August 15th, 2011

mus | like a bird in a cage

Horror Stories From Tough-Love Teen Homes

One day last November, a group of teenage girls dressed in long khaki skirts and modest blouses stepped onto the stage at an Independent Fundamental Baptist church in Maryland where Jeannie Marie (a military spouse who asked that her last name not be used) attended services with her family. The young women, visitors from a Missouri girls' home called New Beginnings Ministries, sang old-time hymns, recited Scripture, and gave tearful testimonies about their journeys out of lives of sin. Headmaster Bill McNamara spoke, too, depicting the home as a place where girls could get on track academically, restore broken relationships, and learn to walk with God.

New Beginnings describes itself as a character-building facility for "troubled teens," and what Jeannie Marie heard in church that day was that this might be a place for her daughter to heal. While jogging earlier that year, the 17-year-old (whom I'll call Roxy) had been pulled into a vehicle and assaulted by a group of men. Since then, she had begun acting up at home, as well as sneaking out and drinking. Two weeks after seeing the girls in church, Jeannie Marie and her husband left Roxy in McNamara's care with the promise that she would receive counseling twice a week and stay at New Beginnings no longer than two months. "It sounded like a discipleship program," Jeannie Marie recalls. "A safe place where a daughter can go to have time alone to find God and her direction."

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shock-me-gray, bored, apathy

New York State Office of Mental Health Launches State-Wide Youth Suicide Prevention Program

New York State Office of Mental Health Launches State-Wide Youth Suicide Prevention Program With Kognito's "At-Risk" Simulation

0,000 High School Educators Will Have Access to Online Training Beginning Today

ALBANY, N.Y., Aug. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The New York State Office of Mental Health (NYSOMH), with New York City-based Kognito Interactive (, announced the inauguration of an innovative three-year program to train 30,000 high school educators in suicide prevention using Kognito's At-Risk online training simulation. All of the State's 1231 public high schools and their private counterparts are eligible to apply for the program, which goes live today. Schools interested in joining the program can go to and follow the registration link.

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Michele Bachmann’s bodyguards developing reputation for bullying reporters

CNN weekend anchor Don Lemon says that Marcus Bachmann, the husband of Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, and two members of her campaign staff pushed him into a golf cart during a campaign stop at the Iowa state fair in Des Moines before Bachmann's victory in Saturday's straw poll.

"She came out, after speaking for just a couple minutes," Lemon said on CNN. "There were other reporters and cameras there. And I asked her very respectful questions: 'How do you think you did in the debate last night?' and 'How do you think you're going to end up in the Ames Straw Poll?' And her two campaign aides started elbowing me."

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So who else is ready for next year when President Bachmann will inevitably speak only to Faux News and other agencies that butter her up?
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

'Grand Theft Auto' director's next game explores 1979 Iran revolution

'Grand Theft Auto' director's next game explores 1979 Iran revolution

Vice City. San Andreas. Liberty City. Tehran.

Three of these locales are instantly familiar to videogame diehards as settings in the "Grand Theft Auto" series, which has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide. The latter, however, is more commonly linked to news bulletins about the Iranian nuclear program or confrontational statements by the country's hardline Islamist president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

If Navid Khonsari, 41, has his way, Iran's capital city will soon be much more familiar to gamers. A director of the "Grand Theft Auto" series, the Iranian-born Khonsari's next game has a simple working title whose numerals denote a world of significance: "1979." And the game's tagline? "There are no good guys."

"1979" gets its name from the year when the hostage crisis at the U.S. embassy in Tehran began, which was during the height of Iran's Islamic Revolution. That year marked the overthrow of the dictator, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, by a populist revolt and the subsequent installation of a fundamentalist Islamic state.

The game aims to combine some sandbox, open-world elements popularized by "Grand Theft Auto" with what Khonsari calls a "baton-pass" narrative, which explores this historic backdrop through the sequential perspectives of several playable characters.

Khonsari has an ideal pedigree for an undertaking this ambitious: Besides creating a raft of iconic and genre-defining games, he also grew up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.
Navid Khonsari says that players of "1979" will make choices that could change how they look at history.

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Not gonna lie, I would totally play this.
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Japanese cabinet approves plan to set up new nuclear watchdog

Japanese cabinet approves plan to set up new nuclear watchdog

The cabinet on Monday approved plan by the government to set up a new nuclear regulator under the Environment Ministry in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, in a bid to give the watchdog more teeth.

The existing Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has been criticized following the March 11 disaster for failing to police the industry strictly and therefore increasing the risk of safety lapses. NISA is part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which actively promotes nuclear power and the export of Japanese reactor technology. The new agency, which doesn’t have an official name yet, is expected to be up and running by April.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has advocated a gradual phasing out of nuclear power in the quake-prone volcanic island nation, which previously used atomic power for about 30% of its energy needs.

More than two-thirds of Japan’s 54 reactors are now offline and undergoing safety checks, with their restarts dependent on approval from host communities, many of which are now deeply skeptical about nuclear safety.

NISA has come under fire for its cozy ties with the industry and the body has attracted additional criticism for seeking to swing popular opinion by planting pro-nuclear questions at public forums.


I'll believe this new agency will actually have more teeth when I see it.
avatar, lin

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

By Warren Buffet

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
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Source is The New York Times
  • kangofu

Isn't it nice to know that this is "small?"

Shell: 54,600 gallons of oil spilled in North Sea
Source - Associated Press
Meera Selva and Ben Mcconville
On Monday August 15, 2011, 12:39 pm EDT

LONDON (AP) -- Royal Dutch Shell estimated Monday that 54,600 gallons of oil have spilled into the North Sea from an oil rig off Scotland's eastern coast.

The Gannet Alpha oil rig, located 112 miles (180 kilometers) east of the city of Aberdeen, is operated by Shell and co-owned by Shell and Esso, a subsidiary of the U.S. oil firm Exxon Mobil.

Glen Cayley, technical director of Shell's European exploration and production activities, called the spill "significant" given the amount of oil that generally spills into the North Sea.

"We care about the environment and we regret that the spill happened," he said.

Cayley said he believed waves would disperse the oil sheen and the spill was not expected to reach the shore.

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  • kangofu

TSA wants money, but the question is, for what exactly

TSA's 'trusted traveler' program may mean fewer headaches for some airline passengers
Source - NY Daily News
Sunday, August 14th 2011, 4:00 AM

If you've had it with interminable airport checkpoint lines, kicking off your shoes and taking out your laptop, the government has a proposition.

Tell the Transportation Security Administration a little bit about yourself, pony up a fee and you could get less scrutiny.

It's the TSA's second crack at a "trusted traveler" program. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, the agency wants to focus security on fliers it knows the least about.

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Simba and Nala 2
  • kangofu

The territorial control fight contributes to the humanitarian catastrophe

Rights group: 'All sides guilty' in Somalia
Human Rights Watch report says all sides in Somalia's conflict are committing crimes against civilians.

Source - Aljazeera
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2011 17:20

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said all the parties in Somalia's conflict have violated the rules of war and are guilty of causing civilian casualties in the fight for territorial control that is contributing to the humanitarian catastrophe there.

The New York-based group said al-Shabab, the rebel Isamist group that controls large parts of the country, was guilty of unrelenting brutality, while government troops carry out arbitrary arrests and detentions.

"All sides have used artillery in the capital Mogadishu in an unlawful manner that has caused civilian casualties," the rights group said in the report released on Sunday.

"Al-Shabab has fired mortars indiscriminately from densely populated areas and the TFG [government] and AMISOM forces have often responded in kind with indiscriminate counterattacks.

"As a result, civilians have not known where to turn for protection."

Al-Shabab withdrew from Mogadishu on August 6, saying it was a tactical move, which many fear implies resorting to suicide attacks after the fighters vowed to continue its battle against the government.

The violence in Mogadishu has hampered the distribution of aid to tens of thousands of people facing famine after fleeing to the city to escape drought in other parts of the country.

Allegations refuted

Abdirahman Omar Osman, a Somali government spokesperson, denied the rights group's accusations.

"We refute these allegations and the government is willing to meet with Human Rights Watch officials to discuss their concerns," he said in a statement.

"Reliable figures are hard to come by in Somalia which clearly shows that the information they have lacks credibility.

"On the other hand, al-Shabab is responsible for most of human rights violations that happen in Somalia."

Somalia has not had an effective government for two decades, and much of central and southern Somalia is controlled by al-Shabab, which has links to al-Qaeda.

On Monday, the United Nations warned of a cholera epidemic in the famine hit country, because of contaminated food and poor sanitation.

The excellent Help East Africa Links post
  • kangofu

Cyberbullying of Teachers

Study finds third of teachers have been bullied online
Source - BBC News

More than a third of teachers have been subject to online abuse, according to a survey conducted by Plymouth University.

The majority of the abuse - 72% - came via pupils but over a quarter was initiated by parents.

The majority of teachers claiming online abuse were women.

Much of the abuse is via chat on social networks but the study also found that many were setting up Facebook groups specifically to abuse teachers.

In some cases, people posted videos of teachers in action on YouTube while others put abusive comments on

In total, 35% of teachers questioned said they had been the victim of some form of online abuse. Of these, 60% were women.

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  • kangofu

German boy, 11, calls police over housework

German boy, 11, calls police over housework
Source - BBC News

A boy of 11 called a German police emergency line to complain of "forced labour" after his mother told him to help clean the home.

Police say the boy from Aachen, who has not been identified, spoke to an officer via the 110 number.

They say he complained: "I have to work all day long. I haven't any free time."

His mother told the officer the boy had kept threatening to call them, having repeatedly complained of having to do housework during the school holidays.

A transcript of the conversation, printed in local newspapers, revealed the officer asking the boy to describe the kind of "forced labour" he was doing.

The boy replied that he had to clean the home and terrace, it said.

Asked if he knew what forced labour was, the boy said he did, and the police officer asked to speak to his mother, who at that stage was standing next to him.

She explained he had called after being asked to pick up paper from the floor, adding: "He plays all day long and when told to tidy up what he's done, he calls it forced labour."

Indonesian Survivor of Mob Attack by Islamists Is Sentenced

An Indonesian man who survived a deadly mob attack by Muslim hard-liners was sentenced Monday to six months in prison, prompting outrage from rights groups over a sentence harsher than those received by some of his assailants.

Deden Sudjana, a member of Ahmadiyya, a minority Muslim sect that many conservative Muslims consider heretical, was found guilty by a district court in Banten Province on charges stemming from the attack, which occurred in February. Judges said he had refused police orders to leave the scene and had wounded one of the attackers.

The judges rejected a charge of incitement leveled by prosecutors, who had sought a sentence of nine months.

The clash, in the remote district of Cikeusik, caused international outrage after a graphic video of it surfaced online. It showed the police offering little resistance as more than 1,000 villagers descended on a home where 21 Ahmadis were staying, killing three of them and then beating and stomping on their mud-covered bodies.

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As If This Story Wasn't Bizarre Enough...

Australian police: Man arrested in fake bomb case

SYDNEY (AP) — An Australian man was arrested in the United States in connection with an attack on a Sydney teen who had a fake bomb chained to her neck, police said Tuesday.

The 51-year-old man was arrested in Louisville, Kentucky
, on Monday in an operation involving Australian police and the FBI, New South Wales state police said. Police will ask a U.S. court to extradite him to Australia. They declined to release his name or any other details.

The arrest comes nearly two weeks after 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver was attacked in her home in the wealthy Sydney suburb of Mosman as part of an alleged extortion attempt that Australia's prime minister said resembled "a Hollywood script."

Pulver was home alone when police say a masked man broke into the house in the middle of the day, chained a device that looked like a bomb to her neck and left a note with demands before fleeing.

Bomb technicians, negotiators and detectives rushed to the scene. Neighboring homes were evacuated, streets were closed and medical and fire crews waited nearby. Pulver spent 10 terrifying hours chained to the device before the bomb squad was able to free her. She was not hurt, and the device was later found to contain no explosives.

Police say a note had been attached to the device, but they haven't released details of what it said.

Police have said they're treating the case as an extortion attempt. The family lives in one of Sydney's ritziest areas and her father, William Pulver, is CEO of an information technology company.

Of all places.... Kentucky?
End the occupation
  • omer

ummmm America, I believe you dropped something here...

Glenn Beck calls Israel social protesters communistsThe conservative pundit, currently in Israel for a mass rally to 'Restore Courage' in Jerusalem, pokes holes in 'extreme left' protesters' demands.

Glenn Beck, an American right-wing talk-show host currently visiting Israel, compared the Israeli protesters demanding social justice to communists in his show this week.

Beck is currently in Israel for a mass rally to "Restore Courage" in Jerusalem.

The conservative pundit, who left Fox News in June of this year, scoffed at the protesters’ list of demands, comparing many of their calls for increased social benefits to those of the former Soviet Union.

When he heard that the protest leaders were calling for higher taxation for the Israeli upper-classes, Beck laughed derisively, saying “ah, hate the rich.”

Beck then went on to suggest that the housing crisis could be solved by simply building up empty land in the West Bank. The right-wing commentator emphasized that the area, biblically referred to as “Judea and Samaria”, is “Judea – like Jews”.

The commentator said that Judea and Samaria is the contested territory’s real name, not the West Bank.

Beck continued to poke holes in the "extreme left" protesters’ demands calling for decreased privatization of health care, free education and an increase in minimum wage.

Beck also insinuated a possible collaboration between socialists and Islamists, pointing out historical instances in which the two movements went hand in hand.
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