August 16th, 2011

No Enbridge
  • romp

'This Place Saved My Life': Inside the Rainier Hotel

The first time Paula Armstrong visited The Rainier Hotel, a renovated heritage building in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, she could barely climb the stairs to the second floor. A decade spent living on the streets, wracked by addiction and poverty, had left Armstrong close to death. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease had cut her lung function to a strangled 28 per cent, and she weighed barely 100 pounds. She had to pause several times during the one-story climb to desperately catch her breath.

"When I came to The Rainier," Armstrong recalled, "I looked like death."

Armstrong has lived now for nearly two and a half years at the Rainier, which is nothing like your usual SRO. The hotel offers an array of programs, including gentle yoga, tobacco cessation, nutrition classes, anger management, meditation and a creative writing group.

"This place has saved my life," said Armstrong recently. "I am proof that recovery is possible."

Her recovery has been so dramatic that the woman whose ravaged lungs made it impossible to climb a flight of stairs without pain is now playing competitive soccer with the aptly named Phoenix soccer team. In August she and four others Phoenix members will fly to Paris to compete in the World Cup of Street Soccer. Two of her teammates live at Covenant House, a youth shelter, and the other three women live in poverty in the Downtown Eastside currently and have experienced homelessness within the last two years.

In July, Armstrong and her team mates traveled to Alert Bay, where they competed in a soccer tournament and were honored guests at the local band's pot latch ceremony.

"I am so excited about life now," Armstrong said with a radiant smile. "I am playing the piano again and I have had my first poem published in the Megaphone street paper
. I have my life back."
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My town has a similarly ambitious place via Canadian Mental Health, the local health authority, and the province. Which is why I'm puzzled about that city council member in Toronto who called for all homeless to be hospitalized and the federal gov't billed. The people of Canada pay in the end so isn't it a matter of organizing?
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

England riots: 'The whites have become black' says David Starkey

England riots: 'The whites have become black' says David Starkey

Historian David Starkey has told BBC's Newsnight ''the whites have become black'' in a discussion on the England riots with author and broadcaster Dreda Say Mitchell and the author of Chavs, Owen Jones.

He also hit out at what he called the ''destructive, nihilistic gangster culture'' which he said ''has become the fashion.''


The youtube clip is a bit fuzzy, but ahh, well. Also, I saw this last weekend, and there wasn't a warning about the language at the source clip--the BBC just added that as this started getting attention.
aladdin needs to get a fucking job.
  • chaya

Arizona Border Fence Causes Flood and Self-Destructs—as Predicted

Mother Earth has spoken. Amidst recent reports that detail just how harmful the United States border barrier is to local wildlife and their habitats, rainwater knocked down 40 feet of the fence in Arizona last Sunday night.

The stretch of fence that washed away was part of a 5.2 mile mesh barrier that was built between 2007 and 2008. Though it is the first time this particular fencing has fallen, it came as no surprise to officials at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, where the fence is located. When Organ Pipe expressed their concern with the proposed design for the barricade before its completion, Border Patrol unsurprisingly issued a final environmental assessment that said they found that it would have no significant impact. They added that, despite the claims of Organ Pipe officials, it would not cause flooding. They were wrong.

Lee Baiza, Superintendent of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, told the Arizona Daily Star, “The fence acts as a dam and forms a gradual waterfall. … The water starts backing up and going higher. The higher it gets, the more force it has behind it.”

It only took 2.5 inches of rain to wash away the fence, and because Baiza says bursts of strong rain are common in the area, it probably won’t be the last time such an incident occurs. Matt Clark, the Southwest representative for Defenders of Wildlife, says this is an example of consequence of Homeland Security’s disregard for expert advice in an effort to quickly erect border fences.

Along with flooding, border barriers have other disruptive impacts on the environment. According to a study by the University of Texas in Austin, the fences divide wildlife habitats and populations, including those of several endangered species. It notes that small-range size is correlated to a greater risk of extinction and shows that the fences cut down range by 75 percent in some cases.

The study recommends creating additional openings or removing the barrier in key areas of connectivity between the United States and Mexico. If people don’t do it, maybe the weather will.

I feel this 'u mad' gif is strangely inappropriately appropriate.

Watery sauce.
MISC - moustache

Talk to Paul Ryan? It'll cost you

It will cost $15 to ask Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) a question in person during the August congressional recess.

The House Budget Committee chairman isn’t holding any face-to-face open-to-the-public town hall meetings during the recess, but like several of his colleagues he will speak only for residents willing to open their wallets.

Ryan, who took substantial criticism from his southeast Wisconsin constituents in April after he introduced the Republicans’ budget proposal, isn’t the only member of congress whose August recess town hall-style meetings are strictly pay-per-view.

Rep. Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) is scheduled to appear Aug. 23 at a luncheon gathering of the Arizona Republican Lawyers Association. For $35, attendees can question Quayle and enjoy a catered lunch at the Phoenix office of the Snell & Wilmer law firm.

And Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) took heat in Duluth this weekend for holding private events in his district’s population and media center — including a $10-per-head meeting to be hosted next week by the local chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which on its invitation notes that the organization “supported Chip in his stunning upset over longtime Congressman Jim Oberstar in the 2010 election.”

It’s no secret why members of Congress would shy away from holding open town hall meetings — it’s no fun getting yelled at by angry constituents or having an uncomfortable question become an unfortunate YouTube moment.

By outsourcing the events to third parties that charge an entry fee to raise money, members of Congress can eliminate most of the riffraff while still — in some cases — allowing reporters and TV cameras for a positive local news story.

The host of Quayle’s event, Lawyers Association President Jonathan Brinson, said his group previously had paid luncheons featuring Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl and most of Arizona’s GOP congressional delegation.

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The Gang
  • acmeeoy

Misery of the Protracted Presidential Campaign Season - Glenn Greenwald

The 2012 presidential election is 15 months away.  The first primary vote will not be cast until almost six months from now.  Despite that, the political media are obsessed -- to the exclusion of most other issues -- with the cast of characters vying for the presidency and, most of all, with the soap opera dynamic among them.  It is not a new observation that the American media covers presidential elections exactly like a reality TV show pageant: deeply Serious political commentators spent the last week mulling whether Tim P. would be voted off the island, bathing in the excitement of Rick P. joining the cast, and dramatically contemplating what would happen if Sarah P. enters the house.  But there are some serious implications from this prolonged fixation that are worth noting.

First, the fact that presidential campaigns dominate news coverage for so long is significant in itself.  From now until next November, chatter, gossip and worthless speculation about the candidates will drown out most other political matters.  That's what happened in 2008: essentially from mid-2007 through the November, 2008 election, very little of what George Bush and Dick Cheney did with the vast power they wielded -- and very little of what Wall Street was doing -- received any attention at all.  Instead, media outlets endlessly obsessed on the Hillary v. Giuliani showdown, then on the Hillary v. Barack psycho-drama, and then finally on the actual candidates nominated by their parties.

Obviously, at least in theory, presidential campaigns are newsworthy.  But consider the impact from the fact that they dominate media coverage for so long, drowning out most everything else.  A presidential term is 48 months; that the political media is transfixed by campaign coverage for 18 months every cycle means that a President can wield power with substantially reduced media attention for mor than 1/3 of his term.  Thus, he can wage a blatantly illegal war in Libya for months on end, work to keep U.S. troops in Iraq past his repeatedly touted deadline, scheme to cut Social Security and Medicare as wealth inequality explodes and thereby please the oligarchical base funding his campaign, use black sites in Somalia to interrogate Terrorist suspects, all while his Party's Chairwoman works literally to destroy Internet privacy -- all with virtually no attention paid.

Paradoxically, nothing is more effective in distracting citizenry attention away from events of genuine political significance than the protracted carnival of presidential campaigns.  It's not merely the duration that accomplishes this, but also how it is conducted.  Obviously, how the candidates brand-market themselves has virtually nothing to do with what they do in power; the 2008 Obama campaign, which justifiably won awards from the advertising industry for how it marketed its product (Barack Obama), conclusively proved that. 

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garf tired

Obama spars with TeaBagger

Obama, Tea Party Supporters Get In Heated Exchange In Iowa (VIDEO)

DECORAH, Iowa (AP/The Huffington Post) — President Barack Obama's Midwestern tour is offering a mix of offense and defense that signals both his governing approach for the remainder of his term and the evolution of a campaign message for his re-election bid.
Obama is determined to use the reach of his office to build public pressure on Republicans to move his way on economic and fiscal policies, to counterpunch against the GOP presidential field, and to argue for his presidency with independent voters and rekindle enthusiasm among Democrats.

On Tuesday, Obama got an earful from two Tea Party supporters who challenged him on reports that Vice President Joe Biden had agreed with congressional Democrats who characterized the conservative movement as terrorists.

"He said we were acting like terrorists," Iowa Tea Party activist Ryan Rhodes said, confronting the president after the Decorah town hall as Obama worked a rope line of audience members. "What we stand for is limited government and a balanced budget," Rhodes continued.
Obama countered that Biden was making the point that almost failing to raise the debt ceiling was irresponsible.

"He wasn't objecting to the balanced budget amendment, he was objecting to us almost defaulting," Obama said. As Rhodes persisted, and Obama continued to shake hands, the president added, "It doesn't sound like you are interested in listening."

On the second day of a three-day bus tour, the president was spending the day promoting rural economic policies, among the series of remedies he is pushing to fire up anemic job growth. But the measures are targeted, such as making it easier for rural businesses to get access to capital, and far more modest than the ambitious $821 billion stimulus package he pushed through Congress in 2009 when unemployment was rising but still below the current 9.1 percent level.
The economic message illustrates Obama's current dilemma. Republicans control the House and believe that addressing the nation's long-term debt will have a positive effect on the economy; they have no appetite for major spending initiatives aimed at spurring a recovery.

Embracing that demand for fiscal discipline, Obama has called for both spending cuts and increases in revenue, but he found few takers for that formula during the contentious debate this summer over raising the nation's debt ceiling.



LGBT “Neutral” School Policy Brings Another Lawsuit to Michele Bachmann’s Minnesota District

Sued district in a region declared by health officials to be a "suicide contagion" area.

The Anoka-Hennepin school district in Minnesota is in trouble again for it’s policy to “remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation.” A new lawsuit is being brought by a group of six students who say they experienced severe bullying at school and that staff did nothing to help them. It joins a lawsuit filed in July by five current and former students who say they were harassed because of their sexual orientation and a companion suit filed last week on behalf of a lesbian student who attended a middle school in Champlin.


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mus | like a bird in a cage

Starbucks CEO to DC: You've been cut off

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is fed up with Washington.

And he is doing something about it.

Spurred by what he describes as a failure of leadership on the part of lawmakers, Schultz is mounting a one-man bull rush against a political culture that has "chosen to put partisan and ideological purity over the well being of the people."

What does that mean? No more political donations -- not for anybody.

And he's recruiting other CEOs to join him.

"I am asking that all of us forgo political contributions until the Congress and the President return to Washington and deliver a fiscally, disciplined long term debt and deficit plan to the American people," Schultz wrote in a letter that was passed on to members of the NYSE and Nasdaq.

The goal is to hit lawmakers right where it hurts: the pocketbook.

"All it seems people are interested in is re-election," Schultz told CNNMoney on Tuesday. "And that re-election -- the lifeblood of it is fundraising."

Schultz said his breaking point was the contentious debate over raising the debt ceiling -- and the failure to reach a long-term solution to lower deficits.

"[Lawmakers] have stirred up fears about our economic prospects without doing anything to truly address those fears," Schultz wrote to his fellow CEOs.

Schultz's own political donations, as chronicled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, lean Democratic.

He said politicians can still make it right by coming together and reaching a compromise deal that would lift the cloud of uncertainty that has hamstrung the economy.

"It means reaching a deal on debt, revenue, and spending long before the deadline arrives this fall," the letter said. "It means considering all options, from entitlement programs to taxes."

His letters, and an interview with the New York Times on the subject, are already having an impact.

The Starbucks (SBUX, Fortune 500) CEO said that in the 30 hours since the letters went out, he has heard back from thousands of Americans -- both CEOs and everyday citizens. Not one lawmaker has contacted him so far.

"I suspect in the coming days, people who will be signing the pledge with me will be both Republican and Democrat CEOs who have had enough," he told CNNMoney.

The amount of money spent to influence elections has been steadily climbing.

During the 2008 election cycle, more than $5.2 billion was spent by candidates, political parties and interest groups, according to data compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics

In 2010 -- a year that did not include a presidential election -- $3.6 billion was spent. Of course, 2012 has the potential to break all records.

It's unclear exactly how much of an impact -- if any -- Schultz's pledge might have. But a relatively small number of Americans do wield an outsized influence when it comes to political donations.

Only 0.04% of Americans give in excess of $200 to candidates, parties or political action committees -- and those donations account for 64.8% of all contributions.

franklin sherman

Daily show rips media for ignoring Ron Paul

Jon Stewart on Ron Paul Blackout 8/15/11 [Better Quality] from Andrew Castro on Vimeo.

Indecision 2012 - Corn Polled Edition - Ron Paul & the Top Tier
Even when the media does remember Ron Paul, it's only to reassure themselves that there's no need to remember Ron Paul.

More on the "media near-blackout" of Ron Paul:

In "Frivolous Things The Rich Are Paying For" News...

Pay Pal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create floating libertarian countries in international waters, according to a profile of the billionaire in Details magazine.

Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties. The idea is for these countries to start from scratch--free from the laws, regulations, and moral codes of any existing place. Details says the experiment would be "a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons."

"There are quite a lot of people who think it's not possible," Thiel said at a Seasteading Institute Conference in 2009, according to Details. (His first donation was in 2008, for $500,000.) "That's a good thing. We don't need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don't think it's possible they won't take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it's too late."

The Seasteading Institute's Patri Friedman says the group plans to launch an office park off the San Francisco coast next year, with the first full-time settlements following seven years later.

Thiel made news earlier this year for putting a portion of his $1.5 billion fortune into an initiative to encourage entrepreneurs to skip college.

Another Silicon Valley titan, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced in June that he would be funding the "Clock of the Long Now." The clock is designed to keep ticking for 10,000 years, and will be built in a mountain in west Texas.


Yes, let's build man-made platforms out in the middle of the ocean where you'll have limited access to agriculture, freshwater, and emergency aid in a time of crisis.  And let's throw a bunch of weapons into the mix to make it fun.  It's not like hurricanes and tsunamis damage oil rigs all the time.
  • kangofu

"Five hundred year old vampire" attacks woman

Texas Man Bites Woman; Claims to Be Vampire Satisfying a 'Need to Feed'
Source - ABC News & NY Daily News
Aug. 16, 2011

The arrest of a 19-year-old Texas man claiming to be a 500-year-old vampire from hell has raised chilling questions about pop culture's influence on human behavior.

Lyle Monroe Bensley is being held in Galveston County Jail after allegedly breaking into a woman's apartment and biting her on the neck, police said. The woman, whose name has not been released, broke free and fled the apartment, speeding to safety in a neighbor's car early Saturday.

When police arrived on the scene, they found Bensley, wearing only boxer shorts, hissing and growling in the parking lot. He quickly scaled two fences before he was captured, yelling all the while that he "didn't want to have to feed on humans," Capt. Jeff Heyse of the Galveston County Police Department told

"I've dealt with some really strange people," said Heyse. "You know, guys who think they're Jesus and that. But I've never seen anything like this."

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Indiana Coroner Won't Release Body to Lesbian's Partner

When a stage collapsed during the Indiana State Fair over the weekend, Christina Santiago, manager of programming for the Lesbian Community Care Project at Chicago's Howard Brown Health Center, was one of the casualties. Santiago's partner, Alisha Brennon, was also injured in the tragedy.

The Marion County coroner's office is refusing to release Santiago's body to her partner; the office cited the Defense of Marriage Act as the reason why they've turned down Brennon's request to pick up her loved one's remains. DOMA allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Indiana has its own version of DOMA that outlaws same-sex marriage. Since Indiana law requires the next-of-kin to pick up Santiago's body, but the state won't recognize Brennon as the surviving spouse, Santiago's body is still laying in the morgue awaiting a solution. Brennon, who is still hospitalized, is now working with Santiago's aunt to pick up the body and make funeral arrangements.

Legislation to repeal DOMA has been introduced in both chambers of Congress. The Indiana legislature passed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions earlier this year; the amendment will have to pass a separately elected session of the legislature before being sent to the ballot for Hoosiers to vote on. Backers of the bill also tried to pass legislation that would have prevented state government from providing domestic partner benefits to LGBT employees and killed anti-bullying legislation introduced after a 15 year old boy killed himself after being being continuously subjected to anti-gay bullying.

The coroner's office didn't respond to multiple requests for comment on this story. They did confirm that Santiago's body has not been claimed yet.

NOTE: This story has been updated to include the information that Santiago's aunt will be allowed to claim the body.

UPDATE: Alfarena Ballew from the Marion County Coroner's office called to offer this statement, "Her friend and her aunt are working together with the life partner to take care of the remains. We have nothing in writing from the partner asking to claim the body. Our records show that the next of kin is her aunt. Our understanding now is that they're all working together to release the body and take care of the services." Ms. Ballew described the incident as a "misunderstanding" and says the office is on track to release the body shortly.

Another Arabian Night
  • kangofu

Preying on poverty - Sex tourism in Kenya

Older white women join Kenya's sex tourists
Source - Reuters
By Jeremy Clarke
MOMBASA, Kenya | Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:28am EST

(Reuters) - Bethan, 56, lives in southern England on the same street as best friend Allie, 64.

They are on their first holiday to Kenya, a country they say is "just full of big young boys who like us older girls."

Hard figures are difficult to come by, but local people on the coast estimate that as many as one in five single women visiting from rich countries are in search of sex.

Allie and Bethan -- who both declined to give their full names -- said they planned to spend a whole month touring Kenya's palm-fringed beaches. They would do well to avoid the country's tourism officials.

"It's not evil," said Jake Grieves-Cook, chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board, when asked about the practice of older rich women traveling for sex with young Kenyan men.

"But it's certainly something we frown upon."

Also, the health risks are stark in a country with an AIDS prevalence of 6.9 percent. Although condom use can only be guessed at, Julia Davidson, an academic at Nottingham University who writes on sex tourism, said that in the course of her research she had met women who shunned condoms -- finding them too "businesslike" for their exotic fantasies.

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mus | like a bird in a cage

Sniffing Dirty Laundry: A True Story from “the Help’s” Daughter

A white girl, all grown up, zooms through cyberspace and finds me at my desk in 2006. It seems she has a wedding dress encased in glass hanging on her wall and she thinks the framed frock has something to do with me. Mama is the link to this white woman’s object of iconic revelry. Fact is I’m not feeling very friendly towards my caller. It’s not her fault, and yet…

When my caller was very young, my mother, Odessa Singley, was her Grandmommy’s maid. On this nostalgic call, though, my Mama comes out of the caller’s mouth as “Odessa” just like it did back when she was seven and Mama was forty-seven. Mama—“Odessa”—was her “best friend,” she says; her anchor in a storm of sequential parents, relocations, and other family mayhem. “Odessa” was her harbinger of summers that began with packed bags and eagerly awaited trips to Grandmommy’s.

And, forty years ago, “Odessa” made the wedding dress hanging on the caller’s wall. Instantly, my caller becomes “the Wedding Princess” even though she never really was a bride because at seven, she was qualified only for the wedding getup, not for the wedding man. “I loved Odessa and she loved me,” she declares, whipping me back to the present. Her declaration of my mother’s affection for her stops me cold.

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"2 Democrats keep their seats in Wisconsin recall election" (Of two. So, all of them.)

Two Democratic state senators in Wisconsin defeated Republican challengers to hold on to their seats in a recall election Tuesday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

It was the last round in a series of recall elections this summer.

Both Democratic incumbents, Sen. Jim Holperin and Sen. Bob Wirch, survived.

Last week, six Republicans were the subject of a recall. Four of the six won. And last month, a Democratic senator also won a recall election.

The recall elections stem from the bitter battle last winter that saw pro-union protesters camping out in the state Capitol and Democratic senators fleeing the state in an unsuccessful attempt to halt legislation by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that some felt was anti-union.

Democrats were angling to win GOP-held seats to capture control of the upper chamber. Before the elections, Republicans held a 19-14 majority in Wisconsin's state Senate.

With Tuesday's results, the Republican retained their majority but narrowly: 17-16.

"Tonight's election wins continues to show that the people of Wisconsin are looking for a check on Scott Walker's reckless and radical agenda," Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin branch of the AFL-CIO, said.

Had to submit this because the headline caught me so off guard. I was like OH NO, ONLY TWO? HOW MANY WERE RUNN--oh. Ok. LOL this entire article is such a trainwreck. Don't you mean, all Democrats won their elections, and two Republicans lost? That is what the news is here, but no it's "TWO Democrats won, but FOUR Republicans won." LOL, try harder.

Also LOLing at those damn oversensitive hippies that ~feel~ stripping union rights is anti-union!

Oh CNN, why do you always leave me perpetually embarrassed for you?

One source is but here.

Totally Awesome Parenting of the Day

When invited to a birthday party whose theme required that the boys dress as superheroes and the girls as princesses, dad Jay C. Batzner came up with an awesome compromise that simultaneously stomped on the face of gender normativity and made his daughter happy. Wonder Woman, both a princess and a superhero, had long been Daria’s favorite hero, so he sewed her this costume.  We think this might be one of those steps to raising kickass daughters.


Just a little something that I thought y'all might need.