July 31st, 2012

Obama’s purported link to early American slave is latest twist in family tree

President Obama’s extraordinary family story gained a new layer this week as a team of genealogists found evidence that he is most likely a descendant of one of the first documented African slaves in this country.

The link to slavery, which scholars of genealogy and race in the United States called remarkable, was found to have existed approximately 400 years back in the lineage of Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. It was discovered by a team of four genealogists from Ancestry.com whose findings from two years of work were released in a report Monday.

Using property and tax records, the team uncovered “a lot of context and circumstantial evidence” that points to an enslaved black man named John Punch being Obama’s ancestor, said Joseph Shumway, one of the genealogists who worked on the report.

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Murasaki Shikibu

Leaving Om: Buddhism's Lost Lamas


During a break in a mixing session at a recording studio in Milan, Gomo Tulku, a Tibetan-American hip-hop artist, plays the sample he's inserting into the intro of his debut EP—a group of vocalists singing what sounds eerily like a Tibetan Buddhist chant. One of his Italian producers had it programmed into his keyboard, and when Gomo first heard it, he recalls, he said, "That's dope, I want that. Yo, that's my culture!"

Swiveling in his Aeron chair behind the multitrack console, conferring with the engineers on the mix ("Si, perfecto, bello"), Gomo Tulku looks every bit the part of an aspiring rapper: jeans, black down vest, gray porkpie hat, oversize black-and-gold Super glasses (a Milan brand favored by Jay-Z and Rihanna). But the 23-year-old is not quite the playa he portrays in the video for his first single, "Photograph," in which he drinks in a club and rides in a stretch limo while a host of leggy Italian beauties grind on him. Known as the Rapping Lama, Gomo spent his childhood being groomed to be a high-ranking lama, and the video caused a minor uproar in the online Buddhist community. But Gomo is nearly a teetotaler and insists "Photograph" is a wholesome breakup song about the one romance he's had since leaving the monastery. "Listen to the lyrics!" he says. The hip-hop eye candy was his Italian director's idea.

The tulku in Gomo's name refers to his status—according to Tibetan tradition, a tulku is the reincarnation of a recently deceased high lama, "recognized" as a young boy through a mystical process of omens and visions. Gomo was anointed by the Dalai Lama himself, whose own recognition story is so well known in the West—a peasant boy from the sticks is magically able to identify his predecessor's favorite possessions—it became the basis for a 2002 M&M's commercial.

Gomo has titled his EP Take One because "this is like my first take, my first actual experience in life as a layperson in this materialistic world," he says. Gomo, an ethnic Tibetan born in Quebec and raised in Canada, Utah, and India, is savvy enough to appreciate that his years as a shaved-headed monk make for an irresistible backstory for an MC. His digital loop—hypnotic, rumbling oms that sound like a cross between a bullfrog and a low-pitched Jew's harp—conjures up a world of burgundy-and-saffron-robed monks wielding bone horns. But it also begs the question: When the Dalai Lama, who's 77, leaves the stage, will that world—1,500 years of religious traditions and spiritual explorations—be reduced to an ersatz sample in a hip-hop song?

To an extraordinary degree, America has been colonized by Tibetan Buddhism. At the core of the community are maybe 100,000 die-hard practitioners around the country. Beyond that is a larger circle of several million spiritual travelers who may pick up the Dalai Lama's best sellers or attend his talks. (He's achieved rock-star status, having drawn a crowd of 65,000 to New York's Central Park just to hear him speak.) Helping fuel the phenomenon is the soft (but real) power that makes it a cause célèbre and a second religion to the self-help set: the Hollywood stars like Richard Gere in the Dalai Lama's American entourage, the late Beastie Boy (and practicing Tibetan Buddhist) Adam Yauch's star-studded concerts for Tibet, not to mention the Buddha statuettes, thangka paintings, and prayer flags that adorn corner yoga studios and health clubs across the country.

For the hundreds of Tibetan tulkus who came of age after the Chinese takeover of their homeland in 1959, India may be where they serve in the monastery, but the West is where the students, the press, and the money are. Yet it's unclear whether the tulku system—which, since its origins in medieval times, has been more about the transfer of monastic power than the recognition of spiritual genius—can continue to advance the Dalai Lama's engagement with the West. The young Karmapa, the heir apparent to the Dalai Lama's mantle as the global face of Tibetan Buddhism, languishes in northern India because of political tensions involving China. In his absence, the young, Westernized tulkus may be the key to turning a new generation of Americans on to Tibetan Buddhism. The problem is, these cosmopolitan tulkus, skeptical of the notion that they're deceased lamas, aren't sure they want the job.

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Israel’s Nukes Derail U.S. Nonproliferation Goals

How Israel Torpedoes Nonproliferation

Strengthening the international nonproliferation regime is one of President Obama’s key foreign policy goals. During a speech in Prague, in April 2009, he announced his “intention to seek a world free from the threat of nuclear weapons.” He argued that because the US was the “only power to have used a nuclear weapon” he and his fellow countrymen had a “moral responsibility to act” by leading the disarmament agenda.

The US Government’s failure to seriously address Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program and its stockpile of hundreds of such weapons, which include thermonuclear weapons in the megaton range, makes the Administration’s policy towards nuclear nonproliferation elsewhere, look two-faced. Calling for more intrusive inspections of Iran’s alleged nuclear facilities is particularly incongruous in light of Israel’s refusal to accede to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and its refusal to allow weapons inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect its nuclear facilities – about which the whole world has known for some time.

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oh holy shit
  • chaya

Chick-Fil-A's Brand Approval Rating Plummets After Anti-Gay Controversy

Chick-fil-A's anti-gay marriage stance has gotten some high-profile support by way of Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin and other conservative lawmakers. But among their longtime customers, it's a much different story.

Polling organization YouGov found that the Atlanta-based chain's brand approval ratings have plummeted in the wake of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy's controversial remarks earlier this month. YouGov also reports that the company's overall consumer brand health among fast food eaters has dropped to its lowest levels since mid-August 2010 in the wake of the media firestorm.

Just before Cathy's interview was published, Chick-fil-A's Index score was 65, well above the Top National Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) Sector average score of 46. Just four days later, however, Chick-fil-A's score had fallen to 47, while last week, the chain had a score of 39, compared to the Top National QSR Sector average score of 43.

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Source also has a video and a list of queer-friendly companies.

Tangentially: I am very pleased by the new trend to follow up reports of problematic companies/foods with positive alternatives. I hope it keeps up.

Studies: NBC's Olympics coverage highlights male athletes, bikinis

Published: Monday, July 30, 2012, 5:23 PM Updated: Monday, July 30, 2012, 8:21 PM

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board

Here's a trivia question for you: What's the only sporting event that has traditionally drawn a mostly female television audience?

Bzzzzt! -- it's the Olympics. So you'd expect a lot of NBC's coverage to cater to women, much like its Super Bowl promo and ads do for men. And that female Olympic athletes would get plenty of career-boosting exposure from the games.

But don't be so sure. In the past, NBC has had a mixed record on women athletes. It's been more likely to cover men's events than women's, and give male athletes more opportunities to talk on screen about their accomplishments. And when it does cover women's sports, it prefers the ones that are the most "socially acceptable" -- and scantily clad.

In the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, male athletes got almost 23 hours of prime-time coverage, compared with less than 13 hours for women, a University of Delaware study found.

And while the gender balance was more equitable at the 2008 Summer Olympics and in previous years, nearly three-quarters of the women’s coverage was devoted to sports perceived as more feminine, such as gymnastics, swimming, diving and beach volleyball, according to another study by the University of North Carolina. Not coincidentally, these are also the events in which women "wear the equivalent of a bathing suit," the researchers noted.

Unconvinced? Consider this: While men’s volleyball coverage for the 2008 Summer Games was split nearly equally between beach and court volleyball, women’s court volleyball -- in which athletes are more fully clothed -- received no coverage, even though the U.S. women's team won a silver medal that year. The bikini-clad athletes of women’s beach volleyball, on the other hand, were the second-most covered event for women at the Olympics. Fancy that.

This is not to say NBC is deliberately marginalizing female athletes. It's more likely responding to what it views as the public's preferences: women's gymnastics is a top-rated event, followed by men's and women's swimming events.

But at a certain point, the coverage drives our interest. Women viewers want to watch interviews with women athletes, and not just the ones in teensy-weensy uniforms. Even though women's fencing may not be as popular as gymnastics, for instance, the more emotional back stories are aired about particular athletes, the more invested viewers become.

NBC gets a huge ratings boost from the Olympics, largely from women. So why not put that to work for women athletes?


I'm shocked, I tell you -- SHOCKED. Why don't we use this post to objectify men and show competitive women? I'll start:

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But NO SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
american dream
  • kseda

Romney: I "did not speak about" Palestinian culture

(CBS News) Under fire from Palestinian leaders for recent comments suggesting that Israel's economic success is borne out of its "culture," Mitt Romney on Tuesday attempted to clarify his remarks, telling Fox News in an interview that he had not talked about "the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy."

"I'm not speaking about it, did not speak about the Palestinian culture," Romney told Fox's Carl Cameron, taped before the candidate's departure from Poland. "That's an interesting topic that perhaps could deserve scholarly analysis but I actually didn't address that. I certainly don't intend to address that during my campaign. Instead I will point out that the choices a society makes have a profound impact on the economy and the vitality of that society."

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Yeah I cannot even.
Confused Kitty

India Power Outage: 620 Million People Affected By One Of The World's Biggest Blackouts

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's energy crisis cascaded over half the country Tuesday when three of its regional grids collapsed, leaving 620 million people without government-supplied electricity for several hours in, by far, the world's biggest blackout.
Hundreds of trains stalled across the country and traffic lights went out, causing widespread traffic jams in New Delhi. Electric crematoria stopped operating, some with bodies half burnt, power officials said. Emergency workers rushed generators to coal mines to rescue miners trapped underground.
The massive failure - a day after a similar, but smaller power failure - has raised serious concerns about India's outdated infrastructure and the government's inability to meet its huge appetite for energy as the country aspires to become a regional economic superpower.
Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde blamed the new crisis on states taking more than their allotted share of electricity.
"Everyone overdraws from the grid. Just this morning I held a meeting with power officials from the states and I gave directions that states that overdraw should be punished. We have given instructions that their power supply could be cut," he told reporters.

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The new power failure affected 620 million people across 20 of India's 28 states - about double the population of the United States. The blackout was unusual in its reach, stretching from the border with Myanmar in the northeast to the Pakistani border about 3,000 kilometers (1,870 miles) away. Its impact, however, was softened by Indians' familiarity with frequent blackouts and the widespread use of backup generators for major businesses and key facilities such as hospitals and airports.
Shinde later said power was fully restored in the northeast grid four hours after it went down, and that the north grid had 45 percent power and the east grid 35 percent. R.N. Nayak, chairman of Power Grid Corp., which runs the nation's power system, said he expected to have full power later in the evening.
Oddly, as the crisis dragged into the evening, Shinde was promoted, becoming India's home minister, its top internal security official. The promotion had been planned previously as part of a greater Cabinet shuffle before he presided over the world's two worst power outages.
The outages came just a day after India's northern power grid collapsed for several hours. Indian officials managed to restore power several hours later, but at 1:05 p.m. Tuesday the northern grid collapsed again, said Shailendre Dubey, an official at the Uttar Pradesh Power Corp. in India's largest state. About the same time, the eastern grid failed and then the northeastern grid followed, energy officials in those regions said. The grids serve more than half India's population.
In West Bengal, express trains and local electric trains were stopped at stations across the state of West Bengal on the eastern grid. Crowds of people thronged the stations, waiting for any transport to take them to their destinations.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it would take at least 10 to 12 hours to restore power and asked office workers to go home.
"The situation is very grave. We are doing everything to restore power," West Bengal Power Minister Manish Gupta said.
New Delhi's Metro rail system, which serves about 1.8 million people a day, immediately shut down for the second day in a row. Police said they managed to evacuate Delhi's busy Rajiv Chowk station in under half an hour before closing the shutters.
S.K. Jain, 54, said he was on his way to file his income tax return when the Metro closed and now would almost certainly miss the deadline. Hours later, the government announced it was giving taxpayers an extra month to file because of the chaos.
Tuesday's blackout eclipsed Monday's in India, which covered territory including 370 million people. The third largest blackout affected 100 million people in Indonesia in 2005, according to reports by The Associated Press.
India's demand for electricity has soared along with its economy in recent years, but utilities have been unable to meet the growing needs. India's Central Electricity Authority reported power deficits of more than 8 percent in recent months.
In addition, vast amounts of power are pirated through unauthorized wiring that taps into the electrical system.
The power deficit was worsened by a weak monsoon that lowered hydroelectric generation and kept temperatures higher, further increasing electricity usage as people seek to cool off.
But any connection to the grid remains a luxury for many. One-third of India's households do not even have electricity to power a light bulb, according to last year's census.

Bree Gun

N.J. B&B Owner Tells Lesbian Mom AIDS Punishes Gays

A lesbian mom in New Jersey is planning a protest against a bed and breakfast after its owners made slanderous claims about LGBT people on Facebook.

Joianne Fraschilla noticed a sign outside the Whitebriar Bed and Breakfast that read "Marriage One Man One Woman One God" and advertised "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," Towleroad reports. She commented on the establishment's Facebook page to express her disappointment, writing, "This is somewhere my son loves to pass by and we have been excited to visit. Not anymore. I'm sad to see a local business anti LGBT marriage."

The owners responded with harsh words. Posting from the official Camp Whitebriar Facebook account, they wrote that "there were no gays or queers in our time" and that same-sex parents are "totally destroying the normal balance in a child's life." The owners told Fraschilla her son would end up being gay and "an outcast in society" because he lacked a father as a role model, and concluded the post suggesting "that's why God invented AIDS."

Fraschilla created a Change.org petition demanding the owners apologize for their statement. She said on Facebook she would be planning a protest against the establishment.

red corset

Congress leaders reach deal to avoid government shutdown threat

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats and Republicans in Congress reached a deal on Tuesday to fund federal government activities through next March and eliminate any threat of agency shutdowns that could upset voters ahead of the November 6 presidential and congressional elections.

The deal, announced by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, would fund discretionary federal programs - from defense and foreign aid to education and medical research - at an annual rate of $1.047 trillion, the level specified in last year's debt limit deal.

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Mitt Romney aide in new ‘kiss my ass’ gaffe.

Mitt Romney's international tour was again hit by a gaffe after his spokesman told journalists to “kiss my ass” after being quizzed over a series of blunders by the Republican presidential candidate.

Rick Gorka, Mr Romney’s press aide, added a fresh incident to the White House contender's growing list of diplomatic gaffes during his tour to Britain, Israel and Poland.
Mr Gorka also told reporters to “shove it” after losing his cool when Mr Romney was pressed, while visiting a war memorial in Warsaw on Tuesday, over the slip-ups.

"Kiss my ass. This is a holy site for the Polish people,” he said. “Show some respect."
He later called journalists to personally apologise for the outbursts.
A trail of diplomatic blunders has damaged Mr Romney’s stature on a tour that was designed to showcase his foreign policy credentials ahead of November’s US presidential election.

In Britain, Mr Romney, who ran the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, ruffled feathers by questioning London’s security readiness for the Games.

In Israel, comments made about the differences between the Israeli and Palestinian economies led to allegations of racism from Palestinian officials.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/mitt-romney/9441636/Mitt-Romney-aide-in-new-kiss-my-ass-gaffe.html

OP: I think they've perhaps taken the 'offensive' part of the phrase 'charm offensive' a little too literally on this tour.

(no subject)

Olympic reporter observing Ramadan kissed by female fan

A Muslim Olympic reporter received female attention forbidden for Muslim men during Ramadan. While the Muslim man was broadcasting live on Sky News Arabia outside Old Trafford, he was literally attacked with a kiss by a blonde soccer fan.

The video shows the female fan sneaking up from behind and attempting to plant a kiss on the reporter's lips. But she only manages to land the kiss on his cheek. The Olympic 2012 reporter attempted to prevent the fan from kissing him, but she overpowered him by wrapping her hands around his head and pulling him close for the kiss.

The kisser offered a polite "thank you" as she forces her kiss on the reporter.

The reporter confirmed he is Muslim and that he was fasting. Muslim men are not allowed to have sexual contact with women during the Ramadan fast. By the traditional standards of Muslim religion, a contact as simple as a light kiss is considered sufficient to make the fast spiritually invalid. According to Islamic tradition, any contact with a woman that may potentially lead to sexual arousal renders the fast "unacceptable before Allah."

The video shows colleagues of the reporter laughing at the incident. The reporter also chuckles, but his embarrassment is visible. The man can be heard saying in the video as his colleagues laughed, "I am truly fasting."

The video has gone viral online because it is Ramadan.

The Inquistr reports soccer fans are known for their "expressive behavior" when caught in the excitement of the game, and sometimes major events have reporters dealing with rowdy and drunken fans. This reporter, at least, was lucky to have company of a lady, even though he was not in the position to appreciate it.

The kisser is now enjoying her moment of Internet stardom. The Huffington Post reports the fan was featured in "Good Morning America."


Woman Kisses Sky News Reporter Live On Air, Gets Her 15 Seconds Of Fame

One lucky reporter covering Olympic festivities for Sky News Arabia reporter was caught by surprise on Friday when a woman decided it was her turn to spend time in front of the camera. After sneaking up on him from behind, the woman planted a solid smooch right on this reporter's cheek.

After avoiding a full lip-to-lip connection, he joked, "I truly am fasting," according to Yahoo Sports. The comments were made in reference to Ramadan, the Muslim holy month currently underway that requires believers to refrain from a number of activities including eating, drinking and kissing.

The woman hasn't been identified, though the stunt did get her featured on "Good Morning America."


Both articles seem to play this off as a funny thing, but I don't know enough about the requirements of Ramadan to know how serious this is, and the guy probably had no choice but to laugh it off for the camera. In either case, it bothers me that unwanted intimate contact is seen as a joke by the media (calling him "lucky" etc.), not that it's a surprise or anything.

Disgraced Republican Now Unemployed. Plenty of opportunities for Work in Prison.

I Hear Prison Work is Easy, is Just Manual Labor.

Stephen LaRoque, Republican Who Hired Unemployed Workers To Clean His Yard, Under Federal Indictment

A North Carolina state representative is resigning from office following an eight-count criminal indictment by a federal grand jury. His own comments on a Huffington Post story may have hastened his downfall.

Stephen LaRoque, an outspoken Republican member of the North Carolina General Assembly, essentially dared an unemployed constituent to work in his yard for $8 an hour in May 2011. That person, Kathryn Treadway of Goldsboro, N.C., showed up to clean LaRoque's yard, but, as HuffPost reported, she didn't stay for longer than an hour.
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