February 14th, 2012


Businesses in Texas take Full Advantage of Law Designed to Benefit Homeschooled Children

Basset Hound Gets Texas High-School Diploma

A Houston news team used a so-called "diploma mill" to get Molly the dog a degree

Basset Hound Gets Texas High-School Diploma
A Houston news team used a so-called "diploma mill" to get Molly the dog a degree.
By Melissa Locker | @woolyknickers | February 11, 2012 | 3

What has your dog done lately? Sleep, eat and, if you’re lucky, bring you your slippers? Well, Molly the Basset Hound just earned her high-school diploma. Not obedience school, but an actual high-school diploma. It’s enough to make your shih tzu roll over and play dead.

But before your pup winds up in the doghouse, Houston’s KHOU.com reports that while the feat remains impressive, the Texas pup earned her credentials through a so-called diploma mill. A Texas law that prevents discrimination against home-schooled students is allegedly being used to make a quick buck on the backs of students looking for a shortcut to a diploma. For a few hundred dollars and the answers to some simple online questions, these predominantly online institutions bill themselves as private schools and issue a high-school diploma to seemingly anyone willing to pay. To test the limits of this, the investigative team at KHOU signed up their photographer’s dog, Molly.Collapse )

model: dusky
  • myrana

Five myths about white people

For decades, trends in American life have usually been analyzed through the prism of race, with white Americans serving as the reference point - comparing black unemployment with white unemployment, for instance, or the percentage of Latino high school students who go on to college compared with white students. Those comparisons are illuminating, but they neglect how that reference point itself is changing. Our understanding of white America is subject to a number of outdated assumptions that need rethinking.

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source: Charles Murray @ The Washington Post

Just take a look at all that pseudo-science and hand-picked statistics...

(And yes, this was written by that Charles Murray, the guy who has made a living out of suggesting that there is a genetic connection between race and intelligence...)

GOP's Wet Dream: Censoring Reality!

Finally, We Can Censor that Potty Mouth Webster and His Obscene Dictionaries (and His TV Show Too!).

Arizona Bill Would Likely Prohibit Teachers And Professors From Teaching Any Book With ‘Profanity’

A new bill in Arizona is seeking to impose harsh restrictions on teachers’ conduct, even in their own homes. The bill, SB 1467, states that educators at the state’s public schools and universities can be fined, suspended and ultimately fired if they “engage in speech or conduct that would violate the standards adopted by the Federal Communications Commission concerning obscenity, indecency and profanity if that speech or conduct were broadcast on television or radio.”Collapse )

Extremist cleric's release from UK jail prompts debate.

Abu Qatada, accused of being one of the UK's most dangerous extremist preachers, has been released from Long Lartin top-security jail in Evesham.

The UK government says he is a threat to national security but has been blocked from deporting him to Jordan.

He has also featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the 11 September bombers, and was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement in a terror plot.

A judge ended his six-year detention last week after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) banned him from being deported to Jordan.

The court blocked his deportation to Jordan, where he faces terror charges, saying evidence obtained by torture might be used against him there.

Abu Qatada was freed under strict bail conditions, including a 22-hour curfew that only allows him to leave home for a maximum of an hour twice a day. He has also been electronically tagged.

He is banned from attending a mosque, leading prayers, publishing any statement, or meeting any of 27 named individuals. Use of a mobile phone or the internet is also prohibited.

Downing Street said "all the options" for removing Abu Qatada from the UK were being considered.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-17012448

OP: One wonders how the United States would have managed this situation?
hide (CON)

Online surveillance bill being considered in Canada...

Online surveillance bill tabled in House

A bill that would give police and intelligence agencies new powers to access Canadians' electronic communications, sometimes without a warrant, has been tabled in the House of Commons.
The proposed "protecting children from internet predators act" was introduced Tuesday by Stephen Harper's Conservative government
The bill contains previously introduced provisions that would
  • Require telecommunications and internet providers to give subscriber data to police and national security agencies without a warrant, including names, unlisted phone numbers and IP addresses.
  • Force internet providers and other makers of technology to provide a "back door" to make communications accessible to police
  • Allow police to get warrants to obtain information transmitted over the internet and data related to its transmission, including locations of individuals and transactions.
  • Allow courts to compel other parties to preserve electronic evidence

However, according to a tweet from University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, who has been closely following the issue, the list of telecommunications subscriber information that is to be made available without a warrant is smaller than in previous versions of the bill, which all died as a result of federal election calls. The list still includes a subscriber's name, address, telephone number, email address, IP address and local service provider identifier, Geist wrote on Twitter.

Public Safety Minister Toews is scheduled to hold a news conference in Ottawa at 12:45 p.m. ET with Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais, likely to discuss the new bill
Charlie Angus, digital affairs critic for the NDP and MP for the Ontario riding of Timmins-James Bay, said his party is "against this bill" and will "fight this bill all the way."

"What's very disturbing in this bill is it's going to force cellphone providers, the telecom providers, to build in the spy mechanisms so that police and security can track you any time they want," he said at a news conference following the bill's introduction.

He added that the government has not demonstrated any need for the proposed new powers, including the ability to get subscriber information without a warrant.

Angus slammed Public Safety Minister Vic Toews for comments he made Monday and previously suggesting that critics of the bill "stand with the child pornographers."

"Is Vic Toews saying every privacy commissioner in this country who has raised concerns about this government's attempt to erase the basic obligation to get a judicial warrant — is he saying they're for child pornography?"

The RCMP issued a statement Tuesday supporting the bill.

"While it is not the RCMP’s role to comment on pending legislation, the organization believes police need modern tools and resources to respond to the evolving nature of national and transnational crime, including terrorism," the statement said.

It added that the national police force welcomes amendments to the Criminal Code that provide "more effective tools to investigate criminal acts in the digital age," and such changes would bring Canada in line with similar laws in the U.K., U.S., Australia, Germany and Sweden.

In particular, it said, Canada is the the only country in the G8, aside from Japan, that does not require telecommunications providers to provide a back door for law enforcement to intercept digital communications.

Source is CBC

UGH. 1984 was not supposed to be an instruction manual.....

Gryffindor corgi
  • jettakd

Black HERstory: To Free a Family

Black Herstory: Mary Walker’s Quest To Free Her Family

February 14, 2012 by Sydney Nathans

Mary Walker was a fair-skinned fugitive slave woman who had escaped bondage in 1848, leaving her children and mother behind. Because of family ties, it was unusual for women to escape slavery and exceptional for mothers to forsake their children. Mary Walker believed she had no choice—after a dispute with her owner, he had threatened to send her to the Deep South. Her options narrowed to how she would be separated from her family, rather than whether. For her and for thousands who fled, freedom came at a price: remorse at parting without a word, silence forced by the danger of disclosure, fear for her family’s fate. One man, writing to the leader of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, gave voice to the pain felt by all who left family members in bondage. “My soul is vexed, my troubles inexpressible. I often feel as if I were willing to die. What is freedom to me, when I know that my wife is in slavery?”

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The courage and dedication she had to get her family back is amazing :)
MISC - moustache

Twenty-Two Faces of an American Uprising

When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced on February 11, 2011, that he would use a bureaucratic “budget repair bill” as a vehicle to attack collective-bargaining rights, civil-service protections and local democracy, he expected a reaction. The governor went so far as threaten to call out the National Guard to prevent protests from getting out of hand. But Walker and his aides were certain that they would be done with the fight in a week. Now, a year later, Walker faces ongoing demonstrations, increasing legislative opposition, multiple legal challenges and a recall election threat that arose when one million Wisconsinites signed petitions seeking his removal from office.

Walker should have known he was in trouble when the first protests began and a young woman who worked at the State Historical Society showed up with a white T-shirt pulled over her winter coat. With a place pen, she had written: “I Am Not Afraid of the National Guard!”

The governor’s attempt to intimidate Wisconsinites into accepting an austerity agenda that assaulted not just labor rights but the state’s open government and small-“d” democratic traditions was a failure from the start. Instead of scaring citizens into submission, Walker provoked an uprising that continues to this day.

The courage, optimism and steady determination of Wisconsinites, many of whom had never engaged in public protest or political action before, is what undid Walker’s best-laid plans. Even as he succeeded in enacting elements of his program, the push-back was so intense that two of his key legislative allies were defeated in the state Senate recall elections of last summer. And, now, he and his lieutenant governor face a similar fate.

This was a people-powered uprising, But even the most spontaneous of revolts requires information, messaging and calls to arms. The movement had some national allies. Union leaders such as Jerry McEntee of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (who declared Wisconsin to be “ground zero in the struggle for labor rights”) and Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers came early, as did the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Rocker Tom Morello played Woody Guthrie songs for the crowds, and wrote a great song of his own: “Union Town.” Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and MSNBC’s Ed Schultz broadcast live from Madison, as did GRITtv’s Laura Flanders.

But the mass movement that made “Wisconsin” not just the name of a state but a new name for resistance would not have been possible without visionary groups and individuals who stepped up at critical stages in the struggle. Here are a few that ought never be forgotten:

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bill and ted - most triumphant

Google's new Valentine's Day vid melts hearts while making subtle statement

VALENTINE’S DAY GOOGLE DOODLE: Today’s charming musical animation makes for one sweet gift
By Michael Cavna

Today, Google is celebrating Valentine’s Day the world over with a charming animated “Doodle” that is free of dialogue — yet is all heart. In some countries, the strains of Grammy-winning Tony Bennett — crooning the bluesy Hank Williams tune “Cold, Cold Heart” — provide the only words.

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The image from end of Google's video features doodles of Male/Male, Interracial Male/Female, Princess/Frog, Dog/Cat, Astronaut/Alien, and Cookie/Milk couples. It's kind of adorable. But this coupled with the fact that someone just rang my doorbell on Valentine's Day to say, "Evolution, science, and homosexuals don't exist, the Bible told me!" obviously means I'm going to hell...
  • scolaro

Referendum in Duisburg (Germany)

Mayor Ousted 18 Months After Love Parade Disaster

Duisburg's mayor Adolf Sauerland responding to the vote that ousted him from office.

Duisburg mayor Adolf Sauerland was voted out of office in a local referendum on Sunday after he refused to resign over the Love Parade disaster in July 2010 in which 21 people died. He would not take responsibility for the mistakes that led to the tragedy, and said it was up to the courts to decide who was to blame.

The mayor of Duisburg, Adolf Sauerland, who was publicly vilified for refusing to resign after the Love Parade disaster in which 21 people were crushed to death in his city in July 2010, was voted out of office on Sunday in a local referendum.

More than 129,000 citizens backed a motion requiring the mayor to step down, well above the required minimum of 91,478 which would have been a quarter of the registered electorate of the industrial western city. The turnout was 41.6 percent.

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I'm so glad the people of Duisburg got together and managed to throw his lousy ass out. This is what democracy should look like. (On the other hand it shouldn't be quite so difficult to get stuff like this through.)
Machine eye

Police, social services visit dad who shot daughter's laptop, don't do a damn thing.

Police, social services visit dad who shot daughter's laptop

The YouTube video of a father shooting his teenage daughter's laptop in response to a rant she posted on Facebook has led critics of his parenting method to call police and child protective services to his home in Albermarle, North Carolina.

But Tommy Jordan said in a statement on his Facebook page over the weekend, "If I had it to do again ... let's see ... I'd do it almost the same", and he's sorry to disappoint anyone who hoped he would end up in handcuffs.

"The police by the way said 'Kudos, Sir' and most of them made their kids watch it. I actually had a 'thank you' from an entire detectives squad," Jordan said in the statement, adding that another officer is using the video in a presentation to the school system.

If anyone wants to keep calling the police, Jordan said, they are welcome to do so: 'I'm just going to leave a pot of coffee on for the next officers who come by."

What sparked Jordan shooting the laptop nine times - one shot being "from Mom" - with a .45 handgun was 15-year-old Hannah's Facebook post about her parents, which she titled "Dear Parents".

"I am not your damn slave," Hannah wrote, bemoaning life at school, unpaid household chores and nagging about getting a job. She even stated that her folks shouldn't count on her when they are elderly, as she won't be there.

Before posting her rant on Facebook, Hannah filtered her privacy settings to prevent those on her 'Family' list from seeing the post.

However, Tommy - who works in IT - found Hannah's post, anyway, on the Facebook page set up as belonging to their dog - the pooch wasn't included on Hannah's 'Family' list.

His video response last week, 'Facebook Parenting for the Troubled Teen', has drawn more than 1m views on YouTube.

The eight-minute video shows Tommy responding to Hannah's rant as he sits in a lawn chair, smoking a cigarette. At the end of the clip, he shoots her laptop, telling her that if she wants a new one, she can get a job and buy one.

Hannah's response to the demise of her laptop was to have a "crying fit". In a statement to the Toronto Star newspaper, Tommy said Hannah was initially shocked and he then talked to her for a long time, discussing her behaviour and his response.

Watch the video that started it all here: [OP Note: I don't think we need to go through that again.  If you really want to, it's at the source.]


You know, I saw the title and I thought, "maybe some good news for the girl."  Nope.  Not only is the overbearing bully not sanctioned for his actions, he's applauded for them. Not that I'm surprised, though - they are cops, after all, and I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of them think they can solve their problems with guns.  I did hear that someone offered the daughter a job, but I haven't been able to root that one out yet.  Also, she's entitled to a "crying fit" at the very least - I'd have one, too, if I had a dickbag dad like this one.   

This guy is a tool of the highest order, and the cops who support him are his high priests of douchebaggery.


white people can't handle being told they're white, BAAAAAAAAAWW ensures

Duluth racism ads drive some into a rage

Billboard campaign aims to foster a community dialogue.

DULUTH - A close-up of a white woman's face confronts motorists from billboards plastered along major roads here with the message, in large, black letters: "It's hard to see racism when you're white."

The billboards are part of the Un-Fair Campaign, which also includes dozens of posters that have appeared in office windows, including one poster depicting a young woman with this message written in black marker across her forehead: "Is white skin really fair skin?"

One of the stated goals of the campaign is to create a community dialogue. In that regard, it got more than it bargained for.

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Iran behind Thailand blasts, claims Israel's Ehud Barak

Israel has accused Iran of being behind three blasts in Bangkok [today] that injured five people and blew off the legs of the alleged bomber – an Iranian national who was fleeing police when the grenade slipped through his hands and detonated next to him.

The blasts came just a day after bombs targeted Israeli diplomats in India and Georgia, and has again escalated tensions between the two countries.

Thai police have not yet divulged motives for the blasts, but the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, directly accused Iran of exporting terror around the world. "The attempted terror attack in Thailand proves once again that Iran and its proxies continue to operate in the ways of terror and the latest attacks are an example of that," said Barak.

He said Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah were "unrelenting terror elements endangering the stability of the region and endangering the stability of the world".

A second suspect was arrested at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport after authorities found explosive materials in a house apparently rented by the bomber and two others. A third suspect is still at large, according to Thai police.

The two men in custody are likely to be closely interrogated by Thai police about their intended target and who they were working for. Israeli officials said they expected the Thai authorities would share information obtained in the course of their investigation, but declined to say whether Israel would seek an active role in the interrogation of the men.

Saeid Moradi, who was seriously injured in the blast, is an Iranian national who is thought to have entered Thailand from South Korea on 8 February at the southern resort town of Phuket. The second suspect has been named as the Iranian national Mohammed Hazaei, 42, who was detained after trying to board a flight to Malaysia, according to local media.

The blasts started at about 2pm local time on Tuesday, when a bomb accidentally detonated inside the assailant's house in Ekkamai, a bustling residential district in east Bangkok. The blast blew off part of the roof, causing two occupants to flee, police said, followed by a wounded and bloodied Moradi.


Observers fear the bomb attacks in Thailand, India and Georgia are the latest acts in a covert war between Israel and Iran over the Islamic republic's nuclear ambitions. Iran has accused Israel of assassinating several of its nuclear scientists in magnet bomb attacks – the same weapon that was used to target an Israeli diplomat in Delhi on Monday, injuring four people.

In Jerusalem, the Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said there was not yet any sign that the targets in Bangkok were Israeli or Jewish. "Security co-operation [between Israel and Thailand] is very tight," he said.

Israel has raised the state of alert within the country, with the emphasis on public places, foreign embassies and offices, as well as Ben-Gurion international airport.


Will Hartley, editor of IHS Jane's Terrorism & Insurgency Centre, said: "While Israel's claims that Iran and Hezbollah are behind the attacks in India and Georgia cannot be discounted, at this stage it's impossible to substantiate such allegations, and it is unclear why Iran would risk an attack on Israeli interests in India, when India has been broadly supportive of Iran during the recent nuclear sanctions debate, and is one of Iran's most important trade partners.

"The alleged perpetrator of today's attempted attack in Thailand reportedly possessed an Iranian passport, possibly lending credence to Israel's allegation that Iran is waging some kind of international campaign. However, the attacks in India, Georgia and now Thailand have all been highly amateurish, and lack the sophistication that would normally be expected from an operation executed by either Hezbollah or Iran's own external operations wing, the Quds Force."

More details at the source.
I was wondering why no one had posted on this topic recently. The escalation between the Iran and the U.S., Israel and other countries is quite frightening to me, tbh. I have to say I find it unfortunate that *diplomacy* has not been more used as an approach (i.e. a bit of the carrot rather than the stick). Which is not to say that the Iranian regime is not horrible -it is- but antagonism does not seem to serve a useful purpose, IMHO. 

There is also a certain hypocrisy in the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, IMHO. It isn't that I love the idea of states such as Iran having the bomb -but OTOH, isn't it a bit hypocritical of those countries who have this technology and who in some cases still have nuclear weapons to tell other nations they can't have access to nuclear technology?

What do you all think?

Additional references:
-On the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty: http://www.un.org/en/conf/npt/2010/npttext.shtml
-More on Iran in recent years and on the history of this conflict between Iran and the west: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/iran/index.html
-On the history of Persia and Iran: http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2009/05/29/f-iran.html
-On the Shah of Iran, including his links with the U.S. and his regime's corruption: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jun/08/bae44

weaver girl [spin the dawn by elizabeth

Rodney Reed Case Back in Court

TRIGGER WARNING: murder, violence, racism, domestic violence

The legal procedural drama that is the Rodney Reed death penalty case is back in federal court. On Dec. 22, 2009, lawyers for Reed filed a whopping 158-page brief in federal district court, laying out all the reasons Reed deserves a new day in court.

Reed was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1996 murder in Bastrop of 19-year-old Stacey Stites. The state said that Reed, while on foot, somehow overcame Stites as she drove to work for an early morning shift at H-E-B and that semen DNA found in Stites proves the state's case. Reed's defenders say the DNA evidence is only proof that the two were intimate and that in fact Reed was having a consensual relationship with Stites. A far more likely suspect in her murder, they say, is Jimmy Fennell, a former Georgetown police officer to whom Stites was engaged. Fennell is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for the kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman while on duty and responding to a call for police service.

The Reed case has been bounced back and forth between state and federal court since the late Nineties. When new evidence came to light about Fennell's alleged history of violence toward women, the case was removed from federal court and sent back to the Court of Criminal Appeals. To date, however, the CCA, Texas' highest criminal court, has denied Reed relief. "We're back where we were in 2002," said Reed attorney Bryce Benjet. Now, however, all of Reed's claims for relief are being presented in one appeal, as opposed to the piecemeal approach the CCA required. Benjet said he hopes that the federal court now will grant Reed an evidentiary hearing. "What we really want is an opportunity to put on live evidence about these claims that the state has refused to hear," he said. The state's response to Reed's latest filing is due in February.


This article is a little more than a year old now but I didn't find anything on Reed in ontd_p and I wanted to raise awareness. I tried to find whether or not there was a decision to give him another hearing but didn't see anything on that. I decided not to bold anything because I found myself bolding almost everything.

If you were angry about Troy Davis, you should be angry about this. Please spread the word however you can. Click here for a 1-hour documentary on the case, including an interview with Rodney Reed and some investigators involved (aforementioned trigger warning applies).

This includes his briefing; I can't completely comprehend it because of the legal jargon but I think I get the gist of it.
buffy spike black&violet by gilkurtisctx
  • tabaqui

Violence Against Women Act Becomes Partisan Issue

Protecting women from violence and abuse has been an issue of bipartisan cooperation since President Clinton signed the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. It was reauthorized with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2000 and again in 2005. Not this year.

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