February 9th, 2011

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

The hidden roots of Egypt's despair

The hidden roots of Egypt's despair
The economic crisis is driving political protests sparked in part by US financial speculation.
Danny Schechter

This is an upstairs/downstairs story that takes us from the peak of a Western mountaintop for the wealthy to spreading mass despair in the valleys of the Third World poor.

It is about how the solutions for the world financial crisis that the CEOs and Big pols are massaging in a posh conference centre in snowy Davos, Switzerland have turned into a global economic catastrophe in the streets of Cairo, the current ground zero of a certain-to-spread wave of international unrest.

Yes, the tens of thousands in the streets demanding the ouster of the cruel Mubarak regime are pressing for their right to make a political choice, but they are being driven by an economic disaster that have sent unemployment skyrocketing and food prices climbing.

People are out in the streets not just to meet but by their need to eat.

As Nouriel Roubini - who was among the first to predict the financial crisis while others were pooh-poohing him as "Dr Doom" - says, don't just look at the crowds in Cairo, but what is motivating them now after years of silence and repression.

He says that the dramatic rise in energy and food prices has become a major global threat and a leading factor that has gone largely unreported in the coverage of events in Egypt.

"What has happened in Tunisia is happening right now in Egypt, but also riots in Morocco, Algeria and Pakistan are related not only to high unemployment rates and to income and wealth inequality, but also to this very sharp rise in food and commodity prices," Roubini said.

For instance, prices in Egypt are up 17% because of a worldwide surge in commodity prices.

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coffee lol

Finding love across the two Koreas

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- There's an old saying among Koreans: South Korean men are known for their looks and North Korean women for their beauty.

Choi Young-Hee took that adage and turned it into a business model. Choi is a matchmaker, bringing hundreds of South Korean bachelors and single North Korean female defectors together.

It's an idea that on the surface appears hopelessly flawed, given the current geopolitical status between the North and South. But Choi had a hunch when she opened her matchmaking agency five years ago that this sort of pairing would work.

She was right.

Nearly 500 marriages later, with only three divorces among them, this self-made Cupid is seemingly a statistical success. Proof, says Choi, that the main barrier to reunification and peace on the Korean peninsula is not the Korean people but politics.

"As I wed each and every couple and the people around them see them living happily together," says Choi, "I think they'll realize they may not like the Kim Jong Il leadership, but they'll know that regular North Koreans are not like that. I think that it's the most important thing in speeding up reunification."

See more of CNN.com's coverage of the Koreas

Choi Hyung-Min (unrelated to Choi, the matchmaker) was one of the matchmaker's eligible bachelors. She matched him with one of her North Korean defectors, and they fell in love and married.

CNN met them as they celebrated the first birthday of their daughter, Ye-Ran. The North Korean defector said CNN could not air her picture or reveal her name, fearing that Pyongyang would punish her remaining family in the North.

But she does have a message to share with CNN's viewers and readers.

"From the bottom of my heart, I really hope for reunification," she says.

"We talk about this all the time," says her husband, who has never met her extended family. "Visiting her hometown after reunification."

The North Korean defector says her marriage shows that despite the political differences and years of warlike disputes between the two nations, there is hope for a peaceful peninsula.

"There may be differences with the policies and institutions of the two countries. But we're all the same people, right? We're the same people."

To say that the unions are borne of a desire to reunify the country would ignore a reality in the matches.

North Korean women, says Choi, desire the automatic acceptance and stability a South Korean husband offers. South Korean men want a traditional Korean wife, believes Choi, which North Korean women offer, unlike modern South Korean women.

In crisp blue and yellow file folders, eligible bachelors are noted for their height, education, and job status. But that's not as important as a proper personality match says Choi, who then takes those South Korean men and matches them to North Korean women in her database.

Choi matches couples personally. When pressed what makes a match a marriage, she can't quite say.

Choi's colorful clothing, a leopard fur print jacket and sparkle headband, reveals little of the dark story of her defection out of North Korea.

In 2001, she slipped out of the North into China with her 11-year-old daughter. Her tale is filled with complicated twists and turns, she says. The end result was that a year later, after spending some time in a Mongolian prison, she and her daughter made it to South Korea.

Choi, like many North Korean defectors, suddenly found herself needing to make ends meet in a new capitalist society with not much of a support system. What she knew, she says, is what North Korean women and South Korean men want.

"They say that if you wed three couples, you go to heaven," laughs Choi, "so I guess I have a seat reserved."


Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Wondering who Omar Suleiman is?

Suleiman: The CIA's man in Cairo
Suleiman, a friend to the US and reported torturer, has long been touted as a presidential successor.

On January 29, Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s top spy chief, was anointed vice president by tottering dictator, Hosni Mubarak. By appointing Suleiman, part of a shake-up of the cabinet in an attempt to appease the masses of protesters and retain his own grip on the presidency, Mubarak has once again shown his knack for devilish shrewdness. Suleiman has long been favoured by the US government for his ardent anti-Islamism, his willingness to talk and act tough on Iran - and he has long been the CIA’s main man in Cairo.

Mubarak knew that Suleiman would command an instant lobby of supporters at Langley and among 'Iran nexters' in Washington - not to mention among other authoritarian mukhabarat-dependent regimes in the region. Suleiman is a favourite of Israel too; he held the Israel dossier and directed Egypt’s efforts to crush Hamas by demolishing the tunnels that have functioned as a smuggling conduit for both weapons and foodstuffs into Gaza

According to a WikiLeak(ed) US diplomatic cable, titled 'Presidential Succession in Egypt', dated May 14, 2007:

"Egyptian intelligence chief and Mubarak consigliere, in past years Soliman was often cited as likely to be named to the long-vacant vice-presidential post. In the past two years, Soliman has stepped out of the shadows, and allowed himself to be photographed, and his meetings with foreign leaders reported. Many of our contacts believe that Soliman, because of his military background, would at least have to figure in any succession scenario."

From 1993 until Saturday, Suleiman was chief of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service. He remained largely in the shadows until 2001, when he started taking over powerful dossiers in the foreign ministry; he has since become a public figure, as the WikiLeak document attests. In 2009, he was touted by the London Telegraph and Foreign Policy as the most powerful spook in the region, topping even the head of Mossad.

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I thought about posting this yesterday, and decided to post it today after seeing the post where Coop calls out Egypt.

Also, I'm disgusted reading the things America allowed and encouraged, and even more angry at the Obama Administration's "turn the page"/let the sleeping dogs lie rhetoric.
  • mrasaki

Korean military talks collapse

Military officials fail to make progress in ending tensions, despite fresh hopes of reunifying families separated during 1950s war

Relations between North and South Korea appeared to be improving when the two sides agreed to hold talks on the possible revival of attempts to reunite families separated during the Korean war.

But efforts to defuse bilateral tensions have ended in failure after the simultaneous collapse of talks between high-ranking military officials.

Colonels from both sides had met for a second day on Wednesday at Panmunjom, the "truce village" located along the heavily fortified border that has divided the peninsula since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war.

The talks, held amid pressure from China and the US to reopen dialogue, were supposed to have laid the ground for further discussions, possibly between the countries' defence ministers.

But Reuters quoted a unification ministry official in Seoul as saying that the talks had collapsed and that a date had not been set for the next meeting.

South Korean media reports that North Korea had refused Seoul's demand to apologise for the shelling of Yeonpyeong island in November, and for the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean navy ship, last March.

North Korea says it was not involved in the Cheonan sinking, and that it was provoked into attacking Yeonpyeong after the South fired artillery rounds into its waters during a drill.

Yet less than three months after the peninsula appeared to be on the brink of conflict, the countries' Red Cross agencies are due to discuss family reunions at a date yet to be agreed, reports said.

Hopes were also raised that the countries would broach joint tourism and industrial projects that have been affected by recent tensions.

The North, concerned about the effects of international sanctions and a near-halt to trade with its neighbour, has recently pushed for talks between the Red Cross agencies on the resumption of meetings between separated families.

"We conveyed our agreement to hold the Red Cross talks," said Lee Jong-joo, a spokeswoman for South Korea's unification ministry. "The government shared the view on the urgency and importance of humanitarian issues, including the reunions of separated families."

Hundreds of thousands of people were separated during the war. More than 20,000 elderly South Koreans have been briefly reunited with relatives from the North over the past 10 years, but many among the 80,000 others may die before they are given the chance to meet relatives they last saw six decades ago.

It is not clear whether Seoul has agreed to discuss the resumption of joint projects at Kaesong, an industrial complex north of the border, and Mount Kumgang, a tourism enterprise on the North's east coast.

Officials had been upbeat about the chances of a successful conclusion to the military talks. "The atmosphere of the meeting was good, and we are doing our best," South Korea's chief delegate, Colonel Moon Sang-kyun, told reporters.

Analysts expect the countries will have to meet several times before they agree on how to take the military dialogue to a higher level. Progress in bilateral talks could lead to a resumption of six-party nuclear negotiations involving the two Koreas, China, the US, Russia and Japan, which have not been held since April 2009.


:/ Not surprised. I have a lot of friends w/ family still in NK, but imo the NK govt doesn't really care about reunifying families; they're just stringing everybody along.

Can we get a 'Korea' tag?

Senator Jim Webb announces retirement plans

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

WASHINGTON – Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia announced plans to retire at the end of his term, deepening the challenge to his party as it struggles to maintain a majority in 2012 elections.

In an e-mail announcement, Webb said he would return to the private sector
, but offered no additional details of his plans.

A former Navy Secretary, Webb was elected to the Senate in an upset in 2006, ousting Republican Sen. George Allen.

Allen is attempting a comeback in 2012, although he faces primary opposition.

Democrats, with a 53-47 majority, must defend 23 Senate seats next year, including two held by independents, and many are in swing states where Republicans hope to mount strong challenges.

By contrast there are only 10 GOP-held seats on the ballot in 2012.

In his e-mail, Webb said, "I have every intention of remaining involved in the issues that affect the well-being and the future of our country."

Since taking his seat, Webb has focused much of his energy on international issues.

"Among other contributions, we have given our Post- 9/11 veterans the best GI Bill since World War II. We have taken the lead in reforming our criminal justice system. We have led the way toward stronger relations in East and Southeast Asia," he said.

"And we have been a strong voice in calling on China to act more responsibly in the world community."

Earlier in his career, Webb was a combat Marine in Vietnam, a lawyer, congressional aide and a published author. His appointment as Navy Secretary came from President Ronald Reagan, a Republican. But when the Naval Academy graduate made his only run for public office, it was as a Democrat.

Webb is the fourth senator to announce plans to retire. The others are Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.


As a Virginian, I can't say that I loved him or anything, but do we have anyone else to run in his place? I will be fucking PISSED if this state re-elects that racist asshole George Allen.
oh holy shit
  • chaya

Most Epic Request for Toast Ever

Rep. Giffords is speaking, staff confirms
Rep. Giffords is speaking, staff confirms
By Stephanie Innes, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star | Wednesday, February 9, 2011

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is speaking, her staff confirmed this morning.

Among the phrases she has spoken, Giffords has asked for toast with her breakfast, spokesman C.J. Karamargin said.

“It’s huge and it’s great,” Karamargin said. “It’s very big news and we are all very excited.”

Giffords, 40, was shot through the left side of her brain Jan. 8. The left side of the brain controls speech. There had previously been no news as to whether she could speak.

Sauce over at the AZ Star.

Let me just say:

and additionally,
mus | like a bird in a cage

Palin says she'd deport Christina Aguilera for botching the national anthem

DALLAS, TX - Potential 2012 presidential candidate Sarah Palin says that if she were president, she would deport pop star Christina Aguilera for botching a portion of The Star-Spangled Banner during her performance at Super Bowl XLV. Making an appearance on Sean Hannity's radio program on Monday, Palin pointedly criticized Aguilera's gaffe, and called her out for exhibiting 'diva behavior.'

"Quite frankly, Sean, public figures must be held accountable for what they say," explained Palin. "Here's another case of an airhead diva going on TV, running her mouth off, sounding like a fool. She doesn't understand something so basic about America, yet we're supposed to tolerate her diva behavior? Americans can see through that, Sean."

Palin also levied criticism on the Obama administration for allowing "spicy Latin princesses" to do the jobs of American pop divas. "Unemployment is at nine percent, yet we have to suffer through a performance by a foreigner with a poor grasp of the English language? If I were president, I'd deport Ms. Aguilera back to wherever it is she's from and give Amy Smart a call." Aguilera was, in fact, born in New York and grew up in Pennsylvania.

Though Palin was critical of Aguilera's performance, she claimed her attack on the songstress wasn't personal. "I'm sure Ms. Aguilera is a very nice person, but I just think the American people deserve better than a demanding beauty queen who's clearly in over her head."

once upon a time

~OReilly Interruptus~ Bill O'Reilly refused to let the president finish a sentence

Barack Obama was interrupted 48 times during his brief, pre-Super Bowl Fox interview

Wonkette's Jack Stuef actually counted the number of times that Bill O'Reilly interrupted President Barack Obama during O'Reilly's pre-Super Bowl interview. And it was a lot of times. If you were watching at home, you may have noticed that O'Reilly rarely let the president finish a sentence without interjecting, but you probably did not realize that it happened nearly 50 times in what was, honestly, a fairly short interview.

My favorite part is that half the time the thing O'Reilly just has to say right now is something completely inane, like "those are tough boys, the Muslim Brotherhood." Good point, Bill.


Source from Salon.com
iran freedom!

Rumsfeld claims Saddam tried to kill his daughters

Perhaps the single strangest moment in Donald Rumsfeld's new memoir is an episode in October 2003 in which he is informed by CIA Director George Tenet that Saddam Hussein had, according to the book, put out a $60 million bounty on Rumsfeld's adult daughters. This was in the wake of the killing of Uday and Qusay Hussein by American troops in July 2003.

Here's the passage from Rumsfeld's "Known and Unkwown":

After his sons were killed, there was an intelligence report that Saddam Hussein was paying $60 million for his agents to target the President's two daughters and my two daughters for reprisal attacks. That threat report was brought up at an NSC meeting in October 2003. I acknowledged it, but went on with our discussion.

"You need to take this seriously," Bush said. He had received word that pictures of his daughters had been found in Uday Hussein's palace.

Tenet broke in, reinforcing the President's concern. "You took out Saddam's sons. They might well go after your daughters." Needless to say, I was concerned about my family, but there was little I could do about it other than encourage them to take precautions.

Really? This isn't a few guys talking in a bar. This is the defense secretary, the CIA director, and the president of the United States, with the full power of the federal government pretty much at their disposal. If there truly was a real threat against Rumsfeld's daughters -- and that's an open question -- wouldn't the logical next step have been to get them a security detail?

Also important context: Saddam had already been in hiding for months by October 2003. He was captured by U.S. troops in a hole in the ground in December. So he was hardly at the height of his powers when this threat was reported.

But here's how Rumsfeld described the incident on ABC this week. (George Stephanopolous has since been uncritically pushing the "$60 million bounty" story.)

STEPHANOPOULOS: What did you think and what did you do when you heard that?

RUMSFELD:Well of course the president and his family had secret service protection. My family did not. And it was a somewhat awkward moment in the meeting. I believe George Tenet raised that, and said, you have to take it seriously, because we had killed Saddam Hussein's sons. And one ought not to be surprised that that kind of activity was being generated in Iraq.

There was not much I could do. My children did not have protection.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What did you feel?

RUMSFELD: Concern. But I'm realistic. I mean, I was standing near President Ford when he was shot at. There are certain things that happen in life and there's not much one can do about it . I made a comment like ‘Thank you’ or something and President Bush looked me in the eye and said ‘You better take this seriously,” he said. And of course I did take it seriously. But I was also realistic that there was not much one could do about that.

So there you have it. Rumsfeld responded to a threat against his daughters by waving it off as an "awkward moment" in a meeting, but not doing anything. President Bush responded by warning him to "take it seriously," but also didn't do anything. Bizarre.


Source has relevant video from ABC News.
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Egypt's Berlin Wall moment and the shaping of a New World Order

Egypt's Berlin Wall moment
The recent uprisings do not exist merely in a historical vacuum, but must be considered within a geopolitical context.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, four transformative events have reshaped the global setting in enduring ways. When the Soviet empire collapsed two years later, the way was opened for the triumphalist pursuit of the American imperial project, seizing the opportunity for geopolitical expansion provided by its self-anointed global leadership - as 'the sole surviving superpower'.

This first rupture in the nature of world order produced a decade of ascendant neoliberal globalisation, in which state power was temporarily and partially eclipsed by passing the torch of lead global policymaker to the Davos oligarchs, meeting annually under the banner of the World Economic Forum. In that sense, the US government was the well-subsidised sheriff of predatory globalization, while the policy agenda was being set by bankers and global corporate executives. Although not often identified as such, the 1990s gave the first evidence of the rise of non-state actors - and the decline of state-centric geopolitics.

The second rupture came with the 9/11 attacks, however those events are construed. The impact of the attacks transferred the locus of policymaking authority back to the United States, as state actor, under the rubrics of 'the war on terror', 'global security' and 'the long war'. This counter-terrorist response to 9/11 produced claims to engage in preemptive warfare - 'The Bush Doctrine'. This militarist foreign policy was put into practice by initiating a 'shock and awe' war against Iraq in March 2003, despite the refusal of the UN Security Council to back American war plans.

This second rupture has turned the entire world into a potential battlefield, with a variety of overt and covert military and paramilitary operations launched by the United States without appropriate authorisation - either from the UN or by deference to international law.

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The shaping of a New World Order
If the revolutions of 2011 succeed, they will force the creation of a very different regional and world system.

I remember the images well, even though I was too young to understand their political significance. But they were visceral, those photos in the New York Times from Tehran in the midst of its revolutionary moment in late 1978 and early 1979. Not merely exuberance jumped from the page, but also anger; anger fuelled by an intensity of religious fervour that seemed so alien as to emanate from another planet to a "normal" pre-teen American boy being shown the newspaper by his father over breakfast.

Many commentators are comparing Egypt to Iran of 32 years ago, mostly to warn of the risks of the country descending into some sort of Islamist dictatorship that would tear up the peace treaty with Israel, engage in anti-American policies, and deprive women and minorities of their rights (as if they had so many rights under the Mubarak dictatorship).

I write this on February 2, the precise anniversary of Khomeini's return to Tehran from exile. It's clear that, while religion is a crucial foundation of Egyptian identity and Mubarak's level of corruption and brutality could give the Shah a run for his money, the situations are radically different on the ground.

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These both seemed like good opinion pieces about what's going on in Egypt now with a more global focus. The second one is a few days old, but it seemed relevant.

...And, negl, I still twitch any time I see Foucault's name. I was not expecting a Foucault reference, lol.
Home of the enslaved.


Even the scheduling of the vote came as something of a surprise. We knew the House would take up the reauthorization of the Patriot Act fairly soon, but midday, the Republican leadership announced the vote would come in the late afternoon, presumably to help get it over with before opponents could begin a concerted push against it.

The vote didn't go as GOP leaders had planned.

House Republicans suffered an embarrassing setback Tuesday when they fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the USA Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party's tea party bloc.

The bill to reauthorize key parts of the counterterrorism surveillance law that expire at the end of the month required a supermajority to pass under special rules reserved for noncontroversial measures.

Right. Because it was on the suspension calendar, it needed a two-thirds majority. The final tally was 277 to 148, with supporters far outnumbering opponents, but that lopsided margin wasn't quite enough -- supporters needed seven more votes to get over two-thirds threshold.

For Patriot Act critics, this was a pleasant surprise, but the satisfaction will very likely be short-lived -- the reauthorization will come back to the floor later this month under regular order, and will need only a simple majority to advance to the Senate.

Still, this was fairly embarrassing for the Republican leadership, which expected an easy win yesterday, only to come up short. Boehner, Cantor, & Co. apparently need to keep a closer eye on their own caucus, after 26 Republicans broke ranks and voted with 122 Democrats against the measure, a development the leadership apparently didn't know was coming.

You'll likely hear some media accounts saying that the "Tea Party" wing of the GOP was responsible for beating back the Patriot Act, but that's not quite true. Of the 26 Republican "nay" votes, only eight came from the massive freshman class, and many of those generally associated with the right-wing faction -- including Michele Bachmann and Allen West -- voted with the GOP leadership in support of the bill. Indeed, looking specifically at the 52 members of the House Tea Party Caucus, 44 of them voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

Tea Partiers, in other words, generally backed the bill, their rhetoric about "limited government" notwithstanding.

But while it wasn't Tea Partiers who were responsible for the outcome, it's extremely unusual for 26 House Republicans to blow off their leadership on a high-profile vote on anything. Indeed, the vote came after GOP leaders had to pull a trade-related bill that rank-and-file Republicans didn't like, and after Appropriations Committee leaders were told rank-and-file Republicans aren't satisfied with the size of the proposed budget cuts.

A month into the new Congress, it appears Republican leaders are struggling a bit in the "leadership" department.

Washington Monthly
franklin sherman

Anonymous finds data intelligence firms proposed a systematic attack against WikiLeaks

After a tip from Crowdleaks.org, The Tech Herald has learned that HBGary Federal, as well as two other data intelligence firms, worked to develop a strategic plan of attack against WikiLeaks. The plan included pressing a journalist in order to disrupt his support of the organization, cyber attacks, disinformation, and other potential proactive tactics.

The tip from Crowdleaks.org is directly related to the highly public attack on HBGary, after Anonymous responded to research performed by HBGary Federal COO, Aaron Barr. Part of Anonymous’ response included releasing more than 50,000 internal emails to the public.

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queen regina

White House: Mexico violence not an "emergency"

By Michael Isikoff
NBC News

While drug violence continues to spread in Mexico, White House officials have decided the situation doesn’t rank as an “emergency” under federal rules, officials tell NBC News. The decision scuttles — at least for now — a controversial proposal requiring gun stores in four Southwest border states to report multiple sales of semiautomatic assault rifles and other long guns to authorities.

The decision to delay the proposed federal rule, which comes amid fresh reports that rival cartels are waging murderous gun battles in the once peaceful city of Guadalajara, drew an unusually sharp rebuke from Mexico’s ambassador to the United States.

“It is certainly disappointing that politics trumps sound policy,” Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said in an email to NBC about the White House decision. “We can’t keep on fiddling while the issue of arms trafficking to Mexico continues to burn.”

The gun reporting rule was announced in December by Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, an arm of the Justice Department, as an important step that the U.S. government could take to help staunch the flow of illegal weapons to the Mexican drug cartels.

Currently, federally licensed gun dealers are required to report to ATF whenever an individual buys two or more handguns within a five day period. But in what some federal law enforcement officials say is a gaping loophole in federal gun laws, no such requirement applies to semiautomatic assault rifles, which have increasingly become the “weapon of choice” for Mexican gun traffickers.

Melson and other ATF officials said at the time that they expected the proposal – which had been approved by senior Justice Department officials — to be adopted on an expedited basis and take effect by Jan. 5.

But after a ferocious lobbying campaign by the National Rifle Association and a gun industry group, including letters from pro-gun members of Congress, White House budget officials recently confirmed that the rule was being postponed for at least two months.

White House officials had said over the weekend that the rule was delayed in the wake of the president’s recent executive order calling for a more thorough review of all federal regulations.

But a White House spokeswoman clarified that statement this week, telling NBC that ATF had sought to adopt the rule under a provision of federal rules that allows for expedited procedures in the case of an “emergency.” Lawyers for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) concluded that the provision was really intended for natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, not for events such as drug violence south of the border, said Meg Reilly, a spokeswoman for OMB, which reviews all federal rules.

“OMB determined after careful review that ATF’s request did not satisfy the “emergency” exception under the statute and relevant regulations,” Reilly wrote in an email to NBC. “We felt that it was important to move this notice of information collection through the standard review process to provide adequate time for the public to weigh in. Our objective is to ensure that any information collection in this area is as informed and effective as possible – and public comment is critical to that outcome."

Rule still expected to take effect
The White House decision doesn’t kill the rule and aides this week it will still likely go into effect in a few months. “It’s a question of timing,” said one administration official.

The Mexican government has been pressing the U.S. government for years to crack down on the flow of high powered weapons to the cartels. It had been expecting quick action on the reporting rule, especially after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flew to Mexico City last year and promised that the administration was “doing all that we can” to stop the trafficking of U.S. weapons south of the border.

The White House move was praised, however, by the NRA.

“This was a blatant attempt to circumvent the legislative arena and to abuse the ‘emergency rule’ process,” said Chris W. Cox, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, in an email. “Had this measure gone into effect, it would have resulted in a registry of law-abiding gun owners and it would also have placed unnecessary burdens on law-abiding firearms retailers.”

The decision comes just two weeks after federal prosecutors in Arizona disclosed what appeared to be dramatic evidence of the weapons flow: They announced they had charged a network of gun traffickers with buying over 700 weapons – most of them, AK-47s — at U.S. gun stores with the intent of smuggling them to the Sinaloa cartel and other Mexican drug trafficking groups.

It also comes on the heels of fresh reports that cartel violence, which has claimed over 34,000 Mexican lives in the last several years, has taken an even more dangerous turn. Just this week, Reuters reported that Guadalajara — the once peaceful capital of the western state of Jalisco and due to be host of the Pan American Games later this year — has been besieged by cartel battles in the last few weeks, with gunmen firing automatic weapons, torching vehicles and blockading roads.

The White House decision also is the latest in a series of setbacks for gun control advocates, who had been pushing President Barack Obama to speak out on the issue of gun violence and back stronger measures after last month’s shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson. But Obama failed to mention the issue during his recent State of the Union address.

While administration officials have told reporters the president will speak on the issue at a later time, they have so far failed to endorse the major legislative proposal being pushed by gun control advocates: a bill in Congress that would endorse high capacity magazines such as the 33-round clip used by Jared Loughner in his shooting of Giffords, federal judge John Rolls and 17 others.

“They held their cards very close to the vest,” he said, acknowledging that dealing with the administration on gun issues has been “frustrating.”


Fuck the NRA. Seriously, what do you need MULTIPLE assault rifles for? Besides, it's not like the government is telling you that you can't buy multiple assault rifles, they're just making gun vendors give ATF a heads up, JUST LIKE THEY PRESENTLY DO FOR HANDGUNS. Ugh.

Iowa lawmaker introduces bill allowing discrimination against married gays

An Iowa House Republican has introduced legislation that would allow for legally protected discriminatory business practices — based on religious grounds — against those in a same-sex marriage.

The study bill, titled the “Religious Conscience Protection Act,” would allow any religious corporation, association, educational institution, society, charity or fraternal organization, or person employed by such entities, to be exempt from treating a same-sex marriage as valid, even though such marriages are legal in the state of Iowa.

They also could deny goods, services or accommodations if the marriage violated a person’s religious beliefs.

The Des Moines Register reports:

The same-sex exclusion is by itself constitutionally troubling, several legal scholars and civil rights activists said.

However, the bill is so broad that it would legalize a wide spectrum of other discriminatory acts, they said. They raised questions about whether services could be denied if, say, a Christian were married to a Jew or if a woman who is 60 married a man who is half her age and the couple could not procreate.

Anderson (R-Clarinda), an attorney and sponsor of the bill, told Register that his intent is is to protect religious liberty.

“I think what we’re trying to do is balance constitutional amendments,” said Anderson. “There is the 14th Amendment that we’ve heard a lot about. There’s also the First Amendment.”

According to the bill:

* An individual, small business or sole proprietor would not be required to provide goods or services “that assist or promote the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.” This includes benefits to the spouse of an employee, housing to a married couple and reproductive services.

* People or businesses that refuse to provide services or benefits based upon religious convictions would be able to do so without facing civil claims.

Anderson acknowledged that the bill is not a priority of House leaders, and is not expected to pass the Senate, where Democratic Majority Leader Michael Gronstal has resisted attempts to ban same-sex marriages.

Anderson said he wants to ban same-sex marriage, “a step that would drive state policy toward responsible procreation,” he said on the floor of the House last week. He has publicly stated that he thinks that same-sex marriage is a step toward state-recognized polygamy.

Earlier this year, Anderson submitted his name for consideration as an Iowa Supreme Court justice.


Married Congressman Sent Sexy Pictures to Craigslist Babe

Rep. Christopher Lee is a married Republican congressman serving the 26th District of New York. But when he trolls Craigslist's "Women Seeking Men" forum, he's Christopher Lee, "divorced" "lobbyist" and "fit fun classy guy." One object of his flirtation told us her story.

On the morning of Friday, January 14, a single 34-year-old woman put an ad in the "Women for Men" section of Craigslist personals. "Will someone prove to me not all CL men look like toads?" she asked, inviting "financially & emotionally secure" men to reply.

That afternoon, a man named Christopher Lee replied. He used a Gmail account that Rep. Christopher Lee has since confirmed to be his own. (It's the same Gmail account that was associated with Lee's personal Facebook account, which the Congressman deleted when we started asking questions.)

By email, Lee identified himself as a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist and sent a PG picture to the woman from the ad. (In fact, Lee is married and has one son with his wife. He's also 46.)

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--SOURCE (Gawker)

Update: Congressman: "I have to work this out with my wife"

Update: NY GOP Rep. Christopher Lee resigns 'effective immediately' after claim he sent semi-nude photo to woman on Craigslist - NBC News

Update: More from Rep. Lee's statement: "I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents" - NBC News
Pro Choice Pro Family Pro Wrestling

Texas to women: we'll manipulate you into keeping that fetus!

Senate committee passes sonogram bill: Requires doctors to make sonogram available

AUSTIN (KXAN) - After presenting an updated version of his bill relating to sonograms before an abortion, author Sen. Dan Patrick , R-Houston, was still being blasted by a handful of doctors and pro-life advocates in a Senate committee Wednesday.

However, late Wednesday, committee members passed it by a vote of 7-1. It now goes to the full Senate for a vote. Only victims of sexual assault, incest and women carrying a fetus with abnormalities can opt out of all three processes:

Viewing a sonogram of the fetus
Hearing the heartbeat
Getting a description of the fetus from the doctor

A doctor has the option to give a fetus's description to the patient, even if the patient opts out of the first two.

The bill would require doctors to perform sonograms before providing abortions and make the results available to the patient at least 24 hours in advance. It would also require the doctor to allow the patient to receive adoption information.

Witnesses stretched along the Senate chamber walls, preparing to give testimony on the controversial legislation. Dr. Margaret Thompson, an Austin physician who claims to have delivered 15,000 babies in her career, said the law would violate "the basic tenet of medical ethics."
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This was an "emergency item" for Rick Perry? I am so glad to know that he considers violating the individual liberty of one-half of the State of Texas a priority over, say, dealing with this state's massive budget deficit, second-to-last rating in the nation on education, fizzling economy, poverty, and everything else that would actually be a moral and just thing for the state government to handle.

This bill insults women. It injects government into the personal lives of women and into the practice of medicine, and it insults women's intelligence.

Rachel does it again.

This is a GREAT segment from Rachel Maddow's show last night, where she goes into depth about the modern conservative movement, the Republican Party, and how all of this is shaping American politics in general. VERY informative and interesting.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


On Labor

On Labor

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"Every day women choose to do the hard labor of a difficult pregnancy. Its courageous work, which inspires in me a degree of admiration exceeded only by my horror at the notion of the state turning that courage, that hard labor, into a mandate. Women die performing that labor in smaller numbers as we advance, but they die all the same. Men do not. That is a privilege."

I am pro-choice for a few different reasons, even if I hope to never need an abortion in my life, or any future children in theirs. This is one of them.

yeah so no
  • homasse

And BBC racefail in five...four...three...

'Top Gear' Car Show Hosts Call Mexicans Lazy, Sleepers, Overweight

One of our favorite shows just went all Kramer on Mexicans. (And things will never be the same. Sigh). Car show Top Gear, the insanely popular British progenitor of an L.A.-based American program of the same same, appears to have gone off the deep end with anti-Mexican sentiment.

In talking about a Mexican sports car, host Richard Hammond says, "Just imagine waking up and remembering you're Mexican." (Laughter).

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Top Gear presenters in legal firing line over anti-Mexican comments - Mexican viewer threatens to sue BBC over Richard Hammond's remarks

A Mexican who saw the BBC's Top Gear programme on Sunday, in which her compatriots were described as "lazy, feckless, flatulent [and] overweight", has instructed lawyers to bring a test case against the show under a new equality law.

Lawyers for Iris de la Torre, a 30-year-old jewellery design student in London, accused the BBC of using racism to boost ratings and said the case could cost the corporation up to £1m in damages. They demanded an investigation by the BBC and suspension of the show.

The BBC has already received an official complaint from the Mexican ambassador, who demanded an apology for the broadcast's "xenophobic" and "offensive" content.

The remark was made by the presenter Richard Hammond, while his co-presenters, Jeremy Clarkson and James May, described Mexican food as "refried sick."

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BBC sorry for anti-Mexican remarks on 'Top Gear'

The BBC has apologized to Mexico's ambassador for remarks on its "Top Gear" program that described Mexicans as lazy and oafish.

The BBC wrote to Ambassador Eduardo Medina-Mora Icaza on Thursday, saying that national stereotyping is part of British humor — and that the presenters did not intend to be vindictive.

"Our own comedians make jokes about the British being terrible cooks and terrible romantics, and we in turn make jokes about the Italians being disorganized and over dramatic; the French being arrogant and the Germans being over organized," the statement read. "We are sorry if we have offended some people, but jokes centered on national stereotyping are a part of 'Top Gear's' humor."

The remarks came in a segment in which presenter Richard Hammond claimed that cars imitate national characteristics.

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Awesome fauxpology, BBC. Just awesome.

If you want to see the clip in question, you can watch it here.

Walk for Choice 2011

The Walk for Choice 2011 started in Chicago, IL. The event has since spread throughout the world because they truly believe that all people have the right to manage their own bodies. Walk for Choice 2011 was created in response to the events in Congress surrounding The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 3) and other anti-choice legislation. By pushing anti-choice legislation in Congress (rather than addressing the real economic needs and social issues, like housing and hunger), politicians are telling women that they are not capable of making medical decisions for themselves. H.R. 3 limits accessibility to abortion, a medical procedure that saves the lives of 70,000 women each year. HR3 also limits the ability of women to get medical attention at all if they are pregnant. Walk for Choice will take place in multiple cities on February 26th, 2011.

The official Walk for Choice website is walkforchoice.tumblr.com.

There are walks being organized in several cities. More information and each participating city's facebook event page can be found at the official tumblr.

Please help out in any way you can and spread the word!
Evil Glee

Trans rights passes but faces further delays

C-389 passes but faces further delays
Bittersweet victory in struggle for trans rights

Bill C-389, which would extend rights to trans people, passed a vote on report stage in the House of Commons on Dec 8 with 143 votes for and 136 against. Five Conservatives voted for the bill, three Liberals against, and there were three abstentions.

“Every stage we push this bill forward is historic,” says trans activist Susan Gapka, who was present for the vote.

"Today was the first time that I know of that a trans bill was debated and had a standing vote in Parliament," she adds. "MPs stood up and were counted on whether they support the Canadian Human Rights Act or not, including... expanding human rights for women, for aboriginal people, for prisoners, for gays and lesbians, and now for trans people. That’s the evolution our history dictates, and now we know who is supporting us and who is not.

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Fuck. Yes. The Conservatives are going to make this as hard as possible because they're hateful assholes but it's still a big step. This bill will do things like include trans people as protected classes in hate crime legislation, and hopefully allow for gender reassignment surgery to be funded. Charles McVety is a disgusting excuse for a human being whose TV show was recently pulled off the air by it's broadcaster for violating their Code of Ethics. It's interesting to see who crossed party lines. I really hope that the bill doesn't die. It's so important.