December 23rd, 2010

Alison - Cross Country

Why Shouldn't Freedom of the Press Apply to Wikileaks?

Here’s a thought experiment: Imagine for a moment that the quarter of a million secret government cables from the State Department had been leaked, not to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, but to Bill Keller, the executive editor of the New York Times.

First, let’s state the obvious: The Times would never have returned the confidential files to the Obama administration. Most likely, the newspaper would have attempted to engage with State to try to scrub life- and source- threatening details from the cables — as Assange and his lawyers did.

And if the administration had refused to participate in that effort --
as it did with WikiLeaks? The Times would have done what any serious news organization has the imperative to do: It would have published, at a pacing of its own choosing, any cable it deemed to be in the public interest. In this digital age, it’s likely the Times would have even created a massive searchable database of the cables.

The optics of the information dump would likely have been very different -- overlaid with the Times’ newspaper-of-record gravitas. But the effect would have been identical: Information that the U.S. government finds embarrassing, damning, and even damaging would have seen the light of day.

Now let’s extend the thought experiment:

How would you react if top American conservatives were today
baying for Bill Keller’s blood? If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had called on Keller to be prosecuted as a “high-tech terrorist”? If Sarah Palin were demanding that Keller be hunted down like a member of Al Qaeda? If Newt Gingrich were calling for the Times editor to be assassinated as an “enemy combatant.”

What if Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, had successfully pressured the Times’ web hosting company to boot the newspaper off its servers? What if Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal suddenly stopped processing subscriptions for the paper?

Imagine that students at Columbia University’s graduate school of international affairs had been warned
not to Tweet about the New York Times if they had any hopes of ever working at the State Department.

Imagine U.S. soldiers abroad being told that they’d be
breaking the law if they read even other news outlets’ coverage of the Times’ exclusives.

Imagine that the Library of Congress had simply
blocked all access
to the New York Times site.

You can’t imagine this actually happening to the New York Times. Yet this has been has been exactly the federal and corporate response to Assange and WikiLeaks.

The behavior is outrageous on its face and totalitarian in its impulse. Indeed, we should all be alarmed at the Orwellian coloring of the Obama administration’s official response to the publishing of the cables:

“President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal.”

Secrecy is openness. What the fuck?!

Listen: You don’t have to approve of Assange or his political views; you can even believe he’s a sex criminal. It doesn’t matter. What’s at stake here isn’t the right of one flouncy Australian expat to embarrass a superpower. It’s freedom of the press. And it’s a dark day for journalists everywhere when the imperatives of government secrecy begin to triumph over our First Amendment.


I know we need another Wikileaks post like we need holes in our heads, but I thought this was a nice response to the reactions to Wikileaks out there.

Also, to my fellow Who fans: Is it just me, or does Assange look a lot like Dr. Lazarus after he became young again?
News you can use.

Anti-Islam Right Takes On Batman, DC Comics

Mere days after the Council of Conservative Citizens launched a boycott of Marvel Comics’ movie ‘Thor’ for casting a black actor as a Norse God, anti-Islam conservatives are taking aim at Batman for recruiting an Algerian Muslim to help fight crime. Though the cases are strikingly similar, there’s one nefarious difference.

Conservative site The Astute Bloggers, which claims to expose the “left-wing agenda,” helped rally their troops against Batman earlier this week, when they mentioned a new story line in which the Dark Knight heads to France and recruits a Muslim man named Nightrunner to join the French outpost of his new Batman, Inc. conglomerate.

“I knew it was only going to get worse at DC Comics… Bruce Wayne recruits an Algerian Muslim living in France, in Clichy-Sous-Bois, where the Muslim riots grew out of in 2005,” writes Avi Green of the “Islamist” character, who’s featured in this month’s ‘Batman Annual’ and ‘Detective Comics Annual.’ “How about that. Bruce Wayne goes to France where he hires not a genuine French boy or girl with a real sense of justice, but rather, an ‘oppressed’ minority.”

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Death And Taxes Magazine
Shaun of the dismayed

Worker injured during sex denied compo

A public servant injured while she was having sex on a work trip can't get any compensation.

She has been told she should have let her employer know she planned to get frisky if she wanted to be able to claim worker's compensation.

The woman, who suffered a nose injury and damaged teeth during the "moment of passion" in 2007, has had her bid for compensation knocked back by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), the Canberra Times reported.

Her injuries occurred when a glass light fitting came away from the wall as was having sex with a man in a country town.

"It could be that (the applicant), in a moment of passion, reached up and grabbed the light fitting, or it could be that the man banged against it," the women's barrister, Leo Gray, told a hearing last month, the Canberra Times said.

Activities pursued in a hotel room "in the ordinary purview of human life" should be compensatable, he said.

"If it happens at the place the employer has encouraged you to be for the evening, and doesn't involve gross misconduct or self-harm, why shouldn't it be."

But counsel for the work safety agency Comcare told the appeal hearing "a frolic of the applicant's own" could only result in compensation in certain circumstances.

"If it is a quintessentially private activity it is not fair that taxpayers pay for the consequences of that activity," the Canberra Times quoted Andrew Berger as saying.

While sleeping, showering and using the toilet were incidental to work "having sex is a different kettle of fish", he said.

"If they wanted to be protected by worker's compensation they would need to let their employer know."
While the AAT upheld Comcare's original decision not to award compensation, it refused to publish its reasons.

The material was suppressed because the tribunal "received concrete evidence that the applicant may act on suicidal tendencies if the reasons were made public".
Shirley Animated

St Joseph's Loses its Catholic Status over Abortion

PHOENIX — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix stripped a major hospital of its affiliation with the church Tuesday because of a surgery that ended a woman's pregnancy to save her life.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted called the 2009 procedure an abortion and said St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center violated ethical and religious directives of the national Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"In the decision to abort, the equal dignity of mother and her baby were not both upheld," Olmsted said at a news conference announcing the decision. "The mother had a disease that needed to be treated. But instead of treating the disease, St. Joseph's medical staff and ethics committee decided that the healthy, 11-week-old baby should be directly killed."

Linda Hunt, president of St. Joseph's, said doctors performed a necessary procedure on a patient who was getting worse by the minute and was in imminent danger of death.

"If we are presented with a situation in which a pregnancy threatens a woman's life, our first priority is to save both patients. If that is not possible, we will always save the life we can save, and that is what we did in this case," Hunt said. "Morally, ethically and legally, we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save."

St. Joseph's doesn't receive direct funding from the church, but in addition to losing its Catholic endorsement, the 697-bed hospital will no longer be able to celebrate Mass and must remove the Blessed Sacrament from its chapel.

Hunt said the hospital will comply with Olmsted's decision but will still operate under Catholic guidelines.

"We will continue in the Catholic heritage through words and deeds," she said. "Priests will see patients."

Olmsted said talks with the hospital eroded his confidence about the commitment of St. Joseph's and its parent company, Catholic Healthcare West, to the church's ethical and religious directives. "They have not addressed in an adequate manner," he said.

The woman who underwent the procedure is in her 20s and had a history of abnormally high blood pressure when she learned of her pregnancy. After she was admitted to the hospital with worsening symptoms, doctors determined that her risk of death was nearly 100 percent.

The hospital's ethics team concluded that the pregnancy could be ended under the church's ethical directives because "the goal was not to end the pregnancy but save the mother's life," the hospital said.

"We acted appropriately," said Dr. Charles Alfano, chief medical officer at the hospital and an obstetrician there.


A follow-up to this post.
They already excommunicated the nun who was involved. (thanks  judith_s for that link in her post from the other day.)

Obama to Welcome Our New Native American Overlords

Is Obama a Sekret Native American?

Bryan Fischer: Obama Wants 'Indian Tribes To Be Our New Overlords'

Top social conservative Bryan Fischer is outraged that "President Obama wants to give the entire land mass of the United States of America back to the Indians. He wants Indian tribes to be our new overlords."

Fischer is the Director of Issues Analysis for the Christian conservative group the American Family Association, and appeared alongside top Republicans at this year's Values Voter conference.

Fischer, who also wants to get rid of the "curse" that is the grizzly bear, writes on his blog: "President Obama likes the 'U.N. Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples.' He says it can 'help reaffirm the principles that should guide our future.'" Fischer points to Article 26, which says that "Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired," and "states shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources."

He continues:
I see no reason why the president, after he leaves office, can't submit himself to the authority of any Indian tribe he wants to. Perhaps he figures that, as an adopted Crow Indian, he will be the new chief over this revived Indian empire. But for the other 312 million of us, I think we'll settle for our constitutional "We the people" form of government, thank you very much.
This is a witty Space Ghost reference.

Suspect package holds up airport

Not the chicken in question;
may not be to scale.
As airport security becomes more of a concern during the holiday travel season, travelers will be seeing delays of all sorts. But an hour-long delay for [Louisiana's] Lafayette Regional Airport users Tuesday morning was of a nature most fowl.

The airport was briefly shut down as authorities investigated a suspicious package that turned out to contain a frozen chicken and a head lamp, said Lt. Craig Stansbury, spokesman for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office.

Police were called to the airport around 10:48 a.m. Tuesday after a TSA employee saw the package run through the screening process.

According to Stansbury, the outline of the wires from the head-mounted mining light overlapped another image, that of the chicken, during the screening.

The combination made for an odd and not readily identifiable image, so the employee notified other security personnel.

The terminal was evacuated while the package was examined.

Stansbury said bomb dogs and other resources were used to make sure the package did not contain anything dangerous.

The wires coming from the lamp made the chicken look particularly suspicious, he said.

According to authorities, the chicken was reportedly stuffed with crawfish as well,

The all-clear was given around 11:45 a.m., and airport operations resumed as usual.

The Advertiser
dinozzo didn't sign up for this

Abuses Cited in Enforcing China Policy of One Child

Abuses Cited in Enforcing China Policy of One Child

BEIJING — Thirty years after it introduced some of the world’s most sweeping population-control measures, the Chinese government continues to use a variety of coercive family planning tactics, from financial penalties for households that violate the restrictions to the forced sterilization of women who have already had one child, according to a report issued by a human rights group.

The report, published Tuesday by Chinese Human Rights Defenders, documents breadwinners who lose their jobs after the birth of a second child, campaigns that reward citizens for reporting on the reproductive secrets of their neighbors and expectant mothers dragged into operating rooms for late-term abortions.

Not uncommon, according to the report, are the experiences of women like Li Hongmei, 24, a factory employee from Anhui Province who was at home recovering from the birth of her daughter when a dozen men employed by the local government carried her off to a hospital for a tubal ligation. “I promised I would have the surgery when I got better but they didn’t care,” Ms. Li said in a telephone interview. “I screamed and tried to fight them off but it was no use.”

Although most of the abuses documented in the report are not new, its authors are seeking to highlight the darker side of birth-control restrictions at a time when the public debate has largely focused on whether China’s family-planning policy has been too successful for its own good. This year as the nation marked the 30th anniversary of the so-called one-child policy, officials have been praising such measures for preventing 400 million births. A smaller population, they argue, has helped fuel China’s astounding economic growth by reducing the demands on food production, education and medical care.

Some demographers, however, argue that plummeting fertility rates and a rapidly aging population are reasons enough to ease the rules. Sociologists fret about the surfeit of unmarried men — the result of selective abortions that favor sons — and the demands on only children forced to care for elderly parents.

On Monday, the director of the National Population Family Planning Commission sought to put to rest any speculation about a change in the status quo, saying the current policies would remain in place through 2015.

Groups like Chinese Human Rights Defenders say the current family-planning policies should be abolished altogether. “The state’s role in shaping the population should be through incentives and by encouraging couples to have fewer children through education,” said Wang Songlian, a researcher who worked on the report. “They should not be using coercion and violence.”

As the report makes clear, China’s family-planning policies are unevenly applied and replete with exceptions. The rich simply pay the fines levied on those who ignore the restrictions, and some middle-class women have gotten around the rules by traveling overseas to give birth to a second child. Millions of couples refuse to register their newborns with the authorities, although that approach leaves such children ineligible for an array of social benefits, including a free education.

The policy is also not as all encompassing as many believe. Parents who themselves were raised in single-child families are allowed to have a second baby, as are many rural residents if their first is a girl. Ethnic minorities in some places, like Tibet and Xinjiang, can have as many as four children.

The worst abuses, the report says, take place in small towns and in rural areas, where a point system rewards or punishes local officials based on their ability to meet quotas. In many places, the revenues earned through fines on scofflaws, known as “social maintenance fees,” feed an entrenched bureaucracy.

In Jiangsu Province, parents who give birth to an “out of quota” child can be fined four times the average annual per capita income of the area. Other fines are imposed on women who miss regular gynecological exams or fail to undergo surgery for an intrauterine device. In one city in Hunan Province, the authorities collected $1.8 million in fines between July and September, according to government figures.

He Yafu, an independent demographer who has studied family-planning regulations for two decades, said one of the biggest obstacles to changes in the policy are county and township governments. “It’s become a huge vehicle for officials to collect money,” he said. “In some localities, the budget relies almost entirely on such fines.”

The report cites a number of recent cases that have wiggled through the media controls that normally filter out stories about family planning excesses. Last April, more than 1,300 people in Puning city, in Guangdong Province, were held hostage in government buildings in an effort to force women who had had a second child to undergo sterilization. The detainees, it turned out, were mostly elderly people whose daughters had left town to evade family planning restrictions. The campaign was so effective, according to a government Web site, that 3,000 sterilizations had been carried out by the fall.

In a case that drew widespread media coverage, Yang Zhizhu, a law lecturer at Beijing Youth Politics College, was fired after he refused to pay the $30,000 fine imposed after his wife gave birth to their second child. Last April, Mr. Yang decided to make his displeasure public by holding aloft a tongue-in-cheek sign during protests that offered himself as a slave to anyone who would pay his fine.

“Why should I pay money for having my own kid?” he told China Daily at the time. “It’s not human trafficking. It’s our right as citizens.”

From the NYTimes

This is– I can't even–

Obama Orders Pump Breaks For Breastfeeding Feds

President Obama wants to give federal workers who breastfeed the freedom to pump.

This week he issued a memo to the Office of Personnel Management asking that “appropriate workplace accommodations” be written up for federal employees who are breastfeeding.

This was inspired by the new health-care overall bill which mandates that breastfeeding accommodations be made for hourly workers in both the public and private sectors.

The new legislation requires that women not be discriminated against for breastfeeding or pumping during work the work day. Tax breaks will also be given to those employers who set up breastfeeding rooms and provide pumping supplies (refrigeration, etc) for new mothers. Although most American mothers start out breastfeeding the numbers drop quickly into the first year. Workplace accommodations may bring these numbers up a little. Obama says he’d like to establish guidelines for *all* federal workers, hourly or not.

According to The Washington Post, the departments of Labor, State and Transportation, the National Security Agency, and the Government Accountability Office already have breastfeeding policies. Some were established as far back as the 80s.

Earlier this year Michelle Obama put breastfeeding education and promotion on her to-do list for reducing obesity in America, particularly within the African-American communities, which tend to have higher rates of obesity and obesity-related illnesses.



Yes, why those are pigs flying

Televangelist Pat Robertson, most recently in the news for claiming Haiti’s pact with the Devil was to blame for the 2010 Haiti earthquake, voices surprising support for marijuana decriminalization.

Money: “I mean, I’m not exactly for the use of drugs, don’t get me wrong, but I just believe criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of just a few ounces of pot, and that kind of thing, I mean it’s costing us a fortune, and it’s ruining young people.”



Moscow Football Riot - Who is to Blame?

Egor Sviridov is murdered by Caucasus peopleYou've heard enough of how Russian football players suddenly become racists. Here  from Peter Odemwingie, BBC or Yahoo here. But such things cannot happen just suddenly. And there is someone, who organized that. Opening fact by fact, a leading macroeconomist, Irina Deduhova shows - Who is to blame in that dirty deeds.

A couple of extracts:  

"On the basis of the above photo and video we have nothing but only completely agree with Alexei Mukhin – the meeting would be held in any case. It was a carefully planned and well-prepared large-scale action. And it was not prepared, certainly not by football fans, and not by “radical nationalists”. At the walls of Kremlin, sorry, we have no “actions” could ever occurred without the participation of Federal Security Bureau and could not. And if this wonderful institution has appointed an “action”, then it surely will happen -in any weather, at any football score, and the most importantly – with any number of “radical elements” and their sympathizers."

"Let me translate what Mr. Mutko said into a simple language. He meant that all fans originally, of course, are the bastards, nationalists, fascists, extremists, radicals etc. Like themselves ask for… you know… reduce their number. Because their joy of of football victories … is detting on nerves strongly.

On the other hand, the minister understands that without the fans, when all will have a sober-minded look at Russian football, if this triumph is deserved by these rather modest success so far … so, it is too is not convenient for Government. Let’s better have FSS ”to work” with sports fans, in order they would not be such “nationalists”. It would be nice to the fans were – and FSS would work with them a little, as with the nationalists.

It looks like we should understand ourselves, who can be fond of “Spartacus”. Minister, transparently hints that they are all idiots, but … without them other idiots refuse to play football. Even ”for such big money!” That is why he betrays fans to FSS as”xenophobs”, but asks only ”to work with them” … so that there would something left of them."

mus | like a bird in a cage

Cuts to immigrant services made to ensure efficiency: minister

Immigrant settlement service funding cuts decried by the Liberals as "draconian" are necessary to ensure taxpayer money is used efficiently, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Thursday.

The Liberals are urging the government to reverse a decision to cut national settlement funding allocations by $53 million a year.

"I don't think I've ever seen such a harsh and draconian and inexplicable cut to the most vulnerable people in our midst," Toronto MP Bob Rae said at a news conference.

"This is a terrible decision. It cannot be allowed to stand."

The "slight" cuts in what is now a $340-million budget for immigration settlement services comes after steady increases since the $111 budget inherited from the previous Liberal government, which had frozen funding for 13 years, Kenney said on a conference call.

"There are some reductions in the overall investment in settlement services from 2010 to 2011," Kenny said, "(but) the vast majority won't be negatively affected."

After a request for proposals was put out earlier this year and bureaucrats analyzed the responses, some agencies did not get their funding renewed, Kenny said.

"The organizations have to meet certain performance measures," he said.

"They have to serve a large number of clients, they have to have solid programs, financial accountability, measure their outcomes and be responsive to the local needs of the communities they're serving."

Rae said Ottawa is breaking a powerful Canadian tradition of welcoming newcomers and helping them settle here. Governments can "un-make" decisions, he added, urging the Conservatives to do just that.

"If ever there was a moment for repentance and reconsideration, here we are on Dec. 23, think a little bit," Rae said.

"Think a little bit more about just who you are hurting."

The federal Liberal Greater Toronto Area caucus has written an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper demanding he rescind the cuts, which represent an 11 per cent cut nationally. The vast majority of the cuts are in Ontario, where the reduction represents 85 per cent of the national number.

"The Conservative government is turning its back on newcomers at a time when support to better integrate them into the Canadian economy and society is more important than ever," the Liberal's multiculturalism critic Rob Oliphant said in a statement.

Kenney attributed the larger drop in Ontario to reallocation to other jurisdictions, as immigrant settlement patterns shift.

I do not see that party hat.
  • chaya

Reid fulfills promise to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ — Choi reclaims West Point ring

(By Brody Levesque • Thursday, December 23, 2010)

In July 2010, Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised Lt. Dan Choi that he would lead the Senate to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Choi, an Iraq war veteran discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” gave Sen. Reid his West Point ring with the agreement that it would be returned after the ban on openly gay service members was repealed. On Wednesday, just one day after President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law, Reid invited Choi to his office, where he returned the ring.

Moments after the meeting, Choi tweeted, “The next time I get a ring from a man, I expect it to be for full, equal, American marriage.”


Oh lord, Choi looks terrible. ;_; His comments after getting the ring back are so well-placed and heartfelt... I'm glad that in all this he clearly still has his eloquence. And he looks so, so, happy. ♥]