February 28th, 2012

Robert Mugabe attacks gays in birthday rant

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe used a speech at his 88th birthday party to attack the West and its promotion of equal rights for gays.

He appeared to add that his dog would be offended were it to be compared with British prime minister David Cameron following his support for equal marriage.

Mugabe was described by state media as “his usual energetic self” when he delivered the homophobic speech at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare on Saturday.

According to New Zimbabwe, he told the reported 20,000 attendees: “We reject [gay marriage] outright and say to hell with you.

“You, David Cameron, are you suggesting that you don’t know that or is it some kind of insanity or part of the culture of Europeans.

“In their newspapers, that’s one of my sins. That I called [gays] worse than pigs and dogs because pigs know there are males and females.

“I won’t even call him a dog because my own dog will complain and say, but what have I done? It’s even in the Bible that you create through the system of marrying. That’s how we were born, so we reject that outright and say, to hell with you.

“You are free as a man to marry a woman and that is what we follow. That’s what produced you and me. This kind of insanity is now part of the culture.”

Mugabe previously dubbed the UK’s approach to redirecting aid away from central governments who deny gays equal rights “satanic”.

State media also reported that Mugabe would call an election this year to put an end to his coalition with prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party.

He predicted success for his own ZANU-PF party in an early election but such a move would be resisted by Tsvangirai.

In October last year, Tsvangirai stood up for gay rights in a dramatic change of direction saying he hoped a new state constitution would “come out with freedom of sexual orientation” describing such freedoms as a “human right”.


Oh, hurry up and die, you hateful old bastard.

Opinion: America, quit whining about gas

London (CNN) -- Petrol prices might have breached the $4 per gallon mark in the US, but there won't be much sympathy for the American plight in Europe. In fact, that US price of £2.52 a gallon looks highly affordable compared to the UK's current average cost of £6.22 ($9.85).

In some places here you'll pay an eye-watering £7.27 ($11.52) for a gallon of super unleaded. And prices throughout the rest of Europe are similarly high. But it is worth sparing a thought for the hard-pressed Norwegians who'll pay £7.28 ($11.54) for a gallon of the regular stuff across their country.

If the price of oil was the only factor to dictate the expense of petrol it wouldn't be such a bitter pill. But it isn't. The government decides how much we're going to pay per gallon. Surprise, surprise, it also decides that the majority of it should be diverted to their coffers. So of our £6.22 average, £3.74 ($5.92), or a bit over 60%, ends up in the Treasury's back pocket.

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MP Cleese Good Morning?

Study: Rich more likely to take candy from babies

No, this isn’t from the Onion:
The “upper class,” as defined by the study, were more likely to break the law while driving, take candy from children, lie in negotiation, cheat to increase their odds of winning a prize and endorse unethical behavior at work, researchers reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

[...]In the candy test, 129 undergraduates were manipulated to view themselves as wealthy or poor. They were then presented with a jar of individually wrapped candy, which researchers said would go to children in a nearby lab, though they could take some if they wanted. The undergraduates believing themselves to be upper income took more than those believing themselves to be low income, the study found.

It wasn’t just the candy experiment, either. In a game where a computer rolled dice and any score above 12 got the user a $50 gift certificate, those making more than $250,000 were more likely to lie to researchers than those making less than $250,000. “A $50 prize is a measly sum to people who make $250,000 a year,” Berkeley’s Paul Piff told Bloomberg. “So why are they more inclined to cheat?

In another test, researchers observed cars at a busy intersection. Drivers in pricey vehicles were more likely to cut off other drivers and less likely to stop for pedestrians than drivers in cheaper cars.

Researchers also asked study participants to go on an employment Web site and negotiate salaries with people seeking permanent employment. The participants were told the position they were filling would soon be eliminated. Higher net-worth participants were less likely to pass this information along than lower net-worth participants.

Bloomberg has more details on the findings here, including interviews with the authors. They also note that the study isn’t alone. It “builds on previous research that has shown wealthy people are worse at recognizing how others feel and are more likely to be disengaged during social interactions than others.”

Of course, left unanswered is a key correlation/causation question: Are rich people more likely to be jerks, or are jerks more likely to get rich?


This is my surprised face.

  • scolaro

Right for the Job

Placement Service a Boon for People with Asperger's

By Kerstin Kullmann

A company in Denmark helps place people with Asperger's syndrome in jobs that benefit from their uncommon traits.

Many people with Asperger's syndrome have difficulties in the job market and workplace, but they also have special abilities that many employers crave. A Danish company has found a way to bring the two together and is exporting its successful job-placement concept to other countries.

After working at the CERN research center near Geneva for a decade, where he was part of efforts to understand the origins of the universe, 49-year-old physicist Niels Kjaer returned home to his native Copenhagen. There were no newspaper job listings for people with Ph.D.s in particle physics, and he had no contacts at local universities. Since Kjaer has difficulty interacting with others, he decided to take a job driving a taxi in Copenhagen. "Okay, fine," he told himself, "I'll just work the night shift." Within six months, he was suffering from depression.

After Thorkil Sonne, the technical director of the Danish communications company TDC, had heard one too many times about how poorly his young son was fitting in at kindergarten, he and his wife went to a psychologist for advice. Instead of tips on how to raise their child, they received a diagnosis. Their son had Asperger's syndrome, the psychologist said, a form of autism. Sonne and his wife were told that people with Asperger's usually have no problems concentrating and had very good memories, but that they have trouble when it comes to matters of the heart, making it difficult for them to laugh at funny things or comfort those who are sad. This inability to relate to others, the psychologist said, makes children with Asperger's syndrome outsiders.

After hearing words like autism and outsider, the father was flabbergasted. There wasn't much that could be done, the psychologist said.

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I remember reading an article about this company already a while back, but this is a new one. Good to hear they're successful.

Third student dies in Ohio school shooting

Chardon, Ohio (CNN) -- A third student has died of wounds suffered in a shooting at a high school in Chardon, Ohio, hospital officials said Tuesday.

Demetrius Hewlin died Tuesday morning, MetroHealth Medical Center said in a statement.

Russell King Jr., 17, was declared brain dead early Tuesday, according to the Cuyahoga County medical examiner's office.
The first victim, student Daniel Parmertor died on Monday.

"We are very saddened by the loss of our son and others in our Chardon community," Hewlin's family said in a statement released by the hospital. "Demetrius was a happy young man who loved life and his family and friends. We will miss him very much, but we are proud that he will be able to help others through organ donation."

Police have yet to identify the alleged shooter, but many students -- some of whom said they were steps away when the shooting began -- described him as a withdrawn boy named T.J. Lane.

Police Chief Tim McKenna said the motive remained unclear, but said he hoped prosecutors could provide more information following a scheduled hearing in juvenile court Tuesday afternoon.

The suspect was scheduled to appear in juvenile court at 3:30 p.m.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Tuesday he does not expect the case to remain in juvenile court.

"I have not talked to the prosecuting attorney, David Joyce, yet, but what we would assume is that this case would be at some point bound over and he would be tried in all likelihood as an adult," DeWine said on CNN.

Two other students wounded in the shooting remained hospitalized. They were being treated at Hillcrest Hospital. Police said Monday that one was in serious condition and the other in stable condition. Their names have not been released.

Geauga County Sheriff Daniel McClelland said that while the initial response is over, the community has a long way to go before it can put the shooting behind it.

"Now we move to another important phase," he said. "And while the investigation continues and we still look for the why and what and who, we now deal with a community looking to heal."

Classes in the tight-knit community of 5,100, about 30 miles east of Cleveland, are not scheduled to resume until Friday. But staff, students and parents will be encouraged to return to district schools for visits and counseling on Wednesday and Thursday, Superintendent Joe Bergant said.

Thousands of people posted on Facebook and other social networking services pledging to wear red -- Chardon's school color -- on Tuesday in support of the victims and survivors of the shooting. Thousands of others came together to post condolences on memorial pages dedicated to the victims.

The victims were students who attended a nearby vocational school and were waiting for a bus to take them there, witnesses said. Lane is a student at Lake Academy Alternative School, a school for at-risk children, said the school's interim director, Don Ehas.
Attorney: Shooting suspect 'remorseful' Author: Schools need 'culture of caring' Columbine survivor on Chardon shooting Social media's double edged sword

In a statement Monday, Parmertor's family said they were "torn by the loss."

"Danny was a bright young boy who had a bright future ahead of him," the family said.

Lawyer Bob Farinacci, speaking for Lane's family, said late Monday night that the suspect, a 17-year-old sophomore, was "extremely remorseful."

"Very, very scared and extremely remorseful," he told CNN affiliate WKYC.

"He is a very confused young man right now," Farinacci said. "He's very confused. He is very upset. He's very distraught."
Like others in Chardon, Lane's family also has been left grappling for an explanation.

"This is something that could never have been predicted," Farinacci said. "T.J.'s family has asked for some privacy while they try to understand how such a tragedy could have occurred and while they mourn this terrible loss for their community."

With little to go on to help make sense of the violence, many turned to cryptic Facebook postings by the alleged shooter for a glimpse into Lane's mindset -- especially a long, dark poetic rant from December 30.

The post refers to "a quaint lonely town, (where there) sits a man with a frown (who) longed for only one thing, the world to bow at his feet."

"He was better than the rest, all those ones he detests, within their castles, so vain," he wrote.

Lane then wrote about going through "the castle ... like an ominous breeze through the trees," past guards -- all leading up to the post's dramatic conclusion.

"Feel death, not just mocking you. Not just stalking you but inside of you," he writes. "Wriggle and writhe. Feel smaller beneath my might. Seizure in the Pestilence that is my scythe."

He concluded the post with: "Die, all of you."

Despite the dark tone, Farinacci said Lane was a "fairly quiet and good kid" with good grades who was doubling up on classes to graduate in May.

"He pretty much sticks to himself but does have some friends and has never been in trouble over anything that we know about," he said.

But just before class started Monday, witnesses say, Lane silently walked up to a table of students, holding a gun. As he opened fire, the shooter was expressionless, a student recalled.

"He was silent the entire time," said student Nate Mueller, who said his ear was grazed by a bullet. "There was no warning or anything. He just opened fire."

Danny Komertz, a freshman, said the shooter seemed to be focused on specific targets.

"I looked straight ahead, and I saw a gun pointing at a group of four guys sitting at a table. ... He just fired two quick shots at them. I saw one student fall, and I saw the other hiding, trying to get cover underneath the table," Komertz said.

"He was aiming right at them as he was two feet away. ... He wasn't shooting around the cafeteria at all. He was directly aiming at the four of them," he said.

Monday's death toll may have been much higher were it not for the actions of assistant football coach and study hall teacher Frank Hall, students said. Hall chased the gunman out of the school, and police arrested the suspect nearby a short time later.

"Coach Hall, he always talks about how much he cares about us students, his team and everyone," said student Neil Thomas.

"And I think today he really went out and he proved how much he cared about us. He would take a bullet for us."


Another fun Frothy headline

I think writers are just trying to draw attention to their stories with double-entendres. ;)

Poll: Santorum comes from behind in Alabama three-way

With Alabama’s March 13 primary looking more and more important, Rick Santorum has pulled even with the Republican field in a poll conducted by Alabama State University. While former House Speaker Newt Gingrich maintains a small lead with 18.9 percent, Santorum’s share of support has more than doubled in the last month to 18.3 percent. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has slipped to 15.2 percent.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul was not included in the poll except for a choice for “other.”

Almost a month ago, Santorum trailed the pack in a three-way matchup.

Meanwhile, Rep. Robert Aderholt announced Friday that he would endorse Santorum for the nomination.
Catsby down under.

Wyoming House advances doomsday bill

[The bill has moved forward without the aircraft carrier. Original story below.]

State representatives on Friday advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States.

House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote. It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.

The task force would look at the feasibility of Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, has said he doesn’t anticipate any major crises hitting America anytime soon. But with the national debt exceeding $15 trillion and protest movements growing around the country, Miller said Wyoming — which has a comparatively good economy and sound state finances — needs to make sure it’s protected should any unexpected emergency hit the U.S.

Several House members spoke in favor of the legislation, saying there was no harm in preparing for the worst.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in this room today what would come up here and say that this country is in good shape, that the world is stable and in good shape — because that is clearly not the case,” state Rep. Lorraine Quarberg, R-Thermopolis, said. “To put your head in the sand and think that nothing bad’s going to happen, and that we have no obligation to the citizens of the state of Wyoming to at least have the discussion, is not healthy.”

Wyoming’s Department of Homeland Security already has a statewide crisis management plan, but it doesn’t cover what the state should do in the event of an extreme nationwide political or economic collapse. In recent years, lawmakers in at least six states have introduced legislation to create a state currency, all unsuccessfully.

The task force would include state lawmakers, the director of the Wyoming Department of Homeland Security, the Wyoming attorney general and the Wyoming National Guard’s adjutant general, among others.

The bill must pass two more House votes before it would head to the Senate for consideration. The original bill appropriated $32,000 for the task force, though the Joint Appropriations Committee slashed that number in half earlier this week.

University of Wyoming political science professor Jim King said the potential for a complete unraveling of the U.S. government and economy is “astronomically remote” in the foreseeable future.

But King noted that the federal government set up a Continuity of Government Commission in 2002, of which former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson, R-Wyo., was co-chairman. However, King said he didn’t know of any states that had established a similar board.

Casper Star Tribune

Fraudulent election phone calls raise more questions

Fraudulent election phone calls raise more questions

From campaign workers to anonymous call centre employees, concern raised over calls

Even as MPs unanimously passed a motion calling on politicians of all stripes to give Elections Canada and the RCMP any information on fraudulent calls received during the last election, anecdotes revealing potentially more suspicious calls emerged across the country.
On Monday, the Liberals and NDP accused Conservative-affiliated firms of being involved in a scheme to deliberately discourage voters from casting ballots in the May 2 election. In some cases, the parties said, callers were misdirected to the wrong location to vote. Live and automated calls allegedly falsely impersonated Elections Canada or an opponent's campaign.
Conservatives have strongly denied any involvement or co-ordinated effort and asked for anyone with hard evidence to bring it forward.

Liberal MP Ted Hsu's Ontario riding association from Kingston and the Islands announced Tuesday that it has asked the chief electoral officer to add suspicious telephone calls to Kingston voters to the agency's investigation. Liberals in Kingston are poring through their campaign notes compiling the complaints reported to them:

  • Being woken at 2 a.m. by deliberately rude callers who falsely claimed to be from the Liberal campaign soliciting their votes.
  • Calls on the morning of Easter Sunday when the Liberal campaign had in fact suspended all campaigning.
  • Late-evening calls to elderly residents in seniors retirement residences.
  • Calls on election day and advance polling days informing residents that the polling station marked on their voting card had been changed to a much more distant and incorrect site.

In at least some of those calls, the callers impersonated the Liberal campaign manager.

Hsu told CBC News on Tuesday that some of the calls were traced to a North Dakota call centre. "It's a little bit disturbing," Hsu said, referring to calls or potentially election resources originating from outside Canada.
"I probably should have [complained earlier]," he said. "Now I realize it's much bigger." Hsu is reluctant to blame any opponent for the calls.
"Kingston's kind of a close community … we can't be too aggressive and too personal in these campaigns because we all have to live together," he said. "The nasty stuff probably comes from outside the riding where they don't care about relationships."
"I would not think of accusing my opponent of even knowing about it," Hsu added.

2 Edmonton ridings report calls

On Monday, the NDP pointed to two ridings in Edmonton as examples of NDP campaigns that may have been victimized by calls designed to dampen their support.
"From what I understand there were real people and robocalls," said former NDP candidate Lewis Cardinal, who ran in Edmonton Centre. "There was a concerted effort in confusing voters."
Calls from voters to Cardinal's office suggested people, particularly senior citizens, were confused as to where to vote in roughly the final two weeks of the campaign, because calls told them to go to places other than their usual polling stations. Some noticed the phone number coming from the 450 area code in Quebec.
The same area code was reported for automated "robocalls" which are now the focus of the Elections Canada and RCMP investigation into misleading calls in Guelph, Ont.
One former Conservative campaign worker in Guelph, Michael Sona, resigned from his position in Conservative MP Eve Adams's office on Friday. Misleading automated election calls placed to voters in Guelph falsely impersonating an Elections Canada official are now under investigation by not only the elections agency but also the RCMP.
So far, Sona is the only Conservative to be linked to any of the allegations countrywide.
Across town in the riding of Edmonton East, two voters complained to NDP candidate Ray Martin about calls purporting to be from Elections Canada.
Martin told CBC News in Edmonton that he didn't think much of it at the time, but now wonders if these reports were a sign of a larger campaign.
"I've never seen what seems to be an organized approach across the country the way it was in this last election, borrowing sort of the [U.S.] Republican Party's sort of hardball politics," Martin said.
"I'm very surprised," said his campaign manager John Ashton. "I've heard of voter-suppression tactics like this in the U.S., but … I can't believe here in Edmonton or in Canada."
In one instance reported online, a voter in Edmonton East says a complaint was made with Elections Canada based on what the voter felt was a "totally improper" call in which the caller identified himself as being from Elections Canada. Other individuals receiving calls from the same 780 area code believed it to be a Conservative campaign number.

Thunder Bay riding also received calls

NDP MP Bruce Hyer believes his Thunder Bay-Superior North riding was targeted with both automated and live calls.
Hyer was one of the incumbent NDP MPs who was torn between his own constituents' views in favour of ending the long-gun registry and the NDP's position in favour of maintaining it. (On Feb. 14, Hyer broke ranks with his party and voted with the Conservatives to end the registry.)

At least one of the automated calls came to his own home in the final days of the campaign, he said.
"I was in a hurry … so at the time it didn't strike me as being nefarious," Hyer said of the call telling him to go to a different polling station than he would normally use. "I just sort of scratched my head and didn't think about it much, and now in retrospect I wonder if it was one of those [deliberately false automated] calls," Hyer said. "I'm a little uncertain as to exactly what it was."
Hyer said he heard from other people in the riding about calls they'd received directing them to the wrong polling station.
“For people to be illegally manipulating the election voting patterns and distract people from voting in a straightforward way is quite reprehensible,” Hyer said.

A "Fire Hyer" automated phone campaign, which the MP describes as "not very sophisticated but very hard-hitting," was spreading some false and partisan information about his record as an MP, he said. Later, through traced phone calls during the election, his campaign found out these calls came from the U.S. states of Montana and Colorado.

Hyer believes it is not legal for this kind of campaign to originate from outside of Canada, and he and his staff have written to the chief electoral officer to pass on their concerns.

"I was very disturbed," Hyer said. He has yet to hear back from Elections Canada about his letter.

2 Ottawa ridings cite examples

Ottawa Liberal election worker, Kathy Mahoney, whose husband Richard was a former Liberal candidate, received a call misdirecting her as to where to vote. She reported it to CBC News last May.

"There should be a cost to cheating," Mahoney said on Monday, after hearing of the fresh allegations.

Voters in the contested ridings of Ottawa West-Nepean and Ottawa-Orléans also reported suspicious calls.

Anita Vandenbeld, the Liberal who ran against Conservative John Baird in Ottawa West-Nepean, said Monday her campaign received complaints about calls that were purportedly from the Liberal Party, but did not originate with her campaign to her knowledge, that were made at inappropriate hours and reportedly harassed voters.

"There has to be an investigation. I would hate to think that any political party would be doing this deliberately," Vandenbeld said.

More than 35 complaints of "harassing," "rude" or "obnoxious" live phone calls were reported to the Liberal campaign in Ottawa-Orléans, and passed on to Elections Canada by the Liberals.

"I understand that people were getting calls in senior citizens homes, for example, telling them to go to different polling stations when their actual polling station was in their very residence," past Liberal candidate David Bertschi told CBC Radio's Robyn Breshnahan on Ottawa Morning.

"Every vote counts," Bertschi said. "When we have anyone misled or cheated out of their right to vote it cheats everyone … it's about the fabric of our society."

Bertsci issued a press release late Monday evening asking voters in the riding to continue to pass on any evidence of suspicious calls. Various Ottawa media had reported unusual or improper calls during the 2011 election campaign in this riding.

Conservative MP Royal Galipeau, who won in Ottawa-Orléans, defended the integrity of his campaign and the volunteers who work for him on Monday. "My suspicion is that we're trying to make a mountain out of a molehill here. But gladly, the molehill is not in my backyard," Galipeau said.

"There are all kinds of people in this business who act independently," Galipeau continued. "Some volunteers get away from themselves. And it happens everywhere."

An anonymous call centre worker who worked for Conservative-affiliated firm The Responsive Marketing Group (also known as RMG) in Thunder Bay described to CBC Radio's As it Happens Monday her discomfort with the way she felt her fellow employees were asked to influence voters on behalf of the Conservative Party. They weren't allowed to say they worked for a call centre.

"This job was making me sick," she told host Carol Off. "You kind of felt that you were misleading people."

"This has such a huge impact on society as a whole. You're really doing something horrible," she said.

She said she and other workers took their concerns to the RCMP, but "they said they didn't want to listen, it wasn't their area, and it was now all over and done with."

Source is the CBC

Also, here is a link listing the ridings where people reported robocalls - its up to 43.
If it was only a handful,  in the same area, i'd find it more believable that it was an accident/technical oops/the government really had no idea.


Omar Khadr to 'Guantanamo of the North'?

For those who are not aware of who Omar Khadr is, here is a short summary of an extremely good television program on the case (there is also a link to the full program here).

Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen who, as a child, was taken abroad by his father who was a supporter of Osama bin Laden. He was captured in Afghanistan in 2002 by US soldiers, at the age of 15. He has lived in prison at Guantano Bay, Cuba, since that time.

There is evidence, including Khadr's own assertions, that he was tortured while in US custody. Human rights organizations including Amnesty International, have called for him to be repatriated to Canada after undergoind a military trial in Guantanamo.

The Canadian government has done everything it can to refuse Khadr's requests for extradition: it appealed all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which found that the Canadian government had, "'actively participated in a process contrary to Canada’s international human rights obligations and contributed to Mr. Khadr’s ongoing detention' in violation of section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms".
(From LaPresse.ca and CJAD News)

There is a report this morning that Corrections Canada has a contingency plan should Omar Khadr eventually be repatriated. La Presse reports that should Khadr be released from Guantanamo Bay to serve out his remaining time in Canada, he will be transferred to the detention unit at Millhaven Penitentiary in Ontario known as the "Guantanamo of the North". It's in the maximum security wing and it features six cells specially designed to house terrorism suspects.

25-year old Khadr has been detained by the Americans for ten years for his involvement in a firefight in Afghanistan that killed a U.S. medic. He pleaded guilty to a number of charges in a deal that included eventual transfer to a Canadian prison.
Here is the source. (For those who read French, there is a much better and longer article at the Montreal newspaper LaPresse here.)

Reposted because of wayyyy to many italics!! ;-) My apologies to the mods.
Pride & Prejudice

Sponsor of Alabama ultrasound law has financial interest in company that sells ultrasound equipment

The chairman of the Alabama Senate Health Committee said he doesn’t see a conflict of interest between his support for a bill that would require physicians to perform ultrasounds on women seeking abortions and his company, which sells the type of equipment the bill would require.

Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, voted to move Senate Bill 12 out of committee last week because he said it’s a good bill that would help “a mother to understand that a live baby is inside her body.”

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Tron: Legacy, Castor, Zuse

Building African-Arab connections during Black History Month

Washington, DC - While reflecting upon the transformative contributions and sacrifices made by African Americans should be a yearlong process, Black History Month offers a special opportunity to do so.

It also offers a moment to emulate the courageous and progressive spirit of leaders such as Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson.

For Arab America, the month presents an opportune moment to set aside racism for reconciliation, convert boundaries into bridges, and take strides toward building a lasting coalition with the community that blazed the civil rights trail in America. The first step of this journey starts back home - in Detroit.

Detroit is home to the most concentrated Arab-American community in the United States, and the hometown of one of the country's most vibrant and sizeable African-American populations. For decades, these two communities lived among one another but never co-existed within Detroit's hyper-segregated landscape, divided by geographic boundaries and cultural rifts.

Unique significance

Few American cities boast the cultural contributions and historical significance offered by Detroit. The Motown sound was perfected on West Grand Boulevard, while Ford Motor Company revolutionised transportation in nearby Dearborn - today's capital of Arab America. African Americans have called Detroit home for decades, while their once-huddled Arab neighbours fled political and economic despair beginning in the 1970s, seeking the promise of opportunity in Michigan.

Tireman Road demarcates the border separating Arab from Black Detroit on the City's Westside, with little spill over until recently. Warrendale, an enclave of West Detroit, houses a rapidly diversifying population where Arab and African American families live side-by-side. This phenomenon not only offered unprecedented opportunity for genuine cross-cultural interaction, but also the seeds for grassroots coalition building.

Decades later, Manichean divisions pit the two communities at hostile, and sometimes fatal, odds. But a common political experience, whereby Arab Americans face the brand of vilification African Americans have endured for centuries, offers a springboard for meaningful coalition building and co-operation.

The relationship between the two communities still needs work, but there are a number of ripe seeds for future coalescing on the ground, starting with closer co-operation among African-American and Arab-American leadership. Dawud Walid, head of CAIR-Michigan, shares, "I believe that there are better relations between some of the Arab American leaders with some of the African American leaders, post-9/11."

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I read this a couple of weeks ago and it's managed to stick with me for some reason.

Also, don't read the comments.

Kb - fun once

Remembering the sheep that changed the world

Stanford, CA - On February 27, 1997, Nature, one of the world's leading scientific journals, published an article with the title: "Viable Offspring Derived from Fetal and Adult Mammalian Cells". It doesn't sound that exciting, but Dolly, the cloned female lamb that was the star of the piece, amazed the world.

Since the announcement of her birth, millions of words have been written about Dolly, and more broadly about cloning. But why was this one lamb so startling? With 15 years of perspective, what did Dolly really mean? I suggest her story holds four lessons about our societies' interactions with bioscience: lessons about how the media handles science, how science makes progress, how complicated biology is, and most importantly, how new knowledge in the life sciences will challenge our societies.

Dolly was a sensation, covered on front pages and leading newscasts around the world. Conversation jumped immediately from cloned sheep to cloned humans. And yet almost no one tried to explain to the general public the incremental steps that had led to her birth. The coverage typically acknowledged that Dolly did not mean that human cloning would necessarily work, but this warning was like fine print in advertising for loans - intended to be ignored as people plunged ahead into the exciting part of the story. The media message? The clones are coming - which was a gross overreaction.

The media likes exciting and controversial stories, because the public likes exciting and controversial stories - and the media makes money by giving the public what it wants. Stories will be goosed to sound as exciting as possible, often without regard for the scientific integrity of the attention-grabbing assertions. Dolly was not, in fact, the harbinger of armies of human clones, though the news coverage might have led credulous readers to think so.

The lesson is to be sceptical. Never believe any scientific "breakthrough" when it first appears on the front page of a newspaper (or a website). Wait until other scientists have repeated it, several times. If it really interests you, look beyond the popular press to see what experienced science journalists say about it, including those who write for the weekly journals Nature and Science. They have a level of sophistication and scepticism, about science, based often on decades of observation, that general writers rarely match.

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  • kangofu

Snowe Will Not Seek Re-election

Snowe Will Not Seek Re-election
Source - NYTimes
February 28, 2012, 5:35 PM

In a surprise that could reconfigure the fight to control the Senate, Senator Olympia Snowe, a three-term Republican from Maine, said Tuesday she would not run for re-election, citing excessive partisanship in the Senate.

“After 33 years in the Congress this was not an easy decision,” said Ms. Snowe in a prepared statement. “My husband and I are in good health. We have laid an exceptionally strong foundation for the campaign, and I have no doubt I would have won re-election. It has been an indescribable honor and immeasurable privilege to serve the people of Maine, first in both houses of Maine’s legislature and later in both houses of Congress. To this day, I remain deeply passionate about public service, and I cherish the opportunity I have been given for nearly four decades to help improve the lives of my fellow Mainers.”

Ms. Snowe, a moderate who cast key votes in bills that were dear to Democrats including the stimulus bill, was facing a Tea Party-backed challenger, but one who had failed to gain much traction in a state where Ms. Snowe remained popular and well known.

Ms. Snowe said the lack of comity and bipartisanship in the current Congress was a key motivating factor to her sudden retirement, which would well upend Republican efforts to retake the Senate; the party needs four seats to do so.

“I do find it frustrating,” Ms. Snowe said, “that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions. With my Spartan ancestry I am a fighter at heart; and I am well prepared for the electoral battle, so that is not the issue. However, what I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be. Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail.”

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and Ms. Snowe’s ally and sometimes rival, said Tuesday afternoon in a prepared statement she was “absolutely devastated” by the news. “Olympia could always be counted on as a leader who sought solutions, not political advantage,” said Ms. Collins, a fellow moderate. “She served our nation with distinction and she continues to bring honor to our state.”
Happy End
  • kangofu

The illegal immigrants desperate to escape squalor of Britain

The illegal immigrants desperate to escape squalor of Britain
Source - BBC News
By Chris Rogers
28 February 2012 Last updated at 07:00 ET

They came to Britain illegally in search of a better life, but the reality turned out to be far removed from what they dreamed of.

The BBC has spoken to illegal immigrants who find themselves living amongst rats and rubbish in makeshift garden sheds and garages. They want to be deported back to India, but many are trapped in a bureaucratic no man's land without any documents.

Jagdeesh pulls away a piece of cardboard revealing a tiny hole in a concrete wall. He invites me to climb through, declaring: "This is my home, come in."

As I crawl into the derelict garage in west London, the torchlight reveals half the roof is missing, a floor littered with rubbish, and rats scurrying away.

The 22-year-old illegal immigrant jumps on to a mattress in the corner. His makeshift bed is protected from the elements by plastic sheeting.

Jagdeesh's family paid £10,000 to traffickers who promised a better life and smuggled him from India to Britain with dozens of others in the back of a lorry.

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mus | like a bird in a cage

Alberta doctors continue to bill province for ‘treating’ homosexuality

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.

China officially declassified it 5 years ago.

But in 2012, it appears Canada's most conservative province still hasn't.

According to a story by PostMedia News, doctors in Alberta can still bill the province for treating homosexuality as a mental disorder "akin to bestiality and pedophilia."

In fact, in 2010, the last year for which figures are available, doctors billed the province five times.

Alberta, like other provinces, uses the ninth version of the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9), which was written in 1975 and includes a diagnostic billing code listing sexual orientation under mental illness.

The province has known about the outdated classification for more than a decade and the government promised to change it in 1998 and in 2010.

While the code has been removed from the online version of the government's diagnostic codes, it still remains on the books and according to PostMedia and is still being used in Alberta.

The code is still on the books in Quebec as well - at least as of late December.

According to the Journal De Quebec, homosexuality was listed as a illness in Quebec's health ministry's computer systems, just after "hiccups." The newspaper article, however, makes no mention of Quebec doctors billing to "treat" homosexuality.

Meanwhile, in Alberta, health minister Fred Horne said he will look into the matter.

"Simply changing where the billing codes are publicly available does not address the issue," he said in the legislature last week.
"I'd be pleased to look into it."