June 15th, 2010

Chibis- ChibiMermaidRachel has no idea


Rand Paul's Addresses Ophthalmology Certification Questions

Over the weekend, the Courier-Journal in Louisville reported that Dr. Rand Paul, the Republican Senate nominee in Kentucky, is not a "board-certified" ophthalmologist according to the national clearinghouse for such certifications.

Now Paul is explaining his decision to let his recognized certification lapse as resulting from "the kind of hypocritical power play that I despise and have always fought against."

First some background: Paul's claim that he is a "board-certified" ophthalmologist is tied to his certification by the National Board of Ophthalmology.

Yet that's a group that Paul himself founded in 1999; he also serves as its head.

The organization that works with the American Medical Association to approve specialty boards of this nature, as the Courier-Journal notes, is called the American Board of Medical Specialties. And it does not recognize Paul's group.

Paul reportedly had certification from the American Board of Ophthalmology - a recognized group - before letting it lapse in favor of certification from the board he heads.

The candidate declined to comment to the Courier-Journal about the situation for its story. Asked when he would address the issue, he replied, "Uh, you know, never...What does this have to do with our election?"

But Paul did release a statement today, which is posted in full on Ben Smith's blog at Politico. In it, Paul says he formed his board out of frustration that the American Board of Ophthalmology forced doctors certified after 1992 to be recertified every decade.

"I thought this was hypocritical and unjust for the older ophthalmologists to exempt themselves from the recertification exam," he writes. "... Is it fair that the ophthalmologist down the street can claim board certification, without renewing it, but that a younger ophthalmologist, who passed the same boards, is disallowed?"

I think after all these various candidate memory problems, we need a 'memory problems' tag...

Gay man attacked by two marines in Georgia / FBI and Justice Dept ponder filing Hate Crime charges

Cpl. Keil Joseph Cronauer, 22 (left) and Lance Cpl. Christopher Charles Stanzel 23 (right)

Two Marines have been arrested [misdemeanor battery charges] for allegedly beating a gay man in Savannah, Georgia. Keil Cronauer and Christopher Stanzel are accused of attacking Kieran Daly so badly that he suffered bruises on his brain, reports the Savannah Morning News. In addition to the bruises, Daly suffered two seizures immediately after the attack. His friends performed CPR. While Cronauer and Stanzel told police that Daly was harassing them, Daly explained that the two were mad because they thought that he had winked at one of them. The Morning News reports: "The guy thought I was winking at him," Daly said. "I told him, 'I was squinting, man. ... I'm tired.'" Daly said one of the men told him he demanded respect because he served in Iraq. And at least one hurled slurs at him as he tried to walk away."That's the last thing I remember is walking away," Daly said. Because Georgia is one of just five states that does not have legislation requiring stiffer penalties for hate crimes, the marines were released to military police. The station reports that Cronauer and Stanzel are based at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort, South Carolina and are currently restricted to the base.

There are many sad things in the story, but the most perplexing question for me is why aren't these Marines in a brig and just merely confined to their base? This story during Gay Pride month confirms for me precisely the need for hate crimes laws: states and localities refusing to treat these cases in a serious manner. The FBI and Justice Dept are looking into the possibility of filing charges under the recently enacted Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.


Here's more information, and check out their commanding officer's reaction to all this. It will make your blood boil!

NRA Remains The King On The Hill

Democrats on Monday touted a major breakthrough in campaign finance reform legislation that could drastically alter the shape and course of the 2010 elections. But in the process of securing the necessary concessions, the party confirmed the widespread assumption that special interests can literally write legislation if they have enough clout.

Facing the distinct possibility that months of collaboration on the DISCLOSE Act would fail, House Democrats granted the National Rifle Association a nearly exclusive exemption from the stringent new standards that they were applying for campaign finance disclosure. Almost all other companies and organizations would be required under the bill to include identification on the ads they sponsor and to provide shareholders with information on those political expenditures. According to House Democrats, the Humane Society and the AARP would qualify for the exemption as well. But other major, politically active institutions like the AFL-CIO, the Chamber of Commerce, and MoveOn.org would not.

It was a remarkable piece of lobbying on the gun lobby's behalf. So much so that even the most jaded Hill staffer, good government official or NRA opponent was left in awe.

"If you were to go to Webster's Dictionary and look up the definition for the NRA it would be that type of organization [that would qualify for the exemption]," said one senior House aide.

"It truly is amazing," said Paul Helmke, a spokesman for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "We are not talking 2nd Amendment issues at all. We are not talking gun bans or background checks. We are talking campaign finance disclosure. I have never seen this before. I have seen people get earmarks for things. Here it seems like the NRA has tooth marks instead."

"I have a long history in the arena of campaign finance reform," said Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, which begrudgingly is supporting the bill. "I know reform legislation is as strong as its weakest, smallest loophole, and this is a huge one. Of all of the distasteful moments in inside-the-beltway sausage-making, this one has to take the cake. You have an exemption that appears to be created for one single organization only, one single organization that is the largest -- next to [the union] SEIU -- creator of independent expenditures... It's an outrage."

House Democratic leadership certainly understands the political pressures. Over the past two election cycles, the party has been able to secure and then significantly advance the size of its majority. But it did so primarily through the recruitment of candidates who were fully beholden to the NRA. A leadership aide told the Huffington Post that there are anywhere between 40-50 Democrats in the House who will refuse to buck the gun lobby on legislation it cares about. Another aide said there are roughly 260 members of the entire House (Republicans and Democrats alike) who will back the NRA's interests if called upon.

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A Very Important Message From The ~Troll Mod~:


From now on, you are not allowed to post to ONTD_P using Zemata and other reblogging apps/websites.

This is the most recent example what is now banned. Notice the orange link on the bottom right hand corner of the post? That's what we don't want to see in future posts. Here's the answers to most of your questions about this in FAQ format:

What is Zemata?:
Zemata is a Firefox and Chrome extension which provides an easy way to manage articles/links. It also hotlinks pictures from sites such as Wikipedia and Flickr.

Oh noes, I've used Zemata in the past!:
There are no ex post facto bans in this instance.Members who have used Zemata in the past to hotlink pictures/post to the community/organize LJ links will not be subject to any moderator action. The OP of the example post linked above will also not get in trouble.

What will happen from now on?:
Posts with Zemata links or other evidence of the use of reblogging services will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be BANNED.

Why are the mods banning this?:
While the reblogging services help people with HTML, they also allow news organizations and bloggers to track who is posting their content or linking to their website. Not everyone agrees with us on the legal and ethical validity of sites such as ours to repost articles from elsewhere. Trust me on this, I'm a Journalism major. Fair use on the internet is often interpreted in a very narrow way, which leaves aggregators of information such as our community on the wrong side of the law. Many news organizations/bloggers are making the case for heavy regulation of reposting. This often comes in the form of fees and lawsuits if their wishes are not respected.

These services also provide an easy way to hotlink pictures, which is against the rules anyway. Unlike traditional hotlinking, it's much harder to spot in terms of HTML failures/the nasty yellow frog pic. At the same time, hotlinking allows photographers/stock image companies/news organizations to track who is using their content.

This ban on reblogging apps/software is a preemptive and defensive strike on a potentially major issue.
The mods are doing this so that the community can prevent these type of complaints as much as possible.

But Bluetooth, no one has ever complained about this stuff!:
This is not a paranoid conspiracy theory. First of all, a fellow member brought it to mod attention that Zemata had the potential to be used by journalists to trackback links. We haven't had yet a significant complaint directed against the community for reposting, but we've had a few close calls. For example, several weeks ago, we (along with ONTD_Feminism and ONTD) were accused of stealing content by blogger Womanist Musings. The complaint was later dropped, but what matters is that it was made in the first place. ONTD was nearly taken to court over the posting of photographs. There have also been complaints leveled against the community in the past for using copyrighted pictures.

Reblogging apps/sites make it even easier for these types of complaints to become legitimate threats to the community survival.

I use third party applications to post to LJ. I don't want to get in trouble!:

We are not banning the use of LJ clients to post. We are only banning clients that remember content beyond copy, paste, and basic formatting. If your client shows recommends similar articles or images to post , then you are using the kind of application that's not allowed any more.

Any other questions ONTD_P? If not, a naked Matt Smith thanks you for your undivided attention:


ETA 2: Based on comments to this post, revisions to this rule are being discussed. There are no changes being made to general posting policy at this time.
Sufjan Smile

Fortunes mount for the wealthy in wake of the finance crisis

According to a recent study issued by the Boston Consulting Group, the rich are getting richer worldwide despite the deepest financial and economic crisis since the 1930s.

In 2009 the worldwide net assets of private investors in the form of cash, shares, securities or funds increased by 11.5 percent to a total of $111.5 trillion. This is more than equivalent to the losses to the world economy following the onset of the economic crisis in 2008.

In 2008 global net assets plunged by more than 10 percent, or approximately $100 trillion in comparison to 2007. Now the fortunes of the rich and super-rich have accelerated to reach the same level as prior to the outbreak of the international financial crisis that began with the collapse of Lehmann Brothers in September 2008.

Divided into regions of the world, North America registered the largest absolute appreciation of assets with an increase of $4.6 trillion (15 percent). In Europe, private fortunes grew slightly less, at 8 percent, but Europe remained the richest region of the world with total private assets of $37.1 trillion compared to North America ($35.1 trillion).

In the Asia Pacific region (including Australia and New Zealand, excluding Japan) private net assets grew nearly twice as vigorously as the global average; i.e., around 22 percent ($17.1 trillion). Japan lagged somewhat behind with fortunes rising 3 percent to $14.9 trillion. In Latin America private fortunes also rose above average, however at lower level; i.e., around 16 percent to total $3.4 trillion.

In a period when, as a result of the financial crisis, millions of workers all over the world lost their jobs—descending into unemployment and poverty and vastly increasing the pool of the poor—the financial elite were able to increase their fortunes in an obscene manner.
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Source: WSWS

I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence. - Eugene V. Debs

Bloody Sunday report revives Northern Ireland's dark past

The Bloody Sunday Commemoration Mural

Image by qbix08 via Flickr

Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday unveils a landmark report into the 1972 Bloody Sunday killings of 13 protesters in Northern Ireland by British troops, stirring hopes of justice and fears of renewed tensions.

The 5,000-page report was 12 years in the making and the costliest in British history at close to 200 million pounds. Chaired by Lord Saville, a British judge, the inquiry took evidence from 2,500 people from 1998 to 2004.

Victims' families hope the report will say their loved ones were innocent and lay the blame on the soldiers, while critics fear that re-opening the wounds of 38 years ago could cause trouble for Northern Ireland's fitful peace process.

"Only one thing is certain: it is impossible for Lord Saville to achieve total satisfaction," said Paul Bew, professor of Irish politics at Queen's University in Belfast and adviser to the inquiry from 1998 to 2001, in a Daily Telegraph column.

The events of January 30, 1972, became known as Bloody Sunday after soldiers opened fire during an unauthorised civil rights march in the town of Londonderry, in an area that was deeply hostile to British rule over Northern Ireland.

The troops shot dead 13 protesters on the spot and wounded another 14, one of whom died weeks later. The soldiers said they shot at people who were armed with guns or nail bombs, which was strongly denied by witnesses and by relatives of the victims.


Bloody Sunday drove hundreds of new volunteers into the clandestine Irish Republican Army (IRA), which stepped up its brutal campaign for Northern Ireland to secede from the United Kingdom and become part of the Republic of Ireland.

With close to 500 killings, 1972 became the bloodiest year in the Northern Ireland conflict, which pitted the IRA against the British authorities and against unionist armed groups fighting for the province to stay under London's rule.

British media have speculated that the Saville report could lead to attempts to prosecute the Bloody Sunday soldiers. That would be sure to infuriate the unionist camp.

"I think many people would be appalled if soldiers were pursued but other people who were law breakers every day were not," said Gregory Campbell, a member of parliament from the Democratic Unionists, representing the East Londonderry area.

He specifically mentioned Martin McGuinness, who was the number two figure in the IRA in the city at the time of Bloody Sunday and is now the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland in a power-sharing government of republicans and unionists.

Other critics say it would be divisive to go after the Bloody Sunday soldiers when many killers from both sides of the Northern Ireland conflict were freed from prison early as part of the peace process launched by the 1998 Good Friday agreement.

The Saville inquiry was promised by former Prime Minister Tony Blair at a time when he was trying to secure republican support for what would become the Good Friday agreement.

Source: Reuters
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MISC - moustache

The Feministing Five: Senator Al Franken

Senator Al Franken is a man who hardly needs, but certainly deserves, an introduction. Franken's start in politics was purely satirical: After graduating with honors from Harvard, Franken moved to New York and joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, where he wrote and performed for fifteen years. As the years went on, he continued combining comedy and politics, writing several books including Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, and the New York Times bestseller Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.

In 2004, Franken launched his radio show, The Al Franken Show, on Air America. The show, which ran for three years, was inspired by Franken's belief in the power of talk radio and his concern that the talk radio airwaves were dominated by conservative commentators. The Al Franken Show ran for almost three years, with Franken broadcasting for three hours a day, five days a week. On the final episode, in 2007, he announced his candidacy for the US Senate.

The 2008 election was a tight one, so tight that it wasn't actually decided until June 2009, when the Minnesota State Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by his opponent and declared Franken the winner of the election that had taken place seven months earlier. He was sworn in July 2009 and now serves in the Senate alongside his fellow Democrat Amy Klobuchar.

Since taking office less than a year ago, Franken has shown himself to be a genuine feminist ally. Most notably, he took up the cause of Jamie Leigh Jones, a young woman who was gang-raped by her fellow KBR employees while working for the defense contractor in Iraq in 2005. Jones was unable to take civil legal action against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that the case - and any other sexual assault, harassment or battery cases - be heard in private arbitration rather than in the courts. In response, Franken proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would prohibit any contractor with such a policy from being granted a contract with the US military. The amendment passed 68-30 in October 2009, with all "no" votes coming from the Republican side of the aisle.

It was an honor and a distinct pleasure to be able to interview Senator Franken, who, as you'll see below, is not a big fan of Xena, Warrior Princess, but who loves him a good stew.

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That's enough,North Korea!

 North Korea rejects torpedo findings, threatens war

North Korea rejected Tuesday international findings that it sank a South Korean ship, warning at the United Nations that the dispute could lead to war.

"A war may break out any time," Ambassador Sin Son Ho said, accusing South Korea of "fabricating" the results of the investigation into the sinking of the Cheonan.

Full story here.

That's it, North Korea. You are out of the circle of  trust!!
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    Jimmy Eat World~Work

MSNBC gives Lawrence O'Donnell new 10pm show

Developing: MSNBC is giving regular "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" fill-in host Lawrence O'Donnell the 10 p.m. hour, the network says.

O'Donnell will start developing the program immediately, though no format, title or start date has been set.

"Lawrence O'Donnell is an incredible talent, who our audience has gotten to know throughout the years, most recently as Keith Olbermann's principal guest host on 'Countdown.' It's great to have another anchor of his caliber on the network," said MSNBC president Phil Griffin in a statement. "This makes us a bigger and better network."

"I've had a part-time job at MSNBC for 14 years," said O'Donnell in a statement. "Now that the network and I have gotten to know each other, I'm thrilled to be going full time."

When O'Donnell's show starts, the 10 p.m. rerun of "Countdown" will move to 11 p.m..

The move is a surprising one, as MSNBC has said as recently as October that it was happy with how the "Countdown" repeats have bee performing at 10 p.m.

Still, both CNN and Fox News have originals at 10 p.m., so rumors of an expansion into that hour are nothing new to MSNBC.

Olbermann was out for much of March due to his father's illness and passing, with O'Donnell doing most of the fill-in duties. As we reported, that was Countdown's highest rated month that quarter.

Doctor Who: Idiot's Lantern Sig

White House Gate Crashers get TV Role

NEW YORK — Executives at the Bravo network took a long time deciding whether to go ahead with its "Real Housewives" series based in Washington after one of its stars crashed President Barack Obama's first state dinner, its programming chief said.

The network said Tuesday it was going ahead with the series featuring Michaele Salahi, starting Aug. 5 (9 p.m. EDT).

Bravo was nearly at the end of filming the latest installment of its "Real Housewives" franchise last November when Salahi and her husband, Tareq, talked their way into the White House affair. The embarrassment forced the White House to tighten security restrictions.

There probably doesn't need to be anything else added, but you can read the rest here.

OP is floored.
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Extend the rights of Asylum seekers

The modern concept of the refugee is essentially a 20th-century invention of law. What we would now call a refugee existed before there was a law to name them as such, of course. The Jewish people of Europe were persecuted and displaced for centuries on account of race and religion; expelled from England in 1290, banished from southern Europe by the Inquisition in the 1490s, and generally treated as second class citizens until emancipation laws in the 19th century. But all of this took place without much legal involvement. When Nazi Germany stripped Jews of citizenship rights as a prelude to genocide, it was much more than symbolic. It is indicative of law's reach over life itself. Created almost 60 years ago as a response to the Holocaust, is the 1951 refugee convention still relevant to today's refugee crises?

Its form shows that it is fundamentally a product of European legal and political history, and indeed it initially only applied to refugees from Europe. The key definition of a refugee is found at Article 1A (2):

"...owing to well- founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it."
During the first decades of the cold war, the refugee was a politically significant figure, often presented as a symbol of the brutality of enemy regimes and the humanity of the hosts. The number of people claiming asylum in Europe was relatively very low, and the majority of applicants were happily found to meet the convention's definition.

But by the 1980s, the figure of the refugee had begun to change in the European imagination. Refugees are the exception to the normal rules of visa requirements: sovereign states are by right free to control borders against non-citizens, unless they claim to be refugees. In a world of increasing migration, this led to refugees increasingly being perceived as a threat. A key moment was the war in Sri Lanka. Thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils fled to Europe. Faced with a mass displacement of people from the global south, European states dismissed their applications, attributing their fear to "random" acts of violence rather than persecution. Appealing from Sri Lanka after being returned to face torture, some Tamils succeeded in persuading British courts to widen their understanding of who the convention could apply to.

As forces of capital increasingly demanded freedom to circulate around the globe, trade barriers were lowered and the western ideology of freedom and democracy spread. Concurrently, immigration controls have continually been tightened; and as controls were tightened, the law produced ever-increasing numbers of "illegal" people. On the one hand, the gap between the global rich and global poor widened, and economic migration became increasingly reviled (except perhaps where city bankers are concerned). On the other hand, globalisation brought new challenges and new movements of populations.

Migration is a fact of life today. There are an estimated 50 million people living as extra-legal migrants around the world. Within the EU, citizens are free to live and work where they choose. If you have money, you can buy a visa to almost any country on earth. Many factors influence choices of where people want to live, such as language, culture, love, and employment. But the rules are different for the poor. Many irregular migrants may be de facto refugees, unable to return home. Many will not be. But by focusing on race and economic cost rather than the troubles they flee, states have justified new methods to criminalise and control refugees. The clearest examples are the use of detention, exclusion from the labour market, and restricting appeal rights in "fast-track" application procedures to quickly refuse and remove asylum seekers.

The refugee has thus come to be regarded as "illegal", "bogus" or "false" if their claim is not accepted. These labels are attached to anyone whose reason to seek protection doesn't match the terms of the 1951 convention, such as women fleeing sexual violence, LGBT people persecuted for who they are, children sent away from active war zones by worried parents, or people trafficked into sexual slavery. The 1951 archetype of the political refugee does not sit well with the hard realities of the 21st century.

Yet, at the same time refugee law has proved to be incredibly flexible. Braver judges are willing to expand the law's understanding of how the convention works today, and to insist on the rule of law against the state's attempt to narrow its terms and applications. Sixty years on the convention may not be completely fit for purpose, yet it still holds out hope for the best of the European tradition of universal rights against states which grow increasingly reactionary. Human rights are of greatest importance to those who have been stripped of everything except their bare humanity, and yet still the most vulnerable are the most ignored. We must remain open to that truth.

Source: Guardian
mus | like a bird in a cage

NDP deputy leader faces backlash over Israel comments

OTTAWA — New Democratic Party deputy leader Libby Davies is in hot water in her own caucus over controversial comments she made this month at an anti-Israeli protest when she appeared to question the Jewish state’s right to exist, while also suggesting that she believes it should face a boycott and sanctions.

The remarks, made in Vancouver and captured on the above video, which is circulating rapidly on the Internet, have provoked an angry backlash among members of the NDP caucus, including Leader Jack Layton — who quickly distanced himself from Ms. Davies. “I have spoken to the [Israeli] ambassador [to Canada], to indicate very clearly that those comments were not the position of our party and Ms. Davies has sent a letter indicating that she made a very serious mistake,” Mr. Layton said. “I told her it was a serious mistake.”

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Source has the video.

Bloody Sunday victims all innocent

David Cameron, the British prime minister, has said he is deeply sorry for the 1972 "Bloody Sunday" massacre, telling politicians that an investigation into Northern Ireland's biggest mass killing by British soldiers showed the attack was "unjustified and unjustifiable".

Cameron said the report, released on Tuesday, showed that the 13 people killed were innocent and that British soldiers had fired first and even killed injured protesters trying to flee.

He said that the conclusions from the 12-year investigation into the killings in Londonderry were "shocking conclusions to read" and that he was "deeply sorry" for what happened.

The 5,000 page Saville Report, which cost about $285m to produce, was ordered in 1998 by Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, following pressure from victims' families.

Cameron said that some of the British soldiers had lost their "self control" during the incident.

Families' relief

The families of those shot dead voiced relief that the inquiry had finally cleared the names of their relatives.

Speaking outside the Guildhall in Derry, where they spent five hours inside digesting the report before its findings were released, relatives of those killed addressed thousands of people gathered outside.

Just minutes before Cameron read his statement to parliament, relatives gave thumbs up signs to the crowd outside from the Guildhall windows, to huge cheers.

Liam Wray, speaking on behalf of his family, said the report found that his brother Jim was "specifically targeted while posing no threat, and shot in the back".

"As he lay there, defenceless and dying, he was deliberately shot again," Wray said.

"The Saville Report stated clearly that there was no justification for either of these two shots."

He said his family and the people of Derry had been vindicated by the report.

"Now the world knows the truth. Jim was murdered. Jim was innocent," Wray said.

Tony Doherty, whose father Paddy died when paratroopers opened fire, said to loud applause that the victims had been vindicated and the Parachute Regiment disgraced.

"It can now be proclaimed to the world that the dead and the wounded of Bloody Sunday, civil rights marchers, one and all, were innocent, one and all, gunned down on their own streets by soldiers who had been given to believe that they could kill with perfect impunity," he said.

Original probe

The investigation by Mark Saville, a UK judge, looked into the events of January 30, 1972 when 13 men who were marching at the time were shot dead by the troops.

A fourteenth man later died from his injuries, while another 15 people were wounded in the incident.

Troops had charged crowds massing for the illegal Catholic demonstration in Bogside, a hostile city neighbourhood.

They said that they had been responding to shooting by the Irish Republican Army and were striking at armed individuals in the group.

However, no soldiers suffered injuries.

In the original probe by British authorities in the same year as the deaths, some of those killed were alleged to have been bombers or gunmen.

Source: Al Jazeera
bartlet for america

...shit just got real.

Merkel’s Coalition Under Pressure in Germany


BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany faced calls from opposition leaders on Monday for new elections, as bickering and fighting within her governing coalition has led to growing speculation in the German news media that a collapse of her government could be imminent.

Rocked by the resignations of a pair of high-ranking officials from her party and a significant setback in elections last month, Mrs. Merkel finds herself embroiled in possibly the worst political crisis since she became chancellor in 2005.


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TW tales square
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Anti-Gay Bullying Stories

Mods:  I'm not sure if this is allowed. Please delete if it isn't OK.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has produced a documentary Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History, as part of their Teaching Tolerance Program for Schools. They are looking for individual stories about anti-gay harassment and/or violence that someone has witnessed to use in a companion piece to this film.
From their website:

Send Us Your Stories About Anti-Gay Bullying:

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This is the type of organization I like to support. Yeah, they let you know the kind of crap that racial, ethnic and religious minorities, GLBT, disabled, migrant workers and other disenfranchised groups experience, but they do more than that. They take action. Sue the crap out of the Klan, gay bashers, companies that exploit migrant workers and all their work is done pro bono. Any damages go to the victims. Where criminal penalties often fail to be levied at the perps, they succeed in getting some measure of justice for those whose rights are often overlooked. 

They produce educational programs which are given free to schools to address the problems of prejudice through their Teaching Tolerance materials. Previous kits have covered the Holocaust, the rights of migrant workers, the fight to end segregation and living in a diverse society . 

Information on how to submit your story is at their website (see link above).

Orania, South Africa: Where apartheid lives on

You come because there have been stories. Because around the World Cup the talk has been about peace and togetherness and the vanquishing of old racial wounds in the hope that the world’s arrival might stimulate new solutions. And you hear of a place that wants none of that. A place where white and black can’t live side-by-side in the rainbow nation. A place settled by the old South Africa who couldn’t cope with the new South Africa.

And you wonder why such a place should exist at all.

So you drive early one morning from Johannesburg, long before the sun climbs into the sky. You go past the flat-topped hills of mining country, through dusty towns and then across the long, open African savannah spotted with acacia trees until five hours later, near the banks of the Orange River, you find Orania.


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Darren/People Photoshoot

Where Congress Bitches Out BP and Other Oil Companies

Lawmaker tells BP chief to 'commit hara-kiri'
By Annalyn Censky and Aaron Smith, staff writers June 15, 2010: 4:05 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A hearing to discuss the future of national energy policy in the wake of the Gulf oil disaster got pretty ugly Tuesday.

Lawmakers slammed executives from five of the world's largest oil companies. At one point Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., called on Lamar McKay, chairman and president of BP America, to quit his job. Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, R-Louisiana went so far as to suggest McKay try a type of ritual suicide.

"Mr. Stearns asked you to resign. In the Asian culture we do things differently. During the Samurai days we just give you a knife and ask you to commit hara-kiri," said Cao, who is of Vietnamese descent.

McKay did not respond to these comments. However, he did say that a relief well will allow his company to get the leak under control "by mid-August."

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass. called on executives from BP (BP), ExxonMobil (XOM, Fortune 500), ConocoPhillips (COP, Fortune 500), Chevron (CVX, Fortune 500) and Shell Oil (RDSA) to answer before his House Energy and Environment subcommittee Tuesday. Specifically, he wanted to focus on the ongoing spill, renewable energy development and the effect of President Obama's six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling.

Saving the walruses

But the hearing opened with Markey criticizing the companies for having cookie-cutter contingency plans for dealing with disasters like the Gulf Coast oil spill.

Those plans included "embarrassing" errors like a reference to protecting walruses, which haven't lived in the Gulf Coast for at least 3 million years, and the phone number of a marine biologist who died five years ago, Markey said.

In opening remarks, senior House Democrats held up a 500-page binder from Exxon Mobil, which details the company's plans for dealing with emergencies such as oil spills, and decried it for being nearly identical to BP's.

Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil also have similar plans, calling for measures like blowout preventers and top kill procedures which failed to contain the ongoing spill, lawmakers said.

When it comes to emergency plans, the "only technology you seem to be relying on is a Xerox machine," Markey told the oil execs.

Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson called the walrus debacle an "embarrassment." ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva and Chevron CEO John Watson followed suit, saying they too found the walruses "inappropriate" for a Gulf of Mexico response plan.

'Not equipped' for worst case scenario

Asked if the Exxon would have done anything differently than BP, Tillerson explained that he would have used a "different well design" and a "different cement formulation" than those used by BP at the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded and sank on April 20, killing 11 workers and causing the leak that is fouling the Gulf.

But when Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., pointed out that ExxonMobil used the same plan as BP, authored by the New Jersey-based contractor Marine Spill Response Corp., Tillerson admitted that his company is "not equipped" to handle a worst-case scenario.

"That's why the emphasis is always on preventing these things from occurring because when they happen we are not very well-equipped to deal with them," said Tillerson. "And that's just a fact of the enormity of what we are dealing with."

The oil executives also told the committee that scaling back offshore drilling in wake of the Gulf Coast spill would only make matters worse in the region because it would mean cutting jobs, limiting government revenues and heightening the country's dependence on foreign drilling.

Both Exxon and Chevron's CEOs said they would most likely redeploy their deepwater rigs and personnel to other places in the world if not allowed to drill off U.S. shores.

"We would redirect human resources to other parts of the world where we're allowed to work," Exxon's Tillerson said. "This stuff is too expensive to just let sit around."

In May, President Obama extended a ban on deepwater drilling in the Gulf Coast from 30 days to six months. The ban requires all Gulf wells drilling in more than 500 feet of water to shut down, and prevents new permits from being issued. Wells that are already pumping crude can continue to operate.

In a letter to the company on Monday, Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other members of the Senate Democratic Caucus called on BP to establish a $20 billion account to pay for the oil spill. The company is also weighing whether to issue its $2.4 billion second quarter dividend, which is set to be paid out in August.

Just hours before the hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Fitch Ratings downgraded BP for a second time this month to just above junk status.

Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer, contributed to this story.


merlin: Merlin-approved

A Dirt-Poor Nation, With a Health Plan

By Donald G. McNeil Jr.

MAYANGE, Rwanda — The maternity ward in the Mayange district health center is nothing fancy.

It has no running water, and the delivery room is little more than a pair of padded benches with stirrups. But the blue paint on the walls is fairly fresh, and the labor room beds have mosquito nets.

Inside, three generations of the Yankulije family are relaxing on one bed: Rachel, 53, her daughter Chantal Mujawimana, 22, and Chantal’s baby boy, too recently arrived in this world to have a name yet.

The little prince is the first in his line to be delivered in a clinic rather than on the floor of a mud hut. But he is not the first with health insurance. Both his mother and grandmother have it, which is why he was born here.

Rwanda has had national health insurance for 11 years now; 92 percent of the nation is covered, and the premiums are $2 a year.

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Whole story and pictures at The New York Times.