August 1st, 2010


Tea party Diversity Day a Success: Multiple Shades of Whiteness Blinds Observers!

Diversity Is In The Eye Of The Beholder: A Day At Uni-Tea

It was billed as the most diverse tea party rally ever. For three hours Saturday afternoon, we waited for the diversity to show up.

Was Saturday's Uni-Tea rally in Philadelphia a success? Well, it depends on your definition of "epic fail." If you're more on the defensive end of the tea party spectrum, you would have left the rally this afternoon even more convinced that the movement is not now about race and never has been. If you're the kind of tea partier who'd like to see that abounding not-racism result in some actual demographic diversity in the movement, the Uni-Tea rally appeared to be a borderline disaster.

For three hours, a small crowd drifted in and out of Independence Park as speakers and musicians regaled them with paranoia about Democratic politicians and policies and reassurances that no matter what anyone says, there's no racism in the tea party.

Even as just a regular old tea party rally, the event fell flat. Though organizers said the event's website had been visited more than 2 million times in the days leading up to today's rally outside Independence Hall, for most of the afternoon there were fewer than 500 in attendance. It was clear from the large numbers of volunteers and the 1,500 bottles the organizers put on ice that they expected a big crowd to turn out. They did not get it by a long shot. They blamed a traffic jam on I-95 for keeping people away (for the record one organizer said that she counted 1,500 on the high end of attendance, but that appeared a bit generous to us).
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OUaT - Snow caught

NJ Library, Citing Child Pornography, Removes GLBT Book

A New Jersey public library has ordered the removal of all copies of Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology (Alyson, 2000) from its shelves--despite the fact there was no formal book challenge--and its library director has referred to the title as "child pornography," according to emails obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey through a Freedom of Information Act.

Gail Sweet, library director of the Burlington County Library System (BCLS), in April asked Library Commissioners to approve the removal of the book after a member of the conservative group 9.12 Project contacted Sweet requesting that it be taken off shelves.

While direct calls to Sweet were not returned, she did respond to an email request explaining BCLS's decision to take Revolutionary Voices off its shelves.

"Thank you for your interest but I have nothing to say on the topic," Sweet wrote.

Created by American television and radio personality Glenn Beck, the group vows to defend the constitution of the United States-and is the same organization that advocated Revolutionary Voice's removal from New Jersey's Rancocas Valley Regional High School this Spring.

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Way to go, Glenn Beck stans. >:(

(no subject)

new global treaty banning cluster munitions has come into force.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions bans the stockpiling, use and transfer of virtually all existing cluster bombs, and also provides for the clearing up of unexploded munitions.

It has been adopted by 108 states, of which 38 have ratified it.

First developed during World War II, cluster bombs contain a number of smaller bomblets designed to cover a large area and deter an advancing army.

Campaigners have hailed the treaty as the most significant disarmament and humanitarian treaty for a decade.

"This is a triumph of humanitarian values over a cruel and unjust weapon," Thomas Nash, co-ordinator of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), told the BBC.

"At a time when concern over civilian deaths in conflict is in the news, this treaty stands out as a clear example of what governments must do to protect civilians and redress the harm already caused by cluster bombs."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: "This new instrument is a major advance for the global disarmament and humanitarian agendas, and will help us to counter the widespread insecurity and suffering caused by these terrible weapons, particularly among civilians and children."

The agreement "highlights not only the world's collective revulsion at these abhorrent weapons, but also the power of collaboration among governments, civil society and the United Nations to change attitudes and policies on a threat faced by all humankind," Mr Ban said.

Cluster munitions are weapons dropped by aircraft or fired from the ground, which release submunitions or "bomblets" over a wide area.

If the shrapnel-filled bomblets fail to detonate on impact they can remain active for years. Some are unusually shaped or brightly coloured, making them attractive to children.

The charity Handicap International estimates that 98% of cluster bomb victims are civilians and nearly one-third are children.

"The main problem with cluster bombs is that they kill too many civilians," says Mr Nash.

"They don't discriminate between soldiers and civilians in populated areas and so many of them remain unexploded after an attack that they contaminate areas and kill and injure civilians for years.

"They're one of the worst conventional weapons in the world today."

The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the production, use, stockpiling and transfer of the weapons.

It sets deadlines for the destruction of stockpiles and the clearance of contaminated land.

Significantly, it also requires countries affected by cluster bombs to help victims of the weapons.

The campaign to ban cluster munitions gained momentum after the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.


Lebanese man wounded by a cluster bomb looks at artificial limbs (2007)
Israel is believed to have dropped 4m bomblets onto southern Lebanon in the last days of the war

The UN estimates that Israel dropped 4m bomblets onto southern Lebanon during the last three days of the war, when a ceasefire had already been agreed.

Israel insists its use of cluster munitions in Lebanon was in accordance with international humanitarian law and says most were fired at open and uninhabited areas used by Hezbollah fighters.

"Lebanon was the turning point," says Jeff Abramson from the Arms Control Association, an advocacy group based in Washington.

"It was the international outcry in 2006 that prompted the Norwegian government to start the negotiation process that has led to this new treaty."

But many of the world's major military powers - including the US, Russia and China - are not signatories to the treaty.

The US administration insists cluster munitions are "legitimate weapons" with "clear military utility in combat".

It argues that cluster munitions actually cause less harm to civilians than some other weapons.

The US is taking steps to ensure that any cluster munitions used after 2018 have a failure rate of less than 1%.

Despite the absence of important military nations, campaigners believe the Convention on Cluster Munitions will make the use of the weapons unacceptable in future conflicts.

"It's instructive to look at the 1997 Ottawa Treaty banning anti-personnel landmines," says the Head of Oxfam's Control Arms Campaign, Anna MacDonald.

"The United States didn't sign up to that either but it hasn't produced or used landmines since the treaty came into force."

"This treaty will create a new norm - it will stigmatise the weapons," agrees Mr Nash.

"Twenty-two out of the 28 countries in Nato, including the UK, have joined up to this ban. Practically, morally and in some cases legally it's going to be extremely difficult for any country to even contemplate using cluster munitions in future."

How a cluster bomb works

cluster bomb graphic

1. The cluster bomb, in this case a CBU-87, is dropped from a plane and can fly about nine miles before releasing its load of about 200 bomblets.

2. The canister starts to spin and opens at an altitude between 1,000m and 100m, spraying the bomblets across a wide area.

3. Each bomblet is the size of a drink can and contains hundreds of metal pieces. When it explodes, it can cause deadly injuries up to 25m away.


Sarah Palin makes fun of self, still looks like an idiot

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Sarah Palin swings hard at the idea of letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, saying it would "lead to even fewer job opportunities for Americans," calling it "idiotic to think about increasing taxes at a time like this." So strong does she feel her case is against them that, in a slyly self-mocking reference, she says that her "palm isn’t large enough to have written all my notes down on what this tax increase, what it will result in."
Observing that she does have something written on her hand, host Chris Wallace can't help asking what it is. Palin shows it says "$3.8 trillion in the next ten years," so she wouldn't get mixed up and say $3.7 trillion and "get dinged by the liberals saying I didn’t know what I was talking about."


Gay Sex Sting Operation In Newark Park Is Suspended

Followup to this post.

Last month, Andy posted about the death of DeFarra Gaymon, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Newark, NJ during a crackdown of cruising at a park in the city. Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura tells the New Jersey Star-Ledger that the five-year sting operation in the park has been suspended:
"We’ve temporarily suspended the undercover operation there, but we're increasing uniformed patrol at Branch Brook. It's on hold for now. We're looking to tweak it and make some adjustments."
New Jersey's largest LGBT organization is getting involved in the incident and past arrests in the park.
Garden State Equality, the state’s leading gay rights advocacy group, has now asked for documents related to previous lewdness arrests made at Branch Brook Park since 2005, saying any operation "targeting gay men or LGBT people specifically, or anyone perceived as such, is unconscionable — and as we strongly believe, illegal."

Legal experts said though police cannot go after a specific group on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, neither can a defendant use that as a shield against committing a crime.

Joel Caplan, a Rutgers Law School professor, said both sides have legitimate concerns. "If a police department has jurisdiction in a particular area, it has a right to enforce the law," he said. "If a bunch of young kids are playing loud music at night, police aren’t targeting the juveniles, they’re targeting the activity. But it also raises the question, why (is the sheriff) choosing to enforce that and not something else?"
As noted earlier, the prosecutor on the case claims that "Mr. Gaymon reached into his pocket and lunged at the officer in an attempt to disarm the officer. The officer shot him after "fearing for his life." The victim's family is now saying that that is complete nonsense. They claim that Gaymon would have never reacted violently and the police officer is lying in order to protect himself. They are also requesting that the FBI investigate the incident.

Source: Towleroad

In case anyone was wondering what was going on with this jackass...

Banks won't take Fort Hood shooting suspect's paychecks

BELTON — As he sits in the Bell County Jail, accused of the Nov. 5 Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead, Maj. Nidal Hasan continues to receive his monthly U.S. Army paycheck, which based on his rank and experience is probably more than $6,000.

That's standard procedure for soldiers who are confined before military trial
, according to Army officials.

But Hasan, charged with a shooting spree that shocked the country, is not a standard defendant. And he's having a hard time finding a bank to take his money.

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It must suck when even Bank of America thinks you're too evil to be doing business with.