June 11th, 2010

  • maclyn

Bloody Sunday killings to be ruled unlawful (Trigger warning)

The long-awaited report into the Bloody Sunday massacre will conclude that a number of the fatal shootings of civilians by British soldiers were unlawful killings, the Guardian has learned.

Lord Saville's 12-year inquiry into the deaths, the longest public inquiry in British legal history, will conclude with a report published next Tuesday, putting severe pressure on the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland to prosecute soldiers.
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Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jun/10/bloody-sunday-inquiry-northern-ireland

As far as prosecutions go, I'll believe it when I see it, but it's about time that these murders be recognised officially for what they were. The Widgery Report was a total disgrace, and what's worse is that officers in charge of Bloody Sunday were later decorated by the queen. I hope that for the sake of some hugely delayed justice, we do see prosecutions.

Even though I wasn't even alive at the time, tonight I want to remember the people who lost their lives on that day. No prosecution can ever bring them back.

John 'Jackie' Duddy, 17, shot in the chest while running from paratroopers
Patrick Joseph Doherty, 31, shot from behind
Bernard McGuigan, 41, shot in the back of the head while tending to Patrick Doherty and waving a white hanky.
Hugh Pious Gilmour, 17, shot while running from paratroopers
Kevin McElhinney, 17, shot from behind while crawling to safety
Michael Gerard Kelly, 17, shot in the stomach while standing near a rubble barricade
John Pius Young, 17, shot in the head while standing at a rubble barricade
William Noel Nash, 19, shot in the chest while attempting to help another victim
Michael M. McDaid, 20, shot in the face while walking away from paratroopers
James Joseph Wray, 22, shot at close range while lying on the ground wounded
Gerald Donaghy, 17, shot in the stomach while attempting to run to safety
Gerald 'James' McKinney, 34, shot in the chest while raising his hands and shouting "Don't shoot!"
William Anthony McKinney, 27, shot from behind while attempting to aid another victim
John Johnston, 59, wounded by gunshots while walking to visit a friend. He died of his injuries four and a half months later.

Nelson Mandela's great-granddaughter dies in car crash

Nelson Mandela's great-granddaughter has been killed in a car crash after a concert on the eve of the World Cup.

Zenani Mandela, 13, died when travelling home after the concert in Soweto, the Nelson Mandela Foundation said. No-one else was hurt.

Zenani was one of Mr Mandela's nine great-grandchildren.

The incident came just hours before the former South African president was due to attend the opening of the World Cup in Johannesburg.

A police spokesman said Zenani had been travelling with Nelson Mandela's former wife, Winnie Madikizela.

"The family has asked for privacy as they mourn this tragedy," the Foundation said in a statement.

Zenani had reportedly celebrated her 13th birthday on 9 June.

Heavy traffic
Thursday's World Cup concert had drawn tens of thousands to Soweto, and traffic in the area had been busy into the early hours of Friday.

The event featured a cast of international stars - including Colombian singer Shakira, the Black Eyed Peas and Alicia Keys, as well as African stars Amadou & Mariam and Hugh Masekela.

Anti-apartheid icon Mr Mandela, 91, had campaigned for the World Cup to come to South Africa.

Some 350,000 people are expected to visit South Africa for the competition, which is being held in Africa for the first time.


(no subject)

Australian search crews contact missing teen sailor

Australian search crews have made contact with the 16-year-old American girl who was feared lost at sea while attempting to sail solo around the world, according to a family spokesman.

Abby Sunderland's family began scrambling to organize a search-and-rescue effort for her after they learned her emergency beacon was detected just an hour after they last spoke to her on Thursday

Her vessel is believed to be adrift in the middle of the Indian Ocean some 2,000 miles east of Madagascar, 2,000 miles west of Australia and 500 miles north of the French Antarctic Islands.

sexy librarians!

A Discussion of Values

Get a Brain, Morons: Why Being Liberal Really Is Better Than Being Conservative

Liberals and conservatives don't just disagree about specific issues -- we disagree about core ethical values. Can a case be made that liberal values really are better?

June 10, 2010 | You may have heard about this. It's been in the news and the blogosphere, and has been making the rounds at the nerdier water coolers and cocktail parties. A number of researchers are coming to the conclusion that ethics and values aren't entirely relative, and aren't solely derived from particular cultures. Human beings, across cultures and throughout history, seem to share a few core ethical values, hard-wired into our brains by millions of years of evolution as a social species. Those values: Fairness, harm and the avoidance thereof, loyalty, authority and purity. (Some think there may be one or two others, including liberty and honesty; but those aren't yet as well-substantiated, or as well-studied.)

Different people prioritize different values over others, of course. And of course, different individuals and different cultures come to different conclusions about the right ethical choice in any particular situation: based on our cultural biases, as well as on our own personal observations and experiences. But according to this research, these basic values -- fairness, harm, loyalty, authority and purity -- exist in all of us, at least to some degree, in every non-sociopathic human being.

"Fascinating," I hear you cry. "But what does that have to do with politics?" Well, what researchers are finding is that liberals prioritize very different values from conservatives. When asked a series of questions about different ethical situations, self-described liberals strongly tend to prioritize fairness and harm as the most important of these core values -- while self-described conservatives are more likely to prioritize authority, loyalty and purity.

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Source: http://www.alternet.org/belief/146930/get_a_brain,_morons:_why_being_liberal_really_is_better_than_being_conservative/?page=entire

OP says: There is wank at the source. Oh yes there is.
Mr. T the Patriot

Teacher Fired for Becoming Pregnant Out of Wedlock


Woman Conceived Just Days Before Wedding, but School Fired Her for 'Fornication'

When Jarretta Hamilton, a fourth grade teacher at a Florida Christian school, told administrators she was pregnant, she expected them to ask when she was due. She did not, however, think her answer would get her fired.

In April 2009, Hamilton told her boss at Southland Christian School in St. Cloud, Fla., that she was pregnant and planned to take a six-week leave in October. When asked when she conceived , Hamilton answered honestly: She became pregnant just three weeks prior to her Feb. 20 wedding.Collapse )

Boris Fires Back in War of Words Over BP

Tension is growing between the US and Britain over the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with London mayor Boris Johnson calling for an end to what he calls "the trashing of a British icon".

Criticism of British oil giant BP has reached fever pitch in the US since the rig exploded more than 50 days ago.

Senior US politicians have recently begun referring to the company as British Petroleum, a name the business has not used since 1998, and president Barack Obama has said he would sack BP's top executive Tony Hayward.

Now outspoken London mayor Boris Johnson has hit back, saying he wants an end to what he says is "anti-British rhetoric".

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Sufjan Smile

ACLU chief 'disgusted' with Obama

The top official at the American Civil Liberties Union seems to be losing patience with President Barack Obama and his administration.

Speaking at a conference of liberal activists Wednesday morning, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero didn't mince his words about the administration's handling of civil liberties issues.

"I'm going to start provocatively ... I'm disgusted with this president," Romero told the America's Future Now breakout session, according to blogger Marcy Wheeler of Firedoglake.com.

In an interview with POLITICO, Romero confirmed the gist of the quote, though he emphasized it wasn't intended as an ad hominem attack.

"I'm not disgusted at President Obama personally. It's President Obama's policies on civil liberties and national security issues I'm disgusted by. It's not a personal attack," Romero said.

While liberals of various stripes have or had gripes with how Obama has conducted himself since taking office, civil libertarians may well be the most disillusioned at this point.

"There was a discussion this morning, and there has been generally in progressive circles, about expectations that have not been met. I made the point that expectations were high because the president set expectations very high," Romero said.

Asked why he's so animated now, Romero said: "It’s 18 months and, if not now, when? ... Guantanamo is still not closed. Military commissions are still a mess. The administration still uses state secrets to shield themselves from litigation. There's no prosecution for criminal acts of the Bush administration. Surveillance powers put in place under the Patriot Act have been renewed. If there has been change in the civil liberties context, I frankly don't see it."

Many analysts now regard it as unlikely that Guantanamo, which was supposed to close this past January under Obama's presidential order on the subject, will close this year. Romero agreed that if Sept. 11 trials proceed before military commissions at Guantanamo it's hard to see how the prison will close in the year or two after that.

"The unwillingness of the administration to stick by its guns and prosecute the Sept. 11 defendants in criminal court does not bode well for the broader civil liberties agenda," he said. "The fact they've not announced anything raises the specter of doubt that, in itself, is debilitating to the Justice Department and raises serious questions about the administration's commitment to the rule of law. Their silence speaks volumes."

A White House spokesman declined to comment on Romero's broadsides.

However, former White House counsel Greg Craig took aim at the ACLU earlier this year over a newspaper ad the group took out which showed Obama morphing into Bush. Speaking at Harvard in April, Craig called the ad very unfair and said it "shows a real lack of understanding about the profound differences between these two presidents," according to Matt Hutchins, a Harvard Law student who wrote about Craig's appearance for the Harvard Law Record.

Source: Politico

It's a little bit of spinning the wheels, but it's something good to bring up/remember. It's unlikely the state will cede any power without a good democratic thrust via average citizens and advocacy groups. The expansion of the executive remains as unjust as it was in the last administration.
panda bear

(no subject)

Shelter tries to help abused child brides

In disturbing video images, a 14-year-old girl is purportedly being flogged. She is alleged to have run away from a forced marriage in a remote village.

Just as disturbing to Dr. Sima Samar, chair of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission? "The other sad part I have to say was the reaction of the people," she says. "The lack of sensitivity of the people."

The video was given to Samar's Human Rights Commission. She says police promised her they'd prosecute the man, but so far nothing despite the country's laws that ban not just forced marriages but matrimoney for girls under 16.

Many men, Samar says, including some government officials just don't get it.

"They still think that women is the property of the men and they should be treated how they want," she explains.

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Links to help:

Women for Afghan Women
Women for Women International
Vital Voices


Lessons from Atticus Finch for Our Race-baiting Leaders

Although this focuses on Australia's politicians and the immigration debate here, I think a lot of people need to take heed of these lessons.

It is almost 50 years since Atticus Finch, the lawyer hero of To Kill a Mockingbird, was first heard. His values are sorely needed in Australia today as our political leaders chase the redneck vote and pander to fear.

On July 11, 1960, Harper Lee's novel of race and prejudice in 1930s Alabama was published and it has not been out of print since. Two years after its publication, Gregory Peck brilliantly brought Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer with two young children who acts for an African-American man wrongfully accused of raping a white girl, to life in one of the most watched movies of all time.

The power of Finch's personality lies in the fact that he stands unswerving for the values that make for a harmonious and fair society. His refusal to tolerate prejudice, his capacity to see that each of us is entitled to be treated with dignity, and his courage to take a stand against ignorance, are themes that leap off the pages of To Kill a Mockingbird.

It makes one wonder what Finch would make of today's Australia, in some ways markedly different from the repressive, race and class-ridden small-town Alabama of the 1930s, but in some ways not so different.

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Arizona is not done yet

Arizona's Next Immigration Target: Children of Illegals

By ADAM KLAWONN / PHOENIX Adam Klawonn / Phoenix 1 hr 39 mins ago

"Anchor babies" isn't a very endearing term, but in Arizona those are the words being used to tag children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants. While not new, the term is increasingly part of the local vernacular because the primary authors of the nation's toughest and most controversial immigration law are targeting these tots - the legal weights that anchor many undocumented aliens in the U.S. - for their next move.

Buoyed by recent public opinion polls suggesting they're on the right track with illegal immigration, Arizona Republicans will likely introduce legislation this fall that would deny birth certificates to children born in Arizona - and thus American citizens according to the U.S. Constitution - to parents who are not legal U.S. citizens. The law largely is the brainchild of state Sen. Russell Pearce, a Republican whose suburban district, Mesa, is considered the conservative bastion of the Phoenix political scene. He is a leading architect of the Arizona law that sparked outrage throughout the country: Senate Bill 1070, which allows law enforcement officers to ask about someone's immigration status during a traffic stop, detainment or arrest if reasonable suspicion exists - things like poor English skills, acting nervous or avoiding eye contact during a traffic stop. (See the battle for Arizona: will a border crackdown work?)


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Florida Governor Charlie Crist Vetos Bill Requiring Women to Have an Ultrasound Before an Abortion

Crist vetoes abortion bill

Gov. Charlie Crist has vetoed a controversial health care bill backed by powerful GOP legislators that would have required women seeking abortions to have ultrasounds and listen to detailed explanations of the fetus.

Crist, who abandoned his long ties with the Republican Party and is running as an independent for U.S. Senate, said in his veto message the bill places an “inappropriate burden” on women seeking abortions and violates the right to privacy.

“Individuals hold strong personal views on the issue of life, as I do,” Crist wrote in the message. “However, personal views should not result in laws that unwisely expand the role of government and coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary. In this case, such action would violate a woman’s right to privacy.”

Conservatives and anti-abortion groups stepped up pressure on Crist to sign the measure (HB 1143) into law, and House Republican leaders waited until this week to send him the bill.

The veto will likely garner support from some Democrats and pro-choice Republican women, two voting blocs Crist is wooing to shore up his independent candidacy.


NGL, I'm liking Charlie a little more every day.  I'm also finding it especially LULZY that neo-cons are now calling him a "liberal".  ;p
[Stock] hey sexy

Iceland passes gay marriage law in unanimous vote

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Iceland, the only country in the world to have an openly gay head of state, passed a law on Friday allowing same-sex partners to get married in a vote which met with no political resistance.

The Althingi parliament voted 49 to zero to change the wording of marriage legislation to include matrimony between "man and man, woman and woman," in addition to unions between men and women.

Iceland, a socially tolerant island nation of about 320,000 people, became the first country to elect an openly gay head of state in 2009 when Social Democrat Johanna Sigurdardottir became prime minister after being nominated by her party.

"The attitude in Iceland is fairly pragmatic," said Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a political scientist at the University of Iceland. "It (gay marriage) has not been a big issue in national politics -- it's not been controversial."

The prime minister's sexual orientation garnered far more interest among foreign media than in Iceland, where the attitude toward homosexuality has grown increasingly relaxed in the past two or three decades, Kristinsson added.

Iceland's protestant church has yet to decide whether to allow same-sex marriages in church, although the law says "ministers will always be free to perform (gay) marriage ceremonies, but never obliged to."

The largely protestant countries of northern Europe, including Sweden, Norway and Denmark, have all endorsed some form of civil union between same-sex couples, but the issue creates more controversy in Mediterranean Catholic nations.

In the United States, gay marriage remains a frought political issue, with laws varying widely from state to state. Vermont was the first state to allow same-sex civil unions in 1999, followed by Massachusetts and Connecticut and others.



France to charge Pinochet officials

Almost 37 years after the violent coup that ushered Augusto Pinochet into power in Chile, France will charge fourteen officials from Pinochet's administration with kidnapping, torturing, and murdering four French citizens -- including the dictator's predecessor, former president Salvador Allende. The ex-officials will be tried in absentia; thus the decision to prosecute primarily serves to make a symbolic statement: especially given the incomplete and somewhat invalidated indictment of Pinochet, the chief engineers of the state-sponsored violence in the 1970's must be held accountable.  

Not only did Pinochet die before his sentence was delivered, but the man who brought him to justice, Spanish magistrate Baltazar Garzon, has recently been scrutinized, his career (in which he was lauded for prosecuting Pinochet and Osama bin Laden) undermined.  Arraigned for charges of unlawful abuses and harboring political motivations while investigating Spanish Civil War atrocities, Garzon is now effectively suspended from his judicial duties.

When the dictator died, many Chileans took to the streets to guzzle champagne, toss confetti, and wave their nation's flag. Still, with Pinochet's premature passing and the potentially imminent subversion of his prosecutor, many feel unsatisfied. For them, the convictions of his conspirators could constitute closure -- or even a similar cause for celebration.

"Symbolic" or not, this is AWESOME. Also, cue the debate over whether or not Allende committed suicide or was murdered by the army.
♪ skree skree skree

Tears falling as I fall down in a slow circle and die.

"Don't tease the panther": An exclusive look at Glenn Beck's The Overton Window

The opening lines of Glenn Beck's yet-to-be-released novel, The Overton Window, read as follows: "Most people think about age and experience in terms of years, but it's really only moments that define us."

In a quirk of convenience, this line also describes the best way to deconstruct The Overton Window, a copy of which Media Matters obtained and read -- nay, devoured -- with great relish. As we slogged through its many plot holes, ridiculous narrative devices, and long-winded limited-government sermonizing passed off as dialogue, we singled out ten moments that define The Overton Window as the truly and remarkably awful novel that it is.

First, a quick summation of the plot, such as it is. The protagonist, Noah Gardner, works for an impossibly powerful public relations firm in Manhattan that has been the driving force behind pretty much every political and cultural movement of the 20th century. Their latest and grandest scheme is the culmination of a lengthy plot to change the United States into some sort of ill-defined progressive plutocracy, and the catalyst for this change is a nuclear explosion that will occur outside the home-state office of "the current U.S. Senate majority leader," which happens to be at the same address as Harry Reid's Las Vegas offices. The nuclear attack is to be blamed on the Founders Keepers, a Tea Party-like group -- led by Noah's love interest, Molly Ross -- that is working to foil the plot.

1. Rule number one is: "Don't tease the panther"

Noah and Molly find themselves in bed together early in the book after a harrowing experience at a Founders' Keepers rally. They agree to sleep in bed together because Molly is too scared to sleep at home, but Molly insists that nothing sexual will take place. Noah agrees, on the condition that she "not do anything sexy." She presses her cold feet against his legs, and Noah responds:
"Suit yourself, lady. I'm telling you right now, you made the rules, but you're playing with fire here. I've got some rules, too, and rule number one is, don't tease the panther."
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Pentagon hunts WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in bid to gag website

The Pentagon, looking northeast with the Potom...

Image via Wikipedia

Soldier Bradley Manning said to have leaked diplomatic cables to whistleblower, plus video of US troops killing Iraqis

American officials are searching for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks in an attempt to pressure him not to publish thousands of confidential and potentially hugely embarrassing diplomatic cables that offer unfiltered assessments of Middle East governments and leaders.

The Daily Beast, a US news reporting and opinion website, reported that Pentagon investigators are trying to track down Julian Assange – an Australian citizen who moves frequently between countries – after the arrest of a US soldier last week who is alleged to have given the whistleblower website a classified video of American troops killing civilians in Baghdad.

The soldier, Bradley Manning, also claimed to have given WikiLeaks 260,000 pages of confidential diplomatic cables and intelligence assessments.

The US authorities fear their release could "do serious damage to national security", said the Daily Beast, which is published by Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair and New Yorker magazines.

Manning, 22, was arrested in Iraq last month after he was turned over to US authorities by a former hacker, Adrian Lamo, to whom he boasted of leaking the video and documents.

As an intelligence specialist in the US army, Manning had access to assessments from the battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as frank diplomatic insights into Middle East governments.

In one of his messages to Lamo, obtained by Wired magazine, Manning said: "Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available."

Although it is likely that WikiLeaks has broken US laws in de-encrypting the video from Baghdad and publishing secret documents, the tone of an American official who spoke to the Daily Beast sounded more desperate than threatening. "We'd like to know where he is; we'd like his cooperation in this," the official said.

It is, in any case, not clear what legal measures US officials could use to stop publication of the cables. Assange has created an elaborate web of protection – with servers in several countries, notably Sweden, which has strong laws protecting whisteblowers.

WikiLeaks' response to the news that the Americans are trying to track down Assange came on Twitter. "Any signs of unacceptable behaviour by the Pentagon or its agents towards this press will be viewed dimly," it said.

After Manning was arrested, WikiLeaks said in a Twitter message that allegations "we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect".

Before his arrest, Manning told Lamo he was in part motivated to leak the video and documents by being ordered to look the other way in the face of injustice.

Messages from Manning, obtained by Wired, say he found that 15 Iraqis arrested by Iraqi police for printing "anti-Iraq" literature had merely put together an assessment of government corruption.

"I immediately took that information and ran to the [US army] officer to explain what was going on. He didn't want to hear any of it. He told me to shut up and explain how we could assist the [Iraqi police] in finding MORE detainees," Manning wrote.

"Everything started slipping after that. I saw things differently. I had always questioned the [way] things worked, and investigated to find the truth.

"But that was a point where I was … actively involved in something I was completely against."

The Pentagon has declined to comment on the grounds that what is in the documents is classified.

Source: The Guardian
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Jury acquits G20 protester accused of being ringleader in clashes

Riot police officers "kettle" protes...

Image via Wikipedia

Crown court clears Harvie Brown of violent disorder in case that challenged police version of events

His bloodied face became a symbol of violent G20 demonstrators seemingly intent on attacking police.

But the man whose angry remonstrations with officers at the protests last April were relayed live on television news, and later emblazoned across newspaper front pages, was not the rioter he had been depicted as.

A jury at Isleworth crown court, in Middlesex, took 30 minutes to clear Harvie Brown, 31, of violent disorder this week in a case that challenged the police version of events and established that his injuries were probably inflicted by officers.

Brown was among several hundred protesters "kettled" by police near the Bank of England on 1 April. Attempts to contain anti-capitalist and Green activists inside cordons led to angry confrontations and clashes.

Brown was caught between lines of baton-wielding police attempting to push the crowd back. Many at the front – including Brown, from Glasgow – were unable to obey the police orders as the agitated crowd behind them tried to surge forward. Many were struck with batons.

The court heard that Brown's injuries – two head wounds and a broken tooth – could have been inflicted by police.

In court, he was accused of being the ringleader of an aggressive group of rioters, encouraging the crowd to attack police officers – a charge he denied. He faced three years in prison if found guilty.

Initial press reports suggested Brown was goading officers into a confrontation.

"I was shocked, when I was released from the police station in the early hours of 2 April, to see that I was plastered all over the newspapers and described as a violent agitator at the G20 protests," Brown said today.

"I was distressed that I was made out to be the aggressor. I was also very upset that the emphasis of the reporting, which I felt should have been on the demonstration against the causes of the financial crisis, had turned into a focus on what was described as anti-police behaviour."

Witnesses told the court that Brown had spent much of the protest distressed and in tears, upset at police treatment.

Rhona Friedman, defending, said: "This was a prosecution that should never have been brought.

"Footage and photographs show that Mr Brown was repeatedly struck by police officers without resorting to violent retaliation.

"Members of the jury were seen to flinch at footage of police officers deploying baton strikes against people in the crowd. When asked to decide who was guilty of unlawful violence and who was not, the jury could not have more clearly decided in Mr Brown's favour."

Despite initial claims by police about violence caused by G20 protesters, there have been relatively few convictions for a demonstration of its size.

Seven people have so far been convicted of violent conduct, criminal damage and public order offences at or during the demonstration, including a handful who were identified as having taken part in the ransacking of a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

A further five prosecutions are pending, while five have resulted in acquittals.

Prosecutors dropped charges in their largest case, which involved 11 members of the Space Hijackers, an anarchist group whose members arrived at the protests in a tank, dressed in police-style helmets and boiler suits.

The activists, some wearing red stockings, were arrested and charged with impersonating police officers. They are suing the Met for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment.

Source: The Guardian
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Video of the border shooting

Cell-phone video obtained by Spanish-language network Univision appears to show the June 7 incident in which a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot Mexican teenager Sergio Hernandez on the border:

The entire thing is in Spanish, but you can clearly see how far apart and where everyone was.

Mexican flag sells for $260 in small Tennessee town

DAYTON, TN - A storied Mexican flag that has been the center of local controversy changed hands once again Saturday at an auction - this time legally.

Local businessman Adam Sims landed the banner much to the chagrin of local activist and candidate for governor June Griffin.

Sims's winning bid was $260.

Griffin was charged in 2006 with entering a local Hispanic grocery, taking the flag and later telling its owners to "speak English or get out."

Civil rights charges against Griffin were later dropped when the store owners left the area.

Standing in the midst of dozens of people and several vehicles Saturday morning at the Dayton Maintenance Building on California Avenue, Sims and Griffin quietly bid for the flag with nods of the head.

Griffin started the bidding at $1, but the price soon escalated.

Also attached to the flag Sims bought was a business card on which Griffin had written, "Remember the Alamo! Speak English or leave!"

After Sims landed the flag, Griffin looked at him and yelled, "Remember the Alamo."

Immediately after the flag sold, Griffin said she was disappointed she didn't get it.

"I've already paid $500 for it in bond money," she said. "I wanted to see what kind of people we have here. I would like to know why he wanted it."

In a statement released Monday, Griffin said she could only spend $40 for the flag, so she tried to drive up the price when she realized Sims wanted the flag.

"The price quickly climbed way above my $40 and I thought to myself, well, we might as well take it over the top.

"I cannot imagine why Mr. Sims wanted the flag, but our sovereignty is no joking matter," Griffin said. " I am not ashamed of anything I have done for this holy cause. You can be sure, if I am elected governor, there will be no foreign flags flying in Tennessee."

Sims said he wanted the flag to show support for the local Hispanic community. Among other local businesses, Sims also owns and operates a car dealership in Monterrey, Mexico.

"It's the principle," he said. "I don't care if [Hispanics] speak English or not. They have hearts just like we do."

Sims said he had no limit for how much he was going to spend on the flag.

He also praised migrant workers who come to the Unites States to work, especially from Mexico, a country battling drug cartels and widespread corruption.

"They have an opportunity to help their families in Mexico," Sims said. "They do not want any trouble."

Sims said he knew the owners of the store Griffin took the flag from. They left the area out of fear, Sims claimed. At last check, he said they were living in Dalton, Ga.

Sims said he plans on displaying the flag at his Dayton car dealership.


June Griffin was also one of the folks behind the blink-and-you'll-miss ban on homosexuals in this county a few years ago.

I've been living in Dayton for two years now, and I honestly feel like I witnessed more tolerance and compassion growing up in TEXAS than I've ever seen here.
Football: bowling: animated

Mutti Merkel fed up with coalition bickering

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The normally staid world of German politics has been enlivened recently by some colourful name-calling within Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition. But now she has had enough.

The squabbling in Merkel's fractious centre-right coalition has boiled over in recent days, with members of the Bavarian conservative CSU party branding their pro-business Free Democrats allies "a bunch of amateurs" on health policy.

Meanwhile, Free Democrats described the CSU as a "wild sow" for what they deemed destructive input during a controversial health care debate.

And the glamorous rising star of German politics, the aristocratic Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, defence minister from the CSU, was reportedly branded "Rumpelstiltskin" - the treacherous and vicious dwarf in a famous fairy tale.

But the chancellor, often referred to herself, not always kindly, as "Mutti" meaning "Mummy," has now put her foot down.

Such mud-slinging is "unacceptable," she told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper on Friday.

Those engaged in name-calling "should not be surprised that respect for politics in general is sinking," she added.

It is not the only thing sinking. The popularity ratings of Merkel, four-times named the world's most powerful woman by Forbes magazine, have plunged recently, due in large part to bickering within the coalition.

For his part, Guttenberg made light of his new nickname, saying, according to the Bild daily, that he was pleased to be compared to Rumpelstiltskin, who had the highly useful skill of spinning gold from straw.

"If I could do that in the current budgetary situation, I would love to be Rumpelstiltskin," said Guttenberg, who, like all ministers, has been asked to make sweeping cuts given Germany's precarious fiscal state.


Just to bring a bit of ontd into the political...

For German political standards, those are quite strong insults, especially as the people who traded them are supposed to be governing together. Somehow, most of what is happening right now in German politics points to a slow self-destruction of government.

My own state does not even have a new government a month after the parliamentary election, because the parties were unable to form a government coalition out of the five parties in parliament. Now, it looks like we might keep the old government, but the parliament will work against them, passing its own laws and forcing the government ot execute them even though they don't want to (that's not usual in Germany, because the government almost always has a majority in parliament). I guess we'll be looking at a new election unless something drastic happens.

We as a country are doomed. The football world cup is probably the only thing that can save us now.