev" and "said" would become "sed."

The cost of clinging to traditional spellings, they say, is millions of illiterate English speakers who struggle to read signs or get good jobs, and billions of dollars in lost productivity.

The campaign for simple spelling, which activists say started more than 100 years ago, is experiencing a revival with kids who have taken wholeheartedly to phonetic spelling in electronic messages.

"I think right now the young people are sending us a text message," said protester Roberta Mahoney, a former Fairfax County school principal who was dressed in a yellow-and-black-striped bumble bee costume. "They're saying enough of this foolishness."

Statistics vary widely on U.S. illiteracy, but a 2003 federal study found that 11 million American adults lacked skills to read and write in English.



Help Wanted.....But The Unemployed Need Not Apply

Disturbing Job Ads: 'The Unemployed Will Not Be Considered'

Still waiting for a response to the 300 resumés you sent out last month? Bad news: Some companies are ignoring all unemployed applicants.

In a current job posting on The People Place, a job recruiting website for the telecommunications, aerospace/defense and engineering industries, an anonymous electronics company in Angleton, Texas, advertises for a "Quality Engineer." Qualifications for the job are the usual: computer skills, oral and written communication skills, light to moderate lifting. But red print at the bottom of the ad says, "Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason."

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Christian Bale

Navy’s Drone Death Ray Takes Out Targets at Sea

For years, the U.S. Navy has been pursuing a workable ray gun that could provide a leap ahead in ship self-defenses. Now, with a series of tests of a system called the Laser Weapon System, or LaWS), it may be one step closer to that goal.

Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the service’s technology development arm, announced today that LaWS had “successfully tracked, engaged, and destroyed” a drone in flight, during an over-the-water engagement at San Nicholas Island, Calif.

It’s certainly not the first time lasers have shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle — last year, the Air Force zapped several drones with beam weapons in a series of tests at China Lake, Calif. — but this test brings an additional bit of realism — and an extra technical challenge. Laser beams can lose strength as they move through the moist, salty sea atmosphere above the sea, so the Navy needs directed-energy weapons that can work effectively on ships.

The LaWS is essentially a laser upgrade to the MK 15 Close In Weapon System (CIWS), a.k.a. the Phalanx gun, a radar-guided autocannon that is already installed on Navy surface combatants. According to NAVSEA, the system tested (shown here) fired a laser through a beam director installed on a tracking mount, which in turn was controlled by a Mk 15 CIWS. That’s the basically same system that controls the Phalanx.

It represents a possible next step for the Phalanx system, which is currently limited by the range of its 20mm autocannon (Raytheon, manufacturer of the Phalanx, is also marketing a missile system to replace the gun). The Phalanx is a last line of defense against sea-skimming anti-ship missiles and hostile aircraft, but the laser wouldn’t replace the gun completely. Theoretically, directed energy weapons would increase the range of the system, but you would still have the gun as a backup if the laser fails to do the job.

LaWS might also have other applications: land-based Phalanx guns have been used to shoot down incoming rockets and mortars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a laser Phalanx could — theoretically — avoid the problem of the “20mm shower” (unexploded rounds falling back to earth).

And after all, what’s a holiday weekend at Danger Room without news of the latest directed-energy weapon?


(no subject)

Altered Mural Fuels Racial Debate

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.

The project's leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children's ethnicity. But the school's principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.

The "Go on Green" mural, which covers two walls outside Miller Valley Elementary School, was designed to advertise a campaign for environmentally friendly transportation. It features portraits of four children, with a Hispanic boy as the dominant figure.

R.E. Wall, director of Prescott's Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town's most prominent intersections.

"We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars," Wall said. "We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics)."

Wall said school Principal Jeff Lane pressed him to make the children's faces appear happier and brighter.

"It is being lightened because of the controversy," Wall said, adding that "they want it to look like the children are coming into light."

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City Councilman Steve Blair spearheaded a public campaign on his talk show at Prescott radio station KYCA-AM (1490) to remove the mural.

In a broadcast last month, according to the Daily Courier in Prescott, Blair mistakenly complained that the most prominent child in the painting is African-American, saying: "To depict the biggest picture on the building as a Black person, I would have to ask the question: Why?"

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Faces in the mural were drawn from photographs of children enrolled at Miller Valley, a K-5 school with 380 students and the highest ethnic mix of any school in Prescott. Wall said thousands of town residents volunteered or donated to the project, the fourth in a series of community murals painted by a group of artists known as the "Mural Mice."

The public art, funded by a $5,000 state grant through the Prescott Alternative Transportation Center, was selected by school students and faculty.

"The parents and children love it," Lane said.

Oh, Arizona.
Christian Bale

“Conspiracies are spoiled borsch” – Bilderberg skeptic

The Bilderberg group, made of politicians, business leaders and other power brokers, are having a meeting in Spain. Some believe they are to set up a new world order, others don’t, but no one knows what’s on the agenda.

The press is not allowed in and no mention of what is discussed is allowed out.

Author and economic researcher F. William Engdahl recalled that Bilderberg’s annual meetings are conducted under a veil of secrecy since the group was created back in the early 1950s with its initial goal being to see their policies enacted by European countries.

“I think what they are talking about is how to hold together the glue of the Atlantic Alliance at a time when cracks are deeper than ever between Europe and the US, and how to arm twist the European central banks to, in effect, bail out the dollar by re-inflating, by turning on the printing presses in order to make it less obvious that the dollar is the sick man of the world economy,” Engdahl told RT.

Watch the interview with Engdahl

A government and business consultant, Christoph Horstel, accused the Bilderberg group of “looking for the best angle to bring Spain down and earn a lot of money”.

“The Bilderberg has a 50-year-long history of involvement in business and politics. And that many leading politicians the world over were first presented to the Bilderberg group and then got their jobs in their respective countries. This group does not take decisions officially, it’s not a voting body of something. They just exchange a lot of information and viewpoints,” Horstel told RT.

Watch the interview with Horstel

Investigative journalist and skeptic of the Bilderberg conspiracy theories, Chip Berlet, used some very colourful language to play down the significance of the Bilderberg conference.

“People have every right to demand accountability, but this idea that the Bilderberg group is a secret group that controls the world economy and is building a new world order is a giant pot of spoiled borsch,” Berlet told RT.

Watch the interview with Berlet


There isn't enough WTF in the world for this!!!

Ellen DeGeneres' homosexuality is why 'Idol' ratings plummeted, says frontrunner for Biggest D-che in the Universe award

Scientists are still struggling to understand exactly what went wrong with this last season of American Idol. Was it the lack of talent? Was it all the judicial activism? Was it just the cultural hangover from the unbeatable season 8? Well, my friends, wonder no longer: it’s the homosexuality, stupid! According to Gary McCullough, the director of Christian Newswire and probably a laugh riot at parties, Idol‘s ratings decline is directly linked to Ellen DeGeneres, who spent the whole season rubbing her lesbian activism right in our helpless faces.

Yes, the charming McCullough thinks that America just doesn’t like to see “alternate lifestyles” in its family programming. And how did Ms. DeGeneres go about her brilliant plan of turning the once relentlessly-hetero Idol into the reality show version of Fire Island? Well, there was that time she said, “Yes, I have loved a woman.” And, you know, all the other gay stuff she did. Gay stuff! Gay Panic! Screech!
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MISC - moustache

Details of Gaza blockade revealed in court case

BBC News has seen documents, submitted to an Israeli Court, which give more detail than ever before about how and why Israel maintains its Gaza blockade.

In one document, Israel describes the import curbs as "a central pillar in the armed conflict with Hamas".

It also confirms estimates were made of how many calories Gazans need, but says these were not used for policy-making.

Israel says the blockade is to pressure Hamas, which does not recognise Israel and backs attacks on its citizens.

Three years ago, after the Islamist Hamas movement seized power, Israel and Egypt tightened their closure of Gaza's borders, leaving the territory's 1.5 million inhabitants facing acute shortages.

But Israel has never published a list of banned items, saying it approves requests on a case-by-case basis.

Items allowed have changed over time, which has left humanitarian organisations and commercial importers constantly attempting to guess what will be approved.

The court case has been brought by the Israeli human rights group, Gisha.

The group has been trying, for more than a year, using freedom of information legislation, to squeeze information from the state about what exactly is allowed for import to Gaza, and why.

In January, Gisha, took the Israeli authorities to court, to try to force them to provide the information.

Gisha's director, Sari Bashi, says she is no security expert, "but preventing children from receiving toys, preventing manufacturers from getting raw materials - I don't see how that's responsive to Israeli security needs."

And she says that some of the prohibitions appear to be absurdly arbitrary: "I certainly don't understand why cinnamon is permitted, but coriander is forbidden. Is there something more dangerous about coriander? Is coriander more critical to Gaza's economy than cinnamon? This is a policy that appears to make no sense."

She argues that if there is a logic behind such decisions, the military should reveal what it is.

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This may have been posted a month or so ago when it was first published but I think it bears reposting considering what happened.
MISC - moustache

Gaza flotilla activists deported to Jordan claim Israeli mistreatment

Israel today started deporting all the detained activists seized during its botched raid on an aid shipment to Gaza, as some of the first to be freed spoke of their mistreatment at the hands of the Israelis.

A group of 124 pro-Palestinian activists from 12 Muslim nations crossed the border in five Jordanian buses. Another 200 activists have been transferred from a holding centre to Israel's airport near Tel Aviv, a prison service spokesman said. The remaining activists will be released throughout the day, the spokesman said.

Yesterday Israel indicated it may prosecute some of the activists.

The decision to free the detainees came as more accounts from those on the ships began to emerge.

One Briton who was on one of the boats heading towards Gaza arrived back in Britain last night.

IT professional Hasan Nowarah, from Glasgow, described the moment Israeli troops stormed the aid flotilla.

He told Sky News the Mavi Marmara ship was surrounded by helicopters and Zodiac assault craft.

"All you could see was screaming and bullets. Out of the blue as I looked around our ship, all I could see were hundreds of Zodiacs: hundreds of Zodiacs full of soldiers, and big ships, lots of ships, and I believe as well submarines in the sea," he said.

The assault left nine dead and dozens wounded, and has led to condemnation of Israel and increasing calls for an independent inquiry.

One of the group deported to Jordan today, Walid al-Tabtabai, a Kuwaiti politician who was on board one of the ships with other activists from Muslim countries, said: "The Israelis roughed up and humiliated all of us: women, men and children.

"They were brutal and arrogant, but our message reached every corner of the world, that the blockade on Gaza is unfair and should be lifted immediately."

Like many passengers on the flotilla he insisted there were no weapons on any of the ships.

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Skimmed back and didn't see this posted.
Spock & Uhura - Frequency

Interracial Marriage More Common Than Ever


In 1967, the boundaries were still very black and white. The film "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," about an interracial couple and their parents' angst, was considered groundbreaking.

Americans are more likely than ever to wed outside their racial or ethnic group. Fast forward four decades and you don't have to look to the big screen to see interracial couples. You can see the beginnings of a melting pot everywhere -- just look at celebrity couples like Seal and Heidi Klum , or Tony Parker and Eva Longoria.

And new study by the Pew Research Center found that one in six new marriages in the U.S. are interracial relationships. That makes the United States one of the most colorblind countries when it comes to saying "I do," second only to Brazil.

"I think the racial barriers have almost, have blurred to the extent of almost being socially insignificant," said Professor Rick Banks of Stanford Law School.

Rates of interracial marriage among Asians and Hispanics remained steady, but there was a substantial change among black Americans, especially black men.

"In 2008, 22 percent of all black male newlyweds married a non-black," said Taylor.

Black Women Left Out

Only 9 percent of black women, on the other hand, married outside their race, making them the least likely of any race or gender to marry outside their race and the least likely to get married at all.

When ABC News spoke with one group of black women the consensus was that they want to get married, and their preference was to marry a black man. But the pool of eligible bachelors has dwindled. And even though these women are willing to marry men of other races, they told us their options are more limited.

"We are maybe not as coveted as black men in society. I just feel there is a lot of taboo that is associated with dating black women, 'cause I don't think they are necessarily ready to take us home to see momma," said Melinda Watson, a black woman who is single and looking for a husband.

The fine print may be complicated but the overall headline is that color lines are becoming more blurred.

More at the Souce

ETA: Yeah, there's *some* fail in this article, in terms of taking about "colorblindness" and then singling out black women (which I had to add in after the fact because my computer is being slow, sorry about that), but I'd still like to share it because it's nice to see an optimistic piece on race and not just an epic wankfail. Also, wedding cakes are lulzy. That is all.

Well This Would Be Great For the Tea Party Crowd

WASHINGTON – The nation's capital always draws its share of protesters, picketing for causes ranging from health care reform to immigration policy.

But spelling bee protesters? They're out here, too.

Four peaceful protesters, some dressed in full-length black and yellow bee costumes, represented the American Literacy Council and the London-based Spelling Society and stood outside the Grand Hyatt on Thursday, where the Scripps National Spelling Bee is being held. Their message was short: Simplify the way we spell words.

Roberta Mahoney, 81, a former Fairfax County, Va. elementary school principal, said the current language obstructs 40 percent of the population from learning how to read, write and spell.

"Our alphabet has 425-plus ways of putting words together in illogical ways," Mahoney said.

The protesting cohort distributed pins to willing passers-by with their logo, "Enuf is enuf. Enough is too much."

According to literature distributed by the group, it makes more sense for "fruit" to be spelled as "froot," "slow" should be "slo," and "heifer" — a word spelled correctly during the first oral round of the bee Thursday by Texas competitor Ramesh Ghanta — should be "hefer."

Meanwhile, inside the hotel's Independence Ballroom, 273 spellers celebrated the complexity of the language in all its glory, correctly spelling words like zaibatsu, vibrissae and biauriculate.

While the protesters could make headway with cell phone texters who routinely swap "u" for "you" and "gr8" for "great," their message may be a harder sell for the Scripps crowd.

Mahoney had trouble gaining traction with at least one bee attendee. New Mexico resident Matthew Evans, 15, a former speller whose sister is participating in the bee this year, reasoned with her that if English spellings were changed, spelling bees would cease to exist.

"If a dictionary lists 'enough' as 'enuf,' the spelling bee goes by the dictionary, therefore all the spelling words are easier to spell, so the spelling bee is gone," Evans said.

"Well," Mahoney replied, "they could pick their own dictionary."


I'm pretty sure that 40% of the population (if that's even a legit percentage) has trouble reading due to HOW the language is taught, not the language itself.
calibrations [garrus; me]
  • tifa

Ironic Sign Found At BP Station

A BP gas station in Ohio wants you to know you're responsible for small spills made when you leave the pump unattended. What about gigantic spills made when ignoring safety warnings? Oh, they're just happy, ignorable accidents.

I thought it was pretty hilarious and sad. BP should practice what they preach, hmm? Instead of spending $50mil. on commercials to fixed their heavily damaged image.

Akuma River

College football shake-up

Yes this is a sports article but it plays up the politics angle of ontd_political because of how much freaking money (at least a quarter billion) we are talking about that is in dispute and also the fact that Texas (the state) is threatening to make a law that will make it illegal for Texas (UT) to leave its current conference without taking it's rival Texas Universities (Texas A&M and Tech Tech) with it.

Is Big 12 safe from others' growth plans?
UT among schools said to be coveted by other conferences, but league commissioner confident of unity
By Suzanne Halliburton and John Maher
Updated: 9:43 p.m. Friday, June 4, 2010
Published: 9:41 p.m. Friday, June 4, 2010

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The commissioner of the Big 12 Conference said Friday that he is confident in the league's solidarity, even as rumors continued to swirl that as many as six member schools including the University of Texas are targets of other conferences' expansion plans.

As the league's annual meetings between Commissioner Dan Beebe and university presidents and athletic directors came to a close, members of the Pacific-10 Conference prepared for their own league meetings this weekend.

On the Pac-10's table will be a discussion on expansion. Reports surfaced Thursday that the Texas Longhorns could be the central piece of the creation of a 16-team superconference that could jump-start a major shift in the college sports landscape.
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