|A woman stabbed her husband with a kitchen knife following an argument that began when she accused him of opening a Christmas present early, authorities said Friday.|
Misty Johnson, 34, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and battery, a felony, and misdemeanor domestic battery. Her husband, Shawn Fay Johnson, 34, was treated at a hospital for a wound to the chest, police said.
Misty Johnson made an initial court appearance Thursday in which she requested a court-appointed attorney, authorities said. She was released after posting bail, which was set at $7,500.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
|A protest planned for Friday afternoon in Calgary to condemn alleged violent and racist postings has been cancelled after an apology from the Western Standard magazine.|
Two human rights complaints against the online magazine also were dropped after the Western Standard's owner apologized, said the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.
"In the spirit of Eid al-Adha and Christmas, Imam Syed Soharwardy has decided to withdraw his complaint from the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Commission in Ottawa," the group stated in a press release.
Soharwardy said he had invited Matthew Johnston, owner of the Western Standard, to visit Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre and talk to the Muslim community on any Friday.
The comments appeared on the Shotgun Blog of the Western Standard website.
The entry, dated Dec. 5 and written by a user calling himself 'Templar,' said, "There is no such thing as innocent Muslims."
Templar went on to write, "They must all be killed. All of them."
"This is absolutely pure hate-mongering," said Soharwardy earlier this week. "It's an abuse of freedom of speech. It's against Canadian (hate) laws."
The original Dec. 2 posting that sparked the user comments was written by former Western Standard publisher Ezra Levant. He was discussing complaints by the Canadian Islamic Congress against Maclean's magazine.
It was the anonymous response to Levant's posting that angered Muslim leaders.
Levant, who no longer owns the website or the Western Standard name, said he doesn't personally agree with the comments, but argued they should be protected as free speech.
The Western Standard website initially said the comments were protected by the principle of freedom of speech, but added changes were in the works for the blog.
Western Standard's take on the situation though it seems the new owner doesn't have a spine for even a little fight. I think it is clear this is a new tactic to put fear into the media and silence those like Mark Steyn who writes something they do not like.
| More than half of the estimated 11 million Mexicans residing in the US are there illegally, according to a report by the Mexican government. |
Two-thirds of Mexicans who migrate, or try to migrate, to the US every year do so without documents, it said.
The report, timed to coincide with the UN International Migrants Day, said almost 30 million people in the US were direct descendants of Mexican migrants.
Illegal immigration is set to be a key issue in the 2008 US presidential poll.
|In his National Post article, Mr. Levant devotes much attention to the importance of freedom of expression in Canadian society. We agree, which is why we asked Maclean's for an opportunity to debate Mr. Steyn. It is also why Mr. Steyn is not a party to any of our human rights complaints. We haven't asked him for an apology or a retraction. Neither have we filed hate-speech complaints against him. He is free to do and say as he pleases.|
What we did ask for, however, was an opportunity for the Muslim community to participate in the "free marketplace" of ideas. It is our belief that in its truest form, freedom of expression results in a lively debate among all interested parties -- not just among those who play by their own exclusionary rules. If Maclean's wants to publish articles alleging that many Muslims are "hot for jihad," it has to provide an opportunity to respond.
This issue isn't about attacking journalists or stifling free expression. It's about ensuring that our media outlets provide a forum for open debate and argument. While we do not agree with Mr. Levant's characterizations -- and he may not agree with our position -- the very fact that we can respond to one another in the same publication shows that some media outlets still value the showcasing of differing opinions. It is our hope that, as a result of these human-rights complaints, Maclean's can join their ranks.
If they had ZERO places to print or post a rebuttal then they would have reason to complain, but this idea because a magazine posts something you do not like so they have to give you equal time like a print version of the fairness doctine is insane.
Some places are like that because they choose to do so but they cannot and should not be forced to do it. That is the precedent these Muslim students wants for the entire Canadian media which is why I would be shocked if others do not start to speak out against it.
|The Oprah Winfrey endorsement might have generated a lot of press for Barack Obama, but not a lot of impress, particularly among younger women, a poll released Wednesday shows. |
A Lifetime/Zogby poll of women shows that of those 18 to 29, almost a third said they were less likely to support the Illinois senator because of the Oprah support. Older women, over 65, also showed they were ruffled by Ms. Winfrey stepping "out of her pew," as the daytime diva herself described it. About 17 percent of older women said the endorsement made them less likely to support Mr. Obama.
Among other age groups, those who disliked the endorsement were offset by an equal amount who said they were more inclined to look more favorably at Mr. Obama because of it.
|A U.S. grand jury indicted four Venezuelans and a Uruguayan on Thursday on charges of acting as unregistered foreign agents for Venezuela who allegedly tried to cover up a scheme to smuggle $800,000 in cash to Argentina.|
The indictment formalizes charges brought last week when four of the five were arrested in connection with the case, which touched off corruption allegations in South America and diplomatic tensions between Washington and Buenos Aires.
U.S. prosecutors say the men represented the anti-U.S. government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and alleged in court that one of the defendants said the money was destined for the campaign of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who won Argentina's presidential election in October.
....The case has caused an uproar in Argentina. Chavez has accused Washington of seeking to undermine Argentine-Venezuelan relations, while Washington says its probe is not politically motivated.
Prosecutor Maria Luz Rivas Diez said a former Argentine government employee testified the man with the suitcase, Guido Antonini Wilson, visited Argentina's presidential palace two days after the money was confiscated.
"Apparently he was with other people at a sort of toast or celebration, while in another office an accord was being signed with Venezuela," Rivas Diez told Radio Del Plata.
Argentine government officials, who allowed Antonini to leave the country but now seek his extradition from the United States to question him about possible money laundering, did not immediately comment.
The case -- dubbed the "suitcase scandal" by Argentine media -- erupted after Antonini carried the cash on a private jet chartered by Argentina's government to ferry Argentine and Venezuelan officials from Caracas to Buenos Aires.
The government witness is a former secretary to an Argentine official who chartered the plane, Rivas Diez said. She was on the Caracas-Buenos Aires flight.
|Apple Inc. has settled a lawsuit it brought against a fan site devoted to Apple products, ThinkSecret.com, but the site will also shut down as part of the agreement.|
Apple had sued the site in January 2005 after it disclosed information about an upcoming bare-bones Mac computer two weeks before it was officially unveiled.
Under the terms of the settlement, which was announced Thursday on ThinkSecret.com, the identity of the people who leaked the information will not be revealed.
The site's publisher, Harvard student Nick Ciarelli, said in a statement that he was "pleased to have reached this amicable settlement, and will now be able to move forward with my college studies and broader journalistic pursuits."
A California judge last year denied Apple's bid to force the identification of people who had apparently leaked company information to three other Web sites, ruling that the sites were entitled to the same protections as traditional journalists under a state law that prevents the forced disclosure of confidential news sources.
Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to provide other details of the settlement, saying the terms were confidential. He said the company was "happy to have this behind us."
Apple has grown well beyond its original business of home computers with a number of innovations that have shaken up the music and entertainment industries, notably the hugely popular iPod, and most recently the iPhone, which also functions as a Web browser and music player. ThinkSecret.com is a play on an Apple advertising slogan "Think Different."
Kurt Opsahl, an attorney for Electronic Frontier Foundation, said he was "very pleased" that no confidential sources were revealed as part of the agreement.
|DAVID Hicks praised Osama bin Laden as "lovely" and trained with the terrorist's al-Qaeda network a month before the September 11 attacks.|
But a lawyer for the convicted terrorism supporter yesterday revealed he is no longer a Muslim and "sees himself as one of us, an Australian".
Hicks's admiration for the world's most wanted terrorist was revealed in a series of letters read in court yesterday as a magistrate considered the conditions of a control order to be placed on the former Guantanamo Bay detainee.
...Mr Berger said there was a "plethora of evidence" against Hicks, including letters he sent to his family in Adelaide while training with al-Qaeda.
In one, Hicks wrote: "By the way, I have met Osama bin Laden 20 times now, lovely brother, everything for the cause of Islam. The only reason the west calls him the most wanted Muslim is because he's got the money to take action."
Hicks described himself as a "fit, young Muslim, ready to defend Islam," and in another letter wrote of the "poison" of the west, trying to crush Islam. "Jihad is still valid to this day," he wrote.
Hicks' lawyer Larissa Detmold said her client was no longer a Muslim and the letters were out of date. She said Hicks, who did not appear at yesterday's hearing, had fully co-operated with the US military, ASIO and Britain's MI6 and was not a threat to the public.
"Frankly, after all he has been through, he sees himself as one of us, an Australian - he does not want to harm Australians," she said.
"There is no evidence of any threat to a person in Australia or the Government."
The court did put controls on him.
|An exiled Bangladeshi Muslim woman writer whose presence in India sparked riots said on Thursday that New Delhi was forcing her to live under virtual house arrest, and appealed for more freedom.|
Award-winning writer Taslima Nasreen, who criticizes the use of religion as an oppressive force, has lived in the east India city of Kolkata since 2003.
She was rushed from her home and moved from city to city last month when radical Islamist protests against her led to riots, and the army had to be called in.
Nasreen fled Bangladesh for the first time in 1994 when a court there said she had "deliberately and maliciously" hurt Muslims' religious feelings with her Bengali-language novel "Lajja", or "Shame", about riots between Muslims and Hindus.
Several of her books have been banned in India and Bangladesh. The European Parliament awarded her the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought in 1994.
Nasreen now lives in a secret security facility in New Delhi, which she has equated with "solitary confinement."
Her fate has become a hot political issue for New Delhi as the Hindu nationalist opposition has accused the government of pandering to Muslim minorities by trying to get her out of the country.
"I don't think that in the name of security I should be put in solitary confinement," Nasreen told the New Delhi Television news channel. "I asked them how long I have to remain in house arrest, they said they don't know."
The government has refused to comment on Nasreen's claims.
|In the new hit movie "Juno" and now in real life with Jamie Lynn Spears, 16-year-old girls get pregnant and decide to bear the child rather than opt for abortion. For social conservatives, it's a challenging story line—they condemn the teen sex but hail the ensuing choice.|
"It's a double-edged sword in the Christian community," said Bill Maier, a vice president of the conservative ministry Focus on the Family.
"We should commend girls like Jamie Lynn Spears for making a courageous decision to have the baby. On the other hand, there's nothing glamorous or fun about being an unwed teen mother."
In "Juno," the spunky heroine continues attending high school even as her belly swells, and she scouts out a married couple who want to adopt the baby.
Spears, the star of "Zoey 101" and the younger sister of pop star Britney Spears, has said she plans to raise her child in her home state of Louisiana.
This has gotten the feminists and abortion advocates irritated because especially in films, Hollywood is not showing the hard fought "right" in having an abortion in positive light.
|"Juno" is the latest in a series of recent movies in which the heroine, faced with an unexpected pregnancy, chooses not to have an abortion. Others include "Knocked Up," "Waitress" and "Bella."|
Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said these story lines—generally with upbeat endings—oversimplify the tough choices facing real-life girls and women. Each year, more than 1 million of them in the United States opt to have an abortion.
"Hollywood is in this for money and entertainment," Cullins said. "They are shying away from having the characters fully explore all their options when faced with an unplanned pregnancy.
"In the real world, it's important to weigh all the possible options and then come up with the best one for the teen, the family and the child," Cullins added. "That will be different for different circumstances."
....Demie Kurz, a sociologist who co-directs the University of Pennsylvania's women's studies program, noted that the "Juno" heroine and Jamie Lynn Spears come from well-off families and do not represent the many girls from low-income backgrounds who get pregnant.
"Some of them have the babies as part of their path to what they see as adulthood, but they often put their education on hold, and it makes life a lot tougher," Kurz said. "Do we want to put burdens on these teenage girls by encouraging them to think that having a baby is cool?"
She said it was reflective of the U.S. political climate that few movies depict abortion as a valid option.
"There should be a responsibility to portray a young person who makes a reasonable choice to have an abortion, or take the morning-after pill," Kurz said. "The absence of films showing alternatives is really upsetting."
Canadian Press has even more anger at the abortion lacking films.
|The apparently burgeoning trend has everyone from pro-choice activists like McArthur to feminist journalists and those in the blogosphere wondering about the conspicuous absence of a common option for women, both real and fictional, who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant: abortion.|
In "Juno" starring Halifax's Ellen Page, the teenaged title character only gives abortion passing consideration.
"The old-school feminist in me wishes 'Juno' spent more time, even a tart sentence or two, acknowledging that the options taken for granted by this one attractive, articulate teen are in fact hard-won, precious rights," Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly wrote in her review of the film.
Others fear the success of "Juno" might even influence teenaged girls who find themselves pregnant.
The E Online website nicknamed Spears "Juno Lynn" on Thursday, while the New York Post reported that Spears and her beleaguered mother, Lynne, were recently spotted taking in the Jason Reitman film.
McArthur says she found it disappointing that in "Knocked Up," in particular, abortion was barely mentioned as an option - and when it was, it was presented as something too shameful to even ponder.
"It is Hollywood, I know, and Hollywood specializes in being unrealistic about things in general," she said.
"But it's just sort of being totally ignored as though no one would ever even think of doing that. But abortion is a very commonly resorted-to option for women, especially unmarried teenaged girls. It should be acknowledged that it's an important and common option for women and, more importantly, that there's nothing wrong with making that choice."
The United States has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the developed world, and it's climbing.
Spears's pregnancy has become a lightning rod for debate in the U.S. this week. An AOL.com poll asked readers if they'd keep the baby, abort it or put it up for adoption if they were Spears - and by midday Thursday, the majority of respondents said they'd opt to terminate the pregnancy.
On the Feministe blog (www.feministe.us/blog/), one commenter bemoaned how rarely a woman's decision to abort a fetus is explored in the movies.
"I feel like the last time I saw an abortion handled in a realistic manner was during 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High,"' referring to the 1982 film in which a character decides to terminate a pregnancy.
Could that movie even be made now? I just feel like Hollywood has lost the ability to tell some kinds of stories (cough, pregnancies, cough) objectively," the commenter wrote.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
|Police used chemical spray and stun guns Thursday on protesters who tried to force their way into a City Council meeting, the latest strife over plans to demolish some 4,500 public housing units in a redevelopment project that council members ended up unanimously supporting.|
The vote to permit the federal government to tear down four public housing developments was a critical moment in a protracted fight between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and residents, activists and preservationists.
...The meeting itself was mostly peaceful, although an early fight in the chambers between protesters and police caused a brief interruption.
Some public housing residents repeated during the daylong debate that they welcome the plan to replace the decades-old structures with mixed-income, mixed-use development. Other residents and their advocates said they fear the plan will result in the loss of badly needed housing for the city's low-income black residents.
The vote crossed racial lines, with the three black council members joining four whites.
Most of the units HUD plans to demolish are vacant, and many suffered heavy damage in Hurricane Katrina, but those who oppose their demolition say they should be improved instead.
Critics of the plan say it will drive poor people from neighborhoods where they have lived for generations, but HUD denies that and says the plan will create an equal amount of affordable housing as existed before Katrina hit.
The council promised to monitor the redevelopment and make sure the poor have places to come back to, but those assurances did little to assuage opponents.
"The vote was already a done deal," the Rev. Marshall Truehill said. "There were no concessions."
.....Endesha Juakali, a protest leader arrested on a charge of disturbing the peace, said Thursday's confrontation with the council was not the last breath from protesters.
"For everything they do, we have to make them pay a political consequence," Juakali said. He vowed that when the bulldozers try to demolish the St. Bernard complex, "it's going to be an all out effort."
For weeks, protesters have been gearing up to battle with bulldozers and have discussed a variety of tactics, including lying in front of the machinery.
Attorneys handling lawsuits to stop the demolitions said they have not exhausted their legal options. One suit is challenging the bidding process for selecting the developers while another one contending the demolitions are illegal is on appeal in the federal courts.
Most of these protestors are the enablers of continuing entitlements and taxpayer funded hands out. They do not want to get off the dole because that would mean getting a job to pay for things nearly everyone else has to in this country..
This one lady Sharon Jasper is typical of the types that come out of New Orleans looking to get paid .
| Added expenses|
Regardless of the conditions, many former public housing residents avoid privately owned apartments because they typically face utility and deposit expenses not charged in public housing.
Sharon Jasper, a former St. Bernard complex resident presented by activists Tuesday as a victim of changing public housing policies, took a moment before the start of the City Hall protest to complain about her subsidized private apartment, which she called a "slum." A HANO voucher covers her rent on a unit in an old Faubourg St. John home, but she said she faced several hundred dollars in deposit charges and now faces a steep utility bill.
"I'm tired of the slum landlords, and I'm tired of the slum houses," she said.
Pointing across the street to an encampment of homeless people at Duncan Plaza, Jasper said, "I might do better out here with one of these tents."
Jasper, who later allowed a photographer to tour the subsidized apartment, also complained about missing window screens, a slow leak in a sink, a warped back door and a few other details of a residence that otherwise appeared to have been recently renovated.
At the City Hall protest, a crowd of people railed against "privatization and gentrification of the city," saying it would be a mistake to raze well-built public housing at a time when so many people need affordable housing. One of their leaders, Loyola University law professor Bill Quigley, said it's appropriate that advocates for the poor from across the country have gathered in New Orleans to help fight the demolitions.
"This is a national scandal," he said.
I love that tv, how can she afford it on a subsidized income? She is just another one of these people sitting around waiting for the government to take care of them from cradle to grave. Obama is eager to help out the likes of her on the basis of helping the poor. What would help the poor and New Orleans in general is an attitude of enough is enough, get off your ass and do something other waiting for the first of the month.
This whole thing is playing out like Boondocks "Invasion of the Katrinians"
|Motorists using a hand-held mobile phone could be jailed for two years under new rules being issued by the Crown Prosecution Service today.|
Charges will be brought wherever prosecutors say using equipment - such as fiddling with sat-nav or an iPod - poses a danger. Prosecutors say such actions could force a car to swerve or a distracted motorist jumping a red light.
Those who kill while using a mobile face 14 years behind bars, under a charge of causing death by dangerous driving.
In extreme cases they could be charged with manslaughter for which a life term can be imposed.
A new offence of causing death by careless driving is to be created under the Road Safety Act.
The crackdown was announced earlier this year but the guidelines will apply to prosecutors from today. It comes as the latest Government figures show that up to 300,000 drivers are still driving illegally with hand-held mobile phones.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has updated its sentencing manual for dangerous driving. It now states that drivers convicted of dangerous driving risk two years' imprisonment, a fine, or both - as well as a mandatory driving disqualification.
I have almost got rear-ended twice in the last month because some fools decided they have mad skillz to drive and text at the same time. Numerous close calls because of idiots talking on their cell phones not paying attention while driving on the highway. Considering this is South Florida, it is just another added danger to my health and well being. Then you have the minor irritants from cellers who want to reverse into a parking spot while talking on their handheld at the same time which makes them take twice as long to park.
I do not object to tasering people like this on daily basis.
They left enough questions unanswered not to make you the viewer frustrated but just hungry for more shows to answer them. After this episode ended with Dan calling out to his wife Katie to see him disappear to his next "job" and the sense from her of "Oh my God" just made me more pissed off at NBC how they truly dropped the ball on this show.
I wish nothing but a fast wicked ratings death to Medium and every other show Zucker and Silverman throw up on the network.
|U.S. prosecutors say a Venezuelan-American man who brought $800,000 to Argentina for Fernandez's campaign was offered $2 million by Venezuelan agents to keep quiet and help cover up the source of the money.|
Fernandez describes herself as the victim of dirty politics by the U.S. intended to undermine Argentina's relationship with Venezuela. But the U.S. insists its prosecutors act independently and have pursued the case without influence from the White House.
The Argentine Congress, controlled by Fernandez's left-leaning ruling coalition, passed a resolution Wednesday repudiating the U.S. government over the investigation, which led to the arrests of four men last week in Miami.
The resolution passed by the lower house and Senate said the U.S. government "encouraged a nefarious intelligence operation whose direct consequence was the denigration of the presidency of our nation."
Former President Nestor Kirchner, whose wife succeeded him as president this month, said the campaign cash scandal was a U.S. attempt to tarnish his wife's new government.
He said the U.S. government had resorted to a "band of mafiosos" to attack his wife's government only days after her Dec. 10 inauguration to a four-year term.
|A 10-year-old girl was brutally pack raped in the small Aboriginal community of Aurukun, and her nine attackers escaped jail. She had contracted Ghonorrea at age six and was repeatedly abused.|
New Zealand youth worker Don Greene has been dealing with the fallout. He has lived in Australia for seven years, employed by Queensland's Child and Safety Department.
"I was working with the young girl and I spent a lot of time with the family, particularly after the incident. They were pretty shattered, still are," says Greene.
He said his repeated warnings that a 10-year-old girl was in danger were ignored.
Greene says child protection services in Australia are a politically-correct mess.
"I ended up feeling like the token black fella sent to this community so that these people can say we've got a fella on the ground," he says.
Greene says he was told to lie about his ethnicity because his position ought to have been given to an indigenous Aborigine.
However, Greene no longer wants the position. He says too many cover ups and cases of abuse are being ignored and he has quit the job.
ABCNEWS did the interview and has the more detailed transcript and video here.
|TWO adults and two teenagers will each spend between one and 15 months behind bars for sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy at a remote Top End Aboriginal community.|
Rejecting pleas for wholly suspended sentences, Northern Territory Supreme Court judge Trevor Riley yesterday described the anal penetration of the boy between April and August last year at Maningrida, 500km east of Darwin, as "opportunistic" rather than predatory.
However, he said the males had taken advantage of the young victim, who was assaulted on three separate occasions at the community, as he sentenced the four offenders to a total of 32 months in custody.
"The future of the victim remains uncertain and of significant concern," Justice Riley said.
The Territory's top prosecutor, Richard Coates, yesterday attributed the reluctance of Aboriginal children to give evidence as an explanation for the decision by the Crown not to pursue more serious rape charges, which could have led to jail terms of 20 years or life.
The four offenders pleaded guilty to a total of eight charges, including sexual intercourse without consent. Justice Riley said he would have imposed higher sentences if they had claimed innocence.
The revelation in The Australian last week that nine males who gang-raped a 10-year-old girl in the Queensland Aboriginal community of Aurukun had escaped jail sentences has triggered nationwide debate about indigenous justice.
Unlike in the Aurukun case, Justice Riley rejected pleas from defence lawyers to impose wholly suspended sentences on the offenders. But the sentences were still criticised as inadequate.
|A top Muslim cleric in Iran, Hojatolislam Gholam Reza Hassani said on Wednesday that women in Iran who do not wear the hijab or Muslim headscarf, should die.|
"Women who do not respect the hijab and their husbands deserve to die," said Hassani, who leads Friday prayers in the city of Urumieh, in Iranian Azerbaijan.
"I do not understand how these women who do not respect the hijab, 28 years after the birth of the Islamic Republic, are still alive," he said.
"These women and their husbands and their fathers must die," said Hassani, who is the representative of the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei in eastern Azerbaijan.
Hassani's statements came after two Kurdish feminists in Iran were accused of being members of an armed rebel group and of carrying out subversive activities threatening the security of the state.
It is believed that his statements and the arrests could spark a fresh crackdown on women who do not repect the Islamic dress code in Iran.
Thousands of women in Iran have already been warned this year for their "un-Islamic dress" such as wearing tight, short coats and skimpy headscarves.
|Toshiba has developed a new class of micro size Nuclear Reactors that is designed to power individual apartment buildings or city blocks. The new reactor, which is only 20 feet by 6 feet, could change everything for small remote communities, small businesses or even a group of neighbors who are fed up with the power companies and want more control over their energy needs.|
The 200 kilowatt Toshiba designed reactor is engineered to be fail-safe and totally automatic and will not overheat. Unlike traditional nuclear reactors the new micro reactor uses no control rods to initiate the reaction. The new revolutionary technology uses reservoirs of liquid lithium-6, an isotope that is effective at absorbing neutrons. The Lithium-6 reservoirs are connected to a vertical tube that fits into the reactor core. The whole whole process is self sustaining and can last for up to 40 years, producing electricity for only 5 cents per kilowatt hour, about half the cost of grid energy.
Toshiba expects to install the first reactor in Japan in 2008 and to begin marketing the new system in Europe and America in 2009.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
|Muhammad is one of the thousands of young Baghdadi men to have joined neighbourhood security groups, which have mushroomed over the last year and are a crucial factor in the dramatic decline in civilian deaths. US soldiers call them "concerned local citizens"; Iraqis just call them sahwa (awakening) after the so-called Anbar awakening in western Iraq, which has seen Sunni tribal sheikhs take on foreign-led Islamists.|
There are now an estimated 72,000 members in some 300 groups set up in 12 of Iraq's 18 provinces, and the numbers are growing. They are funded, but supposedly not armed, by the US military. "It is Iraq's own surge," said a western diplomat, "and it is certainly making a difference."
Major General Joseph Fil, the outgoing US commander for Baghdad, said this week that the number of attacks in the capital had fallen almost 80% since November 2006, while murders in Baghdad province were down by 90% over the same time period, and vehicle-borne bombs had declined by 70%.
The city's neighbourhood security groups vary greatly in form, content and function. But they all appear to have sprung from a shared desire to rise above the sectarian tensions tearing apart large areas of their city.
Though life in Baghdad is still far from normal, and the security situation still perilous, the capital's remarkably resilient population has begun to believe that the momentum for peace may be sustainable if it is left up to ordinary citizens. "They are filling a void left by Iraq's feuding and self-serving political elite, most of whom are hunkered down and out of touch in the Green Zone," said the western diplomat.
|Zimbabwe is to issue new banknotes in an effort to tackle the serious cash shortages afflicting the country. |
From Thursday, notes worth 250,000, 500,000 and 750,000 Zimbabwean dollars will enter circulation.
At the same time, the highest value note now in use - the 200,000 dollar bill - will be phased out despite only being introduced in July.
Rampant inflation above 8,000%, mass unemployment and shortages of fuel and basic goods have blighted the economy
....Ministers have rejected calls from some businesses to introduce lower value notes which they say would ease the burden on shoppers who currently have to carry bundles of cash even to make basic purchases.
Zimbabwe already has the highest level of inflation in the world.
The 200,000 dollar bill, which Mr Gono said was being widely used on the black market, is worth about $6.66.
Exchange rate is correct on many levels.
|Al-Qaida has invited journalists to send questions to its No. 2 figure, Ayman al-Zawahri, in the first such offer by the increasingly media-savvy terror network to "interview" one of its leaders since the 9-11 attacks.|
The invitation is a new twist in al-Qaida's campaign to reach a broader audience, and represents an attempt by al-Zawahri to present himself as a sophisticated leader rather than a mass murderer.
"I think their media capability is sophisticated as ever," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert and professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. "It shows how this group with 7th century ideology is exploiting 21st century media capabilities."
The advertisement, issued by the group's media arm Al-Sahab on an Islamic militant Web site, invites "individuals, agencies and all media" to submit written questions for al-Zawahri by sending them to the Web forums where Al-Sahab traditionally posts its messages.
Al-Sahab asked the forums to send it the questions "with no changes or substitutions, no matter whether they agree or disagree (with the question)."
It said it would take questions until Jan. 16, after which al-Zawahri would answer them "as much as he is able and at the soonest possible occasion." It did not say whether his answers would come in writing, video or audiotape.
I am hoping they keep the names and media outlets in check just so everyone can see the tone of the questions.
| A convicted criminal has moved in with a married couple against their wishes after giving their address in court as his home. |
Shane Sims, 19, has spent the last few days living with Brenda and Robert Cole after he was sentenced to a week's curfew for breaching a supervision order.
But the couple claim the first they knew about it was when Sims, a friend of their daughter, moved in on Thursday - followed by security contractors who put a box in a bedroom to monitor his movements with an ankle tag.
Sims' tag keeps him indoors between 7pm and 7am much to the horror of the Coles, who both have learning difficulties.
Mrs Cole, 47, said: "It's turned our lives upside down.
"He's taken over the whole place. He sprawls across the sofa and he's always in the bathroom when you need it.
"It's an absolute disgrace. They've let a criminal come into our home and there is nothing we can do about it.
"How can he get away with giving false details? Can crooks pick anywhere they like and just move in? Who needs to break into a house when the courts will do it all for you?
"When the men turned up and installed the tag box, I thought it was some kind of a joke. I told them there had been a mistake but they just said it wasn't their problem."
Sims appeared before magistrates last Thursday where he admitted breaching a two-year supervision order imposed for assault.
|".....The ANC has had ideological divisions in the past, but this leadership battle has split it into Mbeki's conservative camp and Zuma's wing, backed by left-wing trade unions and the Communist Party.|
Discipline has been replaced by open dissent from young ANC militants, who identify with Zuma's populist message and are supported by many ordinary black South Africans, all feeling left behind as Africa's biggest economy has boomed under Mbeki.
Zuma supporters barracked Mbeki's ministers and aides under a huge banner calling for unity, an unrealistic request for a party suffering from the worst rifts in its 96-year history.
Previous leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Mbeki have been able to take for granted a leadership-driven culture that meant dissenters among the membership would quickly close ranks with party leaders for a common goal.
In Polokwane, appeals for such military-like discipline have fallen on deaf ears.
Zuma himself may wonder if the tide of party "people power" that he has ridden to the top could one day unseat him too."
| When Jacob Zuma was accused of rape, his defence was arrogantly dismissive. |
It was his duty as a Zulu warrior, he told the court, to have sex with a woman if she wore a short kanga - an African wrap - and he could not leave her "unfulfilled".
"In the Zulu culture, you cannot just leave a woman if she is ready," he said, insisting that Zulu men had sexual primacy over women and he was therefore not guilty.
"To deny her sex, that would have been tantamount to rape." In a country where a woman is raped every 26 seconds, these views would be shocking enough.
....Under questioning, Zuma spoke the language of the totsis, the notorious township gangs, who cruise the streets of the "new" South Africa while out "jack-rolling" - a pastime that involves gangs of young men, usually armed and high on drugs, roaming the streets to find victims to gang rape.
To the horror of ordinary people reeling from an unprecedented South African crime wave, Zuma told the court that he knew the woman was "clearly aroused" simply by the fact that her kanga was "quite short".
Despite knowing that the woman was HIV positive, in a country where one in three is infected with the deadly virus, the country's future leader announced he had not used a condom.
"I had a shower afterwards," he said, cheerfully.
Well, he is a fricking misogynist pig to say the least, what about South Africa's economic view?
|Yet, under Mbeki, the country is booming. Despite one person being murdered every 20 minutes, South Africa has also emerged as one of the favoured destinations to emigrate to the sun. |
Attracted by the low cost of living (most white people still have black maids paid less than £100 a month), it has become the fastest-growing holiday destination for British people.
Now all this is under threat. A committed communist, Zuma has signalled his intent to "Africanise" the country.
"The formation of a single, united nation requires that we bridge the huge gulf presently differentiating the rich from the poor; separating white from black," he said in one private speech.
In neighbouring Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe has brought his once fertile country to the brink of ruin, with average life expectancy dropping from the highest in Africa to 33.
Mugabe, also a former armed revolutionary, promised to "Africanise" the country. So could South Africa face the same fate as Zimbabwe?
There are plans to seize some white-owned South African farms, a move that caused famine in Zimbabwe.
So far, the government has indicated that land will be transferred to black South Africans with proper consultation and compensation.
But farmers fear that, under Zuma, that process will accelerate. With more than 1,000 white farmers killed in the past decade by armed black gangs, many believe there is already a low-scale guerilla war under way to drive them from "African" land.
It is no wonder they are nervous. While Mandela tried to foster a multi-racial nation, dancing with whites and blacks in his colourful shirts, Zuma shows no such interest in conciliation.
South Africa is screwed.
|A shocking sing-along children's DVD which glorifies suicide bombing is being investigated by anti-terrorist police after being found on sale in one of Britain's terrorist hotbeds.|
The disc - part of an Egyptian-made series - is on sale in West Yorkshire, where three of the July 7 bombers lived, and is aimed at youngsters from the local Muslim community.
Introduced by a cute cartoon chicken, it contains three songs in Arabic which are illustrated with a video story. But any impression of its being an innocent music DVD is immediately dispelled by a song with English subtitles about two children who lose their mother when she blows herself up in a suicide bomb attack.
The song, sung as if told by the bomber's daughter, ends with the young Arabic girl vowing to follow in her mother's footsteps.
It is believed to have been inspired by Palestinian Reem-al-Reyashi, a 22-year-old mother of two who killed four Israelis when she blew herself up at a Gaza Strip checkpoint on January 14, 2004.
|Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, immigration crackdowns, Arizona's new employer-sanctions law and a sluggish economy have combined to create a climate that undocumented families such as the Francos no longer find hospitable.|
The number returning to Mexico is difficult to calculate, but there is no question that many families are leaving, according to Mexican government officials, local community leaders and immigrants themselves.
"The situation in Arizona has become very tough," Jorge said minutes after driving into a Mexican immigration and customs checkpoint south of the border on Mexico 15.
Dozens of immigrants are leaving the U.S. daily, and even more are expected to leave once the sanctions law takes effect in January, provided the law survives a last-minute legal challenge, said Rosendo Hernandez, president of the advocacy group Immigrants Without Borders.
"If people can't find work, they won't be able to pay their bills, so they will leave," Hernandez said.
In what are considered bellwethers of permanent moves back to Mexico, the Mexican consulate in Phoenix has seen a dramatic increase in applications for Mexican birth certificates, passports and other documents that immigrants living in Arizona will need to return home.
| Norway's left-centre government was under attack Tuesday after it admitted that it was breaking a deal to store carbon set to be captured at a new gas power plant at Mongstad.|
The recaptured carbon will be released, because the government decided that it's too expensive to store as originally agreed.
The carbon storage process proved to be more complicated and more than twice as expensive as planned, Haga said. "We have chosen to use the time needed... to ensure that we carry this out responsibly," she added. She insisted a capture and storage program will eventually be in place.
Officials considered transporting the captured carbon dioxide by ship and storing it in reservoirs tied to the Snow White gas field off northern Norway, "but that proved to be extremely expensive," Haga said, claiming the government could better use the money to buy climate quotas or engage in other environmental projects.
Environmentalists and opposition politicians aren't buying the government's reasoning. "This is outrageous," said Frederic Hauge of Bellona. "The agreement to store carbon from the test plant was the reason we gave our support to the project." He claims that dropping the storage requirement makes the entire carbon recapture process vulnerable.
Line Henriette Hjemdal of the Christian Democrats was also among those angry, claiming that the Norwegian government's concern for the climate is reserved for speeches and political posturing.
"Once again, the government is demonstrating that its climate concerns... are downgraded as soon as they begin to cost something," she said.
|A recent decline in U.S. news coverage from Iraq coincides with improved public opinion about the war just as the 2008 presidential campaign heads to an early showdown, a study released on Wednesday said.|
The study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism said the volume of coverage from Iraq fell from 8 percent of all news stories in the first six months of 2007 to 5 percent between June and October due mainly to a decline in news accounts of daily attacks.
The falloff coincided with a 14 percentage point climb -- from 34 to 48 percent -- in the number of Americans who believe the U.S. military effort in Iraq is going either fairly or very well, according to Pew.
Pew researchers examined 1,109 news stories from Iraq from Jan. 1 through Oct. 31 by 40 news outlets including newspapers, Web sites and television and radio networks.
Data from the study, entitled "Portrait from Iraq: How the Press Has Covered Events on the Ground," does not specifically identify the drop in press coverage as a cause of brightening public opinion about the Iraq war.
But Pew project director, Tom Rosenstiel, said declining coverage from Iraq, which follows a sharp fall in news about the Iraq policy debate in Washington, has likely played an important role.
"The report suggests the press has covered Iraq fairly steadily, with some ups and downs, and that's had an effect on public opinion," Rosenstiel told Reuters.
So Morgan is just making it up as he goes along implying that the press lack of coverage caused the improvement in public opinion and not the improvement on the ground which the press did cover. It isn't until the latter part of the article you get the obvious reason.
|News coverage, particularly accounts of daily attacks, began declining as violence levels dropped in late summer and early autumn. Pew said Iraq news resurged in October but mainly because of the controversy surrounding the Blackwater security firm and its alleged role in the deaths of Iraqi civilians.|
A later Pew analysis of November news stories found a renewed decline in volume and signs of a more promising tone as coverage focused on declining violence and the apparent success of Bush's so-called troop "surge."
"There are signs that November represented something of a turning point in coverage from Iraq. Whether it proves to be a temporary one will depend on the course of events," the study said.
|Thanks to thousands of slacking office workers, procrastinating students and cat lovers worldwide with fast DSL connections at the ready, over 30% of both the New Testament and Old Testament have been translated into "lolcat" speak, a.k.a. "lolspeak."|
It's based on the popular Internet meme and subsequent diversionary website Lolcat.com (and, lately, the even more popular Icanhascheezburger.com), where users upload pictures of their pets with embedded words in a "cute" cat-speak (example: "um, hai, yur home early!").And while the Bible has been translated before into Net-bred English variants (most notably an ebonics version of the Good Book), the Lolcat Bible Translation Project aims to be the first Bible a cute kitten might comprehend.
"To translate the lolcat Bible right, you have to put it in terms of what a cat would understand," said 28-year-old UC Irvine graduate student Ramie Becker, who just started working on Ezekiel 17. "So if you are trying to translate a passage that talks about tents in the desert, a cat has probably never seen that . . . but a cat has seen, like, a sofa."
The results of passages already translated into lolcat are hilarious to those familiar with the pidgin language, which is rife with intentional misspellings and syntax errors. To wit, the entry for Genesis I reads: "Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem. Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz."
Also in the works maybe... a Lolcat Koran.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
|Last week, I visited a Muslim place of worship. A schedule for Islam's five daily prayers was posted at the entrance, near a sign requesting that shoes be removed. Inside, a barrier divided men's and women's prayer space, an arrow informed worshippers of the direction of Mecca, and literature urged women to cover their faces.|
Sound like a mosque?
The place I'm describing is the "meditation room" at Normandale Community College, a 9,200-student public institution in Bloomington.
This sounds familiar considering the same thing happened at George Mason University until the press got wind of it and started asking questions. You have well-meaning and/or naive college officials who set these places up and act shocked or dumb when stuff like this happens.
|A row of chest-high barriers splits the room into sex-segregated sections. In the smaller, enclosed area for women sits a pile of shawls and head-coverings. Literature titled "Hijaab [covering] and Modesty" was prominently placed there, instructing women on proper Islamic behavior.|
They should cover their faces and stay at home, it said, and their speech should not "be such that it is heard."
"Enter into Islaam completely and accept all the rulings of Islaam," the tract read in part. "It should not be that you accept what entertains your desires and leave what opposes your desires; this is from the manners of the Jews."
"[T]he Jews and the Christians" are described as "the enemies of Allaah's religion." The document adds: "Remember that you will never succeed while you follow these people."
Students bring up concerns and just dismissed.
|Normandale's zealous effort to accommodate Muslim students is not new. Chad Lunaas, a former student who works at the college part time, cites examples.|
Last year on Fridays, he says, he often entered the bathroom to find that "every sink and toilet stall had someone washing his feet." Other students couldn't use the bathroom at these times, and those who tried felt awkward.
Lunaas finally expressed his concerns to a Muslim student who "seemed to be in charge."
"His attitude was, 'We don't have to listen to you, we can do whatever we want,' " he said.
Confrontations also erupted in the sex-segregated meditation room, according to Lunaas. "Muslim students just took it over. They made people who were not of the Muslim religion feel very uncomfortable, especially if they were female."
One female student tried to use the room when Muslim students were in it, said Lunaas. "She believed she should be treated equally. They were telling her to leave, to take off her shoes, to go to the other side of the divider."
Anderson says he met several times with concerned students. But "the whole thing was just basically swept aside," according to Lunaas.
....But many at the college see a bigger issue.
"For all practical purposes, this meditation room is essentially a Muslim prayer room," said Chuck Chalberg of Normandale's history faculty. "Something this unprecedented goes beyond religious toleration."
If you set up a room that is for everyone but only one group is practically in there all thru the day and is allowed to set itself up in the room, this is the outcome. Enforce the rules and the original intention of the room. You can't blame the Muslim students if they are allowed to run the place when they see no objections from school officials.
Instapundit links to Kaus who goes thru the backstory.
|IS THIS THE JOHN EDWARDS SCANDAL we've been hearing about? (Via Kaus).|
UPDATE: Bill Quick: "Has Clinton minion Ron Burkle finished taking control of the National Enquirer yet?"
Interesting the story at the Enquirer link has been taken down and I can't find a link on the front page. Death by 1000 papercuts seem to have take a screenshot of the story.
|Reading the relationship advice column on Askmen is like taking a trip down the dark and windy road inside the head of an emasculated and insecure man. It makes one wonder why men that read this type of advice on how to tame and train women bother dating women. It is clear they hate them, because you wouldn't treat your enemy the way that they are suggesting you treat your girlfriend.|
When you first start dating a new girlfriend, you want to be on your best behavior. Sure, you want to make a good impression, but what you're really doing is catering to her to get sex.
The problem is, the power base shifts to her right from the outset and she knows it. She's in charge of access to the zipper and she counts on you bending over backward to gain entry. So she's got you.
OK pinch me if I am dreaming here, but who does that? I have, let's see, NO friends that don't have sex with a guy within the first week of dating him.
Couple of things. First is taking askmen seriously, second is that yes Men date women and part of the end game is having sex with her and acting like a jerk only works sometimes. That is why you are on your best behavior because you don't want your first date to be the last.
Second, Only sluts and hos would sleep with a guy within the first week of dating him and try to say it is some feminist ideal come to life. Its like going to eat dinner and throwing salt on the food before tasting it, it shows a lack of judgement. As much as these types of women want to throw away the practice of passing judgement on a woman that gives it up that easy, its not going to happen anytime soon.
But lets praise the sluts because if it wasn't for them, men wouldn't know the type of woman not spend the rest of their lives with and other women with self-respect and class wouldn't know how not to act towards men.
O.K. Reel back to last week. New Hampshire’s William Shaheen, spouse of Jeanne Shaheen, Senate candidate and former governor; he is one of the Clinton campaign’s co-chairmen who stepped down after the Clinton camp disavowed his speculation in an interview about how the Republicans would use Mr. Obama’s admitted drug use — in his youthful days, uh, into his college years, doing marijuana and cocaine — against the Democrats.
It played along the riding theme that Senator Clinton is espousing again and again that she is “battle-tested,” has no surprises in her background because it’s all out there and has been vetted.
Now if someone were to bring up Obama's singing of the Adhan(Islamic call to prayer) which was Nicholas Kristof wrote about in one of his truly best suck up pieces in forever, then you know its 100% a political stunt.
|In foreign policy as well, Mr. Obama would bring to the White House an important experience that most other candidates lack: he has actually lived abroad. He spent four years as a child in Indonesia and attended schools in the Indonesian language, which he still speaks.|
''I was a little Jakarta street kid,'' he said in a wide-ranging interview in his office (excerpts are on my blog, www.nytimes.com/ontheground). He once got in trouble for making faces during Koran study classes in his
elementary school, but a president is less likely to stereotype Muslims as fanatics -- and more likely to be aware of their nationalism -- if he once studied the Koran with them.
Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it'll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as ''one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.''
Moreover, Mr. Obama's own grandfather in Kenya was a Muslim. Mr. Obama never met his grandfather and says he isn't sure if his grandfather's two wives were simultaneous or consecutive, or even if he was Sunni or Shiite. (O.K., maybe Mr. Obama should just give up on Alabama.)
Kristoff brings the class doesn't he?
|A large group of teenagers has been arrested after the murder of a 16-year-old boy following a mass brawl at a birthday party in north London.|
The teenager, named by police as David Nowak, from Stoke Newington, died early yesterday, following the disturbance at the party at a community centre in Stoke Newington on Saturday evening.
A younger boy, 15, was also injured and is in a stable condition. The teenagers were attacked at 11pm in Farleigh Road.
In West Yorkshire another teenage boy died, during a confrontation outside Dewsbury railway station while it was crowded with Christmas shoppers.
Police were yesterday questioning three people, aged 17, 18 and 19, on suspicion of murdering Ahmed Hassan, 17, from Batley, who was stabbed to death at around 2pm on Saturday, close to the station entrance. He was taken to Dewsbury district hospital, where he died three hours later. A 24-year-old who was being held was released without charge.
More here and here.
|A SOCIAL worker disciplined over her handling of the multiple rape of a 10-year-old girl in the Cape York community of Aurukun has argued that abused children should remain in the township for the sake of their "cultural, emotional and spiritual identity".|
Child safety manager Stephanie Fielder told investigators she and co-worker Marie Fletcher believed it was preferable that abused children who had been sent away from Aurukun were returned to their community. Ms Fletcher agreed that she had said "the office was no longer working on separating children from the community - we were working on reunification and returning children to the community".
The case made world headlines last week when The Australian revealed that six teenagers and three adults who pleaded guilty to gang-raping the 10-year-old girl in May last year were given non-custodial sentences, with the juveniles not even having a conviction recorded. The girl was raped after she was returned to Aurukun from a non-Aboriginal foster placement in Cairns.
The Australian has learned that Ms Fletcher and Ms Fielder denied police requests to return the girl to Cairns for her own safety in the days leading up to the attack. A Child Safety Department review committee produced a 596-page report on the incident, which resulted in the sacking of one employee for his handling of the case, and the suspension on full pay of Ms Fielding and Ms Fletcher. Ms Fletcher was the officer at Aurukun who first received notification in May last year, before the rape, that the 10-year-old girl had tested positive to gonorrhoea. She did not pass the information on to police.
The rest of the article reads like a horror story has the social workers just didn't give a damn and cared more about keeping children in the same places where they were getting abused and raped over and over. Their "cultural, emotional and spiritual identity" is hell on earth because of the social workers.
|Monday Dec 17 08:00 AEDT|
In addition to saying "sorry" to the Stolen Generation, the Rudd Government has been urged to concede that removing Aboriginal children from their families was "evil" and "cruel".
An influential lobby group, led by Aboriginal leader Lowitja O'Donoghue and former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, said the apology should admit the Stolen Generation was a policy that could not be justified or excused.
Ms O'Donoghue has also backed a $1 billion compensation fund to be established for the Stolen Generation, saying it would stop "a litany of court cases" from occurring.
More detailed reports here and here, Where the billion dollar compensation is only the starting point.
|While the federal Government has attempted to sidestep the issue of compensation for the Stolen Generations, Aboriginal academics Boni Robertson and Gracelyn Smallwood yesterday upped the ante, saying it should be much higher than the $1 billion suggested by lawyer Michael Mansell.|
Professor Robertson said $1billion was "really quite minimal" and "just a starting point", while Ms Smallwood said it would be "very generous to the Government" and should be double or triple that amount.
"It's very simple," Ms Smallwood told The Australian. "You can't just apologise, you've got to mean it and the only way to prove that is through compensation. You can't reconcile without it."
The groveling leftists gave an opening to people who are looking to make a quick buck it seems more like it. Given the fact the same communities are hopelessly mired in a degraded society lacking values and morals which gives way to young girls getting gang-raped for a horrible example, giving lots of money seems to be the last thing to do as it will go to waste. But this is what you get for pulling stupid stunt like this in the first place.
| Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s administration has received a second subpoena from the Albany County district attorney, P. David Soares, reflecting what appears to be a more aggressive approach in his investigation of the administration. |
The subpoena, issued last week, seeks both public and private e-mail records from the administration. The subpoena was reported on Monday by The Daily News and was confirmed by the governor during a testy appearance at the Capitol on Monday.
Mr. Soares’s investigation is his second in the wake of a damaging July report from Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo’s office, which found that members of the Democratic administration had misused the State Police in an effort to discredit Joseph L. Bruno, the Republican Senate majority leader.
Mr. Soares’s first investigation, completed in September, backed up Mr. Cuomo’s finding that no laws had been broken, but was criticized because administration officials, including the governor, had not been interviewed under oath. Unlike Mr. Cuomo, Mr. Soares has the jurisdiction to issue subpoenas and compel sworn testimony in this particular case.
Monday, December 17, 2007
|"For years, cheap food and feed were taken for granted in the United States.|
But now the price of some foods is rising sharply, and from the corridors of Washington to the aisles of neighborhood supermarkets, a blame alert is under way.
Among the favorite targets is ethanol, especially for food manufacturers and livestock farmers who seethe at government mandates for ethanol production. The ethanol boom, they contend, is raising corn prices, driving up the cost of producing dairy products and meat, and causing farmers to plant so much corn as to crowd out other crops.
The results are working their way through the marketplace, in this view, with overall consumer grocery costs up roughly 5 percent in a year and feed costs up more than 20 percent.
Now, with Congress poised to adopt a new mandate that would double the volume of ethanol made from corn, ethanol skeptics say a fateful moment has arrived, with the nation about to commit itself to decades of competition between food and fuel for the use of agricultural land.
“This is like a runaway freight train,” said Scott Faber, a lobbyist for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, who complained that ethanol has the same “magical effect” on politicians as the tooth fairy and Santa Claus have on children. “It’s great news for corn farmers, but terrible news for consumers.”
But ethanol critics are not getting much traction with their argument. Last week, the Senate voted 86 to 8 for a new energy bill containing expanded ethanol mandates, and the House is expected to follow suit this week.
Experts with no stake in the argument say ethanol has indeed contributed to rising food costs, but that is only one among several factors. Higher fuel costs are driving up the expense of growing and transporting food. And strong economic growth abroad is increasing demand for agricultural commodities, allowing once-destitute people to augment their diets with meat and dairy."
Don't forget to add in pork spending and an election year where middle America is key voting block that wants these mandates. Unless the yields get higher faster from less, prices will go higher.
|U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, a Republican whose Florida district includes the Kennedy Space Center, proposed extending the shuttles' lifetime to close the gap until their replacement ships, called Orion, are ready for their first manned flights in 2015.|
His proposal, which would cost about $10 billion, would have the shuttles make six or seven additional flights between 2010 and 2013 and speed up development of the Orion ships to be ready by then.
A second proposal would keep the shuttles flying until 2015 and leave Orion's schedule alone.
"This is an issue of priorities," said Weldon, who announced his plan at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center on Monday.
.... As the shuttles' 2010 retirement nears, NASA planned on getting exemptions to a congressional ban that prohibits purchases of Russian Soyuz rockets. The ban was imposed to curb the spread of nuclear weapons technology to Iran, which Russia is accused of helping.
Steffens said that paying the Russians to ferry U.S. astronauts back and forth may not be a viable option either.
NASA hopes that U.S. commercial launch vehicles may be developed to transport cargo and perhaps eventually astronauts to the station.
Congress already rejected a proposed $1 billion boost to NASA's 2008 budget to keep Orion's development on schedule.
NASA says, however, it is unsafe, expensive and counter-productive to keep flying the shuttle past 2010.
"Flying the space shuttle past 2010 would carry significant risks, particularly to our efforts to build and purchase new transportation systems that are less complex, less expensive to operate, and better suited to serving both (the space station) and exploration missions to the moon, Mars and beyond," NASA administrator Michael Griffin told a Congressional oversight committee last month.
The only hope of America space travel rests in the hands of the private sector. This is not hyperbole given the ass-backward short-sighted way Congress is looking at NASA.
|The city of Amsterdam announced plans Monday to clean up its infamous "red light" district to fight human trafficking, money laundering and drug abuse and replace prostitutes' windows with upmarket boutiques.|
Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen told a news conference he wanted to clamp down on the organized criminals whose growing influence has corrupted the historic city center.
The city wants to fight forced prostitution by clamping down on pimps and demanding that brothel owners, escort agencies and those who protect prostitutes apply for permits. It also wants the minimum age for prostitutes lifted to 21 from 18.
Prostitutes have plied their wares in the narrow alleys of the old center of Amsterdam for centuries. While they used to attract sailors and merchants in the city's heyday as the heart of a global trading empire, they are now a huge tourist draw.
Deputy mayor Lodewijk Asscher said the city wants to restore a number of historic buildings and reverse the decline of a large central area where brothels, sex clubs and the coffee shops that sell marijuana line the city's canals.
The neon-lit boudoirs that earn about 70 million euros ($100 million) a year should be limited to a few streets while drop-in centers for the homeless and drug addicts are relocated.
They will be replaced by chic apartments, upmarket shops, galleries and high-quality hotels and restaurants, Asscher said, adding that young fashion designers already plan to display their clothes in the windows of one former brothel from January.
Ugh, even this small description fills me with disgust. So many fake people in one little area.
|Kurtz: I am all for substance and I am not in favor of food fights. But when you ask very general questions like what would you do in your first year of president, you're basically giving these candidates an invitation to just press the button and recite the stump speech.|
Felling: Yes, just pull the string and let them talk. I would like to see her compare and contrast the candidates because that was the value in a moderator, and she showed the complete inability to think on her feet, and it was just push button, push button, push button.
Zurawik: And Howie, I don't want to be accused of style over-substance either, but she was so bad on that front that it was a distraction. Even if she had gotten a substance, you couldn't concentrate because she was so bad.
KURTZ: On the other hand, I'm sure she's a very fine newspaper editor, and "The Des Moines Register" is a good paper.
Washburn has even Howard Kurtz to go snarky, that is how bad she was in the debates.
Don't believe me? There is serious discussion if it is right to judge female mutilation..sorry female "circumcision" in the NYTIMES. This may be the next who are we to judge.
|When Aisha Salim marries her fiance in Pakistan next March, it will be the wedding of her dreams. |
Wearing a veil and gown, she will be every inch the fairytale virgin bride and as befits her strict Muslim religion, after the ceremony, she will hand her blooded wedding-night sheets to her in-laws as proof of her virginity.
But far from being the traditional untouched bride that many Muslim families demand, she is a modern-day university graduate who has smoked, drunk, made love to - and even lived with - a previous English boyfriend.
To disguise the fact that she has had sex, she has paid for painful surgery to "restore" her virginity.
....But while Aisha felt she had no choice, she preferred the discretion of a private clinic: "The operation went just as he predicted. It was painless, and I can feel no difference at all.
"I think I will have the blood capsule put in place, just to make sure. I've had to save up for months to afford it, and I still have student debts, but it is such a weight off my mind. I had been crying myself to sleep, wondering how I was going to cope, and now I know that my secret is safe.
"I feel very sad that women like me feel so torn between our two cultures. Our religion is so rigid - yet I was brought up among Western friends who thought nothing of sleeping with their boyfriends.
"It makes life so confusing and I feel so deeply for all the many Muslim girls in Britain who are caught in the same dilemma.
"I was lucky, I suppose, in that I could afford to repair my 'mistake' so no one would know.
"But it scares me to think what will happen to Muslim girls who do not have this option and are seen to be 'shaming' their families. They are the ones whose lives will be at risk."
|WASHINGTON: “I hope she becomes a beacon of hope for all the girls who are in a similar situation living like a hostage in their homes,” a Pakistani-Canadian has said, commenting on 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez’s murder by her father because she would not wear the hijab.|
Syed Shah, an IT specialist, told the Toronto Sun that Aqsa’s “tragic demise should be an eye opener for those ‘traditional’ fathers who are living in Canada yet are still trapped in the 15th century mind frame. They cannot and should not expect their daughters to live in bustling Mississauga and bear a mindset of a girl living in any rural part in Pakistan. The two just don’t go together.” The irony, he pointed out, is that immigrants come here seeking the freedom of Canada, but some forget that the hard-fought right now extends to their families. “The alternative is Saudi Arabia. Why don’t they pick that?” he added.
Aqsa Parvez was secretly buried on Saturday, “her tragic murder still reverberating through a city that remains shocked and horrified,” according to the Canadian daily. “We see her beautiful face everywhere, on the TV news and the newspapers, her haunting dark brown eyes bright with such promise and excitement at what life had to offer. Life that was suddenly cut short at 16, allegedly by an Old World father who could not tolerate her need to distance herself from his suffocating control, and the dictates of his religion,” the paper wrote.
The newspaper quoted another young woman it called Fatima who said, “Today it’s the face of this young girl, Aqsa Parvez, but as far as I’m concerned, this problem existed when I was 10, more than 20 years ago.” She came to Canada as a child from Pakistan and unlike other girls she knew who would take off their head coverings once they were out of their parents’ sight, she wasn’t obligated to wear a hijab. Her parents only insisted she dress in loose, modest clothing.
Another Canadian Muslim, retired professor Dr Mahfooz Kanwar said Aqsa’s death had all the marks of an honour killing by a man who felt his religion and family were being disrespected. khalid hasan
|Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they believe the Constitution guarantees each person the right to own a gun, according to a poll released Sunday.|
In all, 65 percent said they thought the Constitution ensures that right, and 31 percent said it did not. The question had a sampling error of plus-or-minus 3 points.
Men and people living in rural areas were most likely to say the Constitution guarantees the right to own a gun.
Nearly three quarters of men (72 percent) said they believed so, versus 26 percent who did not. More than half (58 percent) of women said they believed so, versus slightly more than a third (35 percent) who did not.
That question had a sampling error of plus-or-minus 4.5 points.
Among rural dwellers, 73 percent said they agreed, versus 64 percent and only half (50 percent) of city dwellers who thought the same.
|Director John Singleton is gearing up to direct a bigscreen version of 1980s TV series "The A-Team" and talking about the casting possibilities all over town.|
Twentieth Century Fox is in early talks with the helmer to resuscitate the gang, but the studio said no deal is in place, and the project is not envisioned as a pre-SAG/DGA strike affair.
Ice Cube, who starred in Singleton's debut, "Boyz N the Hood," has been rumored as a potential B.A. Baracas (played by Mr. T in the NBC series), but Fox denied that possibility.
Latest incarnation, penned by Jayson Rothwell, revolves around a group of Iraq vets wanted by the U.S. military for a crime they didn't commit. Their adventures combine helping the innocent while running from the law. Story has been given a modern twist by involving oil tycoons and laser technology.
Evil oil tycoons and lasers! That sounds like crap written all over it unless...its sharks with lasers then automatic two stars!
Michael Clark Duncan as B.A Barracus just for the casting people. No rappers please and don't even think of 50 cent or this will be the first English speaking movie that needs subtitles for one actor.