February 25th, 2011

Two More States Introduce Anti-Abortion Bills

Iowa bills open door for use of deadly force to protect the unborn

Two bills sponsored by Iowa House Republicans could have significant public safety consequences, and perhaps the most unnerving of those potential outcomes would be the justifiable use of deadly force against abortion or family planning providers.

When the two pieces of legislation are combined they create a situation where a fertilized egg would be considered a person, and allow for the public execution of those who would threaten such a person.

If passed into law, the two bills — House File 7 and House File 153 — would offer an unprecedented defense opportunity to individuals who stand accused of killing such providers, according to a former prosecutor and law professor at the University of Kansas, and are something that might have very well led to a different outcome in the Kansas trial of the man who shot Dr. George Tiller in a church foyer.

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Nebraska Resurrects "Justifiable Homicide" Abortion Bill
A state legislator pushes a bill that's even more sweeping than the South Dakota proposal that sparked a national controversy.

Just when abortion rights supporters thought they had beaten a controversial bill they believe would legalize the killing of abortion providers, it has cropped up again—this time in a more expansive form that has drawn the concern of law enforcement officials.

Last week, South Dakota's legislature shelved a bill, introduced by Republican state Rep. Phil Jensen, which would have allowed the use of the "justifiable homicide" defense for killings intended to prevent harm to a fetus. Now a nearly identical bill is being considered in neighboring Nebraska, where on Wednesday the state legislature held a hearing on the measure.

The legislation, LB 232, was introduced by state Sen. Mark Christensen, a devout Christian and die-hard abortion foe who is opposed to the prodedure even in the case of rape. Unlike its South Dakota counterpart, which would have allowed only a pregnant woman, her husband, her parents, or her children to commit "justifiable homicide" in defense of her fetus, the Nebraska bill would apply to any third party.

"In short, this bill authorizes and protects vigilantes, and that's something that's unprecedented in our society," Melissa Grant of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland told the Nebraska legislature's judiciary committee on Wednesday. Specifically, she warned, it could be used to target Planned Parenthood's patients and personnel. Also testifying in oppostion to the bill was David Baker, the deputy chief executive officer of the Omaha police department, who said, "We share the same fears...that this could be used to incite violence against abortion providers."

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Anti-Abortion Georgia Lawmaker Proposes Law That Would Criminalize Miscarriages

From The Pro-Choice Side:

Are lawmakers from the "women are chattel" set having some sort of nation-wide competition to see who can get the most sick-minded anti-abortion law enacted? Sure seems that way! Last week, a public outcry forced South Dakota lawmakers to shelve a bill that opened the possibility that abortion providers would be endangered by people who believed that killing them was a justifiable homicide. Today comes word that Georgia state Representative Bobby Franklin is shopping a bill that wouldn't just make abortion illegal in Georgia, it would criminalize miscarriages to boot.

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Pro Choice Source

From The Pro Life Side. This bill is so bad that they're calling out the fail:

Neal Boortz ( Mr. Libertarian extraordinaire) was all over this subject on his radio show this morning.

Georgia State Representative Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) just introduced a new bill to the legislature called HB 1. This bill is basically an anti-abortion bill. It is extremely rigid with almost no wiggle room and it’s causing the lefty loons to go berserk. His bill defines the beginning of life as the moment of conception and any person who ends that life shall be guilty of murder….period. Now…I am a very devout Catholic pro-life gal and I think abortions are wrong but I think this bill goes too far.

For instance….Mr. Franklin wants all miscarriages to be investigated unless they occurred in the presence of a doctor. So in other words, if you miscarry at home, you could be investigated and you would have to prove that you did nothing to cause that miscarriage. If you took a sleeping pill or if you had a glass of wine then you would have to prove that neither of those things caused you to lose your baby…or you could be charged with murder.

That’s crazy.

Read The Rest At The Pro Life Source

Full Text Of The Bill

My Republican friends tell me that Bobby Franklin is a repeat troll who writes crazy ass anti-abortion legislation every year that never gets anywhere. What scares me this time is that he might actually gain some traction for his bullshit due to the Tea Party and ridic legislation going around now.

Stay classy, Teabaggers.

Town Hall Attendee Asks GA Republican When Someone Is Going To Shoot Obama

Ryan J. Reilly | February 24, 2011, 10:50PM

An audience member at a town hall hosted by Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) on Tuesday asked the Tea Party congressman who was going to shoot President Barack Obama.

The unidentified town hall attendee's question got a big laugh from the audience, reports Blake Aued of the Athens Banner-Herald.

But Broun didn't exactly condemn the remark, according to the newspaper report.

"The thing is, I know there's a lot of frustration with this president. We're going to have an election next year,"
Broun said in response to the question. "Hopefully, we'll elect somebody that's going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller, who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare."

Broun had asked the audience who had driven the farthest to be at the meeting and let the winner ask the first question, according to the newspaper. The reporter couldn't hear the question himself, but Broun's press secretary confirmed that the question was about when someone was going to shoot the President.

"Obviously, the question was inappropriate, so Congressman Broun moved on," Broun's press secretary Jessica Morris told Aued.

You may remember Broun as the member of Congress who skipped the State of the Union Address in favor of live Tweeting about Obama's "socialism" from his office.

Late Update: The Secret Service does not comment on such cases as a matter of policy, spokesman Max Milien told TPM in an e-mail.

This is a witty Space Ghost reference.

A Breast-Feeding Plan Mixes Partisan Reactions

Perhaps it was inevitable that when Michelle Obama proposed something, Michele Bachmann would be the one to criticize her.

The surprise is how many of the reactions crossed the usual political boundaries.

On blogs and in interviews, some liberal Democrats found themselves agreeing with Representative Bachmann, a Tea Party celebrity from Minnesota, when she criticized the first lady for a campaign to promote breast-feeding. Some conservatives, meanwhile, stood up for Mrs. Obama for promoting what they said was a healthier choice.

Mrs. Obama told reporters this month that she would promote breast-feeding, particularly among black women, as part of her campaign to reduce childhood obesity. The Internal Revenue Service then announced that breast pumps, which can cost several hundred dollars, would be eligible for tax breaks.

Ms. Bachmann lashed out at the campaign on Tuesday on Laura Ingraham’s radio show, saying that it reflected a “hard left” position that “government is the answer to everything.”

While noting that she had breast-fed the five children she gave birth to, Ms. Bachmann said, “To think that government has to go out and buy my breast pump — You want to talk about nanny state, I think we just got a new definition.”

While few if any of those who offered comments were against breast-feeding, many noted that some women were unable to breast-feed for medical reasons. Others said that many women without offices or flexible work hours were not offered the time or a place to use breast pumps.

“Holy mackerel, I might have to agree with Michele Bachmann on this one!” noted one person on a blog.

A new mother who called herself a progressive Brooklynite — and would not be identified for fear of scorn from her Democratic friends and other mothers — said that while she hated “just about everything to do with Bachmann’s politics, she is not completely wrong here.”

“I support what the first lady is trying to do, but I also think there’s already enough pressure on working moms,” she said. “Yes, breast is best, but there are plenty of mothers who love and care for their children, but simply can’t pump — for time, work or physical reasons.”

At the same time, people who said they did not like the Obamas applauded the first lady for her efforts. “I am a conservative,” said a writer to an Arkansas Times blog. “I am also a breast-feeding advocate. This is just stupid.”

Ms. Bachmann was wrong that Mrs. Obama wants the government to pay for breast pumps; the I.R.S. would simply allow people to deduct breast-feeding expenses if they itemize, or use the pre-tax dollars in their medical savings accounts to pay for pumps.

And the federal government is now one of the biggest buyers of baby formula, through its nutritional programs for women and infant children. So giving a tax break for breast-feeding might actually help reduce government spending, as Ms. Bachmann advocates.

But the debate about breast-feeding goes well beyond questions of federal spending. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be fed nothing but breast milk for the first six months, citing its benefits for the child, the mother and the environment.

Still, some studies have found it hard to make a strong connection between obesity and bottle feeding, or breast-feeding and a higher I.Q. or a lower incidence of allergies.

A spokesman for Mrs. Obama anticipated the debate, calling breast-feeding “a very personal choice.”

By Thursday — perhaps, again, inevitably — Sarah Palin had weighed in. “No wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody, ‘You better breast-feed your baby,’ ” she said at a speech on Long Island. “Yeah, you’d better, because the price of milk is so high right now.”

New York Times
The Truth

WI Repugs force through anti-union bill in assembly

Who needs to let minority parties vote anyways?

WI Assembly GOP Passes Walker Budget In Surprise Vote -- Dems Chant "Shame!"

MADISON, WI -- The Wisconsin State Assembly has just passed Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill, including its controversial provisions to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for public employee unions as well as many other provisions to weaken union organizing.

After much buildup in the 61-hour debate -- of Republicans wanting things to be over, and Democrats railing against Republicans who they said would cut off debate -- at about 1 AM Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Kramer (R) announced that he would hear a voice vote for a roll call on final passage. Immediately, the majority Republicans shouted their ayes, and the Democrats were booing, as they tried to be recognized to demand a separate motion to cut off debate.

Then Kramer called the vote. Within seconds, the digital vote system on the wall announced 51 ayes and 17 nays, and voting was suddenly closed. With a total of 96 members, that got to a majority for the bill but left 28 members who hadn't had a chance yet to vote.

At that point, the Democrats got up, chanting "Shame! Shame! Shame!" and similar exclamations, as the Republicans filed out of the room.
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Edit Dropped a line from the original article somewhere, added it back in

Rage Sauce

UPDATE! Dems shouting shame as Republicans file out Turn the volume down, it is loud.


Right Wing: Stop saying we fail! Maddow: Fail is Fail

Ok, I admit it. I'm becoming a bit of Stan here of late but I love it when Media Journalism actually works.

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

My interpretation: 
Kansans4Life: Stop saying that crazy bitch Dillard worked for us! 
Maddow: But she did
Kansans4Life: No she didn't
Maddow: But she did (roll clip.)

Kansans4Life Twitterverse: You're gay. 
Maddow: ...... ? 
Speaker Boehner
: Stop saying we fail! 
Maddow: But you did (roll clip.)
Politifact: Maddow LIED about No budget deficit in Wisconsin!!! 

GOP minions Twitterverse: OMG maddow is such a liar looks like a man She IS LYING about Budget deficit. WEARS a SUIT , LIES  about Budget deficit in WISC. Wahhhh AASsaaarrgleGGAAaagarble (etc.)

:  (rolls clip, Maddow:"There is IN FACT a 137 Million budget shortfall in Wisconsin...") @Politfact: Retraction, please? 
Politifact:  ..... *** Crickets***  .....  

GOP minions Twitterverse: .Maddow is still gay.. look...BEIBER ALERT!!!! 
Speaker Boehner@Maddow: Stop saying we fail! Please?

Maddow: .Facts are facts. Fail is Fail (VIDEO)
(Now I return you to the actual story)

Rachel Maddow Defends Her Reporting To Politifact, Takes On Her Anti-Gay Critics 

Source at Huffpo and MSNBC.com

On her Thursday show, Rachel Maddow defended herself against criticism that she had gotten her facts wrong on the battle over union rights in Wisconsin--and she also took on her anti-gay critics.

Maddow's chief target was Politifact, the widely-cited fact-checking arm of the St. Petersburg Times. Politifact had rated a report Maddow had given about the Wisconsin protests "false" because, in its judgment, she had said that Wisconsin was "on track to have a budget surplus this year" when, in fact, the state is set to have a budget shortfall.

Maddow was eager to correct the record. "There are too many people who work too hard on this show for us to get slandered when we are in fact telling the truth," she said.

Maddow then played a clip of herself from the same show that Politifact criticized, saying, "even though the state had started the year on track to have a budget surplus--now, there is, in fact, a $137 million budget shortfall."

"You are wrong here on the facts and bluntly, and you ought to correct it," Maddow said. She also posted the letters MSNBC sent to Politifact on her blog.

Maddow then addressed criticism that she and Fox News' Shepard Smith cited an incorrect report when they said that seven out of the top ten outside contributors to political campaigns in 2010 gave to Republicans. Both Maddow and Smith used this data from Open Secrets to assert that the fight in Wisconsin is really about securing Republicans' political power and busting unions. She showed the data again, and said it was definitely true.

She said she had seen many comments on Twitter retweeting a link to this criticism along with statements such as "Rachel Maddow is wrong, and she looks like a man," or, "Rachel Maddow is wrong, and she's also gay."

"Just because you don't like the way it sounds when I say it, or you don't like my haircut, or just because you don't like that I'm gay, it does not make what we say not true," she said. "It was true when Open Secrets said it, it was true when I said it, it was true when Mr. Smith said it."

ETA in re: Politifact vs. "budget deficit" comments. Politifact answers Maddow's correction  &  Miami Herald (part of Politifact) blogs a counterpoint here.

In Pennsylvania, efforts to rescue adultBasic seem futile.

 Efforts to rescue adultBasic seem futile

Friday, February 25, 2011

By Bill Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With just days to go until funding for adultBasic runs outs, advocates of the low-cost state-run insurance plan and some Democratic lawmakers are making a last ditch -- but seemingly futile -- effort to save the program.

The program provides cheap health care for more than 41,000 low-income Pennsylvanians, with its $36 monthly premiums subsidized by the state and by contributions from the state's Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurers. The original 2005 deal that steered Blues money into the adultBasic program expired Dec. 31; auxiliary funding for adultBasic has likewise run out, and the state hasn't put more money toward the program.

It hasn't been for lack of trying on the part of the coalition of public health advocates known as the Pennsylvania Health Access Network. On Thursday, the network called on protesters to stage a candlelight vigil outside Gov. Tom Corbett's "mansion" along North Front Street in Harrisburg, at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, if the funding expires as expected.

Earlier in the week, House Democrats, including Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont, and Rep. Tony DeLuca, D- Penn Hills, sent a petition to Mr. Corbett's office bearing 2,500 names, collected online, according to the caucus. The petition asked the governor to reconsider his stance on adultBasic.

The stance is this: AdultBasic was not meant to be a perpetual entitlement program, and then-Gov. Ed Rendell failed to deliver a new funding source for the program. Mr. Corbett's spokesman, Kevin Harley, has called adultBasic "unsustainable" and noted that over the decade since it was created, premiums weren't increased to match increased medical costs.

Six years ago, adultBasic's premium was $32 and today it is $36, an increase of about 12 percent over six years.

Some recipients are expected to lose health coverage; others will try to apply for other government coverage or for emergency plans provided by the Blues insurers. Those plans, critics say, are more expensive and provide less coverage.

Senate Democrats gave it a go this week, floating a plan to provide emergency adultBasic funding. Similar legislative rescues were introduced last year but didn't gain any traction.

"The proposal is simple," said state Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forrest Hills, in a statement. "Everyone who is impacted by the plan will give a little and those contributions will form a bridge that gets the program to the next budget year."

Mr. Costa is the Democratic leader in the Senate. He said his "bridge" plan would collect $25 million from the state, $4 million from adultBasic subscribers via premium hikes and nine state health insurers were asked to collectively contribute a total of $25 million.

Together, that $54 million would float the program though June, theoretically giving the Legislature more time to find funding. But with both legislative chambers and the governor's residence controlled by Republicans, a deal on adultBasic seems unlikely.

More likely is a legal challenge on behalf of the subscribers.

Community Legal Services, based in Philadelphia, has said it is exploring a preventative lawsuit. The organization also sent a letter to the state Insurance Department this week requesting "all terminations be stopped until the [Medicaid eligibility screening] is completed so that, for example, cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, kidney patients undergoing dialysis and pregnant women" don't suffer grievous harm.

About 4,200 Allegheny County residents are on adultBasic, with 400 in Armstrong County, 700 in Beaver, 800 in Butler, 1,000 in Fayette, 178 in Greene, 500 in Lawrence, 840 in Washington and nearly 1,800 in Westmoreland.

Bill Toland: btoland@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2625.
First published on February 25, 2011 at 12:00 am


The newly elected Corbett was one of the state attorney generals who tried to use state money to fight healthcare reform. His reasoning? A waste of taxpayers money. Hate him.

From February 10th: Gov. Tom Corbett maintains his plan to let adultBasic health insurance plan end this month.

High School Atheists Are Organizing -- Why Are Schools Pushing Back?

High school non-theist groups are getting dedicated support from a national organization but their schools are flipping out. What does this mean for the future of atheism?

February 22, 2011 | High school student Brian Lisco just wanted to form a student club. A senior at Stephen Austin High School in the Houston suburbs, Lisco wanted to meet with like-minded students; students who shared common interests, who could talk about ideas they found interesting, who could give one another support.

But his efforts were consistently thwarted by the administration at his high school. His requests to form a club were stalled for months, and obstacle after obstacle was put in his path.


Because the group he wanted to start was an atheist group.
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Source: http://www.alternet.org/belief/150006/high_school_atheists_are_organizing_--_why_are_schools_pushing_back_/?page=entire
franklin sherman

Ron Paul - "The tea party is now corporately owned."

This is nothing we don't already know, but its Ron Paul saying it, so thats significant. Expect libertarians in "campaign for liberty" and "libertypac" from now on. "Tea Party Libertarians" arnt.


When the man who is credited with the inception of the Tea Party, as a grassroots movement, says it’s now corporately owned, it’s worth hearing — but we already knew this.

While I’m certainly not a Ron Paul supporter, he brings up some valid points in this video — a few of which most Dems share in their thinking. After recently winning the Straw poll, he was deemed as unelectable by his Republican counterparts.

While there have been only a few Paul supporters daring to urge a Paul/Palin ticket, that would dissuade most Paul supporters of backing him. Palin supports pouring money into the military — proving they are polar opposites.

In 2009:

“I wonder whether she’s energizing the 15-20 year olds,” Paul asks The Politico:
“That would be a question I would have. Because she doesn’t talk about the Federal Reserve and some of these issues. She doesn’t talk too much about personal liberties, civil liberties, getting rid of drug laws, attacking the war on drugs, punishing people who torture.”

Dr. Paul admits that the Tea Party is now corporately owned. Original Tea Partiers give credit to its inception to Dr. Paul.

Worth noting is that Ron Paul voted against the Patriot Act, leaving him fairly ostracized from his own party. While many of his political beliefs I give pause to, auditing the Fed is not one of them.

Corporatism in the Tea Party negates the grassroots movement which it once claimed to be — have you heard them recently still claim their party to be a grassroots movement?

helmetkid wtf

Where I Come From

Emile Mack may be the highest-ranking Asian American firefighter of a major American city, but what tends to surprise people most about the Los Angeles Deputy Fire Chief is his most unique background: At age 3, he was adopted by an African American couple. His is a story that challenges our notions of race and identity; it’s about the ties that bind and the gift of family.

By Elizabeth Eun
Photos courtesy of Emile Mack/By Eric Sueyoshi.

From Emile Mack’s corner office on the top floor of Los Angeles City Hall, one can see the vast downtown skyline. It seems an appropriate view for the second-in-command of the city’s 3,500-person fire department—perhaps a reminder of the daunting responsibility of protecting this sprawling metropolis. As deputy chief of operations, Mack in fact is the highest-ranking Asian American firefighter of a major American city.

That’s an especially impressive fact, given the reputation of fire departments as traditional bastions of white males. After implementation of a 1974 consent decree, the Los Angeles Fire Department has certainly come a long way in diversifying its force, with roughly 49 percent now comprised of racial minorities (Asians are 6 percent of that figure), according to the department. Still, the image of Mack’s Asian face standing shoulder to shoulder with high-ranking local and state officials at the scenes of major Southland fires is quite stunning.

But Mack, 53, is quite used to standing out—and not just because he’s been a firefighter for 32 years. Rather, the high cheek bones and almond-shaped eyes may signal a Korean background, but his identity, his culture and the place he called home throughout his childhood were intimately tied to the parents who raised him. That is to say, he long identified with the African American culture, and shades of brown were the faces with whom he felt the closest.

After being abandoned at a South Korean police station as a baby, he was adopted in 1960 by Undine and Clarence Mack, an African American couple. That statement alone is enough to floor people unfamiliar with his backstory. Yet, as Emile tells it, it’s really a simple tale: The Children’s Christian Society brought photographs of children from a South Korean orphanage to his parents’ Los Angeles church. And Undine and Clarence decided to make the 3-year-old boy with the big button cheeks their son.

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More photos and stuff @ the Source.

Mike Huckabee, gay-marriage defender

The once and perhaps future Republican presidential candidate didn't mean it that way, of course. Actually, he was slamming President Obama's decision to stop defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.

Huckabee, speaking at a session sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, criticized Obama for being "clearly out of sync with the public." This assertion is both debatable - Huckabee cited the 33 states where voters have approved measures to prohibit same-sex marriage; recent polls show the public closely divided - and irrelevant.

If the president and the Justice Department are correct that Section 3 of the act is unconstitutional - as I think they are, for reasons explained below - opinion polls are as meaningless as they would have been on the question of school desegregation in 1954.

The more interesting part of Huckabee's argument was his immediate and illogical pivot to the "quantified impact of broken families."

He pointed to a "$300 billion dad deficit in America every year. That's the amount of money that we spend as taxpayers to pick up the pieces because dads are derelict in their duties and they're not raising their kids and supporting them. . . . One of the reasons I came to the conclusion was not for an evangelical reason. It was seeing a lot of money that we spend as a state was spent in picking up the pieces of people whose lives were broken because their families were dysfunctional or shattered."

Cue Daniel Patrick Moynihan. "He understood the economic reality of out-of-wedlock children," Huckabee said.

Except - isn't this an argument for same-sex marriage, not against it?

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High on Austerity Orgy Tea Baggers Demand More Child Sacrifices

After Philadelphia’s Budget Cuts Force Closure Of Nearest Fire Station, Two Children Die In Fire

All over the country, conservatives are complaining about the need to “cut government spending” at any cost, demonizing the government and its role in defending the public interest in the process. While truly taking aim at waste in government is an admirable goal, a recent story of out of Philadelphia provides a cautionary tale about why we must protect funding for certain social necessities.

As a part of Philadelphia’s cost-cutting measures, the city has been closing down certain fire stations on a rotating basis in a process of “rolling brownouts.” Since these brownouts began, city firefighters have protested the policy, saying that they would harm public safety. Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Loyd Ayers dismissed these warnings and defended the city’s austerity plans, saying that the city “will continue to respond to your call and tend to any and every emergency that may arise in an urgent and timely manner.”

Yet the firefighters were proven right when a tragedy struck earlier this week. On Tuesday, a fire broke out in a row home in the Olney section of the city. The closest fire station, which operates Engine 61, was closed that day due to the brownouts. Thus Engine 51, which was stationed further away from the site of the disaster, was dispatched to handle the situation. By the time two children were pulled from the ruins of the row home, it was too late, as both had tragically passed away.

While the Fire Department’s Lt. Mike Grant maintains that Engine 51 got to the scene in “good order,” Mike Kane, who represents firefighters on behalf of Philadelphia Firefighters Union Local 22, estimated that the closer Engine 61 could’ve “been on the scene in half the time.” While Kane said that “nobody can answer” whether having a closer fire engine would’ve saved the lives of the children, he could say with confidence that the kids at least “would have had a shot. Maybe them kids would have had a shot“:
Two children were killed in a fire in the city’s Olney section Tuesday, and now an official from the firefighters’ union is questioning if Philadelphia’s cost-cutting “brownouts” of fire companies played a role. A 7-year-old and a 9-year-old were pulled from the row home on the 100 block of Sparks Street once firefighters were able to knock down the flame. The engine that would have been first on the scene, Engine 61, was browned-out, or closed for the day, as part of the city’s cost-cutting measures.

Fire Department Lt. Mike Grant said, “Engine 51 took over for them, they got here in good order.” On the other hand, Mike Kane, with Philadelphia Firefighters Union Local 22, says Engine 61 could have been on the scene in half the time. “Whether that Engine 61, being browned out, if that company was in service, they would have made a difference? Nobody can answer that, because we don’t have a crystal ball. What we can say is, maybe if they were there, they would have had a shot. Maybe them kids would have had a shot,” Kane said.
Scores of firefighters and paramedics protested the city’s brownout policy at the site of the fire on Wednesday. “We need $15 million. I’m not saying that that’s a pittance; that’s a lot of money. But $15 million will stop the brownout policy and reopen all of the seven companies closed in January of ’09,” said Ray Vozzelli, of International Association of Firefighters Local 22. Watch it: (watch the video at source, code not working)
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FASH. Space dress.

South Korea Prods North by Dropping Leaflets Telling of Mideast Protests

South Korea's military has dropped leaflets on North Korea that tell of pro-democracy revolts in the Middle East with the intention of provoking a movement against Kim Jong Il’s regime, a South Korean lawmaker said.

The leaflets detail popular uprisings that toppled Egypt’s government and sparked a bloody crackdown in Libya, explaining that “a dictatorial regime is destined to collapse,” Song Yong Sun, a member of the National Assembly’s defense committee, said in an e-mailed statement today. The leaflets travel in balloons that distribute their cargo when they burst, according to her office.

South Korea has sent over 3 million leaflets across the border in renewed “psychological warfare” since North Korea shelled one of its islands in November, killing four people, the statement said. North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency hasn’t reported on demonstrations in the Middle East.

The Chinese government this week blocked phone messages and websites to stamp out movements inspired by the Middle East revolts. China shares a border with North Korea and is the major economic benefactor and political ally.

A defense ministry official in Seoul declined to comment on Song’s statement, asking not to be named because of military policy.

“North Korean people’s protests may also be able to bring a change to the regime,” Song, a member of the Future Hope Party, said in the statement. “South Korea’s military and government should also be ready for any revolt inside North Korea.”

The South Korean government hasn’t been able to confirm if there has been any protest in North Korea, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong Joo told reporters on Feb. 23.

South Korea has also started sending rice, clothing, medicines and radios in baskets tied to balloons this month for the first time in 11 years, Song said.

South Korea remains technically at war with North Korea since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a cease-fire.


CIA employee faces Pakistan court

(There was a post the other day on this, analyzing the legal aspects. Since this is an actual update of the case, I figured it was worth posting and was not redundant.)


Raymond Davis, accused of murdering two men in Lahore, refuses to sign charge sheet, claiming diplomatic immunity.

Raymond Davis, a CIA employee accused of murdering two Pakistanis in the country's eastern city of Lahore, has appeared handcuffed in court there.

The 36-year-old former US special forces soldier refused to sign a charge sheet against him, claiming diplomatic immunity, officials said on Friday.

Davis' detention has severely frayed ties between Washington and Islamabad, with US politicians threatening to cut aid to the country, while the Pakistani leadership has been forced to contend with immense domestic pressure to prosecute Davis in Pakistan.

The US insists that Davis is immune from prosecution because he is listed as a US embassy staff member.

Davis has said that he shot the two Pakistanis in self defence, claiming that they tried to rob him on a Lahore street on January 27 this year.

US security officials have confirmed on condition of anonymity that Davis worked as a security contractor with the CIA. He was deployed to Pakistan under diplomatic cover, they said.

Washington says that Davis' exact job is not relevant to the debate of whether or not he enjoys immunity from prosecution.

Pakistani officials continue to deliberate over whether or not Davis enjoys diplomatic immunity, but face pressure from a population where anti-US sentiment is widespread and calls for him not to be allowed to leave the country.

'Security contractor'

During Friday's hearing, which was held in a Lahore jail behind closed doors, prosecutors attempted to present Davis with a charge sheet.

More than 300 armed police officers guarded the Kot Lakhpat jail, where the hearing took place.

The judge also asked Davis if he had engaged a defence lawyer, according to Asad Manzoor Butt, a lawyer for a Pakistani bystander who was killed when a US vehicle rushed to assist Davis after the shootings.

Davis, however, refused to sign the charge sheet and insisted that he would not participate in the case because he has immunity from prosecution, Butt said.

The question of whether Davis has immunity is currently also being considered by the Lahore High Court. The next date of hearing in that case is March 14.

Abdus Samad, the prosecutor in the case, said Davis would be formally charged on March 3, the date of the next hearing.

Police have said they recovered a Glock pistol, four loaded magazines, a GPS navigation system and a small telescope from Davis' car after the shooting.

While the US embassy declined comment, a spokesperson confirmed that representatives of the US consulate in Lahore were present at the hearing.

American detained

Meanwhile, police in northwest Pakistan said they had arrested a US citizen who was staying in the area on an expired visa on Friday.

The man was detained in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Haroon Khan, a police officer, told the Associated Press news agency.

Khan identified the man as Aaron Mark DeHaven from the state of West Virginia in the US. The US embassy said that it was looking into the case.


"Self-defense"? Sure, cowboy.

The arrogance of all of this is astounding. He must have been doing something judged as very important, indeed, as they are not letting him take a fall and it's destroying whatever remaining shreds of credibility there might be.
other - resin

Assange's mother likens son's extradition to gang rape

Julian Assange extradition a 'David and Goliath' situation
The mother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says her son's ordered extradition to Sweden smacks of a "David and Goliath" situation.

Following more than two days of hearings this month at a London magistrate's court, Judge Howard Riddle ordered that the 39-year-old Australian be sent to Stockholm for questioning over allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Ms Assange said Julian has been abandoned by the Australian government and left to operate under a flawed legal process.
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source (watch out for the autoplay video at this link).

I can't believe this, especially given what her son is charged with accused of. Ugh.
desolation jones

Obama announces Libya sanctions

 The US has announced sanctions against the Libyan government, as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the body's Security Council to take "decisive action" over the Libya crisis. US President Barack Obama has signed an executive order blocking property and transactions related to the country. The move blocks transactions involving assets of Muammar Gaddafi and several of his close associates.

Mr Ban said violations of human rights had been carried out by the regime.

In Libya on Friday, an anti-government demonstration in the capital Tripoli came under heavy gunfire. Around 1,000 protesters are thought to have been killed by troops attempting to quell the insurrection.

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Md.'s top leaders cross Catholic hierarchy on gay marriage

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley regularly attends a weekday Mass and has sent his four children to Catholic schools.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) used to teach and coach at his old Catholic high school in Annapolis.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) grew up serving as an altar boy in the idyllic wood-frame Catholic church his family helped build in Clinton.

But the presence of three Catholics at the helm in Annapolis hasn't stopped a same-sex marriage bill from wending its way through the legislature, triggering deep disappointment among church leaders as it suggests a waning of Catholic influence in this heavily Catholic state.

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The Post did a poll about a year ago regarding the gubernatorial race, and they stuck in a few questions about gay marriage and then broke the results down by race and party affiliation.

REMINDER: Walk For Choice 2011

I haven't seen a reminder for this posted here for this event, so I hope this is acceptable. Tomorrow, February 26th, 2011, people in cities all over the country will be marching to defend a woman's right to choose. If you can make it to any of the participating cities, please do!

Full list of cities here along with Facebook and Twitter pages.

Why Walk for Choice?

Walk for Choice will be an international demonstration of outrage over the GOP’s recent attacks on people’s rights to abortion and basic medical care.

The “Protect Life Act” (HR3) in Congress seeks to limit federally funded abortions. In the past, abortions were only paid for by the federal government in cases of rape and incest, or if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life. This act essentially changes the definition of rape by adding the word ‘forcible.’ This means if you were on a date, or drugged, or drinking, or married and your spouse rapes you, or are of ‘limited mental capacity’, and you get pregnant as a result and can’t afford your abortion, you’re out of luck.

HR3 also seeks to free health care providers from penalty if they refuse to abort a pregnancy, even if it means the mother dies.

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I'm in LA, but can't find anyone willing to go with me because it's raining. Los Angelenoes... times like these, I really miss the east coast where people trudge to work in a foot of snow. Is anyone else in the LA County area planning on going?