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Dave Johnson: We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Governing

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

People need to understand that in Republican circles, resigning as Governor does not harm Sarah Palin’s career. Being a Governor is just … governing … and Republicans don’t do that.

In fact, there is a contempt for the idea, and Palin has just reinforced her brand as one with contempt for government. The very word, “Governor,” is suspect to them. The only use of the job is to affect redistricting so Republicans can have more power, and to keep a state from “spending” (also known as providing services to the citizens) and especially from asking the rich or corporations to pay any taxes for their use of the infrastructure the rest of us built.

In California we understand this.

More on Sarah Palin


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Scientists tour the Creationism Museum

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

Tony sez, “Recently, a group of paleontologists were in town for the North American Paleontological Convention at the University of Cincinnati, and decided to take a field trip to the Creation Museum just across the river, in Kentucky. My aunt went to cover it for AFP, and I had the doubly good fortune of living just a stone’s throw away, so I tagged along to see what these guys were up to. It was an eyeful, to say the least. Gorgeous facilities with amazingly engaging displays and animatronics, and at least a few hundred cubic cubits of bad science and misinformation. One young lady stood, furious, and grumbled, ‘It’s bullshit. Bullshit pretending to be science.’ Anyone who finds themselves in the Cincinnati area with a few bucks, hours, and brain cells to burn should check it out, and see what the scientific community is up against in terms of informing the public.”

Arnie Miller, a palentologist at the University of Cincinnati who was chairman of the convention, said he hoped the tour would introduce the scientists to “the lay of the land” and show them firsthand what’s being put forth in a place that has elicited vehement criticism from the scientific community…

“And there was a feeling of unhappiness, too, about the extent to which mainstream scientists and evolutionists are demonized — that if you don’t accept the Answers in Genesis vision of the history of Earth and life, you’re contributing to the ills of society and of the church.”

Daryl Domning, professor of anatomy at Howard University, held his chin and shook his head at several points during the tour.

“This bothers me as a scientist and as a Christian, because it’s just as much a distortion and misrepresentation of Christianity as it is of science,” he said.

(Thanks, Tony!)

(Image: (AFP/File/Jeff Haynes)


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German cemetery nixes sexualized tombstone for sex-worker/advocate’s grave

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

A tombstone for the famed German sex-worker and advocate Domenica Niehoff has been turned down as too sexual by the cemetery where she was buried.

The 77-year-old artist Tomi Ungerer’s parting gift to his friend Domenica Niehoff was to be a gravestone featuring two ample pink marble boulders in homage to her famously top-heavy figure. But those responsible for the Garden of Women cemetery, resting place of Hamburg’s most famous women, turned his design down, the paper reported…

Ungerer and Niehoff were friends for decades, and even shared a flat for a while in 1984. He published drawings of Niehoff and her colleagues in a book entitled “Guardian Angels of Hell” at the time…

Niehoff, who gained fame for advocating the rights of sex workers in the 70s and 80s, died at age 63 in February 2009.

Famous prostitute’s gravestone deemed too ’slutty’

(Thanks, Rosa!)


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Logo for "Silence of the Chips" program to give off-switches to RFIDs

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

Inspired by this European Digital Rights Initiative article on “The Silence of the Chips” (a proposal to redesign your radio-enabled ID cards so that you can control when they work and when they’re switched off), Oneillkza created this CC-BY logo for the idea, and made a CafePress tee in case you wanted to add it to your sartorial repertoire.


One of the most important action point is the launch of “a debate on the technical and legal aspects of the ‘right to silence of the chips’, which has been referred to under different names by different authors and expresses the idea that individuals should be able to disconnect from their networked environment at any time.”

This is one of the main actions of the plan in order to allow the usage of the RFID while respecting privacy and the protection of personal data, two fundamental rights of the EU.

Silence of the Chips (Flickr)

Silence of the Chips (CafePress)

(via Beyond the Beyond)


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Biden Calls Saddam An "S.O.B." While Celebrating July 4 With Troops

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

BAGHDAD — Vice President Joe Biden celebrated the Fourth of July with his son and other American troops in Iraq on Saturday, a day after warning Iraqi leaders that U.S. assistance will be jeopardized if the country reverts to ethnic and sectarian violence.

Biden began Independence Day by greeting more than 200 U.S. soldiers who were becoming American citizens at a naturalization ceremony in a marble domed hall at one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces at Camp Victory, the U.S. military headquarters on the outskirts of Baghdad.

He then had lunch with the 261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade from Delaware to which his son, Beau, belongs. Beau Biden stood in the back as his father greeted the troops. The vice president, who’s known for his often colorful language, told the brigade about the naturalization ceremony.

“We did it in Saddam’s palace,” he said. “That S.O.B. is rolling over in his grave right now.”

Biden was wrapping up an unusually long three-day trip to Baghdad aimed at fostering political reconciliation, just days after U.S. combat troops withdrew from Iraqi cities as part of a security pact that calls for a full withdrawal by the end of 2011.

It was Biden’s first visit as vice president and as Obama’s new unofficial point man on Iraq, although he has been to the country several times as a senator. Biden planned to travel to the semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq later Saturday.

On Friday, Biden pressed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other political leaders to do more to bring Iraq’s divided factions together as concerns grow that a lack of political progress is fueling violence in Iraq.

“Iraq has traveled a great distance over the past year, but there is a hard road ahead if Iraq is going to find lasting peace and stability. It’s not over yet,” Biden said at a joint news conference with al-Maliki.

“There are still political steps that must be taken and Iraqis must use the political process to resolve their remaining differences and advance their national interest,” he said. “We stand ready, if asked and if helpful, to help in that process.”

While Biden stressed America’s commitment to Iraq’s progress in his public remarks, a senior U.S. official said the vice president warned the Iraqis that America won’t be able to stay involved if Iraq falls back into the cycle of sectarian violence that pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

“That’s not something that would make it likely that we would remain engaged because, one, the American people would have no interest in doing that, and, as he put it, neither would he nor the president,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the confidential talks.

“There also wasn’t any appetite to put Humpty Dumpty back together again if, by the action of people in Iraq, it fell apart,” the official added.

Biden expressed particular concern that Arab-Kurdish tensions in the north might erupt into violence, according to a close al-Maliki aide.

Protesters in Sadr City and other Shiite strongholds of followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demonstrated against Biden’s visit after Friday prayers, burning an American flag and chanting anti-U.S. slogans.

Biden’s visit and his new position overseeing the U.S. administration’s Iraq policy reflect growing concern about a recent rise in violence after a series of bombings that killed scores of people.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite, has been criticized for failing to take advantage of security gains to make progress in overcoming disputes between Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and other groups as divisions deepen before Jan. 30 general elections.

Violence remains at low levels in Iraq compared with previous years, but U.S. and Iraqi officials have warned of more attacks after the city withdrawal deadline and in the run-up to the elections.

At least 447 Iraqi civilians were killed in June, double the toll from the previous month, according to an Associated Press tally.

Al-Maliki has called the U.S. withdrawal from cities as a “great victory” and declared June 30 National Sovereignty Day.

On Friday, he expressed gratitude for the U.S. support.

“I have seen very clearly the keen determination from the vice president and his administration to support Iraq … and a great readiness to give us a lending hand and support anywhere we ask,” he said.

More on Iraq


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Biden Celebrates July 4th With US Troops In Iraq

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

BAGHDAD — Vice President Joe Biden celebrated the Fourth of July with his son and other American troops in Iraq on Saturday, a day after warning Iraqi leaders that U.S. assistance will be jeopardized if the country reverts to ethnic and sectarian violence.

Biden began Independence Day by greeting more than 200 U.S. soldiers who were becoming American citizens at a naturalization ceremony in a marble domed hall at one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces at Camp Victory, the U.S. military headquarters on the outskirts of Baghdad.

He then had lunch with the 261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade from Delaware to which his son, Beau, belongs. Beau Biden stood in the back as his father greeted the troops. The vice president, who’s known for his often colorful language, told the brigade about the naturalization ceremony.

“We did it in Saddam’s palace,” he said. “That S.O.B. is rolling over in his grave right now.”

Biden was wrapping up an unusually long three-day trip to Baghdad aimed at fostering political reconciliation, just days after U.S. combat troops withdrew from Iraqi cities as part of a security pact that calls for a full withdrawal by the end of 2011.

It was Biden’s first visit as vice president and as Obama’s new unofficial point man on Iraq, although he has been to the country several times as a senator. Biden planned to travel to the semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq later Saturday.

On Friday, Biden pressed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other political leaders to do more to bring Iraq’s divided factions together as concerns grow that a lack of political progress is fueling violence in Iraq.

“Iraq has traveled a great distance over the past year, but there is a hard road ahead if Iraq is going to find lasting peace and stability. It’s not over yet,” Biden said at a joint news conference with al-Maliki.

“There are still political steps that must be taken and Iraqis must use the political process to resolve their remaining differences and advance their national interest,” he said. “We stand ready, if asked and if helpful, to help in that process.”

While Biden stressed America’s commitment to Iraq’s progress in his public remarks, a senior U.S. official said the vice president warned the Iraqis that America won’t be able to stay involved if Iraq falls back into the cycle of sectarian violence that pushed the country to the brink of civil war.

“That’s not something that would make it likely that we would remain engaged because, one, the American people would have no interest in doing that, and, as he put it, neither would he nor the president,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the confidential talks.

“There also wasn’t any appetite to put Humpty Dumpty back together again if, by the action of people in Iraq, it fell apart,” the official added.

Biden expressed particular concern that Arab-Kurdish tensions in the north might erupt into violence, according to a close al-Maliki aide.

Protesters in Sadr City and other Shiite strongholds of followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demonstrated against Biden’s visit after Friday prayers, burning an American flag and chanting anti-U.S. slogans.

Biden’s visit and his new position overseeing the U.S. administration’s Iraq policy reflect growing concern about a recent rise in violence after a series of bombings that killed scores of people.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite, has been criticized for failing to take advantage of security gains to make progress in overcoming disputes between Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds and other groups as divisions deepen before Jan. 30 general elections.

Violence remains at low levels in Iraq compared with previous years, but U.S. and Iraqi officials have warned of more attacks after the city withdrawal deadline and in the run-up to the elections.

At least 447 Iraqi civilians were killed in June, double the toll from the previous month, according to an Associated Press tally.

Al-Maliki has called the U.S. withdrawal from cities as a “great victory” and declared June 30 National Sovereignty Day.

On Friday, he expressed gratitude for the U.S. support.

“I have seen very clearly the keen determination from the vice president and his administration to support Iraq … and a great readiness to give us a lending hand and support anywhere we ask,” he said.

More on Joe Biden


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Mousavi A US Agent: Claims Iranian Hardliner

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

TEHRAN, Iran — A top aide to Iran’s supreme leader called the country’s main opposition figure a U.S. agent and said in an editorial Saturday that he should be tried for committing crimes against the nation.

While hard-line figures had previously demanded Mir Hossein Mousavi be prosecuted for describing Iran’s June 12 elections fraudulent and leading demonstrations afterward, the editorial was the first public declaration that the opposition leader was a foreign agent.

A detained Iranian employee of the British embassy has also been charged with harming Iran’s national security, his lawyer said Saturday, in a move certain to increase tension with Europe.

Iran’s leadership has been trying to erase any lingering doubts about the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election by portraying the unrest as sparked by foreign meddling.

“It has to be asked whether the actions of (Mousavi and his supporters) are in response to instructions of American authorities,” said Hossein Shariatmadari in an editorial appearing in the conservative daily Kayhan.

Shariatmadari doesn’t hold a government position but is the powerful director of the Kayhan newspaper group and a close adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He added that Mousavi was trying to “escape punishment for murdering innocent people, holding riots, cooperating with foreigners and acting as America’s fifth column inside the country.”

He called for Mousavi and former reformist president Mohammad Khatami to be tried in court for “horrible crimes and treason,” adding that there were “undeniable documents” proving Mousavi’s foreign links.

Soon after the unrest began, Iran detained nine local members of the British embassy staff on accusations of fomenting unrest. All but one was released and on Saturday his lawyer Abdolsamad Khorramshi told the Associated Press he had been charged with “acting against national security.”

The lawyer identified his client as Hossein Rassam, a political analyst at the embassy, and expected a trial soon.

Britain’s Foreign Office could not confirm that an embassy employee had been charged and said it was “seeking urgent clarification from the Iranian authorities.”

Even before the news, there had been calls in Europe for tougher action against Tehran. Britain is pressing for members of the European Union to pull their ambassadors out of Tehran to protest the staffers’ arrests.

About a dozen prominent reformist leaders have also been detained since protests began after the elections, lawyer Saleh Nikbakht, who represents a number of them, told the AP. He said they had been charged with “agitating against the ruling system and acting against national security.”

Police say more than a thousand people have been detained in total and 20 “rioters” killed during the violence. Eight members of the paramilitary Basij militia tasked with putting down the protests has also been killed.

There have been no street protests since Sunday, but Mousavi has maintained his opposition to the results, issuing a defiant statement on Wednesday that he considered the government illegitimate and demanded political prisoners be released.

“A majority of the people _ including me _ do not accept its political legitimacy,” Mousavi said.

Mousavi has been laying low, however, and made no public appearances after the Basij on Wednesday formally requested that he be investigated for the protests.

Iran’s ruling clerics have called the elections “pure” and “healthy” following the supreme leader’s declaration that the results would stand.

Only one of top clerics in the religious center of Qom, however, have congratulated Ahmadinejad’s re-election, indicating their displeasure with the disputed results.

Some have even openly supported Mousavi and condemned the government’s tactics against demonstrators and expressed their own doubts about the election results.

“A large portion of the people have not been convinced over the ambiguities in the election … Due to lack of public support, the government may faces legal and civil problems and a lack of competency,” Grand Ayatollah Youssef Saanei said in a statement on his Web site late Friday.

Saanei is one of the top nine most influential clerics in the country and has substantial following among Iranians, though he is on poor terms with the government.

“I remind all forces required to protect the … people that no order should be an excuse or permission to violate the rights of the people … let alone killing or injuring them,” his statement added.

More on Iranian Election


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Steve Young: Time To Come Up With The Sarah Palin Book Title

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

List as many as you can…

Here’s a few to start you off…

Sarah Palin
There’s No Quit In This Gal…Except When Elected

Life Is About Choices! Except If You’re Pro-Choice
The Sarah Palin Story

Blaming Everyone But Myself
The Sarah Palin Story

The Onion Got Nothing On Me
The Sarah Palin Story

How To Use The Phrase “Dead Fish” And Still Appear Pro-Life
The Sarah Palin Speech Makin’ Book

Award-winning TV writer Steve Young is author of “Great Failures of the Extremely Successful…Mistakes, Adversity, Failure and Other Steppingstones to Success” (www.greatfailure.com) and blogs at the appropriately named steveyoungonpolitics.com

More on Sarah Palin


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Michelle Obama Bringing Glamor To Moscow This Weekend

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

MOSCOW — Michelle Obama brings her superstar glamor to Moscow this weekend as she accompanies her husband on his summit with the Russian president.

But the American first lady, who has wowed publics in the U.S. and Europe with her easy elegance and charm, will perhaps face a bigger challenge in winning over a Russian public that has scant respect for women who grab the limelight from their powerful husbands.

In a country where a presidential candidate once quipped he’d sooner pack his wife off to a convent than allow her to dabble in politics, Russia still has trouble with the concept of an empowered woman behind the throne.

“The institution of first lady in Russia is still quite young,” said Alyona Doletskaya, editor of Russian Vogue and doyenne of the Moscow fashion scene. “So there are no huge expectations on the part of Russian public.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s wife Svetlana is pious and discreet and met her husband while she was a schoolgirl. She supports charity and the arts, but has assumed no independent voice on issues facing the country. She dresses conservatively, lacking the edgy fashion sense that has attracted a nationwide following for Michelle Obama.

Russia has known one iconic first lady in modern times: Raisa Gorbachev, wife of the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who was much loved around the world for breaking with tradition by appearing regularly in public with her husband, embracing high fashion and firing off wisecracks during official foreign trips.

But she earned little affection for her boldness in Russia, where she was seen as strong-willed and ambitious.

Far from shrugging off the old constraints when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Boris Yeltsin’s wife Naina assumed a lower profile behind her husband, achieving popularity by declaring indifference to politics and saying she would sooner see Yeltsin retire.

As for Vladimir Putin’s wife, Lyudmilla, she only occasionally appeared in the company of her husband _ fueling widespread reports the two were estranged.

In the United States, first ladies are accustomed to coming under the media spotlight _ and Michelle Obama seems to revel in it.

On a recent trip to Paris, she impressed the fashion-conscious French with her chic designer outfits standing side-by-side with the country’s former supermodel First Lady Carla Bruni. In Britain, she famously breached palace protocol by putting her arm around Queen Elizabeth II.

And she does not hesitate to speak her mind on a range of important social issues, such as health and education.

Many Russians, traditionally conservative, look askance at such assertiveness.

“A wife should be sitting at home, creating comfort and cooking food,” said Zoya Getmanova, a female pensioner living in Moscow. “She could express her opinions over the dinner table, but she shouldn’t meddle in politics.”

Perhaps in deference to Russia’s uneasiness about a political wife with popular support of her own, U.S. White House officials have suggested Michelle Obama will avoid the limelight during the visit.

Svetlana Medvedeva, meanwhile, has flitted between the shadows and the spotlight. She is liked by younger Russians, who follow her appearances at celebrity bashes and her frequent outings _ hand in hand _ with her husband.

She has acquired a reputation as a tenacious networker who helped restart her husband’s career in the mid 1990s, and is said to play an influential role in his career behind the scenes. Trained as an economist, she gave up her own job to look after the couple’s only child, born in 1996.

Despite all that, Svetlana barely breaks the mold crafted by so many first ladies in Russia before her.

She largely confines her public observations to carefully rehearsed speeches; she provides sympathetic interviewers with bland comments on womanhood. She dresses conservatively in tailored, pastel-colored outfits.

Michelle Obama’s fashion sense attracts comparisons with Jacqueline Kennedy, and there is a Web site entirely dedicated to what she wears.

Vogue’s Doletskaya is cagey about passing judgment on Svetlana’s style, saying simply that she is “very representative of Russian femininity.”

But when questioned about the U.S. first lady, Doletskaya becomes lively. She describes Michelle’s style as “very fresh,” as someone who mixes boldly “but in a very refined way.”

There is a recognition that Svetlana has a difficult role to play _ managing the expectations of both a conservative older generation and ambitious, career-minded younger women who would like her to step up.

“It’s not easy” to be a first lady, said Oksana Fyodorova, Miss Universe 2002. “But I think she (Svetlana) will succeed. And then we’ll see who is better _ Michelle or our Svetlana.”

___

Associated Press Writer Natalya Vasilyeva contributed to this report.

More on Russia


Andy Ostroy: Sarah, We Hardly Knew Ye. Some Suggested New Jobs For an Ex-Maverick

July 4th, 2009 admin No comments

2009-07-04-Palin.jpg
She literally came out of nowhere. She blew onto the American stage with the speed and notoriety of British singer Amy Winehouse, without the booze and rehab but with the same self-destructive flair. She’s been called dumb, vacuous, uninformed, inexperienced, underqualified, embarrassing and a joke. Now add quitter to that impressive list of credentials. The key question now is, do Republicans still consider her the future of their party? Gee, I really hope so.

The most famous MILF in America, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, abruptly and with great fanfare, announced Friday that she’s resigning from the job she was elected to just three years ago. Just like that, a year early. Adios America, I’m outta here. Obviously, a firm believer in the Truman Doctrine: “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” The former vice presidential candidate who faced massive challenges and ridicule over her glaring lack of political experience just quit the only prominent political job she’s ever had. This stunning ‘maverick move’ certainly won’t bode well in a much-speculated 2012 presidential run, as some are hinting is part of Palin’s convoluted master plan.

In a long, rambling statement, Palin said“…I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks…And then I thought – that’s what’s wrong – many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and “milk it”. I’m not putting Alaska through that – I promised efficiencies and effectiveness!…I’ve determined it’s best to transfer the authority of governor to Lieutenant Governor Parnell.” So let’s get this straight: you don’t wanna be a lame duck Governor because that’ll be bad for Alaska, but you believe it’s more “efficient and effective” for Alaska to have a lame-duck Lt. Governor. Well Sarah, at least your political gobbledygook is consistent.

When normal English language became too complicated for Sarah she offered us this: “Let me go back to a comfortable analogy for me – sports… basketball. I use it because you’re naive if you don’t see the national full-court press picking away right now: A good point guard drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her eye on the basket… and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win. And I’m doing that – keeping our eye on the ball that represents sound priorities – smaller government, energy Independence, national security, freedom! And I know when it’s time to pass the ball – for victory.” What the fuck is she talking about!? To quote my all-time favorite comedian Richard Pryor from a brilliant early routine about The Exorcist: “Is the girl crazy?”

Sarah Palin’s time in politics has been a train-wreck worthy of reality television. She’s been investigated for abuse-of-power charges. She’s spent $150,000 on clothes during the campaign. She defended her daughter’s unwed-teen pregnancy as if it was some sort of cool conservative virtue. She’s claimed to see Russia from her backyard. She could not name one newspaper or magazine she regularly reads when interviewed by Katie Couric. Most recently she’s humiliatingly duked it out publicly with David Letterman. This is a woman who some would like us to believe can lead America in times of war, terrorism and global economic recession? Equipped to be Commander-in-Chief? To be our chief diplomat? I think not. And while we’re at it, how she ever got her existing job is a fucking mystery. She makes George W. Bush appear downright cerebral.

To be sure, despite that the GOP might bizarrely continue to view Palin as their savior, she’s no Elizabeth Dole, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Christine Todd Whitman, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins or Condoleeza Rice. These are all brilliant thinkers and deft politicians. So here’s my suggestion for Sarah Barracuda (her old high-school basketball nickname): stay out of politics. There are plenty of other jobs to excel in and better suited for someone with your skills and personality: flight attendant, librarian, cocktail waitress, nanny, personal shopper, Alaska tour guide to name a few. You can probably even become bigger than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh if someone gave you a daily radio show.

Happy Birthday America, from soon-to-be ex-Gov. Sarah Palin. She’s given you the ultimate gift.

More on David Letterman


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