September 12th, 2010

lost // jack

Christian worshippers attacked in Indonesia

BEKASI, Indonesia — Assailants stabbed a Christian worshipper in the stomach and pounded a minister in the head with a wooden plank as they headed to morning prayers Sunday outside Indonesia's capital.

Neither of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

No one claimed responsibility for the attacks. But suspicion immediately fell on Islamic hard-liners who have repeatedly warned members of the Batak Christian Protestant Church against worshipping on a field housing their now-shuttered church.

In recent months, they have thrown shoes and water bottles at the church members, interrupted sermons with chants of "Infidels!" and "Leave Now!" and dumped piles of feces on the land.

Local police Chief Imam Sugianto said Asia Sihombing, a worshipper, was on his way to the field when assailants jumped off a motorcycle and stabbed him in the stomach.

The Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak was smashed in the head as she tried to come to his aid.

"I was trying to help get him onto a motorcycle so we could get him to a hospital," she told reporters in the industrial city of Bekasi, 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Jakarta.

She said the face of one of the assailants looked familiar.

Indonesia, a secular country of 237 million people, has more Muslims than any other in the world. Though it has a long history of religious tolerance, a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.

Leading the charge against the Batak Christians has been the Islamic Defenders Front, which is pushing for the implementation of Islamic-based laws in Bekasi and other parts of the nation.

They are known for smashing bars, attacking transvestites and going after those considered blasphemous with bamboo clubs and stones. They also pressured the local government early this year to shutter the Batak church.

Perpetrators are rarely punished or even questioned by police.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who relies heavily on Islamic parties in parliament, has been widely criticized in the media for failing to crack down on hard-liners.

But he immediately called on authorities to investigate and to hold accountable those responsible for Sunday's attack.

"We know who's behind it," said Maj. Gen. Timur Pradopo, the police chief in Jakarta, without elaborating. "But I don't believe this is an inter-religous conflict."


So, ontd_p... what do you guys think? Anyone from Indonesia here who, if they're willing, could shed some light on the situation?

Lesbian couple's home burned in apparent hate crime


"The home of Carol and Laura Stutte on County Road 320 in Vonore was destroyed by fire last Saturday.

The word "queers" was also spray painted in large letters on their garage.

The couple feels they're victims of a hate crime, and were targeted because they're gay. They've been together for more than 15 years.


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As a lesbian that lives in the south, this story is SCARY! I truly thought things were getting a bit better in the South and then this crap happens.

If any of you are interested in helping, Pam's House Blend (an LGBT focused blog) has a story about the fire and has links where you can donate money or clothing items to the family.

I truly hope the person who did this is caught.

  • merig00

Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in back taxes last year, data show

Capitol Hill employees owed $9.3 million in overdue taxes at the end of last year, a sliver of the $1 billion owed by federal workers nationwide but one with potential political ramifications for members of Congress.
The debt among Hill employees has risen at a faster rate than the overall tax debt on the government's books, according to Internal Revenue Service data. It comes at a time when some Republican members are pushing for the firings of government workers who owe the IRS and President Obama has urged a crackdown on delinquent government contractors.
The IRS information does not identify delinquent taxpayers by name, party affiliation or job title and does not indicate whether members of Congress are among the scofflaws. It shows that 638 employees, or about 4 percent, of the 18,000 Hill workers owe money.
The average unpaid tax bill is $12,787 among the Senate's delinquent taxpayers and $15,498 among those working in the House.
IRS debt among government workers has surfaced repeatedly as a political issue over the years, most recently when Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) introduced legislation this year to fire federal workers who owe back taxes unless they have entered into a payment plan. Eight Republicans co-sponsored the bill. No Democrats have signed on, and some have said firings would reduce the government's prospects of being paid.
"If you're on the federal payroll and you're not paying your taxes, you should be fired," Chaffetz said in an interview. He said the policy should apply across the board and "there should be no special exemptions."
An agency-by-agency breakdown of IRS debt is not published but is available in a redacted form from the agency upon request. Along with the Capitol Hill totals, it shows that three employees at the Office of Government Ethics owed a combined $75,000. And 41 employees at the Executive Office of the President owed $831,000 altogether - about the same amount as during the last year of George W. Bush's administration.
Some tax experts and watchdog groups say that Capitol Hill employees have an added obligation to settle IRS debts.
"Congress and their staff - because they are the people who write the tax laws and because they work for the public - have to be held to a higher standard," Steve Ellis, vice president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, said when told of the IRS numbers.
"These are hard times, but they are on the government payroll," said Mortimer Caplin, an IRS commissioner for presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and a founding partner of the Caplin & Drysdale law firm. "The idea of paying taxes is kind of fundamental to a sound democracy, and they certainly have a special obligation in that regard."
Nationwide, debt to the IRS has been rising steadily, even before the current economic downturn, with $103.2 billion owed at the end of last year. Tax experts say that delinquencies are another sign of economic pressures on American families, but they also may represent bad individual money management or skewed spending priorities.
On Capitol Hill, recent increases in delinquencies also may reflect the unusual nature of the workforce, which turns over dramatically when a new political party comes into power.
From 2004 through 2006, the last three years that Republicans were in power, the total amount of back taxes owed each year by congressional workers hovered just below $9 million. But in 2007, when Democrats took control of both houses, it dropped to $6.8 million. Since then, it has increased by 37 percent.
Jock Friedly, who publicizes congressional salaries on the Web site LegiStorm, said many new staffers come from the private sector, where they worked as lobbyists or in other higher-paying jobs. "They go to a somewhat lower-paying government job and then, over time, debt starts to build up," Friedly said.
During 2008 and 2009 - when the financial crisis took hold and the economy started sinking - the Senate debt increased 80 percent and the House debt increased 25 percent.
Aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) declined to comment, and aides to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not respond to a request for comment.


Graphs and other data is at the Source.
Calvin & Hobbes: Hug
  • calybe

March for right to self-determination on Eid and more

Thousands March To Lal Chowk, Demand Azadi

Srinagar, Sep 11, KONS:
Tens of thousands of people marched to historic Lal Chowk on the call of Mirrwaiz Umer Farooq, Kashmir’s chief cleric, after offering Eid prayers at Eidgah grounds in the downtown Srinagar today.

Authorities had not imposed curfew anywhere in the Kashmir Valley following a reprieve in strike by pro-freedom Hurriyat Conference on account of Eid today. Even police and paramilitary forces were removed from the streets to avert a clash with the people.

Chanting slogans like "Go India Go Back" , "We Want Freedom" and Jis Kashmir Ko Khoon Say Seencha Woh Kashmir Hamar Hai (Kashmir which has been nurtured by our blood belongs to us) people in thousands marched on foot and on every mode of transport to Lal Chowk (Red Square) in the city centre soon after the prayers were over.

Earlier Mirwaiz made the surprise announcement of Lal Chowk march from the Eidgah pulpit to the thunderous applause from the assembled people.

Mirwaiz spoke to mammoth gathering before Namaz and reiterated his demand for right of self determination for the people of Kashmir. According to a conservative estimate nearly 2 lac people offered prayers at the Eidgah today.

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Source: Kashmir Observer
Pictures: Greater Kashmir

OP: As a Kashmiri muslim I do feel that while it is important that we demonstrate a need for self-determination we also need to stop alienating the non-muslims of Kashmir and try to work towards an independant Kashmir that follows Kashmiriyat. If we could follow it once we can follow it again. (/idealism)

Airline staffer calls Kashmiri passenger a ‘terrorist’

Srinagar, Sept 10:
A Kashmiri flyer has lodged a complaint with a private airline after a Delhi-based staffer of the company allegedly called him a “terrorist.”

Umar Hameed, a carpet dealer, has shot an e-mail to the airline’s customer centre, narrating how the airline manger at IGI Airport in New Delhi “misbehaved” with him and called him a “terrorist.”

 The incident, which created a scene at the New Delhi’s IGI Airport on September 9, has forced the airline to apologize to Hameed.

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Source: Greater Kashmir