December 19th, 2010

stock | Spechul Snowflake*~

ONTD_Political's PotD: December 18, 2010.

Let It Snow! | Winter is arriving in the Northern Hemisphere, bringing chilly winds and heavy snowfall to many regions. In late November, Seattle and Vancouver experienced an early snowstorm, parts of New York State are still digging out of a recent storm, and many parts of Europe are now enduring a deadly cold snap, with temperatures in Poland falling as low as -33C (-27F). People all over are donning their heavy coats and gloves and heading outside to either battle the elements, or find ways to play. Collected here are recent photos from northern areas where winter weather has made an impact, and some of the ways the people and animals are dealing with the changing seasons.
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MLP Rainbow Dash nahnah

Moore: Sicko NOT banned in Cuba

WikiLeaks cables: Michael Moore film Sicko was 'not banned' in Cuba
By David Batty

American diplomats made up a story that Cuba banned Michael Moore's 2007 documentary, Sicko, in an attempt to discredit the film which painted an unflattering picture of the US healthcare system, the film-maker said today.

A confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks claimed that Castro's government banned the Oscar-nominated film because it painted such a "mythically" favourable picture of Cuba's healthcare system that the authorities feared it could lead to a "popular backlash".

But Moore said that far from being supressed by Havana, the film
– which attempted to discredit the US healthcare system by highlighting what it claimed was the excellence of the Cuban system – was shown on national television.

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So this is pretty much he said/she said right now, but it at least points out that the WikiLeaks comments might not be cold hard fact, as it was portrayed earlier.

ETA: For the Spanish-speaking among us, here are two articles stating that Sicko was, in fact, aired on Cuban tv. Thanks to cafecomics for the links!
[stock] so kiss me

New York Senator Renews Hope for 9/11 Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A New York senator says new Republican support for the 9/11 health bill may enable its passage before the current congressional session ends.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said her fellow Democrats intend to resurrect the $7.4 billion health initiative for first-responders and survivors in coming days, The New York Times and other media reported Saturday. The measure fell three votes short of breaking a filibuster against it Dec. 9.
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Admiral Mike Mullen: We Will Be a Better Military Without "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

What a historic day for gay rights. Mark it down: December 18, 2010: the day "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" started to take its last breaths. This afternoon, a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate voted for legislation that would give the President and Pentagon the power to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and allow openly gay and lesbian troops to serve in the military. The legislation passed 65-31, with eight Republicans joining nearly every Democrat in supporting repeal.

It's not hard to see the impact of today's vote. Servicemembers United put it in pretty clear terms this afternoon, in a release they sent out to their membership.


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This is a witty Space Ghost reference.

Man boards plane at IAH with loaded gun in carry-on

TSA checkpoints at airports are at the front lines of preventing terrorism. When you go through security, you expect to be scanned and searched. And you expect TSA to prevent contraband from getting on planes, but as we've learned, that doesn't always happen.

Houston businessman Farid Seif says it was a startling discovery. He didn't intend to bring a loaded gun on a flight out of Houston and can't understand how TSA screeners didn't catch it.

Nearing the height of last year's Christmas travel season, TSA screeners at Bush Intercontinental Airport somehow missed a loaded pistol, one that was tucked away inside a carry-on computer bag.

"I mean, this is not a small gun," Seif said. "It's a .40 caliber gun."

Seif says it was an accident which he didn't realize until he arrived at his destination. He says he carries the glock for protection but forgot to remove it from his bag. He reported the incident as soon as he landed, shocked at the security lapse.

"There's nothing else in there. How can you miss it? You cannot miss it," Seif said.

Authorities tell ABC News the incident is not uncommon, but how often it occurs is a closely guarded government secret. Experts say every year since the September 11 attacks, federal agencies have conducted random, covert tests of airport security.

A person briefed on the latest tests tells ABC News the failure rate approaches 70 percent at some major airports. Two weeks ago, TSA's new director said every test gun, bomb part or knife got past screeners at some airports.

"It's very concerning. I'm very scared. First of al, I can't even believe it could happen," traveler Joy Mansfield said.

"It makes you wonder what exactly all the security hoopla is all about if a loaded gun can go through," traveler Leeza Erfesoglou said.

KTRK's Aviation Security Expert Jim Conway says screeners have a demanding job and are susceptible to fatigue, staring for hours at monitors while looking for prohibited items.

"Look, this is simply human error," Conway said. "When something like this happens, it's human error. I mean, these folks are doing the best job they can."

Seif and others say that's not good enough, not when lives are on the line.

A representative for the Houston Airport System would not comment on the security breach at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

A TSA spokesperson says the agency has conducted an investigation, saying remedial training was provided to the security officers involved in the incident. Advanced imaging technology and more stringent pat downs have also since been implemented.

ABC Houston
Calvin & Hobbes: Hug
  • calybe

Joe Biden v. Joe Biden on WikiLeaks

It's really not an overstatement to say that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are the new Iraqi WMDs because the government and establishment media are jointly manufacturing and disseminating an endless stream of fear-mongering falsehoods designed to depict them as scary villains threatening the security of The American People and who must therefore be stopped at any cost.  So often, the government/media claims made in service of this goal are outright false, which is why I have focused so much on the un-killable, outright lie that WikiLeaks indiscriminately dumped 250,000 diplomatic cables without regard to the consequences (on Thursday, The New York Times, in its article on Assange's release from prison, re-printed the lie by referencing "Mr. Assange's role in the publication of some 250,000 American diplomatic documents" only to delete it without any indication of a correction in the final version of the article, while the always-conventional-wisdom-spouting Dana Milbank in The Washington Post -- in the course of condemning "the absurd secrecy of the Obama administration, in some ways worse than that of George W. Bush" -- today wrote of "Assange's indiscriminate dump of American government secrets over the last several months - with hardly a care for who might be hurt or what public good was served").

But this new example from Joe Biden is extraordinary, and reveals how government officials are willing to say absolutely anything -- even things they know are false -- to demonize WikiLeaks.  First, here's Biden with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell -- on Thursday, December 16 -- happily insisting that the leak of the diplomatic cables has done no damage to U.S. relations (video below):
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Source: Glenn Greenwald

OP: I'm sad we don't have a tag for Glenn Greenwald. :(

Murphy promises vote on policy he fought to end

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy had just left the Flyers game Saturday when his cell phone rang in the parking lot of the Wells Fargo Center.

"Patrick," the voice on the phone said, "this is Barack."

President Obama was calling to congratulate Murphy on the Senate vote repealing the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, ending a 17-year battle over the role of gays and lesbians in the military.

"Today, we finally closed the books on the discriminatory 'don't ask, don't tell' policy that hurt our national security and ran counter to our national values," Murphy said.

The Bucks County Democrat, who lost his bid for reelection in November, will be at the White House this week, when Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

An Iraq war veteran who led the charge to strike down "don't ask, don't tell," Murphy said its demise aligned national policy with soldiers' battlefield concerns.

"When I served in Iraq, the men I served with didn't care who you were writing home to," Murphy said. "They cared how you handled your assault rifle. They cared about whether you could kick down a door and whether you could do your job so you could all come home alive."

Just a few weeks ago, efforts to overturn the policy, enacted during President Bill Clinton's administration, appeared dead.
The bill faced resistance from prominent leaders, including Vietnam veteran and former Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who said the change could damage the sense of cohesion essential to military success and safety.
Some military commanders also argued that wartime was a bad time to make such a sweeping change.

Murphy, however, said people who opposed desegregating military units during the Korean War had made the same arguments.

He also said that ferreting out gays and lesbians only hurt the war effort. "Don't ask, don't tell" led to the discharge of 13,500 gay and lesbian service members since the 1993 law went into effect.

"Now is not the time to be having hearings on whether someone is gay or straight," Murphy said. "We should be focusing on finding Osama bin Laden."

A push by Democrats to repeal the policy before Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in January propelled the bill's passage.

After the House passed the measure, 250-175, on Wednesday, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the Connecticut independent, rallied support in the Senate, where the bill passed Saturday by a 65-31 vote, including support from eight Republicans.

Murphy said he spent Friday in the Senate with Lieberman, rounding up votes.

"We didn't give up," Murphy said. "We didn't stop fighting."

Other area Democrats joined him in hailing the bill's passage.

"Any qualified American willing to risk his or her life for their country should be permitted to serve free of discriminatory treatment and should not have to lie in order to serve their country," said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.).

Rep. Chakah Fattah (D., Pa.) called the vote "a triumph not just for gay men, lesbians, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community, but for all Americans who love liberty, freedom, and inclusion."

Principle and personal experience motivated Murphy, who served in the Army from 1996 through 2004.

"As a policy-maker you have to listen to both sides of the argument and do what you think is best for the country," he said.

He remembered getting a letter from a commander in Afghanistan who described comforting soldiers when they got bad news about a divorce or other problem. Often, the commander sent them to the military chaplain for help.

But recently, the commander's boyfriend had broken up with him, he told Murphy.

"I can't walk into the chaplain's office and talk to him, because I'm gay," the commander continued, "so I'm sitting here cradling my pistol thinking about blowing my brains out."

The commander then told Murphy the knowledge that another veteran was fighting for him had helped him not give in to despair.


Since this is the last opportunity I have to stan for this man, I figured I should post it. Pat's a fantastic human being and I'm really sad to see him leave the House. This bill is his baby.
I also didn't realize that Droopy Dawg had done so much for the bill. Fair play to him.
  • synesis

Jesus was left-wing

What would Jesus do?

Conservatives claim Christ as one of their own. But in word and deed, the son of God was much more left-wing than the religious right likes to believe.

Was Jesus Christ a lefty? Philosophers, politicians, theologians and lay members of the various Christian churches have long been divided on the subject. The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev once declared: "Jesus was the first socialist, the first to seek a better life for mankind." The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, went further, describing Christ as "the greatest socialist in history". But it's not just Russian ex-communists and Bolivarian socialists who consider Jesus to be a fellow-traveller. Even the Daily Mail sketch-writer Quentin Letts once confessed: "Jesus preached fairness - you could almost call him a lefty."

That conservatives have succeeded in claiming Christ as one of their own in recent years - especially in the US, where the Christian right is in the ascendancy - is a tragedy for the modern left. Throughout history, Jesus's teachings have inspired radical social and political movements: Christian pacifism (think the Quakers, Martin Luther King or Bruce Kent in CND), Christian socialism (Keir Hardie or Tony Benn), liberation theology (in South America) and even "Christian communism". In the words of the 19th-century French utopian philosopher Étienne Cabet, "Communism is Christianity . . . it is pure Christianity, before it was corrupted by Catholicism."

These days, however, the so-called God-botherers tend to be on the right. In his book God's Politics, the US Evangelical pastor Jim Wallis, spiritual adviser to President Obama and Gordon Brown before him, laments the manner in which Jesus's message has been misinterpreted by the warring political tribes, writing of how the right gets Christ wrong, while the left doesn't get him at all.

He reminds his readers that being a Christian is not necessarily the same as being a "right-wing Christian fundamentalist", and that the Bible's focus on social justice and the poor shows that economic life should be organised around the needs of society's weakest and most vulnerable members.

The unemployed son of two asylum-seekers - Joseph and Mary - who fled to Egypt to avoid the genocidal tendencies of King Herod, the Jesus of the Gospels is a bearded, sandal-wearing, unmarried rabbi from Nazareth with all the personal traits of a modern revolutionary. In an essay published in 2007, the Marxist literary critic Terry Eagleton noted that the Gospels present Christ as "homeless, propertyless, peripatetic, socially marginal, disdainful of kinfolk, without a trade or occupation, a friend of outcasts and pariahs, averse to material possessions, without fear for his own safety, a thorn in the side of the establishment and a scourge of the rich and powerful". Eagleton added: "Jesus has most of the characteristic features of the revolutionary activist, including celibacy."

Traits of character aside, where would Jesus stand in the main debates of our time, such as war and peace, wealth and taxation, health care and financial reform? To use the formula made popular by Evangelicals in America (often abbreviated to WWJD), "What would Jesus do?" He would do the same as any self-respecting lefty. Here are five reasons why.

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OP: I'm not a christian, nor a believer, but I thought this was an interesting reproof to the right.
oldboy box

Clashes in Belarus after thousands turn out in protest at alleged vote-rigging

Miriam Elder in Moscow - The Guardian, Monday 20 December 2010

Opposition candidate beaten and detained as riots follow claim that 'dictator' Lukashenko won 79% of vote

Police in Minsk tackle demonstrators who oppose the Belarus election results. A pro-government exit poll gave President Alexander Lukashenko 79.1% of the vote. Photograph: Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

Riot police beat back thousands of opposition supporters who tried to storm the main government building in Belarus last night in protest at what they claim was large-scale vote rigging in yesterday's presidential election.

As protests in Minsk against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko turned violent, the opposition candidate Vladimir Neklyayev, 64, was reported to have been taken to hospital unconscious. Andrei Sannikov, another opposition candidate, was beaten and detained.

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SOURCE The Guardian




LJ Account
MLP Rainbow Dash nahnah

The Allegations Against Assange: A More Detailed Breakdown

10 days in Sweden: the full allegations against Julian Assange
Nick Davies

Documents seen by the Guardian reveal for the first time the full details of the allegations of rape and sexual assault that have led to extradition hearings against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

The case against Assange, which has been the subject of intense speculation and dispute in mainstream media and on the internet, is laid out in police material held in Stockholm to which the Guardian received unauthorised access.

Assange, who was released on bail on Thursday, denies the Swedish allegations and has not formally been charged with any offence. The two Swedish women behind the charges have been accused by his supporters of making malicious complaints or being "honeytraps" in a wider conspiracy to discredit him.

Assange's UK lawyer, Mark Stephens, attributed the allegations to "dark forces", saying: "The honeytrap has been sprung ... After what we've seen so far you can reasonably conclude this is part of a greater plan." The journalist John Pilger dismissed the case as a "political stunt" and in an interview with ABC news, Assange said Swedish prosecutors were withholding evidence which suggested he had been "set up."

However, unredacted statements held by prosecutors in Stockholm, along with interviews with some of the central characters, shed fresh light on the hotly disputed sequence of events that has become the centre of a global storm.

Stephens has repeatedly complained that Assange has not been allowed to see the full allegations against him, but it is understood his Swedish defence team have copies of all the documents seen by the Guardian. He maintains that other potentially exculpatory evidence has not been made available to his team and may not have been seen by the Guardian.

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I bolded, but I highly suggest reading through the whole thing.
movies | Impish Fräulein2

ONTD_Political's PotD: December 19, 2010.

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival | The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar; a date that parallels the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar, when the moon is at its fullest. Chinese people believe that on that day, the moon will be the biggest, roundest and brightest, and the term "round" implies family reunion in Chinese. The festival is marked by Chinese families and friends gathering to eat Chinese moon cakes and pomelos together.
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logo of the New England LGBT Vets

[USA]: Bi-identified GLBT Vet and Activist celebrates repeal of DADT

New England GLBT Veterans Boston Ma USA

Media Advisory

Date: Saturday, 18 December 2010
Contact: Cliff4vets (at) aol (dot) com

Dear Fellow Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender & Heterosexual Veterans & Advocates:

On the morning of March 15, 1778, after having been court-martialed on charges of attempted sodomy, Lt. Gotthold Frederick Enslin, became the first known soldier in our Country's history to be “drummed out” of the Continental Army on grounds of homosexuality -- with orders of “Never to return!”

The Kiss: Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) REPEALED 18 December 2010Well, today, 232 years later, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender servicemembers and veterans have RETURNED, with the repeal of the US Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy by an affirmative vote of the US Senate. Yes, today, Lt. Gotthold Frederick Enslin finally rests in peace, as do ALL other GLB&T veterans who gave their lives in service to our Country.

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Ed. Note: In an excess of enthusiasm and exhaustion from actually moving the armed services this far the nice people at New England GLBT forgot to fully explain that even this legislation does not address the situation with transgender/gender-variant people. This article from "Trans Talk" Is The Repeal Of "DADT" Important To Transgender Americans? is recommended to get an overview on where we are on that front.

Source: this is posted with permission from an email sent out by New England GLBT Vets