Monday, April 25, 2011

World To Bigot Lawyer: Make It Good Cry, Bitch!

The law firm hired by gay-bashing House Republicans to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (which strips recognition from same sex marriages) has bowed to public pressure and decided it will drop its defense of the federal statute.

The firm, King and Spalding, had faced protests from gay rights groups after its contract with House GOP leaders-- and staggering $500,000 price tag-- became public.  The Human Rights Campaign announced a national campaign last week to urge the group to withdraw from the agreement.

The firm had agreed to work on behalf of the GOP House leadership after the Obama administration announced that the Department of Justice would no longer defend the law, which it says is unconstitutional.

Paul Clement, former George W. Bush Solicitor General, who was to be the lead lawyer to defend DOMA in court, has also resigned from King and Spalding.  In his resignation letter, Clement wrote that his decision was a result of his "firmly-held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client's legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Another Call For War Crime Charges For Bushies

Former chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei suggests in a new memoir that Bush administration officials should face international criminal investigation for the "shame of a needless war" in Iraq.

Freer to speak now than he was as an international civil servant, the Nobel-winning Egyptian accuses U.S. leaders of "grotesque distortion" in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, when then-President George W. Bush falsely claimed Iraq possessed doomsday weapons despite contrary evidence collected by ElBaradei's and other arms inspectors inside the country.

The Iraq war taught him that "deliberate deception was not limited to small countries ruled by ruthless dictators," ElBaradei writes in "The Age of Deception."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My, Your Breasts Are Positively Glowing

The breast milk of four Japanese mothers has been found to contain small quantities of radioactive iodine.   The government faced calls for a full investigation into the impact of the nuclear disaster on mothers and babies following the discovery.  The radiation contamination came to light after tests were conducted on breast milk samples taken from nine women living northeast or east of Tokyo.

Four of these women were found to be contaminated, with the highest reading of 36.3 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kg detected in the milk of the mother of an eight-month-old baby in Kashiwa, Chiba prefecture.  There are no current legal safety levels for radioactive substances in breast milk as set by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan.

The findings of the study, conducted by a citizen's group in Japan, has sparked concerns surrounding the impact of the nuclear crisis on mothers and babies.

''We cannot yet determine safety, but infants drink breast milk,'' Kikuko Murakami, who heads the group, told Kyodo News. ''We want the government to conduct an extensive investigation swiftly.'' Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is believed to have been emitting radioactive substances since it was severely damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More Human Rights Violations In China-What Else Is New?


Weiwei consulted on China's Olympic Stadium

China warned the international community it had "no right to interfere" in the case of outspoken artist Ai Weiwei, who has been detained for investigation of unspecified economic crimes.  Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei confirmed a state media report that Ai, an avant-garde artist taken into custody in Beijing on Sunday as the government pursues a heavy crackdown on dissent, was the subject of a police probe.

Western governments and rights groups have lined up in support of Ai, who was detained while trying to board a flight to Hong Kong and has not been heard from since.  "Ai Weiwei is under investigation on suspicion of economic crimes," Hong told reporters, refusing to comment on the nature of the alleged crimes.

Ai is merely the latest of dozens of activists and government critics rounded up in clampdown on dissent following online calls for demonstrations in China to emulate the "Jasmine" protests that have rocked the Arab world.

China typically uses charges such as subversion to put away government critics, as it did in Liu's case, but has also previously leveled accusations of various economic crimes such as tax-related offences to silence others.

The United States, France, Germany and Britain have joined Amnesty International and other groups in calling for Ai's release, with US ambassador Jon Huntsman defending the artist in a Shanghai speech on Wednesday.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No April Fools Joke

This story starts out as a typical BBC piece about how Masai tribesmen in Kenya are turning to beekeeping as a livelihood-- but it gets a bit more interesting than that. 

First comes the part where the tribesmen described how they didn't have money for proper equipment and had to harvest the honey naked.  But that's not the best part:

[The Masai] say that mongooses raid the beehives at night and eat all the honey. It is believed locally they do this by farting - although animal behaviorists say they are not known to be particularly flatulent animals.

"The mongooses are very clever animals. They normally climb up the trees where the beehives are," says Mr Matampash, who runs Neighbors Initiative Alliance, a non-governmental organization backing the beekeepers.

"Once up there, they break wind - forcing the bees to flee from the foul smell and then they knock down the beehive and eat the honey.

"We cannot kill the mongooses since they have a right to survive but we're devising ways to contain them. For now, they remain our number one enemy.''

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