June 23rd, 2010

MISC - moustache

Edward Peck: Israel "smearing" the opposition


Edward Peck, a former U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania, speaks to demonstrators in front of the White House in Washington June 1, 2010 about his experience aboard a Gaza aid ship as that was seized by Israeli commandos.

What do you think of the American media coverage of this event?

Here's the thing. I just got off a radio interview. One of the things that distresses me is the extent to which Israel has been successful in, for example, getting Americans to ask questions as to why the passengers on that big Turkish ship attacked the Israeli soldiers.

I said, wait a minute, wait a minute, they were defending the ship against people who were attacking it. You've got it backwards. There are civilians, men and women, on a Turkish-flagged vessel, in international waters. And here comes a group of heavily armed -- forget the paintball story -- heavily armed guys who are going to take over the ship by force and then take it to Israel, where the passengers don't want to go. And so they pick up deck chairs and other things to fight off these heavily armed -- and by the way, masked -- commandos, and somehow they become the attackers. So, that depresses me a little bit.

Leaving aside the horrible bloodshed and all, it becomes a war of words. Americans are reading what comes out of Tel Aviv, which is carried in the American press ... So, all of a sudden, the people on the Turkish ship are described as terrorist, Israel-hating, Hamas supporters, murderers and killers. I say to myself, What would you expect the Israelis to call these people? Tree-hugging environmentalists? No, they're all killers! Every single one of them. It's called smearing the opposition. And the press seems to take that. And I find that distressing. It's the use of the language that concerns me. Who's defending and who's attacking?

What questions do you think the media should be asking right now?
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This is from a day or so after the incident but is still worth posting.
[animals] rat with balloons!

(no subject)

The Great Escape From Slavery of Ellen and William Craft
Passing as a white man traveling with his servant, two slaves fled their masters in a thrilling tale of deception and intrigue

One of the most ingenious escapes from slavery was that of a married couple from Georgia, Ellen and William Craft.

The Granger Collection, New York

 

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I know this is long, but I didn't have the heart to cut it up by highlighting. Sorry!

Edith Shain, WWII nurse in iconic Times Square kissing photo, dies at age 91



A nurse famously photographed being kissed by an American sailor in New York's Times Square in 1945 to celebrate the end of World War Two has died at the age of 91, her family said on Tuesday.

The V-J Day picture of the white-clad Edith Shain by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured an epic moment in U.S. history and became an iconic image marking the end of the war after being published in Life magazine.

The identity of the nurse in the photograph was not known until the late 1970s when Shain wrote to the photographer saying that she was the woman in the picture taken on August 14 at a time when she had been working at Doctor's Hospital in New York City.

The identity of the sailor remains disputed and unresolved.

From then on the photograph also made its mark on Shain's life as the fame she garnered led to invites to war related events such a wreath layings, parades and other memorial events.

"My mom was always willing take on new challenges and caring for the World War II veterans energized her to take another chance to make a difference," her son Justin Decker said in a statement.

Shain, who died at her home in Los Angeles on Sunday, leaves behind three sons, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

(source)

eddie-cakeordeath

Virgin Atlantic Passengers Faint, Deprived Of Water For Hours On Runway


HARTFORD, Conn. — Passengers on a Virgin Atlantic Airways flight say they were kept on a hot plane without food or water for more than four hours at Connecticut's Bradley International Airport.

Passengers told CNN that Tuesday night's ordeal began when they were diverted to Bradley because of bad weather during a flight from London to Newark, N.J. They said they landed at about 8:20 p.m. and were kept on the plane until about 1 a.m. Wednesday.

Passengers told the news network that people were yelling and screaming. At least three people fainted and were taken away in ambulances, passengers said. The aircraft was carrying 300 passengers and 14 crew.

 "It was like four hours on the ground without any air conditioning. It was crazy. Just crazy," passenger Beth Willan told CNN. "There were babies on the plane. And we are in dark and hot. You try to be patient but people were yelling and screaming."

Virgin Atlantic's London office confirmed to The Associated Press that Flight VS001 on the A340-600 jet was diverted because of bad weather in the Newark area. Airline officials said the passengers were being bused to Newark on Wednesday morning.

"Virgin Atlantic would like to thank passengers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience cause," the statement said.

A Virgin spokeswoman in London told the AP on Wednesday that Bradley Airport "isn't used to dealing with international flights" and had to call customs and immigration officials back to the airport Tuesday night to process the passengers. She said the airline was forced to keep people on the plane.

"It was a situation that was beyond our control," said the spokeswoman, who refused to give her name. "There were weather conditions. ... Bradley had to get customs and immigration to the airport."

The spokeswoman said she believed passengers were kept on the flight for about three hours. She said the planes have water fountains aboard, but she wasn't sure if any food was left over after the in-flight meals had been served.

 
Ken Cast, an airport operations specialist, said Virgin is not one of the airport's carriers and the airline had to call in personnel to handle the passengers.

"Being an international flight, it's not like you can let people wander aimlessly," Cast told the AP. "They need to be processed, and they need to be kept safe. Everyone has to clear customs.

"The rules still need to be followed," Cast said. "Everyone was safe. They may have been uncomfortable, but they were safe. It's better to be on the ground wishing you were somewhere else than to be in the air wishing you were on the ground."

Cast confirmed that a few passengers who weren't feeling well were treated by paramedics. Details on the sick passengers weren't immediately available.

A new federal rule on flights stuck on runways that went into effect in April bans U.S. carriers from making passengers wait on planes for longer than three hours. International airlines are not subject to the 3-hour delay rule, even if they land or takeoff from U.S. airports.

The Obama administration has proposed extending the requirement to international flights and making sure international carriers have contingency plans to handle passengers who've been kept waiting for long periods.

Source


NGL, my first thought was, "Virgin flies out of Hartford???  Since when?"  LOL.

Important to note, btw, that if they had flown out of London and been diverted to Hartford, it means they'd already been on the plane for 5 or 6 hours already.....and then had to wait on the plane for more than 4 more?  Jeez.

Also: "A Virgin spokeswoman in London told the AP on Wednesday that Bradley Airport "isn't used to dealing with international flights"

Okay, first off it IS called Bradley INTERNATIONAL Airport, isn't it?  Secondly, having flown out of there many times I know they do have flights in and out of there to/from non-U.S. destinations, so I call Shenanigans!  I find it extremely hard to believe they couldn't de-plane the passengers in a gate area and then keep them corraled in that area until the immigration officials could get there. 

This is rather surprising to hear it coming from Virgin though.....they've always had a good reputation.


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HP (Lupin) Clearly Unamused

Lawsuit in Works Over Bill to Outlaw Nudity at Missouri Strip Clubs

One hundred thousand dollars.

That's all the supporters of state Sen. Matt Bartle's bill S.B. 586 say the legislation will cost Missouri and local municipalities in lost tax revenue each year.


That's $100,000 for a bill that could force the closure of an estimated 60 percent Missouri's 130 adult-entertainment businesses (strip clubs and bookstores), and it's a number that just doesn't add up, says Dick Snow, owner of the Kansas City nudy club, Bazooka's.

"My business alone pays $180,000 a year in sales and withholding taxes each year," says Snow, who serves as treasurer of Missouri's chapter of the Association of Club Executives (ACE) -- a trade group for the adult-entertainment industry. "So how can they say that the bill would just just cost Missouri a hundred thousand dollars?!"

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face

An open letter to President Obama from Jon Voight

So, I guess Jon Voight has some off time from being estranged from his daughter and decided to write a letter to the Washington Times about Obama. I like how he brings Arizona into this from out of left field.



June 22, 2010

President Obama:

You will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when you said that you would defend Israel, the only Democratic state in the Middle East, against all their enemies. You have done just the opposite. You have propagandized Israel, until they look like they are everyone's enemy — and it has resonated throughout the world. You are putting Israel in harm's way, and you have promoted anti-Semitism throughout the world.

You have brought this to a people who have given the world the Ten Commandments and most laws we live by today. The Jewish people have given the world our greatest scientists and philosophers, and the cures for many diseases, and now you play a very dangerous game so you can look like a true martyr to what you see and say are the underdogs. But the underdogs you defend are murderers and criminals who want Israel eradicated.

You have brought to Arizona a civil war, once again defending the criminals and illegals, creating a meltdown for good, loyal, law-abiding citizens. Your destruction of this country may never be remedied, and we may never recover. I pray to God you stop, and I hope the people in this great country realize your agenda is not for the betterment of mankind, but for the betterment of your politics.

With heartfelt and deep concern for America and Israel,

Jon Voight



Source
franklin sherman

Joe Biden thinks everyone here is thieving criminal scum.

U.S. to target foreign websites in anti-piracy push

(Reuters) - The United States will go after foreign websites that pirate American music and movies as part of a new strategy to stop sales of counterfeit and pirated goods at home and abroad, Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday.

"This is theft, clear and simple," Biden said at a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other Cabinet officials.

"It's smash and grab, no different than a guy walking down Fifth Avenue and smashing the window at Tiffany's and reaching in and grabbing what's in the window," Biden said, referring to the jewelry store in New York City.

U.S. businesses estimate they lose billions of dollars each year to piracy and counterfeiting of items including films, music and consumer goods. They also blame the illegal trade for hundreds of thousands of lost U.S. jobs.

"It is especially critical that the United States has an effective framework for protecting creative content online and enforcing intellectual property rights in the digital environment," said Bob Pisano, interim chief executive officer at the Motion Picture Association of America.

U.S. computer and video game makers also cheered the promise of tougher enforcement.

The National Association of Manufacturers urged the administration to focus especially on China, which it has called "ground zero" for piracy and counterfeiting.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office has battled for years to close websites in Russia, China and other countries that sell pirated American music and films.

"ROGUE ACTORS DOING ILLICIT BUSINESS"

Biden said the United States would exert more pressure on foreign governments to shut down the sites by "being as public as we possibly can" about illegal activity.

"As we shine the spotlight on foreign governments that have rogue actors doing illicit business within their borders, it's the government's responsibility to respond," he said.

Biden did not mention any foreign websites by name. A recent USTR report said China's top Internet search firm, Baidu Inc, was associated with between 50 percent and 75 percent of illegal music downloads in China.

Several Russian websites still provide illegal downloads, even though the most notorious and formerly largest site, Allofmp3, was shut down in 2007, the USTR report said.

The plan, mandated by Congress in 2008, also includes steps to ensure the federal government does not buy counterfeit goods. Biden framed that issue as a matter of both safety and national security, noting the risk of sending soldiers into combat with counterfeit Kevlar vests.

The strategy also includes new steps aimed at stopping the importation of counterfeit goods ranging from toothpaste and clothing to auto parts to medicine.

"The theft of virtually everything Americans make, create and innovate has been facilitated by the lack of a comprehensive strategy to put these thieves out of business," David Hirschmann, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center, said in a statement welcoming Biden's announcement.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65L3YN20100622

Dear Joe and government. Making a copy is not the same as stealing. It never will be, no matter how much you whine about it. Congrats on isolating an entire generation with just a few sentences though. That takes skill.

Stop it. The current interpretation of copyright is damaging, contrary to its stated purpose, and is the biggest limiting factor in growing modern creative culture. Stop protecting the big media companies, you arnt fooling anyone.

From now on I'm English, not British

In letting our perceptions of English identity be defined by the far-right, ethnic minorities miss out on shaping what it means

The first time I encountered a white fascist – on an internet messageboard I used to run – I pointed out that I was born in London and had every right to be in the country. He replied: "Just because a dog is born in a stable doesn't make it a horse."

In a bizarre way I've become fond of that insult over the last 10 years, for reasons that will soon become clear. Bear with my personal stuff, if you can, it's somewhat necessary.

It's rare that our sense of identity remains static. Mine is a constantly mutating body of ideas.

For as long as I can remember I've called myself a British Asian. Before that, questions of identity didn't come up much. It started at university, because I was suddenly exposed to a range of cultures and ideas that made me question how I saw myself.

At the same time, an unprecedented explosion of British Asian culture was taking place, enveloping me and my friends. Bhangra music gigs multiplied across the UK until they were dime a dozen every night of the week; Bollywood film screenings sprang up everywhere; Asian students started celebrating religious and cultural festivals like Diwali, Eid and Vaisakhi and dressing in elaborate Indian suits.

We were the first Asian generation born and bred in the UK and, once we got to university, we were no longer afraid to express our Asian side.

"British Asian" was a neat term because it was secular and it was vague on the ethnic side (I refused to call myself British Indian because I felt a sense of cultural solidarity with Pakistanis and Bangladeshis). It was also vague on the "British" side because no one could really define what that meant. It signalled a fusion of two cultures – which is how most of us lived our lives.

There is one question, however, that I was always uneasy on: national identity.

For me, British identity had connotations of far-right nationalism. So, while I was happy calling myself British, I still felt uncomfortable being nationalistic about it.


Englishness was even worse. My perception, and that of many of my peers, was that being English was about being white. We would never be welcome in that club and so we stuck to "British".

But I think it's time to embrace the idea of Englishness. And from now on, I am an Englishman.

Why the change, you may ask.

Partly, the National Front activist convinced me. I told him that I would call myself British whether he liked it or not. More recently I started thinking: why not take it further? Why not also try and reclaim the idea of being Englishness?

I realised that I, along with many of peers (of all colours), had let our perceptions of identity be defined by the far-right. I've come to reject that approach. I choose to be English, whether racists like it or not.

Second, the idea of Englishness is becoming stronger in popular culture. Football leads the way, and it's a useful vehicle because it is an inclusive, multiracial sport. We can unite around the view that the England team are a huge disappointment at the World Cup and not have to get all political about it.

The danger for ethnic minorities is that we become out of kilter with public opinion by associating this increasing Englishness as far-right racism than simply an expression of nationalism.

People fly the English flag because they want to express their love for their country. They're comfortable with a multiracial Britain. They're proud of Andy Cole, Mark Ramprakash, Natasha Danvers, Amir Khan, Kelly Holmes and many more.

The meaning of Englishness has changed and we have to accept that. By not joining in with attempts to shape what it means, we leave that space to the far-right.

My last reason was simply pragmatic. I quite like this country. I probably couldn't live out in the countryside (too slow for me) but I love London. I don't like any other place as much. I'm not going to get all US-style jingoistic about it, but if people criticise it I inevitably get defensive. Which makes England my home. Which makes me English.

Source: Sunny Hundal @ The Guardian
' jules

Bye bitch

Obama Relieves McChrystal of Command



President Obama removed Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of American forces in Afghanistan on Wednesday, and tapped as his replacement the general’s boss and the architect of the 2007 surge in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus.

Mr. Obama, standing with General Petraeus and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the White House Rose Garden to underline the continuity and solidity of his Afghan policy, said that he had accepted General McChrystal’s resignation “with considerable regret.”

Mr. Obama said he had done so not out of personal insult, but because a magazine article featuring contemptuous quotes from the general and his staff about senior administration officials had not met standards of behavior for a commanding general, and threatened to erode trust among administration and military officials and undermine civilian control of the military.

“War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or president,” Mr. Obama said. “As difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe it is the right decision for national security.”

“I welcome debate among my team,” he said, “but I won’t tolerate division.”

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The poster the Tories want you to forget

The Tories claimed that Brown was planning to raise VAT to 20%. And then did it themselves.


 
George Osborne chose to hike VAT, one of the most regressive taxes of all, in yesterday's Budget but there was a time when his party fiercely campaigned against a rise.

As recently as November 2008, the Tories issued this poster attacking Gordon Brown's alleged plan to raise VAT to 20 per cent. But in yesterday's emergency Budget, Osborne did just that.

No doubt Osborne would reply, as he already has done, that Brown's economic legacy made a rise in VAT "unavoidable". But this claim doesn't bear scrutiny. The additional £32bn cut in current spending announced by the Chancellor is more than enough to eliminate "the bulk" of the deficit. The reality is, as Will Straw noted yesterday, that the rise in VAT was only necessary to pay for a range of dubious tax cuts elsewhere.

Osborne's tax cuts, including large cuts to corporation and income tax, totalled £12.4bn, while the VAT hike is expected to raise £13.5bn. There was nothing inevitable or unavoidable about this tax rise. Instead it reflected the Tories' ideological preference for VAT, a flat tax that takes no account of personal income.

Incidentally, the fallen idol, Vince Cable was finally questioned on the Lib Dems' own "VAT bombshell" poster last night. He said: "It may not have been the best-designed advertisement campaign that's ever been considered", before adding that he had always been clear that no party "could rule out" such a tax rise.

In the age of the "new politics" I suppose we're not meant to draw attention to the parties' past opportunism. But after Osborne's disastrous austerity Budget, it becomes not just a duty but a pleasure to do so.

Source: New Statesman
gerardkilljoy1

Detroit ex-Mayor/Fuckup Kwame Kilpatrick Indicted




DETROIT --
Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been indicted on federal fraud and tax charges.Federal prosecutors said the alleged scheme is related to the Kilpatrick Civic Fund, a tax-exempt fund that was supposed to pay for voter education and other purposes.The FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office said they have been investigating the former mayor for several years.In 2008, Local 4Defenders broke the story that the two were part of a group of as many as 25 people being federally investigated for city corruption involving missing money, kickbacks and bribes.Local 4 has learned that Detroit businessman and former Cobo Center contractor Karl Kado said in sworn statements that he not only paid Bernard Kilpatrick nearly $300,000 but also paid Kwame Kilpatrick more than $100,000 in illegal cash payments and his aide, Derrick Miller was paid $20,000.The allegations were made in sworn statements that are part of a wide-ranging corruption probe.Kado pleaded guilty to making false statements on his tax returns. He was sentenced to three years probation for his cooperation in the city hall corruption probe.

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First an earthquake and now this?
Your neighbours across the river in Windsor are major side-eying you Kwame.
LOL BYE BITCH.

schrodinger

Earthquake Shakes Central Canada

Magnitude 5.0 quake moved the ground in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and several U.S. states


Speaker Kinsella addresses Senators on the lawn of Parliament Hill attempting to adjourn for the day following the earthquake Wednesday in Ottawa. 

Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec — Globe and Mail Update
Published on Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2010 1:46PM EDT
Last updated on Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2010 8:15PM EDT

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake hit central Canada Wednesday afternoon, rattling buildings from Sudbury to Quebec City, and as far south as New York City.

The epicentre of the quake was in Quebec, about 38 kilometres north of Cumberland, Ont., which is on the Ottawa River, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and struck at 1:41 p.m. EDT at a depth of 18 kilometres.

There have been two recorded earthquakes with a magnitude over 6.0 in the Western Quebec seismic zone: a 6.1-magnitude quake in 1935 and one measuring 6.2 in 1732.

“Earthquakes are fairly uncommon here,” said Morgan Moschetti, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “This isn’t totally unheard of, but they are relatively infrequent.”

Mr. Moschetti said aftershocks are “definitely a possibility” but that such smaller earthquakes are sometimes so minor they are hardly noticeable.

“After any large event, there’s going to be some adjustment in the earth,” he said.

Mr. Moschetti said the earthquake was felt in the U.S. from Chicago to western Maine.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 is considered to be a moderate one but it can cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings over small regions. At the most, it should cause only slight damage to well-designed buildings. However, parts of the Ottawa Valley, including Ottawa, are at greater risk of structural problems because of ground acceleration, a phenomenon in which the type of bedrock amplifies the effects of the tremor, said Alexander Cruden, a professor of geology at University of Toronto. via The Globe and Mail

I'll keep updating this. Not only is Ottawa prone to more earthquake damage because of ground acceleration, but the rarity of moderate earthquakes here means many buildings are not constructed with earthquakes in mind. Buildings made of brick and masonry - such as, oh, I don't know, the Parliament Buildings - are at a high risk of damage.

Tell you a secret - it was kind of fun to watch the house undulate.

(no subject)

Why Your Car Dealer May Be A New-Fashioned Sexist



Women account for just over half of automotive buys and play a big role when the family chooses a car. So, auto industry outsiders wonder why women continue to receive discouraging treatment in many showrooms. In a recent article, marketing expert Maddy Dychtwald shared one woman's encounter with a dealer who paid attention exclusively to her husband as the couple shopped: when challenged, he denied ignoring her until she forced him to admit he had forgotten her name.

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Hey y'all! Been a while.
Cordy

Jill Biden to make a special appearance on "Army Wives"

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

As part of her efforts to raise awareness about the personal sacrifices that military families make, Dr. Jill Biden will appear as herself on Lifetime's "Army Wives" on Aug. 15.

During the episode, titled "Mud, Sweat, and Tears," the wife of Vice President Joe Biden also will visit with military spouses — many of whom are real Army wives — to discuss the challenges they face while their loved ones are deployed.

Source
This show is completely unrealistic about the Army, but I love it anyway.
vidya

Whorephobia affects all women

Whorephobia affects all women
Women are brought up to think of sex workers as 'bad women'. It stops them taking advantage of many freedoms


Whorephobia can be defined as the fear or the hate of sex workers. Sex workers like me would argue that it also embraces paternalistic attitudes that deem us a public nuisance, spreaders of disease, offenders against decency or unskilled victims who don't know what is good for them and who need to be rescued.

In its most violent form, whorephobia kills. Sex workers are far more likely to be murdered than the rest of the population: the recent killings in Bradford are the most recent and saddening example. However, it would be a mistake to think that sex workers are the only targets of these murderers. Attackers often target sex workers because they look like easier prey. Sometimes it is only once a non-sex worker is killed that the police take an investigation seriously. Until sex workers are safe, no woman is safe.

If men are the ones who attack physically, women are sometimes more prejudiced than men against sex workers. In most languages, the most common sexist insults are "whore" or "slut", which makes women want to distance themselves from the stigma associated with those words, and from those who incarnate it. The "whore stigma" is a way to control women and to limit their autonomy – whether it is economic, sexual, professional, or simply freedom of movement.

Women are brought up to think of sex workers as "bad women". It prevents them from copying and taking advantage of the freedoms sex workers fight for, like the occupation of nocturnal and public spaces, or how to impose a sexual contract in which conditions have to be negotiated and respected. Whorephobia operates as a way of controlling and policing women's behaviour, just as homophobia does for men.

One solution could be to reclaim the insults. Yet the English Collective of Prostitutes was criticised by the rest of the feminist movement in the 1970s for its slogan: "All women are prostitutes." It was indeed misunderstood – despite being a beautiful effort to unite sex workers and other women and to identify them as similarly oppressed and sexually and economically exploited.

The first step in the fight against whorephobia is to name the oppression. Feminist theories help to identify it as at the intersection of gender, class and sexuality. A further step would be to fight the hate crimes sex workers suffer instead of criminalising us. The work of Shelly Stoops in Liverpool is a good example: her Armistead Street outreach project and collaboration with the Merseyside police have helped to build trust between officers and sex workers, who feel now able to report crimes.


Source: Guardian.
Serendipity

US scores dead last in health care survey —does this really surprise anyone anymore?

(Reuters) - Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality, less efficiency and have the least equitable system, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The United States ranked last when compared to six other countries -- Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Fund report found.

"As an American it just bothers me that with all of our know-how, all of our wealth, that we are not assuring that people who need healthcare can get it," Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis told reporters in a telephone briefing.

Previous reports by the nonprofit fund, which conducts research into healthcare performance and promotes changes in the U.S. system, have been heavily used by policymakers and politicians pressing for healthcare reform.

Davis said she hoped health reform legislation passed in March would lead to improvements.

The current report uses data from nationally representative patient and physician surveys in seven countries in 2007, 2008, and 2009. It is available here

In 2007, health spending was $7,290 per person in the United States, more than double that of any other country in the survey.

 

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Source and the full Commonwealth report

old

New UN Rights Appointee Pledges to Attack U.S. "Monster" and Israel

As the Geneva-based non-governmental organization UN Watch warned last week, controversial ex-Sandinista Miguel d'Escoto is already abusing his new mandate as advisor to the UN Human Rights Council to promote divisive politics, pledging today on Colombian TV to use his UN podium specifically to target the U.S., which he compared to a "monster,"  and Israel.

 

 

"A man who has eagerly sided with international criminals such as Iran’s Ahmadinejad and Sudan’s Al-Bashir has no credibility on human rights, and embodies precisely the inverted morality and debased political culture that currently reigns at the UN Human Rights Council, which just this week added Col. Qaddafi's Libya as a member," said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.

 

"We continue to urge the U.S. government to make clear its objection to d'Escoto's appointment, especially after today's outburst, in which he openly confired his intention to breach UN principles of objectivity and non-selectivity," said Neuer. 

Spanish news agency EFE reported today that d'Escoto told Colombian's Channel 12 TV that he will prioritize denouncing the U.S. - Colombian military base agreement before the council. Click here for English summary and here for Spanish original.

According to D’Escoto, America's “foreign bases” in Colombia “constitute a violation of the human rights” of Colombians and neighboring countries.

According to D’Escoto, Nicarauga “already knows the monster from within,” referring to the U.S. use of a Honduran base in its fight against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

D’Escoto also pledged as another priority to attack Israel over the May 31 flotilla incident, when violent Jihadists seeking martyrdom, members of the radical Turkish IHH group, deliberately provoked a confrontation with the Israeli navy.

 

D'Escoto was suspended by the Vatican in the 1980s together with two other priests involved in the Sandinista revolution, Ernesto and Fernando Cardenal. During a visit to Central America, Pope John Paul II publicly reprimanded him for his political activities.


In 1999, then Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo, criticized those priests who became involved with the Sandinistas and abandoned their priestly ministry for politics. He said the priests never denounced the injustices that took place at that time

UN Watch exective director Hillel Neuer said the US should repeat what Alejandro Wolff, Deputy Ambassador to Susan Rice, U.S. representative at the UN, declared on September 13, 2009: that Mr. d’Escoto “has repeatedly abused his position to pursue his personal agenda, and in doing so he diminishes the office and harms the General Assembly. He is doing the United Nations a disservice by dividing the membership at a time when he should be a unifying force” (Source: Click here for Washington Times article, September 13, 2009.)  

When D'Escoto served recently as President of the General Assembly, his appointees as senior advisers included anti-American guru Noam Chomsky, Qaddafi ally Ramsey Clark, and Hamas sympathizer Richard Falk.

 

In September 2009, Brockmann designated Cuban dictator Fidel Castro a "World Hero of Solidarity."

Mr. d’Escoto has singled out the United States for criticizing Iran’s nuclear agenda, and also for allegedly triggering the global credit crisis with its “moral and ethical failure.”

He says Washington uses its influence to unfairly dictate U.N. priorities, and accused the United States and other industrialized nations of starving the world with their hunger for natural resources such as oil.
According to a Washington Times report, many diplomats say Mr. d’Escoto ran the 192-member world body based on his own passions, convening meetings to denounce Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip and last summer’s coup in Honduras. 
As The New Republic reported, d’Escoto sided with Sudan’s president Bashir after he was indicted for genocide:
Take a March showing the Nicaraguan priest and onetime Sandinista put on after returning from a tour through Asia and Europe, during which he had cozied up to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and defended Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir against Darfur-related war crimes charges. Back in New York and pressed by reporters about such controversial stands, he scoffed at Washington’s demonization of Ahmadinejad, given its “canonization of the worst of dictators,” like Marcos and Pinochet. He blamed the United States for undermining the United Nations in the run-up to the Iraq war. He suggested that the Bashir indictment was racist and tied it (and, if his furrowed brow and hand-waving were any indication, the Darfur carnage itself) to the White House. “Who first raised the issue of genocide?” he said. “Bush. George W. Bush. That should tell you quite a bit already.”
On September 17, 2008, D’Escoto embraced President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after the Iranian leader delivered a strongly anti-Israel and anti-Zionist speech to the UN General Assembly. In response, Professor Gabriela Shalev, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, called D’Escoto an "Israel hater."
Two month later, the Simon Wiesenthal Center criticized D'Escoto after he said that Israel is "crucifying" Palestinians, which the Center said was an anti-Semitic analogy to the crucifixion of Jesus.
The UNHRC Advisory Committee that d'Escoto joins is currently headed by former Moroccan diplomat Halima Warzazi. On September 1, 1988, she personally blocked a UN motion that would have censured Saddam Hussein for gassing the Kurds of Halabja. (See 1988 “No action” motion.)  The vice-chair is Jean Ziegler, a former Swiss socialist politician who in 1989, as reported in Time magazine, helped create the "Moammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize."


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Seeing red over Scarlet magazine

A smart, sophisticated and sassy women's magazine has closed because it was too subversive for mainstream readers

What do women want from their magazine? Apparently not what Scarlet magazine offered. Its sudden demise is enough to make me see red (and feel blue). But then again, maybe it wouldn't have ceased publication if more women had known it existed in the first place?

Last week, Scarlet's distributor went into administration. When I started writing for the feminist monthly, which launched in November 2004 with the tag line "The new magazine for women who get it", most of my friends didn't get it – they hadn't even heard of it. "What magazine?" they would ask or, "I haven't seen that in the shops." True, it was never a magazine that was on newsagents' radars. Even my mum tried to order the current, and final, issue from her local shop and was told that WH Smith (their wholesaler) had run out of its allocation, suggesting they ordered very few. Yet ironically, WH Smith was probably the biggest distributor of Scarlet. I asked a spokesperson for the magazine why it was so poorly distributed. He said that was "the nature of a smaller circulating magazine", and "it takes time to build up circulation". Sadly, valid points that would explain the subscription figures being lower than that of a village parish magazine – about 2,000 I was told. No wonder my friends hadn't heard of it.

Of course, poor distribution inevitably has a knock-on effect on advertising rates. Although neither of these factors are representative of poor quality content. Both the Guardian and the Times gave Scarlet positive reviews, and that's what I am most sad about – the magazine set out to be different, and offered original, frank, informative and intelligent copy. This was a magazine that wanted women to feel good about themselves. It even had a "strictly no diets" mantra for its articles and promoted a liberal sex attitude in its steamy short-story section, Cliterature.

But even if Scarlet had been better advertised, marketed and distributed, would it have been able to compete with the more generic women's titles on the market? Popular culture's obsession with the celebrity world, looking good, and being super slim suggests maybe not. What made Scarlet special and unique, I imagine, was too subversive and niche to ever be truly embraced by a mainstream audience and thus considered "popular". Unfortunately, it seems society's reading expectations largely correspond with what most women want to read – the same old recycled content, month after month, year after year, over and over again.

As sad as it is, Scarlet is not the first magazine of its kind to go under. The launch of a more intelligent women's monthly called Frank failed after just two years because it was perceived as too edgy. Yet the market does exist for feminist titles. Spare Rib, a second-wave feminist magazine that examined alternatives to traditional female gender roles, did better than Frank and Scarlet put together, launching in 1972 and ceasing publication in 1993. During this time, it created an underground following, illustrated by its circulation across women's groups and networks pre-internet. Much like Scarlet was achieving with its popular forums on its website, which incidentally, are set to stay while its former free monthly e-newsletter, Harlot, will now go weekly. At least with devices like the iPad coming on to the market, magazines like Scarlet will be given the opportunity to build a bigger and better online following – whether they are stocked in many shops or not.

Despite Scarlet's departure from our shop shelves, I remain convinced that there are enough women out there who do want a smart, sophisticated and sassy magazine like it. Perhaps they just need to be told about it so they know where they can buy or download it. As such, I urge publishers with the commercial prowess and the (unlikely) cash to splash in these uncertain times to bring a similar title to the market for the next generation of forward-thinking females. Just as long as it's "The new magazine for women – and distributors – who get it".