August 8th, 2011

Lucy - Fierce & Fabulous


98-year old Judo master makes 10th degree black belt. The first woman to achieve this. Ever.

Don't you dare walk up on her with an attitude! With or without her wheelchair, she will take you out!

After 98 years, the phone call finally came.

Last week, Sensei Keiko Fukuda of San Francisco became the first woman to be promoted to judo's highest level: 10th degree black belt.

Only three people in the world, all men living in Japan, have ever reached that mark.

The martial arts promotion by USA Judo brought 98-year-old Fukuda to tears at the women's dojo where she still teaches in Noe Valley. (Fukuda was the subject of a Chronicle Datebook profile on July 25.)

She gave up marriage and left her homeland to dedicate her life to judo, fighting gender discrimination that kept her at lower belt levels decades longer than men less skilled than she.

"The time was right," said U.S. Judo Federation promotion board member Eiko Saito Shepherd.

A celebration is being planned for mid-October to coincide with Fukuda's annual International Kata Championship at San Francisco City College.

"All my life," Fukuda said, "this has been my dream."


Git it!

Thanks for the vid, stay_cee!

Tea Party Celebrates Downgrade. Partying Like it's 1929... I Wish I was Joking...

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan Downgrades Tax Threat From "Super Evil" to "Plain Evil".

VIDEO: Tea Partiers Cheer the Downgrade of America's Credit Rating

Is the tea party happy that Standard and Poor's, the credit rating agency, downgraded the United States' credit rating for the first time ever?

You'd think that was the case if you were in the crowd at a tea party rally in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, on Sunday morning. The Tea Party Express rolled into that northeastern city as part of its tour to bolster the six GOP state senators facing recall elections on Tuesday. But the most shocking moment of the event wasn't the vitriol spouted by tea party leaders, which has dominated news of the tour stops in recent days. Instead it was the cheers that erupted when one of the Tea Party Express' speakers described the recent downgrade as the tea party's fault.

Here's what happened: Midway through the Fond du Lac event, Florida talk show host Andrea Shea King took the stage. She told the audience that commentators were describing the downgrade of US debt to AA+ from AAA as the "tea party downgrade," laying the blame squarely on Congress' right-wing faction and its supporters. But rather than boo those who claim the tea party caused the downgrade, the 200 or so Wisconsinites in attendance cheered, sounding almost proud to blamed for the downgrade.

And here's the transcript:
SHEA KING: This week—I wrote it down—they are blaming the credit downgrade on the tea party movement.

CROWD: Yeah! [Cheers, clapping]

SHEA KING: They are calling it "the tea party downgrade." They are objectivizing [sic] us.
There you have it. At least here in Wisconsin, tea partiers are pleased that the full faith and credit of America took a knock, and are more than happy to take full credit for it.

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Bring back hanging? Only a wuss would want to do that. We should bring back the saw instead

 The death penalty debate refuses to die – a bit like 17-year-old Willie Francis, who in 1946 was strapped into a chair at Louisiana State Penitentiary and electrocuted, only to wind up screaming for mercy from within his leather hood, selfishly upsetting several onlookers in the process.

The United Kingdom hasn't hanged anyone since 1964, when Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans were simultaneously sent to the gallows, in an audacious end-of-season finale. In the intervening years, the capital punishment argument has resurfaced now and then, usually in the wake of an especially harrowing murder trial, when the mob's a bit twitchy. But it has always been a bit of a non-debate.

Proponents of the death penalty – "nooselovers" or "danglefans", as they like to be known – often come across as a bit old-fashioned, as though they're opposed to progress in all its forms, and might as well be arguing in favour of fewer crisp flavours and slower Wi-Fi. This fusty impression isn't helped when every news article about hanging is illustrated with vintage black and white photographs of Derek Bentley and Ruth Ellis, as if tying a rope around someone's neck and dropping them through a trapdoor in the hope of causing a fatal bilateral fracture of the C2 vertebrae is the kind of behaviour that belongs in the past.

But now the debate has returned with an exciting new technological twist: thanks to the government's exciting e-petition initiative in which any motion attracting over 100,000 signatories becomes eligible for debate in the House of Commons, the danglefans are suddenly on the cutting edge of populist online activism. Or rather they would be, if they were proposing a suitably cutting-edge method of execution. Instead, it's just a load of vague blah about reinstating "the death penalty". What sort of death penalty? The gallows? The chair? The gas chamber? Come on, this is the internet. The least you could do is rustle up a Flash animation depicting precisely how you want these people to be killed. You could even make it interactive: maybe have a fun preamble in which we shake the prisoner's hand in order to guess his weight and adjust the length of the rope accordingly. Or a bit where we get to pull a leather hood over the screaming head of a petrified teenager with learning difficulties, then pull the switch and hear his kidneys boil.

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Source: Charlie Brooker @ The Grauniad

OP note to make sure people catch the sarcasm and realise Brooker is against reinstating the death penalty... I know whenever something satirical gets posted a few people inevitably take it at face value and wank/embarrassment ensues. ^^;.

Obama administration to offer No Child Left Behind waivers

President Barack Obama had called for reform to the federal education law before the start of the school year, but Congress has yet to pass any legislation, according to a Department of Education statement.

NCLB links federal educational aid to results from standardized testing, and has come under fire from critics on several fronts, among them the charge that it makes teachers focus too narrowly on material that would raise scores.

Despite a 16-month-old proposal, numerous Congressional meetings and hearings to fix NCLB have failed due to "partisan politics in the House," the statement stated.

"American's future competitiveness is being decided today, in classrooms across the nation," said Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

"With no clear path to a bipartisan bill in Congress, the President has directed us to move forward with an administrative process to provide flexibility within the law for states and districts that are willing to embrace reform."

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Hate crime in Jackson, MS

Editor's note: The following story contains language some readers may consider offensive.

Jackson, Mississippi (CNN) -- On a recent Sunday morning just before dawn, two carloads of white teenagers drove to Jackson, Mississippi, on what the county district attorney says was a mission of hate: to find and hurt a black person.

In a parking lot on the western side of town they found their victim.

James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old auto plant worker, was standing in a parking lot, near his car. The teens allegedly beat Anderson repeatedly, yelled racial epithets, including "White Power!" according to witnesses.
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Video at the source

30,000 college students kicked out of food aid program in Michigan

Paul Egan/ Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Michigan has removed about 30,000 college students from its food stamp program — close to double the initial estimate — saving about $75 million a year, says Human Services Director Maura Corrigan.

Federal rules don't allow most college students to collect food stamps, but Michigan had created its own rules that made nearly all students eligible, said Brian Rooney, Corrigan's deputy director. As a result, the number of Michigan college students on this form of welfare made the state a national leader. For example, Michigan had 10 times the number of students on food stamps as either Illinois or California, Rooney said.

Cutting off the students is part of what Corrigan says is an effort to change the culture of the state's welfare department and slash tens of millions of dollars of waste, fraud and abuse.

"Maybe (students) could go get a part-time job — that's what I did," said Corrigan, a former justice of the Michigan Supreme Court who attended Detroit's Marygrove College and University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

"We want to encourage people to be self-sufficient, not to be dependent on the government," she said in an interview with The Detroit News.

But critics say state funding has shrunk and tuition has skyrocketed since Corrigan attended college in the late '60s and early '70s. They cite Michigan's still-battered economy and say the suffering the cuts will create won't be apparent until after cash-strapped students return to campuses this fall.

Corrigan, appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in January to head the $6.9 billion Department of Human Services, has also ordered administrators to start looking at applicants' assets, not just their income. That move follows an uproar after it was revealed Leroy Fick of Auburn remained eligible for food stamps and continued using them after he won $2 million in the state lottery TV show "Make Me Rich!" in June 2010.

If cutting millionaires off food stamps is a no-brainer, some say cutting off most students is less clear cut.

Kayla Neff, a 19-year-old Spanish and computer science student at Central Michigan University who qualified for food stamps in September, said it's tough to find a job in Michigan, particularly for students with little experience.


Source has more.

Because jobs are so easy to find in Michigan! It's not like we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country!

'Multiverse' theory suggested by microwave background

The idea that other universes - as well as our own - lie within "bubbles" of space and time has received a boost.

Studies of the low-temperature glow left from the Big Bang suggest that several of these "bubble universes" may have left marks on our own.

This "multiverse" idea is popular in modern physics, but experimental tests have been hard to come by.

The preliminary work, to be published in Physical Review D, will be firmed up using data from the Planck telescope.

For now, the team has worked with seven years' worth of data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, which measures in minute detail the cosmic microwave background (CMB) - the faint glow left from our Universe's formation.

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Factory workers raped and tortured by managers at major clothing supplier

This article is a couple of months old, but I only heard about it today.

Walmart, Macy's, Target, Kohl's, and Hanes Have a Rape Problem

Walmart's been all over the news this week, in response to the Supreme Court decision that its female employees cannot bring a class action lawsuit against sex discrimination. But as disturbing as Walmart's record is on discriminating against women working in their stores, there's another area for major concern that has received little media attention. I'm talking about factories that produces clothes for Walmart stores, where women are controlled through debt bondage and regularly raped.

Walmart's not the only well-known brand putting tainted clothes from Classic Fashion factories in its stores (although it is the biggest buyer) -- Macy's, Target, Kohl's, and Hanes all source from the same abusive Jordan factories. An Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights report chronicles a tale of 13 to 18.5 hour workdays, 6 to 7 days a week, for minimal pay and poor living quarters. Thousands of female workers, most immigrants from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, or India, face the threat of deportation if they lose or leave their jobs.

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Article: Debt Bondage, Serial Rape Dominates Factory Supplying Walmart, Macy's and Target (includes a video of Kamala's Testimony)
Article: Ask Target, Macy's and Hanes to Stop Profiting from Rape of Factory Workers (includes links to Target, Hanes, and Macy's Facebooks)
Murasaki Shikibu

Lest we forget: the amnesia preserving Australian self-image

Lest we forget: the amnesia preserving Australian self-image

It is one of the most resonant phrases in our national mythology: "Lest we forget".

We say it, or think it, on 11th November each year and on Anzac day.

But forgetting lies at the heart of this country. We have constructed a myth about ourselves which cannot survive unless we forget a number of painful truths. We draw a veil of comforting amnesia over anything which contradicts our self-image.

Since John Howard saw the votes to be had by appropriating some of Pauline Hanson's more repellent policy ideas, boat people have been tagged "illegals". Howard won the 2001 election on it; Tony Abbott persists in it.
Julia Gillard and Chris Bowen go along with it like sheep because they have still not absorbed their own rhetoric.

We forget that boat people who come here to ask for protection are not illegal in any sense - they are exercising the right which every person has in international law to seek asylum in any country they can reach.

We forget that the first white settlers in this country were true illegals
: sent here by English courts for a range of criminal offences, and the soldiers sent to guard them, and the administrators who, following London's instructions, stole the country from its original inhabitants who, if possession is nine points of the law, had the backing of 30,000 years of law to justify calling the white invaders "illegals".

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  • yeats

Dog Helps Young Rape Victim Testify

Dog Helps Young Rape Victim Testify

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Rosie, the first judicially approved courtroom dog in New York, was in the witness box here nuzzling a 15-year-old girl who was testifying that her father had raped and impregnated her. Rosie sat by the teenager’s feet. At particularly bad moments, she leaned in.

When the trial ended in June with the father’s conviction, the teenager “was most grateful to Rosie above all,” said David A. Crenshaw, a psychologist who works with the teenager. “She just kept hugging Rosie.”

Now an appeal planned by the defense lawyers is placing Rosie at the heart of a legal debate that will test whether there will be more Rosies in courtrooms in New York and, possibly, other states.

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tangerine moon

Gulf nations call for Syrian reforms (with straight faces, apparently)

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain recall ambassadors from Damascus, as President Assad replaces his defence minister.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have recalled their ambassadors from Damascus amid mounting pressure from the Arab world against Syria's brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

The Saudi king on Monday condemned the crackdown, and urged the Syrian government to implement political reforms.

"What is happening in Syria is not acceptable for Saudi Arabia," King Abdullah said in a written statement.

"Syria should think wisely before it's too late and issue and enact reforms that are not merely promises but actual reforms," he said. "Either it chooses wisdom on its own or it will be pulled down into the depths of turmoil and loss."

Later in the day, Kuwait and Bahrain followed Saudi Arabia, announcing they too had decided to recall their ambassadors from Damascus for "consultations".

"No one can accept the bloodshed in Syria... The military option must be halted," Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah, Kuwait's foreign minister told reporters.

His comments came a day after the Gulf Co-operation Council urged Syria to "end the bloodshed". In addition, the Arab League, which had been silent since the uprising began, said it was "alarmed" by the situation and called for the immediate halt of all violence.

Nabil El Araby, the head of the Arab League, urged Syrian authorities to launch "serious dialogue" with protesters.
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greek, rebecca logan

Did Newsweek choose Michele Bachmann cover photo to make her ‘look crazy’?

Another Newsweek cover controversy is brewing--and once again, it involves women.

A month after editor-in-chief Tina Brown Photoshopped the late Princess Diana walking alongside Kate Middleton onto the cover of Newsweek, sparking outrage among fans, Brown is drawing the ire of the tea party for selecting a photo of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) for Newsweek's cover that makes the 2012 Republican hopeful look, well, crazy.
The photo of Bachmann, shot in Washington on Aug. 1 by photographer Chris Buck, accompanies a cover story by Lois Romano entitled "The Queen of Rage." (Newsweek tweeted the cover image late Sunday with the #QueenOfRage hashtag.)
Reached via e-mail, Alice Stewart, Bachmann's press secretary, declined to comment. "We are focused on meeting with the people of Iowa in advance of the Straw Poll," she wrote in an email to The Cutline. And Bachmann brushed off a question about the cover from a voter in Iowa.
Conservative media pundits, though, were more than happy to respond.
"Under the editorial control of Tina Brown, the rice paper magazine barely struggles against its bias towards conservative women to view them with anything other than contempt," Dana Loesch wrote on Andrew Breitbart's
It's not the first time that Newsweek has drawn the ire of conservatives--and women--over a candidate's cover photo. In 2008, Newsweek published an extreme close-up of Sarah Palin on its cover, sparking criticism.
"Memo to conservative women," Ed Morrissey wrote on "When approached by Newsweek or Time for a cover story, always bring your own photographer."
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I'm no Bachmann fan, but this was a low blow. Stereotyping women politicians as "crazy" (or worse, too hormonal to run) is wrong. That being said, I read about the outrage before I saw the picture and it isn't as bad as I'd expected. It's not exactly a flattering pose, but I thought it would be way worse.

gay and loves it

US Anti-Gay Evangelicals and their role in Ugandan Anti-gay Violence

How Anti-gay evangelicals in the United Sates support and fund anti-gay rhetoric and violence in Uganda. IN THE LIFE exposes ties between an elite organization of American conservatives and a proposed anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda that would impose the death penalty on serial offenders of homosexual acts. Featuring the stories of gay Ugandans who risk their lives to speak out against the bill. Then Rachel Maddow, host of MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show," discusses the work of progressive faith leader Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, whose inclusive theology stresses the importance of the separation between religious institutions and the State. Trigger warning for mentions of rape and homophobic violence.


This was especially interesting to me, because a lot of the history and rhetoric highlighted in the video can apply to Jamaica--where I live--and the Caribbean region as a whole. Our British colonial past is heavily responsible for many of the culturally wide-spread homophobic views we hold, largely because of how a specially designed brand of Christianity was coupled with slavery + legislation to control our African, Indian, and Asian forefathers during colonialism.

The irony is that most of us in these communities (Caribbean, African) often classify the 'spread' of homosexuality as 'Western countries forcing their immoral ways on us', when a lot of our deep-seated opposition is a result of systematic manipulation by those Western countries--manipulation which is obviously still practiced in a lot of 'developing' countries to differing degrees depending on how vulnerable they are. In Jamaica, the laws we have which criminalize 'sodomy' or 'buggery' were just carried over word for word from the original colonial constitutions that used to govern us before we gained independence in 1962.
absinthe, wormwood


Mods, would it be ok to use this post as a general repository for links/pics from the riots?

Reports of riots in London spreading to more boroughs: Tottenham, Hackney, Dalston, Stoke Newington, Brixton, Lewisham, Peckham, Elephant & Castle, Brent, New Cross, Enfield, Oxford Circus.

Reports also of riots in Birmingham: 19:56 on live text from the BBC, crowdsourced live updates from birmingham, BBC report on birmingham

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Most sources in this post from the BBC

You can help people made homeless by the london riots by donating bedding and clothes etc to Apex House, 820 Seven Sisters Road, London N15 5PQ.

Please consider donating to the firefighters who risk their lives to save others

Facebook groups: Reclaim London, London Cleanup

For anyone who needs cheering up: courtesy of pullmystrings
Louis Theroux in Hell

Fault Lines: the top 1%

The richest 1% of US Americans earn nearly a quarter of the country's income and control an astonishing 40% of its wealth. Inequality in the US is more extreme than it's been in almost a century — and the gap between the super rich and the poor and middle class people has widened drastically over the last 30 years.

Meanwhile, in Washington, a bitter partisan debate over how to cut deficit spending and reduce the US' 14.3 trillion dollar debt is underway. As low and middle class wages stagnate and unemployment remains above 9%, Republicans and Democrats are tussling over whether to slash funding for the medical and retirement programs that are the backbone of the US's social safety net, and whether to raise taxes — or to cut them further.

The budget debate and the economy are the battleground on which the 2012 presidential election race will be fought. And the United States has never seemed so divided — both politically and economically.

How did the gap grow so wide, and so quickly? And how are the convictions, campaign contributions and charitable donations of the top 1% impacting the other 99% of Americans? Fault Lines investigates the gap between the rich and the rest.

This episode of Fault Lines first aired on Al Jazeera English on August 2, 2011 at 0930 GMT.


Very interesting short documentary that covers the recent debt ceiling clusterfuck as well as the economic context it was born out of. I want to punch the privileged Harvard dudebro interviewed near the end in the face.

edit: mods, I hope it's okay to add this but soon after I submitted this I came upon this video as well, about why so many rich folks declined interviews for this documentary: