Sunday, February 28, 2010

Shock over voided Puerto Rican birth certificates

Puerto Rico birth certificate

Bet you are sure as hell happy you weren't born in Puerto Rico. Go Sharks*!

This is gonna be one fucking hassle. It will also undoubtedly put a huge strain on the Pueto Rican embassy in NYC.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Native Puerto Ricans living outside the island territory are reacting with surprise and confusion after learning their birth certificates will become no good this summer.

A law enacted by Puerto Rico in December mainly to combat identity theft invalidates as of July 1 all previously issued Puerto Rican birth certificates. That means more than a third of the 4.1 million people of Puerto Rican descent living in the 50 states must arrange to get new certificates.

[snip]

People born in Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, are U.S. citizens at birth. Anyone using a stolen Puerto Rico birth certificate could enter and move about the U.S. more easily, which could also pose security problems.

Puerto Rico's legislature passed the law after raids last March broke up a criminal ring that had stolen thousands of birth certificates and other identifying documents from several different schools in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans on average get about 20 copies of their birth certificates over their lifetimes, said Kenneth McClintock Hernandez, the commonwealth's secretary of state.

This is because they are regularly asked to produce them for such events as enrolling children in school or joining sports leagues. Schools and other institutions have typically kept copies, a practice prohibited under the new law since January, McClintock said.

As much as 40 percent of the identity fraud in the U.S. involves birth certificates from Puerto Rico, McClintock said he was told by the State Department.

And all this hassle is falling on people who've done nothing wrong. They simply provided their birth certificates when required to do so.

And and speaking of hassles, what about all the poor clerks in Puerto Rico who have to issue millions [?] of birth certificates in one enormous flood?

* Yes, its a reference to West Side Story.


...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , , ,

Clothing for the homeless


Just wear the damn thing.

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels:

Now is the time to act


So get off your ass and act if you want the deduction.

Feb. 28 is the deadline for individuals and corporations to donate to charities providing earthquake relief in Haiti and claim those contributions on 2009 tax returns.

Source: IRS.gov



...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , ,

If "God Has a Plan For Sex," Does Obama Have a Plan for Monitoring Programs Overseas?


A billboard promoting abstinence for HIV prevention in Tamale, Ghana

Think of this as the missionary position [ed- intended] of the US government. The question is whether they hand out Watchtower.

On Saturday, the White House faith advisory council task force released recommendations for government agencies that do business with faith-based social service groups. These recommendations touch on several issues related to a recently filed lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. In that case, the ACLU asked a court to order the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to release documents related to its funding of religious abstinence-only-until-marriage programs overseas, which will likely uncover violations of the constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state.

Interestingly, the faith advisory recommendations say that USAID is better suited than the Department of Defense for development work. Though perhaps correct, the shift of additional work to USAID only increases the need for additional oversight of its faith-based work given that USAID has a history of violating the Constitution. Indeed, the ACLU's investigation was trigged in July 2009, when the Inspector General of USAID released a report (PDF) after auditing USAID's faith-based grantees. The report came to startling conclusions about the misuse of government funds. For example, the Inspector General noted several instances of biblical references in government-funded curricula, and USAID itself admitted that some of the abstinence-only-until-marriage programs it funds "reflect a religious perspective and include religiously infused materials and religious references." One of the curricula includes an optional biblical verse for "reflection or memorization," the purpose of which is to show students that "God has a plan for sex and this plan will help you and protect you from harm."
Did you pay for that sign?

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , ,

CHILE EARTHQUAKE: 8.8 Magnitude Quake Hits Chile


This earthquake is the largest I've ever heard of. The TV news is saying it is one of the 10 largest. If Haiti's had been this large the deaths would have been in the millions. Chile gets many earthquakes and has better construction standards, but even those didn't prevent massive damage.

An 8.8-magnitude earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, tore apart houses, bridges and highways in central Chile on Saturday and sent a tsunami racing halfway around the world.

Chileans near the epicentre were tossed about as if shaken by a giant, and authorities said at least 214 people were dead.

The quake was felt as far away as Sao Paulo in Brazil — 900 kilometres to the east. The full extent of damage remained unclear as scores of aftershocks — one nearly as powerful as Haiti's devastating Jan. 12 earthquake — shuddered across the disaster-prone Andean nation.

President Michele Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" in central Chile and said the death toll was rising.

"We've learned that it was a shallow thrust earthquake, which means it had the potential to cause a tsunami, which it did in this case," said Jessica Sigala of the U.S. Geological Survey.

"The earthquake in Chile released about 500 times the amount of energy that the earthquake in Haiti did," she told CBC News.

[snip]

Did you catch that? Five hundred fucking times the magnitude of the Haitian quake. Now this teacher puts the magnitude at 35 times that of the Haiti quake. No link, but I've seen some stories that rate it at 1,000 times. You can decide which number is correct, but they're all pretty damn bad.

The quake struck at 3:34 a.m. local time (1:34 a.m. ET) and was centred 325 kilometres southwest of the capital, Santiago, at a depth of 35 kilometres, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

In the hours after the 90-second tremor, the U.S. Geological Survey reported 11 aftershocks. The strongest was a magnitude 6.9.

The President of Chile by some accounts had declared a state of catastrophe within 3 hours. Three God damn hours!!1!!! Can we elect her here and set her loose in NOLO?

It appears the earthquake has trumped the killer whale story on CNN.



...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Iraq to reinstate 20,000 Saddam-era army officers


Considering Iraq needs to take over responsibility for its own security, it's sensible to install 20,000 experienced officers to whip the troops into shape. It should also stabilize the military.

The only down side one should be cautious about is staying alert for a possible coup d’etat becuse such aren't unknown in the area with or without Western help.

BAGHDAD – Iraq on Friday reinstated 20,000 former army officers dismissed after the U.S.-led invasion, a landmark gesture at reconciliation ahead of the March 7 elections.

It's a move designed to allay some of the bitterness that still rankles Iraq — years after the Bush administration first made the controversial decision to dismantle Saddam Hussein's army.

[snip]

Jobless and angry, some from the old army took their expertise in explosives, urban warfare and military tactics to the insurgency, seeking an income for their families or revenge against the Americans and their Iraqi allies.

The disbanding of the army, along with the looting of the army's bases and depots across much of Iraq, is widely blamed for the torturously slow pace of forming, equipping and training the country's new army.

[snip]

A Defense Ministry statement said the rehired personnel would be reinstated by Sunday, but a senior Iraqi military official said absorbing so many could take weeks or months to complete.

In recent years, thousands of officers from the disbanded army have trickled back to service in an ongoing process of reintegration. The official said a ministry committee has been screening officers for ties to Saddam's regime or involvement in atrocities or war crimes.

He said reinstatements were strictly based on the army's present requirements and mainly benefited officers from the rank of colonel down. U.S. commanders have in the past pointed out that Iraq's new army, which is at least 300,000-strong, desperately needed mid-ranking and experienced noncommissioned officers.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

[snip]

Al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government has already reinstated many Sunni officers as top commanders in the new army. It also waived "de-Baathification" rules and reinstated generals — Sunnis and Shiites — who once held senior positions in Saddam's ruling party.



What do you think? Good idea?

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: ,

Ironic


OK, I know the students aren't the intended audience, but...

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: ,

Friday, February 26, 2010

OMG, you won't believe this


Aung San Suu Kyi


Court rejects Suu Kyi appeal

How could anyone have seen this coming? Life is just full or inexplicable surprises.

Myanmar supreme court rejects opposition leader's appeal against extended house arrest.

The long-awaited ruling was delivered on Friday in the former capital, Yangon.

Her lawyers had earlier said they were optimistic that the court would rule in their favour, although court judgements in military-ruled Myanmar rarely go in favour of the opposition.

Following the supreme court rejection, she can make one final appeal to Myanmar's chief justice.

The appeals of two female assistants against similar periods of detention were also thrown out.

The Nobel peace laureate was sentenced last August to an additional 18 months under house arrest after being convicted of breaking the terms of her detention by sheltering an uninvited American man who swam to her lakeside villa.

She had initially been sentenced to three years in prison with hard labour, but that sentence was immediately commuted to 18 months of house arrest by Senior General Than Shwe, the head of Myanmar's ruling military.

[snip]

Aung San Suu Kyi has already spent most of the past 20 years in jail or under house arrest.



...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: ,

U.S. demurs as Israel pushes "crippling" Iran sanctions


So Obama finally stood up to Washington's most powerful lobby? Its about time. Its quite embarrassing how that tail wags the big dog.

Major U.S. news organizations, including the New York Times and the Washington Post, are engaged in a replay of the kind of slanted coverage that paved the way to war in Iraq, only this time regarding Iran.

That's a long article, but its very germane to what's going on right now with Iran. According to the article US intelligence has no evidence Iran is trying to build a bomb and may well have a duly elected president. Much food for thought.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israel lobbied the United States on Thursday to promote "crippling" sanctions against Iran to curb its nuclear programme, but the Obama administration said it did not want to hurt the Iranian people.

[snip]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday such sanctions would have to hit Iran's vital energy sector. Though it is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, Iran imports 40 percent of its gasoline from foreign refineries.

Yet in separate comments on Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said: "It is not our intent to have crippling sanctions that have a significant impact on the Iranian people. Our actual intent is to find ways to pressure the government while protecting the people."

Another U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington worried too-sweeping sanctions might backfire by giving Iranian hardliners cover to crack down on dissidents, and by making economic conditions so hard ordinary Iranians turn on the United States rather than the Tehran government.



...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , ,

DETROIT MAYOR SAYS CITY CAN'T SUPPORT ALL ITS NEIGHBORHOODS. . .PEOPLE WILL HAVDE [sic] TO MOVE


Likely candidate neighborhood

Aren't you glad you don't live in Detroit? Well now you have another reason to appreciate you don't.

DETROIT NEWS - Detroit mayor Dave Bing says the city plans to encourage residents to move from some neighborhoods: 'If they stay where they are I absolutely cannot give them all the services they require.'

In his strongest statements about shrinking the city since taking office, Bing told WJR-760 AM the city is using internal and external data to decide "winners and losers." The city plans to save some neighborhoods and encourage residents to move from others, he said.

"If we don't do it, you know this whole city is going to go down. I'm hopeful people will understand that," Bing said. "If we can incentivize some of those folks that are in those desolate areas, they can get a better situation."..

[snip]

Bing acknowledged it won't be "an easy conversation." And he's already facing opposition from activists such as Ron Scott, who said he is "adamantly opposed" and believes the business community is pushing Bing to get cheap access to large tracts of the city.


Is this a land grab scheme? It wouldn't surprise me. I've witnessed this in other places under other guises when business wanted large tracts of land inside a city.

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: ,

Sylvestre Reyes Inserts Anti-Torture Provision Into Intelligence Funding Bill


Sylvestre Reyes (D-TX)

Its about time someone tacked an amendment like this onto some sort of bill. Ya never know when another Bush type will come along.

Torturing detainees has been embarrassing, cruel, useless. It also guarantees the same treatment for any US troops who're captured. That whole issue is a black eye for US.

Democratic Congressman Sylvestre Reyes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, has proposed an amendment to the 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act that would hold any "officer or employee of the intelligence community" who "in the course of or in anticipation of a covered interrogation knowingly commits, or attempts to commit or conspires to commit an act of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" would face criminal sanctions of up to fifteen years, even life if it results in the death of the detainee.

The amendment, referred to as the "Cruel, Inhuman And Degrading Interrogations Prohibition Act" of 2010, lists several prohibited acts, including waterboarding, "forcing the individual to be naked, perform sexual acts, or pose in a sexual manner", beatings, electric shocks, use of dogs, inducing hypothermia or heat injury, stress positions, deprivation of necessary "sleep, food or medical care" and conducting mock executions.

Other prohibited acts include using the threat of force to "coerce an individual to desecrate that individual's religious artifacts," excessive cold or heat, cramped confinement, prolonged isolation, and use of hooding.

[snip]

Byron York, who first reported the existence of the amendment, said it had already been inserted into the bill and quoted a House Intelligence Committee staffer, presumably from the minority side, who said Republicans would try to strip the measure out of the bill, but not before they tell "people what's going on."

Presumably, this kind of treatment was outlawed by the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act anyway. But given that the only thing that's standing between a future Republican administration and torture might be an executive order, this amendment would strengthen current anti-torture laws by adding the threat of criminal sanctions for those who participate in illegal interrogations.

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , ,

You Should Intentionally Default: President Obama


Well, ok, maybe not quite that explicit, but....

Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The Obama administration may expand efforts to ease the housing crisis by banning all foreclosures on home loans unless they have been screened and rejected by the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program. [emphasis in original]

The proposal, reviewed by lenders last week on a White House conference call, “prohibits referral to foreclosure until borrower is evaluated and found ineligible for HAMP or reasonable contact efforts have failed,” according to a Treasury Department document outlining the plan.

Contract rights don't matter, law doesn't matter, we'll just ignore all of that pesky stuff when we don't like it.

Can Obama even do this? Wouldn't it take an act of Congress? How will you spend your mortgage payments each month? Maybe buy a mobile home or a big comfy tent?

Eventually the axe will fall.

As stated in the original story, be sure to consult an attorney before doing something as fucking drastic as defaulting on your home loan.

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , , ,

Can you imagine...


…the previous President going toe to toe with the opposition for six hours live and on television?

Brady has a good point. Obama has proved his balls are much larger than W's. And he didn't use any teleprompter now did he?

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , ,

Bipartisanship Runs Aground At Health Care Summit


Did you watch? Did you enjoy this latest fucking kabuki theater? Were you impressed with McCain's clownish behavior? Did you honestly expect any other God damn outcome?

Somewhere I read the key to such negotiations is both sides have to know what they need and then to discuss these needs with the other side to see what commonality is there.

I disagree. The absolute prime condition required is for both sides to believe, before the negotiations begin, agreement is possible. The GOP didn't believe that at all or they decided they would not allow agreement under any circumstances. I lean toward the latter.

The 'summit' [stupid fucking word fed us by the media] was ridiculous. You were smothered by the politics in the room. The whole point was to posture for November 2010. Hell, Obama even specifically mentioned November.

President Obama’s face-to-face effort to forge a bipartisan agreement on health care overhaul appeared to fall short Thursday, as differences that have plagued the process for months re-emerged during a meeting at Washington's historic Blair House.

Although Democrats maintained that the two sides were actually close to a solution, Republicans insisted that neither they nor the American people can stomach the bill as it now exists.

“Mr. President, what we've been saying for a long time is, let's scrap the bill,” House Republican Leader John Boehner said. “Let's start with a clean sheet of paper on those things that we can agree on.”

Obama wrapped up the nearly seven-hour session by asking Republicans to do some "soul searching." He held out some hope that compromise could be reached and that a bill could be finalized within a month to six weeks.

"And if we can't, then I think we ought to go ahead and make some decisions and then that's what elections are for,” the president said. “We have honest disagreements about the direction of the country and we'll go ahead and test those out for the next several months till November."

And they forgot the damn decent intermission. Not good theater at all. A complete waist of time. Better to have grabbed a DVD and some popcorn.

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , , ,

A network in search of some footage


Dawn Brancheau & ?

Zomg! CNN and probably all other networks, appear ready to cut throats and trample babies in search of someone who took video of Tilikum the killer whale's killing trainer Dawn Brancheau, 40, at Sea World© at Busch Gardens© in Florida. Wolf Blitzer has blue balls because he's having to show benign pictures of a docile killer whale just floating around. They need carnage!!1!!!

If they find the pictures they're after the screen could go black momentarily as they have a collective orgasm in Atlanta.

The whale has been previously involved in two fatal incidents. To be fair, the situations were quite different.

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , , , ,

What is wrong with this picture?


If you don't get it, look again closely. Its a different motherfucking world in Pakistan compared to Oklahoma! .

"The pot is as high as an elephant's eye."

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Miss Beverly Hills Achieves The Impossible


This ain't no rabbit hole. It's far worse than that. And much more bizarre than anything you've imagined. Yes, your meds have failed you. And they've returned with the vengeance of a really bad burrito.

It seems California produces multiple flaxen haired 'beauty' queens who are sympathetic to Uganda. Or completely loony as in Republican theofascists. Take your pick and take you're chances.

Ha.

Carrie Prejean isn’t the only beauty queen open to expressing her objection to same-sex marriage. Miss Beverly Hills 2010 Lauren Ashley is also speaking out in support of traditional nuptials.

“The Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman. In Leviticus it says, ‘If man lies with mankind as he would lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death and their blood shall be upon them.’ The Bible is pretty black and white,” Ashley told Pop Tarts.

“I feel like God himself created mankind and he loves everyone, and he has the best for everyone. If he says that having sex with someone of your same gender is going to bring death upon you, that’s a pretty stern warning, and he knows more than we do about life.”

All emphasis is the authors. I swear. Accept it.

Homosexuality is God`s way of ensuring that the truly gifted aren`t burdened with children.
-- Sam Austin

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , ,

Wine, groceries, car repair: What Florida's Rubio charged to GOP

Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Looks like the GOP has found a new champion. He should fit in just fine.

U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio charged grocery bills, repairs to the family minivan and purchases from a wine store less than a mile from his West Miami home to the Republican Party of Florida while he was speaker of the Florida House, according to records obtained by The Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times.

What would make a party even consider someone who engaged in such unethical actions coming in? Or is he actually a simple criminal? No matter, it won't concern the GOP at all. They accept war criminals without compunction.

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , ,

Report: E-Verify misses half of illegal workers


The problem here is two-fold. Ten apparently Mexican workers* come in for a job. Half of them may be legal US workers and half may be illegal. the machine may say 7 or 8 are legal and 2 or 3 are not. And you have no idea which are really which. And out of 100 workers, the machine may incorrectly identify 7 as illegal who actually are legal. Its a total crap shoot.

If they are serious about prevent the hiring of illegals they would have to use this system on every applicant so you can ignore the singling out of Mexicans in the preceding paragraph. I doubt they are that serious and are targeting Mexicans from the get go.

Anthony Bourdain (celebrity chef, author)

I'm in favor of amnesty, actually. Anthony Bourdain says half the cooks in NYC restaurants are from Mexico.
The system Congress and the Obama administration want employers to use to help curb illegal immigration is failing to catch more than half the number of unauthorized workers it checks, a research company has found.

The online tool E-Verify, now used voluntarily by employers, wrongly clears illegal workers about 54 percent of the time, according to Westat, a research company that evaluated the system for the Homeland Security Department [DHS]. E-Verify missed so many illegal workers mainly because it can't detect identity fraud, Westat said.

[snip]

E-Verify allows employers to run a worker's information against Homeland Security and Social Security databases to check whether the person is permitted to work in the U.S. The Obama administration has made cracking down on employers who hire people here illegally a central part of its immigration enforcement policy, and there are expectations that some Republicans in Congress will try in coming weeks to make E-Verify mandatory. [emphasis mine]

E-Verify correctly identified legal workers 93 percent of the time, Westat said. However, previous studies have not quantified how many immigrants were fooling the E-Verify system. Much of the criticism of E-Verify has focused on whether U.S. citizens and legal immigrants with permission to work were falsely flagged as illegal workers.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who is writing the Democrats' immigration bill and has fought expanding E-Verify because of its flaws, said Wednesday that the fact that E-Verify was inaccurate so often shows that it is not an adequate tool.

"This is a wake-up call to anyone who thinks E-Verify is an effective remedy to stop the hiring of illegal immigrants," Schumer said.

[snip]

About 184,000 of the nation's 7 million to 8 million employers are using E-Verify, the Homeland Security Department says on its Web site.

Congress gave DHS about $100 million to spend on E-Verify in its 2010 budget.

Oh, no problem. It only cost $100 million this year for these machines.

Finally, somehow the GOP is gonna find a way to tweak these numbers to justify spending more and making the machines mandatory.

* Based upon profiling (appearance) and accent.


...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

God Said Multiply, and Did She Ever


Yitta Schwartz, shown in the late 1980s

I wrote a post a long time ago where I stated merely replacing oneself my having one child each for a husband and wife didn't work because those children and perhaps their children would foster more progeny before the husband and wife had both died. A commenter said it did work for people to replace themselves and keep the population from growing.

Well, here's an example of the extreme. This woman had 18 children and lost 2 others by another account I read. So we'll do the math and divide 2000 by 18 to get 111 (actually 110 because her child is the 111th) descendants on average for each of her children. Not exactly a 1:1 ratio.

WHEN Yitta Schwartz died last month at 93, she left behind 15 children, more than 200 grandchildren and so many great- and great-great-grandchildren that, by her family’s count, she could claim perhaps 2,000 living descendants.

Mrs. Schwartz was a member of the Satmar Hasidic sect, whose couples have nine children on average and whose ranks of descendants can multiply exponentially. But even among Satmars, the size of Mrs. Schwartz’s family is astonishing. A round-faced woman with a high-voltage smile, she may have generated one of the largest clans of any survivor of the Holocaust — a thumb in the eye of the Nazis.

Her descendants range in age from a 75-year-old daughter named Shaindel to a great-great-granddaughter born Feb. 10 named Yitta in honor of Mrs. Schwartz and a great-great-grandson born Feb. 15 who was named Moshe at his circumcision on Monday. Their numbers include rabbis, teachers, merchants, plumbers and truck drivers. But these many apples have not fallen far from the tree: With a few exceptions, like one grandson who lives in England, they mostly live in local Satmar communities, like Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Kiryas Joel, near Monroe, N.Y., where Mrs. Schwartz lived for the last 30 years of her life.

Mrs. Schwartz had a zest for life and a devotion to Hasidic rituals, faithfully attending the circumcisions, first haircuts, bar mitzvahs, engagements and weddings of her descendants. With 2,000 people in the family, such events occupied much of the year.



...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: ,

Before Justices, First Amendment and Aid to Terrorists


I believe I warned you here that this was gonna be a can of worms for the SCOTUS.

WASHINGTON — The line between speech protected by the First Amendment and aid to terrorists appeared elusive at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, and the justices’ lively questioning complicated rather than clarified matters. They discussed travel to Cuba, the Communist and Nazi Parties, Tokyo Rose, treason and whether it is a crime to teach a terrorist how to play the harmonica.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan defended the law at issue in the case, which bars providing material support to terrorist organizations, as “a vital weapon in this nation’s continuing struggle against international terrorism.”

[snkp]

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said at least one part of the law, banning expert advice, seemed vague to him. “I don’t know sitting down that I could tell,” he said, whether advice about peaceful advocacy was covered.

[snip]

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested that the law might sweep too broadly by making, say, harmonica instruction a crime because it involves specialized training.


...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , , ,

Democrats, Republicans try to agree on summit seat assignments


It's obviously not as important as the Cuban missile crisis, but a serious issue nonetheless. What shape table will be used?

No wonder nothing is getting done in Washington because Congress and the President are still arguing over the furniture. This isn't a fucking marriage. Just choose a table, now.

The one above belongs to Apple©, but it is completely unsuitable because it obviously is expensive enough (custom built) for Steve Job's people, but not US elected officials.

An intense argument has been raging ahead of Thursday's health-care summit: Will President Obama and members of Congress sit around a U-shaped table or a round one?
How about they sit around the room in those ubiquitous white plastic chairs with a coffee table in the center. That might work. If uncomfortable enough they might just speed the process along before their asses go numb.

I've another suggestion. Each party assign one person to the 'table choice' committee and then grab the first person found out on the street as a tie-breaker if needed. Give the 'table choice' committee a single day to choose, locate and and have it installed. If the committee can't handle the job, fire the two on the government payroll.

I used to run meetings and often would literally disallow any sitting. Just stand around a table, do what we came for and leave. No one ever fell asleep either.

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , , ,

Canadians can't do anything right


Just what in the fucking world were they thinking? Why would they ever want to keep their spy agency secret and invisible?

Take out some adds in newpapers and magazines for God's sake. Hire yourselves a really good PR firm. Have you considered t-shirts?

You silly Canucks. I didn't even know you had a spy agency. Do they wear the red and black uniforms with the Smokey Bear hats too?

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: ,

The Press and Reconciliation


Many people (not you) are leary of reconciliation because big media tries to portray it as something complicated, 'abnormal,' shady.

Kevin Drum makes the case for how simple, ordinary, transparent this process is. And he does a damn fine job of it.

It was created in 1974 as a way of ensuring that annual budgets could be passed without being filibustered.

It has been used to pass the annual budget in all but seven years since 1980. It's a routine procedure used by both Republicans and Democrats.

It was used to pass Ronald Reagan's 1981 tax cut and both of George Bush's big tax cuts.

It was used to pass welfare reform.

Virtually every healthcare reform of the past three decades, including COBRA, EMTALA, S-CHIP, and others has been passed via reconciliation.

There's nothing wrong with the media reporting that Republicans oppose the use of reconciliation to amend the healthcare bill. Of course they do. But they owe it to their audience to explain that reconciliation does nothing more than allow a simple majority vote to pass budgetary issues and that it's been used routinely by both parties for decades. That's just the simple truth.

See? That wasn't so difficult. Now you can pass this on to your friends who are still confused.

...
Note: Headline links to source. Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: , , ,

Toyota President: 'I Take Full Responsibility'


Akio Toyoda (president of Toyota Motor Corp.)

There's that fucking word again: responsibility. Toyoda says he's responsible. And? God damn, man, we already knew that. Now exactly what will you do to take responsibility? What will be your consequences? Will you step down as president of Toyota? What does the word mean to you?

Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the founder of Toyota Motor Corp. and the company's current president, told a congressional committee Wednesday he takes full responsibility for the safety problems in its vehicles and promised to make significant changes to quality control procedures.

"In the past few months our customers have started to feel uncertain about the safety of Toyota vehicles and I take full responsibility for that," he said in testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"I myself, as well as Toyota, am not perfect. In the name of the company, its longstanding tradition and pride, we never run away from our problems or pretend we don't notice them. That is the core value we have kept closest to our hearts since the founding of the company."

...
Note: Headline links to source.Clicking on image will enlarge it (usually).

Labels: ,

Police tell car theft victim: 'We've found your van... but it's too dangerous to get it back from traveller camp'


This really is an unbelievable story. It would appear Gloucestershire, England has outfitted its police department with a bunch of tight fisted fucking bureaucrats and sissy officers. They probably do an adequate job of policing just as long as they don't have to deal with any, like, ya know, criminals.

When police visited Christopher Sims after his van was stolen, they had good news and bad news.

The good news was that they had a pretty good idea of the vehicle's new location.

But the bad news was that this location, a travellers' caravan site, was considered a 'no-go area' which the police would be ill-advised to visit because of the strong criminal element who lived there.


...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , ,

Last snow post until next year


The best way to enjoy your work is to bring a little élan and imagination to it.

Labels:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Israeli Abusive Administrative Detentions


This story sort of goes along with the last one. It certainly makes the case for the US's still having influence around the world. Unfortunately it's not the sort of influence to make American's proud.

B'Tselem is the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Hamoked is the Center for the Defence of the Individual, an Israeli human rights organization, aiding Palestinians whose rights Israel violates. In October 2009, they jointly published a report titled, "Without Trial: Administrative detention of Palestinians by Israel and the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law," covering Israel's policy of imprisoning hundreds of uncharged Palestinians without trial "by order of an administrative official," not a judge.

By so doing, they're denied due process, may be held indefinitely, aren't told why they're detained, can't dispute it, cross-examine witnesses, or present contradictory evidence to refute them.

Three Israeli laws authorize the practice:

-- the Order Regarding Administrative Detention (the Administrative Detention Order), part of military law governing the West Bank;

-- the Emergency Powers (Detentions) Law for Israel; and

-- the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law (the 2002 Unlawful Combatants Law), like a similar one in America, [ed- emphasis mine] a dubious Geneva-superceded status international law expert Francis Boyle calls a:

"quasi-category universe of legal nihilism where human beings can be disappeared, detained incommunicado, denied access to attorneys and regular courts, tried in kangaroo courts, executed, tortured, assassinated and subjected to numerous other manifestations of State Terrorism."

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , , ,

Why does Israel continue to dismiss Obama's Mideast peace efforts?

Dr. Gabi Sheffer

The writer makes his case, not by pointing to observable proof, but by eliminating any other reasons which would explain why Obama is treated like a leper.

Most Israelis, including the heads of the defense establishment and politicians led by the prime minister and the foreign minister, categorically state that U.S. President Barack Obama will never solve the Israeli-Arab conflict. This lack of confidence in and sympathy for Obama have accompanied him, unjustifiably, since the day he began campaigning for the presidency - and has only intensified following his election. The disrespect toward him and his administration is unwarranted; there is no doubt that it is connected to Obama's ethnic background.

In view of the economic crisis that hit the United States and, in its wake, the rest of the world, the accepted wisdom is that the ability of the United States and its president to influence what happens beyond their borders has been diminished. However, that is not where things actually stand. As no other existing power holds such extensive strength and influence, Obama's ability to act in the world in general and the Middle East in particular has not been eliminated. Russia, China and the European Union have not surpassed the United States in terms of their capability.


The writer is a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Police Officers Acquitted in Sodomy Case


I have no clue who wrote the following, but... But. Get it? Butt?

And here in New York, a police officer accused of using a baton to sodomize a man in a subway station has been acquitted along with two officers who allegedly covered up the incident. Attorneys for the man said they will now seek a federal probe into the incident. [ed- emphasis mine]


Considering the nature of the story, wouldn't 'investigation' have been a better word to use in place of 'probe?'

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels:

Monoline datapoint of the day


I said earlier I rarely do this and here I go again posting another blogger's entire article. This is because he knows things most of us don't. K?

Bloomberg reports:

Ambac, MBIA Inc. and Assured Guaranty, the three largest bond insurers, have set aside 0.04 percent of the total public finance debt they insure, or $520 million, to pay claims on municipal securities, according to regulatory filings by the companies.

No, that’s not a misprint: the claims-paying reserves are 4 basis points of the total quantity of municipal bonds insured. What’s more, the market capitalization of all three monolines combined is less than $5 billion; the amount of municipal bonds insured, by contrast, is well over $1 trillion.

What could possibly go wrong?

Even I can see that's equivalent to taking off to Europe for a week with $10 in your pocket and a couple hundred in the ol' ATM with the idea you'll not need any more than that.

Here come 3 more bailouts?

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , , ,

Americas bloc excluding US and Canada is proposed


Why didn't the administration see this coming and make all effort to head it off?

Latin American and Caribbean nations have agreed to set up a new regional body without the US and Canada.

The new bloc would be an alternative to the Organisation of American States (OAS), the main forum for regional affairs in the past 50 years.

Mexico has been hosting a regional summit in the beach resort of Cancun.

The OAS has been dogged by rifts between some members and the US over economic policy and trade, and criticised for promoting US interests.

And, without dredging up all the instances, why is it more often than not a group of nations on one side and the US on the other? All alone. Could the map have anything to do with it?

Oh yeah, why do I have to learn about such things from the BBC or Channel NewsAsia or some such shit?

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: ,

Toyota Chief Overshoots Congressional Hearings by 150 Miles

Image added -ed

I don't usually do this, post a complete article from another blogger, but I want to introduce you to Andy Borowitz just in case you haven't discovered him as of yet.

By ABorowitz on Story

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – The reputation of the Toyota Motors Corp. received another black eye today as the president of the embattled company missed his scheduled appearance at Congressional hearings after he overshot Washington, D.C. by 150 miles.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda said he was having difficulties with the brakes on his 2010 Toyota Prius, which finally came to rest after crashing into a blacksmith’s shop in Colonial Williamsburg.

In a brief statement to reporters, Mr. Toyoda said, “I knew I should’ve driven my Chevy today.”

In yet another embarrassment, Mr. Toyoda, the grandson of the carmaker’s founder, realized for the first time that his family’s name is spelled differently from the company’s.

Mr. Toyoda said that all members of the Toyoda family would be immediately recalled to fix the spelling error. More here.

For real-time fake news, follow Andy Borowitz on Twitter.


...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels:

The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Salon

Zac Efron (Vanity Fair photo)

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. You usually do so much better than this:

Scott Brown is but the latest of the beauty-salon graduates [ed- where the hell did that come from?] driving conservatives to spazzy distraction. As NYCweboy argues, the Republican Party has become the fan club for attention-deficit teenage girls of all ages and sexes [ed- just how many sexes are there who are 'girls?', unable to decide between Fabian [ed- what?] and Frankie Avalon [ed- what again?], infatuated with Zec [ed- eh, its Zac, Jimmy] Efron one month and all moony over Rob Pattison [ed- eh, Jimmy, that's Pattinson] the next, smitten with Mitt Romney one campaign and pining over Marco Rubio the next. "[If] if [ed- well, is it 'If' or 'if?'] Republicans have a crisis of leadership, it may be because conservatives have become some of the most fickle lovers of new faces: as fast as a new handsome dude [ed- are you disclosing Sarah Palin* is a 'dude' here?] (usually white, but occasionally tan) enters the room, their love of last year's model goes out the window."
I've used Zac's photo because, well now, who wants to look at Jimmy? Oh yeah Jimmy, the photo and spelling of Zac's name came from your fucking magazine.

* As referenced in the article which inspired your post.
...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , , ,

Top U.S. commander braces for delay in leaving Iraq


US embassy in Iraq (world's largest embassy)

I've not been in the military so am only vaguely aware of 'chain of command', but didn't the commanders in Iraq, like all of them, get the message from their commander in chief to get the troops' asses out of Iraq in a timely manner beginning in August 2010? [ed- all troops by August 2011] Well, excluding the vestigial 35,000 to 50,000 troops to be left in place because ya can't have decent imperialism without a bit of occupation. And there still is all that God damn oil don't ya know.

Did Obama include a stipulation about withdrawing unless? After a half assed search of Obama's speeches (because I'm lazy) I found no mention of mitigating circumstances beyond McCain's saying the President would 'revisit' the decision based on what's happening on the ground.

This was not something the President specifically stated, but McCain's assertion. And thus far there is no evidence in the news Obama has done such a 'revisit.'

The top U.S. commander in Iraq said Monday that the planned withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces by the end of August [ed- of what year?] could be delayed if conditions worsen in the coming months as Iraqis choose a new government.

Army Gen. Ray Odierno said his staff had drawn up contingency plans for a delayed withdrawal that he has shared with Pentagon leaders and other U.S. officials during a visit to Washington over the past week. He said he was prepared to make the changes "if we run into problems" but added he was optimistic that would not be necessary.


Don't kid yourself. If I'm not mistaken its most likely the US will remain in Iraq indefinitely. The world's largest embassy and the huge military bases established there pretty much guarantee that.

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Down under


Nice car in Australia.

Think about it.

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels:

Damn this economy. No one is safe


I think Cheney is crying in his hospital room.

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , ,

John Conyers Jr to hold hearings on OLC report


Sometimes ya just have to do what's right. Especially if it includes proving the integrity of a government agency you're responsible for protecting.

Here's the full release from House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.):

"For years, those who approved torture and abuse of detainees have hidden behind legal memos issued by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel," Conyers said. "The materials released today make plain that those memos were leglly flawed and fundamentally unsound, and may have been improperly influenced by a desire to tell the Bush White House and the CIA what it wanted to hear."

"The Office of Legal Counsel has a proud tradition of providing independent, high-quality legal advice to the executive branch," Conyers continued. "The materials released today make clear that the lawyers who wrote the torture memos did not live up that tradition. While the department ultimately concluded that the lawyers did not breach their minimum professional obligations, I certainly hold top lawyers at OLC to a higher standard that, as all Americans should.

"Given the serious nature of the issues raised in this report, the committee intends to hold hearings on these matters in the very near future."


All released materials can be found here.

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , , , ,

How did I miss this event?


I must have been watching Men's figure skating. Damn!!!1!!

Labels:

Farmville


The game looks like more fun and no, its my wife's thing. I've farmed for real and didn't much care for it.

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels:

One of the faces of Faux News

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

This isn't intended to scare you at all even though it most likely should bother you. Ya gotta love internationalism.

You most likely have little power over what Americans are told by the news. If there are problems in the Mid-East and Saudi Arabia is in the middle, you may never know. That is assuming you only watch Faux News.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is "about to become News Corp's fourth largest shareholder" according to DC Bureau. (h/t to Reconstitution 2.0). With the addition of a Wahhabi point of view, Fox News becomes at last truly fair and balanced. Don't touch that dial.
When you are in there at 25% you exercise enormous control over what people are told or not told. You certainly are less likely to get the same 'fair and balanced' news you love so much. Hahaha. Fair and... nevermind.

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , , , ,

Kucinich's Prophetic "Prayer for America" Speech - Feb 17, 2002


Why are so many Americans oblivious as to how fragile this republic truly is? They go about their daily lives accepting what they have because they are, in the final analysis, Americans. The greatest and most free. Nothing can challenge US. Well, unless one is trying to board an airplane, enter a school, attend a ballgame. Those are minor problems compared to being 'safe'. Don't fucking kid yourselves. Your freedom is much more important than all that.

Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving and accomplishment of civil rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of constitutional justice?

How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the right of free speech, and the right to peacefully assemble?

How can we justify, in effect, the canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?

How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying due process, allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial?

How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right to prompt and public trial?

How can we justify, in effect, canceling the Eighth Amendment which protects against cruel and unusual punishment?

We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and internet surveillance without judicial supervision, let alone with it.


Dennis Kucinich gets it and he's worried as should be all Americans. Please read all of his presentation. He does an excellent job of voicing his concerns.

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , , ,

ACLU Filed Brief With SCOTUS On Behalf Of Carter Center And Other Organizations Supporting Challenge To Vague "Material Support" Law


The devil is always in the details. This is a fine example of why attorneys and not we simple folk should be writing law. We may use words which seem to mean what we all agree they do, but in reality are far too broad and encompass things we didn't anticipate.

A bad law is a bad law and this one qualifies.

This is also an excellent example of why we all need the ACLU.

"Our work to end violence sometimes requires interacting directly with groups that have engaged in it. Unfortunately, efforts like ours, and those of the many other human rights groups who signed onto this brief, are hindered by the extremely vague 'material support' law that leaves us guessing whether our work to encourage peace could actually be considered illegal. Sadly, the law being challenged in court – which is aimed at putting an end to terrorism – actually threatens the work of humanitarian groups that share the same goal. We hope the Supreme Court will overturn this law so that groups like ours can continue the important work of advancing peace and freedom without concern of prosecution."

Even in war, medics 'help' injured enemy. That's 'material support'. Do we hang 'em?

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, February 22, 2010

Obama enlists governors to raise the education bar

Obviously she has a 'good education'
Sarkosy seems to agree

But seriously, folks.

I've seen this problem in the US as well as other countries. When 'standards' and 'measures' based on standardized tests are instituted, its impossible to prevent educators from teaching to those standards/measures. To hell with giving the best education possible to the fucking students. Just make sure they can pass the tests [ed- this is no knock on educators, merely reality/human nature/coercion/politics].

A far better measure IMHO is future success. If one high school turns out students who graduate college at a rate of 30% which formerly never exceeded 27%, they have succeeded. It matters not if they exceed the rate of another high school. They have improved. That should be the yardstick.

Accepted: This ain't gonna be easy. It requires analysis of why some didn't graduate. Family problems and such come into play. Then there are the finances. Don't forget lack of interest. But in this age of omniscient, high speed computers it should be easy to parse such data. Just turn them nerds loose on the data.

If academic success is the goal. Measure the fucking academic success down-road and not the God damn current test results.

President Barack Obama wants academic standards for America's high school students raised, and he's applauding a program from the nation's governors that works toward those goals.

In a statement issued Sunday, the White House said the initiative will develop and implement new reading and math standards that prepare high school students for college and careers. The governors will call on Obama on Monday, as they wrap up their National Governor's Association meeting, to discuss the blueprint to prepare students to stay competitive with their counterparts around the world.

"Because too many students are not learning the basic skills needed to succeed in college or work while they are in high school," the White House said in the statement, "the nation sacrifices more than $3.7 billion a year in lost productivity and remedial education costs."

The White House said the governors have been working on the president's Race to the Top program, which rewards school systems that raise standards and demonstrate that through tougher student assessments.

The obvious problem with this approach is a lack of semi-instant gratification. But sometimes patience really is a virtue. We're talking long term here anyway and not next quarter thinking. Schools should be evaluated on how well the students perform later.

Isn't that how you were evaluated after graduating? Your performance dictated your pay/promotions? I'm excluding job politics here, of course, along with your personal hygiene and any proclivity for farm animals.

Can you tell me where your doctor stood in her/his graduating class? Hell no. Is he/she a good doctor? Do you have a fucking clue how your doctor performed on 'standardized' high school tests? Hell no. Do you trust your doctor with your life and has your trust been vindicated? In other words, are you alive and relatively healthy?


Leave them kids (and teachers) alone (for now). Give them a chance to prove themselves.

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , , , ,

Pentagon paints grim picture of Taiwan air defense

F-16s

The US is gonna sell themselves some aircraft, yo. No doubt about it. Because it's a God given right for them to do their best to make sure all countries are equally armed to the fucking teeth. Unless we don't like them.

So China, boil up your indignation and begin to prepare your complaint. Don't say you weren't warned.

The Pentagon has painted a grim picture of Taiwan's air defense capabilities, raising serious doubts about the island's ability to withstand an attack from rival China.

...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , , , ,

Long story short...

Student shot during gun safety class


This teacher definitely needs to change subjects. Perhaps art class?

He wasn't paying attention when someone had told him it appeared he might shoot himself in the foot.

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 21 (UPI) -- A gun safety class attendee in Orlando, Fla., was accidentally shot in the foot by his instructor, police reported.


...
Note: Headline links to source.

Labels: , ,