June 10th, 2010

Food / Tutu Tomato

The prejudice and double standards of Israel's critics

The prejudice and double standards of Israel's critics
by Asher Susser, on Mail & Guardian Online

Israel is not above the law and not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. Israel's blockade of Gaza, together with Egypt, it should be recalled (though Egypt is never condemned in this regard), is probably not the wisest policy ever implemented by Israel. After the international outcry over the flotilla to Gaza that was poorly handled by the Israelis, and with tragic consequences, it is high time this policy was reviewed.

The issue, however, is not this or some other specific Israeli policy, but Israel-bashing, or the prejudicial way in which Israel is usually treated by the international community and the world media. Prejudice is recognised by its three constituent practices: it singles out the subject; it then applies a double standard; and, of course, the subject is always guilty. Israel is indeed singled out for special treatment and the double standard is also reflected in a specific vocabulary that is applied only to Israel.

The United Nations Human Rights Council condemned Israel's behavior in the flotilla incident and called for the formation of an international commission of inquiry. Surely the order should have been the reverse, an inquiry first and condemnation later, if and when justified by the investigation. The resolution was so obviously biased that the US and other democratic nations either voted against it or abstained. Since 2006 this council has adopted 40 condemnations of countries, of which 33 have focused on Israel. This is perverse. Israel is a country locked in conflict with some of its neighbours. It is not the epitome of evil on earth.

There was much international outrage because of the flotilla incident. Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations Secretary General, condemned the violence and said that it was "vital that there is a full investigation" and Israel, he said, "must urgently provide a full explanation". Oddly enough no similar international outrage and demand for explanations was recently evident in reference to other even more tragic events: not when Iran again hanged political dissidents, bringing the total to nearly 300 since early 2009; nor when the North Koreans sunk a South Korean ship killing 46 seamen; nor when attacks on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore killed at least 93 worshipers. International outrage is awfully selective.

The recall of South Africa's ambassador to Israel is typical of this double standard. As more information becomes available on the flotilla it is pretty obvious to any fair minded person that the Turks, and certainly the men on the ship who attacked the Israeli commandos, bear no small measure of responsibility for the tragic outcome. But South Africa could not wait to be bothered by all the facts and has already made its judgement. South Africa took no similar action after the genocide in Darfur, the repeated killing of tens of protesters and the hangings of dissidents in Iran, the horrendous human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and many other instances infinitely worse than the flotilla incident.

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As aforesaid, Israel is not above the law, but the law should not apply only to Israel. The law should apply to Israel just as it applies to all other countries. Instead of demonisation, criminalisation and dehumanisation Israel should be judged just like everybody else. The jurisprudence of democracies upholds the principles of equality before the law and innocence until proven guilty. Israel should enjoy these rights too rather than constantly having to face selective prosecution.

# Professor Asher Susser is a Senior Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University and is presently a Visiting Professor at Brandeis University in the United States

*

I'm not posting it as a condemnation/justification of Israel, simply as food for thought.

|Meduza|
John Candy - Feeling a little homicidal

PM defends G8 fake lake pavilion

 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | 11:15 PM ET
 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has defended building a $1.9-million tourism pavilion at the G8/G20 summit media centre in Toronto that includes an artificial indoor pool to simulate Ontario's cottage country.

His comments came as the government scrambled Tuesday to correct the price tag associated with the so-called fake lake at the $1.9-million G8/G20 "Experience Canada" pavilion in Toronto's Direct Energy Centre.

During Tuesday's question period in the House of Commons, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff asked how Harper could instruct other countries how they should manage their own funds amid the government's "astonishing" waste of taxpayers' money on the summits.

The Liberal leader also questioned how much the public could expect to see at the end of three days of meetings, with topics such as climate change not even on the agenda.

"Canadians wanted leadership, and all they got was a fake lake," Ignatieff told the House.

In his reply, the prime minister accused the opposition of "throwing a bunch of falsehoods" about the cost of the pavilion and insisted the summits are a great chance to profile the region's tourist attractions to the world.

"In fact, it's a $2-million marketing project," Harper said, "We must not miss this opportunity."

The mock lake inside the centre will actually be a 10-centimetre-deep pool, built at a cost of $57,000, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon told the House. It was initially reported the pool itself cost $1.9 million.

Liberal MP Mark Holland hit back, saying $57,000 is more than the annual income for 40 per cent of Canadian families.

The G8 is being held on June 25-26 in Huntsville, Ont., while the G20 is convening on June 27-28 in Toronto's downtown core. The dual summits are expected to carry a price tag of $1 billion for security alone.

NDP Leader Jack Layton said the prime minister was setting a "poor example" on spending, saying the government's explanations about the costs of the summits "don't hold water."

Pavilion includes wine, food tastings

The temporary media centre will host all but about 150 of the estimated 3,000 journalists from around the world who will be covering the two summits.

A source at the summit management office told CBC that when the G8 summit was first announced, the marketing "message" was to bring Muskoka to the world. The original plan was to create something at the media centre in Toronto called the "Muskoka corridor." That's when the idea of the fake lake was created as part of that marketing plan.

In December, when the summit became a joint G8/G20 meeting, with the G20 gathering in Toronto, the theme changed to a concept called "Experience Canada Alley," meant to promote the business and tourism of not only Toronto and Muskoka, but also the rest of Canada.

A firm named Lord Cultural Resources won the bid to develop the "Experience Canada Alley" concept. The same firm designed the Ontario House pavilion at the Vancouver Olympic Games.

The 3,700-square-metre pavilion inside the media centre includes areas promoting Muskoka's connected "lifestyle" and Toronto's industrial and investment sides, plus a reception area with refreshments from all parts of Ontario.

According to government officials, the "Northern Oasis" feature, which includes the pool, cost $208,187. The "bridge" linking the Muskoka promotion area with the city pavilion cost $218,000, while the price tag for the cityscape is $292,000.

Another $398,000 is allocated for labour, including setup and tear down of the pavilion, while Lord Resources received $407,000 for consultations, project management, design and fees, the officials said.

Reporters covering the summits will be able to get free beer and wine, plus coverage of soccer's World Cup on a large flat-screen television. Some 110 restaurants will be on display, with two food tastings each day.

"The Experience Canada space will host over 3,000 media and other guests, and will serve to highlight Canada's pristine natural beauty, as well as promote leading Canadian businesses and industries," according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office.

source @ cbc

There's also a video link at the source that didn't want to embed for me, but it's got my broadcasting boyfriend Peter Mansbridge on there so y'all should go check it out, too. I haven't seen anything about this at ontd_p yet, which seems kind of strange considering 90% of Canada seems to be about *thisclose* to collectively foaming at the mouth about the whole thing. But don't worry, guys! It's not a lake! It's a water feature! And it's not $2 million! It's only $57,000! 

So we're cool, right guys?  ... guys? I mean come on, it's Canada, it's not like we have any cool watersystems *naturally*. It's not like we have any good lakes in the Great Lakes region, I mean, who are we kiddi--- Oh, shit.

Uncle V wants you

Hearings on Senator Dodd's bill promoting sustainable development

Reuters: Congress looks at making cities more "livable"
Lisa Lambert
WASHINGTON

The Senate moved closer on Wednesday to making the concept of "livable communities" a part of national law that would provide federal grants to help local governments implement comprehensive city planning.

Almost a year after Sen. Chris Dodd, the Banking Committee chairman from Connecticut, introduced a bill, the committee held its first hearing. The bill proposes giving livability grants to metropolitan organizations and creating an interagency office on sustainable communities within the executive branch.

The grant amounts would depend on the size of the city and the use of the money. The bill would authorize $100 million in total each year through 2013 for planning grants and $3.75 billion through 2013 for implementation grants.

A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in February.

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I'm all on Senator Dodd's side on this one. I moved to a walkable neighborhood close to work and I'm much happier with myself and my lifestyle now. I'd like more people to share my experience and I'm willing to have my tax dollars spent to make it so.
Knight

Is that a spine I see?

Dems Go All-In On Health Care With New Ad Slamming GOP's Repeal Promise

Democrats on Thursday will launch a new 60-second ad on national cable television accusing repeal-happy Republicans of wanting to get rid of health care reform and all its benefits. The ad, obtained by TPMDC, is timed to coincide with the government mailing to seniors the first $250 Medicare rebate checks fixing the so-called prescription drug "donut hole."

The ad is titled "We Can't Afford To Go Back." It outlines the positive parts of the health care law signed by President Obama this spring and charges, "Republicans want to take it all away."

I've learned that DNC Chairman Tim Kaine on Thursday will dare Republicans to make repeal the focus of their fall campaign to try and win back control of Congress, challenging the GOP to tell senior citizens and others benefiting from health care exactly which parts of the reform law they'd scrap.

We've been writing quite a bit about the GOP's repeal pledge over the last few months as they settled on a game plan.
Minority Leader John Boehner said in a radio interview on on WFLA's "Bud Hedinger Show" last week repealing health care is his party's "No. 1 priority."

"They got everything else in the entire bureaucracy that they need to control our healthcare system ... with the signing of this bill. ... That's why repealing this bill has to be our No. 1 priority," said Boehner (R-OH).

The DNC's Organizing for America is holding events around the country to highlight new health care benefits kicking in -- which Obama spoke about this week during a town hall with seniors. As part of the new health care push, Democrats will zero in on 52 House Republicans in competitive districts to get their local press to ask them about how they'd go about repealing the law.

The DNC's Brad Woodhouse said the Republicans thought health care "was their silver bullet, and that we were going to pass it and run from it." Democrats say it's actually the opposite. "We are going to make sure on this and every milestone of the [law] that the constituents of vulnerable Republicans know what they would lose if their members' effort to repeal reform is successful," he said.




Source is bringing it.
' jules

SHENANIGANS THURSDAY

Alvin Greene A GOP 'Plant'? James Clyburn Warns Of 'Shenanigans' With Carolina Candidate



Is something fishy going on with Alvin Greene, the man who clinched an unlikely victory to become the Democratic nominee for South Carolina Senate? Fellow South Carolinian Rep. James Clyburn (D) thinks so, and on Thursday went as far as to say that Greene might be a "Republican plant."

Speaking with liberal radio show host Bill Press, Clyburn questioned Greene's improbable victory. (Greene had no campaign signs, no website, and was largely invisible in the lead-up to Tuesday's primary -- and said that his candidacy warranted an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office).

"There were some real shenanigans going on in the South Carolina primary," Clyburn said of Tuesday's race. "I don't know if he was a Republican plant; he was someone's plant."

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milo v.

Econ 101

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
Self-identified liberals and Democrats do badly on questions of basic economics.

By DANIEL B. KLEIN

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.

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SOCIAL LINKS

Zakaria: Obama caves in to media frenzy over BP

New York (CNN) -- President Obama's stepped-up focus on the Gulf oil disaster and his hardline rhetoric against BP are accomplishing little and risk distracting the White House from other urgent responsibilities, says analyst Fareed Zakaria.
Obama, responding to critics of the government's handling of the spill, has made a point of emphasizing the time he's devoted to the crisis and has used blunt language to express outrage about it. In an interview with NBC, he said he met with experts "because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."
Zakaria told CNN, "I think that what he's been doing in recent days has been caving in to this media outcry that he show more emotion and anger and energy in dealing with the problem. And I think the result of it is that you're getting government as theater rather than government that is actually doing something effective.
"The reality is that this is a terrible tragedy, a very complex, technical problem. The federal government has limited power and limited expertise. But the media -- and I hold us all responsible here -- has been baying like wolves asking for him to emote. ... It has had an effect."
The author and host of CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" spoke to CNN on Wednesday. Here is an edited transcript:
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source.

I don't agree with every point he made but I did find the interview very interesting, and I'm interested in reading what others have to say about it.
Murasaki Shikibu

FBI: Mexicans chased away US agents after shooting

FBI: Mexicans chased away US agents after shooting

Pointing their rifles, Mexican security forces chased away U.S. authorities investigating the shooting of a 15-year-old Mexican by a U.S. Border Patrol agent on the banks of the Rio Grande, the FBI and witnesses told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The killing of the Mexican by U.S. authorities — the second in less than two weeks — has exposed the distrust between the two countries that lies just below the surface, and has enraged Mexicans who see the death of the boy on Mexican soil as an act of murder.

Mexico's government says the number of Mexicans injured by U.S. immigration authorities has increased this year.

Shortly after the boy was shot, Mexican soldiers arrived at the scene and pointed their guns at the Border Patrol agents across the riverbank while bystanders screamed insults and hurled rocks and firecrackers, FBI spokeswoman Andrea Simmons said. She said the agents were forced to withdraw.

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--

Gringaderas, indeed. :/

The kid was on his side of the border, definitely. I hope the video comes out, since right now the big question mark is where the agent who shot him was.
Parks and Rec - Leslie - Bun

(no subject)



Reporting from Washington — The Army has misidentified the graves of some of the war dead buried in Arlington National Cemetery, and in least one case buried the body of one service member on top of another, Defense officials disclosed Thursday.

Army Secretary John McHugh has ousted the cemetery's superintendent and his deputy in the wake of a Pentagon inspector general's report highlighting the mismanagement, poor record keeping and other problems at the cemetery, one of the government's most venerated memorials.

It was not clear whether the Army has been able to correct the problems at the cemetery, or if there continue to be a number of graves that remain mismarked.

The report divulging the irregularities sent Pentagon officials scrambling on Thursday. Military officials regard the dignified treatment of personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan as one of their top priorities.

Although it is not known exactly how many graves were mismarked or the extent of the record keeping problems, Defense officials were deeply embarrassed by the mistakes.

Problems first came to light in 2008 when the widow of a fallen staff sergeant complained that the wrong headstone had been placed on her husband's grave. An investigation found that an Air Force master sergeant had been buried in the same spot, on top of the other service member.

The Army was planning to release the inspector general's report at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, and McHugh is scheduled to hold a news conference to discuss the findings.

John Metzler, the cemetery superintendent, announced last month that he intended to retire on July 2. But Defense officials said Metzler and his deputy, Thurman Higgenbotham, have been forced out. Both may face punitive action, according to Defense officials.

In an interview with the Marine Corps Times, Metzler acknowledged some problems, but defended his work.

"Nobody here is doing anything malicious," Metzler said. "Sure mistakes get made … does anyone run a perfect organization?"


Source


I am appalled. I mean, I know that there are a lot of graves and that it is not a very easy job making sure that everything is done correctly, but that does not make it okay AT ALL. I mean, I can't even imagine going to visit the grave of a loved one who died and discovering that they had been buried in the wrong spot let alone ON TOP OF ANOTHER BODY!

Kids labeled 'generation next' before they grow up




They aren't even out of grade school. But already, people are trying to name the youngest up-and-coming generation, and figure out who they might be and how they might be different from their predecessors.

At a loss for something more original, many call them Generation Z, because they follow Generations X and Y.

They've also been referred to as Generation Net or "iGen," since they've never known a world without the Internet.

That's the one point most everyone can agree on — that they are the tech-savviest generation of all time, so much so that even toddlers can maneuver their way through YouTube and some first-graders are able to put together a PowerPoint presentation for class.

But beyond that, who are they, really?

Most people agree it's just too early to know for sure. But that hasn't stopped marketers from trying to figure out this young crowd of consumers. Or employers from attempting to prepare for them in the workplace.

Parents, too — many of them Gen Xers — are weighing in, saying they are raising a different brand of kid than baby boomers did.

"I would like to think that ideally, and this might be a bit naive, Gen Xers are a bit more freethinking and not necessarily as compelled to keep up with the Joneses," says Kris Sonnenberg, a teacher in Chicago and 38-year-old mother of three children, ages 8, 12 and 17.

Many parents also think the recession will play a role in shaping who their kids are, and perhaps make them less "entitled," a label that — fair or not — has been slapped frequently on Generation Y, also known as the "millennials."

"We're not afraid to say money's tight, so I feel like our kids are going to have that sense long-term," says Andrew Egbert, a 41-year-old dad who works in manufacturing in Greensboro, N.C. He has a son in fifth grade and a daughter who's a first-grader.

OK, so, let's take a look at the picture that's emerging of Gen Z, for what it's worth. They're young — roughly age 12 or younger.

Generational expert Neil Howe says determining who these youngsters are still is very much a work in progress.

"But there are hints from history," he says.

Howe, who coined the term "millennials," says 2008 may turn out to be one year with a big influence on this generation, due to both the recession and the election of the nation's first black president.

He is calling them the "homelanders" because they are growing up in a time of "greater public urgency and emergency, both at home and around the world."

For that reason, he speculates they could be a new version of the so-called Silent Generation, the group that grew up in the Depression era, who saw the country through World War II and who birthed the baby boomers.

That elder generation was pegged as hardworking and anything but entitled.

Janet Reid, who also has spent time looking at this latest generation, thinks that's a pretty fair appraisal.

"It won't be taken for granted that prosperity is guaranteed," says Reid, a managing partner at Global Novations, a firm that helps corporations develop and attract workers and understand generational differences.

Because they're so hooked into screens of all kinds at a such a young age, she sees Gen Z as more conscious of world events. "They're not just out playing hopscotch," she says.

She also thinks this generation will take characteristics already affiliated with Gen Y to a new level — be that multitasking or a comfort level with different races, ethnicities and cultures.

Seven-year-old Ryan Cook's parents have noticed many of these traits in him.

Asked what a recession is, he's able to tell you that it has to do with the economy and the fact that his parents can't always buy him the things he wants, like video games. "But I think that's fair," he says.

He can tell you that President Barack Obama is the nation's first black president, but — as one whose elementary classroom in suburban Chicago is much more diverse than his parents' — that doesn't seem to phase him much.

"Well, the president is the president," he says nonchalantly. "They don't really change much, except for different speeches."

Like a lot of kids his age, he gets frustrated when he has to sit through TV commercials. He uses his dad's laptop by himself with ease. And though he doesn't have a cell phone, he wants one (partly because his 12-year-old brother has one).

That fits with the notion that, recession or no recession, this generation has a big expectation when it comes to technological gadgets, whether that be cell phones, laptops or the latest version of the iPod or other music players.

And in many instances, their parents are getting them those gadgets, says Nicole Williams, a 39-year-old mom of three who's also a fifth-grade teacher in Seattle.

"They have quick fingers, good muscle strength in those fingers," Williams says, laughing as she refers to the many technological devices her students use in and outside class.

These devices are so coveted — and a sign of status — that theft can be a problem.

That's not surprising to Colin Gounden, a research specialist who thinks access to technology will play a big role in determining which Gen Zers thrive, and which don't.

"There is a segmentation of haves and have-nots that is very global. If you are in Mississippi or Bangalore, if you don't have Internet, your experience is quite parallel," says Gounden, global head of research for Integreon Inc., whose subsidiary Grail Research has compiled a report on Gen Z.

Among other things, he also thinks this generation is more likely to be debt-ridden, partly because getting a college degree will be as important for them as a high school diploma was for their grandparents and great-grandparents.

Gounden is among those who question whether this recession will really impact this generation the way some think it will.

Another skeptic is Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who's written books and studies that examine entitlement and narcissism in young people.

Twenge cites a recent poll of young people from the 2010 Cassandra Report, compiled by a market research firm known as the Intelligence Group, which found that 81 percent of 7- to 13-year-olds expect they will have their "15 minutes of fame."

"Every arrow points in the direction of continued high expectations and optimism," Twenge says. "Things might be bad sometimes, but they think THEY will make it."

source

Wanna keep your sanity/not blow a gasket? Don't read the comments page.

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what the fuck have you done;

New Policy on Gender Change in Passports Announced

New Policy on Gender Change in Passports Announced

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 9, 2010

The U.S. Department of State is pleased to use the occasion of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month to announce its new policy guidelines regarding gender change in passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad.

Beginning June 10, when a passport applicant presents a certification from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, the passport will reflect the new gender. The guidelines include detailed information about what information the certification must include. It is also possible to obtain a limited-validity passport if the physician’s statement shows the applicant is in the process of gender transition. No additional medical records are required. Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance. A Consular Report of Birth Abroad can also be amended with the new gender.

As with all passport applicants, passport issuing officers at embassies and consulates abroad and domestic passport agencies and centers will only ask appropriate questions to obtain information necessary to determine citizenship and identity.

The new policy and procedures are based on standards and recommendations of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), recognized by the American Medical Association as the authority in this field.



PRN: 2010/766


source


Unfortunately, I'm not American but I'm really delighted and glad to hear this news (since the new policy does not imply that you have to get a surgery in order for the passport changes to take place)!
Mail Mail

Gulf states tracking oil-related illnesses



CNN) -- States are tracking the health consequences of the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, including respiratory and skin irritation problems in Louisiana and Alabama, health officials said.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is aware of 71 cases of oil spill-related illness as of Wednesday, said state health officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry. Of them, 50 involved workers on oil rigs or who participated in cleanup efforts, and 21 reports of illness came from the general public.

Symptoms reported by workers included throat irritation, cough, chest pain, headaches, and shortness of breath, he said. Eight workers were hospitalized, for an average of one day each, the department said.

In terms of the general public, odors from the oil spill have been related to most reported illnesses in Louisiana, the department said. Most people who reported oil-related sickness were 18 to 64 years old.

The state is keeping track of health complaints related to the spill through hospitals, clinics, first aid stations and a toll free number residents can call for Poison Control, Guidry said. People with oil-related symptoms are followed until they feel well again, which is usually fairly quickly, he said.

People who are sensitive to the smells should stay inside with doors and windows closed and with air-conditioning running, officials said. Consider contacting your physician if you are a Louisiana resident with symptoms and also have a pre-existing condition, such as asthma or other respiratory illness, the department said.

Monitoring of Louisiana's air has not found chemicals from oil that would cause a large negative health impact, Guidry said.

"It might cause people to have the symptoms we're seeing, but they're not long-term, and they're short-lived if you remove yourself from the exposure," he said.

Drinking water, also being monitored, is currently safe, he said. If hydrocarbons did get into the drinking water, that would mean that salt water has also infiltrated the system, which is also a problem; both oil and salt are being monitored, he said.

The state is working with the U.S. Coast Guard to make sure that ships coming from the Gulf are decontaminated and washed off before they come up the river, he said.

Local governments have closed beaches at Grand Isle and Port Fourchon, Guidry said.

In Alabama, which is also keeping track of oil-related health complaints, 15 cases of illness have been reported, said Dr. Don Williamson, state health officer. Ten of them had respiratory problems and five had skin irritation, he said. There was one additional hospitalization reported, but it is likely heat-related, he said.

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Source Some of the comments here are already getting bad.
panda bear

(no subject)

John McCain: I would never tax Snooki's tanning bed



During the ten minute sneak peek of “Jersey Shore” season two, we see the effects the Obama administration has had on our dear friend Snooki’s lifestyle: the girl has been reduced to getting her faux glow with a spray tan.

Among the many revelations that the reality-TV star made within those few minutes – she’s found love with an “amazing gorilla juicehead”; she gets crazy when handed "a bottle of freaking SoCo" – one of them was political.

“I don’t go tanning tanning anymore, because Obama put a 10 percent tax on tanning,” Snooks said after her juicehead sprayed her face with one last coat of self-tanner, just to be on the safe side.

“I feel like he did that intentionally for us. McCain would never put a 10 percent tax on tanning. Because he’s pale and he would probably want to be tan," the pint-sized fist-pumper explained.

McCain confirmed Snooki's assertions in a tweet.

The Arizona Senator wrote, “@Sn00ki, u r right, I would never tax your tanning bed! Pres Obama’s tax/spend policy is quite The Situation but I do rec wearing sunscreen!" To which Snooks responsed: "Haha Yes!"

source
Dragon with script

The Just-World Fallacy

JUNE 7, 2010

by David McRaney

The Misconception: People who are losing at the game of life must have done something to deserve it.

The Truth: The beneficiaries of good fortune often do nothing to earn it, and bad people often get away with their actions without consequences.

A woman goes out to a club wearing stilettos and a miniskirt with no underwear.

She gets pretty drunk and stumbles home in the wrong direction.

She ends up lost in a bad neighborhood. She gets raped.

Is she to blame in some way? Was this her fault? Was she asking for it?

People often say yes to all three in studies asking similar questions after presenting similar scenarios.

It is common in fiction for the bad guys to lose and the good guys to win.

It’s how you would like to see the world- just and fair.

In psychology, the tendency to believe this is how the real world actually works is called the Just-World Fallacy.

More specifically, this is the tendency to react to horrible misfortune, like homelessness or drug addiction, by believing the people stuck in horrible situations must have done something to deserve it.

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Source

This just came up as a recommendation for me on Google Reader and I thought you guys might appreciate it. While it is not specifically political news, it does confront some political issues and I thought it might spark some interesting discussion.
*betty draper reading

Boehner pulls a boner

Boehner: Government--i.e. Taxpayers--Should Help Pay For Oil Spill


Brian Beutler | June 10, 2010, 11:19AM

Congressional Democrats and the White House are toying with different ways to force BP to cover the costs of damages from the Gulf oil spill. But they face stiff opposition from industry...and it seems leading Republicans. In response to a question from TPMDC, House Minority Leader John Boehner said he believes taxpayers should help pick up the tab for the clean up.

"I think the people responsible in the oil spill--BP and the federal government--should take full responsibility for what's happening there," Boehner said at his weekly press conference this morning.

Boehner's statement followed comments last Friday by US Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue who said he opposes efforts to stick BP, a member of the Chamber, with the bill. "It is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game," he said. "Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up. We are all going to have to do it. We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies and we will figure out a way to do that."

So today I asked Boehner, "Do you agree with Tom Donohue of the Chamber that the government and taxpayers should pitch in to clean up the oil spill?" The shorter answer is yes.

sauce

Le Walk Back Begins


Josh Marshall | June 10, 2010, 1:35PM

Rep. Boehner's office is trying to walk back the leader's comments about taxpayers' needing to help pay for the BP spill clean up. Boehner's office says Boehner didn't understand the question.

more sauce

Boehner: No, I don't want taxpayer dollars used to clean up after BP


Minority leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) is calling a foul on reporters circulating what he told TPMDC's Brian Beutler this morning -- that "BP and the federal government should take full responsibility for what's happening" in the wake of the oil company's disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. According to Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, the GOP leader stood by what he's said since May 3 -- "Not a dime of taxpayer money should be used to clean up [BP's] mess."

"He's said for a month now that BP will bear the full burden of this disaster," said Steel.

The "responsibility" Boehner was talking about was not taxpayer money cleaning up the spill. It was whatever reform and restructuring comes after the leak is stopped. As Boehner put it this morning, his preferred plan of action is "figure out what the hell went wrong, and then have the hearing and get the damn law fixed!"

By David Weigel | June 10, 2010; 1:52 PM ET

lolwut sauce
good [boa kwon]

Solar Storm's a-Comin'


"The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity," said Richard Fisher, head of NASA's Heliophysics Division. "At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we're getting together to discuss."

Bad news for gizmos

People of the 21st century rely on high-tech systems for the basics of daily life. But smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity.


Source

We really are being watched

Civil liberties groups have expressed outrage at the discovery of secret European Union documents showing the extent of Britain's involvement in spying on its own citizens.

Documents obtained by non-governmental organisation Statewatch reveal that an EU initiative initially set up to gather and share data on alleged Islamic extremists has now been extended to encompass lawful campaigners and protesters.

The European Security Programme, first published in 2006, was claimed to be predicated on the need to deliver "new security-enhancing technologies" to the union's member states in order to "protect EU citizens from every conceivable threat to their security."

But it has now emerged that the programme's remit has been extended from that of monitoring terrorist suspects to potentially encompass a vast array of organisations such as anti-war and environmental groups.

In effect this means that political activists who have never committed a crime and have no links with terrorism can have their families and associates monitored as well as their ideological beliefs, internet usage and psychological profiles recorded.

In recent years the Muslim community has been controversially targeted by the Prevent programme and environmental activists have found themselves infiltrated and subject to pre-emptive arrest. But the exposure of this new shadowy EU initiative has been seen as a dangerous further erosion of civil liberties.

Stop The War convener Lindsey German said: "In recent months we have begun hearing the term 'domestic extremists' used to describe people exercising their completely legal right to protest.

"People should not be criminalised for exercising their civil rights. We said at the time that the war on terror would lead to a huge erosion of civil liberties. This is a very dangerous step and should be opposed."


Ms German said that to a certain extent most activists assumed they were being monitored but that this did not make it right.

"I've been active in campaigns for over 40 years," she said.

"I imagine there are tapes and photos of me and files on me because of campaigns I have been involved in but when you think about many of those protests, such as the anti-apartheid movement and the Irish civil rights movement, which were seen as extremist campaigns by some at the time, they are now completely acceptable.

"When you have such a homogeneous mainstream political situation as we do in Britain with the coalition government and where the Labour Party is not distinguishing itself by being left wing, anyone who is outside the mainstream is seen as extremist."

Liberty legal director James Welch said: "It's bad enough that the police in the UK already target legitimate protesters as 'extremists.' It's not made any better by the prospect of this being encouraged or driven by a secretive European agreement."

Val Swain of activist group FITwatch told the Star: "In this country we know the police and other organisations are collecting large amounts of data on political activists including protsts they attend and those they associate with and this is clearly very dangerous.

"The consequences are extremely serious because due to this style of policing people are being prevented from attending protests as they feel intimidated."


And CND chairwoman Kate Hudson said: "Citizens not only have the right to engage in peaceful political protest - one of our hard-won democratic rights over centuries - but we also have a moral duty to challenge brutal or unjust laws and policies introduced by our government.

"Opposing war is a matter of saving lives and preventing sorrow and suffering. To describe it as 'extremism' is just absurd."

Source: Morning Star

Thousands Take to Sydney Streets to Demand Equal Pay for Women

Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Sydney's CBD today, waving colourful banners and chanting demands for equal pay for women.

The Australian Services Union, which represents workers in the female-dominated community services sector, organised the nationwide rally - Australia's biggest equal pay march since the 1970s.

Women earn 18 per cent less than men, which amounts to about $1 million over a lifetime, recent Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

But the union's NSW secretary Sally McManus said the pay gap could be as high as 35 per cent in the community sector.

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Angie & Mad [LOVE]

Rescue of teen sailor Abby Sunderland could take nearly two days

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Teen sailor Abby Sunderland, who today made international headlines by requesting a rescue via various distress-signal units, is in a portion of the southern Indian Ocean that is so remote it could take nearly two days for a boat or ship to reach her position.

Sunderland, 16, had been a little past the halfway point in an attempt to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone.

Helicopters reportedly do not have the fuel capacity to reach her but a crew aboard an airplane from Australia hopes to arrive at the position issued via her EPIRB satellite positioning device at daybreak (she's 11 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time).

The Sunderland parents, Laurence and Marianne, had not at the time of this post gone outside to meet with reporters in front of their home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. But this afternoon they issued an update on Abby's blog.

It stated that it the EPIRB unit issuing a signal was one that has to be activated manually. Presumably this is the unit attached to her survival suit. Another signal had come from a hand-held Personal Locator Beacon, or PLB. The water-activated EPIRB unit did not activate, which might mean her 40-foot vessel, Wild Eyes, is afloat and upright.
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Why I despise the World Cup

Animated flag of England.

Image via Wikipedia

Much as I hate to disagree with Gary Younge, I can't get on board with his utopian vision of the upcoming World Cup evoking a "collective sense of latent English identity . . . infused with positive energy".

I despise the World Cup. I will not be supporting England, nor any other team.


I refuse to get excited about some wealthy misogynist jocks tossing a ball around in the name of patriotism and product endorsement. Mistrust of team sport as a fulcrum of social organisation comes naturally to me. I'm a proud, card-carrying member of the sensitive, wheezy, malco-ordinated phalanx of the population for whom the word "football" still evokes painful memories of organised sadism and unspecified locker-room peril.

I'm a humourless, paranoid, liberal, feminist pansy who would prefer to spend the summer sitting in dark rooms, contemplating the future of the British left and smoking myself into an early grave.

The fact remains, however, that there are more pressing things to worry about over the soccer season than the state of Frank Lampard's admittedly shapely calves. This country is in crisis. Young people are in crisis, poor people are in crisis, unemployment stands at 2.5 million, the Labour movement is still leaderless and directionless, and there's a brutal train of Tory public service cuts coming over the hill.

In short, the left has more important things to do than draw up worthy charts determining which Fifa team is worth supporting on the basis of global development indicators.The British left has an uneasy relationship with international sport.

Liberal alarm bells can't help but start ringing when a bunch of overpaid PE teachers get together to orchestrate a month of corporate-sponsored quasi-xenophobia; however, as soon as World Cup fever rolls around, members of the otherwise uninterested bourgeois left feel obliged to muster at least a sniffle of enthusiasm, sensing that not to do so is somehow elitist.

This is a misplaced notion: football is no longer the people's sport. Just look at the brutal contempt that the police reserve for fans, or count the number of working-class Britons who can afford to attend home matches, much less the festivities in South Africa. Then there's the uncomfortable fact that the World Cup is only and always about men.

Younge is right to celebrate that race is no longer an impediment to his young niece's and nephew's vision of football as a world "in which they have a reasonable chance of succeeding" -- but unfortunately, his niece can forget about it. Even if she were to make it to the big leagues, she would be forbidden to play in the World Cup: the women's league, held separately next year, garners barely a fraction of the media coverage devoted to proper football, where the only significant female figures are footballers' wives.

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Source: Laurie Penny @ New Statesman


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No words

(no subject)

ARIZONA GOVERNOR TAKES AWAY STATE DOMESTIC PARTNER BENEFITS
SAYS 'GOD HAS PLACED ME IN THIS POWERFUL POSITION'


Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has eliminated state domestic partner benefits a year after they were implemented, the Arizona Daily Star reports:

"A bill signed by Gov. Jan Brewer redefined a 'dependent,' canceling the rule change made by Gov. Janet Napolitano that allowed domestic partners to receive benefits. Also eliminated are children of domestic partners, full-time students ages 23-24 and disabled adult dependents. The legislation is in legal review. About 800 state employees are affected, according to the state's administration department...Liz Sawyer, a UA staff member, said the exclusion is 'deplorable and it's tragic.' Sawyer is a spokeswoman for OUTReach, a staff group that lobbies for domestic-partner benefits at UA. Last year 170 UA employees signed up for domestic-partner benefits, she said. Forty were same-sex couples and the remainder were unmarried, opposite-sex couples, she said."

Did God tell Brewer to do it?

"Gov. Jan Brewer said Wednesday that she believes 'God has placed me in this powerful position as Arizona's governor' to help the state weather its troubles. In a wide-ranging speech on the role of religion in politics and in her life, Brewer detailed to a group of pastors of the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church how she relies on her faith and in prayer to deal with many of the issues she faces as the state's chief executive. Brewer also said there are times when, during a meeting with staffers, one will suggest praying about an issue. ... But Brewer also said she recognizes the difference between bringing her faith to the office and having an 'agenda.' ... 'The problem with having a political agenda is that we give the impression that we have God's truth,' the governor said. 'We think we can convert God's truth into a political platform, a set of political issues, and that there is 'God's way' in our politics,' Brewer continued. 'I don't believe that for a moment, any more than you believe that God's way is exclusively the Lutheran way.' The governor said, though, she believes it is right — if not inevitable — that elected officials bring their faith to their offices."

Source

I have no words. None. Except fuck you lady.
JamesLaugh

Pride Month: Quantifying Queerness

I was going to make a simple post today, but someone already posted the news piece I was going to do!  So you get another academic piece from Bisexuality: A Reader.  I am copy-pasting from a .pdf file, and it gets translated weird (like "Kinsey" becomes "l<insev"), so I apologize for any typos that I missed.  The figures mentioned are at the source, which I linked to in the title.  I am a fan of this piece because I am a major methodology dork.  I, I just really love measurement tools.

This piece was published 1991, and there may be some things that date it in here.

Notes on the Kinsey Scale and Other Measures of Sexuality
Amanda Udis Kessler

The Kinsey scale is so well known among lesbians, gay men and bisexuals that it is commonly mentioned in writings on sexuality without further explanation. It is one of at least three scales that have been developed to measure sexuality; two other well known scales were created by Michael Storms and Fritz Klein (see Figures 3 and 4).

Alfred Kinsey was a zoologist at the University of Indiana in the 1940s. He was tapped to teach the human sexuality course, so the story goes, because he was an extraordinarily boring man and the school administration, which did not want to offer the course at all, thought that if he taught it no one would attend. What they did not take into account was Kinsey’s painstaking commitment to research; when he went to prepare material for the course, he found that no current research on human sexuality existed to teach and so set out to gather his own data. He developed an extensive questionnaire and interviewed over ten thousand people, publishing his data in Sexual Behatior in the Human Male [Kinsey et al. 1948] and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female [Kinsey et al. 1953].

The books received attention mainly for their ‘value-free’ (read: nonjudgemental) approach to sexuality, unheard of at that time, but one set of findings in particular turned out to have a great deal of impact: Kinsey’s discovery that one-third of the men he surveyed had had homosexual encounters to orgasm as adults, and that forty-six percent of the men surveyed were neither exclusively homosexual nor heterosexual. Although the sheer amount of homosexuality reported was entirely unexpected, the sexual range was at least as surprising and led Kinsey to draw up a scale in order to make sense of his data.

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Martha

Former New Yorker Editor: Female GOP Primary Winners Are Wingnuts, Blow To Feminism




Former New Yorker editor Tina Brown appeared on Thursday's Good Morning America to deride the mostly Republican women who won primaries on Tuesday as "wingnuts" and to sneer that they represent a "blow to feminism."

GMA's "Morning Mix" segment featured Brown and journalist Catherine Crier, part of a panel that usually includes reporters agreeing with each other over liberal talking points. After Stephanopoulos recited the numerous women who won nominations on June 8, the current Daily Beast editor dismissed, "...The only trouble with this one is, it almost feels as if all these women winning are kind of a blow to feminism."

She then added, "Women, too, can be wing nuts, is the point." Crier offered the developing liberal line that Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorini's business experience could now be a liability: "I think it's quite interesting that the whole CEO movement out there in California. Because, here we are with all the Wall Street consternation and, yet, they're touting their credentials as major CEOs as qualifications."

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ARTICLE SOURCE loves right wing women

Only one of these women is a "wingnut". Also, I'm glad to see that Liberals are threatened by strong female Republican candidates!