November 29th, 2010

New York cabbies face new "professional" dress code

New York City's cabdrivers will be subject to a new dress code, the Taxi and Limousine Commission said on Friday.

The regulations will instructing cabbies to "present a professional appearance," said David Yassky, TLC commissioner.

An older dress code for taxi drivers has been on the books since 1987, when complaints about bedraggled and badly groomed drivers prompted the TLC to ban certain clothing, such as sleeveless shirts, short shorts and open-toed shoes.

Those rules were later relaxed and are rarely enforced.

The TLC head said the new rule is designed to be easier to follow.

"It will also have the positive effect of reminding drivers that, in a customer service-oriented industry, there are professional standards that have to be met," Lassky said.

The new rule gives no definition of what constitutes a professional appearance.

Representatives of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents some 11,000 taxi drivers, were not available for comment.


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The Background Dope on DHS Recent Seizure of Domains

  As has been reported, it looks like ICE, which is the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, has begun seizing domains under the pretext of IP infringement. But it’s actually not ICE who is executing the mechanics of the seizures. It’s a private company, immixGroup IT Solutions. Here is what is going down.

In May of this year, immixGroup IT Solutions is awarded a one year IT Services contract with DHS. The particulars of this contract:

Under this new contract, immixGroup will provide information technology operational services and support, implementation, and maintenance of DHS ICE C3′s software applications, network and CyberSecurity systems, as well as the maintenance and enhancement of applications that support law enforcement activities.

The contract includes one base year, one 12-month option period, and two six-month option periods; covers all four divisions of C3 (Child Exploitation, Cyber Crimes, Computer Forensics, and Cyber Training); and is critical to C3′s pursuit of criminal activity. immixGroup’s services in this effort include network maintenance, application development and support, forensic lab assistance, data storage maintenance, and information assurance.

On November 24th, immixGroup IT Solutions registered the domain SEIZEDSERVERS.COM, and primary and secondary nameservers, NS1.SEIZEDSERVERS.COM, NS2.SEIZEDSERVERS.COM, with Network Solutions, which is the registrar for this domain. Since the DHS contract is provisionally for one year only, the domain was only registered for one year(expires in one year).Collapse )

Murasaki Shikibu
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North Korea's consistent message to the U.S.

North Korea's consistent message to the U.S.
by Jimmy Carter

No one can completely understand the motivations of the North Koreans, but it is entirely possible that their recent revelation of their uranium enrichment centrifuges and Pyongyang's shelling of a South Korean island Tuesday are designed to remind the world that they deserve respect in negotiations that will shape their future. Ultimately, the choice for the United States may be between diplomatic niceties and avoiding a catastrophic confrontation.

Dealing effectively with North Korea has long challenged the United States. We know that the state religion of this secretive society is "juche," which means self-reliance and avoidance of domination by others. The North's technological capabilities under conditions of severe sanctions and national poverty are surprising. Efforts to display its military capability through the shelling of Yeongpyeong and weapons tests provoke anger and a desire for retaliation. Meanwhile, our close diplomatic and military ties with South Korea make us compliant with its leaders' policies.

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North Korea has been pushing for talks with just the US for a long time, and we've consistently rejected it, saying talks have to be held in the framework of six-party talks. But part of the problem with six-party talks is that everyone has their own agendas and their own focuses (for example, Japan always wants to bring up the abduction issue at six-party talks, because they are dissatisfied with North Korea's accounting of events and which abductees are or are not still alive). While a lot of these other agendas are important, it means that in a lot of ways, focus gets lost. North Korea almost desperately wants to negotiate directly with the US, for various reasons one can only speculate at (things like trying to get more food aid, trying to seem more important/be taken more seriously by getting one-on-one talks with America, all kinds of reasons none of us can really know), and the US has always insisted six-way talks or nothing. China has a lot of sway with North Korea, but so does the US, and sometimes it seems like the US would really rather not accept that level of potential involvement (or granting N. Korea that level of legitimacy, maybe?) by agreeing to direct talks. I dunno. I don't see how direct talks would exactly hurt (other than more reinforcement for N. Korea that bad behavior works...but then, we never seem to respond to good behavior), but then, I'm just an armchair diplomat, so what do I know? XD;;
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Calvin Coolidge: Right-wing rock star?

Sarah Palin praises the 30th president throughout her new book. She's hardly Silent Cal's only fan on the right

A reader who knew only the author and title of Sarah Palin’s new book, "America by Heart," would in all likelihood be able to predict many of the delights contained within: self-justifying accounts of her behavior on the 2008 campaign, snarky jabs at President Obama, paeans to the Alaska grizzly. Rapturous words for Calvin Coolidge, however, would probably not be among the expected finds. And yet peppered through Palin’s new volume of ruminations lies a handful of admiring references to our 30th president. The oddity is worth pondering.

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Rachel - Bullpucky

(no subject)

Palin Responds to Willow’s Antigay Rant
By Julie Bolcer

In an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, Sarah Palin appeared oblivious to the seriousness of her daughter Willow’s use of the word “faggot” against a young man on Facebook who criticized the former Alaksa governor’s new reality TV show.

Mediaite reports on the exchange, perhaps the first time Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and potential 2012 presidential contender, addressed the incident.

“While Palin correctly points out that the national media should not have exploited the musings of a 16-year-old, the balance of her response reveals important things about Sarah Palin, not as a parent, but as a media critic and human being,” reports Mediaite. “Not only does she undermine her claims of media ‘lies’ by making stuff up herself, she also displays a disturbing attitude about the use of the word ‘faggot.’”

According to the transcript, Palin said, “People probably think that my greatest frustration is the lies that are told in the tabloids and on hateful blogs full of anonymous sources about my family … and there are constant everyday lies that we have to read that are out there in the public. But my family and I…thick skin…we can take it, you know…we can take what the haters say despite the fact that there’s injustice in the situation.

“I mean, look at the other day,” she continued. “Willow, finally, my 16 year old, she had had it up to here with somebody saying very, very hateful things about the family and saying mean things about her little brother Trig, and Willow finally responded and she used a bad word when she responded in defense of her family. And her response became national news, even hard news copy it turned into, so that’s ridiculous and I had to explain to her, ‘Willow, there is no justice here but you have to just zip your lip and let’s move forward.’”

As Mediaite reports, the Facebook exchange did not involve a single mention of Trig Palin, in addition to other factual errors the former governor asserted about the incident.

Watch the interview at the source

There are these pesky little things called facts, Palin. You might want to check some now and then.

Chaos as mysterious white flakes continue to fall from sky

The UK is still in the icy grip of chaos as the mysterious white flakes that have caused havoc to many areas continue to fall from the sky.

Parts of eastern England and Scotland already under thick layers of the white flakes, while strong winds are likely to cause drifting of the mystery substance, forecasters say.

There is much speculation as to where the icy flakes are coming from, with the Church of England dismissing claims by scientists that it is precipitation falling from clouds in the form of ice crystals, as “witchcraft”.

“It’s common knowledge that thunder is God’s tummy rumbling and that rain is him crying, so our own research has shown that these white flakes must be as a result of God having a flaky scalp.” Said one leading theologian.

UK Snow

43 year-old Christine Goddard, who runs a shop selling bucket loads of tat, believes the icy flakes are as a result of something more sinister than the dandruff of an omnipresent super-being passing judgement on our every movement.

“It’s got to be terrorists,” She insisted.

“Christmas is the time of year for buying complete tat, and it seems obvious that terrorists will want to disrupt our tat-buying at all costs.”

A government spokesperson has revealed that they are working all hours to try and determine the cause of the flakes.

“Hopefully we can find out what they are, and where it’s all coming from.” said an Environment Agency official.

“If we can solve this mystery then hopefully we won’t get caught out next time they mysteriously appear.”


Source: Some newspaper or other

The FBI successfully thwarts its own Terrorist plot

by Glenn Greenwald

The FBI is obviously quite pleased with itself over its arrest of a 19-year-old Somali-American, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who -- with months of encouragement, support and money from the FBI's own undercover agents -- allegedly attempted to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas event in Portland, Oregon. Media accounts are almost uniformly trumpeting this event exactly as the FBI describes it. Loyalists of both parties are doing the same, with Democratic Party commentators proclaiming that this proves how great and effective Democrats are at stopping The Evil Terrorists, while right-wing polemicists point to this arrest as yet more proof that those menacing Muslims sure are violent and dangerous.

What's missing from all of these celebrations is an iota of questioning or skepticism. All of the information about this episode -- all of it -- comes exclusively from an FBI affidavit filed in connection with a Criminal Complaint against Mohamud. As shocking and upsetting as this may be to some, FBI claims are sometimes one-sided, unreliable and even untrue, especially when such claims -- as here -- are uncorroborated and unexamined. That's why we have what we call "trials" before assuming guilt or even before believing that we know what happened: because the government doesn't always tell the complete truth, because they often skew reality, because things often look much different once the accused is permitted to present his own facts and subject the government's claims to scrutiny. The FBI affidavit -- as well as whatever its agents are whispering into the ears of reporters -- contains only those facts the FBI chose to include, but omits the ones it chose to exclude. And even the "facts" that are included are merely assertions at this point and thus may not be facts at all.


The entire article can be read at

Someone linked to this piece in another community and I thought it was worth discussing here. I think it raises a lot of very valid questions.
WC Neal in safety goggles

Time for round Eleventy Billion of "HE'S NOT A CITIZEN"

Justices turn aside another challenge over Obama's citizenship
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
November 29, 2010 10:42 a.m. EST

Washington (CNN) -- The Supreme Court has again cast aside an appeal that raised doubts about President Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship, a grass-roots legal issue that has gained little legal or political footing, but continues to persist in the courts.

The justices without comment Monday rejected a challenge from Charles Kerchner Jr., a Pennsylvania man who sought a trial in federal court forcing the president to produce documents regarding his birth and citizenship.

Kerchner's attorney, Mario Apuzzo, had argued in a petition with the Supreme Court that Obama did not fit the definition of a "natural-born citizen" required for the nation's highest office, as defined by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.

That clause states, "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

Kerchner, a retired military officer who describes himself on his website as a "genetic genealogy pioneer," argues the framers of the 1789 document intended a "natural-born" citizen to mean someone born in the U.S. to parents who were both American citizens.

The high court and other courts had dismissed earlier, unrelated lawsuits from individuals questioning Obama's citizenship. State birth certificate records show he was born August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His mother is a native of Kansas; his father was born in Kenya, which at the time was a British colony.

"A person gains allegiance and loyalty and therefore attachment for a nation from either being born on the soil of the community defining that nation or from being born to parents who were also born on that same soil or who naturalized as though they were born on that soil," said Apuzzo. "It is only by combining at birth in the child both means to inherit these two sources of citizenship that the child by nature and therefore also by law is born with only one allegiance and loyalty to and consequently attachment for only the United States." He said it was "undisputed fact" Obama's father was a citizen of the British crown.

The Obama administration did not file, and the high court did not demand, a formal government response to this latest legal claim. The high court will often insist the Justice Department weigh in with its views on a particular constitutional issue, or when it is being sued, and that is a sign the justices are seriously considering accepting the appeal.

Obama and his staff produced copies of his birth certificate when he was running for president in 2008, and have previously dismissed questions over his citizenship.

Other legal claims on the citizenship question whether Obama was in fact born in the United States, and whether his birth documents are authentic.

Among the issues the high court has refused to fully address in these appeals involves "standing," whether individual Americans can bring such a lawsuit, by first establishing personal, direct "harm" or "injury" from having Obama occupy the White House. Overcoming that legal hurdle would allow such suits to proceed on the merits in courts.

Some of the claims of various "birther" movement organizers insist the president was born in Kenya or Indonesia; that his birth certificate is a forgery; and that he had dual American-British citizenship at birth because of his father's Kenyan heritage and therefore is not a "natural born" citizen.

The case is Kerchner v. Obama (10-446).


+1 for creative new argument. -1,000,000 for even doing this in the first place.

Officer accused of attacking Ian Tomlinson at London G20 faces gross misconduct charge

Police officer accused of G20 attack faces misconduct charge

A police officer who was not prosecuted over the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests in London is accused of gross misconduct.

PC Simon Harwood is accused of hitting the newspaper seller with his baton and pushing him to the ground in actions that "inadvertently caused or contributed" to his death on April 1, 2009.

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It's not a prosecution, but it is a start.

Confessions of a young anti-feminist

Is the pursuit for gender equality sucking life out of relationships?

Instead of harnessing the different qualities of men and women to energise us, we are striving to make men and women equal.

More women are joining the battle for the CEO’s chair and pursuing dominance in their homes and communities. But in the process they’re becoming more like men. And men are becoming… well, less like men.

Renowned Australian neurosurgeon Charlie Teo believes men and women have different roles “set not only by society but set by physiology”.

“The current trend is for dads to be more hands on. But for all we know it may be proven in a hundred years time that that may be a negative thing for the upbringing of children,” he said recently on Seven’s Sunday Night program.

“They’re there to be protective. A man has to have a good job; he has to do well at school so he can get a good job and support his family. A woman has to be loving and caring,” he said.


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I wouldn't recommend reading the comments at the source, you may headdesk until you knock yourself out :(


Airport Security: Let's Profile Muslims


As an American Muslim, I’ve come to recognize, sadly, that there is one common denominator defining those who’ve got their eyes trained on U.S. targets: MANY of them are Muslim—like the Somali-born teenager arrested Friday night for a reported plot to detonate a car bomb at a packed Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in downtown Portland, Oregon.

We have to talk about the taboo topic of profiling because terrorism experts are increasingly recognizing that religious ideology makes terrorist organizations and terrorists more likely to commit heinous crimes against civilians, such as blowing an airliner out of the sky. Certainly, it’s not an easy or comfortable conversation but it’s one, I believe, we must have.

This past week, as part of a debate series sponsored by the New York-based group Intelligence Squared, I argued that U.S. airports should use racial and religious profiling. (Taking the opposite stand was a “debating team” that included the former director of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff; Columbia University scholar of Pakistan, Hassan Abbas; and Debra Burlingame, a former flight attendant whose brother was a pilot of one of the planes hijacked on 9/11.)

I realize that in recent years, profiling has become a dirty word, synonymous with prejudice, racism, and bigotry. But while I believe our risk assessment should not end with religion, race and ethnicity, I believe that it should include these important elements, as part of a “triage” strategy that my debate partner, former CIA case officer Robert Baer, says airports and airliners already do.

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Mini!Leela: by obsequieux

New Bible drops gender-neutral language of '05 version

By Bob Smietana, The Tennessean
The world's best-selling Bible is getting an upgrade.

At stake are millions of dollars in publishing revenue and the trust of millions of churchgoers.

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Source: USA Today


My first one was that Doug Moo & Co. are being transparently dishonest and intellectually bankrupt. He said that the translation committee said was not bowing to any special interest -- just using the best available scholarship to translate the text -- but the rest of the article clearly gives the lie to that. Anyway, if they were just going by scholarship on ancient Hebrew and Greek, then why the hell did they bother to take a poll to see which language evangelicals preferred? For shits and giggles?
queen regina

Government trying to block cell phones in cars

Not content with laws banning talking or texting while driving, the U.S. Department of Transportation is considering adding technology to automobiles that would disable cell phones. The move is a response to the growing number of deaths and injuries related to distracted driving.

"I think the technology is there," said Raymond LaHood, the Secretary of Transportation. "And I think you're going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones."

In addition to his comments on disabled cell phones, LaHood also announced a new video campaign, "Faces of Distracted Driving." The series of online videos tells the stories of several victims of distracted driving. The DoT plans to add a new video every few weeks.

During his talk last week LaHood said that nearly 5,500 people died from distracted driving last year, and that about half a million were injured. That's a low estimate, according to Paul Atchley, a scientist at the University of Kansas who studies distracted driving.

LaHood's figures only account for known deaths or injuries — suspected deaths or injuries aren't included. The real numbers, said Atchley, are likely far higher, and will only get higher.

While there is no federal law against using a cell phone while driving a vehicle, dozens of states prohibit texting while driving in an effort to reduce the number of deaths or injuries. Several other states forbid drivers from using hand-held cell phones.

According to LaHood, laws aren't enough. Instead he plans to fight technology with technology. Hardware, such as cell phone jammers, are illegal, and the FCC isn't likely to approve any kind of jamming equipment. That leaves software from companies like Zoomsafter, tXtBlocker and iZup.

While the specifics differ, the general idea is the same. When a cell phone or a vehicle exceeds a certain speed, determined by the car and transmitted via Bluetooth or by the speed of the cell phone itself as measured by cell phone towers, the phone is automatically disabled.

That won't work, said Atchley. Most of these services are voluntary. It is not difficult for users to either not activate them, or to work around them.

The real answer to the problem is a change in people's attitudes. The research on drunk driving and distracted driving is quite similar, but the reactions of people to both are far different.

"When we ask young drivers about drunk driving, they say that judges should throw the book at drunk drivers, but not the person texting while driving," said Atchley.

"The bottom line is that people want to use these devices," said Atchley. "And things are going to get worse before they get better."


I agree that distracted driving is an issue, but WTF, overreact much? It's not like everyone in the car is driving; why shouldn't passengers be allowed to use their cell phones?

Wikileaks says US had dossier on gay Tory Alan Duncan

US spies drew up a dossier on gay Conservative minister Alan Duncan, leaked documents show.

Mr Duncan, now the international development minister, was apparently of special interest to the US and is the only British MP to have been singled out so far.

He was shadow pensions minister at the time the document was written in January 2010.

The communication was one of three million released by the website Wikileaks.

The cable, sent on January 22nd, was signed off by Elizabeth Pitterle, head of intelligence operations.

She thanked the US embassy in London for gathering intelligence on Mr Duncan’s “friendship with … William Hague”, saying it was “particularly insightful and exceptionally well timed, as analysts are preparing finished products on the Conservative leadership for senior policy-makers”.

The cable asked for more information on “Duncan’s relationship with Conservative party leader David Cameron and William Hague”, and asked:”What role would Duncan play if the Conservatives form a government? What are Duncan’s political ambitions?”

Mr Duncan was the first Tory MP to come out and is in a civil partnership. He once shared a flat with Mr Hague, who denied he was gay this summer after rumours spread about his sexuality and his sharing a hotel room with a male aide.

In September, Mr Duncan defended Mr Hague against media interest in his personal life, telling journalists to “back off”.

Source: Pink News

Seems like a clear case of seeing Duncan's sexuality as something they could exploit. Thanks, Wikileaks, for showing what kind of "allies" we have.


WikiLeaks: Ayatollah Khameni has terminal cancer

Ayatollah Khamenei, the chief religious leader of Iran, who holds the final word in state affairs is a hardliner well-known to be hostile to America. Details of the health and lifestyle of the 71-year old are shrouded in secrecy.

Any credible information that he was dying would fundamentally change the diplomatic stakes in negotiations between Tehran and its Western adversaries.

The US consulate in Istanbul reported in August, 2009 that a businessman close to Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former Iranian president, that the Supreme Leader had been diagnosed with a fatal form of Leukaemia. The source said Ayatollah Rafsanjani believed his great rival would be dead in a "matter of months".

The timing of the information is significant since Ayatollah Rafsanjani was at the time orchestrating opposition to the re-election of President Mahmound Ahmadinejad, who has triumphed in a blatantly rigged election the previous June.

"As a result, Rafsanjani decided to stop challenging Khamenei, and instead is preparing the ground to have himself appointed Khamenei's successor," the report said. "If he is successful – though clearly he would face stiff opposition from Ahmadinejad allies in that Assembly – he would then invite Ahmadinejad to resign and call a new election."

Mass protests that had rocked the regime began to peter out around the same time as the consulate was reporting that Ayatollah Rafsanjani had changed his strategy. The diplomatic note cautioned that reports of his imminent death had been seen before.

Ayatollah Khamenei has frequently been rumoured to have had cancer treatment. He has a withered arm from a grenade attack and walks with a stick. Opponents have also circulated rumours of an opium addiction.

The Supreme Leader was pictured at the weekend meeting Saad Hariri, the prime minister of Lebanon, who was visiting Tehran. The family of Ayatollah Rafsanjani have suffered from official harassment, including the issuance of an arrest warrant for his London-based son, Medhi.


Police: Pa. couple hid 5 children from society

They lived outside society, hidden from the world in a squalid row house with no heat, electricity or running water. They had no birth certificates, no schooling, no immunizations or evidence of medical care - nothing whatsoever to prove their existence.

Police in this south-central Pennsylvania city are still piecing together how the parents of five children - ranging in age from 2 to 13 - managed to conceal them for so many years. And why.

"I don't know what would possess them at all," said detective Dana Ward Jr., who tracked down the children after a child welfare agency received an anonymous tip about the clandestine family.

Ward charged Louann Bowers, 33, and Sinhue Johnson, 45, with five felony counts of child endangerment. They are scheduled to be in court Friday, though Bowers' lawyer said she will waive her right to an arraignment. Both are locked up in York County Prison.

Bowers ran away from "a very chaotic household" when she was 16 and "didn't want to be found," attorney Ronald Gross said.


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thebirds, que

Bringin' the ONTD back in the _p

This Brazilian Drug Lord Is a Huge Justin Bieber Fan

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Gawker sauce
Guardian sauce
sauce in Portuguese (OP wishes she can understand & speak this beautiful language...)

For those that want some background on this battle between the drug lords and the armed forces in Brazil, please see danyjoncew's posts here and here. I'd freak out if I were Justin Bieber, simply for attracting the attention of a drug lord. I noticed right away the wall damage on mural!Justin's left temple and wondered about what went down.

Also, this was posted on our beloved mothership but I think some _p bbs aren't members there, so I thought to bring this over here.

Kenya leader: Homosexuals should be arrested

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya's prime minister has said that homosexuals should be arrested, according to reports.

"We will not tolerate such behaviors in the country," the BBC quoted Raila Odinga as saying. "The constitution is very clear on this issue and men or women found engaging in homosexuality will not be spared."

Africa Review reported that Odinga told a rally in Nairobi on Sunday that "if found the homosexuals should be arrested and taken to relevant authorities."

The website said that Odinga added it was "madness" for two men to fall in love with each other when a recent census showed there were "plenty of women" in the country.

However, Odinga's spokesman said Monday that the prime minister was quoted out of context and that he was only highlighting that the country's constitution bans same-sex weddings.

Kenya's largest gay rights organization said the comments sparked panic among its members.

'Extortion, blackmail and violence'
Nguru Karugu, a board member with the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, said Monday the group had received calls from concerned members, some of whom are HIV-positive and fear they will be arrested when they collect life-prolonging medicine from government clinics.

David Kuria, another activist with the organization, told the BBC that he believed the prime minister's remarks would provoke "extortion, blackmail and violence."

Kenya's laws prohibit "sex against the order of nature." That charge is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.