April 5th, 2012

The Gang

Lawsuit filed over discriminatory immigration law

Five legally married, “bi-national” same-sex couples — one spouse is a U.S. citizen and the other a foreign national — filed a lawsuit yesterday in federal court seeking the right to live together in the United States. The right of American citizens to have their chosen spouse live with them in the U.S.  is more or less automatically granted when the spouse is of the opposite sex: once evidence is submitted attesting to the authenticity of the marriage, the Immigration and Naturalization Service issues a visa and then a Green Card to the foreign national spouse. But the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 statute enacted by a huge Congressional majority in both parties and signed into law by President Clinton, expressly bars the granting by the Federal government of any spousal benefits, including immigration rights, to same-sex couples.

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Bawwww, we'll have to pay for poor people like this!

In the Great Recession, Even Death Is Too Expensive for the Poor

Editor's Note: This story was written for New America Media as the first in a series of columns by Dr. Sanjay Basu called A Doctor's Word, exploring the impact of the recession on health care for poor people. It appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle's Insight and on SFGate.com. Sanjay Basu, MD PhD is a resident physician in the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco.

Rita is only in her 30s, but she knows all about death. What she didn't know until recently is how expensive it is, especially now in the Great Recession, for the poor to die.

Rita's parents, her only relatives in the U.S., died in a car crash during her sophomore year in community college. Rita dropped out of school to earn a living as a shipping coordinator at a Bay Area package company. A few years later, she found herself coughing and coughing. She was always short of breath. Tests revealed that Rita had a rare and fatal disease of unknown origin--one that leads to the slow closure of the blood vessels feeding the lungs. She will suffocate to death before the age of 40.

“I know the end is coming,” she tells her doctor and nurses; after many meetings with her chaplain, she is, she says, "at peace." At the medical clinic in San Francisco’s General Hospital, Rita tells anyone who will listen that she has two goals. She wants to continue living with her cat in her one bedroom apartment in the Mission District of San Francisco. And she hopes to continue receiving the few medications that mitigate her symptoms.

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Warm tone butterfly (by fruitpunch_it)

The Samantha affair allows people to point out truths about the Daily Mail and women (again)

Source of controversy: 

'There are downsides to looking this pretty': Why women hate me for being beautiful 

On a recent flight to New York, I was delighted when a stewardess came over and gave me a bottle of champagne. 

‘This is from the captain — he wants to welcome you on board and hopes you have a great flight today,’ she explained.

You’re probably thinking ‘what a lovely surprise’. But while it was lovely, it wasn’t a surprise. At least, not for me...

How much does the Daily Mail hate women? It obviously hates female celebrities, despite featuring them so heavily. The paper and, to a larger extent, the website is pretty much built upon a foundation of "articles" – though that word does seem a stretch – about female celebrities who all fall into the dichotomy of being either thigh-rubbingly salacious ("Look at this sexy young woman in minimal clothes! Look! Look at her!") or eye-poppingly repulsed ("Look at this woman who is older than 30, and over nine stone! Ew! Look! Look at her!") Sometimes the two genres are combined.

Martin Clarke, Mail Online's editor, recently explained his editorial ideology to Lauren Collins, staff writer for the New Yorker.

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I agree with the article, but I admit to LOL-ing at Samantha Brick's original piece. And the subsequent fake twitter accounts and articles. hmmm

Murasaki Shikibu

5 ex-cops sentenced in Katrina killings case

5 ex-cops sentenced in Katrina killings case

Five former New Orleans police officers were sentenced Wednesday to prison terms ranging from six to 65 years for their roles in deadly shootings of unarmed residents in the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina, with the judge lashing out at prosecutors for two hours on their handling of the case.

Police shot six people at the Danzinger Bridge on Sept. 4, 2005, killing two, less than a week after Katrina made landfall. To make the shootings appear justified, officers conspired to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and falsify reports. The case became the centerpiece of the Justice Department's push to clean up the troubled New Orleans Police Department.

Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Anthony Villavaso and Robert Faulcon were convicted of federal firearms charges that carried mandatory minimum prison sentences of at least 35 years. Retired Sgt. Arthur "Archie" Kaufman, who was assigned to investigate the shootings, was convicted of helping orchestrate the cover-up.

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oh holy shit
  • chaya

'I've got snakes on a plane': Pilot makes emergency landing

A pilot made an emergency landing during a flight in Australia, reportedly telling air traffic controllers "look, you're not going to believe this. I've got snakes on a plane."

Australia's ABC News reported that Braden Blennerhassett, 26, swiftly put the Air Frontier plane on the ground after making the unusual mayday call during a flight from Darwin to the remote town of Peppimenarti Tuesday. Air Frontier offers charter and scenic flights throughout Australia’s northern territory.

"My blood pressure and heart rate was a bit elevated -- it was an interesting experience," Blennerhassett told Nine News. "As the plane was landing the snake was crawling down my leg, which was frightening."

On the ground, a firefighter discovered that the snake that crawled down Blennerhassett's leg was not alone -- a green tree frog was also on the aircraft, Nine News reported. No other wildlife was found and both animals had disappeared by the time a wildlife ranger came for them.

Frog hunted?
It is thought the snake, believed to be a non-venomous green tree snake, may have been hunting the frog, Nine News said.

Geoffrey Hunt, director of Air Frontier, which owns the plane, clearly hadn't seen the Hollywood film "Snakes on a Plane."

"I have heard of crocodiles being loose in planes, but not snakes," he told ABC News.

He added that the plane was grounded "until we find the snake," expressing the hope that the aircraft would not have to be taken apart.


I have no idea what to do with this article, so here's Batman riding a shark.

Murasaki Shikibu

Apple Pact to Ripple Across China

Apple Pact to Ripple Across China
Manufacturers Face Pressure to Cut Workers' Hours, Raise Pay; New Generation Has Lifestyle Goals

Manufacturers grappling with rising labor costs and increasing worker demands in China could face further pressure if a critical probe of a major Apple Inc. supplier sets a new standard for China's factory workers.

Apple and one of its top suppliers, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., agreed to a set of recommendations by the Fair Labor Association following an audit of Hon Hai's Chinese factories to reduce work hours and change other employment policies.

Hon Hai said on Friday that it welcomed the report and would work with Apple "to carry out the remediation program…along with the FLA audit findings." It added, "We will continue to support Apple's initiatives to ensure that its business partners are in compliance with all relevant China laws and regulations and the FLA's Workplace Code of Conduct."

The recommendations included reducing work hours to a maximum of 40 hours a week and limiting overtime to a maximum of 36 hours a month—the legal maximum in China—by July 2013. Implementing the measures would require Hon Hai to hire and train more workers and increase compensation to make up for reduced hours, according to the FLA report. The companies also will explore benefits such as unemployment insurance with private providers and government agencies. FLA is a nonprofit involving companies, universities and social groups to address labor conditions and training.

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Proposition 5, Anchorage Gay Rights Initiative, Rejected By Voters

Voters rejected by a wide margin on Tuesday an Anchorage, Alaska, ballot proposition that would have extended citywide anti-discrimination protections to sexual orientation and transgender identity.

According to city returns with 97.5 percent of precincts reporting, Proposition 5 was failing by about a 58 - 42 margin.

The vote Tuesday had problems. Election officials ran out of ballots in multiple precincts due to what one official described as an "unprecedented number of voters." As such, final results may be days or weeks away, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Voters were also choosing a mayor and voting on other ballot initiatives.

The initiative had bipartisan support from several prominent current and former Alaska elected officials.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) voted in favor of the proposition, telling the Alaska Dispatch, "I think this is overdue and we make sure that within this community that there’s no discrimination and there’s no tolerance for any discrimination at all." She also voted to end the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in December 2010. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) also supported the measure.Collapse )


absinthe, wormwood

Natural disasters not so natural after all

Industrial pollution linked to 'natural' disasters

Met Office research suggests industrial air pollution is largely responsible for changes in the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean which are linked to drought, flooding and hurricane activity.

Published in the journal Nature, the study is the first to clearly link aerosol 'dirty pollution' and, to a lesser extent, volcanic eruptions to observed 20th century temperature variations in the Atlantic Ocean.

These shifts in ocean temperature, known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation or AMO, are believed to affect rainfall patterns in Africa, South America and India, as well as hurricane activity in the North Atlantic - in extreme cases leading to humanitarian disasters.

Ben Booth, a Met Office climate processes scientist and lead author of the research, said: "Until now, no-one has been able to demonstrate a physical link to what is causing these observed Atlantic Ocean fluctuations, so it was assumed they must be caused by natural variability.

"Our research implies that far from being natural, these changes could have been largely driven by dirty pollution and volcanoes. If so, this means a number of natural disasters linked to these ocean fluctuations, such as persistent African drought during the 1970's and 80's, may not be so natural after all."

The Atlantic variations in question see warm and cold fluctuations in temperature over several decades. A warm period increases hurricane activity in the North Atlantic and rainfall in parts of Africa, while reducing rainfall in South America. A cold period has the opposite impacts.

A state-of-the-art Met Office climate model, which simulates the physical processes of the Earth's atmosphere, has reproduced the variations for the first time. It shows a clear link between Atlantic variations and the peaks and troughs in industrial pollution from countries around the Atlantic. Volcanoes also play a smaller role.

"Particles from industrial pollution make clouds brighter and last longer, which means they can reflect much more of the Sun's energy into space," said Paul Halloran, a Met Office ocean scientist.

"When we include these processes in our latest climate model the observed changes emerge. When industrial pollution peaked over the Atlantic, this effect played a big role in cooling the ocean beneath; as pollution was cleaned up - for example after the clean air legislation of the 90's - the seas warmed."

The research suggests human activity can, and already has, driven large-scale regional climate changes and, in this case at least, that natural variability doesn't have a big role to play.

Nick Dunstone, a decadal climate prediction expert at the Met Office, said: "Our research could have important implications for understanding human influence in large-scale climate impacts, as well as predicting and potentially avoiding future changes in the Atlantic region.

"However, it's important to note that these findings are based on only one model, so further research using other next-generation climate models is required to shed further light on the mechanisms at play."

Link to article

Link to paper (£)
Bree Gun

Electronic Arts Will Not Give In To Anti-Gay Protests

Video game maker Electronic Arts caused a bigger stir than they anticipated by including same-sex characters in their most recent Star Wars game and Mass Effect 3. Anti-gay activist Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council claimed "the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists," and EA says they've received thousands of hate letters decrying their decision.

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  • qable

CISPA: Congressional plan to censor internet concerns critics

A controversial new bill that would allow for Internet censorhip is quietly moving through Congress. Critics claim H.R. 3523, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), constitutes a substantial threat to the Internet as we know it.

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First SOPA, then PIPA, then ACTA, then this. Are they really pushing one of these bills every month?
The Gang

Against the health care mandate

Helen Redmond argues that those who support health care for all should be in favor of the Supreme Court striking down the health care law's individual mandate.

IN A highly charged and polarizing case, the Supreme Court heard a series of legal challenges to President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The case was brought to the high court by 26 Republican-led states that are hell-bent on a showdown with the Obama administration, even though the legislation is supported by the health insurance industry.

That's right. The insurance industry is in favor of the ACA because they wrote it. Liz Fowler, a former vice president of WellPoint, wrote much of the Senate bill that became the ACA.

The insurance industry, captained by Karen Ignagni, the president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), understood that small changes to the market were unavoidable given the scale of the crisis and its impact on the economy. From the start of the health care reform debate, the industry won its most critical demand--the individual mandate that candidate Obama opposed, but President Obama fully supported.

James Morone, author of The Heart of Power: Health and Politics in the Oval Office, said of the ACA, "This is a bill that actually helps the insurance industry. It's like Franklin Roosevelt saving the banks. It's like lots of other examples in American history where the industry is actually helped and protected from some of the more outraged critics--in this case, people demanding single payer."

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oh holy shit
  • chaya

Invisible Children Promoted By Jason Russell As God’s “Trojan Horse”

“This audio clip incontrovertibly shows Invisible Children’s invisible agenda,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “It is not simply about Kony, but being phony and concealing the motivation behind its deceptive campaign.”

Truth Wins Out has obtained exclusive audiotape from a 2005 Christian conference in San Antonio where Invisible Children’s co-founder Jason Russell calls his organization a “Trojan Horse” to introduce the secular realm to his group’s version of Christian fundamentalism. The audiotape reveals that that his organization is particularly focused on targeting youth in public high schools. According to Russell’s remarks (0:44):

“Coming in January we are trying to hit as many high schools, churches, and colleges as possible with this movie. We are able to be the Trojan Horse in a sense, going into a secular realm and saying, guess what life is about orphans, and it’s about the widow. It’s about the oppressed. That’s God’s heart. And to sit in a public high school and tell them about that has been life-changing. Because they get so excited. And it’s not driven by guilt, it’s driven by an adventure and the adventure is God’s.”

Invisible Children is the group that launched a viral video, KONY 2012, that reached millions of viewers worldwide and became an Internet sensation. The ostensible reason for the video was to highlight the brutality of Ugandan LRA leader Joseph Kony.

However, the group raised alarms after researcher Bruce Wilson showed the group was funded by the National Christian Foundation, a fundamentalist outfit that finances extremist right wing organizations and anti-gay groups.

Wilson also discovered that Invisible Children was intimately linked to The Family, the secretive and powerful American fundamentalist group widely considered responsible for Uganda’s draconian “Kill the Gays” bill.

Anthony Wing Kosner reported for Forbes that conservative strongholds such as Oklahoma City and Alabama were surprisingly the driving force behind making KONY2012 go viral.

Graphic from source.


[fútbol] Alexis Sánchez
  • aviv

Camila Vallejo, the World’s Most Glamorous Revolutionary

The hotel had a musty, Pinochet-era atmosphere — dark bar, heavy furniture, bartenders in white shirts and black ties — and drew mostly businessmen. But when the bartenders found out that my friends and I were going to the student march, they cut lemons for us and put them into plastic bags with salt. In case of tear gas, you were supposed to bite into the lemons to lessen the effect. With guarded smiles, they let us know they supported the Chilean student movement and especially its most prominent leader, Camila Vallejo. A bartender said, “La Camila es valiente”; he laughed and added, “Está bien buena la mina” — “She’s hot.”

Camila Vallejo, the 23-year-old president of the University of Chile student federation (FECH), a Botticelli beauty who wears a silver nose ring and studies geography, was the most prominent leader of a student protest movement that had paralyzed the country and shattered Chile’s image as Latin America’s greatest political and economic success story. The march that Thursday afternoon in November would be the 42nd since June.

In what became known as the Chilean Winter, students at university campuses and high schools across the country organized strikes, boycotted classes and occupied buildings. The protests were the largest since the last days of the 17-year dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who in a 1973 military coup overthrew Latin America’s first democratically elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende. The students’ grievances echoed, somewhat, those of their counterparts across the Mideast or in Zuccotti Park. Chile might have the highest per capita income in the region, but in terms of distribution of wealth, it ranks as one of the most unequal countries in the world. A university education in Chile is proportionally the world’s most expensive: $3,400 a year in a country where the average annual salary is about $8,500.

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Read more at Source


IOC urged to ban Saudi Arabia from 2012 over stance on women

IOC urged to ban Saudi Arabia from 2012 over stance on women

The president of the Saudi Arabia Olympic Committee has ruled out sending women to London 2012, leading to a call for their exclusion from the Games.
Prince Nawaf bin Faisal said his body was "not endorsing any female participation at the moment."

Sue Tibballs, chief executive of the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation, said the Saudi stance was unacceptable.

"We would expect the International Olympic Committee to exclude Saudi Arabia," she said.
Women at the Olympics
Afghanistan were banned from the Sydney Olympics in 2000 after the then Taliban regime's discrimination of women.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei have never had a woman compete for them at the Olympics.
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Since equestrian is mixed-gender in olympic competition, it sort of amuses me that this the one sport they might have a woman who qualifies

Twilight-Sparkle Motion

In wake of scandal, power struggle spread from Penn State campus to state capital


STATE COLLEGE, PA. -- In the lobby of the Penn Stater hotel, they stood vigil -- reporters, cameramen, students, alumni, residents and a few tipsy hotel bar patrons. It was Nov. 9, 2011, shortly before 9 p.m., and the throng awaited the decision of the Pennsylvania State University board of trustees. Behind the closed doors of Room 206, the 32 men and women charged with navigating the worst crisis in Penn State's 156-year history were on the verge of a painstaking but seemingly unavoidable verdict.

Near the back of a conference room littered with coffee cups and plates of half-eaten fudge brownies and chocolate-chip cookies, a 79-year-old trustee and philanthropist named Mimi Coppersmith stood up and beseeched her colleagues to reconsider what they were poised to do. "Coach Paterno is revered here in State College," she said.

"We're not going to drink the Kool-Aid," snapped John P. Surma, then the board's vice chairman and the chief executive officer of United States Steel Corp. "This is what we need to do."

From the speaker of a nearby telephone, a distinctive voice chimed in: "Remember the children. Remember that little boy in the shower." The voice belonged to Thomas W. Corbett Jr., the governor of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a member of the board of trustees. Corbett was participating in his first meeting, but he had the last word.

Surma then asked whether any trustee objected to the firing of coach Joe Paterno.

The question was met with silence.

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Source is Team Nobody

Beware the comments at the source if you're not interested in reading JoPa defenders.

Asshole Wonders: Are Lesbian Marriages Doomed because Women Are Silly?

"Lesbian break-ups can apparently be bitchier than gay men's.” wrote columnist Giles Hattersley in the Sunday Times this weekend as he speculated his way through a piece on why 62% of civil union dissolutions (i.e. divorces) in the UK are between women despite the fact that lesbian relationships only represent 44% of civil partnerships in that country.

Hattersley gives several reasons for why married lesbians can’t seem to stay together (which I will outline below) but ignores the obvious explanations – divorces are almost always instigated by women and people who have already been married once are more likely to divorce in the future.

In the UK, same sex couples can form legally recognized relationships, akin to marriages, and have had this right since the Civil Partnership Act came into effect in December 2005. Just like marriages these unions can be dissolved via a legal process similar to a divorce (which in the UK requires someone to be at fault).

The most recent evidence from the UK Office of National Statistics finds that homosexual couples that joined in 2005 were significantly less likely to have filed for dissolution four years later than heterosexual couples were to have filed for divorce: 2.5% compared to 5.5%.

As Hattersley points out, however, male couples were much less likely to dissolve their relationship than were female couples: By the end of 2010, 1.6 % of male civil partnerships had ended in dissolution compared to 3.3 % of female partnerships.

This is not to say that women in homosexual partnerships are more likely to experience dissolution than are women in heterosexual partnerships, however, but Hattersley ignores this when he comes up with his list to reasons why lesbian women dissolve civil unions more frequently than gay men.

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Source: http://bigthink.com/ideas/are-lesbian-marriages-doomed-for-failure

Scully is skeptical

Touchy Day at Augusta National Men’s Club



The azaleas have wilted, but change is in full bloom at Augusta National Golf Club. In his annual state of the Masters address Wednesday, the club’s chairman, Billy Payne, noted the addition of a restroom. Presumably it’s for men.

If the club had added its first female member recently, Payne did not crow about it. Joining the 21st century would be a monumental achievement for the green-jacketed gentry.

The club was given the cultural equivalent of a conceded putt this year when I.B.M., one of the tournament’s three corporate sponsors, along with Exxon Mobil and AT&T, chose Virginia M. Rometty as its new chief executive. The company’s four previous chief executives had been extended a club membership, so a precedent had been set. This was Augusta National’s chance to integrate its private men’s club, not at the point of a bayonet as Payne’s predecessor, Hootie Johnson, so colorfully put it in 2003, but as a matter of course.

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