November 1st, 2010


Saudi clerics endorse ban on female cashiers

Saudi Arabia's top government-sanctioned board of senior Islamic clerics has endorsed a fatwa that calls for a ban on female vendors because it violates the kingdom's strict segregation of the sexes.

The powerful committee said in its ruling Sunday that the mixing of sexes is forbidden and women should not seek jobs where they could encounter men.

The decision comes after a conservative preacher was reprimanded in August for violating a government-mandated restriction on fatwas by calling for a boycott of supermarkets employing female cashiers.

Saudi King Abdullah has been trying to clamp down on ultraconservative ideology as part of his bid to modernize the kingdom. But his efforts appear to be challenged by the influential religious scholars, who play a key role in the monarch's legitimacy.

Rain puddles and boxes

The Ugandan Newspaper Trying to Slaughter Gay People

Last month, a Ugandan newspaper known as Rolling Stone published the names and faces of several people believed to be LGBT in the country, with a deplorable caption: "Hang them." Many of those who were noted in the newspaper were forced into hiding for their safety, and the editor of Rolling Stone, a 22-year-old named Giles Muhame, promised a continued campaign to out what he called "Uganda's top homosexuals."

This past weekend, Rolling Stone published their second installment, noting 14 individuals believed to be LGBT who Muhame said should be reported to police. Muhame added that homosexuality is more harmful than smoking, and that if Uganda's LGBT people weren't stopped, they would prey on the country's children.

Same bat time, same bat channel, right?

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Source wants your help to stop this newspaper.

LGBTs: Don't Abandon Obama by Abbie Kopf

After the debilitating halt in gay rights victories under then president George W. Bush, the LGBT community hesitantly but enthusiastically organized to elect Barack Obama, whose campaign buoyed our faltering hope with three words: yes we can. We believed that our savior had come — a politician who understood the need for equality and would follow through with an aggressively pro-gay political agenda.

Now, only two years later, some gays feel they have experienced one too many slaps in the face from Obama. Once-fervent LGBT Democrats plan to hit back on November 2nd by throwing their support to third-party candidates or Republicans, or even staying home from the polls. The plight of the “angry gay voter” has surfaced in mainstream media, with Obama-fatigued LGBTs saying things like “It’s all talk and nothing’s happening, and I’m just over it.”


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crying minotaur

Scrabble championship won by colourful Mikki Nicholson

Scrabble's sleepy reputation has been overturned as a transsexual in a pink wig and matching PVC dress was crowned UK national champion.

Mikki Nicholson, 32, from Carlisle in Cumbria, took the crown with the word "obeisant", which scored 86 points.

She outplayed Mark Nyman, who has won more than 20 major Scrabble contests, including the World Championship.

"People think Scrabble is just about words but it's the numbers that win the game”

Other words used in the final were "inficete", meaning unfunny, and "oceanaut", an undersea explorer.

"Obeisant", which means obedient or showing respect, proved crucial in the deciding fifth game.

Ms Nicholson, who learned to play the game on the internet five years ago, said: "It was a big challenge but I wouldn't have entered if I didn't think I had a chance of winning.

"I'm thrilled to have won and I can't wait to celebrate."

It was scant consolation for Mr Nyman, who has featured in Dictionary Corner on Channel 4's Countdown, that he got the highest scoring word in the final game - "updates" - which scored 105 points.

Explaining her route to victory, Ms Nicholson said: "A good Scrabble player is intuitive. They also need to be good with numbers.

"People think Scrabble is just about words, but it's the numbers that win the game so a sound mathematical brain is an advantage.

"The best word I played was 'inficete' as it changed the flow of the game and my best move was when I played 'tenor', as it allowed me to open up the board for me to play a high-scoring K."

Ms Nicholson, who is currently unemployed, said she planned to spend the £1,500 prize money on a trip to Malaysia in December to compete in another Scrabble tournament.

A Scrabble spokeswoman said: "Scrabble is a game for anyone to enjoy, loved by generations of families, men and women and anyone."

Wow, there are so many issues with the differing media coverage of this story (see links below) I can't even begin. The difference in pronoun choice, for one.

According to The Guardian, "Nicholson said he had been diagnosed by a psychologist as a woman trapped in a man's body. He has not undergone any surgery."

BBC (source for above story)

The Guardian

The Independent

The Scotsman

On a happier note....

A message of love can have a powerful impact, and perhaps few know this better than Richard Bott.

He’s the minister of St. Andrew’s Haney United Church, and after hearing the news of yet another gay teen committing suicide after being relentlessly bullied, he says he felt he needed to send a clear message about where his church stands.

“Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Bi or Transgendered? You are loved by God, and … you are welcome here,” the LED sign at the corner of Dewdney Trunk Road and 222nd Street reads.

It is a different message than is being sent by many right-wing Christian groups, but one Bott believes is more consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

“I believe in a God of love,” he says.

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Lucy  - Durnk n Pitsy


California Prop. 19 vote on legalizing marijuana could be the start of something big


If Proposition 19 passes in California tomorrow and it is no longer illegal to sell, possess or grow marijuana, we may have begun ascending a slope less slippery than opponents of legalizing drugs might think.

American states spend an estimated total of $50 billion a year on our penal system. If Proposition 19 decriminalizes marijuana in California, the entire country will see how much money can be saved with laws based less on puritanical superstition than on facts.

Then there's the issue of tax revenues: federal and state tax revenues for alcohol sales exceed $5.6 billion. Imagine if Prohibition were still in place, and what that would mean for our tight budgets.

An economist at Harvard recently estimated that a marijuana tax could bring in between $2 billion and $6 billion per year. I'm sure we'd find something to do with that money.

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Source + video

Read more:

Additional Links For Your Reading Pleasure
The Voter Guide To Prop 19
The Broadus Effect (Yes, it was named after Snoop Dogg)
Why Some Stoners Oppose Legalization
19 Reasons Why Prop 19 Sucks
Prop 19 on BallotPedia

Russia's hungry bears dig up graves

Famished bears in northern Russia have resorted to digging up graves in cemeteries - and reportedly eating at least one body - after a scorching summer destroyed their natural food sources of forest berries and mushrooms, officials say.

The brown bears' grisly habit is forcing locals in the Arctic Circle region of Komi to mount 24-hour patrols, protecting their families and livestock out of concern that the bears might get a taste for fresher human flesh, said Pyotr Lobanov, a regional spokesman for the Emergencies Ministry.

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Stephen Fry Quits Twitter?

Prolific tweeter Stephen Fry has apparently left the service following outrage over the weekend over
an Attitude magazine article in which he suggested that women only have sex with men because it's the price they're willing to pay for a relationship.

Attitude quoted Fry as saying:" I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want. Of course, a lot of women will deny this and say, 'Oh no, but I love sex, I love it!' But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?"

Before bidding good-bye yesterday, Fry tweeted: "So some f*cking paper misquotes a humorous interview I gave, which itself misquoted me and now I'm the Antichrist. I give up."

Source: Towleroad

The drama continues...

Misquoted, eh Stephen? Well, it's not like you've said anything like that befo...oh wait.

ETA: The wonderful Laurie Penny's response to the whole mess. (ty [info]bnmc2005 )
coffee lol

Sarah Palin to critics: "MAN UP!"

Sarah Palin is pushing back hard on a Politico story reporting that top Republicans wanted to stop her from winning the presidential nomination in 2012.

"There is rising expectation among GOP elites that Palin will probably run for president in 2012 and could win the Republican nomination, a prospect many of them regard as a disaster in waiting," the paper reported. "Many of these establishment figures argue in not-for-attribution comments that Palin's nomination would ensure President Barack Obama's reelection."

Palin responded with derision. "Politico, Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, they're jokes. This is a joke to have unnamed sources tearing somebody apart limb by limb," Palin told Fox News's Greta Van Susteren Sunday. "If they would man up and if they would, you know, make these claims against me then I can debate them, I can talk about it, but to me they're making stuff up again." She railed against unnamed sources, concluding: "I don't think the paper that we just printed this article on, you know, it's not worth even wrapping my King Salmon in. I'll just ignore this crap."

Watch the latest video at <a href=""></a>

It wasn't even her first anti-media crusade of the day; on Fox News Sunday she declared that "corrupt bastards" in the Alaska press were conspiring against her preferred Senate candidate, Joe Miller.

On Laura Ingraham's radio show Monday, Mitt Romney defended Palin, saying the story was nonsense and the former governor would be great for the 2012 primary process. (Of course, Romney is hardly an uninterested observer -- he's already readying for his own 2012 bid.) Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele also came to Palin's defense during an appearance Monday on CNN. "These Republican leaders who don't put their names in print but make comments in shadows need to shut up," Steele said.

Source- Washington Post

Every time this woman opens her mouth she makes me rage with her stupidity. Did she ever think that the reason people are avoiding giving their names when they discuss her is because, you know, she's completely bonkers and vindictive? I have a bad feeling if she really is the front-runner for the 2012 Republican race...

Texting and Farming Go Hand in Hand in Africa

 Ochieng' Ogodo in Nairobi
for National Geographic News
Published October 29, 2010

In late 2009, Kenyan farmer Jane Gathoni received a short text message that made her day.

The African micro-insurance provider, UAP, sent Gathoni a U.S. $29 payment for loss of her harvest due to drought that year. (See flood, drought, and climate change pictures.)
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Aubrey Beardsley

Mugged by the Debt Moralizers

by Paul Krugman

“How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?” That’s the question CNBC’s Rick Santelli famously asked in 2009, in a rant widely credited with giving birth to the Tea Party movement.

It’s a sentiment that resonates not just in America but in much of the world. The tone differs from place to place — listening to a German official denounce deficits, my wife whispered, “We’ll all be handed whips as we leave, so we can flagellate ourselves.” But the message is the same: debt is evil, debtors must pay for their sins, and from now on we all must live within our means.

And that kind of moralizing is the reason we’re mired in a seemingly endless slump.

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fakenews | Awkward

Olbermann vs. Stewart? PICK A SIDE ONTD_P, WE'RE @ WAR.

Keith Olbermann: "Jon Stewart Jumped The Shark At Rally"

Keith Olbermann took to Twitter on Saturday to criticize Jon Stewart for his lambasting of cable news and the media during his "Rally To Restore Sanity."

Cable news was a common target for both Stewart and Stephen Colbert during the rally; they both played several montages of anchors and pundits on both sides of the political aisle -- including Olbermann -- engaged in what they described as extreme or fear-mongering rhetoric. During his closing speech, Stewart homed in on the press, saying that the media was a key factor in poisoning the current political climate:

The country's 24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the dangerous, unexpected flaming ants epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

In response, Olbermann -- whom Stewart has criticized many times in the past for what he sees as his over-the-top rhetoric -- tweeted his disapproval of this sentiment:

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Later, Olbermann stressed that he still "loved" the rally, as well as Stewart and Colbert, despite his criticisms.

Source: HuffPo

I'm only kidding about the "picking sides" bit, btw.

Now, as for the spat,  in spite of it being very easy to attribute Olbermann's remarks to butthurt (real, I'm sure), the issue of Jon's false equivalencies has already been identiified multiple ties, both before and after the rally, and by far more neutral journalistic observers, so. 

Study: Alcohol 'most harmful drug,' followed by crack and heroin

London, England -- Alcohol ranks "most harmful" among a list of 20 drugs -- beating out crack and heroin -- according to study results released by a British medical journal.

A panel of experts weighed the physical, psychological and social problems caused by the drugs and determined that alcohol was the most harmful overall, according to an article on the study released by The Lancet Sunday.

Using a new scale to evaluate harms to individual users and others, alcohol received a score of 72 on a scale of 1 to 100, the study says.


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Also,there is another article on the study with video and chart if you want to check it out here.

(no subject)


David Bahati, the main sponsor of Uganda's "kill the gays" bill tells CNN that he is "very confident" that the piece of legislation will "soon" become law in that country. He claims that it "is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa, and also protect the future of our children."

Meanwhile, the US magazine Rolling Stone has come out against the article published in the Uganda tabloid of the same name calling it "one of the most vile and hateful anti-gay screeds we have ever read." They have also requested the hateful rag stop using its name. Four people in that country have been attacked since the publication of that issue which called for gays and lesbians to be hanged.

Lesbian Stosh Mugisha's name was included on that list and was one of those who was close to losing her life. CNN reports:
On the day that the tabloid was published, people started pointing at her and commenting, she says. Late that night, a crowd gathered outside her house. "People were throwing stones through gate," says Mugisha, "they were shouting, 'Homosexual homosexual!' I started getting scared." Mugisha and her partner of one year had to flee their house the next morning, narrowly escaping stoning. Now they are in hiding. They start bringing in these issues like, 'How can you be born gay? How can you be born lesbian?' They really don't know that we have battled to stand and be who we are," Mugisha says.
Watch CNN interview Giles Muhame, the editor of the Ugandan Rolling Stone. Disturbingly, Muhame very seriously makes a claim that homosexuality is worse than terrorism.


Latest strike against terrorism: printer cartridges banned!

Several outlets are reporting that Home Secretary Theresa May is banning toner cartridges over 500gm carried in hand luggage.

Best responses so far:

brilliant. Al Qaeda have found way of making printer cartridges even more expensive.
they’ll be deprived of all facility to print propagandist pamphlets. Take that, suckers!
It’s clear Theresa never watched an episode of Star Trek with the Borg in it. #adapt #callcaptainpicard
chaos at UK airports as millions of passengers carrying toner cartridges are waterboarded by new super Police
Cath Elliott is off to PC World to stock up in case UK supplies run out.

We should just ban people, luggage and freight from aircraft, then arrest anybody spotted at an airport.
Any other thoughts? Is it time to buy PC World stock?

Source: Liberal Conspiracy
Also: Background, for people who've missed this story and want something more detailed
coffee lol

Schwarzenegger v. EMA

On Election Day, everyone in Washington will be focused on the polls. Everyone except the Supreme Court justices. They'll be busy with video games.

Tuesday is the day that the court has agreed to hear Schwarzenegger v. EMA, a case in which the state of California says it has the power to regulate the sale of violent video games to minors - in essence, to strip First Amendment free speech protection from video games that "lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors."

Since I express myself through the creation of video games, including violent ones, I'd like to know how government bureaucrats are supposed to divine the artistic value that a video game has for a 17-year-old. The man who spearheaded California's law, state Sen. Leland Yee, has not explained that. We've had no more clarity from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed the bill into law.

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Yee argues in his friend-of-the-court brief that since the government can "prohibit the sale of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, driver's licenses and pornography to minors," then "that same reasoning applies in the foundation and enactment" of his law restricting video games.

As a game developer, I am disheartened and a little perplexed to see my art and passion lumped in with cigarettes and booze.

The U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the law as unconstitutional, just as other U.S. courts have struck down similar anti-video-game measures. California appealed to the Supreme Court, which surprisingly agreed to reconsider the lower court's rejection of the law.

So while everyone else is celebrating their constitutional right to vote, the Supreme Court will ask: Does the First Amendment bar a state from restricting the sale of violent video games to minors?


It seems clear to me that violent video games deserve at least as much constitutional protection as other forms of media that would not be restricted under this law, such as violent books and violent movies. Books and movies enable free expression principally for their authors and makers. But video games do more than enable the free speech rights of video game developers. Games - even those incorporating violence - enable a whole new medium of expression for players.

Gameplay is a dialogue between a player and a game. Reading a book or watching a film can also be considered a dialogue, but the ability of the audience to respond is far more limited. Books and movies rarely alter their course based on the emotional reaction of the audience. (One exception would be those old Choose Your Own Adventure-type books, some of which I wrote before I started working on video games.)

The exploration and self-discovery available through books and movies is magnified in video games by the power of interactivity.

A new generation of games features real changes in the story based on the morality of a player's decisions. Mature-rated games such as "BioShock," "Fable 2" and "Fallout 3" go far beyond allowing players to engage in imaginary violent acts; they also give players meaningful consequences for the choices that they make. In "BioShock," the player meets genetically modified people who have been victimized by a mad ideology. The player can help the unfortunates or exploit them for genetic resources. The game's ending changes radically depending on the player's actions. In "Fallout 3," players can be kind to people or mistreat them, and the people will respond in kind. In "Fable 2," the player must make a painful choice to save his family from death or save thousands of innocent people - but not both.

In games such as these, gameplay becomes a powerful meditation on the nature of violence and the context in which it occurs. Some of the most thought-provoking game design is currently in Mature-rated games (similar to R-rated movies). This is because, in order to have a truly meaningful moral choice, the player must be allowed to make an immoral choice and live with the consequences.

And that's just in single-player mode.

The expressive potential of video games jumps exponentially when players take interactivity online. Players can cooperate with or compete against friends, acquaintances or strangers. They can create unique characters, build original worlds and tell their own stories in multiplayer online universes with a few or a few thousand of their friends.

Video games, even the violent ones, enable players' free expression, just like musical instruments enable musicians' free expression. No one in the government is qualified to decide which games don't enable free speech, even when that speech comes from a 15-year-old. The courts settled the question of the First Amendment rights of minors long ago. Those rights are so strong that, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that school boards do not have the power to ban books from school libraries, even if students can obtain those books outside of school (Board of Education v. Pico in 1982). In that case, the justices said that "the right to receive ideas is a necessary predicate to the recipient's meaningful exercise of his own rights of speech, press, and political freedom," even when the recipient is a minor.

The people allowed to limit a minor's free speech rights are his parents or guardians. And maybe his grandparents and aunts and uncles. But not Sen. Yee and Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Most developers of video games will admit that we have barely begun to tap their vast potential to enable player creativity and free speech. In this early stage in the history of video games, the range of expression that we provide to players is too limited. We've done a good job of creating imaginative ways to attack our imaginary enemies, but we have not done nearly as thorough a job exploring all the other forms of human (and nonhuman) interaction.

Fortunately, many of the best developers are tackling new ways to increase players' in-game actions. I've seen some amazing early work in this field, from the biggest video game companies right down to one-person indie developers.


For example, the seemingly simple but emotionally complex online game "Darfur Is Dying" lets the player try to survive in a refugee camp without being killed by militias. "Infamous 2" promises a much richer, open-ended world to help or harm. In "Epic Mickey," Mickey Mouse will have the ability to misbehave.

One of my current projects is a game system that lets players shape and reshape the moral and spiritual development of the game world and the people in it by their actions and alliances.

If California's law is upheld, it is likely that far more onerous measures will appear all over the country. Some stores may stop carrying Mature-rated games. Game publishers might be afraid to finance them. Developers would not know how to avoid triggering censorship because even the creators of such laws don't seem to know. The lawmakers won't tell us their criteria, and their lawyers have refused to reveal which existing games would be covered, even when asked in court.

Such censorship is not only dangerous, it's completely unnecessary. More than 80 scholars and researchers from schools such as George Mason University and Harvard Medical School have written an extensive friend-of-the-court brief in opposition to the law, noting that California failed to produce any real evidence showing that video games cause psychological harm to minors. And even if there was harm, the law's supporters have not shown that the statute could alleviate it.

The game development community has worked hard on creating a rating system that clearly discloses games' content. Even our critics, such as the Federal Trade Commission, have praised our efforts. The FTC's own survey shows that 87 percent of parents are satisfied with the rating system.

Parents have good reason to be concerned about their children's media diet and to ask what possible good can come from blowing out the brains of a character in a game. Make-believe violence appears to have many benefits for minors, such as relieving stress, releasing anger and helping children cope with difficult feelings such as powerlessness and fear of real violence. A recent Texas A&M International study shows that violent games could actually reduce violent tendencies and could be used as a therapy tool for teens and young adults.

There is no small irony that the man helping to spearhead the charge against violent video games is Schwarzenegger, the Terminator himself. He, more than anyone, should understand the thrill of a good fake explosion.

Even when video games contain graphic violence, and even when the players are minors whose parents let them play games with violence, picking up that game controller is a form of expression, and it should be free.

Source- Washington Post

Well, Obama stans?

Administration deporting legally married gay spouses because of DOMA, the law Obama is defending in court

The President has a choice when it comes to defending and enforcing bigoted laws, as we've been saying all along, and as most experts now admit when it comes to DADT, but much of the same logic applies to DOMA as well. It's just the apologists and the folks wanting to work in the administration who are still defending Obama's defense of DOMA and DADT. And now that defense is forcing legally married gay couples to be literally ripped apart by the Obama administration.

ABC News:
Joshua Vandiver, a Colorado native who is earning his Ph.D. in politics at Princeton University, said he is the studious type who has rarely embraced activism. But now, just months into his legal marriage to Venezuelan Henry Velandia, he is fighting to save his husband from being deported.

Had the couple been straight and not gay, Vandiver would have been allowed to apply for permanent residence status for Velandia, who could then later apply for citizenship.

But their dream to build a life together is been derailed by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a man and a woman under all federal laws, including immigration.
Mind you, the President decided to ignore a federal law requiring him to kick out the not-yet-American-citizen spouses of deceased Americans. They get to stay. But gay spouses? No such empathy from the Obama administration and the apologists. Suddenly it's all "we simply MUST obey the rule of law."

No they mustn't. And no they haven't. They simply pull out this excuse when it's time to bash the gays.

Source: AMERICAblog Gay

'Jesus had HIV' sermon sparks South African fury


An Aids orphan in South Africa (September 2010) 

"Today I will start with a three-part sermon on: Jesus was HIV-positive," South African Pastor Xola Skosana recently said in a Sunday church service. The words initially stunned his congregation in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township into silence, and then set tongues wagging in churches across the country. Some Christians have been outraged, saying he is portraying Jesus as sexually promiscuous. HIV is mainly transmitted through sex, but can also be spread through needle-sharing, contaminated blood, pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, as Pastor Skosana told those gathered in the modest Luhlaza High School hall for his weekly services, in many parts of the Bible Jesus put himself in the position of the destitute, the sick and the marginalised.

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