January 4th, 2011


TRENDING: Palin re-tweet raises questions

Normally, it’s what Sarah Palin tweets that makes news. This time it’s what she has re-tweeted.

The former Alaska governor Monday relayed a comment from gay conservative pundit Tammy Bruce, who was expressing her criticism over continued Republican opposition to the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell military policy that won congressional repeal late last month.

Now the political world is wondering just what Palin meant to express.

"But this hypocrisy is just truly too much. Enuf already–the more someone complains about the homos the more we should look under their bed,” Bruce’s original tweet read that was subsequently relayed by Palin.

Bruce was thrilled with Palin’s re-tweet, saying it constitutes a clear signal the former Republican vice presidential nominee is a friend of the gay community.

“I think @SarahPalinUSA RT my tweet is her first comment on DADT, treatment of gays & attempts to marginalize us–thank you Governor,” Bruce replied.

The Republican pro-gay rights group GOProud, of which Bruce holds a leadership role, also highlighted Palin's “Gay Friendly” tweet Tuesday in an e-mail to reporters.

Palin hasn't said anything more on the issue so it remains unclear exactly what she meant to convey, but the re-tweet is a rare comment from Palin when it comes to any issue involving gay rights – a likely hot-button issue in upcoming Republican primary presidential campaign given the recent repeal of the longrunning military policy that forbade gay service members to serve openly.

It could also be a sign the former Alaska governor's stance on social issues beyond that of abortion is less understood by Republicans and Democrats alike than was previously believed.

Iceland : My head hurts


Rick Santorum Explains How Repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Is Part Of A Secularist Plot To Rid America Of Religion

During a discussion on Hannity last night (12/22/10) Juan Williams said he was “struck” by President Obama saying he was “struggling with the idea of maybe supporting gay marriage.” Williams said he wanted to hear what substitute host Mark Steyn and fellow guest Rick Santorum had to say about that.

Steyn snidely asked if Obama’s “principled defense of marriage or whatever it was” was “likely to be tossed overboard with so much else?”

Santorum replied, “Look, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was not about men and women serving in the military. Men and women who are gays and lesbians can serve in the military right now. That’s not the issue. The issue is a bigger issue. The issue is – and it’s not even about gay marriage. This is about a larger issue of the secularization of our society. It’s a larger issue about the left just, you know, trying to, you know, put government in control of this country, and trying to move faith, trying to move any people of faith and religion out of the public square, out of America, trying to transform what America’s all about. And this is just one more step in the process and we have Republicans who may be well meaning… but what they’re doing is a larger harm and this is just one more step in that process.”


Huh. Okay...?

Philippines killing: 'Killer'caught in victim's photo

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A photograph taken by a Philippine politician moments before he was shot dead has led to the arrest of his suspected killer.

Reynaldo Dagsa, a Manila district councillor, took a photo of his family outside their house on New Year's Day.

Unknowingly, a man raising his gun to fire was included in the background of the snap.

The family gave the photo to police who have now detained a man on suspicion of murder.

The killer is shown in the photograph wearing a back-to-front baseball cap just behind Mr Dagsa's daughter, wife and mother-in-law, who were unaware of his presence.

"While he was taking the picture of his family on New Year's Day, the killer appeared and he inadvertently took the picture of the killer with the gun aimed at him," local police chief Jude Santos told the AFP news agency.

Gun violence plagues the Philippines, with cheap firearms easily available on the legal and black markets.

desolation jones

More Employers To Cover Transgender Surgery, But New Hurdles Expected

One year from now, more employers than ever before will cover transgender surgery as part of their health insurance plan. While this is much-needed progress for transgender people, implementation issues will unfortunately create new hurdles to living in one's true gender. The coverage is a requirement in the 2012 Corporate Equality Index. An employer must contract for the coverage by June of this year and coverage must be effective January 1, 2012 in order to score 100 percent on the 2012 CEI.

This change will impact all transgender people even though many do not need or want surgery. That's because insurance company exclusions of transgender surgery, and in some cases any transgender care, have tended to make medical care providers regard anything transgender-related as frivolous.

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SOURCE: www.huffingtonpost.com/joanne-herman/transgender-surgery-with-_b_803495.html

The HRC is not great on trans issues. But by requiring that ALL surgeries deemed medically necessary by WPATH be covered in a company’s insurance plan in order to be included in the HRC Corporate Equality Index, they seem to have moved this to the top of their priority list. Thoughts?

Upcoming NewSouth 'Huck Finn' Eliminates the 'N' Word.

Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of "all modern American literature." Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation's most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: "nigger."

Twain himself defined a "classic" as "a book which people praise and don't read." Rather than see Twain's most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the "n" word (as well as the "in" word, "Injun") by replacing it with the word "slave."

"This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind," said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he's spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. "Race matters in these books. It's a matter of how you express that in the 21st century."

The idea of a more politically correct Finn came to the 69-year-old English professor over years of teaching and outreach, during which he habitually replaced the word with "slave" when reading aloud. Gribben grew up without ever hearing the "n" word ("My mother said it's only useful to identify [those who use it as] the wrong kind of people") and became increasingly aware of its jarring effect as he moved South and started a family. "My daughter went to a magnet school and one of her best friends was an African-American girl. She loathed the book, could barely read it."

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There is not enough in this that can be bolded.

Strained States Turning to Laws to Curb Labor Unions
Published: January 3, 2011

Faced with growing budget deficits and restive taxpayers, elected officials from Maine to Alabama, Ohio to Arizona, are pushing new legislation to limit the power of labor unions, particularly those representing government workers, in collective bargaining and politics.

State officials from both parties are wrestling with ways to curb the salaries and pensions of government employees, which typically make up a significant percentage of state budgets. On Wednesday, for example, New York’s new Democratic governor, Andrew M. Cuomo, is expected to call for a one-year salary freeze for state workers, a move that would save $200 million to $400 million and challenge labor’s traditional clout in Albany.

But in some cases — mostly in states with Republican governors and Republican statehouse majorities — officials are seeking more far-reaching, structural changes that would weaken the bargaining power and political influence of unions, including private sector ones.

For example, Republican lawmakers in Indiana, Maine, Missouri and seven other states plan to introduce legislation that would bar private sector unions from forcing workers they represent to pay dues or fees, reducing the flow of funds into union treasuries. In Ohio, the new Republican governor, following the precedent of many other states, wants to ban strikes by public school teachers.

Some new governors, most notably Scott Walker of Wisconsin, are even threatening to take away government workers’ right to form unions and bargain contracts.

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If there is one thing I really fucking hate in most mainstream US publications that cover labor issues, it's that unions are automatically demonized because they are unions. The NYT isn't as bad as some, but you can just tell the writer treats "labor" like a dirty word. In the US, many unions are short-sighted, corrupt, poorly organized, or just plain ineffectual, but many are not, and none of their problems should affect their right to exist. My mother's a teacher who's non-union, but only because she can't afford the dues and the local doesn't have a way to make them affordable. It's stupid to force workers to pay exorbitant membership fees or risk being a scab/not being able to get a job at all, but this problem transparently has nothing to do with unions themselves or the function they serve. Members either have to pay too much because they have the misfortune of being run by sellouts who want to skim off the top, or (more likely in my opinion) because the cost of a union maintaining itself is so fucking astronomical given all the constant legislative and judicial challenges, which would include this bullshit. And in neither case is the solution to slit unions' throats. Plus, as a recent article pointed out, the unions are one of the only structures that the left could have immediately on its side with properly organizing and getting out on the streets, if said unions could just step up to the plate; if this kind of legislation goes through, unions are going to have even less impetus to step up. At this rate, with there being a push to ILLEGALIZE STRIKES by gov't workers (WHAT THE FUCK), the only way I see to make a strike effective is to organize a strike so huge and so widespread that no legislation against it can logically be enforced.

tldr: I am filled with loathing at this story.

Saudi Arabia Captures Mossad Spy. Zionist Vulture Refuses to Talk After Violating Saudi Air Space.

Is Mother Nature a Sekret Zionist Agent?

Report: Saudi Arabia Captures Israeli Vulture For Being Mossad Spy

Saudi Arabian officials have reportedly arrested a vulture suspected of being a Mossad spy, after the bird, tagged by Israeli scientists, flew into Saudi territory today.

Haaretz reports:

The bird was found in a rural area of the country wearing a transmitter and a leg bracelet bearing the words "Tel Aviv University", according to the reports, which surfaced first in the Israeli daily Ma'ariv.

But, according to Haaretz, "residents and local reporters told Saudi Arabia's Al-Weeam newspaper that the matter seemed to be a 'Zionist plot.'"

This is not the first time Israel has been accused of training its wildlife for nefarious purposes. Last month, reports swirled around Egypt that Mossad, Isreal's foreign intelligence agency, was behind a series of shark attacks in the Red Sea.

The South Sinai Governor reportedly said: "What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark [in the sea] to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question, but it needs time to confirm."

Israeli officials denied the allegations.

(no subject)

TLC Personality Upset Over Sharing Channel With Sarah Palin

What Not to Wear's" Clinton Kelly calls "Sarah Palin's Alaska" an "eight-hour infomercial" and the former governor a hypocrite.

What Not to Wear co-host Clinton Kelly isn't a fan of fellow TLC star Sarah Palin.
During an appearance on HLN's The Joy Behar Show, Kelly told the host that he doesn't like sharing the same network as Alaska's caribou-hunting former governor.

"I wasn't thrilled when I heard that Sarah Palin had an eight-hour infomercial, you know, on my network because she basically stands for everything I don't stand for or I'm against," he said of Sarah Palin's Alaska. "So it's a little bit rough. It's a little -- what bothers me the most about her is her hypocrisy.

"I hate somebody who's, like, Oh, look at nature. Look at this beautiful Alaska. ... Look how beautiful everything is. Let's go kill something ... because we need some meat in the refrigerator."

To which Behar responded: "I know. As if anybody in New York City can relate to this."


Former skinhead shares his life after hate

 “I hurt many innocent people,” former racist skinhead Arno Michaels states plainly, painfully. “Not only with my hands, but by infecting others with hate and setting them off. My ‘hate metal’ band Centurion sold over 20,000 CDs of brutal music designed to incite atrocity. It’s still popular with hate groups today.”

During the past year, with the destructive effects of bullying receiving national attention, Mequon native Arno Michaels has promoted peace and compassion. The Life After Hate enterprise he started in 2009 engages in community anti-violence programs and is developing an anti-bullying curriculum. The online magazine “Life After Hate” and Arno’s just-published memoir, “My Life After Hate,” are dedicated to highlighting what Arno sees as the innate human need to both give and receive compassion.

The earnest, repentant 40-year-old recently answered questions about his journey from hate-monger to humanitarian.

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Arno Michaels’ book, “My Life After Hate,” is available through www.lifeafterhate.org or at People’s Books in Milwaukee. Will Fellows is a Milwaukee author whose most recent book is “Gay Bar.”

Wisconsin Gazette

VA Delegate Presses Case For Banning ‘Active Homosexuals’ From Virginia National Guard

This morning, Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall (R) — who has responded to the Congressional repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by introducing legislation to prevent gay people from serving in Virginia National Guard — appeared on Fox and Friends to press his case for preserving the ban against “active homosexuals” serving the state:

MARSHALL: Well, active homosexuals, not people with a sexual persuasion that way…This is has been the policy of the United States for 232 years and the moral assumption for the last 6,000 years, so when Congress decided to change this on the weekend when they’re in lame duck session, when they’ve been repudiated by the voters and on a bill that dealt with the Small Business Administration and allowed no amendments except this, that’s a problem. [...]

I checked with the Virginia National Guard recruiters and Army recruiters we clearly have different admission standards right now…We can have different policies. This is a separate unit. When you join the U.S. Army in Virginia, you don’t join the Virginia National Guard.”

Marshall’s proposal stands little chance of being enacted and has been condemned by Virginia’s conservative governor Bob McDonnell. “The governor is a retired United States Army officer, and he knows it is critically important that there be one set of rules for all our men and women in the military, since uniformity of major policy across all branches is essential to effective operations,” McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin told the Washington Post. “We are not aware of a single instance in recent history where the Virginia National Guard has not complied with the policies and procedures of the Department of Defense. Furthermore, approximately 90 percent of the Virginia Guard’s funding is federal, and any departure from federal policies may put this funding at risk.”

Delegate Joseph Morrissey (D) has also proposed a counter bill that would “codify in state law that the Virginia National Guard is subject to the same eligibility requirements as the U.S. military.”

Stay classy.
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Florida Corrections Officer Suspended for "Obama Prayer"

 A Florida corrections officer has been suspended without pay for highlighting a psalm in a co-worker's bible that has been used as an anti-Obama medium for its suggestion of supporting the president's untimely death.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune describes the event, which took place at a Manatee County corrections facility:

According to the Sheriff's Office, Sgt. Matthew Neu attached a handwritten note to a co-worker's jail-issued book of passages from the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. The note stated "The Obama Prayer," and with a highlighter pen, Neu reportedly circled a verse in Psalm 109 that read: "Let his days be few, and let another take his office."

Psalm 109:8 has made its way into various fields of Obama opposition, rearing its head on websites, bumper stickers and other literature. "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow," the passage also reads.

When Sgt. Martha Nash picked up the Bible and saw the particular text emphasized, "she felt whoever left the note wanted the president dead and that the supporting verses after that verse support that," according to the internal affairs report.

WTSP reports:

Sgt. Neu's co-workers at the Manatee County Central Jail facility in Palmetto say it's a well known fact that Neu is not a fan of President Barack Obama.

According to WTSP, Neu says he received the scripture first in an email and planned to share it with his acquaintances because "he thought it was funny." He claims he meant no threat by bringing light to the words.

Neu's reprimand will last 26 hours.


Punjab Governor Salman Taseer assassinated in Islamabad

The influential governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, Salman Taseer, has died after being shot by one of his bodyguards in the capital, Islamabad.

Mr Taseer, a senior member of the Pakistan People's Party, was shot when getting into his car at a market.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the guard had told police that he killed Mr Taseer because of the governor's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law.

Many were angered by his defence of a Christian woman sentenced to death.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani declared three days of national mourning and ordered flags lowered to half-mast. He also ordered an immediate inquiry into Mr Taseer's killing and appealed for calm.

PPP supporters wept and shouted in anger as the governor's coffin was put into an ambulance and driven away from a hospital in Islamabad.

Dozens took to the streets in Punjab's capital, Lahore, burning tyres and blocking traffic. There were also protests in the central city of Multan.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the assassination, saying Mr Taseer's death was "a great loss".

"I had the opportunity to meet Governor Taseer in Pakistan and I admired his work to promote tolerance and the education of Pakistan's future generations," she said.

"The United States remains committed to helping the government and people of Pakistan as they persevere in their campaign to bring peace and stability to their country."

It is the most high profile assassination in Pakistan since the killing of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the PPP's leader, in 2007.

'Voice of courage'

Mr Taseer, 66, was shot repeatedly at close range by his Elite Force guard as he got into his car at the Kohsar Market, a shopping centre in Islamabad popular with Westerners and wealthy Pakistanis, Mr Malik said.

"The governor fell down and the man who fired at him threw down his gun and raised both hands," Ali Imran, a witness, told Reuters news agency.

One doctor told the Associated Press that Mr Taseer was shot 26 times. The suspect was carrying a sub-machine gun.

Unconfirmed reports say up to five other people were also wounded when Mr Taseer's other bodyguards opened fire following the attack.

It is believed Mr Taseer had been returning to his car after meeting a friend for lunch at a nearby restaurant. He had previously been to the presidential palace, the Senate and the interior ministry.

At a news conference, Mr Malik said: "The police guard who killed him says he did this because Mr Taseer recently defended the proposed amendments to the blasphemy law.

"This is what he told the police after surrendering himself.

"But we are investigating to find out whether it was his individual act or whether someone else was also behind it," he added.

Mr Taseer made headlines recently by appealing for the pardon of a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who had been sentenced to death for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Friends of the governor say he knew he was risking his life by speaking out.

He wrote on Twitter on 31 December: "I was under huge pressure sure 2 cow down b4 rightist pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I'm the last man standing."

Asked earlier that month by the BBC Urdu Service about fatwas, or religious decrees, issued against him in Pakistan, he criticised the "illiterate" clerics responsible.

"They issued fatwas against Benazir [Bhutto] and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto [her father, an executed former president], and even the founder of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. I do not care about them," he added.

The interior minister later identified the murder suspect as Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri, who he said had escorted the governor from the city of Rawalpindi on Tuesday as he had done on five or six previous occasions.

Mr Qadri was 26 years old and from Barakhao, a town on the outskirts of Islamabad, he added. He was recruited as a police constable, and transferred to the Elite Force after commando training in 2008.

"Salman Taseer is a blasphemer and this is the punishment for a blasphemer," Mr Qadri said in comments broadcast on Dunya television.

Mr Malik said Mr Taseer's Elite Force security detail was provided by the Punjab government, and that its members had been thoroughly screened. However, they have all now been detained and are being questioned.

"He was a very good friend, a politician and a businessman. He was a national hero," Rehman Malik added.

Human rights workers said Pakistan had been robbed of a rare voice of courage, who championed women's rights and supported minorities.

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says Mr Taseer, a close associate of President Asif Ali Zardari, was one of Pakistan's most important political figures and his death will further add to instability in the country.

The PPP-led government is facing a crisis that erupted after its junior coalition partner, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), quit on Sunday. Mr Taseer had said it would survive.

"Prezdnt Zardaris total support of PM has once again silenced rumours of split in PPP top leadership. Govt is here till 2013," was the last tweet he wrote on Tuesday.

Shortly before Mr Taseer's death, the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had announced that it would not demand a vote of no confidence in Mr Gilani because to do so would exacerbate instability.

  • synesis

Gaza Youth Break Out

Gazan youth issue manifesto to vent their anger with all sides in the conflict
An anonymous group of students has created a document to express their frustration born of Hamas's violent crackdowns on 'western decadence', the destruction wreaked by Israel's attacks and the political games played by Fatah and the UN

The meeting takes place in a bare room in a block of flats in the centre of Gaza City. No photographs, no real names – those are the conditions.

This is the first time that a group of young Palestinian cyber-activists has agreed to meet a journalist since launching what it calls Gaza Youth's Manifesto for Change. It is an incendiary document – written with courage and furious energy – that has captivated thousands of people who have come across it online, and the young university students are visibly excited, but also scared. "Not only are our lives in danger; we are also putting our families at risk," says one of them, who calls himself Abu George.

Gaza Youth's Manifesto for Change is an extraordinary, impassioned cyber-scream in which young men and women from Gaza – where more than half the 1.5 million population is under 18 – make it clear that they've had enough. "Fuck Hamas..." begins the text. "Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!"

It goes on to detail the daily humiliations and frustrations that constitute everyday life in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian slice of land that Israel and Egypt have virtually sealed off from the world since Hamas was elected to power in 2006.

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The Manifesto

"Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!

"We want to scream and break this wall of silence, injustice and indifference like the Israeli F16s breaking the wall of sound; scream with all the power in our souls in order to release this immense frustration that consumes us because of this fucking situation we live in...

"We are sick of being caught in this political struggle; sick of coal-dark nights with airplanes circling above our homes; sick of innocent farmers getting shot in the buffer zone because they are taking care of their lands; sick of bearded guys walking around with their guns abusing their power, beating up or incarcerating young people demonstrating for what they believe in; sick of the wall of shame that separates us from the rest of our country and keeps us imprisoned in a stamp-sized piece of land; sick of being portrayed as terrorists, home-made fanatics with explosives in our pockets and evil in our eyes; sick of the indifference we meet from the international community, the so-called experts in expressing concerns and drafting resolutions but cowards in enforcing anything they agree on; we are sick and tired of living a shitty life, being kept in jail by Israel, beaten up by Hamas and completely ignored by the rest of the world.

"There is a revolution growing inside of us, an immense dissatisfaction and frustration that will destroy us unless we find a way of canalising this energy into something that can challenge the status quo and give us some kind of hope.

"We barely survived the Operation Cast Lead, where Israel very effectively bombed the shit out of us, destroying thousands of homes and even more lives and dreams. During the war we got the unmistakable feeling that Israel wanted to erase us from the face of the Earth. During the last years, Hamas has been doing all they can to control our thoughts, behaviour and aspirations. Here in Gaza we are scared of being incarcerated, interrogated, hit, tortured, bombed, killed. We cannot move as we want, say what we want, do what we want.

"ENOUGH! Enough pain, enough tears, enough suffering, enough control, limitations, unjust justifications, terror, torture, excuses, bombings, sleepless nights, dead civilians, black memories, bleak future, heart-aching present, disturbed politics, fanatic politicians, religious bullshit, enough incarceration! WE SAY STOP! This is not the future we want! We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask?"

SOURCE: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/02/free-gaza-youth-manifesto-palestinian

Dilma & Lula & Brazil

Dilma Rousseff Inauguration: Brazil's First Female President Sworn In

BRASILIA, Brazil — From torture in a dictatorship-era jail cell to the helm of Latin America's largest nation, it's been an unlikely political rise for President Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist rebel turned career technocrat who claimed Brazil's seat of power Saturday.

In becoming the country's 36th president, Rousseff pulled off a feat nearly unthinkable a year ago when the relative unknown was tapped by then-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to be the ruling Workers Party candidate.

She swept into office on the back of Silva's near universal adoration in Brazil.

"I am going to consolidate the transformative work done by President Lula," said Rousseff, 63, during a 40-minute inaugural address. "He changed the way the government is run and led the people to trust in themselves."

Silva left office as the nation's most popular president, with an approval rating that hit 87 percent in his last week. Rousseff served during both of his four-year terms, first as energy minister and then as chief of staff.

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Dilma's Inaugural Speech to the Brazilian Public

Saturday, January 1, 2011, Brasilia

My Dear Brazilians,

I am happy, as seldom before in my life, at the opportunity bestowed upon me by history to take office as the first woman to govern Brazil.

I am also deeply moved – at the end of the term of office of the greatest popular leader this country has ever known – to have had the honor of his support, the privilege of his companionship, and to have learned from his immense wisdom. Such things I shall cherish throughout my entire life.

Close contact during these years allowed me to take the measure of this fair ruler; this leader who loves his country and his people. My joy at taking office as President is tempered with the emotion I feel at his departure.

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Dilma Rousseff Inauguration Speech: Brazil's First Female President Addresses Congress In Brasilia (FULL TEXT)

My Dear Brazilians,

By the sovereign decision of the people, today will be the first time that the Presidential sash encircles the shoulders of a woman.

I am immensely honored by this choice the Brazilian people have made, and I recognize the historic significance of this decision.

I also recognize that the green and yellow silk of the Presidential sash may appear to be soft, but it carries with it an enormous responsibility for the nation.

To take on this responsibility, I have with me the strength and the example of the Brazilian woman. I open my heart to receive, at this moment, a spark of her immense energy.
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And for the LOLz:

Marcela Temer 'steals show' at Brazil inauguration

Former Brazilian beauty queen Marcela Temer has caused a media sensation with her appearance at the inauguration of President Dilma Rousseff.

The swearing in of Brazil's first female president on New Year's Day was hailed as a landmark for women in the country.

But according to some Brazilian newspapers, the glamorous wife of Vice-President Michel Temer stole the show.

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Chavez and Clinton shake hands amid diplomatic tension

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have shaken hands in an apparently amicable encounter at a time of tension between the two countries.

They chatted and smiled at the inauguration of Brazil's new president.

Last week, Venezuela refused to accept the nomination of the new US ambassador to Caracas because of comments he made against the country.

Washington then revoked the visa of the Venezuelan ambassador to the US.

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And now, some picspamming :DDDD ...

Former first lady Marisa Leticia, right, takes off the green-and-gold presidential sash from outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, center, as Brazil's newly sworn-in President Dilma Rousseff waits for the sash at the Planalto presidential palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Saturday Jan.1, 2011.
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daylife has pics from Reuters, Getty Images and AFP, no further credits.

The end. And the beginning.