May 10th, 2012

Biden torpedoed WH plan to endorse gay marriage before the Democratic convention

It was more than a year ago, administration and campaign officials say, that President Obama decided to abandon his posture of sympathetic neutrality and personally embrace same-sex marriage. The only question was when.

Wednesday unexpectedly became the day. “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” the president said in an interview with ABC News.

The declaration was not supposed to be come this week. Instead, the White House had planned to dramatically unveil the shift shortly before the Democratic convention. But Obama had been agitated by Vice President Joe Biden’s own endorsement of gay marriage on Sunday, which knocked the White House off what was supposed to be its message this week—student loans and economic issues.

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Additional reading/viewing: transcript of Jay Carney's press briefing from Monday, and video of the same.

Mods, I'm submitting twice because the first one had the wrong source - sorry!

Good on you, DOJ!

Justice Dept. plans to sue Sheriff Joe Arpaio

PHOENIX - Federal authorities say they intend to file a lawsuit against Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio and his department over allegations of civil rights violations.

The U.S. Justice Department sent a letter dated Wednesday to lawyers for the Maricopa County sheriff, giving his office "notice of intent to file civil action."

Arpaio's office has been accused of racially profiling Latinos, basing immigration patrols on racially-charged citizen complaints that didn't allege crimes and punishing Hispanic jail inmates for speaking Spanish.

The DOJ also has accused Arpaio of having a culture of disregard for basic constitutional rights.

Arpaio has denied allegations of systematic discriminatory policing and has insisted the Justice Department provide facts to prove its allegations.

The Justice Department said a 22-page letter that it sent Arpaio's office in December provides those details.

We need to increase taxes...on the poor! BRILLIANT!

Indiana GOP Senate Candidate Says His Concern About Poor Not Paying Taxes Akin To Lincoln’s Fears About Slavery

The Republican Party’s nominee for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat recently compared the fight over tax rates and reform to former president Abraham Lincoln’s concern over slavery, alluding to Lincoln’s famous “House Divided” speech ahead of the Civil War.

State treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) rehashed a favorite GOP talking point — that 47 percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes — at the town hall in Columbus City, Indiana, comparing those 47 percent to the Confederate states that seceded from the Union in an attempt to protect and expand slavery. Referencing Lincoln’s speech, Mourdock said that as long as nearly half of Americans don’t pay taxes, “we are a house divided” that is presumably on the point to another fight, this time between the rich and the poor:

MOURDOCK: What he meant by that was that slavery was either going to be totally eliminated from the United States or it was no longer just going to be restricted to the Southern states, it was going to go everywhere. I am here to suggest to you that we are in a house divided. You know this past April, when our federal taxes were paid, 47 percent — 47 percent — of all American households paid no income tax. In fact, half of that 47 percent almost, actually got tax money back from the government that they never paid -– because a few years ago we revised the welfare program to make it part of the tax code. When 47 percent are paying no income taxes — they do pay Social Security — but they are not paying income taxes, and 53 percent are carrying the load, we are a house divided.

Mourdock’s ridiculous allusion to a speech referencing the spread of slavery aside, the facts he presented to town hall attendees aren’t telling the whole story. It’s true that half of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes, but they do pay state income taxes, payroll taxes (which Mourdock referenced), and a host of other taxes. Many of those 47 percent don’t pay income taxes because they don’t have income on which to pay taxes — they are students or seniors without taxable income, or they don’t make enough money to qualify for the bottom tax bracket.

Republicans have opposed tax increases of various kinds to help pay down the deficit, largely because so many are beholden to a radical no-taxes pledge authored by Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. Mourdock, who has signed the pledge, seems no different than many Republicans in Congress — he’s willing to ignore the pledge, as long as the only tax increases that pass are on the poorest Americans.

donk... donk... donk...

Event speaker enjoyed smooth ‘trans’ transition at work

International Day Against Homophobia Breakfast takes place Thursday [today]

Kelly Worrall didn’t want to be treated like an animal on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom when her colleagues learned about her transition from John to Kelly.

A producer for Electronic Arts, Worrall was terrified last year after an expert the company hired showed her a presentation he was planning for her co-workers. The slideshow started by saying John would be absent for two weeks and return as Kelly, a transsexual. It progressed to a graphic of groups of people who can be classified under the title transgender, to detailed slides about intersex people and cross-dressers, to the characteristics of “the transsexual” and, finally, a photo of RuPaul, to be followed by a photo of Kelly.

Worrall and the expert rewrote the presentation together. It began with a reminder about EA’s policy on harassment and that individuals could lose their jobs for prolonged bad behaviour. Employees were told personal objections needed to be kept personal.

But according to Worrall, the reaction of her co-workers to the presentation was “amazing.” They wanted to know which bathroom Kelly would use. They were told whichever one she felt the most comfortable with that day. They also talked about relatives and neighbours who were transgendered. Worrall is one of three keynote speakers at Vancity and QMUNITY’s eighth Annual International Day Against Homophobia Breakfast, May 17, which is focused this year on “queering the workplace.”

Worrall and EA’s human resources department planned her transition for a year. Worrall’s boss was told about her impending change after Worrall left the office early one day to take her son to a Whitecaps game. Serendipitously, her boss also attended the game and sat next to her in the stands. Human resources connected Worrall and a transgendered co-worker and the two kept regular lunch dates.

“That time leading up to the actual transition was very important to me,” Worrall said. “It was a time where I felt reassured because I could see the steps that HR was taking to build the environment where I would be protected, and that was my big concern. Am I going to be laughed out of every meeting? Is everyone going to be staring at me the whole time? The answer to that [last question] is yes, by the way. There’s nothing you can do about that.”

Businesses that embrace transgendered people now will be able to claim they were on the right side of history, says Worrall. She argues inclusive organizations generate more creative ideas and solutions, a benefit the breakfast speakers will elaborate on. “Transgenderism is a growth industry,” Worrall said. “It’s becoming OK to be trans. Five years ago it really wasn’t. And now that it is, people are starting to come out, and they will gravitate to the places that embrace them, and so as a company, you have the opportunity to reach a new market by being open.”

Tickets to the breakfast are $55 and benefit the work of QMUNITY.

Dylan Mazur, program manager at the resource centre for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, says social service agencies can leave a blank line after gender on forms so respondents can self-identify instead of ticking male or female. He added more companies have non-gendered washrooms and support LGBT committees.

“That actually fosters the environment where someone can say, oh, I’ll bring my partner to the holiday party… I can put a picture of my partner on my desk or in my office,” Mazur said.

The breakfast is at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. For more information, see

Vancouver Courier

Racism looms over 'Hunger Games' sequel casting


Racism looms over 'Hunger Games' sequel casting

Who knew that race would become such a contentious issue for the movie adaptations of Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy?

While Collins' novels and first film in the series were, of course, not without controversy -- they do centre on a society that battles children to the death for entertainment after all -- race never played any kind of implicit or explicit role in the stories. Tell that to some very vocal and blatantly racist "Hunger Games" fans, who have repeatedly taken issue with the casting of minority actors for certain roles. The latest instance sees those negative fans weigh in on a fan campaign to have a black actor cast as the character Finnick Odair in the upcoming sequel, "Catching Fire."

It all started during the lead-up to the release of "The Hunger Games" movie, with some fans voicing complaints about some of the casting choices -- specifically, they were upset that actors of colour were cast. After seeing the film, many tweeters also let their feelings about the actors playing the characters of Rue and Thresh, and it wasn't pretty. Here's a sampling of some of the unfortunate and outright bigoted comments.

"Why does rue have to be black. Not gonna lie, kinda ruined the movie," read one comment.

"Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the innocent blonde girl you picture," read another.

And another: "Call me racist but when i found out rue was black her death wasn't as sad #ihatemyself"

Who needs proper grammar and punctuation when you're already ignorant? These so-called fans apparently missed the part in the books when Collins described the characters in question as having "dark brown skin." Director Gary Ross decided to be faithful to this description for the film version, and in keeping with Collins's depiction, the actors chosen to play the characters in the film (Amandla Stenberg and Dayo Okeniyi) were of African American descent.

Similarly, the fan campaign to have the half-Swedish, half-African American actor Jesse Williams ("Cabin in the Woods," "Grey's Anatomy") cast as Finnick reflects Collins' description of the character from the "Catching Fire" novel. Described as having "tan skin," "bronze-colored hair," and "sea green eyes," one look at Williams makes him seem ideal for the part. The actor fits the bill to a tee, but that hasn't stopped fans from decrying the suggestion based on his race.

"finnick is supposed to be a blonde white boy and that's that people!" said one commenter on Perez Hilton.

"im not trying to be racist or anything but i always pictured finick as a blonde white boy. its not that i dont like jesse because he is colored," said another commenter.

A sure-fire way to convince people that you're not racist is to start a sentence with "I'm not trying to be racist" and then proceed to call the person you're talking about "colored." Thankfully, the majority of the commenters liked the choice of Williams and took the others to task over their remarks.
More at the Source... Where the writer of the article also notes that there was no such outcry over the casting of Jennifer Lawrence, a blue eyed blonde, as the main character in the film, despite said character being described in the book as having dark hair, olive skin, and grey eyes.

This sh*t just makes me so angry. WTF, white people??

That child is surely me...

Kelly Thomas' Attackers Might Actually See Jail



Two Fullerton, Calif., police officers will be tried in the death of a mentally ill homeless man whose apparent beating by police was captured on video, a judge ruled today.

Officer Manuel Ramos, 38, and Cpl. Jay Cicinelli, 40, are charged in the death of Kelly Thomas, 37 -- Ramos with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and Cicinelli with involuntary manslaughter and assault or battery by a public officer, according to The Associated Press. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Attorneys for the officers have questioned whether medical treatment, not the actual beating, could have resulted in Thomas' death.

"The grainy-but-gripping video of a homeless man being beaten to death was the key evidence in the prosecution's successful effort to convince the court to force a police officer to stand trial for murder in the second degree," said Royal Oakes, an ABC News legal analyst, according to ABC News Radio.

"The video of the beating conjured up memories of the Rodney King police beating of two decades ago," Oakes said. "The videotaped evidence will no doubt be the centerpiece of the D.A.'s case in the upcoming murder trial, where one officer could be facing 15 years-to-life behind bars."

The July 5, 2011, surveillance video, taken from a publicly mounted camera, coupled with an audio recording device worn by an officer, stunned a packed courtroom of Thomas' supporters when it was shown for the first time Monday.

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Summary: Kelly Thomas, the mentally ill man who was beaten to death by police, *might* get some justice; two of the officers who killed him are being brought to trial. If convicted, one gets 15 years - life (what's the life expectancy of a cop in jail?). The other will get a measly 4 years, max for 'involuntary homicide'.

Romney’s Childhood Classmates Detail His Chilling Anti-Gay Bullying


Mitt Romney’s high school classmates from the prestigious Cranbrook School detail the Republican presidential candidate’s chilling, anti-gay bullying in a Washington Post exposé. The Post independently interviewed multiple students about specific events who each remembered Romney being particularly cruel to students he perceived to be gay.

In one incident recounted by multiple witnesses, after teasing a gay student about his hair for a week, Romney attacked him, holding him down on the ground to cut his hair off while the boy cried for help.

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This is your presidential nominee, Republicans.

*UPDATE: Romney is saying he “doesn’t remember doing that,” but not denying it. Which is total Republican code for FML.

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Source! Sorry for forgetting it, mods!

Update: Romney "apologizes" for those silly little schoolboy pranks.

New Russian passenger jet crashed during demonstration flight

Sukhoi Superjet 100 is first Russia's all-passenger jet since the fall of Soviet Union. it's being flown by Russia's Aeroflot (which was pressured by government to add more Russian planes to its fleet), and Armenia's Armavia. Aeroflot's Superjets 100 had several mishaps already, but the latest was a disaster.

The jet with about 50* people onboard went missing during demonstration flight near Jakarta on May, 9. Its remains were found of the slope of the mountain by rescue helicopter. There were no signs of survivors.

The plane was carrying pilots, technicians, embassy officials, Indonesian businessmen, and journalists. A rescue official said that radio contact with the aircraft was lost at about 0800 GMT on Wednesday after it descended to 6,000 feet (1,800 metres) near Mount Salak, which rises to 7,254 feet (2,200 metres) above sea level.

Sukhoi plans to produce up to thousand of Superjets, primarily for foreign markets. Demonstration flights in Indonesia were the part of its promotional tour aimed to attract more international customers.

* - First it was reported that there were 50 people onboard, then - that 45. The latest number is 47.

Sources: [1], [2], [3] (also has list of people who were onboard).
oh holy shit
  • chaya

In 2011, NYPD Made More Stops Of Young Black Men Than The Total # Of Young Black Men In NY

In 2011, NYPD Made More Stops Of Young Black Men Than The Total Number Of Young Black Men In New York

During New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s first year in office, the New York Police Department stopped and interrogated 97,296 people on the streets. By 2007, with the Bloomberg administration pushing the a stop-and-frisk strategy, police made more than a half a million stops. Last year, the figure rose to a record 685,724 people. And according to a New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) report, the vast majorities of stops — about 87 percent — were of blacks and Latinos. Despite robust defenses of the tactics, they appear to be less effective than the Bloomberg administration and NYPD claim.

Most troubling, the NYCLU report seemed to bear out charges of racial profiling in stop-and-frisk situations. In precincts where blacks and Latinos are least represented among the population (14 percent or less), blacks and Latinos were nonetheless the target of 70 percent of stops. Perhaps most staggeringly, the the Wall Street Journal highlighted that the number of stops of black men between the ages of 14 and 24 (168,126 ) exceeded the total city population of black men in that age range (158,406).

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Source eagerly anticipates your 'brand new information' macros and general lack of surprise.
Bregje Heinen

'Bad school dinner' blog is internet hit

Martha Payne, nine, took photos of the £2 meals and rated them for taste and healthiness in a blog set up with the help of her dad Dave.

Now Martha, who began NeverSeconds because she was interested in writing, has sparked a global debate about unhealthy eating in schools after the blog began “trending” on Twitter yesterday.

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Murasaki Shikibu

Bereaved family of Fukushima woman who committed suicide set to sue TEPCO

Bereaved family of Fukushima woman who committed suicide set to sue TEPCO

Mikio Watanabe, 61, and his family are poised to file a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) on May 18 demanding about 72.5 million yen in compensation for his wife's suicide soon after the outbreak of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, it has been learned.

Along with three other family members, Mikio Watanabe plans to bring the case to the Fukushima District Court on May 18. Watanabe and his family argue that the Fukushima nuclear disaster led his wife, Hamako, to suffer depression and commit suicide at the age of 58. According to a group of lawyers supporting victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it will be the first lawsuit to be filed over suicides related to the nuclear crisis.

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Bristol Palin: Too much 'Glee' in Obama decision

President Barack Obama's endorsement Wednesday of same-sex marriage didn't please Bristol Palin. The daughter of former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin took to her blog Thursday to slam the president for taking political cues from his two daughters, who she suggested were watching too much television.

In an ABC News interview, Obama explained how his family helped influence his "evolution" on the issue of marriage, saying his daughters Malia and Sasha have "friends whose parents are same-sex couples."

"It wouldn't dawn on them that somehow their friends' parents would be treated differently," Obama said. "And frankly that's the kind of thing that prompts a change of perspective - not wanting to somehow explain to your child why somebody should be treated differently when it comes to the eyes of the law."

Palin, in her blog post, expressed a different view.

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"Or that – as great as her friends may be – we know that in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home. Ideally, fathers help shape their kids' worldview." Oh yeah? How's Levi doing with that whole child-rearing thing these days?
Pride & Prejudice

Nadine Dorries is a douchewaffle, news at 11

Following a tirade against the prime minister in the Daily Mail, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has stuck the boot into his pledge to introduce equal civil marriage for gay couples before the next election. She suggests that most gay people don’t support changing the law.

The divorced MP wrote on the Conservative Home website: “We need to jettison both the policy of gay marriage and Lords reform.

“Gay marriage is a policy which has been pursued by the metro elite gay activists and needs to be put into the same bin. I have yet to meet a gay couple in my constituency or beyond who support it; in fact, the reaction has been quite the opposite. Great Britain and its gay couples don’t live on Canal Street in Manchester, shop in The Lanes in Brighton or socialise at Gaydar in London.

“Gay couples are no different from heterosexual couples and yet this policy transforms them into political agitators who have set themselves against the church and community. The policy is divisive, unpopular with the public, is tearing the Conservative Party apart and will influence absolutely no one in terms of the way they vote in the future.”

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