August 16th, 2010

mus | like a bird in a cage

RCMP confirm death on migrant ship

VANCOUVER - One of the nearly 500 Tamil migrants who set sail for Canada aboard a cramped cargo freighter died just weeks before the ship arrived off the British Columbia coast, the RCMP confirmed Sunday.

The MV Sun Sea arrived near Victoria on Friday carrying about 490 people from war-ravaged Sri Lanka, who are expected to make refugee claims.

"What investigators have passed along to us is that a 37-year-old man did die about three weeks ago while the MV Sun Sea was in international waters," Const. Mike McLaughlin of the RCMP said in an interview.

"Their investigation has determined he died of a sickness; he simply couldn't be treated at sea. There's nothing to indicate any criminal intent."

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[misc] landscape

Homemade bombs explode near TN police department

Two homemade bombs exploded outside the White House Police Department early this morning.

Two police officers and a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer were inside the building in Robertson County conducting a training exercise when the bombs went off at 1:30 a.m., according to a news release.

No one was injured and there are no suspects.

The Fire Marshall and police requested the help of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Officials are investigating whether this explosion, is related to a similar incident on the 200 block of Orchard Park in White House on July 26.


ETA: The news article has been updated, and the update is posted in the comments. Police believe the THP officer is being targeted.
Louis Theroux in Hell

Could picky eating be genetic?

Hate fish? Can't eat veg? Doctors study picky eaters
By Jane O'Brien

Shopping with picky eater Rhonda West: 'The list of what I can't eat is so long'

How many people can't stand the texture of fish, can only stomach grilled chicken or refuse to eat their vegetables?

Scientists at Duke University in North Carolina are compiling the first global registry of "picky eaters" in the hope of discovering why some people have trouble with food.

They believe it may help find a genetic reason for some eaters' intense dislike of certain foods, like broccoli, or beans with a "fuzzy" texture.

They note some eaters' pickiness is so deep-seated it interferes with their jobs, their relationships and their social lives.

"This is an area that is vastly under-explored," says Dr Nancy Zucker, director of the Duke University Center for Eating Disorders.
Veggies "People think this is something you choose, but I don't have a choice," says picky eater Heather Hill

"We have no idea how prevalent it is and how it affects people's lives."

The findings have given heart to picky eaters who say they are not taken seriously because most omnivores consider their fussiness a choice or a childish habit, not a medical condition.

Neither is picky eating socially acceptable, in the way that vegetarianism or other voluntary diets are.

"The worst thing about being a picky eater is other people," says Rhonda West of Virginia.

"They're just mean. It starts with your family thinking you're doing this on purpose, that you're trying to gain attention or just being a difficult child - but it's none of the above. They're asking us to do something that's equivalent to eating dirt every day."

Read the rest at BBC News

Craigslist killer suspect Philip Markoff found dead

A former medical student accused of killing a masseuse he met through Craigslist committed suicide in the Boston jail where he was awaiting trial, authorities said Sunday.

Philip Markoff, 24, was found unresponsive in his cell Sunday morning in the Nashua Street Jail, the Suffolk County district attorney's office said in an e-mailed statement, and he was pronounced dead at about 10:15 a.m.

"Markoff was alone in his cell, and all evidence collected thus far indicates that he took his own life," the statement said.

Authorities will investigate to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding his death, the district attorney said.

Saturday would have been Markoff's first wedding anniversary, but his nuptials were canceled after his arrest.

Markoff, a former Boston University student, pleaded not guilty in the fatal shooting of Julissa Brisman, of New York City, and the armed robbery of a Las Vegas woman. Both crimes happened at Boston hotels within the span of four days in April 2009. Rhode Island prosecutors also accused him of attacking a stripper that week.

His trial in the Massachusetts cases was expected in March.

Markoff's lawyer, John Salsberg, said he was shocked and saddened about his client's death. He would not comment further.

Markoff had met the women through advertisements for erotic services posted on Craigslist, a classified advertising Web site, prosecutors said.

Craigslist under fire over erotic ads
A lawyer said Brisman's family was "shocked and dismayed" to hear of Markoff's death.

"Their grief for Jullissa is as fresh today as the day over a year ago when Markoff took Julissa away from them," Boston attorney Djuna Perkins said in an e-mail. "The long-awaited criminal prosecution was their only opportunity to confront him, and now he has taken that away as well."

Still, she said, the family will pursue other "avenues to seek justice" and to help ensure others do not fall victim to violence. She said the family has asked a federal prosecutor in New Hampshire to investigate the gun shop used in the crime.

Markoff was engaged at the time of his arrest. His fiancee, Megan McAllister, ended the relationship with Markoff after visiting him in jail, and their wedding, scheduled for Aug. 14, 2009, was canceled.


I hope that even with the suicide the family of the murdered woman can get some closure on this.</a>

Neil Patrick Harris to Be Father of Twins

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - "How I Met Your Mother" star Neil Patrick Harris is going to be the father of twins.

E Online reports that the actor and his partner, David Burtka, were expecting the children via a surrogate in October.

Harris confirmed the report via Twitter on Saturday, writing, "So get this: David and I are expecting twins this fall. We're super excited/nervous/thrilled."

Harris is nominated for three Emmys this year: best supporting actor in a comedy series, guest actor in a comedy for his appearance on "Glee" and best special-class program for his turn as Tony Awards host. The later nomination was added this past week after the Los Angeles Times notified the TV Academy that Harris' name had been omitted from the group of names in the category.


No marriages for now in California

The Ninth Circuit granted the stay of Judge Walker's decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (Prop. 8) pending appeal, but put the case on an expedited briefing schedule. There will be a hearing the week of December 6th, where they are directed to talk about whether the pro-Prop. 8 side has standing to appeal the case.

Source is the order.

Sen. Harry Reid comes out against Obama-backed plan for mosque near Ground Zero

The Senate's top Democrat spoke out against plans for a mosque near Ground Zero Monday, a public break from President Barack Obama's support of the controversial prooposal.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. is the highest-profile Democrat to respond to Obama's recent backing of the mosque.

"The First Amendment protects freedom of religion," said Jim Manley, a Reid spokesman. "Senator Reid respects that, but thinks that the mosque should be built some place else."

Meanwhile, the White House sought Monday to bow out of the Ground Zero mosque debate the President jumped into three days ago, sparking criticism from both ends of the political spectrum.

"I think that it's a debate that was had and we've weighed in," Deputy White House Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters on Air Force 1 as Obama was en route to a Wisconsin factory to boost clean energy.

"I assume that people will continue to talk about it," Burton said, "but I think that we've addressed this to a pretty full extent."

Burton conceded that Obama triggered a political firestorm by first defending the right of Muslim groups to put a mosque in Lower Manhattan, two blocks from Ground Zero, and then saying he was not endorsing the "wisdom" of the move.

Burton also sidestepped on whether the GOP can make the mosque a wedge issue in the drive to take back Congress in November.
"I can't speak to the politics of what the Republicans are doing," Burton said.

"And the President didn't do this because of the politics. He spoke about it because he feels he has an obligation as the President to address this."

Mayor Bloomberg Monday again endorsed the wisdom of the mosque plan, as well as Muslims' right to build it.

"A mosque would enhance the cultural diversity of our city and those kinds of things are good for our city," Bloomberg said.

"And as I've said, Muslims are as much a part of our city and our country as Americans of any other faith, and they are as welcome to worship in lower Manhattan as anyone else."


Who wants to bet this is Reid scrambling for votes against Angle?

South Korean Leader Proposes a Tax to Finance Reunification

SEOUL, South Korea — President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea proposed a special tax on Sunday to finance the enormous cost of reuniting with North Korea, as concerns have deepened here over the North’s future after the eventual death of its ailing leader.

The proposal broached a delicate issue, and analysts said it could provoke an angry response from the North, which may see it as an aggressive move by the South.

Although all previous South Korean leaders have advocated rejoining the North, Mr. Lee was the first to propose that the South start saving for the event with a unification tax.

Merging the South’s economic powerhouse with the North’s impoverished socialist system could impose huge costs on South Korea, analysts say. Those costs have been estimated at a few hundred billion dollars to $1 trillion, according to various South Korean and American research institutes, depending largely on how quickly the countries were integrated.

“Reunification will definitely come,” Mr. Lee said Sunday in a speech marking the 65th anniversary of the Koreans’ liberation from 35 years of Japanese colonial rule. “I believe that the time has come to start discussing realistic policies to prepare for that day, such as a reunification tax.”

Mr. Lee did not elaborate on what prompted his proposal. But it came as officials and analysts in Seoul contemplated the possibility that the North’s leader, Kim Jong-il, could die before a successor gained firm control.


NY Times has the entire article
mus | like a bird in a cage

Mounties still probing last year's Tamil ship

OTTAWA - As Canada grapples with another boatload of Tamil migrants, the RCMP say they're still investigating possible human smuggling crimes stemming from the arrival of a similar ship 10 months ago.

The MV Ocean Lady — formerly the MV Princess Easwary — showed up in waters off Vancouver Island in October carrying 76 Tamils. All have since been released from custody as the refugee-determination process unfolds.

But there's been no word about charges of human smuggling or trafficking against the ringleaders of the operation.

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Target rejects HRC call for ‘make it right’ donation to gay causes

Target Corp. said Monday it has no plans to donate money to gay-friendly causes to quiet the protests over a $150,000 donation that helped support a Minnesota governor candidate who opposes gay marriage.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said the Minneapolis-based retailer had effectively rejected the group’s proposals to donate to gay rights organizations to offset the earlier donation.

In a statement, Target said:

“Given the current political and emotionally charged environment, we have concluded that it is best to wait before taking further external action regarding our MN Forward contribution. We believe that it is impossible to avoid turning any further actions into a political issue and will use the benefit of time to make thoughtful, careful decisions on how best to move forward.”

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  • synesis

Anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre

Monday 16 August 1819 started off a beautiful day in Manchester but it didn’t end that way. By 2pm in the afternoon fifteen people had been cut down in the present Convention area of the city centre and more than 700 had been injured.

The event became known as the Peterloo Massacre and was the single most important Manchester moment in terms of the way it shook up British Society and made the nation rethink the way it was governed.

So how did it come about?
A meeting had been called in the town as part of a larger movement campaigning for a national extension of the vote to all adults and for representation in the new industrial centres – Manchester’s nearest MP was in Newton-le-Willows and was effectively elected by the Stanley family at Knowsley.

To have little direct influence on the government was a cause of growing anger. Thousands, in particular, of handloom weavers in the area were caught in a downward spiral of wages and a rise in the price of bread. Representation and the opportunity to address problems directly to Parliament was seen as a matter of life and death.

Words typical of the mood were incorporated in the Declaration to be sent to London by the protesters: 'Governments, not immediately derived from and strictly accountable to the People, are usurpations and ought to be resisted and destroyed'. Yet the meeting was always intended to be conducted peacefully. The leader of the meeting Henry Hunt asked people to come 'armed with no other weapon but that of a self approving conscience; determined not to be irritated or excited '.

It was the town's magistrates that became excited.

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Source -- it's also worth reading more widely on the Corn Laws. The Peterloo massacre is one of the most important events in the advancement of British democracy and, for British socialists in particular, something that should be remembered. Some Mancunians are campaigning for a memorial, and those in Britain should consider writing to their MP about it: it isn't simply a local issue. Peterloo also inspired Shelley to write the lines in the Masque of Anarchy that have long been a credo for the left in Britain:

Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable NUMBER!
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
Which in sleep had fall'n on you:
fakenews| Lewis Black

ONTD_Political's PotD: August 16, 2010.

The most ancient traditions of Islam are going high-tech, with a slew of modern offerings for those observing the holy month of Ramadan, which begins this week. Cell phone applications such as "iPray" or "iQuran" offer a beeping reminder of requisite prayer times, while the "Find Mecca" and "mosque finder" programs help the Muslim traveler in an unfamiliar city find the nearest place to pray. The applications aren't just for Ramadan; there are Islamic-themed programs that help users find the nearest Costco offering foods prepared according to Islamic dietary rules, learn the correct Arabic pronunciations in a daily prayer, or count how many pages of the Quran they've read that day -- all on a mobile phone. The dates of Ramadan still are determined by the lunar calendar, and calculations can differ among Islamic communities around the world. In North America, many Muslims will mark the first day of Ramadan on Wednesday. But Islam never has been at odds with innovation, said Zinnur Tabakci, who runs an Islamic religious book and gift shop in Paterson, N.J. "Islam is not against technology. Now you can do it easier, faster," said Tabakci, who recently supplemented the strings of traditional prayer beads and religious texts he sells with a wall of mobile phone accessories to keep up with demand.
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Source: "Ramadan begins" | The Frame |