July 20th, 2010

Kissing Parts

Utah AG Targets List Senders, Not Immigrants

As Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff waits for the results of an investigation into who sent out the private records of 1,300 people described as illegal immigrants, he's made it clear: Shurtleff will target the senders.

"We are not investigating the people on the list. We are concerned about the abuse of privacy laws," said Shurtleff.

Gov. Gary Herbert ordered the Utah Department of Workforce Services to hand over to Shurtleff all of the information it can about who helped release the list, which was anonymously sent via postal mail to public officials and news outlets earlier this month and may contain restricted state records.

But Riverdale resident Ken Allred and others have asked, "What about the illegal aliens?"

"Why aren't they being arrested?" said Allred, in a call to the Standard-Examiner.

The 1,300 names, by many accounts, list some people who are not illegal immigrants. Yet, the 29-page document also contained businesses that may have knowingly hired illegal immigrants, and people who may have used someone else's Social Security numbers.

"Why don't Utah law enforcement officials go after illegal aliens buying and using phony documents and stolen identities rather than just focusing on those manufacturing them?" asked Ron Mortensen, a member of the conservative Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration.

Mortensen and Allred ask questions some argue have no easy answers.

Shurtleff, along with several Top of Utah law enforcement officials, believe the jurisdiction of investigating those crimes generally belongs to the federal government, and that state law doesn't cover enough circumstances to allow them to act.

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blood / the narrator

Recent scenes from Iraq

Just over seven years since the start of the Iraq War, the scheduled withdrawal of American forces is now becoming more evident. Last year, Americans pulled out of Iraqi cities and are working toward the formal end of combat operations by September 1st, when the number of soldiers in Iraq is expected to go from 77,500 to 50,000, and the name of the operation will change from "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to "Operation New Dawn". Iraq continues to face multiple challenges including home-grown problems and potential external threats. Political uncertainty and wrangling after elections in March has fostered greater instability throughout the country with fears of renewed sectarian violence breaking out as insurgents step up attacks in an attempt to exploit vulnerabilities. Collected here are some recent photographs from the Iraq conflict.
trigger warning: some photos are disturbing

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More Biden, Please

The White House is, quite obviously, getting back into campaign mode. This is a good thing for Democrats, because it means putting the last spadeful of dirt on the carcass of President Obama's hopes of bipartisanship in Washington during his term of office. But while Obama has recently begun to make the case to voters why electing Democrats this November is a good idea, Vice President Joe Biden has apparently been doing a much better job in terms of framing the debate on Democratic terms. Which means the smartest thing Obama could do right now is to send the Vice President out in front of the media and in front of campaign events to make the case a lot more strongly than Obama could (or should). In other words: more Biden, please.

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BP's Photoshopped Command Center Just The Latest In A Pattern Of Deception

The latest curio in the ongoing exhibition of BP obfuscation comes via John Aravosis at AmericaBlog, who examined an image from BP's website and determined it to be a fake. The image depicts BP's "Command Center" in Houston, where ever-vigilant BP employees sit in a dark room, monitoring screens. BP's website has been running a photo in which three men appear to be watching a ten-screen display of oil-spill footage. Here's the thing: it's a Photoshop job. And not just a poor one -- a seemingly unnecessary one.

Here's the one BP was running:

And, via Max Read at Gawker, here's what this photo looked like, prior to the alteration.

Aravosis has about seven or eight detailed images
which demonstrate the terrible masking job done by the photo-surrealist in charge of mocking up the image for public consumption. Naturally, BP has chosen to blame its photographer for the confusion. For any of you who are more gifted at faking photos, this represents a potential employment opportunity. (AmericaBlog also points out that the metadata on the photo indicates that the image in question was taken in March of 2001, which means either the photographer doesn't know how to use his camera, or BP is, as they say, "lying."

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Original Source at AmericaBlog with detailed high resolution photos of Photoshop FAIL.

UPDATE: BP has apologized for the Photoshopped version of its command center, and it has just released this new, unedited version.

Saddam posed very limited threat to UK, ex-MI5 chief says

The former MI5 director general Eliza Manningham-Buller today delivered a withering assessment of the case for war against Iraq.

Manningham-Buller said the threat posed by Saddam Hussein was low and that the US-led invasion in 2003 had done more harm than good.

Giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, she said Saddam's threat to the UK was "very limited and containable".

In evidence that undermined the case for war presented by the former prime minister Tony Blair, she was asked whether it was feared Saddam could have linked terrorists to weapons of mass destruction, facilitating their use against the west.

"It certainly wasn't of concern in either the short term or the medium term to me or my colleagues," she replied.

Manningham-Buller said the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan had radicalised parts of a generation of Muslims who saw the military actions as an "attack on Islam".

She added that, prior to the Iraq invasion, the prospect of it fuelling terrorism in the UK had been communicated through joint intelligence committee reports. She said she had also spoken to the home secretary about the risk.

Manningham-Buller was damning about the impact of the invasion on Iraq, saying the toppling of Saddam had allowed Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida to move in. "Arguably, we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad," she added.

She said the focus on Iraq had "reduced the focus on Afghanistan", and was damning in her assessment of every stage of the invasion, from the low threat posed by Iraq and the quality of intelligence provided to the reconstruction process after Saddam was toppled.

Manningham-Buller said there was no evidence of Iraqi involvement in the September 11 attacks on the US, a view she said was shared by the CIA and which prompted the then US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to set up an alternative intelligence unit.

She revealed that, during a visit to New York, she had tried to persuade Paul Wolfowitz, the then deputy secretary of defence, not to disband the Iraqi army.

Asked whether she had any chance of succeeding, she said: "Not a hope." She said there was "plenty of evidence" that planning for the aftermath of the invasion was "not sufficiently done by the US".

Manningham-Buller said that by 2004, the year after the invasion, the British security services were "overburdened" by intelligence reports on terrorist plots posing a threat to the UK.

That was despite the fact that MI5's budget had been doubled after a request she made to Blair in the autumn of 2003.

To coincide with Manningham-Buller's evidence, a letter she sent to John Gieve, a permanent secretary at the home office, a year before the Iraq invasion was declassified.

In it, she wrote that there was "no credible evidence" Iraq was implicated in the September 11 attacks, and that Saddam was "unlikely" to order terrorist strikes unless "he perceives that the survival of his regime is threatened". She noted that the Iraqi dictator was more likely to use conventional weapons against targets in the region of Iraq than terrorism or chemical weapons against western states.

In her evidence to the inquiry, she said she had not subsequently changed the opinions expressed in the letter.

She told the panel the joint intelligence committee was "fallible" and "inadequately challenged" on Iraq and that the intelligence used to justify the invasion was not up to scratch.

Manningham-Butler did say that the threat of terrorism "shouldn't stop you from doing what is right" but that will prove scant comfort to the proponents of the war after one of the most damaging sessions of evidence heard at the Chilcot inquiry to date.

Asked by Sir John Chilcot if she had any general reflections, she replied: "The main one would be the danger of going to war on fragmentary intelligence."

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Source: The Guardian
Murasaki Shikibu

Tea party group on defensive over blog about NAACP

Tea party group on defensive over blog about NAACP

An official with the Tea Party Express on Monday blasted its expulsion from a national coalition over its refusal to oust a former chairman who satirized the NAACP in a controversial blog posting.

The political action committee that raises money for Republican candidates was booted from the National Tea Party Federation for refusing to rebuke spokesman Mark Williams, whose posting referred to NAACP president Benjamin Jealous as "Tom's nephew and NAACP head colored person."

Tea Party Express coordinator Joe Wierzbicki said it was "arrogant and preposterous" for the federation to expel his group.

"Circular firing squads of groups within the tea party movement attacking one another accomplish nothing, and on this issue the Tea Party Federation is wrong," he said in a statement.

The friction highlights fault lines within the loosely jointed tea party movement, which has no formal organization or bylaws. Internal squabbling could weaken its political clout, and it comes at a time when the NAACP and other have sought to discredit the movement.

The tea party — thousands of community groups that promote limited government, free markets and other conservative and Libertarian principles — has resisted any notion of centralized control.

Other Tea Party Express officials tried to distance the group from Williams but stopped short of expelling him.

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Fox News Gotcha Journalism Ends 24 Year Manhunt: We Finally Got You!

Farmer's wife says fired USDA official helped save their land

The wife of the white farmer allegedly discriminated against by the USDA's rural development director for Georgia said Shirley Sherrod "kept us out of bankruptcy."

Eloise Spooner, 82, awoke Tuesday to discover that Sherrod had lost her job after videotaped comments she made in March at a local NAACP banquet surfaced on the web.

Sherrod, who is black, told the crowd she didn't do everything she could to help a white farmer whom she said was condescending when he came to her for aid.

"What he didn't know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me was, I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him," Sherrod said in the video, recorded March 27 in Douglas in southeast Georgia.

But Spooner, who considers Sherrod a "friend for life," said the federal official worked tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they faced bankruptcy back in 1986.

"Her husband told her, ‘You're spending more time with the Spooners than you are with me,' " Spooner told the AJC. "She took probably two or three trips with us to Albany just to help us out."

Spooner called Sherrod Tuesday morning.

"She's very sad about it," Spooner said. "She told me she was so glad we talked. I just can't believe this is happening to her."
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NHS: efficient and equitable

UK health system is top on 'efficiency', says report

The UK was rated highly on quality of care and access to care
The UK's health care system is the most efficient, says a study of seven industrialised countries.

The Commonwealth Fund report looked at five areas of performance - quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and healthy lives.

The US came last in the overall rankings, which also included data from Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand.

But there is room for improvement in every country, says the report.

The report, which is an update to three earlier editions, includes patients and doctors' ratings of their experiences in their own health care systems.

More than 27,000 patients and primary care doctors were surveyed across all seven countries as part of the study, starting in 2007.

The Netherlands ranked first overall, closely followed by the UK and Australia.

The UK performed well when it came to quality of care and access to care.

In relation to access, the study says: "The UK has relatively short waiting times for basic medical care and non-emergency access to services after hours, but has longer waiting times for specialist care and elective, non-emergency surgery."

The Netherlands ranked very highly on all waiting times measurements.

When it came to efficiency, the UK and Australia ranked first and second, respectively.

Efficiency was measured by looking at total national spending on health as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), as well as the amount spent on health administration and insurance.

Costly care
In contrast, the US consistently underperformed in most areas of health care relative to other countries, says the study report.

These include access to care and quality of care whatever the background or income of the patient. This is despite the fact, the study says, that the US health system is the most costly in the world.

But, notably, the US differs from the other countries studied because it does not have a universal health insurance system.

However, the study authors believe that health reform legislation brought in in February 2009 will start to address this problem.

"The new legislation should begin to improve the affordability of health insurance and access to care when fully implemented in 2014," says the study.

Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund and one of the report's authors, cautions that there are limitations in assessing countries' performances using the perceptions and experiences of patients and doctors.

"They do not capture important dimensions of effectiveness or efficiency that might be obtained from medical records or administrative data," she said.

"Patients and physicians' assessments might be affected by their experiences and expectations, which could differ by country and culture."



1. The Netherlands

2. United Kingdom

3. Australia

4. Germany

5. New Zealand

6. Canada

7. United States


Source @ BBC. This story is useful as a reproof to current Tory cuts rhetoric which argues, incorrectly and counterfactually, that the NHS is inefficient and needs to be given over to the private sector, or dissolved so that GPs have to do their own accounting, even when they are neither capable nor willing to do so. It should be apparent to anyone that Tory ideology on the evils of nationalised public services does not allow them to see its manifest and irrecoverable virtues.

Don't blink, you'll miss them...

The Florida House abruptly adjourned a special legislative session after 49 minutes Tuesday, rejecting Gov. Charlie Crist's proposal to let voters place a permanent ban on offshore drilling in the Florida Constitution.

The party-line vote to adjourn the session was 67-44, with Republicans supporting adjournment and Democrats in favor of continuing the debate.

A heckler from the visitors' gallery shouted that all 67 were "in the pocket of BP."

Florida House Speaker Larry Cretul began the session at 12:02 p.m. and promptly rejected Crist's call for the referendum. Instead, Cretul criticized the nonpartisan governor for his "surprise proclamation" calling lawmakers back to Tallahassee on short notice.

"The fact remains that he has called us here at the last possible moment to consider a constitutional amendment for which he never proposed any language and permitted far too little time for reflection and review," Cretul told the House and the visitors' gallery packed with drilling protesters. "This is a terrible way to propose constitutional changes."

Cretul said he and Senate President Jeff Atwater are working on a longer special session, most likely in September, to consider a package of economic recovery measures in response to the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

"Simple solutions designed to produce sound bites, photo-ops and political attacks will do nothing to hep Floridians in need of recovery," Cretul said.

Cretul formed six "work groups" of House members to study various aspects of the spill response and to propose "meaningful legislative solutions, if possible," by the end of August. The six work groups are all being led by junior Republican members, including three freshmen members. None of the six is from the Panhandle, the area experiencing the most severe economic hardships so far.

Earlier in the day, dozens of oil drilling opponents packed the Cabinet room in hopes of influencing the outcome.

Wearing green "Let the people vote" stickers, the drilling foes demanded that the Legislature agree with Crist and put a proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 2 ballot permanently banning near-shore drilling.

"Let the people vote!" the protesters chanted loudly. Several squeezed their way through the crowd to shake Crist's hand and personally thank him for his efforts.


I really, really hate my legislature some days.  As a friend of mine put it, there should be a rule that a session should last longer than it takes for the folks from Miami to get to Tallahassee.  >:|

Also this is my first time posting here after a good bit of lurking.  Let me know if I need to fix anything.

Court OKs Moscow Mayor calling gays faggots

A libel suit filed against the Mayor of Moscow for calling gays "faggots" was dismissed by the City Court on 2 July.

The case, filed by Moscow Pride, had previously been rejected by the Tverskoi District Court.

Pride leader Nikolai Alekseev said the group will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. They had wanted Yuri Luzhkov to apologise for using the slur and pay 1 kopeck in damages (about three-hundredths of a cent).

The mayor made the remark on television in June 2009 while vowing that he would never authorise a gay parade in the city.

"Public morality does not accept those faggots," Luzhkov reportedly said. "Other people will simply kill them."

Luzhkov has banned the pride parade for five years and has sent riot police to aggressively arrest small groups of activists who have defied the bans.

He also has called gay pride parades "satanic" and, reportedly, "weapons of mass destruction."

LGBT people managed to stage two small, brief pride marches in Moscow this year despite another ban. For the main event, organisers misled hundreds of riot police and undercover officers to a fake location.

"The march was relatively short, around five minutes, but we managed to fool the police and the anti-pride protesters," Alekseev said.

British gay activist Peter Tatchell, who joined the march, said: "Pride organisers fed the police a steady stream of false information, via blogs and websites, concerning the location of the parade. They suggested that it would take place outside the EU (European Union) Commission's offices. As a result, the police put the whole area in total lockdown."

Earlier in the day, another group of some 25 activists staged an unannounced gay march for 10 minutes on a downtown pedestrian street. It ended when police blocked their path and the marchers ran away.

Moscow Pride organisers have sued over Luzhkov's bans in a series of cases that have been merged at the European Court of Human Rights. A ruling is expected within months.

Source: Pink Paper

British parliament protest camp removed

LONDON — Bailiffs cleared away a sprawling protest camp in front of the British parliament in a pre-dawn raid on Tuesday, although evicted demonstrators vowed to re-appear elsewhere in London.

Officials descended at 1:00 am (0000 GMT) on Parliament Square, in the heart of the city, to drag away a few dozen protesters and remove the ramshackle collection of tents, banners and straw bales used as toilets.

The protesters had been camped on the grassy square since May 1 to protest against the war in Afghanistan and a range of other issues, but a court ruled last week that their "Democracy Village" could not remain.

It took about 60 bailiffs four hours to remove the protesters after a few tied themselves to scaffolding.

Some of the protesters complained they had been roughly treated.

Activist Howard Rees, 30, said the eviction was "pretty unpleasant" and claimed the bailiffs were "pretty brutal".

"They were putting the boot into people while they were on the floor," he told AFP.

But London's Metropolitan Police said no arrests were made.

A fence was thrown up around the square, while cleaners got to work on the mess left behind by the demonstrators.

Parliament Square contains the statues of Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln.

It sits amid UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the iconic Palace of Westminster parliament building, and the historic Westminster Abbey.

But London authorities said it had been turned into a squalid, nauseating eyesore by the protesters, who were stopping the general public from enjoying the square.

The activists on Friday lost an appeal against eviction in a battle with London Mayor Boris Johnson.

By the morning rush hour, at least a dozen demonstrators remained at the site.

"People from 'Democracy Village' are going to carry on with this protest. We're not going away," said Pete Phoenix, a 36-year-old protester with blond dreadlocks and sunglasses.

"Lots of areas around the city are going to be taken over in the next few days and weeks.

"Our spirit is stronger after this eviction," he told AFP, saying the camp had "raised awareness around the world" about Britain's involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Workers at the square said it would be re-turfed due to the damage caused to the grass by protesters.

The High Court in London granted eviction orders last month sought by Johnson, but their enforcement was delayed pending the outcome of the appeal.

In the appeal ruling Friday, judge David Neuberger said that although the land was owned by the Crown, the mayor of London had power to act over the square.

"We are relieved this dreadful blight of Parliament Square has finally come to an end, and look forward to it being restored to its previous condition so all Londoners can visit and enjoy it," Westminster City Council leader Colin Barrow said on Tuesday.

He said authorities "must find a way to help prevent it being hijacked by vociferous minorities whose primary intent seems to turn this World Heritage Site into a squalid campsite."

A hand-written list of items removed from the square and seen by AFP included 20 tents, 20 to 30 sleeping bags, quilts and pillows, flags, a music system, a beer barrel and, curiously, a sail boat.

The eviction does not affect veteran protester Brian Haw, who has been camped on the roadside opposite parliament since 2001.

Haw has not been glad of the company, calling the "Democracy Village" protesters "deliberately unreasonable, even depraved and outrageous".

Source: AFP

ETA More (with pics), care of [info]synesis  (ty):


Parachuting donkey shocks Russian beachgoers

Russian beachgoers got a shock when they saw a donkey soaring in the blue skies over the balmy beaches on the Sea of Azov in southern Russia last week, police said on Tuesday.

Attached to a parachute, the animal screamed in fear as it circled over heads of holidaymakers sunbathing on a beach in the Cossack village of Golubitskaya in the Krasnodar region.

A regional police spokeswoman said the donkey ended up in the skies as a result of an impromptu advertising campaign by several Russian entrepreneurs to attract beachgoers to their private beach.

Instead, they attracted the attention of regional police who learned of the flying donkey earlier this week and launched a probe.

"The donkey screamed and children cried," regional police spokeswoman Larisa Tuchkova told AFP. "No-one had the brains to call police."

Instead, she said, people reached for their cameras and bombarded a local newspaper with phone calls.

"It was put up so high into the sky that the children on the beach cried and asked their parents: "Why did they tie a doggy to a parachute?" the newspaper, Taman, said late last week.

"The donkey landed in an atrocious manner: it was dragged several metres along the water, after which the animal was pulled out half-alive onto the shore."

The incident is stunning even for a country where animal cruelty is widespread and came as a shock to the locals, said Taman newspaper's editor, Elena Iovleva.

"This has never happened before," she told AFP.

The footage of the parachuting donkey was aired on national television Tuesday.


and video:


GK affront to warrior spirit

Judge: Law penalizing fake heroes unconstitutional

A law that makes it illegal to lie about being a war hero is unconstitutional because it violates free speech, a federal judge ruled Friday as he dismissed a case against a Colorado man who claimed he received two military medals.

Rick Glen Strandlof claimed he was an ex-Marine who was wounded in Iraq and received the Purple Heart and Silver Star, but the military had no record he ever served. He was charged with violating the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to falsely claim to have won a military medal.

U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn dismissed the case and said the law is unconstitutional, ruling the government did not show it has a compelling reason to restrict that type of statement.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Denver said prosecutors are reviewing the decision and haven't decided whether to appeal. The spokesman said that decision would be made by the U.S. Justice Department in Washington and prosecutors in Denver.

Strandlof's lawyer, Bob Pepin, said he hadn't spoken to Strandlof since the ruling was issued. Pepin said he would advise Strandlof not to comment publicly because the case might be appealed.

"Obviously, we think this is the right decision, or we wouldn't have been making the objections to the statute to begin with," he said. Pepin said Strandlof has been living in a halfway house in Denver while his case is in the courts.

The law has also been challenged in California and in a case now before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Denver attorney Christopher P. Beall, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said the Stolen Valor Act is fatally flawed because it doesn't require prosecutors to show anyone was harmed or defamed by the lie.

"The government position was that any speech that's false is not protected by the First Amendment. That proposition is very dangerous," Beall said.

"It puts the government in a much more powerful position to prosecute people for speaking out on things they believe to be true but turn out not to be true," he said.

Beall said the ACLU was not defending the actions Strandlof is accused of, but took issue with the principle behind the law.

Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., who sponsored the Stolen Valor Act in the House, predicted the decision will be overturned on appeal.

"This is an issue of fraud plain and simple," Salazar said in a written release. "The individuals who violate this law are those who knowingly portray themselves as pillars of the community for personal and monetary gain."

Pam Sterner, who as a college student wrote a policy analysis that became the basis of Salazar's bill, said the issue isn't free speech but misrepresentation. Sterner, a former Coloradan who now lives in Virginia, said authentic medal winners' credibility suffers when impostors are exposed because the public becomes suspicious of even true stories of heroism.



Regardless of how you feel about war, going around claiming awards for valor that you don't have is despicable, IMO. We don't get to walk around impersonating police officers, but someone can go ahead and go buy a uniform online and a bunch of medals and get all the accolades that go with it, and that blatant misrepresentation is somehow "free speech"? o.O This blog has a very good explanation of why it's an issue, I think.

More Kids Being Left Home Alone

It was funny when it happened to Macaulay Culkin, but being left home alone is often no laughing matter for a child.  And with many families struggling in this tight economy, more and more kids are being left to fend for themselves while their parents are out earning a living.

John Harrell, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Children and Family Services, says the economy is to blame for the uptick they’ve seen in the number of children being left home without adult supervision.  While he encourages parents to try to make other arrangements for their children, he acknowledges that for many families, this just isn’t possible. In that case, he offers some guidelines and suggestions to ensure that the kids are alright:

  • In general, Harrell says that a child under the age of 13 should never be left alone to care for younger siblings.
  • Rather than basing your decision on whether or not your child is old enough to stay home alone on his or her age, consider maturity level instead.  Not all 13-year-olds are created equal and some may be ready to handle the responsibility while others aren’t.
  • Go over any conceivable emergency situation that might arise and make sure your child knows how to handle it.  Consider what to do if there’s a fire, a water leak or injury.  Make sure your child knows how and when to dial 911 and keep the phone numbers of trusted neighbors and nearby friends on hand.
  • Make sure your child fully appreciates the danger of opening the door to a stranger.  Make it clear that it should never be done under any circumstance.

For a parent, leaving a child home alone can be a stressful and scary proposition.  Harrell recommends networking to find other parents who, while they may be in the same boat, might have different schedules.  Taking turns watching each other’s children is a far better solution than leaving them home alone.


Were you left alone at home at a young age?


Cost of LGBT and special needs students-free prom: $35,000

Lesbian gets $35K settlement over canceled prom

JACKSON, Miss. – A rural school district that canceled its prom rather than allow a lesbian student to attend with her girlfriend has agreed to pay $35,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit the ACLU filed on her behalf.

The district also agreed to follow a non-discrimination policy as part of the settlement, though it argues such a policy was already in place.

Constance McMillen, 18, said the victory came at the price of her being shunned in her small hometown of Fulton.

"I knew it was a good cause, but sometimes it really got to me. I knew it would change things for others in the future and I kept going and I kept pushing," McMillen said in an interview Tuesday.

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African Studies Give Women Hope in H.I.V. Fight

Volunteers who participated in a study on reducing the risk of HIV infection in women listened as the test results were announced during a meeting in Vulindlela, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.
VULINDLELA, South Africa — With an AIDS vaccine still out of reach, two rigorous new studies have found different ways to sharply cut H.I.V. infections among women and schoolgirls, who make up a majority of the newly infected in sub-Saharan Africa.

Women who used a vaginal microbicidal gel containing an antiretroviral medication were 39 percent less likely over all to contract H.I.V. than those who used a placebo. After two decades in which researchers searched fruitlessly for an effective vaginal microbicide to block H.I.V., South African scientists working in two AIDS-devastated communities of South Africa, one rural and one urban, say they have finally found something that shows real promise. Women who used a vaginal microbicidal gel containing an antiretroviral medication widely used to treat AIDS, tenofovir, were 39 percent less likely over all to contract H.I.V. than those who used a placebo. Those who used the gel most regularly reduced their chances of infection 54 percent, according to a two-and-a-half year study of 889 women by Caprisa, a Durban-based AIDS research center.

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movies | Impish Fräulein2

ONTD_Political's PotD: July 20, 2010.

[Several weeks ago] in Glastonbury, England, on a site covering 1,000 acres, the 40th annual Glastonbury Festival was held at Worthy Farm. Started by a dairy farmer, Michael Evis in 1970 it has grown into the largest music festival in Europe. This year's headline acts on the main stage included Muse, Gorillaz and Stevie Wonder. Thousands of attendees were treated to a sunny weekend in the country with plenty to see, hear and experience. Collected here are images from Glastonbury 2010 for its 40th anniversary.
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Source Gallery:

Theocracy in Action: Now With a 100% More Wing-Nuts!!

Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Reject the Diaspora, Threatening to Split World Jewry

A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. Except when he or she is not.

Just ask Joel Chasnoff, a man who immigrated to Israel, joined the army, fought in Lebanon, then discovered the state didn't consider him Jewish.

In 1950, Israel, the Jewish state passed the Law of Return, granting "all Jews" automatic citizenship upon immigration to Israel. It was a visceral response to the Holocaust, to a time of refugees, of statelessness, of desperation for a homeland. Immediately the question arose: Who qualifies? In other words: who, exactly, is a Jew?

Now that question, one that has haunted Jewish communities for eons, suddenly threatens to split the world community of Jewry, to fracture it into shards of hate, pitting one sect against the others. (Let us set aside, for the moment, the burning second question of the Palestinian hope for their own "right of return." There will be readers not satisfied by that, but this is about Jew vs. Jew).

Last week, a committee in the Israeli Knesset passed a measure that would effectively undermine all branches of Judaism other than the most militantly Orthodox. If the bill, proposed by the ultra-right wing party Yisrael Beitanu (Israel Our House) becomes law, conversion, marriages, identities will all be tightly controlled by a tiny, ultra-Orthodox group of rabbis who don't even recognize other Orthodox branches of Judaism. Jeff Goldberg, at the Atlantic, blogged that the bill, "if passed, [would] disenfranchise Reform and Conservative Jews, and help Israel transform itself into Ayatollahstan." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come out forcefully against the proposal, saying it would "tear apart the Jewish people."
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Tweets Mocking Scientology Could Spell Trouble For Cheeky Cardiff Councillor.

Councillor faces inquiry over tweet calling Church of Scientology 'stupid'

Watchdog says Cardiff councillor John Dixon's Twitter message 'likely' to have breached code of conduct for local authority members

A councillor is facing a disciplinary hearing after calling the Church of Scientology "stupid" on Twitter, it emerged today.

The Welsh public standards watchdog investigated Cardiff councillor John Dixon's short message and decided it was "likely" to have breached the code of conduct for local authority members.

News of the ombudsman's decision prompted a flood of messages of support on Twitter for Dixon, the council's executive member for health, social care and wellbeing.

Tweets included an offer to find a lawyer to fight his case pro bono and many others defending his right to free speech.

The case centres on a message posted by the Liberal Democrat councillor during a visit to London.

It said: "I didn't know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off."

The message was posted on an account called
CllrJohnDixon. He has since set up a second account, JohnLDixon, for his "more personal musings", in which he describes himself as a "microbiologist and web developer, into science, rugby and web geekery".
By 3pm today, Dixon's number of followers on Twitter had trebled.

One supporter said: "Instead of a disciplinary hearing, they should canvas all the electorate to see if they agree with you. I think they just might."

Another wrote: "We're all behind you mate, if any disciplinary action goes ahead it will be because the stupid rubbed off on someone."

Dixon later tweeted: "Just seen all the retweets about my ombudsman's judgement. Um... Wow... Thanks."

A spokeswoman for the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales confirmed there had been an investigation into Dixon.

The investigation had found there was likely to have been a breach of the code of conduct local authority members must follow.

The ombudsman has referred the case to Cardiff council's standards and ethics committee, which will consider it in the autumn. It will have to decide if there has been a breach and, if it finds there has been, consider any sanctions.

A spokesman for the Church of Scientology said: "The complaint was made by an individual Scientologist who was personally offended by the comments."

The spokesman suggested people go to their website to find out about the church and its founder, L Ron Hubbard.

Dixon argued that the remarks were made in a personal capacity rather than as a councillor, and said his Twitter name was CllrJohnDixon only because JohnDixon had been taken.

He told the Guardian he was in London in June last year to buy a wedding ring for his wife-to-be – which he also tweeted about. Other postings made at the time included remarks about visiting a relative in Richmond and going to a musical.

Dixon said he thought the remark about the Church of Scientology was "whimsical" and had thought nothing more about it until he began to suspect that members of the church were following him on Twitter.

He posted another message: "Just realised the Scientologists are following me. Quick everyone, pretend you're out."

But he said that, in December, the ombudsman received a complaint about the remarks. Councillors are obliged to carry out their duties with due regard to the principle that there should be equal opportunity to all, regardless of their religion.

Dixon said that even if he had been speaking in an official capacity – which he maintains he was not – he was surprised at the complaint going so far.

"As a Liberal Democrat, I'm used to having things said about me. You take it on the chin," he said.

He said he did not have very strong opinions on Scientologists before the saga. "Having done some research on them, I take a harder line now," he added.

Nikki Araguz, Transgender Wife of Dead Firefighter, Taken to Court by Husband's Family Over Assets

Nikki Araguz, wife of recently deceased firefighter, Thomas Araguz, is being taken to court by her late husband's relatives over the distribution of his assets.

Born Justin Graham Purdue, Nikki married Thomas in August 2008, but in April of this year, their attorney informed Thomas of his wife's real identity and they separated.

Thomas Araguz died later on July 4 battling a massive fire.

Lawyers cite that the couple's marriage could not be considered legal because in the state of Texas, in which Thomas and Nikki were Wharton residents, two men cannot be married. The lawsuit claims that under Texas law, a person that undergoes a sex change is still considered the same sex that their birth certificate shows.



): I live in Wharton county, fifteen minutes from Wharton actually, and the story in my local paper about this made me rage so hard because they referred to her as "he/she", kept saying that she WAS REALLY A MAN THE WHOLE TIME~ and NEVER used the word transgendered. Ughhhh.

Also this is my first post so if I didn't use all the correct tags then plz forgive meh.
o crap o crap o crap
  • chaya

Israel: Rape of deception extends to lies about religious affiliation

An Israeli man of Arab origin has been convicted of rape after having consensual sex with a woman who had believed him to be a fellow Jew.

Sabbar Kashur, 30, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Monday after the court ruled that he was guilty of rape by deception. According to the complaint filed by the woman with the Jerusalem district court, the two met in downtown Jerusalem in September 2008 where Kashur, an Arab from East Jerusalem, introduced himself as a Jewish bachelor seeking a serious relationship. The two then had consensual sex in a nearby building before Kashur left.

When she later found out that he was not Jewish but an Arab, she filed a criminal complaint for rape and indecent assault.

Although Kashur was initially charged with rape and indecent assault, this was changed to a charge of rape by deception as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

Handing down the verdict, Tzvi Segal, one of three judges on the case, acknowledged that sex had been consensual but said that although not "a classical rape by force," the woman would not have consented if she had not believed Kashur was Jewish.

The sex therefore was obtained under false pretences, the judges said. "If she hadn't thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated," they added.

The court ruled that Kashur should receive a jail term and rejected the option of a six-month community service order. He was said to be seeking to appeal.

Segal said: "The court is obliged to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price – the sanctity of their bodies and souls. When the very basis of trust between human beings drops, especially when the matters at hand are so intimate, sensitive and fateful, the court is required to stand firmly at the side of the victims – actual and potential – to protect their wellbeing. Otherwise, they will be used, manipulated and misled, while paying only a tolerable and symbolic price."

Gideon Levy, a liberal Israeli commentator, was quoted as saying: "I would like to raise only one question with the judge. What if this guy had been a Jew who pretended to be a Muslim and had sex with a Muslim woman?

"Would he have been convicted of rape? The answer is: of course not."

(More at the sauce.)

It's The Guardian, so maybe we should be taking this with a pinch of, er, kosher salt? I've only ever heard of 'rape of deception' in academic circles, and that always referred to a man telling a woman he'd marry her if she'd go to bed with him while having no intention to do so. Lying about one's religion doesn't exactly seem as nefarious. Then again, if he lied about being Jewish one can presume he was also lying about looking for a long-term relationship with her? But is that really the same as saying you'll marry someone? I don't completely know how I feel about this article, but Segal's quote definitely leaves a bad taste in my mouth.