September 20th, 2011

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Racial Bias Seen in Study of Lead Dust and Children

Racial Bias Seen in Study of Lead Dust and Children

A class-action lawsuit was filed Thursday against a prominent Baltimore medical institute, accusing it of knowingly exposing black children as young as a year old to lead poisoning in the 1990s as part of a study exploring the hazards of lead paint.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that more than 100 children were endangered by high levels of lead dust in their homes despite assurances from the Kennedy Krieger Institute that the houses were “lead safe.”

The institute, a research and patient care facility for children that is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, periodically tested the children’s blood to determine lead levels.

But, the lawsuit said, Kennedy Krieger provided no medical treatment to the children, who ranged in age from 12 months to 5 years old. Lead exposure was a significant cause of permanent neurological injuries in some of the children, according to the suit. Johns Hopkins, which approved the study, is not a defendant in the lawsuit.

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A Movable ‘Sesame Street,’ Where Children Can Grieve

Source: New York Times

Elmo danced alone beside the stage, flapping his arms as he waited for fans to approach. Cookie Monster tracked blue fuzz across the hardwood floors. The voice of Oscar the Grouch extolled the virtues of trash over the speaker system.

And in a quiet corner, Amanda Rivera, 12, fastened red puzzle pieces onto a white cardboard heart: a tribute to her father, William Rivera, a New York police officer who died after being injured in the line of duty in 2004.

“I think about him, like, every day,” Amanda said, looking up from her work. A group of children joined her table.

“We all have the same problem,” she said.

On Sunday, Amanda was among the scores of children to gather at Chelsea Piers for a family fun day, hosted by the Sesame Workshop and geared toward those who had lost a parent or close relative.

The event, organizers said, had dual ambitions. For adults, there were several local support groups, providing information on how to help children reconcile the death of someone close to them. And for the children, the get-together amounted to a day of escape — and, if they chose, a day to remember.

As some families waited in line to meet Elmo and Rosita, the bilingual Muppet, others spent the morning decorating ceramic hearts. The hearts were to be delivered, along with brief messages, to grieving strangers as part of a program called Hearts of Hope. As part of the same program, each child on Sunday received a heart that had been made elsewhere.

One woman who lost her husband in the Sept. 11 attack attended with her three children. She encouraged the eventual recipient of the heart she made to remain strong.

A 7-year-old named Jaid adorned a heart with a pink sheen and golden stripes. “I loved my brother very much,” Jaid’s accompanying message read. “He was happy and I want you to be happy too.”

Darren Finkel, 32, of Cranford, N.J., arrived with his mother, Debbie, and his 2-year-old daughter, Ellie. Mr. Finkel’s wife died of colon cancer in April. He said the show’s foray into bereavement counseling provided parents with a powerful educational resource. Last year, “Sesame Street” broadcast a special about grief that included the death of Elmo’s uncle.

“Sesame Street is a staple for them,” Mr. Finkel said, with Ellie at his feet. “In some ways, Elmo’s coping with loss is a mirror for young kids.”

Kevin Clash, who has performed as Elmo for more than 30 years, said “Sesame Street” might be “the safest place” for children to confront such serious subjects. (Mr. Clash entertained the children with an Elmo puppet during the event. Another performer worked the room in a full-body Elmo costume.)

Sunday’s event — sponsored by New York Life and tied to the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 — was the latest iteration of a program that was formed in 2006, to counsel military families.

“The power of these Muppets is to make kids smile,” said Lynn Chwatsky, who helped put together the event for Sesame Workshop. “Today is not about ‘woe is you.’ ”

A Bronx woman, who declined to give her name, said that since her husband’s suicide last year, their 4-year-old daughter, Julia, had struggled to discuss her grief with friends. An event like this, she said, allowed Julia to meet children in the same position — and talk about it.

“She was only 3,” the woman said, adjusting the balloon animal hat atop her daughter’s head. “It’s important to talk about him.”

Julia, beginning on Sept. 27, is to attend group counseling sessions in Bronxville, N.Y., for two hours, every other week. As she prepared to make a beeline for the familiar characters across the room, her mother asked what she planned to speak about at her first session.

“Daddy,” she said, smiling. “And Cookie Monster.”


ETA: Just realized some of you might want to see these if you haven't already. Elmo and his father dealing with his Uncle's passing:

Some of the clips are there. Elmo's uncle died and it shows Elmo, his dad, and his cousin talking about him. It was beautiful.

There's another one about the war. Elmo and Rosita's fathers both served, and Rosita's father no longer as use of his legs.

Israelis, Palestinians smile for camera.

Portraits of ordinary people appear on bridges, billboards and broken-down buses all over Israel, West Bank as part of project created by prize-winning French street artist JR

Large black-and-white portraits have been appearing on bridges, billboards and broken-down buses all over Israel and the West Bank as part of an international project that allows people to turn pictures of themselves into works of art or political statements.

The portraits of ordinary Israelis and Palestinians are part of a project created by a prize-winning French street artist known only as JR. The project, Inside Out, gets people worldwide to make a statement by having their photo taken and then printed on posters that they can then hang in a place they find significant.

Inside Out started in Tunisia in March and has also been to North Dakota in the US, Scotland and South Africa.

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Winged Shinigami

DADT Officially Ended

It's official: `Don’t ask don’t tell’ is history
By Greg Sargent

It’s over: The United States Army has become the first branch of the armed services to formally end its “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. An announcement is expected for tomorrow, but my Post colleague Ed O’Keefe obtained the actual document sent to soldiers around the globe today announcing the change:

Today marks the end of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” The law is repealed. From this day forward, gay and lesbian Soldiers may serve in our Army with the dignity and respect they deserve. Our rules, regulations and politics reflect the repeal guidance issued by the Department of Defense and will apply uniformly without regard to sexual orientation, which is a personal and private matter.
For over 236 years, the U.S. Army has been an extraordinary force for good in the world. Our Soldiers are the most agile, adaptable and capable warriors in history — and we are ready for this change...
Accordingly, we expect all personnel to follow our Values by implementing the repeal fully, fairly and in accordance with policy guidance. It is the duty of all personnel to treat each other with dignity and respect, while maintaining good order and discipline throughout our ranks. Doing so, will help the U.S. Army remain the Strength of the Nation.

Separately, the military has begun accepting applications from openly gay recruits. Though there wasn’t any serious doubt about the policy being officially repealed, some gay activists had remained guarded until the end. “Seems this is for real,” John Aravosis noted with relief today.

It’s easy to forget this — after all, repeal passed Congress and was signed by the president a full nine months ago — but even when repeal seemed within reach, success was anything but assured. It only came after a nearly pitch-perfect effort by Obama and the military leadership to create the political conditions necessary to bring about repeal, as well as well as some very shrewd public and private gamesmanship by Senate leaders that left GOP moderates with little choice but to do the right thing. It will be endlessly debated whether Obama and Dems did this in response to outside pressure, but the fact is, they did it.

The understated language in the Army’s announcement, its simple restatement of what seems so right, just, and true, serves as a reminder that this should have been a no-brainer all along. Indeed, the quietness of the announcement makes it sound like repeal was a no-brainer. The magnitude of our current challenges — and the volume of ongoing political rancor — risk making the successful securing of repeal seem in retrospect like a sideshow. But make no mistake. It was an extremely hard-fought win — a massive victory for common sense and decency over bigotry and legalized discrimination. At a difficult moment, it stands as a sorely needed reminder that progress remains possible. Let’s not forget it.

By Greg Sargent
04:09 PM ET, 09/19/2011
Gryffindor corgi
  • jettakd

Dear Facebook: Rape Is No Joke

September 19, 2011 by Angi Becker Stevens

According to Facebook’s terms of service, users are not permitted to post content that is hateful, threatening or incites violence. But it appears that, in the minds of the Facebook powers-that-be, pages that encourage rape don’t violate that rule.

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Facebook is certainly not responsible for the prevalence of sexual assault in our society. But those in a position of power at Facebook are responsiblefor the choice they make to either condone or condemn the use of sexual assault as humor. Silence, as the saying goes, is acceptance. And Facebook’s refusal to take sexual violence seriously is exactly the kind of complicit silence that rape culture thrives on.

There is a petition at the source to end the pages. Please sign it as it is almost to its goal. Also, apologies if my formatting isn't great, as I am having to use Rich Text.
Pride & Prejudice

France's burqa ban: women are 'effectively under house arrest'

Hind Ahmas walks into a brasserie in the north Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois. Jaws drop, shoulders tighten and a look of disgust ripples across the faces of haggard men sipping coffee at the bar.

"Hang on, what's all this? Isn't that banned?" splutters the outraged waiter behind the bar, waving a wine bottle at her niqab. Ahmas stands firm, clutches her handbag with black-gloved hands and says: "Call the police then." But she decides there's no point fighting. We cross the road to a cafe where she's a regular. No one bats an eyelid; the boss certainly doesn't want to lose her custom. Ahmas is breaking the law by ordering an espresso and sitting in a booth in the window. But these days she is breaking the law by stepping outside her own front door.

In April, France introduced a law against covering your face in public. Muslim women in full-face veils, or niqab, are now banned from any public activity including walking down the street, taking a bus, going to the shops or collecting their children from school. French politicians in favour of the ban said they were acting to protect the "gender equality" and "dignity" of women.

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The Gang
  • acmeeoy

Bipartisan Consensus: Immunity for the Elite, Imprisonment of the Disadvantaged

U.S. to build new massive prison in Bagram

As the Obama administration announced plans for hundreds of billions of dollars more in domestic budget cuts, it late last week solicited bids for the construction of a massive new prison in Bagram, Afghanistan.  Posted on the aptly named FedBizOps.Gov website which it uses to announce new privatized spending projects, the administration unveiled plans for "the construction of Detention Facility in Parwan (DFIP), Bagram, Afghanistan" which includes "detainee housing capability for approximately 2000 detainees."  It will also feature "guard towers, administrative facility and Vehicle/Personnel Access Control Gates, security surveillance and restricted access systems."  The announcement provided: "the estimated cost of the project is between $25,000,000 to $100,000,000."

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Jose Padilla and how American Justice Functions

The story of Jose Padilla, continuing through the events of yesterday, expresses so much of the true nature of the War on Terror and especially America's justice system.  In 2002, the American citizen was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, publicly labeled by John Ashcroft as The Dirty Bomber, and then imprisoned for the next three years on U.S. soil as an "enemy combatant" without charges of any kind, and denied all contact with the outside world, including even a lawyer.  During his lawless incarceration, he was kept not just in extreme solitary confinement but extreme sensory deprivation as well, and was abused and tortured to the point of severe and probably permanent mental incapacity (Bush lawyers told a court that they were unable to produce videos of Padilla's interrogations because those videos were mysteriously and tragically "lost").

Needless to say, none of the government officials responsible for this abuse of a U.S. citizen on American soil has been held accountable in any way.  That's because President Obama decreed that Bush officials shall not be criminally investigated for War on Terror crimes, while his Justice Department vigorously defended John Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld and other responsible functionaries in civil suits brought by Padilla seeking damages for what was done to him. 

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Teach the Controversy

It's Official: PETA cares more about debasing women(/people) than they do about animal rights

PETA Plans Porn Website To Promote Message


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is planning to launch a pornographic website to promote its animal rights and vegan diet message, a move that critics say will backfire and ostracize them from mainstream society.

PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles on Tuesday that the group has applied with ICM Registry to launch the website

Rajt says the site will feature "tantalizing" videos and photographs, which will lead viewers into animal rights messages. She noted that Norfolk-based PETA has used porn stars and nudity to get its message across in the past, including an annual speech online in which a PETA representative undresses. That video later shares a message about slaughterhouses.

She says a pornographic site will allow PETA to reach a broader audience and that publicity about the site is just as important.

"I think the bottom line is we live a in a 24-hour news cycle where over the years we've found our racier actions are kind of a fast track way to get people to stand up and pay attention about the plight of animals," she said.

Rajt says November is the earliest that PETA could receive approval for the site. Critics say that by resorting to pornography, PETA is alienating itself from a large swath of the population that might otherwise be sympathetic to its cause.

"I just don't want to understand why they want to offend people who would potentially support at least part of their cause. There have got to be other ways to draw attention to their cause," said Robert Peters, general counsel for the New York-based anti-pornography group Morality in Media. "Metaphorically speaking, they're getting in bed with hard-core pornographers to prevent cruelty to animals. That borders on insanity."

Rajt said PETA officials would track the website to determine if people are viewing the animal rights messages and not just the nudity. Past experience has shown that they will, she said.

J. Justin Wilson, senior research analyst for the food-industry backed Center for Consumer Freedom, said moves like this by PETA make them increasingly irrelevant in mainstream society.

"They don't seem to be changing the debate anymore, I think in large part because people are writing them off as whack jobs," he said from Washington. "This is one more example of them being their own worst enemy. If they're trying to win the hearts and minds of people considering being vegetarians, this is probably the wrong way to do it."

The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. first reported PETA's plans.


[me] elial silver makeup

Texas GOP Rep: "Of Course This Is A War On Birth Control!"

The GOP’s concerted campaign against women’s health has resulted in about 1,000 anti-abortion bills in state legislatures across the country and numerous federal attempts to eradicate a woman’s right to choose. The extremity of the efforts include attempts to redefine “personhood,” put warning labels on contraception, and criminalize birth control altogether. But while they smother women’s rights with one hand, Republicans insist “we are not attacking women” on the other. “This is not a war against women,” said Republican founder of WomanTrend Kellyanne Conway.

Texas Rep. Wayne Christian (R), however, begs to differ. With Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) at the helm, Texas Republicans have passed an “emergency” law forcing women to view a sonogram before an abortion, threatened a poor women’s health care program over Planned Parenthood funding, are seeking to restrict hospitals and physicians over abortion procedures, and has cut funding for family planning clinics by two-thirds.

When asked whether Texas’s anti-family planning efforts were “a war on birth control,” Christian replied, “Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything”:

The goal is to get government money out of the abortion process and if contraceptive services have to suffer a bit of collateral damage in the process, so be it. When The Texas Tribune asked state Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Nacogdoches), a supporter of the family planning cuts, if this was a war on birth control, he said “yes.”

“Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything, that’s what family planning is supposed to be about,” Christian said.

Family planning clinics are routinely referred to by many Texas Republican legislators as “abortion clinics” even though none of the 71 family planning clinics in the state that receive government funding provide abortions. Texas and federal law prohibits that, but most women’s health clinics will refer women or teens who want an abortion to a provider.

“They’re sitting here, referring women out to receive abortions,” Christian said in an interview with NPR. “Those are the clinics, including Planned Parenthood, we were targeting.”

While disturbing, Christian’s honesty is a refreshing change from Republicans’ more common defense that cuts to women’s health care will save money. As NPR notes, the state estimates that 300,000 women will lose access to family planning services because of these cuts, resulting in roughly 20,000 additional unplanned births. “Texas already spends $1.3 billion on teen pregnancies — more than any other state.”

There is no doubt that Republicans across the country are waging a comprehensive war against women’s health. At least Christian is willing to admit it.


Wow. One of them finally out-and-out admitted it... I feel so bad for people living in Texas, and so very glad I no longer live there. This is just ludicrous. I'm just waiting for someone to admit that it's a large scale war on women.

GOP Concerned that Disaster Relief Aid is a Socialist Plot. Will Shut Down Gov Until Threat Averted.

If You Loved The Debt Ceiling Debate, Then You Are Going to Love This! Coming this Fall, "Government Shut Down, Part II: The Revenge of Government Handouts!" (Shutting Down Nationwide. Consult Your Pundit for Advance Tickets.)

Reid: I’m Not Confident A Government Shutdown Can Be Avoided

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) insisted Tuesday that Democrats will not back down in their disagreement with Republicans overhow much disaster relief money to provide FEMA and therefore that the threat of a government shutdown is very real.

House Republicans
and Senate Democrats are at odds over a provision in legislation to avoid a government shutdown to provide relief to disaster-stricken parts of the country. Democrats are pushing for several billion additional dollars in disaster relief, and are livid over GOP insistence that these funds be offset (specifically with a controversial budget cut to a hybrid vehicle program.)

"If they want to stay into next week, that's fine, we can do that...we can work all next week. The government doesn't shut down until I think it's a week from Saturday," Reid told reporters at his weekly Capitol briefing. "Senator McConnell said there will be no shutdown. I'm not that sure. I'm not that sure. Because the Tea Party-driven House of Representatives has been so unreasonable in the past I don't know why they should suddenly be reasonable."

Last week, Senate Democrats along with 10 Republicans, passed a bill to re-up FEMA's disaster relief account by nearly $7 billion, with no
offsetting budget cuts. Reid is insisting that this legislation be included in a broader House package to fund the rest of the government. But Republican leaders say Reid's plan is DOA in the House.

For now, Reid and House Republicans are only toying with the possibility of a shutdown. But the two parties will have to reach some accommodation by September 30, or that's what will happen. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confidently predicted Congress will avoid that outcome, but Reid's not convinced.

"We're not going to cave in on this," Reid said. "it's a matter of principle."


On the Dangers of Celebrating Halloween

Now that the stores have begun selling Halloween costumes and candy corn, I am reminded of an amazing post from a few years ago in Charisma Magazine.

The publication describes itself as "the flagship magazine of Charisma Media." For over 30 years, Charisma has been "a trusted source of news, teaching and inspiration to help spread the gospel of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit."

This piece is a doozy. If you want something to get your family in the Halloween spirit, gather your kids around the fire on a dark, October night, and read to them from the words of Kimberly Daniels

You really need to read the whole piece, but I'll get right to the juicy bits for you:
Anti-Halloween Chick Tract
The word "holiday" means "holy day." But there is nothing holy about Halloween. The root word of Halloween is "hallow," which means "holy, consecrated and set apart for service." If this holiday is hallowed, whose service is it set apart for? The answer to that question is very easy—Lucifer's!

Lucifer is a part of the demonic godhead. Remember, everything God has, the devil has a counterfeit. Halloween is a counterfeit holy day that is dedicated to celebrating the demonic trinity of : the Luciferian Spirit (the false father); the Antichrist Spirit (the false holy spirit); and the Spirit of Belial (the false son).

The key word in discussing Halloween is "dedicated." It is dedicated to darkness and is an accursed season. During Halloween, time-released curses are always loosed. A time-released curse is a period that has been set aside to release demonic activity and to ensnare souls in great measure.

If you haven't got chills yet, hang on:
During this period demons are assigned against those who participate in the rituals and festivities. These demons are automatically drawn to the fetishes that open doors for them to come into the lives of human beings. For example, most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches.
Most of the candy is prayed over by witches!!  Each October, I am drawn to candy corn as if it were crack cocaine, and now I know why.

It is unclear which candy corporations do not employ witches in their factories, but Ms. Daniels seems to know her stuff, so just know that you're playing with your soul if you partake at all.

Daniels continues her blood-curdling tale:
I do not buy candy during the Halloween season. Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store. The demons cannot tell the difference.
She then walks us through her 'Halloween has roots in paganism' routine, which makes me wonder if she celebrates Christmas.

If you had any doubts as to whether Ms. Daniels has a mental disorder, you need only read the passage:
Halloween is much more than a holiday filled with fun and tricks or treats. It is a time for the gathering of evil that masquerades behind the fictitious characters of Dracula, werewolves, mummies and witches on brooms. The truth is that these demons that have been presented as scary cartoons actually exist. I have prayed for witches who are addicted to drinking blood and howling at the moon.

The danger of Halloween is not in the scary things we see but in the secret, wicked, cruel activities that go on behind the scenes. These activities include:

  • Sex with demons
  • Orgies between animals and humans
  • Animal and human sacrifices
  • Sacrificing babies to shed innocent blood
  • Rape and molestation of adults, children and babies
  • Revel nights
  • Conjuring of demons and casting of spells
  • Release of "time-released" curses against the innocent and the ignorant.
There is no doubt in my heart that God is not calling us to replace fall festivals and Halloween activities; rather, He wants us to utterly destroy the deeds of this season. If you or your family members have opened the door to any curses that are released during the demonic fall festivals, renounce them and repent. I already have. Then declare with me: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!"

Now, while Daniels' piece is pretty funny to anyone with critical thinking skills, it's important to note that this is a piece of writing that appeared in a publication that has been "a trusted source of news, teaching and inspiration" for over 30 years. It's a reminder that Ms. Daniels' supernatural views on a harmless childhood tradition, although extreme, are not as rare as you might imagine.

It's a reminder that there are religious loons out there peddling the craziest nonsense imaginable, and that there are other religious loons who believe that this particular nonsense is worth broadcasting to their entire readership. And, like a nasty fall virus, some poor soul at the receiving end, with questionable critical thinking skills, is infected with nonsense. 

After all, why would their source of "trusted news, teaching, and inspiration" print it if it weren't true?


I love this time of year, though the crazies coming out like this tend to give me the willies.

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Unemployment And Religion: Their Faith Affects How Americans View Jobs Crisis, Survey Says

Unemployment And Religion: Their Faith Affects How Americans View Jobs Crisis, Survey Says

As the nation struggles with 9.1 percent unemployment and President Barack Obama pushes a $447 billion job creation bill, a new survey shows that religion plays a significant role in how Americans view possible solutions to the country's economic woes.

The Baylor University study, which was presented at a Religion Newswriters Association conference in North Carolina over the weekend and publicly released Tuesday, found that Americans who believe God has a plan for their lives are more likely to think the government "does too much," more likely to oppose unemployment benefits for healthy people and more likely to believe in the "American dream" that anything is possible for those who work hard.

"These are unsettling times. In the last three years, Americans have experienced the financial and real estate crisis, recession, unemployment," said F. Carson Mencken, director of the Baylor Religion Survey and a professor of sociology.

"The mission of this analysis is to assess how Americans feel about their lives in these tumultuous times. Do they still believe in the American dream? Do they feel they have control over their lives?" he explained.

Of the 1,714 Americans nationwide surveyed by the Waco, Texas-based Baptist university, 40.9 percent said they "strongly agree" that "God has a plan for me," while 32.2 percent "agree," 12.3 percent "disagree" and 14.6 percent "strongly disagree." Those who strongly agree that God has a plan were more than twice as likely as those who strongly disagree that God has a plan to say that "the government does too much" -- 52.6 percent to 21 percent.

Similarly, the strong believers in God's plan were more than twice as likely as the strong disbelievers to say that healthy people should not receive unemployment benefits -- 52.6 percent to 21.1 percent.

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yeah so no
  • homasse

Born-Again Christians Only: Daycare Parents, Staff Angry Over Center's Evangelical Changes

Born-Again Christians Only: Daycare Parents, Staff Angry Over Center's Evangelical Changes
As the Happy Time Daycare becomes the Point of Grace Children's Academy, staffers are required to reapply for their jobs with this warning: No gays, no Jews or other non-Christians.

A Waukee church is being criticized by angry parents for forcing child-care staffers to adhere to Christian principles, banning non-Christians, sexually-active singles, male-female roommates and practicing homosexuals from employment.

On Friday, staff members of the Happy Time Preschool & Daycare received letters informing them that the center was being reorganized into the Point of Grace Children’s Academy. Previously, the center operated in Waukee's Point of Grace Church, but religious affiliation was not stressed there, said former employees and parents.

Employees wanting to remain needed to reapply for their positions and agree to the new guidelines. These new guidelines were spelled out in a Christian Lifestyle Agreement included with employment applications. The agreement states that “every employee accept and follow a lifestyle commitment based upon Biblical principles.”

That lifestyle means regular attendance at a Christian church, no sex outside of marriage, no homosexual conduct, no viewing of pornography, no drug or alcohol use, and no vulgar language, according to the application posted on the church's website.

Point of Grace, an evangelical Christian church in Waukee, housed the Happy Time Daycare for three years. The daycare leases space from the church; it is unclear whether church officials hired and paid the daycare employees or whether they worked for another entity.

Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, running for the GOP presidential nomination, spoke to the church and listened as its pastor Jeff Mullen, railed against homosexuality as "unnatural," "immoral," and later showed a video of a man who claimed to be gay until finding God, according to NBC News. The pastor has endorsed Bachmann for president.

Mullen, speaking by phone Wednesday night to WHO-AM Radio said he was surprised some parents were upset and that the media reported the story. He said he expected members of the church's congregation to follow the same missive on how to live their lives handed down to staff of the daycare last week.

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Troy Davis clemency bid denied on execution eve

ATLANTA - Georgia's pardons board rejected clemency for Troy Davis on Tuesday, one day before his scheduled execution, despite high-profile support from figures including an ex-president and a former FBI director for the claim that he was wrongly convicted of killing a police officer in 1989.

Davis is scheduled to die Wednesday by injection for killing off-duty Savannah officer Mark MacPhail, who was shot dead while rushing to help a homeless man being attacked. It is the fourth time in four years that Davis' execution has been scheduled by Georgia officials.

"Justice was finally served for my father," said Mark MacPhail Jr., who was an infant when his father was gunned down. "The truth was finally heard."

Kim Davis, the inmate's sister, declined immediate comment on the decision.

Steve Hayes, spokesman for the Board of Pardons and Paroles, said the panel decided to reject Davis' request for clemency after hearing hours of testimony Monday from his supporters and prosecutors. The board did not elaborate on the decision and didn't detail the breakdown of the five-member board's vote.

CBS News chief legal analyst Andrew Cohen described the denial of clemency as "routine."

"Parole boards almost never grant clemency, so this is not a surprise," Cohen said. "Now if Wednesday's execution is going to be halted it's going to have to come from the federal courts, and the U.S. Supreme Court in particular, which last week halted a Texas execution."

High court halts Duane Buck's Texas execution
Video: Duane Buck execution stay puts focus on Perry
Perry speaks out on Supreme Court's stay of Texas death row case

The decision appeared to leave Davis with little chance of avoiding the execution date. Defense attorney Jason Ewart has said that the pardons board was likely Davis' last option, but he didn't rule out filing another legal appeal.

Davis' lawyers have long argued Davis was a victim of mistaken identity. But prosecutors say they have no doubt that they charged the right person with the crime.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who plans a noon EDT vigil at the state prison in Jackson on Wednesday, said he's asking his supporters to urge the pardons board to reconsider. And he is also asking Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm to block the execution.

"This is probably the most egregious injustice I have seen in a long time, to set a precedent that a man can be executed when the evidence against him has mostly been recanted," said Sharpton. "It's unthinkable."

Last-ditch effort underway to stop Ga. execution
More opposition to pending Troy Davis execution

Chisolm has said it's unlikely he will seek to intervene.

"What stands between the defendant and execution is the Board of Pardons and Paroles," Chisolm said on Friday. "And I think whatever decision they make in the case will probably be the final decision."

Davis has captured worldwide attention because of the doubt his supporters have raised over whether he killed MacPhail. Several of the witnesses who helped convict Davis at his 1991 trial have backed off their testimony or recanted. Others who did not testify say another man at the scene admitted to the shooting.

The U.S. Supreme Court even granted Davis a hearing last year to prove his innocence, the first time it had done so for a death row inmate in at least 50 years. But in that June 2010 hearing, Davis couldn't convince a federal judge to grant him a new trial. The Supreme Court did not review his case. Federal appeals courts and the Georgia Supreme Court have upheld his conviction, leaving the parole board as his last chance.

MacPhail's relatives said they were relieved by the decision. "That's what we wanted, and that's what we got," said Anneliese MacPhail, the victim's mother. "We wanted to get it over with, and for him to get his punishment."

Amnesty International USA director Larry Cox called the pardon board's decision "unconscionable."

"Should Troy Davis be executed, Georgia may well have executed an innocent man and in so doing discredited the justice system," Cox said.

Amnesty International and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have scheduled a press conference on the case and a 7 p.m. demonstration on the steps of the Georgia Capitol.

Among those who supported Davis' clemency request are President Carter and Pope Benedict XVI. A host of conservative figures have also advocated on his behalf, including former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, ex-Justice Department official Larry Thompson and one-time FBI Director William Sessions.

Davis' legal team said in a statement it was "incredibly disappointed" by the board's decision.

"The death penalty should not be exercised where doubt exists about the guilt of the accused. The Board did not follow that standard here," he said. "The state's case against Mr. Davis, based largely on discredited eyewitness testimony and an inaccurate ballistics report, cannot resolve the significant, lingering doubts that exist here."


sorry for the failpost(s)
The Pandorica opens

Pricey For-Profit Colleges Target Vets' GI Bill Money

Last winter, the Department of Veterans Affairs tasked its newly hired blogger, a cantankerous Iraq vet named Alex Horton, with investigating the website, one of many official-looking links that come up when you Google terms like "GI Bill schools." With names like and, these sites purport to inform military veterans how to best use their education benefits. In reality, Horton found, they're run by marketing firms hired by for-profit colleges to extol the virtues of high-priced online or evening courses. He concluded that "serves little purpose other than to funnel student veterans and convince them their options for education are limited to their advertisers."

The 65-year-old GI Bill is widely credited with transforming post-World War II America by subsidizing vets' college education and fueling the expansion of the middle class. Yet recently, the program has also become a cash cow for for-profit schools like Capella, DeVry, ITT Tech, Kaplan, and the University of Phoenix, eager to capitalize on vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a beefier post-9/11 GI Bill has kicked in, a surge of service members has left the ranks armed with benefits that will cover the full cost of attending public college. In 2009, the for-profits took in almost as much military money as public colleges, even though they enrolled about one-third the number of vets.Spending on military education benefits has shot up to $10 billion; for-profit schools' share of that money has gone up 600 percent, as revealed in a recent PBS Frontline exposé. For example, at Kaplan—owned by the Washington Post Co.—military revenues grew to an estimated $48.9 million last year, up from $2.6 million in 2006.

The result has been a bonanza for schools' executives and shareholders. "We didn't foresee that the for-profit sector, eager to please Wall Street investors, would go after this new funding aggressively, often in ways that are not in the best interests of veterans and service members," stated Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) after leading an investigation into 30 major for-profits earlier this year. Or as one University of Phoenix alum put it on, the school "treats military students like cash piñatas."

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#OccupyWallStreet continues to be poorly covered, absurd arrests continue being made.

99 Percenters Occupy Wall Street
Posted on Sep 20, 2011
By Amy Goodman

If 2,000 tea party activists descended on Wall Street, you would probably have an equal number of reporters there covering them. Yet 2,000 people did occupy Wall Street on Saturday. They weren’t carrying the banner of the tea party, the Gadsden flag with its coiled snake and the threat “Don’t Tread on Me.” Yet their message was clear: “We are the 99 percent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent.” They were there, mostly young, protesting the virtually unregulated speculation of Wall Street that caused the global financial meltdown.

One of New York’s better-known billionaires, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, commented on the protests: “You have a lot of kids graduating college, can’t find jobs. That’s what happened in Cairo. That’s what happened in Madrid. You don’t want those kinds of riots here.” Riots? Is that really what the Arab Spring and the European protests are about?

Perhaps to the chagrin of Mayor Bloomberg, that is exactly what inspired many who occupied Wall Street. In its most recent communique, the Wall Street protest umbrella group said: “On Saturday we held a general assembly, two thousand strong. ... By 8 p.m. on Monday we still held the plaza, despite constant police presence. ... We are building the world that we want to see, based on human need and sustainability, not corporate greed.”

MORE at source

Occupy Wall Street: Protesters Violently Arrested in New York
Sep 20, 2011
Jo Harrington

Eye-witnesses are claiming police brutality accompanied three arrests in New York City's Zuccotti Park. NYPD sought to tear down tents and stop livestream.

Watched in real time by an international audience, New York's police officers moved in on Zuccotti Park. It was 7.20am, on September 20th 2011, and a light rain was falling over the 200-300 people camping out there. They had been there for four days, as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest. What began as a request from police, to remove tents and tarpaulin, ended in seven arrests. Onlookers claimed these were too violent.

The Global Revolution Livestream captured much of the incident, channeling the footage in real time to its 3000 plus viewers. In addition, some protesters were filming the arrests, then they uploaded their videos onto YouTube.

Why Were People Arrested in New York City's Zuccotti Park?

The Occupy Wall Street protesters had erected tents and draped tarpaulin over themselves and their supplies. Of particular concern was the food, water and electrical equipment, which could have been damaged in the rain. A police officer gave them five minutes to remove these covers, complaining that they constituted illegal structures. An on-site legal advisor informed demonstrators that this was only true of shelters which were attached to the trees. Police also demanded that signs be taken down.

MORE at source

There's been at least one post about #OccupyWallStreet but the situation is constantly evolving. I strongly recommend that anyone who is able to get to Wall Street for this... get to Wall Street for this, or find out about what's being planned in your own locale. I'm pessimistic about this event in and of itself— it seems more like the first frost that comes before you can get real winter storms, rather than the actual first blizzard. But that doesn't mean winter isn't coming. (That was exclusively for celtic_thistle. Also, could we get an #OccupyWallStreet tag?)
garf tired

Young People See Online Slurs As Just Joking, Poll Shows

Young People See Online Slurs As Just Joking, Poll Shows


WASHINGTON — Young people immersed in the online world are encountering racist and sexist slurs and other name-calling that probably would appall their parents and teachers. And most consider it no big deal, a new poll says.

Teens and twentysomethings say in an Associated Press-MTV poll that people feel freer to use hurtful language when texting on their cellphones or posting to sites like Facebook than they would face to face. Half the young people regularly see discriminatory slang – including racial taunts and words like "slut," "fag" and "retard" – and the majority say they aren't very offended by it.

Those surveyed are twice as likely to say biased slurs are used to be funny as they are to think that the user is expressing hateful feelings toward a group of people. Another popular reason: to sound cool.

"They might be really serious, but you take it as a joke," said Kervin Browner II, 20, a junior at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. He's black but says the ugly words he sees are generally aimed at women, not minorities. And although Browner doesn't like it, he doesn't protest when his friends use those words on Twitter. "That's just how it is," he said. "People in their own minds, they think it's cool."

When the question is asked broadly, half of young people say using discriminatory words is wrong. But 54 percent think it's OK to use them within their own circle of friends, because "I know we don't mean it." And they don't worry much about whether the things they tap into their cellphones and laptops could reach a wider audience and get them into trouble.

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When Science gets pwned: Geektastic Joy helps to decipher HIV (kinda).

Online gamers have achieved a feat beyond the realm of Second Life or Dungeons and Dragons: they have deciphered the structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus that had thwarted scientists for a decade.


The exploit is published on Sunday in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, where -- exceptionally in scientific publishing -- both gamers and researchers are honoured as co-authors.

Their target was a monomeric protease enzyme, a cutting agent in the complex molecular tailoring of retroviruses, a family that includes HIV. Figuring out the structure of proteins is vital for understanding the causes of many diseases and developing drugs to block them.
But a microscope gives only a flat image of what to the outsider looks like a plate of one-dimensional scrunched-up spaghetti. Pharmacologists, though, need a 3-D picture that "unfolds" the molecule and rotates it in order to reveal potential targets for drugs.
This is where Foldit comes in.

Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, it is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids -- the building blocks of proteins -- using a set of online tools.
To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.

Cracking the enzyme "provides new insights for the design of antiretroviral drugs," says the study, referring to the lifeline medication against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

It is believed to be the first time that gamers have resolved a long-standing scientific problem.
"We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed," Firas Khatib of the university's biochemistry lab said in a press release. "The ingenuity of game players is a formidable force that, if properly directed, can be used to solve a wide range of scientific problems."

One of Foldit's creators, Seth Cooper, explained why gamers had succeeded where computers had failed.
"People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at," he said.
"Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans. The results in this week's paper show that gaming, science and computation can be combined to make advances that were not possible before."
Source at yahoo

More geeky game and Science can be found at the natrual structural and ... (something or other scientific jargon) Website
MLP Rainbow Dash nahnah

New "1 is 2 Many" White House Campaign Against Sexual Assault

Biden Renews Call to End Violence Against Women: ‘No Means No’

As high school and college students begin a new school year, Vice President Joe Biden is making a personal appeal for their help in ending violence against young women, which continues to occur on campuses across the country at disconcerting rates.

“The reason I’m talking to you today is I need your help. We’ve got a big problem in the United States,” Biden says in a new video message posted online and tweeted out by the @VP account. ”The problem is too many young women are getting victimized by sexual assault, and it’s happening way too frequently in high schools and on college campuses.”

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The video:

And a transcript for those who can't watch, via the SAFER Blog:

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The site is soliciting feedback on strategies to reduce partner violence and sexual assault from September 13th - September 27th, if anyone would like to share their input.