July 25th, 2010

The consequences of a US war crime

Cancer rate in Fallujah worse than Hiroshima

The Iraqi city of Fallujah continues to suffer the ghastly consequences of a US military onslaught in late 2004.

According to the authors of a new study, “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009,” the people of Fallujah are experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukemia, infant mortality, and sexual mutations than those recorded among survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the years after those Japanese cities were incinerated by US atomic bomb strikes in 1945.

The epidemiological study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Studies and Public Health (IJERPH), also finds the prevalence of these conditions in Fallujah to be many times greater than in nearby nations.

The assault on Fallujah, a city located 43 miles west of Baghdad, was one of the most horrific war crimes of our time. After the population resisted the US-led occupation of Iraq—a war of neo-colonial plunder launched on the basis of lies—Washington determined to make an example of the largely Sunni city. This is called “exemplary” or “collective” punishment and is, according to the laws of war, illegal.
The new public health study of the city now all but proves what has long been suspected: that a high proportion of the weaponry used in the assault contained depleted uranium, a radioactive substance used in shells to increase their effectiveness.

In a study of 711 houses and 4,843 individuals carried out in January and February 2010, authors Chris Busby, Malak Hamdan, Entesar Ariabi and a team of researchers found that the cancer rate had increased fourfold since before the US attack five years ago, and that the forms of cancer in Fallujah are similar to those found among the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors, who were exposed to intense fallout radiation.

In Fallujah the rate of leukemia is 38 times higher, the childhood cancer rate is 12 times higher, and breast cancer is 10 times more common than in populations in Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait. Heightened levels of adult lymphoma and brain tumors were also reported. At 80 deaths out of every 1,000 births, the infant mortality rate in Fallujah is more than five times higher than in Egypt and Jordan, and eight times higher than in Kuwait.

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Köln Kirchen bei Nacht

At least 18 trampled to death at Germany's Loveparade

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

At least 18 people have been trampled to death on their way to the Loveparade techno music festival in Duisburg, Germany. The festival-goers were crushed in a tunnel on their way to festival grounds, according to police.

The tragedy occurred in a tunnel on the way to the festival grounds as police were trying to prevent people from entering the overcrowded site. Thousands of fans had been walking along a hundred-meter pathway toward the festival for several hours, many of them intoxicated.

According to eyewitnesses, people were unable to move forward or backward, sparking a panic and stampede. At least nine women and six men were killed, and others remain in critical condition.

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This is really horrifying; I can't remember anything of the kind happening here in Germany in recent years. The fact that they had to have the festival continue even after the incident because they feared what would happen when they told people that it was cancelled and why made it all really eerie. During the TV coverage, there were clearly people celebrating in the background who did not have any idea what had happened, and some of the reporters were incredibly shaken because they had to report on something completely different from the party scenes they had come for. And determining what happened and why will probably take a while - the access ways where this happened do look really too small on TV, but clearly a number of the people planning must have thought they were suitable.

Video (English), shows the scene of the accident (seems to include covered bodies, so use discretion).
Uncle V wants you

Science says if you're an incumbent, hope the home team wins

Science News: Voter madness
Home team victories may influence elections
By Laura Sanders

Whether politicians win or lose may come down to how local athletes play the game. When local football and basketball teams were victorious, voters were more pleased with elected officials, a study appearing online July 6 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds. The capricious link between sports teams and politicians’ performance is a clear example of how irrelevant events can shape important judgments.

The idea that emotions from unrelated events spill over into other areas isn’t new, says study coauthor Neil Malhotra of the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Lab studies have found that in the afterglow of a free gift, people rate their cars and televisions more highly, for instance.

“There is a lot of evidence of the predictable irrationality of human beings,” Malhotra says. “The question is, does this stuff actually happen in the real world?”

So Malhotra and his colleagues tallied up the wins and losses of 62 Division I college football teams from 1964 through 2008 and found how voters in that team’s home county behaved. The study excluded the University of Connecticut and University of South Florida, which are relative newbies to Division I status, and excluded the University of Southern California and UCLA because they share Los Angeles county.

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As a scientist, sports fan, and political junkie, I couldn't resist this.
Mr. T the Patriot

Jan Brewer rejects health care funding; sends state employee insurance premiems rocketing

State and university employees with families can expect to see their monthly health-insurance costs rise as much as 37 percent next year, depending on the type of plan they choose.

Figures provided by the Arizona Department of Administration show that health plans for families and single adults with children will shoulder the most-expensive monthly premium increases beginning Jan. 1, while individuals will pay modest increases.

The Department of Administration cited federal health reform as the reason the state's health plans will carry "greater expenses and higher premiums for members," according to a June 30 letter sent to about 135,000 state and university employees and their dependents.

The letter named two provisions that the state expects will drive health-insurance costs higher. One is a requirement that insurance plans provide coverage for dependent children up to age 26. The other is the federal legislation's ban on lifetime limits, an insurance-industry practice that cuts coverage once an individual's medical expenses exceed a set amount over their lifetime.Collapse )
Ray spelled backwards is GOD

Woman in St. Louis loses suit over Girls Gone Wild video

ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis jury has rejected a woman's claim that her reputation has been damaged after being filmed by "Girls Gone Wild."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the issue was whether or not the woman had consented to being filmed. The woman, identified only as Jane Doe, was 20 when another woman pulled down her top in front of "Girls Gone Wild" cameras at a St. Louis bar.

Doe's lawyers argued that just because she was at an event where Girls Gone Wild was filming, doesn't mean she volunteered to disrobe.

According to the Post-Dispatch, the woman can be heard saying "no" in the original tape before another woman pulled down Doe's top.

Now married with two children, Doe filed suit in 2008 after a friend of her husband identified her in one of the videos.

The video, called "Girls Gone Wild: Sorority Orgy," features scenes at taverns and bars where photographers encourage women to flash their breasts to the camera.

But Doe says she didn't want to disrobe on camera. The jury disagreed.

According to the Post-Dispatch, jury foreman Tim O'Brien reported 11 of the 12 jurors rejected Doe's claim. In cases like this one, only nine jurors need to agree the verdict.

"Through her actions, she gave implied consent," O'Brien said. "She was really playing to the camera. She knew what she was doing."

Doe's lawyer argued that Doe never gave consent, evidenced by her saying "no" shortly before her top was pulled down.

"Other girls said it was OK. Not one other one said, 'No, no,'" said Stephen Evans, a St. Louis-area lawyer that represented Doe. "She is entitled to go out with friends and have a good time and not have her top pulled down and get that in a video."

Source, more links and info.

Gray White Dawn

The Gray And The Brown: The Generational Mismatch
A contrast in priorities is arising between nonwhite young voters and white, older voters.

In an age of diminished resources, the United States may be heading for an intensifying confrontation between the gray and the brown.

Two of the biggest demographic trends reshaping the nation in the 21st century increasingly appear to be on a collision course that could rattle American politics for decades. From one direction, racial diversity in the United States is growing, particularly among the young. Minorities now make up more than two-fifths of all children under 18, and they will represent a majority of all American children by as soon as 2023, demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution predicts.

At the same time, the country is also aging, as the massive Baby Boom Generation moves into retirement. But in contrast to the young, fully four-fifths of this rapidly expanding senior population is white. That proportion will decline only slowly over the coming decades, Frey says, with whites still representing nearly two-thirds of seniors by 2040.

These twin developments are creating what could be called a generational mismatch, or a "cultural generation gap" as Frey labels it. A contrast in needs, attitudes, and priorities is arising between a heavily (and soon majority) nonwhite population of young people and an overwhelmingly white cohort of older people. Like tectonic plates, these slow-moving but irreversible forces may generate enormous turbulence as they grind against each other in the years ahead.

Already, some observers see the tension between the older white and younger nonwhite populations in disputes as varied as Arizona's controversial immigration law and a California lawsuit that successfully blocked teacher layoffs this year at predominantly minority schools. The 2008 election presented another angle on this dynamic, with young people (especially minorities) strongly preferring Democrat Barack Obama, and seniors (especially whites) breaking solidly for Republican John McCain.

Over time, the major focus in this struggle is likely to be the tension between an aging white population that appears increasingly resistant to taxes and dubious of public spending, and a minority population that overwhelmingly views government education, health, and social-welfare programs as the best ladder of opportunity for its children. "Anything to do with children in the public arena is going to generate a stark competition for resources," Frey says.
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  • inward

Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege (WSJ Opinion by Senator Jim Webb)

America still owes a debt to its black citizens, but government programs to help all 'people of color' are unfair. They should end.

The NAACP believes the tea party is racist. The tea party believes the NAACP is racist. And Pat Buchanan got into trouble recently by pointing out that if Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court, there will not be a single Protestant Justice, although Protestants make up half the U.S. population and dominated the court for generations.

Forty years ago, as the United States experienced the civil rights movement, the supposed monolith of White Anglo-Saxon Protestant dominance served as the whipping post for almost every debate about power and status in America. After a full generation of such debate, WASP elites have fallen by the wayside and a plethora of government-enforced diversity policies have marginalized many white workers. The time has come to cease the false arguments and allow every American the benefit of a fair chance at the future.

I have dedicated my political career to bringing fairness to America's economic system and to our work force, regardless of what people look like or where they may worship. Unfortunately, present-day diversity programs work against that notion, having expanded so far beyond their original purpose that they now favor anyone who does not happen to be white.

In an odd historical twist that all Americans see but few can understand, many programs allow recently arrived immigrants to move ahead of similarly situated whites whose families have been in the country for generations. These programs have damaged racial harmony. And the more they have grown, the less they have actually helped African-Americans, the intended beneficiaries of affirmative action as it was originally conceived.

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Texas woman murders her two children for being autistic

Woman in 911 call says she strangled her autistic children
By Chris Reinolds Kozelle, CNN
July 22, 2010 7:00 p.m. EDT

(CNN) -- An Irving, Texas, woman told a 911 operator that she strangled her two young children Monday because they were autistic, according to a recording of the call.

Saiqa Akhter, 30, has been charged with a single count of capital murder in the deaths of her 2-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, police said.

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the article is a few days old, but i didn't see it posted here

Uncle V wants you

Obama and Pelosi rally progressives at Netroots Nation

Washington Post: Obama, Pelosi urge activists at Netroots Nation to keep fighting for change
By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 25, 2010

LAS VEGAS -- President Obama and other Democratic leaders appealed to a gathering of prominent liberal activists Saturday, seeking to win back a disenchanted constituency that appears uninterested in helping the party avoid large losses in November's midterm elections.

In a videotaped speech at the annual Netroots Nation convention, Obama acknowledged that for many Americans, "change hasn't come fast enough." He said he shared that frustration, but he asked liberals to stick with him and the party.

"Change is hard, but if we've learned anything these past 18 months, it's that change is possible," Obama said, adding, "Let's finish what we've started."

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More at the link in the headline, including a slideshow and summaries of Harry Reid and Van Jones addressing the convention.

As a regular poster on Daily Kos, I know a lot of the participants in Netroots Nation. I couldn't attend this year, but plan on going to next year's, when it will be in Minneapolis.


I Can Haz My Tax Cut and Lower Deficits Too?

The political genius of supply-side economics

The future of fiscal policy was intensely debated in the FT last week. In this Exchange, I want to examine what is going on in the US and, in particular, what is going on inside the Republican party. This matters for the US and, because the US remains the world’s most important economy, it also matters greatly for the world.

My reading of contemporary Republican thinking is that there is no chance of any attempt to arrest adverse long-term fiscal trends should they return to power. Moreover, since the Republicans have no interest in doing anything sensible, the Democrats will gain nothing from trying to do much either. That is the lesson Democrats have to draw from the Clinton era’s successful frugality, which merely gave George W. Bush the opportunity to make massive (irresponsible and unsustainable) tax cuts. In practice, then, nothing will be done.

Indeed, nothing may be done even if a genuine fiscal crisis were to emerge. According to my friend, Bruce Bartlett, a highly informed, if jaundiced, observer, some “conservatives” (in truth, extreme radicals) think a federal default would be an effective way to bring public spending they detest under control. It should be noted, in passing, that a federal default would surely create the biggest financial crisis in world economic history.

To understand modern Republican thinking on fiscal policy, we need to go back to perhaps the most politically brilliant (albeit economically unconvincing) idea in the history of fiscal policy: “supply-side economics”. Supply-side economics liberated conservatives from any need to insist on fiscal rectitude and balanced budgets. Supply-side economics said that one could cut taxes and balance budgets, because incentive effects would generate new activity and so higher revenue.

The political genius of this idea is evident. Supply-side economics transformed Republicans from a minority party into a majority party. It allowed them to promise lower taxes, lower deficits and, in effect, unchanged spending. Why should people not like this combination? Who does not like a free lunch?
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So long, farewell, aufwiedersehen, goodbye

BP chief Tony Hayward 'negotiating exit deal'

Tony Hayward
Tony Hayward AKA Michael Sheen

BP's chief executive Tony Hayward has been negotiating the terms of his exit, with a formal announcement likely within 24 hours, the BBC has learned.

Mr Hayward has been widely criticised over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

An official statement issued by BP in response said he had the "full support of the board and senior management".

BBC business editor Robert Peston says Mr Hayward is likely to be replaced by his American colleague, Bob Dudley, who is in charge of the clean-up operation.

While BP has been preparing for a change at the top for some time, the company was waiting until progress had been made on stemming the leak and until it was possible to quantify the financial costs of the disaster, our correspondent adds.

BP is due to release its results for the second quarter on Tuesday. It is expected to reveal a provision of up to $30bn (£19bn) for the costs of the clean-up, compensation claims and fines to be paid, resulting in a massive quarterly loss. It has also lost 40% of its market capitalisation.

BP's board is scheduled to meet on Monday ahead of the results, when it is expected to discuss the timing of Mr Hayward's exit.

The official overseeing the US government response to the oil spill has meanwhile said the operation to plug the ruptured Macondo well permanently has been put back to allow more time for preparatory work.

Retired Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen said the last bit of pipe needed for the process would be put in place in the coming this week, with the actual plugging operation starting in the first week of August.

A temporary cap has stopped oil from gushing for more than a week.

More @ source about his various fuck ups and the dude taking over: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10753573

Afghanistan war logs: Massive leak of secret files exposes truth of occupation

A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency.

The disclosures come from more than 90,000 records of incidents and intelligence reports about the conflict obtained by the whistleblowers' website Wikileaks in one of the biggest leaks in US military history. The files, which were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, give a blow-by-blow account of the fighting over the last six years, which has so far cost the lives of more than 320 British and over 1,000 US troops.

Their publication comes amid mounting concern that Barack Obama's "surge" strategy is failing and as coalition troops hunt for two US navy sailors captured by the Taliban south of Kabul on Friday.

The war logs also detail:

• How a secret "black" unit of special forces hunts down Taliban leaders for "kill or capture" without trial.

• How the US covered up evidence that the Taliban has acquired deadly surface-to-air missiles.

• How the coalition is increasingly using deadly Reaper drones to hunt and kill Taliban targets by remote control from a base in Nevada.

• How the Taliban has caused growing carnage with a massive escalation of its roadside bombing campaign, which has killed more than 2,000 civilians to date.

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Source: The Guardian