November 22nd, 2010


Irelands Economy Is Shit, England Decides To Help

The UK has offered to make a direct bilateral loan to the Irish Republic - on top of contributing to EU and IMF loans.

One of the most striking political developments to emerge from the Republic's economic turmoil is how the country's age-old frostiness with Britain has completely thawed.

It was significant that during his darkest hour, the Irish prime minister went out of his way to thank his British counterpart for his support.

David Cameron was the first name that Brian Cowen mentioned on Sunday night as he acknowledged the support that the Dublin government had received as it sought financial aid.

Britain is offering the Republic of Ireland a direct loan, as well as making a contribution to the international funds to which the Dublin government will soon gain access.

Of course, the UK is not just being a good neighbour. It has its own interests to consider.

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Pat-down backlash grows during holiday travel rush

As backlash against airline passenger pat-downs intensified with a viral online video, the nation's top airline security official said Monday that his agency is walking a fine line between privacy concerns and public safety.

A short video clip circulating on the internet shows a shirtless boy receiving a pat-down from a Transportation Security Administration agent. His father watches, hands on his hips, obstructing part of the view.

But the words playing in the background are clear.

"Are they harassing a kid?" one man asks.

"It's ridiculous," another voice chimes in. "Unbelievable."

Finance student Luke Tait said he started recording the incident with his cell phone when he saw the "visibly upset" father while waiting in line Friday at the airport in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"It was an interesting situation. I never saw a little boy with his shirt off getting a pat-down," Tait told CNN.

TSA spokesman Dwayne Baird said screeners searched the child after he set off a metal detector alarm.

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Arguments to take place in Oklahoma over ban on Islamic law in courts

A federal judge will hear arguments Monday on a temporary restraining order against an Oklahoma referendum that would ban the use of Islamic religious law in state courts.

Oklahoma voters approved the amendment during the November elections by a 7-3 ratio. But the Council on American-Islamic Relations challenged the measure as a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange issued a temporary restraining order November 8 that will keep state election officials from certifying that vote.

"What this amendment is going to do is officially disfavor and condemn the Muslim community as being a threat to Oklahoma," Muneer Awad, executive director of CAIR's Oklahoma chapter and the lead plaintiff in the suit, said earlier this month. In addition, he said, the amendment would invalidate private documents, such as wills, that are written in compliance with Muslim law.

The amendment would require Oklahoma courts to "rely on federal and state law when deciding cases" and "forbids courts from considering or using" either international law or Islamic religious law, known as Sharia, which the amendment defined as being based on the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed.

In bringing suit, CAIR argued that the amendment violates both the establishment and free-exercise clauses of the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. Awad has said the amendment passed "under a campaign of fearmongering" about Islam.

The entire U.S. Muslim population is about 2.4 million -- less than 1 percent of the country, according to a 2009 survey by the nonprofit Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

But supporters said a New Jersey case, in which a judge refused to grant a restraining order against a Muslim man whose wife accused him of raping her repeatedly, made it necessary for Oklahoma to take action to keep Islamic law from being imposed there.

The New Jersey decision, in which the family court judge found the husband was abiding by his Muslim beliefs regarding spousal duties, was overruled by an appellate court.

But in automated phone messages in support of the amendment, former CIA Director and Oklahoma native James Woolsey warned that there was a "major campaign in Europe to impose Sharia law" and that Islamic law "is beginning to be cited in a few U.S courts."

Me - I hate Christmas

Why are the Marines the military's biggest backers of 'don't ask, don't tell'?

After 17 years, "don't ask, don't tell" may finally be on its way out. Even if the Senate resists the latest efforts to end the policy, it appears that most members of the military - from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on down - support the law's repeal.

But there's one part of the military where resistance is greater than in any other: the United States Marine Corps.

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Washington Post

A Young Abortion Doctor's Dilemma

A Young Abortion Doctor's Dilemma

Published On Sat Nov 20 2010

Dr. Evan James poses for a photo, Nov. 15, 2010.

By Megan Ogilvie Health Reporter

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I thought it was important to post this, although the Toronto Star isn't the best paper in the world. It is an important issue to discuss, particularly why there are very few doctors in Canada who will do second trimester.
Title of the article is not mine. It is from the source.

More TSA fuckery

TSA Chief Admits He Withheld Information on Pat-Downs

Washington - Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole said on Monday that he disregarded internal advice to the contrary and decided not to tell the public in advance about aggressive new screening and pat-down procedures for airline passengers, fearing terrorists could try to exploit the information.

In an hour-long discussion with reporters, Pistole said media officials at the Department of Homeland Security had urged him to “get out ahead” of the potential controversy by formally announcing plans for enhanced body searches and the use of new x-ray and radio-wave imaging devices at 70 airports beginning in November.

But doing so would have provided a “roadmap or blueprint for terrorists” to avoid detection by using other airports where the new technology wasn’t in place, Pistole said.

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Hundreds Die in Stampede in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Thousands of people stampeded during a festival in the Cambodian capital Monday night, leaving more than 330 dead and hundreds injured in what the prime minister called the country's biggest tragedy since the 1970s reign of terror by the Khmer Rouge.

Some in the panicky crowd — who were celebrating the end of the rainy season on a sliver of land in a river — tried to flee over a bridge and were crushed underfoot or fell over its sides into the water. A witness who arrived shortly after the stampede described "bodies stacked on bodies" on the bridge as rescuers swarmed the area.

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Knives for a pro.

(no subject)

Thanksgiving need at area food pantries reaches record levels

The economy may be showing signs of life, but food pantries and other nonprofit food-distribution agencies around the region say they are struggling to meet record-breaking demand as the holidays approach.

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Washington Post

Black Friday deals: St. Pete family is first in nation to start camping at Best Buy

Standing in line to buy, say, a slightly larger television for a fine price on Black Friday is as much an American tradition as drinking coffee with a stale croissant or buying underwear only at the Gap.

You will delight, therefore, in the news that one Best Buy already has people in line to take advantage of its Black Friday specials.

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  • mswyrr

Why tax cuts for the rich make no sense

Why tax cuts for the rich make no sense

By Drew Westen, Special to CNN

(CNN) -- Democrats and Republicans agree on extending tax cuts to the middle class. People who are already struggling to get by do not want to see their taxes go up on January 1.

The question is how to define middle class and whether to give tax breaks to the rich that would add nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars to the deficit. How the two parties handle this question in the next few days or weeks will signal who they really are, whether they will be able to govern together with a divided Congress, and what lessons they took away from the election this month.

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I'm thankful for people like Mr. Westen who can be articulate on this subject. Personally, the thought of the Republican position--let's go into debt cosseting the rich while cutting programs for the poor, WON'T THAT BE FUN?!?! :DDDD--on this bullshit and the spinelessness of the Democrats is so completely fucking insane [ETA: The use of "insane" here was ableism on my part, and I apologize for it] and wrong that I have trouble engaging with it. Instead, I want to react like a different Westen altogether...

No Enbridge
  • romp

Transgender Travelers and New TSA Policies

The National Center For Transgender Equality (NCTE) has some great resources on how the new "naked scanners" and enhanced patdowns affect transgender travelers -- and just as importantly, what your rights are. A lot of what's here applies to everybody, for example:

First, it is important that you KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. Even if TSA personnel are not always familiar with travelers' rights, such as the right to decline a full-body scan, you should know them. You may need to politely inform the officer of your rights and choices.
Second, calmly and clearly expressing your choices is very important. This makes it easier for the TSA agents to understand what your needs are and may help you get through the checkpoint more quickly.

And there are also some vital transgender-specific bullet points, including these:

You have the right to have manual search procedures performed by an officer who is of the same gender as the gender you are currently presenting yourself as. This does not depend on the gender listed on your ID, or on any other factor. If TSA officials are unsure who should pat you down, ask to speak to a supervisor and calmly insist on the appropriate officer.
You should not be subjected to additional screening or inquiry because of any discrepancy between a gender marker on an ID and your appearance. As long as your ID has a recognizable picture of you on it, with your legal name and birth date, it should not cause any problem.
There's a lot more, too, so check it out. And they also have a very clear 4-page PDF guide to whole-body imaging, covering some of the same ground and providing more background.


I've noticed on the TSA posts that we've had that disabled travellers, trans travellers, and those with PTSD (or who've been assaulted in the past) have been hardest hit. Thought this resource might be of interest.

Wi-Fi makes trees sick, according to Dutch study

Source: CBS News

It's an Internet rumor that is spreading, appropriately enough, like wildfire: Wi-Fi signals can make trees and other plants sick, causing cracks in their bark and killing off portions of their leaves.

(Credit: Getty Images)
The outlandish claim, supposedly based on a Dutch study, cropped up late last week and has since been repeated in countless blog posts.

In response, the Dutch government's Antenna Agency, which provides information on the health effects of electromagnetic fields, has issued a statement urging caution on the unpublished, unverified and otherwise very preliminary findings.

As rendered via Google Translate, the Antenna Agency wrote (with a few [sics]): "Based on the information now available can not be concluded that the WiFi radio signals leads to damage to trees or other plants."

Wi-Fi signals wirelessly connect computers and other devices to the Internet. The radio signals are similar to that employed by other, decades-old technologies such as television and cell phones, said Marvin Ziskin, a professor of radiology and medical physics at Temple University.

"Stuff like this has been around a long time . . . there's nothing new about Wi-Fi emissions," said Ziskin. "Scientifically there's no evidence to support that these signals are a cause for concern."

Nevertheless, officials in the Dutch municipality of Alphen aan den Rijn tasked a researcher at Wageningen University several years ago to investigate unexplained abnormalities on local trees.

According to a writeup on the municipality's website, the work was apparently commissioned with an eye toward the increasing number of sources of electromagnetic radiation in the region, such as cell phone tower masts.

In lab tests, leaves placed for a few months near six radiation sources emitting radio waves in the 2.4 gigahertz range common for Wi-Fi and other wireless communications became discolored and showed a "metallic luster appearance . . . followed by desiccation and death of a portion of the leaf," the website said. Other reports have said that corn cobs exposed to such conditions grew more slowly than expected.

The Antenna Agency statement suggests that the researcher involved has backed away from the reported findings and has not succeeded in repeating them (pardon the translation): "The researcher from Wageningen University indicates that these are initial results and that has not been confirmed in a repeat survey. He warns strongly that there are no far-reaching conclusions from its results."

More than 60 studies have looked into the impact that electromagnetic mobile communications signals might have on plants, according to an initial review by the Antenna Agency. Some studies did find detrimental effects, though likely as a result of signal intensities being high (and close) enough to cause heat damage ??? not the situation in real life with disparate sources of Wi-Fi signals.

Overall, the alarm raised by the coverage of the tenuous Dutch findings is not unexpected, Ziskin said, as health issues (primarily in humans and other animals, such as honey bees, not vegetation) have frequently been attributed to wireless radio signals and other low-level radiation. [Read: "Mad As Hell: Airport Security Screening Protests Mount"]

"There's an awful lot of misinformation and fear on this topic," Ziskin told TechNewsDaily. "Anyone can drum up things like this to be worried about."

Wrestler Mick (“The Boulder”) Foley Hits The Hill For Rape Kit Legislation

Wrestler Mick Foley -- whose meeting with Tori Amos and subsequent work for the Rape, Abuse & Incest Action Network that she co-founded was chronicled on Slate in September -- joined RAINN, assault survivor-turned-advocate Julie Weil and "Private Practice" actress KaDee Strickland on Capitol Hill this week to push for passage of the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act.

The legislation, originally co-sponsored by the unlikely duo of Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), would, among other things, allocate $10 million a year for a national registry to chronicle the backlog in DNA testing on rape kits and allow local law enforcement to audit their backlogs.

In an exclusive interview with TPM, Foley explained his interest in the cause: "I came to feel that there were not many males out there talking about a problem that really does affect everybody. Statistically speaking, everybody knows somebody who's been affected by rape and sexual assault whether they know it or not."

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Right on, Mr. Foley.

yeah so no
  • homasse

TSA chief: Body scan boycott would be mistake

TSA chief: Body scan boycott would be mistake

With one of the year's busiest traveling days fast approaching, the Obama administration's top transportation security official on Monday urged passengers angry over safety procedures not to boycott airport body scans.

John Pistole said in nationally broadcast interviews he understands public concerns about privacy in the wake of the Transportation Security Administration's tough new airline boarding security checks.

But at the same time, he said a relatively small proportion of the 34 million people who have flown since the new procedures went into effect have had the body pat downs that have come under withering criticism in recent days.

With the Thanksgiving travel rush less than 48 hours away, Pistole implored passengers Monday not to take delaying actions or engage in boycotts of body scans, actions he said would only serve to "tie up people who want to go home and see their loved ones."

Pistole had pledged Sunday to review security procedures in the wake of a public outcry. But he also said the TSA must balance people's demand for privacy with the need to protect passengers from those who would try to set off bombs on planes.

A loosely-organized Internet boycott of body scans is under way, and Pistole said he hoped people would exercise sound judgment over the busy Thanksgiving holiday. A National Opt-Out Day is scheduled for Wednesday to coincide with the busiest travel day of the year.

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If it's INVASIVE, it's a PROBLEM, jerk. And you are on the wrong side of things when you are trying to guilt trip people into not to exercising their rights or complaining just because it means it takes up time. And there's a Ben Franklin quote you need to familiarize yourself with, stat:

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
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