September 24th, 2011

Murasaki Shikibu
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Why We Care So Much About Troy Davis

Why We Care So Much About Troy Davis
It wasn't racial solidarity but racial vulnerability that made him so important to African Americans.

The state of Georgia killed Troy Davis last night. Usually such acts are routine in America. Last year 45 Americans were legally executed, about one a week, with time out for vacations and holidays. But a confluence of circumstances and organizations turned Davis' cause into a global phenomenon, with pleas for mercy from such disparate voices as the pope, Bishop Desmond Tutu and Amnesty International.

It's not surprising that the outpouring of concern for Troy Davis, who was believed by many to be innocent of the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail 22 years ago, annoyed people like conservative columnist Ann Coulter. "He is as innocent as every other executed man since at least 1950, which is to say, guilty as hell," she wrote Wednesday.

You have to admire her certainty. People like Coulter have convinced themselves that we live in a flawless society, where bias, vanity, arrogance and incompetence don't exist, and prosecutors don't lie, cheat or make mistakes. It's the kind of blind faith in America that few African Americans can afford.

Our uneasiness about fairness in America helps explain why Troy Davis became such an obsession in the African-American community, to the bewilderment, if not outright annoyance, of some of our nonblack neighbors
. As the hours ticked down, it seemed that all of black America was glued to their televisions, computers, mobile phones and iPads, as if watching a perverse 2011 version of a Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling bout.

But in this case we were not waiting for our black champion to knock out the German and prove our worth to America. We wanted reassurance that the fundamental precept of reasonable doubt would apply to Troy Davis, a black man, and, by extension, to the rest of us.

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Why so quiet, Michelle?

Silence From Rep. Bachmann As Vaccine Challenge Expires

The high noon deadline for bioethicistArthur Caplan's $10,000 challenge to Rep. Michele Bachmann has come and gone without a peep from the Republican presidential hopeful. But damage from herstatement linking the HPV vaccine with mental retardation has already been done, Caplan says.

As Shots reported last week, bioethicistSteven Miles first ponied up $1,000 to call Bachmann's bluff. Caplan, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, then raised the ante with $10,000 out of his own pocket. He asked Bachmann to produce a real person who has suffered mental retardation by the HPV vaccine.

If she could do it, Caplan offered to donate the ten grand to Bachmann's charity of choice. If she failed, he suggested that Bachmann donate the same amount to a charity of his choice. No one from the Bachmann camp ever contacted Caplan accepting the challenge, according to the bioethicist.

"Time is up," he said in a press conference today.


Over the past week, Caplan, who studies vaccine ethics, chastised Bachmann for her rumor- and fear-mongering of a vaccine that's used to prevent cervical cancer. Despite medical professionals refuting Bachmann's claim, Caplan wrote in a blog that he was still "worried that the stench of fear was going to linger around vaccines yet again."

Miles concurred in an interview with NPR's Michele Norris. "What happened here was yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater," Miles said. "The claim is very important because women will make important health decisions based on the idea that mental retardation may be a side effect of this, which there's no evidence, so far, that it is."

Why have concerns about the vaccine grown so disproportionate to the small safety hazards it actually presents? Because politicians occasionally use anecdotes and stories instead of facts, Caplan says.

"Politicians shouldn't get away with hearsay," he said. "We need to hold candidates responsible for their sources."

Caplan tells Shots that he's received a lot of e-mails supporting his challenge — some people even offering money of their own — and a few trying to disprove him. But no one has succeeded yet.

And as one of millions watching the Republican Primary debate tonight, he'll be listening hard for more talk of vaccines.


So, think she's going to own up to this? I don't, but the whole thing does make me want to sit back with a big bowl of popcorn.
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Offenders In Ala. Town Can Choose Jail Or Church

BAY MINETTE, Ala. -- A civil liberties group said Friday that an Alabama town should not start an alternative sentencing program that would give non-violent offenders a new choice: Go to jail, or go to church.

Starting next week, the program will allow a city judge to sentence misdemeanor offenders to work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine, or go to church every Sunday for a year. Offenders who select church can pick the place of worship but must check in weekly with the pastor and the police department. If the one-year church attendance program is completed successfully, the offender's case will be dismissed.

The Alabama branch of the American Civil Liberties Union plans to send Bay Minette officials a letter demanding that they suspend the program. While the group says it supports alternative sentencing programs that save money, it believes the plan in Bay Minette violates the Constitution, state ACLU Executive Director Olivia Turner said in a statement.

"But it is a fundamental principle of the Establishment Clause that the government cannot force someone to attend church," she said. "When the alternative to going to church is going to jail, the so-called `choice' available to offenders is no choice at all."

City officials did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press.

Pastor Robert Gates of Christian Life Church leads one of 56 congregations participating in the effort. He predicted it would succeed.

"You show me somebody who falls in love with Jesus, and I'll show you a person who won't be a problem to society but that will be an influence and a help to those around them," he told the television station.

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Why does the South execute more people?

Why does the South execute more people?

In the wake of the high-profile but ultimately unsuccessful effort to save Georgia's Troy Davis from execution, media outlets are buzzing that the Davis case has sparked a new debate about capital punishment.

As many of these stories point out, a sizable majority in the U.S. still support the death penalty -- - 62 percent, according to one poll. The question is whether Davis' case will provoke a backlash.

But such polls overlook the two big divides that already shape the death penalty debate: region and race.

The regional disparity is striking. Since the Supreme Court lifted a ban on death sentences in 1976, 1,264 people have been executed in the U.S. And 921 of those executions -- or 73 percent of the total -- took place in 13 Southern states.

It's true that Texas -- and what some call its death machine -- skew the numbers: Its 474 executions account for nearly 38 percent of the U.S. total. But the fact remains: Of the many things you can call the death penalty, one fitting adjective is that it's largely Southern.

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The fact that white people were MORE likely to support the death penalty after being told how racist it is frankly horrifies me.

And also, y'all try and hold off on the south-bashing, OK?

Now That America is Running Out of Illegal Mexicans, We Need a New Fear Threat!

Fake Americans Stealing Jubs from Real Americans: Unemployed White Americans Will Be Pitted Against New Immigrants in the Thunderdome, Concession Stands Will Create New Jubs.

Nativists Shift Target to Documented Immigrants

NumbersUSA announced that they will air television ads during the next GOP presidential candidate debate that advocate further restrictions on the level of documented (so called "legal") immigrants. As IREHR recently noted, some national nativist groups appear to be changing course, and preparing to launch a campaign to restrict documented immigration. If this shift in nativist strategy fully materializes, it is likely to alter the terms of discussion by policymakers and the public.

The new ad tries to blame documented immigrants for unemployment levels and pit the unemployed against new immigrants. In a release announcing the ads, NumbersUSA claimed, "despite some of the highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression, Congress and President Obama continue to issue permanent work permits to more than one million new legal immigrants a year to enter the U.S. and take American jobs, despite some of the highest unemployment since the Great Depression."

NumbersUSA, the largest anti-immigrant organization in the country, with ties to both the Tea Parties and white nationalists, announced that they would run ads during the September 22 Fox News sponsored Republican presidential candidate debate.
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Anti-abortion protesters target clinic’s landlord outside child’s Md. school

By Published: September 12

Antiabortion activists who have sought for months to shut down a Germantown clinic picketed its landlord outside a Montgomery County middle school where his daughter is a student, school and police officials said Monday.

A small group of protesters stood outside Robert Frost Middle School in Rockville on Thursday, holding signs and a banner, during back-to-school night, officials said.

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I know this is depressing bullshit, but here's the site the clinic's landlord organized for volunteers interested in helping him:

I'd donate but I'm painfully broke. Ont he bright side, I started my new job today.

No Enbridge
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Ladies' Night at Fenerbahce: Male Fans Banned From Turkish Soccer Match

The 41,000 passionate fans who packed into the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in Istanbul on Tuesday night sang, chanted and cheered on their teams, home side Fenerbahce and visitors Manisaspor, as they battled to a 1-1 draw. The Turkish Süper Lig match featured an own goal and a red card, but nothing too far out of the ordinary -- at least on the pitch.

In the stands, however, there was a very noticeable difference -- a complete lack of men and teenage boys.
Male fans of both teams aged over 12 were banned from attending the game, with women, girls and younger boys allowed in for free. There were ID checks to ensure the male fans weren't too old, and supporters were searched before the game by an all-women police squad. Turkish media reported, however, that at least one man, disguised under a headscarf and women's clothing, made it in to the stadium.

"This really is a historic day," said Yasemin Mercil, a female member of Fenerbahce's executive board. "For the first time in the world, only women and children will watch a game."

The reason for the unusual measures was numerous cases of hooliganism among the (mainly male) fans in the league last season.

Eventually, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) ruled in July that reigning champions Fenerbahce had to play two games behind closed doors -- soccer -speak for not allowing any supporters in -- as a punishment after their fans invaded the pitch during a pre-season friendly against Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk. But the federation later amended the rules so that women and children could attend instead, in what it called an "historic decision."

And so Fenerbahce distributed 27,000 free tickets on Tuesday for the match against Manisaspor -- long queues had already begun to form in front of the stadium's ticket office the previous day. The game kicked off with players throwing flowers at the spectators, while the visiting team was greeted with applause instead of the usual jeering, the Anatolia news agency reported.

The unusual crowd seemed to be a hit with the players. "This memory will stay with me forever," said Fenerbahce captain Alex de Sousa. "It's not often that you see so many women and children in one game."

Manisaspor midfielder Omer Aysan, meanwhile praised the "fun and pleasant atmosphere."
Fenerbahce must play another game with similar crowd restrictions, and other Süper Lig games will also be affected following the past excesses of their supporters. On Wednesday, for example, four other Süper Lig matches -- including one involving fellow Istanbul giant Galatasaray -- will be watched by crowds consisting of only women and children.

As for Fenerbahce, violent fans are far from being their only problem. The club is the focus of an investigation into betting and match-fixing in Turkey. In total, 30 players and officials have been arrested in the past few months over the allegations, with the club's president Aziz Yildrim being remanded into custody. The team was also withdrawn by the TFF from this season's Champions League as a result.


photos at source

Putin to run for Russian presidency in 2012.

President Medvedev has advised premier Vladimir Putin for the president`s place of Russia. So we can to understand the political party "United Russia" is occupieded all power in Russia. Who is mister Putin? This question is open without any answer for russian people too. What can he and his party to suggest for russians? Nobody knows it. What do you mind about Putin? And i`m sorry for my English.

"Vladimir Putin said Saturday he'll run for Russia's presidency in 2012, almost certainly ensuring he'll retake the office he previously held and likely foreshadowing years more of a strongman rule that many in the West have called a retreat from democracy. If Putin wins two presidential terms in a row, he will have been atop the Russian hierarchy for almost a quarter-century.
In nominating Putin on Saturday, his United Russia party also approved his proposal that President Dmitry Medvedev take over Putin's current role as prime minister. Putin took over the premiership after serving as president from 2000-2008, bowing to term limits. But he was always the more powerful figure, with Medvedev viewed as a caretaker president."
FASH. Space dress.

Dozens Of Protesters Arrested At Occupy Wall St. March

Many people were arrested Saturday as the Occupy Wall St. protest moved north to Union Square, although exact numbers were not yet confirmed by police

Police acknowledged that arrests were made, but would not disclose the exact number.

Witnesses and protesters told NBC New York that at least 50 people were arrested -- so many that the police brought in MTA buses to bring them to the local precinct. Most of the arrests took place on E. 12th and 5th Ave. before the protest continued to Union Square.

There were multiple reports that police officers used excessive force while making arrests, but police refused to comment on the allegations.

The protest began last Saturday as hundreds of people set up camp near the New York Stock Exchange to target financial firms. Among other things, they questioned political connections between Washington lawmakers and giant moneymaking companies, as well as the government bail out of Wall St.

Five people were arrested Monday on disorderly conduct, and for breaking an old law that forbids protesters from wearing masks.


Number of arrested, according to the livestream and twitter, is somewhere between 60 and 100. They also pulled out pepper spray, and there are reports that at least one person has a concussion. There were an absolutely stupid number of cops in Union Square, it was downright creepy.

Some links, by way of citiesburning:

If you're not in NYC but want to occupy, click here!
The livefeed from Zuccotti Park is here.
And here is a petition to get the White House to recognize the protest.

How my shirt flummoxed the TSA

On the same July day that Donald Rumsfeld was patted down by airport security at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, I underwent an upper-body pat-down at Reagan National.

I was posing spread-eagle in the full body scanner, in compliance with various mandates of the federal Transportation Security Administration, when something set off a female TSA agent, who began mumbling anxiously into her walkie-talkie.

I leaned forward, trying to hear her description of my offense. I was wearing no shoes and no heavy jewelry, and I’d thrown my belt into a bin along with my BlackBerry, my bulging key ring and an Amazon Kindle.

But something was clearly wrong. Finally, I heard her whisper, “Shiny shirt! Shiny shirt!”

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Journalist Is Detained in China for Article on Sex Slaves

Journalist Is Detained in China for Article on Sex Slaves

For a nation not yet inured to lurid and senseless crime, a report that a former civil servant in central China kept six women enslaved in an underground bunker — and that he killed two of them — was shocking enough.

But perhaps almost as disturbing, at least to some readers, was that the journalist who exposed the crime more than two weeks after the suspect’s arrest was detained by security agents who accused him of revealing state secrets.

After his release from questioning on Thursday, the reporter, Ji Xuguang, wrote an article that accused the authorities of trying to keep the public in the dark about a heinous crime that unfolded less than two miles from the city’s public security bureau.

“I was only thinking about how to make my story as accurate as possible and to satisfy the public’s right to know, but I soon discovered that I failed to address the most important issue — face,” wrote Mr. Ji, a reporter for Southern Metropolis Daily, one of the country’s most aggressively independent publications. “Before the truth becomes a state secret, the public and myself need answers.”

Still, much of the national media on Friday were mesmerized by the horrifying details of the case, which took place in the city of Luoyang, in Henan Province.

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