Monday, May 31, 2010

Glenn Beck Apologizes for Mocking Obama's Daughter

Glenn Beck Apologizes for Mocking Obama's Daughter
Lauren Frayer
AOL News
May 29, 2010

Conservative talk show host Glenn Beck has apologized for a segment on his radio program in which he made fun of President Barack Obama's 11-year-old daughter, imitating her in a childish high-pitched voice and criticizing her intelligence.

Beck issued an apology on his website Friday after bloggers and parents objected to the tirade from Beck, who in the past has argued that the media should "leave families alone."

In his radio show, "The Glenn Program" on Premiere Radio Networks, Beck mocked Malia Obama for asking her father if he'd managed to stop oil from continuing to spill out into the Gulf of Mexico. At a news conference Thursday, the president recounted how his daughter had asked him, "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?" -- in an effort to illustrate how all Americans are anxious about the BP oil rig that's now become America's worst oil spill in history.

Afterward Beck made fun of the anecdote, imitating Malia in a squeaky voice.

"Daddy? Daddy? Daddy, did you plug the hole yet? Daddy?" he said. Then Beck's co-host Pat Gray responded as if he were the president.

"Honey, not yet... Not time yet, honey. Hasn't done enough damage," Gray said.

Then Beck took his argument a step further, saying the exchange reveals something about Malia's education. The 11-year-old and her 9-year-old sister Sasha go to Sidwell Friends, and exclusive and high-performing academy that's sometimes called "the Harvard of Washington's private schools."

"'Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?' Is that's their -- that's the level of their education, that they're coming to -- they're coming to daddy and saying 'Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?'" Plug the hole!" Beck said on his Friday morning radio show.

[Maura Larkins' comment: What's wrong with that question? It sounds like an excellent description of the problem. What would your kids say, Glenn? Joseph Romm reports about his kid's questions in Salon: "When I was shaving this morning, my daughter came up to me and asked, 'Daddy, when is President Obama going to develop a coherent narrative for his administration?' OK, maybe not."]

Later in the 4-minute segment, Beck turned the routine toward Obama's race. "Why do you hate black people so much?" he said, still imitating Malia in a baby voice.

"I'm part white, honey," Gray responded in the voice of the president.

Friday's segment ran just two days after another piece on Beck's radio program in which he decried critics of Sarah Palin's family. "Leave people's families alone. I don't think I've ever... We've never done anything but protect families... Leave families alone," he said at the time...

Toddler killed by San Bernardino family's pit bull

Why didn't the other dog protect the boy? Shouldn't she have disciplined the younger dog when he attacked the boy? I just don't see the evidence that pit bulls make good pets. Why do people love them so much? I believe that the precise reason that people like these dogs is their reputation for fierceness and for having powerful jaws that won't let go. People think the dogs will protect them. The evidence is mounting, however, that the dogs are prone to attacking children.

Toddler killed by San Bernardino family's pit bull
May 28, 2010
The Press-Enterprise

A family pet has killed a 2-year-old San Bernardino boy whose parents briefly left him alone as he rode his tricycle in their enclosed side yard.

Nathan Aguirre died Friday at Loma Linda University Medical Center from severe head and neck injuries after one of the family's two pit bulls attacked him the night before, said Sgt. Gary Robertson.

Nathan was the second toddler to die in the last four months in San Bernardino County from a pit bull attack. In January, 3-year-old Omar Martinez died from injuries from being mauled by his family's pit bull at his Apple Valley home, about 40 miles north of San Bernardino.

In February, a pack of five dogs escaped from their yard in Fontana, attacking three children who were walking by. Five-year-old Destiny Colon had a punctured lung and was put on life support for a while; 6-year-old Hector Perez needed 235 stitches in his legs; and 7-year-old Princess Colon needed 18In April, in neighboring Riverside County, a 6-month-old boy was mauled in his carrier by two dogs at the home of a family friend. The pit bull and pit bull mix tore the infant's diaper off and bit off his testicles...

The blinds were drawn Friday and no one answered the door at Nathan's house. Jim Keller said the family was with relatives. The driveway, smeared with dried blood where the mauling occurred, painted the grim story. A Red Flyer wagon and Little Tikes tricycle languished a few feet away. Nearby lay a torn, blood-stained T-shirt that said: "You can move a mountain. You can't budge a dog."

Pasted in a front window is a sticker for Atomic Dog, a magazine dedicated to the "bully breed" -- pit bulls. Only one of the dogs attacked Nathan, but city animal control has impounded both for 10-day quarantine before deciding their fates, Robertson said.

At the San Bernardino City Animal Shelter at Chandler Way, the pit bulls, housed in kennel 9, wagged their tails and barked occasionally as visitors peered into their cage. Police said the family owned the attacker for three months -- the 1½-year-old black male. The older and bigger dog, a blue female, wasn't involved, Robertson said...

Nine dead as Israel storms aid ship

See update at bottom of this post.

Nine dead as Israel storms aid ship
Jeffrey Heller and Alastair Macdonald
May 31, 2010

Israeli marines stormed a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza on Monday and at least nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed, triggering a diplomatic crisis and an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council.

European nations, as well as the United Nations and Turkey, voiced shock and outrage at the bloody end to the international campaigners' bid to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Boarding from dinghies and rappelling from helicopters, naval commandos stopped six ships, 700 people and 10,000 tons of supplies from reaching the Islamist-run Palestinian enclave -- but bloody miscalculation left Israel isolated and condemned.

Once-close Muslim ally Turkey accused it of "terrorism" in international waters. The U.N. Security Council met in emergency session. The European Union, a key aid donor to Palestinians, demanded an independent inquiry and an end to the Gaza embargo...

Turkey calls for punishment of Israel for killings

Jeffrey Heller and Ibon Villelabeitia
Jun 1, 2010

Turkey called on Tuesday for Israel to be punished for storming a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza in an attack that left nine dead and Israel increasingly isolated in the face of international outrage.

...Big questions were unanswered: how far Israel could continue to blockade 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip after condemnation from allies, and how it misjudged the situation and dropped marines onto a Turkish ship where they felt they had to open fire to save their lives.

As the first pictures emerged of a handful of Israeli marines being beaten and clubbed by dozens of activists, it was clear there would be anger in Israel over the mishandling.


Activists were held incommunicado by Israel but their accounts began to emerge after some were deported.

"We did not resist at all, we couldn't even if we had wanted to. What could we have done against the commandos who climbed aboard?" said Mihalis Grigoropoulos, who was aboard a vessel behind the Mavi Marmara, the cruise ship on which most of the violence occurred.

"The only thing some people tried was to delay them from getting to the bridge, forming a human shield. They were fired upon with plastic bullets and were stunned with electric devices," Grigoropoulos told NET TV at Athens airport.

Netanyahu was to convene his security cabinet to discuss the fallout from what Israeli newspapers termed a blundered raid.

Government sources said the ministers would consider whether to allow detained Turkish activists to return home on two planes that Turkey dispatched to Israel.

Obama, who has succeeded in reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations through U.S.-mediated indirect talks, said he wanted the full facts soon and regretted the loss of life.

After more than 10 hours of closed-door talks that gave rise to conflicting interpretations, the U.N. Security Council called for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards."

It also condemned "those acts which resulted in the loss of ... civilians and many wounded."...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Amnesty: U.S. and Europe shielding Israel from accountability for Gaza war crimes

Amnesty: U.S. and Europe shielding Israel from accountability for Gaza war crimes
In its annual report, the rights group accuses Israel of continually violating human rights in Gaza with its ongoing economic siege.
By Haaretz Service and News Agencies
May 27, 2010

Amnesty International complained in its annual report released Wednesday that the U.S. and members of the European Union had obstructed international justice by using their positions on the UN Security Council to shield Israel from accountability for war crimes allegedly committed during last year's Gaza war.

The rights group also accused Israel of continually violating human rights in the Gaza Strip. It cited Israel's ongoing economic blockade as violating international law, leaving Gaza residents without adequate food or water supplies

In the 2009 report, Amnesty lauded a United Nations commissioned report released last year by South African justice Richard Goldstone for highlighting Israeli violations during the war in Gaza. Goldstone's findings found both Israel and Hamas guilty of war crimes during the conflict.

"Israeli forces committed war crimes and other serious breaches of international law in the Gaza Strip during a 22-day military offensive codenamed Operation 'Cast Lead' that ended on 18 January (2009)," the rights group said.

"Among other things, they carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians, targeted and killed medical staff, used Palestinian civilians as 'human shields', and indiscriminately fired white phosphorus over densely populated residential areas," it added. "More than 1,380 Palestinians, including over 330 children and hundreds of other civilians, were killed." ...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

For 99 Years, Oxford English Dictionary Got It Wrong

For 99 Years, Oxford English Dictionary Got It Wrong
May 11, 2010
Terence Neilan
AOL News

The Oxford English Dictionary got it wrong, and it took 99 years before anyone noticed.

Siphons don't work, it turns out, because of atmospheric pressure, as the OED has been saying since 1911. It's all down to that law Isaac Newton figured out when an apple hit his head: g-r-a-v-i-t-y.

Siphons work by drawing fluids from a higher location to a lower one, not always an easy thing to do, as anyone who's tried to empty a car's gas tank would confirm.

"It is gravity that moves the fluid in a siphon," said Stephen Hughes, a physics lecturer at the University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.

So he was stunned when he noticed the OED had made a mistake, telling The Daily Telegraph of London, "We would all have an issue if the dictionary defined a koala as a species of bear, or a rose as a tulip."

Hughes said he discovered the error when he visited a huge siphon that transfers enormous amounts of water from a river system to a depleted lake in South Australia.

Hoping to use the project as part of an education paper, he researched the word and found "that almost every dictionary contained the same misconception" about atmospheric pressure being what pushed liquids through a siphon...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

"I want my country back " slogan rejects democracy: Let's share our country

May 7, 2010
For Tea Party, a slogan that would make Don Draper proud
Its implications are troubling, but you've got to hand it to them: "I want my country back!" sure is catchy
By David Sirota

For most of us, conjuring concise and cogent catchphrases is nearly impossible. In fact, the skill can seem like the black magic of mystical madmen.

During the 1960s, the most influential of these Svengalis were the executives working in Madison Avenue advertising firms. By contrast, 2010's most effective madmen come from Main Street and are literally angry men — specifically, the Tea Party crowd that is, according to new polls, more wealthy, more white, more male, more Republican and more motivated by racial resentment than the general population. And though their jeans and baseball caps are less stylish than Don Draper's suits and fedoras, these anti-government activists deserve recognition: They have crafted a motto as succinctly expressive and manipulative as the best Sterling Cooper innovation.

"I Want My Country Back" — this ubiquitous Tea Party mantra belongs next to Nike's "Just Do It" on Ad Age's list of the most transcendent idioms. In just five words, it perfectly captures the era’s conservative backlash. Take a moment to ponder the slogan's phrase-by-phrase etymology:

"I Want" — Humanity's most atavistic exclamation of selfishness — and thus the appropriate introduction for a Tea Party motto — this caveman grunt may end up being the epitaph on the nation's tombstone. America once flourished by valuing what "we" — as in We the People — need (food, shelter, infrastructure, etc.). Conversely, today's America teeters, thanks to a Reagan-infused zeitgeist that reoriented us to worshiping whatever I the Person wants. High-income tax breaks, smog-belching SUVs, cavernous McMansions carved into pristine wilderness — it doesn't matter how frivolous the individual craving or how detached it is from necessity. What matters is that the "I" now assumes an entitled right to any desire irrespective of its affront to the allegedly Marxist "we."

"My Country" — In his quintessentially American ditty, Woody Guthrie said, "This land was made for you and me." It made sense. In a democracy, the country is We the People's — that is, everybody's. If, over time, our diversifying complexion and changing attitudes create political shifts, that's OK — because it's not "my country" or "your country"; it's all of ours. Apparently, though, this principle is no longer sacred. Following two elections that saw conservative ideology rejected, Tea Party activists have resorted to declaring that there can only be one kind of country — theirs.

"Back" — To underscore feelings of grievance and nostalgia, the slogan ends with a word deliberately implying both theft and resurrection. In Tea Party mythology, "back" means taking back a political system that was supposedly pilfered (even though it was taken via legitimate elections) and then going back to a time that seems ideal. As one Tea Party leader told the New York Times: "Things we had in the '50s were better."

We need immigration reform

We need immigration reform--and Mexico needs to stop oppressing its poor. The richest man in the world, Carlos Slim (left), achieved his wealth on the backs of the poor of Mexico.

We need immigration reform
By John C. Wester (at left in photo)
Catholic Bishop, Salt Lake City
Washington Post

Upon signing into law SB 1070, the Arizona immigration bill which would make enforcement targets of anyone looking foreign-born in that state, Gov. Jan Brewer complained: "We in Arizona have waited patiently for Washington to act. But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation. "

I would agree, but with an amendment. I would say that all Americans have waited for the federal government to find a solution to the problem of illegal immigration. They have acted, for sure, but not in the right way and not for the right reasons. I would also agree that the situation is dangerous and unacceptable, but that Arizona's SB 1070 makes it worse, not better.

The federal government since 2002 has spent over $100 billion on immigration enforcement initiatives. This amounts to a doubling of Border Patrol agents to almost 20,000, nearly 700 miles of border fencing, a failed "virtual" fence costing billions, and a tripling of detention beds.

This is not to mention the manpower, weaponry, and other resources spent on immigration enforcement raids over the past several years, used to whisk away powerless mothers and fathers from their even more powerless children.

Yet, despite this strategy, along with its tragic human consequences, there has been no sustainable progress. In fact, the number of undocumented has risen over 50 percent in the past ten years, from 7 million in the 2000 Census to 11 million today.

To borrow from a nursery rhyme, all of the King's horses and all of the King's men have not put our immigration system back together again.

Arizona's SB 1070 is not an affirmation that enforcement measures alone are the right approach to illegal immigration, but a confirmation that enforcement-only tactics have not worked. It should be a wake-up call--a cry from the desert, if you will--to our national leaders that another approach is needed.

Despite its controversy, comprehensive immigration reform is the best way to secure the border and make us a safer nation...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Blind faith: American Jews and Israel's far right/Jewish settlers blamed for West Bank mosque fire

Israel and its policies toward Palestinians are in the news in the educational community in San Diego these days. I thought this article seemed pertinent.

Wikipedia: Peter Beinart in 2007
Blind faith: American Jews and Israel's far right
Former New Republic editor Peter Beinart warns American Jewish leaders that they must face reality in Israel
By Joe Conason
May 17, 2010

Not too many years ago, the Washington establishment welcomed Peter Beinart as one of those journalists who could be relied upon to fashion liberal arguments for conservative policy -- notably the invasion of Iraq, a fiasco that forced him to think again. That personal history, however regrettable, clearly equipped the former New Republic columnist, who now writes for the Daily Beast, with an acute ability to detect bad faith among those with whom he once made common cause.

Now he has published a courageous and carefully reported essay for the New York Review of Books on the relationship between American Jews and the state of Israel, questioning the mythology that now sustains those ties as the Jewish state veers further and further rightward. As an Orthodox Jew and a committed democrat, Beinart asks how long the American Jewish leadership will continue to deceive itself about the nature of the Netanyahu government, the ideology of the settler movement, and above all, the alienation of young American Jews from the Zionist project. He sharply identifies the contradictions between the traditional liberal rhetoric of Israel’s friends and supporters in the United States and the actual policies and platforms of the Israelis in power.

He musters the evidence that the Jewish leadership here is tacitly encouraging the likes of Knesset member Effi Eitam, who said in 2008 that "we'll have to expel the overwhelming majority of West Bank Arabs from here and remove Israeli Arabs from political system," and Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu’s extremist foreign minister...

Jewish settlers blamed for West Bank mosque fire
Mohammed Assadi
May 4, 2010

LIBBAN AL-SHARQIA, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinians accused Jewish settlers of setting fire to a mosque in the occupied West Bank Tuesday, an incident that raised tensions as a U.S. envoy began a mission to get peace talks going.

Israeli security officers were at the scene investigating the fire but have not determined its cause. Evidence was taken for forensic examination, an Israeli police spokesman said.

The mosque in the village of Libban al-Sharqia, near the Palestinian city of Nablus, was gutted overnight by the blaze that also burned holy books.

There were no witnesses to what Palestinian locals and officials assumed was another attack by Jewish settlers in the Nablus area. Settlers have also been suspected of vandalizing two other mosques and a cemetery in the last six months...

Sunday, May 02, 2010

ACLU's David Blair-Loy says Donald Rumsfeld must obey the constitution

ACLU Represents Jewish War Veterans and San Diego Residents in Effort to Relocate Mt. Soledad Memorial
August 24, 2006

SAN DIEGO – The American Civil Liberties Union, the Jewish War Veterans and local residents announced today that they are suing the U.S. government and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, charging that the continued display of the Mt. Soledad Latin cross on federally owned land unlawfully entangles government with religion.

“The ACLU believes that religious symbols, even prominently displayed, are an important and constitutionally protected form of religious expression in the public sphere,” said David Blair-Loy, Legal Director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “There is a huge difference between families and religious communities expressing their religious beliefs and the U.S. government—using all of its power, authority, financing, and property—to promote the beliefs of one faith over all others.”

The ACLU filed the lawsuit, Jewish War Veterans et al. v. Rumsfeld, after the federal government, through an Act of Congress, recently obtained title to the Mt. Soledad memorial and its surrounding property by eminent domain. The ACLU asserts that this is part of a transparent effort to evade a long series of unfavorable state and federal court decisions declaring the placement of the cross on government property unconstitutional...