October 16th, 2010

Cardassian guuurl

Latvian man shortage leaves women lost for love

Women outnumber men by 8% in Latvia

Two decades after Latvia shook off Soviet communist rule, the country's women have survived the transition to capitalism better than men - they are better educated and are less likely to die young. But a high male mortality rate means for many women, it is hard to find a partner.

Dania and Zane are both single and have come to a cafe in the centre of Riga to chat about one of their favourite topics - the lack of decent men.

The two women are both 29, beautiful, stylish and well-educated, but it seems that in Latvia there are simply not enough eligible men to go round.

Dania has been working at a film festival where 98% of her colleagues are women.
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Source @ BBC News
franklin sherman

Obama Dept of Justice to Ignore Voters and Enforce Marijuana Laws, State Vote Aside

U.S. Will Enforce Marijuana Laws, State Vote Aside

LOS ANGELES — The Department of Justice says it intends to prosecute marijuana laws in California aggressively even if state voters approve an initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot to legalize the drug.

The announcement by Eric H. Holder Jr., the attorney general, was the latest reminder of how much of the establishment has lined up against the popular initiative: dozens of editorial boards, candidates for office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other public officials.

Still, despite this opposition — or perhaps, to some extent, because of it — the measure, Proposition 19, appears to have at least a decent chance of winning, so far drawing considerable support in polls from a coalition of Democrats, independents, younger voters and men as Election Day nears. Should that happen, it could cement a cultural shift in California, where medical marijuana has been legal since 1996 and where the drug has been celebrated in popular culture at least since the 1960s.

But it could also plunge the nation’s most populous state into a murky and unsettling conflict with the federal government that opponents of the proposition said should make California voters wary of supporting it.

Washington has generally looked the other way as a growing medical marijuana industry has prospered here and in 14 other states and the District of Columbia, editors op: this isnt entirely true. but Mr. Holder’s position — revealed in a letter this week to nine former chiefs of the Drug Enforcement Administration that was made public on Friday — made explicit that legalizing marijuana for recreational use would bring a whole new level of scrutiny from Washington.

Mr. Holder did not fully spell out the reasons for the decision, but he did allude to the reluctance of the federal government to enforce drug laws differently in different states. “If passed, this legislation will greatly complicate federal drug enforcement efforts to the detriment of our citizens,” he wrote.

The Los Angeles County sheriff, Lee Baca, who has been one of the leading opponents of the measure, quickly embraced the Justice Department’s stance. He said that the initiative was unconstitutional and vowed to continue enforcing marijuana laws, no matter what voters do in November.

Supporters of the initiative have portrayed support for it as another example in an anti-incumbent year of voters rejecting authority.

“Bring on the establishment,” said Chris Lehane, a senior consultant to the campaign pushing for passage of the initiative. “This campaign, and the energy driving it, is predicated on the common understanding that the establishment’s prohibition approach has been a complete and utter failure, as proven by the point that today it is easier for a kid to get access to pot than it is to buy a beer or a cigarette.”

But Roger Salazar, a political consultant who has been directing the effort to defeat the proposal, said that Mr. Holder’s statement should reinforce deep concerns about the initiative, including the way it was drafted and what he called inflated claims by its backers of what legalization might do.

“This is sort of a shot across the bow from the federal government: They’re saying that, ‘If this thing moves the way we think it is, we’re going to come after you guys,’ ” he said. “That gives California voters one more reason to take a deep breath.”

California’s becoming the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use would provide a real-life test of theories that proponents of legalization have long pressed: That it would provide a new stream of revenues for government, cut down on drug-related violence and end a modern-day prohibition that effectively turns many citizens into lawbreakers.

As it is, no matter what voters or Mr. Holder do, marijuana use in California these days appears, for all practical purposes, all but legal.

Mr. Schwarzenegger signed legislation last month that made possession of an ounce of marijuana an infraction — it had previously been a misdemeanor — punishable by a $100 fine. Medical marijuana dispensaries are common in many parts of the state, and getting a prescription is hardly challenging. Baby boomers who had not smoked marijuana since college now speak openly at dinner parties of their “medical” experimentation with the drug. The smell of marijuana is hardly unusual at outdoor concerts at places like the Hollywood Bowl.

More here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/16/us/16pot.html?_r=1&hp

mus | like a bird in a cage

Col. Williams entitled to military pension

WOODBRIDGE, Ont. - A Conservative bill to strip federal prisoners of their old-age pensions would not deny Col. Russell Williams his military pension.

A lawyer for Williams has said the former CFB Trenton commander intends to plead guilty Monday to two murders, two sex assaults and scores of break and enters.

When asked today about Williams receiving his military pension, Prime Minister Stephen Harper touted his party's legislation to deny prisoners government payouts.

However, Harper was quick to add there's a distinction between voluntary payouts — like old age pensions — and "contractual obligations the government may have."

The Prime Minister's Office says Harper's words make it clear that military pensions are contractual obligations that must be honoured, regardless of the pensioner's criminal record.

Harper, speaking in Woodbridge, Ont., at an unrelated event, also said he can't comment on Williams specifically because the case is still before the courts.

In June the Conservatives announced legislation to prevent prisoners in federal institutions from applying for old-age security and guaranteed income supplement payments.

"When someone is convicted of a crime like that they should not be receiving voluntary payments from the government of Canada, that's our position and we urge Parliament to pass that legislation," Harper said Friday.

Williams was a rising star in the military before being charged in February with first-degree murder in the deaths of Jessica Lloyd, 27, and Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, 37. The charges shook the Canadian Forces to its core.

Comeau was found dead in her home in Brighton, Ont., last November while Lloyd was found in nearby Tweed.

Williams, 47, faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts each of sexual assault and unlawful confinement, and 82 counts of break and enter.


Women - the painful truth

Women suffer more chronic pain than men but there has been little effort to find out why, writes Judy Foreman.

It's one of the more puzzling observations in medicine: the vast majority of chronic pain patients are women. Women suffer disproportionately from irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches (especially migraines), pain caused by damage to the nervous system, osteoarthritis, jaw problems such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and much more. Women also report more acute pain than men after the same common surgeries.

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  • merig00

Sayyed Nasrallah Offers Ahmadinejad Israeli Rifle from 2006 War (FAIL)

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The Iranian President ended a historical two-day visit to Lebanon after meeting with Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah who offered Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an Israeli rifle captured during the 2006 July War as an appreciation for Iran’s support to the Islamic resistance in Lebanon.
The overnight meeting took place at the Iranian embassy in Beirut's Bir Hasan neighborhood where both leaders discussed the general situation and the outcome of the historic visit of President Ahmadinejad at various levels.
Ahmadinejad visited the presidential palace in Baabda Thursday night (10:00 PM Beirut Timing) in a farewell meeting with President Michel Suleiman.
He was greeted by President Suleiman at the entrance of the palace to hold the meeting in the hall of the ambassadors where they assessed the results of the visit at all levels. They agreed to follow up the agreements and memoranda of understanding signed between Lebanon and Iran.
President Suleiman renewed his greeting to his guest. Ahmadinejad thanked the President for the warm hospitality and reiterated Iran's readiness to help Lebanon in everything and once again extended an invitation to President Suleiman to visit Iran.
Before the late Thursday meeting, Ahmadinejad promised the demise of the Israeli enemy to thunderous applause before a frenzied crowd in Bint Jbeil, only four kilometers (2 miles) from the Zionist entity.
Israel’s Channel 2 Television said echoes of Ahmadinejad's welcoming ceremony were audible on the Israeli side minutes before he arrived.
“The world should know that eventually the Zionists will be forced to go and will not last long. They are enemies of humanity and will have no choice but to surrender. Palestine will be liberated through the force of faith,” Ahmadinejad said.
The Iranian leader also visited Qana, which suffered numerous violent Israeli attacks in 1996 and 2006 where many civilians and children were martyred under the watching of the United Nations' UNIFIL. “You are victorious and your enemies are defeated,” Ahmadinejad said.
As Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon ended, Israel remains wary of the strengthening ties with Tehran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that, “Unfortunately, Lebanon is rapidly turning into a satellite of the ayatollahs' regime. This is tragic for Lebanon, but Israel will know how to defend itself against such developments.” Netanyahu chose to respond to Ahmadinejad from the hall in Tel Aviv where Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared the creation of the Zionist entity in 1948.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told ABC television on Thursday that “Ahmadinejad coming [to Beirut], being so volatile and using language that is inflammatory is just true to form”.
“Lebanon itself has constructed a very delicate balance over the years where the Sunni and Shia populations and the Christian populations try to accommodate each other so that each can live in peace,” Clinton said.
Meanwhile, A Hamas official in Gaza, Dr. Khalil Abu Layla told Iranian news agency Fars that the Hamas government hoped Ahmadinejad visits Gaza, just as he visited Lebanon.


And now to the FAIL part. Here are the pictures of the rifle supposedly captured during the 2006 Lebanon War:
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This is Belgian FN FAL rifle. IDF replaced it with IMI Galil in 1972 and ceased manufacturing in 1981. Who knows where Nasrallah dug out this dinosaur.

  • merig00

Saudi Arabia to deport Chinese workers over protests

Riyadh, Oct 15 (DPA) Work on a light rail project in Saudi Arabia resumed Friday following protests earlier in the week by at least 100 Chinese workers demanding higher wages, improved housing and better working conditions, Saudi newspapers reported.

The kingdom moved to arrest at least 16 of the workers after the protest began Tuesday.


Saudi authorities told the local newspaper Saudi Gazette that the detained workers would be deported.


The workers, who were in their fourth month of an 18-month contract, were charged with 'inciting the cessation of work' and are expected to pay for damages inflicted on four cars during the protest, according to Saudi media.


It was also reported that local authorities received a written pledge from the China Railway Construction Corporation stating that the incident would not be repeated. No further details were given.


In January 2009, a similar incident occurred when Chinese workers protested, saying they received lower salaries than was promised. Shortly after, several Chinese workers allegedly involved in that protest were deported from the kingdom.


According to China's Commerce Ministry, the number of Chinese citizens listed as officially working overseas could reach one million before the end of the year.


Kelly LeBrock

New movie examines power dynamic in society

GhettoPhysics: Will the Real Pimps and Ho's Please Stand Up! is a radically ingenious, in-your-face documentary hybrid that takes the basic street relationship between pimps and hookers and holds it up on a global scale.

"When the leader is pimpin' you on some game like patriotism," says E. Raymond Brown, GhettoPhysics' wily onscreen guide and codirector, "it's the ho's that go marchin' off to war gettin' shot up and stabbed."

Or, credit card companies: pimps. Everyone in debt to credit card companies: ho's.

Bursting with insights into, yes, world politics and the machinations of capitalist culture, GhettoPhysics features Brown - a dynamic presence - addressing a college class. "Professor Brown's" course is Ghetto Physics, and he uses blackboard diagrams and PowerPoint presentations to enlighten his initially jaded students on the dynamics that rule their life. From the street corner to the boardroom to the White House, the same paradigms are in play, Brown argues.

So, too, argue Cornel West, Ice-T, KRS-One, and Norman Lear - among other talking heads and man-on-the-street interviews that bring Brown's provocative points home.

William H. Arntz, whose 2004 release What the Bleep Do We Know?! similarly mixed doc techniques with dramatizations to explore connections between spirituality and quantum physics, co-directed, and also appears.

GhettoPhysics caroms audaciously from "pimpery and gangsta activity" (per Cornel West) to metaphysics and numinosity, incorporating cartoon segments and a mock awards show - the Global Pimp Awards. It's worth checking out the honorees.


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Happy birthday Oscar Wilde, the Fabian anarchist

"Is this Utopian? A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which humanity is always landing. And when humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias."
Thanks to the Google home-page's celebration I saw that today is Oscar Wilde's 156th birthday today, though he lived to see only 46 of them himself before his early death 110 years ago.

Wilde has become a famous name to whom many witticisms - whether his own or those of others - can be attributed. He wrote some unperformable plays, but his best are as funny as anything on the English stage. His novel The Picture of Dorian Gray seems to become more contemporary as time passes. Politically, Wilde is now primarily a symbol of the gay rights movement, the best-known symbol of the cruelty of a Victorian era which saw him imprisoned, broken and dead at 46.

That means that his broader attempt to contribute to political thought have largely been forgotten. Yet Wilde was also a Socialist, if of an unusual kind: a Fabian anarchist whose ideal was that "socialism itself will be of value because it leads to individualism"

It is not surprising that Wilde found his fellow Fabians too conservative in their demands, too willing to play the long game in pursuit of a gradualist transformation over time. As with HG Wells later, the individualism of the artistic vision does not always sit well with the collective pursuit of political change.

And Wilde's complaint that "the problem with socialism is that it takes up too many evenings" would still find many sympathetic ears in the Labour party today.

His own socialist anarchism was set this out most fully in his 1891 tract, The Soul of Man under Socialism (which can be read in full from the Google Books website).
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Source: Next Left

AIDS Is a Kind of 'Justice' for Promiscuous Sex, Belgian Catholic Leader Claims

The Catholic Church in Belgium has been battered by scandals and missteps over the past year, and now its new leader, the conservative Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Brussels, has sparked a fresh controversy with comments declaring that people afflicted with AIDS are receiving "a sort of immanent justice" for their sexual practices.

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"People in horrible situations often turn to god, so there neener neener."

David Quinn: Why there were no atheists in the mine

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The rescue operation was called Operation San Lorenzo, after St Laurence, the patron saint of miners. In August, when they found the men, a statue of San Lorenzo, complete with miner's hat, was brought to the site and an impromptu shrine set up that people prayed at day and night.

The Chilean president had a statue of the saint brought to the presidential palace.

Underground, the miners set up their own shrine and were each provided with a set of rosary beads blessed by the Pope. They knew he was among the millions of other Christians praying for them.

As the men emerged from their ordeal one by one, many of them blessed themselves or fell on their knees or looked heavenward.

The second man rescued, Mario Sepulveda, the one who hugged everyone he could find, told the cameras a little later how he had met both God and the devil while he was trapped down below, but that God had won and his faith had helped to sustain him.

Another miner said he had been "praying to God all the time".

Jonathan Vega, the brother of Alex Vega, yet another of the miners, said, "God has given me a lesson about life."

When people face adversity like this it is religion they frequently turn to and this has been shown time and again.

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In 1972, a plane crash-landed in the Andes and the survivors famously sustained themselves physically by cannibalising the dead passengers. But their faith played a huge part in sustaining them psychologically, as documented in the book and the movie, 'Alive'.

(By the way, why is it that in real-life disasters people almost always pray, but almost never in disaster movies, 'Alive' being an exception, seeing as it is based on real life?)

The media reporting on the rescue of the miners spent a lot of their time talking to psychologists and other counsellors about the likely psychological effects of the ordeal upon the men.

They would have been better off speaking to chaplains
about the role religion plays in helping people to cope with adversity. And it does help. We know this now from research.

For example, people who practise a religion live longer on average than those who don't. One reason for this is that they tend to be healthier because they're less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, for instance.

Religious believers are also less likely to commit suicide, or succumb to depression. They recover faster from serious illness. They get over a bereavement faster.

One reason believers can cope better with adversity is because they have a source outside themselves to which they can turn and that helps them to accept whatever is in store for them.
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The story of the Chilean miners proves this yet again. Faith is what helped many of these men to cope with their ordeal. The old adage says, 'no atheists in foxholes'.

Now we know there are no atheists in collapsed mines either.
I've bolded the particularly dodgy bits. The only bolded bit under the cuts is where he says that handing a flag to the Pope is a sign of religion's "overwhelming positive role". Um, yeah whatever.

And yeah, somehow I'm sceptical of this "research" which says that those who are non-religious are more likely to be unhappy, unhealthy, drug addicts and alcoholics who are depressed and are going to die young and grief-ridden probably from committing suicide.

Apparently it isn't enough that religion helps some people through adversity. This is apparently also reason enough to dismiss the work of counsellors and take pot shots at atheists.

(Via "Butterflies and Wheels" which provided my post title)