Saturday, October 31, 2009

What should our response be to Islamic Extremists?

EVERYONE MUST watch this video.  I don't know how long this site will carry the video, but everyone should get it and watch.

Minute 4:53 and on is very important.  Up to that point he explains his background and involvement with extremism and why he was involved in it.  4:53 on is what he suggests Israel do today concerning extremism in Islam.  Around minute 6:00, his statement has direct bearing on US policy and what compromise and talking means to terrorists - the more you concede, they attack.  Weakness encourages radicals, always!

We either learn from history, or we will repeat it.  And some people are harder than rocks when it comes to very complex ideas that require analystical skills.


Boondock Saints: All Saints Day

The auditorium showing the film was small, may well have been the smallest at the theater.  I do not know the director's name and don't care - this story, the feud between the director and everyone in Hollywood is pretty pathetic.  These people, whoever they are, wll allow a movie to sink because they so hate the director.  They will allow the film to sink, yet they would prop up Moore and Capitalism, or Lions and Lambs.  Boondock will easily make more than Lions and Lambs, relative to theaters it plays in and time it runs for, yet it is showing in about 65 theaters nation wide!!  That at least is an improvement over the first film which appeared in a whopping 5 theaters.

Why?  because it seems everyone hates the director/writer Troy Duffy.  He seriously pissed off everyone in Hollywood single-handedly.  So to take it out on him, his film will not be released in 1000 screens.  Nooooo, release Lions and Lambs with Tom Cruise and let all 12 people go and see it, but lock out Boondock Saints and you are being manly-men and standing up to an egotistical director.   I am impressed.  It takes a lot to make a stand.  All the grit and guts, and the defiance you muster to show you will not let a director push you around.

The theater was packed at 10:40 pm on a Friday night.  Packed.

The theater at 7:45 was packed - how do I know?  Because the seats all around still had sodas in the arm rests and popcorn bags on the floor.  The cleaning was minimal and rarely happens unless a theater is overly packed, especially on a Friday.  The theater could hold 350, and I am sure 275 people were there.  X $11 =.  Take that number and multiply it by 2 and that number by 65.  That would make at least $500,000 on the first day in all the theaters.  Forget any other showings and forget some theaters being bigger - let's just average it.

The first Boondock Saints made a whopping $30,000 in its total release.

The second Boondock cost approximately $8 million to produce.  Imagine 10% of your cost in the first day - 2 shows only.  Now imagine if this movie had been released on 1 screen in every major city in the US.  It would have made more than Lions and Lambs in one showing, more than many films touted as great Hollywood pictures.  And why?  Because the film has a following, who are loyal thus far, and when a film is as well engineered as The Saints, it is no wonder.

Hollywood - Spiting nose and face and cutting off, and all that jazz.

It was a good film.  Realistic - not really.  Guys don't jump through greenhouse glass roofs and start shooting like their bullets have magnets drawing them to the bad guys, yet these two seem to do just that when they begin shooting.  So what.

Day After Tomorrow - Realistic?
Asteroid, Meteor, Armageddon, Rocknrolla?  Snatch?  2012?

Lions for Lambs?  Only realistic if you are a liberal on acid.
Couples Retreat?  Realistic?  Not quite.
Law Abiding Citizen?  Yeah, come on, get real.
The Invention of Lying?  Please.
The HANGOVER?  Nope.  Not even close.

Love Happens?  So far off, it was love didn't happen.  It opened in 1898 theaters.  A movie so bad, so moronic ... 1898 theaters.  It cost $19 million to make and has grossed a whopping $22 million.

As opposed to Boondock Saints #1: 5 theaters at $36,000 and $7 million in DVD sales.  Cost for Boondock was $6 million.  Now, imagine if it had been released in 500 theaters.  Relative gross figures versus cost would have far outstripped LOVE didn't HAPPENS.

Lions for Lambs - $35 million production costs, raked in a whopping $16 million.  Ooooooh  I am really impressed, but even more impressive is the number of theaters - 2,215 theaters!!!  It was in the theaters for over 2.5 months and ended its run in 4 theaters (just one less than Boondock had for its entirety).  Boondock ran for days in five theaters. 

No wonder Hollywood doesn't want Boondock to do well.  Same for Mel Gibson's 'Passion' - it allows comparisons - the massive fiascos they produce versus films by individuals like Duffy, who may well be the single most egotistical man on earth - so bloody what.  He just joined the ranks of the actors and actresses in Hollywood, and the multitude of singers who regard themselves as divine.

Get over the need for realism.  If you want reality, wake up and look in the mirror.  This film has so many issues with realism - but then, for that matter Tarantino films all lack a reality check, yet are not savaged by Hollywood the way this film has been.  Enjoy the film for what it is, very good.  Would I give it an A, B, C, or D ... not a D for sure.  And it isn't just average - that would be Lions and Lambs.  Is it a B or a B+ or an A- or an A?  I would say somewhere between a very high B+ (maybe 89) up to an A (maybe about 94).  Worth the money you now must waste at the theater to see much worse.

There will be a number 3, and we will see Hollywood take an interest.


How many jobs did you create, err, I mean 'save' or otherwise find?

Inconsistent messages on Obama's stimulus package

October 31, 2009
The Los Angeles Times

Confused about President Obama's stimulus package? The administration may not be the place to find clarity. The White House leadership has made statements about the stimulus that often are inconsistent -- and at odds with facts put out by the administration.

Effect of the stimulus

* Vice President Joe Biden on Friday: The stimulus "is responsible for over 1 million jobs so far."

* White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett on Oct. 18: The stimulus "really staved off a disaster and we saved millions of jobs around the country."

* White House release June 2: "Just over 100 days in, over 150,000 jobs have been created or saved."

* White House senior advisor David Axelrod on June 7: "The stimulus itself has produced hundreds of thousands of jobs."

Purpose of stimulus

* Vice President Biden on June 2: The stimulus is "an initial big jolt to give the economy a real head start."

* Biden on July 26: The stimulus "was intended to provide steady support for our economy over an extended period -- not a jolt that would last only a few months."

Life span of stimulus

* Obama on Jan. 28, two weeks before passage: "Most of the money we're investing as part of this plan will get out the door immediately and go directly to job creation."

* Obama on July 11: "But as I made clear at the time it was passed, the [stimulus] was not designed to work in four moths -- it was designed to work over two years."

Jobs saved or created by the stimulus

* Christina Romer, Council of Economic Advisers chairwoman, on July 13 when asked if she knew the number of jobs that had been saved or created: "It's very hard to say exactly, because you don't know what the baseline is, because you don't know what the economy would have done without it."

* Romer and vice presidential advisor Jared Bernstein released a report Jan. 10 that included a graph titled, "Unemployment Rate with and without the Recovery Plan." The graph showed that with the stimulus, unemployment would not exceed 8%, and without it, unemployment would reach about 9%. Unemployment is now 9.8%.

* Bernstein on June 8 said of the report: "Looking back, it was clearly too optimistic."

And Biden, known for his thoughtful analysis - "We know this is not 100 percent accurate," he said. "Further updates and corrections are going to be needed."

Source: Los Angeles Times and Real Clear Politics

Can we say 'fib' or 'not entirely accurate' or 'half truth' or 'slightly exaggerated' or 'wholly accurate with slight modifications necessary' ... I can, it is easy, just stand up, say your name and admit that you are a liar.  That is the first step toward changing bad behavior.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Sky is Falling or maybe not - Global Warming Hysteria

From The Times October 30, 2009

Exaggerated claims undermine drive to cut emissions, scientists warn

Mark Henderson, Science Editor
The Times Online

Exaggerated and inaccurate claims about the threat from global warming risk undermining efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and contain climate change, senior scientists have told The Times.

Environmental lobbyists, politicians, researchers and journalists who distort climate science to support an agenda erode public understanding and play into the hands of sceptics, according to experts including a former government chief scientist.

Excessive statements about the decline of Arctic sea ice, severe weather events and the probability of extreme warming in the next century detract from the credibility of robust findings about climate change, they said.

Such claims can easily be rebutted by critics of global warming science to cast doubt on the whole field. They also confuse the public about what has been established as fact, and what is conjecture.

The experts all believe that global warming is a real phenomenon with serious consequences, and that action to curb emissions is urgently needed.

They fear, however, that the contribution of natural climate variations towards events such as storms, melting ice and heatwaves is too often overlooked, and that possible scenarios about future warming are misleadingly presented as fact.

“I worry a lot that NGOs [non=governmental organisations] are very much in the habit of doing exactly that,” said Professor Sir David King, director of the Smith School for Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford, and a former government chief scientific adviser.

“When people overstate happenings that aren’t necessarily climate change-related, or set up as almost certainties things that are difficult to establish scientifically, it distracts from the science we do understand. The danger is they can be accused of scaremongering. Also, we can all become described as kind of left-wing greens.”

Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said: “It isn’t helpful to anybody to exaggerate the situation. It’s scary enough as it is.”

She was particularly critical of claims made by scientists and environmental groups two years ago, when observations showed that Arctic sea ice had declined to the lowest extent on record, 39 per cent below the average between 1979 and 2001. This led Mark Serreze, of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, to say that Arctic ice was “in a downward spiral and may have passed the point of no return”.

Dr Pope said that while climate change was a factor, normal variations also played a part, and it was always likely that ice would recover a little in subsequent years, as had happened. It was the long-term downward trend that mattered, rather than the figures for any one year, she added.

“The problem with saying that we’ve reached a tipping point is that when the extent starts to increase again — as it has — the sceptics will come along and say, ‘Well, it’s stopped’,” she said. “This is why it’s important we’re as objective as we can be, and use all the available evidence to make clear what’s actually happening, because neither of those claims is right.”

Myles Allen, head of the Climate Dynamics Group at the University of Oxford, said: “Some claims that were made about the ice anomaly were misleading. A lot of people said this is the beginning of the end of Arctic ice, and of course it recovered the following year and everybody looked a bit silly.” Dr Allen said that predictions of how the world was likely to warm also needed to be framed carefully. While there was little doubt that the Earth would get hotter, there were still many uncertainties about the precise extent and regional impact.

“I think we need to be very careful about purporting to be able to supply very detailed and apparently accurate information about how the climate will be in 50 or 100 years’ time, when what we’re really giving is a possible future climate,” he added.

“We’re not in a position to say how likely it is and what the chances are of it being different. There’s an understandable tendency to want to make climate change real for people and tell them what’s going to happen in their postcode, and that’s very dangerous because it gets beyond the level on which current models can operate.”

Chris Huntingford, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: “I think the research scientists in general are extremely cautious about making projections for the future, but that caution is vital. We don’t dispute that warming is happening, but it’s important that the NGOs and other people interested in the issue don’t always pick the high scenario and present it as fact.”

Temperature trends of the past two decades have also been widely mis-interpreted to support particular points of view, the scientists said. Rapid warming in the 1990s, culminating in the hottest year on record in 1998, was erroneously used to suggest that climate change was accelerating. Since then, temperatures have stabilised, prompting sceptics to claim that global warming has stopped.

“In 1998, people thought the world was going to end, temperatures were going up so much,” Dr Pope said. “People pick up whatever makes their argument, but this works both ways. It’s the long-term trend that counts, which is continuing and inexorable.”


Creationism: Fantasy or Real Jobs

An administration replete with excuses, and running on empty when it comes to ideas - except if the idea is greater government control and take-over.

‘Jobs Created or Saved’ Is White House Fantasy

by Caroline Baum

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Heresy, thy name is Christina Romer.

Last week, the chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers -- a position that carried the title “chief economist” until Larry Summers took up residence in the White House -- testified to the Joint Economic Committee on the economic crisis and the efficacy of the policy response.

Here’s the executive summary in case you missed it:

The crisis: “Inherited.”

The economy: “In terrible shape” (the inherited one).

The shocks to the system: “Larger than those that precipitated the Great Depression.”

The policy response: “Strong and timely.”

The efficacy of the policy response: a 2 to 3 percentage point addition to second-quarter growth; 3 to 4 percentage points in the third; and 160,000 to 1.5 million “jobs saved or created,” a made-up metric if there ever was one. (More on that later.)

What was most puzzling about Romer’s Oct. 22 testimony was her comment on the waning effect of fiscal stimulus.

“Most analysts predict that the fiscal stimulus will have its greatest impact on growth in the second and third quarters of 2009,” Romer said. “By mid-2010, fiscal stimulus will likely be contributing little to growth.”

At first it was just fringe elements, such as conservative blogs and the not-really-a-news-organization Fox News, that pounced on Romer’s statement. Then other news outlets started to question her statement, which seemed to fly in the face of White House assertions that only a small portion of the stimulus -- $120 billion, or 15 percent -- has actually been spent. Most of the criticism of the stimulus coming from the president’s own party has been, “too little, too late,” and here’s Romer saying it’s kaput.

Thanks for That

Instead of being banished to the woodshed, Romer was consigned to the White House blog, where she slipped into professorial mode to explain the arcane distinction between the effect of the stimulus on the change in gross domestic product and its effect on the level of GDP.

Stimulus has its biggest impact on the growth rate of GDP when it’s implemented, Romer said, using a car-and-driver analogy: Step on the accelerator, the car goes from zero to 60.

Stimulus will keep the level of GDP and employment higher than they would have been even after the growth-rate effect fades, she said.

Her logic is impeccable. It’s her premise that’s flawed.

Dispensing Lucre

When the government distributes lucre or loot, people spend it. If your interest is national income accounting, spending other people’s money is great. Spending is a back-door way for government statisticians to measure what matters, which is the real output of goods and services.

But the government has no money of its own to spend; only what it borrows or confiscates from us via taxation. Oops.

“Government job creation is an oxymoron,” said Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist at the National Federation of Independent Business. It is only by depriving the private sector of funds that government can hire or subsidize hiring.

That’s why “jobs created or saved” is such pure fiction. It ignores what’s unseen, as our old friend Frederic Bastiat explained so eloquently 160 years ago in an essay.

Econometric models synthesize all sorts of variables and spit out a GDP forecast. From there they derive the change in employment using something called Okun’s Law, named after the late economist Arthur Okun, which describes the relationship between the two.

Fiction Lags Reality

Actual hiring seems to be lagging behind the model’s land of make-believe. For small businesses, which are the source of most job creation in the U.S., the government’s increased and changing role in the economy isn’t a confidence builder. Businessmen have no idea what health-care reform will mean for their cost structure or what whimsical tax policies the government might impose when it realizes those short-term deficits are running into long-term unfunded liabilities.

No wonder capital spending plans were at an all-time low in the third quarter, according to the NFIB monthly survey.

Only 30,383 jobs were created or saved by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to, the government’s once-transparent Web site that has become a complex blur of numbers, graphs and pie charts. These are only the jobs reported by federal contract recipients. The Obama administration will report the larger universe of ARRA-related jobs on Oct. 30.

An extrapolation of what would have happened without the fiscal stimulus isn’t much consolation to the 9.8 percent of the workforce that is unemployed. Nor is Romer’s prescription for the economy and labor market very comforting in light of the trillions of future tax dollars that have been spent, lent or promised by the federal government.

“If you take your foot off the gas, the car goes from 60 back down to a slow crawl,” Romer said in clarifying blog post.

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Canada - Why do you harbor extremist Islamo fascists?

And no, it is not a slight exaggeration, nor am I assuming- not for Canada at least.

In Canada, contrary to popular myth, their police, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) do carry weapons.  However, their frequency of use would call into question whether the weapon would work when pulled due to cobwebs.  They do not need to use it as often as we do in the United States.

One very early morning during the summer when I was in England, I recall watching from the front living room window as a group of rugby or footballers stumbled, and shambled down the street, making very loud noises, fighting between each other, knocking over trash cans, and otherwise being a nuisance.  The police arrived in a van of sorts.  Two police officer climbed out of their vehicle and approached the players who were at the very least twice their size each.  The police officers broke them into groups, had them sit on the ground,and talked to them individually before putting 1 or 2 into the back of the vehicle - all without the use of a weapon or instruments of any sort.  The footballers simply did what they were told - all 12-14 of them.

That would not happen here.  Our police would call for back-up and would pull their weapopns if not at the least, place their hand on the weapon as a show.  When in England a police officer does use a weapon or even in Canada, when they use a weapon, it is serious, and not an over reaction.  Their police forces are usually very subdued, so an over reaction for them would be to act reasonably.

30 Oct 2009
National Post


Windsor raid lands son of Imam slain by FBI

The fugitive son of an Imam shot dead by U.S. federal agents on Wednesday was arrested yesterday in downtown Windsor, while two other Canadians alleged to be part of the Imam’s extremist group are still at large.

Mujahid Carswell, 30, was arrested without incident by RCMP officers at about 1 p.m. yesterday after police blocked off a downtown street and surrounded a house with a tactical team.

Mr. Carswell, who faces U.S. charges of conspiracy to commit federal crimes based on his alleged membership in a radical Detroit-based fundamentalist Sunni group, was witnessed being whisked away in a prisoner transport van. He is in the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency on immigration violations.

Two other Windsor-based Canadians, Mohammad Palestine, 33, and Yassir Ali Khan, 30, have been charged with federal crimes but are not in custody.

According to a man named Hassan who worships at Windsor Mosque, Mr. Palestine and Mr. Ali Khan frequently attended daily prayers and services. “I recognized their pictures in news stories. I have seen both of them at the mosque here and there,” Mr. Hassan said. “They seemed like regular guys. The Muslim community here is shocked.”

Mr. Carswell is the eldest son of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, the Imam of Detroit’s Masjid Al-Haqq mosque and leader of the fundamentalist group. He was killed in an FBI raid on a warehouse in Dearborn, Mich. The raid, which led to the arrest of four suspects, was the culmination of a two-year undercover operation into the activities of a Muslim brotherhood called Ummah. The FBI says the group, which has cells across the United States, advocates violence to establish a separate Islamic state in America under the rulership of H. Rapp Brown, who was once a leader of the Black Panther Party and is now in prison for murder.

As detailed in a U.S. affidavit released on Wednesday, Mr. Carswell told an informant that he moved to Windsor and is living two blocks from the tunnel border crossing. “Carswell said he goes to a large [mosque] in Windsor and the people there are serious and organized,” the affidavit said. “Carswell said he trains approximately 60 children, ages 8 to 18, in martial arts at the mosque.”

When reached yesterday afternoon, the president of the Windsor Islamic Association, which runs the Windsor Mosque, said he was surprised by the allegations, but would not provide further comment.

Mr. Abdullah, the deceased leader, told an FBI informant that Mr. Palestine is “a soldier and a warrior” and stated that he and Mr. Palestine would do anything for each other, the complaint said. He has also allegedly provided financial support to Mr. Abdullah, according to the complaint.

The FBI said Mr. Abdullah was “advocating and encouraging his followers to commit violent acts against the United States,” and discussed bombing Washington and the 2006 Super Bowl in Detroit.

He also warned that “America must fall” and preached an “offensive jihad,” or holy war, according to the complaint.

Mr. Abdullah, also known as Christopher Thomas, and 10 others, including the two fugitives and Mr. Carswell, were named in the affidavit that alleges conspiracy to commit theft from interstate shipments, mail fraud to obtain the proceeds of arson, illegal possession and sale of firearms and tampering with motor vehicle identification numbers.

Once the investigation is complete, authorities will reportedly decide whether to seek a felony indictment on the charges.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Health Care Reform: Obama Style

The Obama campaign has authorized the DNC to select a video or presentation to use in their health care reform push.

ONE of the finalists in that campaign is the following video

health care

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Canadian Terrorists: As if it wasn't scary enough knowing they want to kill us ...

Canada.  Oh Canada, it's almost always your fault.



Charged with planning to bomb Danish paper

28 Oct 2009
National Post

A Canadian arrested in Chicago for allegedly helping plot a terrorist attack against a Danish newspaper told the FBI he was offended by editorial cartoons of Muhammad that the daily had published.

Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a 48-year-old Pakistani-born Canadian, has been charged with supporting terrorism for his role in what the FBI says was a plot against the Jyllands-Posten in Copenhagen.

An indictment unsealed yesterday alleges Mr. Rana conspired with David Headley on the Mickey Mouse Project, an innocuously named terrorist operation meant to strike at the newspaper for “making fun of Islam.”

“The criminal complaints unsealed today have exposed a serious plot against overseas targets by two Chicago-based men working with Pakistanibased terrorist organizations,” said David Kris, the Assistant Attorney-General for National Security.

A Danish intelligence official, Jakob Scharf, said the plotters had considered attacks involving firearms and explosives, but Mr. Rana’s lawyer said his client denied the charge and was looking forward to clearing his name.

The terrorist operation outlined by the FBI runs against the current perception of the Islamist extremist threat. Many recent terrorist plots in the West have involved young extremists inspired by al-Qaeda but unconnected to it. But in this case the suspects are both close to 50 and allegedly worked in concert with established Pakistani terror groups.

Although a Canadian, Mr. Rana lives in Chicago, where he owns First World Immigration Service. The company also has offices in Toronto and New York. FBI agents raided his halal meat business in Kinsman, Ill., last week.

He is accused of discussing potential targets with Mr. Headley and arranging for him to travel to Denmark to conduct surveillance of the newspaper building. He also filmed the central train station, a synagogue and military barracks.

Denmark has been on the alert since 2005, when Jyllands-Posten published a dozen editorial cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, one showing a turban as a bomb. The project was meant to stir debate over the tension between free speech and Islam, but deadly riots erupted around the world as Muslims decried the images as blasphemous.

The Danish embassy in Islamabad was attacked in June 2008, and during a recent visit to Canada the 74-year-old cartoonist who drew the most controversial image, Kurt Westergaard, described how he lived under the protection of the Danish secret service.

According to the FBI, in October 2008, Mr. Headley posted a message about the cartoons on a Yahoo group for graduates of a military school in northern Pakistan that both he and Mr. Rana had attended.

“Call me old-fashioned, but I feel disposed toward violence for the offending parties, be they cartoonists from Denmark or Sherry Jones [the author of a novel about Muhammad’s wife] or Irshad Manji [the Canadian liberal Muslim writer],” he wrote.

Over the next year, Mr. Headley corresponded with Mr. Rana and members of the terrorist groups Lashkar-e Tayiba and Harakat-ul Jihad Islami about the plot. He visited Copenhagen in January and again in July to conduct reconnaissance, the FBI said.

His cover story during his travels was that he was considering opening a branch of First World Immigration in Denmark and was interested in advertising in the paper, the FBI said. He was on his way to Pakistan on Oct. 3 when he was arrested while boarding a flight at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

FBI Special Agent Lorenzo Benedict said Mr. Headley, 49, is a U.S. citizen who changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 and was trained by Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the group behind last year’s Mumbai attacks.

While he claimed to work for Mr. Rana’s immigration firm, Mr. Headley appeared to perform little if any work for the business and, although he had no apparent income, he travelled regularly to Pakistan and Europe, the FBI said.

In statements to investigators following his arrest, he admitted ties to Pakistani terror groups and said that while the newspaper building had been the initial target, the operation had been reduced to killing the cartoonist and the culture editor, Flemming Rose.

Mr. Rana was arrested on Oct. 18. He admitted he was aware Mr. Headley was affiliated with Pakistani terrorist groups, the FBI said. He also said he “was offended by the cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammad and would not have done business with the newspaper that published them.”

Ms. Manji said in an interview yesterday she had been informed in advance that her name had surfaced in the plot but she was not fazed by it and would not be silenced. “I simply will not abdicate our freedoms to people who would use those very freedoms to take them away,” she said.

al qaida

Women, Men, Sex, and Children: Which one/s of these isn't needed anymore.

For quite some time, it was men who had to worry about becoming unnecessary - women could have children without men.  They would simply have a few donors (a lot more than a few) and choose from the selection and be impregnated by IVF.  Women would need a genetic stock around - say 10,000 men in each country to keep the genetic pool from becoming inbred, but ... the rest of us would become unnecessary.  Or, get all the males alive to donate, then send them off to greener pastures, and use the donations given via IVF, select the gender of your child - X number of males to be used for reproduction, and the rest females.

All that was conceievable in a future world controlled by women.

Now, neither gender is needed.

No men OR women needed: Scientists create sperm and eggs from stem cells

Fiona Macrae
28th October 2009
Daily Mail

Human eggs and sperm have been grown in the laboratory in research which could change the face of parenthood.

It paves the way for a cure for infertility and could help those left sterile by cancer treatment to have children who are biologically their own.

But it raises a number of moral and ethical concerns. These include the possibility of children being born through entirely artificial means, and men and women being sidelined from the process of making babies.

Forever fertile? Infertile men and women could have their own biological children using the breakthrough sperm and eggs

Opponents argue that it is wrong to meddle with the building blocks of life and warn that the advances taking place to tackle infertility risk distorting and damaging relations between family members.

The U.S. government-funded research also offers the prospect of a 'miracle pill' which staves off the menopause, allowing women to wait longer to have a child.

It centres on stem cells, widely seen as a repair kit for the body.

Scientists at Stanford University in California found the right cocktail of chemicals and vitamins to coax the cells into becoming eggs and sperm.

Controversial: Britain's oldest mother Elizabeth Adeney, 67, who went abroad for IVF, is pictured here with her newborn son in June this year

The sperm had heads and short tails and are thought to have been mature enough to fertilise an egg.

The eggs were at a much earlier stage but were still much more developed than any created so far by other scientists.

The double success, published in the journal Nature, raises the prospect of men and women one day 'growing' their own sperm and eggs for use in IVF treatments.

The American team used stem cells taken from embryos in the first days of life but

hope to repeat the process with slivers of skin.

The skin cells would first be exposed to a mixture which wound back their biological clocks to embryonic stem cell state, before being transformed into sperm or eggs.

Starting with a person's own skin would also mean the lab-grown sperm or eggs would not be rejected by the body.

The science also raises the possibility of 'male eggs' made from men's skin and 'female sperm' from women's skin.

This would allow gay couples to have children genetically their own, although many scientists are sceptical about whether it is possible to create sperm from female cells, which lack the male Y chromosome.

The U.S. breakthrough could unlock many of the secrets of egg and sperm production, leading to new drug treatments for infertility.

Defects in sperm and egg development are the biggest cause of infertility but, because many of the key stages occur in the womb, scientists have struggled to study the process in detail.

Researcher Rita Reijo Pera, of Stanford's Centre for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research, believes new fertility drugs are just five years away.

However, safety and ethical concerns mean that artificial sperm and eggs are much further away from use.

Dr Reijo Pera said any future use of artificial eggs and sperm would have to be subject to guidelines.

'Whether one builds the boundaries on religion or just on an internal sense or of right and wrong, these are important. In this field, it is not "anything goes".'

Scientists at Newcastle University claimed to have made sperm from embryonic stem cells earlier this year but the research paper has been retracted.

Dr Allan Pacey, a Sheffield University expert in male fertility said: 'Ultimately this may help us find a cure for male infertility. Not necessarily by making sperm in the laboratory, I personally think that is unlikely, but by identifying new targets for drugs or genes that may stimulate sperm production to occur naturally.

'This is a long way off, but it is a laudable dream.'

Dr Peter Saunders, of the Christian Medical Fellowship, said that IVF should be the preserve of married couples.

'The question is, why are we creating artificial gametes (eggs and sperm) and aborting 200,000 babies a year when there are many, many couples willing to adopt?'

Josephine Quintavalle, of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, warned that any flaws in the artificial sperm or eggs could be passed on to future generations.

Anthony Ozimic, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said: 'The use of artificial gametes in reproduction would distort and damage relations between family members.

'There are no instances of any major medical advance achieved by abandoning basic ethical principles such as safeguarding the right to life.'


Obama: When are two bills the same, when they are both in one bill - regardless of the subject matter.

I have one question. 

Why is a defense bill coupled with hate crimes legislation?

Why are these not two separate issues?

I would think, if you are honest, and consider the 3-4 possible reasons - that it is not a matter of ease, simplicity - the legislative body has never been interested in such things.

keep thinking.

Obama inks defense bill with hate crimes provision

(AP) – October 28, 2009

WASHINGTON — Trumpeting a victory against careless spending, President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a defense bill that kills some costly weapons projects and expands war spending. In a major civil rights change, the law also makes it a federal hate crime to assault people based on sexual orientation.

The $680 billion policy bill doesn't provide any actual dollars, but rather sets guidance that is typically followed by congressional committees that decide appropriations. Obama hailed it as a step toward ending needless military spending that he called "an affront to the American people and to our troops."

Still, the president did not win every fiscal fight. He acknowledged he was putting his name to a bill that still had waste.

The measure expands current hate crimes law to include violence based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. To assure its passage after years of frustrated efforts, Democratic supporters attached the measure to the must-pass defense policy bill over the steep objections of many Republicans.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Origins of Pakistani disdain for the US

Interesting column.

Bogey nation


Nadeem F. Paracha
Sunday, 25 Oct, 2009

Recently the monthly Herald published the results of an elaborate survey that it undertook to determine the extent of anti-Americanism in Pakistan. The findings suggest nothing that we do not already know. The percentages in this case hold only an academic interest.

Though anti-Americanism during the Cold War (1949-89) was mostly the ideological vocation of pro-Soviet leftists, today (some twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union), one can safely suggest that America is experiencing its most detested hour. It hasn’t been hated across the board so much and so instantly as it is today, thanks mainly to the many arrogant misdeeds of the Bush administration and its utter deficiency in the art and skill of empathetic and prudent diplomacy.

However, the anti-Americanism virus — at least in most Muslim countries — today is such that the critique that comes with it is largely rhetorical, and, at times, rather obsessive-compulsive. The recent ‘debate’ that took place in Pakistan’s electronic media on the Kerry-Lugar Bill is a vivid example of this trend, in which, it was quite clear that certain politicians, TV talk show hosts and their audiences among the country’s ever growing chattering classes, who were quick to attack the Bill, hadn’t even read the document! Their single cue in this respect was the Pakistan Army’s concerns about certain conditions mentioned in the aid bill, and off they went on a rampage.

More interesting however will be to trace the history and evolution of anti-Americanism in Pakistan. According to a research paper written by Dr Talukder Muniruzaman in 1971 on the politics of young Pakistanis, a majority of Pakistanis viewed America positively and admiringly in the 1950s. The paper also suggests that right up till Pakistan’s 1965 war with India, most Pakistanis saw America as a friend, especially in the context of the Soviet Union’s close ties with India.

According to a lengthy paper (published by Chicago University in 1983) on the ideological orientation of Pakistan’s university students (by Kiren Aziz and Peter McDonough), anti-Americanism among most Pakistanis remained somewhat low even during the celebrated movement (in 1967-68) against the Ayub Khan dictatorship; in spite of the fact that the movement was largely led by leftist students and politicians.

The paper further suggests that anti-Americanism in the 1970s that was ripe among many Arab countries due to the United States’ single-minded support for Israel, started to finally make its way into Pakistani society during the Z. A. Bhutto regime (1972-77); especially when Bhutto started to expand his ‘Islamic Socialism’ doctrine at the international level by striking firm relations with various radical Muslim states and Arab countries. The build-up to this was the otherwise sympathetic Richard Nixon administration’s failure to militarily help its Asian ally during the 1971 war with India.

In spite of this, America remained Pakistan’s leading aid donor. According to Lubna Rafique’s 1994 paper, ‘Benazir & British Press,’ it was only in the last year of Z. A. Bhutto’s regime (1977), that he started to allude to moving out of the ‘American camp,’ calling the US a ‘white elephant.’ He also went on to accuse the Jimmy Carter administration of financing right-wing parties’ agitation against him in 1977.

Throughout the Ziaul Haq dictatorship in the 1980s, anti-Americanism remained a much polarised affair in Pakistan. Most political-religious parties and their supporters, and the industrial class that supported Zia, were either openly pro-America or ambiguous on the subject. This was due to the fact that Zia was an Islamist military dictator who was backed by the Ronald Regan administration with military hardware and dollars during the West’s war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and against ‘communism in the region’. On the other hand, anti-Americanism became rampant among those opposing Zia.

Though by the late 1980s the intensity of anti-Americanism had grown (compared to the preceding decades), it never became violent. In fact, some would suggest that in the 1990s as America largely divorced itself from the region after the end of the Afghan civil war, anti-Americanism actually receded, and Pakistanis got busy tackling the bitter pitfalls of the war in the shape of bloody ethnic and sectarian strife.

Anti-Americanism returned to the fore like never before after the tragic 9/11 episode in 2001. According to veteran defence analyst, Hassan Askari, this strain of anti-Americanism is an emotional response of most Pakistanis to the confusion that set in after 9/11. In other words, this version of anti-Americanism has very little to do with a more academic or concrete understanding of both international and home-grown terrorism. The post-9/11 confusion and emotionalism in Pakistan is given vent and an ‘intellectual tilt’ by Islamist apologists of all shapes and sizes pointing fingers at ‘outside forces’ for the blood that is being shed by home-grown fanatics, is only too visible.

Whereas there was a prominent streak of individualism and romantic rebellion associated with the anti-Americanism of Pakistani leftists during the Cold War, nothing of the sort can be said about the widespread anti-Americanism found in Pakistan today. The present-day phenomenon has become an obligatory part of populist rhetoric in which American involvement is blamed for everything — from terrorist attacks, to the energy crises, to perhaps even the break of dengue fever.

Ridiculous, really.


The French - Go Home!

Resistance hero 'told to leave'

28 October 2009

A British officer who trained French Resistance fighters during World War II was told to "go home" by Charles de Gaulle, newly released files show.

Peter Lake was awarded the Military Cross and France's Croix de Guerre for his actions in the run-up to D-Day.

But just three months after the Allied landings, the leader of Free France told him he had "no business" there.

Mr Lake died in June aged 94, but his account of the meeting has been released by the National Archives.

It is contained within his Special Operations Executive personnel file and describes a meeting with Gen de Gaulle in the town of Saintes, south-west France, on 18 September 1944.

Nom de guerre

Mr Lake, then a captain, spoke fluent French and was known by the field name Jean-Pierre Lenormand.

He decided to join a number of French officers who went along to greet the general, but was surprised by the conversation that followed.

General de Gaulle : "Jean-Pierre, that's a French name."

Mr Lake : "My nom de guerre, mon general."

Gen de Gaulle : "What are you doing here?"

Mr Lake : "I belong to the Inter-Allied Mission for Dordogne, and I am at the moment with Dordogne troops at Marennes, mon general."

Gen de Gaulle : "But what are you doing here?"

Mr Lake : "I am training certain troops for special operations."

Gen de Gaulle : "Our troops don't need training. You have no business here."

Mr Lake : "I obey the orders of my superiors."

Gen de Gaulle : "You have no business here, I say. You have no right to exercise a command."

Mr Lake : "Mon general, I exercise no command."

Gen de Gaulle : "We don't need you here. It only remains for you to leave. You too must go home. Return, return quickly. Au revoir."

Later, Mr Lake noted: "The whole dialogue passed very quickly and in a tone of voice which there was no mistaking.

"It was so unexpected that I must confess I was far too taken aback to reply intelligently, and I think the majority of those present had similar reactions."

Despite the incident, Mr Lake was highly regarded by senior Army commanders and was referred to in an official report as "modest, unassuming, but possessed of considerable authority".

"His dust-up with de Gaulle showed him to be a good diplomat, level-headed and intelligent," the report added.

Mr Lake was parachuted into the Dordogne on the night of 9 April 1944 and immediately began training teams of resistance operatives.

To do this he organised "evening classes" in subjects such as sabotage, but recalled that his first sortie was with fighters who were "armed like pirates, behaved like pirates and expected me to do likewise".

After the D-Day landings on 6 June, Mr Lake said the situation became "very precarious" as the Germans stepped up attacks on the resistance.

Nevertheless, in mid-June he carried out a daring operation to blow up a major railway line.

Mr Lake returned to Britain in October 1944 and went on to have a successful career with the UK consular service.

De Gaulle, one of the most over rated fuss pots in French history, although very french with all his fussing about.  Typical of the French.  You save their asses and they immediately tell you to leave so they don't have to confront their own miserable wretched mistakes.


Greek Animal Rights and the Case of the Squished Minks

So you wonder whether these bloody wankers have half a brain, and did they at all wonder or ponder for even a milisecond - did we do the right thing.  Releasing the 10,000 carnivorous creatures from hell, upon a town and their entire animal population - dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, babies, children ... only to end up all squished on the roadways.  You have to wonder.  Being hit by a car when you are the size of a cat, is not always instantaneous death - sometimes it is agonizingly slow and painful, like being tortured in hell  (like having Barbra Streisand stare into your eyes likes she wants to feast on your heart while she sings PEOPLE). 

You have to wonder about their thought process:

I will free these sweet little creatures from hell so that they might eat through an entire village and then get squished in a most agonizing manner by lorrys.

Mink Run Amok After Greek Fur Farm Escape

Thursday August 13, 2009

A Greek town has been battling an invasion by thousands of mink set loose from two fur farms by suspected activists, the mayor has said.
Some 10,000 of the carnivorous mammals descended on the northern community of Askio on Sunday, raiding chicken and rabbit pens, mayor Vassilis Patras told reporters.

The town mobilised fur farmers to round them up but about 3,000 are still unaccounted for, he said.

"These are dangerous predators that can kill even small sheep - there won't be a single small animal left in the area, if they're not recaptured," Mr Patras said.

Reports in Greece said a four-year-old girl was bitten on the leg.

A large number of mink have ended up dead on the nearby Egnatia Odos motorway, Mr Patras added.

Activists calling themselves Corvus Revengis (Crows of Revenge) are suspected of being responsible for the animals' release.

The group carried out a similar operation in neighbouring Siatista in December 2008.

At the time, the activists said in an online statement that the mink were being kept in "hell holes" under miserable conditions of captivity and flayed alive.

The problem with these twats is they don't think.  They have an exceptionally little brain, with only one thing smaller than their brain, and absolutely no synapses synapse in that grey matter of theirs.  None. Zero.  Zilch.  Lights are on, energy is being wasted.  We need to send the energy police to confiscate their brains - wasting energy.  All of these twats are the same - save the: weasel, mink, rat, [________] insert rodent of choice, monkey, cat, dog, .... and when saving them, release them only to have them all killed off by some painful death - being eaten by Barbra Striesand as a snack.

What we should do is simply tie these buggers down and let the starving mink have lunch.  Then let Barbra have her snack.  Take care of three birds with one rodent.


Condoms and Middle Schoolers

Have we gone too far?

What of the statement made by so many that we do not educate the young about STDs?  What then is this?  Voyerism?


The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI)
May 11, 2005
Associated Press

WAUSAU -- School officials and organizers of a health fair for middle school students got a surprise when they learned an AIDS education group was handing out condoms.

Scott Eggebrecht's 14-year-old son, an eighth-grader at John Muir Middle School, was one of the students who brought home a condom from the event.

"He said, Look what they gave us,' " Eggebrecht said.

About 1,150 students attended the fair Thursday at North Central Health Care, which was designed to teach about dangerous effects of using alcohol and drugs.

More than 33 displays created by community organizations were featured, said Sue Nowak of North Central Health Care.   An AIDS group was handing out the prophylactics at the health fair organized by North Central Health Care.

sex ed

Monday, October 26, 2009

Iran and their OPEN policy of inspections

How's that openness working out for you Mr. Obama?  Iran promised and you waited because they promised.  Boy will you look silly.

UN team unwelcome in Tehran, Mottaki whittles down overseas enrichment plan

DEBKAfile Special Report
October 26, 2009, 5:48 PM (GMT+02:00)

Just arrived, ordered to leave?

Senior Iranian MP Alaeddin Boroujerd said Monday afternoon, Oct. 26 that the UN inspectors had carried out their mission to visit a newly-disclosed uranium enrichment plant and may leave Iran later in the day. DEBKAfile's Iranian sources report that the nuclear watchdog team were supposed to have paid a second visit to the Fordu plant near Qom in the next two days after their first trip Sunday. So either the Iranians cut the inspectors' mission short or they were denied access to the suspected facility and aborted.


Sex and crosswords while you run will ward off dementia

Fend off dementia with sex, crosswords and a run

Apr 07, 2005

9:15 AM
Sex, cryptic crosswords and a good run could help ward off dementia and other degenerative conditions by stimulating new brain cells, an Australian researcher said on Thursday.

Perry Bartlett, a professor at the University of Queensland’s Brain Institute, said mental and physical exercise helped create and nurture new nerve cells in the brain, keeping it functional and warding off diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

"Perhaps one should run a long distance and do the cryptic crossword, “ Bartlett told Australian radio.

He said a chemical called prolactin appeared to promote new cells in the brain and could be found in high levels in pregnant women.

“Prolactin levels also go up during sex as well. So one could think of a number of more entertaining activities than running in order to regulate the production of nerve cells,” Bartlett said.


Starcraft: Deadly if you play it too much!

Was this Darwin in action or Starcraft is unhealthy?

Man Dies After 49 Hours of Computer Games

Wednesday, 10 August 2005, 09:00 CDT

SEOUL, South Korea - A 28-year-old South Korean man died of exhaustion in an Internet cafe after playing computer games non-stop for 49 hours, South Korean police said Wednesday.

Lee, a resident in the southern city of Taegu who was identified only by his last name, collapsed Friday after having eaten minimally and not sleeping, refusing to leave his keyboard while he played the battle simulation game Starcraft.

Lee was quickly moved to a hospital but died after a few hours, due to what doctors are presuming was a heart attack, police said.

Lee had been fired from his job last month because he kept missing work to play computer games, police said.

Computer games are enormously popular in South Korea, home to professional gamers who earn big money through sponsorships and television stations devoted to broadcasting matches.

computer games

Germans: If you're drunk and pay a prostitute, you get refunded

April 11, 2003
10:59 AM ET

Court Orders Brothel to Refund Sex Bill

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German court has ordered a brothel to reimburse a man charged for sex he could not remember having, after the establishment failed to provide an itemized receipt for services rendered.

"The brothel failed to provide concrete documentation of the prices and services provided," said court spokesman Vera Huth in the western town of Duesseldorf on Friday.

"They should have, for example, listed two sexual intercourse sessions at 600 euros, oral sex at 300 euros or anal sex at 400 euros a go," she told Reuters.

The man told the court he had been too drunk to remember what sexual services he may have ordered at the brothel in Kaarst. The establishment charged him 9,000 euros (dollars) on his credit card. The brothel owner testified he had ordered the "full program."

Sweden. Land of Animal Love.

Those crazy Swedes!

United Press International


Sex with animals -- growing problem

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Feb 04, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Sex with animals has become a growing problem in Sweden, according to that country's veterinarians.

Every year, between 200 and 300 cats and dogs are injured as a result of sexual assault, reports the Swedish newspaper, Expressen.
"We have seen an increase since 1999 when child pornography became illegal," said Johan Beck-Friis.  "It appears, in other words, as there are some people who have replaced children with animals.  In both circumstances, it is sex with defenceless individuals."
The injuries inflicted on animals after sexual assaults are of the same character of those chidlren get.  Beck-Friis said that the most common injuries are wounds on the sex organs and blisters.
Animal Porn
The fact that animal sex is becoming an increasing problem can be indicated by the mere fact that there is an increasing selection of animal porn at video rentals and there an increasingly number of websites with animal pronography is surfacing. 
No one knows for sure how many animals are abused, but a British study from 2001 indicates that every 20th dog or cat that receives treatment at veterinaries, the injuries are not the result of a direct accident, but the animal has been inflcited the injury as a result of a sexual assault.
According to the Swedish paper Expressen, if the same estimate can be used in Sweden that will indicate that 200-300 dogs and cats every year are injured as a result of sexual assaults.
Not illegal
In contrast with most other countries, animal sex is not illegal in Sweden.  It was decriminalized in 1944 in connection with the decriminalization of homosexual sex.

Half of Europe fat but sees no health threat: report

Europe is fat and getting fatter.

February 28, 2006, 1:16 pm ET
Darren Ennis

Half of Europe fat but sees no health threat: report

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Half of Europeans are obese or overweight, but citizens do not see obesity as a major health threat, a food industry report said on Tuesday.

According to the report, commissioned by Kraft, the world's second largest food and beverage company, Euroepans view obesity as a problem that affects others, but not themselves.

Of 15 health concerns listed in the report, obesity and being overweight ranked fifth and ninth respectively.  Cancer and heart disease topped the poll.

[There is more, but ...]


The rest of this news article could be copied out, or someone could find it - I tried, and I guess I must keep my hard copy as I cannot find an online version any longer.

The issue I believe worth noting - the Europeans have a relatively homogenous population with an increase of Muslims, but setting aside that factor, they are and remain relatively homogenous.

The United States is not, has not been - rather, we are the emptying point for people from everywhere - particularly south of the border. 

Our overweight issues are explainable with a study of demographics.  Europe cannot say that nor can they distinguish their obesity issues to one or two variables rather than as something endemic to their culture.


Drugs and Your Brain

This explains all my past girlfriends issues!

Scientific American
August 27, 2003

Drug Use Impairs Ability to Learn from Future Experiences

By Sarah Graham

There's another reason to say no to drugs. The results of a rat study published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicate that past use of amphetamines and cocaine can impair the brain¿s ability to learn from new experiences.

Our brains typically respond to novel situations by forming additional connections between neurons. This rewiring is thought to underlie learning and memory, as well as other cognitive and behavioral functions. Because drug use has also been shown to cause changes in the brain, Bryan Kolb of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta and his colleagues devised a study to investigate the interactive effect of fresh experiences and pyschostimulant drugs (namely amphetamine and cocaine) on the brain. The researchers first gave rats one of the drugs or a saline solution for 20 days. At the end of this period, half of the animals were moved to complex new cages containing bridges, ramps, tunnels and other toys, while the rest remained in ordinary laboratory enclosures. After three and a half months, the scientists examined the rats' brains and counted the number and density of branches of neurons known as dendrites. The team found that rats that had received saline solutions and had lived in a challenging environment had a greater number of neuronal connections than control animals did. Rats given either amphetamines or cocaine, in contrast, did not experience a similar increase in brain connections after living in the stimulating surroundings.

"The findings from this study indicate that at least some of the cognitive and behavioral advantages that accrue with experience may be diminished by prior exposure to psychostimulant drugs," Kolb says. "This impairment of the ability of specific brain circuits to change in response to experiences may help explain some of the behavioral and cognitive deficits seen in people who are addicted to drugs." The researchers also note, however , that the relationship might work both ways. That is, certain experiences might be able to influence later effects of drugs.


The Dutch: Government will pay the prostitute

If it catches on in Europe, maybe Obama will spring for it here!  After all, we could argue sex is a necessity.

BBC News
October 5, 2005

Dane fights for state-funded sex

A disabled Danish man is fighting for the state to pay for him to have a prostitute visit him at home.

Torben Hansen, who has cerebral palsy, which severely affects his speech and mobility, believes his local authority should pay the extra charge he incurs when he hires a sex worker - because his disability means he cannot go to see them. His case is currently being considered.

In Denmark, local authorities compensate disabled people for extra costs incurred because of their disability.

"I want them to cover the extra expenses for the prostitutes to get here, because it's a lot more expensive getting them to come to my home rather than me going to a brothel," Mr Hansen told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"It's a necessity for me. I can't move very well, and it's impossible for me to go there."


In Denmark, prostitution and other forms of sex work are not illegal so long as it is not a woman's sole means of income.

Mr Hansen started seeing a prostitute after attending a course at a social centre.

There, he and other disabled people were taught that if they had needs, they "could do something about it".

"I had a strong desire to have sex, and I think I gained the confidence around that time to get the call girls to come to me.

"Since then I've had a lot of escort girls coming to see me - but I've also had girlfriends."

He had been with his last girlfriend for six months, but she died in 2003. After that, Mr Hansen began arranging for visits to begin again.

He also said there had been "much research" into people in his situation, and that it had showed that not being sexually fulfilled can lead to "frustration and aggression".

"It's unfair to deny people with disabilities the right to a sex life," he added.

Mr Hansen said the reaction to his campaign had been "very mixed."

"Most of it's been positive, but I've read some very angry letters and comments in the papers... a lot of politicians have been critical, especially women politicians against prostitution."

Kristen Brosboel, a Social Democrat member of the Danish Parliament, is among those who have argued against Mr Hansen.

"Obviously I recognise that he has a problem that people without a disability may not have - but I disagree with the fact that we should support his visits with a prostitute with tax money," she told Outlook.

"We also spend tax money on trying to prevent prostitution, helping women out of prostitution - and we have a clear policy that this is a social problem that we want to solve.

"So I think that's very much in contradiction with spending tax money on requiring prostitutes."

silly dutch

Obama dithering on the golf course

Just to be clear with both the retardicans on one side and the Losercrats on the other - it is not the golf that is the issue, no one should care that Obama likes golf.  Not the issue.  The issue is the left - the losercrats who, everytime Bush played golf, would remind anyone who cared (which was usually just two or three peoiple who thought like they did) that Bush was dithering while men died in Iraq and Afghanistan, that while the nation suffered under economic duress, he was out playing.

The nation's economic woes are much worse now than they were 8 months ago and ... Mr. Obama plays more golf than Bush did in 3 years and Mr. Obama is just working on  months 9 or 10.

What will it be in year 2!  Obama golfs more in 2 years than Bush did in 8.  But the losercrats are not hissing and plying the conversation with sarcasm, dripping at that.

President Obama ties George W. Bush on golf


President Barack Obama has only been in office for just over nine months, but he's already hit the links as much as President Bush did in over two years.

CBS' Mark Knoller — an unofficial documentarian and statistician of all things White House-related — wrote on his Twitter feed that, "Today - Obama ties Pres. Bush in the number of rounds of golf played in office: 24.

Took Bush 2 yrs & 10 months."

This news comes on the heels of today's news that Obama played golf with a woman — chief domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes — for the first time since taking office.


Sunday, October 25, 2009


In 2007, $4.7 million worth of American flags were imported by the United States, the vast majority of that amount ($4.3 million) from China. The U.S. exported $2.4 million in U.S. flags that year, with half going to Mexico.

The World Almanac, 2009

So - why are we importing AMERICAN FLAGS, from CHINA of all places.  If we imported them from Canada I would have less of a problem, or Mexico even ... but from CHINA. 

Nothing is American when the flags come from that place.


Honor Killings: The Disgrace of a People

Ending the silence on 'honour killing'

The number of young women – and men – being killed or assaulted after supposedly bringing shame on their families keeps on rising. But more than ever before, those who have escaped violence are speaking out to break the code of silence. Old attitudes of accepting the crimes in the name of cultural sensitivity have also disappeared and the police are targeting the abusers.

Tracy McVeigh, chief reporter
The Observer, Sunday 25 October 2009

Zena had been following a murder trial in London with an interest verging on obsession."I really wanted to go to court myself but I can never risk going to the city and being seen by someone," she said.

"But I feel such a bond with other women who may have been through what I went through, even though you never meet these girls; you just hear about them when these 'honour killing' trials come up. I wish I could get involved with the support groups and help but you know, I'm just a coward."

Having first walked out of an abusive marriage at the age of 17 and then from a hostile family who had had a meeting to discuss whether or not she should die, Zena does not lack courage but she is still very scared.

She has every reason to be. Her Bangladeshi-born mother had suggested that Zena might be allowed to poison herself rather than be murdered for bringing shame on the family. Zena, born in England, is second-generation British Asian and her accent betrays where she was brought up although it is far from where she lives now.

"I'm sorry to be so cloak-and-dagger but you never know what they might be capable of, I know there are plenty of young men who would love to play bounty hunter just for a bit of kudos in the community."

Another court case six years ago had shocked Zena into climbing out of the window of her locked bedroom and leaving home with £46 and a change of clothes, an impulsive act she believes saved her life.

It was the story of Heshu Yones, 16, from Acton, west London, who was stabbed 11 times and then had her throat cut by her father who said he had to kill her because other men in his circle of Kurdish friends thought she had a boyfriend and his honour was shamed. Abdalla Yones was convicted of murder and jailed for life in 2003.

"A family member told me that there had been a meeting about killing me but it was seeing that case in the paper that made it real," said Zena. The threat to women in this country from such violence is very real and the list of names of girls and women killed in the name of "honour" is growing.

Police estimate at least 12 are dying each year in the UK but others will be hidden – forced suicides and murders made to look like suicide are widely believed to take place undetected. Women aged 16-24 from Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi backgrounds are three times more likely to kill themselves than the national average for that age and it is impossible to tell what pressures some must have been under. And for every woman who dies, it seems certain that there are many, many more living with honour-based abuse and hidden away in shuttered communities.

Support groups are springing up. The Henna Foundation is based in Cardiff and Jasvinder Sanghera, who fled a forced marriage and made a new life for herself, set up a charity called Karma Nirvana in Derby after her sister Robina killed herself to escape the misery of her loveless marriage.

When it opened its helpline in April 2008, Karma Nirvana received 4,000 calls in the first year and is now taking 300 calls a month from people under threat of honour-based violence, often linked to forced marriage.

After the government's forced marriage unit was set up in April last year, it received 5,000 calls and rescued 400 victims in the first six months.

Sanghera believes about 3% of women manage to escape forced marriage in the UK and when they leave they have to live with fear and rejection of not only their families but also their communities and sometimes their friends.

They also face being hunted down, said Detective Chief Inspector Gerry Campbell of the Metropolitan police. "It's not uncommon to have bounty hunters out hunting down young people who have left forced marriages or fled from a family where they are at risk. It's rare for [one person] to take unilateral action, it's all done in consultation and there is logistical support and collusion in the extended community," he said.

Campbell, head of the Met's violent crime directorate, has lead a number of investigations into honour-based violence and hate crimes. He believes the Met has learned some tough lessons from tragedies such as that of Banaz Mahmod, who made contact with police five times to say she thought her life was in danger but always drew back from pressing charges. Banaz, 19, a Kurd, was murdered by family members at her home in Mitcham, Surrey, in 2006.

She had been raped and beaten by the older man she had been forced to marry, and had left him. Her elder sister, Bekhal, had also left home to escape their father's violence and the extended family was beginning to regard Mahmod Mahmod as a man who had lost control of his daughters. The shame became so unbearable that he held a meeting to discuss killing his daughter and her new boyfriend.

"We have had previous investigations where mistakes have been made but we at the Met have improved the frontline training for our officers and been quite clear around the issues with community groups that we're working with too," said Campbell. "I'm confident that no victim will ever be turned away in London and that officers know that to do nothing is not an option.

"Honour is about a collection of practices used by the family to control behaviour, to prevent perceived shame, but there's no honour in murder, rape, or kidnapping and with 25% of the [cases] we are seeing involving a person under 18: this is a child abuse issue too. The simple message is: If you do this you will be caught and brought to justice.

"Young woman are predominately the victims of honour-based violence but we are seeing an increase in young men and boys – it's now about 15% of the total numbers," he said.

"Honour-based violence is complicated and a sensitive crime to investigate. It's fathers, brothers, uncles, mums and cousins and the victim, or potential victim, has a fear of criminalising or demonising their family so they can be reluctant to come forward."

He said that in many cases it was not new immigrants but third or fourth generation families where the worst problems lay. "People who actually are hanging on to traditions that in the country of origin have gone, things have moved on back home but they don't know that.

"We don't know how many victims are out there suffering in silence but as an example in the financial year of 2008-9 we had 132 forced marriage and honour-based violence offences reported to us. From April to the end of September this year we have had 129 cases so it's rising all the time. We've been learning about this for 10 years and have been really galvanised over the past four years so while we are not complacent we have come on leaps and bounds.

"This crime genre transcends every nationality, religious faith or group, nor is it unique to the UK, every country in the world has honour-based violence. But we want to make it clear that people can come forward to us; they will be believed."

Things have undoubtedly improved since the cases that campaigners see as the low points in the fight against honour killings, such as the sentence of six-and-a-half years handed down to Shabir Hussain who in 1995 deliberately drove over and crushed to death his cousin and sister-in-law, Tasleem Begum, 20. The acceptance of a plea of manslaughter through "provocation" by the court was widely attacked by women's groups. Tasleem was killed because she had fallen in love with a married man she worked with.

Roger Keene, QC, prosecuting, told the court: "The family as a whole, including the defendant, had been distressed for some time about the behaviour of the deceased."

The behaviour of women seen to have dishonoured their families can be as harmless as wearing make-up or talking to boys. One suspected murder is believed to have been caused by a girl having a love song dedicated to her on a community radio show.

Diana Nammi, who runs the Iranian and Kurdish Women's Rights Organisation in London, has been working to encourage more women to seek help when they are in danger. "The number of women that we know of and hear about and the cases dealt with in court is really just a handful of the full picture," she said. "But even one case is too many. For someone to be killed for their make-up or clothes or having a boyfriend or for refusing to accept a forced marriage is so brutal and unacceptable.

"A few years ago when Heshu Yones was killed it was silent, but her sister gave evidence against her father and that was a turning point. Those same communities who were silent seven years ago when Banaz was killed, when people were aware she was in danger and did nothing, they are not happy to stay quiet any more, this silence is being broken.

"It is not a problem of culture or religion or education – it is happening in educated families. It's not one person but several who are dangerous for that woman; sometimes even the woman might underestimate the danger she is in.

"Here in the UK younger people are at risk because they have grown up in this country and they want to adapt and live in the modern world, they don't want barriers to who they can be in love with or not be in love with, whether they wear traditional clothes or not, basic freedoms that many traditional families don't like.

"Honour is a very old tradition but it cannot operate in this country. The children do not even understand it. It's two lives for these children and the differences put huge emotional pressures and guilt on them and leave them very vulnerable," she said.

"Before Heshu, honour killing was not a serious crime and perpetrators were treated leniently under the name of cultural sensitivity. Now there are no reductions in sentence. In the case of Banaz, the judge said that if this is the culture then the culture needs to be changed, not the women sacrificed for the culture." Nammi believes that patriarchal religious leaders are failing women.

"Those who are lagging behind now are the religious leaders. They may pay lip service to change but they have networks and contacts and they are not trying to change anything. Sharia courts are letting Muslim women down and I am sorry to say that the British government is turning a blind eye to these courts. We have civil laws that cover every individual; none of these religious courts provide the same rights and protections for women."

Irfan Chishti, a leading imam in Manchester, said the phenomenon was so secretive that it could be hard to identify who was at risk: "It is not an Islamic issue, it's more of a tribal tradition that cuts across several faiths, but I can say categorically that it is not acceptable.

"It's difficult to ascertain the extent of this problem but I like to think that faith leaders are speaking out against it. Honour is a way of measuring dignity and respect and it is a very individualistic thing. Dishonour to one person is not the same as to another but we have to be very clear that there is never any justification for such horrific crimes."

Honour-based violence can be a socioeconomic issue. Experts say there is a strong correlation between violence against women and issues such as inequality between men. In deprived communities where men are struggling to earn a living they can feel subordinated and lacking in respect, and so try to get their authority back by dominating anyone below them, usually women.

In Pakistan the practice of honour killing – called karo-kari – sees more than 10,000 women die each year. In Syria, men can kill female relatives in a crime of passion as long as it is not premeditated. It is legal for a husband to kill his wife in Jordan if he catches her committing adultery. Crime of passion can be a full or partial defence in a number of countries including Argentina, Iran, Guatemala, Egypt, Israel and Peru.

Confusion in immigrant communities where people feel adrift in a new culture and try to anchor themselves to the past is a key factor, says Haras Rafiq, a former government adviser on faith issues and the co-founder of the Sufi Muslim Council. "Religion becomes infused with cultural practices and honour takes on an overinflated importance," he said.

He agreed with anti-forced marriage campaigners that women were being let down by their religious and community leaders.

"The Sharia courts are not doing anything about the forced marriage or honour killing issue as a whole," he said. "Other countries, the places many immigrants have come from, have moved on, but the immigrant doesn't know that and he needs to be told."

He wants his children to do whatever he tells them to do and this he sees as right but from a religious perspective it is not. "The reality is that honour killing is a crime and a crime of deep shame," he said.

For Zena, she has her life but does not have her freedom. "When I first ran away I would go to the library and read loads of spy books to pick up tips. You have to teach yourself how to best keep hidden," she said. "My life is about keeping a very low profile now and about looking over my shoulder, but at least I know I am alive and I grieve for those poor girls who are not."

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