June 21st, 2010

Gas Mask Grrl

Barton isn't the only one in Congress with his foot in his mouth

Mother Jones: Top 10 Ridiculous Oil-Spill Quotes From Congress
By Kiera Butler

If we were to hold a contest for most tone-deaf oil spill comments by members of Congress, it'd be tough to top Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), who actually apologized to BP yesterday, for what he called a "shake down" on the part of the Obama administration to get the company to compensate affected Gulf coast residents, then tried to backpedal (sort of). Oof. But he's far from the only one: I sure hope our Congresspeople are buying offsets, since there have been an awful lot of gaseous emissions coming from them in the wake of the largest offshore oil spill in US history. Luckily, MoJo reporter Kate Sheppard has been there to document it, tweeting the absurdity live from Washington, D.C. Here, culled from Kate's tweets, are the top 10 most ludicrous, out-of-touch, and generally embarrassing things our Congresspeople have said in the months since the spill began. Collapse )

Who needs writers when the tragedy comedy writes itself?

United States looking to deport 'Son of Hamas' spy

U.S. authorities are seeking to deport Mosab Hassan Yousef, the "Green Prince," who reportedly worked as a Shin Bet security service agent from 1997-2007.

Yousef, who now lives in the United States, had unparalleled access to Hamas, which his father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, helped found and led in the West Bank. He first described his experiences to Haaretz earlier this year, and has since published a book, "Son of Hamas," on the subject.

Recently, however, the Department of Homeland Security asked a California court to approve his deportation, on the grounds that he "provided material support to a [Tier 1] terrorist organization" - namely, Hamas.

The request is based on quotes from Yousef's book, "Son of Hamas" - in which he described how he worked within Hamas to obtain information for the Shin Bet. Taken out of context, the quotes make it seem as if he worked for the group.

A San Diego immigration court is to hear the case on June 30. Yousef said he will appeal if it rules against him.

The deportation request is the Department of Homeland Security's response to Yousef's asylum application. Yousef, who converted to Christianity in 2005, wrote on his blog that he was stunned by the move.

"If Homeland Security cannot understand a simple situation like mine, how can they be trusted with bigger issues?" he demanded.

MK Einat Wilf (Labor ), a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, recently began collecting MKs' signatures on a letter thanking Yousef for his contribution to Israel's security.


Iceland : My head hurts

The Texas GOP Wants To Punish Straight People Who Support Gay Rights?

It might not be as hotly anticipated as one of the Twilight novels, but the Texas Republican Party has released its 2010 party platform. And the gays have at least the equivalent of a chapter dedicated to them.

But consider this work of literature a tragedy. That's because the 2010 GOP platform in Texas literally supports laws that criminalize sodomy, and also suggests that straight people who support same-sex marriage should be penalized with jail time.

Texas, Uganda. Uganda, Texas. I think you two will really hit it off.

That's a comparison that wakingupnow.com makes after looking at the language in the GOP's platform, and anti-gay language coming out of Uganda. And the similarities are a bit jarring.

For instance, the official GOP line in Texas, when it comes to sodomy is striking: gay people should be arrested for having any sort of sexual contact with someone of the same-sex inside their own bedrooms. That's my paraphrase, but trust the direct quote.

"We oppose the legalization of sodomy. We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy," the GOP platform reads. Meaning that even though the U.S. Supreme Court overturned sodomy laws last decade (ironically in a case that stemmed from Texas), Texas Republicans would like the state to have the power to criminalize LGBT folks for having sex.

Of course, if you think the Texas GOP treats sodomy with harsh gloves, wait until you see what they want to do to straight people who help gay folks get married.

"We support legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for such," reads the GOP platform.

As wakingupnow.com notes, the use of the word "felony" there seemingly indicates prison time. That means that if a straight person were to aid and abet a gay couple with tying the knot in the Lone Star State, the Texas GOP would like to see that person serve mandatory jail time.

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This is just pure what the fuckery right here.

Will Stanley Cup champ Blackhawks march in gay pride parade?

After finishing off the Philadelphia Flyers, the Chicago Blackhawks have taken the Stanley Cup to bars, restaurants, clubs, a children's hospital, Wrigley Field and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." 

Andrew Sobotka is hoping the team and the trophy will make another appearance on June 27, at the annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade.

Sobotka is the president of the Chicago Gay Hockey Association, which has been around since 2002 and currently boasts around 40 members. It's one of dozens of hockey organizations for gay players in the U.S., including one of the most successful associations in Madison, Wis.

Like millions of others in the city, they watched each game of the Blackhawks' run to the Cup, celebrating their achievements with the civic pride that cut through cultures and demographics for the last few months.

(It even cut through loyalties to other teams. If the name "Sobotka" is familiar, it's because Andrew's father Al is the octopus-twirling ice technician for the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Andrew, in turn, was a Red Wings fan "unofficially" pulling for their arch rivals.)

What the CGHA hopes is that the Blackhawks continue that mission of bringing the city together in the name of puck, and to support grassroots hockey in Chicago, by appearing at the Pride Parade for what they believe would be the first time in franchise history.

"We'd love the Stanley Cup there. We'd love the Stanley Cup and the whole team there. But we're humble enough to take what we can get," said Sobotka. "We invited everyone in the organization. If we can't get any players, hopefully we can get another member of the team."

The timing may be right for the request to be seriously considered.

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This one's a couple of days old, but I thought it was really interesting. And, cause it's the Chicago Blackhawks, man.


Obama steps up fatherhood advocacy with new mentoring initiative

In what is becoming a Father's Day ritual for the Obama administration, the president on Monday will bring together children, famous dads and nonprofit groups that promote fatherhood to highlight the importance of fathers.

The center of President Obama's day-long celebration will be a speech at the ARC, an arts and recreation campus in Southeast Washington, where he is set to announce the creation of the President's Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. It will build on a theme that has been central to his family policy and a core part of the White House's Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.


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The Avengers - Default, AA

Girls outperforming boys? Quick, something must be done!

Gender-specific qualifications could be ready as soon as September next year

The UK’s largest school exam board is developing gender-specific alternatives to the GCSE, tailor-made for girls and boys, The TES has learned.

The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) says it has already had positive feedback from schools about its plans for qualifications designed to play to perceived male and female strengths.

AQA’s new key stage 4 qualifications in English, maths and science could be available for teaching as soon as September 2011 with coursework options for girls and more traditional exams aimed at boys.

But one teaching union has warned that it is “extremely dangerous” for the board - which has the largest GCSE and A-level market share - to fall into “old sexist stereotypes”.

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As a girl who doesn't significantly better on exams than coursework, um... no. Not to mention all the complications that would arise from the boy's exams being seen as 'default' and the girl's coursework as an easier alternative, regardless of whether or not boys perform worse on coursework.
Murasaki Shikibu

Neb. town to vote on illegal immigration measure

Neb. town to vote on illegal immigration measure

Angered by a recent influx of Hispanic workers attracted by jobs at local meatpacking plants, voters in the eastern Nebraska city of Fremont will decide Monday whether to ban hiring or renting property to illegal immigrants.

The vote will be the culmination of a two-year fight that saw proponents collect enough signatures to put the question to a public vote. If the ordinance is approved, the community of 25,000 people could face a long and costly court battle.
Either way, the emotions stirred up won't settle quickly.

"Even if we say 'no' ... we still need to say, 'How do we get along with each other now?'" said Kristin Ostrom, who helps oversee a campaign against the measure.

Across the nation, people have been outraged by — and demanded action against — the poor enforcement of federal laws to prevent illegal immigration. A law recently introduced in Arizona requires police to question people on their immigration status if there's a "reasonable suspicion" they are illegal.

A man who helped write the Arizona law is helping to fight for the ordinance in Fremont, which has seen its Hispanic population surge in the past two decades. That increase is largely because they were recruited to work for the Fremont Beef and Hormel plants, and the city maintains an enviably low unemployment rate.

Nonetheless, residents worry that jobs are going to illegal immigrants who they fear could drain community resources.

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So...low unemployment rates, the companies doing the hiring wouldn't even be impacted, and the lawsuits would cost the city a fuckton.

It's amazing how much people are willing to shoot themselves in the foot rather than let "the illegals" (but not racist! Honest!) have anything.

Also, for the woman wondering if she's profiling someone completely honest...methinks the person you need to be having a good, long look at it yourself.

Colombia, not so Green after all.

Government candidate Santos wins Colombia election

Governing party candidate Juan Manuel Santos has won the final round of Colombia's presidential elections.

With almost all the votes counted, Mr Santos had won 69% of the ballots and was more than 40 points ahead of his rival - Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus.

Mr Santos shares outgoing President Alvaro Uribe's tough line on security.

In his victory speech, he told the country's main rebel group, Farc, that its "time had run out".

He said there would not be "the slightest chance of negotiations" with the rebels and demanded they unilaterally release the hostages they hold.

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Those polls from May were so far from the truth it's not even funny. Oh well, welcome to La Isla Presidencial, Santos.

Putting The ONTD Back: CT Anchor Arrested For Shoplifting At Sears!


MILFORD — WTNH television personality Desiree Fontaine, who brings viewers morning traffic reports and hosts CT Style, has been charged by police with shoplifting at Sears, police and other souces confirmed Sunday.

Fontaine, 33, was charged Saturday with sixth-degree larceny, meaning an item worth $500 or less was stolen. Police said Fontaine allegedly tried to take $104.98 worth of merchandise, but declined to give details.

Police said no one else was arrested with Fontaine, who couldn’t be reached for comment.

Fontaine, a Milford resident, was released on a promise to appear in court July 7.

Milford police originally said there would not be any information about weekend activity released until Monday, but changed that stance because so many media outlets were calling about Fontaine’s arrest, as all kinds of stories made their way through sources.

Kirk Varner, the news director at WTNH, said the station “doesn’t comment on personnel matters.”

A source said Fontaine was inside Sears at the mall when she was confronted. She later was brought to police headquarters and booked.

She had been scheduled to serve as the mistress of ceremonies along with colleague Keith Kountz at an event Saturday sponsored by the Urban League of Southern Connecticut but did not attend.

Original ONTD post

Gurl, Sears is so tacky! If you're going to shoplift department stores, try Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, or Lord & Taylor!
Aubrey Beardsley

Big Texas Deficit Puts Governor in Tight Spot

DALLAS—A Texas-size hole in the Lone Star state's budget is putting pressure on Gov. Rick Perry, who is running for re-election this year as a model fiscal conservative.

Mr. Perry, a Republican in office for a decade, is touting his tax-cutting prowess and tight-fisted spending record as proof that he remains the right man for the job. He has maintained a wide lead in polls.

But as the state's budget shortfall widens—to as much as $18 billion, or about 20% of the next two-year budget, according to the state legislature's latest analysis released earlier this month—critics are complaining that Mr. Perry's policies have left the state with little room to reduce spending.

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tl; dr — Texas is the poster child for how to do it wrong. Also, I think Rick Perry could get caught eating babies and people would still vote for him, and since Texas doesn't have term limits we're probably going to be stuck with him for a while. This makes me very very sad.
Sufjan Smile

Louisiana residents report oil-spill related illnesses

Grand Isle, LA visitors look onto the contaminated beach

Two months since the start of the Gulf Coast oil spill, residents, fishermen and experts throughout the Gulf of Mexico are reporting respiratory problems and other illnesses attributable to oil contamination.

“We’re getting sick down here. People are losing their voices; our noses are running and our eyes are crying all the time,” said Dean Blanchard, operator of a Grand Isle, Louisiana-based shrimp distribution company. “I went down to Bourbon Street in New Orleans and the urine on the cement smelled better than the air does down here.”

Dr. Michael Kotler, director of Plaquemines Medical Center near Venice, Louisiana, said his clinic has treated numerous cases of people getting sick from spill-related chemical exposure. The clinic handles those cases that the US Health Service and a private medical contractor employed by BP are not prepared to handle, said Dr. Kotler.
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Source: WSWS

Shady practices in the cleanup of an accident which stemmed from shady practices? It's like a corporate ouroboros, totally rad

20,000 Activists Gather in Detroit to Change the World. Media Fails to Notice.

As many as 20,000 people are coming to Detroit for a massive discussion of social change.

First of all, “Yay!” that as many as 20,000 people are coming to Detroit.

Second of all, do not dismiss the grassroots activists, idealists, revolutionaries and community organizers (even Tea Party members inquired about space) who will be in the city for the US Social Forum from Tuesday through Friday. Organizers say it will be the largest gathering of its kind to explore, among many things, improving public education and strengthening the working class.

The forum grew out of the 10-year-old World Social Forum, which was a cry against “the world’s elite — a small amount of people, entrepreneurs and government officials — making decisions for the majority of people,” said Adele Nieves, a 36-year-old Detroiter who is the forum’s media spokeswoman.

“If you’re going to make decisions for every majority, then make sure you then do that with poor people’s initiatives in mind,” she said.

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Was alleged Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning's crisis also one of personal identity?

Was alleged Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning's crisis also one of personal identity?

Xeni Jardin at 6:00 PM Sunday, Jun 20, 2010

Yesterday, I published what purported to be more detailed versions of IM logs between alleged whistleblower US Army PFC Bradley Manning and hacker Adrian Lamo, revealing specific countries and issues implicated in military documents Manning is alleged to have leaked to Wikileaks.

Journalists such as Washingtonian's Shane Harris have speculated that the "adjustment disorder" for which Manning was reportedly about to be discharged might indicate a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" issue within the military.

But these logs may also suggest that Manning's state of crisis involved a different gender identity issue.

Shortly after I published the logs, a comment appeared on my post:

"I had no idea Bradley Manning was a transsexual until I read this. That's got to put a fellow into a strange headspace in the first place."

I asked our moderators to not publish the comment, in keeping with our moderation guidelines. It appeared to be off-topic, and an attempt at a personal attack. But shortly after that comment appeared, someone I do not know who identified themselves as a transgender person tweeted at me:

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Money most important thing for Elton John

Elton John played a gig in Israel last week after refusing to bow to pressure to pull out.

Other artists such as The Pixies and Elvis Costello scrapped gigs over the country's raid on a Gaza aid ship, which killed nine people.

Costello cancelled two planned gigs in Tel Aviv on June 30th and July 1st, saying it was "a matter of instinct and conscience".

John, 63, resisted calls by pro-Palestinian activists to cancel the concert, telling almost 50,000 fans in Tel Aviv: "Ain't gonna stop me from coming here, baby."

He added: "Musicians spread love and peace, and bring people together. That's what we do. We don't cherry-pick our conscience."

The Tel Aviv gig follows another controversial concert by the star, as he recently earned $1 million for playing at the wedding of American gay rights opponent Rush Limbaugh.

John has not commented on why he played the gig, but his civil partner David Furnish said he wanted to "build bridges" with those whose opinions he disagrees with.

Source: Pink News

Not particularly surprising, considering the man played at Rush Limbaugh's wedding, of all people. I already disliked him (mainly for his staying in the closet during the time when it would have actually meant something politically for him to come out, instead leaving it to others to do the hard work and waiting until it was nice and safe, deciding he's some sort of gay icon when he's done nothing to earn it - WTFever, Reg)retracted, as he came out earlier than I thought - ty laerwen , but he just keeps giving me more and more reasons.
garf tired

On the Education Crisis

Chartering Disaster: Why Duncan's Corporate-Based Schools Can't Deliver an Education That Matters

Monday 21 June 2010

by: Henry A. Giroux, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

"The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina." - Arne Duncan

"Visions have nowadays fallen into disrepute and we tend to be proud of what we should be ashamed of." - Zygmunt Bauman

Market-Based Educational Reform and the Politics of Fraud

In Arne Duncan's world, the language of educational reform is defined primarily through the modalities of competition, measurement and quantification. Competition is now one of the most important registers organizing and defining schools and classroom pedagogical practices - no doubt made obvious by the name of Obama's educational reform policy "Race to the Top," with its allusion to Wall Street values and casino capitalism. Within this discourse, there seems to be little understanding, as Stuart Hall has argued, "that there is a limit to the good that can be produced by individual competitiveness."[1] Of course, competition itself is not the problem since competition can be healthy in a number of areas. The real issue is when competition becomes, as Christopher Newfield points out, "the sole organizing principle of society."[2] And when that happens in educational policies such as those pushed by the Obama administration, one consequence is that the ultimate agent of schooling is modeled after the unattached individual competing for financial rewards, status and a job in the workforce. But there is more at work here than the vulgar instrumentalization of the curriculum, homage to an unchecked mode of market competition and the crude reduction of teacher work to thoughtless methodologies and techniques. There is also a neoliberal agenda in which public money is channeled into the hands of wealthy individuals and corporations. In addition, there is the ongoing infatuation with privatization and the push for charter schools, largely used to siphon off and privilege middle-class students, while promoting forms of tracking and social dumping that often mark underfunded public schools.[3] There is also the push for governance structures shaped in the image of a largely disgraced business culture, whose aim is to restructure the administrative apparatus in public schools as part of a broader political project to weaken the power of faculty and unions, while placing unaccountable power in the hands of corporate elites.

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The Gang

The Academic Elite are releasing are releasing a biological weapon - Palestinomania!

Gideon Sa'ar says government will act during the summer against academics who joined call for Israel boycott.

By Or Kashti

A few days after saying he intends to take action against Israeli professors who call for an academic boycott of Israel, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar is scheduled to appear on Monday before the Knesset Education Committee to discuss the limits of freedom of expression in schools.

Sa'ar refused to provide Haaretz with details of what action he plans to take. His statements, made in the Knesset plenum Wednesday, "speak for themselves," a spokesperson said.

The comments came some time after Ben-Gurion University Professor Neve Gordon, a vocal proponent of an academic boycott against Israel, received a death threat through the mail.

The principals of two Tel Aviv high schools, Zeev Dagani and Ram Cohen, who have publicly criticized the government's policies in the territories, have also been invited to today's committee meeting.

Dagani, the principal of the Herzliya Gymnasia high school, has publicly opposed Sa'ar's plan to send Israel Defense Forces officers into classrooms to encourage students to enlist in the army, and Cohen has often lectured his students about the Israeli occupation.

The panel will also discuss the Islamic Movement's influence on students in Arab schools.

In last week's comments, Sa'ar said it was "important to examine the issues" raised in a report by on-campus Zionist advocacy group Im Tirtzu that alleges that anti-Zionist trends have taken root in political science instruction at Israel's universities. However, Sa'ar would not say whether he would indeed look into the accusations.

Sa'ar's statements were part of a discussion in the Knesset plenum initiated by MKs Uri Ariel (National Union ) and Yulia Shamalov Berkovich (Kadima ) on the issue of "the post-Zionist takeover of Israeli academia." The discussion was prompted by the Im Tirtzu report, which stated that 80 percent of the research papers taught at political science courses in Israeli universities are "anti-Zionist and anti-nationalist." The report was roundly criticized by academics and public figures, but Im Tirtzu officials said they stood behind the study.

"Israeli academia apparently suffers from 'Palestinomania,' a mild psychological illness whose symptoms include self-hatred, an affinity for Israel's enemies, Jewish anti-Semitism and/or anti-Zionism," Shamalov Berkovich said in the Knesset. "The spread of 'Palestinomania' demands the immediate and painful treatment for all of our sake, and the sooner the better."

Ariel called on Sa'ar to establish a ministerial inquiry to probe the accusations contained in Im Tirtzu's report.

Sa'ar said: "I think that the Im Tirtzu report is important in the sense that it generates public debate. It is important to examine the issues raised in the report."

In his statements to the plenum, Sa'ar referred specifically to professors who have backed calls to boycott Israeli universities.

"This is something that is impossible to accept," Sa'ar said. "I have already spoken about this with the head of the Higher Education Council's planning and budgeting committee [Manuel Trajtenberg], and there will be measures taken vis-a-vis the heads of these institutions. This matter is on our agenda - and we plan on taking action over the course of the summer."

Ariel seemed to understand Sa'ar as saying he plans to investigate the charges. His office released a statement reading: "The education minister said that he plans on thoroughly probing the charges made by Im Tirtzu this coming summer."

A spokesperson for Trajtenberg refused to comment when reached by Haaretz, deferring to Sa'ar's office.

"It would behoove the education minister to ignore the report, which emits an aroma of McCarthyism," said Professor Yossi Ben-Artzi, the rector of the University of Haifa. "I hope he will understand the gravity of the very fact of monitoring and informing on lecturers, and of whether he even needs to take seriously an organization like Im Tirtzu, which causes incitement." Earlier this year Sa'ar took part in a conference organized by Im Tirtzu. "I place great importance in this gathering," he said. "Campus activism is hugely vital, and this is what you are doing. For this, you will be blessed." "I very much appreciate this work, which gives expression to an authentic Zeitgeist felt by the public and is much needed on our campuses," Sa'ar said of Im Tirtzu. "I came to tell you: God speed."