August 24th, 2010

movies | Impish Fräulein2

ONTD_Political's PotD: August 23, 2010.

With images from southern and central Russia in the news lately due to extensive wildfires, I thought it would be interesting to look back in time with this extraordinary collection of color photographs taken between 1909 and 1912. In those years, photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II. He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colors, make it difficult for viewers to believe that they are looking 100 years back in time - when these photographs were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun. Collected here are a few of the hundreds of color images made available by the Library of Congress, which purchased the original glass plates back in 1948.
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Thank you bellichka + dearmisterecho for suggesting this set!

martha my dear, paul

Militants 'slaughter' lawmakers at Somali hotel

MOGADISHU, Somalia — A suicide bomber and gunmen dressed in Somali military uniforms stormed a hotel in the country's capital Tuesday, killing at least 31 people including six members of parliament, the Somali government said.

Legislator Mohamed Hasan told Reuters that attackers "slaughtered" the politicians.

Somali security forces seized one gunman alive but two remained at-large, Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman said.

"Three men disguised as government (troops) attacked the hotel," he told Reuters. "Government officials were killed."

The militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack on the Muna hotel. Al-Shabab has been waging a three-year insurgency against the fragile Western-backed government in the chaotic Horn of African country.

Parliamentarians often live at Mogadishu hotels while in the capital city.


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D: What is this? I don't even

Minister who performed same-sex marriages faces Church court

A retired minister who conducted same-sex marriages during the period they were legal in California will be trialled before a Presbyterian court on Thursday.

A retired minister who conducted same-sex marriages during the period they were legal in California will be trialled before a Presbyterian court on Thursday.

Rev Jane Adams Spahr has been accused of violating her denomination’s constitution. The openly gay minister officiated at over a dozen same-sex wedding ceremonies before Proposition 8 was passed.

Spahr was previously tried in the Church’s court in 2006 for officiating at two lesbian weddings. The Presbyterian constitution defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. She was acquitted on a technicality in 2008 – there was debate on the definition of what constituted a marriage in this case.

The Rev Carmen Fowler, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, a conservative organisation that opposes same-sex marriage, told the Los Angeles Times that “what is being tested is the definition of marriage” in the Presbyterian faith.


All I have to say is 'What?'
  • koken23

(no subject)

GOVERNOR-GENERAL Quentin Bryce has sought legal advice on whether her family link to Labor powerbroker Bill Shorten creates a conflict of interest with her role in appointing the next Australian government.

As Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott vie for the backing of key independent MPs to form Australia's first minority government in 70 years, questions have been raised over whether Ms Bryce should excuse herself from adjudicating over who will get the job.

The extraordinary prospect of the Governor-General not being able to perform her crucial role in the event of a political deadlock was confirmed yesterday when she released a statement acknowledging concerns about her relationship to Mr Shorten, who is married to her daughter Chloe.

''The Governor-General is seeking advice on concerns raised about her personal position in the current political circumstances,'' a Government House spokeswoman said.

In a further statement last night, her office revealed that the Commonwealth Solicitor-General, Stephen Gageler, SC, had agreed to provide advice on the issue.

If Ms Bryce concluded that her relationship with Mr Shorten could be perceived as a conflict of interest, the task of resolving a political deadlock might fall to the longest-serving state governor, Marie Bashir in New South Wales.

Mr Shorten, one of the architects of former prime minister Kevin Rudd's demise and a potential Labor leadership candidate, refused to comment yesterday.

But he addressed the issue on ABC's Insiders on Sunday. ''If it does come to that sort of constitutional crisis … your mother-in-law, the Governor-General, would have to make the call,'' host Barrie Cassidy said.

''In terms of the Governor-General's role, she will carry out her role, I'm sure,'' Mr Shorten replied. ''In terms of any other point that you may be humorously alluding to, I'm not going to impugn that office.''

The power to appoint a prime minister if an election results in a hung Parliament is among the so-called ''reserve powers'' of the Governor-General.

Constitutional law experts were divided yesterday on whether, in the event of a political deadlock, there was a potential conflict for Ms Bryce.

Professor George Williams said Ms Bryce had done the right thing in taking advice. ''It's good that she's acted early in a proactive way to get it looked at. It's something that I think is sensible to get an opinion on,'' he told The Age.

''If everything runs as it should, no conflict issue can even arise because it will be Parliament that will make a decision and that will be the end of the matter.

''But, if things do go awry and extraordinary things happen and she finds herself in the middle of a political maelstrom, then in that case I think there is a real possibility that perceptions are strong enough that it would just be wise not to provide a distraction and to ensure that any decision is made without even the slightest suggestion of a conflict.''

Professor Greg Craven of the Australian Catholic University said Ms Bryce's family connection to Mr Shorten could not lead to any reasonable perception of bias.

''We've had governors-general before who have been former ministers of governments over which they have had to preside - that's a far closer connection than this sort of thing,'' Professor Craven said.

''The reality is that governors-general are at the end of their careers. Their reputations are absolutely vital. I don't think any reasonable person could perceive bias.''

Professor David Flint said there was no obvious conflict of interest and barrister Greg Barns said it was ''important that she shows that the office is above influence from any quarter'' by exercising her powers.

But ethicist Leslie Cannold and Melbourne barrister Peter Faris, QC, have said Ms Bryce's family link is a clear case of perceived bias.

Mr Faris suggested she hand her role over to the Chief Justice of the High Court.

However, this might be a controversial option - former governor-general Sir John Kerr approached High Court Chief Justice Sir Garfield Barwick before he dismissed prime minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.

Present Chief Justice Robert French has said that neither he nor other High Court judges would advise the Governor-General in case the matter ended up before them in court.

The meeting of Sir John and Sir Garfield on November 10, 1975, ''was, and remains, a controversial matter but, if only on that account, will not happen again'', Justice French said, quoting another of his predecessors, Sir Gerard Brennan.

He suggested in October last year that ''a small group of independent experts, perhaps even including one or more retired justices of the High Court, could be established for the purpose''.

In Tasmania's recent constitutional crisis, Governor Peter Underwood asked incumbent Premier David Bartlett to form government despite Mr Bartlett's public statements that the opposition should do so.

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

DEA seeks Ebonics experts to help with cases

DEA seeks Ebonics experts to help with cases

Federal agents are seeking to hire Ebonics translators to help interpret wiretapped conversations involving targets of undercover drug investigations.

The Drug Enforcement Agency recently sent memos asking companies that provide translation services to help it find nine translators in the Southeast who are fluent in Ebonics, Special Agent Michael Sanders said Monday.

Ebonics, which is also known as African American Vernacular English, has been described by the psychologist who coined the term as the combination of English vocabulary with African language structure.

Some DEA agents already help translate Ebonics, Sanders said. But he said wasn't sure if the agency has ever hired outside Ebonics experts as contractors.

"They saw a need for this in a couple of their investigations," he said. "And when you see a need — it may not be needed now — but we want the contractors to provide us with nine people just in case."

The DEA's decision, first reported by The Smoking Gun, evokes memories of the debate sparked in 1996 when the Oakland, Calif., school board suggested that black English was a separate language. Although the board later dropped the suggestion amid criticism, it set off a national discussion over whether Ebonics is a language, a dialect or neither.

The search for translators covers a wide swath of the Southeast, including offices in Atlanta, Washington, New Orleans, Miami and the Caribbean, said Sanders. He said he's uncertain why other regions aren't hiring Ebonics translators, but said there are ongoing investigations in the Southeast that need dedicated Ebonics translators.

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I'm not sure how I feel about this, but I do know I want to send a hale and hearty "Fuck you" to Aloysius Hogan for that "languages that are of questionable merit" bullshit.
Bree Gun

(no subject)

New Study Shows That Childless Women Succeed More Than Mothers in the Workplace

Aug. 22, 2010—

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- what do these women have in common?

Despite their widely varying political and personal experiences, all three of these powerful women do not have children, and some experts think this fact may have contributed directly to their successes.

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Calvin & Hobbes: Hug
  • calybe

Since many people have been saying the Park51 Islamic Community Centre is a distraction...

The "mosque" debate is not a "distraction"

by Glenn Greenwald

Opponents of the Park51 Islamic community center held a rally yesterday in Lower Manhattan, and a 4-minute video (posted here) reveals the true sentiments behind this campaign.  It has little to do with The Hallowed Ground of the World Trade Center -- that's just the pretext -- and everything to do with animosity toward Muslims.  I dislike the tactic of singling out one or two objectionable people or signs at a march or rally in order to disparage the event itself.  That's not what this video is.  Rather, it shows the collective sentiment of those gathered, as well as what's driving the broader national backlash against mosques and Muslims far beyond Ground Zero.

The episode in the video begins when, as John Cole put it, "some black guy made the mistake of looking Muslimish and was harassed and nearly assaulted by the collection of lily white mouth-breathers at the event . . . At about 25 seconds in, he quite astutely points out to the crowd that 'All y'all dumb motherfuckers don’t even know my opinion on shit'."  As this African-American citizen (whom the videographer claims is a union carpenter who works at Ground Zero) is instructed to leave by what appears to be some sort of security or law enforcement official, the crowd proceeds to yell:  "he musta voted for Obama," "Mohammed's a pig," and other assorted charming anti-mosque slogans.  I really encourage everyone to watch this to see the toxicity this campaign has unleashed.

The New York Times article on this rally describes similar incidents, including how a student who carried a sign that simply read "Religious tolerance is what makes America great" was threatened and told that "that if the police were not present, [he] would be in danger."  Does anyone believe that their real agenda is simply to have Park51 move a few blocks away to less Sacred ground, or that they're amenable to some sort of Howard-Dean-envisioned compromise that accommodates everyone?

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UPDATE III:  The group which sponsored this rally has a website -- the repellently named -- which is registered to The Center for Security Policy, the group of Frank Gaffney, one of the most deranged and dishonest right-wing extremists in the country.  So it's hardly surprising that such a rotted root gave rise to this toxic fruit (I just unintentionally made a nice rhyme).

Speaking of deranged right-wing extremists, I was on MSNBC today debating Park51 with Cliff May of National Review; it largely degenerated into a cable-news screamfest, but for those interested, you can watch it here:

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Saudi official: Paralysis not considered as punishment

Saudi official: Paralysis not considered as punishment

Saudi authorities backed away Monday from reports last week that a court was preparing to order a man paralyzed as punishment for paralyzing another man, allegedly in a fight.

The paralyzed man, identified by the Saudi newspaper Okaz as 22-year-old Abdul-Aziz al-Mitairy, requested the paralysis under sharia law, and, Okaz reported, the judge in the case had sent letters to several Saudi hospitals asking if they could sever a man's spinal cord.

But the Saudi Ministry of Justice denied that paralysis was ever considered as a punishment in the case, a high ranking Saudi government official told CNN.

The president of the court in the northwest province of Tabuk, where the incident took place, also disputed the reports.

"The proceedings in this case are still pending, and no verdict had been issued in that regards," Sheikh Saud Al-Yousef told Al-Riyadh newspaper.

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Islamophobia? Not really (The supposed anti-Muslim backlash among Americans is mostly a myth)

by Jonah Goldberg

Here's a thought: The 70% of Americans who oppose what amounts to an Islamic Niketown two blocks from ground zero are the real victims of a climate of hate, and anti-Muslim backlash is mostly a myth.

Let's start with some data.

According to the FBI, hate crimes against Muslims increased by a staggering 1,600% in 2001. That sounds serious! But wait, the increase is a math mirage. There were 28 anti-Islamic incidents in 2000. That number climbed to 481 the year a bunch of Muslim terrorists murdered 3,000 Americans in the name of Islam on Sept. 11.

Now, that was a hate crime.

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Bert 2008 B&W

Following up on "What is it about 20-Somethings?"

The original NYT article was posted here last week; I came across some follow up to a post written Saturday by a writer over at Salon who doesn't seem to quite get it, and this spot-on rebuttal by Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon that I thought some here might enjoy.  Her initial take on why was the very first thought that came to my mind as well.  Emphasis mine.

Adulthood, lack of jobs, and slippery definition

When I first read this article in the NY Times Magazine about how 20-somethings are delaying the supposed markers of adulthood---marriage, kids, financial independence---longer than they had in the past, I thought that the main flaw of it was that it didn’t address why financial independence was so hard to achieve.  By casting the entire situation as a matter of desire and choice, the author missed the big picture, which is that people delay adulthood because the ability to be an adult requires a certain amount of privilege increasingly unavailable to young people. I tweeted about it at the time, noting the answer to the question, “Why don’t people grow up faster?” is incredibly, stupidly simple---because they are no longer any jobs for people in their early 20s that provide the means to be a full adult.  Full stop.  I don’t mean that entry level jobs only pay enough for a small apartment or a simple lifestyle.  Often, they don’t pay enough to cover the rent on that small apartment---if they can find those jobs in the first place---and that’s why people move back in with their parents.

Which is why I saw red when I read this smarmy, self-righteous screed from some Baby BoomerIt’s a classic example of being born on third and thinking you hit a triple.  She assumes that her ability to pay rent with her first job out of college is strictly because she’s so much more fucking awesome than you spoiled kids these days, and her parents were so much more responsible than the softies of today.  For a millisecond, she ponders the possibility that things have changed because of financial constraints, but then dismisses that possibility with a handwave.  It’s so much more fun to be self-righteous!  It’s way more fun to wag your finger at young people and tell them how you lived on Ramen and beans to afford your apartment, never pausing for a moment to wonder if those kids might not be able to afford that apartment even if they lived on dog food.

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(And if you're feeling like getting a bit extra worked up about money and families with more than a balanced dash of crazy libertarian thrown in the mix, read her pieces on the Koch brothers here and here, in relation to this New Yorker article).

Christian Bale

Women Protest for Topless Rights

About 200 people, including about 2 dozen women wearing red tape, Band-Aids and makeshift pasties, march on the boardwalk Sunday to demand equal rights to go bare-chested in public.

Women bare it all in California at the National Go Topless Day protest!

For the third consecutive year, stages a national rally, proclaiming women's rights to go bare-chested in public.

While the women bared it all, male participants covered their chests by wearing bikini tops or bras to comply with gender equal rights.

Sound ridiculous?

Supporters say it's more ridiculous that women have to wear tops at all times.

"The only part of the breasts that's actually different between men and women is the area around it. And I don't know why people make sucha a big deal out of's kind of silly," said one woman, while another stated "We just need to grow up a little bit. I think we need to mature. A lot of other countries...this is no big deal on the beach. Women can dance around the fire, under the stars...there's so much beauty in the human body."

The rally is held to honor Women Equality Day, which is August 26.

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