July 13th, 2010

stock | Teddy and Puppy

ONTD_Political's PotD: July 12, 2010.

100 Percenters | Urban Prep would be a charter high school. It would bring together some 150 boys from some of the poorest, gang-ravaged neighborhoods and try to set them on a new track. They’d have strict rules: A longer school day — by two hours. Two classes of English daily. A uniform with jackets and ties.

Urban Prep had a goal — one that seemed audacious, given that just 4 percent of the Class of 2010 was reading at or above grade level when they arrived at the school in 2006. In four years, they were told, they’d be heading to college.

Charles Rex Arbogast | AP Photo
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You will cry.
soap&skin 2012

Forever 21 Goes After Pregnant Teens

Forever 21 Goes After Pregnant Teens
Forever 21: Isn’t just the Hub of Slutty Club Attire Anymore!

The teen-friendly retailer — accused of lifting designs from everyone from Donna Karen to Diane von Furstenberg — has introduced a new line of activewear: maternity clothing.

You’ve heard, right. The racks of Forever 21 — heavily-frequented by the high school set — are no longer just for teeny-boppers and twentysomethings looking for an outfit for a night out on the town. Last summer the frugal brand debuted Faith 21 for the BBWs. Now 21 is catering to Mommies-To-Be who want to show off their bump without breaking the bank. The fashion chain has launched their own maternity collection, aptly-titled Love 21 Maternity — but the move is stirring controversy among some fashion mavens, who accuse the popular clothing co. of marketing the collection toward teenage mothers.

According to a scoop from TheGoss.com, Forever 21’s maternity line is sold exclusively in cities across California, Texas, Alaska, Arizona, and Utah — the states with the highest teen pregnancy rates. Coincidence? We think not. We suppose we shouldn’t be surprised. This is, after all, the same establishment that considers anything larger than a size 10 “plus-sized.”

For those who are interested: Love 21 Maternity features a complete collection of jeans, leggings, and tops all priced at under $20.


whatever, it's no big deal.  I disapprove of pregnant teens as much as anyone else, but they do exist and they need their fashionable maternity wear and then they can dress their little bastard hipster toddlers in HTG81, but I'm sure the 20-something mothers to be would buy this too. There's nothing wrong with that. Even though I wish the human race would stop breeding, I love forever 21.
ONTD_P, do you love or hate forever 21?

I don't like how this article is written, specifically the first sentence. The author sounds jealous because she is too fat to fit in Forever 21 clothing and she might be too fat for faith 21 and so she considers this brand 'slutty' in order to raise her low self esteem.

The Evils of Unemployment Insurance: The Poor Will Just Waste It on Useless Junk, Like Food

Republicans to Save The Ultra Rich at Their Hour of Need. Trickle Down Economics Our Only Hope To Save Us!

Kyl: Unemployment Insurance A 'Necessary Evil'

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said Monday that tax cuts for the wealthy shouldn't be offset by revenue increases elsewhere because their purpose is to shrink the size of government, fleshing out an argument he made on Sunday. The White House has seized on Kyl's assertion that unemployment benefits should be paid for but tax cuts shouldn't, hoping to portray the GOP as staunch defenders of the rich. But Kyl stood by his statement, calling jobless benefits a "necessary evil."

Viewing Kyl's argument through the prism of the deficit makes for a confusing philosophical landscape. But it's not about the deficit, it's about the size of government: Kyl and the GOP in general want to slash government spending -- on the domestic front, at least. Borrowing to pay for unemployment insurance cuts against that goal; borrowing to pay for tax cuts reduces revenues available to government and moves the nation closer to a crisis point at which cuts to social programs may become palatable. That strategy has long been known as "starve the beast."
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Michigan high court OKs use of credit scores for insurance

Lansing --A divided Michigan Supreme Court ruled today that insurance companies can use customers' credit scores to set rates for automobile coverage.

The court sided with insurers on the hot-button issue by a 4-3 vote, ruling that the state insurance commissioner exceeded his authority by banning the practice.

Insurers long have argued that credit rates, for whatever reason, are a reliable indicator of future risk and should be considered when setting rates. The industry argues the scores are used to discount rates for those with good credit and a ban increases rates for most consumers.

"We are delighted with the decision," said Peter Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Institute of Michigan and a plaintiff in the case.

Foes including Gov. Jennifer Granholm and many legislators -- particularly in Detroit -- have said the practice punishes those with money problems and there's no correlation between money management and driving.

Opponents contend the credit score discount is illusionary, since they are taken from inflated base rates. Detroit lawmakers lobbied for the ban for years, which emerged through a series of statewide hearings, regulatory actions and court rulings.

The ruling comes after a five-year fight over the issue and overturns a 2008 Court of Appeals ruling.

"This decision is not going to support Detroit residents who already have been hard hit with overpriced insurance, with the highest insurance rates in the country," said Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson. "It's a tragic blow to the citizenry already hit with unemployment, poverty and foreclosures."Collapse )



This is a few days old, but I haven't seen anything about this here, and thought it was worth discussing.

A couple of things worth noting. Officially, unemployment in Michigan is close to 14%. Factor in the people who are no longer being counted as unemployed or who are underemployed, and we are talking about a shit load of people who are struggling to make ends meet.

Also, there is not a lot in the way of public transit here, so owning a car is a necessity for many people. I live in the Metro Detroit area, (the most populous region in the state) in a county with over a million people. The nearest bus stop is about a 15 minute drive from me, and I've never once used our bus system, because it just isn't practical. The folks I do know who have relied on the buses say that they are frequently late, and it takes more than twice as long to go anywhere by bus than it does by car.
druid resto

ESRB unintentionally exposes email addresses of people who filed complaints over Blizzard's Real ID

by Gregg Reece

Jul 12th 2010 at 9:55PM

During the recent Real ID catastrophe on the forums, many players decided to appeal to an industry source that might have been able to sway Blizzard to change its mind. These players contacted the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) as a Better Business Bureau-type middleman in this situation with their concerns. The ESRB itself has championed such causes in the past with its Privacy Online program, which is designed to help companies meet various privacy laws like the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Since Blizzard recanted its decision about the forums, the ESRB faithfully followed up with those concerned.

Unfortunately, in that followup email, the ESRB exposed individuals to a new set of privacy concerns.

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I'm sure the irony of the last paragraph in the ESRB's letter isn't lost on anyone.

Tasty Sauce, the secret ingredient is irony!

This is a followup to the previous Blizzard RealID fail posts. (see here and here)

I am finding this pervasive, nonchalant disregard for privacy concerns to be rather, well, concerning; although also depressingly unsurprising.
Sufjan Smile

Disappearing women athletes

Mike Messner is a professor of sociology and gender studies at the University of Southern California (USC) and is the author of numerous books including Power at Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity. He is the co-author, along with Professor Cheryl Cooky, of a new report titled "Gender in Televised Sports: News and Highlight Shows, 1989-2009."

Here, he talks to Dave Zirin about the study's findings.

LET'S TALK about your study on gender and televised sports. What did you and Professor Cooky uncover in your research?

WE LOOKED at the three local network affiliates here in Los Angeles and also the ESPN SportsCenter at 11 o'clock in the evening. The first time we did this study was 1989, and we have done it every five years since then.

The first couple times we did it, 1989 and 1993, coverage of women sports on the evening news shows was about 5 percent. I know a lot of people back then said that the number would continue to go up as time went by and the media caught up with this explosion of girls and women sports throughout the country. Indeed, in 1999 it nudged up to 8.7 percent of all sports coverage.

Then in 2004 it went back down to 6.3 percent, and the most recent data we collected was in 2009. The coverage on the evening news shows has almost evaporated to 1.6 percent, the lowest amount ever, and ESPN is right down there with 1.4 percent of their SportsCenter coverage. We were pretty stunned by the drop off.

TO GO from 5 percent in 1989 to 1.6 percent in 2009--how do we understand that coverage has actually gone down as women's leagues and play have become more prevalent?

WELL, THAT'S what the puzzle really is. There has been this continued explosion of participation and interest in women's sports and it just hasn't been reflected in TV news and highlight shows.

One of the more interesting findings we had was, in 1989 and 1999, the big chunk of women's sports coverage we did see on these shows was what we called insulting or trivialization or humorous sexualization of women athletes, like a nude bungee jumper or leering court reports on tennis players like Anna Kournikova or later Maria Sharapova.

In 2004 and 2009, those kinds of stories declined to the point where we saw almost none of that insulting stuff about women athletes. But I guess what we are wondering now is when they stop doing insulting or humorous sexualization stories on women athletes, it seems that they just don't know how to talk about women and women's sports at all.
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Socialist Worker

As a sports fan, I tend to stay away from ESPN/Sportscenter as much as possible just for the pointless posturing and meatheadedness. This study (linked again for posterity) has been good for highlighting how bad the misogyny in sports reporting is, though it was always pretty latently apparent.
me - 30

Tory filibuster seeks to block hearings on G20 policing

Opposition accuses Tories of ducking scrutiny of their role in matter

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are filibustering to block opposition efforts to launch hearings on policing at the Toronto G20 summit, accusing political rivals of seeking a platform to build sympathy for “thugs and hooligans” who rioted there.

Parliament is adjourned for the summer, and the opposition majority – the NDP, Liberals and Bloc – forced the Commons committee on public safety to reconvene on Monday to vote on whether to start federal hearings on the G20 security.

But during a two-hour meeting, Conservative MPs on the committee repeatedly requested speaking time to object to holding an inquiry now, and the Tory chair refused opposition demands for a vote. Opposition MPs together can out-vote the Tories on the committee.

“I don’t agree with the NDP and the fact it seems to be lining itself up with anarchist groups that went to Toronto and caused damage,” Tory MP Dean Del Mastro told the committee. “To recall this committee on an emergency basis is nothing more than a cheap political stunt.”

Outside the security perimeter at the G20 summit, stores in downtown Toronto were vandalized and police cars were set ablaze. More than 1,000 people were arrested, but only 263 charged with anything more serious than breach of peace. And the methods police used to disperse and detain protesters have been criticized.

Opposition parties accused the Tories of ducking scrutiny of their role in the matter, saying Canadians deserve a federal review of the conduct of security forces and alleged civil liberties violations.

full article

Background reading: Context, threats of sexual violence, abuse of power, seizing an amputee's artifical leg as a weapon (for serious).
Angel: Carpe Noctem

Yankees Boss dead at age 80.

NEW YORK - George Steinbrenner, whose big wallet and win-at-all-cost attitude whipped the New York Yankees into a billion-dollar sports empire, died Tuesday morning. He had just celebrated his 80th birthday July 4.

Steinbrenner had a heart attack, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Fla., and died at about 6:30 a.m, a person close to the owner told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not disclosed those details.

"George was 'The Boss,' make no mistake," Hall of Famer Yogi Berra said. "He built the Yankees into champions, and that's something nobody can ever deny. He was a very generous, caring, passionate man. George and I had our differences, but who didn't? We became great friends over the last decade and I will miss him very much."

Link to rest of article here

Deal freeing Lockerbie bomber questioned

Did BP play a role in the release of a notorious terrorist?

U.S. lawmaker is calling on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to investigate whether BP influenced the release of Pan Am Flight 103 Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.

Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenburg of New Jersey wants to know whether a quid pro quo led to the 2009 decision by U.K. and Scottish lawmakers to set the Libyan terrorist free. Megrahi sentenced to life in prison in 2001, but released last year when doctors said he had only three months to live before dying of cancer. A doctor now says he could live a decade, according to the Associated Press. The senator wants to know whether the bomber's release was connected to a BP plan to drill for oil off Libya, which the senator says could earn the company up to $20 billion.


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Racism: There's a (Facebook) app for that.

Vaseline has introduced a skin-lightening Facebook application designed to allow users to lighten their skin color in the profile pictures displayed on the social network site.

The company has chosen Bollywood star Shahid Kapur to promote the application as well as its other skin-lightening creams for men. In the widget promising to "Transform Your Face On Facebook With Vaseline Men," Kapur's face is presented divided into dark and fair halves.

"We started campaign advertising (for the application) from the second week of June and the response has been pretty phenomenal," Pankaj Parihar from global advertising firm Omnicom, which designed the campaign, said in an interview with the Australian web site Adelaide Now.

Skin-whitening creams for men and women have proved popular in India. Still, foreign companies have been criticized in the local media for playing up a perceived preference for lighter skin color.

Last year a column in the Times of India, lampooned the introduction of "Healthy White Skin Lightening Body Milk" by Vaseline as designed to ensure "an Aryan glow from head to toes."

At the time, the piece noted that the billboard advertising included the following pitch:

When it's healthy and cared for, our skin has the natural ability to maintain a light tone and clear texture. Unfortunately, when it's exposed to the sun, the skin's natural lightening processes are interrupted. Pigment producing cells become increasingly active, tanning the skin, and leaving it several shades darker than it's supposed to be.

New, Vaseline Healthy White skin lightening body milk works with the skin to reverse signs of darkening and prevent future pigmentation. A balanced combination of vitamin B3, yoghurt serum and conditioning moisturizers hydrate and even out skin tone. Triple sunscreens help prevent future darkening and encourage the skin to lighten itself.

A spokesman for Unilever, the parent company for the Vaseline brand, was not immediately available for comment.


Guantanamo inmate refuses plea deal

A young Canadian held at Guantanamo Bay has refused a US plea deal, sacked his American defence lawyers, and labelled his military trial a "sham".

Omar Khadr, 23, the last Westerner held at Guantanamo, told a military tribunal in Cuba on Monday: "I will not take any of the offers because it will give the US government an excuse for torturing me and abusing me when I was a child."

He and his Canadian lawyer confirmed that he had refused a plea deal under which he would only have to serve five years of a 30-year sentence in Guantanamo if he admitted war crimes charges, which normally carry a life term.

Dennis Edney, Khadr's Canadian lawyer, said that under the deal another part of the term would have been spent in Canada, but his client refused to plead guilty.

A new hearing will now be held on August 9, and Khadr's trial is due to start at the military base on August 10.

"Mr Khadr could not admit to something he did not do. He did not kill anybody," Edney said.

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Source: Al Jazeera
lol peter griffin

a big fucking deal for the fucking fcc

July 13, 2010, 1:19 pm Updated: 3:42 pm

Appeals Court Strikes Down Indecency Rule


A United States appeals court tossed out the indecency policy of the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday, calling it a violation of the First Amendment.

An appeals panel said the F.C.C. policy was “unconstitutionally vague, creating a chilling effect that goes far beyond the fleeting expletives at issue here.”

The ruling was immediately characterized as a victory for big broadcasters like ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, which have been fighting the indecency policy for years.

Tuesday’s ruling vacates a 2004 decision by the Bush administration F.C.C. to step up enforcement of the indecency policy on the broadcast airwaves. Earlier that year, the singer Janet Jackson’s breast was bared during the Super Bowl halftime show on CBS, reigniting a decades-old debate about broadcast standards.

Continued at the source...

Each village is a reminder

Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel in 1963 and has become known around the world as a masterful jazz musician. As a multi-instrumentalist, he plays soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone, clarinet and flute. His album Exile was the BBC jazz album of the year in 2003.

He has been described by the London Sunday Times' John Bungey as the "hardest-gigging man in British jazz." His nine albums often explore political themes and the music of the Middle East. He has recorded and performed with Shane McGowan, Robbie Williams, Sinead O'Connor, Robert Wyatt and Paul McCartney, and was a member of the punk band The Blockheads.

In 1982, Atzmon completed obligatory military service during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and his experiences then brought about a major change in his thinking. He currently lives in exile in Great Britain and regards himself as a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian.

In addition to being a musician and political writer, Atzmon is a novelist whose books have been published in 24 languages--among his works are Guide to the Perplexed and My One and Only Love.

Atzmon recently traveled to western New York to speak about Israel and Palestine and perform selections from his new CD. His appearance created a stir when just five days before the June 29 performance in Rochester, the venue, a local Unitarian Church, suddenly retracted its offer to host Atzmon due to "concerns" about the content of his past political statements and rumored pressure from local, pro-Israeli religious leaders.

Thankfully, due to the work of local activists, a new venue, the Flying Squirrel Community Space, was found on short notice and the performance took place, on schedule, to a packed house of more than 70 people. Atzmon and Siegel also performed the next evening in Geneva for a $100-a-head fundraiser with proceeds going to the Deir Yassin Remembered Scholarship Fund.

After his Rochester performance, Atzmon sat down with Brian Lenzo to discuss music, politics and his thoughts on the future of peace in the region.

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Source: Socialist Worker
Update: the article has since been pulled, as it turns out Atzmon is an anti-Semitic nutcase.

Fox News Host Thinks Bush, Cheney Should Have Been Indicted

Fox News analyst and frequent Glenn Beck fill-in, Andrew Napolitano, recently went on CSPAN for an interview with Ralph Nader and said that George Bush and Dick Cheney should have been indicted "for torturing, for spying, for arresting without warrants."

Napolitano, a former New Jersey district judge — which is why they call him "Judge Napolitano" on Fox News, forcefully imposing an aura of respectability to his spittle-flying rants about lowering the capital gains tax cut, Obama hating all businesses, etc. — has sharply criticized the Bush administration for these things before, but this might be his most unambiguous language yet:

Nader: What's the sanction for President Bush and Vice President Cheney?

Napolitano: There's been no sanction except what history will say about them.

Nader: What should be the sanctions?

Napolitano: They should have been indicted. They absolutely should have been indicted for torturing, for spying, for arresting without warrants. I'd like to say they should be indicted for lying but believe it or not, unless you're under oath, lying is not a crime. At least not an indictable crime. It's a moral crime.

Nader: So you think George W. Bush and Dick Cheney should even though they've left office, they haven't escaped the criminal laws, they should be indicted and prosecuted?

Napolitano: The evidence in this book and in others, our colleague the great Vincent Bugliosi has amassed an incredible amount of evidence. The purpose of this book was not to amass that evidence but I do discuss it, is overwhelming when you compare it to the level of evidence required for a normal indictment that George W. Bush as President and Dick Cheney as Vice President participated in criminal conspiracies to violate the federal law and the guaranteed civil liberties of hundreds, maybe thousands of human beings.


We'd suggest that he have a debate over this with Sean Hannity, but who would actually want to watch Sean Hannity?

Anyway, points to Andrew Napolitano for libertarian ideological consistency! One of these days those points are going to add up and... well, something's going to happen, for libertarians. Maybe.

(source, video of the interview)


BP: "I am Disappoint. Where Did You Learn Such Behavior?"

BP: "Dont You Just Hate It When People Refuse To Pay What They Owe. How Irresponsible!"

BP Partners Refuse To Help Pay For Gulf Oil Spill

Both of BP's partners in its blown-out Gulf well have turned their backs on the company, refusing to pay to help clean up.

A BP spokesman said Tuesday that MOEX Offshore 2007 LLC has turned away a $111 million cleanup bill that BP requested last month. The other minority owner, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., refused a $272 million bill from BP last week.

"We are disappointed that they too are failing to live up to their responsibilities," BP
spokesman Andrew Gowers said of MOEX. "We won't be distracted from fulfilling our own."

A spokesman for MOEX Offshore said the company is conducting its own independent review of BP's reimbursement claims while the cause of the accident is under investigation by government officials.
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TxVoodoo layout icon

Police Charged in Post-Katrina Shootings and Cover-Up

Police Charged in Post-Katrina Shootings and Cover-Up

NEW ORLEANS — Six current or former police officers were charged in connection with shootings on the Danziger Bridge in the days after Hurricane Katrina that left two dead and four wounded, federal law enforcement officials announced here on Tuesday.

The charges allege that after the shootings, police supervisors engaged in a blatant cover-up of crimes that included the strafing of unarmed civilians and the slaying of a mentally disabled man. The case is one of several that have led Mayor Mitch Landrieu to seek a Justice Department review of the city’s police department.

Four of the officers charged Tuesday — Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, Sgt. Robert Gisevius Officer Anthony Villavaso and former officer Robert Faulcon — were accused in the killing of a 17-year-old James Brissette. Mr. Faulcon was also charged with shooting Ronald Madison, a 40-year-old mentally disabled man, in the back, and Sergeant Bowen with kicking and stomping Mr. Madison while he was dying on the ground.

All of the officers could possibly face the death penalty.

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Mods, could we get a "New Orleans" or "Katrina" tag?

Why do you live? Only I can live forever.

Cuba's Fidel Castro makes rare state TV appearance

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro has made a rare appearance on state television.

The 83-year-old looked alert as he spoke at length on international affairs on Mesa Redonda (Round Table), although his voice was weak at times.

Mr Castro warned the United States not to launch an attack against Iran.

The former president made no mention of dissidents but his interview was broadcast as several political prisoners were freed to fly to Spain.

They were the first of 52 dissidents who the Cuban authorities have agreed to release, following a deal reached last week with the Catholic Church and Spain.

At the weekend, images emerged of Mr Castro in public for the first time since July 2006 when he underwent major surgery and retired from public life, handing over power to his younger brother Raul.

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Part 1 of the interview (no subtitles)

Very superficial article but it sums it up: first interview in years, biggest topics were Iran, North Korea and the United States, Cuba stopped to see his health condition.

Christian Bale

Taliban training monkeys to attack US troops in Afghanistan?

Report Claims Afghan Taliban 'Trains Gun-Toting Monkeys'

(The New York Post) - Taliban terrorists created a secret weapon to destroy the infidel American enemy -- monkey marksmen, the New York Post reported Tuesday with more than a hint of skepticism.

According to Chinese newspaper the People’s Daily, the Afghanistan Taliban was “training monkeys to use weapons to attack American troops.”

The newspaper’s bizarre story said the Islamic insurgents drafted macaques and baboons, arming them with AK-47 rifles, machine guns and trench mortars in the Waziristan tribal region near the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Monkeys were being turned into snipers -- with the help of rewards in the form of bananas and peanuts -- at a secret Taliban training base, the People's Daily claimed.

The newspaper said, “photos have been widely spread by media agencies and websites across the world.”

One of those sites was the Pakistan Defence Forum, which showed pictures of gun-toting monkeys and reiterated the wild claim that a monkey-soldier program was first launched by the CIA during the Vietnam War.

“Today, the Taliban forces have given the American troops some of their own medicine,” the People’s Daily said.

Life On Mars

French MPs vote to ban Islamic full veil in public

France's lower house of parliament has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would ban wearing the Islamic full veil in public.

There were 335 votes for the bill and only one against in the 557-seat National Assembly. It must now be ratified by the Senate in September to become law.

The ban has strong public support but critics point out that only a tiny minority of French Muslims wear the full veil. Many of the opposition Socialists, who originally wanted the ban limited only to public buildings, abstained from voting after coming under pressure from feminist supporters of the bill.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has backed the ban as part of a wider debate on French identity but critics say the government is pandering to far-right voters.

After the vote, Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said it was a victory for democracy and for French values. "Values of freedom against all the oppressions which try to humiliate individuals; values of equality between men and women, against those who push for inequality and injustice."

The vote is being closely watched in other countries, the BBC's Christian Fraser reports from the French capital Paris. Spain and Belgium are debating similar legislation, and with such large-scale immigration in the past 20 or 30 years, identity has become a popular theme across Europe, our correspondent says.

'Open-faced democracy'

The bill would make it illegal to wear garments such as the niqab or burka, which incorporate a full-face veil, anywhere in public. It envisages fines of 150 euros (£119) for women who break the law and 30,000 euros and a one-year jail term for men who force their wives to wear the burka.

The niqab and burka are widely seen in France as threats to women's rights and the secular nature of the state. "Democracy thrives when it is open-faced," Ms Alliot-Marie told the National Assembly when she presented the bill last week. She stressed the bill, which makes no reference to Islam or veils, was not aimed at "stigmatising or singling out a religion".

Berengere Poletti, an MP from Mr Sarkozy's centre-right UMP party, said women in full veils wore "a sign of alienation on their faces" and had to be "liberated". Andre Gerin of the Communist opposition compared the veil to "a walking coffin, a muzzle".

'Fear of foreigners'

The bill is also seen as a touchstone for the Sarkozy administration's policy of integration. It is grappling with disaffected immigrant communities as it seeks to prevent a repeat of the mass unrest of 2005 on run-down French housing estates.

But critics point to government studies showing that many women do not fit the stereotype of marginalised, oppressed women. There are estimated to be only about 2,000 women wearing the full veil in France though the bill is opposed by many of France's five million Muslims.

Mohammed Moussaoui, the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, a government advisory body, has supported taking steps to discourage women from wearing the full veil but has said a legal ban would stigmatise a vulnerable group.

Jean Glavany, a Socialist MP, said he opposed the ban on the grounds that it was "nothing more than the fear of those who are different, who come from abroad, who aren't like us, who don't share our values".

The Council of State, France's highest administrative body, warned in March that the law could be found unconstitutional. If the bill passes the Senate in September, it will be sent immediately to France's Constitutional Council watchdog for a ruling. Another challenge is possible at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where decisions are binding.

In another development, a French businessman, Rachid Nekkaz, said he would set up a 1m-euro fund to help women pay fines imposed under the new law. A ban in the street would violate constitutional principles, he argued.

Christian Bale

Collapse Review

Bluemark Films recently reached out to me to ask if I’d review their film, Collapse, which they say is the number two downloaded documentary on iTunes in the US (number one in Canada), and came out on DVD a few weeks ago. I said I would because in general, I wish documentaries would get more press, and because I’m a HUGE fan of American Movie, one of Collapse director Chis Smith’s earlier documentaries. So… here goes.

Collapse Review: My Dinner with Downer

Collapse tells the story of Michael Ruppert, a former LAPD officer turned “rogue reporter”, and his dire predictions about, basically, the end of modern civilization as we know it. Smith ran into Ruppert while doing research for a film about drug smuggling in the 80s, and found Ruppert to be such an engaging fountain of scary information about just about everything, he decided to build an entire film around him. Collapse is essentially an 80-minute conversation with Ruppert, a real-life version of the smoking man from X-Files or Deepthroat, filmed in what looks like an underground bunker and spiced up with stock footage.

The central actor in Ruppert’s doomsday scenario is the concept of Peak Oil, which says basically that the internal combustion engine and access to such a cheap energy source has been the main driver of worldwide civilization and prosperity for about 150 years, but we’ve now reached peak production, and we’re on an inevitable downward slide which will see all our modern institutions collapse, because they’re all connected, and were all, in one way or another, propped up by oil products. Scary sh*t to be sure, and though the scenario might not be as imminent as Ruppert says (there’s been a Peak Oil movement since the 70s) or the fall as precipitous, it’s indisputable that oil won’t be around forever. Probably the most haunting moment is when Ruppert brings out his human population graph, which shows population fairly stable throughout much of human history, until the mid 19th century, when it skyrockets straight up exponentially with no leveling in sight. Ruppert makes the point that it’s inconceivable that there not be an event that brings us back to a more “natural” level, and that seems logical. The scary part is imagining what that fall might entail.

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Pakistan number one in a number of online searches for porn

They may call it the "Land of the Pure," but Pakistan turns out to be anything but.

The Muslim country, which has banned content on at least 17 websites to block offensive and blasphemous material, is the world's leader in online searches for pornographic material, FoxNews.com has learned.

“You won’t find strip clubs in Islamic countries. Most Islamic countries have certain dress codes,” said Gabriel Said Reynolds, professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame. “It would be an irony if they haven’t shown the same vigilance to pornography.”

So here's the irony: Google ranks Pakistan No. 1 in the world in searches for pornographic terms, outranking every other country in the world in searches per person for certain sex-related content.

Pakistan is top dog in searches per-person for "horse sex" since 2004, "donkey sex" since 2007, "rape pictures" between 2004 and 2009, "rape sex" since 2004, "child sex" between 2004 and 2007 and since 2009, "animal sex" since 2004 and "dog sex" since 2005, according to Google Trends and Google Insights, features of Google that generate data based on popular search terms.

The country also is tops -- or has been No. 1 -- in searches for "sex," "camel sex," "rape video," "child sex video" and some other searches that can't be printed here.

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The Real Reason More Women Are Childless

The Real Reason More Women Are Childless
Despite what some conservatives say, it's not because they're having abortions.
By Amanda Marcotte

Maybe it's because I live in the famously child-friendly neighborhood of Park Slope, in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I'm forced to dodge 15 strollers every time I go to the grocery store. Or maybe it's because I'm 32 and it seems every other woman I know is having a baby. Or maybe it's because I grew up in rural Texas, surrounded by pregnant teenagers. No matter the reason, I was genuinely surprised to read the recent Pew Research Center study showing that the share of American women who are skipping out on motherhood has nearly doubled since 1976, rising from 10 percent of the population to 18 percent.

Personally, I was happy to see that more women feel free to forgo childbearing. But not everyone shares my enthusiasm. According to Pew, 38 percent of Americans now denounce childlessness as bad for society. That's up from 29 percent just two years ago. So what's behind the increase in women choosing the non-mom route? According to social conservatives, legal abortions are to blame for declining birth rates. Mike Huckabee told reporter Max Blumenthal that if it weren't for abortion, there would be no need for immigrants to come work in the United States. Some anti-choicers are issuing dire warnings about a "demographic winter" bringing an end to Western civilization.

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Source at Slate.com

There are a lot of links within the text at the source, if you care to read more about this.

Landmarks Hearing for "Ground Zero Mosque" Building Turns Raucous


Emotions ran high Tuesday afternoon at Hunter College, where people were boiling mad at the possibility of a mosque and Islamic cultural center being built near Ground Zero.

The city's Landmark Preservation Commission is considering landmark designation for the building on Park Place where the mosque is to be built, so held a open hearing Tuesday at Hunter to hear from the public.

"How can we allow something to eradicate that memory - the pain and suffering," said attendee Barbara Sommer of Brooklyn.

But New Yorkers on both sides of the issue demanded their voices be heard.

"The villains who did this to our country do not represent Islam in any way whatsoever," said New Yorker Zead Ramadan, who is Muslim.

Muslim Americans, still feeling the heat for the vicious attacks of September 11, 2001, point out that they were carried out by a small cadre of zealots.

But families of 9/11 victims were downright offended.

"It should be a landmark building. It should not be a mosque," said Linda Rivera of Manhattan.

Sally Reganhard was disgusted at the proposal and those in support of the project including state and city leaders.

"We're are still wounded and our hearts are bleeding," she pleaded.

Reganhard's son, Christian, was a fire fighter killed in the 9/11 attacks.

"They should have tolerance for the 9/11 families," said Reganhard.

Rick Lazio — the Republican candidate for governor — was among the witnesses testifying in support of landmark status for the building.

He said the building was "a place of deep historical significance" because it was struck by airplane debris on 9/11.

The city's Landmark Preservation Commission was not expected to rule Tuesday on whether the building should become a landmark. The public hearing is the second step in the process.

The third and final step will end with a vote sometime this summer.

A decision that could determine the fate of the Italian palazzo-style building that was built back in 1856.

I feel the need to give my personal two cents: As mentioned in the article, the Islamic religion did not attack the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. It was a group of religious fundamentalists which does not represent the majority of Muslims, just as people who shoot abortion doctors in the name of the Christian God do not truly represent the majority of Christians. To insinuate that a mosque near Ground Zero is an offense to those who died is outrageous and narrow-minded.
[smith] ever afters
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Pet Rabbit Stolen by Protester

Two young pet owners were left "heartbroken" when their rabbit was stolen by an animal rights protester. Nine-year-old Barney, who is small and white with grey patches, was snatched last week and replaced with a handwritten note saying rabbits should be out "socialising".

Oliver Bailey, 38, and his children Kiera, 13, and Harry, 10, woke on Friday morning to discover that he was missing from his hutch in the garden of their home in Darwen, Lancashire.
All that remained was a note, which read: "This is animal cruelty. Rabbits should not be left in hutches, they should be out in the wild and socialising."

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Israel bulldozes Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem

After nine-months of restraint at the prompting of the United States, Israeli wrecking teams unexpectedly advanced into the city's Arab suburbs and razed six Palestinian-owned buildings.

The return of the bulldozers, seen by Palestinians as one of the most hated symbols of Israeli occupation, threatened to undermine President Barack Obama's finely-balanced efforts to resume full peace talks.

The fate of East Jerusalem, which Palestinians regard as their future capital, generates more emotion than perhaps any single issue in the long-running conflict and any attempts to change the delicate demographic balance in the city often provokes uproar.

Jerusalem's Jewish city council, which ordered the demolitions, insisted that none of the buildings it destroyed were actually houses inhabited by Palestinians.

Yet that claim appeared questionable in at least one case. Dalel Rajabi was not at home when the bulldozers arrived -- she had taken her sick 10-month-old daughter to hospital.

The demolition team roused her sister, who lives next door, instead. According to Linda Rajabi, she was given half an hour to remove vital documents and school work from her sister's house.

Shortly after the bulldozers finished their work, Dalel Rajabi came home. As she turned into the lane on which her house had stood earlier in the morning, Mrs Rajabi's knees buckled underneath her and she collapsed in tears.

"We were given no warning," she said, as her nephew salvaged frying pans from the ruins. "Me and my children are now in the street."
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