Friday, May 16, 2008

The Cactus Cuties sing The National Anthem

Hollywood private eye convicted in wiretap

Private detective Anthony Pellicano is shown in this 1993 file photo. Pellicano was convicted on May 15, 2008 of racketeering after a high-profile two-month trial that featured testimony from Hollywood celebrities. (Sam Mircovich/Reuters)

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Anthony Pellicano, known as Hollywood's private eye to the stars, was convicted on Thursday of running a vast criminal enterprise involving wiretapping and bribery to fix the problems of his wealthy clients.

After a two month trial that exposed the seamy side of the movie industry and featured a celebrity-heavy witness list, a Los Angeles federal jury convicted Pellicano on all but one of the 77 charges against him.

His four co-defendants, including a former police officer, a telephone company official and a computer expert who designed the sophisticated "Telesleuth" wiretapping device, were found guilty on most of the dozens of charges they faced.

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Hawking meets Mandela in quest for African science geniuses

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Scientist Stephen Hawking hailed the peaceful end of South Africa's apartheid era as one of the great achievements of his lifetime Thursday as he met the first black president Nelson Mandela.

"I am very pleased to meet you. I admire how you managed to find a peaceful solution to a situation that seemed doomed to disaster," the British astrophysicist told Mandela who stood down as president nine years ago.

"It was one of the great achievements of the 20th century. If only the Israelis and the Palestinians could do the same."

Hawking, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, was in South Africa for the launch of the Next Einstein initiative which is designed to unearth budding scientists and mathematicians throughout Africa.

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McCain to Bush in 2000: “Don’t Give Me That Sh*t. And Take Your Hands Off Me.”

By Jon Perr

Furious McCainFour days after Arianna Huffington first reported it, John McCain's 2000 VoteGate has become the election issue du jour. The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have all run stories confirming Huffington's account that in 2000 a still steaming McCain did not vote for George W. Bush, the man who savaged him and his family during the Republican primaries. But as the fevered denials from his campaign show, the story of McCain's hate-love relationship with Bush is the tale of Mr. Straight Talk's tightrope walk from personal pride to political opportunism.

Huffington's she said, he said about McCain's 2000 vote began on Monday. Huffington claimed that a gathering in Los Angeles after the November election John McCain told her, "I didn't vote for George Bush." (Cindy McCain, apparently more forthcoming about her 2000 vote than her 2007 tax returns, chimed in, "I didn't either.") After McCain spokesman Mark Salter protested, "it's not true and I ask you to consider the source," the Times and the Post verified Huffington's account with West Wing stars Bradley Whitford and Richard Schiff, both of whom were in attendance at Candace Bergen's Beverly Hills bash that night.

What is beyond dispute, however, is McCain's past hatred for George W. Bush. As Time reported in March 2000, McCain then showed a visceral disgust towards Bush and his scorched earth campaign:

But many close McCain advisers think the personal rift between the two men is too wide to bridge, at least in the near term. After all, the last time Bush tried to smooth things over-at a South Carolina debate in early February-the result was less than promising. During a commercial break, Bush grasped McCain's hands and made a sugary plea for less acrimony in their campaign. When McCain pointed out that Bush's allies were savaging him in direct-mail and phone campaigns, Bush played the innocent. "Don't give me that shit," McCain growled, pulling away. "And take your hands off me."

John McCain could certainly be forgiven for his anger, given the painful memories of character assassination, smears and lies the Bush camp dished out during the 2000 campaign. After McCain's upset win in the New Hampshire primary, Bush operatives during the critical South Carolina contest phoned voters with push polls implying McCain was anti-Catholic, his wife Cindy a drug addict, and that he had fathered an illegitimate black child with a prostitute. (In reality, the McCains had adopted a baby from an orphanage in Bangladesh.) McCain even received an early version of the Swift Boat treatment, with allegations that his Vietnam War captivity in Hanoi left him mentally unstable. All of these slurs came as candidate Bush chastised McCain that he couldn't "take the high horse and then claim the low road." It's no wonder he angrily rejected Bush's feigned attempt in 2000 to bury the hatchet.

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President Bush committed political treason today

I've seen a lot of sad things in American politics in my lifetime -- the resignation of a president who became a national disgrace after he oversaw a campaign of break-ins and cover-ups, another who circumvented the Constitution to trade arms for hostages, and yet is now hailed as national hero. And those paled to what we have seen in the last seven years -- flagrant disregard for the Constitution, the launching of a "pre-emptive" war on false pretenses, and discussions about torture and other shocking abuses inside the White House inner sanctum.

But now it's come to this: A new low that I never imagined was even possible.

President Bush went on foreign soil today, and committed what I consider an act of political treason: Comparing the candidate of the U.S. opposition party to appeasers of Nazi Germany -- in the very nation that was carved out from the horrific calamity of the Holocaust. Bush's bizarre and beyond-appropriate detour into American presidential politics took place in the middle of what should have been an occasion for joy: A speech to Israeli's Knesset to honor that nation's 60th birthday.

But here's what he said:

 JERUSALEM (CNN) – In a particularly sharp blast from halfway around the world, President Bush suggested Thursday that Sen. Barack Obama and other Democrats are in favor of "appeasement" of terrorists in the same way U.S. leaders appeased Nazis in the run-up to World War II.

"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," said Bush, in what White House aides privately acknowledged was a reference to calls by Obama and other Democrats for the U.S. president to sit down for talks with leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said in remarks to the Israeli Knesset. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

As a believer in free speech, I think Bush has a right to say what he wants, but as a President of the United States who swore to uphold the Constitution, his freedom also carries an awesome and solemn responsibility, and what this president said today is a serious breach of that high moral standard.

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House Republicans Collapse on Iraq

by Matt Stoller

Today, about 100 House Republicans refused to vote for more war funding, voting 'present'.  They are trying to hand off the war to the Democrats, but even Democrats were able to increase their 'no' vote number on funding from 141 to 149; the bill failed.  In a separate bill, Republicans also voted against timelines, for torture, and accountability for military contractors, including various elements of a Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.  This bill passed with 227 votes; last year, it passed with only 218 votes, for a gain of 9.  

Finally the GI bill passed with overwhelming margin of 256 votes in the House, including 32 Republicans.  It included a war surtax of one half of one percent on people making over $500k a year to pay for the GI bill, at the behest of Blue Dogs.  This might actually be the most remarkable piece of the votes today; conservative Democrats agreeing to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for educational benefits for veterans.  Bill Foster and Don Cazayoux both voted well on the new GI Bill and on the Responsible Plan bill with timelines, but were 'yes' votes on war funding.  So yes, they are conservative, and I expect Childers to be conservative as well.  Still, the MS-01, the IL-14 special election result, and the LA-06 special election result - all red seats picked off by Democrats - are devastating Republican discipline in the House.  

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CNN spliced quote by Obama aide

CNN spliced quote by Obama aide to remove part in which he said Sec. Def. Gates, like Obama, wants to meet with Iran

Summary: In two reports on CNN Newsroom, CNN aired comments by Robert Gibbs, Sen. Barack Obama's communications director, responding to President Bush's remarks that "[s]ome seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals," reportedly in reference to Obama, but CNN spliced the audio clip to omit part of the statement in which Gibbs noted that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has reportedly advocated a position on engaging Iran that echoes Obama's. CNN had left intact Gibbs' reference to Gates in the audio clip of Gibbs' comments it aired earlier in the program.

In reports during the 10 and 11 a.m. ET hours of the May 15 edition of CNN Newsroom, CNN aired comments by Robert Gibbs, Sen. Barack Obama's communications director, responding to President Bush's remarks that "[s]ome seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals," reportedly in reference to Obama, but CNN spliced the audio clip to omit part of the statement in which Gibbs noted that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, like Obama, has reportedly said that the United States needs to be willing to meet with Iran. CNN had left intact Gibbs' reference to Gates in the audio clip of Gibbs' comments it aired during the 9 a.m. hour of the program.

Gibbs was responding to comments Bush made at the Israeli parliament in which Bush said: "Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' " Gibbs stated, "I assume he also is going to come home and fire his secretary of defense who was quoted in The Washington Post just yesterday saying we need to figure -- quote, 'We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage and then sit down and talk with them.' Them being Iran." During the 9 a.m. hour of the program, CNN aired Gibbs' assertion -- which came in the middle of his statement -- about Gates stating that the United States should "sit down and talk" with Iran. By contrast, during reports about Bush's comments on the 10 and 11 a.m. hours of the program, CNN spliced the audio to omit Gibbs' statement about Gates saying the United States should engage Iran.

Why Can't we all just get along?

McCain Sees Troops Coming Home by 2013

By Elisabeth Bumiller

McCain: Troops May Be Home by 2013

Senator John McCain spoke in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday. (Photo: Pete Souza for The New York Times)

Updated | 10:59 a.m. COLUMBUS, Ohio — Senator John McCain declared on Thursday that most American troops will be home from Iraq by 2013 and that Iraq will be a functioning democracy with only "spasmodic'' episodes of violence, a striking departure from his refusal so far to set a date for U.S. withdrawal.

In a speech in the heart of Ohio, a major battleground state in the fall election, Mr. McCain set forth a sweeping, extraordinarily positive vision of what the world will look like 2013, when he says he will have been in the White House for four years.

"By January 2013, America has welcomed home most of the servicemen and women who have sacrificed terribly so that America might be secure in her freedom,'' Mr. McCain said at the Columbus Convention Center. "The Iraq War has been won. Iraq is a functioning democracy, although still suffering from the lingering effects of decades of tyranny and centuries of sectarian tension. Violence still occurs, but it is spasmodic and much reduced.''

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Bush's Idea of Sacrifice

By Dan Froomkin

The nation is in despair over the war in Iraq and the toll it is taking on our troops and their families. But President Bush shows no outward sign of inner pain.

He is chipper in his public pronouncements. His weekly bike rides and daily workouts have put a perpetual spring in his step. He's always ready with a wisecrack. He just hosted his daughter's wedding at his multi-million dollar estate in Texas. He takes more vacations than any president in history. He has made clear that he doesn't lie awake at nights.

And yet now it turns out that Bush has indeed made a personal sacrifice on account of the war. According to the president yesterday, his decision to stop playing golf five years ago wasn't just an exercise in image control or a function of his bum knee -- it was an act of solidarity with the families of the dead and wounded.

Here's the relevant exchange in an interview Bush gave to Mike Allen of Politico:

Allen: "Mr. President, you haven't been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?"

Bush: "Yes, it really is. I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander-in-chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as -- to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

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Bush's Sacrifice

Hapa Nation: A 'Loving' Memorial

Mildred Dolores Loving was one of those quiet American heroes who changed the course of US history.

This recent Friday, 2 May, one of my personal heroes died. A few papers noted her passing, of pneumonia, at the age of 68. Cable news and the networks largely ignored my hero's death. She did not make the front page. It was not breaking news. What a shame, because Mildred Dolores Loving was one of those quiet American heroes who changed the course of US history and she should not be forgotten.

When she was 18, Mildred Jeter married her childhood sweetheart, Richard Loving. This fact would normally no more raise an eyebrow than any other small-town love story. The couple married in Washington, D.C. then returned home to Virginia to be near their families. Big deal, right? Except it was 1958, Richard was white, and Mildred was "colored", in the parlance of the time—a mixed-race person of African-American, Cherokee, and Rappahannock descent.

The consequences of this love story would not soon be forgotten.

The Lovings were arrested in the wee hours of 11 July 1958, just weeks after their marriage. They were dragged from their bed by the sheriff and his deputies and charged with violating Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws. Richard spent a night jail, Mildred, several. This discrepancy in their jail terms was not explained.

In a plea bargain, the Lovings pled guilty to violating Virginia's so-called 'Racial Integrity Act', and their one-year prison sentence was suspended under the condition that they leave the state and never set foot in it again as a couple; otherwise they would be arrested and imprisoned for 25 years each.

Presiding Judge Leon M. Bazile explained in his opinion, "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

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You and your puny salary

You think a $100K salary is a lot? $500K? Please. The truly wealthy scoff at your paltry breadcrumbs

Then it came to pass that I stumbled across this story from Forbes magazine, which is officially called "Forbes" but is actually called "Forbes oh my God we worship ruthless CEOs like shiny meth in the summertime," and among the glittering ads for luxury intergalactic travel and sleek private jets and $50K Rolexes and big phallic yachts and surreal 20-page ad inserts for Abu Dhabi megadevelopments, there was an article about the new home being built in Mumbai right now for Mukesh Ambani, the fifth wealthiest man in the world.

Behold, you and your puny little life and your minuscule little salary and tiny little human skeleton are mere scraps, crumbs, dust mites on a dog when compared to this giant petrochemical stud. Forbes estimates Ambani's net worth at about $43 billion, below Bill Gates and Warren Buffett but above God and Shiva and most of the major planetary constellations, and his wealth is almost enough to power the entire Iraq war for a month. So you know it's a lot.

Of course it's all from petrochemicals. Of course it's all in Mumbai. Of course you've never heard of him or his company, Reliance Industries, because it's one of those nefarious megapower supercorporations that block out all life and own entire governments and hold presidents in their pockets and yank the levers that make the world spin and tilt and groan. Therefore plebes like us know as much about its true weight and influence as an army ant knows about a whirlpool galaxy.

Here's what you need to know about Ambani's new home: It is no home at all. It is actually a tower, 27 stories high, ultramodern gleaming glass and steel and completely unprecedented weirdness.

Oh yes, and here's the other thing: It is the world's first billion-dollar personal residence. Actually, $2 billion. Imagine the fanciest, most ridiculously overpampered, seriously egomaniacal hotel you can possibly think of, and dip it in solid gold. Then sprinkle it with diamonds and Bugatti Veyrons and the fine, tender pelts of a million baby seals. That's the parking garage.

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The Half In Ten Campaign

by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Ali Frick, Benjamin Armbruster, and Sarah Dale

The Half In Ten Campaign

On Tuesday, a coalition of four national advocacy organizations -- the Center for American Progress Action Fund, ACORN, the Coalition on Human Needs and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights -- launched the Half in Ten campaign, a vigorous and concerted effort to cut the number of Americans living in poverty by 50 percent within ten years. Currently, one in every eight Americans, or 36.5 million people, live in poverty. Under the leadership of former senator John Edwards, the campaign, Half in Ten: From Poverty to Prosperity, seeks to unite a broad range of groups and individuals across the country in order to make this goal a reality. The foundation of the campaign rests on basic fundamental principles: promoting decent work, providing opportunity for all, ensuring economic security, and helping people build wealth. Combining federal, state, and public education agendas, the campaign is guided by the policy recommendations of the Center for American Progress's 2007 Poverty Task Force Report, which issued twelve recommendations including expanding tax credits, eliminating predatory lending, and ensuring that workers have the right to form unions through the Employee Free Choice Act. Half in Ten will advocate expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, raising the minimum wage, increasing the availability of child care assistance to low-income families, and increasing eligibility for unemployment insurance. In his kick-off speech in Philadelphia last Tuesday, Edwards spelled out the essence of campaign: "This is not just about highlighting the problem. It is also about highlighting the solutions -- because this is a problem we can solve."

CHANGING THE GOVERNMENT: The very policies designed to prop up low-wage workers, unemployment insurance and tax credits, typically don't reach the poorest Americans who most need them. Restrictive rules often prevent part time and temporary employees -- the lowest paid and most poor workers -- from receiving unemployment benefits. Half in Ten recognizes that unemployment reform would bring an additional 560,000 largely low-income people into the system, distributing $1.03 billion in benefits and job training. The Child Tax Credit (CTC) currently excludes many of the least affluent Americans. Restrictions on the CTC mean that claimants with low or no tax liability, who make the most meager wages, are unable to receive any assistance. The Urban Institute estimates that 21 million children and 1.1 million parents would break through the poverty line if the federal CTC were made fully refundable. Finally, Half in Ten will work to provide childcare assistance. The campaign will work to obtain a federal-state guarantee of child care assistance for all working families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty line and an expansion of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. These expansions of childcare assistance would lift 2.7 million Americans out of poverty, reducing poverty by almost 8 percent, according to estimates by the Urban Institute. Half in Ten will continue to push the Senate, the House and the presidential candidates until they commit to these important federal changes.

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Gay marriage: The California high court’s gift to conservatives?

Davis Osterkamp (L) and Larry Martinez celebrate the ruling.
(AP Photo/Ron Lewis)
What happened
The California Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The decision makes California the second state where same-sex marriage will be legal, after Massachusetts, and it doesn't directly affect couples outside of the state. The Massachusetts high court's ruling to allow gay marriage in 2003 was used to rally gay-marriage opponents to vote in the 2004 election, which some analysts credit with helping President Bush win reelection. Republican presidential nominee John McCain has opposed a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, while Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama support same-sex civil unions but oppose same-sex marriage. (USA Today)

What the commentators said
The California Supreme Court's ruling came just as the Republican Party was "gasping for air," said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial, and the party "certainly hasn't done anything to deserve such luck." But despite "the popular spin," there really isn't an "all-or-nothing war between Democrats and Republicans" on gay marriage—Americans mostly back civil unions but not marriage. The problem is judges. Just like with Roe v. Wade, it's the "berobed judiciary" that has created a divisive "wedge" issue, by usurping democracy and creating law. That should be the "campaign issue."

The expected "backlash" against the Massachusetts ruling "never came," said Emily Bazelon in Slate. And actually, five years later, public opinion has come around to the judges' point of view. In 2003, state residents opposed gay marriage, 53 percent to 35 percent; by March 2005 they supported it, 56 percent to 37 percent. In Massachusetts, though, changing the constitution to overturn the judges would have been hard, and time allowed residents to get used to the idea. "California voters can overturn the decision with a single vote." And if they get the chance to try in November, it might "hurt Democrats nationally in this presidential election just as the Massachusetts decision did in the last contest."

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Photographers stand up for your rights in LA, June 1


Discarted sez,

One June 1, photographers throughout Los Angeles will gather at the Hollywood and Highland Metro Station to peacefully protest against the unnecessary treatment they have received from security guards (particularly the white shirts), LAPD, and LASD while photographing in public places, and on the Metro.

Make signs, T-shirts, and be sure to bring your cameras (still and video). Sign ideas as well as other ideas should be posted here. We need things that will make us stand out as a cohesive group.

Start Time: 11:00am, June 1
Location: Hollywood and Highland, 6801 Hollywood Los Angeles, CA 90028

At about 1:30pm we will board the Metro and travel to Union Station

Start Time: 2:00pm
Location: 800 N Alameda St Los Angeles, CA 90012

Link, Link to Flickr group

See also: Taking pictures on LA's Red Line violates the "9/11 Law"

(Image: Photographing the photographer, a Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike photo from Naixn's Flickr stream)

AntiPhormLite - Key Features in detail

Your alter ego surf buddy..

Surfing Simulation

AntiPhormLite is a unique application that intelligently self surfs the internet and generates natural surfing information to confuse anyone who is spying or tracking your internet activity

It is a stand alone application that can be left to run on it's own or in parallel with your own surfing sessions and can be run as either a hidden background process, a desktop console application or in conjunction with your favorite browser, which ever you prefer.

To an ISP It is indistinguishable from a real person. It performs intelligent decisions about where to surf and combines multiple search engines with millions of contextual search subjects and general interest links.

The engine features cross references in subject threads, back peddles along re-searching threads, revisits history during a session, recursive branching, subject thread and page lingering, gone-away modes and exhaustive search abandonment. It uses natural time delays based on search interest, page size and link return quality and it is throttled to prevent heavy traffic recognition or misuse. 

- download here -

Mississippi Drug War Blues: The Case of Cory Maye

At 11p.m on December 26, 2001 police in Prentiss, Mississippi raided the residence of Cory Maye, a 21-year-old father who was at home with his 18-month-old daughter Ta'Corriana.

The cops were looking for drugs and smashed through the back door. In the ensuing chaos, Maye hunkered down with his daughter in a bedroom and when the police broke down that door, he fired three bullets, one of which killed Officer Ron Jones. Maye testified in court that the police did not identify themselves until after they had entered his residence; indeed, he testified that they did not identify themselves until after he had fired his shots. Once they did, he said he put his weapon on the floor, slid it toward police, and surrendered.

The police, who refused to talk with, tell a different story. They claim that they identified themselves multiple times before entering Maye's house and bedroom, and that there was no way Maye couldn't have known who they were. A jury rejected Maye's case that he was acting in self-defense and he was sentenced to death for the murder of Office Ron Jones.

"Mississippi Drug War Blues" is a story about the intersection of race (Maye is black and Jones was white); the war on drugs; the disturbing increase in the militarization of police tactics; and systemic flaws in the criminal justice and expert-testimony systems.

It is a tragedy in which one man is dead and another may spend his life in prison.

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350 Palestinian children are suffering inside Israeli prisons

Please sign this petition

Iqbal Tamimi, Palestine Think Tank


The Palestinian Prisoners' Support and Human Rights Centre ADDAMEER, declared that the Israeli Zionist forces have arrested almost 6200 Palestinians since the last Intifada started in September of 2000. 350 of those languishing in prison are children who, against international conventions, are still imprisoned in Israeli jails and detention centers.

Those youngsters undergo severe punishment and mental stress, living an extremely horrifying health and mental situation. Being subjected to torture, interrogation, beatings, humiliation, insults, degradation, and regular terrorizing, "such conditions will affect their mental well being forever, and will accompany them through their adult life," the report said.

The report published by the Palestinian centre on Friday 9 May 2008 revealed that hundreds of children were arrested while they were quite young, and detained in prisons. Some of them are now over 18 and still are imprisoned.

The Zionist occupation is enforcing military rule in those prisons, thus they consider a Palestinian child of 16 as an adult. They are willingly depriving them of their rights as children according to International agreements. According to international law, minors should be protected whilst detained.

350 prisoners are females, 20 are young Palestinian girls. Some children were born inside the Israeli prisons, and they are experiencing health problems. Mothers experience extremely difficult mental depression being subjected to humiliation, having to give birth while being chained by the wrists and feet. Such inhumane treatment is a clear breach of human rights.

Newborn babies are still in Israeli prisons, an example is 3-month-old Yosif Alziq, the child of the prisoner Fatima Alziq from the Shujayyeah neighborhood in Gaza. Another example is Noor, the child borne to the prisoner Manal Ghanem from Tolkarem camp; she was imprisoned while she was pregnant, and gave birth inside the prison in an extremely difficult situation.

The prisoner Khawla Zitawi also gave birth to her little girl Ghada inside the Israeli prison, and they are still imprisoned.

The freed prisoner Samar Subaih has delivered her son Bara'a inside the prison while her hands and feet were chained. Mervat Taha is another Palestinian mother who gave birth to her son Wael inside the prison.

The children are kept in an overcrowded place that is unsuitable for human living. Their needs are not provided for. The rights of imprisoned children are breached by Israeli forces according to all laws and international agreements for that matter, especially breast fed babies and toddlers.

Children prisoners are subjected to torture and investigations
The young Palestinian children are subjected to torture and investigations inside Zionist jails like Ofer, Megiddo, Etzion, the Negev, Jalama, Petah Tikva, and Ashkelon.

The children inside the prisons are not safe, as this torture is both physical and psychological. Their living circumstances are difficult and they cannot grow in serenity, as the frustration they experience is constant.The cells where they are kept are less than 1 meter x 1.5 meters in dimensions. Chained by their hands and feet and blindfolded, they are not provided with mattresses or covers. Living in the darkness, they are deprived of sunlight. The children suffer the humidity and lack of ventilation, except for a small hole used to provide them through it with small quantities of food.

Torturing children
The interrogation of children begins after 3 days of detention. Upon the 3rd day, the child is deprived of all human necessities, besides being subjected to lengthy, successive, repeated sessions of interrogations. At such times the child is deprived of his right to sleep and is prohibited from using the toilet for long periods.

The study reveals that the children complained that they were subjected to pressures and negotiations to offer them relief in return of their cooperation and becoming their spies. Some children confessed they have already given in and just done that. They were told if they would not cooperate and become their spy, they would remain in prison forever.
Palestinian children in Israeli prisons in numbers
105 are younger than 15
322 are from the West Bank
22 are from Jerusalem
6 are from Gaza
156 have been convicted
187 are waiting for a trial
7 are under 'administrative detention' - contradicting all laws and international agreements.
80 are very sick and are in need of medical treatment

Beatings, intimidation and organized terrorism against Palestinian children
The imprisoned Palestinian children have suffered greatly from beatings during arrests and investigations. Most children have been arrested from their homes in the middle of the night. The armed forces of the Zionist occupation use terrorist methods such as police dogs and other terrorizing methods are used to raise the children's fear and cause their parents to panic, not to mention the huge number of insults received by the child during the arrest.

The children are blindfolded during the arrests, their hands and feet are tied. And according to testimonies of detained children themselves, they were also kicked, slapped on their faces, beaten repeatedly by soldiers, and sometimes hit by the soldiers' rifles while being pushed inside the military cars.

Terrorizing the children during investigation is a breach of their human rights. The parents reported that their children were handcuffed, crouching down in the cold for many hours waiting to be interrogated, thus weakening their morale. Sometimes they are kept in solitary confinement to put the child under mental pressure. Children were beaten up at different stages of interrogation, slapped on their faces by the interrogator, deprived of food and drink for periods of 12 hours. The guards were swearing at them, cursing them, and preventing them from using the toilet, or from changing their clothes for days.
Some children were terrorized by being threatened to be sexually attacked and some were touched in an inappropriate way. Such acts are a direct insult and clear harm to their innocence. Some physicians said that some of those children will never recover from what they have been subjected to. Especially some of them witnessed the beatings of their family members, and others witnessed the humiliation of their parents in their own homes by the soldiers.


:: Article nr. 43990 sent on 13-may-2008 19:08 ECT


What the earthquake tells us about China

Rescue workers respond in China.
(AP Photo/Wang Jiaowen, ColorChinaPhoto)

What happened
China's state-run media reported that the death toll from Monday's magnitude 7.9 earthquake had reached nearly 15,000, with 26,000 more buried under debris and another 14,000 still missing. China has mobilized some 20,000 soldiers in Sichuan province, with another 30,000 on the way, and Premier Wen Jiabao is heading up the relief effort. (

What the commentators said
China's leaders "have marshaled an impressive rescue," said the Toronto Star in an editorial, and the one edict from Jiabao, "Save the people," even extends to "welcoming the world's offer of help." That makes China's effort stand out even more from "Burma's criminally incompetent generals, who were more interested in their constitutional games than in helping their nation cope" with the deadly cyclone there. Still, "even China's speedy response cannot undo" such a tragedy "as the nation prepares to stage the Olympic Games this summer."

Given the "relentless coverage of Tibetan clashes and human rights abuses" leading up to the Olympics, said Barbara Demick in the Los Angeles Times (free registration), this tragedy actually gives China "an opportunity for a dramatic image makeover." The "new China" that is appearing in state TV coverage is "both compassionate and competent," and manages to strike the "delicate balance" between "eliciting sympathy and depicting China as a developed country."

The response has certainly been much better than in 1976, said The Miami Herald in an editorial, when "the Communist Party tried to hide the fact that a massive earthquake had struck in eastern China and killed more than 240,000 people." But amid all the other pain is the "double tragedy" for parents who lost their children, especially when a middle school collapsed. "Because of China's policy of limiting couples to just one child, many parents lost their one hope for their family's future."

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Americans Go Splurge-Crazy With Their Stimulus Checks!

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Olbermann To Bush: "This War Is Not About You...Shut The Hell Up!"

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This is not a joke

Courage Campaign

Get this: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to headline a "yacht party" on Friday in San Francisco.

This is not a joke.

Josh Richman, an Oakland Tribune reporter, broke the unbelievable news last night. A mere 48 hours after announcing devastating state budget cuts -- but failing to call for ending the appalling yacht tax loophole -- the Governor will be the star attraction Friday at the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Just like us, Richman was bewildered:

"In the same week that he has rolled out a May budget revision based mainly on borrowing billions while enacting deep social-services cuts to close the state's massive deficit?


Wow is an understatement. 

I got this news while moderating a "Courage Campaign Conversation" conference call with Arianna Huffington about the yacht tax loophole and other examples of why the "Right is Wrong" (the title of her new book). Arianna, a Cambridge-educated economist, expressed her disgust that Arnold would be politically tone deaf enough to party with the same super-rich yacht owners who are getting off tax-free while teachers receive pink slips.

It's time to put the heat on the Governor and his cronies -- the small minority of Republicans inside the state legislature that we are re-branding as the "Yacht Party".

On Monday, Arianna asked Courage Campaign members to support "Yacht Party 2" -- an extremely provocative 60-second TV ad we produced to expose the California Republican Party's shocking priorities. The ad, funded by the California Nurses Association, inspired an overwhelming response, becoming the most popular video we have ever released on YouTube, with 52,430 views and counting. 

Now Assemblymember Anthony Portantino -- impressed by your people-power -- is challenging our grassroots community to an urgent matching campaign that can change the conversation inside Sacramento and put pressure on the Governor.

If our dynamic donors can raise a total of $5,000 by Monday at 12 p.m., Assemblymember Portantino will double your impact with a matching $5,000 donation. You got "Yacht Party 2" (click here to watch it) on the air in Sacramento. Now, can you help us expand our ad buy for one more week and keep up the pressure? Please meet this special $5K match challenge by donating $25, $50, $100 or more by Monday at noon:

On Tuesday, I was in Sacramento to witness the swearing-in of Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, the first African-American woman to lead a state legislature in American history. It was a wonderful moment for California and for our nation, a day that portended a new era for progressive politics in California.

But, just yesterday, that hope took a hit when Governor Schwarzenegger announced his ridiculous budget-balancing scheme to gamble on California's future with lottery funds while refusing to take leadership to close this embarrassing tax loophole for yacht and private jet owners.

Now, the Governor is following up his head-in-the-sand failure to take leadership on tax-free yachts by partying with the yachting elite that enjoy this embarrassment of riches.

It's time to embarrass the California Repubublican Yacht Party and shine a spotlight on this travesty inside our state capitol. Can you double our impact by meeting Assemblymember Portantino's $5,000 match, so we can air "Yacht Party 2" (click here to watch it) across Sacramento for one more week? It only takes $25, $50, or $100 each from hundreds of small donors to make this match -- please contribute before Monday at 12 p.m.:

We can kill this yacht-tax loophole like we helped kill the GOP's electoral college "dirty trick" last year. But we can't do it alone -- we need your grassrsoots and netroots people-power. 

If you think your friends will like this 60-second TV ad, please forward this message to your friends and family before Monday at noon.

Thank you for making this statement along with Courage, the California Nurses Association and Assemblymember Portantino. With your support, we can crash the Governor's yacht party on Friday.

Rick Jacobs

P.S. Save the date: On May 27, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and State Senator Pro-Tem-elect Darrell Steinberg will join us for our next "Courage Campaign Conversation". Be sure to reserve your phone line early though, after we send you the official announcement next week. Last night, we reached maximum capacity and were forced to stop accepting RSVP's for Arianna Huffington's call. 

Meanwhile, Arianna is extending her offer to help put "Yacht Party 2" on the air in Sacramento. If you can contribute at least $100 to fund "Yacht Party 2", she will sign her new book and send it to you ASAP:


The Courage Campaign is an independent political committee and online organizing network approaching 100,000 members that empowers grassroots and netroots activists to build a progressive California. In 2008, the Courage Campaign will catalyze action to increase California's importance in the race for the White House, hold our elected officials accountable, and block Blackwater's second attempt to build a base of operations on the Mexican border.

Please consider making a contribution to the Courage Campaign: 

The government's sorta-kinda-maybe logic

By David Harsanyi

It could be argued that the most useless job in Washington, D.C., is held by John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He's otherwise known as the country's Drug Czar.

And when you consider the spectacular number of useless jobs in Washington, that's quite an accomplishment.

No one is saying, of course, that it's easy being a figurehead of a cost-inefficient organization charged with implementing the biggest domestic policy disaster since Prohibition. After all, it means advocating that thousands of non-violent offenders be sent to prison — quite often after paramilitary raids have reeled them in.

It means denying citizens dying of cancer, AIDS and other painful diseases the medical marijuana they claim alleviates their pain. It means ignoring the will of citizens in states like California and Colorado, where medical marijuana was legalized.

Being the Drug Czar means overstating and misleading Americans with so-called studies. He's not alone. From the Centers for Disease Control to the Surgeon General, government agencies are under the impression that when their view of some "greater good" is at stake, concocting studies to propagate flawed policy is acceptable.

Take, if you will, the new report titled "Teen Marijuana Use Worsens Depression: An Analysis of Recent Data Shows 'Self-Medicating' Could Actually Make Things Worse." Scary stuff.

"Adolescent marijuana use may be a factor that triggers psychosis, depression, and other mental illness," explains Walters, who admits "research about causality is still ongoing."

Ongoing, doubtlessly, until Walters unearths the answer he's looking for.

It's not often you see half-baked phrases like "Could Actually" in the title of a study. You'll also notice Walters also says it "may be a factor." Because, in other words, "it may not" be a factor at all.

- more -

Chef Ramsay's 3 tips for the perfect BBQ

News Groper: These Blogs Are Not Real

May 15th, 2008

With the weather heating up, our staff chef Gordon Ramsay would like to offer 3 quick tips for the perfect Kick Off To Summer BBQ ... 1) Don't take short cuts. Slow-braise your rabbit tenderloins in the black grape and olive reduction for all 8 hours called for. 2) Treat side dishes with the same attention as main courses. Instead of chips and salsa try A simple foie gras in a verjus port glaze. 3) It's all about the two "b's" -- brews and bitches! And check out these spicy posts:

Revealed: My cameo in the new Sex and the City movie by Samuel L. Jackson

Final Exit: Escape from '08 by Hillary Clinton

Barack and John: a Bromance Story by Barack Obama

Howie Mandel - A magnet for safety? by Howie Mandel

Your sex life is so my business by Pope Benedict XVI

Timetable? More like guestimate by John McCain

Mississippi Burning? I wish! by Dick Cheney


The News Groper Editors