I thought we could use some happy news. :)
Charities are receiving fewer donations, thanks to the lingering effects of the recession. Happily, there are exceptions. One of the more intriguing ones occurred recently in New York City, when an anonymous person placed $10,000 in cash into a 9/11 donation box at the World Trade Center site.
An article from the Associated Press explains that officials found the cash (99 $100 bills and five $20 bills) on Tuesday night. Because the bills were all "crisp and unfolded," officials think they came from the same person between the hours of 5 p.m. (when the box was last checked) and 7 p.m. (when the site closed). The memorial, when finished, will consist of two sunken pools where the Twin Towers once stood. Experts believe it will be completed by next year.
While this is the latest mystery donation to intrigue the Web, history is full of generous (and anonymous) people giving to charities. In 2007, a nameless donor gave a whopping $100 million to the town of Erie, Pennsylvania. The donor, who obviously didn't want to be identified, is known only as "Anonymous Friend."
( Collapse ) For several years in a row, a single gold coin worth $1,000 was unceremoniously dropped into a Salvation Army kettle in Florida. The donor was never identified, but attached to each coin was a note saying, "In memory of Mimi."
Sometimes the donations are just as unique as they are generous. Earlier this year, an anonymous man left $8 million to an Australian nonprofit organization that specializes "in large-scale rescue and rehabilitation of the Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat." After that incredibly thoughtful gift hit the news, Web searches on "what's a wombat" surged from nil into the thousands.
Not all the mysterious donations are in the form of currency. In Washington, D.C., an unidentified donor gave 362 pounds of food to an area food bank. The benefactor had gone to the trouble of separating the food into 266 decorated bags that were then given to needy children.
WASHINGTON – Republican congressional candidate Stephen Broden stunned his party Thursday, saying he would not rule out violent overthrow of the government if elections did not produce a change in leadership.
In a rambling exchange during a TV interview, Broden, a South Dallas pastor, said a violent uprising "is not the first option," but it is "on the table." That drew a quick denunciation from the head of the Dallas County GOP, who called the remarks "inappropriate."
Broden, a first-time candidate, is challenging veteran incumbent Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson in Dallas' heavily Democratic 30th Congressional District. Johnson's campaign declined to comment on Broden.
In the interview, Brad Watson, political reporter for WFAA-TV (Channel 8), asked Broden about a tea party event last year in Fort Worth in which he described the nation's government as tyrannical.
"We have a constitutional remedy," Broden said then. "And the Framers say if that don't work, revolution."
Watson asked if his definition of revolution included violent overthrow of the government. In a prolonged back-and-forth, Broden at first declined to explicitly address insurrection, saying the first way to deal with a repressive government is to "alter it or abolish it."
"If the government is not producing the results or has become destructive to the ends of our liberties, we have a right to get rid of that government and to get rid of it by any means necessary," Broden said, adding the nation was founded on a violent revolt against Britain's King George III.
Watson asked if violence would be in option in 2010, under the current government.
"The option is on the table. I don't think that we should remove anything from the table as it relates to our liberties and our freedoms," Broden said, without elaborating. "However, it is not the first option."
Jonathan Neerman, head of the Dallas County Republican Party, said he's never heard Broden or other local Republican candidates advocate violence against the government.
"It is a disappointing, isolated incident," Neerman said. He said he plans to discuss the matter with Broden's campaign.
Ken Emanuelson, a Broden supporter and leading tea party organizer in Dallas, said he did not disagree with the "philosophical point" that people had the right to resist a tyrannical government.
But, he said, "Do I see our government today anywhere close to that point? No, I don't."
Emanuelson said he's occasionally heard people call for direct action against the government, but that they typically do not get involved in electoral politics.
That Broden is "engaged in the election and running for office shows he's got faith in the system as it is," Emanuelson said.
Also in the interview, Broden backed away from other controversial statements he has made at rallies and on cable news appearances.
In June 2009, he described the economic crash in the housing, banking and automotive industries as "contrived" and a "set up" by the Obama administration.
Asked Thursday about the validity of these, Broden said they were "authentic crises facing this nation."
Broden also retreated from other remarks last year that chided Americans for not being more outraged over government intrusion, comparing them to Jews "walking into the furnaces" under the Nazi regime in Germany.
"They are our enemies, and we must resist them," he said of government leaders.
Broden said Thursday that he wasn't trying to compare President Barack Obama to Hitler and he mistakenly linked the U.S. in 2010 to Nazi Germany.
In the uphill campaign against Johnson, Broden has sought to capitalize on her misuse of scholarship funds from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, a nonprofit entity.
In late August, The Dallas Morning News reported that Johnson provided 23 scholarships over five years to two of her grandsons, two children of her nephew, and two children of her top aide in Dallas. None of those recipients were eligible under the foundation's anti-nepotism rules or residency requirements. She has repaid the foundation more than $31,000.
Texas ... what is IN YOUR WATER? Also, it's really funny how 1, all of these things done by the right are "isolated incidents" and 2, the only time that anyone ever gets referred to as "extreme" in the mainstream media is if they're on the left. But don't forget kids, media has a "liberal bias". /eyeroll I also highly doubt his party was "stunned" by anything other than the fact he said it out loud in an interview.
Justice, even for princes
Britain's conviction of a Saudi prince for the murder of his servant has inspired Saudi Arabians longing for impartial justice
Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud with Bandar Abdulaziz Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Saud, left, was found guilty of the murder of his servant Bandar Abdulaziz.
The prince is guilty of murder. That was the verdict rendered against the Saudi prince, Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Saud, regarding the death of his servant, Bandar Abdulaziz. It is a victory for the people of Saudi Arabia who, for the first time in their lives, can see a "blueblood" royal held accountable for his actions against a commoner.
His trial at the Old Bailey sent a strong message that a Saudi prince and a pauper are the same in the eyes of the law in Britain, and that British justice is superior to the Saudi court system, which claims to uphold Islamic standards.
Many Saudis are cheering the verdict: they know that if this murder had occurred in Saudi Arabia, the killer would not have seen a single day in prison. The victim in this case had no hopes of receiving justice in his homeland, but the British court has upheld the fundamental principle of equality under law.
Millions of people in Saudi Arabia were watching the trial closely, and the outcome gives them hope that the impartial rules of western jurisprudence may one day be emulated in their land. In Saudi Arabia and other despotic regimes, where people are divided into rulers and subjects, the judicial system is guided by the whims of the ruling family and the accused prince would have been given a free pass. This may have been on the mind of detective chief inspector John McFarlane, who summarised the situation: "This verdict clearly shows no one, regardless of their position, is above the law."
The convicted prince is a "Royal Highness" prince – one of the few hundred males eligible by birth to ascend to the Saudi throne. There are two classes of Saudi princes. Male descendents of King Abdulaziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia, are given the title of "Royal Highness", while other princely males have to make do with a mere "Your Highness". It is worth noting that these titles are an anathema to Islam's egalitarian tradition and, in fact, have no foundation in Arab history. They were imported to Saudi Arabia from the United Kingdom in the 1940s.
Bandar Abdulaziz, the prince's victim, was a black man who grew up in a government orphanage with no known parents – the worst possible combination in Saudi Arabia in terms of social worth. In the eyes of many royals, Bandar was just a slave – and it's a view that the Saudi courts usually share.
Take the case of Sulaiman al-Huraisi, 28, a black man who was beaten to death at his house in Riyadh by members of the Saudi religious police. Huraisi had been kicked in the head by 10 members of the government militia (which was later cleared of responsibility for his death).
That was not an isolated incident. It reflects the policy of the Saudi monarchy, which bars black people from becoming judges and holding senior military posts. In addition, black women are not allowed to work as on-camera reporters for Saudi state television stations, a former reporter told me. "We can only use your voice," her manager told her.
Bandar was one of thousands of black Saudis who are modern-day slaves of the ruling family, serving them in any capacity, including sexually. The culture of slavery pervades the country and while slavery was officially banned in 1964, it continued in practice, especially inside the walls of thousands of princely palaces.
Members of the princes' inner circle are popularly called khawee, "minion". Essentially, they are subordinates who are there for the service or the amusement of a prince with an inflated sense of self-importance. A khawee could, for example, be an Arab writer who realises that being a member of the inner circle of a Saudi prince is extremely rewarding.
Andrew Shapiro, the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told a news conference the U.S. administration did not anticipate any objections to the sale from Israel, traditionally wary of arms sales to nearby Arab countries.
"We think it will enhance regional security and stability rather than diminish it," Shapiro told a news conference.
The sale, which had been expected, includes 84 new Boeing F-15 aircraft and 70 upgrades of existing Saudi F-15s. It also includes 70 of Boeing's Apache attack helicopters and 36 of its AH-6M Little Birds.
In addition, the deal will include 72 Black Hawk helicopters built by Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp..
A new report, backed by the NAACP, has found what it says are efforts by white nationalist groups and militias to link themselves to the tea party movement.
The report, called Tea Party Nationalism, uses news articles, visits to white nationalist Web sites and observance of tea party functions to claim that tea party events have become a forum for extremists "hoping to push these (white) protesters toward a more self-conscious and ideological white supremacy."
Its findings cite that members of groups such as the Council of Conservative Citizens, which opposes all efforts to "mix the races of mankind," have become involved in tea party chapters, and that posters on the online white nationalist Web site Stormfront.org have written of "inflitrating" tea party events.
The report was issued by the Kansas City, Mo.-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, which is funded, in part, by the liberal Firedoll Foundation. The paper was authored by Devin Burghart and Leonard Zeskind, both of whom have written widely about white nationalism.
The more formalized and politically active tea party organizations have made statements repudiating racism, and some tea party leaders have expelled members who have expressed racist sentiment.
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Democracy Now has a video and transcript of a talk they had with the president the NAACP and with one of the authors.
The actual report is fairly long, but I recommend reading it.
Also, mods, there are two tags, "tea bagging" and "teabagging." Should those get combined into one?
Please exploit these resources:
MOAR Picture Sources:
STOCKHOLM October 22, 2010, 01:11 pm ET
The world's tiger population could soon be extinct because of poaching, shrinking habitats and the use of tiger parts in Eastern medicine, environmental experts warned Friday.
World Wildlife spokeswoman Marie von Zeipel said the world's biggest wild cat is one of the most threatened species and could face extinction within 12 years. The organization estimates there are only 3,200 tigers in the wild — with von Zeipel noting that the wild tiger population has shrunk 97 percent in 100 years.
"If nothing drastic happens, the (population) curve is heading straight for disaster," she said.
Her comments came after the wildlife organization hosted a seminar in Stockholm about the plight of wild tigers.
WWF is currently running a campaign to double the wild tiger population by 2022. It is urging nations to help protect tigers' habitats and to prevent poaching of tigers and their prey.
Russia, which has its own Amur tiger population, is holding a global tiger summit next month. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will host the four-day meeting in the city of St. Petersburg, attended by wildlife experts and delegates from the 13 countries where tigers are still found in the wild.
I felt this was important as a tag to the tiger entry a few days ago. It justifies the researcher's reaction when he discovered the footage in the wild.
On a personal note, if its allowed for me to mention it, I post this entry on great cats in memory of another great cat, Ashes, who passed away today after 8 wonderful years in my family. RIP Ashey-poo. We loved you.
A rambling letter from the principal of a Brooklyn middle school was so poorly written and full of grammatical errors that parents and teachers say he deserves a dunce cap.
Principal Andrew Buck of the Middle School for Art and Philosophy was defending his policy of not providing textbooks in the email sent last week.
Or at least he seemed to be.
CLICK TO SEE BUCK'S LETTER
It was hard to tell because his logic was so bewildering, his language so stilted. His subjects and verbs didn't always match. He repeatedly misspelled "textbook" as two words.
After Buck fired off the email to teachers, parents got a hold of it and passed out copies in front of the East Flatbush school. Many are calling for his ouster.
"Our principal denies us books and then he sends this nonsense," said Paulette Brown, a nurse assistant from Flushing whose daughter is in the eighth grade. "You can't understand what he's saying in the letter. He has to go."
Buck, who earns $129,913 as head of the C-rated school, noted in the email that "a few influential parents" have been pushing for more textbooks in the classroom.
"Text books are the soup de jour, the sine qua non, the nut and bolts of teaching and learning in high school and college so to speak," he wrote in one head-scratching passage.
Buck appeared to switch positions midway through the document. After saying textbooks are useful, he went the other way:
"[J]ust because student have a text book, doesn't mean she or she will be able to read it . . . Additionally students can't use a text book to learn how to learn from a textbook..."
In one particularly bizarre section, Buck revealed that not being able to correctly answer questions at the back of many textbooks made him feel "dumb and inadequate" when he was a middle school student.
The missive contains about 50 errors of grammar and logic, said experts who reviewed it.
"The letter is a confusing mess," said Alan Ettman, who has taught English at Hewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx for 26 years.
"The grammar is horrible. The logic is tortured. I can't figure out what he's trying to say," said Ettman, who gave the letter a grade of F.
"It's as though each paragraph is not related to the one that comes before or after," Ettman said. "I think he's just trying to make excuses for not buying books."
Jack Wolkenfeld, a professor of English at Kingsborough Community College for 36 years, said the letter suggested a confused thought process.
"It's hasty, like the author hasn't thought it out," Wolkenfeld said. "The writing and logic are so confused I thought it was a joke."
Nobody's laughing at the Lenox St. school where only 13% of eighth-graders passed state reading exams last year.
Students have no books at all for some classes, forcing teachers to pull material off the Internet or make copies of books to distribute in class. Pupils also don't have computers or a library.
Buck, who has worked for the Department of Education since 1997, has been principal since the school opened in 2007. He is not tenured, officials said.
He was voted the "least trustworthy" principal in Brooklyn by the teachers union in 2008.
In an email to the Daily News, Buck insisted the school has "plenty" of textbooks and said all the fuss is unwarranted.
"I often correspond with teachers on educational issues to enhance communications and generate discussion," said Buck.
"If any parent has concerns, I am available to speak with them."
Potato growers are fighting back against efforts to ban or limit potatoes in federal child nutrition programs, arguing the tuber is loaded with potassium and vitamin C and shouldn't be considered junk food.
One Washington man is so exasperated by the proposals that he's in the midst of a 60-day, all potato diet to demonstrate that potatoes are nutritious.
"We're just really concerned that this is a misconception to the public that potatoes aren't healthy," said Chris Voigt, head of the Washington Potato Commission. "The potato isn't the scourge of the earth. It's nutrition."
Healthy food advocates said they're not anti-potato, but they think children need a greater variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to fight a tripling of child obesity rates in the past 30 years.
"The potato is the most common vegetable," said Diane Pratt-Heavner, spokeswoman for the School Nutrition Association. "My impression is that the goal is to increase the amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I don't believe anyone is specifically attacking the potato."
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SOURCE. Try not to read the comments because there are some Tea Party trolls practicing "internet activism".
To me, this policy doesn't address the issue. Preparation is the problem here, not the raw material.
Demands by landlords and real estate companies for excessive compensation for suicides committed in rented apartments have becoming disturbingly prevalent, according to a national association for bereaved families.
Many landlords and real estate firms insist bereaved families pay compensation for supposed losses caused by suicides committed in apartments, Zenkoku Jishi Izoku Renrakukai (national association of the families of suicides) said.
Grounds for such claims include the difficulty in finding someone willing to rent an apartment where a suicide occurred and the forced reduction in rental charges.
Over 30,000 suicides have been committed in Japan in each of the past 12 years.
The association plans to ask the Cabinet Office and the Democratic Party of Japan to create laws to protect bereaved families from excessive compensation claims, Sachiko Tanaka, the association's president, said.
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Wow, that's...really low of some of these landlords, to put it nicely. Asking for compensation for problems caused by suicides isn't uncommon, but AFAIK, it's usually, at least in the case of cases like 'chuoside' (which people kill themselves by jumping in front of trains, so named because a common name for a train line is the "Chuo [Central] Line"), it's to try and discourage people from killing themselves (or at least, not do it by jumping in front of their company's train line) because it'll saddle their family with huge costs. And it sort of works, in a morbid way--more people down where I am kill themselves by jumping in front of JR trains than the subway lines precisely because JR charges the families less than the other companies. So there's precedent for seeking compensation, but some of these claims are straight-up outrageous. Trying to get the cost of a whole new building?!
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Florida's ban on adoptions by gay men and lesbians came to an official end Friday.
Attorney General Bill McCollum said the case that led to the overturning of the state's 33-year-old law wasn't the "right case" to take to the state's Supreme Court.
Licensed foster parent Frank Martin Gill had sued to have the ban overturned. He wanted to adopt two boys who had been placed in his care after the Florida Department of Children and Families removed them from their home for neglect.
Gill and his partner have been raising the boys for six years.
"We are relieved that this process has finally come to an end, and that we can focus on being a family," Gill said in a statement released Friday. "All children deserve a chance at finding a stable, loving and permanent home. Over the 33 years of the ban, this archaic law has harmed countless foster children by denying them a forever family."
Earlier this month, the Department of Children and Families announced it would not appeal a September decision by the state's 3rd District Court of Appeal that found the law unconstitutional.
"We had weighed an appeal to the Florida Supreme Court to achieve an ultimate certainty and finality for all parties," said Joe Follick, the department's communications director.
"But the depth, clarity and unanimity of the DCA opinion -- and that of Miami-Dade Judge Cindy Lederman's original circuit court decision -- has made it evident that an appeal would have a less than limited chance of a different outcome."
The appeals court opinion made adoption possible for gay and lesbians in Florida statewide.
The state agency said it has removed from adoption forms the question about an applicant's sexual orientation. Gov. Charlie Crist ordered the department to stop enforcing the law after Lederman's ruling.
Florida was the only remaining state to prohibit gay adoption.
Brandon Hensler of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida told CNN it is possible that some other case might try to challenge the court decisions, but he thinks such a move is unlikely.
Gill and his supporters planned to celebrate McCollum's decision late Friday.
Former President George W. Bush signaled on Thursday that he sees not reforming Social Security as his greatest failure from the eight years he served in the White House, the Chicago Tribune reports. In 2005, the president unsuccessfully tried to partially privatize Social Security.
The unpopular Republican leader made the suggestion while speaking at a trade conference in the Windy City, where he discussed his legacy and also offered a glimpse into what readers can expect from his forthcoming memoir, Decision Points.
"I would like to be remembered as a guy who had a set of priorities, and was willing to live by those priorities," explained Bush. "In terms of accomplishments, my biggest accomplishment is that I kept the country safe amidst a real danger."
Bush poked fun at himself in addressing how his thoughts will be delivered in his memoir.
"I have written a book," he said. "This will come as quite a shock to some. They didn't think I could read, much less write."
With the 2010 midterm election just weeks away, it's possible that the comments from the former president may leave some members of the GOP community a bit uneasy. Over the summer, it was reported that the release date for Bush's memoir -- November 9 -- had Republicans concerned that the timing could hurt the party's chances at the polls.
Matt Latimer, a former Bush appointee, wrote about the matter at the Daily Beast at the time:
[Some] Republicans, particularly those most closely tied to the Bush regime, actually argue the book could help the party by reminding some voters of what they liked about Bush. Still, that has not stopped some Republicans, traumatized over the last two election cycles, from fearing the worst. "Monumentally bad timing" was the reaction of one former Bush aide who learned of the book release date. Another prominent conservative compared the Bushies' public-relations savvy to LeBron James. "Selfish and stupid" was another noted right-wing columnist's reaction
As the criticism relates to Bush's regret that he couldn't achieve privatizing social security, it seems that his remarks couldn't have come at a worse time.
Time magazine reported earlier this week on Democratic efforts to score points with voters ahead of the midterms on the social security issue. In some cases, Democrats are even tying the matter to the former president.
"Instead of helping seniors," explained House Speaker Pelosi's office to the publication, "Republicans, backed by their allies on Wall Street, are threatening to privatize and cut Social Security, just as they tried to do under President Bush."
It shouldn't come as a surprise that following the former White House leader's remarks on Thursday, Democrats were quick to once again pounce on the issue.
"Republicans' agenda is what it always was -- turn the Social Security seniors worked hard to earn over to Wall Street," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Press Secretary Ryan Rudominer. "If Republicans has their way, seniors could have lost 40 percent of their retirement investments when the market crashed. America's seniors deserve better."
Israeli chess champ Alik Gershon played 523 people, moving from board to board in a Tel Aviv plaza. He started Thursday and finished overnight, winning 454 of the matches, losing 11 and drawing in 58.
In London, Guinness World Records confirmed that the Israeli was the new world record holder.
The previous record was set last year by Iranian champ Morteza Mahjoob, who played 500 opponents at the same time in a Tehran arena.
The new record holder acknowledged the tensions between the countries. "Hopefully this is the only war we are going to have with this enemy, ever," Gershon said.
He also noted the game's ancient origins in Persia - now Iran.
"Taking the record from an Iranian in a game that was invented by Iran - it's going to be even sweeter," he said as his record attempt was getting under way Thursday.
Israel believes Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons despite its denials and sees that as an existential threat. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has questioned the veracity of the Holocaust and suggested Israel should be "wiped off the map."
This is not the only Guinness title to be drawn into Mideast politics.
Israel has a long-running competition with Lebanon over who can make the world's biggest plate of hummus, which is seen as a national dish in both countries.
The record has changed hands several times. Lebanon is the current holder, after making a 10-metric-ton plate of the chickpea dip earlier this year.
Palestinians have also tried to set Guinness records, partly in an attempt to draw international attention to their conflict with Israel. Children in the Gaza Strip now hold records for the most people simultaneously flying kites and dribbling basketballs: 3,000 and 7,000, respectively.
A crocodile stashed in a duffel bag got loose on an airplane, frightened passengers and led to a crash that killed 20 people on board, according to an inquiry into the accident.
The lone survivor of the crash in the Democratic Republic of Congo told the story to investigators, the U.K.’s Telegraph reported on Thursday. A British pilot was among the dead.
The plane was on a routine domestic flight from the capital of Kinshasa to a regional airport in Bandundu when the bizarre tale unfolded on Aug. 25.
An unnamed passenger had hidden the crocodile in a large duffel bag with the intent of selling the reptile, according to the Telegraph. The animal escaped as the plane approached its destination.
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Wow. That's not a reason one sees coming for an airplane crash. And I'm sad the crocodile got killed--it survived the plane crash, c'mon now! That's some bogus Final Destination shit right there.
Only there's one major difference: for the 30-year-old Taipei resident, there will be no Prince Charming, no tuxedoed groom. In an effort to defy the traditional Asian perception of single, independent women as failures, Chen says she will marry herself.
"Age 30 is a prime period for me," Chen is quoted by Reuters as saying. "My work and experience are in good shape, but I haven't found a partner, so what can I do?"
Chen's defiant act has received heaps of praise -- mostly from Asian women -- on her Facebook page, which features a personal quote that reads, "We must love ourselves before we love others," along with an album of formal bridal portraits. "You didn't just marry yourself, you showed the world that this is [a] time for women," wrote one user. "They can do everything and no one can judge or control them."
After her lavish "nuptials," Chen plans to embark on a solo honeymoon to Australia, The Korea Herald reports.
View the Facebook page for Chen's wedding, including photos, here.
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Because today sucks and this made me smile. You go, girl!
New Hampshire Paper Won't Print Gay Couple's Marriage Announcement
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- The state's largest newspaper is coming under fire for its refusal to print a wedding announcement for a gay couple getting married this weekend in Portsmouth.
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