Friday, June 26, 2009

Apple Did Remove Porn iPhone App


Apple Did Remove Porn iPhone App

Posted on Fri, 26 Jun 2009 11:30:00 CDT | by Robert Evans | Topic: Apple

Apple Did Remove Porn iPhone App

Here comes another batch of drama over the pseudo-pornographic 'Hottest Girls' iPhone app. When it first went up on the iTunes App Store, speculation lit up across the fansites that Apple had loosened their content requirements and decided to allow pornographic apps. Later that same day however, the app went down and ceased being available for download.

At first the app developer claimed that the drop was due to the popularity of the dirty app. They claimed it had put too great a strain on the image server and needed to be removed while they fixed things up. This only sounded vaguely plausible when we first heard it, and in light of recent news it's pretty clear that the developer's claims were a big load of hooey.

Apple PR spoke to CNN about the event and delivered this quote;

“Apple will not distribute applications that contain inappropriate content, such as pornography. The developer of this application added inappropriate content directly from their server after the application had been approved and distributed, and after the developer had subsequently been asked to remove some offensive content. This was a direct violation of the terms of the iPhone Developer Program. The application is no longer available on the App Store.”

So basically what happened was this. The developer went to Apple and showed them an app without any actual dirty pictures. Apple approved it, the developer altered the app to include dirty pictures, and Apple removed the app from their store as a result. Score one win for Apple, and one loss for lovers of dirty pictures everywhere.

Canadian eyewitness recalls bodies 'everywhere, everywhere, ever.ywhere'

It's been 25 years, but Inderjit Singh Jagraon talks about his experiences in early June, 1984, inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, as if he just walked out of the complex. His voice quivers as he recounts the horrific scene: dead bodies everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, he repeats. Men with open bullet wounds and limbs missing; floors awash in blood and water.

Mr. Jagraon recalls running from gunfire. The man next to him was shot and fell forward on his head. "He died in my hands," Mr. Jagraon said in an interview this week. "He did not move. I left him where he was. I ran away." Everyone was trying to find a place to hide, like mice. "We ran from room to room," he said.

Mr. Jagraon, who is now married, the father of three daughters and living in Toronto, was a 19-year-old student in 1984, in his second year of studies in civil engineering in his hometown of Jagraon, about two hours away from the holiest shrine in the Sikh religion.

He was active in the Sikh Student Federation, a group considered to be a terrorist organization by the government of India. The group was involved mostly in educating people about the Sikh religion, Mr. Jagraon said. But they did more than that and some members paid a price. "Anyone asking for their rights and justice [at that time] was beaten up or killed, and their voice ... quieted," he said without elaborating.

On June 1, 1984, he heard that government forces had killed a number of people at the temple. He went with a friend to find out what was happening. No one stopped them from going in, but once inside the temple complex, he was unable to leave.

The Golden Temple is actually a collection of religious halls, offices and dormitories. Armed terrorists were in the central temple building. Mr. Jagraon stayed in a dormitory called Guru Ram Das Sarai. He says he was not involved in the fighting. "I was a student, a young kid; I was not trained to do all those things," he said.

The shooting and explosions began around 4:30 a.m. on June 4, his second night at the temple, and continued into the next day. He recalled a voice on a loudspeaker around 5 p.m. on June 5, saying whoever wants to come out would be allowed to leave. He stayed but others went. He saw them being beaten with steel rods as they stepped out.

The exchange of fire ended on June 6. Mr. Jagraon was taken into custody that night. He had fallen asleep and was awaken by a soldier pointing a gun at his chest. Soldiers lined up hundreds of people. He was left sitting for hours with dead bodies on the floor nearby. He recalled seeing people die from their wounds, after asking soldiers for water.

He was eventually put on a bus and taken to a camp in an isolated location. He remembers the intense heat. People went crazy for water, he said. He saw an army tank point its barrel and shoot some of those people. He estimated around 60 people were killed.

He was held in a high-security prison until March, 1989, convicted of fighting against the Indian army. Mr. Jagraon came to Canada via Kenya in August, 1991.

"Now everything is okay," said Mr. Jagraon, who works as a realtor. He continues to support the goals of the student federation that led to his troubles. "I am a well-wisher of all those organizations who seek Sikh rights," he said, "but I'm not really involved in any [of them]."

"When you look at Rwanda, the whole world knew what was happening and was shaken right to the core," Kirpa Kaur, a member of a group called B.C. Sikh Youth, said earlier this week. "So few people know about [the attacks of 1984] and they perceive it as a story brought up needlessly."

She believes human-rights violations that occurred 25 years ago continue to sting because those responsible for the actions were never punished. "As Canadians who have deeply emotional and social connections to the injustices that happened in Punjab, we would hope that the Canadian government would support us in fighting injustices, in helping us indict those who clearly have been found guilty... [by non-governmental organizations]," she said.

The government of India sent the army into the Golden Temple compound in the first week of June, 1984, after years of deadly skirmishes with militant Sikh leaders fighting for Sikh rights and Khalistan. Government officials said their goal was to dislodge terrorists who had turned the religious hall and adjacent buildings into an armed fortress.

The assault coincided with a religious pilgrimage that had drawn thousands of Sikhs to the site on June 3 to pay homage on the martyrdom day of the fifth guru, Arjan Dev. Most were trapped in the compound after Indian forces launched continuous artillery bombardments and mortar fire. Unable to flush the terrorists out, the army stepped up its attack on June 4, sending infantry into the compound.

The deadly exchange of fire with Sikhs armed with machine guns, rifles and pistols ended on June 6. A government white paper says 493 people, including religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, were killed. Non-governmental groups say as many as 10,000 people, mostly innocent pilgrims, were killed and priceless historic artifacts, including religious books and historical documents in the library, were destroyed. Bodies were cremated without notifying relatives and without autopsies. No official records of cremations were kept. Many Sikhs perceived the attacks as calculated assaults on their faith, culture and identity.

The events fuelled the secessionist insurgency. Radical fringe groups championing the Khalistani cause found themselves suddenly in the mainstream. In Canada, less than a week after the assault, thousands of angry people marched in protest in Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, vowing to avenge the attack on the Golden Temple. Effigies of Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi were stabbed and burned. Some carried placards with slogans such as "Death to butcher Indira" and "Indira Gandhi dead old meat." An Indian flag was set on fire on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature.

Ms. Gandhi was assassinated four months later. In June, 1985, Sikh radicals had explosives checked onto two flights from Vancouver. The explosions on opposite sides of the world caused 331 deaths.

This year in Canada, events are considerably quieter. The World Sikh Organization held a dinner in Ottawa on Thursday for parliamentarians, community leaders and members of the Sikh community. Public forums are being held throughout June in several cities on how the events of June, 1984, shaped the Sikh community.

In downtown Vancouver, a group of Canadian-born, religious youth are holding a vigil today. Earlier this week, members of the organizing group spoke to The Globe and Mail about the changes within their community since 1984. Following Sikh tradition, the women in the group wished to be identified by the family name Kaur and most of the men identified themselves only as Singh.

Some said they believe many of their generation are unaware of what happened in 1984. "The only reason my history-12 class knew anything about it was because my teacher asked me about it," said Paneet Singh, who was born six years after the assault on the temple. His Grade 12 history textbook had only two paragraphs on the events and his teachers did not elaborate. "It is not as though it is going to be on a final exam," he said.

Their parents' generation was hesitant to talk about 1984 after the Air India bombing. Those who spoke up were tagged as extremists or terrorists. Many remained silent and over the years became apathetic, the members of B.C. Sikh Youth said.

However, the youth are indifferent to the charge of promoting Khalistan. They say the accusation is a myth intended to divert attention from the injustices. "Our main concern at these events is strictly human rights," said Jagjit Singh, the main spokesman for the youth group. Kirpa Kaur, a recent graduate in psychology and social equity, said some of the youth may be supporters of Khalistan. "But these events are about fighting injustice and [the secessionist movement is] absolutely irrelevant to what we are doing."

Prabhroop Kaur, 21, has been going to annual vigils for events in 1984 "ever since I can remember," she said. Her parents instilled in her a strong commitment to justice. "They sat me down and told me what happened. We were supposed to fight injustice everywhere.... We grew up with that. We see clearly injustice and we have to do something about it."

Gurdit Singh, 25, a college student in human-resource management, identified "an education gap" between his parents and himself. His father was a farmer in Punjab and his mother was a high-school teacher. "They talk about it, but they had more raw emotions, more anger built up inside them. They did not know how to proceed, what to do next."

Some parents accepted what the Indian government told them. Paneet Singh said his mother left India in 1986 believing that Sikhs brought the assault upon themselves, as the government of India says. His mother told him the extremists had to be flushed out of the temple and the government had to restore order.

But the younger generation has more tools than their parents to find out what went on in 1984. "The ease with which we can go and find records, find third-party accounts, is exponentially bigger than what our parents would have been able to do, if they had the knowledge base and skills to do it," said Perpinder Singh Patrola, a 31-year-old lawyer. "We have resources that did not exist 15, 20 years ago. We may feel emotions, but we can move beyond raw emotion and look at actual facts and figures, and present it - without reducing it to something that is purely emotional."

Research has shown that stories they were told about their history were often not true, Kirpa Kaur said. "We have to do a lot of work ourselves to figure out the true story."

Shining a global spotlight on what actually happened is a step toward having justice done, she added. "Living in a country as Canada, which claims to support so many human rights-type initiatives, we say it is time to support us in fighting against injustice."



What happened?

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent the Indian army into the Golden Temple in Amritsar in the first week of June, 1984, to flush out militant Sikh leaders who were using the religious compound as their headquarters in a campaign of violence against their critics, the police and state institutions.

Why did the government send in troops at that time?

The Indian government moved to restore law and order after a lengthy string of killings, arsons and lootings that it said threatened the stability of the state. Violence had claimed the lives of 410 people and injured more than 1,180 in the two years before the attack, according to a white paper on the Punjab agitation dated July 10, 1984. More than 775 violent incidents were recorded in the five months prior to the attack.

Who were the religious


The political leadership in Punjab province had a lengthy list of grievances with the central government built up over several years, ranging from disputes over surplus water rights to concerns over issues related to the Sikh religion. Sectarian violence erupted in 1978, with fundamentalist Sikhs embracing secession as the most effective way to protect their religion. The troubles escalated in 1981, following several killings, the hijacking of an Indian plane by Sikh extremists, and rallies by the All India Sikh Students Federation calling for the creation of Khalistan. After the head of the student group was arrested in July, 1982, fundamentalist leaders moved into the Golden Temple complex and turned it into a fortified encampment.

Were only religious militants killed in the assault?

The military assault coincided with a religious pilgrimage that had drawn thousands of Sikhs to the site. The militants were in dormitories on the compound as well as in the religious halls. Hundreds if not thousands of pilgrims were caught in the crossfire. Shekhar Gupta, a correspondent with India Today, wrote in a report published Aug 15, 1984: "As the army got sniped at from a number of rooms in the parikrama [a walkway around the pool that surrounded the temple] and the sarais [dormitories ], the troops just threw grenades into the rooms. 'People were dying on both sides,' recalls an officer, adding, 'and there was no time to find out who was inside a room.' Some of the pilgrims also died of thirst. Many died of the fires which broke out."

Museum guards given heroes' honors

Mancow: Obama "Popping Champagne," "Excited" After Holocaust Museum Shooting

We gave radio host Mancow Muller credit last month for submitting himself to waterboarding and then having the honesty to admit it constitutes "torture." But it's worth remembering how rancid his WLS show often is.

For instance, on yesterday's program, Mancow highlighted Rev. Jeremiah Wright's recent comment that "them Jews" in the White House won't let President Obama talk to him. Mancow went on to assert that, because of his connection to Wright, Obama is an "anti-Semite" who was "popping champagne" following the June 10 shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

Mancow also said of the president: "[W[hen you see the way Obama is kissing Muslim butt and selling out Israel, you realize where it all came from ... The radical, Black Panther wife and Rev. Wright the anti-Semite." Listen:

Just a little taste of what's on your local airwaves ...

Full transcript below:

MULLER: Did you hear that Obama and Rev. Wright were popping champagne last night?

PAT CASSIDY (co-host): Yeah? Where was this at?

MULLER: Well, they were excited over the shooting at the Holocaust Museum.

CASSIDY:Oh, please.

MULLER: No, Pat. I am convinced that this president hates Jews and he hates Israel. And look, he spent 20 years sitting in a pew --

CASSIDY:Rev. Wright does, I think so.

MULLER: He spent 20 -- look guys, he spent -- and I know the criminal, liberal, state-controlled media doesn't report it, but Obama sat in our city folks -- before I knew the name Obama, I knew Rev. Wright. I'm a churchgoing guy. And I knew what a racist anti-Semite this guy was. What church -- I ask you people -- what church celebrates Louie Farrakhan that isn't -- what Christian church would celebrate this guy?

So now here's Rev. Wright: "Them Jews won't let Obama talk to me."


MULLER: Okay? Obama sat there with this Jew-hater for 20 years. Obama, let's remember this, dedicated his book to him. Named his book after one of Rev. Wright's sermons.

CASSIDY: The "audacity of hope" is from a Rev. Wright sermon.

MULLER: Okay? And then when anyone question this anti-Semite, race-baiting hater, oh they're charged with being a Republican attack machine. Okay? This guy is no man of God. He is evil. And when you see the way Obama is kissing Muslim butt and selling out Israel, you realize where it all came from: the radical wife, okay? The radical, Black Panther wife and Rev. Wright the anti-Semite.

So here we go. Here we go again. World War II. Here we go.

CASSIDY: Well, there's no question that Rev. Wright is a racist. And he certainly appears to be anti-Semitic, certainly his comments last night -- and he's made a million of them.

MULLER: "Those Jews" aren't going to let me talk.

CASSIDY: Exactly. And that was pretty clear. It's hard to hear the sound-bite, but you could definitely hear it.

MULLER: Yeah, well, "them Jews won't let me talk to Obama." Who's he talking about? Rahm Emanuel?

CASSIDY: That's exactly right.

MULLER: Yeah, yeah, so I'm betting these two, these two anti-Semites -- yes, your president; you voted for him, mouth-breathers -- your president and Rev. Wright -- two great Chicagoans, two great race -- hey, race-baiting is a way of life here in Chicago -- two great race-baiters. I bet they were popping champagne over the shooting at the Holocaust Museum.

CASSIDY: I doubt that. That's ridiculous to say that. No question.

MULLER: Really?

CASSIDY: Yeah. They're celebrating a shooting at the Holocaust Museum?

MULLER: Yeah. Yeah.

True Patriotism: Colbert's Iraq Tour

Put up or shut up. That should be the message to all right-wing anchors that badger others about the Iraq War. Hosts like Bill O'Reilly champion our Iraq troops, and the cherry-picked intelligence that sent them there, from the safety of their studios. We all support the troops, though O'Reilly, often accused of bullying anti-war opponents, has yet to step foot in Iraq. Just ask Keith Olbermann, who has long offered to send him.

By contrast, Stephen Colbert, who plays a faux Bill O'Reilly, outdid the man he calls "papa bear." On Monday, June 8, Colbert made good on his troop commitment. He didn't just talk the talk; he walked the walk. For the first time in the history of the U.S.O., a non-news show was broadcast from a combat zone. Colbert not only emerged in a military-fatigue-styled suit, he underwent a day of boot camp in South Carolina.

When interviewing the ranking general in Iraq, Colbert discussed his boot camp experience -- which meant more than touring barracks or grandstanding in a cafeteria. He wiggled on his belly under barbed wire and rappelled down a huge wall, asking his drill instructor: "Do I have to do this if I'm gay?"

The humor was targeted, but the results astounded. Colbert scaled his wall, shipped a crew to Iraq and, in solidarity with the troops, shaved his head. That Newsweek cover of him as guest editor, with a semi-sheared look, is real. Can you image any news anchor -- or any member of Congress -- taking such a symbolic step?

The point Colbert made underscores the power of celebrity -- and using it for good. He's raised money through his WristStrong bracelets for the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which helps injured vets. He raised funds through for school supplies for children of soldiers. Plus, the fake newsman is also donating proceeds from iTunes downloads of this week's episodes to the U.S.O.

Every commentator or guest has the right to express their viewpoint -- be it left, right or center. The goal, however, is to deliver it backed by facts and civility.

Consider the murder of Dr. George Tiller, the abortion doctor in Kansas. O'Reilly called him "Tiller the Baby Killer" and compared the physician, who wasn't breaking any laws, to the Nazis and Al-Qaida. O'Reilly is a powerful voice in media; such vile comments aren't just irresponsible, they are un-American.

Others have a nasty habit of bellowing first and thinking later -- on both sides of the political spectrum.

The most recent example -- conservative radio host Erick "Mancow" Muller, a former commentator for Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends," claimed water-boarding wasn't torture -- until he underwent the procedure and changed his mind. No word yet if Sean Hannity will put his money where his mouth is.

Happily, Colbert does. A clever satirist, he knows the difference between comic self-aggrandizement and dangerous narcissism, which can abuse the power of the airwaves. Our Comedy Central kingpin may mimic right-wing outrage on his popular "Colbert Report," but when it comes to real patriotism, he's true-blue.

Husband of blog post author comparing Obama to Hitler defends wife's views

The husband of an Anne Arundel County Republican woman who wrote a blog plosting comparing President Obama to Hitler said his wife's comments have been misunderstood, and that criticism is piling up.

Responding to a message for comment, Charles Thomann, the husband of Joyce Thomann, the president of the Anne Arundel County Republican Women's Club, said his wife was in Denver caring for her ailing 96-year-old mother and could not immediately comment.

A Republican member of the five-person Maryland State Board of Elections and an adjunct history professor at Anne Arundel Community College, Charles Thomann, speaking on behalf of his wife, defended the online letter comparing Obama and Hitler and said "It wasn't meant in the way people are taking it."

Thomann conceded that "maybe she wasn't as artful as she could have been," referring to his wife's comments, but said he and his wife view Obama's push of what they deem socialist programs similar to the way Adolf Hitler spread the Nazi ideals in Germany.

"The methods that [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and [President] Obama are using to get the socialist view point across, is similar to what Hitlder did. And the German people regretted it. I just happen to be up on it. I happen to be a history teacher."

Thomann said his wife's email inbox is piled high with messages and he has been fielding angry calls from the public since news of the letter broke online. It has been linked from the Huffington Post and other outlets.

"We've gotten a lot of calls," Thomann said. "The liberal Democrats have really been pushing it. Most of it is very vitriolic. I think it's been completely misunderstood ... Once black woman, who said she was black, called and said, 'I really resent this because you're racist.' I told her we're not racist. We're delighted to have a black president. Heck, we'd like to see a woman president, too."

Kory Blake the chair of the Anne Arundel County Democratic party, said "That they would compare the president of the United States to the worst mass murderer in the history of the world, it's uncalled for and it's unncessary. It enforces, for me, the belief that the Republican party has been overtaken by an ideology of hate and they will do anything to try to discredit this president. Unfortunately, they carossed the line on this comparison. People all around the country are looking at Anne Arundel County and scratching their heads. It's appaling."

-- Nicole Fuller

Ann Coulter Chimes In on Obama's Response to Iran and Gov. Sanford,2933,529049,00.html,2933,529049,00.html

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 24, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, "HANNITY" HOST: And joining me now for a reaction to the president's message to Iran and ABC's Barack Obama infomercial, and of course, Governor Mark Sanford, is conservative columnist, best-selling author. Her latest book, "Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault on America." Ann Coulter is back. How are you?

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR, "GUILTY": Fine, thanks. How are you?

HANNITY: You're not in trouble lately. Are you all right? You've sort of been incognito? Where are you? You're always are creating some problems somewhere?

COULTER: I'm reading up on the Noam Chomsky view of the world, so that I can understand Barack Obama's position with Iran.

HANNITY: OK, fair enough. We'll get to Iran in just a second. We'll get to ABC in a second.

Let's start with Governor Mark Sanford.


HANNITY: You were one of the — "High Crimes and Misdemeanors," best- selling book...


HANNITY: Ann Coulter.

COULTER: Yes. And I don't disagree with that now. But he's a Republican, so he will be gone. And he will not be running for president, unlike John Edwards with all of his staff knowing it...

HANNITY: He may not be governor by the end of a couple of weeks.

COULTER: That's right. And even if he is, Republicans vote these guys out, generally. I mean, we'll see what happens with both him and Ensign. But I mean, one — one point that I think needs to be made is politicians, both Republican and Democrat, the Republicans are gone now, so it's harder to remember names like Phil Crane, unlike Barney Frank, Teddy Kennedy. John Edwards whom, as I say, everybody knew he was having affair, and they're still running his campaign for president.

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COULTER: They have affairs at a rate approximately one million times that in the general population. I mean, there was one serious study of the sexual behavior of Americans done out of the University of Chicago a few years ago, peer-reviewed. It went on for years and years.

And only about 15 percent of men and about 8 or 10 percent of women — I think the women's rate has been growing since the study came out...


COULTER: ... just 10 years ago. But meanwhile, politicians, it's like 50 percent of them. I think it's the whole personality of politicians, that you can see in those Sanford e-mails. And I think it's appalling that the e-mails have come out. But yet and still, I have read them. And you know, the way he goes on and on about his travels...

HANNITY: You had to do it for purely business purposes, you know, and...

COULTER: His itinerary and, "Oh, that talk about me being vice president."


COULTER: I mean, he is just so full of himself. And to think he could get away with this...

HANNITY: I didn't see that in him. I — you know, I — did you see it in him? I did not.

COULTER: I was not a huge fan of his.

HANNITY: No, it's not a matter of being a fan, as much as, you know, usually you can glean something from people in their arrogance in the public. I did not see that in him.

COULTER: I wouldn't have known one way or the another. But in general, politicians — and there are some honorable politicians; and God bless them, there aren't many of them — but they're narcissistic. They need people to love them. They think they are — and also, they're all nerds who could never get a girl to kiss them in high school. I mean, look at these guys! From Bill Clinton to this guy? They're not exactly a hunk of burning love here.

HANNITY: Listen, I don't know what that means, because I had very few girlfriends, too. So I was...

COULTER: That is a lie. People can see you, Sean.

HANNITY: But I'm telling you...

COULTER: Do you have a mirror? We know you were not a nerd in high school, so stop pretending to be one.

HANNITY: I wasn't — I wasn't a nerd. I was in trouble all the time.

COULTER: But girls love that.

HANNITY: Yes. You know, those were my troubled years.

What — why do you think this is — now this may be a stupid question, and the broader question is this. Does it matter what you do in your private life versus — and your ability to do the job as a governor...


HANNITY: Why? And explain why.

COULTER: Yes, I mean it is a character issue. It's one thing — I mean, I think it's silly, the hypocrisy point. I do not think Sanford, I do not think John Ensign, I don't think Vitter, certainly, would say, "Oh, no, I really didn't believe any of that Christianity stuff."


COULTER: No, it's wrecked their lives. It's wrecked their marriages. It's wrecked their children's lives. Of course they believe it, and they fell. So I don't think it's a question of hypocrisy. But it is a question of character.

HANNITY: All right. I want to give you a shot at health care, and I want to give you a shot at Iran. You've got a column coming out tomorrow.

COULTER: Tonight. It's posted at


COULTER: And you got a little advance. Pointing out that Obama is — is worse than Hamlet on Iran. He is Colin Powell, waiting to see which side wins before choosing sides...

HANNITY: But I said that to Karl Rove. Isn't that voting "present"? Isn't that his entire...

COULTER: I love that.

HANNITY: It's true, right?

COULTER: I think that is a perfect description of it.

HANNITY: By the way, I've got to give Tom more credit from our affiliate in — radio affiliate in Baltimore. He is the first one to pose (ph) the idea.


HANNITY: And it's right.

COULTER: There is no sense that this — I cannot imagine Obama giving a speech, forget Reaganesque speech, a speech as good as George Bush could give...


COULTER: ... talking about freedom and liberty from the heart. He cannot come out. I mean, he finally came out and did this week, by the way, giving the lie to all of Obama's defenders in the press, saying, "Oh, he can't say anything about Iran. It would be wrong to insert America into this. It would be a disaster." Well, then why is he doing it this week?

HANNITY: What — but he said we were meddling. And you know, when he goes around and he says to the world that America is arrogant, and he doesn't defend America's sacrifice for the cause of liberty and the cause of freedom...


HANNITY: ... it seems to me — and I said this the other night. I think he is Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright. Not Bill Ayers the terrorist; Bill Ayers the radical.

COULTER: Right. And Noam Chomsky. Oh, absolutely. His view of America is that we only — and curiously, this idea that the protesters would suddenly going to decide, "Oh, no, we're going to stop protesting if Obama put in a kind word for them."

Well, A, it's insane. But B, it reflects the left's world view that they hate America so much, they assume the rest of the world does. No, Iran does not, especially those protesters. They don't hate Americans.

Iran is called the red state of the Middle East, because most of — 70 percent of the population is under age 30. Those kids want to live in freedom.

HANNITY: By the way, you're always so...

COULTER: And that's George Bush.

HANNITY: You're always so shy and timid in your views.

COULTER: George Bush helped the Iranians.

HANNITY: Come on, Coulter. That was a joke.

COULTER: They saw fellow Muslims living in freedom and democracy in Iraq, and that's what inspired this. And Obama is living off the War on Terror...


HANNITY: You're the only one that has said that, and I thought the exact same thing. I think George W. Bush helped create this.

COULTER: Let's hope Obama doesn't blow it.

HANNITY: That's true. All right, Coulter. Good to see you. When's the next book coming out?

COULTER: Oh, give me a little time to rest! Probably next year.

HANNITY: We'll see. Ann Coulter, always great to have you.

Watch "Hannity" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!

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False profits and prophecies

False profits and prophecies
By Henry C K Liu

In an earlier article for Asia Times Online, Tip-toe regulatory reform [Jun 18], I referred to George Soros - the speculator who broke the Bank of England over a defense of the pound sterling - as having said in the Financial Times that a requirement for lenders selling securitized loans as securities to retain 5% exposure "is more symbolic than substantive". This is because many institutions were playing the game of regulatory arbitrage, the practice of taking advantage of a regulatory difference between two or more markets.

The issue of regulatory arbitrage was discussed in my recent article on my website: "Mark-to-Market vs Mark-to-Model" [1], an abridged version of which also appeared on the website of New Deal 2.0, a project of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. [2]

AIG Financial Products (AIGFP), based in London, where the

regulatory regime was less restrictive than in the US, took advantage of AIG's statute categorization as an insurance company and therefore not subject to the same burdensome rules on capital reserves as banks. AIG would not need to set aside anything but a tiny sliver of capital if it would insure the super-senior risk tranches of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) in its holdings.

Nor was the insurer likely to face hard questions from its own regulators because AIGFP had largely fallen through the inter-agency cracks of oversight. It was regulated by the US Office for Thrift Supervision, whose staff had inadequate expertise in the field of cutting-edge structured finance products.

AIGFP insured bank-held super-senior risk CDOs in the broad CDS market. AIG would earn a relatively trifling fee for providing this coverage - just 0.02 cents for each dollar insured per year. For the buyer of such insurance, the cost is insignificant for the critical benefit, particularly in the financial advantage associated with a good credit rating, which the buyer receives not because the instruments are "safe" but because the risk was insured by AIGFP.

For AIG, with 0.02 cents multiplied a few hundred billion times, it adds up to an appreciable income stream, particularly if no reserves are required to cover the supposedly non-existent risk. Regulators were told by the banks that a way had been found to remove all credit risk from their CDO deals.

As an example, an investor buys a CDS contract from a triple-A-rated bank to insure against the eventuality of a counterparty defaulting, by making regular insurance payments to the bank for the protection. If the counterparty defaults on its commitment at any time during the duration of the contract by missing an agreed interest payment or failing to repay the principle at maturity, the investor will be assured to receive a one-off payment of the insured amount from the bank - whose credit rating is triple-A - and the CDS contract is terminated.

If the investor actually holds the debt from the counterparty, the CDS contract works as a hedge against counterparty default. But investors can also buy CDS contracts on debts they do not hold, as a speculative play, to bet against the solvency of one side of the any counterparty relationship in a gamble to make money if it fails, or to hedge investments in other parties whose fortunes are expected to be similar to those of the target party.

If a counterparty defaults, one of two things can happen:

1. The insured investor delivers a defaulted asset to the insurer bank for a payment at par value. This is known as physical settlement.
2. The insuring bank pays the investor the difference between the par value and the market price of a specified debt obligation after recovery to cover the loss. This is known as cash settlement.

The spread of a CDS is the annual amount the "protection buyer" must pay the "protection seller" over the length of the contract, expressed as a percentage of the notional value. For example, if the CDS spread of counterparty risk is 100 basis points (1%), then an investor buying $100 million worth of protection from the insuring bank must pay the bank US$1 million per year. These payments continue until either the CDS contract expires or the target counterparty defaults, at which point the insuring bank pays the insured of outstanding value owed by of the counterparty.

All things being equal, at any given time, if the maturity of two credit default swaps is the same, then the CDS associated with a particular counterparty with a higher CDS spread is considered more likely to default by the market, since a higher fee is being charged to protect against this happening. However, factors such as liquidity and estimated loss given default can impact the comparison. When spread skyrockets during a market seizure, insurers can fail because they are not required to adjust regular income statements to show balance sheet volatility. This was what happened to AIG, which provided no reserves for its CDS contracts.

Systemic risk and credit rating
Thus there were two dimensions to the cause of the current credit crisis. The first was that unit risk was not eliminated, merely transferred to a larger pool to make it invisible statistically. The second, and more ominous, was that regulatory risks were defined by credit ratings, and the two fed on each other inversely. As credit rating rose, risk exposure fell to create an under-pricing of risk. But as risk exposure rose, credit rating fell to exacerbate a further rise of risk exposure in a chain reaction that detonated a debt explosion of atomic dimension.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve jointly allowed banks with CDS insurance to keep super-senior risk assets on their books without adding capital because the risk was insured. Normally, if the banks held the super-senior risk on their books, they would need to post 8% capital. But capital could be reduced to one-fifth the normal amount (20% of 8%, meaning $160 for every $10,000 of risk on the books) if banks could prove to the regulators that the risk of default on the super-senior portion of the deals was truly negligible, and if the securities being issued via a CDO structure carried a Triple-A credit rating from a "nationally recognized credit rating agency", such as Standard & Poor's rating on AIG.

With CDS insurance, banks then could cut the normal $800 million capital for every $10 billion of corporate loans on their books to just $160 million, meaning banks with CDS insurance could lend up to five times more on the same capital. The CDS-insured CDO deals could then bypass international banking rules on capital. To correct this bypass is a key reason why the government wanted to conduct stress tests on banks in 2009 to see if banks needed to raise new capital in a downward loss-given default.

CDS contracts are generally subject to mark-to-market accounting that introduces regular periodic income statements to show balance sheet volatility that would not be present in a regulated insurance contract. Further, the buyer of a CDS does not even need to own the underlying security or other form of credit exposure. In fact, the buyer does not even have to suffer an actual loss from the default event - only a virtual loss would suffice for collection of the insured notional amount. So, at 0.02 cents to a dollar (1 to 10,000 odd), speculators could place bets to collect astronomical payouts in billions with affordable losses. A $10,000 bet on a CDS default could stand to win $100,000,000 within a year. That was exactly what many hedge funds did because they could recoup all their lost bets even if they only won once in 10,000 years.

As it turns out, many only had to wait a a couple of years before winning a huge windfall. But until AIG was bailed out by the Fed, these hedge funds were not sure they could collect their winnings.

Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman, was not unaware of the problem of regulatory arbitrage, but he chose to permit it as "desirable".

In the October 1998 article, "The Role of Capital in Optimal Banking Supervision and Regulation" [3] Greenspan wrote: "It is clear that our major banks have become quite efficient at engaging in such desirable forms of regulatory capital arbitrage, through securitization and other devices."

Greenspan wrote that "a reasonable principle for setting regulatory soundness standards is to act much as the market would if there were no safety net and all market participants were fully informed. For example, requiring all of our regulated financial institutions to maintain insolvency probabilities that are equivalent to a triple-A rating standard would be demonstrably too stringent because there are very few such entities among unregulated financial institutions not subject to the safety net."

He went on: "We have no choice but to continue to plan for a successor to the simple risk-weighting approach to capital requirements embodied within the current regulatory standard. While it is unclear at present exactly what that successor might be, it seems clear that adding more and more layers of arbitrary regulation would be counterproductive. We should, rather, look for ways to harness market tools and market-like incentives whenever possible, by using banks' own policies, behaviors, and technologies in improving the supervisory process."

And he went further: "Finally, we should always remind ourselves that supervision and regulation are neither infallible nor likely to prove sufficient to meet all our intended goals. Put another way, the Basle standard and the bank examination process, even if structured in optimal fashion, are a second line of support for bank soundness. Supervision and regulation can never be a substitute for a bank's own internal scrutiny of its counterparties and for the market's scrutiny of the bank. Therefore, we should not, for example, abandon efforts to contain the scope of the safety net or to press for increases in the quantity and quality of financial disclosures by regulated institutions."

In other words, Greenspan looked to self regulation as the first line of defense and increased disclosure as the appropriate path, not supervision and regulation.

Greenspan concluded: "If we follow these basic prescriptions, I suspect that history will look favorably on our attempts at crafting regulatory policy."

Greenspan was unjustifiably complacent about how history would judge him and his views on regulation.

Iranian cleric urges executing some protesters

Iranian cleric urges executing some protesters

EDITOR'S NOTE: Iranian authorities have barred journalists for international news organizations from reporting on the streets and ordered them to stay in their offices. This report is based on the accounts of witnesses reached in Iran and official statements carried on Iranian media.


A senior cleric on Friday urged Iran's protest leaders to be punished "without mercy" and said some should face execution — harsh calls that signal a nasty new turn in the regime's crackdown on demonstrators two weeks after its disputed election.

Hard-liners have ordered long sentences and hangings before, and some fear those awaiting trial by a judiciary whose verdicts reflect the will of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could face the most severe punishments the Islamic system can dish out.

"Anyone who takes up arms to fight with the people, they are worthy of execution," Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami, a ranking cleric, said in a nationally broadcast sermon at Tehran University.

Khatami said those who disturbed the peace and destroyed public property were "at war with God" and should be "dealt with without mercy."

His call for merciless retribution for those who stirred up Iran's largest wave of dissent since the 1979 Islamic Revolution came as Mir Hossein Mousavi, the nation's increasingly isolated opposition leader, has been under heavy pressure to give up his fight and slipped even further from view.

Mousavi said he would seek official permission for any future rallies, effectively ending his role in street protests organized by supporters who insist he — not hard-line incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — won the June 12 election. And an aide said Mousavi's Web site, his primary means of staying in touch with supporters, was taken down by unknown hackers.

Mousavi alleges he was robbed of victory through widespread and systematic fraud. The regime rejects the claim, refusing to consider new balloting, and on Friday, the Guardian Council — Iran's top electoral body — proclaimed the vote the "healthiest" held since the revolution.

Since the election, opposition protesters repeatedly have clashed with security forces who arrested hundreds of people, including journalists, academics and university students. At least 17 people have been killed, in addition to eight members of the pro-government Basij militia, officials have said.

President Barack Obama, joined at the White House by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hailed the demonstrators in Iran and condemned the violence against them.

"Their bravery in the face of brutality is a testament to their enduring pursuit of justice," Obama said. "The violence perpetrated against them is outrageous. In spite of the government's efforts to keep the world from bearing witness to that violence, we see it and we condemn it."

Obama scoffed at accusations of U.S. meddling in Iran by Ahmadinejad, who on Thursday called for "repentance" from the U.S. leader. Obama added that Mousavi has "captured the imagination or spirit" of those in Iran who are "interested in opening up."

The demonstrations petered out this week under an ever-intensifying crackdown. Mousavi, meanwhile, has sent mixed signals to supporters, asking them not to break the law while pledging not to drop his challenge.

Amnesty International called the prospect of quick trials and capital punishment for some detainees "a very worrying development." It said Iran was the world's No. 2 executioner after China last year, with at least 346 known instances of people put to death. The group also called on the regime to release dozens of detained journalists it said faced possible torture.

Khatami's call for harsh penalties and even death for those who are found to have defied the Islamic system "is certainly an attempt to instill fear in people," said Ann Harrison, an Iran researcher at Amnesty.

Whether the regime will actually follow through — or need to — was unclear. After Iran's 1999 student uprising, the regime sentenced scores to death, but many of those eventually were commuted to prison terms.

Either way, detainees face a fearsome, cleric-controlled judiciary. Courts often convene behind closed doors, rights groups complain that defendants sometimes have little access to lawyers, and the world learns of their fate only if a verdict happens to be announced on state TV.

"Any chances of a trial that meets standards of due process would be very slim," said Aaron Rhodes, spokesman for the New York-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

"What the regime is really saying is that any Iranian citizen who has dared express views which aren't consistent with the views of a small hard-line clique is at risk of the most severe punishment the system can deal out," he said. "They are really at the mercy of the system at this point."

In his sermon, Khatami asked the judiciary to "confront the leaders of the protests, leaders of the violations, and those who are supported by the United States and Israel strongly, and without mercy to provide a lesson for all."

He reminded worshippers that Khamenei, the supreme leader, rules by God's design and must not be defied.

The cleric also lashed out at foreign journalists, accusing them of false reporting, and singled out Britain for new criticism. Earlier this week, Iran expelled two British diplomats, prompting the expulsion of two Iranian diplomats by Britain.

"In this unrest, Britons have behaved very mischievously and it is fair to add the slogan of 'down with England' to the slogan of 'down with USA,'" he said.

In Trieste, Italy, foreign ministers of the Group of Eight countries called for an end to the violence in Iran and urged the authorities to find a peaceful solution.

Also Friday, more than 150 demonstrators attacked the Iranian Embassy outside the Swedish capital of Stockholm, throwing stones, breaking windows and injuring one worker, police said. Officers evicted the few demonstrators who climbed in through broken windows and arrested one person, said police spokesman Ulf Hoglund.

Khatami alleged that the icon of the opposition, slain protester Neda Agha Soltan, was killed by demonstrators, not the Iranian security forces. Soltan, 27, was killed by a shot to the chest last week, on the sidelines of a protest.

In London, an Iranian doctor who said he tried to save Soltan as the young woman bled to death, told the BBC she apparently was shot by a member of the Basij militia. Protesters spotted an armed member of the militia on a motorcycle, and stopped and disarmed him, said Dr. Arash Hejazi.

In quelling protests, Basij militiamen have broken up even small groups of people walking together to prevent any possible gathering. Still, dozens of friends and relatives of Soltan managed to pay tribute Friday, arriving at Tehran's Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in groups of two and three, uttering brief prayers and placing flowers on her grave, witnesses said.

Kole reported from Cairo; Associated Press writers Shaya Tayefe Mohajer in Cairo, Louise Nordstrom in Stockholm, and Ben Feller in Washington contributed to this report.

Former German Minister of Justice creates “suicide machine” for terminally ill

.- The former Minister of Justice of Hamburg (Germany), Roger Kusch, recently unveiled a “suicide machine” to allow the terminally ill to end their lives if they wish.

According to the German television network Deutsche Welle, on March 28 Kusch presented his new “invention” to journalists and explained that the “machine is ready for use.” He explained that now the terminally ill in Germany do not have to travel to Switzerland where assisted suicide is legal.

“It’s the best method for those who desire death,” he later told CNN. The machine consists of an IV that sends anesthetic into the body through one tube and a lethal dose of potassium chloride through another. The only thing a doctor has to do is insert the needles into the patient, a procedure which by itself does not violate any German law. The patient would then press a button to begin administration of the drugs.

Kusch said the death process would last around four minutes.

Auxiliary Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke of Hamburg told the KNA news agency that the machine is an “instrument of torture” and a “macabre game with death, disguised with noble words of compassion and questionable legal tricks.”

Frank Ulrich, vice president of the German Medical Association, warned in statements to the DPA news agency that “we do not need a killing machine but rather care for the terminally ill and palliative medicine that alleviates patients’ pain and fear of the end of their lives.”

“This is an attack on the spirit of our ethics, the spirit of our ethical tradition, the spirit of the Christian image about the human being and against the spirit of our laws,” said Wolfgang Huber, the director of the German Lutheran Church.

Belgian politicians propose allowing terminally ill children to request euthanasia

.- Lawmakers of Belgium’s coalition government have urged debate on a euthanasia law currently in Parliament that would allow “minors with incurable diseases and people who suffer from severe dementia” to “end their lives voluntarily if that is their wish.”

“We will not leave the ethical debate as it has been during the last four years,” said liberal leader Bart Tommelein. Tommelein has pledged to bring forward new legislative proposals extending euthanasia to children and old people suffering from such severe dementia that they are unable to choose for themselves. "We will seek, as Liberals, parliamentary majorities," he said.

The debate over the moral legitimacy of euthanasia has escalated since the death of Belgium writer Hugo Claus, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and requested to be euthanized. His decision was praised by liberal party members.

Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Brussels denounced euthanasia during his homily on Easter Sunday. "Avoiding suffering is no act of bravery," he said. "Our society seems unable to cope with death and suffering."

Euthanasia was approved by Belgium in 2002, and in 2007, the association Death with Dignity registered 495 cases of euthanasia.

New cultural center in Germany to honor victims of Nazi euthanasia

.- The Germany state of Brandenburg has announced the creation of a cultural center to honor the handicapped that were killed by the Nazi government’s euthanasia program called “Operation T4.”

The center will be located in one of the six institutions that the Nazis disguised as homes for the elderly but in reality were extermination camps. According to historians who spoke to Reuters, “more than 100,000 people were killed between 1940 and 1945 as part of the euthanasia policy put in place by Adolph Hitler.”

The Ministry of Science, Research and Culture of Brandenburg, which is overseeing the project, said that “almost $800,000 has been earmarked for the construction of the new center.” The date of inauguration for the new building has not been set.

“Hitler prepared the way for Operation T4 with propaganda films that portrayed the mentally and terminally ill as ‘useless mouths to feed’ who could be relieved from their suffering by a ‘sensible doctor’,” the Ministry said, adding that “Operation T4 was a precursor to the Holocaust.”

The Nazi euthanasia program ended in 1941 after widespread protests. However, the practice of killing patients by starvation or lethal injection continued.

Euthanasia similar to Hitler’s racial purging, says Nuncio in Spain

.- The Apostolic Nuncio to Spain, Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, compared euthanasia with Hitler’s racial purging and said both situations are “the consequence of a society without God.”

“When values have their foundation in man, they are very fragile. It’s enough to look at the 20th century,” the Portuguese prelate said in a recent interview.

He noted that in some countries, “euthanasia for children with defects” is being considered. They are doing so “because, they say, they are not useful for society,” the Nuncio said. A society based “solely on man with no regard for God is very fragile,” he stressed.

Regarding the role that religion plays in society, the Nuncio referred to the two encyclicals by Benedict XVI, “Deus Caritas est” and “Spe Salvi”, in order to point out the importance of charity and hope. “Hope means that our lives have a goal that is transcendental. Otherwise we just get lost,” he said.

He also pointed to the important role religion plays in fostering understanding, noting that in the wake of important events, “we have seen how leaders come to visit the Pope and nobody told them to,” such as the recent visit of the king of Saudi Arabia to the Vatican. “I am convinced that his visit was the result of the famous speech at Regensburg,” Archbishop Monteiro said.

Regarding the situation of Christians in Muslim countries, he acknowledged that “there are difficulties,” but “the Holy See is active and we are doing everything we can to improve the situation,” he said.

House and Senate Pass Service Bill Very Similar to Hitler's Youth?


House and Senate Pass Service Bill Very Similar to Hitler's Youth?
House and Senate Pass Service Bill Very Similar to Hitler's Youth?

By Brannon Howse

Please Listen To This Radio Broadcast and Read the Articles Below and Forward To All Your Friends and Family

Click here to listen now
Worldview Matters with Brannon Howse - March 27th, 2009

Is this the private, well-funded, civilian military Obama promised during the campaign? Brannon Howse reveals the largely unknown story of how the Obama's are taking national their radical, socialist, and anti-Christian worldview training that was birthed through their organization "Public Allies". The training will include "social justice" instruction which is code word for Communism, socialism and Marxism. Obama's friend, and self-declared Communist, Bill Ayers is now one of the leading social justice authors of textbooks being used nationally.

Much of this began years ago with the help of socialist John Dewey and William James. James wrote "The Moral Equivalent of War" in which he called for compulsory youth service that used the military model of discipline, drilling and training. While he was anti-military he knew the value of the techniques that teach military members to follow orders, work for the common good of the group, and reject individuality and self-interest for collectivism. James even acknowledges the need for some criminal cruelty to win their war on capitalism and traditional virtues.

The newly passed legislation calls for a committee to study making this youth service mandatory. The Obama/Biden website called for 50 hours of yearly volunteerism for middle school and high school. Sounds harmless enough right? Not until you realize the volunteerism is for liberal leftist, inner-city organizations that are seeking to indoctrinate young minds with the acceptance of the growth of the welfare-state by emotionally manipulating them with the need for redistribution of wealth. The war is the haves against the have nots just as Saul Alinsky called for in his book, Rules for Radicals.

The New York Times reports that this legislation will cost $5.7 billion from 2010 to 2014 and will engage 7 million in this indoctrination. The paper also reports that the majority of Republicans and Democrats voted for this legislation and Rick Warren was an "enthusiastic supporter of this effort". The legislation also forbids students that are going through this government brainwashing from “engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship.”

This bill goes back to the House and then to the Senate after conference. You must demand your two U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative vote against this bill when it comes back to them in the coming days.

Click here to listen now:
Worldview Matters with Brannon Howse - March 27th, 2009
By faith Noah,being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear,prepared an ark to the saving of his house;by the which he condemned the world,and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith Heb.11:7

Ahmadinejad Compares Obama To Bush; Has 70 Academics Arrested

Kris Alingod - AHN Contributor

Tehran, Iran (AHN) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused his American counterpart on Thursday of using the same rhetoric of former U.S. President George W. Bush against the Islamic nation. His comments came amid reports that 70 academics have been arrested in the government crackdown on the opposition, and a boycott by 100 Parliament members of Ahmadinejad's election victory party.

Ahmadinejad was said to have received 63 percent of the vote in Iran's June 12 election, while main opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, took 34 percent.

Only Iran's 10th election since the 1979 revolution, there have been massive rallies by pro and anti-government protesters since then, and serious accusations against Western nations, specifically France, London and the United States, of meddling.

At least 17 protesters have reportedly died during the post-election rallies. And the death of one woman, Neda Agha Soltan - in graphic video widely circulated on the Internet - has become a symbol of what may be one of the most powerful challenges against the Islamic nation's rulers since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Mehdi Karroubi, an opposition candidate who finished fourth in the polls, has canceled a mourning ceremony for the killed protesters he organized for Thursday, Mousavi said in his website.

The Guardian Council, the body that supervises elections and approves results, had announced last Tuesday that it would recount some votes, but Mousavi, who had alleged voter fraud, had rejected the offer of a recount and asked for new elections.

Early this week, the Council declared all votes valid, even as violent protests continued.

"If a major breach occurs in an election, the Guardian Council may annul the votes that come out of a particular affected ballot box, polling station, district, or city like how it was done in the parliamentary elections," Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei said, according to the state-run Press TV. "We found no witness of major fraud or breach in the election. Therefore, there is no possibility of an annulment taking place."

The crackdown on the opposition had been strong enough to quiet the streets of Tehran on Wednesday. The same day Ahmadinejad held a victory party, but the BBC reported that 105 of the 290 members of Parliament did not attend, reflecting a split among Iran's leaders.

There are also reports that 70 professors who met with Mousavi, a 67-year-old former prime minister who ran on a pledge to mend Tehran's relations with the international community, have been arrested.

On Thursday, Ahmadinejad told the Fars News Agency, "I hope [U.S. President Barack Obama] will avoid interfering in Iran's affairs and express regret in a way that the Iranian people are informed of it... Our question is why he fell into this trap and said things that previously [former US President George W] Bush used to say."

Obama has been reaching out to Iran and other hostile nations, saying Bush's hardline approach has not been successful.

Ahmadinejad's comment was in response to Obama's latest statement about Iran, made during his fourth press conference on Tuesday. Obama hadissued the statement amid increasing criticisms from Republicans that he was taking a too cautious stance about the crackdown in the Islamic republic.

"The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings, and imprisonments of the last few days," Obama had sad. "I strongly condemn these unjust actions... I've made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of Iran, and is not interfering with Iran's affairs. But we must also bear witness to the courage and the dignity of the Iranian people."

"The Iranian people are trying to have a debate about their future. Some in Iran -- some in the Iranian government, in particular, are trying to avoid that debate by accusing the United States and others in the West of instigating protests over the election. These accusations are patently false," he added.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has repeatedly criticized foreign governments for casting doubt in the election results. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has also said that France, Germany and London were "meddling," and a parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, has proposed "reviewing" relations with the United Kingdom.

On Wednesday, Iranian Interior Minister Seyed Sadeq Mahsouli told Fars News Agency, "A large number of rioters receive financial backup from the US, CIA and the MKO [anti-Iran terrorist group Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization ]."

The Obama administration maintains that it has not and will not interfere with Iran' internal problems, but it has also admitted to having sent Khamenei a letter before the elections.

"The administration has indicated a willingness to talk with the leadership in Iran and have sought to communicate with the Iranian people in a variety of ways," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a Wednesday press briefing. "But I am not going to get into anything other than the notion that you all understand the President has spoken throughout the campaign about being engaged."

The State Department said it is awaiting Iran's response to a P5+1 meeting, but refused to directly say if it had withdrawn invitations to Iranian diplomats for the Fourth of July festivities in Washington.

The United States is part of a group of six nations called the P5+1 that are in talks with Iran about denuclearization. The Islamic nation has received international condemnation for its nuclear proliferation program, which it has said is for non-military purposes.

Why BBC expenses are not as bad as greedy MPs

The disclosure of BBC managers' pay and expenses make for some juicy gossip, but in reality there's no great scandal here.

There is no smoking gun, no comparison with MPs, no need for anyone to fall on their sword.

It is clear BBC executives haven't been "flipping" their homes, fiddling expenses or cleaning their moats at public expense.

The majority of claims appear to be legitimate, if sometimes a touch generous with the public purse. There have of course been some questionable judgments applied.

Did director general Mark Thompson really need to charter a private plane in the US and claim £1,277 on expenses to come back and deal with an internal inquiry into Alan Yentob (which cleared him). Thompson also claimed £2,236.90 to fly him and his family back from holiday to deal with Manuelgate.

But he would have faced criticism had he not returned. There are bound to be embarrassing claims at an organization this big. But overall the figures suggest reasonable behaviour by execs.

And do we really begrudge Bruce Forsyth the £100 bottle of champagne bosses bought him on his 80th? Managers need to be mindful that they are dealing with public money.

But on this evidence BBC bosses are paragons of virtue compared to MPs.

Thursday, June 25, 2009\th_Dimension

Miller, Richard Alan - Magical and Ritual Uses of Common Herbs

Miller, Richard Alan - Magical and Ritual Uses of Common Herbs

98% of supposedly environmentally friendly products in US supermarkets make false or confusing claims

More than 98% of supposedly natural and environmentally friendly products on US supermarket shelves are making potentially false or misleading claims, Congress has been told. And 22% of products making green claims bear an environmental badge that has no inherent meaning, said Scot Case, of the environmental consulting firm TerraChoice.

The study of nearly 4,000 consumer products found "greenwashing" in nearly every product category from a lack of verifiable information to outright lies.

[ That is what happens with free market capitalism, total corruption. It's all about looking for dirty tricks to get ahead. That's why we need Socialism. ]

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Main Entry:
il·lu·mine           Listen to the pronunciation of illumine
transitive verb
Inflected Form(s):
il·lu·mined; il·lu·min·ing
14th century
il·lu·min·able           Listen to the pronunciation of illuminable \-mə-nə-bəl\ adjective


Racist Like MeWhy am I the only honest bigot?

Illustration by Robert NeubeckerIn a nation riven to its very core by race, I appear to be the only remaining racist. Off and on, I'm homophobic and anti-Semitic, too, but mostly, I'm racist. Yet unlike the rest of you, I'm honest about it.

I'm the only person I know who routinely admits to being a racist. When I redeemed my Mother's Day spa package, I was assigned a lovely young black woman as my aesthetician. As we chatted, I found myself searching for words. Eventually, I realized I was trying to find a way to ask about her credentials. In 20 years of spa trips, I have never had a black aesthetician, and I have never thought, let alone asked, about one's competence, even when they disappoint me. It appears that I, too, think black people are stupid, uninformed, and graceless. Criminal, too—day before yesterday, after finalizing the details of working in a public housing complex, I dreamt that night of herds of rapacious, animalistic blacks robbing, assaulting, and generally terrorizing me there. (Birth of a Nation was more subtle.) So, counting yesterday's incident, which I will recount shortly, that makes twice just this week that I was a racist.

It was yesterday's incident that got me thinking about how racism is lived. The New York Times recently won a Pulitzer for a series on how race is lived, but that's not quite the same thing, is it? Most of us agree that racism is far from dead and that we're all responsible for helping to end it. And yet, so charged is the issue of race that it is virtually impossible for those who do not already agree about it to discuss it. Without a free exchange of ideas, progress is not very likely; conservatives will continue to preach to their choir and liberals will do the same.

Here's an example: A gay friend was being cavalier and dismissive, I thought, about the least divergence from the gay agenda, even by a pro-gay person like me. He wouldn't even entertain the notion that, say, lesbians in a women's locker room could legitimately give one pause. It shouldn't be a long pause (given that they've always been there), but give me a break. From the look on his face, you'd have thought that I had said he was going to sodomite hell. "Oh Debra. From you?" I argued that a man would never be allowed into a women's locker room—even if he were physically incapable of either sex or violence (I also made him blind for good measure). My friend sighed deeply, looked to the heavens as if praying for patience, and then grandly "forgave" me by abruptly changing the subject. Clearly, he considered any such discussion homophobic, a designation I escaped solely on the strength of our friendship. But why couldn't we discuss it? The notion that "victim" status exempts him from the need to examine, explain, or defend his beliefs is a dangerous one indeed. That was the perfect moment both to prove to himself that he'd thought things through, and to educate someone who could go forth and spread knowledge. Instead, we just showed each other that you can love and respect someone and yet know that they can sometimes be self-righteous, intolerant, and anti-intellectual.

One reason for bigotry's maddening intractability is that a determination—however knee-jerk, superficial, or unthinkingly made—that something or someone is racist ends the discussion, as happened with my friend. The verdict is "guilty" and the only punishment is forfeiture of the right to consider yourself a decent human being. Better to be a necrophiliac than an admitted bigot. Yet if we are to evolve on the issue of race, the notion that you, or someone else, is racist ought to function as the beginning of the attainment of full humanity, not the proof that you've relinquished it. Realizing with each incident that I was operating from a no-longer-quite-subconscious script about race allowed me to recognize, and then confront, the hateful notions I have internalized about blacks. Worse, it allowed me to see that having experienced racism had helped turn me into one: It turns out that I have a problem with whites, too.

Yesterday, I watched a white man park his truck in my driveway and walk off down the road without even a glance to see if the owners were about so he could ask permission. The sense of entitlement and ownership he exuded pushed every race-, gender- and class-based button a black girl from the inner city has to push. Guys like that have been pushing the world (read: me) around forever. Still, I tried to shrug it off. Then, when I went out for the mail two hours later, I was furious to see his truck still on my property. In full Gloria Steinem meets Fannie Lou Hamer mode, I marched down the road to the construction site where I figured he'd gone.

At the site, a gaggle of "Joe College"-type shirtless white boys were goofing off, and a grandfatherly black man halfheartedly directed nonexistent traffic. As I approached, the black man perked up, glad to see me in this extremely white part of an extremely white city in an extremely white region. Or perhaps he was glad because now he wasn't the only adult. The white guys, suddenly busy with their rakes, feigned blindness.

"Whose truck—"

The black man strode over and pointed gleefully at the man who was clearly in charge. "The green hat! That's his truck." How had he known what I was going to say?

With happy spite, the black man watched as I exchanged a few words with my squatter and saluted me as the man who must be his boss followed me shamefacedly to move his truck. As I passed the brother, I said evilly, "If I'd parked on his property, the police would be here."

"You got that right," he agreed grimly, as if I'd narrowly escaped the noose. It's a wonder we didn't flash each other black power salutes. But the moment the words were out of my mouth, I was ashamed. Worse: I felt stupid.

Who am I kidding? I'm an attorney. The lots are so big in my deer-filled suburb that I had to drive from neighbor to neighbor to collect petition signatures for a local election. In fact, we rarely even use that usurped driveway because we have two. My architect husband is white as are our two children. (So far. Biracial kids often darken over time.) The local police are just as respectful of me as they are of my neighbors, whatever they might be thinking. Whether or not I should fear them, I don't.

It is a testament to the enduring legacy of racism that a black grandfather still doing manual labor bothered to side with either me or my squatter. He should have said to hell with the both of you and played dumb, leaving the two of us to fight over our possessions. I'm guessing he'd also witnessed his feudal lord take arrogant possession of a stranger's property and that this had pushed all his buttons, too. The fact that I turned out to be black was the icing on the cake.

In a way, I'm arguing for class warfare to replace racial warfare. Class conflict makes sense; it keeps the powerful from riding roughshod over senior citizens who can't retire from manual labor in the hot sun. The truth is, I have far more in common with the rich white man than I do with that poor black grandfather (who would never dare to park on private property in this neighborhood). A world of perfect harmony would be lovely, but until the rapture comes I'd rather blue-collar types of all races faced off against us "suits" than one race against the other. There is nothing logical, natural, or beneficial about a world organized by race—the very concept is irrational. Any system divided along racial lines, implicitly or overtly, will be immoral, inefficient, and unstable. (Take, for example, poor whites' hatred of slaves, rather than of slavery, for depressing wages.)

Class conflict, on the other hand, is natural and rational. It brought us the minimum wage, OSHA, Social Security, the weekend, overtime, pensions, and the like. While none of those are unmitigated successes, a system organized along class lines acknowledges that capitalism doesn't police itself and that labor must have a voice—it wasn't the capitalists who pushed for child labor laws and the eight-hour work day. Everybody loses when societal goods are distributed on the basis of race, even those in the front of the bus. Bigotry is just plain stupid, but as long as the price of examining one's prejudices is expulsion from the human race, we're never going to be able to quash it.

When I realized that I had internalized the world's loathing of blacks, my first response was, counterintuitively, relief. Finally, I have proof that blacks' obsession with racism isn't crazy. If I secretly think that many poor blacks are animalistic and stupid, you'll never make me believe that lots of other people don't, too. My lasting response has been chagrined amusement to realize that I hold such ridiculous, illogical notions. Most of all, acknowledging my own racism has given me a measure of compassion for how difficult it is to retain one's humanity in such a politicized and inhumane world. I'm black and I make my living thinking about race, but I still wasn't immune to the insidious bigotry in our world. How much harder it must be for those with far less time to contemplate and come to terms with these vexing social issues.

It's not bigotry per se that hamstrings us in the struggle to achieve a just society. It's our inability to talk about and think our way through our preconceptions. We have to learn how to forgive each other, and more importantly ourselves, when we're stupid.


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