June 27th, 2010

Queen Amidala

More BP To Hate

Have you seen the latest BP commercials starring this guy? I do not envy his work position right now.

Tony Kennon, mayor of Orange Beach, Alabama is angry at BP's point man in the Gulf for making promises that he hasn't kept.

Darryl Willis, who has been put in charge of the claims process by BP, appears in millions of dollars worth of BP ads, pledging to to stay in the Gulf until the spill is cleaned up. "BP has got to make things right, and that's why we're here," Willis says in the commercial.

But Kennon isn't a fan. "I've been in a meeting with Mr. Willis where he made promises and didn't follow through," he told ABC's Robin Roberts

"Didn't even show the courtesy to return phone calls," Kennon complained. "The ads are a lie with statistics. They're not doing anything like they're saying or promote through these ads."

According to Kennon, BP doesn't need a multi-million dollar ad campaign. "I keep saying, they can save themselves $50 million just by doing the right thing. If they did that, we would be, by far, their best promo. We would send their praises to high heaven if they did the right thing."


Today in the Inde - "Better an abortion than a mass grave?"

Paul Vallely: Better an abortion than a mass grave?

The Roman burial of unwanted babies and new evidence on foetal pain make us think again about the start of a child's life

Even 2,000 years on there was something disturbing about the discovery of the bones of 97 new-born babies at what archaeologists believe was a brothel in a villa in Roman Britain. Infanticide, apparently, was the only reliable form of contraception for a Roman sex worker. In any case, historians suggest, the killing of unwanted newborns was not so shocking in ancient times as it is today. Infants were not considered to be full human beings until they were about the age of two, which is why infants that age were not buried in cemeteries but at domestic sites in the Roman era.

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Indigenous group wants Uluru stripper deported

One of Australia's most powerful Indigenous groups says a French woman who stripped on top of Uluru should be deported.

Alizee Sery, 25, climbed to the top of the sacred rock and was filmed stripping down to a bikini, an act she described as a "tribute" to Aboriginal culture.

The Federal Government asks tourists not to climb Uluru and to respect the site when they visit.

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This makes me think is that we really need legislation to ban the climbing of Uluru. Other Australians agree/disagree?

Best. Party. EVER.

Icelander’s Campaign Is a Joke, Until He’s Elected

June 25, 2010

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — A polar bear display for the zoo. Free towels at public swimming pools. A “drug-free Parliament by 2020.” Iceland’s Best Party, founded in December by a comedian, Jon Gnarr, to satirize his country’s political system, ran a campaign that was one big joke. Or was it?

Last month, in the depressed aftermath of the country’s financial collapse, the Best Party emerged as the biggest winner in Reykjavik’s elections, with 34.7 percent of the vote, and Mr. Gnarr — who also promised a classroom of kindergartners he would build a Disneyland at the airport — is now the fourth mayor in four years of a city that is home to more than a third of the island’s 320,000 people.

In his acceptance speech he tried to calm the fears of the other 65.3 percent. “No one has to be afraid of the Best Party,” he said, “because it is the best party. If it wasn’t, it would be called the Worst Party or the Bad Party. We would never work with a party like that.”

With his party having won 6 of the City Council’s 15 seats, Mr. Gnarr needed a coalition partner, but ruled out any party whose members had not seen all five seasons of “The Wire.”

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That's it, I'm moving to Iceland. Maybe I'll be able to get some mileage out of my ability(?) to pronounce "Eyjafjallajökull."

The Digital Economy - state control of the internet

The Digital Economy. The government’s vision of the internet’s future. This new legislation has been controversial from the outset. Lobbied for by the Recording Industry in an effort to thwart file-sharing, the Digital Economy Act has far reaching implications. ---- In particular, clauses 9-18 have been especially controversial, not least because they were rushed through parliament in the dying hours of the last government, late at night, and with little debate. But more importantly because of the effect this new legislation is to have on the internet using public. ---- In an effort to prevent file sharing, the act introduces the “three strikes rule”, whereby ISP customers who are suspected of sharing copyrighted material will be sent a letter warning them to stop.

If three warnings are issued the customer will be disconnected from the internet. There is also a maximum fine of £50,000 for anyone “making, dealing with or using illicit recordings” or “infringing articles”. The act also grants the secretary of state powers to have websites blocked, the motivation behind which is allegedly to prevent access to sites infringing on copyrighted material.

Of course there has been much opposition to this as it has made its way into law. The Liberal Democrats made a pledge to repeal it (no news of that now), and the Open Rights Group have been lobbying politicians for at least a partial repeal. Some ISPs have also voiced their objection to being forced to police the internet, and alienate customers by withdrawing services without due process, promising to fight the act in court.

The technicalities of implementing this are also a privacy nightmare. In the effort to monitor customers’ internet connections, they will use a technology known as deep packet inspection. This means that every aspect of a customers online activity can be logged, monitored, analyzed, reported on or disclosed to a 3rd party. This can include emails, online chats, information entered into forms on websites, browsing history and almost anything else imaginable.

There are many potential technical issues with this. For example, concerns regarding people downloading copyrighted content on other peoples unsecured or hijacked wireless networks have been ignored. And this is just the tip of the iceberg with regard to technical problems. Internet address, or IP address spoofing (making it look as though you are using a different computer), or adding random IPs to file sharing networks to confuse the authorities (this could be your address that is randomly picked). Let’s not also forget Trojan viruses that allow your computer to be used by someone else for whatever they see fit from a remote computer.

All these problems add to the possibility of internet customers being falsely accused, and disconnected from the internet. This is a clear case of assumed guilt and yet another attack on the concept of being innocent until proven guilty.

While this act clearly flies in the face of privacy, there have been many people repeating the old “Well I have nothing to hide” argument. But in the age of identity theft and online fraud, the databases that gather all this information will be like all you can eat buffets for internet criminals. It is understandable why organisations like the Online Rights Group have been trying so hard to oppose this act becoming law. However with their lack of success it is now necessary to evaluate what can be done to protect ourselves from this increasingly Orwellian situation we find ourselves in. The first step to this is to understand why the large amount of resistance to this has so far utterly failed.

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Hamas warns Palestinians against collaborating with Israel

A mural painted by Hamas on a Gaza wall warns collaborators with the Israel that they should take advantage of the current amnesty to hand themselves in or face death.

Hamas has launched a campaign warning Palestinians in Gaza against collaborating with Israel following the execution of two alleged informants in April.

Posters and murals have appeared across Gaza City, graphically depicting the consequences of providing information to Israeli intelligence. Some include images of nooses, while others warn that "your people's blood will be on your hands".

The Campaign Against Collaborating with the Enemy, which also includes speeches by religious clerics, radio programmes and advertisements and newspaper articles, is running alongside an amnesty for informants which ends on 10 July.

"We are educating people with the aim of reducing or eliminating collaboration," said Abu Abdullah Lafi, who is in charge of the campaign for the de facto Hamas government's interior ministry.

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creepy but cute

France warned of political interference in Cup debacle

Football's world governing body FIFA has urged the French government to exercise caution in an inquiry into the country's failed World Cup campaign.

FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke, a Frenchman, has confirmed that a message has been sent to the French government reminding it of statutes forbidding political interference in football associations.

Speaking in Johannesburg, Valcke reiterated FIFA's view that the autonomy of the sporting movement must be respected.

"There can't be political interference. They can meet and discuss," he said.

"They can ask for apologies from the different people involved, but definitely I told them that they need to be very careful because any time there is interference, FIFA will react as for any other country in the world."

In the last two years, Iraq and Kenya have been suspended from international competetition after governments sacked or replaced personnel from their mational football associations, but no European country has ever been subjected to such action.

The football world is watching to see whether FIFA would really be prepared to take the same kind of action against a major European power which held the World Cup as recently as 1998 as it has done with countries from the game's Third World.

Reports from France say senior player Thierry Henry went straight to see president Nicolas Sarkozy when he landed in Paris after his team's disastrous and acrimonious exit from South Africa 2010.

Les Bleus' captain Patrice Evra has confirmed that other players will be interviewed by politicians investigating the failed campaign and the controversial expulsion from the squad of star forward Nicolas Anelka after he insulted coach Raymond Domenech in a dressing room argument.

The rest of the squad refused to train at their next scheduled session as a protest over the French Football Federation action, but that protest also drew sharp criticism from fans in France.

Mr Sarkozy has taken a direct interest in the matter, along with prime minister Francois Fillon and sports minister Roselyne Bachelot.



This is a political post, relevant to the interests of this community, and not at all a shameless excuse to celebrate some Sunday afternoon football with glorious Argentina. Additionally no spamming with pictures of hot footballers, we don't engage in that kind of debauchery. ;)

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Pope causes outrage for condemning church abuse raids in Belgium

Groups representing the victims of clerical abuse tonight expressed outrage after the pope criticised raids on the Catholic church by Belgian police.

Last week, police raided the home of a retired bishop, opened the grave of at least one archbishop and detained Belgium's nine current serving bishops as they met, seizing their mobile phones and only releasing them after nine hours.

Pope Benedict described the raids by officers investigating abuse claims as "surprising and deplorable" and demanded that the church be allowed a role in inquiries into child molesters in its ranks.

In a message to the head of the Belgian bishops' conference, Monsignor André-Joseph Léonard, the pontiff condemned the raids and offered his support to the bishops "in this sad moment".

"I want to express, dear brother in the episcopate, as well as to all the bishops of Belgium, my closeness and solidarity in this moment of sadness, in which, with certain surprising and deplorable methods, searches were carried out," he said.

"I hope that justice will follow its course while guaranteeing the rights of individuals and institutions, respecting the rights of victims, [and] acknowledging those who undertake to collaborate with it."

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Fewer American Women Having Kids

American women loves to import trends from Europe. We eat up European fashion, parenting styles, and cute modular furniture. Here’s another one: not having kids.

The birth rate in most of Europe has been dropping for decades. No EU country presently has a high enough birth rate to sustain their population. America has generally bucked this trend, but the tide may be shifting.


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Martin Ginsburg, Noted Tax Lawyer and Husband of Justice Ginsburg, R.I.P.

Martin Ginsburg — a leading tax lawyer and law professor, and the husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — passed away earlier today. He was 78. According to a statement released by the Court, he passed away at home, from complications of metastatic cancer.

Marty Ginsburg was known in Supreme Court circles as Justice Ginsburg’s secret weapon. Justice Ginsburg herself can sometimes be shy, awkward, and introverted, but her husband was gregarious, charming, and a great entertainer. He was a talented chef and would perform the culinary honors at dinners for Supreme Court justices and their spouses. He would also cook for RBG’s clerks each Term.

He was widely noted for his great sense of humor….


Check out, for example, Marty Ginsburg’s faculty biography at Georgetown Law, where he taught tax law for many years. The bio explains that he moved to Washington “when his wife got a good job here” — a reference to his wife’s appointment to the D.C. Circuit, and a bit of humorous understatement. Being appointed to the exalted U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is like touching the face of God.

The bio concludes with this tongue-in-cheek quip:

Professor Ginsburg is co-author, with Jack S. Levin of Chicago, of Mergers, Acquisitions, and Buyouts, a semi-annually updated treatise which addresses tax and other aspects of this exciting subject. The portions of the treatise written by Professor Ginsburg are, he is certain, easily identified and quite superb.

See also this 2009 speech by Justice Ginsburg, entitled “The Lighter Side of Life at the Supreme Court,” in which she described how her husband tried to help her out in chambers once:

Early in 1994, Justice Scalia and I traveled to India for a judicial exchange. In my absence, my spouse tested his conviction that my mail could be handled more efficiently. He visited chambers, checked the incoming correspondence, grouped the requests into a dozen or so categories, and devised an all-purpose response for my secretaries’ signature. When I returned, he gave me the form, which to this day he regards as a model of utility and grace. I will read a few parts of the letter my husband composed. You may judge for yourself its usefulness and grace.

“You recently wrote Justice Ginsburg. She would respond personally if she could, but (as Frederick told Mabel in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance) she is not able. Incoming mail reached flood levels months ago and shows no sign of receding.”

“To help the Justice stay above water, we have endeavored to explain why she cannot do what you have asked her to do. Please refer to the paragraph below with the caption that best fits your request.”

Favorite Recipes. The Justice was expelled from the kitchen nearly three decades ago by her food-loving children. She no longer cooks and the one recipe from her youth, tuna fish casserole, is nobody’s favorite.”

Photograph. Justice Ginsburg is flattered, indeed amazed, by the number of requests for her photograph. She is now 61 years of age — ah, those were the days! — and understandably keeps no supply.”

Are We Related? The birth names of the Justice’s parents are Bader and Amster. Many who bear those names have written, giving details of origin and immigration. While the information is engrossing, you and she probably are not related within any reasonable degree of consanguinity. Justice Ginsburg knows, or knew, all of the issue of all in her family fortunate enough to make their way to the U.S.A.”

Alas, Justice Ginsburg decided against using her husband’s humorous form letter: “My secretaries, you will not be surprised to learn, vetoed my husband’s letter, and in the ensuing years they have managed to cope with the mail flood through measures more sympathique.”

In addition to cooking the bacon, Mr. Ginsburg was quite good at bringing it home. Thanks in part to his private practice as a tax lawyer, at the firms of Weil Gotshal and Fried Frank, the Ginsburgs did very well for themselves. When the justices file their financial disclosure forms, Ruth Bader Ginsburg generally takes the top spot, with assets in the tens of millions. Her latest disclosure, released earlier this month, revealed assets worth as much as $45 million.

Martin Ginsburg’s passing is undoubtedly a great loss to both Justice Ginsburg, to whom he was married for 56 years (their anniversary was last week), and to the tax bar, of which he was a leading member for decades. We extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to Justice Ginsburg and the Ginsburg family.