September 1st, 2011

Killjoy Spin
  • arisma

Irene in Vermont Roundup

Killer storm leaves Vt. homeowners, towns stranded

Flooding isolated entire towns in Vermont and New York, some communities warily watched swollen rivers and more than 2.5 million people from North Carolina to Maine lacked electricity Tuesday, three days after Hurricane Irene churned up the Eastern Seaboard.

The storm has been blamed for at least 40 deaths in 11 states.

When Hurricane Irene unleashed its wrath on Newfane, Vt., Martin and Sue Saylor were among the lucky ones. All they lost was the road to their hillside home, and their utilities.

Collapse )
Cavendish is my home town, to give you some idea of what exactly we're dealing with here.

Ways to help-
Vt Irene Flood Relief

Mad River Valley Community Fund
United Way Vt 211

Op note- This experience is equal parts heart wrenching and warming. It's surreal to see aid helicopters flying over and emergency crews from FEMA and the Red Cross everywhere. The pictures and video just don't do justice to the sheer scale of the destruction. I know many people who are stranded, although most can now leave by foot. Power and internet were out for a long while yesterday and our water was back for a few hours but has since gone off again. Everyone is tired and a little dirty but for the most part tempers are staying in check. Let me say the excited buzz from everyone over the possibility of a Tide Truck is well earned.

The local elementary school is serving three meals a day for the community and restaurants are offering community buffets most nights. Our only grocery store was wiped out and they've taken every bit of stock not ruined in the flooding and moved it to the school to be taken as needed, free of charge. Neighbors have opened their wells and holding tanks and are going door to door to see if anyone needs help. Aid workers are constantly going to job sites only to find work already in progress. Things are bad, and I expect them to be for quite some time, but we're starting to get our stubborn boots on, which is probably the best thing we could do in the situation.

In closing-
I love Vermont because of her hills and valleys, her scenery and invigorating climate, but most of all because of her indomitable people. They are a race of pioneers who have almost beggared themselves to serve others. If the spirit of liberty should vanish in other parts of the Union, and support of our institutions should languish, it could all be replenished from the generous store held by the people of this brave little state of Vermont." --Calvin Coolidge after the 1927 flood
LotS kahlan mord-sith

Gay man attacked outside downtown Salt Lake City club

Police are investigating whether anti-gay sentiments motivated an attack on a man outside of Club Sound early Saturday morning that left him hospitalized in critical condition.

Dane Hall, who is gay, was walking home from Club Sound’s gay-themed night when four men approached him near the corner of 200 South and 600 West.

Collapse )
TW tales square
  • aviv_b

ABC receives complaints about Chaz Bono's addition to 'DWTS'

"Dancing With the Stars" aims for provocative casts, and Chaz Bono's addition to the show has already yielded strong reaction -- some of it ugly.

Bono, the only child of Sonny Bono and Cher was born a woman but legally changed his gender and name last year. The announcement Monday that he would join the highly rated ABC dance competition immediately made him one of the highest-profile transgendered people in the world

It also brought to the surface prejudices about Bono and others who have changed their gender, judging from the "Dancing With the Stars" message board. In hundreds of comments, Bono was the most common subject.
But for everyone who vented disgust -- or questioned whether Bono would dance with a man or a woman -- there were many who defended Bono and accused his critics of bigotry.

Bono's casting is only the latest to make a lighthearted reality show the impetus for deeper discussions about values, tolerance, bigotry and politics. Gay "American Idol" contestants have opted not to announce their sexuality, perhaps out of concern about alienating intolerant viewers. And Bristol Palin's "Dancing" casting two seasons ago led many to vote for or against her based on her mother's politics. 
If Americans quickly vote Bono off the show -- or keep him on despite a middling performance, as they did with Palin -- it could reveal plenty about attitudes toward transgendered people.

ABC had no immediate comment Tuesday on posts by "Dancing" fans on its message board. Among them:

Collapse ) 

It's the old 'gay agenda' and 'what about the children?' complaints, because you can never start training your kids to be bigots too early. And if they saw GLBT as regular people on TV that might lead to tolerance or acceptance and you certainly wouldn't want your kids to learn that. With bonus fat-shaming, because really, who wants to see anyone with more than 2% body fat on TV.

You know, we really need a 'but what about the children?' tag
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

China weekly: Official says cover-ups common

China weekly: Official says cover-ups common

A Chinese economic weekly, in an eight-page special report that appeared Monday, quoted a senior train station official as saying China's railway authorities usually destroyed evidence when an accident occurred.

This claim in the Economic Observer by the official, who was identified only as being in charge of a major train station, refutes the denial by railway authorities that they tried to conceal evidence by burying a train carriage after the deadly high-speed rail crash in Wenzhou on July 23.

In the report, the railway official was quoted as saying that burying the train car was a typical cover-up attempt. "The same thing is always done, but this time there was just more media attention," he was quoted as saying.

As the Chinese government strictly controls news coverage, an article refuting comments by the authorities is almost unheard of.

On July 24, the authorities used heavy machinery to destroy part of a crushed carriage and bury the wreckage, causing a furor that evidence was being destroyed.

Two days later, the wrecked carriage was dug up for investigation.

In its report, the economic weekly criticized the authorities for making light of human life by temporarily suspending rescue operations and failing to carry out a thorough investigation of the accident.

The railway official was quoted as saying, "When there's a problem, railway officials think about how to avoid responsibility."

In reference to the possibility of human error, he was quoted as saying: "It's no secret within the organization that railway signals don't respond properly during emergencies. The official on duty should have used wireless communication to inform the conductors of the situation."

The special feature inveighed against such media as the People's Railway Daily, a government-run newspaper, as merely parroting what the authorities say. It then said the media should not tells lies or do anything that would run counter to their own conscience.

The weekly is noted for its economic scoops and democratic tone of argument, as well as keeping a certain distance from the Communist Party and the government.

On the Internet, people have called the special report "feisty" and said "it gives us the light of humanity and equality in the darkness."


I'm surprised a Chinese newspaper is reporting so openly that it's a cover-up, TBH.
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

TEPCO announces compensation details

TEPCO announces compensation details

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has announced compensation details to be paid to people affected by the crisis at the utility's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

TEPCO will pay 120,000 yen per month for causing psychological damage to residents forced to evacuate under the government's order, according to the criteria released Tuesday.

It also stipulates methods to calculate transportation and accommodation fees for evacuated residents as well as payments for companies and people engaged in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries businesses.

TEPCO expects between 400,000 and 500,000 households and companies will be eligible for the compensation. The utility plans to start accepting requests from Sept. 12 and begin payments in early October.

The criteria were based on an interim guideline compiled on Aug. 5 by the government's Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation.

Collapse )

The latest GOP ohnoz! meme: 'Obama using illegals to steal the election'

"Don't tell anyone what I told you, okay?"

 Image: Pete Souza/Flickr

Meme-Busting: Obama's Secret Plan to Win in 2012

—By Tim Murphy

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) believes he's uncovered President Obama's secret plan to win next fall's presidential election: Grant citizenship to millions of undocumented residents with the expectation that they'll check his name at the ballot box come 2012. He's not alone; Rep. Louie Gohmert floated a similar conspiracy theory last week, telling Fox News that Obama would attempt to steal the election through some combination of massive voter fraud and blanket amnesty.

Here's what Coffman told Denver's Caplis & Silverman radio show last month:
There's another piece of this puzzle. What the Administration is doing, is taking a very aggressive move in the people that have illegal status and moving them through citizenship and waving all the fees and waving anything they can to get the process done in time for 2012. That's something I would love to see the media focus on.

Mercy! Expect to hear a lot more talk like this over the next 12 months, as right-wing media outlets shift into overdrive in the run-up to the election. The same thing transpired with ACORN in 2008 when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) famously declared that we are "on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy." (We're still here.)

But is there anything to it? Jason Salzman, a Colorado blogger, took Coffman's suggestion and looked into it. The short answer is no. That's the longer answer, too.

As Salzman notes, undocumented immigrants can't be moved through the citizenship process, because a prerequisite of applying for citizenship is that you have to be living here legally. The number of fee waivers that have been granted have increased, but again, there's no way to grant a fee waiver to someone who isn't a lawful resident so that's kind of moot; the change is due to the fact that there wasn't previously an easy way to apply. And most crucially, there hasn't actually been an increase in the number of naturalized citizens:
The increased number of fee waivers does not translate into more people actually becoming U.S. citizens with voting rights. The total number of people who went through the naturalization process has decreased during the Obama Administration (about 676,000 in FY 2010, about 744,000 in FY 2009, about 1,047,000 in FY 2008, 660,000 in FY 2007, and 702,000 in FY 2006), according to [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] data.

If President Obama is secretly granting citizenship to undocumented residents, he's doing a really terrible job. The larger issue here for Coffman, though, isn't really about immigrants, it's about voter turnout—he's also sponsored legislation to repeal the portion of the Voting Rights Act requiring that ballots be printed in languages other than English. For that, I'd recommend Ari Berman's excellent Rolling Stone piece on the GOP's "War on Voting."

Tim Murphy is a reporter at Mother Jones. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com. Get Tim Murphy's RSS feed.


Rules on classroom force to be eased

Michael Gove slackens rules on use of physical force in schools
Education secretary seeks to stem 'erosion of adult authority' by recruiting former male soldiers to the classroom

Ministers are scrapping a requirement for teachers to record instances when they use physical force, as part of a wider move to "restore adult authority" in the wake of the riots in England.

The education secretary, Michael Gove, said that he wanted greater numbers of men teaching, particularly in primary schools, so as to provide children with male authority figures who could display "both strength and sensitivity".

In a speech delivered at Durand academy, in Stockwell, south London, Gove said the regulations on the use of force inhibited teachers' judgment.

He said: "So let me be crystal clear, if any parent now hears a school say, 'sorry, we can't physically touch the students', then that school is wrong. Plain wrong. The rules of the game have changed."

Gove said men considering teaching were deterred by a fear of rules that made contact between adults and children "a legal minefield".

The government was planning to start a programme this autumn encouraging former members of the armed forces to take up teaching, specifically to ensure more male role models, Gove said.

In a speech that sought to address the causes of the riots in August, Gove began by making a moral distinction between what he called a "hard-working majority" and a "vicious, lawless, immoral minority". But he went on to examine what he said were the policy failures that lay behind the creation of the "educational underclass".

He said: "To investigate where the looters came from is not to make excuses because of background. It is to shine a light on failures that originated in poor policy, skewed priorities, and the deliberate undermining of legitimate authority."

Gove said he was haunted by the thought that, if circumstances had been different, he might have been a part of this underclass. The education secretary highlighted his own family background. "I was born to a single parent, never knew my biological father and spent my first few months in care.

"Thanks to the love of my adoptive mother and father, and the education I enjoyed, I was given amazing opportunities. So I know just how much the right parenting, the right values at home, and the right sort of school matter in determining a child's fate."

Gove said there had been a slow erosion of adult authority, subverted by a culture in which young people felt able to ignore civilised boundaries. "The only way to reverse this dissolution of legitimate authority is step-by-step to move the ratchet back in favour of teachers."

Gove also spoke of an "iron-clad link" between illiteracy, disruption, truancy, exclusion and crime.

More than 430,000 children were absent for 15% of school time, and more than a million pupils missed 10% of the academic year, he said.

He added that only a third of those students who missed between 10% and 20% of school got the "basic minimum" of five good GCSE passes.

The government is asking Charlie Taylor, a headteacher and Gove's adviser on behaviour, to look at improving "alternative provision" units for children with behavioural problems.

Taylor will be asked to work with Lord Harris of Peckham, who sponsors academies, to speed up the ability of those entities to create provision for excluded and disruptive pupils.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed Gove's statement concerning the use of force against pupils.

He said: "ASCL is delighted that the secretary of state has responded to our advice with the wise decision not to proceed with these regulations. The requirement would have imposed yet another bureaucratic burden that did nothing to improve discipline or safeguard children.

"The use of physical restraint is thankfully required very rarely in schools. On occasions where it is needed, detailed guidance exists and staff fully understand the need to follow it to the letter. Schools already keep records of breaches of discipline."


Yes, because that will totally fix all of your problems and won't at all backfire spectacularly. Side-eye.

Federal Judge Invites Lawyers to Kindergarten Party, Nap Times Will Be Mandatory.

Federal Judge Invites Lawyers To 'Kindergarten Party' To Teach Them Not To Waste His Time

Federal Judge Sam Sparks doesn't like it when lawyers waste his time. So last week he invited -- or rather, ordered -- lawyers who he says are "unable to practice law at the level of a first year law student" to a "kindergarten party" to teach them "many exciting and informal lessons."

Sparks, the Texas-based federal judge who ruled against a state law requiring women to undergo a sonogram before getting an abortion, was upset that lawyers for two men and Brigham Oil & Natural Gas, L.P. were asking the court to quash subpoenas issued to them on behalf of James L. Woods. The lawyers maintained that the subpoenas were not properly served, were overly broad and unduly burdensome, and sought privileged information.

In response, Sparks invited them to a "kindergarten party" originally scheduled for today at 10 a.m. Thursday, but subsequently cancelled, where they would have learned how to "telephone and communicate with a lawyer," "enter into reasonable agreements about deposition dates," "limit depositions to reasonable subject matter" and why "it is neither cute nor clever to attempt to quash a subpoena for technical failures of service when notice is reasonably given."

"Please remember to bring a sack lunch!" Sparks wrote. "The United States Marshals have beds available if necessary, so you may wish to bring a toothbrush in case the party runs late."
Collapse )
I'm not crying.

Jury unable to reach verdict in killing of gay student Larry King

A jury has been unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of Brandon McInerney, the 17-year-old accused of shooting a gay classmate to death in 2008.

The jury began deliberating Friday, weighing eight weeks of testimony in a trial that included nearly 100 witnesses. Many of those testifying were students and teachers at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard who saw tensions on campus rising after 15-year-old Larry King began coming to school dressed in makeup and girl's boots.

McInerney, then 14, shot King twice in the back of the head in a school computer lab on Feb. 12, 2008. The prosecution says it was a calculated murder carried out in part because McInerney was exploring white supremacist ideology and didn't like homosexuals.

Collapse )

la times

I have no words that aren't a string of obscenities. I thought the gay panic defense was illegal in California?

UCLA Math Major Fighting in Libya

The Internet's newest fascination is a guy named Chis Jeon, a 21-year-old math major at UCLA, who decided a fun way to finish out his summer vacation would be to fly to Libya and fight with the rebels there. Now we want to know everything about him stateside, so we've done a bit of web stalking to learn more. Perhaps Jeon, who will be a senior this year, is getting a jump on the kind of post-college diversionary position Jennifer 8. Lee wrote about in The New York Times on Thursday.

Kristen Chick, the Christian Science Monitor's Egypt correspondent, was one of the first Western journalists to find Jeon, whom she photographed holding an assault rifle and wearing a blue Los Angeles basketball jersey. He told her, "At spring break I told my friends a 'sick' vacation would be to come here and fight with the rebels." Jeon's story is priceless not just because it's a really weird thing to do -- he flew to Cairo on a one-way ticket, then snuck into Libya and linked up with the rebels, mostly communicating through sign language -- but because Jeon is so darned goofy. His reason for the one-way ticket, as told to The National's Bradley Hope: "If I get captured or something, I don’t want to waste another US$800." And Hope's description of him trying to use a gun is priceless: " 'How do you fire this thing?' he asked on Wednesday as a bearded rebel handed him an AK-47. Locating the trigger of the assault rifle and switching off the safety, Mr Jeon fired it in the air in two short bursts."

Jeon's Facebook profile shows a photo of him at what the LA Weekly identified as the Coachella music festival.Collapse )


Uh. IDEK what to make of this. I mean, on the one hand, he's very brave? OTOH, it seems like he did this because it would be "sick" and he can go home anytime he wants. (ETA: sorry about the ginormous photo. Should I hide it?)
ontd → glasses!rdj

Women executives could wait 98 years for equal pay, says report

Women may have had equal voting rights since 1928, but they may have to wait another 98 years for parity in pay, research has found.

While the salaries of female executives are increasing faster than those of their male counterparts, it will take until 2109 to close the gap if pay grows at current rates, the Chartered Management Institute reveals.

Collapse )

Jasmine Sketch
  • kangofu

Ready to puke in your suit?

25 CEOs of the richest American corporations earned more than their firms paid in taxes: report
Source - NY Daily News
Wednesday, August 31st 2011, 2:08 PM

Twenty five CEOs of the richest American corporations got paid more last year than their entire firms coughed up to Uncle Sam, a bombshell new report says.

"These CEOs are reaping awesomely lavish rewards for the tax-dodging they have their corporations do," concluded the report from the liberal Institute for Policy Studies.

The companies, which include familiar corporate giants Boeing, Ford, eBay, General Electric, Verizon and Prudential, made an average of $1.9 billion in global profits each in 2010.

Tax shelters and clever accounting - 18 of the 25 have subsidiaries in offshore tax havens like Luxembourg - most of the companies actually got an average refund of $304 million instead of filling the federal coffers, the report says.

And their CEOs waltzed off with an average of $16.7 million in salary and bonuses, the group found.

Collapse )
Cat Squint
  • kangofu

Cable: UN peacekeepers traded food for sex

Cable: UN peacekeepers traded food for sex
Source - AP News

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — United Nations peacekeepers in Ivory Coast enticed underage girls in a poor part of the West African nation to exchange sex for food, according to a United States Embassy cable released by WikiLeaks.

The cable written in January 2010 focuses on the behavior of Beninese peacekeepers stationed in the western town of Toulepleu, an area that has been at the crosshairs of the nation's 10-year-long conflict.

A random poll of 10 underage girls in Toulepleu by aid group Save The Children U.K. in 2009 found that eight performed sexual acts for Benin peacekeepers on a regular basis in order to secure their most basic needs. "Eight of the 10 said they had ongoing sexual relationships with Beninese soldiers in exchange for food or lodging," the diplomat wrote in the cable, citing information shared with the embassy by a protection officer.

Collapse )