Saudi woman beheaded for ‘practicing witchcraft’

All Religion is sick. Killing people in the name of religion is sicker yet.

From Raw Story:   http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/12/saudi-woman-beheaded-for-practicing-witchcraft/

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, December 12, 2011

RIYADH: A Saudi woman was beheaded Monday after being convicted of practising sorcery, which is banned in the ultra-conservative kingdom, the Interior Ministry said.

Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar was executed in the northern province of Jawf for “practising witchcraft and sorcery,” the ministry said in a statement carried by SPA state news agency.

It is not clear how many women have been executed in the desert-kingdom, but another woman was beheaded in October for killing her husband by setting his house on fire.

The beheading took to 73 the number of executions in Saudi Arabia this year.

In September, Amnesty International called on the Muslim kingdom where 140 people were on death row to establish an “immediate moratorium on executions.”

The rights group said Saudi Arabia was one of a minority of states which voted against a U.N. General Assembly resolution last December calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.

Continue reading at:   http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/12/12/saudi-woman-beheaded-for-practicing-witchcraft/

Occupy Protesters Set Up Barricade To Shutdown Port Of Seattle

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Big Apple, Big Divide: Where super-rich don’t see the super-poor

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Unreal Faces and Bodies: Should The Truth About Photoshopped Fashion Photos Be Exposed?

One of the major problems with the gender obsession way of defining women and men too is that it sets up an unreal model as some sort of ideal, whether it is the plastic porno-fied female or the hyper macho jock.

They aren’t real.  They are plastic people used to sell us crap made elsewhere for the profit of the corporations.

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/story/153392/unreal_faces_and_bodies%3A_should_the_truth_about_photoshopped_fashion_photos_be_exposed/

The “perfect” photo is pervasive in magazines and advertising, but with cautious optimism, there might be an end to the fakery.

By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd
December 11, 2011

Of all the things to criticize about women’s magazines and fashion advertising, nothing is more universally reviled than the airbrush. The world of the digital photo retoucher is that of a beauty-standard Frankenstein: normal-sized women are made to look wan and waifish, older women are remade into ageless nymphs, limbs are lengthened, breasts are enlarged, skin is whitened. Men aren’t exempt, either: wrinkles are massaged out, guts and love handles whisked away. Even those we perceive to be nigh-perfect are often altered to be ridiculous, obviously fake, and robotic. But as it becomes more prevalent, and more people are interested in tracking it — whether for feminist or tabloid purposes — is it possible that the era of the obscenely Photoshopped image could be reaching an end?

In the last decade or so, as photo airbrushing has become both more sophisticated and more accessible, we’ve seen a rapid expansion of its use to make magazine images the very definition of perfection, at least in the opinions of editors and other gatekeepers. Sarah*, a professional photo retoucher who’s worked with most major women’s magazines, says that photo retouching has been common since yearbook pictures acquired a glossy dew in the 1980s, but says there’s been a “Cambrian explosion over the last 15–20 years, with the advent of Photoshop.” Largely influenced by commercial fashion, the demand for images that depict the supreme Western beauty standard exploded, tending towards tall, tiny-waisted, wrinkle-free, and light-skinned — and rarely has it deviated from those unrealistic demands, as feminists have riled against for decades. Even Crystal Renn, the fashion world’s most famous “plus-sized” model, now wears a size 8, slim for most nonmodel women. The most obvious and frequent complaint about Photoshop, of course, that its increased use makes both women and men feel completely insecure with their realistic bodies, leading to poor self-esteem, racial insecurity and discrimination, body dysmorphia, fear of aging (and youth worship) and, in the worst cases, life-threatening eating disorders. It was enough to lead the American Medical Association to adopt a policy against airbrushed images in publications directed at children and teens. “The appearance of advertisements with extremely altered models can create unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image,” said the AMA’s Dr. Barbara McAneny. “We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software.”

The AMA followed liberal Democratic members British Parliament, who in 2008, sought to ban overt airbrushing in magazines directed toward kids under 16. MP Jo Swinson, who headed the movement, told the Daily Mail:

“I am not suggesting that advertisers should stop using models who are perhaps more beautiful than the average person. But there is a difference between doing that and using a beautiful model and nipping in her waist by two inches or taking slathers of flesh off her thighs. There is lots of evidence to show that children under 16, particularly those aged around 7 or 8 years old, are not particularly good at telling the difference between adverts and editorial content on TV or magazines. They view it all the same way.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.alternet.org/story/153392/unreal_faces_and_bodies%3A_should_the_truth_about_photoshopped_fashion_photos_be_exposed/


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Peace, Love, and Social Security: Baby Boomers Retire to the Commune

From The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/peace-love-and-social-security-baby-boomers-retire-to-the-commune/248583/

As they simplify their lives in middle age, former hippies find themselves returning to the land

Anna Spinner
Nov 21 2011

When she first found the place that would one day become her retirement home, Kathy Connors was 16 years old and seven months pregnant. She left the Chicago suburbs and hitched a ride with a trucker she knew to a commune in south-central Tennessee. The commune, called the Farm, had about a dozen midwives who would deliver any woman’s baby for free. Kathy had arranged to have her child there.

In late June of this year, Kathy, now 50, and her 62-year-old husband Bob drove with their 28-year-old daughter Joyce from Charlotte, North Carolina, to the Farm. Kathy visits about three times a year, but this was a special visit. It was the Farm’s 40th reunion, but it was also, more importantly, the visit when Kathy would finalize plans to build the home where she and Bob planned to spend the rest of their lives.

On the drive down, Kathy’s phone buzzed with texts and updates from the Farm Facebook group. Friends were posting photos and status updates. It was a big party and Kathy couldn’t wait to get there.

Crossing the Tennessee border, Bob, usually a quiet man, shouted, “Welcome to Tennessee!” The family cheered. Kathy’s stomach fluttered and her heart beat faster. She sent a text to an acquaintance, “the closer I get to my true home, the better I always feel.”

Kathy and Bob Connors are among a handful of former Farm members who are moving back in middle age. This choice reflects that of a growing number of Baby Boomers who are choosing to retire to intentional communities, an umbrella term for living situations organized around a common value structure or vision.

Although hard figures are impossible to determine, Laird Schaub, the executive secretary of the Fellowship for Intentional Community, estimates that the United States has about 4,000 intentional communities with a combined population of about 100,000. The number and population of intentional communities grew most dramatically between 1965 and 1975. Some were artists’ collectives, religious communes, or self-help oriented communes, says Timothy Miller, a professor of religion at the University of Kansas, in his bookThe 60s Communes: Hippies and Beyond. Others were born out of a broader idealism that aimed to rebuild the world from the ground up.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/11/peace-love-and-social-security-baby-boomers-retire-to-the-commune/248583/

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Police crackdown on occupy protestors raises Human Rights concerns

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Collecting Rainwater Now Illegal in Many States as Big Government Claims Ownership Over Our Water

From Major Trends: http://majortrend.tv/6189/collecting-rainwater-now-illegal-in-many-states-as-big-government-claims-ownership-over-our-water/

By Eddie Sage
09 December 2011

Many of the freedoms we enjoy here in the U.S. are quickly eroding as the nation transforms from the land of the free into the land of the enslaved, but what I’m about to share with you takes the assault on our freedoms to a whole new level. You may not be aware of this, but many Western states, including Utah, Washington and Colorado, have long outlawed individuals from collecting rainwater on their own properties because, according to officials,that rain belongs to someone else.

As bizarre as it sounds, laws restricting property owners from “diverting” water  that falls on their own homes  and land have been on the books for quite some time in many Western states. Only recently, as droughts and renewed interest in water conservation methods have become more common, have individuals and business owners started butting heads with law enforcement  over the practice of collecting rainwater for personal use.

Check out this YouTube video of a news report out of Salt Lake City, Utah, about the issue. It’s illegal in Utah to divert rainwater without a valid water right, and Mark Miller of Mark Miller Toyota, found this out the hard way.

After constructing a large rainwater collection  system at his new dealership to use for washing new cars, Miller found out that the project was actually an “unlawful diversion of rainwater.” Even though it makes logical conservation sense to collect rainwater for this type of use since rain is scarce in Utah, it’s still considered a violation of water rights which apparently belong exclusively to Utah’s various government  bodies.

“Utah’s the second driest state in the nation. Our laws probably ought to catch up with that,” explained Miller in response to the state’s ridiculous rainwater collection ban.

Salt Lake City officials worked out a compromise with Miller and are now permitting him to use “their” rainwater, but the fact that individuals like Miller don’t actually own the rainwater that falls on their property is a true indicator of what little freedom we actually have here in the U.S. (Access to the rainwater that falls on your own property seems to be a basic right, wouldn’t you agree?)

Continue reading at:   http://majortrend.tv/6189/collecting-rainwater-now-illegal-in-many-states-as-big-government-claims-ownership-over-our-water/

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The sound of food sovereignty in Durban

From The Institute of Agriculture and Trade:   http://www.iatp.org/blog/201112/the-sound-of-food-sovereignty-in-durban

by Karen Hansen-Kuhn 
December 8, 2011

IATP’s Karen Hansen-Kuhn is blogging from the UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa.
The launch of the African Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) began with rounds of joyous song, specifically a variant of a South African protest song:
My mother was a kitchen girl
My father was a garden boy
That’s why I’m a farmer now
That sentiment of decision and claiming one’s rights is at the heart of the concept of food sovereignty, and sets it apart from more limited ideas of food security. While both emphasize the importance of availability and access to food, food sovereignty is also grounded in local and national level decision-making on food systems. It is closely linked to the concept of agroecology, which integrates agricultural production with local ecosystems, building on local-level innovations and traditional knowledge.
The AFSA is a network of African farm and environmental groups and allied NGOs. They have been building the network over the last few years, culminating in a meeting in Nairobi this fall, where they agreed to common principles of food sovereignty, opposition to GMOs and commitment to agroecology. Their vision is for Africa to develop itself and its people in harmony with nature. Many of them participated in the Caravan of Hope, which brought nearly 200 farm and climate activists to Durban for COP17. Others were part of an African La Via Campesina delegation to the climate talks. They formally launched the alliance at the C17 Peoples’ Space, followed by a press conference the next day at the official climate conference.
As I listened to them, I thought about a radio show I heard in Washington, D.C., a couple of weeks ago, in which a so-called expert described African farmers as practicing organic farming by default, because they could not afford modern fertilizers, pesticides and seeds. The experiences the AFSA members described completely contradicted that idea. Mamadou Goita of the West African farmers network ROPPA described the agroecological training centers they had set up to recover and build on traditional practices. He said that small-scale farmers are already feeding Africa, and can do much more, but they need to support each other more to build on each others’ successes. Anne Maina from the African Biodiversity Network (ABN) spoke of the use of songs and stories to recapture traditional knowledge and collective efforts to save and improve on local seeds.
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Pumping party customers are not ignorant, accused accomplice says

From The Orlando Sun Sentinel: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/crime/fl-pumping-parties-explainer-20111210,0,4224260.story

By Rafael A. Olmeda, Sun Sentinel 
December 10, 2011

He knew what he was doing. Corey Eubanks admits that much.

When he climbed onto a massage table 12 years ago so the person he knew as “Duchess” could inject mineral oil into his buttocks, Eubanks knew he was not being treated by a real doctor.

And he believes the same is true of all the men and women who came to Duchess looking for rounder, fuller, curvier figures.

“Nobody should blame Duchess for what I put in my butt,” said Eubanks, 40.

Duchess, better known as Oneal Ron Morris, was charged last month with posing as a doctor while injecting a toxic mixture of mineral oil, Fix-a-Flat tire sealant, cement and super glue into at least two customers. Eubanks, who introduced one reported victim to Morris and allowed them to meet in his home, has been charged as an accomplice.

Experts say people resort to illegal “pumping parties,” where customers outside a hospital or clinical setting are injected with anything from Botox to industrial-grade silicone, out of convenience or because they lack insurance or access to health care and legitimate plastic surgery.

Continue reading at:  http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/crime/fl-pumping-parties-explainer-20111210,0,4224260.story

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The Muff March against ‘designer vagina’ surgery

BTW this is not about Sex Reassignment Surgery.

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/the-womens-blog-with-jane-martinson/2011/dec/08/muff-march-designer-vagina-surgery

On Saturday morning, women will march down Harley Street to protest against the pornification of our private parts

Posted by
Thursday 8 December 2011

“Keep your mitts off our muffs!” “I love my vagina!” “You’ve put my chuff in a huff!” These are some of the slogans of the Muff March taking place along London’s Harley Street Saturday morning. Its aim? To raise awareness of the increase in gynaecological cosmetic surgery – both on the NHS and in private clinics. The march, which has more than 300 supporters on Facebook, is organised by campaigning group UK Feminista and performance artists The Muffia, who dress up in nude bodysuits decorated with lavish pubic hair.

At its most modest, the Muff March is against the pornography-influenced obsession with removing pubic hair. But it’s also about protesting against the sort of surgery that makes you cross your legs. Typical procedures on offer include labiaplasty (trimming or removing the labia) and vaginal rejuvenation (tightening – usually referred to by “designer vagina”).

In the US this industry is worth $6.8m (£4.4m). In the UK the latest figures come from a 2009 report in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. It revealed that in 2008 the number of operations increased by 70% compared with the previous year: 1,118 labiaplasty operations on the NHS. (There were 669 in 2007 and 404 in 2006.) And that’s just the NHS. The Harley Medical Group reported over 5,000 inquiries about cosmetic gynaecology last year, 65% for labial reduction.

Professor Linda Cardozo of King’s College London recently warned of the risks of labiaplasty: permanent scarring, infections, bleeding and irritation. “The private sector is not recorded, audited or regulated. At least if you have it on the NHS you have to go through your GP and that’s a gatekeeper.” (Although one anonymous blogger writes on the NHS website: “I have flaps of skin everywhere and the whole thing is a total mess. I will never be able to be intimate again.”)

I recently heard of a woman GP very concerned by the number of girls in their mid-teens coming to her worried about what their genitals looked like: she thought it was becoming an issue largely because of the fashion for shaving off pubic hair, which made them more self-conscious. Of course, there are rare cases where there is an underlying medical reason for this surgery, but they are just that, extremely rare. A doctor who has treated women seeking labiaplasty told me: “When you examine them, they are completely normal.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/the-womens-blog-with-jane-martinson/2011/dec/08/muff-march-designer-vagina-surgery

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Used-Up Heroes

The cult of macho and the elevation of brutality in sports is killing athletes.

I used to watch football.  The final straw came while I was actually at a Dallas Cowboy game and one of the players took a terrible hit coming down on his head.  I watched for several minutes as he lay there unmoving thinking I had just watched some one get killed or paralyzed playing a stupid game.

Over the years I had met former professional athletes and had seen how they could hardly walk or had other damaging injuries.

Over the last couple of years the big story has been concussions and shortened life expectancy for football players.  Now hockey players.

I still enjoy watching baseball and rooting for several favorite teams.  I wish soccer were more popular in America as it doesn’t seem to have the same level of brutality.

From Common Dreams:   http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/08-0

by Robert C. Koehler 
Published on Thursday, December 8, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

At a sports bar in downtown Minneapolis called Sneaky Pete’s, “Young men fueled with alcohol begged Boogaard to punch them, so they could say they survived a shot from the Boogeyman.”

I’m thinking, wow, we power our society as much on adolescent energy as we do on fossil fuels. And the consequences are probably even more devastating.

The quote is a small moment in an excellent story in the New York Times the other day by John Branch called “A Brain Going Bad,” about the National Hockey League’s onetime premiere enforcer/tough guy, Derek Boogaard, who died last May at age 28 of an alcohol and painkiller overdose. His addiction to them was likely due to unrelieved, untreated brain trauma.

After his death, brain researchers discovered the presence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, an Alzheimer’s-like condition most likely caused by repeated blows to the head. Boogaard had become just one more used-up hero.

“More than 20 dead former NFL players and many boxers have had CTE diagnosed,” Branch wrote. “It generally hollowed out the final years of their lives into something unrecognizable to loved ones.”

But, Branch noted, the NHL does not acknowledge a link between hockey and CTE and is not about to end on-ice fighting, which of course is the source of the adrenalin — the adolescent energy — that maintains its fan base. Professional hockey may masquerade as a game, but, like all major league sports, it is first and foremost big business; the product it sells is vicarious thrills and a pseudo-military quest for hometown victory, all wrapped in a package of good old American values.

Continue reading at:   http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/08-0

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Reagan’s reputation 30 years after the El Mozote massacre

From America Blog: http://www.americablog.com/2011/12/reagans-reputation-30-years-after-el.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Americablog+%28AMERICAblog%29

By Myrddin
December 11, 2011

When you hear some Republican waxing lyrical about Reagan the fearless champion of democracy, tell them about the El Mozote massacre which took place 30 years ago today. 733 civilians were mudered in cold blood by an army unit trained and supported by the US government. The Reagan administration bears as much blame for the attrocity as the soldiers who comitted it.

El Mazote was only one of many massacres perpetrated during the civil war in El Salvador. It is the most well known because there was a survivor, Rufina Amaya, whose eyewitness account describes a massacre organized in the same manner of the NAZI holocaust massacres.

The men were separated from the women and taken for torture, interrogation and execution. Then the women were raped, then executed using machine guns. Finaly the children were murdered.

The death squad that carried out the massacre were units from the army’s Atlacatl Battalion, a rapid reaction force trained in counter terrorism by the US. Reagan supported the Salvadorean government with arms and weapons, apparently indifferent to the numerous attrocities that the army was perpetrating.

The story broke in the Washington Post and New York Times on January 27 1982. Almost immediately the Reagan administration and the conservative press began a campaign to smear and discredit the accusers. The full range of Fox News techniques were used to supress discussion of the massacre and discredit those telling the truth about it.

Continue reading at:   http://www.americablog.com/2011/12/reagans-reputation-30-years-after-el.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Americablog+%28AMERICAblog%29

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Crisis of the Euro

Eurozone crisis: hopes of recovery recede while recession looms

From The Guardian UK:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/economics-blog/2011/dec/12/debt-crisis-recovery-recedes

Gerard Lyons, the chief economist at Standard Chartered predicts that the eurozone will contract by 1.5% next year, while the UK will suffer a fall in output of 1.3%

Posted by: economics editor
Sunday 11 December 2011

A year ago, it was assumed 2011 would see life return to normal. Europe would sort out its little local difficulties, China and India would power along, and Barack Obama would use a resurgent US economy as the springboard for his re-election campaign.

One indication of how much things have changed is that back then, there was speculation on the timing of the first increases in interest rates in the UK and the US to fend off rising inflationary pressures. Many in the City thought that May was the likeliest month for the Bank of England to act. Wiser heads said May 2013, and today even that looks a touch on the hasty side.

Instead, 2011 ends with the euro fighting for its life, Britain weighing up what life might be like outside the EU, China fending off a hard landing, America in political gridlock and unemployment globally above 200 million and rising. Apart from that, everything’s going swimmingly.

For those who like their humour black, there are some ironies to be savoured. British governments for the past three decades have had an aversion to the idea of picking winners, with the one exception of the City of London. That “winner” proved to be the biggest loser of the lot, yet David Cameron decided that defending the interests of this tarnished special interest group should be Britain’s priority at last week’s summit.

The real reason for objecting to the creation of the Herbert Hoover Appreciation Society (or fiscal stability pact) created by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy is that it condemns Europe to permanent deflation and high unemployment, so the prime minister may well have made the right decision for the wrong reasons.

Continue reading at:    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/economics-blog/2011/dec/12/debt-crisis-recovery-recedes

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Corporations Are Not People and They Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Buy Our Elections

From Alternet:   http://www.alternet.org/news/153391/sen._bernie_sanders%3A_corporations_are_not_people_and_they_shouldn%27t_be_allowed_to_buy_our_elections/

Bottom line: Corporations should not be able to go into their treasuries and spend millions and millions of dollars on a campaign in order to buy elections.

By Sen. Bernie Sanders
December 9, 2011

The Constitution of this country has served us well, but when the Supreme Court says that attempts by the federal government and states to impose reasonable restrictions on campaign ads are unconstitutional, our democracy is in grave danger. That is why I have introduced a resolution in the Senate calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

I did not do this lightly. In fact, I had never done it before. The U.S. constitution is an extraordinary document. In my view, it should not be amended often. In light of the Supreme Court’s infamous 5-to-4 decision in the Citizens United case, however, I saw no alternative.

I strongly disagree with the ruling. In my view, a corporation is not a person. A corporation does not have First Amendment rights to spend as much money as it wants, without disclosure, on a political campaign.

Corporations should not be able to go into their treasuries and spend millions and millions of dollars on a campaign in order to buy elections.

The ruling has radically changed the nature of our democracy. It has further tilted the balance of the power toward the rich and the powerful at a time when the wealthiest people in this country already never had it so good. History will record that the Citizens United decision is one of the worst in the history of our country.

At a time when corporations have more than $2 trillion in cash in their bank accounts and are making record-breaking profits, the American people should be concerned when the Supreme Court says that these corporations have a constitutionally-protected right to spend shareholders’ money to dominate an election as if they were real, live persons. If we do not reverse this decision, there will be no end to the impact that corporate interests can have on our campaigns and our democracy.

Continue reading at:   http://www.alternet.org/news/153391/sen._bernie_sanders%3A_corporations_are_not_people_and_they_shouldn%27t_be_allowed_to_buy_our_elections/

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