August 28th, 2011

tangerine moon

Libya: Col Gaddafi 'directed tens of thousands of refugees towards Italy as human bombs'

Col Gaddafi directed tens of thousands of refugees towards Italy as “human bombs” with the intention of turning the tiny island of Lampedusa into a “migrant hell”, the Italian government said yesterday.

The Libyan leader deliberately unleashed the floodgates of African immigrants desperate to reach Europe, as punishment for what he saw as Italy’s betrayal and its participation in the Nato-led air campaign.

He largely succeeded in his objective — nearly 50,000 migrants have arrived on Lampedusa since the beginning of the year, putting a huge strain on the tiny island’s resources.

They came from Libya but also Tunisia, after that country’s regime was toppled in a popular revolt which marked the start of the Arab Spring.

Hundreds were forced to live in a makeshift shanty camp, sleeping in the scrub under sheets of plastic stretched over driftwood, on what islanders dubbed “the hill of shame”.

“Italy has proof of orders given by Col Gaddafi to turn Lampedusa into hell,” said Franco Frattini, the foreign minister.

“There is proof Gaddafi gave the order to send thousands of desperate people on boats, in order to throw the island into chaos,” he said.

“We have terrible messages (in our possession) and they will be made public soon,” Mr Frattini said in an interview with Avvenire, a Catholic newspaper.

Hafez Gaddour, Libya’s ambassador in Italy, who defected from the regime in February, told Rai radio that Gaddafi controlled illegal immigration “in person, saying that he wanted to turn Lampedusa black with Africans,” to punish Italy for its role in the Nato campaign. The migrants would act as “human bombs”, he said.

Italy contributed warplanes to the air offensive and allowed British and other coalition aircraft to use its bases, with RAF Tornados and Typhoons based out of Gioia del Colle in the south-east of the country.

African refugees and economic migrants have for years tried to reach Lampedusa by sea in search of a new life in Europe.

The flow was blocked after Italy signed an accord with Libya providing for joint patrols in the Mediterranean.

That agreement collapsed when the Libyan revolt broke out earlier this year and relations soured between Col Gaddafi and Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, who had previously had a close rapport.

There had long been suspicions — reported by The Daily Telegraph in April — that the Gaddafi regime was encouraging refugees to flee to Lampedusa as revenge for Italy’s support for military action.


This has shown up in several reputable sources, so although it's still allegations (without the confirming evidence), I thought it should be posted. Should it be either confirmed or discredited shortly, I'd edit this.

I keep looking for something reasonably incisive to add, but frankly, it just makes me want to vomit a stream of incoherent rage and disgust.

Man arrested in Norway with police uniforms, weapons and explosives

A man was yesterday arrested by the Oslo police after he allegedly had weapons without a permit, storage of explosives and police uniforms, according to AP.

A former neo-Nazi was arrested in a major police raid in Oslo after the civil undercover agents had searched for him. The action was initiated after North Buskerud Police had raided his residence has at Ringerike - where they made the startling discovery.

Threat Message
- We have arrested a person who we have charged with intimidation and illegal possession of weapons and explosives. This is confirmed by police, said police inspector Petter Solberg told newspaper Dagbladet.

Dagbladet knows that arrested is convicted of threats against individuals in the past, and that there is a threat to an individual who triggered his arrest.

- This is a person who is unstable and sometimes dangerous. We have found weapons and explosives, and it meant we had to react. I can not go into what could be the motive for the storage of weapons and explosives, says Solberg.

Contact with extreme-right
Dagbladet know that the man who was arrested by police in Northern Buskerud, had contacts with the extreme right environment for a few years ago. After the terrorist attack on Utøya, the man was one of the police began to check, as Breivik should have had knowledge of certain people in the right extreme environment.

Police sources stressed, however, to Dagbladet that they have no information linking the man to Breivik.

Attorney Vidar Lind Iversen defends the man.

- He would report to the police at 12.00 today, but they chose to arrest him. He acknowledges illegal weapons possession. My client has no connection to the extreme right environment. He had barely contact with parts of this environment in the 90s, says Lind Iversen told Dagbladet.

- What he says about the police uniforms and explosives that were seized?

- He will explain everything tomorrow. He looks forward to explain himself, replies the lawyer.

- I will also request that the investigation of that happening at a different police district. I think they are biased in this matter, says Lind Iversen.

lick my injuries
  • wands

5 Reasons Progressives Should Treat Ron Paul with Extreme Caution

By Adele M. Stan

He's anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-senior-citizen, anti-equality and anti-education, and that's just the start.

There are few things as maddening in a maddening political season as the warm and fuzzy feelings some progressives evince for Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the Republican presidential candidate. "The anti-war Republican," people say, as if that's good enough.

But Ron Paul is much, much more than that. He's the anti-Civil-Rights-Act Republican. He's an anti-reproductive-rights Republican. He's a gay-demonizing Republican. He's an anti-public education Republican and an anti-Social Security Republican. He's the John Birch Society's favorite congressman. And he's a booster of the Constitution Party, which has a Christian Reconstructionist platform. So, if you're a member of the anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-senior-citizen, anti-equality, anti-education, pro-communist-witch-hunt wing of the progressive movement, I can see how he'd be your guy.

Paul first drew the attention of progressives with his vocal opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Coupled with the Texan's famous call to end the Federal Reserve, that somehow rendered him, in the eyes of the single-minded, the GOP's very own Dennis Kucinich. Throw in Paul's opposition to the drug war and his belief that marriage rights should be determined by the states, and Paul seemed suitable enough to an emotionally immature segment of the progressive movement, a wing populated by people with privilege adequate enough to insulate them from the nasty bits of the Paul agenda. (Tough on you blacks! And you, women! And you, queers! And you, old people without money.)

Ron Paul's anti-war stance, you see, comes not from a cry for peace, but from the deeply held isolationism of the far right. Some may say that, when it comes to ending the slaughter of innocents, the ends justify the means. But, in their romance with Ron Paul, what ends do Paulite progressives really seek? The end of war, or simply payback for a president who has let them down. And for that payback some seem all too willing go along with means, that if allowed to come to fruition, involve trading the rights and security of a great many Americans for the promise of non-intervention.

Here's a list -- by no means comprehensive -- of Ron Paul positions and associates that should explain, once and for all, why no self-respecting progressive could possibly sidle up to Paul.

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Does the press have an ethical duty to out powerful gays in tech?

Does the press have an ethical duty to out powerful gays in tech?

Do journalists have a duty to "out" so-called "closeted" gay people? They do if those people are powerful, says Felix Salmon of Reuters. Media attention on powerful gays and lesbians, even those in the closet, is a social good because it promotes and celebrates diversity, he argues. If it is inspirational to millions to see a gay person at the helm of an illustrious company, Salmon believes we have an ethical duty to out such a person. To fail to do so, Salmon suggests, can be unethical.

It is impossible to discuss this debate without discussing its genesis, and that means visiting upon the private life of the man who is at the center of the debate: Tim Cook. The former COO of Apple is now filling Steve Jobs' running shoes as CEO, which makes him massively powerful in tech and, for many, a hero. Cook has chosen not to discuss his private life; very little has even been gossiped about Tim Cook's personal details, and facts are few and far between. Still, there is a broad consensus that Cook is gay but, without Cook being open about it, it's something journalists can only speculate (or gossip) about.

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Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith

If a candidate for president said he believed that space aliens dwell among us, would that affect your willingness to vote for him? Personally, I might not disqualify him out of hand; one out of three Americans believe we have had Visitors and, hey, who knows? But I would certainly want to ask a few questions. Like, where does he get his information? Does he talk to the aliens? Do they have an economic plan?

Yet when it comes to the religious beliefs of our would-be presidents, we are a little squeamish about probing too aggressively. Michele Bachmann was asked during the Iowa G.O.P. debate what she meant when she said the Bible obliged her to “be submissive” to her husband, and there was an audible wave of boos — for the question, not the answer. There is a sense, encouraged by the candidates, that what goes on between a candidate and his or her God is a sensitive, even privileged domain, except when it is useful for mobilizing the religious base and prying open their wallets.

This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons, a faith that many conservative Christians have been taught is a “cult” and that many others think is just weird. (Huntsman says he is not “overly religious.”) Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity — and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism — which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.

I honestly don’t care if Mitt Romney wears Mormon undergarments beneath his Gap skinny jeans, or if he believes that the stories of ancient American prophets were engraved on gold tablets and buried in upstate New York, or that Mormonism’s founding prophet practiced polygamy (which was disavowed by the church in 1890). Every faith has its baggage, and every faith holds beliefs that will seem bizarre to outsiders. I grew up believing that a priest could turn a bread wafer into the actual flesh of Christ.

But I do want to know if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country. It matters to me whether a president respects serious science and verifiable history — in short, belongs to what an official in a previous administration once scornfully described as “the reality-based community.” I do care if religious doctrine becomes an excuse to exclude my fellow citizens from the rights and protections our country promises.


Read more at The New York Times
  • saoru

How will FEMA pay for Hurricane Irene?

How will FEMA pay for Hurricane Irene?

With less than $1 billion currently available for federal disaster assistance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is temporarily suspending payments to rebuild roads, schools and other structures destroyed during spring tornadoes in Joplin, Mo. and southern states in order to pay for damage caused by Hurricane Irene.
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Throng of Translucent People Fills Up Bookstore for Christine O'Donnell's Latest Work of Fantasy.

Christine O'Donnell Uses Magic to Turn Crowd of Admirers Invisible: Only Real Patriots Can See Them Now.

Tea party favorite O'Donnell fails to draw crowd in Naples
Former Senate candidate at book signing

Not even tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell could draw a large crowd for her book signing Wednesday in staunchly Republican Naples during August, a month when there are few tourists and many locals are on vacation.

Still, O’Donnell took the turnout of five people — members of the media outnumbered customers — at Barnes & Noble in stride.

“God bless you, Tom,” she told Tom Bruzzesi of Fort Myers, who said he’s launching his own presidential campaign.

“I like her,” Bruzzesi said. “She’s kind of a rogue like me.”

“Thank you for coming out today,” O’Donnell said to Louise Campo of Naples.
“She interests me. She’s very conservative,” Campo said.

O’Donnell, a Christian, then politely turned down a request from a young man who asked her to sign his book on demonology instead of a copy of her book.

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Kan wants Fukushima nuke waste storage site

Kan wants Fukushima nuke waste storage site

Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Saturday asked Fukushima Prefecture to host a temporary facility to store soil and debris contaminated with radioactive materials from the crippled nuclear plant.

At a meeting with Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato, Kan said the central government has no choice but to ask the prefecture to build a storage facility to properly manage radioactive substances.

But Kan added that the envisioned facility is not intended to become a permanent disposal site.

Sato appeared taken aback by the request, saying: "It is an abrupt proposal. We are really perplexed."

Kan told Sato that there would be a possibility that residents of some areas with high levels of radiation may not be able to go home for a long time.

"We would like to apologize to the people of Fukushima," Kan said.

Meanwhile, radioactive substances continue to leak from the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Go Hosono, state minister in charge of the nuclear crisis, has said that it will take at least 20 years before residents from areas where 200 millisieverts of radiation per year have been detected can return to those areas.

For areas with an annual level of 150 millisieverts per year, it will likely take 10 years, according Hosono.

Meanwhile, Tatsuo Hirano, minister in charge of reconstruction, said the government plans to establish a special law by next year to enable it to lead efforts to rebuild Fukushima Prefecture.

Hirano told reporters in the city of Fukushima that legislation "should be passed no later than the next ordinary Diet session," which usually runs for five months from January.
hula girl

Patrick Kennedy on the MEK: I am an Ashrafi

Hundreds of supporters of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) movement converged on the State Department on Friday to hear former U.S. congressmen and senior officials call for the U.S. government to take the MEK off its list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) emceed the rally in front of the State Department headquarters. The event also featured speeches by former Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA), former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former CIA Deputy Director of Clandestine Operations John Sano.

"One of the greatest moments was when my uncle, President [John F.] Kennedy, stood in Berlin and uttered the immortal words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner,'" Kennedy exclaimed. "Today, I'm honored to repeat my uncle's words, by saying [translated from Farsi] ‘I am an Iranian,' ‘I am an Ashrafi."
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BREAKING: Puerto Rican Republican and Grindr Aficionado Resigns

Roberto Arnago, who seems to have posted photos of his chest and posterior to Grindr, just resigned from the Puerto Rican senate. You'll recall that he vice-chaired Bush's 2004 campaign in Puerto Rico. Along with the pictures, details have surfaced about his alleged anti-gay past. A tipster at Joe.My.God wrote:

In 2009 he voted in favor of Resolution 99 which would have amended Puerto Rico’s constitution to ban the recognition of same-sex marriages (it didn’t pass). He has been opposed to civil union bills and in 2004 he used a rubber duck and made it quack to make fun of an opponent (in Puerto Rico, the word for duck, “pato”, means faggot.)


Report: Tea Party's Favorite Snake Needs Government Aid

Since the tea party movement rose to prominence in early 2009, the yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flag has been a ubiquitous presence at everything from health care protests to campaign stops. It features the Revolutionary War-era slogan, along with a coiled rattlesnake, because, as Benjamin Franklin explained, the rattler "never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders."

But the flag doesn't feature just any snake; it's a eastern diamondback rattlesnake—and despite what the flag says, lots of people seem to be treading on its natural habitat. According to a new report from the Center for Biological Diversity, the species could be nearing extinction unless the federal government intervenes. Scientific American reports that the CBD, along with Protect All Living Species and the delightfully acronymed One More Generation, have petitioned the US Fish and Wildlife Service to classify the eastern diamondback rattlesnake as an endangered species. The rattler is down to 3 percent of its original habitat, and according to the CBD, its population has fallen from 3 million to 100,000. From the report:

"The eastern diamondback rattlesnake is a wildlife icon of North America," said biologist Bruce Means, president and executive director of the Coastal Plains Institute, in a prepared statement. Means was also one of the petitioners. "Africa has its lion, Asia its tiger, and we can boast of this marvelous 'Don't Tread On Me' snake. Like so many others, it's a wildlife treasure that we must not allow to go extinct. Remaining habitat for the snake must be preserved, and negative public attitudes toward these nonaggressive animals must be reversed."

But how will this sit with tea partiers? As my colleague Kate Sheppard has reported, many tea partiers view the Endangered Species Act as a tool of an overreaching federal government—if not something even more nefarious. In Florida, conservative activists are fighting to roll back manatee protection rules because they believe the regulations are part of a United Nations plan called "Agenda 21," which they fear will force humans to live in designated areas and turn the rest of the planet into protected biosphere reserves.

...because it is pathetic

Bachmann Portrays Opposing Marriage as Key to a Republican Win

Rep. Michele Bachmann has dismissed questions about same-sex marriage by national reporters as "frivolous," but during a town hall with primary voters in South Carolina on Thursday she portrayed her views on the issue as a major factor in whether she could be elected president.

The event was moderated by Republican congressman Tim Scott, who said he had a question from a man in the audience. "This question has been asked by several people and the question has to do with the defense of marriage," he warned.

Instead of refusing to answer by saying she's "running for the presidency of the United States" and implying the issue doesn't matter (as she did repeatedly during a recent string of Sunday interviews, including one on Meet the Press), Bachmann described a stand against gay marriage as critical to the success of Republicans.

"In our coalition we have fiscal conservatives, national security conservatives, the Tea Party movement, and we have social conservatives,"" she said. "You put that team together and there's no way that we can possibly lose the election in 2012. We need to stick together."

Bachmann even touted her time as a Minnesota state lawmaker when she introduced a bill to put a gay marriage ban up to a statewide vote. She said her bill, which failed at the time, was inspired by what she saw happen in Massachusetts when the state Supreme Court intervened and same-sex marriage eventually became legal.

"When that happened, I knew that my home state of Minnesota could be next," she said. "Minnesota and Massachusetts have a lot in common. And I was very concerned about that. And so I introduced a bill that would allow the people of Minnesota to define marriage as one man and one woman. In my home state, I was not exactly popular for doing that measure. But I felt that it was right to let the people of Minnesota decide on the definition of marriage, not a plurality of judges."

She wasn't shy about overstating the issue's importance.

"I think that this is such a fundamental issue, this issue of marriage, that I think it's one the people have to vote on," she said.

Bachmann concluded her answer by railing against activist judges and reiterating her support for amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Full video of the answer is below, and it begins at about the 1 hour and 28 minute mark.


Sad Tea Party freshman hates his stupid new job

Rep. Steve Southerland wishes he'd never gotten elected to Congress -- he only makes six figures!

From Dave Weigel comes the sad tale of Rep. Steve Southerland, a "tea party" freshman representing Florida's 2nd District. Southerland learned the hard way that being a congressman is not all fun and games. He barely earns enough to get by!

He said his $174,000 salary is not so much, considering the hours a member of the House puts in, and that he had to sever ties with his family business in Panama City. Southerland also said there are no instant pensions or free health insurance, as some of his constituents often ask him about in Congress.

Median income in Southerland's district: $34,718.

(And the health insurance isn't "free," but it is high-quality group private insurance with relatively cheap plans subsidized by Southerland's employer, the federal government. And he'll qualify for the pension in a couple of years, if he's reelected.)

He's also upset that he isn't allowed to run his family business while serving as a congressman. There was apparently an actual civics teacher in attendance, to laugh at him:

Marty Monroe, a "recovering civics teacher" visiting her parents at Westminster Oaks, was unsympathetic.

"Why didn't he know that going in, about conflicts of interests? Would you want members to be also running a business on the side?" Monroe said.

And finally, Southerland is upset that people want to hurt him:

"And by the way, did I mention? They're shooting at us. There is law-enforcement security in this room right now, and why is that?" Southerland told about 125 people in an auditorium at the Westminster Oaks retirement community.

This I do feel bad about. I mean, it must be awful to be surrounded by armed guards because a certain political movement whipped up a nationwide atmosphere of apocalyptic paranoia and deep loathing of the supposedly tyrannical federal government. I really wish we knew which political party had enabled and encouraged that sort of thing! I remember that whichever one it was had a lot of guns and enjoyed showing them off. (Was it the League of Women Voters?)

So, all in all, seems like this Southerland guy hates his stupid job, being a congressman.

Setup: "If you think this job pays too much, with those kinds of risks and cutting me off from my family business, I'll just tell you: This job don't mean that much to me. I had a good life in Panama City."

Punch line: "He's running for a second term"

  • namey

School superintendent gives up $800k in pay

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Some people give back to their community. Then there's Fresno County School Superintendent Larry Powell, who's really giving back. As in $800,000 — what would have been his compensation for the next three years.

Until his term expires in 2015, Powell will run 325 schools and 35 school districts with 195,000 students, all for less than a starting California teacher earns.

"How much do we need to keep accumulating?" asks Powell, 63. "There's no reason for me to keep stockpiling money."

Powell's generosity is more than just a gesture in a region with some of the nation's highest rates of unemployment. As he prepares for retirement, he wants to ensure that his pet projects survive California budget cuts. And the man who started his career as a high school civics teacher, who has made anti-bullying his mission, hopes his act of generosity will help restore faith in the government he once taught students to respect.

"A part of me has chaffed at what they did in Bell," Powell said, recalling the corrupt Southern California city officials who secretly boosted their salaries by hundreds of thousands of dollars. "It's hard to believe that someone in the public trust would do that to the public. My wife and I asked ourselves 'What can we do that might restore confidence in government?'"

Powell's answer? Ask his board to allow him to return $288,241 in salary and benefits for the next three and a half years of his term. He technically retired, then agreed to be hired back to work for $31,000 a year — $10,000 less than a first-year teacher — and with no benefits.

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Warm tone butterfly (by fruitpunch_it)

Abortion counselling plan splits MPs

Ministers have caved in to backbench pressure to step up the level of independent counselling women receive before terminating a pregnancy, to the anger of some MPs who believe the government is playing “politics” with women’s abortion rights.

The department of health’s decision to develop “proposals” to introduce independent advice for women seeking terminations at abortion clinics comes after months of campaigning from backbencher Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP who in 2008 brought forward a private members’ bill to reduce the legal time limit for a termination.

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