Through The Static

May 31, 2008

Al-Qaeda’s Feminists

Filed under: Gender,Religion,World News — disciplepete @ 2:11 pm

I have to admit, it almost seemed like an article from the Onion when I saw this headline about a debate within al-Qaeda about a woman’s right to participate in “terror” attacks. I just wouldn’t imagine that women who were devoted to Islamist militant organizations would feel so strongly about challenging their prescribed roles. But apparently it is a serious issue for some that’s being addressed in the safe space of the internet, where the women can express how they feel without revealing their identities. From Yahoo:

In response to a female questioner, al-Qaida No. 2 leader Ayman Al-Zawahri said in April that the terrorist group does not have women. A woman’s role, he said on the Internet audio recording, is limited to caring for the homes and children of al-Qaida fighters.

His remarks have since prompted an outcry from fundamentalist women, who are fighting or pleading for the right to be terrorists.The statements have also created some confusion, because in fact suicide bombings by women seem to be on the rise, at least within the Iraq branch of al-Qaida.

A response from one of the women:

“How many times have I wished I were a man … When Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahri said there are no women in al-Qaida, he saddened and hurt me,” wrote “Companion of Weapons,” who said she listened to the speech 10 times. “I felt that my heart was about to explode in my chest…I am powerless.”

Such postings have appeared anonymously on discussion forums of Web sites that host videos from top al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. While the most popular site requires names and passwords, many people use only nicknames, making their identities and locations impossible to verify…Many appear to represent computer-literate women arguing in the most modern of venues – the Internet – for rights within a feudal version of Islam.

Well, Hamas is more open to women fighters:

Hamas, another militant group, is open about using women fighters and disagrees with al-Qaida’s stated stance. At least 11 Palestinian women have launched suicide attacks in recent years.

“A lot of the girls I speak to … want to carry weapons. They live with this great frustration and oppression,” said Huda Naim, a prominent women’s leader, Hamas member and Palestinian lawmaker in Gaza. “We don’t have a special militant wing for women … but that doesn’t mean that we strip women of the right to go to jihad.”

So what does this all mean for al-Qaeda’s PR?

Al-Zawahri’s remarks show the fine line al-Qaida walks in terms of public relations. In a modern Arab world where women work even in some conservative countries, al-Qaida’s attitude could hurt its efforts to win over the public at large. On the other hand, noted SITE director Katz, al-Zawahri has to consider that many al-Qaida supporters, such as the Taliban, do not believe women should play a military role in jihad.

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Journalists Pressured to be Patriotic

Filed under: Culture,Government,Media,Politics — disciplepete @ 1:36 pm

The mainstream U.S. media, unfortunately, rarely asks hard questions about what our government is up to. CNN reporter Jessica Yellin recently made comments on the pressure she felt from her higher-ups to report the news in a particular fashion (she says she’s referring to the time she spent at MSNBC, but I’d be surprised if her comments didn’t apply to her current employer, CNN, as well). Yahoo:

During her CNN appearance, Yellin said the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives to make sure the war was presented “in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings.”

The higher Bush’s approval ratings, the more pressure she felt from news executives to put on positive stories about the president, she said. Pushed by Cooper to explain, Yellin said her bosses would turn down critical stories about the administration and try to put on positive pieces.

 While MSNBC denies all of this, they have also been accused of the same thing before:

A prime-time show with Phil Donahue received consistent pressure to present panels tilted in favor of the war, said Jeff Cohen, that program’s former senior producer. Donahue’s show was on for less than a year before being cancelled less than a month before the war began.

He once witnessed a producer scolded for organizing a discussion with pro- and anti-war sentiments presented equally, said Cohen, a liberal activist who wrote a book about his experiences with TV networks.

Well, the moral of the story is that we’ve gotta rely on our own minds and do our own homework if we ever hope to really understand what’s going on around us. We have to be critical consumers of media.

May 30, 2008

‘Uncontacted tribe’ sighted in Amazon

Filed under: World News — disciplepete @ 5:36 pm

CNN:

Researchers have produced aerial photos of jungle dwellers who they say are among the few remaining peoples on Earth who have had no contact with the outside world.

art.amazon.tribe.ap.jpg 
Taken from a small airplane, the photos show men outside thatched communal huts, necks craned upward, pointing bows toward the air in a remote corner of the Amazonian rainforest.
According to a nonprofit advocacy group for Indigenous people, Survival International, there’s 100 such “uncontacted” tribes, and they’re in danger.

Illegal logging in Peru is threatening several uncontacted groups, pushing them over the border with Brazil and toward potential conflicts with about 500 uncontacted Indians living on the Brazilian side, Survival International said.

So, how soon do you think Starbucks is gonna show up?

Iraqis Protest Against Possible Long-Term U.S. Presence

Filed under: Drinking,Fanon,Government,Military,Politics,World News — disciplepete @ 5:01 pm

The U.S. government is trying to get a deal done with the Iraqi government that would allow U.S. troops to remain in Iraq after the expiration of a U.N. mandate in December. This deal would set up the possibility of a long term U.S. presence in Iraq, and Iraqis by the thousands are out protesting what they see as a deal that would undermine their sovereignty and dignity. From my good buddy Al:

Tens of thousands of Iraqi Shia have taken to the streets of Baghdad and other cities to protest against a long-term security deal with the US.

The rallies after Friday prayers follow a call by Muqtada al-Sadr for weekly protests against the deal that could lead to more US troops and a long-term US presence…

…Officials from the administration of George Bush, the US president, told Al Jazeera they expect to finalise the deal by the end of July.

Some reactions from influential Iraqi opponents of the deal:

A statement from al-Sadr’s office called the negotiations “a project of humiliation for the Iraqi people”…

…Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, another leading Shia figure, spoke out against the agreement, saying it would violate Iraq’s sovereignty.

Last week, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most revered Shia cleric, also reportedly expressed his anger, saying he would not permit the Iraqi government to sign a deal with “US occupiers” as long as he lived.

But the U.S. insists that it’s not aiming for permanent bases in Iraq:

The US government has said it will not seek permanent bases in Iraq.

David Satterfield, a senior adviser on Iraq at the US state department, told Al Jazeera that the so-called Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa) with Baghdad would address the issue.

“The Sofa agreement and the strategic frameworks agreement will make explicit that there is no desire for, indeed there is a rejection of, permanent bases. We could not be clearer on this point,” he said.

“We do not believe that there is a need for such bases.”

Apparently, and prudently, the Iraqi people aren’t buying it.

Dimming the Sum: ChinaTown Cheap Eats No Mo

Filed under: Food,Idiots,Wake Up Call — bobbleheadedbob @ 7:12 am

In case you’ve been out of the loop, battling an eating disorder in Hollyweird, or on that hipster vegan faux-food diet, there’s a food crisis going on here. And it’s kind of a big deal.

Being a big deal, it’s hitting the bigger deals on meals in town — Chinatown, even YOU cannot escape its grasp!!! $5.99 bowl of beef nood-o no mo, folks! Chinatown apologizes, especially to White college students and hipsters in need of their cheap “cultural” fix, but with the rising cost of food, it can no longer keep the price of immigrant exploitation down.

As reported by New America Media:

High Food Costs in New York’s Chinatown -Living in the Shadow of Recession

NEW YORK — Climbing food and commodity prices are translating into higher prices at restaurants, and the trend is evident everywhere in New York’s Chinatown.

“We have no choice but to increase the price of our entrées, because the basic ingredients that we buy from our distributor have become very expensive as well,” Jian Xi, a spokesman for Wai La Restaurant on Mott Street,” said through a translator.

With prices that ranged from $7 to $10 dollars per meal a month ago, Mr. Xi said that now they have gone up between 30 and 50 percent.

So instead of paying $10 for your gluttonous share of glutinous rice and har gao at dim sum, it shall climb ever higher towards the $15 dollar range. This is assuming that you are still eating enough for 3 for the price of 1.

Dining at Din Tai Fung my cost you. Like, what it’s actually probably worth. For the first time. EVER.

The national consumer rate of basic commodities, like meat, vegetables and beverages, rose 0.4 percent in February, or a 4.4 percent hike as compared last year, according to a report released by U.S. Department of Labor.

Dairy products also climbed 0.2 percent for the same period, the report said, and bakery products increased 1.8 percent – the largest monthly advance since 1975.

“If restaurant owners like me will retain our old price, we won’t be able to earn a profit,” said Nin-ha Yang, a member of New York’s Chinese American Restaurant Association.

Ms. Yang, who runs a Cantonese restaurant on Baxter Street, said that she even had to adjust the price for wedding banquets and birthday meal packages to stay competitive.

“We used to charge $298 for a 12-course meal for 10 people. Unfortunately, we cannot do that now. For the same package, we have offered it for $500 since the Chinese New Year this year,” she said. “Everything – rent, gas, utilities – went up. Even our workers want a higher pay,” she said. “It’s difficult nowadays.”

Be prepared to blame exploited immigrant workers for demanding higher pay. The NERVE of some overworked, underpaid, under-the-table immigrants. For rEALs!

ZOMG, people will now have to pay 50 bucks per person for a 12-course meal?! OMGEEZ, peoples! That’s like — ::breaks out calculator — $4.16 per course!!!

…which is still way cheaper than buying a plate of wormy spaghetti at your local Olive Garden.

Criminal!

Would you be willing to pay $5.00 for a plate o diz?

The price for commercial and housing rent rose by 0.2 percent last month, and fuel also earned a 1.5 percent hike, the Labor Department report added.

While the bull market in commodities has been difficult for restaurant owners, it has been a boon for food distributors.

“I believe we have about 15 percent profit hike in the first-quarter,” a supervisor for DiCarlo Inc., one of the largest independent distributors in the New Jersey and New York areas, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Hm.

::putters away::

But for restaurant customers, who feel at the bottom of the consumer market chain, paying higher price for meals is disheartening.

“I still couldn’t believe I had to pay $10.99 for beef noodles. That used to be $5.99 two weeks ago,” said Patiricia Cadora, a regular customer in Chinatown.

Cadora who works a block from Canal Street, said that she has to minimize dining out with friends after work. “I think it’s time for me to learn how to cook.”

10.99 for a hot, steamy bowl of rich, brown beefy soup filled with chewy, firm noodles and tender hunks of beef brisket — some greens, too, if ur lucky. All for about the price one pay to get half a pound of boiled pasta with watery red sauce.

Ze bobblebot’s just SAYING…

Sometimes capitalism, as evil as it is, has its beauties. Like forcing people to DO THINGS (consume less gas, learn to cook their own damn food) they should be doing more often. Unfortunately at the expense of the less fortunate, but there ya go.

Look! There’s a wincing smiley face in the soup!!! Coincidence?

I thinking NOT.

Cheapy Chinatown eats was all a Forever21 illusion of affordability and we all KNEW IT and KNOW IT and now have to PAY closer to what it’s actually WORTH. Sucks for you, peoples!

May 29, 2008

Vatican says will excommunicate women priests

Filed under: Gargoyles,Gender,Religion — disciplepete @ 9:05 pm

The Catholic Church doesn’t allow women to be priests, and they’re trying to get the idea out of the heads of Catholics who support the ordination of women priests. We’ll see how long the Church can hold this position. I think the Church needs to also allow priests to get married; my dad actually used to be a Catholic priest, it was his first career, and he left because he had some beef with his superiors. My dad wrote a book about his experience in the Church, and if my memory serves correct, he argued that the Church forces priests to be celibate in order to exercise control over them.  That really seems to be a strong hypothesis on the face of it. Anyways, here’s some of the article about the women priest issue, from Yahoo:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican issued its most explicit decree so far against the ordination of women priests on Thursday, punishing them and the bishops who try to ordain them with automatic excommunication

…A Vatican spokesman said the decree made the Church’s existing ban on women priests more explicit by clarifying that excommunication would follow all such ordinations.

Excommunication forbids those affected from receiving the sacraments or sharing in acts of public worship.

Rev. Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, said he thought the decree was meant to send a warning to the growing number of Catholics who favor admitting women to the priesthood…

The Church says it cannot change the rules banning women from the priesthood because Christ chose only men as his apostles. Church law states that only a baptized male can be made a priest.

Things younger than McCain

Filed under: Humor,Politics,WTF — Tranimal @ 6:21 pm

This is pretty damn hilarious. Thanks to LMP for this one. You know were to get ’em political jokes! 😀

Description of the site:

Things younger than Republican Presidential candidate (oh, and did I forget to mention war hero?) John McCain

Am I being “age-ist”? Maybe. But maybe not. The world is a pretty complicated place right now and I’m thinking that it’s not such a great time to elect our oldest President ever. So sue me.

Some notable ones (there were SO MANY!!). Note that ALL of these are younger than McCain:

  • McDonald’s
  • States of Hawaii
  • AND Alaska
  • Scrabble
  • Penicillin
  • Don Imus
  • Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs
  • The Zip Code
  • AND the AREA CODE
  • AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)
  • ISRAEL
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Ronald Reagan

The author’s reasoning behind the side after accusations of AGEISM:

I’ve received a bunch of emails – and read a number of posts in the comments section – that questioned whether or not this blog is ageist. It’s a fair question and I wanted to take a minute to offer my answer.

It isn’t. Here’s why:

Before the blog launched, I thought long and hard to see if I could come up with reasons how gender or race could negatively impact on someone’s ability to do an effective job as President… and I couldn’t come up with a single one. But I was able to come up with reasons why age – at least, potentially – could be a factor:

  • Memory loss
  • Decreased stamina
  • Greater susceptibilty to illness
  • Possible lack of ability to relate to the issues and concerns of the vast majority of younger Americans
  • And, of course, the increased likelihood of dying in office… throwing the country into temporary turmoil and placing a greater importance of the role of Vice President

Furthermore, I got to thinking how the framers of the Constitution saw fit to attach an age minimum of 35 to the office of the President. Presumably, they felt that people younger than 35 lacked the skills necessary to be able to run the country. While I’m certainly not suggesting that we have a Constitutional amendment creating an age maximum, it does tell me that my line of thinking (namely, that age does matter) is clearly not without precedent.

Now, does all this mean that John McCain would AUTOMATICALLY be a bad President JUST because he’s 72? Of course not (he’d be a bad President for a whole host of other reasons!), but I am saying that it’s reasonable to make the subject of his age – and all that it entails – part of a dialogue about his qualifications… and that we shouldn’t run from the topic because it has an “ism” attached to it.

That’s what I say – what say you?

This is pretty hilarious. At the ripe age of 71, sometimes I really do feel like McCain looks like the walking dead… pale and wrinkly.

P.S. the WTF category is more like WTF he’s REALLY THAT OLD?!

Ideas the Presidential Candidates Should Propose

Filed under: Elections,Health,Politics — ausaydong @ 5:16 pm

Though journalists get a bad rap for being dumb (thanks to movies like Thank You For Smoking), they can come up with some good – or at least, interesting – ideas.

Al Tompkins, a well-known and respected journalist, came up with a list of ideas to better the nation. (Yeah, we like to talk the talk.)

Here are ones I thought were worth pointing out, but the full list can be found here:

Five-day-a-week postal delivery. Why do we deliver mail on Saturdays? If you definitely have to have it on the weekend, turn to a private delivery service. The U.S. Postal Service has considered this before and chickened out. It looks as though Saturday deliveries will end by 2011 in the UK.

All federally-elected officials should hold a news conference at least once per month. No more hiding, even when things are bad. No news conference should mean no check.
Change presidential primary election system to a regional system. I have had it with Iowa and New Hampshire getting all the attention.

Scrap the electoral system. Replace it with a system that people understand. If you get the most votes, shouldn’t you win the race?

Open all courtrooms to cameras. Start with the Supreme Court and appeals courts.

End the Social Security penalty for working seniors. If you are between 62 and 65 years old and earn more than $13,560 a year, you begin to lose your Social Security benefits. Why? The amount you get from Social Security should not have anything to do with how much you earn. Give people a reason to stay productive and keep contributing to society for as long as they can. When a lot of people quit working they begin dying.

End special congressional health care coverage. Every member of Congress should be covered by a private health care plan just like the rest of us. This way, we would get health care reforms. Members of Congress have their own pharmacy, nurses and doctors, and they can get a physical, x-ray or electrocardiogram without ever missing work. House members pay $300 a month, and senators pay an estimated $600 a month for this service. Taxpayers pay about $2 million.

Dunkin’ Donuts pulls Rachael Ray ad after complaints

Filed under: Culture,Food,Idiots,Politics,Race,WTF — Tranimal @ 12:45 pm

This is the dumbest thing ever.

AP:

Dunkin’ Donuts has pulled an online advertisement featuring Rachael Ray after complaints that a fringed black-and-white scarf that the celebrity chef wore in the ad offers symbolic support for Muslim extremism and terrorism.

The coffee and baked goods chain said the ad that began appearing online May 7 was pulled over the past weekend because “the possibility of misperception detracted from its original intention to promote our iced coffee.”

“I think that a right-wing blogger making an association between a kaffiyeh and terrorism is just an example of how so much of the complexity of Arab culture has been reduced to a very narrow vision of the Arab world on the part of some people in the U.S.,” Bishara said in a phone interview. “Kaffiyehs are worn every day on the street by Palestinians and other people in the Middle East — by people going to work, going to school, taking care of their families, and just trying to keep warm.”

While some extremists and terrorists may wear kaffiyehs, “To reduce their meaning to support for terrorism has a tacit racist tone to it,” Bishara said.

May 28, 2008

New York to Back Same-Sex Unions From Elsewhere

Filed under: Culture,Legislation,Politics,Rights — disciplepete @ 11:38 pm

More news on the same-sex marriage front…NYT:

ALBANY – Gov. David A. Paterson has directed all state agencies to begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like Massachusetts, California and Canada.

In a directive issued on May 14, the governor’s legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed the agencies that gay couples married elsewhere “should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union.”…

…Massachusetts and California are the only states that have legalized gay marriage, while others, including New Jersey and Vermont, allow civil unions. Forty-one states have laws limiting marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Legal experts said Mr. Paterson’s decision would make New York the only state that did not itself allow gay marriage but fully recognized same-sex unions entered into elsewhere.

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