January 25th, 2012

Religious freedom under threat from courts, professor warns

Religious freedom in the US and Europe is under threat from the courts, an Oxford professor has warned.

In his latest book, Equality, Freedom and Religion, Roger Trigg, who runs the Centre for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Kellogg College, argues: "There has been a clear trend for courts in Europe and North America to prioritise equality and non-discrimination above religion, placing the right to religious freedom in danger."

He cites a number of recent cases, including that of Lillian Ladele, the Islington registrar who refused to conduct civil partnerships because of her religious beliefs. In that case, he says, "the need to respect the right to equality trumped the freedom of religious convictions".

Ladele brought a discrimination case against Islington council in 2007 after she was disciplined. She is waiting for her case to be heard before the European court of human rights, as is a former British Airways employee, Nadia Eweida, whom bosses asked to conceal under her uniform a silver cross pendant.

Trigg says that rather than some rights being deemed more fundamental than others, those that are likely come into conflict should be more fairly balanced.

The academic, a former president of the European Society for Philosophy of Religion, complains that courts are attempting to determine the nature of religious faith for themselves. "To decide whether or not a British Airways employee could wear a cross with her uniform, the courts have suggested it is not a core part of Christian belief – but this decision shouldn't be up to them."

George Pitcher, associate priest at St Bride's, in the City of London, disagreed. "We need a bit of perspective here," he told the Guardian. "We're not being persecuted in the democratic west. To pretend otherwise is an insult to those who really are being persecuted around the world and, frankly, rather insecure and wet.

"Rather than whinge, we need to be a bit more robust about our faith. I'm not going to say it's about time my fellow Christians got off their knees, but I do wish they would stop complaining that everyone hates them. Because it's not true."

In recent years senior Anglican clerics have increasingly spoken out about attitudes towards Christianity in Britain. In 2009 the archbishop of York, John Sentamu, wrote: "Asking someone to leave their belief in God at the door of their workplace is akin to asking them to remove their skin colour before coming in to the office: faith in God is not an add-on or optional extra."

A year later, Lord Carey of Clifton said: "Christianity, which has given so much to our country, is now being sidelined as never before." The former archbishop of Canterbury has also written a book on the subject. We Don't Do God: the marginalisation of public faith is published in February.


My heart bleeds for them, it truly does.
FASH. Space dress.

Karen Santorum: Gays ‘vilify’ my husband

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum’s wife, Karen, on Monday accused the gay community of vilifying her husband.

At an event with mothers in South Carolina, a woman, who said her son was gay, told the candidate that she felt guilty for supporting him due to his opposition to gay rights.

“I still have that sense of guilt because his friends react to what they hear,” the woman explained. “Help me. How do I deal with that?”

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Sisterhood beware - silencing ideas stymies progress

When debate is marked by personal vitriol, people opt out and keep quiet.

I have long considered myself a feminist and been disturbed by the parts of the sisterhood who operate like the nasty in-group in primary school. You can't be our friend because you don't wear the right pink dress. You can't be our friend unless you toe the approved party-line on abortion, childcare or sexual clothing. It is astounding to watch grown women engage in exclusionary behaviour that most of us outgrew by age 10.

But they have been at it again in the debate over the feminist credentials of Melinda Tankard Reist.

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I do disagree with a lot of what is written in the piece. I really don't think you can be feminist and pro-life, myself.
rahm and whitford

The state of our union is strong, also I had some pirates killed

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- U.S. Navy SEALs parachuted into Somalia under cover of darkness early Wednesday and crept up to an outdoor camp where an American woman and Danish man were being held hostage. Soon, nine kidnappers were dead and both hostages were freed.

President Barack Obama authorized the mission by SEAL Team 6 two days earlier, deploying the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden last year. Minutes after the president gave his State of the Union address to Congress he was on the phone with the American's father to tell him his daughter was safe.

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Stock - Pink Sakura

Girl Who Outsmarted Alleged Kidnapper: 'I Got my Fight From Daddy'

A 9-year-old girl is getting credit for her quick thinking and for speaking up after managing to escape from her alleged kidnapper last week.

Calysta Cordova was reported missing Thursday afternoon by her mother when she didn't come home from school. Authorities believed she was abducted on her walk home and issued an Amber Alert.

"My baby girl always walks through my door at 3:21 p.m. I noticed something was wrong, when she was nine minutes late...I called everyone, I panicked," said Steven Ryno, Calysta's stepfather.

"We must find her, that was the main thing that was kicking through our head. It is getting late, it is getting dark, it is getting cold, and I know my baby is hungry," said Ryno, recounting the incident.

Calysta was found safe Friday at the Circle K convenience store in Colorado Springs, according to ABC News' Denver affiliate KMGH. Colorado Springs police spokeswoman Barbara Miller told KMGH that authorities believe Calysta was in a car with 29-year-old suspect Jose Garcia when the car broke down.

A passerby picked them up and drove them to the Circle K convenience store, police said. There, Calysta ran into the store and asked for a phone, saying she wanted to call her uncle. Instead, she called 911.

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The Gang
  • acmeeoy

Obama the populist?

Barack Obama talked tough about Wall Street in his State of the Union speech. But look behind the rhetoric, and his economic proposals fall short of what's needed.

REPUBLICANS, DEMOCRATS, the media--they all agree: In his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Barack Obama presented a populist economic program that would use the powers of the federal government to take on Wall Street and Corporate America.

That assessment is no surprise from Republicans. They've been raving about Obama's supposed "class warfare" tendencies from the moment he stepped into the Oval Office.

But the Democrats are actually singing a different tune. In contrast to other points during his first three years in office, Obama and his party are encouraging the idea that his presidency is crusading against corporate and financial power on behalf of ordinary people.

What's changed? Simple: It's an election year. As his advisers freely admitted to media commentators, Obama's speech was delivered with Election 2012 in mind--to draw a contrast with the multimillionaires and bigots (and multimillionaire bigots) battling over the Republican presidential nomination.

To some extent, the sharper edge in Obama's speech is another result of the rise of the Occupy movement and its impact on U.S. politics. Even mainstream Washington politicians have had to acknowledge the increasingly vocal discontent about a society divided between the super-rich 1 percent at the top and the rest of us.

This shift has been a breath of fresh air, especially considering what was dominating Washington politics before--obsessions about the deficit and the need to cut, cut and cut some more. When mainstream political leaders talk about increasing taxes on the rich and curbing Wall Street greed, even if they don't mean it, this can give ordinary people greater confidence to fight for an alternative to the status quo of austerity.

But there's another fact of history that bears on Obama's speech and can't be forgotten: Democrats always talk more left--at least in relation to the Republicans--when an election is looming.

It's a basic fact of the U.S. political system: The Democrats will say one thing to win votes and do another once in office. And if campaign promises aren't enough, there's always scare tactics--threatening supporters with the consequences of the Republicans in power to get their vote.

Those who care about winning the kind of policies and programs Democrats talk about around election time have to separate the rhetoric from the reality. And when you look at the fine print of the State of the Union, there's less to Obama's "left turn" than meets the eye.

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Mick Jagger's anger at being used as 'political football' by UK Conservative Party.

Mick Jagger has pulled out of an event due to be hosted by David Cameron at the Davos summit, complaining of being used as a "political football".

The Rolling Stones singer had been due to attend a party at the Swiss resort as part of a campaign to promote Britain alongside others such as the model, Lily Cole, and the inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

But he said in a statement on Tuesday: "I have always been interested in economics and world events. I now find myself being used as a political football and there has been a lot of comment about my political allegiances which are inaccurate. I think it's best I decline the invitation and curtail my visit."

The withdrawal will come as an embarrassment for the government. Coverage stated that the singer had finally "come out" as a "closet Tory" and the prime minister was said to be delighted by Jagger's involvement as the event's "star attraction".

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/jan/24/mick-jagger-davos-tea-party

OP: Looks like David Cameron can't get no satisfaction these days. I guess you can't always get what you want...

I...this logic, it's destroyed my brain meats. D:

Santorum: Obama Defunded Abstinence Programs Because He Wants ‘People To Be In Poverty’

Rick Santorum criticized the Obama administration for reducing federal funding to abstinence-only programs during a town hall in Florida this morning, and claimed that the president’s decision to de-emphasize the initiatives suggests that Obama wants “people to be in poverty.” “What is this president doing,” Santorum asked, “he is deliberately misinforming the most vulnerable people in our society and targeting them toward a life that has economic potential.”

The Department of Health and Human Services did change its policy for grant awardees, limiting how programs that receive federal dollars can teach abstinence. But those groups can continue preaching abstinence in non-federally funded initiatives, even though the evidence suggests that such programs are ineffective or “even harmful and have negative consequences by not providing adequate information for those teens who do become sexually active.” Studies have not found that abstinence-only programs cut pregnancy rates, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or even the age when sexual activity begins.

Source: http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/01/25/411382/santorum-obama-defunded-abstinence-programs-because-he-wants-people-to-be-in-poverty/

How long would it take Mittens to make what you do in a year?

Slate has posted a "Romney-izer" of sorts.
Mitt Romney released his 2010 tax return on Monday. His total income for the year was listed as $21.6 million, more than one-half of which came from capital gains. How does that stack up against your income? Enter your annual income below [in link] to find out how long it would have taken Mitt Romney to earn the same amount of money.
I like what it says when you enter 0.

Shit, it's comforting to know that he made $22,255 in the last 9 hours that I've been sitting here at work. >_>

Combreaker Mask

Demotion for marine responsible for killing 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha Massacre

In Iraq, Haditha case is reminder of justice denied

A U.S. Marine's guilty plea to dereliction of duty closes the books on the slayings of 24 Iraqis. But it also underscores what Iraqis see as American impunity.

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, left, arrives with his military defense attorney, Meridith Marshall for a court session at Camp Pendleton in Camp Pendleton, Calif., Tuesday.

Reporting from Baghdad and Beirut— The teacher still keeps family photos of the dead, visual mementos of lives cut short in an unremitting hail of gunfire.

"The Americans killed children who were hiding inside the cupboards or under the beds," said Rafid Abdul Majeed Hadithi, 43, a teacher in the city of Haditha who says he witnessed the 2005 assault by U.S. Marines that took the lives of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians. "Was this Marine charged with dereliction of duty because he didn't kill more? Is Iraqi blood so cheap?"

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No jail for marine? Haditha massacre verdict stuns Iraqis.
Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich will receive only a demotion to the rank of private for involvement in the 2005 killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha.

A United States military court yesterday determined that the US Marine Corps sergeant who pled guilty to involvement in killing Iraqi civilians in a notorious 2005 massacre will serve no jail time, sparking outrage in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich will receive only a demotion to the rank of private for an event some compare to the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.

In 2005, a group of Marines killed 24 unarmed men, women, and children in Haditha, a town of 85,000 people located west of Baghdad, after a roadside bomb killed a member of their squad, reports the Washington Post. Seven soldiers, plus squad leader Wuterich, were initially charged by a US military court, but one was acquitted and charges against the six others were dropped.Collapse )Source:  http://www.csmonitor.com/World/terrorism-security/2012/0125/No-jail-for-marine-Haditha-massacre-verdict-stuns-Iraqis

Bad apples! Harsh conditions! Nobody understands!

All the articles are incomplete for some reason... some failing to mention what the sentence entails... etc. so have multiple sources. Read this like yesterday, surprised it wasn't posted here, or actually not that publicized in papers I picked up. Interesting take on 'Is Iraqi blood so cheap?' even in media.
  • xerox78

Obama and Jan Brewer's airport confrontation

Airport greeting turns testy between President Obama, Jan Brewer

President Obama's warm reception in sunny Arizona on Wednesday lasted about as long as it took him to step off Air Force One and greet Gov. Jan Brewer.

Brewer, champion of her state's controversial anti-immigration law, welcomed Obama on the tarmac with a handwritten letter and an intense conversation in which, at one point, she pointed her finger at him.

According to pool reporters who were present, Obama and Brewer seemed to be talking at the same time, seemingly over each another, until he walked away mid-sentence.

Afterward, Brewer told pool reporter Carrie Budoff Brown of Politico that the president seemed upset about her book, "Scorpions for Breakfast," in which she criticizes Obama for opposing her law.

Brown quoted Brewer to the press corps: "He was a little disturbed about my book. I asked him if he read the book. He said he read the excerpt. So."

A White House official offered this take on the encounter: "The governor handed the president a letter and said she was inviting him to meet with her. The president said he'd be glad to meet with her again, but did note that after their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the Oval Office, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book."

Obama did not mention any dust-up at his next event at a new Intel factory outside Phoenix. Brewer was not present.

Pride & Prejudice

Phillip Parker, gay Tennessee teen, commits suicide after enduring bullying

A Tennessee teen's parents claim that constant anti-gay bullying led their son to take his own life.

As WSMV is reporting, parents and grandparents found 14-year-old Phillip Parker's body last Friday, along with a handwritten note in his trash can reading, "Please help me mom." Family members say they had previously reported concerns about their son's treatment to Gordonsville High School but to no avail.

"I should have knew something was wrong, but he seemed happy," Philip's mother Gena Parker told News Channel 5. "After he did what he did, we found out a lot that we didn't know and there is a lot of bullying that goes on at the school."

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Combreaker Mask

Bradley Manning Likely Faces Court Martial, Life in Prison

The American soldier accused of releasing classified information to Wikileaks is issued a recommendation that he face a court martial. He may also be facing life in prison.

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, center, is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011, after a military hearing that will determine if he should face court-martial for his alleged role in the WikiLeaks controversy , Patrick Semansky / AP Photo

As Bradley Manning’s case moves a step closer to a court martial, the soldier accused of the largest intelligence breach in American history is still struggling to mount a defense.

The officer who presided over the soldier’s pre-trial hearing issued a recommendation Thursday that he face a court martial on all 22 charges brought against him for turning state secrets over to WikiLeaks. Manning’s litany of charges includes theft, fraud, violations of Army information security regulations, and aiding the enemy. If convicted on the latter charge, he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The officer’s recommendation will now make its way up the chain of command. A final decision on if and when to court martial Manning is expected within weeks.
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I don't think we've had an update since December? This article was solid (note: I don't think the gender identification is right, though to be honest I can't confirm how s/he identifies, the military refers to "Bradley", so change the pronouns if appropriate etc. etc.)

I knew it was coming...

GOP Rep. Slams Obama’s Contraception Rule, Claims Birth Control Is ‘Unrelated To Basic Needs Of Health Care’

In a substantial victory for women’s health last week, President Obama approved a new rule that requires most employers to cover birth control in their health insurance plans, without additional cost-sharing. Naturally, Republicans were quick to object on “moral” grounds, calling it “coercive actions to force people to abandon their religious principles.”

Despite the fact that the new rule maintains a religious exemption for religious institutions and non-profits, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) introduced the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act to ensure that all providers can back out of contraception coverage if they claim religious objection. Promoting his bill on the Janet Mefferd Show yesterday, Fortenberry decried Obama’s decision as “a bailout for Planned Parenthood” that is “politically and ideologically driven” because, somehow, birth control “is unrelated to the basic needs of health care”:

FORTENBERRY: Fundamentally, I believe this is a bailout for Planned Parenthood because what it does is provide a number of electives that are now free and it is ideologically and politically driven because it is unrelated to the basic needs of health care, most of which is driven by the onset of chronic illness — that’s about 74 to 75 percent of where the costs come from. So if we were serious about trying to get underneath the underlying factors that are driving up health care costs and really worry about prevention, we’d focus on health and wellness and chronic disease prevention. That just leads me to conclude that this was politically and ideologically driven...It’s a bailout for Planned Parenthood, it’s a direct subsidy to the abortion industry, who is entangled with these services, that’s their political agenda.

As Right Wing Watch notes, contraception actually plays a vital role in a woman’s reproductive health. Increased access to birth control helps reduce the number of abortions because it helps prevent the leading cause of abortions: unwanted pregnancies. But as one study noted, greater access to birth control in the U.S. “has been hampered by barriers including costs, lack of provider training, and misconceptions held by both patients and providers.”

Obama’s decision to ensure greater access is about ensuring women can manage their own reproductive health. It is not a “bailout” of Planned Parenthood, which focuses 97 percent of its work on services for “health and wellness and chronic disease prevention.” The only “politically and ideologically driven” act here is Fortenberry’s outrage.

Inception - Strut


Gingrich promises US moon colony by 2020

COCOA, Fla. -- Newt Gingrich promised Wednesday on Florida’s space coast to create a moon colony by 2020 if elected president.

"By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon. And it will be American," Gingrich told the crowd of roughly 700, taking them to their feet in applause.

The former House speaker said the current space program in the country is a "tragedy" and believes his "grandiose" ideas can help fix it.

"I am sick of being told we have to be timid and I'm sick of being told we have to be limited to technologies that are 50 years old," he said, noting that by 2020 he wants to be capable to go to Mars.

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And now for something completely different.

85 year old Alaskan, Dorothea Taylor and her 82 year old husband were out for a brisk little walk with their dogs when the husband, George Murphy had a bull moose charge him. And then that’s when Dorothea turned into a badass.

The woman and her husband, Dorothea Taylor, 85, and George Murphy, 82, spoke with the Anchorage Daily News about the harrowing ordeal. The incident happened while the couple were out for a routine walk with their two dogs. ”Sometimes both of us go and walk the old dog back,” Taylor told them, “But this time it was 30 below and just too darn cold out there.” But while waiting in the car, her husband spotted a moose. ”He was way off. Jeez, he spotted me and he started to come right after me. So I was trying to get to the truck. But I didn’t make it,” said Murphy.

When she saw the commotion, Taylor got out of the car thinking one of the dogs was being attacked by the moose. She wasn’t able to see her husband who had dived into some snow to protect himself since there were no trees nearby. “I thought he was trying to kill Fellar, the old dog,” she said. But unfortunately, the moose then turned on her. Here’s how the ADN says it went down:

Taylor raced back to the truck but instead of jumping in for safety, she released the tailgate to look for something she could use. She grabbed a big grain shovel that they keep on hand to dig out if the truck gets stuck.

She walked back to the moose, making a racket with the shovel on the road, where the snow was hard-packed. She kept shouting for her husband to get over there and help.

Taylor took a swing at the moose and it backed off a little, but then it reared up and stomped its target again. It didn’t let up. So the 5 feet tall, 97 pounds Taylor kept going until eventually, the moose gave up. Guess it didn’t appreciate the knocks on the rump and head. The dogs chased the moose off the rest of the way and it was only then she realized it was her husband on the ground, bleeding profusely from a head wound.

Neither of them have any hard feelings for the moose even though Murphy is currently in the hospital recovering from gashes to his head and leg as well as seven broken ribs. But Taylor is right by his side, just like she has been for the last 40 years.

Of his wife’s bravey, Murphy said, “Jeez, that was a pretty hard thing for anyone to do, to walk up on a moose like that. Heck, all she had was a shovel.” To which Taylor replied, ”Well, we’ve helped each other out of problems before. This just happened to be the latest.”

Source is impressed by this BAMF.

Figured we could use a good news chaser after the last round of Bad News (tm).