June 9th, 2010

soap&skin 2012

Can PostSecret and Facebook Save a Life?

Can PostSecret and Facebook Save a Life?

A disturbing post on PostSecret yesterday revealed an illegal immigrant pledging to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge – but 20,000 online voices have responded with hope.

PostSecret, a blog that weekly displays anonymously mailed-in secrets on postcards from across the country, has long been known for revealing suicidal secrets, and has set up a phone hotline in response since the blog began in 2004. Yesterday, a postcard read, “I have lived in San Francisco since I was young … I am illegal … I am not wanted here. I don’t belong anywhere. This summer I plan to jump off the Golden Gate.”

Within 24 hours, nearly 20,000 people had signed up for a Facebook group titled “please don’t jump,” which was later linked beneath the secret on the Post Secret blog, linking in thousands of supportive comments.
On the group’s page, sympathetic users posted comments ranging from simply “I want you here” to “If I knew when you’d be at the bridge, I’d drive all the way from Ohio to meet you there, and hold you until you changed your mind.”

While there’s unfortunately no way to know if the card’s writer has seen the overwhelming number of responses on Facebook, one can only hope the community of writers has helped changed at least one person’s mind — perhaps even beyond the person who wrote the card.

1, 2

The Facebook Group: "Please Don’t Jump"
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soap&skin 2012

Minnesota Nurse Allegedly Encouraged Suicides Over the Internet

Police say he confessed to offering suicide method advice, such as medications and rope-tying techniques.

William Melchert-Dinkel,
a family man from a small town in Minnesota, is a career nurse and a regular churchgoer. He's also the first person ever to be charged with assisting suicide over the Internet.

Prosecutors claim that Melchert-Dinkel, 47, coaxed two people he met in online chat rooms into killing themselves.

Melchert-Dinkel's attorney, Terry Watkins, denied the charges and said that he believed his client would be acquitted.

"The crux of the case is going to be whether the evidence ... meets the elements of the crime as defined by the Minnesota statute," said Watkins.
According to prosecutors, Melchert-Dinkel met two alleged victims in online chat rooms where he posed as a concerned female nurse, using such pseudonyms as "Li Dao" or "Cami."
Melchert-Dinkel allegedly struck suicide pacts with his correspondents, who then followed through.

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source: 1 & 2

Taliban Uses HIV Bombs

TALIBAN fighters are burying dirty needles with their bombs in a bid to infect British troops with HIV, The Sun can reveal.
Hypodermic syringes are hidden below the surface pointing upwards to prick bomb squad experts as they hunt for devices.

Brave ... a soldier risks his life to disarm an explosive

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Köln Kirchen bei Nacht

Presidential Vote 'Could Turn into a Disaster for Merkel'

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Joachim Gauck helped bring down the East German communist regime. Will he bring down Merkel?

Chancellor Angela Merkel has chosen her candidate to fill Germany's vacant presidency. But the rest of the country prefers the opposition's favorite. The June 30 vote could turn into a disaster for Merkel, commentators write on Monday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, a master tactician when it comes to the politics of power, has been outmaneuvered for once, and could get into serious trouble as a result. The sudden resignation of the country's largely ceremonial president and head of state, Horst Köhler, last Monday was the latest in a series of blows that have dented her reputation with voters and her authority in government this year.

To avoid further damage and to demonstrate that she still has a firm grip on the reins in Berlin, Merkel needs to find a suitable replacement for Köhler and to ensure that he gets the necessary backing from her center-right majority in the Federal Assembly, the special parliamentary body which will convene on June 30 to elect the president. This has turned into an important test of her leadership, and so far, it isn't going well.

Her chosen candidate for president, Christian Wulff, the governor of the northern state of Lower Saxony, initially seemed like a safe and easy choice. Wulff, a deputy leader of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), is a bland, inoffensive career politician who has honed his Mr. Clean image with soapy soundbites such as this one: "What gives me strength is the hearty warmth of ordinary people." Merkel, confident of her parliamentary majority, rejected an offer from the opposition parties to agree on a compromise candidate for the presidency.

Strongly in Favor of Gauck

Wulff would have been a shoo-in for the job if the Social Democrats and Greens hadn't landed a coup by nominating a rival who most observers and even many of Merkel's followers believe would make a far better president -- Joachim Gauck, 70, a Protestant pastor from eastern Germany who opposed the communist regime, someone whom Merkel herself has showered with praise in the past. After unification, Gauck spent 10 years heading the authority that manages the archives of East Germany's secret police, the Stasi, thereby making a major contribution to shedding light on the crimes of East Germany.

To Merkel's alarm, large parts of the German media, including SPIEGEL magazine and mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag, have come out strongly in favor of Gauck, and some eastern German members of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), the junior partner in Merkel's center-right coalition, have raised the prospect that they might vote for Gauck rather than Wulff on June 30.

Newspapers have been comparing the biographies of the two contenders and many have concluded that Gauck has much more to offer the nation. SPIEGEL writes that Wulff hasn't come up with a memorable initiative or piece of legislation in over 30 years in politics, while Gauck struck a blow for freedom and democracy by helping to bring down the East German regime.

Media are calculating that it would only take 22 rebels in Merkel's coalition to deprive Wulff of the required absolute majority in the first two rounds of voting in the Federal Assembly, the body made up of the 622 members of the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, and the same number of delegates appointed by the country's 16 states. That alone would hugely damage Merkel's authority as CDU leader and chancellor. After the first two rounds, candidates need merely a simple majority. Were Gauck to ultimately win, it could spell the end of Merkel's government, German media commentators write on Monday.

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OP's comments:

This is the first of these elections I remember that will actually be exciting. Normally, you know the makeup of the elector assembly, and almost all vote along party lines. But this time, it's entirely possible for things to turn out differently, because the candidate the Social Democrats and the Greens selected is a very strong one, with far more achievements for the country than the safe (and perhaps boring) choice Merkel made.

Merkel has already damaged her government a bit, because before choosing Wulff, Ursula von der Leyen, the labour secretary, was floated as a candidate. At least we are sure to have been spared her.

In addition to all this, the Left Party (a conglomerate of further-left parties, including the one that formed itself as successor of the ruling party in East Germany) has shown a side it should probably have hidden better: They reject Gauck because of his heading of the Stasi file office, and because of his criticism of former East German functionaries. As many Germans believe that enough has not been done to investigate the crimes that happened in the East, and as the Left Party's stance on the past in the East, particularly of its own members, has always been somewhat questionable, rejecting Gauck for this reason was not a wise move.
Politics: No one is Illegal

ICE to make detention centers more humane

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are preparing to roll out a series of changes at several privately owned immigration detention centers, including relaxing some security measures for low-risk detainees and offering art classes, bingo and continental breakfast on the weekends.

The changes, detailed in an internal ICE e-mail obtained by the Houston Chronicle, were welcomed by immigrant advocates who have been waiting for the Obama administration to deliver on a promise made in August to overhaul the nation's immigration detention system.

The 28 changes identified in the e-mail range from the superficial to the substantive. In addition to “softening the look of the facility” with hanging plants and offering fresh carrot sticks, ICE will allow for the “free movement” of low-risk detainees, expand visiting hours and provide unmonitored phone lines.

ICE officials said the changes are part of broader efforts to make the immigration detention system less penal and more humane.


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panda bear

(no subject)

Israel Eases Gaza Blockade Restrictions

Israel has allowed some previously banned food items into the Gaza Strip, officials said Wednesday, taking a small step toward easing its three-year-old blockade of the territory after worldwide criticism of last week's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound international flotilla.

The decision only narrowly expands the list of goods that can enter Gaza – and most of the newly permitted items are already being smuggled into the area from neighboring Egypt.

The move also does not include the most-sought items in Gaza, such as cement, steel and other materials needed to rebuild the war-devastated strip.

But it is the first tangible step by Israel to temper the uproar caused by the raid, which left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead after a clash with Israeli naval commandos on one of the flotilla's ships.

Palestinian liaison official Raed Fattouh, who coordinates the flow of goods into Gaza with Israel, said that soda, juice, jam, spices, shaving cream, potato chips, cookies and candy were now permitted. He said some products have already entered Gaza, and others would cross in the coming days.

The naval raid drew attention to the blockade, imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas militants violently seized power in Gaza in 2007.

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Mexico teen killed by US Border Patrol, anger high

Mexico teen killed by US Border Patrol, anger high

A U.S. Border Patrol agent fatally shot a 15-year-old Mexican boy after a group trying to illegally enter Texas threw rocks at officers near downtown El Paso, U.S. authorities said Tuesday.

The shooting, which happened Monday evening beneath a railroad bridge linking the two nations, drew sharp criticism from Mexico, where President Felipe Calderon said Tuesday that his goverment "will use all resources available to protect the rights of Mexican migrants."

The government "reiterates its rejection to the disproportionate use of force on the part on U.S. authorities on the border with Mexico," the president added in a statement.

It was the second death of a Mexican at the hands of Border Patrol officers in less than two weeks, and the case threatened to swell into a full-blown international incident when U.S. and Mexican officials traded suggestions of misconduct.

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A fifteen year old boy, and one who very well may not have even been trying to get into the US illegally. OMFG.

The sad thing is, I can see why deaths are going up--the border is getting is massively violent thanks to the drug cartels (see also, Ciudad Juarez), and the anti-immigrant rhetoric in the US is ramping up. Crap like that makes people jumpier and more trigger-happy.

Ugly men to stay single under new immigration rules

Ministers are bringing forward measures requiring attractive immigrants looking to marry pathetic, yet comparatively wealthy UK citizens, to prove they have a command of English above inner-city teenager level.

The move is expected to see a huge increase in the number of unattractive middle-aged men who remain single due to their easily acquired internet brides failing their English language tests.

“It’s a huge disappointment for desperately ugly men like me,” said Gerry Shuttleworth, 48.

“I’ve spent the best part of six months searching the Internet for the perfect Mrs Shuttleworth, and now the government are saying I can’t ship her across because she can’t speak any English?”

“What difference does that make? Married people rarely speak to each other, and I won’t be letting her leave the house anyway.”


The new language exam will ensure any immigrants from outside the EU will be able converse in English to a reasonable standard, and understand at least 20% of the words leaving the mouth of Cheryl Cole.

Home Secretary Theresa May explained, “Coming to the UK and marrying a relatively wealthy ugly man is a privilege, and one for which we require certain standards.”

“We want to put an end to those awkward meetings where someone introduces their Thai or Russian bride to their friends and everyone sits in stony silence whilst admiring her figure.”

“We want those awkward meetings to be filled with stilted conversation and a series of humourous mispronunciations.”

“And for those men that don’t like the new rules, I suggest you move out of your mothers and try talking to an English woman.”

Sufjan Smile

Obama To Make Reassuring Eye Contact With Every Last American

ROCKLAND, ME—In an attempt to convince an anxious populace that his legislative agenda is working and that everything is going to be all right, President Barack Obama embarked on a 50-state, 30,000-town tour Monday during which he plans to gaze assuredly into the eyes of each American citizen, one at a time.

"I know a lot of people out there are nervous. They're worried about unemployment, the oil spill in the Gulf, and whether or not I am making the right choices in Washington," Obama said during a rally at Rockland District High School. "To those Americans, I offer you this inspiring, confident gaze."

Obama then stepped down from his podium, walked into the 2,000-person audience, and peered comfortingly into each person's eyes. After taking 45 minutes to methodically work his way from the front row all the way to the balcony, and punctuating each look with a gentle pat on the shoulder, Obama returned to the stage, collected himself, and addressed the silent group before him.

"There," he said. "All better."
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Source: New York Times

Everything will be alright now.
Sufjan Smile

Palinistas Party

Sarah Palin’s ‘mama grizzlies’ sweep in California and South Carolina

Oh, those “mama grizzlies, they rise up.” So says Sarah Palin, rightfully, and it bears repeating after two high-flying lady Republicans she championed swept to victory on Tuesday. In South Carolina, Nikki Haley outdistanced three rivals in the GOP gubernatorial primary (falling just short of a majority, but she is heavily favored to win the runoff on June 22), while in California, Carly Fiorina held off four Republicans in a crowded Senate primary. Their wins are Palin’s, too.

Haley and Fiorina are examples of what Palin last month called an “emerging, conservative, feminist identity” in the GOP. In other words, the rise of Palinistas: smart, pro-life conservative women who succeed with style — and a dash of controversy. The latter they address with a smile, and, Thatcher-like, with a quick quip or a swift kick.
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Source: National Review

Another victory for Sarah Palin, her deft styles have left you trailin and ailin in the polls, stuck in ya holes, your electoral lacking, as Palin comes attackin, leavin you packin, your overnight bags, headin for the hills, we flyin our flags and love America still, so all you communists, fascists, and socialist haters, ya abject traitors, with no creator--its one nation, under god, with SARAH and TODD.

bird dj

FBI funded Joran's trip to Peru?

Federal agents trying to build an extortion case against Joran van der Sloot secretly gave him the cash that wound up funding his trip to Peru, where he killed a young woman exactly five years after the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, The Post has learned.

Van der Sloot tried to shake down Holloway's mother by offering information about her daughter's 2005 disappearance, and agents decided to set him up with a $25,000 payoff, a source told The Post yesterday.

An intermediary acting under the direction of the FBI gave van der Sloot the dough in Aruba on May 10 -- and four days later, he flew to Peru, where he allegedly murdered 21-year-old Stephany Flores in his Lima hotel room.

Van der Sloot was free to travel because after the money was given to the 22-year-old Dutch national, the feds didn't promptly file charges against him. US authorities also did not ask that he be detained in Aruba, even after officials there warned that he was about to leave the island, the source said.

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Mormon Church to be Fined Over Prop 8

The state Fair Political Practices Commission is expected to fine the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for not properly reporting about $37,000 worth of contributions to pass California's ban on same-sex marriages.

The commission will fine the Salt Lake City-based church $5,538 for failing to report the numerous contributions. The fine comes in response to a complaint filed in November 2008 by Fred Karger, a gay-rights activist and co-founder of Californians Against Hate, who accused the Mormon Church of failing to report the value of the work it did to support Proposition 8.

"The investigation revealed that the church unintentionally failed to file daily reports detailing approximately $37,000 in non-monetary contributions," a statement on the church's website read. "The amount of contributions not reported represented the cost of staff time spent by church employees on activities to help the Yes on 8 committee during the final two weeks of the election."

The church said it cooperated in the investigation and expected the matter to be resolved this week.

Roman Porter, executive director of the political practices commission, said a determination to adopt that proposed fine will be considered Thursday when the commission meets.

Source wonders if you'd like to hear a message about Jesus

Kevin Costner explains his oil-spill cleanup device to Congress

Fifty days into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and with no successful attempts to stop it just yet, Kevin Costner visited Washington on Wednesday to offer up what he called a "partial solution to the tragedy unfolding in the Gulf."

"We are all at fault here. It's just too easy to blame BP," the actor said at a Congressional hearing. "What we need to do now is come together."

Telling the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee he was testifying as a "discouraged U.S. citizen and entrepreneur," Costner, 55, said his business venture, Ocean Therapy Solutions, had developed a machine which could help with the cleanup.

The device, he said, has purifiers that filter oil from water by using centrifugal forces to separate the dirty particles.

Though the actor acknowledged his machine could not alleviate the entire oil spill problem, he said it should be considered for other smaller spills that occur every year and that "there has to be responsible action at this moment."

"What I can provide is a technology that is available immediately, a technology that will allow rigs to resume operation and put people back to work," he said. The star reportedly invested $26 million in the device, according to the The Hill.

The State of the American Child Posted

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) is hosting a series of hearings, beginning today, on “The State of the American Child.”  According to the Hartford Courant, “The hearings will be sweeping in scope, touching on every aspect of childhood, from birth to adulthood.  The goal is to provide a comprehensive look at the issues faced by children and families so that Congress can draft legislation to address their needs.”

Though that sounds a bit vague, there’s no need to worry about whether or not Dodd’s intentions are good.  The senator helped launch the Senate’s Children Caucus in 1983, which ”championed early childhood education, funding for child care programs” and helped pass the Family and Medical Leave Act law in 1993, allowing workers time off to care for a new baby or a sick relative.

Dodd, whose days in the senate will end in January, says he’s most enjoyed “working on the children’s issues, child care, family leave … after-school [programs], Head Start. Those issues have given me the greatest sense of satisfaction from a public policy standpoint.”

Dodd said in his opening remarks today that “while Head Start has proven to be effective in preparing kids for kindergarten, it serves less than half of eligible children, and Early Head Start serves only 6 percent of eligible kids.”  He hopes to change that. 

While illuminating what he believes to be “children’s issues,” Dodd said, “every 101 minutes, a child in the United States dies from an unintentional injury, such as a vehicle crash or a fire, making it the leading cause of death and disability for children ages 1 to 14 in the United States.” 

So, Dodd announced, he plans to “introduce legislation to create a national commission on children, in order to regularly and closely examine the needs of American families and identify solutions.” 


panda bear

(no subject)

A bombing at a wedding in Afghanistan kills 39 people, injures 73 others

A bombing at a wedding ceremony Wednesday in Afghanistan's Kandahar province killed 39 people and wounded 73 others, officials in the village of Nagaan said.

The International Security Assistance Force confirmed the bombing but had no information on casualties. They and Afghan forces have secured the area, they said.

The explosion came during the wedding dinner, between 9:30 and 10 p.m., striking the area where the men and boys were dining separately from the women. All the casualties were men or boys, village officials said.

The incident took place in the Arghanab district, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the city of Kandahar.


Teehee, can "silly lists" become a tag?

Hobbit land world's most peaceful

ONCE, New Zealanders were warriors. Now, according to the Global Peace Index, they are the world's most peaceful people, followed by Iceland and Japan - which once were Vikings, and Samurais, too.

Even though the Kiwis have a much higher murder rate than Australians, Down Under ranks only 19th on the peace ladder.

The index, collated by the Economist Intelligence Unit, is funded by Australian information technology entrepreneur Steve Killelea, who has been described as Australia's largest individual donor to overseas aid.

The indicators comprising the index include the level of respect for human rights, the ratios of police and people jailed to overall population, military spending, relations with neighbouring countries and budget support for UN peacekeeping.

Fifteen of the top 20 are European countries, including five from Scandinavia.
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I'm procrastinating and in the mood for silly things. Gotta love these lists/rankings. And it's fun to think what's the truth/myth behind them no matter how laughable they can be. Get it, Middle Earth!!!
' jules

*dook dook dook* (that's a drinking sound effect)

Questions for Christopher Hitchens
The Contrarian
As a British-American critic, essayist and all-purpose iconoclast, you are known as one of the defining voices of the new atheism. But your just-published memoir, “Hitch-22,” is in fact an exercise in worship — male hero worship. Is it fair to say that you look upon the British novelist Martin Amis as the Messiah?
No, to the contrary. That’s exactly what would make us both throw up. Trust is not the same as faith. A friend is someone you trust. Putting faith in anyone is a mistake.

Yet you seem to put unshakable faith in your guy friends, including Salman Rushdie and the poet James Fenton, who receive chapters of their own, while your two wives and three children are almost completely ignored.
The book is a memoir. It’s not an autobiography.

What did you mean to suggest by including the detail about your long-ago flings with two men who became part of Margaret Thatcher’s administration?
There are still people who want to criminalize homosexuality one way or another, and I thought it might be useful if more heterosexual men admitted that they are a little bit gay, as is everyone, and that homosexuality is a form of love and not just sex.

Not everyone is “a little bit gay,” as you say. Do you think your basic sexual confusion underlies your political confusions?
No, I wouldn’t call it confusion. I’d call it a punctuated consistency. I argue in the book that my principles were the same throughout.

You’re a Washington-based polemicist who has written in support of the Iraq war but who was previously a self-described socialist with a column in The Nation. Why do you see yourself as consistent?
I still think like a Marxist in many ways. I think the materialist conception of history is valid. I consider myself a very conservative Marxist.

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I can't decide if I want to read this. I usually find Hitchens's writing amusing to read (would have linked this but it's way too big) even though he's a tremendous asshole, but a whole book of him talking about himself would possibly drive me to violence. what do you guys think??

No time like the present to discuss cyborg rights

Though creatures like the Terminator are still scifi dreams, cyborgs already exist in real life. Millions of people use mechanical implants to improve their lives. That opens up urgent questions about cyborg rights, particularly in athletics.

Dr. Roger Clarke, visiting professor at the Australian National University, is using his keynote speech at this week's IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society to discuss what he sees as the most crucial issues in the field of cyborg rights. Using a term like "cyborg" may make it seem as though Clarke is engaging in an abstract thought experiment for far future ethics, but he argues the recent advances in mechanical and electromechanical implants makes this very much a topic for the here and now.

As he sees it, anything that gives humans abilities they would otherwise lack counts as a form of "cyborgization." Early pacemakers, basic prostheses*, and procedures like renal dialysis kicked off the trend, but the types of possible implants have hugely diversified in recent years, extending to restoring sight, hearing, and even function in the neural system. He sees all of this as having major implications for human rights, and perhaps no recent example illustrates this better than the case of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius, pictured above.

Pistorius is a double amputee who uses prosthetic legs made of carbon fiber and titanium to compete in track events. He holds the Paralympic records in the 100, 200, and 400 meter events, and has since began competing against able-bodied athletes. These efforts have met with resistance from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the governing body for all major athletic events. They claimed Pistorius should not be allowed to compete in the Olympic or Commonwealth games because his legs were mechanically superior to those of his able-bodied competitors, giving him an unfair advantage.

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Murasaki Shikibu

And the school responds

I posted yesterday about the school where the teacher kicked a girl out of class for her hair care product. The school board finally has a response.

The Seattle School District Responds

As Charles Mudede has written, a Seattle public school teacher recently kicked his daughter out of class because her hair product (an olive-oil lotion) sickened the teacher. The girl was removed from an advanced placement class, where she was the only black student, and moved to a lower-placement class with more black kids. KIRO television reported part of the story over the weekend. The school district declined an interview request from Mudede because he is the student's father and attorneys are involved. But two school district attorneys agreed to speak to me.

"The district agrees that it is not acceptable for a teacher in our district to ask a student to leave a classroom for the reasons that this child was asked to leave,” says Kevin O’Neill, senior assistant general counsel for Seattle Public Schools, the attorney who is handling the case of Mudede’s daughter.

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Kidnapped by Israel, forsaken by Britain

Firstly I must apologise for taking so long to update my blog. The events of the past few days have been hectic to say the least, and I am still trying to come to grips with many of the things that have happened.

It was this time last week that I was on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara, and first spotted Israeli warships at a distance, as they approached the humanitarian flotilla. Little did I know how deadly and bloody the events that soon unfolded would be.

What I will write in this entry is fact, every letter of it, none of it is opinion, none of it is analysis, I will leave that to you, the reader.

After spotting the warships at a distance, (at roughly 11pm) the organisers called for passengers to wear their life vests and remain indoors as they monitored the situation. The naval warships together with helicopters remained at a distance for several hours.

At 2am local time the organisers informed me that they had re-routed the ship, as far away from Israel as possible, as deep into international waters as they could. They did not want a confrontation with the Israeli military, at least not by night.

Just after 4am local time, the Israeli military attacked the ship, in international waters. It was an unprovoked attack. Tear gas was used, sound grenades were launched, and rubber coated steel bullets were fired from almost every direction.

Dozens of speed boats carrying about 15-20 masked Israeli soldiers, armed to the teeth surrounded the Mavi Marmara which was carrying 600 or so unarmed civilians. Two helicopters at a time hovered above the vessel. Commandos on board the choppers joined the firing, using live ammunition, before any of the soldiers had descended onto the ship.

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Iraqis sent back despite safety fears

Ten Iraqis have been flown back to Baghdad due to "extraordinary interference" by government lawyers who told the High Court not to block the asylum-seekers' deportation.

The 10 are thought to have left Britain at 5.15am on Wednesday on a chartered flight which was scheduled to stop in Sweden to pick up more Iraqi detainees before heading to Baghdad.

The planned deportation had provoked a storm of criticism from campaigners and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who said the Iraqis could be killed if they were sent back.

Spokesman Peter Kessler made a last-ditch plea for mercy, saying: "We are asking the government to continue hosting people from central Iraq until such a time that they can be returned in safety.

"The situation in central Iraq is very unstable due to the prevailing violence, security incidents and human rights violations going on. Their lives could be at risk."

But to make sure the flight was not "disrupted or delayed," the Treasury Solicitor's Department had already written to the High Court on June 2 requesting that judges refuse to consider last-minute judicial review applications by detainees due for deportation.

The department's Andrea McMahon wrote: "Because of the complexities, practicalities and costs involved in arranging charter flights, it is essential that these removals are not disrupted or delayed by large numbers of last-minute claims."

She said only a full-scale injunction would block the flight.

"It is an extraordinary interference by the executive in the judicial process," said immigration law expert Frances Webber.

"Coming hard on the heels of the letter requesting judges to withdraw their criticism of MI5, it seems the government's lawyers have not learned the lesson of that case."

The Stop Deportation Network added: "It is incredible the government would go as far as telling judges not to do their job."

Another flight with 40 deportees from Britain is due to leave next Wednesday.

The first deportation flight of Iraqis last October was disrupted by last-minute judicial reviews that forced the government to substitute others held in detention. It is thought these special measures are being put forward to prevent a recurrence.

In the end 34 of the 44 deportees were sent back by Iraq because they were Kurdish.

Source: Morning Star

darren criss avpm

New Aid for Palestinians

Obama Pledges New Aid for Palestinians

Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Obama met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday.

Published: June 9, 2010
WASHINGTON — President Obama promised a $400 million aid package for the West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday, as the United States scrambled to come up with a way out of the stalemate in the Middle East exacerbated by the Gaza flotilla incident last week.

Mr. Obama, meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, said that the money would go to housing and schools. White House officials said that the money also would help increase access to drinking water and to help address health and infrastructure needs.

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So uh, hi guys! If you haven't noticed, I'm new, though I've been lurking creepily for a while. I know this topic tends to get panties in a twist  incite some lively debate, so I thought it would be a fun first post. *throws confetti*


(no subject)

Apple's Worst Security Breach: 114,000 iPad Owners Exposed
Apple has suffered another embarrassment. A security breach has exposed iPad owners including dozens of CEOs, military officials, and top politicians. They—and every other buyer of the cellular-enabled tablet—could be vulnerable to spam marketing and malicious hacking.

The breach, which comes just weeks after an Apple employee lost an iPhone prototype in a bar, exposed the most exclusive email list on the planet, a collection of early-adopter iPad 3G subscribers that includes thousands of A-listers in finance, politics and media, from New York Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson to Diane Sawyer of ABC News to film mogul Harvey Weinstein to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It even appears that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's information was compromised.
It doesn't stop there. According to the data we were given by the web security group that exploited vulnerabilities on the AT&T network, we believe 114,000 user accounts have been compromised, although it's possible that confidential information about every iPad 3G owner in the U.S. has been exposed. We contacted Apple for comment but have yet to hear back. We also reached out to AT&T for comment. A call to Rahm Emanuel's office at the White House has not been returned.
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Since it's almost time for the World Cup...

The price of truth

The World Cup starts tomorrow. A cumulative audience of 26 billion, we keep being told. The biggest sporting event on the planet. And alongside all the hoopla, South Africa will find itself subjected to scrutiny by at least a small number of the thousands of journalists covering the event.

This week, a spot of professional reminiscence. A moment when this journalist was confronted with the ethics of his profession, and a memory that asks insistently, "was there something else you could have done?".

In the weeks leading up to another FIFA World Cup, 32 years ago, I found myself, as a young BBC producer, on my first major overseas assignment. The job: to research and produce a 50-minute Panorama program about the host of the 1978 World Cup, Argentina.

Though we didn't fully realise it at the time, 1978 was right in the middle of what Argentinians still call the Dirty War. On one side was the fascist military junta that ruled Argentina, led by President Jorge Videla - a regime that finally foundered four years later in the wake of Argentina's defeat in the Falklands War. On the other, leftist urban guerrillas - or Communist terrorists, as the regime labelled them - and others who opposed the regime more peaceably: trades unionists, students, priests, teachers. Thousands of them had simply disappeared. Some had reappeared as mutilated corpses, washed up on the shores of the estuary of the River Plate, or dumped by the roadside with hoods over their faces. Many were simply never heard from again.

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I have a Google Alert for "Jorge Videla dead" and this just popped up. I thought it was really interesting. The 1978 World Cup was the most fucked up thing ever. Also, I apologize for forgetting the LJ cut.
' jules

An inspiration to us all.

Who is Alvin Greene? Mystery S.C. nominee has pending felony charge

Alvin Greene has been on the phone all day. That's to be expected for the guy who just won South Carolina's Democratic Senate primary and is facing incumbent Republican Jim DeMint in November. But everyone calling Greene has just been trying to find out who the heck he is — and one thing reporters learned Tuesday is that a criminal complaint was sworn out against him last year for allegedly showing obscene photos to a South Carolina college student and suggesting they go to her dorm room.

Greene, a 32-year-old unemployed military veteran who lives with his parents, defeated Vic Rawl on Tuesday for the Democratic Senate nomination despite having run essentially no public campaign — no events, no signs, no debates, no website, no fundraising.

The result has baffled political observers, who had heavily favored Rawl — a former state legislator, attorney and prosecutor who had the edge inasmuch as he actually campaigned and tried to win. Many in South Carolina (which has grandly lived up to its reputation as a political circus this year) suspect that somewhere, a crafty GOP political operative is snickering.

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South Carolina, where the political fail isn't just limited to the Republicans.
nobody / travis

With Traumatic Brain Injuries, Soldiers Face Battle For Care

At the rapidly expanding base in Fort Bliss, Texas, along the U.S.-Mexico border, the military is racing to build new homes for 10,000 additional soldiers. Cranes stack prefabricated containers like children's blocks to erect barracks overnight. Bulldozers grind sagebrush desert into roads and runways.

Just down the street from the construction boom squats a tan, featureless building about the size of a convenience store. Completed nearly a year ago, it remains unopened, the doors locked.

Building 805 was supposed to house a clinic for traumatic brain injury, often called the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, it has become a symbol for soldiers here of what they call commanders' indifference to their problems.

"The system here has no mercy," said Sgt. Victor Medina, a decorated combat veteran who fought to receive treatment at Fort Bliss after suffering a brain injury during a roadside blast in Iraq last June. Since the explosion, Medina has had trouble reading, comprehending and doing simple tasks. "It's struggle after struggle."

Previously, NPR and ProPublica reported that the military has failed to diagnose brain injuries in troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mild traumatic brain injuries, which doctors also call concussions, do not leave visible scars but can cause lasting mental and physical problems.

At Fort Bliss, we found that even soldiers who are diagnosed with such injuries often do not receive the treatment they need.

more @ source
walking on

Andrew Sullivan on Israel

Was Israel A Mistake?

So far, no luck on anti-Zionist columnists. And being critical of Israel does not mean you're an anti-Zionist. But a reader did note this 2006 column by Richard Cohen. Money quote:

The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself.

I was thinking recently how a Burkean could defend the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. I'm not sure it's possible - which may say more about the limits of Burkean conservatism than Zionism. Although Jews obviously dwelled in Palestine for as long as anyone, their numbers were few in recent centuries until the grand experiment. Zionism began as an idea, another nineteenth century "ism", and was, like most radical ideas, controversial among Jews and Gentiles everywhere in its inception and since. It was radically utopian, an almost text book example of imposing an abstract concept - a settled Jewish nation after so long a diaspora - on a land already embedded with an existing geographic, demographic, religious and cultural reality.

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Source: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/06/was-israel-a-mistake.html#more

OP says: Sullivan makes some good points, but I would be remiss in my duties if I didn't point out his epic fail about the original inhabitants of America dying in a biological holocaust.