August 6th, 2011

Helicopter Crash Kills Members of SEAL Team 6

The Associated Press has learned that more than 20 Navy SEALs from the unit that killed Osama bin Laden were among those lost in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.

The operators from SEAL Team Six were flown by a crew of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. That's according to one current and one former U.S. official. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because families are still being notified of the loss of their loved ones.

One source says the team was thought to include 22 SEALs, three Air Force air controllers, seven Afghan Army troops, a dog and his handler, and a civilian interpreter, plus the helicopter crew.

The sources thought this was the largest single loss of life ever for SEAL Team Six, known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group.


Poland's former deputy PM Andrzej Lepper dead at 57

(Reuters) - Andrzej Lepper, a former Polish deputy prime minister and leader of the small, populist Self-Defense Party, died on Friday, police said, and local media said he may have committed suicide.

Lepper, 57, was known for his nationalist rhetoric and had been involved in a series of scandals but his party lost all its parliamentary seats in the 2007 national election and was not expected to win any in the next poll due in October.

"I can confirm that this death has occurred. Police procedures are now being carried out," a police spokeswoman told Reuters. She gave no further details.

Public news broadcaster, quoting police sources, said Lepper may have committed suicide. His body was found at the party's office in Warsaw.

Lepper, a former farmer, had faced several criminal charges for acts of civil disobedience such as dumping grain on railway tracks, for slandering ministers and for sexual harassment.

Last year, a judge found him guilty of demanding sexual favors from female members of his party and handed him a jail sentence against which he appealed.

Self-Defense was a junior coalition partner of Jaroslaw Kaczynski's right-wing Law and Justice Party in the 2006-2007 government and Lepper served in it as both deputy prime minister and as agriculture minister.

Lepper's party, known as Samoobrona in Polish, mainly enjoyed the support of poor rural Poles who felt excluded from Poland's strong economic growth since it joined the European Union in 2004.

Poland holds a parliamentary election on October 9 and Prime Minister Donald Tusk's centrist, pro-EU Civic Platform (PO) is expected to win a second four-year term of office.


Lepper was pretty scandal and controversy plagued but I don't think anyone expect this.
Shirley Animated

(no subject)

30 Years Ago Today: The Day the Middle Class Died

By Michael Moore

From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.

Young people have heard of this mythical time -- but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, "When did this all end?", I say, "It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981."

Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to "go for it" -- to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves.
And they've succeeded.

On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who'd defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days.
It was a bold and brash move. No one had ever tried it. What made it even bolder was that PATCO was one of only three unions that had endorsed Reagan for president! It sent a shock wave through workers across the country. If he would do this to the people who were with him, what would he do to us?

Reagan had been backed by Wall Street in his run for the White House and they, along with right-wing Christians, wanted to restructure America and turn back the tide that President Franklin D. Roosevelt started -- a tide that was intended to make life better for the average working person. The rich hated paying better wages and providing benefits. They hated paying taxes even more. And they despised unions. The right-wing Christians hated anything that sounded like socialism or holding out a helping hand to minorities or women.

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yahtzee gun at the head

Police: Mock us in video, go to jail.

Police department with long history of internal affairs investigations looks to charge satirist with felony

When cartoonist "Mrfuddlesticks" decided to make a series of animated videos parodying the local police department in Renton, Washington, they had ample source material from the media and the public record -- the city had suffered repeated misconduct scandals in recent history. The individual used the popular animation site to create a series of videos making fun of the city's police department. Little did they know, those videos would have them facing criminal charges [Scribd] for "cyberstalking".

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Can we say violation of free speech? Yeah.

Imperator Scott Walker Sign of Generosity: Promises to Tone Down the Assholery.

Facing Backlash For Disenfranchising Voters, Gov. Walker Reverses Course On Plan To Close Several DMV Offices

In a sharp reversal, the state of Wisconsin announced yesterday it will expand Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) services to accommodate the increased demand for photo identification in the wake of a controversial new Voter ID law. As ThinkProgress reported last week, after signing a Voter ID law earlier this year that disenfranchises tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters, Gov. Scott Walker (R) then called for closing as many as 16 DMV offices across the state, making it even more difficult for residents to obtain the ID they needed to regain their electoral voice.

Walker’s undemocratic plan prompted widespread criticism and has apparently compelled the administration to completely change its position:
Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb said the expansion leaves all current offices open, increases the total number of offices across the state from 88 to 92 and drastically expands the hours of operation for some 40 counties.

The change, expected to cost about $6 million the first year and $4 million every year going forward, was called for by Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011-13 budget and was meant to address an increase in demand for photo IDs in the wake of the state’s new law requiring voters to show ID at the polls.[...]

The plan announced Thursday differed markedly from the one first unveiled last month, which called for closing as many as 16 offices while expanding office hours elsewhere. That proposal was immediately panned by some as unfairly targeting Democratic areas.
State Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D) is still angry that Walker even considered closing down DMV offices, including one in his district, and accused the governor’s administration of playing politics with necessary services.

Although the new plan infringes less on voters’ rights, it also confirms that these new, completely unnecessary Voter ID laws being signed by conservative governors across the country are costing states millions of dollars at a time they can least afford it.

Libyan Women Challenge Mindset Created by Tyranny

Friday, July 29, 2011

Libyans have lived under a dictatorship for over 40 years and the effort to think and act freely doesn't come easily. In Benghazi, a small women-led group called Express is waging a psycho-social effort to "Get Rid of the Gadhafi Inside You."

BENGHAZI, Libya (WOMENSENEWS)--While rebel fighters battle for a democratic future in the west of Libya, a handful of women back in the rebel capital of Benghazi are working on showing people what democracy actually means.

The small group, going by the name Abeer or Express, will be hosting its most ambitious project to date later this summer, after Ramadan is done--the First Libya Youth conference to spread the ideals of democracy.

"We don't expect [change] to happen overnight," Heba Abdelgader, a Libyan-American born in Los Angeles who came to Benghazi to help out, told Women's eNews. "The new Libya is between the hands of the youth."

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cat power

Hidden History: American POWS Were Killed in Hiroshima

Even at this date—on the sixty-sixth anniversary of the first use of the atomic bomb against a city—few Americans know that among the tens of thousands victims in Hiroshima were at least a dozen and perhaps more American prisoners of war. This was kept from the American people—even the families of the Americans—for decades, along with so much else related to the atomic bombings (as revealed in my new book).

At least twenty-three US servicemen were in Hiroshima when the bomb fell. They were prisoners of war, former aviators, held at several locations in downtown Hiroshima. It’s likely we would have never learned of this if a B-29 had not ditched off Japan two days after the Hiroshima attack, on August 8, 1945. Picked up by a fishing boat, the crew ended up on a drill field in devastated Hiroshima, bound by rope and blindfolded.

A Japanese police captain saved them from a mob by taking them to the suburb of Ujina. En route he stopped at the Hiroshima train station, removed their blindfolds, and according to Matin Zapf, one of the Americans who would survive), shouted, “Look what you have done! One bomb!”

One of the captured Americans recalled the “spooky ride” to Ujina: no houses standing, nothing moving, not even a dog, and the policeman yelling, “One bomb! One bomb!”

Along the way they came across two more American prisoners: a navy aviator and an Air Force sergeant. They were suffering from nausea, with green liquid dripping from their mouths and ears. Held in Hiroshima when the bomb hit, they had survived by jumping into a cesspool. Clearly, they were suffering from radiation disease, but no one at the time knew anything about it.

That night, as the pair screamed in pain in their cells—asking to be put out of their misery—the other Americans asked the Japanese doctors to do something. “Do something?” one of the doctors replied. “You tell me what to do. You caused this.” The two men died later that night.

Yet the death of American POWs was not acknowledged by the United States until the late 1970s. The Japanese have now added the names of the twelve dead soldiers to their official tally of those killed in the bombing, and mounted their photos in a museum photo gallery.

Three days after the Hiroshima blast, perhaps as many as a dozen Dutch POWs were killed in the bombing of Nagasaki. One American soldier there, a Navajo from New Mexico, survived in his cell.


Nigeria oil spills have created ecological disaster, report says

Reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa—


After half a century of oil spills, Nigeria's troubled Niger Delta is one of the most polluted places on Earth, and it could take $1 billion and 30 years to clean up the mess, according to a U.N. report released Thursday.

A 14-month study by the United Nations Environment Program that was commissioned by the Nigerian government examined 200 locations and 75 miles of pipeline, more than 4,000 soil and water samples and the medical reports of 5,000 people.

"Pollution from over 50 years of oil operations in the region has penetrated further and deeper than many may have supposed," the report says. Some areas that seemed unaffected on the surface are severely contaminated underground and need urgent action to protect the health of fishing and farming communities, it says.

The Nigerian government says there were more than 7,000 oil spills from 1970 to 2000. The U.N. agency handed its report Thursday to Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

The drinking water in at least 10 communities had high levels of dangerous hydrocarbons, and in one village, about half an inch of refined oil was floating on groundwater used by villagers for drinking. The level of carcinogenic benzene in the drinking water at the village, Nisisioken Ogale, was 900 times World Health Organization standards.

The Ogoni people have struggled to get compensation for the damage caused by oil production since the early 1990s, a movement headed by Nigerian environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was executed in 1995 by the military government, causing international condemnation.

The report puts pressure on Shell Petroleum Development Co., the major operator during the period, which has had a bitter relationship with communities. It produces about 40% of Nigeria's oil in a joint venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. Shell paid for the report at the request of the government.

The company was forced to leave the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta in 1993 because of fierce anger among the community, but still operates in other parts of the Delta and maintains a network of pipelines.

The company, part of the Royal Dutch Shell group, has often said the oil spills were caused by theft and sabotage, and stood by that position in a statement Thursday.

"Although we haven't produced oil in Ogoniland since 1993, we clean up all spills from our facilities, whatever the cause, and restore the land to its original state," Shell said in a statement after the report was released. "The majority of oil spills in Nigeria are caused by sabotage, theft and illegal refining."

However the report says that control and maintenance of oil facilities in the region has been inadequate.

"The Shell Petroleum Development Company's own procedures have not been applied, creating public health and safety issues," a statement by the U.N. agency said.

Most communities rely on mangrove swamps for fish and soil for their crops. The U.N. agency said the effect on the mangroves had been disastrous.

"Oil pollution in many inter-tidal creeks has left mangroves — nurseries for fish and natural pollution filters — denuded of leaves and stems, with roots coated in a layer of bitumen-type substance sometimes one centimeter or more thick," the statement said. In some places a crust of ash and tar caused by fires after oil spills had been left for decades.


Mods, feel free to remove the natural disaster tag if it's not an appropriate tag.
once upon a time

My affirmative action fail

I'm half-black, and I'm opposed to race-based hiring. But after years of struggling in Hollywood, I gave it a try


I do not look black. I know this to be true not just because I own a mirror, but also because others often tell me when I reveal my mixed race heritage. People seem compelled to comment as if blackness, were it real, would have left a more visible mark.

I am a television writer in Hollywood, and when I told my agent that my father is black and my mother is Jewish, he said, "You mean the man you call your father."

"Yes, well, I call him my father because he is my father."

"Your biological father?"

"Yes. As far as I know."

But it wasn't long before my agent saw this autobiographical detail as a possible opportunity. "How do you feel about me using that when I pitch you?"

I recalled this conversation as we were coming up on staffing season, the few months each spring when writers are hired to work on TV shows for the fall. It's always been a cutthroat time, but particularly so these days, with staffs on scripted shows smaller since the writer's strike three years ago, and the boom in reality TV continuing unabated. With experienced staff writers flooding the market, there's only a few coveted slots for newbie writers to catch a break -- and often those are diversity positions.

For those unfamiliar with TV staffing, the networks have initiatives that require most shows to set aside one staff position for a writer of diverse descent. The diversity hire is often the only writer on staff whose salary does not come out of the show's budget, but is paid by the network (provided for by the diversity program itself). Producers are more likely to take a chance on an untested writer when it's not on their dime.

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I still find it incredibly appalling how racist Hollywood really is. You'd think I'd learn not to be surprised by now. 

Nikki Reed asks people to give a shit with her project... Give A Shit (no, really)

(NSFW for saying 'SHIT' a bunch. No, seriously, I cuss a lot, and this was an excessive amount of shit.)

Twilight actress Nikki Reed asks that everyone actually Give a Shit, on behalf of Go to to find out how you can help spread the Give a Shit movement.


...T-Thoughts? I mean, on one hand, opportunity to discuss the issues involved -- the website mentions child labor, apathy, hunter, etc, but... it also doesn't seem to TELL you anything, like how to help or something.
  • omer

More than 250,000 demonstrate across Israel to protest high cost of living

Protesters chant 'The people demand social justice'; signs read 'Resign, Egypt is here'; 1,000 protesters block Shomrim junction in the north.

More than 250,000 people took part in demonstrations across Israel on Saturday night to protest the high cost of living.

The biggest demonstration took place in Tel Aviv where more than 200,000 marched from Habima Square, near the tent city on Rothschild Boulevard, to the Kirya defense compund on Kaplan Street.

Protesters chanted "The people demand social justice" and "An entire generation demands a future".
A number of signs that were hung on Kaplan Street read "Resign, Egypt is here".

"Young people of Israel, our time has come," said National Student Union Chairman Itzik Shmuli at the Tel Aviv rally.

This marked the third consecutive week a rally has been held in Tel Aviv.

More than 20,000 people took part in the protest in Jerusalem. Demonstrators marched toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence.

Earlier on Saturday evening, around 1,000 protesters blocked the Shomrim Junction in the Jezreel Valley. The rally was held under the slogan, "The northern periphery is awakening".

Police closed Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv off to traffic early on Saturday in anticipation of the rally, and will only reopen the main avenue at 4:00 A.M. on Sunday. Parts of Ibn Gvirol, Marmorek, Ben Zion Boulevard, Dizengoff and Rothschild will be blocked as well, and traffic will resume at midnight.


I was at the Jerusalem protest, it was so fun.