January 17th, 2011

Venezuela anger at 'mocking' Colombia soap opera

Venezuela has told a private TV company to stop showing a Colombian soap opera it says is insulting to the country.

Chepe Fortuna stars a character called Colombia and her sister Venezuela, who owns a dog called Little Hugo, the same name as Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

In one episode Venezuela loses Little Hugo, prompting Colombia to tell her she is better off without him.

The spat comes as the countries are making efforts to improve their historically strained relationship.

They restored relations last August, shortly after President Juan Manuel Santos took office in Colombia.

Venezuela's telecommunications regulator Conatel said the secretary character named Venezuela was "repeatedly characterised as associated with crime, interference and vulgarity".

Her gossipy and unscrupulous manner, it said, showed "the shameless manipulation of the plot to demoralise the Venezuelan people".

Conatel ordered the Televen channel to take the programme off air on Thursday night. The channel has not yet commented on the demands


The BCC has the entire article.
coffee lol

Wikileaks to get files on rich

Julian Assange and Rudolf Elmer

LONDON – A former Swiss banker on Monday supplied documents to WikiLeaks that he alleges detail attempts by wealthy business leaders and lawmakers to evade tax payments.

Rudolf Elmer, an ex-employee of Swiss-based Bank Julius Baer, said there were 2,000 account holders named in the documents, but refused to give details of the companies or individuals involved.

He has previously offered files to WikiLeaks on financial activities in the Cayman Islands and faces a court hearing in Zurich on Wednesday to answer charges of coercion and violating Switzerland's strict banking secrecy laws.

"I do think as a banker I have the right to stand up if something is wrong," said Elmer, who addressed reporters at London's Frontline Club alongside WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange."I am against the system. I know how the system works and I know the day-to-day business. From that point of view, I wanted to let society know what I know. It is damaging our society," Elmer said.

Assange praised the ex-banker's attempts to expose alleged shady practices in the financial industry. He was making a rare public appearance since he was released on bail on Dec. 16 following his arrest on a Swedish extradition warrant. Elmer claims his previous disclosures showed evidence of major tax avoidance in the Caribbean. However, Assange said that with WikiLeaks focussed on other issues — such as the publication of its cache of about 250,000 diplomatic cables, it could be several weeks before Elmer's latest files are reviewed and posted on the organization's website.

The organization has so far posted about 2,444 cables to the Internet since it began publishing the documents in November.
Assange said that, as with other WikiLeaks releases, media organizations — he named the Financial Times and Bloomberg as possible candidates — could be given the information ahead of time. He said that the files, or parts of the files, may also be provided to British government fraud investigators to examine for any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. "We will treat this information like all other information we get," Assange said. "There will be a full revelation."

The Julius Baer bank said it was aware of Elmer's decision to pass a new set of files to WikiLeaks. "He didn't attack us at this press conference, he explicitly targeted not us but 'the system,'" the bank's spokesman Jan Vonder Muehll said.

Britain's tax authority declined to comment when asked about Assange's plan to supply details of alleged wrongdoing.
Under the terms of his release on bail, Assange must live at the mansion home of Vaughan Smith, the owner of the Frontline Club. He has compared the regime to "high-tech house arrest," but has recently promised that the flow of leaked documents published by his organization would increase.

Frank Jordans in Geneva contributed to this report.


Am I the only one who thinks this is gonna get interesting? 

Edited to fix the squashed text and add a picture.


4 synagogues vandalized in Montreal, Canada


01/17/2011 10:37

In latest string of anti-Semitic attacks, 4 synagogues, Hebrew school, sustain thousands of dollars of damage; no arrests have been made.

The Jewish community of Montreal was stunned Sunday after vandals attacked synagogues and a Hebrew school in the early hours of the morning.

Local Rabbi Reuben Poupko said that Beth Rambam, Tifereth Beth David Jeruaelm, and Beth Zion synagogues in Côte St. Luc and Dorshei Emet synagogue in Hampstead had sustained thosands of dollars of damage when local vandals threw stones at their windows, local Canadian news daily The Gazette reported Sunday. The Yavne Academy in Côte St. Luc was also vandalized.

Upper West Side synagogue receives mailed bomb threat
Tombstone desecrated in Jewish cemetery in France

Montreal police visited the five sites Sunday and have taken local security-camera footage for their investigation. The security cameras had been installed in the last few years due to the rise in attacks on Jewish-community buildings, Rabbi Poupko explained. “We felt this was a necessary investment,” he said

Poupko went on to describe the events as part of a chain of attacks that have occured in the last few months, and complained that until now such events "haven't garned any attention," adding that "it's increasing in intensity and frequency. These are not just crimes against buildings. They’re crimes against a community.”

Last March, criminals broke into Ahavas Yisroel Viznitz Synagogue in the Outremont neighborhood, stealing objects of worship and marking swastikas on the bima and around the central platform of the shrine.

Two months ago, a synagogue in Laval was targeted when vandals led a garden hose connected to an oil line into a the synagogue and flooded the building overnight, local news media outlet CTV reported. Nearly 2,300 liters of oil spilled over onto the back lawn, contaminating the site and causing damage to the Young Israel of Chomedy synagogue.

The cost of damage reached $100,000, and the local Jewish community was able to raise $30,000 dollars to help with repairs.
Shirley Animated

MLK quotes you are unlikely to hear on Fox News or Glenn Beck's show today

Today the nation celebrates the life of Martin Luther King Jr., who was born on January 15th 1929 and died from assassin's bullet on April 4th, 1968.  Conservatives and liberals both like to quote MLK's more broad, and vague "dream" for America.  No one can disagree with a statement poetic, inspirational quote like,

"With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood."

However, many would disagree with other MLK quotes such as, "If a city has a 30% Negro population, then it is logical to assume that Negroes should have at least 30% of the jobs in any particular company, and jobs in all categories rather than only in menial areas."  Below one can find a list of Martin Luther King Jr. quotes that conservatives would probably take issue with.  I have tried to provide long quotes in order to give as much context as possible.  The quotes show King to be strongly opposed to violence, even as it is reflected in the United States spending on military programs.  King was a strong critic of income inequality in the United States, and strongly advocated for government programs to provide every citizen with a job.

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords condition improves

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords condition improves

In yet another sign of significant recovery during a remarkable week, the gravely wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was upgraded from critical to serious condition Sunday after a procedure to remove her from a ventilator was successful.

Doctors have been positive, and at time almost giddy, in describing her progress since she was shot point blank in the head Jan. 8.

Giffords responded from the moment she arrived at the emergency room, at first just squeezing a doctor's hand. Then she raised two fingers. She opened her unbandaged eye shortly after President Barack Obama's bedside visit Wednesday. Then, more milestones — which doctors said were all indicative of higher cognitive function — were achieved, all with her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, at her side.

Kelly asked her to give him a thumbs-up if she could hear him. She did more than that. She slowly raised her left arm. By the end of the week, she had moved her legs and arms.

At the hospital, more than 100 people were gathered amid the sea of get-well balloons and cards when the University of Arizona put out a statement upgrading her condition.

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I'm glad Christina's parents decided to donate her organs.

Not so glad, however, at how the media is trying to paint Fuller as someone who "acted odd sometimes." :/

Oh, and yes, teabaggers, I think the anger being directed your way IS indicative of something.

Christian therapist may be struck off for trying to turn gay man straight

A Christian ‘conversion therapist’ may be struck off this week after telling a gay undercover reporter that she could turn him straight.

Lesley Pilkington, 60, told gay journalist Patrick Strudwick that his homosexuality was a “mental illness” and she could help him overcome it.

Mr Strudwick, who won several awards for his expose, was also told by Ms Pilkington that he must have been sexually abused as a child by a member of his family.

After visiting her for counselling in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, he reported her to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

The therapist is to appear before a a professional conduct panel this week and and may lose her accreditation with the BACP.

She is being supported by the Christian Legal Centre and accuses Mr Strudwick, who secretly recorded her, of entrapment.

Ms Pilkington, who says she is helping her gay son turn straight, told The Sunday Telegraph: “He told me he was looking for a treatment for being gay. He said he was depressed and unhappy and would I give him some therapy.

“I told him I only work using a Christian biblical framework and he said that was exactly what he wanted.”

She added: “We don’t use the word ‘cure’ because it makes it [homosexuality] sound like a disease. We are helping people move out of that lifestyle because they are depressed and unhappy.

“We say everybody is heterosexual but some people have a homosexual problem. Nobody is born gay. It is environmental; it is in the upbringing.”

Mr Strudwick, who set up a campaign group to protest ‘ex-gay’ therapy, told The Sunday Telegraph: “Entering into therapy with somebody who thinks I am sick … is the singularly most chilling experience of my life

Andrea Minichiello Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “When a young man asked for help to change his behaviour, [Ms Pilkington] was happy to give it. Rather than breaching his autonomy, Lesley provided exactly what was asked of her.

“It is shocking that she was targeted, lied to and misrepresented by this homosexual activist and even worse that her professional body consider her actions worthy of investigation.

Mainstream health experts say such therapy is useless at best and at worst can seriously damage mental health.

In July, the annual meeting of the British Medical Association declared that therapies to ‘cure’ gay people of homosexuality are harmful.

Source: Pink News

Awesome! Although one has to wonder how many people she fucked up before she tried it on the wrong one. :/


American schools are more segregated by race and class today than they were on the day MLK was shot

On MLK Day, Some Thoughts on Segregated Schools, Arne Duncan, and President Obama

Dana Goldstein

American schools are more segregated by race and class today than they were on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, 43 years ago. The average white child in America attends a school that is 77 percent white, and where just 32 percent of the student body lives in poverty. The average black child attends a school that is 59 percent poor but only 29 percent white. The typical Latino kid is similarly segregated; his school is 57 percent poor and 27 percent white. 

Overall, a third of all black and Latino children sit every day in classrooms that are 90 to 100 percent black and Latino. 

This is a sad state of affairs in a pluralistic society, and it is borne of two factors: 1) residential segregation and 2) purposeful drawing of school district boundaries to isolate middle class and white families from poor families of color. So it is absolutely a good thing that last Thursday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote a letter chiding the Wake County, North Carolina school board--which has been taken over by Tea Partiers--for dismantling a groundbreaking school integration program.

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Old statistics for many here I'm sure, but part of the whole "pause to reflect" thing has to be acknowledging how much further we have to go.

"The poor in our countries have been shut out of our minds and driven from the mainstream of our societies, because we have allowed them to become invisible." (full speech)

"It is not only poverty that torments the Negro; it is the fact of poverty amid plenty. It is a misery generated by the gulf between the affluence he sees in the mass media and the deprivation he experiences in his everyday life." (from 1968)

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
(Letter from Birmingham Jail)

Representative Giffords shooting as seen and felt in space

Space.com via Yahoo! News: Rep. Giffords' Astronaut Husband Gets Backup Shuttle Commander
by Denise Chow, SPACE.com Staff Writer by Denise Chow, Space.com Staff Writer – Fri Jan 14, 6:45 pm ET

NASA has named veteran spaceflyer Rick Sturckow to serve as a backup commander during training for the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour – a mission currently led by the astronaut husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot last week, the space agency announced today (Jan. 13).

The announcement places Sturckow in the backup seat for astronaut Mark Kelly, who is married to Giffords (D-Ariz.) and is currently with her at the University Medical Center of Tucson as she recovers from a gunshot wound to the head sustained during a violent attack on Jan. 8 in Tucson, Ariz.

The space shuttle Endeavour is currently slated to launch on April 19 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., to deliver a billion-dollar astrophysics experiment to the International Space Station. It is the second of up to three shuttle missions NASA plans to fly this year before retiring the shuttle fleet for good.

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Giffords' husband wasn't the only one at NASA affected by the shooting. Her brother-in-law, also an astronaut, was as well.

NASA Television on YouTube: NASA'S Mission Control and ISS Crew Observe National Moment of Silence

At Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and aboard the International Space Station, flight controllers and the Expedition 26 crew paused to observe a National Moment of Silence Jan. 10, 2011. The event was held for the victims of the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 8 that left six people dead and more than a dozen wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Station Commander Scott Kelly, Giffords' brother-in-law, led the station crew in its observance from 220 miles above the Earth.
I hadn't seen this news or this angle posted here, so I thought it worth sharing.
misc - microphone

(no subject)

House of Mercy: No Practicing Gays Allowed
The director says the shelter would welcome gay people who are celibate.

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Two women suspected of being gay are kicked out of the House of Mercy in Columbus, one of the city's homeless shelters. The director says the women were expelled for breaking other rules, including smoking a cigarette and shirking curfew.

Meanwhile, both women, now in other temporary housing, say the 'gay' rumors weren't even true. They say they were put out in the cold, along with their children, after a disagreement with a staff member.

Elder Bobby Harris, director of the House of Mercy, says most people have an agenda when they come in and ask for help. He runs a tight ship. House rules include no secular music, no hats indoors and no sexual activity of any kind. Regular church service is required.

Harris says the shelter would welcome non-practicing gay people, but even if the residents engage in sexual activity off the premises during their free time, he discharges them.

"We have little children here," Harris explained.

One of the women kicked out said even if she was gay, as a Christian, she disagrees with the organization's stance on the issue.

"It was unholy," she said. News 3 is concealing her identity as she is recovering from domestic violence. "It was not a place of God."

Other residents testify to the healthy spiritual environment Harris fosters.

"It's great," one female resident told News 3. "God is so good."

Harris welcomes anyone to come and explore his operation. He says he wants people to ask residents how they feel about their lifestyle.

As for critics and complaints, Harris says it is an ongoing challenge to his work to know when to discipline people and let them go.

"It's hard," he said. "People want you to help them the way they want to be helped."


Japanese Researchers to Ressurect Mammoth

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese researchers will launch a project this year to resurrect the long-extinct mammoth by using cloning technology to bring the ancient pachyderm back to life in around five years time.

The researchers will try to revive the species by obtaining tissue this summer from the carcass of a mammoth preserved in a Russian research laboratory, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

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misc. | Michelle Obama

"First lady's 47 candles".

First lady's 47 candles

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Any plans the first lady has to celebrate her birthday today will have to wait.  Since her 47th birthday falls on Martin Luther King, Jr. day this year, Michelle Obama is participating in a community service project with President Obama and her daughters to celebrate MLK Day of Service.

The Obamas marked the national holiday by attending Sunday service at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church.  The congregation sang happy birthday to the first lady and others at one point during the two-hour service.

When Mrs. Obama arrived at the community service event for Greater D.C. Cares at Stuart Hobson Middle School, President Obama and the volunteers sang Stevie Wonder's version of "Happy Birthday."

The first family and volunteers are painting fruit on walls to urge healthy eating as part of the school's mentoring project.  That might be one birthday wish for the first lady since that's one of her signature issues.

It's unclear what else is in store for the first lady.

Last year Mrs. Obama celebrated her birthday with staff in the East Wing a couple days before she turned 46, blowing out one candle on top of a round white cake. Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses also made a pastry version of the White House.

Then the night before her birthday, the president treated his wife to a surprise high-end organic dinner with friends at Restaurant Nora in Washington's Dupont Circle neighborhood.
President Obama will turn 50 on August 4.

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Happy Birthday, Mrs. Obama, GET IT GURL