September 23rd, 2010

thebirds, que

If I shook my head anymore, my brain will trickle through my nose...

Abortion foes begin 40-day vigil in Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ -- About 50 people stood in the parking lot at Cedar and Cathcart streets Tuesday with signs that read "Men regret lost fatherhood" and "Pray to end abortion."

They prayed aloud and sang spiritual songs to voice opposition to abortion.

The vigil, which drew people from several area churches, was the kickoff of to a national anti-abortion campaign called 40 Days for Life.

"We are here to pray for an end to abortion," Moss Landing resident Celia Meehan said. "We're concerned about how many, many women have abortions because they think that will solve their problems."

The campaign -- based in Fredericksburg, Va. and taking place in 237 cities across the country -- is centered on prayer, fasting, vigil and community outreach to draw attention "to the evil of abortion" and offer women alternatives.
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1)  It's always irritating when people like this group want to take away that choice from women. STOP IT! They don't want one or need one? Don't get one.
2)  If abortion becomes illegal and the number of children at orphanages and the foster care system increases, will the same proponents push for a law that anyone financially, emotionally, and mentally capable be able to adopt or make it easier for such persons to adopt, same-sex couples and single homosexuals included? Probably not.
3)  Someone asked a good question: "
If abortion was illegal, what should be done with the women who have illegal abortions?" Hypothetically, for those women who decided to have an abortion, would they be exempt from the punishment because they did it before the law was passed? Have you also heard of any logical responses to this question? If the embed doesn't work, Youtube link's here.

Edit: 40 Days for Choice, the counter-effort. Thanks, phrenolepsy!
Team Russia

Chambliss: anti-gay slur “appears” to have come from our office

The office of Sen. Saxby Chambliss said Wednesday that an anti-gay slur left in the comments of a gay culture blog Tuesday came from some on the Georgia Republican’s team.

Chambliss’ office launched an investigation into the comment Tuesday afternoon, and the Senate Sargeant at Arms is now also conducting an internal review into the comment, Chambliss’ office told

“The SAA has worked side by side with our personnel to determine whether the comment in question emanated from our office,” Chambliss’ office said in a statement. “That appears to be the case. There has not been a determination as to who posted the comment. That part of the review is ongoing, and is now in the hands of the Senate Sergeant at Arms.”

The offensive comment was posted Tuesday on the blog Joe.My.God, under a report on the failure of the Senate to advance the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “All faggots must die,” a commenter using the name “Jimmy” wrote.

Blog owner Joe Jervis traced the comment to a Senate IP address in Atlanta.

“We have seen the allegations and are moving quickly to understand the facts. This office has not and will not tolerate any activity of the sort alleged,” Chambliss spokeswoman Bronwyn Lance-Chester told Politerati Tuesday. “Once we have ascertained whether these claims are true, we will take the appropriate steps.”


Now are you going to fire them?

US class inequality - a HUGELY important, investigative & current series

[Do you hate Slate? Well, me too, for the most part. Regardless, this in-depth series by Timothy Noah, probing America's growing class and economic inequality, is uber-important, and timely.]

The Great Divergence
By Timothy Noah

Part One: Introducing the Great Divergence

In 1915, a statistician at the University of Wisconsin named Willford I. King published The
Wealth and Income of the People of the United States
, the most comprehensive study of its kind
to date.

The United States was displacing Great Britain as the world's wealthiest nation, but
detailed information about its economy was not yet readily available; the federal government
wouldn't start collecting such data in any systematic way until the 1930s. One of King's purposes
was to reassure the public that all Americans were sharing in the country's newfound wealth.
King was somewhat troubled to find that the richest 1 percent possessed about 15 percent of the
nation's income. (A more authoritative subsequent calculation puts the figure slightly higher, at
about 18 percent.1)

This was the era in which the accumulated wealth of America's richest families—the
Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, the Carnegies—helped prompt creation of the modern income tax,
lest disparities in wealth turn the United States into a European-style aristocracy. The socialist
movement was at its historic peak, a wave of anarchist bombings was terrorizing the nation's
industrialists, and President Woodrow Wilson's attorney general, Alexander Palmer, would soon
stage brutal raids on radicals of every stripe. In American history, there has never been a time
when class warfare seemed more imminent.

That was when the richest 1 percent accounted for 18 percent of the nation's income. Today, the
richest 1 percent account for 24 percent of the nation's income. What caused this to happen?

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PART 1 of 9 of an ongoing current investigative report into US class/economic inequality.

All parts can be read here: <>

Girls want to go to school? First take a virginity test.

A Jambi provincial legislator has floated a potentially controversial idea requiring female students enrolling into state schools to undergo virginity tests, with failure meaning exclusion from studies.

“The idea is simple. Parents are obviously afraid of their daughters being deflowered before the time comes, so before they continue their studies, they can undergo the virginity test and automatically protect their dignity,” said Jambi legislative councilor Bambang Bayu Suseno.

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No no no no no no no no

Bi Pride Day

Celebrate Bisexuality Day is observed on September 23 by members of the bisexual community and their supporters.

This day is a call for bisexual, pansexual, friends and supporters to recognize and celebrate bisexuality, bisexual history, bisexual community and culture, and the bi/pansexual people in their lives.

First observed in 1999, Celebrate Bisexuality Day is the brainchild of three United States bisexual rights activists: Wendy Curry of Maine, Michael Page of Florida, and Gigi Raven Wilbur of Texas. Wilbur said,

Ever since the Stonewall rebellion, the gay and lesbian community has grown in strength and visibility. The bisexual community also has grown in strength but in many ways we are still invisible. I too have been conditioned by society to automatically label a couple walking hand in hand as either straight or gay, depending upon the perceived gender of each person.

This celebration of bisexuality in particular, as opposed to general LGBT events, was conceived as a response to the prejudice and marginalization of the bisexual persons by some in both the straight and greater LGBT communities.

In its first year, an observance was held during the International Lesbian and Gay Association, which occurred during the week of the 23rd. While at first it only took hold in areas with an extremely strong bisexual presence, it is now celebrated worldwide.

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Source @ fuckyeahbisexuals on Tumblr.

Any other activities going on anywhere else? I added in the ones for Columbus myself.
*betty draper reading

TX: Dog's testimony alone not enough for a murder conviction, sorry Scoob

Appeals court frees man convicted of murder based on dog scent lineup
Dog identifications not reliable enough to stand as evidence on their own.

By Chuck Lindell


Published: 9:52 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010

The state's highest criminal court Wednesday threw out the murder conviction of an East Texas man, ruling that results from controversial dog "scent lineups" are not reliable enough to stand on their own in court.

The decision means that Richard Winfrey Sr. , 56, now serving a 75-year sentence in state prison, is acquitted and will go free.

No physical evidence tied Winfrey to the brutal 2004 murder of a neighbor in Coldspring, about 20 miles east of Huntsville. But three bloodhounds owned and trained by Keith Pikett , a now-retired Fort Bend County deputy sheriff, indicated that they smelled Winfrey's scent on a gauze pad that had been wiped on the victim's clothes and stored in a plastic bag for three years.

A San Jacinto County jury convicted Winfrey of murder based almost entirely on the lineup results, according to Wednesday's decision. On appeal, Winfrey's lawyers claimed the scent lineups were unreliable and quoted scientists and dog experts who found Pikett's methods to be unethical, unprofessional and biased in favor of law enforcement.

Wednesday's decision means prosecutors can continue to introduce scent lineups at trial, but only if the conclusions are supported by other, corroborating evidence.


The unanimous opinion overturned a lower court that affirmed Winfrey's conviction in the murder of Murray Burr, who was badly beaten and stabbed 28 times in his home. No witnesses saw Winfrey at Burr's house. He did not match DNA, fingerprints, a bloody footprint or any of the 73 hairs taken from the crime scene. None of Burr's possessions were found with Winfrey, Hervey noted.


Police also charged two of Winfrey's children with Burr's murder — Megan, who was 16 at the time, and Richard Jr., who was 17.

Megan was found guilty of capital murder, but her brother — after hiring a new lawyer who aggressively challenged the science and methodology behind Pikett's lineups — was acquitted by jurors who deliberated only 13 minutes.

Megan's lawyer, Scott Pawgan , has already begun drafting a supplemental brief in the 9th Court of Appeals based on Wednesday's opinion. "The evidence in Megan's case is almost identical to her father's," Pawgan said.

more @ source
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Axelrod Leaving WH; Emanuel Likely Next

Sources say President's 2 Closest Advisors Heading for Other Pursuits in Latest News on Pending D.C. Shakeup

President Obama's inner circle will likely be losing some key players. CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante reports that sources say David Axelrod, the president's closest advisor, will move to Chicago next spring.

Axelrod is expected to reassume his role as campaign manager in Mr. Obama's 2012 reelection bid. A potential, if not likely, replacement for Axelrod is current White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

The dominoes don't stop there. Rahm Emanuel, the president's Chief of Staff, may leave the White House as soon as next month.

Emanuel has told colleagues that he's very likely to run for mayor of Chicago, and that could see him depart the White House in October.

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Quick Maude Post: TinyPic Fail


They blocked many US and international users from uploading and sharing content. If you had pics up there and you try to post them, the links will show up broken. In order to keep the number of broken links to an minimum, use other photo sharing sites to host your pictures. We can't do much about broken links in past entries, but we can prevent it in the future. If you post a broken TinyPic link, the mods will either reject it if it's in the approval queue or will ask you to edit it. This is not an excuse to hotlink because that is still against the rules.

A shirtless Matt Bomer thanks you for your time & attention:

Fair Pay Isn’t Always Equal Pay

AMONG the top items left on the Senate’s to-do list before the November elections is a “paycheck fairness” bill, which would make it easier for women to file class-action, punitive-damages suits against employers they accuse of sex-based pay discrimination.

The bill’s passage is hardly certain, but it has received strong support from women’s rights groups, professional organizations and even President Obama, who has called it “a common-sense bill.”

But the bill isn’t as commonsensical as it might seem. It overlooks mountains of research showing that discrimination plays little role in pay disparities between men and women, and it threatens to impose onerous requirements on employers to correct gaps over which they have little control.

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Source: The New York Times

Burma soldiers 'refusing tasks in pay, rations protest'

Reports from Burma say soldiers in many areas are refusing to carry out routine tasks in protest at short rations and lack of access to their pay.

In a series of BBC interviews, soldiers in garrison towns have said their rations have been cut for weeks.

They say commanders have barred access to money they have saved, which is kept in a central fund.

Their action comes just over a month before Burma's first general election for 20 years.

Ahead of the 7 November polls, the BBC Burmese service has interviewed individual soldiers in garrison towns across the country.

It has built up a picture of deep resentment in parts of the army just weeks before the election, BBC World Service Asia-Pacific editor Viv Marsh reports.

Soldiers say their food-rations have dropped and that while prices have been rising, their commanders have blocked access to their savings.

"The rations have been cut to one-third of the usual amount. Our salaries are not enough to support our families," said one private from the Light Infantry Division No 701, based about 40km (24m) from Rangoon.


The BBC has the entire story

We don't have a 'Burma' tag, so I wasn't really sure how to tag this
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The National Organization for Marriage Abuses Martin Luther King Jr.'s Image

The National Organization for Marriage has stooped to some shocking lows in the past two years. They’ve suggestedthat gay families prey on elementary school kids. They’veaccused impartial judges of being political pawns of the gay rights movement. They’ve held rallies where supporters carry signs that call for the execution of gay people. And they’ve skirted the law in several states in order to hide their donors and keep their funding secret.

Their latest tactic, however, takes the organization to an even further depth of shamelessness. In Minnesota, the group is running an advertisement using the image and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to defend their activism against marriage equality. According to the National Organization for Marriage, their work to take away the civil rights of LGBT people is in line with the vision of civil rights shared by Martin Luther King Jr.

The Minnesota Independent notes that the ad, created in tandem with the Minnesota Family Council, uses the image of King and civil rights rallies from the 20th century to suggest that fighting against gay marriage is just like fighting against segregation.

“With imagery of King and civil rights rallies in the ’60s superimposed on the U.S. Constitution, the ad slyly suggests that those promoting marriage rights for LGBT people are somehow in opposition to King’s values,” the Minnesota Independent notes.

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Oh no they didn't!

Showing Gay Teenagers a Happy Future

A new online video channel is reaching out to teenagers who are bullied at school for being gay. The message: life really does get better after high school.

The YouTube channel, called the “It Gets Better Project,” was created by the Seattle advice columnist and activist Dan Savage. Mr. Savage says he was moved by the suicide of Billy Lucas, a Greensburg, Ind., high school student who was the target of slurs and bullying. The channel promises to be a collection of videos from adults in the gay community who share their own stories of surviving school bullying and moving on to build successful careers and happy home lives. The first video shows Mr. Savage with his partner of 16 years, Terry. The men tell their own stories of being bullied, finding each other and becoming parents. This week I spoke with Mr. Savage about the new channel and why he decided to reach out to teenagers. Here’s our conversation. 

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The Other City: The Reality of HIV Among Our Most Vulnerable Populations

There is a powerful new documentary circulating on the independent film front. The Other City showcases the lives of people living with HIV in the inner-city of Washington, D.C. This important and profound film portrays the reality of the lives of the city's most vulnerable citizens.

There are many major themes that are examined, including poverty, stigma, homophobia and transphobia, lack of access to services for the poor, and HIV criminalization. The film also highlights the disparity of the HIV epidemic within certain inner-city communities, including the poor, people of color, substance abusers, women, young men who have sex with men (MSM), and people of trans-experience. The film adequately captures this reality that is often ignored within the mainstream media and traditional healthcare and prevention strategies.

The statistics of HIV prevalence in inner-cities across America are shocking and unnecessary. According to the findings of a March 2010 study released in the New England Journal of Medicine, HIV prevalence rates in these impoverished areas surpasses those found in Sub-Saharan Africa. For Washington, D.C., the setting for the film, HIV rates among adults now exceed 1 in 30 -- higher than reported rates in Ethiopia, Nigeria or Rwanda. Further, in these same urban areas across the nation, 30 percent of MSM are contracting HIV, compared with the overall population rates of 7.8 percent in Kenya and 16.9 percent in South Africa. This is utterly unacceptable for a nation as wealthy and progressive as America. The AIDS epidemic is far from over and given these bleak statistics, the epidemic seems to be gaining dangerous momentum.

One story highlighted within the film is that of Jose Ramirez, Youth Program Coordinator at La Clínica del Pueblo, a health clinic in D.C. that focuses on reaching Latino populations. Ramirez primarily works with Latino LGBT youth at risk of contracting HIV. For this population, there are many forces working against them including poverty, immigration concerns, substance use, lack of resources and support, and lack of employment. Because of this, many LGBT youth turn to prostitution to get by. As Ramirez points out in the trailer for the film (along with the passionate and remorseful commentary of legendary HIV activist Larry Kramer), if a young man is offered $150 more for "bareback" sex with another man (anal sex without a condom), he is most likely going to take the money. To that end, Ramirez has been advocating the use of the female condom for receptive partners as another option for protecting themselves.

The film's tagline is "In every city, there's another city," which eloquently captures the heart of the AIDS epidemic. There is the one city with HIV programs and services that provide necessary treatment to those who have access. There is the one city with prevention programs and services which help curb the spread to a select few. Then there is the other city with residents who cannot afford their life-saving medications. The other city with residents who rely on selling their bodies for survival. The other city that is virtually ignored and tossed in the gutter.

It is when we look at HIV/AIDS from this perspective that it becomes clear that this epidemic is very much a social justice issue. HIV would not spread as rampantly if there were more effective, creative, and culturally competent prevention services in place. Those living with HIV would not see their disease progress to AIDS (with some of those progressions resulting in death) in such large numbers if there were consistent and universal access to necessary care and treatment services.

Why are these most vulnerable populations essentially being left to die? As the film proclaims, this does not need to occur. With all of the advances in HIV medications and prevention programs, the epidemic should be more under control than it is. Something else is going on. Something scary and invisible. The Other City brings to light these tragic occurrences in our inner-city communities. The film also shows the resilience and hope of these communities. With continued awareness and exposure like with this film, we will soon regain control over the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

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McMahon Responds to Ted Kennedy Jr. About JFK Ad


An online ad Linda McMahon’s U.S. Senate campaign posted using a President John F. Kennedy speech has started a battle of letters between the candidate and Ted Kennedy Jr.

The ad, which appears to have been posted about a week ago, includes news coverage of a speech President Kennedy made in August 1963 about the difficult economic times the country was going through.

“Every dollar released from taxation that is spent or invested will help create a new job,” President Kennedy said.

On Wednesday, Ted Kennedy Jr., son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, sent McMahon a letter asking her to “offer a retraction statement that clarifies the distinction between my uncle’s polices and your own.”

He said the reasons for his uncle’s tax cuts were greatly different from McMahon’s and that they came at a time when there was a much smaller deficit and that his cuts were to help the middle class. McMahon’s policies, he said, “are about enhancing the wealth of the richest 2 percent of Americans.”

You can read the full letter here.

On Thursday, McMahon send a letter in response.

“While I appreciate your interest in my campaign, I must disagree with your characterization of the tax situation,” she writes.

She said that President Kennedy’s tax cuts lowered the tax rate from 91 percent for that making $300,000 to 77 percent for those making $200,000 or more, which would equate to $1.4 million today.

“So in short, your uncle supported tax cuts for those making nearly six times more than what today’s Democratic Party, as well as your letter, labels as “the wealthy,” she wrote.

She went on to say that “the debate in Washington is not about tax cuts, but surrounds the extension of tax law and preventing tax increases. I do not support raising taxes,” McMahon wrote.

Tax cuts, she said, are designed to create jobs and economic growth, she said.

“While I value the opinion of all Connecticut voters, no school of economic thought advocates raising taxes in the environment in which we currently find ourselves. Therefore, I respectfully disagree that your uncle would support raising taxes in this economy,” McMahon said.

Here's the ad in question:
cabaret voltaire

Clock is ticking on first execution at San Quentin's revamped death chamber

Albert Greenwood Brown is scheduled to be put to death via lethal injection Sept. 29. The facility has undergone an $853,000 remodel and is now four times larger than the old chamber.

Fogel's order set in motion a legal duel between those who want capital punishment practiced in a state where two out of three citizens support the ultimate penalty and those who oppose executions on moral, religious and economic grounds and have used the hiatus to challenge its validity in state and federal court.

"We are fully prepared to carry out an execution on Sept. 29," San Quentin State Prison Warden Vincent Cullen said as he accompanied journalists on a tour of the facility housed in a cinderblock annex to the prison's teeming East Wing.

At 200 square feet, the lethal injection chamber built with inmate labor and $853,000 in taxpayer money is more than four times the size of the old metal-walled gas chamber used for two executions by lethal gas and 11 by lethal injection since capital punishment was restored in 1977.

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